The Kree fleet-intruder known as Retribution hovers above the planet Earth, and on board the sprawling vessel, the being known as the Recorder watches the sunrise, doing what he was created to do - think and record. ‘The vessel maintains a geo-synchronous position above the planet’s surface. Shipboard lights are dimmed due to the power drain of sustaining the energy mirror which cloaks its presence from the world beneath’. The Recorder states that the warship has a sensory array acute enough to detect one part in a centillion or resolve the surface detail of a red dwarf forty light years distant and, at this moment, its entire capacity is trained on one specific area of the planet Earth: Palos Verdes, in California.
On the quiet bridge, Bo-sun Stug Bar announces that the biosphere signature for alpha quarry is still strong, despite the fact that he is on the move, while beta quarry remains stationary at the mansion location. The Recorder notes that Stug Bar’s voice is a white noise whisper through a synthetic larynx, for the front of his throat was torn out during the mutiny that led to his transfer to the Star-Stealth Cadre. Stug Bar tells his Commander that they have the advantage, as they have come up on their quarry as silently as poison in blood. ‘They are completely unprepared -we should strike now!’ he exclaims.
The Commander, Major Kalum Lo approaches his officer and orders the Recorder to stand aside. The Recorder notes that the tissue on the Major’s face is corrupted by cyro-trauma, a common trait in those who spend long periods of time in suspended animation. The Major declares that they will not strike yet, they will wait until both quarries can be taken at the same time. ‘A common trait in those who wait years to strike’, the Recorder states, while the Major exclaims ‘Remember, Bar…we are fallen Hala’s star stealth. There are two things we excel at…’. Images of Wonder Man and the Vision appear on the Kree’s monitors, and in response to the Major’s comment, the Recorder states ‘A common trait in this entire crew…’ as the Major remarks that one of the things they excel in is waiting.
Meanwhile, below on the Earth, at the knife-point of the Kree’s scrutiny is what remains of the Avengers West Compound in Palos Verdes, California. ‘It breaks my heart to see the old place this way!’ Simon “Wonder Man” Williams exclaims as he and Tony “Iron Man” Stark, two long-serving Avengers land amongst the remains of the place they have called home for many years. Iron Man agrees, and remarks that it is the end of an era. ‘The West Coast Avengers are through and this sad ruin is our only memorial’. Wonder Man regrets that he wasn’t present when it happened. ‘I still can’t believe what the East Coasters pulled on us! Questioning our performance, criticizing our motivations and booting us off the team!’
Iron Man reminds Wonder Man that the Avengers didn’t fire them, ‘We all quit when we realized that there was no place for us’. Tony remarks that the Avengers are going through a difficult time right now, and Avengers West just took the heat for problems that run through the whole membership of the Avengers. ‘But looking on the bright side…’ he begins to say as he removes his helmet, and a voice calls out ‘Oh, so there is a bright side…?’ The men turn to the direction of the voice and see Wanda Maximoff and Julia Carpenter, a.k.a. the Scarlet Witch and Spider-Woman, respectively, standing in what remains of a doorway.
The Scarlet Witch, another very long serving Avenger, remarks that they have come a long way to meet the both of them, and that she will scream if she hears any more bad news. ‘Ditto for me!’ Julia exclaims. ‘Six hours on a plane from New York for a meeting about we don’t know what - when do you spill the beans?’ Iron Man and Spider-Woman, long-time associates, shake hands, and Tony remarks that he is glad they both made it, and tells them that they will not be disappointed when they hear what he has to say.
Wanda kisses Simon the cheek and tells him that it is really good to see him. ‘You too, Wanda’ Simon replies as he checks her out and remarks that she has a stunning new costume. Tony puts his helmet back on and tells his friends that they should go inside where he will explain to them why he asked them here today. ‘Oh just listen to me… I sound like Perry Mason!’ he jokes.
Leading his friends through a corridor which remains intact, Tony tells them that there is still power in the conference room so they can have their meeting as Wonder Man asks about the USAgent. Tony replies that they cannot wait for him any longer, and remarks that he hoped Agent would respond to his invitation to attend, but he clearly has plans of his own. Entering the conference room though, Iron Man has to eat his words, as, standing in the center of the room is the handsome Johnny Walker a.k.a. USAgent, dressed in jeans, a singlet and a large jacket. ‘You’re late’ Johnny declares. Iron Man is surprised to see Walker, and asks him where his costume is.
‘I ditched it. It didn’t mean anything anymore. I don’t want to go into it, okay’ Walker replies quickly, before he goes over and greets Wonder Man. Simon tells him not to go all sentimental on him, before John suggests that they get down to business, and asks Iron Man what the deal is. ‘As you wish’ Iron Man replies, before declaring ‘What we’ve come from we all know… years of teamwork in Avengers West, ever changing fortunes…a reshuffling in the Avengers that eventually forced our resignations. As I said, we know where we’ve been… I want to talk about where we’re going’.
‘A new team. The five of us’. Iron Man announces, reminding his friends that he has the finance, and technology, after all, he has been providing the Avengers West with both for the last few years. ‘You have the experience, the power… you’ve proven that time and time again. And after what’s been said of us recently, maybe you want to prove it beyond any doubt’. Tony exclaims, before announcing that he has had misgivings about the Avengers for some time, especially Avengers West. ‘The Avengers still have validity, but perspectives and ideologies have drastically changed’.
Iron Man declares that the universe has become profoundly more dangerous since the Avengers first assembled. He adds that, these days, the Earth plays a far more active role in matters of galactic importance. ‘The stakes are far higher, far more often’ he remarks. Tony announces that he believes that it is the duty of Earth’s Mightiest to use their powers proactively to protect this planet’s interests and, if necessary, pursue an aggressive policy of defense and security.
All this while, Wanda, Johnny, Julia and Simon listen intently, and their silence is broken by Wanda, who tells Tony that the last few weeks have been hard on them all, reminding him of Mockingbird’s death and Hawkeye’s subsequent absence, not to mention the destruction of their home and headquarters. ‘I can only speak for myself, but I need time to adjust before I’ll commit to any new team offers’. Iron Man replies that he figured he would have to put together a new group independently, perhaps even recruit non-Avengers to make the team - but the sudden break up of the Avengers West is like a blessing in disguise. ‘We’ve been teammates for years. I suggest we continue’.
‘Likewise! You’ve said a mouthful, Iron Man. I need time to think it over!’ Walker exclaims. ‘What’s to think about? I’ve had my fill of problems and pain. Your fresh start sounds good to me’ Simon announces. ‘Count me in with the definite maybes. My head’s still spinning from the last few days’, Julia declares, before asking Tony where he was thinking of taking them. ‘The Works!’ Tony announces.
Meanwhile, back above Earth, the Recorder states that the Retribution’s biosphere scanners read the electromagnetic traces of Earth beneath its hidden bulk, like the whorls of a human finger print. As Major Kalum Lo calls out to Bo’sun Bar, asking for a status report, the Recorder detects tension in his voice, realizing that Kalum Lo anticipates the violent endgame of this stealth mission. ‘Quarry alpha is on the move again’ Bo’sun Bar announces, before suddenly exclaiming that quarry alpha has vanished again, and supposes that their quarry has entered a shielded environment that their sensors cannot penetrate. The Major asks for the quarry’s last known co-ordinates, to which Bo’sun replies ‘Ventura, California!’
Indeed, in Ventura, California, a massive waterfall spills out from underneath a stylish facility, lodged in between the cliffs. Inside, Tony, Wanda, Johnny, Julia and Simon are in a central area, and looking up at the various levels above them, Iron Man explains that he used this as a research and development facility for Stark Industries, working on “classified” projects. He jokes that, whenever someone asked him how something was coming along, he used to say ‘It was in the works’, and this is what he meant! Tony reveals that the building is state-of-the-art and has integral defenses and sensors, self-repair systems, self-sufficiency options, almost anything imaginable. ‘I call it a smart building!’ he exclaims, before adding that he believes it would make an ideal headquarters for an organized team. ‘Pretty impressive!’ the unshaven Walker exclaims. ‘Cool!’ Julia gasps.
Tony informs the ex-Avengers that the research and development staff have moved out, leaving a skeleton operational staff, while the day-to-day running is done by Plato. ‘Plato?’ Wonder Man asks, when, suddenly, a robotic voice announces ‘Plato stands for Piezo-Electrical Logistic Analytical Tactical Operator’. A sketchy-green holographic form appears before the heroes, announcing ‘I’m sibling to Stark Enterprises’ own master computer, Homer’ he adds that this holo-form is to ease their familiarization with his presence. Tony asks Plato to display the schematics of the Works. ‘You bet!’ Plato replies, before he displays a holographic map of the Works HQ.
‘You can see it all here’ Iron Man tells his friends, motioning to the holo-map, he points to the hangar level, the communications hub, the recreation deck, the swimming pool, the gymnasium, the living space, laboratories, underground vehicle access from the Pacific Highway, and the Vroom Room, a virtual reality training area. ‘The entire complex is built into a natural canyon, making it as inaccessible as it is spectacular!’ Tony boasts. Plato adds ‘Those of you who decide to stay will find me a very agreeable place to live in!’ to which Iron Man points out that no one has made that choice yet.
Iron Man assures the others that this is no ego trip for him, as he wants the team to work - for the good of the planet. ‘Pretty slick set-up, Iron Man… your own private Avengers, ready to assemble whenever you click your fingers, right?’ Walker remarks, folding his arms across his chest. ‘Not quite, Agent. But I understand your doubt’ Tony replies, before reminding everyone that he ruined an old friendship with Jim Rhodes - War Machine - by failing to be up front, and admits that he is yet to give all of them the details of his feigned death, and remarks that is why he wants to level with them right from the start - ‘I intend to be a part of this team, but I don’t intend to lead it!’
‘Are you serious!?’ Julia asks, surprised. ‘Quite’ Tony replies, reminding everyone that they have a leader, one who was voted in at an Avengers West Coast meeting, but who has never had a chance to show her leadership potential. Motioning to the Scarlet Witch, Tony declares that he has absolute faith in Wanda’s abilities, and that he wants her to lead the team. Tony adds that Wanda’s probability powers are crucial to brining the team to full realization. Somewhat stunned, Wanda replies ‘I… what can I say? I’m flattered. But I’m still thinking about it’.
‘My thinking’s done, Iron Man. Count me in!’ Wonder Man exclaims. ‘I’m glad to hear it, thanks’ Tony replies as they shake hands. Simon remarks that things have been rather hectic for him lately, and he has been so wrapped up in his own affairs that he wasn’t around to support the Avengers West Coast, so this fresh start sounds exactly like what he needs. Wonder Man asks that if someone can show him to the communications center, he will fax his resignation to Avengers Mansion in New York. Plato shifts his holographic form into a small pink globe and asks him to follow the holo-cursor.
With Wonder Man gone, Iron Man turns to the others, and remarks that Simon’s enthusiasm is encouraging. ‘It matches my own’ he adds, and suggests to Johnny, Julia and Wanda that they may like to relax in the living quarters while they make up their minds. Julia leans against USAgent, who puts a hand on her lower back, while Wanda stands shoulder-to-shoulder with Johnny, none of them answering, and none of them smiling.
Shortly though, Iron Man leads Spider-Woman into a warm, lively looking living area, informing Julia that the domestic spaces are all the same basic design, but that he has furnished this one with facilities to suit a child. Tony assures Julia that Rachel will find everything she needs here in the Works, and he will make sure that Consuela, Rachel’s nanny is comfortable also. Julia picks up a stuffed Iron Man toy and tells Tony that he has thought of everything. Julia explains that, with the Avengers West now belly-up, she feels lost, and doesn’t want to relocate Rachel to the East Coast, but doesn’t want to be separated from her by the demands of the job.
‘I’m greedy. I want rewarding work - more time with my daughter. If that’s what you’re offering, then I’m saying yes’. Julia announces. Tony tells her that she won’t regret her decision. Leaving her quarters, Julia announces that she would like to get Rachel and Consuela as soon as possible, to which Tony informs her Plato can arrange transport for her, and adds that he will inform the others of her decision.
Nearby, the Scarlet Witch sits in a dimmed room, her boots on the floor and gloves on a small table, she is curled up on a couch and hugs a cushion, as Plato announces that Tony is outside wanting to see her. ‘Let him in, Plato,’ Wanda replies. Tony enters, and announces that he will get straight to the point. ‘We’ve known each other too long for me to try and con you into this,’ Tony admits, before telling Wanda that he needs her with him. ‘I’m… good with technology, but I need someone who can keep all the pieces together… a partnership of skills leading the team’.
‘Tony! Tony! Enough! I’ve already decided!’ Wanda announces, before solemnly announcing ‘I’ll do it’. Wanda places a hand on the Scarlet Witch’s shoulder and tells her that her first duty as team leader may have just presented itself.
Some minutes later, in the Combat Test Lab, USAgent stands at a table and looks at the costume laid out before him. The Scarlet Witch steps into the lab and tells John that the suit is a micro-mesh armor weave. ‘You’ll be impressed by the photon shield’ she adds. Walker frowns and remarks that Stark’s R&D boys sure can cook up the hardware. ‘But this ain’t for me’ he declares, adding that he has had enough of this business, which is why he ditched the old costume. ‘I ain’t about to put on a new one’. ‘But this new team is -’ Wanda begins, until Walker interrupts her, exclaiming ‘It’s me that’s the problem! I’m just a bad copy of Cap! A thick-skinned grunt who thought he could make a difference until he realized everyone was laughing behind his back!’
Johnny turns away from Wanda as the Scarlet Witch tells him that he is too hard on himself. ‘You taught me a lot!’ Wanda exclaims, reminding him that he bothered to train with her every day, making sure she didn’t soften and become a weak link in the team chain. Wanda explains to John that she intends to run the Works on tight military lines, on the values of strength and dedication that he showed her. ‘Don’t quit on me, Agent… the Works needs a backbone!’ Wanda exclaims.
Johnny smiles and picks up on of the wrist bands to his new costume. ‘Well, you slackers would be lost without a little discipline!’ he jokes, before telling Wanda to count him in. ‘Welcome to the Works, USAgent’ Wanda replies, kissing Johnny on the cheek.
Soon, ‘Good news,’ Wanda announces as she approaches Iron Man and Wonder Man. ‘You mean Agent’s leaving us after all?’ Simon replies, but Tony tells him not to joke, as Walker is one of the best in a tight spot, ‘And wait till you see the reinvented USAgent!’ Tony adds. Entering an elevator, Tony uses voice commands to take them to the hangar deck, before informing Wanda that Simon suggested the two of them return to the Palos Verdes Compound to retrieve the team’s personal effects. ‘Fine by me’ Wanda replies, before Tony hands them each a collar stud, explaining that they are alarm tags that will keep Plato advised of their location and status.
Entering the Hangar deck, Iron Man motions to the large aircraft before them, assuring his friends that they should have no trouble handing the Hex-Ships, explaining that their design has evolved from the Quinjet marque, and that he has fully automated all unfamiliar systems. ‘Man, will you look at these!’ Simon exclaims, impressed. As Iron Man takes flight, departing through one of the large openings the jets use, he announces that he is off to the East Coast to inform the Avengers of their new status in person. ‘It seems only polite’ he remarks, before telling his friends that he will see them in a few hours. And while up in the air, high above The Works, Tony exclaims ‘I don’t believe it! I think I did it!’
Even higher, in orbit, the Kree vessel still waits its quarry, when, suddenly, Stug Bar calls out to Major Lo, announcing that quarry alpha has reappeared on the scope, and is moving once more. ‘I have a fix… he’s about to intersect with quarry beta!’ Stug Bar exclaims, surprised, he adds ‘That’s what we hoped for!’. Major Lo almost smiles and exclaims ‘At last!’ before ordering the ground assault fire teams to be mobilized and the cannon to be powered up. ‘Now we make out move!’ he declares.
Meanwhile, back on Earth, at the damaged Palos Verdes Compound, one of the brand new Hex-Ships lands, and Simon exclaims that was one of the smoothest rides he ever took. ‘This Hex-Ship is something else!’ Wanda tells Simon that when finishes admiring the leather upholstery and the teak-effect dash, he may like to look out the window - as there is a Quinjet down there! Wanda strides from the Hex-Ship, ‘What do they want? I thought we saw the last of them back in New York!’ Wanda exclaims, annoyed.
Inside the remains of the Compound, Wanda and Simon find two of the Avengers - the Vision and the Black Widow. ‘This is a pleasant surprise!’ the Black Widow exclaims as she puts the lid on a box. The Vision - Wanda’s long estranged husband - announces that he and the Black Widow were just finishing here, as there was a considerable amount of information to download from the mainframe. Wanda replies that they have come for their things, and announces that they will not be very long.
Wonder Man isn’t so kind though, and asks his “brother” if they have everything they came for. ‘Why am I suddenly thinking of looters stripping corpses on the battle field?’ The Vision replies that he has no idea and asserts that it is vital they protect the information integrity of the Avengers, as the West Coast Compound is now very vulnerable. ‘I trust that you will not interfere with Avengers business’ the Vision states. ‘You unfeeling idiot!’ Simon snaps. ‘Unfeeling… perhaps. An idiot… no’ the Vision replies. ‘We’d still be part of Avengers business if you hadn’t hounded us out. You didn’t even have the decency to call me in person!’ Simon snaps.
Before either the Vision or the Black Widow, two of the Avengers who voted to disband the West Coast team, can answer, there is a massive explosion, ‘We’re under attack!’ Wanda cries, while the Black Widow urges everyone to stay together. Wonder Man grabs Wanda, and she hangs on to him as Simon tells her to stay close, as laser-shot is cutting the place to pieces. The four heroes make it outside, only to witness a Kree battle ship hover above the Palos Verdes Compound grounds, and dozens of Kree warriors emerge from the vessel. ‘Uh-oh. I think we’re in serious trouble here, people…’ Simon begins. ‘You said it…’ a wide-eyed Wanda replies. ‘Those are Kree! A whole blasted army of Kree!’
Inside the Kree vessel, Major Lo orders the assault teams to deploy, ‘Exterminate the quarries and all subsidiary targets now! Now! For Hala!’ he bellows. ‘You heard the major, dog-soldiers! For the memory of all we cherished… burn these human monsters!’ Stug Bar orders as they continue to fire upon the four heroes. The Black Widow suggests that they put aside their personal bickering, and get on with the business at hand. ‘Fine by me, Avenger…just try and keep up!’ Wonder Man replies as he casts the first blow against one of the Kree.
Simon doesn’t stop there and he doesn’t hold back. He takes flight, and flies right through part of the Kree vessel, partly angry, partly because he feels he has something to prove to the two present Avengers. Whether by intent or accident, Simon flies through the engine of the vessel and, for a moment, it hangs, turbines strain and wail - before suddenly, it falls from the sky and crashes down onto the grounds of the Palos Verdes compound. Major Lo sends a call to the Retribution, still in space, and announces that their quarry is as strong as they had feared. ‘Fire the ion cannon - NOW!’ he orders. His command is received, and an officer aboard the Retribution bellows ‘FIRE!’
Suddenly, at Palos Verdes, Wonder Man and the Vision are bombarded by purple-pink ionic rays, and they both scream out in pain. The Black Widow asks what is happening, to which Wanda replies that they are being bombarded by some kind of energy stream from above, and points out that it doesn’t seem to affect either of them, but now the Vision has collapsed. ‘And Wonder Man… I don’t know what’s happening to him!’ Wanda exclaims as pink energy flows from Wonder Man’s eye sockets and mouth.
The Scarlet Witch and the Black Widow stand by Wonder Man and the Vision, and the Black Widow remarks that they haven’t got time to figure it out now, as the Kree will be all over them in seconds. ‘Then stand with me, Widow! Let’s show them the mistake they’ve made!’ Wanda declares, when, suddenly, the Recorder materializes a few feet away. The Recorder approaches Wonder Man and remarks ‘Query? Does it hurt? What are you feeling?’ Simon, in agony, exclaims that he recognizes him from the Avengers files. ‘You’re a Recorder!’ he stutters, before asking him what he is doing here.
The Recorder replies that his answer cannot be complete, as he has not been functioning properly since he was caught in the detonation that annihilated the planet Hala. The Recorder announces that he knows he has been tampered with by forces unknown in order to deliver a communiqué to these Kree warriors. ‘That communiqué identified the Earth beings known as Wonder Man and the Vision as the true architects of Hala’s destruction!’ the Recorder declares. ‘WHAT? Are you saying you brought this down on us?!’ Wonder Man asks, infuriated.
Kree warriors begin grabbing Wonder Man, but he uses his incredible strength to shove them off of him, demanding to know the truth, before asking the Recorder what the Kree are doing to him. The Recorder explains that the Kree mother ship is bombarding this location with an ionic beam encoded to the individual bio-spheres of only Wonder Man and the Vision, causing a core meltdown in the Vision, and an ionic overload in Wonder Man’s body. ‘Combined, these events are likely to lead to a chain reaction that will collapse this planet upon itself’ the Recorder reveals.
Urgently, Wonder Man asks where the bio-spores come from, to which the Recorder replies ‘They were obtained from my memory banks’. ‘What!?’ Wonder Man snaps, grabbing the Recorder, who then uses his own strength to shove Wonder Man away, knocking him into one of the Compound walls as he declares that he will not permit physical interference to impede his documentation of these events.
Suddenly, several laser beams are fired in the direction of the Scarlet Witch and Black Widow, and one of them strikes the Black Widow across her forehead, knocking her out. The Scarlet Witch grabs her former teammate, and turns to a Kree warrior, ‘So, it’s just me now, is it, Kree? Do your worst… nothing else will be good enough!’ Wanda exclaims. Suddenly, ‘Need a hand here, Scarlet Witch?’ asks USAgent, sporting his new costume, and displaying his photon shield, as he and Spider-Woman arrive on scene. Walker declares that he and Spider-Woman will be happy to oblige, before lunging at one of the Kree soldiers, ‘Suck on photon shield, Kree!’ Walker shouts as he shoves his powerful new weapon into the Kree’s face, making a massive sound.
Johnny then tells Wanda that she was right. ‘Stark does make some great toys!’, before asking her what kind of mess they are in. Spider-Woman remarks that it looks like Kree battle troops, and points out that they are coming towards them as fast as she can tangle them up in her psionic webs. The Scarlet Witch asks her friends if they have seen Simon, informing them that the Recorder knocked him through a wall. Julia informs Wanda that they bumped into Simon on their way in, and reveals that he was making for orbit, said he was a threat to the entire planet and had to take them out at the source. Julia asks a somber Wanda what Simon meant, to which Johnny exclaims ‘Who cares?!’ and points out that Wonder Man can take care of himself. ‘Right now we’ve got more than enough to deal with!’
In the stratosphere, Wonder Man flies towards the Retribution vessel, with the Recorder following him. Major Lo announces that the quarry is approaching the ship, and orders his crew to open fire. ‘Blast him from the skies!’ he demands. But Wonder Man continues to fly through the barrage of lasers blasted at him. ‘You’ll have to do better than that, Kree - if you want me dead!’ Wonder Man shouts as he rips apart the side of the Retribution and flies into bridge, where the Kree instantly begin physically attacking him. ‘Get out of my way, you maniac filth!’ Simon shouts as he pushes past them in an attempt to reach the cannon.
Back at Palos Verdes, Wanda tells Johnny and Julia to get behind her, explaining that she is going to try and even the odds by hitting them with all the hex that she can muster. Julia wishes her friend luck, pointing out that in another few seconds they will be history. The air fractures as Wanda unleashes and overload of scrambled probabilities and, in an instant, the power packs of a dozen Kree dog soldiers spontaneously combust. The blast can be felt right down the coast, and as the smoke rises, an amazingly tall alien appears through the hex energy, which crackles around him, until he speaks, a voice like burning leaves: ‘Where… is… this… place?!’ he cries.
‘Where did this jolly purple giant come from?’ USAgent asks, while Spider-Woman cautiously asks the newcomer to state his business and asks him if he is as friend, or foe. A Kree approaches Major Lo and exclaims that the newcomer phased in from nowhere, to which Lo replies ‘What do I care? Kill him! Kill them all!’ Lasers suddenly hit the mysterious alien, who exclaims ‘Energy weapons! I am beset / assaulted / injured! There is no motive!’ The alien then swings his deadly scythe at the Kree, ‘This will cease!’ he bellows.
‘He tears us apart!’ one of the Kree cries, while another looks through a scope at the Scarlet Witch and remarks that she was the one who brought the alien here. He readies his gun to fire at the Scarlet Witch, until the mysterious alien exclaims ‘You! Warrior! DESIST!’ and shoves his weapon through the Kree’s gun - and into the Kree! The Scarlet Witch asks the alien who he is, to which he replies ‘I am called Century… beyond that… I do not know!’ Wanda begins to ask, until she is interrupted by a massive explosion - the arrival of Iron Man who blasted numerous Kree from the battlefield. Iron Man announces that Plato alerted him via the alarm tags, and explains that he got here as fast as he could.
Tony begins to ask who - or what - the alien is, before alerting his teammates to an approaching mass of Kree behind them. Iron Man unleashes more repulsor rays at the Kree, cutting through their masses, blasting a gap which the others can exploit, Spider-Woman and USAgent use their enhanced strength to smack down the other Kree, and even Century joins in, and, eventually, the Kree are shattered.
An uneasy peace falls across the compound and, as Wanda tends to the Vision, she asks Julia to check on the Black Widow. ‘Can you speak?’ Wanda asks her ex-husband, while Iron Man remarks that with the Kree down for the count, he would like an explanation, beginning with where Wonder Man is. The Vision announces that he and Wonder Man were being bombarded by an ionic cannon from the Kree’s orbiting vessel and, if it continued, their body systems would have overloaded, potentially threatening the entire planet. The Vision points out that as the bombardment has stopped, it would seem Wonder Man was successful. A wide-eyed Wanda exclaims that Simon might need their help, and declares that they will take the Hex-Ship immediately to find him.
But, aboard the Retribution, the Recorder states that, despite sustained assault from the entire crew of this vessel, Wonder Man has successfully disabled the threat of the ionic cannon. ‘You have saved your colleagues and your planet. According to my records, the proper word is… congratulations’. Simon clenches his body, ‘No thanks to you, Recorder,’ he replies, before remarking that he is getting mighty sick of the Recorder providing his life with a running commentary. ‘Yeah, I saved my world… I might feel good about that later… but right now, I’m too num with the fear of how close it was!’
Wonder Man’s words are like lead and, for the first time, the annotating Recorder falls silent. For a moment only, as outside the void ignites, ruptured by a cascade of energy that carries with it a swarm of pod-like objects. They move at several times the speed of sound - and the drifting Kree ship is right in their path! ‘What the blazes are those? They’re heading straight for us!’ Simon exclaims, before calling out to the Recorder as some of the strange pods smash into the Retribution, while others continue to speed across the sky.
The Recorder announces that the main power cell of the ion cannon have ruptured and will explode in twelve seconds, adding that collision with two unknown pod vessels has caused substantial damage to this Kree warship. ‘What? You mean I’m right back where I started?’ Simon snaps, before he leaps into action, doing what he can to prevent the ion cannon exploding. The Recorder watches him and asks why he is making another attempt to save the planet, pointing out that his chances of success are remote and therefore the logical option would be to preserve himself. ‘You just don’t get it, do you, Recorder?’ Simon replies, before he rips the ion cannon from the Retribution and takes flight with it, high into orbit, shouting ‘I WILL NOT GIVE UP!’
As they fly upwards, the Recorder informs Wonder Man that in order to protect Earth from the blast, he must convey the cannon to a distance of no less than three hundred kilometers. The Recorder remarks that it will be interesting to discover if Wonder Man can survive such a detonation. ‘No kidding’ Simon mumbles, before the cannon explodes, in a dazzling display - with Wonder Man at the epicenter, the explosion is seen all the way below at Palos Verdes.
‘Wonder Man…?’ Wanda whispers, while the Vision remarks that he doesn’t understand, as he believed the danger had passed and points out that the explosion was far more distant from the Kree vessel. ‘The sky is full of ionic discharge. I fear for Wonder Man’s safety’ the Vision declares. ‘No!’ Wanda gasps, as she and the others gaze into the pinkish sky. Suddenly, Spider-Woman motions to something falling out of the sky. ‘What’s that? Debris?’ she asks. Iron Man replies that any debris would have burnt up, and Walker notices that it is headed this way, so tells everyone to move - but it’s too late, as there is a blinding light when the “debris” crashes nearby.
The heroes look at the “debris” and discover that they are some kind of pods. Walker tells everyone to be ready, just in case they came from the ship. ‘Incorrect / negative / no!’ Century exclaims, before urgently announcing that they are the Scatter. ‘Beware!’ he shouts. Suddenly, the Scatter, as Century called them, are free of their pods, and begin speaking in their native language - before grabbing Johnny and Julia. ‘Can’t break their grip!’ Julia exclaims, scared, as she and Walker are pulled away by the Scatter. ‘Iron Man! Wanda! Help us!’ USAgent shouts. The Scatter say something else, and fire some sort of energy at the remaining heroes.
‘Protect yourselves!’ Century exclaims, spinning his scythe, and Iron Man announces that his armor can barely deflect the Scatter’s exotic energy pulse, before he calls out to Wanda, who is trying to pull her friend Julia away from the Scatter. ‘They’re being dragged into the pods!’ Wanda shouts back to Tony, while telling Julia to hold on. Iron Man calls out ‘Wanda! They’ll get you too!’, and indeed, the Scatter latch on to Wanda, and pull her into the pods also, ‘They’re vanishing! Vanishing!’ Iron Man shouts as the Scatter disappear as quickly as they arrived - and with the Scarlet Witch, USAgent and Spider-Woman as their prisoners.
Iron Man turns to Century and asks ‘Where have they gone? They’ve phased right out of existence!’ Getting agitated, he exclaims ‘You! You know what they are! Where have they taken my team?’ Century replies that he doesn’t know, but believes he should know. ‘They are the Scatter. They are evil. That is all I am sure of’. ‘Really helpful,’ Iron Man mutters in reply, before asking the Vision how long before his systems will be back on-line, as they need to find Wonder Man and mount a search for the others.
The Vision begins to reply that he will be on-line in a few more minutes, when, Iron Man is shocked to see the Recorder drop down beside them. ‘What? A Recorder? Here!?’ The Recorder declares that his systems fail to detect life readings of subject. ‘Conclusion: The being known as Wonder Man has ceased to exist!’ The Vision holds on to the still unconscious Black Widow, and stands next to Century and the Recorder as Iron Man exclaims ‘No… Wonder Man trusted me. This isn’t the way I… I… HOW CAN IT HAVE GONE SO WRONG SO VERY QUICKLY…???’