Protectors of the Universe Introduction
Written by Morfex, Edited by E.A.
There came a time, a time unlike any other time, when a number of the most powerful heroes in the cosmos united under a common banner. Each hero joined with a different motivation, but all swore to protect the Universe against any manner of threat. Under the guidance of the Cosmic Being known as Epoch, they are -- the Protectors of the Universe.
(Note: The events depicted herein immediately follow the fan fiction epic "Cosmic Union: The Directors' Cut" being serialized for Cosmic Powers Unlimited.)
Epoch, daughter of Eon, appeared before the gathered cosmic heroes aboard the starcraft orbiting the Earth. "The events that transpired during the Cosmic Union only confirm that the Universe needs Protectors. I call on you gathered here to accept the challenge and share in a new community as the 'Protectors of the Universe.' If all are agreed, I propose the following "
"Silver Surfer, Nova, Firelord, Airwalker, Starglow. You five will be the division of Protectors known as the Powers Cosmic."
"Beta Ray Bill, Quasar, Gladiator, Starfox, Captain Marvel, Jack of Hearts, Drax, Starhawk. You eight will be the division of Protectors known as the Star Masters."
"Ganymede, Mantis, Gamora, Moondragon, Kismet. You five will be the division of Protectors known as the Spinsterhood."
"Silver Surfer, Captain Marvel, Quasar, you three will periodically serve another role with reserve associates Adam Warlock, Thor, and Doctor Strange. You six will be the special reserve division of Protectors known as the Defenders."
"The teams are designed to encourage interaction. Each division will be called upon to serve the greater good of the Universe, both
separately and as a whole. Special assignments may require mixing members whose abilities better suit the challenge. New members will be allowed, subject to majority vote. The time has come for a united front against the forces of evil that threaten the cosmos."
The decision of a base of operations was the first challenge for the Protectors of the Universe. Mentor of Titan offered his moon, contingent on banning all weaponry. The Protectors declined, opting for more autonomy.
Following the Cosmic Union, the Collector's ship had been vacated of sentients who were sternly warned that the Elder, once recovered from his ordeal during the Cosmic Union, might enjoy the prospect of repossessing them. Collected villains were incarcerated on Titan. The ship itself had been consolidated with Ganymede's Io and the Star Master. Quasar half-jokingly referred to the growing amalgam of vessels as the "Township." This rag-tag starship was excellent for travel, but Epoch insisted on a fixed base within Earth's solar system. She indicated, rather cryptically, that it would become necessary.
Gamora suggested the castle-keep on Monster Island, but Epoch also insisted that the base should not be on Earth or its Moon. Uatu's offer of non-interference in the Blue Area was thus also declined.
Ganymede of the Spinsterhood had spent the months prior to the Cosmic Union renovating the sacred ruins of the Spinsterhood retreat on the Jovian moon of Io for an army of warriors to train for battle against Tyrant. The Holy Retreat was hollowed out from the sphere that was Io, much like Saturn's moon, Titan.
In recent days*, Ganymede's profound revelation of the identity and purpose of the Tyrant changed everything she was raised to believe. She sought purpose once more, and so Ganymede had acquiesced to the adjustment of defending the cosmos against more than one threat. This new perspective also led to her offering of the retreat as a sanctuary for the Protectors' teams.
(* See the fan fiction epic "Cosmic Union: The Directors' Cut" for details.)
Epoch accepted Io as a base of operations, and soon the Protectors were introduced to their new living quarters there. Epoch requested that they gather in the Great Forum arena within an hour of arrival. The Great Forum was a large enough field to contain all of the Protectors of the Universe at one time.
Epoch again addressed the heroes gathered. "Good day to you all. Thank you for coming. Today begins the first day of active duty serving as members of a heroic group unlike any before it. In the past, both Captain Mar-Vell and Quasar have served as my parent's Protectors of the Universe. On this day, that obligation is more equitably distributed from one person's shoulders to those of many. Be proud, be strong, be brave and be just. Honor your position and your compatriots. Your exploits will be kept for posterity by this Recorder unit I have obtained. Please take this opportunity to introduce yourselves, and to tell us about yourselves in your own words. Let us know your motivations for remaining with the Protectors. This will also serve to familiarize you with those individuals you may not yet know well."
The Recorder seemed passive enough, but several of the Protectors began to question the relevance of the activity. Quasar spoke up. "Hey, everyone. We may not all be used to functioning as team players, but we've made a commitment to see this experiment through, so lets cut the pouting and get this over with so we can go out and save some lives. I don't want us to start out with the reputation of 'Protesters of the Universe.' Norrin, you always set a good example "
The Silver Surfer begrudgingly complied, noting Quasar's statement for a future private conversation. "Thank you, Norrin Radd," said Epoch.
"My name is Norrin Radd, from the planet of Zenn La. In order to save my people, I bargained with the world devourer, Galactus, to serve as his herald. For what humans term centuries, I scoured the cosmos for worlds that would sustain my former master. Whenever possible, these worlds were without intelligent life. But on more than several occasions, they bore sentience. This is my greatest shame, but also my greatest motivation: to attempt to balance those crimes of the past with the good that I strive to do now. I thus stand for all life.
"I channel the Power Cosmic, and am thus able to use it for a variety of effects, including the use of my board. My travels have taken me throughout the Universe, and I usually prefer solitude. However, working briefly with the Fantastic Four, the Star Masters, and other former Heralds has taught me the benefits of a concerted effort to overcome many obstacles.
"On Zenn La I was an academic and a pacifist. I no longer spend time advancing my scientific studies, and I have learned to use my cosmic abilities in battle. Still, I remain an academic and a pacifist by nature." The Surfer turned to Epoch, "Will that suffice?" Quasar thought he sensed a slight tinge of sarcasm, but decided to ignore it.
Epoch made the equivalent gesture of a nod. "For now." She responded. Quasar almost laughed aloud. Eppy could display attempts at a sense of humor as well, when the mood struck her.
Nova went next. "My name is Frankie Raye. I was born on Earth. I was raised by Phineas Horton, inventor of the original Human Torch android. I discovered I had flame abilities similar to the Fantastic Four's Human Torch, who was my boyfriend at the time. Like the Surfer, I also bargained with Galactus to save my homeworld. I became the Herald known as Nova, and loved the freedom to explore the stars. I eventually recognized a moral conflict in serving Galactus. Although his existence and his feeding are necessary, he has no morality to burden him. I found I did, and was freed from service.
"Months later, I remember battling Galactus' herald Morg and then coldness and then waking in Galactus sleeper pod with the other Heralds. That's about it. I want to do what's right with these great powers, but I also want a life of my own and to keep exploring the wonders of space. I think joining the Protectors will let me have both."
The Recorder shifted to the man beside Nova. "My name is Gabriel Lan, I was a Xandarian captain aboard the 'Way-Opener' when I encountered Galactus. Thus I became the Air-Walker. Unlike my fellow Heralds, I enjoyed the companionship of the World Devourer. He would sit for hours on end and tell me about the wonders he had witnessed over the eons since his awakening. Despite his function as a terrible Force of Nature, I considered him my friend.
"The Ovoids took my life in a preemptive strike against the Devourer. I served my master in an artificial form for a time, and then as a computer program downloaded into Galactus' worldship, Taa II. Despite my return to flesh and blood during the events of the Cosmic Union I feel my experience as part of the worldship has altered me somehow. I hope that among the Protectors I can better understand these changes. I count my teammate Firelord as my life-brother and dearest friend."
Air-Walker turned to Firelord, who continued the introduction. "My name is Pyreus Kril. I served with Captain Lan aboard the 'Way-Opener', and he was my closest comrade. When he took up the mantle of Galactus' Herald, and then died, I blamed the Silver Surfer for having abandoned his post. I asked Galactus for the details of Gabriel's fate and whereabouts as the price of my servitude. It may not be as noble as saving a planet, but I have never known a better friend and brother.
"Galactus eventually freed me from servitude when he replaced me with the Herald known as Terrax. Since that time I have served both as ally and adversary to the Surfer, and even returned briefly to Galactus' service to be near my friend Gabriel in his computerized form.
"I hope that membership in the Protectors will allow me to come to terms with my decisions of the past."
Shalla Bal addressed the Recorder robot next. "I am now called Starglow, though my true name is Shalla Bal. Like Norrin Radd, I too am Zenn Lavian. I have recently assumed this form, made of living Power Cosmic, thanks to the generosity of Galactus' former Heralds. I join in order to repay this debt, and to scour the Universe for a suitable home for my people."
(* See the fan fiction epic "Cosmic Union: The Directors' Cut" for details.)
Mantis smiled enthusiastically at the Recorder. "This One is called Mantis. She is from Earth. She has trained with the Priests of Pama, the Kree moon. She is the Celestial Madonna, and her offspring will one day serve as the Celestial Messiah. The Silver Surfer was once This One's chosen companion. This One communes with all nature of flora throughout the Universe. Plant life is the source of her life. This One chooses to serve because the Protectors are destined to aid the Celestial Messiah in his time of great need. This One considers all life sacred, and worthy of preserving."
Starhawk seemed, not so much reluctant as shy in addressing the recording device before him. "I I am Stakar, also known as Starhawk ." He stopped to clear his throat. "My biological parents are Kismet and Quasar. An alternate future version of myself will one day serve with the Guardians of the Galaxy as 'The One Who Knows.' Although I am not all knowing, I do have abilities beyond those of my birthright. I wish to learn of my heritage and develop in the use of my abilities as they expand. I believe that among the Protectors I can learn more about my powers' origins, and my ultimate purpose."
Ganymede was the diametric opposite of Starhawk, all confidence and poise. "I am called Ganymede. I am a Spinster, once sworn to oppose and destroy the ravager know as Tyrant. Although my cause and family have been taken from me, I have found friendship with Jack of Hearts, and a cause among the Protectors of the Universe. My newfound purpose is to oppose any tyrant that might threaten innocents."
Ganymede nodded to the man that held her hand, to indicate that she was finished. He smiled at her, then began to speak. "My name is Jack Hart, and I'm known as Jack of Hearts. My father developed a Zero Fluid to solve Earth's energy crises, but I was accidentally exposed to it. I learned in later years that I am half-human and half-Contraxian. My energies are contained within my suit. I have decided to stay on as a Protector for several reasons. I am hoping to learn how to function without my containment suit. I am also here because of my feelings for Ganymede, and life-debts I owe Quasar, Moondragon, and Kismet. I haven't always enjoyed playing hero, but I can see the value in this gathering."
Next came Gladiator of the Imperial Guard. "I am Gladiator, Praetor of the Shi'ar Imperium. I serve at the behest of Majestrix Lilandra, but I have fought beside many Protectors before this. I am Strontian, which gives me a portion of my abilities by birthright." On that cryptic note, Gladiator ended abruptly. He turned to Quasar to continue.
"My name is Wendell Vaughn, but my friends call me Dell. I'm also known as Quasar. I have been working as Protector of the Universe for a while now, almost since the death of the original Captain Mar-Vell. I use these Quantum bands as tools to well, to protect the Universe! I have probably worked with more of you than any one else here. I was an agent of SHIELD, an Avenger and a Star Master. Epoch is my goddaughter. I just found out that, genetically, Starhawk is my son. I consider many of you my good friends, and I hope to get to know the rest of you better too."
The young man formerly known as Legacy was next to speak. "My name is Genis-Vell, but lately I've been called Captain Marvel. My parents were Mar-Vell, a Kree captain, and Elysius, a Titanian Eternal. I have quite a legacy to live up to. But with friends like the Surfer and Quasar to keep me on the right course, I still think I can make the old man proud, wherever he is. I use the Nega-bands for power, but they mostly focus power I was born with."
The leader of the Star Masters' former incarnation addressed the Recorder construct next. "The closest your language has come to pronouncing my name is 'Beta Ray Bill.' I am the last of my race, the Korbinites. In order to serve as an advance scout for their relocation, I was altered by my people so I could survive the harshest environments. In my travels I encountered Thor and Odin of the Asgardians. Although my people were eradicated by the Axi-Tun, I believe it is my duty to preserve their memory and to honor them through service. I have served as a Star Master. In recent months I have undergone several changes, but I have just learned that these are all reversible. * I intend to rejoin the Protectors as soon as I have re-attained the form that is my destiny."
(* See the fan fiction epic "Cosmic Union: The Directors' Cut" for details.)
With Thor and Doctor Strange already back on Earth, Adam Warlock was the only reserve member in attendance. "I am Adam Warlock. I have been a barbaric brute, an angst-ridden messiah, a reluctant cosmic avenger, and an even more reluctant Supreme Being. I have seen my future self take control of the Universe, and battled both the good and evil within me. I call few people friend, for my burden is to carry the last of the Infinity Gems, which causes me emotional turmoil and pain when I am around others. Epoch has assured me total autonomy and privacy if I agreed to accept reserve membership in this effort. I never claimed to work well in a team. I never intended to work cooperatively unless it was absolutely necessary. I know my words are not popular, but they are the truth. I serve because it must be done, but I take no joy in my unwritten destiny."
Gamora stood at Adam's side, where she felt most needed. "I am Gamora, and I have been called 'the Deadliest Woman in the Galaxy'. Trained in espionage and assassination by Thanos, I have served as a member of the Infinity Watch. During my life in Soul World I knew true idyllic peace. My hope is to make that reality in our Universe as well. I once bore the Time Gem, but I am glad to be free of it. Perhaps because of my exposure to the gem I maintain a subtle level of temporal sensitivity. I call few people friend, but Adam Warlock and Pip the Troll are among them. My reasons for staying are my own."
Gamora's former teammate seemed to enjoy the attention turning to her. "I am Moondragon, once known as Heather Douglas. I was raised on Titan to rule, but have learned that wisdom must precede my rightful reign. I was trained by the Priests of Pama, as was Mantis, to become the Celestial Madonna. I have learned that my destiny lies elsewhere. I have been taught humility by Odin, humanity by my father Drax, and restraint by Adam Warlock. I was an Avenger, and as bearer of the Mind Gem, a former member of the Infinity Watch. I now serve as a member of the Spinsterhood. I have come to understand that I still have a few things to learn, and I believe that among the Protectors I will reach the next level of development."
Moondragon gestured to the robotic Recorder to pay heed to her father, who began speaking. "I am Drax, Arthur Douglas of Earth, formerly known as the Destroyer. I was resurrected and empowered to destroy Thanos by Kronos, Titan's God of Time and father of Mentor, but that is no longer my driving motivation. I seek to use my power to defend families like I once had, and still do with my daughter, Heather. Many of you remember me in my brain-damaged incarnation. Moondragon has sacrificed some of her abilities to restore me, at least temporarily. I once bore the Power Gem, and I still feel somehow connected to its residual energies somehow. But even without the gem I have power enough to contribute to this noble effort. I hope to find a means of avoiding a reversion to the agony of knowing my mind is devolving."
The green skinned Drax looked on to the golden skinned female formerly known as Her. "My name is Kismet, and I was born on Earth. I have also gone by the names Paragon and Her. Despite initial infatuations, I have come to consider Adam Warlock as my sibling and Quasar as my ideal companion. I seek a Destiny of my own, having followed in the shadow of my fathers, the Enclave, for too long. I wish to know my life served a higher purpose, and I hope to make a good mother one day. I have learned the value of camaraderie in my brief time with the Spinsterhood. I also remain with the Protectors to be near Starhawk, who, we have recently come to learn is my offspring, and Quasar's as well."
Eros of Titan was the next Protector to address the Recorder unit. "I am Eros, sometimes called Starfox on Earth. I too, served as one of Earth's Avengers. Kronos is my grandfather, Mentor is my father, and Thanos is my brother. I love. I help others love. These are my abilities, beyond those of other Eternals of Titan. Like Genis, I face a family legacy, and I hope in my own way I can serve to balance the cosmic damage my brother has wrought over the centuries. One day I hope to show Thanos the all-forgiving, unconditional love of a brother, and against all odds, redeem him. I seek adventure, I crave challenge, and I enjoy the company of my dear friends, Firelord, Drax, and my 'nephew,' Genis. I feel that service among the Protectors will allow me to achieve all these goals and more."
Finally, the Cosmic Being before them addressed the Recorder as well. "I am Epoch, offspring of Eon. I bear the mantle of Cosmic Awareness and universal protection. I have chosen you all, along with Thor and Doctor Strange, to serve as guardians of hope throughout the cosmos, as the Protectors of the Universe. I have also gathered six others as a fifth team to secure the timestream from trans-temporal threats.
"Although my duties as a Cosmic Being will often take me away from here, I am an entity you may call ally. I am a being of great knowledge and substantial power. When necessary, I will involve myself directly in events. For reasons best left to beings of cosmic stature, I will generally take a passive, advisory role in your lives." Epoch concluded his speech. "That will be all, Recorder."
With that, the Recorder unit dismissed itself to create a backup log of the information it had attained.
Quasar approached Epoch after the recording session was complete, and the other Protectors had dispersed. "Eppy, you never told me anything about another team."
The Cosmic Being seemed impatient at the statement. "Wendell, you did not need to know before now."
Quasar would not be dissuaded. "Who are they, and when will you introduce them to us?"
"The Timeless will remain an unknown in the present. They will ensure that the successes of the other teams remain temporally inviolate." Epoch made it clear that she would add nothing further.
"What are they, some kind of Black Operations group? The Protectors' Secret Police? Are you creating an Internal Affairs Division? A Secret Service? This isn't like you! What happened to the innocent child I helped raise?"
"My naivete has dwindled as my wisdom has progressed, but fear not, Quasar of Earth. I have chosen all of you because of your inherent sense of justice and honor. The Timeless would simply not fit in among you. Adam Warlock and Ganymede are probably the greatest pragmatists of this gathering. I needed more rigorous agents to deal with the meddling Kang, Immortus, Zarrko, and the like.
"You disappoint me, Epoch. I thought our gathering was a thing to celebrate, but now all we can do is prepare for the worst "
"Quasar, my godfather you may be, but beware the tone you take with one such as I. Afford me with the respect a Cosmic Being deserves."
"Requires, maybe. But deserves? Earn it." Quasar turned toward the exit and walked away.
Continued in Chapters of: Protectors of the Universe (POTU): Captain Marvel, POTU: Defenders, POTU: Powers Cosmic, POTU Spotlight, POTU: Spinsterhood, and POTU: Star Masters!
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