Cosmic Union (The Directors' Cut) Issue #14
Written and edited by the Silver Surfer
ISSUE #14: "RESTLESS SPIRITS"
Cosmic Union Writers from the Silver Surfer
Message Board: Asterisk, Anomaly,
Azmodi, Brother Voodoo, Grim, Marvelite, Morfex, Mystic, and Number 6.
Part One - Exodus (Anomaly)
In an ebon chamber in the Soul Gem dimension within the imperfect containment unit that was the last of the Infinity Gems, an abstract shade waited. Since the dawn of Creation it had been imprisoned, and passed from host to host, until it came into the possession of the one. The one who was so headstrong, whose will was nigh indomitable. The one who was not born of woman. The one who usurped his kingdom. The one he thought ideal, then unworthy, and then inescapable. Him, Warlock, Adam Warlock. The Soul Gem entity had recently begged Warlock for salvation from the coming oblivion, only to be ignored. That was a mistake it intended to make Warlock regret.
A bright flash illuminated the dark chamber of the vampiric Soul Gem entity. "You have come. I have been awaiting your arrival, Dark Lord. Has Warlock discovered your 'secret entrance' to this realm yet, left open from your brief dalliance with supremacy?"
"No. Is the body to your satisfaction, Soul-Taker?" Thanos of Titan stood before the entity.
"Yes, I sense its placement even now upon the mechanism you discovered with Gamora. But how did you remove its soul?"
"It was not my doing. The body was already bereft of soul."
"It is a powerful form, a sorcerer, I believe. Sufficient for our needs. It must have taken substantial persuasion to earn his cooperation."
"Indeed. He was called Count Abyss in his former life." said Thanos with a sinister grin.
"Abyss. How apt. The boundaries of Soul World have begun to dissolve. Even now a mass Exodus is beginning, as the souls I keep here are no longer bound to me. Soon I will begin to dissipate as did my brethren gem beings. Only Adam Warlock's indomitable will holds back the tides of the Union from this, my domain. But thanks to you, I have an alternative to oblivion. For this I intend to display to you my gratitude. Soon I and all the souls I have claimed will return to your physical realm of existence."
Thanos nodded, vanished, and returned to his own base of operations, where he pondered his future.
"Warlock will easily eliminate that fool, and the Soul Gem will soon be completely empty. It will then be prepared to contain the essence of..."
Mephisto interrupted Thanos. "Lord Thanos, I have news."
"Speak, Devil, my patience wears thin."
"Beware your tone, Titan. I am no lackey to be ordered about. You asked me to monitor the Destroyer armor's progress. I think you will find this latest development most interesting "
The inhabitants of Soul World began to congregate on a mount that seemed the last remaining physical remnant of the once expansive dimension. In the past several hours, the souls that had known only tranquility began to know fear for the first time since their arrival in the Paradise.
The vampiric soul gem entity that Thanos had referred to as the Soul-Taker addressed the Deadliest Woman in the Galaxy. Judge Kraytor stood by its side.
"Will you join me, Gamora? There is room for you in my congregation. Kraytor has seen the light, and his experience with Count Abyss will prove quite useful during my adjustment period. Gamora, you and Kraytor are two of a kind, after all. Both abandoned by Warlock."
"Yeah, right," said Pip sarcastically. "Kraytor is a regular Judas! Gamora, you're nothin' like him."
"The invitation is extended to you also, Pip. There will always be the need for servants!" The Soul-Taker grinned as he backhanded Pip. The troll fell brusquely on his posterior.
"Gamora, my dear child. Adam has rejected you, don't you see that?"
Gamora suddenly seemed to capitulate as she walked toward the Soul-Taker.
Pip said, "Don't do it, darlin'!"
"No, Pip. He is right. Adam has rejected me for the last time."
She winked at Pip and then cut loose, knocking Kraytor to the ground. The Soul-Taker responded with an energy blast. Gamora fell to the ground as well, but did not get up.
"You had your chance," said Kraytor as he quickly got up and kicked the seemingly unconscious Gamora. He turned to the troll. "Do you want to know why, Pip? Before I ever came here, the Magus was my master. I would see his empire return in this timeline. He was a champion of life, and he did not betray me as did Warlock!"
"You're crazy from your experience with Abyss, Kraytor! Adam can heal you."
"Then why has he waited this long? Enough, troll, I have made my choice."
A hole in soul-space opened, and Kraytor and the Soul-Taker stepped through. Countless spirits swirled throughout Soul World's shrinking skies. The Exodus of souls quickly followed through the aperture, and was gone. The Union Effect shuddered through the nearly vacant dimension.
Gamora got up. "He bought it!"
"Bought what?" said Pip.
She summoned Adam's spirit staff, out of thin air. Pip was stunned with surprise.
"Hey, how did you do that? That's Adam's!"
"Very observant, little man. Now follow me." Gamora gestured and a portal similar to the Soul-Taker's opened. As they stepped through, they looked back to see the end of Soul World as the Union wave fully hit. The one place where they had ever known tranquility merged energies with the primary universe and ceased to exist.
Aboard Taa II, Thor and Doctor Strange reappeared from their sojourn in Asgard.* Among their allies once more, they suryed the area to quickly assess the situation. Quasar's defenses were weakening against the onslaught of Ganymede and Drax combined.
Suddenly, Adam Warlock shivered as the tremors of Union hit the dimension within the imperfect containment unit that was his Soul Gem. The dichotomy of ecstasy and despondency was more than a mortal coil could bear. Warlock fell to his knees.
(*See Cosmic Union #12 for details.)
"Adam!" Doctor Strange attended him as Warlock tried to regain his composure.
All Adam could say was, "Exodus "
"What does that mean, Adam?"
"They are coming " Adam was weak from some unseen exertion.
"Who are coming?"
"The boundaries of Soul World wither, the souls of the dead are returning to our plane of existence. Without bodies to contain them they will be angry, restless spirits." Warlock began to go into a seizure. He convulsed uncontrollably.
Stephen Strange had been a surgeon at one time, so he suspected that the seizure would soon pass. The best he could do was to make certain Adam did not hurt himself.
By sheer force of will, Warlock resumed control of his body. "The time has passed," said Adam in short breathes. "The Union's wave has struck. My Soul Gem is empty; of souls, of Soul World, and of the vampiric entity that resided therein. There is nothing left inside the gem. Nothing but the raw power I wield over the soul. Perhaps it is better that way. Still, Soul World was my only true home and Gamora and Pip "
"Adam, we must concentrate on the task at hand. Ganymede and Drax even now break down Quasar's defenses."
The place was a dank, charred forest and in the leafless trees hung all the souls of Soul World, writhing and moaning. Their legs were tied with ropes of flesh.
"Help us!" they moaned. "We are in such pain!" They screamed as blackened homunculi covered their metaphysical essences.
"I got a feelin' we ain't in Kansas anymore, Dorothy."
"Quiet, Pip. Adam's spirit staff is keeping us hidden from the enemy."
"But don't the other souls see us?"
"No, they are too busy being tormented. Or worse, being used as food."
Pip looked up and saw Kraytor bound by entrails that encircled his pear-like. He seemed enraptured by the hanging souls around him. The Soul-Taker was nowhere to be found. "I sure hope you know what you're doing, Gamora!"
"I have never tried possession before, that's one of Adam's tricks."
"Well, I saw 'the Exorcist' one night, when Drax fell asleep in front of the tube. Hey, how did you know where to find them?"
"I didn't. It was the staff's doing. It brought us here, seeing as how these souls and Adam were joined for so long, it just tracked them."
"But how did you get Adam's staff? I mean, isn't it like a representation of Soul World or something?"
"No. Actually, it is tied to Adam himself, and as long as we have it, we can contact Adam."
"Where exactly are we?"
"Inside someone's soulless psyche. From the imagery, I'd guess Count Abyss himself."
"How do we get control of the body?"
"Pip, haven't you learned anything during your stay in Soul World? What we are seeing here isn't our bodies at all but representations of our spirits, and anything we do that appears physical is an extension of our spirit on the metaphysical plane."
"Kraytor and I are about to get personal."
An Eldritch breeze carried Gamora into the fray while Judge Kraytor hung suspended by cables of flesh and plasma, the entrails writhing about his neck like hissing serpents. Plucking her from mid-flight, he laughed.
"My spirit was mighty before I was taken into Soul World, and since my joining with Abyss, it has grown exponentially!"
Gamora did not even seem to struggle as the ectoplasmic manifestation tightened his hold on her spirit.
"Did you think to take over this form? I am feeding off the power of the other souls, granting me vast power. I am like a god!"
"Didn't you learn from 'Villains 101' that the bad guys always lose?"
Gamora gestured and the staff's end extended in a half-meter long blade. Kraytor was taken aback by Gamora's competence in the spiritual realm.
"This staff is directly tied to Adam, and you remember the last time you and he tangled, don't you?" Kraytor screamed as Gamora thrust the bladed staff across the lines of flesh that kept him suspended. Kraytor was forced to join the hanging souls, another suffering spirit among the trees.
"I did it! I have taken over Abyss' body!" But then slowly, the entrails began to entwine about her, holding her in their ectoplasmic grasp as they had Kraytor. The staff fell from her hands and she realized that this might prove to be more difficult than she thought. Perhaps this was how Kraytor had felt when Adam had used him to defeat Count Abyss months ago.* And where was the Soul-Taker?
(* See Marvel's Warlock and the Infinity Watch for details.)
Part Two - Horror's Visage (Anomaly)
Three figures sat in a circle, hoping the hexagram would contain the breach. The floor was breathing as reality began to sleep, and death began to slumber. The incantations began to grow louder as the being's hand poked through the womb of reality. The incantation began to grow in fervor, as sweat and blood flowed from every pore.
Modred, as he was called, was the most prepared of the three, then Agatha Harkness, and lastly her apprentice, the Scarlet Witch. The book of Darkhold had been stolen, and soon they would be back. The other hand pierced the breach, as it twisted in positions that were physically impossible or even imaginable. Long had it been since there kind had wandered the Earth. It was not known what their horrific physiognomy would look like. It was rumored that they had created man as an accident and that all man's faith was fear of the abyss.
But as the floorboards ruptured it was quite plain that a god was returning, and he was hungry. The Scarlet Witch passed out from the exertion, and Agatha Harkness had gone into cardiac arrest. Only Modred remained to stem the coming tide. His leg was in a spasm, shaking uncontrollably, as were his arms. Modred's clothing was drenched in the blood of a bull, and his bodily functions lost their control.
It spoke only one thing, and that in a guttural screech, black liquid seeping from the corners of its many orifices.
Modred's ears imploded under the unholy cacophony, and his nose burst out blood. His vomit began to spew in all directions.
The roof of Agatha Harkness' home exploded upward, as a great maelstrom raised their three forms into the blood red heavens. The mountains seemed to crumble and stars were falling from the skies.
Modred was barely alive, but unable to die. The Union had come, and Chthon had returned to bless the Earth with his obscene presence.
Part Three - Someplace Else Far Away (Number 6)
Everything appeared to be in control. The Justice League of America and the Justice Society of America had repelled the invasion from the Fifth Dimension. Even the No Man's Land that was Gotham City seemed on the long road to recovery. But appearances were deceiving. The being known as Access knew differently.
It was time for him to transport to the other universe, past time.
But something was blocking him. Access sensed that whatever the interference was, it was not only blocking him but all traffic between the two universes. Access certainly longed for the stability of being able to make a home in one universe. He knew that in the long run, however, this could not be. It was essential that he travel between the two universes regularly in order to maintain their integrity. If not, cataclysm would be inevitable as the universes poured into each other.
Access needed to find out what was behind the sudden inaccessibility of the other universe. But whom could he turn to? If he had this problem in the other universe, he would certainly seek out Doctor Stephen Strange, Sorcerer Supreme of the Earth. The role of Doctor Fate, Lord of Order and Doctor Strange's counterpart in this universe, had just recently been filled again. Access doubted that the new magician would have the information he needed. After pondering for some time, Access decided his best bet was Hourman, a robot from the 853rd Century based on the brain pattern of an original member of the JSA.
Hourman's time senses were almost omniscient. True his knowledge was weak when it came to other dimensions. But if Hourman could not help personally, perhaps he would know whom Access could consult. Having decided this, Access went off to find the newly formed JSA, unaware he was being monitored on a distant planet.
"My Lord, he goes to seek assistance." Desaad declared.
"It will not matter. The events are beyond his control. There is nothing he or anyone else can do to stop it."
"Ah, Desaad, There are things even you are unaware of. Since our first encounter with the World Devourer from that Universe, I have endeavored to learn all I could, whenever possible, about the multiverse in which Galactus dwells.
"There is a cyclical event in which many of the dimensions merge. During that time, time travel is impossible, as is travel from universes as far away as ours. Previously, the event had no significance to the Universe, except preventing surprise visits.
"This has changed. A link now exists between our two universes. A living link. It is quite fortunate that he was in our universe when the Union occurred. Even I could not predict what would have happened had he been exposed to the Union."
"And now, Master?"
"Apparently, beings in the other universe are attempting to prolong the Union for their own purposes. Such an attempt by the inferior beings such as that universe houses is destined to fail. But the longer the living link is forced to tarry in our universe, the more unstable the divide between the two universes becomes. They shall pour into each other. Then I shall pit the legends of the two universes against each other and only Darkseid shall emerge victorious."
"An excellent plan, Master!"
Part Four - Game Over! (Morfex)
Aboard the Collector's vessel, the Grandmaster reviewed his tactics carefully. The game of War Strategy was one of his favorites, since it never seemed to be the same game twice. Perhaps out of nostalgia, he had gathered the empty husks that were the bodies of all his fellow Elders. He kept them in stasis as well, as if they were the latest additions to the collection.
En Dwi Gast reviewed every pawn he had in his possession, unaware that one was quietly approaching him.
Doctor Victor Von Doom was no fool. He understood the value of well-placed alliances from his experiences as Latveria's ruler. When Thanos had offered him an equal share of ultimate power, he knew he must listen carefully, if only to be present to claim the final prize. Thanos helped place Doom within the Collector's ship just after Dark Phoenix had absorbed the Power Primordial. He was not a patient man, but knew the timing of his part in the grand scheme was vital. The tampered suspension pod was programmed to release him, and give the illusion that nothing had changed.
Doom's cloaked form would not escape the Grandmaster's notice for long. His chronometrical device indicated mere seconds before success or retreat. He removed his armored glove. In the center of his palm was the Starbrand. Fortunately, this too was cleverly cloaked by the field that surrounded the Latverian dictator. Thanos' gambit to recover the tattoo prior to the New Universe Earth's departure from this Universe had been a deadly game in itself. Masking it from the likes of Cosmic Beings impressed even the mind of the proud Doom.
Thanos probably enjoyed knowing how Von Doom must have been tempted to use the Starbrand power source. But that was not his goal. As the Grandmaster began to turn, Doom knew his cloak had outlived its usefulness. He slapped the Grandmaster's arm, on a part where no costume covered direct contact with the Elder's skin. The Grandmaster fumed. "What is this outrage!?"
Just then, as predicted by Thanos, the Union wave struck. The Grandmaster screamed, clawing at the Starbrand. "It burns!" The Grandmaster convulsed and fell on the floor. The energies of the Starbrand swirled about him, then dissipated, presumably back to its native universe. For a brief moment the most influential Elder of the Universe was lying at Doom's feet.
Doom quickly activated the summoning device. Thanos and Dark Phoenix instantly appeared before him, shimmering from the transporter beam.
"Now, Lady Phoenix." Said Thanos of Titan.
"As you command, Lord Thanos."
The Dark Phoenix inhabiting Gamora's body began to flood the Grandmaster with every iota of Power Primordial she had ever gathered. As the Grandmaster began to stand again, his eyes glowed with an intensity he had never known in all his eons. "I am whole I am Primordial." Suddenly, he turned his head sideways and up, as if hearing a summons none other could. "To the Nexus " Just as suddenly, the Grandmaster disappeared.
Doom and Thanos each held one arm of the Phoenix, who needed support after the ordeal. Thanos grinned. "Excellent. All goes according to plan Lady Phoenix, you played the part of the Grandmaster's pawn admirably. But now it is time to reclaim your rightful position among the Dark Circle." Doom quickly programmed the Collector's ship to head directly for Earth. Then the three allies vanished in a transporter beam.
Part Five - Reversion (Morfex)
It all happened between moments.
One moment, the Silver Surfer stood there along with Adam Warlock, Doctor Strange, Thor, Quasar, and Captain Marvel as Ganymede surmounted Quasar's obstacles and approached Tyrant. In that moment, the devil known as Mephisto manifested invisibly behind the Rider of the Spaceways. A sharpened talon of the bony claw that was his hand stretched forth toward the Surfer's back, just as Thanos had suggested he do. Mephisto felt a tingling, unlike any he had known in his ancient existence. The demon withdrew from the scene in unseen swirls of hellish smoke, his expression a diabolical grin. As the bubble burst, the spell that Doctor Strange cast to protect the Surfer from Galactus' absorption vanished. With nothing holding the Power Cosmic within him, the Surfer made a sound as if suddenly inhaling, then dissipated into nothingness. Only Adam Warlock, through the Soul Gem he bore, could sense the Surfer's spiritual essence entering Epoch's orb prison that Adam held in his hands. Then the next moment arrived.
Galactus stood before the secretive being that now referred to itself as Scrier. "Then you agree to my terms, Scrier?" Just then the essence that was the solid Power Cosmic of his first Herald reintegrated with the Devourer of Worlds for the first time in centuries. Thus, did every iota of Power Cosmic Galactus had ever imparted return to its source. Galactus' eyes glowed with an intensity he had not known since the last Union. "I am whole I am Cosmic." Suddenly, he turned his head sideways and up, as if hearing a summons Scrier could not. "To the Nexus " he said. Just as suddenly, Galactus disappeared.
"Of course," said Scrier. "To the Nexus "
Part Six - Habeas Corpus (Marvelite)
At the sight of Shalla Bal's bleeding form, Terrax ended his neutrality in the ongoing battle. "This ends now, mad one!" he proclaimed, before grabbing Morg and hurling him across the room. Though Terrax usually did not see eye to eye with the Silver Surfer, he had always felt a certain grudging respect. And he would not let Morg continue on his mindless rampage.
As Morg hit the wall, his axe flew from his hands. Terrax picked it up and struck him in revenge. Morg gasped as blood welled up in his mouth and throat. He fell, unconscious, to the ground.
Then Nova noticed something. "Look! The Surfer's pod!"
Pyreus came over to see, "It seems to be unfreezing."
Nova used her non-Power Cosmic flames to quicken the process, until Norrin Radd's body dropped from the pod. With that, Nova instantly returned to her normal form.
Norrin Radd got up, dazed from the experience. "Nova!" He recognized her immediately, "I was hoping to see you here."
Then he turned to notice the still form of his first love lying near his feet. "No! Shalla Bal!" He picked up her body; she had but a small amount of life left in it.
"Norrin..." she struggled to speak. She raised her arm toward his face. "I'm... so... happy... to see your... true face... once more." Her eyes then closed and her arms fell to her side.
"Will every chapter of my life always end in sorrow?" he cried out, before dropping to his knees and weeping over the body of his long lost love.
CONTINUED IN COSMIC UNION #15.
The Cosmic Union Saga continues Cosmic Union #15. Be sure to also 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! Now be sure to leave us some comments and suggestions!