(Flashback, years ago)
From the proscribed volume of the Royal History of the Inhumans: It was done. King ------ had made the awful choice that would transform him from wise, beloved monarch to one whose name and deeds must remain unspoken. Even the guards he trusted to keep watch turned their faces away, at King ------’s command, as he approached the great seal. The seal which had remained unbroken for the lifetimes of all within Attilan…until now. Our ancestors never intended for a single individual to unleash the slave engine. Its resting place was designed so that no one being could breach into it alone. Our ancestors never knew King ------.
The chamber that would expel the great device ran from the peaks of Atilan to the heart of the earth itself. Falling from such a height meant nothing to the Inhuman King…it was the fall he would take in his people’s eyes that weighed heavily upon him. At last he stood before the slave engine…the first to behold it since the exalted ancestors who crafted it from designs bequeathed us by the Kree. He knew this was his last opportunity to turn back. He did not.
King ------ knew the task of moving the slave engine would tax even his prodigious power. And he knew any Inhuman who saw him would oppose him. But in the molten depths below through which only he could travel…there would be none to witness his passage. Or his burden. On he struggled, through lakes of lava and caverns of stone. Despite the pain, he did not waver. For he believed. He wholeheartedly believed in the rightness of his cause.
‘I was wrong’ the Unspoken remarks as he stands on a ridge in Tibet Autonomous Region, People’s Republic of China. Flanked by several Alpha Primitives, he declares ’I must remember that. I am not betraying my principles. I am admitting my mistake’. Gazing out at the approaching army, and remarks that he thought he the slave engine too terrible to use, even against the humans. ‘But look at them. The one art they have perfected is war’. The Unspoken remarks that he was an idealist, a fool, and they deserve this. ‘I pray to all my ancestors they deserve it’ the Unspoken whispers.
Down below, one of the soldiers exclaims that the entire People’s Defense Force went after him. ‘Every superhuman in China. Not one has reported back. If they couldn’t stop him…’ he gets interrupted by another officer, who tells him to stop whining and grow a pair. ‘The order’s been given!’ he adds, before shouting ‘Open fire!’. The army does as commanded, machine guns and tanks begin firing at the Unspoken, who simply stands his ground, and turns to the Alpha Primitives, telling them to fear not, as the humans’ crude weapons cannot harm them. ‘They are useless…except to allay my last lingering doubts’
The Unspoken declares that it is time for the Xerogen Crystals, and as one of the Alpha Primitives hands some to the Unspoken, who crushes the crystals as he declares that there can be no turning back, and blows the Xerogen dust out toward the soldiers, who all scream in agony as the Xerogen dust engulfs them.
Miles away, Johnny “USAgent” Walker and Pietro “Quicksilver” Maximoff of the Avengers, along with their ally Ban-Luck, and three surviving members of the People’s Defense Force - Radioactive Man, the Collective Man and Lady of Ten Suns - make their way as fast as they can to the sounds of terror. ‘Listen to them. It is our duty to protect our people’ Radioactive Man declares. The Collective Man adds that they failed in that duty, but now they are charged with avenging them, before asking Ban-Luck if she has called for reinforcements. Ban-Luck replies that she has tried, but that she cannot get through to anyone. Walker replies that they are receiving just fine, to which Quicksilver suggests that someone is obviously jamming them. ‘The question is…who?’ he asks.
Who indeed - “the Scarlet Witch” at the Infinite Avengers Mansion throws her magicks about while declaring that she is usually above killing children, but to one such as herself, they are all in their infancy. ‘Especially you…swordsman!’ she declares, spinning around she knocks Clint Barton a.k.a. Hawkeye - currently going by the alias Ronin - backwards. ‘As if you had a chance of slaying me!’ the phoney Scarlet Witch booms, while Clint exclaims ‘It’s Ronin, lady. And no one’s killing anybody…until we get some answers!’. While the Young Avengers - Stature, the new Vision, Patriot, Wiccan, Speed, the current Hawkeye and Hulkling - gather themselves, Ronin lunges at “the Scarlet Witch”, pushing her to the ground, he tells her that she owes answers the Young Avengers, for if she is the Scarlet Witch, she doesn’t get to kill Stature’s dad - and him - and bring him back to life without explanations. ‘And if you’re not Wanda…who the hell are you?’ Clint asks as he holds his sword at “the Scarlet Witch’s” neck, while a reflection of her true identity shines in the blade…Loki!
Meanwhile, in Dr. Hank Pym’s laboratory, Hank a.k.a. the new Wasp announces that the systems check is complete and all shields are at full power. ‘We’re secure’ he adds, before remarking that with all the armor, energy barriers and force fields around this lab, a nuke could go off in here and it would not rattle the dishes in the kitchen. ‘But that doesn’t help whoever’s in this room’ Hank adds, declaring that he has to do this, but telling Edwin Jarvis that insists he must step out. ‘And I will again demur. My place is at your side, Sir’ Jarvis replies. The robotic Jocasta stands nearby, while Mister Fantastic appears on a monitor, telling Hank that he is green to go from his end.
Mister Fantastic adds that, from experience, that piercing the barriers of the Macroverse involves severe chronal distortion. ‘You’ll literally be growing beyond the bounds of our reality. Without a tether to our world, you might never find your way back’ he adds. Hank stands on a platform and replies ‘No problem, Reed’ and remarks that Jocasta is spinning a monofilament treated with Pym Particles and it will connect to him at the subatomic level. ‘An unbreakable umbilical cord to keep you anchored’ Jocasta declares, to which Jarvis asks if they can call it something else.
‘Whatever you like, Jarvis. Although I personally think it’s a preoccupation with labels that makes people so uncomfortable around Jocasta and me’ Hank remarks, before asking everyone if they are ready. When he gets no response, he declares ‘Good. In that case…initiate!’. He reminds his companions that he has told them what to expect, but he is sure it will be unsettling seeing it. ‘I don’t want you to worry’ he adds. ‘Remember the umbili - the tether. You’re my anchor’ he tells Jocasta as he begins to increase his size, declaring that he is tied to Jocasta, and no matter what happens, he will always be with her. With that, Hank vanishes.
‘Master Pym, is he…?’ Jarvis asks, to which Jocasta, head hanging low, replies that Hank is fine, that she can feel him, ‘There is…an intangible link between us now. You wouldn’t understand’ she adds. ‘It’s a subatomic filament, Madame’ Jarvis replies. ‘Whatever it is. I feel it’ a forlorn Jocasta whispers.
Elsewhere in the Infinite Avengers Mansion, Amadeus Cho, the arms-bearer of the Incredible Hercules, approaches one of the many Jocasta models around the Mansion. He greets Jocasta before asking her if Doctor Pym is around. Amadeus declares that he had a thought about Pym’s subatomic keys. ‘If we put miniaturized GPS in them we could -’ he begins, before realizing that Jocasta is not responding to him. ‘Oh. My bad. This body’s in sleep mode’ Amadeus remarks, before wondering what he does. ‘Knocking on your forehead seems rude…and I don’t see any control-alt-delete keys…’ he jokes, when suddenly, he hears a strange sound.
‘Uh-oh. That doesn’t sound good…’ Amadeus remarks, while the cause of the ruckus is of course the phoney Scarlet Witch, who casts her power about, knocking back Ronin and the Young Avengers. ‘I’ve had my fill of you humans! Do the one thing you’re good at and DIE!’ she screams. ‘You’ve gotta be kidding me!’ Amadeus exclaims, before calling out to Stature and telling her that he thought they agreed that she would confront the Scarlet Witch when the time was right, when they were sure she wasn’t crazy anymore.
Amadeus reminds Stature that the Scarlet Witch has been helping them, that she brought them together. ‘Smuggling your friends in to ambush her is not what Jesus, Buddha or anyone else cool would do!’ Amadeus exclaims. ‘I didn’t -’ Stature begins, when suddenly, a magical clamp appears over her face, preventing her from speaking. Stature is annoyed that she forgot about the spell in which she cannot say anything bad about the Witch. ‘If I could just tell him about the distress call from Quicksilver she blocked, he’d -’ Stature thinks to herself, before declaring ‘Screw it. There’s only one way to fix this’. Stature rips a pillar from where its location in the Infinite Avengers Mansion, and raises it above “the Scarlet Witch”, while hoping that Quicksilver and USAgent can survive long enough.
Back in Tibet, the Unspoken stands over the slave engine. ‘Nearly there. I buried it deep. But soon…’ he remarks, before he notices the superhumans approaching. He mutters that he cannot be bothered with this, not when redemption is so close at hand. ‘I ask for your help once again, my friends. Do not let them interfere!’ the Unspoken exclaims, turning to the Alpha Primitives.
Preparing his weapon, Walker remarks ‘Now that calls for armor-piercing rounds’, while the Collective Man asks ‘What…what is it?’. Quicksilver looks at the large device in horror, remarking that he thought the stories were myths - Inhuman legends about the end of days. ‘But that’s it. Their doomsday device for war against man. The slave engine!’ Quicksilver exclaims. Joined by another member of the People’s Defense Force - Scientific Beast - the heroes make their way towards the army of Alpha Primitives. ‘Ground floor. Crazy Inhumans Kings, everybody off’ Ban-Luck tells USAgent and Quicksilver who are in the same hovercraft as she.
Quicksilver declares that this is no joke, and remarks that the Unspoken is still unearthing it. ‘If we have any chance at all, it’s now!’ he exclaims, boasting that while the Unspoken is distracted they must destroy the slave engine. Moments later, USAgent and Quicksilver are smashing their way through the numerous Alpha Primitives, as Walker declares that he has taken down twenty of the mouth-breathers and yet they keep coming. ‘Where does the Unspoken get them all? Caveman Surplus?’ Walker asks. Pietro smashes one of the Alpha Primitives in the face and admits that he is confused by that himself, as there are not this many Alpha Primitives in all of Attilan.
Pietro points out that they are not wearing the traditional bio-suits either, as the rags hanging off them look almost like fatigues. ‘Okay, people. Things just got interesting!’ Ban-Luck exclaims, before telling them to follow chemical / biological protocols. Ban-Luck announces that the whole area is infused with an alien containment - ‘Something like Terrigen Mist’ she adds. ‘Terrigen? The gas that turns the Inhumans into freaks?’ USAgent asks. Ban-Luck adds that it kills humans, but this seems different, a variation. Turning to Radioactive Man, she asks him if he can analyze it.
Radioactive Man replies that he can, and tells Ban-Luck that she is correct, while there are striking similarities, this is not Terrigen radiation. ‘In fact, I’ve never seen its like before…’ Radioactive Man adds. Suddenly, the Unspoken explains that it is called Xerogen, and it is a gift from their forebears, the Kree. The Unspoken exclaims that the Kree foresaw that humanity’s growing numbers might one day threaten Attilan, so they gave his people the means to protect themselves. ‘To alter humans at a molecular level. Reshape them into whatever we wish’ the Unspoke adds, remarking that Terrigen gas affects their physiology, raises them up the evolutionary ladder. ‘But Xerogen gas…does the opposite to you!’
With that, the Unspoken blows some Xerogen gas towards the heroes, declaring that his ancestors encoded upon it a pattern of their own devising - one that ensures those who breathe it will never again defy them. Radioactive Man calls out to Scientific Beast, asking him if he is all right, to which Scientific Beast replies that he is fine, as his armor is air tight, before asking Radioactive Man as to his status. Radioactive Man replies that he can render the radiation in the gas inert, but only in his immediate proximity. ‘The others -’ he begins, but Ban-Luck announces that she is okay thanks to her own personal wind machine. Indeed, Quicksilver is using his super speed to fan away the gas, protecting himself and Ban-Luck.
Ban-Luck wonders where USAgent is, before seeing him, along with the Collective Man and Lady of Ten Suns being engulfed by the Xerogen gas. ‘What’s happening to them?’ she shouts, while Walker grunts as his body is distorted. Calmly, the Unspoken replies that it is Xerogenesis. ‘Terrigenesis makes my people into gods. But Xerogenesis makes yours into monsters. Into Alpha Primitives!’. Suddenly, the transformed USAgent roars.
Back at the Infinite Avengers Mansion, ‘Witless girl!’ the phoney Scarlet Witch exclaims as she knocks back Stature’s attack with a bolt of magic energy. Patriot shields one of the energy bolts while asking how Speed is doing. Amadeus replies that Speed is out, but breathing. Amadeus adds that based on his velocity and the angle his head hit the wall, he should come away with just a mild concussion. ‘He could be her son. And she -’ Wiccan, Speed’s brother, remarks, to which Amadeus declares ‘If that crazy woman is your mom, you’re better off without her. Maybe we all are’.
Wiccan replies that, right now, he doesn’t care who she is. ‘She has to be stopped’. Ronin tells Wiccan that he is right. ‘But not like that. Take it from an expert. Lose your cool and we’re toast. We have to play this smart’ he declares. Patriot announces that he agrees, but points out that against magic, “The Art of War” goes out the window. ‘Not all of it’ Ronin replies. ”Know your enemy” he quotes, suggesting that they are holding back because this is Wanda - an honored Avenger and old friend to some, maybe more. Clint declares that he has known Wanda a long time, seen her best days and her crazy days, but he has never seen her hate like this.
Clint asks Wiccan to give him an opening, to which Wiccan exclaims ‘Blindingflashblindingflash!’, as he literally creates a blinding flash, startling the phoney Scarlet Witch and knocking her back. Clint calls out to Patriot, who understands what the famed Avenger wants to do, and crouches down, holding his shield on his back as Clint rushes towards him, and gains altitude by leaping off the shield. ‘In the end, magic, tech, illusions…they ain’t worth squat. But sweetheart…’ Clint begins as he grabs “the Scarlet Witch” by the shoulders and plants a kiss on her lips. ‘…the lips? The lips don’t lie. You’re not Wanda’. Clint concludes.
‘Off me! Filthy peasant, I’ll -’ “the Scarlet Witch” begins, knocking Clint away from her, before she screams as the new Vision shoves an intangible arm through her chest, before returning his arm to its solid form. ‘Impostor. You toyed with our hearts. Let me return the favor, “Wanda”!’ the new Vision exclaims. The female Hawkeye tells the original that her whole arm is numb, and asks him to take her bow and arrow. Clint does so, and tells “the Scarlet Witch” that the game is up, ‘Who the hell are you?’ he asks as he fires three arrows at her, though the phoney Scarlet Witch deflects them with a burst of energy.
‘Someone who can’t hide any more’ Wiccan whispers, before exclaiming ‘Showusthetruthshowusthetruthshowusthetruth’. Suddenly, Loki’s illusion begins to fade, and her Scarlet Witch disguise begins to fade at her right arm. ‘What?’ she gasps. ‘INTOLERABLE!’ she booms as she casts a burst of energy, knocking the heroes back. ‘Dirt-crawling worms. You meddle in affairs you scarce comprehend…lay hands upon your betters. No more. You caught my defences down. Never again. Your gutter magic cannot pierce these wards’ she exclaims, before disappearing as she boasts that she has far greater concerns than they, before warning them to be rest assured that they will all die screaming.
‘Yeah, I got two words for you, sister: Breath. Mint’. Clint mutters, before handing the female Hawkeye her bow back and thanking her for the loan. Hawkeye tells Clint to keep it, as “the Scarlet Witch” might come back. ‘This is getting to be a thing with us, huh?’ she adds, to which Clint remarks that he might think about carrying his own again, while Stature mutters that she can finally talk. Stature tells everyone that she could not tell them earlier that “the Scarlet Witch” put some kind of spell on her, meaning she could not say anything bad about her at all. Wiccan begins to explain that it sounds like Raggador’s Restraint. ‘The protective ward she just placed on herself would cancel it out -’ Wiccan begins, but Stature interrupts, declaring that it doesn’t matter, as the point is the Scarlet Witch intercepted a message.
‘That’s not the Scarlet Witch’ Clint declares, to which Stature exclaims that it doesn’t matter. ‘Listen to me!’ she snaps, explaining that it was a distress call from Quicksilver, as he and USAgent are up against an omega level threat in China. Stature declares that they need everyone - ever Avenger they can get, otherwise they are going to die and Earth could be next. ‘It’s time. We have to put out the call. AVENGERS ASSEMBLE!’