Avengers Midwest

Issue #6

Like Clockwork

It has been a week since Cadmus and Walker in Dreams vanished into the Siege Perilous, and the world has seemingly gone mad. Outbreaks of cosmic energy across the world have kept all of the major superhero teams jumping through hoops just to stem the tide of damage. The New York Avengers have been drawn into a parallel dimension because of a power surge through Doctor Strange’s Eye of Agamotto. The West Coast Avengers are busy fighting horrific cosmic energy constructs.

The remaining MIdwest Avengers are scrambling to pick up the slack. Deadly Nightshade remains at Avengers Tower in Chicago to coordinate the relief efforts, even though she would love to be looking for her lost teammates. When a cosmic energy surge strikes just outside Chicago, she asks Lowrider and Render to look into it.

Arriving in a small, deserted town an hour’s drive outside Chi-Town, they find a glowing cosmic anomaly being studied by a strange figure in boxy metal armor. Render greets him, and the strange figure warns him that the area could be dangerous. When Lowrider changes to humanoid form, however, the armored figure attacks! Declaring himself Rom, Spaceknight of Galador, he decrees that no Decepticon will harm the people of Earth.

Shots are fired and words exchanged, but Render manages to talk Rom down. When Lowrider declares that he is the last of his kind (as far as he knows), Rom is moved to sympathy. Rom explains some of his reasons for being on Earth, namely that he is trying to protect humanity from an alien menace called the Dire Wraiths, and that he feared the cosmic anomaly he sensed was a Dire Wraith intrusion. However, now that he and Lowrider can share information, he realizes that it’s actually more like the energy signature from the singularity contained at the heart of the Shi’ar Empire: the M’Kraan Crystal!

The trio decides to experiment on the anomaly and gather more information. Once it is exposed to Rom’s neutralizer, the anomaly collapses—and from it emerge Cadmus and Walker! Cadmus has learned many lessons about teamwork from his time in the Siege Perilous, and Walker has merged his body with the Eye of Avalon, purifying it and becoming a being of cosmic energy. Rom manages to pinpoint the origin of the cosmic energy surges: Chicago itself, namely the famous Field Museum. Rom offers to help, but the heroes instead ask him to continue patrolling and help protect people from the surges.

Rushing back to Chicago, the heroes find the city wracked by terrible earthquakes. The Field Museum is under siege by the police, who are facing off against Klaw, the Master of Sound, and Crusher Creel, the Absorbing Man. Cadmus charges in and is knocked flat by Klaw’s power, while Walker uses his cosmic power to good effect. Cadmus recovers and wraps Klaw up in a hanging banner t slow him down, then Lowrider takes Klaw out by ramping onto him and spinning his wheels until Klaw’s mutable body turns to jello.

Render analyzes the Absorbing Man’s powers and finds that they are mystical in nature. Realizing that Creel is arrogance to hide an inferiority complex, Cadmus taunts the villain into becoming so angry that he steps onto a weakened section of terrain and falls through into the sewer, dropping tons of rubble onto himself in the process.

The heroes rush into the museum and split up to cover ground more quickly. Render quickly realizes that someone is trying to gaslight him when the exhibits come to life and rushes to the climate control center to find the source of the minty-fresh hallucinogenic gas in the exhibit halls. In the meantime, Lowrider is ambushed by an upgraded version of the Mad Thinker’s Awesome Android and is faring quite badly against it.

Cadmus is fighting off severe hallucinations when he receives Lowrider’s distress call. Forced to choose between hunting down the villain that assaulted his senses and helping his friend, Cadmus chooses teamwork over vengeance. Walker more easily fends off the psychic assault and uses his vast telepathy to hunt down the source.

Render bursts into the control room to find himself face to face with Mysterio, the master of illusions, who attempts to poison him with concentrated hallucinogenic gas. Render avoids the poison and starts using his powers to disable Mysterio’s gas producing machinery. When Walker phases through the wall behind him, Mysterio’s mind breaks under the mutant telepath’s psychic assault all too quickly.

Meanwhile, the Awesome Android 2.0 is proving too tough to beat up, so Cadmus and Lowrider attempt an unusual strategy. They kick up clouds of dust into the Android’s sensor array then start trying to overwhelm its logic circuits with bizarre behavior, acrobatic stunts, and direct optical assaults. The Android’s thought matrix is finally overwhelmed, shutting it down—though not destroying it.

By the time the heroes reach the exhibit hall that is the origin of the terrible cosmic energy wracking the world, the Mad Thinker is already there, seizing the shard of the M’Kraan Crystal for his own. An epic battle against a cosmically-empowered Mad Thinker ensues. Lowrider is nearly killed by the force brought against him, and Cadmus and Render are badly wounded in his initial volley. Walker’s new cosmic power protects him from the blast—but only just barely.

The universe stands on the brink of destruction, and only the Midwest Avengers can save it!

Walker binds the Thinker in a cosmic-empowered telekinetic coil while Render focuses the totality of his mutant power on draining the crystal. Once the Thinker is bound, Cadmus leaps in to do what he does best: smash things. Walker knocks the crystal out of the Thinker’s hands, leaving him merely mortal once again, while Cadmus keeps up the punishment, pounding on the Thinker until he is broken and bloody. Combining their powers, Walker and Render drain the last of the power from the crystal shard, keeping it from detonating without the Thinker’s willpower to contain it.

As the shard fades from existence, Dum-Dum Dugan and the agents of SHIELD burst in, realizing that they are too late to do anything but pick up the pieces and put the Mad Thinker back in his cell. Though the Avengers are disturbed at how easily the Thinker seems to have escaped Skraggmore, they allow themselves a moment to revel in their victory.

Somewhere down the timeline, Kang the Conqueror observes the events as they unfold, musing that this “Walker in Dreams” could be the cosmic anomaly that threatens his reign. Kang schemes… but for now, the Avengers have won!

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