As the centurions moved in for the kill, Thor’s powerfully deep voice exploded across the horizon.
“Avengers, we hath suffered too many humiliations recently. Let us show these abominations the warriors we truly are. ATTACK!”
Thor’s hammer swung left and right, sending wounded centurions flying out of control in every direction. Namor took to the air and used his fists to prevent more centurions from descending, while those who descended had to deal with She-Hulk and a quantum-armored Quasar. The Avengers whipped themselves into a frenzy, and the intensity of the battle was almost tactile. In what seemed like an instant, all the centurions were lying unconscious on the ground.
The Avengers were still catching their breath when they heard an authoritative female voice seemingly coming from out of nowhere.
“Hail, Avengers! Thy coming was foretold and you hath proven yourselves worthy of your legends.”
They turned to see a statuesque woman with fair skin and long brunette hair, clothed in regal wear and standing on a high-tech floating platform. She had not been there a moment ago.
“Introductions are in order. I am Polania, the Contemplatrix, goddess of knowledge in the Kree Pantheon.”
“Didst thou send those murderous monstrosities after us?” Thor angrily demanded to know.
“Nay,” replied Polania, “twas Helkon, god of gods, who did order the attack. Do not take it personally. He hath become paranoid of late, with good reason.”
“Yeah?” sneered She-Hulk. “I’d like a personal apology from this Helkon.”
“So shall it be.” declared Polania. Her chair began to glow, becoming brighter until the Avengers were blinded. They felt themselves being teleported to an unknown destination.
Destruction rained down on Hala from the sky above. The fleet of ships under the renegades’ command pressed forward. For every ship that was taken out by the cannons on the ground, two more bombarded their targets and hit the precise spots.
It was time for the renegades to bring out the heavy artillery, namely the renegades themselves. Captain Atlas led the charge as the six cosmic-powered villains dive-bombed their opponents. When they reached the ground, the infantry swarmed around them. Zetazia became a living flamethrower, torching dozen of soldiers with one breath while Verxa and Loparr dismembered the others with their claws and fangs and Gurge single-handedly took on the nearest tank and, after taking a direct hit without flinching, tore it apart with his bare hands. Atlas then cleared a path for them with his super-telekinesis, sending the giant tanks scattering like so many toys. It looked like it would only be a matter of time before the renegades succeeded in their coup.
The Avengers found themselves inside a palace that had clearly seen better days – the walls were cracked and discolored, and the decor was dusty and rusty. Atop a battered throne sat Helkon, who looked somewhat like Thor, only with long red hair and glowing red eyes to match.
“Your highness,” Polania said to Helkon, “as I did predict, the Avengers hath arrived.”
“Greetings, Avengers,” said Helkon in a low, menacing voice, “and apologies for your reception. We are in a time of crisis. When last Garero broke free from captivity, he did verily exterminate my predecessor. I doth not pretend to be worthy of this throne upon which I sit, nor to be fit to lead the coming battle against Garero’s imminent return. It is in thee that we place our faith against an enemy whose greatest advantage lies within my lifeblood.”
“Thou speakest in riddles, Helkon!” said Thor impatiently. “Explain thyself!”
“Very well.” grumbled Helkon. “Garero...is my father!”
“Jeez!” muttered She-Hulk, “were caught in the middle of a soap opera!”
Meanwhile, at Hydrobase, the Black Knight and most of his reserves had taken up the Beast in his offer of a game of poker.
“I fold.” said the Black Knight.
“I’ll see you,” said Hellcat to the Beast and Ant-Man, “and I’ll raise you...”
Suddenly, the Wasp burst into the room. She had overdone her hair and makeup to the point where she almost looked like a drag queen, and she began talking at a mile a minute. “Poker, huh? Did I ever tell you about the time I was gambling in Monaco after a fashion show in Paris? What a night that was, I tell ya...”
The rest of the team cringed silently, not knowing what to say or do.
The road to the Supreme Intelligence’s citadel was paved with incalculable collateral damage. The renegades did not betray any guilt as they strode purposefully toward their target.
There was silence when they first entered the Supreme Intelligence’s antiseptic chambers. It was the Supremor who broke the silence.
“I would advise you to turn back now,” he growled stoically at the renegades, “or your fate shall be a deadly one.”
“Words, mere words!” shouted Atlas. “We speak through ACTION!”
And the renegades began their assault on the Supremor, using everything from cosmic rays to telekinesis to flames to claws to bare fists to break through the super-computer which gave way to reveal a giant transparent tank containing the Supremor’s corporeal form. Verxa, Zetazia, and Loparr savagely severed the cables while Atlas and Gurge pounded on the tank and Minerva worked her way to the Supremor’s brain. With a wicked smile, she unleashed her eye beams on the brain, which disintegrated as the Supremor screamed. The screams grew louder as the tank shattered and the renegades began tearing into him, ultimately leaving a giant pile of circuitry, vegetation, flesh, and ooze.
The renegades took several minutes to catch their breath. Finally, Zetazia spoke up. Her words expressed no sense of triumph, but rather uncertainty tinged with fear.
“This was too easy!”
Before anyone could respond, a hidden door opened up on the floor behind Zetazia and out of it emerged a nightmarish vision of the Supremor as a demonic-looking ten-foot-tall ambulatory cyborg with a scythe on each hand. Only Minerva’s seventh sense saved Zetazia from being sliced in half. Minerva’s eye beams caused the Supremor to stagger, but he quickly regained his footing and began a series of athletic leaps intended to take down each of the renegades. Gurge was too slow to dodge, and the blade left a nasty gash in his super-thick skin. Gurge summoned all his strength to deliver a roundhouse punch which sent the Supremor flying, before Gurge blacked out and fell to the floor.
The remaining renegades began attacking the Supremor from all sides, only for the Supremor to send them reeling with a telepathic shockwave.
Minerva mind-melded all the conscious renegades for a five-sided telepathic counterattack which brought the Supremor to his knees.
Atlas seized the opportunity and poured on his telekinetic powers, leaving the Supremor immobilized and floating in mid-air.
Verxa and Loparr slashed and tore at every inch of the Supremor’s body before Zetazia breathed her hottest fire on the Supremor, burning him until the Supremor’s last signs of life seemed to evaporate.
The Supremor’s body lay motionless on the floor. The renegades stood on guard. Abruptly, the Supremor got on his feet, though his legs were visibly shaking. His voice emerged, strained and parched.
“What I was unable to do...”
His voice rose to a roar.
“...THE GODS SHALL UNLEASH UPON YOU!”
And with that, the embers in his green eyes were extinguished and he fell forward, landing face-first. After a long wait, it was clear to the renegades that he was finally dead.
The renegades began laughing, nervously at first, then loud, hearty, and triumphant. Gurge, with help from his friend Loparr, regained consciousness and joined in the celebration.
“How wrong we shall prove the Supremor!” exclaimed Verxa.
“Indeed!” replied Minerva. “The gods will now become...mere PAWNS of ours!”
“And WE,” declared Atlas, “WE shall be the new universal pantheon!”
TO BE CONTINUED IN PART VII