Space, where a small spacecraft is suddenly under attack. ‘We’ve been hit again, Captain Kkon!’ one of the crew calls out. Another crew member reports that the tertiary stabilizers are out, and they are losing fotel drive. ‘Visual!’ the captain orders. But an officer aboard the alien vessel explains that there is no visual, that the sensors paint nothing out there. The captain climbs into his chair and declares that there must be something they can fix their weapons on. Another of the crew replies that the weapons system just went down anyway. ‘It’s him, isn’t it? It’s got to be him!’ the captain declares. Suddenly, a much larger vessel materializes in space overhead, and a transmission can be heard, a voice orders Captain Kkon to hold his position, as there is nowhere left to run, the game is over. ‘It’s time to do business’ the voice declares.
‘He’s de-cloaking behind us!’ one of the crew exclaims. The captain tells the ensign that his he now blind, before stating that they have no choice, and orders the data to be transmitted. ‘Give him what he wants’ the captain mutters, rubbing his hand against his head. ‘Aye, Sir!’ one of the crew replies nervously. The larger ship responds, announcing that the data has been received, and thanks Captain Kkon, but one of the crew quickly informs their captain that the other ship is powering up its weapon banks. ‘Please! We gave you what you wanted! Why are you doing this?’ Captain Kkon calls out - but he doesn’t get a response, as the larger ship fires at Kkon’s ship, destroying it.
In the meantime, on Earth, the Scarlet Witch a.k.a. Wanda Maximoff is in the middle of a sentence - an angry sentence - when a pain goes off inside her mind like a flare robbing her of sensible speech. It starts as a line of fire and then blossoms into a jagged orchid of hurt, migraine-fierce. ‘Ohhh!’ Wanda utters as she clutches her head in agony. Dull, mauve, pain-shapes flutter across the backlids of her eyes And suddenly, it is gone, just as fast. That is the third time this week that it has caught the Scarlet Witch like this, and Wanda wishes to God she knew what was causing it.
‘Hey, Wanda!’ USAgent a.k.a. Johnny Walker calls out. ‘Are you all right, Scarlet Witch?’ Tony “Iron Man” Stark enquires. Wanda tells herself that she should say she is fine, to not let them see she is worried, and still clutching her head, she replies that she is fine, claiming it is a migraine, brought on by the two of them and their antics. Wanda frowns at her long-time teammate and tells USAgent that she would like to know what he was doing with that disappearance act of his. ‘Like I said, it was a personal thing, tied up with the stuff I was doing before I ever joined Force Works’ Walker replies, adding that he got involved with Hawkeye and War Machine down in San Revilla, but that it is over now, a done deal.
‘Is that all you’re gonna tell us?’ Wanda asks. ‘Yeah. But you should know that it made me take a long hard look at myself…and thanks to that…I know my place is here. With the team’ Walker replies. ‘Fine sentiments, Agent. But that’s not the point! You deserted us -’ Iron Man begins, until Wanda interrupts him: ‘That’s enough from you, Iron Man!’ she declares, before pointing out that USAgent may have left for a few days, but that at least he seems to know he did wrong. She declares that Tony, on the other hand, persists in going off and doing his own thing. ‘How am I supposed to keep the team functioning if I don’t know where you are from one day to the next?’
‘That’s hardly fair, Wanda! I’ve never made a secret of my personal career…’ Iron Man replies, while peering around the corner into the room is Rachel Carpenter, who whispers to herself ‘Oh, boy…’, while Wanda points a finger at Iron Man and tells him that a secret is just what it is. ‘You lead a double life, Tony, and sometimes you treat us like a weekend hobby!’ Wanda exclaims. Turning to Walker, she tells him to lose his grin, as she has not finished with him yet, either.
‘Mom? Mom?’ Rachel calls out to her mother, Julia “Spider-Woman” Carpenter. Rachel runs along a corridor, and into another room, asking ‘Mom? Why are the others -’, but she is interrupted by Julia, who tells Rachel ‘Not now, honey…Mommy’s working’. Rachel goes over to the console where her mother and the alien Century are standing, and Century informs Rachel that her mother is dealing with a Chaos Alert. ‘It’s peaking at two-seven-nine! I’m configuring the location…’ Julia announces. ‘But, Mom!’ Rachel protests. Spider-Woman turns to Century and suggests he summon the others, as the Chaos Computer has located the crisis site. ‘Is it bad, Mom?’ Rachel asks. ‘Worse than bad, honey…it’s the Vault!’ Julia announces.
At that moment, ‘Waden Jzemlico! Sir?’ a voice calls out from within the Vault. ‘I’m thinking, Robbins!’ the Warden retorts from inside a control booth. The Warden asks if there is any joy getting the command systems back on line, to which the female officer, Robbins, replies ‘Negative!’ and announces that they are now locked out of their own security management system. Another officer, Anders tells the Warden that it is looking bad on the BEM wing. Robbins reports that security has crashed down there, and the Kree prisoners are running wild. ‘Oh geez! We’re all gonna die!’ Anders exclaims nervously.
The Warden puts on a head-piece communicator and tells Anders that there will be no more talk of that, and asks him to try and raise the Avengers - anyone - as they need assistance of a priority one level. The Warden announces that he is going out there to get the measure of things. ‘Nice one, Anders - Jzemlico might pop you before the Kree do!’ Robbins whispers to her colleague. ‘Crazy! Rather you than me!’ Anders tells the Warden. Exiting the control booth, the Warden encounters two more officers, Reeder and Harriman, and asks them where are the Guardsmen who are assigned to this wing. ‘See for yourself, Warden!’ one of the officers replies, motioning to a Guardsman, slumped against a wall.
The other officer explains that whatever took out the computer control has immobilized the Guardsman suits as well. ‘Easy, son. We’ll soon have you out of there’ the Warden tells the unmoving Guardsman as he kneels down beside him. Suddenly, there is weapons fire, and Harriman is shot at. ‘Oh, man!’ mutters Reeder, while down below the platform that runs around the edge of the wing, the armed aliens look up. ‘You there, human scum! I am Major Kalum Lo of the Kree Star-Stealth!’ one of the Kree shouts, before warning ‘Lead us to the exit…or burn!’
Suddenly, the Kree detect something phasing in behind them - ‘Tremble, Kree - Century has not forgotten your crimes!’ Century declares as he materializes behind the warriors, and attacks them with his staff, Parallax. ‘For the memory of Simon Williams, I spit on your treachery!’ Century declares, while the Kree who are struck by the staff cry out in agony. ‘You!’ the Major exclaims as he sees Century, he then takes hold of the Warden. ‘I know you, grey-skin! You were one of those who defeated us…who caused us to be locked in this hell-hole!’ Holding his weapon to the Warden’s face, Major Lo warns Century not to come any closer.
‘How would you like your brains…scrambled or fried?’ Wanda asks the Major as she holds two fingers to his head, like a gun. ‘Eh?’ the Major mutters, glancing at Wanda, who warns the Major to drop the weapon, and not to doubt for a second that she wouldn’t use her power on him. ‘Oh, thank you, God!’ the Warden exclaims as the Kree leader releases him. ‘Well done, you two’ Iron Man tells Wanda and Century as he enters the wing, while asking ordering the officers to round the Kree up. ‘Thank goodness you Avengers arrived when you did!’ the Warden exclaims, glancing at Iron Man and the Scarlet Witch, while the officers round up the Kree. ‘We’re not the Avengers’ Iron Man replies, while Wanda asks the Warden if he could fill then in on the situation.
The Warden explains that something has locked them out of their computer systems, and that the Vault will blow wide open unless they regain control, and fast, too. ‘Given the Vault’s safeguards, that’ll be possible!’ Iron Man declares, to which Wanda turns to Century and tells him to teleport directly to the Vault’s computer core and see what he can find. Wanda asks Iron Man to escort the Warden to the control room. ‘You got it’ Tony replies. ‘At once’ Century declares. Wanda touches her collar stud communicator, and feels the headache sweeping over her once more. ‘Not now!’ she tells herself, before calling out to Spider-Woman and USAgent, asking them to report.
While USAgent reaches behind himself and grabs the throat of a Kree, using his photon shield to deflect weapons fire, Spider-Woman smacks one of the Kree in the face, and informs Wanda that they are in the cell-blocks, but it is a free-for-all down here. Wanda races down a flight of stairs and tells her friend to hold the Kree back as best she can. ‘I’m on my way!’ Wanda announces, but she feels the pain in her head, she cannot think straight. ‘Looks like we broke ‘em! They’re running away!’ USAgent points out as the Kree suddenly run from the heroes. ‘Yeah…but too late for this Guardsman. The Kree butchered him while he was helpless in his suit’ Julia remarks, kneeling beside the fallen Guardsman. ‘Oh, man…that tears it! Shields - twin release!’ USAgent shouts, releasing both photon shields at once.
In the control room, Iron Man contacts Century, and explains that he is using a gauntlet link to plug directly into the Vault’s systems. ‘Any moment now I’ll tell you precisely where the problem is’ Tony states. Robbins looks up at Iron Man and exclaims ‘Sir - can I just say how great it is to be working with you Avengers?’, to which Iron Man quickly replies ‘We’re not the Avengers’. Tony then informs Century that he is almost there with the data, and to standby. ‘No need, Iron Man. I have located / smoked out / found the problem’ Century replies, announcing that it is the Recorder!
Hooked up to the computer system, the Recorder smirks, and declares ‘Statement: Of all the computer cores in the world, you had to walk into mine. Missed me, ol’ pal…? Well…did you?’ Century just raises Parallax and reminds the Recorder that e killed him once, so will be able to do so again. ‘Statement: Given that I am hardwired into the installation’s computer core, and have complete control over its security force fields…that seems unlikely’. Century then falls backwards as the force field appears in front of him. ‘Century! Are you okay down there?’ Iron Man calls out over the communicator. ‘Sucker-punched, but alive, Iron Man’ the alien replies.
Iron Man reports that he will try to short-circuit the Recorder by flooding the computer system with an electromagnetic overload, and tells Century to stand back. An instant later, the Recorder cries out in agony. ‘Congratulations, Iron Man - you have, as the saying goes, aced the scuzzball!’
Deep in the B.E.M. wing, Wanda is fighting the claws of pain in her head, and praying that she is not too late - but as she races into the main area of the wing, she finds Guardsmen and officers rounding up the Kree, and Spider-Woman and USAgent standing over the fallen Kree warriors. ‘Hi, Wanda. Show’s over!’ Julia exclaims. USAgent adds that Iron Man just regained control of the Vault’s systems, with the Guardsmen back on line, it was a piece of cake.
Wanda’s head clears as the danger lifts, but as the Guardsmen round up the Kree prisoners, Force Works are still left with a lot of unanswered questions. Wanda turns to the Warden and tells him that when they left the Recorder here for safekeeping he was dysfunctional, as Century had decapitated him. The Warden glances around as he admits that they underestimated the Recorder’s capacity for self-repair, and reveals that once he got himself back together it had to be child’s play for him to hijack the Vault’s command and control mechanisms. The Warden adds that the administration trustees will no doubt want his resignation. ‘A breakout of this magnitude…’ he mutters, his voice trailing off. One of the Gaurdsmen assures the Warden that the administrators will consider the circumstances.
But the Warden declares that they won’t want excuses. ‘The cost of the damages…the compensation of the families of the staff we lost. Six good men for God-sake!’ he exclaims. Iron Man offers for Force Works to cover the repair bill, after all, they brought the Recorder here in the first place. Wanda announces that she is concerned the Recorder chose to spring the Kree, as they brought him to Earth originally. Julia asks her friend if she thinks that the Kree may have tampered with the Recorder’s programming. ‘That would explain a whole lot…’ Julia points out.
‘Sure would’ Iron Man agrees, and remarks that in light of this fiasco, he will run a full diagnosis of that psychotic machine. ‘Now we know what that thing is capable of, we can confine him more securely. I’m just glad you Avengers were here to -’ one of the Guardsmen announces, but Iron Man interrupts: ‘Guardsmen…we’re not the Avengers’. Suddenly, ‘Nay…but we most surely are!’ a voice booms - and Force Works turn to see five of the Avengers! The powerful Hercules stands at the front of the group, flanked by Dr Henry Pym a.k.a. Giant Man, Natasha Romanoff a.k.a. the Black Widow, as well as the Scarlet Witch’s brother Pietro “Quicksilver” Maximoff, and his wife, the elemental Inhuman called Crystal.
‘So, Force Workers…we meet professionally at last…’ Hank tells his former Avengers West Coast teammates. The stern Black Widow remarks that she takes that the situation is well in hand, adding that they came as soon as they got the priority call. ‘But it looks like you beat us to the punch’ Natasha adds. ‘Good to see you, Hank’ Iron Man remarks, while Spider-Woman greets Quicksilver and Crystal, who points out that it has been a while. Pietro tells Spider-Woman that she looks well. The Scarlet Witch smirks at the Black Widow and asks her what kept her, to which Natasha tells Wanda to try and not crow about it, assuring her that Force Works has nothing to prove as fat as she is concerned.
‘However, I’d love to know how you got here so fast’ the Black Widow remarks. ‘Ha! Well met, old friend!’ Hercules exclaims, slapping USAgent on the back. ‘Yeah, whatever’ USAgent replies, before excusing himself, he walks over to the Black Widow and tells her that you either have the edge like Force Works, or you ain’t. ‘And from where I stand…’ John’s voice trails off as the Black Widow tells him to stop there if she was him. ‘You people did manage to contain the escape, but I checked with the Vault registry. Four of the Kree internees are unaccounted for’ Natasha announces.
‘Oh’ the Scarlet Witch replies, coldly. Her brother smiles and declares that it seems Force Works weren’t so throughout as USAgent thought. ‘Hello, sister’ Pietro adds. The Black Widow announces that the Avengers will organize a search pattern and bring the escaped Kree in. ‘Thanks for your assistance’ she tells Wanda, who suggests they pool their considerable resources and maximize the effort. When she gets no response, Wanda asks Natasha if she a problem with cooperation. ‘Of course not. It’s an excellent sug-’ the Black Widow begins to reply, when suddenly, there is a strange noise BWEEEG which sounds behind the heroes. ‘What in the world?’ USAgent asks, turning around, he and the other heroes are confronted by several aliens. ‘SKRULLS!’ Walker gasps. ‘A bunch of Skrulls! Who teleported these ugly gimboids?’ USAgent asks.
The Skrulls are flanked by two bizarre looking purple-skinned aliens in orange cloaks, and one of the Skrulls shouts: ‘Attend! I am Major Hokk Algol of the glorious Sixth Legion. It is my honor to command the War-Crimes Tribunal Mission here in the outworlds’. He adds that he trusts the Starstealth butchers are ready for extradition. ‘Well? Do not disappoint me, Black Widow!’ the Major exclaims. The Black Widow turns to Major Algol and tells him that it would have been better if he stayed on the ship as she requested. ‘While our scanners show us the Kree scum escaping? Impossible!’ the Major retorts. ‘Extradition? How dare you!?’ Wanda demands, turning to the Black Widow.
‘Sorry, Witch…but we’ve been in talks with Major Algol’s tribunal for weeks now, and the Kree are to be extradited for an off-planet trial. USAgent lunges forward, shouting that this stinks, as those dogs killed Wonder Man and they have to stand trial here on Earth. ‘Agent! Back off!’ Iron Man declares, holding Walker back. ‘Restrain your puppy, metal-skin. I do not wish to soil my clothing with his blood’ the Major mutters. The Black Widow explains that it has all been agreed - the Major’s mission is to prosecute renegade Kree war criminals on behalf of the Fringe-World’s they violated. Natasha adds that if Earth wants to take its place in the galactic community, they have to learn to play along.
Motioning to the Major, Natasha explains that he represents the bigger picture. ‘Hand over the Kree barbarians. Human patience is not amongst my virtues!’ Major Algol declares. Suddenly, one of the strange purple aliens remarks ‘If we might interject’. ‘And you are?’ Wanda asks, hands on hips. The alien reveals that the are the Quo Modari, a race dedicated to the arts of diplomacy and inter-species community. The alien explains that they join this mission to facilitate tolerance and understanding. The alien adds that the Kree interned here are wanted on 16 worlds for 907 counts of slaughter with intent to terminate a species. ‘These beings must be made to answer for their crimes. You humans must understand the cosmic implications of such a trial’ the alien declares.
‘Sure we do…but this still sucks’ Spider-Woman remarks. ‘Spider-Woman!’ Hercules exclaims, to which Julia declares ‘Well, excuse me, but it does!’, while Major Algol declares that “the human female” annoys him with her chatter. He announces that if the Kree are not in custody within six hours, he will employ his own troops to secure their capture. Wanda turns from the others: ‘A word, Natasha - in private’ she declares. ‘Of course, Wanda’ the Black Widow replies. Hercules and Iron Man have to hold back USAgent as he attempts to lunge at the Skrulls, while Wanda and Natasha walk away from their teams.
Wanda announces that they have two concerns here - the immediate problem of the escapees and the extradition order. Wanda suggests that they go with pooling resources and draw up two mission teams, one which will go after the fugitives, and the other to discuss the Skrull proposal. The Black Widow turns away from Wanda, but agrees, suggesting that should at least calm things down. ‘I can see why Anthony put you in charge’ she adds. ‘It’s a shame he can’t’ Wanda replies. This causes the Black Widow to smirk, and declare ‘Ouch. Did I just hit a raw nerve?’, to which Wanda tells her to skip it.
They return to their teams, and the Black Widow tells Hercules, Quicksilver and Crystal to start searching for the escaped Kree. The Scarlet Witch informs Iron Man and USAgent that they will be working with them. ‘We’ll take the Quinjet. You can ride with us, or follow in your own transport, if you choose’ Pietro declares. But Iron Man folds his arms across his chest and informs Quicksilver that the Hex-Ship has a far greater range. ‘I should now’ Tony mutters. ‘This is going to be rough’ Wanda mutters. ‘Tell me something I don’t know’ Natasha agrees.
Menatime, at the Chatwin Falls Freight Yard, in Colorado. It is the biggest railhead in the Western Rockies. Day and night, trucks and locos growl in and out through the steam and diesel fumes. The door to a large truck suddenly opens, and the motionless body of the driver falls from the cabin. ‘Thanks for the ride’ a voice declares, as the four escaped Kree emerge from the large truck. ‘Which way from here, Bo’sun…?’ one of them asks. Bo’sun announces that it is down here, in the freight holding area, right where they left it. ‘Trust Commander Lo to prepare to thoroughly’ one of them remarks. ‘That is why he is the commander, fool! First rule of warfare…always have a good contingency plan. Always have something held in reserve’ one of the others declares.
A large cloth is pulled from an alien craft, stored in the yard, and Bo’sun tells everyone to get inside the supply pod. ‘I want you combat-ready in five!’ the Kree orders. Moments pass, and the four stearstealth warriors re-emerge - in heavy-duty armor. Their war-suits are hybrids, customized devices, engineered from battle-junk, captured weaponry munition spares and the salvaged parts of several sentry robots, crippled in the Kree / Shi’ar War. At such a makeshift ingenuity, the starsteath commandos excel. The warsuits were left here under wraps…an ace in the hole should the Kree’s primary mission fail. Now, they will be instruments of revenge. ‘Follow me, boys…the long day closes and there’s bloody work to be done!’….