(Flashback, Greenwich Village, New York City, one month ago)
People go about their evening ventures, bustling about the city, while inside a small fortune telling booth, a woman dressed as a gypsy, who is actually Urania the Muse of Prophecy, sister to Athena of the Olympians. She holds the palm of a young man and tells him that the lines on his hand changes as he ages, adding that she is not just reading his future when she looks at his palm, but can also read his past. Urania points at a line and tells the young man that it is clearly doubled at a distinct point, and there is a break, so she can tell that at some point, not so long ago, he exchanged one life, for another…
Urania’s jaw drops as she drops the young man’s hand - it has turned green. ‘What? What is it? What do you see?’ he asks Urania. ‘It’s bad, isn’t it?’ he asks innocently, despite now resembling a Skrull. Urania leaps to her feet, stuttering, as the young man assures her that he can tell her what it is. Rushing out of her booth, Urania calls out to police officer ‘I need - I need -’ she exclaims, when suddenly the Skrull-faced police officer casually turns to Urania and tells her to take some deep breaths and tell him real slowly - but Urania rushes off before he an finish her sentence, spinning around she sees a mother carrying a baby - both Skrulls.
All around her Skrulls, all very casual and seemingly innocent look at a frightened Urania, who screams and rushes past them, straight onto a road - and into the path of an approaching cab. The cab slams into Urania, who hits it with a loud thud and falls to the ground. ‘Not my fault!’ exclaims the Skrull cab-driver as he steps form the vehicle, ‘License and registration!’ the police officer exclaims, rushing over to the scene. Skrulls begin to gather around Urania, looking down at her. Even though the Muse thought this was bad, the worst was still to come - for she saw that he was coming - the prodigal eldest of the Earth Goddess, Gaea - the primal slayer. Looking up into the sky, Urania watches as the horrid creature flies out of his lair in the heart of the sun - it is Atum, also known as Demogorge - the God-Eater!
Athena finishes the story about her sister by holding up the head of a Skrull that she has been carrying around and holds it out to the myriad of Gods who have gathered at this woodlands, under a moon-lit sky. Athena tells the pantheon that Urania forewarned her of her vision. ‘And I have forewarned you, the council elite of Earth’s pantheons’. Athena declares that they cannot survive if the shape-shifting Skrulls succeed in wiping out humanity, for an alien pantheon will replace all of them, the cosmic axis will shift, and the God-Eater will lay waste to them all.
The powerful Athena holds the Skrull head close to her own and informs the myriad of Gods that she has also had to take mortal employment thanks to the Olympian Diaspora, as a security consultant for the Atlas Foundation, from within whose ranks she discovered and beheaded the imposter, but not before she extracted the intelligence she needed. Athena drops the Skrull head onto the grass, it bounces a couple of times and green blood splashes by Athena’s foot. Athena tells the Gods what she has learned, explaining that for these aliens, this is a religious war, based on a renegade queen’s interpretation of the Book of Worlds, the sacred writ of the Emperor and Empress of their pantheon - Kly’bn the Eternal Skrull, and Sl’gurt of the Infinite Names.
Standing before the pantheon, Athena tells them that her strategy is simple and direct - they shall send their own our invasion force into the realm of the Skrull pantheon and slay the divine interlopers. ‘For dead Gods cannot command their followers to conquer this planet!’ Athena declares that their legions will be led by none other than the bravest of the Gods of the West… ‘Here it comes’ whispers that particular God - the handsome, heroic, Hercules! Athena introduces her brother as the Prince of Power, and motions to the young man at his side, Hercules’ mortal arms-bearer, the boy genius Amadeus Cho. ‘…and his dog’ Athena adds quietly. ‘Coyote’ Amadeus whispers. ‘Coyote’ Athena corrects herself.
Hercules kicks an extremely large tree, breaking it just above the ground, and it comes crashing down. ‘Whoa!’ whispers Amadeus, clutching his pet in his jacket. Athena looks at her brother and frowns slightly, before exclaiming ‘See how the Lion of Olympus aches to unleash his wrath upon the alien usurpers?’. Amadeus mocks Athena quietly, before watching as Hercules storms off deeper into the woods.
Athena asks who among the Gods has the courage to stand with Hercules in this, their darkest hour? The first of them steps forward, it is Hodiak of the Gods of the North, assuring Athena that his brethren stand with her, and announces that to the great hunting party they add the strength and guile of their mightiest champion - Narya, daughter of Nelvanna, tamer of Kolomaq, slayer of Tanaraq, scourge of the realm of the Beasts. The hauntingly beautiful Narya steps forward, ever so dour, she who is better known as Snowbird!
(Flashback, three days ago)
‘Snowbird!’ shouts Michael Pointer a.k.a. the new Guardian as he is tossed by the founding member of Alpha Flight into a snow-covered cliffside in Cape Columbia. Pointer rubs his jaw and tells Snowbird that a simple “no” would have sufficed. Snowbird hovers above Pointer as he lies in the snow, her cape and hair flowing in the icy breeze, Narya replies that a simple “no” would not have conveyed the malice she feels for Pointer. She reminds Pointer that, as the Collective, he massacred her teammates in Alpha Flight - including Shaman, who was like a father to her, and James MacDonald Hudson. ‘Whose uniform you are not worthy to wash much less wear!’.
‘And yet you still find the audacity to ask me to join your “Omega Flight”, named after our greatest enemies?’ Narya’s eyes turn colder than the ice around her, ‘You would prefer a “No”?’ she asks, telling Pointer that he should thank whatever Gods that will have him that does not kill right here, right now. Pointer watches as Narya dives into the freezing waters, shifting her form into that of a white seal, she exclaims ‘Alpha Flight is dead. My marriage is over. I was given life solely to battle the Great Beasts, and until they return to menace this human world…my interest in it…remains nil!’.
But as Narya moves swiftly and gracefully through waters, an illusion of Hodiak appears before her, calling out to her, he announces that her kin have need of her once more - a long journey, fraught with perils for which they shall release her - temporarily - from the mystic ban against her leaving the Northern Dominion. Snowbird asks her uncle if it is the Beasts, but Hodiak replies ‘Nay, child…it is far, far worse’.
‘This is just like her!’ Hercules exclaims as he kicks over a very large logging truck, filled to the top with logs. ‘It took us how many days to drive cross-country? And in the whole time, did she once say: “Oh, by the way, little brother, would you mind leading a motley coalition of rival Gods on an intergalactic suicide mission? Yes? Great! Thanks!” No, she just goes ahead and does that!’ Hercules complains, while a tire bounces past him. Hercules exclaims that his sister does it because she is Athena and knows what’s best for everybody. ‘She is the Goddess of Wisdom’ Amadeus points out, before adding that it is not like Hercules hasn’t done this kind of thing before.
But Hercules replies that it is exactly like he has never done things kind of thing before. ‘But you were in the Argonauts - the Avengers -’ exclaims Amadeus. ‘As the brawler, the roustabout!’ Hercules replies. Amadeus beings to ask what the big difference is, when Hercules interrupts, shouting ‘I was NEVER the leader!’. Hercules exclaims that leaders - true leaders - inspire - like Captain America, and thinks back to Iolkos, Thessaly, 1289 BC, and adds ‘Or sweet-talk gold out of its luster, like Jason, when he gathered together the greatest heroes in all of Greece…and led the best of them to their deaths…’.
Hanging his head, Hercules then turns to Amadeus and tells him that he has to run. ‘What?’ the young man replies. ‘Athena has her eye on you - and that’s never a good thing for a mortal’ Hercules explains. Amadeus just frowns ‘Dude, I just survived Hulk’s very bad, no good day and our little war with SHIELD. If you think I’m gonna let a couple of all-powerful Skrull Gods ruin my day…’ Amadeus suggests that they make a deal. ‘I don’t get killed…and you do your God-thing…and let’s save the damn world!’.
Back at the mighty assemblage, an elder God of the South announces that he and his fellows have chosen together their great hero, Tecumotzin, Lord of Flight, who was called at his creation, Ajak of the Eternals, He Who Talks With Celestials. The elder God refers to a time when Ajak remained ensconced in the citadel of the Space gods, high in the Andes, poring over the records of the third host - but at one point paused to defend the Incan people countless times against demonic interlopers from Uku Pacha, the lower world.
(Flashback, three days ago)
In Lombard Street, San Francisco, a group of gardeners a busying themselves tending to some plants in a garden, when a voice calls out to one of them ‘And yet here you toil in menial labour? You, who single-handedly deciphered the fractal scriptures of Jemiah the Analyzer?’. The voice asks Ajak Tecumotzin if he does not find this work beneath him. ‘Only a fool finds working with the clean Earth demeaning’ Ajak replies, before adding that the Dreaming Celestial seems to favor his cousin Makkari, he now lacks for anything else to do. ‘So your offer does appeal…old friend, Tezcatlipoca, God of the Smoking Mirror!’ Ajak replies, while some smoke appears beside him, revealing his reflection, but not as he appears in human clothes, instead as he appears as a God.
While his fellow workers are now frozen, motionless, around him, Ajak remarks that this Skrull threat must be genuine to have united the divine tribes of Aztec, Maya and Inca. Tezcatlipoca replies ‘Indeed’ and remarks that their sacred calendars have shown the Skrulls’ fleet will arrive by the Feast of the Hills, if not sooner. He adds that the know the Spinster Goddess is sincere in her warning, but that does not mean they entirely trust her. Tezcatlipoca remarks that they of the Floating World have no experience with these “Super People” like Athena’s brother Hercules and Hodiak’s niece, Snowbird, but that Ajak does.
‘We can count on you to protect out interests, Tecumotzin’, Tezcatlipoca adds. Ajak looks downwards and remarks that it as been almost a millennium since he bore that name, but that a campaign against the Skrulls might serve his purposes as well, explaining that just as here on Earth, the space Gods split humanity into Eternal and Deviant strains, so their genetic manipulation on the Skrull home world gave the Deviant off shoot of the dominant species their shape-shifting powers…which they then used to exterminate their competing races. ‘This adventure could greatly expand my knowledge of the Celestials and their ways’ Ajak remarks. Grinning, he adds ‘That would show Makkari’. before telling Tezcatlipoca to count him in.
Hercules and Amadeus walk back towards Athena and the other Gods, ‘Okay. No more kicking stuff, right?’ Amadeus asks Hercules. ‘How bout punching?’ Hercules asks. ‘Heh’ Amadeus replies. Izangi-No-Mikoto steps forward, remarking to Athena that the Gods of the East have chosen well, and announces that to fetch the…representative…for he and his fellows, he descended into Yomi, the shadowy land of the dead, where he had not treaded since he tried to rescue his wife, Izanami, who died giving birth to fire. Izangi-No-Mikoto explains how, down in Yomi, some strange creatures lifted the large covering which opened up to reveal a deep hole, and how he hovered above it, telling the person down there that he bears favourable tidings, August-Star-of-Morning, and a way for them to restore their honor has at last presented itself.
As that once imprisoned deity is brought to the forefront of the Gods, wrapped in enormous chains, Hercules sees the God and exclaims ‘HIM? Are you insane?!’. ‘Oh, boy!’ Amadeus grins, while Hercules asks Izangi-No-Mikoto ‘You offer Amatsu-Mikaboshi - your God of Evil? He who laid waste Olympus with his demon horde - who caused our Diaspora in the first place?’ Izangi-No-Mikoto replies that Amatsu-Mikaboshi is the most skilled shape shifter amongst them. ‘Against a foe like the Skrulls -’ he begins to say, but is interrupted when Hercules smashes Amatsu-Mikaboshi over, shattering the chains that bind him.
Hercules exclaims that Mikaboshi mortally wounded his father, Zeus, and continues to punch him, but Ajak rushes over, telling the Olympian to wait, however his words go unheeded as Hercules exclaims ‘And for that alone I would slay him every time death chose to vomit him back up!’. Ajak clocks Hercules in the back of the head, remarking that the Eternals have seen this scene many times, and points out that every God here holds a grudge against a dozen others, and tells Hercules that if he is to lead them, he must set aside his - Ajak doesn’t get to finish his sentence, as Hercules turns around and clocks him back.
Mikaboshi uses this moment to rise, ‘A thousand moons pass. But the angry heart once flayed. Never stops bleeding’ he states, while Ajak punches Hercules in the face. ‘Now you’re talking!’ Hercules grins, as the men continue to spar, Hercules smacks Ajak over, only for two blue-gloved fists crack Hercules on the back, ‘Enough!’ a voice cries, while Hercules lets out a small cry. He spins around, fist ready to strike, he sees his “assailant” is Snowbird, but she dodges his attack. Hercules is surprised to see her and tells her not to be foolish. ‘You can’t hope to -’ Hercules cuts himself off half-way through his sentence as Snowbird dodges another of his attacks. ‘Ha!’ Hercules exclaims.
Hercules smiles, and Snowbird gazes at him intently, while Hercules remarks that Snowbird has lost none of her quickness since they warred together against Attuma. ‘Nor you. The fact…heartens me’ Snowbird replies. The two are distracted with each other, and do not see Mikaboshi approach them, but Ajak does, and he blasts Mikaboshi with a powerful energy beam as he leaps at Hercules and Snowbird. ‘No! No more!’ Ajak exclaims, but as Mikaboshi falls to the ground, he instead smacks into a very unimpressed snowbird. ‘Oops!’ Ajak mumbles. ‘All right, Ajak…have at thee!’ Hercules bellows as he engages Ajak in battle once more.
The other Gods watch as Ajak blasts Hercules with his energies, and Snowbird transforms into a powerful polar bear, growling at Mikaboshi, who lashes out at Snowbird with his monkey-like claws, hissing at her. Suddenly, Hercules, Snowbird, Ajak and Mikaboshi stop fightingwhen they hear a mighty, booming laughter coming from overhead. ‘Great’ mutters one Athena as she sees who laughed descending into the middle of the Gods - the Demogorge - the God-Eater!
His chilling voice booms: ‘The firmament is collapsing around you, yet still all you do is bicker and brawl…can there be any doubt that this is the beginning of the end?’. Hercules confronts the God-Eater, ‘You ran from Olympus the last time we met - will you give me a fight today?’ Hercules asks. Snowbird returns to her default form and turns to the God-Eater, as do Mikaboshi and Ajak. ‘I am the end of the end, Greek. You will know I am ready to fight you…when you are already dead!’ The Demogorge shifts to a human form, announcing that he comes to them as Atum, who fathered the Gods of Egypt.
Atum’s eyes glow yellow and announces that Hawk-Headed Horus, the son of the son of his son, has asked him to join in this pointless folly. ‘And only for his sake, I have agreed. Why should I not? Does the shepherd defend his flock from wolves and weather…until the day he slaughters them…and his love makes their meat taste so much sweeter?’ Hercules, Snowbird and the other three gather together, and Amadeus Cho rushes over to them, ‘Look at you guys! “The God Squad”! I love it! You should all get matching t-shirts!’ he exclaims. The five Gods turn and frown at him. ‘What?’ Amadeus asks innocently.
A bird-like God, Altjira, steps forward, thanking the God-heroes, he offers them a gift. Altjira remarks that he created this world from the Dreamtime, but cannot leave it - ‘But I can help you on your way’ Altjira announces, motioning to a floating ship, pirate-like, hovering above them. Altjira remarks that ten thousand years ago, the Rainbow Serpent shed his skin, and he stretched it over a frame of night, sealed it with the kiss of sleep, and now it will sail the God-heroes through the Dreamtime to anywhere that Gods live, whatever their shape or form. ‘Dude! It’s the Godmobile!’ Amadeus exclaims to Hercules, who tells him to shush.
Altjira announces that, when he constructed the ship, he assumed it would carry a much larger force, to which Athena agrees, remarking that she has assembled the paragons and divinities of every nation and culture on Earth, and this is they best they can do - ‘Five warriors? Five? To stand against an entire empire?’. Kwaku Anansi steps forward, ‘Do you think us children?’ he asks Athena, boasting that he scaled the walls of Heaven while the Greeks still lived in caves. ‘So I will say what we are all thinking!’ he announces, telling Athena that she is wearing a hidden garment, and although they do not know what form it takes, but like a shape lurking in the darkness, they all know that it is there.
Kwaku Anansi remarks that the sons and daughters of Zeus are without a kingdom at present, and perchance a tad desperate. He adds that if they all deplete their forces sallying against the Skrulls, that would leave their own realms open to conquest by the Olympians. He approaches Athena and asks her why she did not invite the Asgardians, the most powerful of their God-cousins, to join this venture, if it is of such importance to her. Athena reminds everyone that the Asgardians have just regenerated after Ragnarok and are too vulnerable to Skrull infiltration to be trusted. ‘Psh. What Skrull could mimic the power of the mighty Thor?’ Kwaku Anansi asks, before telling Athena that if she wants all of their trust to call on the Odinson, as he would make a far better leader than -.
Hercules interrupts, ‘Enough, little spider!’ he exclaims. ‘You dare insult -’ Kwaku Anansi begins, but Hercules interrupts him again, ‘Aye! I dare all! Ddi Athena not call me the bravest of the Gods?’ he asks, before declaring that he will hear no more talk of pretty little Norselings and their golden ringlets. Hercules turns from the assemblage of Gods and makes his way up the plank into the ship, remarking ‘Here stand titans who traded blows with the Prince of Power and still live! Snowbird! Ajak! Atum! And even you, Mikaboshi…if you will follow, I will lead!’ he bellows. ‘Sweet!’ exclaims Amadeus, grinning.
Making their way through the Dreamtime, the God Squad and Amadeus witness countless ships belonging to the Skrull Empire flying above them in the other direction. Hercules exclaims that they are heading for the city, and asks Amadeus to turn this ship around. Astral images of Athena and the other Gods appear in the sky, telling Hercules that it is too late, as his journey has already begun. ‘It can wait!’ Hercules shouts back. But Altjira tells him that it cannot, explaining that the Dreamtime has already claimed him and he can touch this realm no longer. ‘No! NO!’ bellows Hercules as he and the God Squad vanish, unable to prevent the invading Skrulls from reaching the city.
In the Dreamtime, darkness envelops the heroes, and Hercules lets out a mighty roar. Athena’s astral projection calls out to Amadeus, telling him to be strong, be brave, ‘Be good, I know’ Amadeus whispers. But Athena replies that good has nothing to do with it, and reveals that Urania made another prophecy, that all their efforts will fail, unless Amadeus can help Hercules when he is at his weakest - ‘By doing the hardest thing you’ve ever had to do’. ‘Wait! What the Hell does that mean?’ Amadeus asks. But Athena does not reply, she just bids Amadeus farewell.
Snowbird, Amadeus, Ajak, Mikaboshi and Atum gather around Hercules, and Mikaboshi asks Hercules a question: ‘Hercules, tell me…have your sister’s lovely eyes…always been so green?’.
Indeed, Athena stands alone, watching the Skrull army descend upon the Earth, her eyes shine green….