It is, simply, an extra-dimensional prison where evil sorcerers of all dimensions and universes are held and punished. Perhaps the most famous section of the Abyss is the notorious Fortress of the Abyss. Legend has it that eons ago the Shining Realm, home of the Presence and known to some as "Heaven," decreed that those beings of magic who were powerful enough to act and do wrong on a dimensional/cosmic scale must be specially punished, as the forces of good outside the Shining Realm were traditionally not powerful enough to restrain them. Therefore the Fortress of the Abyss was made, and trusted members of the Shining Host were put in charge of it. In human terms, the Fortress of the Abyss is a dimensional jail, where magic beings and magic-users are sent to suffer for their sins. The spells of the Shining Host being what they are, escape from the Fortress of the Abyss is nearly impossible, although on some few occasions external events have caused some inmates to break free momentarily.
One recent event had some direct bearing on the events in front of the M'krann Crystal. When the New Avengers of Earth-670  began expanding the limits of the United States into the solar system, they quickly discovered that they were not the first to have colonized various planets and moons. Their discovery of a Kree Sentry led them into a conflict with the Kree Empire. A battle in the skies over Hala, with several of the New Avengers' mages working awful, life-destroying magicks, led to the intervention of the Sorcerer Supreme of the dimension of Earth-670, a Skrull. The Skrulls had previously attempted to intervene, using its battle fleets to help its allies, but the New Avengers had smashed them, which had led to the Sorcerer Supreme's intervention. He defeated the New Avengers' sorcerers and dispatched them to the Fortress of the Abyss, as punishment for their sins. The New Avengers, in retaliation, unleashed planet-busting bombs, destroying Hala and then the surrounding systems.
Later, after the Kree had been quelled, the New Avengers attempted to free their imprisoned comrades, and had the CIA mages send them to the Fortress. However, once there they discovered that, for all their powers, they were truly helpless before the Heavenly might of the guardians of the Fortress of the Abyss. The New Avengers retreated, vowing to one day return and destroy the "Satanic" wardens of the Fortress, but before they left they got a glimpse of the M'krann Crystal, and were made aware of its ultimate power - a glimpse that inspired them to find the Crystal, in their own universe or wherever it lay...
 On Earth-670 the reign of Ronald Reagan never ended. Backed by a resurgent Christian Right, who had flexed their muscles during the 1986 elections and put a GOP majority in both the House and Senate, the conservative Republicans ramrodded through a measure repealing the 22nd Amendment and allowing Reagan to run for a third term in 1988. With the Moral Majority and the Christian Coalition showing unexpected strength in almost every local and state primary, and the liberal and moderate electorate too apathetic to vote and showing a feckless belief that Reagan and the conservatives wouldn't really get elected again, and so not making much of an effort to forestall his re-election, Reagan and the GOP won in a landslide, with only Massachusetts voting for Michael Dukakis. Armed with a solid majority in Congress, and backed by the will of the American people, Reagan began in 1989 to follow his true beliefs and to institute what he and his followers called the "True Americans" campaign.
Spending on defense increased by almost 300% as social programs were slashed. Random drug testing, loyalty oaths, and spot checks on the personal lives of federal employees became the norm as names like "Falwell" and "Robertson" became regulars at the White House and on the evening news. Acquiring radio and television licenses suddenly became increasingly difficult, and radio and television stations and magazines and newspapers found themselves under increasing legal fire as the Reagan administration, with the eager acquiescence of a willing and loyal Congress, passed a number of laws broadening the concept of "National Security," so that much that had been previously broadcastable suddenly became illegal. The Supreme Court, which many looked to challenge these and other new laws (the repealing of the Miranda Rights act - a legal maneuver greeted with much rejoicing by the police; the institution of the "Seven Days Waiting Period," which allowed the police to hold subjects for up to seven days incommunicado, even to their lawyers - another act which the police were publicly overjoyed over [charges that this allowed the police to beat and in effect torture prisoners were laughingly dismissed by spokesmen for the police, who said that it merely helped them more effectively find out who was guilty]; requiring any institution which accepted any form of state or federal funding to give their employees random drug tests, perform background investigations and investigate the personal lives of those employees, and force them to sign loyalty oaths; and moves allowing the police to seize and hold the property and wealth of any arrested suspect before their trial took place), instead upheld their legality, the new members - Scalia and Thomas - strongly voicing their approval.
Then the freshmen Representative from Georgia, Newt Gingrich, suggested to the Administration that it begin looking into controlling what he called the "depraved agents of the sick liberal imagination" - superheroes. Spearheaded by Vice President Bush, whose days as head of the CIA had taught him that vigilante heroes could not be relied upon to support either overt or covert missions by the government, but would instead follow their consciences regardless of the effect that their actions would have on the goals of the Agency or the Administration, the Reagan Administration formed a covert action committee, headed by Peter Gyrich. They began contacting metahumans whose loyalty could be guaranteed, and in a matter of weeks had assembled a select group of metahumans, who, funded under the Pentagon's "black budget," began training together.
Within a month's time the purges began. All metahumans were approached to see whether they'd be willing to join the new, government-operated group. Nearly all were not. The government had anticipated this and had provided the new group of metahumans (called the "3250s," after the Pentagon room number from which Gyrich and Bush and the others ran the group) with several squads of Navy SEALs, trained in handling metahumans and armed with the most advanced technology possible, including variants of the Guardian and Mandroid armors. (SHIELD having been forbidden from operating inside the United States; Reagan had passed a Presidential Order barring their "interference in the internal affairs" of the United States. Nick Fury, Dum-Dum Dugan, Jasper Sitwell, and Gabe Jones, among others, had resigned their US citizenships in disgust) The 3250s, with the help of the SEALs, then attacked and captured almost all of the active metahumans inside the United States, a suspiciously high number dying "accidentally" during the arrest or "attempting to escape.")
The Fantastic Four, betrayed from within, were the first to fall. Although Mr. Fantastic, along with his wife, quickly escaped, the 3250s had already taken control of the Baxter Building and began turning its scientific devices, so far in advance of what the government had, to its own ends. (Although rumors quickly spread that Reed Richards and Sue Storm had somehow escaped to the Negative Zone, and were plotting a return, most thought that the pair were so saddened by what had become of America and by the death of their old friend Ben Grimm that they had given up on America and were permanently in exile, whether in the Negative Zone or in Wakanda with their old friend T'Challa.)
Emboldened by their success, and making use of the science in the Baxter Building, the 3250s began going after the independent heroes. Spider-Man was taken while on patrol, his mangled body being returned to a heart-broken May & Mary-Jane Parker with the curt comment that he'd been shot while trying to escape arrest for his un-American activities. Daredevil was captured while practicing law in Brooklyn; although his radar sense gave him some warning, he was unable to escape from the courthouse. Dr. Strange erected magical shields and stayed inside his mansion, but had not sufficiently prepared for an invasion from within, and a 3250 squad, backed by CIA mages, used one of the gateways in the Hall of Extrospection to gain access to the mansion, and killed Strange's servant and his lover and captured him.
After two months the 3250s moved on to bigger game. By subterfuge (a combination of shapeshifting and illusion and telepathic trickery) two of the 3250s were able to enter Xavier's School and switch off the School's defenses, enabling the entire 3250 team, backed by a squad of SEALs, to attack the X-Men, who fell quickly, outnumbered, overwhelmed, and disheartened by the betrayal of one of their own.
Finally the 3250s attacked Avengers Mansion. The Avengers, no fools, had strengthened their own defenses and made ready for an assault, seeing what had happened to the FF and to the other heroes and villains, and knowing in their sickened hearts that they were next. But they were not ready for the overwhelming force the 3250s brought, nor had they known of their traitor within. Their force shields breached, the Avengers were forced to retreat to the cellar, fighting every step of the way. There they were overwhelmed and captured, the mysterious door in the cellar which had provided so many surprises in the past suddenly giving them no help at all.
The 3250s then changed their name, with the help of a government-funded publicity campaign, and became the "New Avengers." The Reagan Administration, having finally taken care of what it regarded as its "metahuman problem," and with its approval ratings at an all-time high (the police having used their vastly-broadened legal powers to crack down on crime of all kinds as well as the homeless, the streets were suddenly safe and clean and empty of people who might somehow bother "True Americans." Likewise, with the government pumping huge amounts of money into the Pentagon's budget, the American economy was essentially on a war footing, with defense firms hiring everyone in sight. Despite the protests of a vocal minority, and the revelation, in Jane Wyman's autobiography, that President Reagan had raped her during the 1950s, the American public continually voiced its approval of him), the Reagan Administration began the second stage of its "True Americans" movement.
Further new laws were enacted over a year's time, and changes were made to the Constitution, putting into enforceable legal reality the belief of President Reagan and the members of the Christian Right in Congress that America was a Christian nation and that beliefs and practices that went against Biblical scripture and Christian family values were un-American.
This led to a vast wave of arrests, jailings, and eventual deportations,
as Jews, Muslims, homosexuals, atheists, and single mothers were deemed
by the police and the Reagan administration to be committing illegal acts
just through their various lifestyles. Their properties and life savings
seized, those arrested under the so-called Family Values Laws were given
the choice of conversion to Christianity and paying hefty fines, or being
deported. Many chose deportation, forfeiting their savings.
Following that, laws regulating the presence of non-Americans in the United States were tightened, leading to the expulsion of many immigrants and the requirement that aliens in the country be accompanied at all times by an American citizen. Blasphemy laws were re-introduced, sodomy and adultery laws were greatly strengthened and enforced, and miscegenation was made illegal again, leading to another wave of arrests and seizures. The police began testing for the X-gene, and those found to be mutants were taken into custody.
By 1991 the Reagan Administration, with the help of the GOP-controlled Congress and the eager agreement of the American public (those who weren't in agreement with the True Americans campaign almost all having been arrested on various charges) had created the America they had long dreamed of. The Reagan Revolution was over; the Right had won.
It was at this time that the revolt in the Metahuman Holding Facility took place. The Facility, on the grounds of Area 51 in Nevada, had kept all of the surviving, captured metahumans confined, but somehow Captain America managed to organize and spread the word of an insurrection. The human prisoners somehow overcame their guards and reached their superpowered brethren, defeated their guards and succeeded in removing their inhibitor collars.
The rebels managed to reach the Breeding Labs before the New Avengers arrived. (The scientists of the 3250s, eager to learn the secrets of the X-Factor so as to better produce metahumans for the Reagan Administration, had requested and been given every female metahuman, and breeding experiments had been performed on them, with metahuman members of the New Avengers being allowed unlimited access to them. In the two years of their captivity the Scarlet Witch, the Wasp, Jean Grey, Psylocke, and Betsy Braddock had all reproduced twice; Gypsy Moth, Polaris, Wolfsbane, Kitty Pryde, and Paige Guthrie had reproduced once (Kitty Pryde and Wolfsbane each managing to commit suicide following the birth of their children); and Volcana, Katie Powers (who'd been subjected to accelerated aging after her family had been killed, as a way to make her more birth-ready), Thumbelina, Arclight, Nekra, Captain Marvel II, and several other female metahumans had so far proven barren, despite daily penetrations by the members of the New Avengers While some of the scientists in the Breeding Labs felt that it would be much more efficient to remove the eggs from the women and artificially inseminate them with the sperm of the New Avengers members, the New Avengers themselves objected, with the USAgent vehemently insisting that artificial insemination was "un-Christian" and against Scripture, and Johnny Storm protesting that it was much more enjoyable when the women put up a struggle. The New Avengers eventually had their way).
The rebels put up a strong fight, but were massively outgunned and were eventually slaughtered.
Following this the Reagan Administration began the third stage of its
True American campaign, making its foreign policy a "Christian" one. Atlantis
was destroyed via nuclear torpedoes, its inhabitants - "devils from the
deep," in the words of Senator Helms - massacred to the last being. Columbia
and Mexico were invaded "to put an end to the scourge of drugs." New Attilan
was invaded and razed, the "inhuman emissaries of Satan" (Senator Hatch)
killed. Teams of 3250 troops regularly invaded Canada looking for Americans
who had fled there to evade the Family Values laws, and when the Canadian
government objected and Alpha Flight attempted to stop the 3250 troops,
the New Avengers were called in, and Alpha Flight was killed ("Any people
or government that attempts to hid fugitives from American justice should
pay heed to the Canadian example; the Canadian people themselves should
learn from this that their irresponsibility will no longer be tolerated"
- Senator DeLay), Snowbird, Talisman, and Aurora being sent to the Breeding
Labs and downtown Toronto razed. Fusion bombs destroyed almost all of Cuba
("Communism is Satan's tool on Earth - Scripture is clear on this. Therefore
anything done to the Communists is justified - it is God's will. If there
were somehow any innocents on the island - something I doubt - then God
will save their souls and bring them to Heaven" - Senator Thurmond). 3250
teams scoured Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos, looking for American POWs (not
finding any, but killing tens of thousands of the natives - "About time
the gooks found out that payback's a bitch" - Rep. Dan Burton). Following
a statement by John Paul II condemning the bombing of Cuba - a statement
that came as a shock to the Reagan Administration, given the Pope's previously
vocal support of the Administration's actions against the Jews, Muslims,
and gays - the Vatican was destroyed in a midnight raid ("Who do you think
the Bible was talking about when it described the Whore of Babylon and
the False Church? The Papists know!" - Rep. Dornan). The bombing of the
Marine barracks in Lebanon led to retaliatory raids which killed over a
hundred thousand ("It's too bad some civilians died, but they were harboring
terrorist; they had it coming to them" - Rep. Dana Rohrbacher). The rebel
movement in El Salvador was destroyed, and the Sandinista government in
Nicaragua was overthrown ("I don't see why we have to let a country go
Commie just because its people are irresponsible" - Secretary of Defense
In all these actions the New Avengers were active and at the forefront. And when the U.S.A. declared war on the Soviet Union ("Communism is the greatest evil in the history of mankind" - Rep. Smith of New Hampshire) the New Avengers led the way, assassinating Gorbachev and massacring the Kremlin ("The fires of Hell are burning brighter tonight" - Pat Robertson), killing the Soviet Super Soldiers ("Would you have mercy for Satan's henchmen? They deserved what they got" - Rep. D'Amato) and destroying the Russian missiles as they left their silos.
7 years later, in 1999, the U.S. is the dominant superpower, with colonies on every continent and on the Moon and Mars. Americans are content, with a high standard of living, clean cities, and a nation full of white Christians and absent of those who were evil or stupid enough not to be born white or to follow the Bible. The ranks of the New Avengers are swelling with children from the Breeding Labs. President Reagan, given rejuvenation drugs, is young and vigorous and enjoying his President For Life status. And when word reaches the New Avengers of the location of the M'krann Crystal, a powerful team is assembled and dispatched.....
Author's Note: the accusation about Ronald Reagan being a rapist can be found in Jane Wyman's autobiography, here on Earth-Prime.
Go back to Liberators #25