Welcome to Hala, homeworld of the space-faring Kree Empire. A nice place visit. A wonderful place to leave. Kree civilians look up at large monitors placed throughout the sprawling space-city, which depict seven captured Avengers, as a voice announces that these captured alien agents are believed to be allies of the enemy Shi’ar empire. ‘These agents, known as “Avengers” on their native world, are reported to have a lengthy record of hostile acts against our people. In a statement made this afternoon, Supreme Accuser, Ronan was quoted as saying…’.
Two Avengers, however, remain uncaptured - Tony “Iron Man” Stark and Clint Barton a.k.a. Hawkeye - currently in his Goliath guise. Inside his armor, Tony Stark receives information and graphics processed by his powerful onboard computer systems, projected directly onto the retina of his eye. At the moment, he is not thrilled with the view. Suddenly, on his shoulder, ‘We’ve got a problem, Shellhead’ Clint, who has used Pym Particles to shrink down to a small size, announces. ‘What is it now?’ Iron Man asks. ‘This cloaking field of yours makes me itch’ Clint explains, both men engulfed by the cloaking field, they can move through the city without being seen. Iron Man reminds Clint that it was his idea to tag along with him when he split away from the other Avengers, so he should be quiet and get used to it, as he has more important things to worry about - like what happened to the rest of the Avengers, as they were supposed to meet here, only they haven’t arrived.
The large monitor before them continues with its recording: ‘…these cowardly alien outlaws are known to have been in collusion with the despicable Shi’ar criminal Deathbird. We have irrefutable proof of their participation in Deathbird’s assassination of leaders. In order to see that justice is done - and the appropriate punishment dealt - I will personally supervise their official accusation’. Ronan the Accuser finishes his announcement as an image of Deathbird appears on the monitor, stating that she remains at large. ‘The Avengers - murderers? Bull!’ Clint exclaims, adding ‘That’s not how we operate’, but Tony tells him that it is hardly surprising, as he would have expected authentic justice to be in short supply here. ‘We’ll just have to make some of our own’ he suggests.
The image on the monitors changes again - this time showing both Iron Man and Goliath, as a voice reports that the two are escaped criminals who have not been apprehended, and that any citizen sighting either of these enemies of the State is required by law to report to the proper authorities immediately. ‘Swell! That’s all we need!’ Clint complains. Suddenly, a Kree civilian turns to their direction, ‘What?’ he calls out, but doesn’t see them. Iron Man quietly tells Clint to keep it down, as the cloaking device doesn’t cover for audio. ‘Oops. Sorry’ Clint whispers, while the puzzled Kree civilian rubs his head and decides that he must need a vacation, as he could have sworn he heard someone.
Iron Man walks off down an alleyway, telling Clint that they should take this party someplace more conducive to conversation, before he gets the whole planet to notice them. ‘I said I was sorry!’ Clint exclaims, before Iron Man drops the cloaking device, and Clint leaps off his shoulder, returning to his regular size, in his revealing Goliath costume, he asks Iron Man what the subtle plan is. ‘We split up’ Iron Man replies, announcing that he will locate the rest of the Avengers, while Clint tracks down Deathbird, and once they have her, they can prove that the Avengers had nothing to do with her assassination plot, and maybe have a change at accomplishing what they came here for - a peaceful end to the Kree-Shi’ar war. ‘Great. All I gotta do is find one crazy bird-woman on a planet of space Nazis - while every guy on the street is looking to nail me for the Gestapo. Why do you give me all the easy stuff, anyway?’ Clint asks.
‘Because you’re the best there is at what you do, Clint’ Iron Man replies. ‘Unfortunately, what you do is complain’ he adds, and tells Clint that finding Deathbird will be the easy part. ‘The rest is up to you’. Iron Man explains that Deathbird’s Shi’ar weapons emit a distinctive energy signature, which should stick out like a sore thumb. Iron Man starts tinkering with a tracking unit, making some modifications to home in on that specific frequency. With the modifications complete, Iron Man announces that he has a reading, and tells Clint that as he suspected, Deathbird is still in the city. ‘Now all you have to do is follow the blip and this tracer will lead you right to her’ he explains. ‘Yeah, but can it core an apple?’ Clint jokes. Unimpressed, Iron Man leans into Clint and points a finger against his chest: ‘Get going, Clint - before I forget you’re on our side’ Iron Man snaps.
‘Okay! Okay! Yeesh!’ Clint mutters, before turning and running down the alleyway, with Iron Man telling him to be careful out there. ‘Will do’ Clint calls back. Suddenly, Iron Man feels dizzy, and holds himself up by resting against some junk in the alleyway. He still hasn’t got his wind back after the battle with Shatterax, which took more out of him that he thought. He pulls up a medical scan, and realizes that the cloaking field’s signal frequency must be interfering with the neuro-web under his armor. ‘I was afraid of something like this’ he tells himself, before knowing he has to see what he can do about locating the Avengers. His technology pulls up a graphic map of the area, recalling that he designed and built this space armor before Kearson DeWitt’s techno-organic parasite destroyed his nervous system, but he knew he would need its specialized capabilities for this mission. Tony scans for the transponder signals from the Avengers communi-cards - and an instant later, locates five signals nearby.
Shortly, ‘That must be it. It’s the only building with the right combination of pretension and ugliness to be a government installation in this area’ Iron Man decides as he looks upon the sprawling, monolith of a building. He sees that it is well-guarded, and even with his cloaking field, supposes that he wouldn’t have much chance of sneaking in. ‘That’s okay. Always did prefer the direct approach’ he thinks to himself.
Meanwhile, within the Kree Citadel of Judgment, on level 291, two accusers follow Captain America down a corridor. Cap is chained, and is forced to march past his teammates who are all kept in individual cells. ‘The time has come for your official accusation, terran dog!’ one of the accusers announces. ‘The innocent have nothing to fear from true justice’ Cap replies, calmly. ‘How can he be so calm? He knows it’s just a show trial’ Sersi remarks. ‘He must have a plan. I hope he has a plan…’ Crystal’s voice drifts off, while Hercules shouts ‘Cowards! Base villains!’ and announces that the Prince of Power shall no longer stand idly by, he charges the bars of his cell - but they are energized, and Hercules is knocked backwards. ‘Resistance is futile! There is no escape from the judgment of the Kree Empire!’ the accuser booms.
Level 346, where two accuers stand with the bodies of their fallen emperors - Ael-Dan and Dar-Ben, and they report to the Supreme Intelligence, announcing that the bodies of have been prepared for the process. ‘Excellent!’ the grotesque Supreme Intelligence calls out, before addressing the bodies of Ael-Dan and Dar-Ben: ‘You who have served the Empire while I was temporarily indisposed - I give unto you the supreme honor of our race. All that you are shall become a small part of that which I am. Rejoice, for even in death, you shall serve your people’ the Supreme Intelligence orders that they be connected, and a Kree scientist connects them to some machines, announcing that the neural extractors are in place, and that the cerebral core dump has begun, as he presses down a lever, and the bodies of the dead leaders shudder and thrash about. The Supreme Intelligence grins, and reveals ‘Once they opposed me. Now they are me!’
Street level, Kree citizens are going about their business, when suddenly, there is an explosion, as Iron Man blasts his way into the Citadel of Judgment. ‘Nobody moves - nobody dies!’ Iron Man calls out. He grabs one of the Kree and demands to know where the Avengers are. The Kree responds within something in his own language, to which Iron Man mutters that it was too much to hope someone here spoken English, when suddenly, a voice calls out ‘I speak your deranged tongue, earth scum - so hear me now!’, and Iron Man looks up, shocked to see Ronan standing nearby and aiming his large hammer towards him. ‘Uh-oh’ Tony thins to himself, while Ronan announces that he finds Iron Man guilty, and that the sentence is death.
Elsewhere, Clint continues down another alleyway, ‘I don’t get it’ he thinks to himself. ‘According to this gizmo, I should be right on top of Deathbird by now’, he wonders if the tracker is defective, before deciding that Stark Enterprises builds thins better than Timex, and it is most likely that he is reading it upside down or something. ‘Hey - wait a minute!’ Clint tells himself, as he looks down and sees a covering to an entrance underground. He picks up a stick to lift off the covering and decides that Deathbird is sneaky enough to go to ground down under, and he drops down into the tunnels beneath the city, landing in some muck. ‘Gik’ he mutters to himself. ‘Not sure even saving the Earth is worth this’ Clint decides, but nevertheless continues to trudge through the tunnel.
Some large rat-like aliens scamper when they see him, while Clint wonders ‘Don’t these guys ever clean up’, and sees that the signal is getting stronger. ‘Warmer…warmer…’ he thinks to himself, when suddenly, a beam of energy blasts the scanner, destroying it. ‘Oh, man! Shellhead’s gonna be cheesed! He hates it when people borrow his toys and then break ‘em!’ Clint jokes, as Deathbird stands over him. Regal and deadly, she aims the weapon at Goliath and tells him to be silent, or else the next shot will go between his eyes. ‘Why are you here?’ she then enquires. ‘I thought you’d never ask’ Goliath replies, as he suddenly increases his mass just large enough so that, crouching, he takes up the entire space of the tunnel, blocking Deathbird against the wall.
‘It’s like this, see - you’re going to come with me - and explain to the nice Kree policemen - how the Avengers - hand nothing to do - with your pinheaded assassination plot’ Goliath demands. ‘Why would - I - even consider helping you?’ Deathbird asks, squashed against the wall. ‘Way I see it - you got two choices: Clear the Avengers - or I take a deep breath…’ Goliath smiles. Shocked, Deathbird wonders if he is bluffing, but decides that he may not be. ‘Very well’ she concedes.
Back a the Citadel, Iron Man and Ronan clan against each other, as Ronan tells the armored Avenger that his days of scheming against the Kree people are at an end. ‘Once we have crushed the treacherous Shi’ar, I will personally supervise the subjugation of your vermin-infested world!’ Ronan boasts. ‘Can’t you just shut up and fight?’ Iron Man asks. ‘Impertinent sub-creature! Taste the might of the Universal Weapon!’ Ronan shouts as he unleashes energies from his weapon, which knock Iron Man backwards, where he slams into the side of the citadel. Tony’s sensors tell him that life support systems are approaching overload, and nervously, Tony tells himself to face it - that he is outgunned. ‘Still, have to finish this battle - even if it means I’m finished with it’ he decides.
‘Doesn’t matter, really. I’m dying anyway. At least this way, it’ll mean something. If I have to go out saving the others - then so be it’ Tony tells himself. ‘Is that the best you can do - you petty, small-minded hyperthyroid - bureaucrat?’ Iron Man asks Ronan as he lumbers towards him and tackles him backwards. ‘Come on, tough guy! Give me your best shot!’ Iron Man calls out as he punches Ronan in the face. ‘You…dare?!’ Ronan asks, surprised, before informing Iron Man that his death shall be excruciating and interminable. ‘None may deft the judgment of -’ Ronan begins as he raises his weapon overhead, but Iron Man interrupts: ‘Judge this!’ he shouts as he fires close-range repulser beams at Ronan, who staggers backwards, and exclaims ‘I find it…insufficient’.
‘Not good. He took the best shot I’ve got. I am in serious trouble, here’ Iron Man realizes, while Ronan raises his weapon and asks Iron Man ‘Did you truly think that your puny, backward technology - could stand against the might of the galactic master race?’ he asks, releasing the energy from the weapon. Iron Man raises his deflector shields, but he is straining, and cannot maintain this for long. His deflectors are only at 33% capacity, and shield integrity will collapse in 100 seconds.
Below the city, Goliath has returned to his regular size, and climbs up a ladder, with Deathbird following him. Deathbird announces that according to the architectural schematics Shi’ar intelligence acquired, this tube should connect with the sub-basement maintenance corridors of the Citadel of Judgment. Goliath reaches the top and pushes the grate up. ‘Looks clear. Now what?’ he calls out as he surveys the corridor, before he and Deathbird climb out the tunnel, and Deathbird tells him that they must make their way to the prison block, which they can do through the ventilation system. ‘Why is ir you’re giving the orders now?’ Goliath asks as he removes the grate to the vent system. ‘I was born to lead, earth-man’ Deathbird replies as she enters the vent, crawling along in front of Goliath, she boasts that one day soon, she will regain her rightful place as Majestrix of the Shi’ar. ‘On that day, beware’ she adds.
Above, several accusers gather around and watch Ronan continue to battle Iron Man, who attacks him with another repulser ray. ‘Five hundred credits on Ronan!’ one of the accusers exclaims. ‘Forget it. Sucker bet’ another replies. Iron Man decides that this is it, that he can’t stall this any longer. He switches his armor to auto-destruct and he hopes that he can take all of these guys with him, at least Goliath will have a chance of rescuing the Avengers. ‘Suppose it’s only fair. It’s my fault they’re in this mess. It’s my responsibility to get them out’ Tony tells himself, before setting the detonation factors into the destruct command, he calls out to Ronan: ‘Let’s see how tough you really are!’ he exclaims, as he wraps his arms around Ronan, when suddenly, there is a loud rumbling noise, and part of the wall is smashed apart, sending accusers running for their lives.
‘Heeeree we come to save the daaaayyy…!’ Goliath sings as he, Hercules, Sersi, Crystal and the Black Knight rush into the area. ‘Prepare thyselves for battle most furious, evil ones!’ Hercules calls out. ‘The Prince of Power and comrades hath arrived!’ Hercules adds. ‘In other words - AVENGERS ASSEMBLE!’ the Black Knight shouts, as the heroes engage the accusers in combat. Crystal remarks that she wondered why there were so few guards inside the citadel, to which the Black Knight, confronting an accuser, points out that they were all out here watching Shellhead and Ronan slug it out. Iron Man quickly aborts his destruct sequence, deciding that he will have to be relieved about that later, as there is new business a hand, as more accusers, along with military soldiers, make their way into the area.
Iron Man tells Goliath that it is time to bring down the house. ‘Gotcha, Shellhead’ Goliath replies, as he increases his form further, and starts to press against the two pillars at the front of the citadel. Iron Man tells everyone else to fall back, so Hercules, Crystal and the Black Knight follow him, while Sersi flies overhead. ‘Time to make like Freud…and shrink!’ Clint jokes to himself, as he shrinks down in size as the pillars begin to topple, blocking the Kree from getting to the heroes.
Moments later, in the catacombs below, the six Avengers regroup, with Hercules announcing that he dislikes this skulking around in the stygian depths, as it is not seemly for a warrior born. ‘Perhaps. But you must agree that they are most conveniently located’ Sersi tells him as she hovers over the others. Iron Man asks where Deathbird is - not to mention Captain America. Goliath reveals that Deathbird gave them the slip sometime after he busted the others out of prison, while the Black Knight informs Iron Man that Cap was taken earlier, and they don’t know where he is. Clint informs Iron Man that he learned from Deathbird that the Shi’ar are going to launch some kind of bomb if she doesn’t get back to them by a certain time. ‘For all we know, they could have launched it’ Clint points out.
Iron Man states that they must get to the Kree stargate to prevent the bomb from passing through, to which Sersi asks if that means they don’t go back up and search for Captain America. ‘The mission is more important than any single individual’ Iron Man responds. The others hang their heads, and Dane mutters that it is what Cap would want them to do, while Hercules points out that there will be plenty of time to mourn their fallen ones later, but for now, the war is not yet won. ‘You’ve all already written him off! Well not me! I’m going back for him!’ Clint declares as he begins to climb up the ladder. ‘As far as I’m concerned, you can all -’ Clint begins, before Iron Man fires a low-level taser at him, rendering Clint unconscious. ‘Sorry, Clint. We can’t afford a loose cannon on deck’ Iron Man remarks as he puts Clint’s body over his shoulder, he turns to the others and tells them that it is time to move out.
Meanwhile, many light years away, a Skrull vessel darts through space. ‘Captain!’ one of the Skrull officers calls out. ‘What is it, ensign?’ the captain asks. ‘A strange artifact detected ahead, Sir’ the officer replies. The captain orders it be put on screen, and what they see floating in front of them is a very, very large vessel…unbeknownst to the Skrulls, it is a certain bomb….