Cover Date: October 2006
Release Date: August 9, 2006
Writer: Keith Giffen
Artist: Andrea DiVito
Inker: Andrea DiVito
Letterer: VC - Cory Petit
Colorist: Laura Villari
Editor: Andy Schmidt
Cover Artist: Gabriele Dell'Otto
Variant Cover: Bryan Hitch
Title: "Blood And Thunder"
Rich consults with his second-in-command, Peter Quill, and discovers that the primary perimeter is being overwhelmed and he also tells Rich that Gamora is leading a number of black op attacks on the Annihilation Wave's command centers.
Suddenly, the force field baracades on the right flank fall to the aliens' attack and the Kree begin fighting the oncoming invaders! As the Kree begin to fall to the wave, Ronan steps in and takes charge of the Kree battallion. The Kree soldiers follow Ronan and they fall back to form a secondary perimeter. Rich notes that Ronan's actions saved numerous lives and he's glad to have him on his side.
Although this is the third time the United Front has had to retreat in the last six months, Nova notes that they are a much better fighting unit and have learned from their previous mistakes. Rich recalls that at Tartus Minor, they were badly beaten because they were fighting two-dimensionally and didn't count on being attacked from orbit. Now, as the United Front retreats into orbit in their ships, they are protected from the Annihilation Wave by the former Heralds of Galactus! Stardust, Red Shift and Firelord had joined the United Front after a meeting with Peter Quill and now provide cover by destroying the Annihilation Wave's warships as the United Front ships escape to the secondary perimeter on Daedalus 5.
Back on the planet's surface, Nova instructs Peter to get the rest of the troops to safety while he battles the alien insectoids head-on! Elsewhere, Drax continues fighting the invaders from the Negative Zone but soon finds himself becoming overwhelmed by their greater numbers. However, before he falls, Nova rescues him and flies him off to safety. From the air, Drax and Nova realize that thousands of Kree will die unless Rich takes drastic action. After dropping off Drax, the young Earth hero flies over the middle of the battlefield and instructs his command center to fire all their heavy artillery on his position. Numerous Wave soldiers and hundreds of Kree are killed but thousands of the Kree race are saved instead.
Four hours later, Rich regains consciousness. He finds the United Front's medicos grew him a new right leg after his was destroyed in the artillery barrage. Peter recounts to Rich that, during his leg operation, the heralds of Galactus and the United Front fought back the Annihilation Wave to the planet Dardalus Prime. During that battle, Firelord attacked the command ship of the attacking fleet. Once on board, the Galactus's ex-herald finds himself face-to-face with Extirpia, one of Annihilus's queens and commands this particular fleet through the insectoids' collective hive intelligence. After a quick battle, Firelord defeats Extirpia and she is captured by the United Front. However, the entire confrontation has drained Firelord of his power cosmic and he's been left in a coma.
Aboard Rhianda 9 in the Kree System, the leader of the Annihilation Wave, Annihilus, confers with his ally, the powerful Titan named Thanos. Thanos reveals that the attack on the United Front was simply a distraction to achieve their higher goal. Thanos tells Annihilus that he now has the resources to discover how Galactus is able to transfer his power cosmic to biological lifeforms. Their conversation is interrupted by Annihilus's remaining queens, Extermina and Eradica, who demand revenge for their sister's capture. Annihilus agrees that the former Galactus heralds must be terminated and dispatches Ravenous to carry out his orders.
Later on Daedalus 5, Rich tells Gamora that he needs to talk to Peter and leaves her in their bed. Peter jokingly tells Rich that if he left Gamora to talk to him, then he needs to change his priorities. Nova wants an update on their situation especially on the condition of Firelord and what information has been gained from Extirpia.
Quill informs Rider that once Extirpia was defeated, the rest of her fleet fell apart and the United Front was able to push them into retreat. The two friends go to the lower levels of the base and check on Firelord in the sickbay. The doctor tells Nova that the cosmic being's structure is far beyond normal biology that she's unsure how to help him. Rich asks her to keep him informed if there's any change in his condition. As Peter and Rich walk down to the detention center, the young hero finds himself worried. He realizes that if Firelord lives, the ex-herald will be a hero. If he dies, then Firelord becomes a martyr. This cold line of thinking causes Rich to question his own humanity.
Down in the detention cell, Rich and Peter begin to question Extirpia. The captured queen reveals that Thanos has made a deal with two former prisoners of the Kyln, Aegis and Tenebrous, who mounted an attack on Galactus while the United Front was distracted back on Daedalus 5. Aegis and Tenebrous were imprisoned in the Kyln by Galactus ages ago and now wanted their vengence which Thanos supplied. After an intense, fierce and one-sided fight, the Silver Surfer and Galactus fall! In return for his help, Thanos is allowed to take them as his prisoners.
Peter doubts Extirpia's story but Rich knows in his soul that it's true and that their situation has gotten much worse.