SWORD (1st series) #5

Issue Date: 
May 2010
Story Title: 

Kieron Gillen (words), Steve Sanders (pictures), Craig Yeung (inks), Matt Wilson (colors), Dave Lanphear (letters), Mike Del Mundo (cover artist), Damien Lucchese (production), Daniel Ketchum (associate editor), Nick Lowe (editor), Joe Quesada (editor in chief), Dan Buckley (publisher), Alan Fine (executive producer)

Brief Description: 

The Drenx seem to think they have things under control as far as their invasion of Earth is concerned, but they haven't counted on the duplicitous nature of Unit, S.W.O.R.D.'s captive robot. Unit's hidden messages to Hank haven't gone unnoticed and, when Death's Head's ship arrives at the Peak, the Drenx discover that they are being ambushed. Hank releases the captured aliens and they assist them in taking back the space station from the invading pirates. As the Drenx are led to the cells, Hank asks Unit why he assisted them. Unit explains that he simply didn't like the Drenx and he thought he had a better life where he was, helping out S.W.O.R.D. Abigail and Hank later meet the leader of the invasion party and warn him that continuing their invasion would lead to their butts being whipped by Beta Ray Bill and a dozen more like him. He takes the hint and departs, leaving Hank and Abigail to eat their blueberry muffin in peace.

Full Summary: 

(the Peak, 20:41 EST)
At Landing Bay D, described in the Drenx Peak-invasion documentation as 'Murder-Site X,' a Drenx soldier is looking forward to victory. He sees Death's Head's ship land and figures that the metal giant will be stunned and the green-haired mortal-foe and her blue-skinned courtesan will be as vermillon dust. Soon they can begin their joyous slaughter. The bay doors open wide and Death's Head's huge eyes looks down on them. "Hello alien chums!" he exclaims. The Drenx are confused. It’s an ambush, and the bounty hunter opens fire, blasting away at all before him.

Abigail and Hank jump towards the bay and Abigail opens a door using her override permissions. They need to get to Lockheed ASAP. Hank apologizes as he lands on a Drenx soldier's head, commenting that Zero-G hopping is trickier than it looks. However, it is just as much fun! Abigail keeps firing as they make their way inside. She removes her blue air bubble-hat but advises Hank to keep his on. The place is lousy with human-targeted pheromones. She asks Death's Head if he can keep the goons busy. He replies that of course he can. It's carefully applied hyperviolence and that's what she's paying him for, yes?

A call goes out from the Drenx to deploy the orbital fighters, and one immediately blasts Death's Head in the back with its lasers. He groans but he cannot give up now. He has to think of the bonus.

Abigail and Hank head to Communications Station IV where they discover Lockheed sitting on top of one of the Drenx. Several have been taken out by the little guy and one of the soldiers appears to have had his face smashed into the wall. Hank says he's changed. Lockheed replies in his own language and Abigail informs Hank that what he said it untranslatable and physically impossible for humans. They need to go.

(the Peak Bridge)
The three Drenx diplomats watch their monitors intently. Their 'perfect plan' has gone awry. The leader demands a situation report from the others before he feeds their innards to one another. They inform him that they have concentrated their warriors at the Bridge and other strong points, trying to pre-empt any moves by Brand's counter force. They are ripe with success. S.W.O.R.D. is pinned down while trying to storm the Brig-Control systems and reavers are converging. And... the giant of iron is pacified. "Pacified?" asks the boss. "Mostly," replies his subordinate, as outside the ship, Death's Head stands on a tower, blasting away at the Drenx crafts. The boss feels that this is enough. He wants the overfleet signaled. They need more summoned to this feeding. And, he wants a hostage.

(Peak Brig Control Room)
Lockheed unleashes a wall of flame from his mouth to cause a distraction, whilst Abigail and Hank prepare to release the prisoners. Hank replies that all their fellow S.W.O.R.D. personnel will be joining them presently. Abigail tells him no. They're the last people they need. They need people who can save the day.

(Peak Brig)
As Henry Gyrich is brought in as a hostage, the Drenx realize that they've lost contact with the reaving parties in the prison sector and those near the S.W.O.R.D. agents. The leader calls his men to ready their weapons. Drenx armadas are converging on Earth and there will be a grand consummation and violent rutting. They just need to hold out until they arrive.

Unfortunately, the metal doors to the brig are smashed from the other side and they begin to crumble. Through the doors sweep the aliens captured by S.W.O.R.D. and placed in captivity. Karolina Dean flies overhead, using her energy blasts to take out Drenx soldiers. Noh-Varr sprints along the wall, almost horizontally, shooting as he runs while Beta Ray Bill leads the charge. Hepzibah uses a stiletto heel to smash a soldier in the face, and Warlock pulls out an array of weapons as Hank, Abigail and Lockheed bring up the rear.

The Drenx prepare to retreat, but Hank and Abigail are on them instantly. One tries to hide behind Gyrich, but Abgail shoots him in the face without a thought. The Drenx would have shot him but she will need Gyrich later (for gloating purposes, for one thing).

She informs Hank that they have people fleeing and heading to the Brig. Hank sets of running and he makes some lame jokes before smashing one of the Drenx to the ground, hard. The Drenx boss heads to Unit's cell and informs him that the blue-creature pursues them. Can he reverse this misfortune? Unit tells him that the hour is dire and he will need extreme measures. "Turn off the anti-subliminal fields." The pirate pauses, as Unit says “please.” The pirate turns to the control panel and says, "May the souls of slaughtered innocents guard us all." He switches off Unit's prison, just as Hank arrives on the scene. He tells Hank that it's good of him to join them. He was just about to tell his little Drenx friend that it was time for a little sleep. "Brain off, now, you hideous little sadist," he says. The pirate drops to the ground as Hank re-engages the anti-subliminal field.

"Why?" asks Hank. Unit tells him that the Drenx were terribly uncouth. Hank doesn't mean that. He asks about the communication from 'Cecelia.' He knows that was Unit, but there was a message embedded in it, warning them. Why betray S.W.O.R.D. and then warn them about the Drenx? Unit acts all innocent and then asks back what makes Hank think it was him. Hank said there was no Gyrich screaming in the background, and Cecelia seemed a notch too subservient. Plus, he included a whole load of chess lingo in the hidden message. "Knight F3." He demands that Unit answer his question. The Drenx would have freed him. Why not go along? Unit tries to explain.

He informs Hank that that a while ago, some of these tiresome cosmic bullies managed to assemble an artifact which gave them total control of reality. Ultimate universal power in the palm of anyone's hand. Not a good thing. The ability to achieve his goals in a single stroke... Tempting. He tells Hank that he is somewhat skilled in manipulating ego-befuddled minds and would have had a good chance to snatch it from him - fifty percent by his own estimations. He chose not to intervene. It was only a fifty percent chance, and more importantly, it was a fifty percent chance of annihilation; of turning all his creators' deeds into crimes rather than brave, necessary steps. He would not risk the legacy of his people on even odds. He will not idly throw away the universe's best chance for peace... as in him.

Unit continues to say that the Drenx are animals. Why ravage Earth without a good reason? The freedom that the Drenx offered is less than what he has in the cell. There, he is an advisor to one of the most important organizations on the most singularly crucial planet in the cosmos. The Drenx would have attacked anyway. He gave them the base with the absolute minimum of casualties and then aided them in taking it back. S.W.O.R.D. is close to intact, the Drenx are crushed and he remains... Hank’s humble servant.

Having listened to the explanation, Hank says that, in other words, "When I slide my stiletto between your vertebrae, you'll know about it." "Precisely," replies Unit. Hank tells him he's insane. Unit replies that he possesses a certain clarity. As Hank heads for the exit, Unit gives him his next chess move. Pawn to D6. Mate in 17.

(the Peak, 10:33 EST)
Status update - Anti-warbound task force recalled to Peak before engagement with xenoforms. Last of the Drenx reaving teams surrender. Air stream purified from human-pacification pheromones.

As the pirates are led away, Abigail Brand pays Gyrich a visit. The pheromones are wearing off, and he asks if she is there to gloat. She says she is, but first she tells him she is actually impressed. He managed to arrest over ninety-five percent of the known aliens on Earth in less than a day. He must have been planning this for months. Hell, he must have been working as hard as her. Shame he had to stomp on all those human rights. Gyrich replies that the one thing he didn't do was stomp on any human rights. He did whatever was necessary for the job. Abigail is pleased that they're agreed on that.

She tells him that, thanks to his decisions, the Peak was captured. It was only thanks to a murderous robot prisoner that they didn't suffer almost total casualties. Earth would have been next. She has all the evidence pointing back to him, carefully lined up and ready to present to those upstairs. If he quits, she tells him, that won't happen. The last thing S.W.O.R.D. needs is another scandal. She wants him to tell their superiors that the organization is in perfect running order and has no need of a co-command, or she will destroy whatever is left of his prospects. The only government job he'll be able to get will come with a book of traffic tickets. Gyrich replies that this is blackmail, but Abigail prefers, 'Squeezing your unexplored hairy-planetoids in a vise.'

Gyrich resigns his commission at 10:39 EST and recommends that his post remain unfilled.

(10:49 EST. Commander Brand addresses the detainees)
Abigail stands high on a platform alongside Hank and Sydren. She tells the assembled aliens that the words don't come easy to her, but about what happened... she is sorry. Hank can't believe she can actually say the word. Abigail tells the detainees that she officially owes them all a favor. One use only. This won't happen again. She asks Sydren if the transports are ready. He tells her that they are. Everyone will find themselves back home shortly, bar actual felons who will find themselves back in captivity. "Except..." asks Brand. "Except those Osborn arrested on something foolish, who they will lose in the system," replies Sydren. She asks if Death's Head's account is settled.

They soon meet up with the bounty hunter who has his suitcase packed. He tells her his account is settled quite amicably. Her blue-bundle of fur of a boyfriend cannot haggle. She replies that she doesn't keep him around for his home-keeping skills. Before she can explain why she keeps Hank around, Death's Head holds up his hands and says he's leaving. He doesn't want to hear about their fleshy squelching. As he departs, Abigail asks Sydren to keep his details on file. She likes him.

She enquires about the Metroliths. Sydren informs her that Canada expresses an interest in offering them a habitat. They see tourist potential. They're available for a meeting whenever she wants. Abigail asks him to take care of it. Sydren is surprised, but Abigail reminds him that he held up the Sydren for three hours. He did great, and she needs to put more faith on him. He thanks her as he scampers away.

(Diplomatic Room XXI: Drenx overfleet diplomatic summit)
The Drenx premier stands behind a large table as Hank & Abigail enter the massive room. He is surprised that she brings weapons to a diplomatic meeting, but Abigail replies that it's not a weapon. It's a mop. She'll get to that eventually, but first she asks what she can do for them. He tells her that she has dozens of his warriors imprisoned. Six Drenx fleets have assembled to secure their freedom. She will return their brothers and six times the tribute-tithe they demanded. She will do this or they will strike and their skies will be filled with bloody clouds. The station will be ground up with their bones into the finest powder which they will snort in their victory orgy.

Abigail replies that she doesn't think he quite understands his situation. She points to Beta Ray Bill who is outside the ship. She informs him that Beta Ray Bill had Galactus on his knees, so she hears. His girlfriend lives on Earth, and he doesn't like the Drenx very much right now.

She turns to Hank and asks how many guys there are on Earth like Bill, as in, just as powerful. Hank reckons about a dozen. She tells the Drenx that it's a bad place to invade. Does he know the Skrull Empire? They invaded Earth and does he know what happened? Hank adds that now the Skrull Empire is smaller than some of the apartments he lived in when he was a student!" Abigail says that the thing about S.W.O.R.D. which people don't really get, is that they are not just there to save Earth from the aliens: they are there to save the aliens from Earth. Hank asks him why he thinks he's speaking to two aliens rather than two humans.

Abigail offers him two options. Stand up and walk straight out of their lives or they can let guys like Bill do what comes naturally. "Hank outstretches his arm. "Which is when we'll need the mop." The Drenx premier turns and orders the fleets to disperse immediately. Hank whispers to Abigail that she must be feeling pretty great right now. Abigail replies that she doesn't. She's starving. She hasn't had a bite to eat all day. Hank produces a blueberry muffin and asks, "How do you feel now? Abigail cradles his hands with her own and they put their feet on the table. "Like this is the best job in the whole universe."


Characters Involved: 

Abigail Brand

Henry Peter Gyrich
S.W.O.R.D. guard

Drenx Diplomats, the boarding party, the invasion leader and some slaves
Death’s Head

Released captives including Adam X, Beta Ray Bill, Hepzibah, Karolina Dean, Noh-Varr and Warlock


Story Notes: 

Strangely, in the splash page when the captives attack, Hank appears to be there twice, so presumably the one whose face we can't see is another alien, or simply an art error.

The whole 'blueberry muffin' scenario occurred in the first issue of this series.

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