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Bob Harras & Terry Kavanaugh (plotters), Bob Harras (scripter), Fabio Laguna (guest penciler), Scott Koblish (guest inker), Mike Thomas (colorist), Bill Oakley & NJQ (letterers), Matt Idelson (assistant editor), Ralph Macchio (editor), Mark Grunewald (editor-in-chief)
A vessel emerges from the stargate linking Earth and the Shi’ar Imperium - only the stargate has been ordered closed due to the damage it can cause Earth’s sun. Deathcry, engages some mandroids in an alleyway, intent on keeping hold of a small canister she has located. Hercules, Crystal and Quicksilver soon arrive to take the mandroids out, but in the skirmish, Deathcry loses the canister. Adding to the troubles, Henry Gyrich arrives on scene, and tells the Avengers that he has finally got them. When they return to Avengers Mansion, the Black Widow and Marilla join them for a meeting with Gyrich, who claims that Deathcry is a dangerous extra-terrestrial. He explains that Starcore, the organisation he has been assigned to, has been tracking the use of a stargate, and that it has been passed through by vehicles four times recently, and the trajectory is at the landing site where he found Deathcry earlier. The Black Widow tries to calm the situation down, and reminds Gyrich about Lilandra’s promise regarding the stargate. Quicksilver starts to suggest that perhaps there is more to Deathcry than they are aware, which causes her to run to her quarters, and when Marilla goes to check on her, she discovers that she has gone. Gyrich and the Avengers argue further, and as he leaves and warns them that they should find their friend before he does. The Avengers split up to go in search of Deathcry, with Hercules remaining at the Mansion in case she returns. Deathcry sneaks back into her room. Hercules is waiting for her, and they talk about Deathcry for a while, before Hercules gives her the disc he retrieved from the canister. She plays the disc and it is a message from her nursemaid, K’rin. Deathcry is saddened to learn this will be the last message from K’rin, and Hercules consoles her. In the Shi’ar Imperium, Lilandra is informed that her officers were too late to prevent the drone going through the stargate, and Lilandra prays that it never reaches its destination, for the sake of Deathcry, and for all.
It is the most feared of the Imperium’s interdicts. No one on pain of death, shall open the wormhole that links far Shi’ar with the terran star system. Lilandra Neramani herself, knowing its destabilizing effect on the star called Sol, gave her blood oath that the stargate would forever more be closed. And yet, mere minutes ago, the stargate flared open, and soaring out from its glowing maw, came a small, fragile probe, an unlikely looking thing to have risked so much… and come so far. Btu having traversed the countless light years in mere seconds, it continues onwards, heading towards its destination - the system’s third planet… Earth.
But that was a few minutes ago. ‘Gotcha!’ the alien called Deathcry, an Honorary Avenger, exclaims as she grabs a small device. She is pursued by several robotic beings, ‘Mandroid pod one reporting. We have the alien in sight and are engaged in pursuit. Estimate we will incapacitate her well within project safety parameters. Pod one - out’ one of the robots declares as they chase Deathcry down an alleyway. ‘Oh, man! The Widow’s gonna have a cow!’ Deathcry mutters as she races away from the robots. ‘Commander - the tractor beam has successfully retrieved the canister, Sir!’ one of the robots announces, as the beam tears the small device straight out of Deathcry’s hand.
Deathcry is an exile on this planet, for reasons she can’t quite fathom. But one thing she understands, and understands very well - is that no one, repeat, no one, takes her things. ‘Give that back to me, you armoured-plated goon!’ Deathcry snarls as she lunges at her opponent, her razor-sharp claws tearing at it. ‘Holy! Did you see that? Her claws slashed through omnium steel!’ one of the armored beings calls out, adding that she is a lot more dangerous than intelligence suggested. ‘You don’t know the half of it, terran!’ Deathcry declares, while another of the armoured assassins reaches for her when she grabs the device, ‘Let’s sanction this bird!’ the armored being calls out.
Suddenly, ‘I think not, Mandroid - for yon child is a guest of the Mighty Avengers!’ Hercules declares as he drops down on top of one of the Mandroids. ‘Commander - we’ve got a problem. The situation’s gone critical!’ one of the Mandroid operators reports. A bright light shines down on the alleyway and Deathcry looks up, seeing the Avengers skycar. ‘Oboy - and I thought I was in trouble before!’ Deathcry remarks to herself. ‘Now is hardly thje time to be flippant, girl!’ a voice calls out, as something, or someone, speeds past one of the Mandroids, causing it to fall over. ‘The name is Quicksilver, gentlemen. And I don’t take kindly to armored troops terrorizing a young girl’ Pietro Maximoff adds, frowning. One of the Mandroids readies a blast of energy and replies ‘That “girl” is an alien life-form, Avenger - who may have just compromised the security of this country. If not the planet’. The Mandroid suggests that Quicksilver do not go around casting aspersions.
‘Pietro, I swear to Sharra I have no idea what he’s talking about!’ Deathcry claims. ‘Stop the lies! We found you with the evidence!’ one of the Mandroids shouts, firing a blast of energy which Quicksilver narrowly dodges. The mutant speedster starts to dart around the Mandroid, before the elemental Inhuman Avenger called Crystal, who just happens to be his estranged wife, tells him to get out of the way. The powerful woman creates a concentrated hurricane-force blast, which should destabilizes their trigger-happy friend, and does just as Crystal predicts. ‘And the Prince of Power will add the finishing touch’ Hercules declares as his mighty fists slam into the Mandroid, which collapses to the ground. ‘I guess that will stop all this talk about sanctioning people’ Quicksilver remarks, before Crystal asks him if he has seen what happened to Deathcry. ‘Take a look over there, Crystal. She doesn’t look very happy’ Pietro replies.
Indeed, ‘Where is it? What have you frashka done with the canister?’ Deathcry shouts as she searches through the rubble for the device, while, overhead, out of the evening sky, a jet black helicopter lands in preternatural silence. Then, a familiar, if unwelcome, figure emerges. Henry Peter Gyrich, member of the long-standing National Security Council. The wicked man smirks at the Avengers and remarks that it looks like they will have to go over the Mandroid schematics. ‘To put it mildly, they did not perform up to project specifications. The congressional committee won’t be happy’. Gyrich tells the heroes that those blowhards can filibuster from now to Sunday, he doesn’t care. ‘Because finally, after all this time, I gotcha all!’
Thirty minutes later, at Avengers Mansion, ‘I hard hat you said, Mr Gyrich…I simply cannot believe you meant it’ Natasha Romanoff a.k.a. the Black Widow frowns as she, Hercules, Crystal, Quicksilver, Deathcry and the Inhuman nanny called Marilla gather in a living area. ‘Oh, I meant it all right, Madame Widow. Your little houseguest over there has been designated a dangerous extra-terrestrial…and as such, I expect you to hand her over to the custody of the United States government!’ Gyrich announces. The Black Widow replies that the Avengers do not dispute the fact that Deathcry is an extraterrestrial, and remarks that the last time she checked, the origin of one’s birth did not constitute a crime in this country. ‘Or am I mistaken?’ she asks. Gyrich tells the Black Widow not to be coy, to which Natasha replies that she has many traits, but that coyness is not one of them.
‘You and I both know that to label Deathcry a threat and demand to incarcerate her without any proof is clearly illegal’ the Black Widow states. ‘Even if the alien was protected by the Continuation - and that’s a big if for someone born a couple of billi9on light years from here - your point is moot, Widow. We have all the proof we need’ Gyrich replies. ‘Impossible, Gyrich!’ Hercules declares. ‘You were ever a bloodless cur! I should -’ Hercules begins, before the Black Widow interrupts him, pointing out that losing their tempers will not help anyone. Quicksilver also looks unhappy and tells Natasha that she must admit that Gyrich is insufferable. ‘Pietro - enough!’ the Black Widow exclaims, before asking Gyrich why he is even here. She points out that Agent Sikorsky has been their government liaison since Gyrich was assigned to Starcore.
‘This is Starcore business, Avenger’ Gyrich replies, explaining that the solar research station has been paying particular attention to that wormhole that exists just beyond the corona’s edge. ‘You know the wormhole? The one you heroes swore would never be used again?’ Gyrich remarks, turning to Deathcry. ‘Imagine our surprise when we found evidence of vessels passing through four times in the last few months with the attendant - albeit minor - solar interference’. Gyrich announces that they tracked the trajectory of the latest incident, and found their little friend at the landing site. ‘So I ask you Avengers - what do you really know about Deathcry?’ Gyrich enquires. ‘Did you even bother to check? Or were you all so holier-than-thou that you never bothered to worry about the potential dangers you’d brought to Earth?’ Gyrich asks.
Gyrich then turns to Quicksilver, ‘I hope I’m not being too insufferable, Mr Maximoff. Tell me, have you heard from your father lately?’ Suddenly, ‘That’s quite enough, Mr Greyback or whatever your name be!’ Marilla exclaims as she moves towards Gyrich, waving her fist at him, she warns Gyrich that he has no right to insult Miss Deathcry or Master Pietro. ‘They’re both twice the person you’ll ever be!’ she adds. ‘While I figure out the math on that one - can someone tell me just what the heck this is?’ Gyrich asks, referring to the unusual Inhuman. Edwin Jarvis enters the room, carrying a tray of glasses filled with water, and tells Gyrich that she is Madame Marilla, a valued member of this staff. ‘And before you offer her an apology for your rude tone - may I suggest a beverage? Perhaps something with a little warmth in it, for you, Sir?’ Jarvis asks, sternly. ‘So the butler’s grown a spine. I like that’ Gyrich mocks.
The Black Widow stands up and tells Gyrich that his likes and dislikes are of no interest to the Avengers, and confirms that they are all aware of the stargate situation as he mentioned, adding that it was the Avengers who explained its origins to the government months ago. The Black Widow declares that the Shi’ar Majestrix gave her most solemn vow that it would not be used again unless the situation was extremely dire. ‘A woman like Lilandra does not break her word lightly, Gyrich’ Natasha adds, telling him that he may find this incompatible with his parochial view of things, but that honor is not a trait reserved only for the human race. ‘Perhaps’ Quicksilver suddenly calls out, ‘But…four times? I can’t believe I agree with Gyrich - but if the sun is endangered, can we place all our trust in an alien we barely even know?’
Quicksilver adds that he is sorry to ask this, before enquiring as to why Deathcry did not tell them of these incursions. ‘I…I…didn’t…know’ Deathcry replies. ‘I…would…never…’ she begins, startled, before suddenly running out of the room and up a flight of stairs, ‘… but why would you believe another alien?’ she calls back. ‘Deathcry - I didn’t -!’ Quicksilver exclaims, while Marilla expresses her concern for the girl, being accused of all sorts of things, and no one asking for her point of view. ‘Ahh, it’s a trial living in a human world, I’ll say that’ Marilla remarks as she climbs the stairs. Quicksilver looks sheepish and assures his teammates that he had no intention of upsetting the child, and that more than anyone here, he knows what it is like to be unjustly accused of something. ‘Unfortunately, Avenger, you remembered that too late to learn from the bigotry of others’ Hercules points out.
At that moment, Marilla returns down the staircase, and reports that Deathcry has gone, that the window to her room is open. ‘Dear Randak’s soul - I think the girl’s run off!’ Marilla exclaims. ‘Now that’s very convenient’ Gyrich frowns. ‘Agent Gyrich - please! DC is a child - comparable to a terran teenager! She’s frightened, and confused, and I can’t say I blame her!’ Crystal exclaims, assuring Gyrch that he has the Avengers’ word of honor that they will find her and will get to the bottom of this. ‘Now the Avengers’ word of honor? I just got a lesson on Lilandra’s word of honor’ Gyrich mutters, before asking Crystal if she hasn’t been listening, he declares that he doesn’t give a flying fig leave for their “honor”, or Liliandra‘s, for that matter, although her calls her “Lilibeth“. Gyrich announces that he wants to prevent that wormhole from opening up again, that he wants the sun nice and stable, rising every morning and he thinks six billion other people would agree with him. ‘I think your little “teen chum” is the key to making sure that happens’ Gyrich adds.
‘She is alone here’ Hercules points out, standing close to Gyrich, who replies ‘My heart’s breaking’, and reminds the Avengers that their other teammate, Sersi, was alone here too, and she went bonkers and nearly destroyed half of New York. ‘Was her social life an excuse?’ he asks, while declaring that the jokers in the Avengers - mutants, gods and androids - are too powerful. ‘My job is to protect the ordinary citizen from wild cards like you…and I will… because I’m watching you every step of the way’ Gyrich warns the Avengers. Hercules scowls, while Gyrich turns to leave, and suggests to the Avengers that they find their little friend before he does, and that they best do it fast. ‘Good night’ he adds, before slamming the door when he leaves. ‘well, this has been a pleasant evening’ the Black Widow mutters, before informing her teammates that they have Deathcry’s bio-signature on record, and she suggests that they download that data into the Quinjet’s scanners and reconnoiter the city. ‘She can’t have gotten far. We’ll find her…and when we do, we’ll have a lot ot talk about’ the Black Widow adds that she is rather fond of the sun herself.
Later, Hercules sits alone in the dark, when a voice calls out to him. Hercules looks up and sees Marilla standing over him. She asks him what he is doing here, as she thought hr would be out searching with the others. Hercules claims that he volunteered for monitor duty, as he thought it best someone kept track of things here. Marilla expresses how worried about Deathcry she is, and adds ‘Even though I be Inhuman - I’m not what ye might call a prime specimen, am I? I know the pain of being considered a mite different cause of me looks. She hides it well - but I see the loneliness in her eyes. I remember that, I do’ Marilla tells Hercules, who stands up and tells her that they are all lonely in their own sweet way. ‘But I hope your memories of such things are long faded, for you are a gem beyond value’ Hercules remarks, suggesting to Marilla that she get to bed and that all will be well in the morning.
In Deathcry’s room, the window is still open in the quiet hours before dawn. Stuffed toys are strewn across the bed, as Deathcry scales the outside wall, and sees the window is still open, wondering ‘Like why?’ they would have left it open for her. ‘I thought it high-hat make things easier for you’ Hercules calls out as he steps out of the shadows when Deathcry re-enters her room. ‘I’ve been waiting for you, girl’ Hercules tells the alien. ‘HOW?’ Deathcry shouts. ‘How did you know I’d come back?’ she asks, falling onto her bed, sending her stuffed toys flying about. ‘Simple. Like me, you’ve not place else to go’ the handsome hero tells Deathcry. He holds up a Bamf doll and admits that Deathcry’s room was a bit of a surprise, not the chambers one would expect of the Shi’ar warrior woman she first presented herself to be.
Deathcry takes the Bamf doll and, wide-eyed, admits that she was scared then, terrified of them all, really. ‘When Lilandra sent me here I knew very little of Earth, except it was so very far away. Acting like a warrior made it easier to pretend I didn’t care’ she explains. Deathcry points out that the Vision saw through her, he had come to talk to her, acting robotic and all, but she could see he cared, because he knew what it was like being different, and she could be herself with him. ‘I miss him…a lot’ Deathcry admits, before telling Hercules that she can’t go home ever again, and she doesn’t even know what she did. Hercules tells Deathcry that he understands loneliness and loss, the pain of never seeing family and homeland again is a constant ache in the soul. ‘Exile is indeed, a special kind of hell’.
Deathcry touches a scar on Hercules’ arm and asks him if his father gave it to him when he stripped him of his immortality. ‘Yes’ Hercules confirms, before pulling out of his belt buckle a small disk, and asking Deathcry why she has risked so much, possibly her freedom, for this? ‘The holo-disk!’ Deathcry shouts, ‘Sweet Sharra, you have it! I thought the mandroids destroyed it! Oh, I wanted to die!’ she exclaims, before asking Hercules to let her touch it, as her bio-imprint will activate its programming. Deatrhcry then puts her fingers on the disk, and a hologram appears. ‘Look, it’s her! K’rin! Sweet, good K’rin!’ Deathcry exclaims excitedly. The small hologram glows, and starts to speak, some of the words are cut off though, as K’rin tells Deathcry that she misses her. ‘We do all we can to slip - pray - last message made it thought - stargate, sweet girl’.
‘She is your mother?’ Hercules asks. ‘I wish!’ Deathcry replies, revealing that K’rin is her nursemaid, the woman who raised her and loved her when no one else could. ‘She’s everything good and wonderful in the universe. She’s K’rin’. The message continues, as K’rin tells Deathcry that their love is with her. ‘Remember this, my last message before it is…it is your destiny’. Confused, Deathcry asks ‘Last message? My destiny? K’rin, what do you mean’. She is upset that the disk was so damaged that K’rin message is practically lost. She tells Hercules that hearing K’rin’s voice again is funny, as she thought it would make her feel better, but she feels more alone than ever. ‘Is that, like, weird?’ she asks.
‘Hardly’ Hercules responds, explaining that a taste of home can be a bittersweet, if an irresistible, thing. Hercules assures Deathcry that he is glad he salvaged the disk from the canister during the battle with the mandroids. ‘Even garbled, I sensed K’rin’s concern for you. You are fortunate to know such love’ Hercules remarks, telling Deathcry that he understands why she did what she did, before pointing out that Agent Gyrich may be somewhat less forgiving. ‘Hercules, I sweat I didn’t mean any harm! Please believe me, please!’ Deathcry shouts as she collapses into Hercules’ arms. Hercules tells her that he does, and that she must believe that she is not alone here. ‘You have found a home among us. And in me… I hope… you have found a friend’.
Across thousands of lights years, in the borderlands of the Shi’ar Imperium, a warbird transmit’s a message to the throne world in Chandilar in an ancient battle language. A coded language used only in matters of extreme threat to the Imperial House of Neramani. One Shi’ar informs Majestrix Lilandra that they have found the drone ship, and as usual, there is no evidence of its point of origin. The drone ship is caught in a tractor beam, as the Shi’ar officer tells Lilandra that they were too late in preventing the probe from being launched. ‘I fear it has passed through the stargate’ he adds. ‘I see. Then they have out-maneuvred us again’ Lilandra remarks, adding that her plans have come a’cropper, it seems. ‘If only these fools knew with what fire they play, commander’. Lilandra prays to Sharra that somehow, someway, the fates are kind and the message never reaches its destination. ‘For the sake of the child herself - for the sake of us all - oh, how I pray!’
Black Widow, Crystal, Hercules, Quicksilver (all Avengers)Deathcry (Honorary Avenger)
Giant Man appears on the cover to this issue only.
Hercules was stripped of his immortality in Avengers (1st series) #384.