Rick Jones had a dream, and in it, the alien race called the Kree was annihilated. Wishing to avoid becoming a pawn in another intergalactic war, he contacted his former partner, Captain America, only to have his worst fear become a reality, for right now, Rick is aboard an alien vessel, prisoner of the Imperium’s elite warriors - the Imperial Guard. ‘Right. So while your piggyback terror took on Captain America down on Earth, you took me over, lock stock and sky-bike, and hauled my tail up here into Earth orbit!’ Rick exclaims as two guards hold him down inside the vessel, he calls them “Kree-creeps” and warns them that doesn’t mean he is going to tell them anything he knows about Captain Mar-Vell. ‘The poor guy’s dead! Let him stay that way!’
Standing in the vessel are the telepathic Oracle, the appropriately named Electron and Tempest, as one of the guards tells Oracle that the Earthian believes they are Kree. ‘Huh? You mean - you’re not?‘ Rick asks, confused. Oracle informs Rick Jones that they are the Shi’ar, and that after such a base insult, he is fortunate that they have need of the knowledge he possesses. ‘The Shi’ar? Tell me - is there anybody in outer space not scheming to conquer the Earth?’ Rick mutters. Oracle tells him that they care nothing about his back-water world. Rick asks her why she wants him to spill everything he knows about his old buddy, Mar-Vell, and boasts that he won’t tell them anything, even if they torture him. Oracle isn’t bothered, and simply tells Rick that if she can’t read his lips, she will read his mind instead, and Rick is put into a trance-like state as Oracle enters his mind.
Flashback images, narrated by Oracle:
Oracle sees a younger Rick Jones lured by “Captain America” into a cave in his country’s south-western desert, but in reality, Rick pursued a mirage created by the Kree officer Mar-Vell, who was trapped in the Negative Zone, and when Rick put on the Nega-Bands in the subterranean Kree laboratory, he exchanged places with Mar-Vell for brief periods. It was then that Rick and Mar-Vell formed a symbiotic relationship, traces of which remain in Rick’s brain long after that psychic bond has been severed.
Oracle sees Mar-Vell again in the hidden lab, forced to battle a powerful Kree android, as it seems his former commander, Yon-Rogg, had discovered, on another level, a machine long outlawed by the Kree - a the psyche-magnetron. Bathed in its glow, Yon-Rogg could mentally re-create anything ever devised by Kree science, but still Mar-Vell triumphed and Yon-Rogg was killed in the resultant explosion.
Oracle states that only later did Rick Jones realize that, through Mar-Vell, he had become embroiled in the Kree-Skrull War, which had already spanned many millennia. The incidental involvement in that war of the Earth-born beigns known as the Avengers turned out to be crucial, first, through threats to captive mutants - the Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver - the Skrulls obtained the secret of the Kree Omni-Wave Projector, the ultimate trans-galactic communicator, which was also capable of being turned by non Kree into the ultimate death ray. Then, with the terrans’ help, Mar-Vell destroyed the Omni-Wave, just in time to save his own race.
However, it was Rick Jones, now physically independent of Mar-Vell, who decided the matter, for the Kree Supreme Intelligence had manipulated events so that the Omni-Wave would unleash in Rick a power endemic to all Earthians, mental waves which immobilized Kree and Skrull alike. The Kree and Skrull races were star-spanning, but at an evolutionary dead-end, which left them vulnerable to being surpassed by Earth’s human race, in time. As Oracle points out, Mar-Vell was not destined to live to see that great drama played out upon a cosmic stage, for he who had battled androids and armies at last succumbed to a cancer, caused by earlier exposure to a type of nerve gas, and he died and was buried near Titan, a moon on the planet Sol-Vi, known to terrans as Saturn.
Tempest asks Oracle if she has seen enough, and standing over Rick’s now-kneeling body, Oracle replies that she has, and that Rick Jones will now lead them to the Kree lair where he first encountered Mar-Vell. ‘Won’t you, terran?’ she asks. ‘Yes…’ the mind-controlled Rick replies.
‘YES!’ exclaims Miguel Santos a.k.a. Living Lightning of the Avengers West Coast, in his lightning form on the grounds of the Palos Verdes Compound, home of the Avengers West Coast, as he dodges Clint “Hawkeye” Barton, who calls out ‘Your call - one electro-arrow - coming right atcha!’, while Miguel darts about, telling Hawkeye that he will not catch him with that, but as Miguel moves upwards, the arrow follows. ‘I better -’ Miguel begins, but the arrow strikes him, causing him to revert to his human form, and plummet to the ground below. Clint calls out to him, suggesting he aim for the trees, but Living Lightning is not able to fly in human form. ‘In that case - step into my parlor - said the Spider-Woman to the ex-fly!’ Julia Carpenter jokes as she catchers her teammate in a psionic web, and just in time, too.
Miguel drops to the ground and thanks Julia, pointing out that she is getting faster at weaving those psi-webs. ‘Faster than I was at ducking that arrow, anyway’ Miguel mutters, rubbing his head. Spider-Woman just tells Miguel that she likes the way that Dr Pym modified his outfit, while Hawkeye goes rushing over to them, accompanied by his estranged wife, Barbara “Mockingbird” Morse-Barton, usually called Bobbi, and Wanda Maximoff the Scarlet Witch. ‘You could’ve hurt him, Clint’ Bobbi scolds Hawkeye, who tells her to get real, and adds that he is glad Miguel wasn’t hurt, but that he knows the ropes by now. Wanda agrees, and remarks that if Hawkeye could customize an electrified version of a heat-seeking missile, then so could one of their enemies.
‘Check, Wanda! And from what I’ve seen of the Living Lightning, he’ll soon be able to handle himself with the best of them!’ Simon Williams a.k.a. Wonder Man remarks as he drops down from above. ‘Well, well. If it isn’t the red-eye special!’ Hawkeye jokes, before asking Wonder Man where he has been keeping himself since they laid off the Night Shift. Simon replies that he has been taking care of some unfinished business in Hollywood. ‘I hope she was worth it, Simon’ Wanda remarks. ‘It wasn’t like that - exactly’ Simon replies, while Tony Stark a.k.a. Iron Man and John Walker the USAgent approach the others. Iron Man points out that since the seven regulars, plus Mockingbird are here, they may as well start the meeting. Walker tells Mockingbird that this is his favorite part of being an Avenger. ‘It is?’ Bobbi asks. ‘Where we all get to sit around a poker table with a big “A” on it and figure out what Iron Man’s saying through his voice filter’ USAgent tells her. ‘What do ya know, USAgent made a funny!’ Hawkeye exclaims.
As the Avengers West Coast head back inside the headquarters, they are approached by their housekeeper, Carlos, who announce that Captain America is on the phone. Iron Man takes the call, while Simon thinks to himself that there has been bad blood between Cap and Iron Man ever since the “Armor Wars” business. From his location, Captain America is speaking on a payphone, and informs Iron Man that he is not using his new communi-card, because he doesn’t have it, revealing that he gave it to Rick Jones so he could escape on his sky-cycle while he was fighting a big bruiser called Warstar. Cap tells Iron Man that he needs his help, since his team is much closer than the Avengers, and he explains that he is at a payphone outside a diner in Benson, Arizona.
Iron Man tells Cap that they are not exactly in the shuttle bus business, to which Hawkeye remarks that he knows Iron Man and Cap have a mad-on for each other, ‘But we’re all Avengers’ he declares. Spider-Woman suggests that Cap should have said “Avengers East Coast”, and Hawkeye realizes that she has a point. ‘Naturally, if you think you’re onto something big, we’ll be right out. Just give us the location’ Iron Man tells Cap. ‘…and the diner’s just past the junction of these two gravel roads that - Iron Man? Are you there?’ Cap calls out down the phone, when he gets no response from Iron Man. ‘Now look, Avenger, I’ve got to go tackle Warstar again - they’re putting themselves back together - so I’ve got to know if you’re coming or -’ he begins, to which Mockingbird tells Cap that they are already on the way, leaving her, their ever-faithful reservist to hold the fort.
Bobbi looks out the window as the Quinjet takes to the sky, Iron Man flying alongside, while she asks Cap what he means by saying a “Warstar” has to put “themselves” back together. ‘Cap?’ Bobbi calls out when she gets no response. Realizing Cap hung up, Bobbi doesn’t know what is worse - between being left as a house-sitter or watching Hawkeye flirt with Spider-Woman, and wonders whether she should have stayed in Detroit.
A short time later, over New Mexico, Captain America is riding in the Quinjet with the Avengers West Coast, while Iron Man continues to fly alongside. Cap explains to them that Warstar is really a little guy riding on the back of a big guy, only they seem to make up one entity. ‘Too bad he - they - fled before we reached Benson’ Wanda remarks as she sits at the controls of the Quinjet, while Hawkeye asks ‘So Rick figures they’re Kree, huh?’, to which Cap tells him that they are something alien, for sure, and they are just liable to have captured Rick. Living Lightning points out that at least they have zeroed in on Cap’s communi-card, to which Cap tells them that he fixed it so the card would operate his sky-cycle for Rick. ‘If they’ve caught him and dumped the cycle, Rick Jones could be anywhere!’
At that moment, ‘We’ve found it, comrades - the lost Kree outpost!’ Electron exclaims as he, Oracle, Tempest and the possessed Rick Jones walk down through the cavern. Tempest remarks that the upper level was apparently destroyed by the explosion in which the renegade Kree commander Yon-Rogg perished. ‘But it’s not the upper level we want, is it, terran?’ Oracle remarks. ‘No…mistress…what you seek…is on a lower level…down this way…’ Rick calls out as he leads the Shi’ar warriors downwards, to a large area, where the long-outlaws psyche-magnetron is situated. ‘He led us right to it!’ Electron declares. Tempest remarks that it is virtually untouched, and notes that there is very little destruction on this level.
Oracle supposes that Mar-Vell clearly judged by the damage done nearer the surface and thus mistakenly thought the entire outpost had been obliterated. She motions to the construction and tells Tempest and Electron to get down there, ‘You know what we Imperial Guardsmen came after!’ she exclaims. ‘Aye, Oracle’ Electron replies, while Tempest asks why the big hurry, as the matter reshaping device is hardly going anywhere. ‘Nor is the single part of it which we need’ he adds as he picks up the part. ‘Still, Tempest, there is nothing to be gained by -’ Electron begins, when suddenly, something begins to rise from a hole in the floor. ‘There must be a third level, of which our spies - and the terran - knew nothing!’ Electron declares. Tempest suggests that the huge form rising must be a Kree sentry, and Oracle orders Rick to stay where he is, while she joins her teammates down below.
‘Not simply a sentry, man of the Shi’ar - I am Intergalactic Sentry #372, re-activated for the first time since my posting on this primiive planet some 250 centuries ago!’ the huge robot states. Oracle points out that its low number means it was one of the first sentries produced, and she attacks it with a mental bolt, but it has no effect on the robot’s synthetic brain. Oracle tells Electron and Tempest to use their electrical powers against it, while Electron wonders why it came to life now, instead of during some earlier intrusion. The Intergalactic Sentry remarks that it appears the Shi’ar have advanced somewhat since his creation, yet still have not moved beyond the enervating pull of base curiosity. The robot states that it was programmed to self-activate when this chamber was entered and there was no Kree officer present. ‘In the three most recent intrusions, only the first of those two conditions was met. On this occasion, both were - and so I must destroy all interlopers!’ the sentry declares, firing a blast down at the Guardsmen. Tempest hands Oracle the device so that they don’t risk it being damaged, while he and Electron both attack the Sentry with their electrical powers.
Electron flies close to the Sentry, and suggests to Tempest that they keep on the move so the Sentry cannot zero in on them, hoping that they are doing the robot some harm with the electro-bolts. ‘You mean with our Tempest-bolts’ Tempest corrects Electron, who notes that the Sentry’s blasts are missing them, but sweeping towards the young terrain, who, as he is still mesmerized, does not even seek to avoid the blasts. ‘Small loss! We have already learned from him all we needed to know!’ Electron points out, declaring that Rick Jones is ultimately expendable. ‘Not to me!’ Captain America exclaims as he lunges at Rick, pushing him to safety, while urging him to wake up. Rick eventually does, and tells Cap that it isn’t his fault about the sky-cycle. ‘At least I saved your special card - got it right here in my pocket’ Rick announces.
‘Fellow Shi’ar - we have what we need. Can we go now?’ Tempest calls out, but suddenly, ‘Sorry, fella - you forgot to say “Mother, may I”?’ Hawkeye calls out as he and the other Avengers West Coast appear in the cavern. ‘The Avengers!’ one of the Shi’ar calls out. ‘Who are these guys?’ Living Lightning enquires. Iron Man explains that the big one is a Kree Sentry, while Spider-Woman points out that one of the others called themselves Shi’ar. ‘Wonderful! Are we in for a Kree / Shi’ar war this time?’ Cap mutters, when suddenly, Warstar rushes into the cavern, knocking the Avengers West aside, he shouts ‘It has already begun, organic being!’ as he lunges at Captain America. ‘WARSTAR!’ Cap shouts. ‘No wonder you couldn’t find him, Cap. He was following you’ Wanda tells her friend.
‘Never mind that! Which side are we on?’ Living Lightning calls out as the Imperial Guardsmen begin to rush for the exit. ‘Bring the youth! I have incapacitated him anew!’ Oracle calls out, and Tempest picks up the mind-controlled Rick. While dealing with Warstar, Cap tells Wonder Man and Living Lightning to stop the Shi’ar. Both men fly towards the Shi’ar, with Living Lightning remarking ‘Captain America’s used to people squatting when he says sit, isn’t he?’, to which Wonder Man replies ‘You might say that’.
‘Shi’ar, earthlings - it is all the same to a Kree Sentry. All intruders are to be destroyed. ALL!’ the robot booms as it slams a fists on the ground, knocking USAgent backwards. ‘We heard you the first time, Tiny Tim!’ Hawkeye calls out. Still dealing to Warstar, Captain America calls out to Iron Man, telling him to take out the little guy on the back. ‘Why? It’s the big guy who’s giving you all the grief’ Iron Man points out. ‘Just do it!’ Cap tells him. Iron Man waits too long, however, and the smaller robot lunges at him. ‘You should have heeded him. While he fights C’cil, B’nee is ready for you!’ he declares. Iron Man is amused by their names and asks ‘Where are you two from - some moon called Leakin’ Luna?’ he asks. B’nee replies that his mechanoid mind does not comprehend the meaning, to which Iron Man offers to explain after B’nee has made himself comfortable, and releases a surge of energy, before slamming B’nee into the side of the cavern.
‘Finally!’ Captain America declares as C’cil stops attacking him. Iron Man gets up off the floor as Captain America explains that the two of them are somehow linked, and that when the little one is hurt, the big one goes to pieces. ‘So that’s what you meant’ Iron Man mutters, before asking Cap if he needs assistance with the big guy. ‘No thanks, Avenger…I think I can handle it’ Cap replies as he throws his shield upwards, where it breaks off some rocks from their ceiling of the cavern, dropping them down on C’cil. Cap goes over to Iron Man and asks him if he is all right, to which Iron Man explains that his head is ringing from hitting metal, before alerting Cap to the fact that B’nee and C’cil have got back together and are making a getaway. Cap begins to follow them to see what they are up to.
‘You do that little thing, Cap…while I give another helping hand against the Sentry!’ Iron Man shouts as he fires a repulser beam at the Intergalactic Sentry. ‘We can sure use you!’ USAgent exclaims from where he stands on a ridge in the cavern. ‘I might as well be using rubber tips’ Hawkeye declares as he continues to fire arrows at the Intergalactic Sentry, but they do nothing. Spider-Woman has wrapped psi-webs around the large robot’s legs, slowing him down a little. The Scarlet Witch doesn’t think she is so helpful, ’That’s more than my hex power seems to be doing’ she remarks, until Iron Man tells her not to speak too soon, announcing that she probably just altered the probability of finding a weak spot, as a seam on the Intergalactic Sentry’s chest begins to burst.
‘He’s on the ropes!’ USAgent exclaims as he lunges towards the robot, shield ready, he plans to open the panel up some more, but the sentry knocks Walker away with ease, sending him crashing into some machinery. Iron Man tells his teammates to hold the sentry for a few seconds longer while he checks that USAgent is okay. ’Take your time, Shellhead. Now that you and Wanda opened up that walking tin can, my explosive-tip arrows might just spill out all the sardines!’ Hawkeye declares as he fires some arrows into the Sentry’s opened chest. Iron Man finds USAgent holding a very large gun, ’I think maybe I find out a weapon’ Walker declares.
A level above, Tempest, Electron and Oracle are still making their getaway with Rick Jones, when they are confronted by a blinding light. ’Some of the terrans must have found a -’ Oracle begins as Wonder Man and Living Lightning appear. Wonder Man tells Oracle that “shortcut” is the term she is looking for, while Tempest tells Oracle that she can flee with the young terran if she wishes. ’Our electrical powers should halt this pair!’ Electron declares as both men take flight to combat Wonder Man and Living Lightning. ’Electricity? Then we’ll all be right at home!’ Living Lkightning exclaims as he and Electron face off. ’Make that three out of four, kid. I can’t fly like you three, either’ Wonder Man remarks as he grabs Tempest’s hands.
‘Then you have no cha - what! Something is cancelling out my anti-gravity apparatus!’ Tempest declares, as he and Wonder Man suddenly plummet to the ground. ‘Must be all the ionic energy that super-charges my bod!’ Wonder Man exclaims. Warstar is rushing along the corridor, and B’nee tells C’cil to hurry, while the terran is grappling with Tempest. B’nee tells C’cil to grasp him in a deadly strangle-hold, while Wonder Man punches Tempest in the face, ‘Not so hot when somebody pulls your plug, are you, pal?’ Simon declares, while Captain America, who has been chasing Warstar, shouts ‘Simon! Behind you!’ as he throws his shield, knocking the fast-approaching Warstar off balance. Simon thanks Cap for the warning, before picking up Warstar and holding the robots over his head, saying to Cap ‘Now, far be it from me to give you orders - but why don’t you chase the elusive Mr Jones for a while?’, and Cap agrees, continuing on down the cavern.
Below, ‘Destroy! Destroy!’ the Intergalactic Sentry booms, while Hawkeye fires a bolar arrow, which wraps wire around the robot’s legs. ‘As a gimmick, it’s a bit too “fifties”, but still…’ Clint begins, while the Scarlet Witch casts a hex and tells Clint to step aside so she can trip the Sentry up. ‘you’ll stand an even better chance - if I can glomp up his eyes so he can’t see!’ Julia tells her friend as she blasts some psi-webs into the Sentry’s face. Hawkeye tells Julia that the sentry has visual units rather than eyes, when the large robot suddenly falls to the ground. ‘But what matters is, between the three of us, we got him!’ Clint declares.
Wanda points out that the Intergalactic Sentry is only down and now out, as it fires energy beams from its visual units. ‘You had to be right again - didn’t you, Wanda?’ Clint remarks, while pointing out that the rays cut through Spider-Woman’s half-formed psi-webs. ‘But what the blazes are they doing to us?’ Clint wonders as he and Wanda are dowsed in the rays of energy. From her place on the rock-covered wall, Spider-Woman sees Wanda and Clint imprisoned within a mass of “colloidal atoms” like she read about in the files the Avengers exchanged with the Fantastic Four. ‘But that info isn’t go to save Wanda and Hawkeye!’ Julia tells herself, making her way towards them, she has to save them before the Sentry’s fist slams down on her new friends.
Suddenly, ‘Oh, Sentryyyy…’ a voice from above calls out. ‘To use an old Earthian phrase - stick ‘em up!’ Iron Man exclaims as he and USAgent hold up the large weapon. USAgent points out that that the Sentry is blanching. ‘We picked a winner all right! He knows what this baby can do!’ Walker declares, thinking to himself ‘Which is more than we do!’. Spider-Woman sees her teammates and tells them to blow the Sentry away, while Intergalactic Sentry #372 states that a Sentry can never surrender, that a Sentry must be true to its programming. ‘Thus, if I cannot destroy those who have invaded this outpost I must destroy the outpost!’ the Sentry announces as it stands up and lumbers towards Walker and Iron Man, who fire the weapon at the behemoth. ‘He’s going down! But what the Sam Hill is this gadget doing to him?’ USAgent exclaims. Iron Man replies that he has no idea, while inside the energy field, Hawkeye exclaims that all they are is that the weapon keeps doing this.
Back in the other part of the cavern, ‘Got you, loco! I did it! I actually zapped him!’ Living Lightning exclaims as he traps Electron in a blaze of energy. Miguel thinks to himself that up until now he has felt like the new kid on the block, the barrio boy they let in on a whim. He returns to his human form, and punches Electron in the face, deciding that if he has the power to out-shock this alien storm trooper, then maybe he does belong in this Avengers crew after all. Wonder Man kicks Warstar in the face and tells Captain America that this is loads of fun. ‘But have you any idea what these Shi’ar sunshine boys are really up to?’ he asks. ‘I know they kidnapped Rick - that’s enough for the moment’ Cap replies, before knocking Oracle to the ground. ‘Sorry, miss’ the true gentleman tells her, while Oracle drops the piece of equipment she was carrying. Oracle declares that this pitched battle avails nothing. Captain America sees her touch her head and realizes that she must be sending out some sort of brain waves, only she isn’t aiming them at him.
‘I don’t feel so good…’ Living Lightning announces, as Oracle forces him send surges of energy at the squabbling super beings. ‘Let us flee while we can!’ Electron suggests. There is a loud rumbling sound, and Wonder Man declares that Oracle’s mind blasts are tearing the place apart. Tempest collects the piece of the psyche-magnetron that they need, and the four members of the Imperial Guard make a quick exit from the cavern. Flying towards their ship, Tempest tells Oracle that he didn’t know her mental bolts could physically disturb inorganic material before. Oracle replies that they didn’t, and that it is not she who is destroying the Kree outpost.
‘It’s that terminally damaged Sentry!’ Iron Man exclaims as he, Wanda, Spider-Woman, Hawkeye and Walker gather together. ‘If he can’t defend this place, he must be programmed to obliterate it’ Wanda suggests, while Hawkeye tells everyone to get going. They race down the tunnel to where Cap, Wonder Man and Living Lightning are. The rumblings continue, and Iron Man points out that a couple of earlier explosions failed to demolish this outpost, to which Cap declares that it looks like the third time is the charm. ‘Everybody out!’ he orders.
‘We made it!’ Living Lightning exclaims as the heroes make it back to their Quinjet, but Cap tells him not to send up rockets just yet, while Julia looks up at the Shi’ar vessel, now sky-bound. ‘Those Shi’ar got away with whatever they came for. And that can’t be god news!’ Julia exclaims. Iron Man points out that the Shi’ar headed straight up into outer-space, where they cannot follow, even in the Quinjet. Captain America states that there is one Avenger who might be able to, if they can reach him, and taps into the communicator on the Quinjet.
‘…hi, Captain America. Quasar here’ the young cosmic hero, Wendell Vaughn remarks. ‘What can I do for you?’ he asks his teammate. ‘A small Shi’ar ship - on the periphery of space? Sure I can catch it! I’ll have to get out of Earth’s atmosphere before I can really open up’ Wendell tells Cap. Reporting back a short time later, informs Captain America that he has located the vessel, and that it is travelling at 80% light speed. ‘No, that doesn’t mean I can’t catch up with it’ he reports, explaining that when his quantum bands are clicking he can catch just about anything.
However, the small Shi’ar vessel approaches the Shi’ar mother ship. ‘This is Oracle. Prepare for boarding of my craft and crew’ the senior Imperial Guard member reports. Quasar is flying swiftly through the cosmos and sees the large vessel ahead, ‘Now, it should be a great trick to - uh-oh! Just as I quantum-jumped in - looks like the starship’s getting set to warp out!’ Wendell thinks to himself. He sees some sort of hole in space, appearing between the vessel and the sun. The Shi’ar ship then plunges right through it. ‘Well, guess who’s going to be right on its hyper-spacing tail’ Wendell thinks to himself, when suddenly, he is knocked backwards by a solar flare. ‘A black solar flare, no less!’ the shocked hero realizes. ‘It closed up the hole after the Shi’ar ship - leaving me with cosmic egg on my face. And I don’t even know what this is all about yet!’ Wendell thinks to himself as he flounders about in space.
Meantime, 1,379,000,000 miles from Earth (on a good day), Titan circles a Saturn that circles the sun. Rick Jones, Elysius and the Avengers were all with Captain Mar-Vell when he was buried on this tiny hunk of rock almost too small to be called a moon. None of them is here now, beside his tomb. But a shadow falls over the tomb of Captain Mar-Vell - someone, or something, else is here….