Marvel/DC: Shards of Destiny #2
Written by Jim Seals and Jeff Olson,
Edited by Jim Seals
Shards of Destiny
Chapter 2: The Explanation
Adam Warlock had not known why he was assembled by the being known to him merely as Access, mere moments before. And for the looks of it, Warlock mused to himself, entering deeper into the Avengers Mansion where he had been summoned to; no one else does either.
The golden figure moved gracefully into the gather of assembled heroes. Some foreign, some familiar to him. But one thing was for sure he wasnt going to like the situation when it was finally revealed to him and the others.
Warlock saw Norrin Radd, the Silver Surfer, in the far off corner of the main forum, he was speaking to a being that Warlock had not seen in his travels before. The being was tall, with jet-black hair, parted in the middle and rested on his brow. Over his white eyes was a green metallic mask. His outfit was black for the most part, but on his torso was a white chest plate, and on his left muscular bosom a green and black embalm shown boldly. Warlock took it to be a lantern of some type but did not know the significance of such a crude deceive. The corm-clad ex-herald of the devourer of worlds took note of Warlocks presence in this massive gathering and gave off a brief nod of acknowledgment in his direction. Adam Warlock returned the simple exchange and with word moved on.
Moving forth, Adam Warlock took note of Captain America and Thor, in the main hall. Heroes that he had never before seen, or at least that is what he took them as such, much like the well-groomed man with Norrin Radd, accompanied the two Avengers, down into the main forum, where the others were starting to head off to. One had long dark hair and was dressed in red and blue, and a massive crimson red and golden yellow "S" stood on his chest. A red cap bellowed about his muscular form. The other was a more darker being. A creature of the night, he concluded, studying this man who was approaching him from afar. This man bore a mask and a cowl that covered over the better part of his visage, and a long black cape whisked across his form.
Warlock moved on.
He came across the small slender form of Doctor Bruce Banner, who was sitting along, nursing a drink. No doubt mourning the loss of his dear sweet wife, Adam pondered, sadness danced across his handsome visage. She did not deserve what happened. It was truly tragic.
He turned around to see a young beautiful woman. She was about his height with long, thick, wavy black hair. Her eyes wide were a serene blue, reminding him of the oceans of this world. On her forehead rested a golden crown with a bright red star in the midst of the gold. She wore a tight, revealing uniform that clung onto her elegantly curved body. She was slowly making her way toward the mourning doctor. But decided to change that course of action seeing his rigid form, that clearly stated "Leave me the hell alone!," she turned slightly and smiled widely at the man who was speaking with the Silver Surfer. Warlock decided that that was the best option given the circumstances.
He moved forward. And was stopped by the booming voice of the Living Tribunal. "All assembled," the Living Tribunal rumbled, his voice coming from everywhere and no where all at once, "gather in the Avengers War-room, for the time of disclosure is upon us, now that we are all here." All complied, even the distorted Doctor Banner who stood in the far off corner away from all the others, his arms crossed, his vision glazed over, and in moments Warlock found himself in the War-room, flanked on either side by both strangers and comrades.
On the other side of the circular table stood three entities. Two of which he had met, the Living Tribunal and the Access and another being who donned a thick green cloak that over-screwed the upper part of his visage, in a dark shadow, so only his white eyes shinned brightly, ominously. The hooded man and the gold skinned one stood back, in the shadows. Access was standing before the gathered heroes, he was leaning over the circular table that also served as a holographic imager, its activation casted a dark, sickening hue upon his triangular face.
"I apologize to you all for your abductions if you will but the situation called for it, I'm afraid," Axel Asher started.
"What is the situation, this time?" the dark cowl man utter with no preamble whatsoever, his voice was deep but in a way ghost-like, almost, distant, for sure. Warlock turned from the dark capped one back to Access, he was finding his curiosity piqued slightly.
"Im glad you asked, Batman," Access said, nodding in the capped ones direction. "The Brothers the Gods of our respectful universes if you will are dying." Warlocks eyes widened at this accusation. "We do not know how or why, but we do know that they are. And we do know that if they are to die, then all existence will simply cease to exist," the young man said grimly. "But we do have means to save them and both of our universes."
A green see-through holo-image of a glass sphere appeared over the humming table that Access was leaning all. All turned their gazes upward to see the sphere gradually rotate. "This sphere is known according to the ancient text simply as the Reflections of Destiny. And it is stated that contained within it is the essence of both of the Brothers." Warlock noticed that his conclusion had also piqued Bruce Banner slightly, he could tell in his brown eyes, the scientist had been awaken once again. "Once the sphere was shattered by a being known simply to us as the Father it separated into eight separate pieces. Each piece taking on the different forms. Our task that is before us is to go throughout the cosmos of both universes and to find these eight pieces and to gather them in what the text call the Void, a region of space, or emptiness as it maybe, between both of our universes.
"Once they are all assembled the Brothers will merge."
"Merge!" This time it was the long dark haired woman who spoke out. "You mean bring upon us this Amalgam universe in which it is your soul purpose to make sure that it does not happen again. As I remember it, you sent the JLA into this universe in the hopes to stop such an event, when you suspected the one known as Doctor Stephen Strange of causing several crossovers in the hopes that the universes will merge! Now you tell us that you must bring it into being! Explain yourself!" She was out-raged, that was self-evident.
"Shh," soothed the tall, red and blue man that had moments earlier been in conversation with Captain America and Thor. "Diana is right, Access. Further explanation is needed."
"I forgive for the clumsy use of words, Superman, Wonder Woman," he turned to face the two people that had spoken out. "I should have said overlap," Access amended his arms outstretched in a shrugging manner. "They will coexists. United." Warlock took noticed that all of the assembled were exchanging quizzical glances to one another. Doctor Banner stepped forth, from the shadows, joining the others. "I know it is something that I myself refused to accept. But it must be done. The Brothers will become one and the same in order to save existence. It is the only way."
He extended his gloved hand forth, "Will you join us?"
They exchanged glances, and a thick blanket of silence descend down upon all assembled. They all knew what was at coast. All knew what will happen if they did something and all knew what would transpired if they merely stood ideally by and wait till Oblivion became of them.
In the end it was Captain America who stepped forth. "I shall join you, Access."
Followed by the one Access had called the Batman. "It will be a honor to fight along side you once again, Captain America. And you, Access."
One by one they all stepped forth, pledging their loyalties to the cause. Soon it was only the lone, mournful Doctor Bruce Banner who stood alone. All eye was casted in his direction. Banner squared off his shoulders greatly, and in a distant but firm voice said, "When the universe beckons which one of us can say no?" And he stepped forward joining the last of them.
Access nodded. "Good." After a moment passed he spoke again. "As I said before there are several different shards. Eight altogether, to be in fact. All of you will be responsible for gathering the shards."
"It might do us a great deed of assistance, Honorable Access," Thor rumbled, "if we doth know what tis shards in which you speak of are."
He nodded once again. "I myself from what the Living Tribunal and Spectre here" he inclined his head slightly behind him in the direction of the two entities who stood bravely behind him "tell me, from the ancient text that I am a shard." This drew in a few odd glances, but Access continued without loosing a beat, "The Father also merged with another shard so finding him is imperative, that task fall unto me. The Brothers have also been merged with two shards of the sphere, the Father did this in order to make the joining . . . more smoothly. The task of finding them falls unto the Living Tribunals competent shoulders." He gestured with a slight wave of his hand toward the golden clad being onto his right. "The next three shards must be collective by you all. The greatest force of nature that either universe has ever paid witness, Galactus, is among these remaining shards. Silver Surfer," he said turning his attention to the Sky-Rider, "this will be yours and the Green Lanterns assignment. Considering of your extensive knowledge of the devourer of worlds, an after effect of being his herald, it is most suited for you."
Adam Warlock noticed a look of shook upon the Green Lanterns face, as did Access.
"I take it that you have had some dealings with Galactus?" Axel Asher asked, turning his gaze toward the Green Lantern.
"Yes," Superman said. "He came to earth our earth a few months ago, due to a combined threat between his herald at the time, Shifter, and Lex Luther, a vial opportunist."
Access nodded. I wonder why that split my notice? He pondered, lost in thought. He made a mental note to look into that, maybe Galactus arrival in the other universe caused this all. It is a possibility that must be explored. "Moving on," Access said. "Captain America and Batman," he turned his attention to the living legend of War World II and to the dark figure. "Your task is to find Baron Zemo."
"Baron Zemo!" the captain burst, not understanding. "Baron Zemo died, many years ago. Surely you know this to be true?"
"I do," Access answered. "That is why you and the Dark Knight will be sent back into time before Baron Zemo perished by that rock slide during the Second World War. Where you will find him and return to this time. Moving on," he sounded turning his attention to the remaining others. "The last assignment is by far the most dangerous one. That is why we are sending the four of you, Superman, Hulk, Thor and Wonder Woman. Your task is not an easy one. And I do not envy you. You must travel to New Genesis and come into contact with the High Father. It seems that the worlds of Apokolips and New Genesis happen to be one of the same piece of the Shards of Destiny. It will be your task to bring that shard to the Void."
"But how does one move a planet, into another realm? It is beyond science, itself," Banner asked, stroking his chin in deep thought.
"That is why you must seek the aid of Thanos of Titan, Doctor Banner. He has the answers, I do not."
"Thanos!" Thor bolted, stepping forth, as did the Silver Surfer. "Thou is beast tis not to be trusted!"
"Thor is right. Thanos is a being not to be trusted Access! He will betray us mark my words, if something he sees that he feels will give him an advantage he will take, even if it means killing Superman and his entourage." the Silver Surfer informed him.
Access held out his hands, palms first. "I have contacted the Mad Titan and he is willing to assist us on this task. You will seek his aid!" he said more firmly. "This is not up for debate!"
"And on what ground did he agree to assist us?" Banner pondered stepping forth; he had had his dealings with the Titan in the past and was not looking forward to another confrontation.
"Access," Batman said interrupting the line of questioning with his own set.
"You made mentioned of eight fragments, that is only seven. What of the other one?"
"That is none of your concern, Batman," Access stated.
Banner stepped forth. "I take it I was recruited for my Hulk persona."
"That is true," Axel Asher uttered.
"But as the Hulk . . . I am nothing more than a brainless, savage beast . . . I fear that may jeopardize the mission, if I was to lose control."
"Spectre," Access lowered his head.
The green hooded man approached the distorted doctor. And Adam Warlock took note that he levitated a few inches off the ground more than walked upon the ground. He stopped a few inches from Banner, hovering before him, his thick green cloak swirling around him, gracefully. "If you wish, Doctor Banner, I can merge your intellectual mind with that of the body of your alter ego the Hulk. It is all up to you, Doctor." The Spectre offered his gloved green hand.
Bruce Banner thought of the prospect. He hated the Hulk. For in his eyes it was he that killed his precious, lovely, sweet Betty. But he had utterly no choice in the matter, if he was to carry out this course of action. For if he were to lose control of the jade skinned mammoth within him hed doom all those around him. And by doing that hed be cursing everything that he had ever loved in his life.
Everything that Betty had loved.
And he wasnt about to do that!
"I accept," the doctor uttered bracing himself for what ever was to come.
And what was to come not even Adam Warlock could truly understand. Spectres gloved hand phased in and out of reality and went right through Banners flesh and blood chest as if it wasnt even there to begin with. In seconds Bruce Banner screamed in pain, his eyes glowing a luminous dark green. And Warlock knew what was happening at that moment: Banner was becoming the rampaging, mindlessly savage, Hulk. He braced himself for battle. His staff posed for the up-coming battle that Warlock thought would surely come. Then the being that Access introduced as merely the Spectre started to phase in and out of existence. His form became ghost-like almost, one could make out the faint impressions of the out-line but nothing more. Soon even that was no more, for Spectre had entered the good doctors body.
Banner entered the final phases of the Hulk process. And the green skinned giant roared in utter uncontrollable pain.
"Whats going on!" Captain America screamed out over the screams of pain that were emerging from the Hulk.
"Wait, Captain," Access uttered. "Wait . . . and . . . see . . ."
And he did so. They all did so.
Soon the Hulk roared once more, dropping down to his knees and he was feeling the unspeakable pain from the merger with his other half. His breathing was out of control; his vision started to blur over. Then another even more powerful roar was the harbinger for an extremely blind green light; the lights intensity was nearly blinding.
They all hoped for the best, but prepared for the worst. Adam Warlock took note of the deferent heroes around the room. Captain America had angled his shield upward, so that in the even he launched it in that direction it would ricochet off two corners of the room and strike the Hulk in the small of his back. Thors hammer started to whirl around in a blur, his intentions were clear and to the point. Warlock turned across the room, on the other side of the roaring beast to see that Super had also took a battle stance. And he watched as the being known to him as Batman tapped a small control on his golden utility belt, and several small cylinder-like tranquilizer containers, thatll give way upon impact, fell into his hand.
Soon the light subsided and the green skinned Hulk kneeled there ever silent, the pain was gone.
It was Captain America who bravely stepped forth; Thor was only a few feet behind. "Bruce? Doctor Banner?" he summoned his name. He brought his shield down, a show of good faith.
Hulk looked up at him; the beasts closes were torn asunder from the sudden change in mass. A hellish glint glimmered in his emerald green eyes. And a smile appeared on his face, "Yes. Steve, I am here." His breathing was under control but he was clearly worn out from what had just transpired.
In mere moments Spectre (in his seemingly ghost form) emerged from the Hulks chest. With nothing but a mere thought he rematerizled before them all. His gaze was sternly fixated on the Hulk who, with the aid of both Captain America and Superman was being picked up to a semi-standing position. "It is done, Doctor Banner and the beast named the Hulk are one-in-the-same. Inseparable, forever more."
Deciding that it was best to have a full-clothed beast running around, instead of a semi-nude one, Access waved his hand in a sweeping formation in the Hulks area of the Avenger's War-room. A golden a ray of light shimmered across him, and in mere moments he was dressed in a pair of blue jeans and a white tank-top, correctly sized of course. The Hulk nodded in Access direction and gave off a word of thanks.
Access nodded to himself, seeing that little to nothing could be accomplished here. And with a wave of his hand three deferent golden doorways opened nearest to the ones meant to step through the "looking glass."
"Step forth," Access called out. "God speed one and all."
They did so without a word of departure. Once they all had stepped forth, and the Living Tribunal departed through his own means, that left Access, Spectre and Adam Warlock alone staring at one another. "I take it I was summoned her for a reason. The eight shard Id wager?"
"You are correct," Access uttered. "The last one is not in either universes Im afraid. And knowing that you all ready have one, you seemed to be the logical choice." He gestured to Adam Warlocks green soul gem.
He sighed. And Warlocks suspicions had come true: He wasnt liking the situation at all. Not one bit.
Thank you for reading the first chapter of Marvel/DC: Shards of Destiny! The story continues in issue #3! Now, be sure to send us feedback below or by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org