Thor demonstrated his new powers by firing eye-beams of his own, which collided with Garero’s eye-beams and began pushing them back.
Garero stood his ground, but, as much as he denied it, the Negavator had weakened him. Thor’s beams continued on their path until they struck Garero in the eyes, causing Garero’s own power to turn against him. A web of cosmic crackle enveloped Garero, and though the pain must have been unimaginable, he remained stoic.
But the time it took for Garero to realize that his son Helkon may no longer be under his control was not enough for him to prepare himself for Helkon’s vengeful attack. With a righteous roar, Helkon swung his cosmic mace at his father, and the mace collided with Garero’s helmet, cracking it. Never hesitating, Helkon continued to batter Garero’s helmet until the helmet shattered, revealing Garero’s unspeakably horrid visage. Usually, the sight of Garero’s face could make even the hardiest warrior faint, but Helkon found the strength within to continue his attack until his father’s armor had been destroyed the same as the helmet had been. And Helkon did not stop there, continuing to beat his father, unleashing millenia of pent-up fury and delighting in giving the war god a taste of his own brutal medicine. When it was finally over, Garero’s body floated motionless in space.
"I, Helkon, god of gods, do cast my evil father back to his rightful place in the nether-realms from which I vow he shall never escape again!" And with this declaration, Garero’s body vanished.
"And those who awakened him and caused all this carnage in his name shall suffer the same fate!" Instantly, Captain Atlas and the others who had presumed to walk among gods were left to suffer the tortures visited upon those unfortunate enough to end up trapped in the Kree nether-realms.
Thor, Quasar, She-Hulk, and Namor stood alongside Helkon, Polania, Firelord, Starfox, and the Kree pagans, overlooking the devastation which had been visited on Hala. Bound by chains of cosmic energy were Helkon’s brother Vultro and the rest of Garero’s acolytes, as well as Nebula and her surviving pirates.
In a piercing scream, Nebula taunted Firelord. "Well, hated enemy? Why do you hesitate to fulfill your stated mission in life and kill me? Have you gone soft?"
"Call it what you will," Firelord replied serenely, "but the arch-druid and his followers have brought me the enlightment I have always needed. I shall never again take another life...even one as pitiable as yours."
Upon hearing this, Nebula laughed long and loud. "You shall regret your waste of this opportunity. When next we meet, I shall not show you the weakness you now show me."
"You’ll never meet him again." said Starfox. "With a list of crimes like yours, you’ll be spending the rest of your days in a maximum security prison on Titan, grand-niece...IF that’s what you really are."
"I thank you all again for your aid," said the arch-druid, "but I fear the nightmare as only begun. With no leaders, the empire will descend into anarchy and my people, as well as all the other pagan communities across the empire, shall be in as much danger as ever."
"No," said Firelord, "for I shall be your protector and I shall not rest until your peaceful teachings have been learned across the empire. Thanks to you, I finally have a purpose in life and a world to call my own."
"Well spoken, Firelord." said Thor. "Having known thee longer than anyone here present, I applaud thy decision to begin anew."
"And with faith in me and my fellow gods renewed, we are ever-stronger and shall be ever-ready to aid the good people when they have need of us." declared Helkon.
"It shall be strange not having the threat of the Kree hanging over us anymore." said Namor.
"Oh, don’t worry," said She-Hulk sarcastically, "some other crazy alien conquerors will come along to fill the void."
"Aye," agreed Thor, "so we had best return to Earth now and remain ever-vigilant."
"I shall accompany thee." announced Polania.
"Whaaaat?" exclaimed the Avengers in unison.
"The Anti-Omega is my responsibility." exclaimed Polania. "Thor shall need my help in the phase of adjustment which doth lay ahead for him. Besides, I shan’t pass up the opportunity to expand my knowledge beyond the home of the Kree."
"Very well." sighed Thor.
At Hydrobase, a quantum portal opened up and Quasar emerged, followed by the quinjet containing Thor, She-Hulk, and Namor and by Polania on her platform.
"Home, sweet home!" enthused She-Hulk, spreading out her arms and raising her head. When she lowered her head, she saw the Black Knight and Rita approaching them.
"Dane, love of my life!" shouted She-Hulk as she ran towards the Black Knight and gave him the biggest hug she could without injuring him.
"I’m glad you’re all back safely." muttered a decidedly downcast Dane.
"What’s wrong?" inquired She-Hulk.
"There’s good news and bad news." replied Dane. "The good news is, we averted a minor crisis and Monica is out of her come. The bad news...well, Rita should be the one to explain it."
"The Wasp came here and she was actin’ weird, like scary weird. She even threatened me." related Rita. "Then she locked herself in one-a the bathrooms. Dane told me to watch the bathroom door while he an’ the reserves went on their mission. Later, I heard noises coming out like the Wasp was in trouble. I went an’ got Mr. and Mrs. Newell, an’ Mr. Newell forced the door open, an’...we sawr the Wasp passed out on the floor an’...an’..."
Rita had to swallow hard before she could continue.
"...an’ there was white powder on the bathroom counter."
Everyone was speechless. In all the Avengers’ years of fighting dastardly criminals and would-be conquerors, no Avenger had ever fallen victim to the insidious inanimate villainy of hard drugs. The Avengers silently vowed to do everything they could to help the Wasp, a founding member and a stalwart presence throughout their history, but because of this revelation, their many hard-won victories were now bittersweet indeed.
NEVER THE END