The heroes square off against the Wrecking Crew, who taunt and insult them. Cadmus is enraged when they call him a “cheap knockoff of Hercules,” provoking the Greek demigod to acts of terrible wrath against them, knocking out Bulldozer in one shot. Walker in Dreams demonstrates that the Crew’s weak point is their minds when he turns their subconscious guilt for their criminal actions against them. Thunderball seems the most affected by such guilt, while the Wrecker is barely phased.
Lowrider accidentally makes things worse when he uses his corrosive laser against the Wrecker, only for the villain to absorb the blast into his mystical crowbar. Lowrider isn’t from around here, so he had no idea of the Crew’s powers. However, the Wrecker’s arrogant bragging draws Render’s ire; the mutant hero warns him about underestimating others before using his power to start draining the mystical force from the Wrecker’s crowbar.
Hurt, confused, and with their power source waning, the Wrecking Crew flees, vowing to settle the score later. With Pack Rat’s warehouse in flinders because of Cadmus’ vainglorious method of battle. Nightshade was separated from the rest of the Avengers by the damage, and would not find her way back to them for some time.
(GM Notes: Cadmus produced doom dice like crazy because of his Growing Dread Limit. The Wrecking Crew used 2d12 to end the scene with them escaping directly because of how many dice he pumped into the doom pool. Nightshade’s player was absent this week, so her character was knocked out of the fight by the heavy hitters wrecking the scenery.)
Once the Wrecking Crew had been sent packing, the heroes turned back to find that Pack Rat had freed himself from his bonds while they weren’t looking and was quite irate at having his collection destroyed. He fished a strange spheroid out of the rubble, claiming that it was a Kree gamma bomb—and that he would use it to level the city, since no one deserved nice things if he couldn’t have them!
Walker used his telepathic talents to put Pack Rat to sleep, and Lowrider disarmed the (mostly not working anyway) bomb. The whole thing was dealt with quickly.
Before they could get far from the site of their battle, however, the Avengers were witness to a strange sight. A glowing hole tore open in the air, out of which levitated a garishly-clad man identifying himself as Doctor Strange, the Sorcerer Supreme. He claimed to have been drawn to their location by a disturbance in the fabric of space, a powerful locus of mystic energies. When Lowrider denounced magic as mere trickery, Cadmus and Walker both backed up Strange’s claims of being a wizard.
Strange explained that he had been preparing to travel to Grol’eth, a forsaken city in a dimensional nexus, to prevent the escape of a cosmic horror called Uggthultu. The stars were becoming right for the creature to resurrect itself, an act that would lay waste to Chicago and threaten all of Earth. The “locus” he needed to help seal the barriers was the key to the city, an object infused with the hope and faith of millions of Chicagoans.
Cadmus was prepared to let Strange take the key and go into battle alone, but Walker offered for the Midwest Avengers to accompany him into the dimensional nexus. Strange gladly agreed to the help, since having defenders along would free him from having to split his attention, and opened the portal to Grol’eth. The journey was odd but uneventful.
Arriving in the cyclopean city, Strange began the ritual that would seal the gates of Uggthultu’s tomb for another generation, but the heroes found themselves under attack from the city’s inhabitants, strange blue-skinned wolf-like creatures that seemed to be able to slip between the cracks of reality itself. They were soon joined in their battle by a black-cloaked woman wielding a mystical staff; calling herself Mother Dark, she claimed to be a servant of Uggthultu dedicated to raising her dread master from the deeps.
The battle took a hard turn when Cadmus nearly gave into supernatural fear produced by Mother Dark’s spellwork, but Render was able to regain their momentum when he severed the hounds’ connection to the dark dimensions beyond normal time, forcing them to fight fully in three-dimensional space. Lowrider’s technological attacks punched through Mother Dark’s magical shields, making her intrigued with the strange metal man, and Cadmus finally recovered from his unnatural terror with Walker’s psychic help.
Realizing the battle was against her—and disarmed of her mystic staff by Cadmus—Mother Dark swore vengeance and retreated back into the Darkforce Dimension, escaping the heroes. Strange finished his ritual and gave the now-expended key back to the heroes, thanking them for their aid. He offered to wipe their memories of the dread city of Grol’eth, lest it haunt their dreams, but they refused, preferring to face their own demons rather than run from them.
Returning to Earth, they found Deadly Nightshade waiting for them and hurried to make it back to Daley Plaza in time for their press conference. They found a very relieved Mayor Washington waiting for them, and a very angry Councilman Vrykolak, who warned them that they had made an enemy today by siding with the mayor.
Far in the future, a man watched an ancient recording of the event while his personal computer intelligence informed him that it was very likely that the time anomalies threatening his empire were a result of a new Avengers team being formed. The man swore that he would not let his empire be destroyed by these new Avengers. So swore… Kang the Conqueror!
Next time: Jailhouse Rock!