The Citadel-Rising of Lord Eldritch the Pretheist: “From the ancient time, I curse you meddl—“the corpse-like creature screeches before Ms. America’s fist hits him squarely in the face.
Is that it? she asks her teammates who have mopped up all opposition. “Let’s go home,” Hawkeye aka Kate Bishop suggests. Prodigy wonders if they should stay until the authorities arrive. The merciless Sisters are out, but…
Loki tells him the authorities are on their way. They don’t want to be here when they turn up. By Odin’s mangled eye, he mutters. The Mutant Angels of the Infinite Embassy are boring!
Kate suggests they go out for burgers. Loki agrees then notices his finger is bleeding, which means one of his magical alarms is going off. He takes out his cell phone and phones their absent teammate Hulkling, stating he is getting a Mother incursion. He hasn’t done something stupid like going to New York, has he? Because if he has, Loki is frowning at him. Frown.
“Hello Loki,” a familiar voice answers and for a moment Loki is shocked. Regaining his composure, he asks Leah if Teddy is there. He would have thought she had more moral backbone than to let a little thing like being abandoned in the ancient past turn her toward petty crime.
Teddy’s here, she replies. He’s just not really feeling conversational. She takes a snapshot with the phone and sends it to Loki’s phone. Loki sees an image of Mother’s dimension: Hulkling’s shapeshifting has been turned against him, imprisoning him and horribly having taken away his mouth. Mother hungrily stares through a window at Manhattan. Also in the picture are Leah’s allies, Oubliette, Meree, Annie, Ultimate Nullifier and the mysterious fake Patriot.
They are in Mother’s home dimension, Loki states. He is impressed with the carrier reception. What network is she on? She tells him to stop being Loki. He’s not fooling anyone. Let her tell him how it’s going to be: Mother is terribly angry with him. She wants to scar the world, just as her personal message to the multiverse that she should not be trifled with. Those bad dimensions the Young Avengers led to her? She’ll unleash them on Earth. Adults won’t notice all the children have become evil. They’ll merely decide their children have always been evil. She’s just finishing her preparations. They have a couple of hours until she opens the portal and unleashes it.
Why is Leah doing this? Loki asks. She is not a bad person. But he is, Leah replies calmly. And this is all his fault. It appears Ultimate Nullifier has something he’d like to say. Ultimate Nullifier shouts some profanities into the phone.
Loki ends the calls and tells his teammates there is something they need to talk about.
A little later aboard Noh-Varr’s ship, he reveals Mother has Hulkling. While he continues talking what that will mean for them and that their exes are her allies, Wiccan tells Noh-Varr he needs his gun and steps into the next room. Belatedly, Loki realizes what that means and runs after him, shouting ‘no.’
Why not? Billy asks, taking the gun, intending to commit suicide. It would cancel the spell. He pulls the trigger and the problem goes away. Loki reveals he lied when he said that. He was manipulating Billy into loaning him his powers. Suicide won’t solve anything. He wishes there was a solution that easy. He’d take it. Billy hits him.
While Kate tries to comfort Billy, Loki suggests they advance the back-up plan. Kate asks what he means. Billy explains that his power is locked up in the magic he is trying to defuse. He just doesn’t have enough raw power. He’s better than he was but not nearly good enough. Loki could dispel Mother’s curse, but lacks the magical strength. In this body, Loki adds. Does he really think he’s ready for this? Billy asks. He doesn’t know, faithful student, Loki replies brightly. In more pleasant times, that’d probably make it exciting.
Soon Billy and Loki sit in magical circle. LokiLokiLokiLoki, Billy chants. Suddenly, Loki bursts into flames. He shouts that it hurts. Images of him that have been and might be burst from his body. Loki, Billy chants one last time.
“Oh, I do believe you’re right,” a now twentyish Loki (sporting a new look) grins. Now he looks like trouble, Kate observes, not disapprovingly. “Your power?” Billy asks. “You ready?”
Loki looks at his hand quizzically. It’s not there, he announces. Surprise, surprise, America mocks and slams Loki against the wall. Got his damn body back. Nice work. The others turn their backs on him and leave. It should have worked! he shouts after them. This wasn’t his plan. He’s not lying to them!
A little later, Loki (having now added a coat to his ensemble) asks Billy what he is doing. He’s going to save Teddy, comes the reply. He’ll die, Loki points out. Then he’ll die trying, Billy retorts. He has gone totally superhero on him, Loki scoffs. He has two better plans.
Let him guess, Billy mocks: Lend the treacherous little god stupid Billy Kaplan’s remaining power as Loki’s stronger now and wouldn’t burn out before finishing the spell? Forget it. Loki may have come back the first time but he definitely doesn’t trust him when things are this bad. Billy is growing up Loki admits. Which is good. The second plan involves him growing up fast. At least for a few minutes…
Kate stands in the doorway to Prodigy’s room announcing it’s up to them. Busy, he replies, glued to the computer screen. In a huff, Kate storms off.
She peeks into Noh-varr’s room. Noh-varr wipes away the holographic computer screen. What is he doing? Kate asks. Seeing if there was any news. Saying good-bye. Presumably there’s going to be a ‘do or die’ superhero attempt shortly, right? He’s so cute, she laughs. And, yeah, it’s looking like hero o’ clock.
When she leaves he opens the screen again, displaying the messages by his three exes. Annie and Meree innocently suggest meeting or hooking up again. Oubliette openly mocks his beard and tells him if they are going to fight, at least try and look the part. She’s making the effort. He should too.
America peeks in, telling him they’ll leave in ten. Get ready. He looks at a can of shaving gel.
A little later, Noh-varr joins the others clean-shaven, much to Kate’s pleasure.
Loki explains he is somewhat stronger. He won’t pass out when teleporting too much. He’ll be more use, less comic sidekick. As if this isn’t what he planned all along, Prodigy scoffs. He still stinks of guilt. He’s sorry he hasn’t time to dispel his cynicism, Loki replies while his conscience in the form of Kid Loki mocks they don’t trust him for some reason. Isn’t life so hard for a body thief and a murderer?
Loki continues that the majority of Billy’s power is still wrapped up within the spell. That means in Mother’s hands. They need to make the power Billy has more powerful, so he can wrest it free. He needs to become the Demiurge. Now!
Billy’s magical messiah thing? Kate asks. He can just choose to become that? Not exactly, Loki replies. But maybe for a few seconds he can sidle up to it. At the least, he holds off Mother while they rescue Teddy. At the best, he actually render the spell asunder and end this thing for good. The problem is coming down. The closer he gets to full Demiurge the further he gets away from them. He’ll get a chance to rework the clockwork of the universe. Or blow it up… It could be a long way home for Master Kaplan.
No way is he ready, America opines. Maybe he is, Loki insists. Maybe it has to be like this. Oh great, Prodigy mutters and quotes the Non-Patriot: “No one escapes.”
Kate points out Mother has an army of Bad-them. How are they going to carry the Billy football to the end zone? Prodigy reveals he’s dealt with that. Not everyone on team decides to indulge their teen drama addiction when the world is ending. He texted Laurie and Alex and they in turn texted other teen heroes they know. Adults can’t see the problem, he reminds them, teens can. They didn’t go to their peers before because they were afraid of them being infected and escalating the problem. The problem can’t escalate any more than the end of everything.
They wait until the threat is unleashed, then the other teen heroes contain it while the Young Avengers head to Mother’s dimension and save the day. And the grown-ups won’t even know they are saving the world. Same old, same old, Loki agrees.
Kate reveals she can’t go. It’s nearly her 21st birthday. She’s ran half a dozen pregnancy tests to be sure she isn’t a parent. So she can’t just be controlled. But if she’s too old, maybe she’ll start fading in the middle of the fight, not seeing the problem. That’s a big risk and—
Noh-varr gently interrupts, pointing out he is 21. Oh right, she replies embarrassed. As they take off, Loki assures her one is as old as one feels. Noh-varr tells them he has seen this one many worlds: the young worrying they are too old. Shuddup! Kate orders. America tells her to save her midlife crisis for the after party. It’s showtime, princess!
Something wicked this way comes, Leah announces in Mother’s dimension. They’ll make the attempt shortly. Sitting on a chair made of a screaming Hulkling, a bored Mother places a phone call to the Kaplans agreeing with them it’s time for some tough love. Time to lead the invasion of Earth with a horde of bad ideas. She’s glad they are all on the same page…