Illustrative Flashback Images:
And it came to pass… that there were three great beings, supreme in their realm, who guarded and shaped that realm, and were the sum an substance of it. And the three were themselves. And the three were the Trion. And countless reaches ago, even as such as they reckon time, the Trion took action to safeguard their realm. Three acting as one, they created then a sphere of perfect darkness…and into that sphere they poured all their darkness, all the evil tendency within them…concentrating it within, entrapping it, imprisoning it forever. Imprisoning it all… all but one tiny shard… one jagged fragment of dark, concentrated evil… which tore through a rift in reality, tore through into another realm. And there, in that realm, the shard began a great journey… a long and hungry journey across the vastness of space… this shard was shaped like a pyramid….
Earth orbit, where Captain America a.k.a. Steve Rogers, Monica “Photon” Rambeau and Jack Hart a.k.a. Jack of Hearts float unconscious in space, attached to mechanical devices which fire weapons at two who come to rescue them. But the devices are no match for the power of Wendell “Quasar” Vaughn and Miguel Santos a.k.a. the Living Lightning!
Soon, inside a quantum field which Quasar erects around the five Avengers, Cap, Monica and Jack regain consciousness. ‘Evasive action, everyone get out of -’ Captain America exclaims, but Wendell tells him that it is all right. ‘Kang apparently destroyed your ship - knocked Photon and Jack of Hearts for a loop - but the Living Lightning and I arrived in time to stop his robot drones from reaching you - capturing you’ Wendell exclaims. Quasar adds that Photon must have partially phased into her energy-form while unconscious, otherwise there is no way she would have survived the exposure to hard vacuum.
Looking around, Monica realizes that the Scarlet Witch is missing. ‘Where’s Wanda?’ she calls out urgently. The Living Lightning explains that the drones reached his fellow former member of the West Coast Avengers before he and Wendell could get her, and she was taken back to Kang’s base. ‘We were unable to penetrate its force-field’ he explains. Captain America gets to his feet, exclaiming that Kang said there would be retribution. ‘He was going to attack Earth with a flight of Sentinels! We’ve got to -’ he exclaims, but Wendell informs him that there is another situation which might take precedence.
Illustrative Flashback Images:
And it came to pass… that the universe reacted to the presence of the evil that journeyed through it… forming opposition, even as a body forms defense against disease. And these fragments of light were three in number… and they, too did journey… tumbling through trackless space, awaiting a time they would be found… found and used against the taint that had invaded their world. And in time, one of these fragments… the second of them… was found by a ship commanded by sentients… sentients on a mission of reconnaissance and conquest….
‘I don’t know, Wendell. We’ve got a crisis in front of us right now - we don’t need to go looking for more’ Cap declares, announcing that he thinks they should return to Earth at all deliberate speed. ‘But Cap - we can’t just ignore a potential threat. It could be as dangerous as Kang - or worse!’ Wendell protests. ‘Or it could be an irrelevance - at a time we have little attention to spare. We’ve been dividing our forces too often lately - and if we make a single misstep - it could have tragic consequences’ Cap declares. ‘We’ll do whatever you say, of course. But -’ Jack begins. ‘Captain -’ Monica exclaims, motioning to a ship which pulls up beside the quantum bubble. ‘- I think we’re about to hear from another quarter’ Monica declares. ‘Greetings, Avengers! This is Jonathan Tremont of the Triune Understanding! We have several of your comrades aboard, and would be pleased if you’d join us…’ Tremont calls out from within the prayer-ship.
And it came to pass… that in a region known as the Naga Hills, in a nation called India, on a planet known by its inhabitants as Earth…there grew a village, and that village in time birthed three brothers. And one of the brothers grew wise… and one grew strong… and the third and youngest brother, he had charming ways… ‘Oh, go on with you and your honeyed talk. Go!’ an elderly woman said to him while his brothers walked nearby. But there came to this village a sickness that swept through its people like fire through dry grass… and for all their wisdom and their strength… two of the brothers fell before it. And only the youngest was left. And he wondered why he had been spared. Why had the universe saved him? What purpose was he kept alive for? What role was he to play?
Shortly, Cap, Monica and Jack have entered the prayer-ship, where the Vision, Delroy “Triathlon” Garrett, Angelica “Firestar” Jones and Vance “Justice” Astrovik have journeyed with Tremont. Cap smiles and tells Triathlon, Vision and Firestar that it is good to see them. ‘But how did…?’ he begins, before the Vision points out that Justice is here as well, and explains that they came on this mission with the Triune. ‘And there is much to tell you about it’ he declares. ‘Maybe later, Vision. We don’t have much time. This threat - this mission - I assume they’re linked. In brief, then - what is it, and where?’ Cap asks. ‘In brief, Captain? I believe I can accomplish that in a word, as we are coming up on our destination now. The threat we speak of is…THERE!’ Tremont shouts, pointing out the window of the prayer ship. Staring at the massive pyramid that towers over the prayer ship, Captain America replies ‘I see. Then perhaps…I do need to know more about this…’.
And it came to pass… that in a region known as California, in a nation called the United States. A car approaches a drive in, and the blond man in the back seat exclaims ‘That’s Chuck for you, Peg. The fastest jets, the newest cars…and the best taste in girls!’ Chuck smiles as he puts his arm around Peg, while Peg exclaims ‘Why, Hal - you’ll turn my head…!’. There were two more brothers. And one was strong, and one was weak and sickly. But there was a bond between them… a bond that attracted a young woman of their tribe to both of them.
The elder, stronger brother was a warrior… a warrior chosen to test a swift flying machine, great by the measure of their tribe. But swift and great as the machine was, during the test… the warrior brother encountered another, advanced far beyond his experience. ‘Holy cats! A UFO!’ he shouted. The warrior brother was captured, drawn into the larger ship. But he bested his captors… ‘That was your first mistake, greenie - and here’s your second!’ Chuck declared as he punched one of the Skrulls in the face. He scaped, flying free once more.
But as Chuck soared free of the destruction of the invader craft, he was bathed in light, and heat and power - for the invader craft had held the second fragment of light. And even as he brought his machine to Earth safely, after a fashion… he was being changed. Transformed by that light that burned within him. ‘Hal!’ Chuck called out to his brother. ‘Chuck! Chuck!’ Hal called back. Chuck fought to reach his brother…and even as he was pulled apart - pulled into two - his brother’s bond with him held him together… embracing him, grounding him. And where the were three… there was one.
It was the younger brother who walked the Earth thereafter. But he could release his brother’s spirit, five it form, for brief periods…. ‘S-some kinda jazzed-up G-Man! Gun him down!’ a criminal exclaimed as he fired at the 3-D Man. ‘Not a chance, hoodlums! When the 3-D Man’s in town, cheap punks like you head upstate - for a long stretch at Folsom!’ the 3-D Man declared as he took down one of the hoodlums. And in that form, and in that era… two brothers became a single hero.
‘…and with the ship already launched, we were unable to aid the fallen Triune acolytes below…and did not think it wise to strain them further by forcing a landing’ the Vision tells Captain America. ‘So here you are. Well, I can’t say I like the idea of draining human psyches to power a spaceship - but I don’t like hearing about Avengers spying on private citizens, either’ Cap declares. ‘We thought it necessary, Captain. And as we discovered -’ the Vision begins. ‘As you discovered, yes. Always easy to justify things after the fact’ Captain America declares, remarking that it sounds like he is going to have to have a talk with Iron Man when they get back. ‘And with you and Warbird as well’ he tells the Vision. Cap turns to Quasar, remarking that in the meantime, they are here, and the hand has been dealt, so they need to play it out. ‘You sat the pyramid was picked up by deep space scanners?’ Steve asks Wendell. Wendell replies that it was, and they had to investigate. ‘It was moving so fast, on a dead-on-course for Earth - and the data indicated it holds enormous power’.
‘Power?’ Jonathan Tremont suddenly calls out from where he is standing by the Triune pilots. ‘It holds more than that, my friends. What pulses within its depths is pure, unalloyed evil - and it may be the greatest danger Earth has ever faced!’. Tremont declares that it is the Triple-Evil, and that its coming has been foretold - and it must be stopped. ‘That is the one and only reason the Triune understanding was created!’ he exclaims.
And it came to pass… that the two who had become three who had become one ceased to be active as a hero of his people… and for many years, he was barely glimpsed in the wider world. The sickly brother came to love the woman who’d loved his brother, and she loved him too. And they wed… and they created them a family, which grew and departed, as families do… and in time, the brother began to have dreams. Urgent, insistent dreams… ‘And I feel them calling, Peg. Calling me halfway around the world. And I’ve got to go, got to answer…before I crack up completely!’ Hal exclaims. ‘This call, Hal…is it dangerous?’ Peg asks. ‘I think so, yes. But I’ve still got to go!’ Hal exclaims. Peg looks at her husband and tells him to go, but to promise that whatever this call is, whatever happens, that he will come back to her. ‘I promise, Peggy. I love you and I’ll come back to you’ Hal assures his wife as they embrace. And soon, Peggy watches as Hal gets into his car.
The nine Avengers, Tremont and his follows are in a quantum bubble, courtesy of Quasar, floating outside the massive pyramid. ‘All right. I want to be clear on this. We’re here, and we’ll investigate - but we’re needed on Earth, and we can’t spare any more time on this than is necessary. If it turns out that this is something that can be put off - then we put if off, return to Earth, and deal with this thing after Kang’s no longer a threat’ Captain America declares. ‘Understood, Captain. But I tell you now - we will find that dealing with the Triple-Evil cannot be delayed, cannot be put off!’ Tremont exclaims, telling Captain America that he will see.
Living Lightning announces that they are in contact, and tells Quasar that he can open a gap in the quantum bubble. Miguel remarks that he doesn’t see any hatches, before exclaiming ‘Hey, that’s funny. I thought this was machinery - but it looks more organic, like a hide. Or a scab. I’ll see what it feels like-’ he exclaims as he touches the side of the pyramid - before everyone is sucked inside!
And it came to pass… that the younger brother’s quest brought him across his world, to an area north of the Naga Hills… to mountains known to men as the Himalayas… and for months he felt the call... for months he searched… ‘Aaah!’ he calls out as he stumbles. ‘American sir!’ someone following Hal up the mountain calls out. ‘I’m all right…all right. Didn’t fall…’ Hal whispers. ‘No, American sir. You did not fall, not this time. But the mountain… it is difficult for one of your age, of your condition. You must give up this mad quest…’ it is suggested. Hal gazes upwards. ‘No…no, I can’t. I’ve got to - got to keep going - I can feel it! It’s important - important!’ he exclaims as he urged himself onwards.
Winter came, and with it, its high winds and fierce blizzards. And still the brother sought… ‘Got to - got to -’ he told himself. And in time… ‘Here! I don’t know how I know - don’t know why - but it’s here! It’s here!’ he exclaimed as he began pulling away rocks from where they sit - until he finds a glowing green pyramid. Suddenly, Hal is struck from behind, by one of the men travelling with him. Hal falls to the ground. ‘Yes, American sir. It is here. And it is mine!’ the other man declares.
In Jack of Hearts’ dream.
Jack of Hearts turns around in surprise as several SHIELD agents enter the room. One of them holds up an envelope: ‘Jack! Jack of Hearts! Good news! Good news! We’ve found a way to give you complete control over your power! You’ll be able to turn it on and off at will - so you won’t have to wear your armor to hold it in! You’ll be able to lead a normal life!’. ‘Really?’ Jack exclaims, smiling. ‘Yes! And that’s not all! The more sophisticated genetic scans we did, to find that solution? They’ve revealed that there was an error - you’re not half-alien at all! You’re 100% human!’ another SHIELD agent exclaims.
In Living Lightning’s dream:
A frenzy of media and supporters have gathered at stage. ‘Santos for Governor’ is displayed everywhere, and Miguel Santos himself stands at a podium. ‘Miguel Santos! Your time as Living Lightning, with the Avengers, made you a shoo-in for assemblyman - and now for Governor! What’s next? The Senate?’ a woman calls out. Miguel addresses her as Carmen, and asks ‘Why think small? I’ve been able to do so much good for the Latino community already - why stop there? Why not go all the way?’
In the Vision’s dream:
The Vision is walking down a street, when suddenly, ‘C’mon, Victor!’ a woman in a purple dress exclaims. ‘We’ve got a full day ahead - diving, water-skiing - then dinner and dancing!’ ‘Darby?’ the Vision calls out, just as the Scarlet Witch appears behind the Vision, touching his shoulder, she tells him that she made a mistake, and wants to come back. ‘Wanda…?’ the Vision gasps. ‘No - no this isn’t real - something’s wrong -’.
Present / Reality:
‘ - this isn’t real -’ the Vision exclaims, as he, the other Avengers, Tremont and his men are stacked up against a wall, each with green glowing pyramids around their heads. ‘- happy to accept the position of Avengers Chairman again, and this time -’ Photon remarks, smiling. ‘- disband the Avengers, now that the world’s at peace, and there’s no more need for us -’ Firestar exclaims. ‘Oh, Marsha…’ one of Tremont’s men remarks, grinning. ‘”In stepping on this glass, I commemorate the desutrction of the temple so that even at this happy time…”’ Justice quotes. ‘Mom? Mom, it’s so good to see you!’ Wendell declares.
On the floor, three bizarre aliens, cloaked in brown , tap away at strange consoles, speaking to each other in their native tongue. ‘I want - I want - Kang - he’s threatening - attacking Earth - retribution - I don’t have time - I don’t - I don’t -’ Captain America struggles, when suddenly, he breaks free of the device trapping him, and drops to the ground. ‘I don’t have time for this!’ he shouts. This causes the other Avengers to wake from their imposed dreams. ‘What’s going on here? Why are you controlling our mind? Feeding us fantasies?’ Captain America demands to know. ‘illusions…just illusions…’ Justice exclaims.
One of the aliens speaks in English: ‘Please, blue man - there is no need for harsh. We are only to aid you seeking’ the alien exclaims ‘Dreams…’ Tremont utters. ‘We your minds scan for fondest wishes - that help we may to reality make them. Bring dreams to you. Bring peace to you’ the alien explains. ‘All we need is a way out of here - so we can get back to Earth, where we’re needed!’ Captain America exclaims. ‘No necessity for rush. Departure needed not’ the alien responds. ‘Thanks, but no thanks’ Captain America replies, before telling the Avengers that they will find the exit themselves. ‘Blue man?’ the alien calls out. ‘Captain?’ Tremont exclaims, telling Captain America that they must stay, as they still have to find out the truth of -’ he doesn’t finish his sentence, as the aliens shift their forms into towering, menacing dark aliens with red eyes. ‘You can stay, Tremont - if you like - but the rest of us have jobs to do, and we’ve wasted quite enough time -’ Cap begins, before noticing the transformed aliens.
‘Blue man, I so sorry - but we cannot allow you to depart!’ the alien snarls. Suddenly, glass shatters, as more aliens are revealed. ‘The entire chamber we were in - the aliens themselves - more illusions!’ the Vision calls out. ‘And beyond it -’ Quasar gasps. ‘What? What? Tremont calls out. ‘Uh-oh. I think we found boss Tremont’s “Triple-Evil”…’ Justice exclaims as countless black aliens surround the Avengers. ‘Swiftly, Avengers! A defensive formation! They mass to attack!
And it came to pass… that as the enemy within leapt to the attack… the planet’s assembled heroes suddenly felt… awareness. ‘Huh?’ Firestar remarks. ‘In my head - my mind! Another attack!’ Justice gasps. ‘No --it’s just images - just information - just - the truth!’ Quasar exclaims as the Avengers witness the following:
Flashback Images displayed to the Avengers:
And they saw. They saw as the shard of darkness journeyed across space. Wherever its path took it, it radiated foul, corrupting evil. And wherever its path took it, it found resistance. Mighty empires, lone planets. All who encountered it fought against it - and all were lost. Their best and bravest were enticed into dreams and death… and their bodies corrupted became soldiers in the service of darkness. That which had been their ships became armor for the shard. And their planets, their civilizations destroyed… all the fire that once burned within their race became part of the shard’s power. And its journey continued. And its power grew.
And they saw. And just as all the others… they fought. ‘Battle bravely, Avengers! Remember, you fight now merely to save a city, or a nation - but for all of human civilization!’ Tremont exclaims as he unleashes a blast of energy at the evil, while his followers, armed with laser weapons, do the same. ‘Believe me, Tremont - we don’t need you to remind us of that’ Captain America exclaims as he kicks one of the aliens in the head, before alerting Jack of Hearts to another alien at three o’clock. ‘Thanks, Cap!’ Jack calls out. ‘so, Miguel - you finally got that action you’ve been itching for it, seems’ Wendell tells the Living Lightning. ‘I guess so, but I gotta admit - I was thinking more space-pirates, not the end of the world…’ Miguel replies as he and Quasar take down the alien enemy.
Firestar and Justice hover alongside each other, attacking the enemy with their respective power. Vance tells Angelica that he cannot believe they are helping Tremont - an anti-mutant bigot, who would just as soon see them wiped out. ‘Back off, you!’ he tells one of the aliens, before dowsing it in telekinetic energy. Angelica tells her lover that she doesn’t think Tremont is ant-mutant, just that he was simply doing or saying anything that would bring him recruits and increase his power. ‘Not that that’s a whole lot better’ she adds.
Triathlon darts about the chamber, kicking aliens with his incredible acrobatic skill, exclaiming that Jonathan was right - this is a major threat, and its got to be opposed. ‘But there’s something more going on here - it’s almost like I can - like I can sense it, or - or remember it!’ Delroy declares. ‘Battle’s going well - eh, Vision?’ Monica calls out in her electro-form as she blasts one of the aliens. ‘Yes, Photon. If this is all the strength they can muster against us, the Triple-Evil will prove to be minor threat’ the Vision declares, in his intangible form, he solidifies a fist inside one of the aliens. The Vision adds that the alien forces fall easily into a semi-intangible hand, disrupting their - before he suddenly screams. ‘Some sort of feedback!’ he declares.
Monica looks confused as the aliens absorb her blasts and her energy form. ‘They couldn’t do that before!’ she exclaims. Jack of Hearts declares that something has changed, exclaiming that his zero-blasts are enough to shatter moons, but now the aliens are soaking them up like sunshine at the beach! ‘My q-constructs, too! They’ve somehow adapted to our powers!’ Wendell calls out. Captain America tells everyone to keep moving, to swap opponents, to strike and move on. ‘Don’t fight the same creatures twice! Don’t give them a chance to adapt to your skills!’
‘Your warning comes slightly too late for me, Captain! The walls - the floor - it seems I am unable to move!’ Tremont calls out, trapped against a wall. ‘But though I may be trapped, I have powers beyond those they know - and I shall not remain that way!’ he booms, before suddenly, Jonathan Tremont begins to glow. ‘Brothers! I need thy strength - thy power! I call on you, brothers - come to me!’ he booms, and suddenly, his brothers - in their adult forms of Pagan and Lord Templar - appear.
‘We hear you, brother!’ Lord Templar begins, immediately blasting the aliens with his power. ‘And we respond!’ Pagan grunts, smashing his way through several aliens. ‘Pagan? Lord Templar? They were part of him? Man, I like this guy less and less!’ Vance exclaims. ‘All those fights - all that destruction - just a scam, to make the Avengers look bad and him look better!’ Justice declares. ‘But…how…?’ Firestar asks.
Illustrative Flashback Images:
It was the third shard. The third shard of light. It had called to him in his dreams, too. Called to him… and though he needed the American to locate it for him… he knew it was meant to be. For was he not three-in-one? Had he not clung to his brothers’ spirits… kept them close to him, even since their deaths? Were they not with him always? He smiles as he sits before the small pyramid shard of energy, and his two brothers’ spirits are released. ‘Thank you, brother…’ ‘Thank you for restoring our lives. We will serve you…serve you in all things…’ the brothers exclaim. And did he not have purpose? ‘A threat is coming, my brothers. We must be prepared to face it. We must amass power…’.
‘Fear not, Avenger. Lord Templar will not permit you to come to harm!’ Lord Templar tells Justice, while blasting an alien. ‘Just get away from me, you fakes! I’ll get Firestar and Lightning out of here myself. The Avengers can take care of their own!’ Justice exclaims, while Angelica and Miguel lie unconscious on the floor, as do several of the Triune members. ‘You may not wish our aid, little man - but you still have it!’ Pagan exclaims. Quasar unleashes more quantum energy and tells Vance to let it go. ‘Your anger is understandable - but save it until after this battle is won. For now, we’ll take all the help we can get!’ Wendell exclaims.
‘That’s another down! But I feel so - feel so -’ Triathlon exclaims as he kicks another alien. Suddenly: ‘You!’ he shouts when he sees Tremont. ‘I remember now! You…hurt me in the mountains! You hit me…from behind…but how…how could…it wasn’t me!’ Triathlon gasps. ‘You remember? You remember what the American experienced? But -’ Tremont gasps.
And he came to the West, to spread his word, to gather believers… ‘All strength comes from balance, my friends - from the threefold forces in harmony. Mind, body and spirit - past, present and future - dream, memory and reality’. And all the time, he felt it coming, coming closer… the darkness, the evil… ‘Without balance, we are lost’.
But he felt more, saw it in dreams… saw a champion arise… a champion empowered by one of the shards of light. By the first shard. He saw the champion do battle… and he saw the champion fall, his mind gone, his body and soul corrupted, drawn into the darkness… one shard was not enough. He would need greater power.
And his voice was heard., And he drew more followers, and still more… ‘We must seek the balance within us - seek harmony and peace - instead of struggling, and only creating more discord’ he told his followers. And he grew in influence, and used the power of the shard to reach into the spirit of his acolytes, drawing on their energies… and he began to change, becoming outwardly human but inwardly far, far more… though even that he knew, might prove too little. But the other was still with him… the doubled life, who had internalised the second shard, just as he had the third. The 3-D Man kept as a prisoner.
And in time, a troubled soul came, seeking guidance, seeking redemption. An athlete, who had valued victory over honor… who had fallen into disgrace, and sought surcease from shame… and in the athlete, he found something he had been seeking… a man whose spirit sang close to that of the doubled man… close enough that the one could serve to hold the other…. It required months of preparation...to soothe the troubled athlete’s spirit, to open his soul… but in time… the caged 3-D Man’s energies were transferred into the young man. ‘And here you go, Delroy…or should I say, Triathlon? Where once you competed for personal glory, now you shall fight for justice, to ease the suffering of others…’. He would be another servant… a weapon against the coming evil, If needed. And until then, his exploits would win more converts… amass greater power.
‘I…yes, I remember! I remember it all, now! Something about this place…you seemed so caring, so helpful - but you didn’t care at all, did you? Not about your teachings, not about your followers! All you wanted was the power!’ Triathlon exclaims, while Tremont blasts the aliens. ‘I helped people, Delroy! I eased their pain! Guided them to harmony! And I needed the power! I needed it! I had to stop the Triple-Evil - had to be prepared! It was my mission!’ Tremont exclaims. Suddenly, he is engulfed in fiery light, and rises above Triathlon, ‘And it was all in service of this one moment - in service of this great victory! I shall be a savior, Triathlon - the savior of an entire world!’ Tremont boasts.
‘Uh-huh. And when it’s over? When you’ve saved the world - if you do? What do you do with all the power you’ve built up then?’ Delroy asks. ‘The Earth will have been saved. Saved by my hand. And what better reward for he who accomplishes such a miracle - than a gift - the gift of total dominion over that which has been saved! Over Earth - and all who live on it!’ Tremont booms, like some kind of prophet. ‘Oh, great’ mumbles Triathlon, before racing over to where Captain America and Photon are still battling the aliens. ‘We got more trouble, Avengers!’ Triathlon exclaims, declaring that Tremont has got to be stopped too. ‘If he wins, the world’s just as hosed as it is if Kang wins, or this pyramid!’
‘Can’t say I’m surprised. Well, we’ll deal with it the best we can…’ Captain America exclaims as he takes down one of the aliens. ‘Holy - he’s huge!’ Jack of Hearts exclaims as Tremont increases in size before them. ‘I sense the power I must best - and it is still too great. I must have more. Must have…’ Tremont exclaims, before turning to his followers, and apologizing to them, before he begins to absorb their life-force. ‘Apologies, my faithful ones - but the power of thy spirits - must be turned to a glorious purpose!’ Tremont declares as their skeletal forms hit the ground.
‘He just - just killed them! His own men! And the aliens - they’re bugging out!’ Jack of Hearts exclaims as he and Photon continue to attack Tremont with their energies. Justice and the Vision lie motionless nearby, while Monica exclaims that the power that Tremont radiates is what the fear. ‘It’s one thing less to worry about’ Cap declares, telling his teammates to bring Tremont down, and maybe they can make him see reason, or failing that, commandeer that power of his.
‘Ah, my brothers. I shall need you too -’ Tremont declares as he drains his brothers of their energies. ‘What? But you brought us back to life! Saved us!’ Lord Templar exclaims. ‘You can’t just KILL us again! You can’t!’ Pagan screams, before he and his brother vanish in a blaze of energy. ‘I do what a must, brothers! What only I can do!’ the crazed Jonathan Tremont booms. ‘And now I sense it - the true prize is here! It is the pyramid itself - suffused with the spirits, the power of all those who lost their lives fighting it - whose souls were taken by the evil!’
Tremont boasts that he can wrest it from the darkness and become as a god himself. ‘And all I need - is the last of the power needed to oppose the darkness! The power of the second shard!’ he booms as he begins to fire blasts of energy at Triathlon. ‘The power within you!’ he tells Delroy. ‘Whoa!’ Triathlon calls out as he dodges a blast. ‘Sorry, Tremont, but I’m not volunteering! Not in a million years!’ Triathlon exclaims. ‘Oh?’ Tremont asks as he unleashes another blast. Tremont remarks that Triathlon is fast and agile. ‘I know your strengths, for it was I who gave them to you. But you cannot elude my reach forever - I know that, too, as do you’ the old man declares.
‘Before, I could not take the second shard unto me - so I gifted it to you. But now I am more - now I can wield it - and for the Earth’s salvation - you must fall!’ Tremont declares as his blast strikes Triathlon, who suddenly splits into three, and glows green, red and yellow. ‘You are a tripled soul - warrior, scholar and athlete - bonded with and empowered by the second shard. But that bond must be severed - and the power of the shard - eh?’ Tremont exclaims as the three beings dart away from him. ‘No! I won’t - we won’t let you! Won’t let you take over Earth - as bad as Kang -’ they exclaim.
‘Oh come now. You can’t escape. Jump all you like - flee deeper and deeper into the heart of the pyramid - all that shall happen is - what? What is it you see?’ Tremont declares when he sees the three looking at something. ‘It’s - it’s - it’s the first shard!’ the three exclaim. ‘The champion who bore it - I can feel his struggle - feel his death! This is where he fell! This is where it fell -’ the exclaim as they stand over the shard which rests on the long-decayed body of the champion. They reach out for it - causing Tremont to scream: ‘NO! No you can’t! You mustn’t!’ he shouts, a look of horror over his face.
And it came to pass… There is an explosion of green light and energy - and Triathlon, Chuck and Hal are increased to the same size and hold the first shard. ‘I feel it’s power - feel it resonating with the power we three already carry…this is what we were meant to do - to bring the shards here - to find them, to unite them…this has always been my purpose - our purpose…’. Tremont looks shocked: ‘No…’ he whispers, while Triathlon / 3-D Man exclaims that the power must be wielded by one who turned from pride - by one who strives for others, not himself. ‘In your hands, it would be corrupted - you would fall to the darkness, become part of it -’ they tell Tremont. ‘No…please…’ Tremont whispers.
‘The this shard - it must be brought to the others - united with them…’ Triathlon / 3-D Man exclaims as they reach out to Tremont - and suck the third shard out of his horrified form. ‘No, it’s - I can - I was to be the savior - I can’t just go back - can’t just be a - a human again!’ he pleads. The three shards appear in front of Triathlon: ‘And now - Hal? Chuck? We’re with you!’ they exclaim as green, red and yellow energies fill the area. ‘God, mother and country!’ Captain America exclaims as he, Photon and Jack of Hearts watch the spectacular display. Triathlon and the 3-D Man unleash the energies of the three shards at once - ‘Let the core be exposed! Come forth, heart of darkness! Come forth - and do battle!’ they cry. A small pyramid appears, and the energies are poured onto it.
‘I - I brought this about - I made this happen - I was an instrument of destiny, no more!’ Tremont exclaims to Captain America. ‘Had I note done what I did - gathered the power, brought the fragments together - paved the way for the savior - Earth would be doomed! It was my destiny!’ he babbles. The Vision, Justice and Firestar have regained consciousness, and overhear what Tremont is saying. Justice smirks and exclaims: ‘Yeah? Well, you can try that our on a jury, I guess - but me, I’m figuring that life without parole is in your destiny, too…’.
And it came to pass…that the shards were united, and their power wielded by one who did battle not for himself, but for his world. For all the worlds that were threatened by the darkness. And the darkness swept over him, and the darkness overwhelmed him…stabbing at his mind, seeking to seduce him with promises, with lies…but he knew the hollowness of such promises, knew the paths they led to…and as his flesh was burned and torn by the darkness, in its rage...his heart proved unassailable. And when the darkness was fully about him, sunk deep into his body…he blazed forth with the power within him. Burning with a pure, clear light. Burning with true purpose. And the darkness shrieked. And the darkness burned. And in the end….
‘It is done’ Triathlon / 3-D Man announces inside the pyramid. They are returned to their regular size, but hover above Captain America and the others in a green/red/yellow glow. Tremont is on his knees, his hands bound by a quantum-bond courtesy of Quasar. Captain America looks up at Triathlon and thanks him. ‘The Earth owes you a great debt’ he exclaims. ‘No debt, Cap. We were glad to help’ Triathlon / 3-D Man replies. They add that even though the Triple-Evil is no more, they can still feel the essence of the beings whose power it stole - feel their pain, their loss. ‘It killed so many…’ they add.
Tremont looks up at Triathlon / 3-D Man and exclaims that all that power should have been his. ‘Oh, put a sock in it, you’ Quasar tells him. Cap asks if that power is still what powers this pyramid. ‘Can you tap into it - use it to recreate our ship, or to get us back to Earth? Kang is -’ Cap asks. Triathlon / 3-D Man replies that they can try, when suddenly, the Vision apologizes for interrupting, before explaining that now the pyramid’s energy-shields are down, he has been able to make radio contact with Earth. The Vision remarks that when they were held in the illusion chamber, they must have been caught there for longer than assumed. ‘We have been here for weeks, Captain, and in that time - Earth has surrendered to Kang!’ With the Vision’s announcement, shock, horror and awe spreads across the faces of his teammates….