The universe turned its sights to Earth, and the whole planet shook.
They came in waves, the tyrants and world conquerors, taking advantage of a world too busy fighting among itself to see the greater threat approaching over the horizon. It started with Annihilus and his forces, followed by the Badoon, then the Skrulls, after that the Brood... and each time the Earth prevailed, and no matter the loss of life or the irreparable damage, Captain America would always come forward and tell the universe to take their best shot.
So that's exactly what happened.
It was Thanos naturally. The Mad Titan brought with him a horde of death unlike any witnessed, and when Earth fell, and it did fall, the only ones left standing were the brave, the courageous... and the downright stupid.
There was a rumble in the air, powerful shock waves from hundreds of miles away that felt as if they were coming from mere meters away. Steve Rogers watched a small chunk of the subway wall fall from its perch and cautiously raised his shield over his head, anticipating a tunnel collapse. Thankfully nothing happened, and Captain America relaxed. He glanced down at the package under his arm, a box crafted of the strongest metals known to man, and he instantly felt nervous again.
"Have you got it?" A bright, orange light flashed from behind the man, and when Steve turned, he found himself facing the battered, exhausted armored Avenger known as Iron Man, standing in the middle of the tunnel like a statue. The two men, both heroes in their own way, had seen better days. Their armor was covered in scratches, fresh scars acted as souvenirs from countless battles, and in Iron Man's case, several of his limbs had been injured beyond repair, and replaced with cybernetic counterparts.
"Tony." Steve said, exhausted in his own right. "My God. Are y-"
Not looking to waste time, Tony stepped towards the Captain, gripped him by the shoulders and shook him violently, blood streaming from under his helmet's face plate.
"The Reality Stone!" He screamed, voice breaking up randomly as his armor seemed to short circuit. "Do you still have it?!"
Once again, Steve looked down at the pac"kage under his arm, and nodded sternly. "Yes. B-"
"Thor's dead." Iron Man said in a voice that had grown accustomed to his friends dying. "The plan's failed. And we'll be joining him if Thanos gets that thing." The Avenger turned from the Captain and stared down the dark tunnel, detecting movement heading towards them. "Shit. He's coming."
"I won't leave you, To-"
An angry metal fist slammed into the wall, causing more debris to fall from the roof. Iron Man didn't care, instead he turned to his friend and just glared at him coldly, as cold as his metal suit.
"Pepper's pregnant, you bastard." He growled. "Now you either get to Fury's escape pod. Or I'll knock you out and drag you there myself. I'm the only one left that can even slow this bastard down, and I refuse to let him win."
A sense of guilt filled Steve's stomach as he understood what was about to happen. He looked to the darkness behind him, feeling the evil coming for them, and he let Tony follow his gaze. "What's coming?" He asked, taking one last moment with the man he'd known most of his life. "Outriders?" Iron Man shook his head, a soft clicking filling the air as different parts of his suit began to activate.
Steve nodded once again, and he began to run, knowing full well that time was of the essence, and that if he was even a second too late, everything would have been for nothing. Iron Man watched the man leave, and let out a deep sigh before readying his suit's weapon systems
"Touching." From the shadows emerged the face of Death, commonly referred to as Thanos.
He stood tall and wide, wearing black and gold armor that had barely even taken a scratch, despite weeks of conflict. His eyes were completely white, devoid of any notable emotion, and he had a grin upon his face that showed nothing but confidence. "Yet again, Tony Stark, you find yourself alone. Your friends have either abandoned you, or are dead. And you are nothing before me." Upon Thanos' arm, the Infinity Gauntlet twinkled different colors, all coming from the Gems located in the garment. The Infinity Gems were all there, except one, with the empty slot looking like a swirling black hole upon Thanos' hand. Iron Man raised two gauntlets of his own, both locked and loaded with enough explosives to blast through a mountain.
"Come and get me you purple chinned bastard." Iron Man muttered, before discharging all his weapons at the target. Bright flares shot through the tunnel, illuminating the slowly approaching Thanos, who paid them no attention. Missiles, grenades, bullets and every type of ordnance imaginable slammed into the Mad Titan's chest, completely destroying the surrounding area, yet doing nothing to slow the tyrant's approach. "DIE!" Tony screamed, missiles still flying from every area of his suit as he began to back away, suit's power levels beginning to quickly decrease as he fired everything that he had. "Just die!"
A massive hand tore through the smoke and flames, gripping Iron Man by the throat and lifting him up off the ground. Tony looked into Thanos' eyes, and felt as scared as he had years ago when he'd first stepped on a landmine and became Iron Man.
"Full Power to Uni Beam!" He screamed. Immediately bright, brilliant blue energy shot from the man's chest, striking Thanos' torso, yet just bouncing off like it wasn't even there.
"Your friends. The ones that died." The Mad Titan placed his free hand on Iron Man's skull, and twisted it backwards with a sickening snap. "You'll be seeing them soon." Tony Stark's body collapsed to the ground, discarded and forgotten like a tin can. With the nuisance dealt with, Thanos turned his gaze towards his true goal.
Not too far away, Captain America heard the silence echoing through the tunnel, and knew that his time was very short. He leaped into a nearby side route and desperately punched a quick code into a key pad on the wall. As soon as the correct code was entered, the wall began to shift upwards, revealing a metal chamber designed to provide hope, yet all Captain America saw was defeat, as Thanos emerged in the doorway and reached for him.
Leaping backward, Steve drew his shield and found himself on the subway tracks as the Mad Titan stepped towards him, grinning with sheer confidence.
"The Gem." Thanos said, calmly stepping onto the tracks as Captain America raised his fists in a defensive manner, breathing heavily. "Give it to me." The Captain grit his teeth and stood ready, unwilling to give in, even when faced with nothing but defeat.
"A world like yours isn't one I want to live in." Steve said, dropping the Reality Gem to the ground as he got ready to fight. Thanos watched the package clatter on the ground and felt pure rage.
"What makes you think I'm going to let you live?"
Captain America raised his shield as Thanos pulled his backwards for a crushing swing. The two connected, and the Vibranium shield shattered beneath the blow, crumbling into millions of shards and allowing Thanos' gloved hand to smash at full power into Captain America's skull, sending him flying across the room, motionless and dead.
Hope died as the Final Avenger fell. Dust fell in homes miles away from the impact, and all around the world, people began to sense that the end was near. Thanos looked down at the Reality Gem's container, and smiled to himself as he plucked it up off the ground.
"Finally." He said, clutching the gem with the Infinity Gauntlet and letting the light burn through his fingers. The sound of metal scraping against the floor filled the Mad Titan's ears, and he turned to find himself face to face with an old enemy. "Doctor Doom." Thanos frowned, feeling unsure as he took note of the device the human was carrying. "And the Ultimate Nullifier."
Victor Von Doom smiled beneath his mask, mystic metals that had forged it, badly burned and charred from previous battles. He glanced at the object in his hand, finger around the symbolic trigger that the device provided.
"What do you fear more, Titan?"He asked, black robes shifting softly as he moved, keeping the weapon aimed at Thanos. "The Ultimate Nullifier? Or Doom himself? If you're truly as wise as you claim, it should be the latter."
An amused smile passed over Thanos' face, he remained completely still aware of the damage capable from the Nullifier, yet refused to look afraid before the man.
"It appears I made a mistake assuming you died with your home country." The Mad Titan admitted, Reality Gem still burning in the palm of his hand. "Though this does amuse me, I'll make sure your dead this time."
Hot, red anger filled Doctor Doom's heart, a rage tempered by the fires burning in his chest. "DOOM amuses no one."He hissed, voice growing dangerously low as he stepped towards his quarry. "Only I had the foresight for such an event! And while Earth's 'champions' failed to stop you, only the true protector of this feeble world took up the relevant arms to destroy you!"
The two villains, one of Earth and one of the Stars, locked eyes with one another in a strange, cosmic standoff that nobody else would ever know about. Thanos considered using the Infinity Gauntlet's Time Gem to handle the proceedings, but he understood that Doom's armor had been able to resist its effects in the past.
"Boy." He said, voice deep and terrible. "Do you even comprehend the power that you wield?" Doom didn't flinch, eyes staying locked on his adversary. "The Ultimate Nullifier will destroy us both! And you lack the sufficient will power t-"
Doom's finger drifted around the weapon's trigger, and Thanos realized with some regret, that his gambit, psychological in nature, had failed.
"I have enough will." The monarch said. "No one's is stronger."
There was the soft click of a button, and Thanos felt fear. He could sense the energy flowing from the seemingly dormant device, and before he could lunge at Doctor Doom, reality began to shift. The Mad Titan heard a clatter as the Infinity Gauntlet fell to the ground, and realized, with horror, that his body was slowly turning to ash. He tried to turn away from the horror, but felt the cold, white pain arching up his neck.
In a matter of minutes, the Mad Titan was gone.
The world went white... and humanity started its final descent into chaos.