Doctor Doom sat patiently in front of the vidscreen in his tremendous throne room, watching the latest Infonet broadcast. He was uncannily aware of what went on in every corner of the galaxy and most of the neighbouring galaxies, despite being relatively confined to Earth. Still, it was useful to keep an eye on the Infonet to know what half-truths were being fed to the galactic public.
“… Hala destroyed by what some believe to be a variant of the old Kree Nega-Bombs. The Guardians of the Galaxy were seen leaving the Pama system seconds after the explosion, and the Intergalactic Council is hoping to speak with them in an attempt to determine what happened in Hala’s final hours.
“This has just come in: The Guardians of the Galaxy have attacked the Intergalactic Council chambers on Chamber-World, in order to oust the council’s interim leader, the Supreme Intelligence of the Kree. No information has yet been given as to what measures the council will employ to deal with the Guardians but rest assured that Infonet will keep you posted as things develop.
“In other news, two – ”
Doom sighed as he switched off the vidscreen. He had, of course, learned very little from the Infonet broadcast. However, he had only learnt a few hours earlier that the Intelligence Supreme had taken control of the council. This troubled him somewhat. If the Kree had been wiped out, the Intelligence would be angry. When the Intelligence was angry, wars happened. Not just little skirmishes on the borders of two states that nobody cared about, but full blown trans-galactic conflicts in which it would be uncommon for less than ten million sentient beings to be dragged screaming to the gates of whatever they considered Hell.
He rose from his throne and crossed the room, his hands clasped behind his back. He did not want to be involved in a full-scale war this soon. It did not fit into his master plan. The Guardians of the Galaxy will have to hold off the Intelligence, he thought. I have work to do.
He pressed a button concealed within his grey breastplate, and the loud, tinny voice of one his Doombots came through clearly.
“Proceed,” Doom said into his comm unit, and until he released the button the Doombot could be heard trundling off in something of a hurry.
In orbit around Haven-II
Valaar the Accuser walked down one of the myriad corridors that connected the thousands of chambers inside the Ruul worldship. The other Ruul that he passed, be they soldiers, scientists, priests, politicians or regular citizens all regarded him with an awe that irritated him more than it flattered him. He was revered by almost every member of the Ruul race, and this reverence meant that there were few with whom he could strike up an informal conversation.
Few Ruul, that is.
Valaar arrived at the end of one corridor and slid his hand over a small security plate. The plate emitted a blue glow, indicating that Valaar had sufficient authority to enter the room at the end of the corridor. It’s two metal doors slid open, and the Accuser entered the darkness on the other side, the doors closing behind him.
The room in which he now stood was pitch black; this did not bother Valaar at all. He was, after all, the Accuser – the greatest of all Ruul. He possessed greater eyesight than most of his race, and he could still make out the shapes of the items that occupied all of the living quarters aboard the ship – a low table, a high-backed chair, and a bed that could fold up and be attached to the wall in a vertical position.
“What do you want?” he heard the voice of a female from somewhere in the darkness.
“What are you doing on board my ship?” Valaar inquired of the darkness. “Lights on.”
The room was suddenly lit by lights from myriad sources. Valaar looked around but was not at all surprised that he didn’t see anyone. The woman who occupied the room was skilled at many things, and he would not have been surprised is she suddenly turned into Eternity and willed the universe to an early end.
“I do not need to answer to you, Accuser.”
“Very well,” Valaar said calmly. “I am here to inform you that everything is ready, just as you asked.”
He turned to leave but saw that the door was now blocked by a tall humanoid woman. She had light blue skin and blue hair and wore a long flowing grey robe.
“Thank you,” she said as she stepped aside to let him leave. Valaar looked intently at the woman for a moment, but then a smile crossed his face, and he left the living quarters, smiling mischievously.
Aboard the Captain America III
The crystalline form of Martinex T’Naga, the last survivor of Earth’s Pluto colony, sat beside the main medical unit inside the medical bay of the Captain America III. On top of the unit was the unconscious body of Kay-Den, who had up until recently been the Kree ambassador to the Intergalactic Council.
Martinex listened to the steady, shrill beeping of the various monitors that were focused on Kay-Den, assuring him that the Kree’s cuts and bruises were still being tended to. He found the role of the nurse to be very dull, but the chance to be away from the rest of the Guardians of the Galaxy also made him feel relieved. There had been a lot of tension over the last few weeks, finally resulting in the departure of the man who was perhaps the group’s most powerful member: Phoenix-IX*.
[ * – in GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY #84 – Adrian ]
I still stand by Charlie, Martinex thought. There was nothing that he could have done to help Firelord and the Spirit of Vengeance. There was nothing any of us could have done for them. But that doesn’t make me feel any better…
Martinex was disturbed by one of the scanners, which had begun to beep more quickly. It was only a slight, subtle change, but it was still a change. Martinex rose and examined the comatose Kree but could see no sign of improvement, and the scanner began to beep at its original pace once again. Before Martinex returned to his seat, the green reptilian High Snark Rommel entered the medical bay and looked down at Kay-Den.
“I ssaw you rise,” Rommel explained as he turned to look at Martinex. “Hasss there been any improvement?”
“There appeared to be, for a moment.”
Rommel nodded gravely. “How do you rate hisss chancess?”
“He will recover,” Martinex explained. “These machines can fully heal any non-fatal injuries. It will just take time.”
“Pleasse let me know when he isss up again,” Rommel asked before turning and leaving the room.
Martinex decided that he had spent enough time by Kay-Den’s side, and he wanted to see what else was happening on board the ship. He shuffled out of the medical bay and approached the cockpit, where Nicholette had taken his place in the co-pilot’s seat. She and Captain-27 were talking, and he caught their conversation as he stepped into the cockpit.
“… the rendezvous in about five minutes,” Nicholette said. “All three ships are safe.”
Martinex smiled. Captain-27’s plan had been a good one. He had shouted, while in the Ruul-led Intergalactic Council chambers, that the Kree refugees would be sent to Haven. He knew that the Supreme Intelligence would send forces to intercept them there, and instead told Captain Marvel, who was with the Kree, to meet at a rendezvous point nowhere near Haven.
At the sound of Rommel’s hissing cry, Martinex sprinted back to the medical bay to see what had happened. When he re-entered the room, he saw that Yondu had beaten him there.
“Look!” Rommel said.
Martinex saw that Kay-Den was convulsing violently. After gesturing towards Yondu, to hold down the Kree dignitary, he injected him with a muscle relaxant that, after a few moments, stopped the convulsions. The Kree sat upright and shook his head before looking down at the rest of his body.
“Where – ?” he asked, bewildered.
“You’re on board the Captain America III, Ambassador,” Martinex explained. “We had to evacuate you from the council chambers on Chamber-World. Do you remember that?”
Kay-Den nodded slowly.
“When we got you aboard the ship, you said ‘It has begun’. What has begun, Kay-Den?”
“I – ” Kay-Den stammered. He looked from Rommel to Martinex, and then back to Rommel before continuing. “The Kree had long feared that the Supreme Intelligence would return and attempt to destroy us. I had even mentioned this to the Council, before the Supremor’s arrival. I was simply saying that the destruction of the Kree race had begun.”
Martinex looked to Rommel for confirmation; the Snark did not disagree, but both Martinex and Yondu noticed a frown cross his face for the briefest of moments.
“Kay-Den speakss the truth,” Rommel said finally.
Martinex had his doubts but decided that that was not the time to argue. “We are about to rendezvous with the surviving Kree,” he announced. “We’ll decide a course of action then. Kay-Den, Rommel, if either of you remember anything else that you think the Guardians should know – ”
“We will tell you,” Kay-Den said.
The Ba-Banii-Bas System
The Captain America III arrived several minutes after the Kree refugee ships had settled on one of the moons in the lifeless Ba-Banii-Bas star system. Of all the systems in which the Guardians were sure that they would not encounter the Ruul, the Ba-Banii-Bas system was the one from which they were most likely to be able to contact Earth, Haven, or any other friendly world.
Once the ship had touched down on the moon’s surface, the starry face of Gan-Vell appeared on its communication screen. “Guardians… we are exceptionally low on supplies and fuel. If we don’t settle somewhere soon, we won’t make it.”
“Calm down, Gan-Vell,” Nicholette said. “As soon as the channel is clear, we’re going to contact Earth and see if we can relocate you there. It’ll be okay, I promise.”
“I… fine. I’ll clear the channel.” Gan-Vell’s head disappeared from the communication screen with a bleep, and Martinex entered the cockpit to help Nicholette get in touch with Earth. He leaned over Nicholette’s shoulder and pressed several buttons, and suddenly the masked face of Doctor Doom appeared on the screen between Captain-27 and Nikki.
“What?” Doom snapped. “I have little time for your foolishness, Guardians.”
Nikki turned red and prepared to say something, but Captain-27 raised his hand slightly, silencing her. “We’re seeking sanctuary on Earth.”
“For the Kree? No.”
“What do you mean, ‘no’?!?” Nikki shouted. “After everything we did for you, you – ”
“I have dealt with the Supreme Intelligence in the past, Mercurian, and do not wish to incur his wrath again. I will not cross him today.” Doom’s emphasis on the final word in his speech was only slight, but all three of the Guardians in the cockpit picked up on it. “You will need to look elsewhere.” Doom’s visage disappeared from the monitor.
“He’s up to something,” Nikki said. “Where else can we seek a haven for the Kree?”
“You said it, Nik,” Captain-27 grinned.
“No!” Martinex cried. “The Supremor will have undoubtedly sent forces to Haven already. If we attempt to go anywhere near the planet, we will be destroyed!”
“Martinex, you’re not thinking. Sure, the big green guy may have sent a whole fleet of starships there by now, but when he realised that we duped him, he will have sent them out searching for us. Haven is the last place the Ruul would look now.”
“That is the most faulty logic I have ever heard.”
“Really? Well, guess what? I’m the leader, Martinex, and I say we’re contacting Haven.”
Martinex didn’t say anything. He simply stared at Captain-27, furious, until Nicholette’s hand softly brushed his forearm. “Marty,” Nikki whispered. Martinex violently pulled his arm away and stormed out of the cockpit. Captain-27 busily pressed a few buttons, and finally Rancor’s face appeared on the communications screen.
“Rancor,” he began to say.
“Wait!” Nicholette said. She pressed a button, preventing Rancor from seeing or hearing anything that went on in the cockpit. “Remember our promise to Talon. We said that if we ever went back to trying to be heroes, we’d stay well away from Haven.”
“I know, Nik, but what choice have we?” Captain-27 pressed the button again, in time to hear Rancor angrily asking what was going on. “Sorry, Rancor,” he said solemnly, “but we have an important request to make.”
Rancor didn’t answer straight away. She’d had enough of the Guardians of the Galaxy and did not want her and her people embroiled in yet another conflict. Finally, she said, “What is it?”
“As I’m sure you’ve heard by now, Hala has been destroyed, and we’re trying to relocate the surviving Kree. We need somewhere that they can hide temporarily.”
“I shall see. I must speak with Talon first. Contact us again in three days time.”
“Thank you,” Captain-27 said. He pressed another button, and Rancor disappeared.
Aboard the cloaked Kri-Ree, in orbit around Haven II
“We have confirmation, Accuser. The Kree are currently in the Ba-Banii-Bas system and are hoping to seek refuge here,” a Ruul officer announced.
“Excellent. Prepare a taskforce to scout the route from here to Banii-Bas. The Kree scum will never make it to Haven.”
NEXT ISSUE: The Guardians of the Galaxy reassess their situation, more of Doctor Doom’s machinations are revealed, and something completely unexpected occurs that affects the entire GotG universe!
Written by Adrian J. Watt’s of SoftPixels