The Kree ship loomed monolithically over the heroes approaching it, Captain Marvel flying in energy mode and Namor piloting a quinjet. Inside the ship, five fearsome Kree warriors stood on the bridge: Verxa, Gurge, Loparr, Zetazia, and their leader, Captain Atlas.
“Look,” Zetazia cackled, “here come the lambs to the slaughter.”
“A nice sentiment, Zetazia, but, remember, we are merely to provide a distraction while Minerva finishes re-activating the Psyche-Magnetron.” Captain Atlas calmly replied.
“Bah!” Loparr growled, “This is not the way of the true warrior! You are going soft, Captain.”
The Captain was unfazed. “Were I not so accustomed to your insubordinations, Loparr, I would waste my breath reprimanding you.”
“Patience, my friend,” said Gurge, rubbing his hands, “for when Minerva’s work is done, we shall all have power undreamed of.”
Captain Marvel’s voice crackled through the bridge’s speakers as she transmitted a message using her ability to generate radio waves. “This is Captain Marvel of the Avengers. You are trespassing on Earth. Pick up your companion on the surface and turn your ship around, or we shall be forced to detain you, by force if necessary.”
Captain Atlas was swift to respond. “Open fire!”
Captain Marvel saw the shots coming and changed to pure light mode so that they would pass through her. In the quinjet, Namor gracefully dodged the rapid fire. He then activated the quinjet’s offensive systems and launched rockets at the ship. Captain Marvel added to the counter-attack with high-intensity radiation beams.
On Earth, Thor crept stealthily through the rubble within the cave, following a dim light that most likely led to the lower level where Minerva was. An ominous hum began to ring through the cave – it could only mean that Minerva was activating her machine. Thor picked up the pace.
“Lower shields and prepare for landfall,” commanded Captain Atlas, “we must make them believe they have damaged the ship.”
“And then,” whispered Verxa, “let the bloodletting begin.”
Down below, in a quinjet in land mode, the Black Knight and She-Hulk observed the trajectory of the descending ship. The Black Knight revved up the engines and began following the ship. Spotting a clear shot far from where Captain Marvel or Namor’s quinjet would be in the way, the Black Knight blasted at the ship with the quinjet’s cannon.
As Thor advanced further down the slope, the dim light gradually intensified until it would have blinded a mere mortal. Eventually, he was close enough to see Minerva being bathed in rays from the machine. As Thor watched, Minerva grew taller and more muscular, and her drab uniform transformed into a costume reminiscent of that originally worn by Ms. Marvel.
Thor was accustomed to sights such as this, and continued to watch impassively as Minerva used a small device to shrink the machine and place it in a pouch on her belt.
Then, suddenly, Minerva turned around. It appeared that, even from his hiding place, she could sense Thor’s presence thanks to her newly gained super-powers. Thor clutched his mighty hammer, Mjolnir, and prepared for the inevitable clash.
But Thor never expected what happened next. Without moving, Minerva fired cosmic beams from her eyes, hitting Thor squarely in the chest with unimaginable force and sending him flying back up the slope, through the roof of the cave’s upper level, and in a clean arc that ended at the foot of a mountain.
“Od’s Blood!” muttered Thor as pain he had never known coursed through his massive body. Struggling to get up, he saw Minerva burst out of the collapsed cave, completely unharmed, and fly higher until she hovered above him.
She now spoke. “You, godling, are merely sport to me. I seek she who carries on the legacy of the traitor Mar-Vell. Lead me to her, or I shall obliterate you!”
Thor bit down hard and rose to his feet. “Presumptuous Kree demoness, usurper of cosmic powers unworthy of thee, I SAY THEE NAY!” He then let Mjolnir fly straight at Minerva.
To the thunder god’s astonishment, the hammer bounced off Minerva and returned to Thor’s hand. He immediately raised Mjolnir to the sky. “Where blunt force hath failed, let the forces of nature strike down the evil pretender!” And with that, a ferocious bolt of lightning ripped through the sky and headed for Minerva. Before Thor realized what was happening, she absorbed the lightning and transformed it into cosmic energy – cosmic energy which she then fired through her eyes at Thor.
The god of thunder was pushed into the face of the mountain. There followed a tremendous avalanche, leaving Thor buried under tons of rock. Minerva waited to see if Thor would emerge. After a minute, she was satisfied. She turned and began flying toward the site where her Kree comrades had led the rest of the Avengers.
“This is only the beginning!” Minerva declared, laughing wickedly.
TO BE CONTINUED IN PART III