Star Masters #4
Written by Morfex, Edited by Marvelite
Star Masters #4: "Rendezvous with Destiny"
(Note: This story directly continues where Star Masters #3 left off. Check it out and other stories of the Protectors of the Universe teams at the POTU Archive Page.)
Delta Ray Dawn noted that Scuttlebutt had reached its destination at the rendezvous point. Enthusiastic to announce their arrival, she used the communications screen to call Beta Ray Bill in his quarters. She was surprised to find Bill and Sif in a compromising situation. "I beg your pardon!" she said apologetically. She disconnected the viewscreen promptly, before either Bill or Sif could respond. She deactivated her screen's call-receive capability, wishing to have some privacy as well. Dawn turned to the prototype incubators she had been constructing from Scuttlebutt's laboratory parts. She reached down with both hands to touch her belly, within which Bill's children now grew. A single tear welled up in her eye and dropped to the floor.
Jack of Hearts pulled away from Alevolen's embrace before her lips could touch his. "Lady Alevolen, I appreciate everything you've done for me, but I have commitments I must honor. I mean no affront to you, but I must return to the Protectors."
Alevolen returned to her shimmering energy form before Jack could recognize her in her true demonic appearance as Malevolence, daughter of Mephisto. Her charade must continue for a time, she knew. "Jack Hart, you are truly a man of honor. I would very much like to meet these allies of yours, these 'Protectors of the Universe.' Could you arrange this?"
"Of course!" responded Jack. "I'm due to rendezvous with a number of them in a nearby star sector. I see no reason why you couldn't come with me! I'd like my teammates to meet the person that made my transformation possible."
"Give yourself the credit, Jack. I merely pointed the way."
"And for that, I am eternally in your debt!"
"Eternity is a very long time, Jack. Let us go to meet your friends."
Captain Marvel, Gladiator, Starfox, Quasar, and Adam Warlock sat at a table in the Briefing Room of the 'Star Master' vessel. The ship left the orbit of the planet upon which Thanos' lair had self-destructed.*
(*See Star Masters #3 for details.)
"If Epoch doesn't object," said Quasar, "then let's investigate this Soul Gem mystery. Thanos may be a master manipulator, but he posed some valid questions. What do you think, Adam?"
Adam was characteristically blunt. "Some quests were not meant to be shared. I will explore Thanos' words further alone."
Genis could not hold his tongue at this. "You ungrateful snob! We put our lives on the line and " In mid-sentence, Captain Marvel disappeared. With a brief flash of light, he was simply gone. The last look on his face matched the expressions of surprise on the faces of his teammates. His empty seat swiveled slightly with his sudden absence.
Gladiator was the first to act. He shot up from his seat and called out to the air. "Computer, locate Genis-Vell!"
The onboard computer spoke with a composed, neutral female voice. "Captain Marvel is not aboard this vessel."
"Computer, patch me through to Epoch immediately!" Gladiator barked out impatiently.
Soon, Epoch's impressive treelike form appeared in a holographic display at the center of the table. Quasar noted that Epoch had truly reached physical maturity. She now appeared identical to her parent, Eon. One semi-humanoid face was molded from the side of her bulbous form. A grotesquely proportioned yellow eye stared without blinking from the other side of her body. Root-like tentacles wriggled at the cosmic being's base. "You have beckoned, no doubt, to discuss the disappearance of Captain Marvel."
"Then you knew about it, Epoch?" Starfox offered, caring little for Gladiator's reaction to his lack of protocol.
"There is little I do not know, Eros. Captain Marvel was needed elsewhere. He is now safely on Earth."*
(*See Marvel's Avengers Forever #12 for details, then check out next week's Protectors Spotlight on Captain Marvel.)
Gladiator abruptly reclaimed the forum. "Epoch, when will he be returning?"
Epoch was silent a moment, as if contemplating a multitude of thoughts simultaneously. She then returned to the conversation. "That is up to him. He has several personal issues he must address first. Let us leave it at that."
Quasar addressed his god-daughter. "Eppy, what about the team? You chose eight of us to be the Star Masters. Won't Genis' departure create a void in your agenda for protecting the universe?"
Epoch gave the impression that she was trying her best to tolerate the nuisance of inferior beings. "There is no guarantee that Captain Marvel will withdraw his membership. Time will tell. In any event, your teammates await you at the rendezvous point. I have another important assignment for you all. One that will interest even you, Adam Warlock."
"I have neither the time nor the inclination to decipher your attempts at being cryptic, Epoch. I have made other arrangements." Adam stood and turned to leave the Briefing Room.
Epoch called after the former Supreme Being. "Trust me, Adam. This mission will become your priority. It involves the whereabouts of your corpse "
(Spinsterhood Interlude - For Background leading to this scene, please refer to the Spinsterhood #1 & 2)
"Matriarch, are you feeling better today?" The Protégé's concern was genuine. He entered her sacred quarters with the solemnity she was due.
Kismet stared at the palms of her violet hued hands. "Thank you, Cireleon, yes. I still have no recollection of my existence prior to you awakening me, but my strength seems to be returning."
"Our most gifted telepaths were unable to help penetrate your mind, Matriarch. Could one of the Church's enemies have struck you down?"
"I suppose that is possible. I have a sense that, if only I were to have contact with something or someone from my past, it might trigger the return of my memories."
"I have brought just such a man to meet you, Matriarch! He awaits us nearby. He now calls himself Crucible, but you may remember him as 'Father.'"
"Crucible? The name does not ring familiar. Very well, show me to this Crucible."
Cireleon led the disoriented Kismet from her quarters to a building within the Church imperial compound. "Out of respect for the history of your origins, we have named this place the Bee Hive. It is a re-creation of the laboratories in which you and your brethren were birthed."
On the Universal Church of Truth homeworld of Sirus X, the human being known as the Protégé addressed the goddess in the chamber before him.
"Come, Matriarch. All will be made clear within "
(End Spinsterhood Interlude)
Drax the Destroyer knew that a costly battle would ensue if he did not act quickly. He must convince the disoriented Guardians of the Galaxy that he did not pose a threat to them. Drax considered several alternatives, then settled for the most expedient. He quickly sat down on the sand, cross-legged.
Charlie-27, Nikki, and Talon were the Guardians most enthusiastically prepared to combat him. They were surprised by his action, and briefly held back. This gave Starhawk sufficient time to speak. "Please, everyone, Drax is here as a friend. He helped you escape your vessel. This is the early 21st Century. Drax is an honored hero in this era."
Yondu spoke up quickly. "We are disoriented from our journey, my friends, but his words ring true. These two have offered us aid. Let us give them the benefit of the doubt for now."
By this time, Martinex had reached Ripjak's convulsing body. "Someone help me hold him down before he hurts himself!"
Talon was quick to pounce to his side. With an incantation and a specific sequence of hand motions, the Inhuman sorcerer created an orange hued sphere of magical energy around Ripjak. The Martian's body ceased its violent spasms.
Replica ran to Talon's side. "Good work, kitty cat. What did you do to him?"
Talon's feline pupils narrowed as he turned to the young Skrull. "A simple spell of protection seems to have cut Ripjak off from whatever was harming him. But it won't last forever. We've got to figure out a way to help him or to send him back to where and when we came from."
Starhawk turned to the still sitting Destroyer. "Drax, with the Cosmic Union remnant seemingly gone, they cannot return the way they came. We should take the Guardians back to the Jovian moon with us. Epoch may know a means of helping them."
The green Protector stood once more. "I agree. I am certain the remnant's disappearance is directly related to the Guardians' appearance. We must ensure that the remnant does not return."
Martinex spoke up. "We are not here by accident, Starhawk. We have a mission of vital importance! We must prevent the " The Guardian's expression was one of bafflement. "Why are we here?" He turned to Aleta.
Aleta seemed to concentrate. "I don't recall either! Perhaps the ship's logs "
Drax took a cautious step toward Aleta. "Seized up upon entry to our era. No technology from the future seems to be working. Your database entries may be gone, but we have my daughter, Moondragon, who is one of the greatest telepathic minds in the galaxy. Perhaps she can help you to understand your memory gaps."
Charlie-27 added a comment. "I wonder if the technology freeze is affecting Ripjak's containment suit. It's from the future too. Maybe that's what's happening to his body."
Talon turned to the Jovian. "Well, Geeze, the spell I whipped up is separating his entire form from the environment, not his organics from his suit."
Yondu added a theory. "Perhaps our memories are also being degraded retroactively by the time jump, like the technology."
Nikki disagreed. "We've been to this era before without this effect. What's so different about time-travel now?"
Starhawk considered her words. "The Cosmic Union We must get the Guardians to Epoch immediately, Drax! If I am correct, we don't have a moment to spare!"
It was a simple matter for a remote shuttle to recover the Guardians, Drax, and Starhawk. Soon they were nearing the Spinsterhood retreat on the Jovian moon of Io.
Charlie-27 stared from the observation screen at the planet of his birth, looming large in the night sky. "Jupiter. Even with its harsh climate, it inspires my peace of mind."
Nikki turned Charlie's eyes toward her by gently pulling on his chin. Once he looked down, he offered her a tender kiss.
"I was thinking, Chunky. This visit to the past seems different from the others, somehow. I get this strange feeling we're not going back to our time."
"I'm not sure why, Nicholette, but I feel like there isn't an 'our time' left to go back to. I think Yondu was right, my memories are getting worse by the hour. I vaguely remember our decision to prevent the War of the Worlds, then a crash landing on the planet where "
Nikki rubbed her temples with her eyes closed as she nodded in agreement. "Yeah, the planet where Vance and Hollywood "
"Harkov's bones! That's it!" said Charlie-27, his calm demeanor replaced with agitation. "Get a recording device before that memory slips away too!"
To Be Continued in Star Masters #5: "Synchronicity." Now leave us comments below, and be sure to check out the Cosmic Unionverse and POTU Archive Pages for more information on this continuity and more stories in this continuity. Now read Morfex's Captain Marvel #1 from CPU #12, then go to Morfex's Defenders #1 in our CPU 2000 Special... and the Spinsterhood return in Spinsterhood #3 in CPU #13!
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