The Aakonian colony on Nycos Aristides has become the Central Command planet of the United Front, missing from all star-charts (since it’s supposed to be in a different galaxy) and hidden from the Annihilation Wave by cloaking technology. But the promise of unity seems fleeting – the Kree want more forces to push back the Wave in the Greater Magellanic Cloud, the Skrulls threaten to withdraw back to their galaxy to fight the Wave there, the Shi’ar are still reluctant to join the Front and the Rigellians argue for reinforcements in their native Milky Way. Complicating all this are the transmissions recovered from the Daedalus system after the Kree fleet retreated – transmissions of the enslaved Galactus tearing apart Daedalus 5 in a massive explosion of crude cosmic energy that was then collected to supply and power the Wave.
As the delegates from the ‘united’ races yell, bicker and throw punches in the negotiation chambers, FIrelord and the Silver Surfer return from more attempts to learn what has happened to Galactus – fruitless attempts, as something is blocking their cosmic senses. The obvious culprits are the Proemial Gods, but they cannot be confronted – they have altered space-time for light-years around their base in the Crunch, making it impossible for the Heralds to enter or observe. Also at Central Command is Mister Fantastic, who has returned from Earth armed with space/time deconstruction technology, created by the Eternals of Titan, that could turn the tide in the war (or possibly destroy reality) – as well as the human adventurer Star-Lord, who has been fighting in various ragtag groups against the Wave for months.
With hostile negotiations, enslaved gods, vast armies and unknowable plans arrayed against the Unified Front, the mood at Central Command is bleak – and the power system unstable, as Aakonian technicians struggle to keep Eradica prisoner in a quantum cell constructed by Quasar, surrounded by telepathic dampeners to prevent her contacting the Wave hivemind. Firelord creates a new prison of cosmic flame as Eradica vows to destroy all ‘meat-things’, resisting all attempts to get information from her about Annihilus’ movements, tactics or plans.
Meanwhile, Star-Lord and the Surfer confront the warring delegates and tell them that they must unify to stop Annihilus. The delegates, who include Baroness S’Bak and Deathbird, react poorly to being lectured; they tell the heroes that if they don’t get useful intel from Eradica within one standard hour, then the negotiations will be cancelled and their fleets withdraw from the Unified Front.
Star-Lord comes up with a plan – shut down the telepathic dampeners so that the Silver Surfer can read Eradica’s mind. The problem is that the Queen is part of the Wave hivemind, and would instantly reconnect to it, transmitting her location to the enemy. To prevent this, Mister Fantastic uses the Titan tech to create a pseudo-hivemind (based on the design of the Earth mutants’ Cerebro device), that could fool and divert Eradica’s awareness away from the Wave.
The four heroes hook themselves to the jerry-rigged unit, Tana Nile shuts off the dampeners – and Eradica instantly smashes through the false hivemind to reconnect with the Wave! The minds of the four are swept up in her psychic wake and immersed in a terrible, insectile mass consciousness. But before Eradica can reveal Nycos Aristides to the Wave, Star-Lord and Firelord attack her on the astral plane, confusing her long enough for Mr Fantastic to reboot the Cerebro. To make sure Eradica is fooled, the Surfer psychically disguises his thought-form as Annihilus – but the disguise is so powerful it resonates through the hivemind, drawing the attention of the Lord of the Negative Zone himself! For an appalling moment, the heroes psychically connect with the consciousness of Annihilus – and just as Tana Nile re-activates the psychic dampeners, they learn the terrible truth of Annihilus’ ultimate plan.
Star-Lord explains everything to the horrified Front delegates – that Annihilus wants to subvert the Power Cosmic from Galactus, and use it to kill every living thing in the entire universe, and in the Negative Zone to boot, leaving him as the sole, immortal survivor in a barren reality. It seems impossible – but with Galactus, the assistance of Thanos and the Proemial Gods, and the Wave’s unstoppable savage madness, Mister Fantastic theorises that it could be done.
The annihilation of EVERYTHING.
Faced with danger not just to their own races and galaxies, but the entire universe, the delegates agree to rejoin and refocus the United Front. Annihilus’ fleet speeds towards Earth, and the first step must be for Front forces to intercept the ship transporting Galactus – Thanos’ ship – and rescue the Great Devourer. This also means confronting the Proemial Gods to release Galactus from their power – and the only way is for the Heralds to enter the Negative Zone through Mr Fantastic’s portal on Earth, go through the Crunch and then somehow defeat two of the most powerful beings in the universe.
The stakes have never been so high.
The odds have never been so overwhelming.
The need for heroes has never been so great.