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"By all accounts, the city had been evacuated. No one there. After Quake walked in, 12.8 on the Richter scale, and the world cracked like an egg."
Samuel Voss[src]

The Destruction of Earth was the cataclysmic outcome of the Battle of Chicago where an unhinged Glenn Talbot managed to absorb Daisy Johnson and use her powers to mine Gravitonium, resulting in earthquakes too powerful for Earth to survive. Due to subsequent poor retention of historical records, the cataclysm would come to be blamed on Johnson.

Background

"The team makes one choice, and it ruins everything."
"A choice to do what?"
"To save him."
"What do you mean?"
"Phil Coulson is dying, and you have to let him."
Yo-Yo Rodriguez (2091) and Yo-Yo Rodriguez (2017)[src]

Due to the deal he struck with the Spirit of Vengeance to defeat Aida, Phil Coulson only had a few weeks to live as the GH.325 was no longer active within his system.[2] In order to save him, Daisy Johnson secured a dose of Centipede Serum from Tony Caine.[5] Johnson hoped that combining the serum with her mother Jiaying's DNA would be enough to create a cure to Coulson's condition and therefore to save him.[6] Coulson was then given the cure.[7]

However, in the meantime, a new threat arose as Glenn Talbot infused himself with Gravitonium to make amends for his mistakes since he had been captured by HYDRA and disclosed sensitive information about S.H.I.E.L.D.[5] Although Talbot claimed to be a hero, he soon sought to pursue his own agenda and increase his powers by absorbing more Gravitonium.[6] He kidnapped Robin Hinton so she could give him the location of untapped deposits of Gravitonium[8], and the young Inhuman directed him to Chicago.[7]

Destruction

"I'll be able to get that buried treasure a lot faster once I can quake the ground apart."
Glenn Talbot to Quake[src]

In the Battle of Chicago, Glenn Talbot took a spaceship in the sky over Chicago and crashed it into the city. He soon located an underground deposit of Gravitonium beneath the streets and began using his gravity manipulation powers to extract massive columns of rock from which he absorbed the Gravitonium.

S.H.I.E.L.D. arrived in Chicago in an attempt to stop Talbot. While the majority of the S.H.I.E.L.D. agents helped to evacuate the city with the Zephyr One, Quake went to fight against Talbot. However, unlike what happened during the Battle of Chicago, Phil Coulson had actually kept the cure with him. As a result, when Quake confronted Talbot, she was overpowered and Talbot used his Gravitonium-based physiology to absorb her, thus acquiring Quake's powers.[7]

Using these new vibration manipulation abilities, Talbot quaked the ground in order to easily access the Gravitonium he desired. However, by doing so, he caused massive earthquakes, including an extremely powerful one which reached magnitude 12.8 on the Richter scale. This caused the Earth to be progressively cracked apart and it was ultimately completely destroyed.

S.H.I.E.L.D. managed to evacuate many civilians to the Lighthouse. However, the destruction of Earth obviously caused massive casualties and only a small fraction of Humanity survived the global cataclysm. Among the victims were Polly Hinton and Alphonso Mackenzie as well as, presumably, Coulson and Talbot.[1]

Aftermath

Weakened Humanity

"We need their power generators, their water-filtration sys..."
"Who cares what they're offering? It's not worth our freedom. We both know they want to enslave us."
Melinda May and Yo-Yo Rodriguez[src]

The small part of Earth population that had survived the destruction of the planet sought refuge in the Lighthouse under S.H.I.E.L.D.'s supervision. However, they were heavily weakened and barely able to survive. As a result, the Lighthouse was soon invaded by a group of Kree who took control of the Lighthouse and its supplies and put the human population under a harsh rule enforced by the Kree Watch led by Kasius.

Due to having lost her mother Polly Hinton in the cataclysm, Robin Hinton was adopted by Melinda May.[1]

Despite being destroyed, the Earth still retained part of its atmosphere, although gravity storms frequently hit the remnants of Earth. The surface of Earth was overrun by fearsome Vrellnexians. Later, a faction of Human rebels to the Kree Watch known as the True Believers would reclaim the remnants of the fallen S.H.I.E.L.D. aircraft Zephyr One and turn it into their base.[9]

Wrong History

"You see, I'm the one person who actually pieced their history together. You want to know what kind of force could crack a planet in half? It was you."
Deke Shaw to Quake[src]

Despite S.H.I.E.L.D., and especially Quake, trying to stop Glenn Talbot from destroying Earth, they were largely held accountable for the cataclysm. Quake became known as the "Destroyer of Worlds" and the name of Talbot somehow got lost in history and was never mentioned as a possible culprit. Even Deke Shaw, who claimed to be the one who knew history best, was persuaded that Quake had cracked the world apart.[10] In order to ensure their safety, the surviving S.H.I.E.L.D. agents changed their names.[4]

Changing the Future

"You sent my friends into the future. I'd call that some serious interference."
"Our protocol allows for one exception: The prevention of an extinction-level event."
Leo Fitz and Enoch[src]

The Chronicom Enoch was informed of this potential cataclysm by the Inhuman Robin Hinton. Since this was about an extinction-level event, Enoch felt entitled to interfere within Earth's history, something Chronicoms usually refused to do as they were merely observers. Months before the destruction was supposed to happen, Enoch kidnapped most of the S.H.I.E.L.D. team, leaving only Leo Fitz behind.

Enoch sent them into year 2091 with the White Monolith so they would know what fate befell Earth and find a way to avert the planet's destruction[11], which they eventually did: Phil Coulson chose not to use the Centipede Serum he had been given and gave it to Quake, who used it to power herself up and defeat Glenn Talbot during the Battle of Chicago, thus preventing the cataclysm and creating an alternate timeline.[7]

References

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