When Thor regained consciousness, he felt himself floating on air and watching his own body go through a transformation against a blank background of golden light. Rather than detaching him from these unfamiliar and painful new sensations, it magnified them.
Thor saw and felt his flesh dissolve away, followed by the dissolution of his muscles and internal organs until nothing remained but his skeleton. Then the skeleton discorporated into molecules, which joined back together to form a protean blob of soft matter. This, in turn, gradually took the shape of a humanoid newborn baby, and as it grew to adulthood in a matter of minutes, it began to emit a white cosmic light which became more and more intense until Thor was blinded by it and he could no longer see what he was becoming.
Abruptly, he found himself back in the Deathlands, facing Polania and Quasar as he had before. Polania motioned at him to follow her to a pitch-black pond where he could see his new self.
Thor was astonished. He was still about the same size and build, and still possessing long blond locks. But his eyes now glowed white, and he was now clad in a futuristic suit of armor which would not have looked out of place on an Eternal. He felt the armor – it was thin, soft, and flexible, yet he could perceive its amazing strength. And he could perceive so much more, from the tiniest pebble to the vast multiverse...and suddenly, Thor felt overwhelmed.
As if reading his mind, Polania said, "Keep thyself focused. Your every move, your every thought can now bring either the genesis or the apocalypse."
"Yes." whispered Thor, taking his time to take it all in until he spoke again. "Quasar, let us tarry not. Transport me back to Midgard, where I may engage Garero in battle."
"Tis not yet the time." warned Polania. "Thy new powers would destroy a normal quantum portal and set off a chain reaction that would devastate the universe. We need a portal created by not one but two cosmic-powered beings. And have it soon we shall. If both of thee wouldst close thine eyes and share my vision..."
They witnessed Firelord awakening on the surface of Hala to find himself inside a stone circle, surrounded by what could only be Kree pagans. He realized he was in one of the safe spots that Starfox had mentioned – if only, he thought to himself, it had gone smoother getting there.
Firelord noted that his burns had fully healed, and as if the pagans’ long-haired, long-faced arch-druid could read Firelord’s mind, he said, "Yes, we did heal you. It took a great communal effort, but we succeeded. Now you must..."
The arch-druid was rudely interrupted by an attack from Zetazia, who had tracked Firelord to this location. Zetazia’s flames quickly had all the pagans’ huts ablaze.
Beyond angry at her actions against these peaceful folk, Firelord absorbed all the fire as fast as he could, and then launched himself at Zetazia. The two cosmic powered beings clashed in an explosion of red, orange, and yellow that lit up the sky. And when it was over, it was Firelord who was still standing.
"Our thanks, Firelord." said the arch-druid. "If not for you, we would have had to find a new place to call home. Allow us to repay you by clearing your mind for the task which lies ahead."
"If you can heal my tormented mind the way you healed my body, I welcome it." replied Firelord as he re-entered the stone circle.
The pagans surrounded him, joined hands and closed their eyes. Just a few seconds later, Firelord was overwhelmed by visions of the Kree battling his arch-nemesis, Nebula. Surprisingly, the armada of space pirates was holding its own despite being vastly outnumbered and despite the presence of cosmic-powered Kree and Kree gods; the Negavator was just one of many Negative Zone weapons with which Nebula had equipped her flagship. Part of Firelord wanted to blast off and head for the site of the battle, but thanks to the pagans, he began to use his rarely exercised capacity for reason. Firelord at last realized the futility of his vendetta against Nebula and the pointlessness of war.
In the Deathlands, Polania perceived the rising and advancing of Firelord’s spirit, and knew the time had finally come for Thor to intervene. "Quasar," she said, "use your cosmic awareness to mind-meld with Firelord. You must both bridge the realms with a cosmic portal strong enough to withstand the power that Thor now wields."
Quasar and Firelord simultaneously activated their considerable powers. It would not be long now before the final battle would be fought.
The Beast felt as though he might black out at any moment, while the Mandrill gleefully continued to beat on him. At the same time, it looked like the other apes were gaining the advantage against Hellcat and the Black Knight.
Suddenly, the time space flux began to spin in the other direction, and the other apes were sucked into the flux as if it were a black hole.
"NO!" yelled the Mandrill, "how can this be??"
"It’s...stupefyingly simple." said the Beast, laughing through his pain. "Your maleficent MacGuffin has...gone from discharging temporal anomalies – i.e., your gorilla guerillas – to removing temporal anomalies. You’re on your own from here, compadre."
"Hiya, Mandy!" said Hellcat as she delivered a karate kick to the Mandrill’s face. "Long time no see, but not long enough."
"You shall pay for that, Hellcat." said the Mandrill. "I still have my pheromone powers, with which I shall make you my slave."
"You’re outta luck there," replied Hellcat, "because this cat is also a packrat. Remember this?" She held up a seemingly innocuous bracelet, which had protected her from Mandrill’s powers at their last confrontation, and did the same here.
The Mandrill hesitated, not knowing what to do next, which gave the Black Knight a chance to sneak up behind him and smash him on the head with the flat of his blade. The Mandrill lost consciousness, then his balance, and fell down face-first.
"I love it when a plan comes together." gloated a grinning Hellcat.
"I would gladly pay you Tuesday for my medical bills today." quipped the injured Beast.
"I can’t thank you people enough for your help." said the Black Knight. "If any of you should ever want to join the Avengers full-time, we’ll welcome you with open arms."
Ant-Man quietly ruminated on what the Black Knight had just said.
"What do you think?" Diane Newell asked her husband Walter.
"No doubt about it," said a smiling Walter, "Captain Marvel is coming out of her coma."
Rita barged into the medical center, gasping for breath. "Mr. Newell, Mrs. Newell, come quick. Something bad’s happening to the Wasp."
Moments later, Walter was using his security card to override the bathroom door’s lock.
When he opened the door, he, Diane, and Rita, were horrified at what they saw.
"Negavator fully charged." said Gunthar to Nebula.
"Target the one with the horned helmet, he is clearly the most powerful." Nebula said, referring to Garero.
The mighty blast of the Negavator barely staggered Garero. He countered with his eye-beams, hitting the ship’s one vulnerable spot and triggering a chain reaction that neutralized its primary functions.
"AND NOW," bellowed Garero, "THE PIRATES SHALL PAY FOR THEIR ARROGANCE WITH THEIR LIVES!"
Suddenly, a familiar voice came out of nowhere. "Garero, I say thee nay. Too many lives hath been lost today. Retreat to thy realm or suffer the full power of the Anti-Omega."
Thor stood before Garero, proud, confident, and defiant.
"THOU HAST PERSEVERED, GODLING, BUT EVEN THE ANTI-OMEGA SHALL NOT SAVE THEE FROM BEING CRUSHED LIKE THE INSECT THOU ART! NOW DIE! DIE!!"
And Garero’s eye-beams burst forth again, at their maximum power, headed straight for Thor.
TO BE CONCLUDED IN PART X