Cosmic Union (The Directors' Cut) Issue #10
Written and edited by the Silver Surfer
ISSUE #10: "STRANGE DAYS"
Cosmic Union Writers from the Silver Surfer
Message Board: Asterisk, Anomaly,
Azmodi, Brother Voodoo, Grim, Marvelite, Morfex, Mystic, and Number 6.
Part One - Mark of the Beast (Asterisk)
The manipulative gamesman and Elder known as the Grandmaster played a game that was neither subtle nor irrelevant. The players were among the greatest beings in the known universe of marvels, and the prize was nothing less than reality itself. A grander prize surely was beyond the grandest dreams of most. As the Grandmaster looked into the chilling void of space, he realized his subservient and unwilling pawn, the Dark Phoenix -- embodiment of stars, passion of the universe -- is playing her part well, acting as an implanted agent among the grand players Thanos has gathered. Soon though it would be time for her to act. With the aid of her master, nay, her Grandmaster, she would create chaos of Thanos' order, she would disrupt his council, and turn them on each other. But not yet, for time and patience needed to be hand in hand, and the Grandmaster had ample wealth of both.
In the distant darkscape, in the ominous extradimensional bile past the known multiverse known as Everinneye, Mephisto sat upon his throne of thorns, as his onyx black eyes stared endlessly, looking past his chambers, past his dimension, looking to this very time, to this very day. Looking at the decrepit face of Thanos.
Mephisto and his kin had plans for this purple slug, but not plans of manipulation. No, plans of suffering. For untold millennia, Thanos had been feared wherever his feet had rested, he had served and worshipped Death, he had caused much suffering. But the sibling demons known as the Legion had an evil, vile plan for the so-called Titan. You see, Thanos could inflict the emotional strife he so loved, but he could not take it. He could not take the pain, the loss, the rejection, the failure. One of the greatest non-Legion demons was doing the bidding of the Legion. It was called the Dragon of the Moon, and this was the demon that had manipulated Thanos all his life. This was the demon that had made him what he was. This was the entity that had delivered unto his mind the gift of evil; when the time was proper, the Dragon would reveal its manipulations of Thanos. It would conquer his mind, break his spirit, and leave him nothing but a quivering bag of pus and flesh. And there was nothing that Thanos could do to defend himself mentally or physically under such an onslaught.
Then, at his most vulnerable, the Legion would lay waste to his soul, devouring its succulent juices, and bringing Thanos such negativity as never before recorded. As Mephisto gazed deeply upon the face of Thanos, who was drinking from a goblet and laughing with a deep menace, Mephisto recited to himself, "Drink heavily, Thanos, for it will be your last cup of sorrow."
Part Two - Soul Schemes (Grim)
"Gamora, how did you get involved in this mess?" asked Pip.
"I was on a mission with Thanos and he double-crossed me. How did you get involved, Pip?"
"I was minding my own business, watching Baywatch on TV. The next thing I know, I'm stuck here in Soul World again. You said Thanos double-crossed you? Thanos isn't one to break his word, what did he do ?"
"Why have you asked me to come here, Thanos?"
"Gamora, I have need of your unique skills," the Titan answered softly.
"What would a simple farmer want with the skills of the 'deadliest woman in the galaxy'? That's right, Warlock told me about you playing the farmer."
"I have become aware of something that would help you with your heart's desire "
"And just HOW do you know what MY heart's desire would be?" She asked suspiciously.
"I've seen the way you look at him, and the way you say his name Not to mention that I was once omnipotent."
"I don't want Adam Warlock, especially not if he would be forced to love me. I want no part in your little scheme."
"What if I told you that, without manipulating him in any way, I could make you the center of his attention?" Thanos asked quietly.
"You give your word that you would not force him to do anything against his will and would not harm him?"
"You have my word, and you know the vow of Thanos of Titan."
"I still don't know why you need me. You're fully capable of handling any physical threat that might be there."
"The artifact that I will access is very old, almost as old as the gems. I will have to give it my full attention to utilize it properly. At that time I will need you to watch my back."
"Thanos asking for help," she said mockingly. "Why not take some of your robots with you, surely you can create some that would be up to the task."
"I thought you might not listen, so I propose a challenge. If I can land a killing-blow on you, you will accompany me. If you land one on me, I'll pay you the thousand credits for the job and proceed alone."
"I'm not much in a sparring mood. I think the main question would be 'what do you have to gain from all this'?"
"Knowledge And the desire to travel with the person that I helped raise and train."
"Sentimentality from Mad Thanos? I don't believe it. I want your word that Adam won't be harmed by this artifact in any way "
"And I want 10,000 credits "
Thanos raised an eyebrow and nodded, "Done, as well. The journey is long. Are you prepared to leave now?"
"Maybe I should tell Adam "
"That you are leaving with Thanos on a quest to have him notice you?"
"NO. I mean No I mean All right, Lets go."
"I still don't know why you brought me along. You've handled everything with ease so far. And with almost Compassion You haven't even killed anyone, yet."
"Yet. There is the artifact, in that room ahead. Now I'll need you to guard my back while I prepare the device."
Thanos walked over to the machine and began to study the controls.
"Thanos," hissed Gamora, four guards approaching. "Do you expect me to deal with them?"
Thanos continued to study the machine.
"Thanos, the guards are almost here. I know you. You could have handled them as easily as the rest. I'm not going to do it. You can have you credits back."
Thanos continued to study the machine.
"They're almost here. Better do something Blast you, you knew I'd do it all along, didn't you." Gamora proceeds to render the four robotic guards harmless, all without getting touched, herself.
Thanos continued to study the machine, but slowly a smile crept onto his face.
"All right, the last of the guards is dealt with. Now, why did you need me here?"
"This device," began Thanos, "will remove the soul from any person and store it for safekeeping. I suspect it was long ago utilized like the soul gem."
"Yes, so ? What does that have to do with me?"
"I'm going to remove your soul and prepare your body to house another lifeform."
"WHAT?! Over my dead body!!!" Gamora dropped into a fighting crouch and prepared to defend herself. "You might have been my teacher long ago, but your going to be the one who learns a lesson, today."
Without saying a word, Thanos' eye-beams shot out. Gamora dove to the side and came up out of her roll with a kick to Thanos' temple.
Thanos blocked and attempted to grab her ankle, to throw her, but she twisted out and danced back out of range. "You're even faster than I remember," mused Thanos, "It must be from all the sparring with the heroes."
"Yes, I sparred with the best: Adam, Captain America, Thor In fact here's a little trick I learned " Faster than the blink of an eye, Gamora darted around Thanos and delivered the killing blow to the back of his neck, before he could even think. Just before the knife-edge of her hand made contact, it hit the force-field that Thanos had activated when the battle began. A spark jumped from the contact, and Gamora slumped to the floor.
"Impressive. That attack would have been the end of any other being but Thanos."
Picking her limp body from the floor, Thanos laid it on the bench in front of the machine. "As I had promised; when the new master of your body becomes known, Warlock will be unable to think of anything else."
"He must have used the machine on me first to test it," said Pip. "He was probably grinning like the madman he is, happy to be torturing a harmless troll. He probably figured that if I died, that it wasn't too big of a loss, and then he would know how to use the machine on you."
"Yes but what did he use our soulless bodies for?" Gamora asked.
Part Three - Beyond Belief (Brother Voodoo)
In a place without dimensions, at a time without reference They existed.
They were utterly incomprehensible to all mortals. Could an ameba understand the Brandenberg Concertos? Could a marigold comprehend quantum mechanics? Could a mote of dust in the Cassegrain band of Saturn's belt appreciate the beauty of Rodin's "The Thinker"?
They shared thoughts in unison, yet communicated as separate entities.
They had no sensory input since everything that existed, consisted of themselves. They dominated and controlled all that was, yet were as helpless and naive as naked infants. They wanted nothing, and had everything.
They were many, yet they were also one. They had no need for names.
In fact, the entire concept was meaningless, since they were not truly discrete entities.
Then their entire existence imploded. An eternity filled with violence and tranquility that lasted only for the briefest instant.
"Do you intuit?"
"We are all that is," said the one. "What can this mean?"
"I do not approve," said the other. "Again, I sense matter, energy and dimensions that are not within us. I found this distasteful before, and no less so now."
The Union had disturbed their home and their harmony. They had been aware of these other lesser dimensions, much as humans are aware of rust forming on a nail nestled in an old cedar fence. A natural phenomenon, inconsequential and utterly beneath consideration.
Ordinarily, less than an annoyance.
They had no real need for the notion of time, since they constituted everything that their universe consisted of, time and space and all other dimensions, and hence existed beyond time and space. Still, they were intuitively aware of the flow of this dimension as with all the other dimensions. They remembered prior interruptions caused by this 'Union', as it was called, and knew that this intrusion would be short-lived.
However, this time they sensed something familiar. Something important. Something dangerous?
"This one refers to itself as 'the Universal'," said the one. "We should intercede before something happens that will prolong this distraction."
"With understanding will come change," said the other.
So, they assessed the disturbance to their universe, and probed the limits of this disorder. They spent an eternity analyzing and experimenting and understanding. Then, an instant after they began this assessment, they repaired the damage.
Then this entire, involuntary existence exploded. An eternity filled with violence and tranquility that lasted only for the briefest instant.
And again, they were all and they were one.
In a place without dimensions, at a time without reference They existed.
Again, undisturbed by the rusting nails in their fence.
Part Four - Taa II (Morfex)
Quasar rushed to Earth orbit, where a quantum jump would be safe. He was surprised to find he was thinking about Kismet. He could still feel the touch of her lips on his. He had broken up with Kayla months before, after she returned from the Stranger's New Universe Earth. There was no denying, Kismet was attractive, and they now seemed to have so much in common. It was all so confusing. He would have to sort it all out another time. He concentrated on Moondragon's impressions from Drax, and attempted to open the Quantum portal. Energy surged out of it, tossing him about. The portal closed abruptly, clearly too dangerous to navigate again. "Now how am I going to find Genis?"
In the void of space around Earth's moon, a solitary figure spun slowly. Captain Marvel inside the destroyer armor, remained unconscious. Suddenly, Galactus' power transported him to Taa II. The Destroyer armor remained behind, vacant for the time being.
The Goddess' disembodied half-spirit considered. "A nearly indestructible weapon able to contain a being's will with or without its physical form? How interesting "
Quasar appeared before Doctor Strange and Adam Warlock simultaneously with Genis, Thor and the Silver Surfer. The son of Mar-Vell slumped to the floor, clearly brutalized by the mad Titan. Doctor Strange began to tend to his wounds, while Quasar fell to his knees next to his stricken friend. "Gen, wake up! We need you, buddy!"
Both the Silver Surfer and Adam Warlock lent their considerable healing powers to Strange's efforts. Soon, Genis was nearly able to walk on his own.
Thor interjected. "Asgard, Odin, Surtur! We cannot simply let the Realm burn!"
Doctor Strange nodded. "You will do Asgard far more good here, Thunder God. You must have faith."
Starhawk and Gladiator appeared before the other six gathered there.
"What is the meaning of this?" exclaimed the Strontian Imperial Guardsman.
Galactus turned to the eight heroes gathered. "I GO NOW TO SEEK OTHER ALLIANCES. YOU EIGHT MUST PROTECT THIS VESSEL WHILE I AM AWAY." The Devourer gestured, and the eight found themselves just inside the docking bay where the Io was attempting entry. Galactus was nowhere to be found.
The Io communications array made contact with the internal comm system of Taa II. Ganymede spoke with an authority most would find lacking humility when addressing a Cosmic Force of Nature. "Galactus, we have been allies before in the last Exile of the Tyrant. We both sought to end his threat. Why do you offer him safe sanctuary now?"
Adam turned to Quasar. "How many on board the Spinster ship?"
Quasar said, "Ganymede, Jack of Hearts, Drax, Moondragon, and Kismet."
Warlock turned to the Silver Surfer. "You and I will tend to Captain Marvel, the rest of you, delay Ganymede as long as possible. If you can reason with her and avoid a fight, all the better. Remember, she survived the last Union too. But do not hesitate to use force to stop her team. Tyrant must survive until we have gotten the information we need."
Quasar spoke under his breath. "And then you'll let him die?"
The Silver Surfer objected. "Tyrant was my former Master's first creation. He has threatened the galaxies several times. Why should we not side with the Spinsterhood?"
Doctor Strange clarified. "Norrin, there is no time to explain in detail, but Epoch here," Stephen pulled the orb from his cape, "believes that Tyrant may know a means of surviving the Union."
"We will do it your way for now, Doctor. But I expect a full explanation." Norrin took Genis' arm over his shoulder to help support him.
"Wait a second," said Quasar. "We Eight are here, facing other heroes, doing Galactus' dirty work with him not even around, and none of the Dark Eight are in sight? Asgard in flames, Earth facing who knows what; this looks like more stall tactics to me. We should grab Tyrant and get out. If Tyrant saved the universe last time, Galactus' motives for bringing us here are in question."
Warlock spoke in a matter-of-fact tone. "We cannot risk transporting Tyrant out of the mechanism to which he is attached, nor haphazardly disconnecting him from his prison implants. He might not survive. Doctor Strange, may I have Epoch, please?"
For the first time, Doctor Strange looked curiously at the orb he held containing Epoch. Where had he seen one exactly like it before? Then came recognition. Franklin Richards' sphere holding the universe he had created just before the Heroes Returned some months ago. But what did Franklin and Tyrant have in common? There was no time for that train of thought. He handed Adam Warlock the sphere.
Starhawk spoke up. "There is something else you all must know. The Celestials "
Just then the Spinsterhood struck.
Adam Warlock and the Silver Surfer quickly helped Genis away, while the remaining five stood their ground. Adam wanted to head for the chamber where they had first materialized before Tyrant and Galactus. "Surfer, you were Galactus' herald for centuries. Surely you know the layout of this vast construct. Can you take us back to Tyrant? Epoch seems unfamiliar with the floor plan."
The Surfer led his two comrades down several corridors, ending in a portal. He gestured to a nearby sensor, and the way was opened to them. Inside was a sight he could not comprehend. The unaltered mortal bodies of Firelord, Nova, Terrax, Morg, Airwalker, and himself, Norrin Radd, in stasis pods maintaining life support. "What is the meaning of this?" asked the Surfer in shock.
CONTINUED IN COSMIC UNION #11
Go on to Cosmic Union #11. Also, be sure to check out the Cosmic Unionverse Page for details about the Cosmic Union continuity, as it begins to shape into a whole new cosmic universe of Marvel characters! And go to the POTU Archive Page for stories of the various Protectors of the Universe teams which will emerge from The Cosmic Union. Now be sure to leave us some comments and suggestions!
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