(Flashback, years ago)
The Skrull World Satriani, where the Skrull Queen, Veranke, prophetess of Kly’bn and Sl’gurt exclaims ‘For now I say unto you, it was always already written in the Book of Worlds: After the doors of Heaven open for you and your brothers…the false Gods of the unworthies shall sally forth against you, led by him how bears the sign of the Plains Lord!’ One of the Skrulls standing nearby whispers ‘A lion. That has to mean a lion - an animal they call the “King” of its habitat. A veldt’. Another Skrull asks Veranke if she means that they are going to send their Gods against them. ‘With the Empire in ruins…please…your excellence, tell us…how can we hope to withstand that?’ he asks.
Veranke tells the Skrull to not doubt Kly’bn, for she also read in the passage of the 12 that the army of pretenders shall be undone - by the least of them. This causes the Skrulls to smile.
(Flashback, immediately after World War Hulk, Incredible Hulk (3rd series) #112)
Manhattan, ‘Tell it to your goblet. Dork!’ Amadeus Cho shouts at Hercules as he is led away to a tent. ‘You. In here!’ an armored officer orders. ‘Why?’ Amadeus, clutching his injured pup, Kerebus, asks. ‘SWORD close encounters protocols demand immediate disinfecting of all non-superhuman entities to guard against extraterrestrial pathogenic -’ the SWORD officer explains, interrupted only when he sprays some gas at Amadeus and his pup, ‘I’m not gonna -’ Amadeus protests, but the SWORD officer remarks ‘I don’t recall asking your permission’. The SWORD agent then picks up the unconscious pup and holds it up to a Skrull dressed in a SHIELD uniform sitting at a desk. ‘He loves you’ he remarks….
The Skrull Dreamtime - beyond the comprehension of mere mortals, the God Squad float along aboard their ship. ‘Incredible…’ whispers Ajak of the Eternals. ‘The shattered remains of a thousand alien pantheons…all orbiting in slavery to the palace of Kly’bn and Sl’gurt…’.
A muffled voice comes from the cabin, ‘You go out first, then I’ll follow a minute or two later’ Hercules remarks, adjusting his gold belt buckle with the image of a lion on it. ‘It’s probably a good idea for the others not to see us leave together’ he points out. Snowbird gets dressed and remarks ‘We’re Gods, Hercules - our ancestors mated with everything from animals to cloud to their own siblings’. ‘Don’t remind me…’ Hercules mumbles. ‘So why are you ashamed of this?’ Narya asks. ‘Ashamed?’ Hercules asks. ‘Actually, I’m rather proud of myself!’ he grins wickedly.
‘What’s wrong with you?’ Snowbird, one of the original members of Alpha Flight, asks. ‘Come now, Narya, I’m team leader! How would it look if -’ Hercules begins, but Snowbird sighs, and asks the handsome Hercules how he can have lived on Earth for three thousand years and still not know a single thing about women. ‘Practice!’ Hercules replies, to which Snowbird throws one of her blue boots at his head.
The heroic Hercules and the stunning Snowbird, during their love making and subsequent conversation, have not noticed though, Kerebus, the pup belonging to Amadeus Cho watching them - its eyes glowing green. The pup walks out of the cabin - and its form shifts into that of Amadeus Cho. ‘Yo, Mr. Happy! Long-Winded of the Forever People needs to get with you!’ he exclaims to Atum the God-Eater, who just sighs, and tells the boy to mind the helm, before flying towards Ajak and Mikaboshi - and sees that Amadeus is standing with them!
‘The boy, he -’ begins Atum. ‘Huh?’ Amadeus asks, confused, while the Skrull posing as him spins the wheel of the ship furiously, ‘He loves you!’ ‘TREACHERY’ booms Atum as he shifts his form into a larger, powerful one and flies over to the fake Amadeus, while the ship spins around, and the others are knocked off their feet, just as the ship crashes into the palace with a mighty boom. The wooden ship splinters, and sends splintered planks everywhere - along with Hercules, Snowbird and the others, floating in the Skrull Dreamtime now.
Amadeus calls out to his pup, concerned for his safety, while Ajak alerts Snowbird to the map, which is currently floating out of anyone’s reach. ‘We won’t find out way back without -’ he begins, to which Snowbird replies that she understands, and shifts her form into that of an ookpik, an artic owl, swooping down, she grabs the map in her claws, while Hercules calls out to Amadeus as he punches his fist through a slab of rock floating nearby, to ground himself. Amadeus calculates the moves he will need to make to land on a similar slab of rock, and does so, propelling himself through open space, he lands on the rock, telling Hercules not to worry, as he is all right.
Kirby slowly walks over to Amadeus, and Amadeus crouches down to pick his dog up - but, suddenly, Atum the God-Eater grabs the “dog” - and bites its head off with his teeth. ‘AAAGH!’ screams Amadeus, as he begins kicking Atum, ‘What are you doing? That’s my -’ he is about to say “dog”, but as Snowbird, Ajak and Mikaboshi land on the floating rock, the God-Eater asks ‘Your what? Your Skrull!?’ he exclaims, holding up the headless body of a Skrull, who reverted back to its true form upon its death. Green blood oozes from its gaping neck. ‘I watched him change as he fell, you fool!’ Atum explains. ‘Oh, no. No, no, no…’ mutters Amadeus.
The God-Eater grabs Amadeus, ‘Seventh smartest human? You’re no better than the seventh smartest cockroach!’ he exclaims, before suggesting that, perhaps, Amadeus was in on it all along. ‘Talk, boy!’ he demands, until, suddenly, Hercules bounds across several floating rocks, and kicks the God-Eater in the stomach, ‘Enough!’ he shouts.
Atum releases Amadeus, but is ready to fight Hercules, ‘So this is how you’ll end the world, Greek? Letting the rest of humanity die for one overrated child?’ Ajak keeps Atum back, while Narya tries to calm Hercules, who replies ‘You think he’s a Skrull? You’ve switched faces more times than -’ Snowbird interrupts, telling Hercules to stop it, reminding him that she and Mikaboshi are shape shifters also.
‘Do you want to fight us…or the Skrull Gods laughing in their palace?’ Narya asks, motioning to the twisted palace. Ajak points out that the Skrull Gods will know they are coming now, and therefore they need tactics. Mikaboshi mutters ‘Our storied leader lights the path to victory with his past glories…?’. Anxiously, Hercules remarks that he has fought changelings before, and begins a story:
(Shown with Flashback Illustrations, 1260 BC)
At the Achelous River, in Western Greece, were Hercules fought the River God, Achelous. ‘Never was there a more slippery and devious foe. But within four sallies, I pinned him and pounded him! So he changed into a serpent. But I was born smashing snakes!’ When Achelous transformed into a bull to attack Hercules, that merely gave Hercules a bigger target, and he pummeled the River God.
‘Wait. Are you trying to say…the backup strategy of the great warrior God, handpicked by Athena herself to save all the pantheons of the world of men…is to find the enemy…and hit him?’ Ajak asks. Hercules frowns, and asks ‘What do you want from me? I punch stuff, it falls down!’ he exclaims. Hercules points out that is the only strategy he has ever needed. ‘Maybe if I had a chance to prepare against Nightmare, I could -’ he begins to say, until Amadeus interrupts, exclaiming that, sometimes, the punching plan makes perfect sense! Indeed, as a barrage of Gods begin attacking. Hercules smashes an grotesque creature in the face, as more begin to surround the God Squad on their tiny floating rock.
Ajak recognizes one of the Gods, but nevertheless uses his powers to combat it, and realizes that out here, on the outer rim, they battle not the Skrull Gods, but those Gods absorbed into the Skrull Pantheon - 978 past and present imperial worlds. ‘And we are only five. How can we…’ his voice trails off, as Atum increases his mass and begins tearing through the lost Gods, ‘Steel your courage, Eternal! I have always found…the eating plan to be an excellent backup!’ he exclaims, the entrails of one God sticking out of his mouth. Snowbird is annoyed, ‘You make jokes?’ she remarks, punching her way through the onslaught, she points out that all this does is sap their strength. ‘We have to get over there - to where the real enemy is!’ the Alphan exclaims.
Atum replies that he knows that, when, suddenly, one of the absorbed Gods shoves a powerful energy spear through his chest. ‘GRRAGGH!’ he shouts as the various Gods swarm around him. Snowbird suggests that they make a break for it, and takes flight, soaring past the barrage of Gods, until suddenly, a horrid creature snares her, ‘By the lights! There are just too many!’ Narya exclaims, trapped in the folds of the creature, until Hercules comes to her rescue, ripping the horrid God apart.
Hercules calls out to Amadeus, telling him that they need a way around the horde, as he pulls the energy spear from Atum’s chest, and shoves it back at the enemy Gods. Snowbird, Ajak, Mikaboshi and Atum continue to fight the other Gods, while Hercules goes over to Amadeus, telling him to snap out of it and use his head, realizing that Amadeus is scared. Amadeus begins working out a logical plan. ‘Right. Right. Man oh man oh man!’ he exclaims, before seeing Hercules battle some sort of fire God, he alerts him to a nearby water God. ‘Got him!’ Hercules exclaims as he grabs the water God and tosses him on the fire God, while Amadeus sees Mikaboshi with an electrical-based God, and tells him to throw him on the others.
Mikaboshi does so, frying numerous Gods that were touching the fire, water and electrical based ones. Hercules leads Amadeus and the God Squad past the fried Gods, and the leap onto another, larger slab of floating rock. Hercules congratulates Amadeus on his good work, while Ajak asks him what he is talking about, ‘Now we’re heading away from the palace!’ he exclaims, motioning to the palace in the distance. Amadeus tells everyone to relax, explaining that this rock is in orbit, so in another 13.32 seconds they will be back over there in prime position to ram right through the - ‘Oh, $%#*…’ he interrupts himself as an enormous, horrid God, flanked by the others, lunges at the rock with its open mouth.
The God Squad float into the God’s mouth, Hercules grabs a large plank and holds it in between the Gods teeth so it cannot chomp down on them. ‘Leave him to me!’ Snowbird commands. ‘Are you nuts? Come on!’ Amadeus exclaims, extending a hand to Snowbird. ‘Go!’ Narya orders. Hercules looks at the beautiful Snowbird and begins ‘Narya, there’s no reason to -’ but Snowbird interrupts, and screams ‘I’m not going to let another team DIE!’. Snowbird’s form begins to shift, reminding Hercules that they are Gods, ‘And if that means anything, it means we must be able to make impossible decisions’. Snowbird tells Hercules to take the others and flee, announcing that she is about to take on the forbidden form of the deadliest of the Great Beasts of the North…Neooqtoq the Ravager! ‘And I will kill any foe or friend who stands in my way!’
Indeed, Snowbird transforms into the horrid Great Beast, huge and green, with massive white spikes extending from its bumpy head. Several of the spikes shove right through numerous Gods. Teeth appear on the extended spikes that grow from the Snowbird-Great Beast, uttering incomprehensible words. ‘Snowbird - NARYA!’ shouts Hercules. But Ajak grabs his friend and pulls him away, while Atum rescues Amadeus, and along with Mikaboshi - and several other fleeing Gods - they make a hasty getaway - although the other Gods aren’t so lucky, as Snowbird-Great Beast strikes them down.
The remaining Gods are drawn into the Snowbird-Great Beast, tearing at them. Hercules watches in horror - until he and the others are too far away to see what becomes of Snowbird. Hercules, Amadeus, Ajak, Mikaboshi and the God-Eater arrive at the Skrull palace, ‘Snowbird…’ Amadeus whispers. ‘What?’ Ajak asks. ‘Snowbird had the chart…’ Amadeus reminds everyone. The Gods all turn and look at each other, while Hercules begins smashing the palace with all his fury. ‘KLY’BN! GOD OF SKRULLS!’ he shouts with fury.
Suddenly, a figure materializes - it‘s Kly‘bn. ‘He hears you, o sign-bearer of the plains Lord…and he loves you!’….