In the palace regal of the Shi’ar throne world, a squad of Imperial Guardsmen escort a team of Avengers who have arrived to negotiate on behalf of the planet Earth. ‘Move along! The Empress awaits!’ booms Smasher, who along with his comrades surround five Avengers, marching them down the corridor. ‘Quit shoving, mister!’ Eric Masterton a.k.a. the new Thor, of the Avengers complains to Smasher, while Starfox turns to the female warrior following him and remarks ‘They call you Astra?’, to which Astra tells him to save his charm, as word of his romantic exploits has already reached their Empire. Behind the group bounds a green alien, who shouts ‘Hussar! I am disturbed that these earthers penetrated our defensive network!’ Hussar tells Hardball that they were captured, and could just as easily have been destroyed.
While Titan walks stoic at the front of the group, Hussar complains to Earthquake about Hardball’s infernal bouncing, to which Earthquake tells his teammate that he does it just to annoy her. Behind them is Monica Rambeau a.k.a. the second Captain Marvel, while at her side is Thor, still the recipient of Smasher’s shoving. ‘Hey! Cut it out!’ he complains. Wanda Maximoff a.k.a. the Scarlet Witch is silent, while Miguel Santos of the Avengers West Coast, known as the Living Lightning looks up and exclaims ‘This place is magnifico!’, as Starfox asks ‘Romantic exploits? Me?’, to which Astra replies ‘Amazing…but true’. As the group approaches a large set of doors, two soldiers stand in front of them. ‘Hail, Titan! Security has already cleared your party!’ one of the soldiers calls out, while Titan replies ‘At the command of the Empress, we bring…guests…from the planet Earth!’ ‘You got a problem with English, buddy?’ Thor asks, turning to Smasher who continues to shove him. ‘Only with one who speaks it’ Smasher retorts.
The doors open, and the group enters a large chamber, where Lilandra, Empress of the Shi’ar stands waiting for them. At her side are several guards, as well as her adviser, Araki. ‘Perhaps you will allow me to correct the poor impression you have of me’ Starfox smiles at Astra, who replies ‘I doubt it’. Smasher stands with his arms folded across his chest, and Thor decides that he seems tired of him now, while looking around the chamber, he suddenly exclaims ‘There’s a line about Kansas from the Wizard of Oz that really comes to mind about now’. ‘Yeah, you don’t see sights like this in El Barro!’ Living Lightning calls out, while the Scarlet Witch scolds them both: ‘Thor! Living Lightning! Act like Avengers…not tourists!’ she exclaims. ‘Sorry, Miz Scarlet’ Thor whispers.
‘Welcome, honourable beings! I am Lilandra, Majestrix Shi’ar! Behind me stands Lord Chamberlain Araki! You have been summoned before this illustrious gathering to explain why you have dared violate the Shi’ar Empire during our time of intergalactic war with the Kree’ Lilandra calls out, staff raised above her head. All eyes suddenly focus on Captain Marvel who is leading this particular group of Avengers. The former leader proper of the Avengers announces that their intrusion into Shi’ar airspace is a direct result of the Shi’ar encroachment into the Milky Way Galaxy. Monica explains that the Shi’ar use of stargates positioned near their sun to transport military hardware such as the nega-portal into the Kree Empire is causing solar flares which endanger the very existence of Earth.
Suddenly, an enraged Araki steps forward and shouts ‘What is the security of a single insignificant little backwater planet when compared to the entire Shi’ar Empire? This is WAR! Sacrifices must be made!’ he exclaims. ‘Araki, please -’ Lilandra begins, but Araki asks Lilandra for forgiveness, stating that he must speak. Eyes wide, Araki declares that these outworlders requested this audience under the guise of diplomacy, and yet they recently participated in a Kree assault upon a distant Shi’ar settlement, and one of their number may even now be attempting to sabotage the nega-portal. ‘Hey! You’re scrambling the facts to suit a very biased interpretation!’ Thor declares, while Smasher races forward and tells his Empress not to heed the rabid beast, as he knows neither honor nor diplomacy.
Smasher continues, revealing that Thor savagely beat Gladiator into unconsciousness and then hurled the injured praetor into an imploding stargate. ‘So that’s why you’ve been on my back?’ Thor queries, raising his hammer overhead, he declares that he smashed Mr Mowhawk because he attacked them without provocation. ‘He got exactly what he deserved!’ Thor shouts, while Starfox and Living Lightning try to pull him back. ‘Get hold of yourself, Thor’ Starfox suggests, while Smasher boasts that he hungers to avenge his friend. ‘Make your move, Smasher! I’ll gladly introduce you to my enchanted mallet…every which way but gentle!’ Thor exclaims.
Araki turns to Lilandra and points out that with little prompting, these so-called mediators reveal their true barbaric natures. ‘They are not to be trusted!’ he exclaims, but Captain Marvel calls out to Lilandra, telling her that she must hear them out. ‘They even presume to command you -’ Araki begins, but Lilandra calls for silence, and states that nothing can be accomplished amid such chaos. ‘The audience is ended’ she barks, and orders the star chamber be cleared. ‘But -’ Captain Marvel begins, however Lilandra assures her they will reconvene later. ‘Now…GO!’ she booms. The doors slam closed behind the Avengers as the Imperial Guard follows them. ‘Nice play Hammer Head…smooth, ain’t you’ Living Lightning mutters to Thor. ‘Captain Marvel, I…er…’ Thor begins, but Monica tells him to clamp it, as she has heard enough from him.
The Avengers are returned to their quarters, just as the palace regal receives other visitors - a brilliant sudden flash of cosmic energy reveals the visitors to be the Kree Star Force - Ronan the Accuser, Korath the Pursuer, Ultimus the eternal Kree, the armoured warrior Shatterax, and Supremor, the super-powered android model of the Supreme Intelligence. Their mission is to execute Lilandra in retaliation for the recent brutal assassinations of the Kree Commanders Supreme. ‘Thanks to the coordinates obtained by our spies we have reached our destination by matter transmission!’ Ronan announces, to which Korath thinks to himself that they would have been here sooner if Ronan had not been delayed by Iron Man.
Suddenly, some Shi’ar officers see the Kree warriors. ‘Behold! The palace has been breached by Kree invaders! Sound the alarm!’ one of them calls out. ‘Ronan -?’ Supremor remarks, alerting Ronan to the Shi’ar officers rushing towards them. Ronan tells Supremor not to be concerned, and boasts that his universal weapon will attend to the fools, and he aims it at the floor in front of the officers, which suddenly sweeps upwards and encases them in an inescapable shell. Ronan orders the rest of Star Force to disperse, ‘Our orders are to find Lilandra’ he reminds them, announcing that they must deliver the death sentence of the Kree.
‘I was hoping for a private conference with Astra!’ Starfox tells Smasher, who just replies ‘Keep walking’ as he ushers the Avengers into their quarters. With the door closed behind them, Captain Marvel tells Thor that she wants an explanation for his infantile display of male ego. ‘I…I’m sorry! I blew it, all right! I wasn’t thinking!’ Thor replies. ‘That’s the trouble with you, Thor…you never think! You never consider the consequences! That could prove fatal to someone at your power level’ Monica tells him.
Elsewhere in the palace, Lilandra gazes out large window, looking up at the spectacular night before her, while Araki tells her that she seems troubled. ‘The nega-portal which we launched could end billions of Kree lives! The solar flares caused by our stargates may engulf the planet Earth! Our people are dying in ever increasing numbers… sacrificed in the pursuit of a victory which can only be a pyrrhic one at best’. Lilandra continues to watch the stars, and tells Araki that she is troubled. Araki tells the Majestrix that she cannot lose heart, as the survival of their entire Empire depends on her strength and her courage. ‘But I am weary…to the very abyss of my soul’ Lilandra tells him.
Lilandra suggests that perhaps they should recall the nega-portal and petition the Kree for a just peace. With Lilandra’s back to him, Araki reaches into his cloak and pulls from it a dagger, while telling Lilandra that voiced by another, her words could be considered treason. Suddenly, a door opens, and Araki hides the dagger, as Earthquake stands at the door, and asks for his intrusion to be excused, announcing that the Avengers were conducted to their suites without incident, and he has been granted the honor of safeguarding the Empress for the duration of this watch. Lilandra tells Earthquake that she rests easy knowing such a trusted warrior is near.
Meanwhile, back in the Avengers’ suite, slumped over in an armchair, Thor exclaims that the Earth could be cremated while they are just sitting here. ‘I hate this inactivity!’ he exclaims. Captain Marvel asks him what he proposes - a rumble with the Imperial Guard, when suddenly, they hear a strange noise. ‘What was that?’ Monica wonders. ‘Trouble is a pretty safe bet!’ Thor tells her.
In a nearby corridor, Titan instinctively assumes his giant form as he strikes Supremor with deadly precision, knocking the hideous alien backwards. Titan knows that if the Kree have infiltrated the palace regal, then the Majestrix is in serious peril. He decides to deal with this saboteur and then attend to Lilandra’s safety. ‘You are swift for one so large, Guardsman - but you also seem distracted. That could prove a severe - and fatal - mistake’ Supremor calls out as he rips a pillar from its post, and smacks it into Titan, knocking him backwards as Supremor adds ‘Especially when confronted by one who possesses the collective strength of the greatest Kree warriors of all!’
Supremor leaps towards Titan and shouts that the Shi’ar will never survive this war, that the Kree will erase the misbegotten Shi’ar from existence. Striking without restraint, and employing all of his awesome power, Supremor leaps high above his fallen foe, and eventually, Titan falls head-first through the floor, his body getting stuck in the floor at his waist. ‘Titan?’ Hussar calls out from the floor below, confused.
Back in the Avengers’ suite, the Scarlet Witch decides that the palace is obviously under attack. ‘Should we stay neutral, or -?’ she asks, but the Living Lightning tells his teammate that they won’t have much choice if they can’t get past the steel-plated door, which he struggles to open. Captain Marvel tells Lightning to stand aside, as she will try and blast it open, but before she can do so, Thor’s hammer is flung, and it smashes the door open. ‘No need to thank me, lady!’ Thor smiles as his hammer returns to him. ‘Just trying to spare you any unpleasant consequences’ Thor explains. Monica mutters that Captain America must hate her, that is the only reason why he would have assigned Thor to her team. Captain Marvel tells everyone that this is their chance to prove their good intentions to the Shi’ar. ‘Avengers assemble!’ she exclaims, and as the Avengers rush through the gaping hole in the wall, Thor suggests that someone should look in on Lilandra. ‘I’ll go. I’ve always preferred a beautiful woman to a fight’ Starfox calls out.
At that moment, far, far away, the recently jettisoned Shi’ar nega-portal gently drifts on the vast, empty sea of space. But then, suddenly, ‘Wonder Man! We seem to be experiencing a sudden and violent turbulence!’ the android Avenger known as the Vision calls out to Simon Williams, who is knocked backwards inside the nega-portal and mutters ‘Golly gee…I hadn’t noticed’. He regains his footing as the turbulence doesn’t last long, before asking the Vision if he has any idea what could have caused it. ‘Yes…but I prefer to seek empirical evidence!’ the Vision replies, as he becomes intangible and flies through the wall. ‘Good for you! I’d settle for a cold beer’ Wonder Man calls out.
Reducing the density of his body, the Vision becomes a weightless and intangible wraith, and as he passes through the nega-portal he reminds himself that the entire complex is really a bomb which can employ the power of the Negative Zone to destroy the entire Kree galaxy, and that they have suddenly shifted course. He floats outside the bomb and sees that a smaller vessel has latched on to the nega-portal, confirming his theory that another force has seized control. Deciding that he must learn who has taken the nega-portal, the Vision floats down towards the smaller vessel - and phasing inside it, sees Skrulls!
At that moment, ‘That big dude is blasting the arrogance right out of Smasher!’ Living Lightning exclaims as Ronan releases energy from his powerful weapon, which slams into Smasher. Thor rushes forward and remarks that it isn’t a sight he is sorry to see, but supposes that they have to help anyway. ‘Do not interfere!’ Ronan calls out, introducing himself, he explains that he has come to mete out justice in the name of the Kree race. ‘One man’s notion of justice is another’s outrage! Especially during a time of war!’ Thor exclaims as he hurls his hammer at Ronan. Thor goes over to Smasher and helps him up, ‘The fun is just starting!’ Thor tells him, but Smasher exclaims ‘Unhand me, Thor! Your aid is neither requested, nor appreciated!’
‘Suit yourself, smiley! I’m not the one sucking floor!’ Thor replies, while Living Lightning flits about overhead as Ronan warns them that Lilandra has been judged guilty of heinous war crimes, and that she and all who shield her will pay the extreme penalty. ‘You can’t be serious - you can’t expect us to allow to to murder her!’ Living Lightning calls out. ‘You have no choice’ Ronan replies as he fires energy at the young hero, which negates his power, and Miguel returns to his human form, falling out of the air, he lands head-first on the ground. ‘It is little wonders the Kree have passed its zenith, Ronan! You concentrate on a young primitive while a true warrior stands before you!’ Smasher exclaims as he flies forward and punches Ronan in the face. ‘You greatly exaggerate your own importance, Smasher! A failing suffered by your entire race!’ Ronan exclaims.
Thor goes over to Living Lighting and asks him if he is okay. Miguel replies that his shoulder hurts like the Devil, but he is luckier than he deserves. ‘I got careless. I should have just zapped that creep when I had the chance’ Miguel decides, adding that he doesn’t know what Ronan did to him, but he can’t seem to activate his lightning power. ‘I’m completely helpless!’ Miguel gasps. Thor tells Miguel to grab his hammer. ‘I’m supposed to be the Lord of Lightning. Maybe Asgardian magic can help you!’ he suggests. Miguel touches the hammer while asking Thor if he has ever attempted a stunt like this. ‘Nope! Never had the occasion!’ Thor replies as energy surges about, and Miguel is once again able to revert to his lightning form. ‘Hey, man! You are completely psycho - and I like it!’ Miguel smiles, while Thor tells him to get going, while he stays and handles Ronan.
Nearby, ‘Initiating visual and oral record for Hala command and control! Agent Shatterax engaging Shi’ar designate “Hardball”!’ Shatterax states as he releases energies, which miss Hardball, who bounds about, and tells Shatterax that he is surprised he would want to preserve this battle, as most warriors prefer to hide defeats from their superiors. ‘Of course, that leads to inefficient management!’ Hardball smiles as he bounces onto Shatterax. ‘Target speed and agility render charged particle beams ineffective! Altering strategy to ensnare target’ Shatterax reports, as he releases a small device, which expands like a bubble and traps Hardball inside. ‘Objective achieved’ Shatterax states, while Captain Marvel flies into the room, deciding that it appears she has arrived just in time. ‘Hardball is dead meat, unless -’ Monica thinks to herself, before Shatterax notices her and starts firing at her. However, she dodges the attack, and converting her form to microwave energies ,she slices through the prison, freeing Hardball.
At the imperial command center, Lilandra and several officers stand before monitors, observing the various battles. ‘Your personal bodyguards have engaged the invaders, Majestrix!’ one of the officers exclaims. ‘Reinforced by the Avengers, I see’ Lilandra remarks. Starfox stands outside the door, and sees Araki sneaking out of the room. He wonders why and what Araki could be hiding, but as he begins to speculate, Ultimus suddenly blasts his way into the command center. ‘The Kree will have vengeance! Death to Lilandra, Majestrix Shi’ar!’ he booms as he attacks the officers with his power. ‘He has shocked them into unconsciousness!’ Earthquake exclaims as he rushes over to Lilandra, telling her to stand behind him, as not harm will befall her so long as he lives.
Earthquake uses his power to hurl debris towards Ultimus, who dodges the attack and swoops down towards Lilandra. ‘Do you truly believe you can stop Ultimus by sonically hurling debris in my path?’ Ultimus enquires. ‘Such a fool deserves death!’ Ultimus boasts as he smacks Earthquake aside with ease, decidinf that in this particular case, an even greater punishment is life. ‘Life with the knowledge that his failure is responsible for the execution of the Majestrix Shi’ar!’ But, just as Ultimus moves in on Lilandra, Starfox flies into the command center: ‘NO!’ he shouts as he swoops down and punches Ultimus, announcing that Lilandra is under the protection of the Avengers.
‘I am not impressed, little man! You are merely and additional distraction - nothing more!’ Ultimus retorts. Starfox thinks to himself that Ultimus might feel differently once he has sonically stimulated the pleasure center of his brain and reduced him to a quivering euphoric blob. Ultimus detects that Starfox is trying to manipulate his mind, and remarks that it is a pity his power is ineffective against a Kree eternal, before punching Starfox hard, sending him flying across the chamber.
Meanwhile, ‘Astra, wait -’ the Scarlet Witch calls out to the Imperial Guard member who rushes to attack Korath. Astra explains that Korath cannot hurt her when she is intangible, but Korath tells her that she is sadly mistaken, as all he needs to do is adjust his beta-batons to equal her density. Astra scrams as energy from the batons blasts against her, and she falls to Korath’s feet. Wanda steps forward and tells Korath that she should deny him the use of such potent weapons, and casts a simple hex-sphere, which causes Korath’s weapon to implode. ‘Such a massive malfunction defies all laws of probability!’ Korath exclaims, wondering how such a thing is possible. He stumbles, stunned from the impact, and Astra sees this as she recovers, deciding that Korath has obviously had very little true combat experience, as he hesitates while he should be reacting instinctively. Astra strikes before Korath can regain his composure, as she phases into him and slowly increases her density, causing Korath to scream in agony.
At the same time, Supremor leaps upwards and smashes a fist into Titan’s face, knocking the giant backwards. ‘Though you tower above me, Titan…I crush you as easily…as completely…as the Kree are destined to obliterate the Shi’ar!’ he boasts. Titan falls to the floor, as the tentacles attached to Supremor’s head reach out and latch onto Titan’s face. Supremor boasts that raw power is nothing without the strength of will necessary to unleash it ruthlessly and without restraint. ‘Now that you are truly helpless, I will assimilate your intellect…conquering your mind as well as your body!’ Supremor declares.
Suddenly, Hussar appears behind Supremor and shouts ‘Release him, Supremor! No warrior should be subject to such perverse degradation!’, and as she cracks her neuro-whup, it wraps around Supremor’s neck. The strange being smirks and declares that the pain is great, but not nearly enough to stop him. Suddenly, Living Lightning appears overhead. Miguel thinks to himself that he may be useless against Ronan, but perhaps not here. He calls out to Hussar, telling her to hang on, before dropping down to the ground and returning to his human form, he grabs the whip and releases surge down it - which electrocutes Supremor, who falls back and his tentacles release themselves from Titan.
Elsewhere, ‘Smashing into Shatterax may provide me with a certain amusement, Captain Marvel - but I fear he’s using the time to devise new strategies!’ Hardball exclaims as he once again bounds against Shatterax. Captain Marvel flits about and agrees with Hardball, telling the strange alien that the distraction he has provided will allow her to flash inside his aror and cause a massive overload - and as Monica enters Shatterax’s armor, the result is just that, as energies dart about Shatterax and he reaches up, ‘System failure imminent!’ he exclaims urgently.
At the same time, ‘My universal weapon can create and destroy matter!’ Ronan boasts, but as energy pours from his weapon and strikes Thor’s hammer, he exclaims ‘And yet, your simple artifact - a mere hammer - continues to confound me! I am even unable to analyze its true physical nature!’ Despite being knocked to the ground, Thor continues to hold his hammer up and replies that there isn’t anything “mere” about Mjolnir, while thinking to himself ‘Except the jerk who’s wielding it. This is the worst strain I’ve ever been under! Can’t take much more!’, but Eric knows that he has enough power to dump Ronan, only he has to concentrate hard. He does, and it starts to work, forcing Ronan back. ‘I think I’m finally getting the knack of this Thunder God gig!’ he tells himself.
‘This is beyond belief! No known force is superior to my universal weapon!’ Ronan exclaims, when suddenly, someone taps him on the shoulder and calls out ‘Perhaps, you would do well to accept the evidence of your eyes - if you can keep them open!’ before Smasher reveals himself, and punches Ronan hard in the face, knocking him towards Thor, who shouts ‘Good shot, Smasher! Mind if I play?’, and readies his hammer as Smasher replies ‘Be my guest’. Thor uses his hammer to smack Ronan back towards Smasher, telling im that he deserves the final honors. ‘And I shall eagerly finish him off!’ Smasher replies as he rushes over to Ronan. ‘Not too shabby, guy’ Thor calls out to Smasher. ‘Nor, I now suspect, are you…too shabby!’ Smasher responds.
Meanwhile, back in the command center, Lilandra stands against a wall, while Starfox dodges a blast from Ultimus, who shouts ‘Your continued resistance only serves to enrage me, Avenger! You are severely overmatched!’ Starfox quickly ducks behind Ultimus and replies ‘Perhaps, Ultimus…perhaps not!’ as he latches onto his neck - however, Ultimus reaches around and slams both hands into the sides of Starfox’s head, causing the Eternal of Titan to scream. ‘On the contrary, there is little room for doubt’ Ultimus declares as he then shoves his elbow into Starfox’s side, causing Starfox to fall to the floor. Power glows around Ultimus’s fists, and he tells Starfox that he is appalled he would so recklessly squander his life for another. ‘Such a grand and meaningless gesture is exepcted from a developmentally primitive race - like your Earth friends - but not an Eternal from Titan!’ he exclaims.
‘You…could always elect to spare me!’ Starfox suggests. ‘Regretfully, no! Mercy is not the way of the Kree!’ Ultimus replies, when suddenly, a powerful surge of energy slams into him, knocking him to the ground. ‘Nor, apparently, is caution!’ Lilandra declares as she appears, holding a very large weapon. Lilandra goes over to Starfox and helps him to his feet, telling him that she would be a poor ruler if she were as frail, and as helpless, if he believed. ‘I am genuinely thankful that Ultimus shared my misconception!’ Starfox replies, while Lilandra informs him that she shall eternally be in his debt. ‘Mine? But -’ Starfox begins, confused, until Lilandra explains that she refers to his unswerving courage in the face of an overwhelmingly superior force.
‘The rational course would have been to flee! To save yourself! Instead…you chose honor above expediency!’ Lilandra points out, adding ‘You inspire…and shame me!’ Lilandra reveals that in the name of efficiency, calculating only the benefits, but none of the horrifying costs, she callously launched the nega-bomb, a weapon capable of annihilating the entire Kree Empire. ‘It shall be recalled!’ she shouts, deciding that too many innocent lives have already been lost, so they must negotiate with their enemies, and end this mad war. Starfox just hangs his head.
However, at that exact instant, the nega-bomb, floating though space, suddenly glows, and a voice calls out ‘Begin final preparations! Once we have crossed the stargate into Kree space, the nega-bomb must be launched - and detonated!’