On the high seas floats the Ana Julia, a mid-size fishing vessel with several dead men lying on her hull. In its main cabin, Exterminatrix deals with another corpse and informs her father that they never should’ve come back to the Earth. Once they left the Moon… they should’ve kept going. He has a summer home on Saturn, doesn’t he? she asks. Instead, there they are, running from the Avengers in the world’s crummiest fishing boat. Nothing to show for their efforts but… a bunch of angst-ridden Mindless Ones. Eying the four Mindless Ones, which seem to writhe in their ennui, Exterminatrix continues that whatever the hell it is that’s happening to them, that’s changing them within them, probably killing them for all they know… This may seriously be the worst murder they’ve ever been a part of.
Ignoring her complaints, Dr. Midas peers out at the sea beyond. He is clad in just a sheet, which covers most of the mutated, rocky body, which resembles that of the Fantastic Four’s Thing, save for the blue-glowing cracks between his rocks. His silence is broken when the ship’s captain reports that they’ve reached the exact coordinates Midas provided. Yes, it would appear so, Midas grins. His job completed, the captain reminds Midas that he promised he would be paid for his trouble. He did, Midas affirms, and he is a man of his word. He assumes the captain takes gold. With that, Midas reaches out his massive, rocky hand and clasps the captain’s shoulder, transforming the man’s entire body by touch into gold. The process is quick and the man has but a moment to scream before he is dead.
As Midas walks away, his daughter muses that she thought he said he had a safe house hidden nearby. They’re in the middle of the ocean. There’s nothing there! She forgets who he is, Midas tells her. He is Midas, the man who turns things to gold with a touch. The man who turns everything to his advantage. As he speaks, Midas makes his way to the side of the boat and begins to climb down the ladder fastened to the side of the vessel. She is right about one thing, he then tells his daughter, calling her by her given name of “Oubliette.” They never should’ve come back to the Earth. They have changed. They have been touched by but a fraction of the Watcher’s immeasurable power. They never should have left… without taking all there was.
Once at the waterline, Midas steps from the ladder and onto the sea, which instantly transforms into gold. Midas the walks from the boat, leaving a path of gold behind him. A moment later, a vessel erupts from the sea, welcoming back the doctor in an electronic voice and announcing that it is Space Vessel Midas 17. Where shall they fly today? To the Moon, Midas replies. It will take them to the Moon and, after that… perhaps to immortality. And also… he supposes at some point… they’re going to need to find those damned eyes.
On his secret, orbital space station, the now-aged Nick Fury regards the severed head of the Fury LMD with sadness. Calling it “Andrew,” Fury whispers that he didn’t deserve to go like this. Now speaking to the Winter Soldier, who had decapitated the robot, Fury assumes aloud that he knew it wasn’t really him before he cut the head off. He had a pretty good idea, the Winter Soldier replies. Speaking to that line of thought, Ant-Man inquires as to how do they know this is the real him now? Since when is he old?
Handing the severed head to another LMD, Fury replies that he doesn’t make LMDs of himself as a withered old man. He’s the real Nick Fury… or at least what’s left of him. As for why he looks like this, well… that’s because he’s…
Suddenly the Orb erupts in a painful scream, announcing that it burns! His guts are on fire! Immediately, Doctor Strange asks what the hell is happening to him, and where are they taking him? He’s an eyewitness to murder. They’re not taking him anywhere, the Winter Soldier replies. Nobody leaves this room until they start getting some straight answers. Put the gun down, Moon Knight warns “Bucky.” The guy who blew up his ship is in no position to make demands. To this, the Winter Soldier defends that he didn’t know who was working for whom at that point. Matter of fact, he still doesn’t.
Interjecting, Emma Frost opines that she thinks they all sound nuts. From what she can read of his mind, which isn’t much, he seems genuine enough to her. He’s the real Nick Fury all right. That’s one question answered. To this, the Black Panther notes that he would still like an answer to his question. Fury… What happened to the Watcher? Why was one of his gamma bullets dug out of his skull? Hearing this, Fury lowers his head, gazing down at the floor with his one good eye. That, T’Challa, he replies, isn’t exactly an easy question to answer. You see, he and old Uatu have always had what he might call a… complicated relationship.
Wracked by painful convulsions, the still middle-aged Nick Fury falls off his bunk in his secret, orbital space station. Through the grunts of pain, Fury weakly mutters not yet. Still… so much work to do. He can’t die yet. Through the pain, Fury looks up from the floor to see Uatu, the Watcher, looking down at him from across the room. No, Fury mutters. Oh, no. If he’s there, Fury addresses his spectator, then that must mean… that he’s… Fury’s words trail but Uatu is as silent as ever. His face betrays nothing of his thoughts. The only outward expression he has is his piercing, blue-glowing eyes.
No, Fury mutters, struggling to get to his feet. He’s not dying like this. Not at his damn feet. Once more standing, Fury order the Watcher to keep doing what he does. Which is nothing, is he right? Him… he’s got… he’s got a world to protect. No matter than damn cost. With that, Fury walks away, leaving behind the Watcher.
Still sitting, the aged Nicky Fury pauses for a moment in his story. He’s dying, he finally says. The Infinity Formula in his system that’s been keeping him young all these years… is gone. Used up. He’s aging rapidly now. Every morning… he wakes up a little bit older. At this point… he doesn’t think he’s got many mornings left.
Considering this, Doctor Strange asks if this is all what, his way of making a deathbed confession? He recruited them to uncover all these murders he’s committed. These years of assassinations all across the known universe and beyond, all because… he knew what he’d done was wrong, and he wanted to get caught before he died? This is all some weird cry for help, is it? Not exactly, doc, Fury rejoins. None of them is there by chance. Well, except for the raccoon. Hearing this, Rocket informs Fury that if he wants to lose the other eye, he should just keep it up.
Continuing his explanation, Fury informs the group that he chose each of them quite carefully. Some of them are friends. Others he knows only by reputation. Some of them owe him debts from long ago. Some of them… don’t owe any damn thing to anyone. Some of them are without a doubt… the smartest, most capable people on the face of the Earth. He wanted each of them to see what he’s been doing all these years. Yes, he wanted them to follow his trail. But not so they could stop him. So they could replace him. When he dies… one of them must take his place.
In an examination room, Iron Man stands over the dissected corpse of Nick Fury and whimsically tells the others in room to belay the obituaries. This isn’t Fury. It’s a Life Model Decoy. The most sophisticated one he’s ever seen. Standing next to Iron Man on one side of the table, with Wolverine and Black Widow on the other, Cap inquires an LMD? They had dinner with this thing the other night! Damn it, how long has Nick been fooling them like this? Adding her own thoughts, Black Widow asks if he’s not dead… then where is he? She’s got a dozen different emergency numbers for Fury. He’s not answering any of them. All known safehouses are empty. He could still be in danger for all they know. This only raises more questions.
Not for him it doesn’t, Wolverine interjects. Bucky, Dr. Strange and Punisher have all gone off the reservation. They stole the Watcher’s eye, kidnapped the Orb and shot the Hulk through a damn wall. That sort of operation has got Fury’s fingerprints all over it. They just gotta find those damn fingers.
Still manipulating the LMD’s remains, Iron Man notes that he’s working on it. Watching Iron Man work, Cap asks if he thinks he can track this thing back to where it came from. He’s been doing this a lotta years, Iron Man replies, and he’s never once been outsmarted by someone who wears an eye patch. There’s some weird tech in there, he then adds. This wasn’t made by SHIELD, that’s for sure. It’s a mix of all sorts of alien cultures and…
Suddenly, the LMD explodes. A few moments later, Cap asks if everyone is all right. Black Widow asks what that was, to which Iron Man notes a self-defense mechanism. It knew it’d been breached. Wolverine laments that they sure can’t track it now, but Stark tells him not so fast. It sent a signal before it blew. Pack their oxygen tanks, people, he then announces. They’re going into space. Hearing this, Cap orders them to call in everyone. He doesn’t care where they are or what they’re dealing with. This takes priority. The lies and the secrets stop now. For all of them. Avengers… assemble.
Back on the space station, Fury’s guests stand in silence as they take in what they have just been told. Ant-Man speaks first, incredulous asking if Fury wants him… to go kill aliens and underground monsters? Is he sure he’s got the right Ant-Man? Don’t kid himself, Fury tells Lang. He’s got it inside him. Even if he’s not ready to admit it. They all do, or they wouldn’t be there.
To this, Strange counters that this is insanity, noting that Fury’s physical condition must be affecting his mind. There was… no need for this. For any of this. They save the world every day, all of them, without killing anyone. When the Punisher hrrmphs at this, Strange corrects that most of them do. If the world is in danger, they’ll protect it… the way they always have. The right way. Furrowing his aged brow, Fury tells Strange that someone who has literally walked through netherworld shouldn’t be this naïve. The fact that he was always out there, doing a job he never knew even existed, gave him the freedom to be naïve, to keep his pretty little hands clean. He’s about to lose that freedom, whether he likes it or not.
Emma voices that she can see Fury’s point… but this is a lot to take in. Grimacing slightly, Gamora opines that it’s a wonder they as Earth people haven’t been conquered already. They all strike her as thoroughly incompetent. Nick, the Black Panther speaks up. This is the last time he asks him politely. Who killed the Watch…
Suddenly a double-beep chime interrupts, causing Fury to curse out load. That would be the self-destruct on Andrew’s body. Means they don’t have much time. They’ll need to hurry along there, he’s afraid. Sorry, Buck. With that, Fury lifts and extends his cane, touching its end to Winter Soldier and electrocuting him. Convulsing from the voltage, the Winter Soldier reflexively releases the Watcher’s eye in his possession, dropping it to the floor. A moment later, the host of Fury LMDs all cock their rifles at the assembled heroes.
As Fury bends over to pick-up the eye, Strange tells him that he really needs to stop and think about what he’s doing. Believe him, Fury replies, he has. For a very long time now. Until he’s actually dead, he’s still got a job that needs doin’. Now lifting the eye, Fury notes that he has a world to protect. And that’s what he aims to do. He hopes before this is through, at least one of them… will see the truth in what he’s done there.
As Fury turns to leave, Moon Knight notes to the group that he’s an old man, with a satellite full of old robots. They just take him down without anyone getting hurt. To this, Gamora notes that the guns are Badoon-made. She wouldn’t be so certain about no one getting hurt. Speaking to the departing Fury, Black Panther notes that if this is the way it has to be, then this is the way it has to be. Just remember Nick, he then says, he had the chance to come along peacefully. Moment later, the Black Panther downs an LMD with a roundhouse kick. The next moment, the rest of the assembled heroes join the fight, attacking every Fury-LMD they can.
Continuing his departure, the real Nick Fury instructs his LMD-self named Matilda not to hurt them. When the LMD replies that they understand, Fury laments that he’s sorry it had to end like this. It’s been an honor, sir, the LMD replies, as it opens fire. The battle continues, with the Punisher and Rocket Raccoon using their guns and Gamora her sword. The Black Panther relies on his flying kicks, yelling Fury’s name as he attacks. There’s nowhere else to run, the Panther yells to him. Fury!
Who’s running? Fury asks, as the door closes behind him. In the large room, he finds the Orb, strapped to a reclined table, his hands bound above his head. He feels like… his skin’s on fire, the Orb declares through his mouth-less head, shaped like a single, giant eyeball. He’s changing, isn’t he? he asks Fury. He;s like a caterpillar with an eyeball for a head. But what is he changing int… The Orb’s muses are silence as Fury arcs his cane’s handle across the Orb’s head. How did he open it? Fury demands of him. How did he get at its secrets? It… likes him, the Orb replies. It wanted to see. They don’t have time for games! Fury yells, striking the Orb again. Midas is still out there! How did he open the damn eye?!
With a calm the opposite of Fury’s rage, the Orb innocently asks that Fury can’t get his to work, can he? That must be frustrating. Before Fury can reply, one of his LMDs approaches from behind, reminding him that they’ll be there soon. They should get him suited up. For a moment, Fury doesn’t reply, causing the LMD to attempt to prod him. It like him, huh, Fury asks of the Orb. The fella this eye belonged to… certainly never like him. But he’s dead now. And he doesn’t see why his secrets oughtta die with him. With that, Fury touches a box with the fingertips of one hand. The box’s sensors detect his identity and opens its lid, emitting a glowing, blue light from within.
On the other side of the door, the last of the LMDs falls from the full-size proportionate blow of the shrunken Ant-Man. At the door, the Black Panther speaks to Strange, who is already gesticulating a spell, to open it up. They’re not letting him get away with this. Purple energy arcing from his hands, Strange reports that the door appears to have magical safeguards. How in the world did Fury… They have to get into that room, Black Panther emphasizes. Actually, Panther, Strange counters, he does believe someone is about to beat them to the punch.
A thunderous whoooom reverberates though the station, at which point a Fury LMD announces a hull breach in sector 9. Activate all LMDs. They’re here, another Fury LMD announces. A moment later, a team of assembled Avengers bursts into the station – Captain America, Hulk, Black Widow, Wolverine, Luke Cage, Iron Man, Captain Marvel, Thor, Falcon and Spider-Man. First to attack, throwing his shield at one LMD, Cap is also the first to speak, asking another LMD where Fury is. The real Nick Fury. Tell him the Avengers are there. Tell him Captain America says… no more damn secrets.
Suddenly, a blinding light fills the room. No more secrets, a voice announces. He agrees. And so do they, apparently. Recognizing the voice as Nick’s, Cap mutters a curse. Maybe it’s because they’re together again, or because they know that this is the end. Either way, all that really matters, is that now, at long last… all his eyes are open.
As the light subsides, the assembled heroes see the aged Nick Fury, clad in armor covering everything except his head, on which a monocle-like device replaces his lost eye. In his left hand he carries an immense rifle, and in his right hand he holds in his grip both eyes of the Watcher.