Tales of the Timeless: "The Hourglass Ascendant"
Written by Warren "Azmodi"
Entros, Edited by E.A. Morrissey
"The Hourglass Ascendant"
Note: This ongoing edition to C.P.U. takes place in the Cosmic Union continuity
Part One: "Genesis"
"Come, dear Ravonna," Immortus beckoned from within the darkened chamber. "Gaze upon my creation only minutes before he stands complete."
Almost timidly, the Master of Time's mate heeded her spouse's command, for although she was his wife, so too was he her lord. She stepped lightly upon the steel floor as she entered the claustrophobic sanctum, feeling outcroppings of machinery lingering dangerously close to her head. Quickly Ravonna made her way to Immortus, who stood almost transfixed before a glowing cylinder.
His eyes never left the figure secreted within, shrouded in cloudy amber liquid and swirling pillars of iridescent bubbles, "Magnificent, isn't he?"
"My lord . . . may I ask, what is he?"
The former Conqueror smiled, though his beard seemed to make the expression a mockery. "He is the ultimate weapon, my wife, the perfect mechanism with which to cull the herds of Kang divergences."
Ravonna eyed her husband now, and as he spoke he seemed not the contemplative man who often shared her company, but a callous creature drenched in steel and needless luxury. She understood well the necessity of eliminating the multitudes of alternate Kangs created during his time travels, but she had no love of such ruthless murder.
"You see," he continued, utterly enamored with the description of his plans, "the recent incident involving the Union has further exacerbated the number of Kang divergences. Where once there were thousands, now there are millions. Such an imbalance, such a threat to the universe, cannot be tolerated." Immortus gestured at the stoic figure held frozen within the tube, "He shall serve to right this imbalance; his sole purpose for being is to destroy those endless alternates, at last leaving only one."
Although Ravonna found such cold murder distasteful, she was no fool, and quickly noticed the flaw in her husband's machinations, "But, my lord, how can it be? Even by killing a Kang, there will always be more diverged. Is it not a flood that can only be stemmed, not stopped?"
Immortus' smile widened, "Therein lies the true greatness of my creation, beloved Ravonna; he shall do far more than merely eliminate divergences, he shall eliminate the very possibility of their numbers increasing."
The mistress of Limbo's brow furrowed, "How . . . my lord?"
"To understand you must first be aware of his construction, his components. My 'Kang-Killer' is a nano-biological machine, entirely organic, but the nanites in his physical shell allowing for near instantaneous recovery from most wounds. These nanites, constructed from the technology given to me by the Time Keepers, also give him the ability to time travel at will, allowing him to hunt Kangs wherever they may lurk.
"But, encased within this organic shape lies the true power of my creation: the very energy of Limbo. Inside his physical body I have imparted a small portion of my realm's very fabric, and due to this he can do far more than eliminate divergences; he can 'cauterize' the wound in time made whenever a Kang is destroyed, allowing for no more to be produced within that timeline."
Immortus nodded to himself, still not even looking at his wife, "It shall take time, my love, but when my creation is done, all Kang divergences shall be forever culled."
Ravonna's gaze turned back to the stoic figure held rigid within the amber-filled cylinder, as she felt both understanding and strange reassurance wash over her. True, this creature would kill countless Kangs before its task was accomplished, but when it finally was, there would be no more murders. In those moments, silent save for the hum of great machines and ripple of bubbles, Ravonna convinced herself this humanoid was a blessing rather than a curse.
Slowly now she began to make out the artificial man's features, as the streams of liquid orbs began to taper away. Great strands of white hair partially masked his face, but from what she saw he seemed to have skin of palest gray, and deeply lined. Around his eyes there appeared to be crimson sigils, like war-paint made birthmarks.
Immortus flicked his wrist, all he need do to facilitate action in the realm that was his own, "The time is come, let my creation step forth."
Instantly the amniotic fluid began to drain from the tube, revealing the figure fully. Quickly a simple pattern of armor shimmered around his body, concealing his nudity, and making his creation nearly complete. The thick glass slid up into the darkened ceiling without the slightest sound, and for the first time air touched the flesh of this fledgling being.
For a few taut moments there was no movement in either the creator or the created, until at last the figure's eyelids fluttered upon, revealing irises of darkest blue, nearly black. In the whites of those strange optics, already looking about with a curious yet disconcertingly penetrating gaze, there swam streams of nanites, as they busied themselves en route to whatever task they had been assigned.
The being's lips parted and he searched for words, segueing through the vocabulary already implanted within his infant mind, "Imm Immortus Master?"
The Master of Time smiled again, "Yes, I am Immortus, your creator and master. It will take time, a short time, for you to adapt to your surroundings, but soon you shall be ready to embark upon your singular task."
The figure's eyes and features grew hard, and the one word he spoke was like unto the falling of a hammer: "Kang."
"Yes, Kang, your mortal enemy." Immortus stepped forward, and as he did energy shimmered within his hand, resolving into the silvery form of a staff, each side mounted with a wickedly curving half-moon blade, "Take this, the Parallax Staff, and know that you shall be complete."
Without hesitation the figure reached out and took the Staff from his creator. He weighed the deadly weapon, felt the tingle of energy emanating from it course through his fingers, and his words were final, "I am complete."
"No," came a single icy pronouncement from Ravonna, drawing looks of surprise from both her husband and his heir. "You have no name."
"Very true, my wife. What shall it be?"
She said nothing for a moment, considering. Then, "Century."
The figure nodded his agreement, for he was programmed never to speak against his creator or his spouse. But even as he spoke his new name, surprise dawned upon his features, as he felt his body beginning to fade from the confines of Limbo.
And he was gone, leaving Immortus, first mired in disbelief and then rage, and his wife, to remain within the timeless citadel.
Part Two: "Stolen Empires"
It was the last dark day of the year 2099.
Drizzle was instantly dispersed from Doom's ebony armor, dripping in rivulets to the cold stage below. Miles distant, high in the dim gray sky, thunder rumbled, a beast slowly awakening. The ruler of America looked out across the immense crowd anxiously gathered to hear the words of their conqueror, their feet ankle-deep in the rubble of war. Their haggard faces were painted in tones of crimson, Doom saw through his armor's lenses, an eerie reminder of the conflict that had raged only days earlier.
The Latverian overlord allowed the suspense to grow for a few more dreary moments, until his voice finally boomed out over the assemblage, enhanced a thousand times over by his incredible armor.
His gaze and words were directed at the lanky form held firmly by two S.H.I.E.L.D. agents, several meters distant. The usurper's face was marred by several cuts, along with numerous grotesque tattoos. Despite both his physical condition and capture, he wore a smirk nonetheless, directed at Victor Von Doom.
"Anthony Herod, you stand accused of countless crimes against Latveria, America, and humanity itself. Your armies have fallen, the Wave Spiders have been executed, and the Chicago Reserve destroyed; only you remain."
The twisted man barked a cruel laugh, "It matters little, Doom. I've taken more from you than you'll ever be able to take from me. How many people live in your beloved Latveria now?"
A cold spear was thrust into Doom's very spirit with that final pronouncement, as his mind flashed back to the image of his nation dying under the deadly tide of Necrotoxins. He did not bother to acknowledge the comment, though, and continued on as if Herod had said nothing.
"Your own works will endure little longer than you shall, Herod. Your sentence is death, to be carried out immediately."
The would-be ruler of the United States stared into Doom's eyes, his sick smile still wide, "Will you pull the trigger, or have your lackeys do it?"
"Doom always attends to such matters personally, Herod." the Latverian said flatly as he strode to stand only several feet from his beaten enemy. Doom's gauntleted hand came up, level with Herod's chest, and held steady for a few moments.
Herod's eyes never left Doom's, even as he felt the air charge with electricity as energy flowed through the sophisticated armor, pooling in the conqueror's fingertips. There was a brief, blinding flash of light, and then a surge of boiling heat poured forth, into Herod's chest.
The twisted beast convulsed violently, his body spasming as life drained from it. His eyes silently cursed Doom as they grew lifeless, the steam already beginning to curl from the blackening wound. That smile still partially held upon his lips, Herod's head lolled to the side, his body slumped, and at last he was still.
Satisfaction plain upon his features, though hidden from the crowd, Doom addressed the two S.H.I.E.L.D. agents, "Take this garbage to the incinerators."
Both nodded crisply and were soon dragging Herod's limp corpse from the hastily assembled stage, even as their ruler turned to speak with the crowd.
"This brief interruption in my reign has come to an end; once again this country is whole and united - One Nation Under Doom. Things shall progress as they did in the past, with the reconvening of the Black Cabinet, the re-establishment of S.H.I.E.L.D., and the continued removal of pollution. I once said, 'There has been joy, there will be joy again.' So it is."
Doom's voice grew even more serious, making it clear he would brook no further interference with his rule of the United States, "I will tolerate no further threats, be they from other nations or individuals such as Anthony Herod. As of now, all megacorps in America have been dismantled, and their funds transferred to the Federal Government. A majority of those funds shall be utilized to rebuild the White House and Libera Cielo, while the remainders shall be dispersed among new programs being enacted.
"All the illegal technology within the Chicago Reserve has been eliminated, and will threaten this nation no longer. I now make it clear to anyone that would seek to threaten America, Latveria, or any other of my protectorates: Herod's fate awaits you all. Doom is not to be challenged, so let it be known."
Beneath his armor, Victor Von Doom opened his mouth to continue speaking to the masses, for now their beleaguered minds were truly held hostage by the dictator's words. But before any further words escaped his throat, displays flashed before his eyes, an energy surge approaching.
There was no time to act, no time to move. Doom felt his body beginning to fade even as darkness fell across his sights, and he could see his subjects no more.
Continued in "Shadows and Truth." Be sure to also check out the first issue of The Cosmic Union and the Introduction of Protectors of the Universe. Both take place in the same continuity universe as The Tales of the Timeless. And if you haven't already, check out Azmodi's Twilight War saga. Please also take the time now to leave your comments and suggestions to the writers of this story below.
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