Rick Jones’ Dream:
A ringed planet comes into view - it’s not Saturn, but Hala, home world of those galactic goose-steppers, the Kree. He has been here before, and it is not somewhere he ever wants to go back to. Full of metal and concrete and plastic, those wacked-out warmongers covered every square foot of their mother planet with cities and roads, no vegetation anywhere - even the ocean has a plastic canopy over it.
Almost street level, there is a crowd that has gathered, mostly civilians, one soldier. ‘What are they looking at? Me? Am I really here? No - something past me’. Suddenly, whiteness engulfs everything, it can’t be an explosion, as there was no sound. Everyone is still, unmoving, like deer caught in the headlight of an oncoming car. Only, this light is the flashbulb on the Almighty’s camera.
The sudden flash fades, but people begin to drop to the ground. The wind picks up - is that dust flying through the air…or particles of death? Everyone has fallen, they’re dead, possibly the whole planet. The shockwave finally arrives, but no one is alive to hear it. Suddenly, someone emerges from the shadows, someone who survived the bomb - it’s Captain America. But what is Captain America doing here - he’s no planet-hopper, America is his stomping ground. He isn’t too fond of what he sees. He hangs his head, and covers his face, before suddenly, his face tears apart - replaced by that of the Supreme Intelligence!
‘AAAA!’ Rich Jones wakes, screaming. ‘Oh, man. A dream. Weird. It was like I knew I was dreaming, but it was still so incredibly real’ he tells himself, sitting up in bed, deciding that he never dreams so vividly, with such intense detail. He rubs his face and wonders what is going on with his subconscious, and he cannot get the image of Cap turning into the Kree Supreme Intelligence out of his mind. Putting on some jeans and a t-shirt, Rick leaves his quarters, wondering if the imagery is symbolic of something, but he can’t work out what. ‘Why do I have the feeling this dream’s important?’ Rick wonders. He knocks on the door to the quarters of Bruce Banner, ‘You in there?’ Rick calls out. ‘No! Go away!’ Bruce replies from behind closed doors.
Rick puts his hands in his pockets and carries on through the halls of the Pantheon facility, deciding that Bruce may have his mental faculties back, but he is still the Hulk, the last person you want to wake from his beauty sleep, and wonders who else in the crazy Pantheon place he can talk to, and decides on Delphi, understanding that she is supposed to be a soothsayer or something. ‘If this dream means anything - she ought to be able to tell me!’ Rick decides, approaching the sparse chamber where Delphi sits by a small pool of water. ‘Richard Jones’ Delphi calls out. Rick asks her if she knew he was coming, to which Delphi ignores the question, stating ‘You had a dream’. ‘Hmmm? Yeah’ Rick replies, telling himself ‘Not too annoying when somebody’s always a jump ahead of your conversation’.
‘I’m not psychic or anything, but -’ Rick begins as he kneels down beside the pool, to which Delphi tells him that the dream seems like more than a dream to him. ‘Right’ Rick replies, before informing Delphi that he has been in a lot of exotic places in his day - other worlds, even other galaxies. ‘You can stop me if you know all this’ he adds, but the attractive blonde tells him that it will be therapeutic for him to verbalize it. Rick reveals to Delphi that once he even had an omnipotent ruler of a galactic empire, a cross between the Wizard of Oz and a head of lettuce, enter his mind and stimulate mental powers he never had before or since.
Rick tells Delphi that the dream took place on this supreme ruler’s world, and had him in or, or kind of. ‘And your friend?’ Delphi enquires. ‘You mean Cap…he’s something of an ex-friend’ Rick explains. Delphi suggests to Rick that he speak to Captain America about this dream, but Rick tells her that there is a problem with this, for he and Captain America haven’t spoken much in the past few years. ‘I was his partner for a few weeks and…it just didn’t work out, and -’ Rick begins, but Delphi interrupts, telling Rick to call Captain America, as he will know what to do.
Meantime, Avengers Headquarters, New York City, ‘You’re up mighty early, Mademoiselle’ Captain America a.k.a. Steve Rogers tells Peggy Carter as he enters the communications room. Steve reminds his friend that he told her she couldn’t work 18 hour days anymore. Tapping away at a keyboard with one hand, holding a clipboard with the other, and not taking her eyes off the monitor ahead of her, Peggy replies that when she can’t sleep, she comes here. Cap tells her that she has to stop taking her responsibilities here to bed with her. ‘Who else is there?’ Peggy smiles. ‘Ahem’ Cap remarks, while Peggy changes the subject, remarking that she is worried that Cap’s friend Rachel hasn’t returned from her computer class yet.
‘She hasn’t? It’s five in the morning! I thought she was in bed by now!’ Cap replies, while Peggy asks if Rachel took her ID card with her, but Cap just says that it is unlike Rachel to stay out all night, and asks if she said anything to anybody before she left. Peggy informs Cap that John Jameson drove Rachel, and Cap wonders why he didn’t pick her up, before telling Peggy to call him when John gets up. Cap then starts to leave the room, when Rick’s image appears on a series of monitors. ‘Rick Jones calling the Avengers. Come in, somebody!’ he exclaims. Cap is surprised, and tells Peggy to patch him in. He greets Rick, and remarks that this is a surprise, especially at this time of night. He asks Rick where he is, to which Rick replies ‘Two time zones earlier than you’, before querying whether Cap is busy, or whether he has time to hear something a bit wacky. ‘Shoot’ Cap tells his former side-kick.
And, once the story has been relayed, ‘Hmmm, the file we have on the Supreme Intelligence says he’s been known to affect people’s dreams from a galaxy away’, Cap remarks, telling Rick that this is serious, and asks where he can meet him. Cap turns back to Peggy and asks her to wake up John and have him meet at the launch site in an hour. ‘Also, notify me the moment you hear anything from Rachel’ he adds. ‘Got you, Steve’ Peggy responds.
An hour later, Captain America and John Jameson are inside a Quinjet. ‘Where to?’ John asks as he straps himself in. ‘Benson, Arizona’ Cap replies. The jet takes off, and Cap asks John if Rachel said anything to him about where she was going after class. ‘Uh…not really’ John replies. ‘You dropped her off. She didn’t tell you why she didn’t want to be picked up?’ Cap enquires. John quickly replies that he didn’t ask. ‘I’m not as close to her as you are’ he adds, before asking Cap if he doesn’t think he is showing nepotism by hiring his girlfriend as his secretary. ‘If you need a secretary, fine. But are you trying to tell me she’s the most qualified person for the job?’ John asks. ‘What’s next? You going to use your position to get all your out-of-work friends a job?’ John remarks.
Cap pauses and asks John if something is bugging him. ‘There’s nothing wrong with me! You’re the one who can’t take a little criticism!’ John retorts. Cap realizes something is wrong and tells John that he is serious: ‘Tell me what’s up with you. I don’t want personal matters getting in the way of -’ Cap begins, but John interrupts: ‘You’re my boss, not my shrink, Captain. I’m a professional. Personal matters don’t affect my performance one bit’ he declares.
An hour later, the Quinjet hovers over the desert, while Cap drops from the vessel on a sky-cycle. He radios up to Jameson, telling him to find the nearest airport and wait for him there. Jameson replies that he knows the procedure, and takes off. Cap tells himself that something big is eating John, that he resisted all of his efforts to find out what it is. ‘Does he have some sort of problem with me I don’t know about? He’s been so solid an dependable. This is so unlike him’ Cap tells himself. Landing the sky-cycle by a diner, Cap knows the problem with John will have to wait, as right now he has to mend fences with Rick. Cap has the feeling that Rick is not over the misunderstanding the two of them had when Rick was a teenager.
Cap puts a trench coat on to obscure his costume, and notices that the diner is quite busy, considering the early hour, but supposes that it is the only truck stop in fifty miles. Looking around, he wonders if Rick isn’t here yet. Two men at the counter notice Captain America, ‘Hey, Fred - check this out’ one of them remarks, but Cap sees Rick and goes over to the booth where he is sitting. ‘Hello, Rick. Great to see you’ Cap remarks. ‘Likewise’ Rick replies, to which Cap asks him what he has been up to, aside from having weird dreams. ‘Bit of this and that’ Rick replies casually. Cap informs Rick that he bought his book, but hasn’t had time to do more than skim. A waitress goes over to them and what it will be. ‘A late supper or an early breakfast?’ she enquires. Cap requests black coffee and two orders of scrambled eggs, toast and orange juice. ‘Coming right up, doll’ the waitress replies.
Outside the diner, something large and green approaches, while inside, Cap asks Rick if he is back with the Hulk. ‘Yeah. That’s me. Rick Jones, professional sidekick’ Rick replies. Cap asks how Bruce is these days, and Rick replies that he is better than ever. Rick points out that they both have a lot to do, so he should cut to the chase. ‘If this dream I had is a message from the Supreme Intelligence, I did my bit by telling you about it. I want out of it from here on’ Rick announces, adding that he has had his fill of being a cosmic puppet, and his book is not exactly hurting for a sequel. ‘I can appreciate that, Rick, and I certainly don’t want to get -’ Cap begins, interrupted by the waitress who returns with the breakfast, only she screams when she looks up at the window. ‘What?’ Cap asks, before a large green fists punches through the window.
The waitress falls backwards, while Cap dodges the fist - only the large green hand picks Rick up and pulls him outside. ‘Some sort of giant robot! Is this a new Kree sentry?’ Cap wonders, deciding that it looks like Rick’s dream was a premonition of something. A smaller green robot is seen on the back of the larger, unbeknownst to Captain America they are B’nee and C’cil, collectively known as Warstar of the Imperial Guard. ‘Do not struggle, terran. It merely forces us to increase the force of our grip’ the smaller B’nee exclaims, as the larger, C’cil, continues to hold on to the struggling Rick. ‘Release him, mister - of you’re going to be one sorry tinker toy!’ Cap declares as he leaps through the broken window.
Cap rushes forward and slams his shield into C’cil’s arm, while B’nee points out that their quarry has an ally, and that Oracle should have warned them. ‘No big deal, in the terran vernacular’ the smaller robot decides, while Cap tells Rick to hang on. ‘I’d - uh - rather let go!’ Rick replies. Cap realizes that there are no pressure points on a robot, so he will have to go straight to its intelligence center - but as he prepares to strike C’cil’s head, B’nee shouts ‘Surprise, terran!’ and lunges forward, pushing Cap to the ground. Cap roles backwards, and kicks B’nee into a vehicle. ‘Hey, that’s my -’ one of the truckers at the diner exclaims. ‘Wiry little guy - but he’s no Terminator 2!’ Cap jokes, while Rick still struggles in C’cil’s arms. He calls out to Cap, ‘My ribs!’ he exclaims, asking for help with the big guy. ‘Soon as I take down his little buddy!’ Cap replies.
Cap propels himself through the air, ready to kick B’nee - but the small robot grabs Cab by his ankle, ‘Foot-fighting. What is it called on your planet? Box-kicking, was it?’ the small robot enquires. ‘On my planet, this is called -’ he begins, before stating what it is called in his indecipherable language, and releasing a current of energy into Cap’s body, shocking the hero. Cap knows he has to break free, and by kicking B’nee’s arm with his free foot, does so. Thinking he is fighting a Kree robot still, Cap exclaims ‘Okay, Kree-tin - feel my shield!’ as he slams his trusty shield against the small robot. ‘Indeed’ B’nee remarks as he is knocked backwards.
‘Oh my!’ the waitress gasps. ‘Give it to him, Cap’n!’ one of the truckers calls out, while another exclaims that this is so incredible. With B’nee down for the moment, Cap turns his attention back to C’cil, knowing he has to get it to let go of Rick, while Rick continues to thrust about, hoping to gain some leverage. Cap sees an opening, literally, and jumps into the cavity where B’nee rides on C’cil. It is a tight fight, but Cap is in a perfect position to work Warstar’s shoulder join, banging away at it with his shield. Cap thinks he is doing damage, but C’cil bucks about like a bronco, only the large robot isn’t flexible enough to reach Cap with his right arm.
Warstar’s grip on Rick loosens, and Rick is able to twist himself out of his coat, falling to the ground. Cap sees that Rick is free, but B’nee leaps towards Captain America, ‘You’ve usurped my perch long enough, terran!’ the small alien exclaims. ‘Cap! Look out!’ Rick shouts, while B’nee wraps his arms around Cap, who throws Rick his Avengers communi-card, ‘You’re their target, not me! You must get away!’ Cap tells him, explaining that the communi-card is the ignition key. ‘But -’ Rick begins to protest, before running towards the sky-cycle. He hates running out on Cap, but judging by how much help he has been so far, he decides to do what Cap says. He finds the ignition slot, and instantly has to hold on for his klife, as the sky-cycle takes off.
B’nee wraps his arms around Cap’s neck and tells C’cil to strike him, but Cap manages to twist just in time, so C’cil strikes his smaller companion. Cap picks the little robot up, B’nee’s head has been smashed in. Cap wonders what the big one’s reaction is going to be, and as C’cil lays B’nee down on the ground, C’cil kneels beside him. ‘As I’d hoped - docility! The little one must do most of the thinking for the two of them’ Cap decides. He looks around and sees that the sky-cycle is gone, so hopes that Rick got away, but he has not way to call him without the communi-card.
Above, Rick is starting to get the hang of steering the sky-cycle, and decides that he has to get back to Pantheon headquarters and send the Hulk to help Captain America. Suddenly, Rick hears a voice in his head, calling to him. ‘Your will is no longer your own’ the voice declares, ordering Rick to fly his quaint contraption toward the cloud bank overhead. He does so, and is then captured in a tractor beam. ‘There. He is ours’ a voice remarks from inside an alien vessel. ‘Well done, Oracle!’ someone congratulates the telepath, before another asks what they should do about Warstar. ‘He’s expendable. Let’s interrogate Jones at once and learn the location of our next target from him’ someone suggests, adding that after they have acquired the component, they can decide if rescuing the twin automations is worth the effort at this juncture.
Meanwhile, on Hala, the fourth planet in the Pama star system, in a galaxy astronomers have labeled the Greater Magellanic Cloud. Harafax is the largest industrial city-state on Hala, approximately a thousand miles (Earth measure) from the outskirts of the capital city, Kree-Lar. Hecnic Valt is Harafax’s precious metals salvaging center. On level seven, another green automaton lie, green form with purple and orange clothing. Despite the efficiency for which the center is renowned, this particular inert repository of metals and plastics has lain here undiscovered for seeral solar-cycles now, and has thus been spared the dismantling and melting process that is the ultimate fate of non-functional mechanics such as this.
It is as if this particular automaton had someone - or something - watching over it. Someone, like the Supreme Intelligence, now-deposed emperor of the star-flung Kree Empire. A blur of light signals the Supreme Intelligence’s appearance, and the automaton sits upright. ‘Rise, my robotic surrogate, the time has come again when I require a physical repository for my matchless intellect. This I impart to you, a fraction of my near-infinite life-force!’ the Supreme Intelligence states. The floating head addresses the automaton as Supremor, and announces that it shall be the first member of the Kree Starforce, a battalion of the Empire’s mightiest champions, and declares that the Empire has need of champions as it never has before. ‘For we shall soon be caught up in a conflagration that will decide the fate of our proud races forever!’