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Quote1 Imagine a world in which I told you that you were a Zen Archer of ghost bullets -- and so, in that moment, you were, because you utterly believed it to be true. Would you not be persuaded that I am a god? Quote2
-- Magister Karnak

Appearing in "The Flaw In All Things: Part 3"

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Synopsis for "The Flaw In All Things: Part 3"

In a restaurant in Berlin, Karnak looks blankly out the window. His waitress, bringing him some spring water, asks him what he is thinking. He responds that he is reflecting on choices, and that self-reflection is the first seat of self-consciousness.

This is interesting to the waitress, as her personal philosophy is based on the importance of mindfulness, and the importance of understanding your actions and your consequences.

As Phil Couson and Jemma Simmons track him down, Karnak has slipped back into being a teacher, explaining his philosophy's theory of the Three Worlds: There is The World, which is entirely physical and will outlast all life; there is Our World, created from our interactions and our beliefs; and there is A World, which resides in every person, potentially allowing them to transcend their limitations and understand all things. Pausing only to explain that Coulson will pay for his spring water, he leaves.

The trio are picked up on the street by a S.H.I.E.L.D. Quinjet. As they fly to a Battlecarrier, Coulson explains that if Karnak will not help, he will throw him from the aircraft. Karnak responds by telling Coulson about the I.D.I.C. safehouse: how the group seems to have devolved into a cult, worshiping the Inhuman child Adam Roderick as a messiah. The safehouse leader, the Zen Gunner, had powers, which leads Karnak to believe that Adam may have powers. Coulson points out that S.H.I.E.L.D. techs found no evidence of powers in the boy. Karnak posits a scenario based on the presented story: if Adam Roderick has powers, they are the power to alter the world based on his words and belief. He tells the S.H.I.E.L.D. techs to find nothing unusual, and that becomes so. He tells the Zen Gunner he has powers, and that also becomes so. The I.D.I.C. headquarters is called the Chapel of the Single Shadow, and they need to find it.

Coulson complains that finding the Chapel would be easier with a live prisoner. Karnak dismisses this, saying that "alive" and "dead" are labels based on electrochemical states, and that he strives to comport himself as one who has already died, in accordance with his philosophy. Jemma Simmons asks him why he would fight if he were already dead, to which he has no answer.

The following morning, Coulson find Karnak on a corridor to the bridge, and says they are en route to the Chapel. On a pad computer, Coulson shows Karnak a picture by the late writer Robert Fludd, portraying the universe before God as an infinite trackless void. It was taken from a site on the darknet which is part of the web presence of I.D.I.C. Based on chatter, they were able to get the location of the Chapel in eastern Transia.

As they walk, Karnak mentions that he has worked out the origin of the chapel's name: if one believed in a creator god, then a messianic intercessor would need to destroy the world to save it. And this would reduce the world down to the shadow of the messiah in the light of the god, over a trackless void. Coulson reminds Karnak that their agreement was to bring in Adam Roderick alive.

From the bridge, Karnak sees strange clear-cutting on the Transian forest floor. Coulson explains that colossal skeletons were uncovered by rogue archaeologists in the last few years, and that the locals have already started telling stories about multi-souled gods that died before Heaven was created.

The Chapel of the Single Shadow, when they see it, is an Art Deco monument in the deepest part of the forest, with a large crowd of people outside. As the Battlecarrier comes into range, the mouths of the crowd open wide, wider than humanly possible, producing first an atonal shrieking and then a barrage of sonic attacks.

The Battlecarrier is rocked, and Coulson scrambles to respond. Karnak reminds him that S.H.I.E.L.D. is legally barred from materially acting in Inhuman cases. He asks for access to the ship-to-ground public address system, briefly listens to the sound of the sonic attacks - and then produces a terrible sound that horrifies every person on the bridge. On the ground, the heads of the shrieking crowd explode and bleed.

In the stunned silence that follows, Karnak explains that he found the flaw in the sound wave, the attack that would turn their own strength against them, and then used the speakers to launch it. A horrified S.H.I.E.L.D. agent compares him to Satan, and Karnak grins...

Solicit Synopsis

• Just when you thought Karnak couldn’t get more intense and insane, it does.

• The trail left by the kidnapped Inhuman gets nuclear and Karnak is caught in the mushroom cloud.

Notes

  • While discussing the skeletons, Coulson tells a story about "people over the border" stealing bones and grinding them up to be snorted. This is a reference to Secret Avengers #19, also written by Warren Ellis.

See Also

Footnotes



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