Infinity Assault #3
Continued from Infinity Conquest
And Infinity Assault #1
Genis, son of Mar-vell, and the newest bearer of the title of Captain Marvel, sighed morosely as he casually wrenched the metal plated sides of the armored car apart, revealing four very frightened hijackers within. “Look…just give up. Lets do this the easy way…”
Four automatic rifles barked. Genis easily dodged the fusillade of fire and leapt into the interior of the truck. Two point five seconds later, four unconscious bodies tumbled out the hole in the side. Genis swooped out of the hole and grimaced. “You know…I never thought I’d say this but…Jones, I’m bored.” He said launching himself into the sky.
Gee, my heart bleeds. Honestly.
Cross my heart. Bet
Spider-Man just has loads of days like this.
Ever consider suicide?
“Thanks Rick. I know I can always come to you with my problems. I wonder how my father stood being bonded to you. Bet the temptation to leave your skinny butt in the Negative Zone permanently was nigh unbearable. I know I’m giving it serious consideration.” Jones’ sarcastic reply was cut off as Genis’ cosmic senses screamed a warning. Quickly he evaded a burning figure that plunged at him from above. A familiar burning figure. “Super-Skrull!”
Aw man! We just got through messing with this guy! What’s his problem now? Jones queried. Captain Marvel only grunted in reply as he readied himself for a fight. A fight that never began. The Super-Skrull held up a palm in front of Genis’ face and said, “Hold, son of Mar-Vell! I come not as a foe, but as a friend…matters of grave import are occurring even as we speak…matters which concern your father’s old foe, Thanos of Titan!”
“Give me one good reason I should believe someone who was only recently trying to rearrange my organic components!” Genis snarled.
What he said!
“Because I asked you to, perhaps?” Another voice chimed in. Marvel whirled to see a man he considered family, the Eternal known as Eros, or Star-Fox swoop up beside him.
“Okay, now I’m listening…but this better be good…”
Maelstrom eyed the immense being before him. “Do you think you can follow that?”
“Aye. I’ll do as you ask.” Mangog growled in reply, nodding his scaly head.
“Good, then go!” Maelstrom hissed, pointing to a crackling portal behind the duo. “And you’d best not fail!”
Mangog lumbered into the portal with a grunt of assent and was gone instantly. Maelstrom turned as the other two cryogenic tubes slowly hissed open. “Ah, gentlemen…welcome back.”
Doom staggered back as Iron-Man’s repulsors pounded against his weakened force field. As the armored monarch sank to one knee, the Avenger swooped in for the kill, only to be entangled within mystical bands of crimson power and yanked from the air. “Strange…what’re you…?” Iron-Man cried as he struck the ground. Strange did not answer as he used his minute control over the crimson energies to drag the stunned Avenger back into the air and hurl him at the hovering Quinn-jet.
The red and gold missile cannoned through the guts of the flying vessel, causing it to list dangerously, smoke pouring from the suddenly straining engines. The Quinn-jet sank heavily to the ground as its pilot struggled to bring it down safely. Doom clapped politely as he stood and nodded to Doctor Strange in thanks. “You have my thanks Doctor, though your aid was not required. However, do you not think your reaction a tad …strong, shall we say?” Namor snorted.
“Doom, the minute we allied with you, we ended any peaceful way to get out of this situation…personally, I’m glad we struck first. Now maybe we won’t have to deal with all of them at once.”
“I concur with the Atlantean. At this point it is imperative we end this burgeoning farce as quickly and as efficiently as possible.” Thanos rumbled, his arms crossed in a posture of relaxation. Strange sighed and looked at the Silver Surfer, who shrugged in resignation.
The side hatch of the downed Quinn-jet ripped loose from its moorings suddenly, and was tossed into the air. A bevy of costumed individuals leapt from the wreckage. Captain America leapt to the top of the wrecked vehicle and held his shield up into the dying light. The other Avengers formed up around him, Iron-Man and Thor overhead with Warbird, the others down upon the ground. “Doom, consider yourself in custody as of now! And that goes for the rest of you as well!” The Star Spangled Avenger bellowed, doing his best to ignore the looming presence of Galactus’ hovering Worldship overhead.
The two groups faced each other across the tableau of the crimson stained snows, colored by the dying light of the day.
Spider-Man cautiously poked his head out of the hatch of the Quinn-Jet and took in the sight of imminent battle. “Geez. Y’know Ben, I’m real glad we came. Glad you talked me into it. Lessee here…the Hulk. The Silver Surfer. A cosmically enhanced Doctor Doom. The Worldship of Galactus. And is that…yep. It is. Thanos. Oh joy. My day is complete.”
Quit whinin’ webhead. At least ol’ Galacta-pants himself ain’t on that oversize golf ball.” The Thing grated, puffing on his nub of a stogie contentedly as he leaned against the steaming fuselage of the downed jet. Spider-Man leapt out of the jet, dragging a stunned Kristoff Vernard with him.
Captain Marvel, Star-Fox, and the Super-Skrull shot through the sea of stars, heading for the Sh’iar galaxy. “Okay…explain this to me again. Thanos took what and went where?” Genis said. The Skrull sighed.
“The Titan commandeered the Worldship of Galactus, evidently with the aid of the Silver Surfer, Terrax, and Adam Warlock. He then took it into hyperspace, unmistakably heading for Earth.”
“And we are going in the opposite direction becausssse…why, exactly?”
“Because…several hours later, a ship of even greater mass and dimension than the Worldship appeared from nowhere and began to orbit the star that is all that remains of the World Devourer…we believe it to be Fortress.”
“Wait a minute…Fortress…not that big ass ship belonging to…”
The standoff was broken suddenly as Thanos moved forward to place himself in the center of the two groups, Doom by his side. “Any particular selections, Doctor?” The Titan said, calmly studying the Avengers ranks with a critical eye.
“Rogers and Stark. The Asgardian. Perhaps the Olympian.” Doom mused. Thanos nodded.
“Perchance the witch and the android as well?” Thanos asked. Doom inclined his head in assent. “And maybe…the ionic one. His strength would be useful. Also Grimm and the arachnid.”
“Why those two?” Doom queried. Thanos shrugged.
“Call it nostalgia. Are we agreed?”
“At least in this matter Titan. Dispense with the others. Make sure you send my ward home to Latveria. I would not have him incarcerated. Again.”
Thanos grinned and held up the pulsing Space Gem. Before anyone could react, Warbird, Giant-Man, Wasp, Photon, and Triathlon, along with the wreckage of the Quinn-jet disappeared in a flash of purple radiance.
“Villain! What hast thou wrought?” Thor roared, charging forward, hammer spinning in his hands. The remaining Avengers followed suit, but were halted mere yards from their objective by a mystic shield hastily summoned by Strange and reinforced by Doom.
“Calm yourselves. Thanos merely sent the others back to New York, my friends. Now please settle down. The Titan is not the enemy this time, nor is Doom.” The Silver Surfer bellowed, swooping low amidst the raging heroes, stopping face to face with Captain America. “There is much to be explained…”
Chronopolis burned. Kang stood poised upon the balcony of his palace, one booted foot propped on the balustrade, his upper body leaning across the raised knee. He held one hand out before him, the Time Gem floating several inches above his palm. Below, the streets of his city ran crimson as the forces of Immortus laid siege to the City at the heart of time.
He knew he could end it now. Simply blot his foes from time. Even the ones he had yet to face. But where was the fun in that?
Kang had not allowed himself to look too deeply into his own future. No man should know that much. Not even the Lord of All Time. Suddenly, he was tossed to the floor as his palace shook as if from titanic blows. Alarms blared, and he could hear nearby explosions. The scent of smoke reached his nose. “Right on time.” He chuckled, closing his hand about the gem, and standing. Above the palace, a great vessel in the shape of a sphinx unleashed salvo after salvo, raining fiery destruction down upon the city.
Dormammu roared in triumph, lifting his arms high and wide. Below him upon a fiery plain, his armies awaited his opening of the rift between the Dark Dimension and Earth.
Above the Faltine, two figures crouched in preparation. S’ym turned towards Master Pandemonium with a smirk. “Oh, he’s gonna be pissed.”
The crimson clad Pandemonium turned. “This bothers you, demon?”
“Nah. Just stating the obvious. Start th’ ball Pandy.” S’ym replied, flexing clawed hands in anticipation.
Pandemonium stood and stretched his arms towards the figure below. Without warning, a veritable legion of demonic creatures, of all shapes and sizes poured forth from his sleeves, tumbling down towards the army below in an unceasing wave of evil.
S’ym leapt from the narrow ledge, howling, “Lets party!” as he hurtled towards an unsuspecting Dormammu.
“So…basically, the universe is in danger. Thanos is on the side of the angels. Doom’s playing nice. And we have to go to another dimension and get two bloodthirsty lunatics with cosmic powers coming out the wazoo to relinquish their holds on two of the most potent artifacts the world has ever seen.” Spider-Man said lightly, rubbing his chin. “Sounds easy enough…when do we leave?”
Captain America winced at the sarcastic tone in the younger man’s voice. “Yes, son. Though I don’t believe it’s really that simple.” He paused as the Thing placed a great orange paw upon his shoulder.
“Cap, th’ whys and wherefores don’t matter none…just so long as you’re in charge and show us who ta hit.”
The rest of the gathered heroes voiced their assent. Captain America nodded once, grimly. “Alright. I’ll do my best.”
“If you are finished…we have a cosmic assault to plan out.” Thanos called. He stood a little ways off, the High Evolutionary beside him. “Wyndahm has agreed to provide us a stable base of operations from which to make our attack.” As the heroes gathered around, Strange took up the thread.
“My friends we have precious little time to regain control of the stolen gems. At this very moment both Kang and Dormammu could be plotting the downfall of our reality. For this reason, we have decided to make a simultaneous two-pronged assault upon our foes. One group, consisting of myself, Doom, the Scarlet Witch, Namor, Hulk, the Thing and the Silver Surfer shall breach the wards of the Dark Dimension and confront its dark overlord. Captain America shall lead the other group, made up of Thor, Iron-Man, the Vision, Wonder-Man, Hercules and Thanos, into Chronopolis after Kang.”
Spider-Man spoke up. “What about me and golden boy over there?” He asked, pointing to Warlock, who listened expressionlessly. Thanos turned.
“You two shall remain here with Wyndahm and his followers to ensure that our way back is not compromised. Now, unless anyone has any other questions, I suggest, Strange, that you begin preparation to open the portals to our targets.”
Minutes later, a great rift in space and time sat pulsing loudly upon the snow. As Strange held it focused, several knights of the now crumbled Wundagore snapped into action, dragging scavenged machinery to the portal. There the combined efforts of Doom and Iron-Man produced a stabilizer capable of holding the portal open indefinitely. With a silent nod from Thanos, the two groups moved swiftly into the shimmering rift, til all were gone from sight. Spider-Man stared into the portal for several long moments, Warlock beside him. Then the spandex clad adventurer turned towards the hovering Worldship, nudging Warlock. “Hey…while we got time…I’ve always wanted a tour of that thing.”
Upon entering Shi’ar space, Captain Marvel and company were soon joined by a small flotilla of Shi’ar and Skrull vessels. Boarding the lead Skrull vessel, the trio was taken to a sparsely furnished conference room where several suprising faces awaited their arrival.
“Jack-of-Hearts? Firelord? Beta-Ray Bill? What is this, a convention?” Genis said, laughing as he traded handshakes with the beings seated before him.
“And Gladiator and the Imperial Guard are awaiting us at our target.” Eros said, seating himself with fluid grace. The Super-Skrull turned towards the ship’s commander.
“Status report commander?”
“Sir, the Fortress has commenced a stationary orbit around the Galactus-Star. It has taken no notice of Shi’ar hails or warning salvos. It appears to be…waiting.”
“For what I wonder?” Firelord said quietly.
“Something that bodes ill for the universe I fear…” Beta-Ray Bill replied, hefting his hammer.
That’s an understatement.
“Shut up Rick.” Genis muttered. Then, to the Super-Skrull, “What’s the plan? I mean, we can’t exactly go up and ring Tyrant’s doorbell, not unless he’s calmed way down since we last saw him.”
“In conjunction with the Shi’ar Imperial Guard we six shall attempt to board the vessel and discover the intentions of it’s owner, under cover of an all out assault by the combined Shi’ar and Skrullien fleets.”
much for subtlety.
You said it. Genis thought at the same moment.
The Destroyer sat upright in its cell abruptly, after hours of utter stillness. The Soul Gem upon its brow flared to life as a form suddenly appeared outside its cell. A glittering cosmic axe sliced through the controls and the cell’s energy field sputtered and died. Morg grinned and gestured politely. “Your freedom is at hand…courtesy of your sibling and Maelstrom, Soul-Eater. Go! Join our other allies below! Find the other gems, Endgame is at hand!” He hissed. The Destroyer rumbled in reply, bounding past the former herald and into the corridors of the Worldship.
“And what of me butcherer?” Terrax growled, squatting in the far corner of his cell.
“You, fool…and I, get to finish what we started so long ago. For good, this time.” With that, Morg ripped his weapon through the controls to Terrax’s cell freeing him as well, and then tossed the other ex-herald his own axe, confiscated earlier by Thanos.
“For good.” Terrax agreed, grasping his weapon and charging forward with a roar to meet Morg, axe to axe.
A titanic yellow form reared suddenly out of the snow upon the ground below the hovering Worldship. Mangog roared and charged towards the mystic portal where only an hour before Thanos and co. had disappeared, scattering knights before him in bloody heaps. Seconds later, an green skinned form began to follow, as Drax appeared from nowhere and also began an unstoppable rush towards the portal, the only thought upon his mind the same as the one on Mangog’s, the completion of their mission.
Aboard the Worldship, Spider-Man and Warlock were interrupted in their impromptu tour of the facilities as alarm klaxons began to sound. “What th-.” Spider-Man began as all of a sudden a looming, uru form thundered out of the shadows towards them. Spider-Man leapt agilely away as the Destroyer slammed full tilt into the wall of the corridor and began unleashing its full destructive fury loose against the hapless alien steel. “Has it gone crazy?” Spider-Man asked.
“No. It’s trying to escape!” Warlock shouted as he launched himself at the enraged constructs back. Spider-Man made to follow, but the sudden appearance of Terrax and Morg drew his attention. The two warriors were locked in a death grip, axes to throats, as they flailed wildly, cursing and grunting in effort.
Warlock locked hands about the Destroyer’s shoulders just as it blew a great hole in the outer skin of the Worldship and tumbled towards the ground below. Spider-Man fired a webline, attempting to snag Warlock but failed and the golden skinned man fell towards the snowy landscape. But he had no time for recriminations as the two struggling heralds stumbled into him suddenly and all three followed Warlock and the Destroyer to the ground below!
The Destroyer landed on its feet and flung Warlock away contemptuously, before striding towards the distant portal, determination evident in its stride. Warlock rolled to his feet and darted after, eyes blazing. Spider-Man landed on all fours, easily absorbing the impact from years of experience, then dodged lightly out of the way as Terrax and Morg, axes locked, slammed into the earth in a great explosion of rock and snow.
Mangog and Drax had halted their mad rush at the edge of the portal and held their ground there, battling the legion of knights that assailed them. As the Destroyer closed on its objective, it fired its elemental energies, cutting a swath through the knights, til it reached Maelstrom’s two servants.
But before the trio could enter the portal, it suddenly dissipated with an abrupt click.
“No, gentlemen. I don’t think so…” the High Evolutionary said, hefting a remote in one hand. By his side Nobilus raised his fists, and Warlock floated, eyes glowing, and Spider-Man crouched. “If you want to get into that portal…you have to go through us, I’m afraid.”
To Be Continued in Infinity Assault #3
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