Cosmic Union (The Directors' Cut) Issue #16
Written and edited by the Silver Surfer
ISSUE #16: "RAPID DEPLOYMENT"
Cosmic Union Writers from the Silver Surfer
Message Board: Asterisk, Anomaly,
Azmodi, Brother Voodoo, Grim, Marvelite, Morfex, Mystic, and Number 6.
Part One - Throwing Down the Gauntlet (Morfex)
In a dim void, perhaps another dimension entirely, although during the Union's progression the term became almost meaningless, Adam Warlock recognized the being before him immediately. "You are the vampiric creature that has plagued me since the High Evolutionary first gave me the Soul Gem. But now you wear the guise of my adversary, Count Abyss. Is his sentience also present?"
"No, dear Adam, Thanos made certain of that with the mechanism he used on both Pip and Gamora. But the two of them are in here with me. And you may call me the Soul-Taker!"
The form of Count Abyss opened his mouth wider than any human physically could and voices began to emerge, first Gamora's, clearly in excruciating agony. "Adam, don't listen to him...! Ungh forget about us, don't cooperate!" Then Pip spoke, in equal suffering. "She's right, Adam, don't worry about us... ARRGH...! Just go save the Universe or somethin' " The Count's mouth closed, then a smile crossed his face.
"So, you see, Adam, I have something you want. You have something I want. What would you say to an even trade?"
"The Soul Gem is of no use to you now, Soul-Taker."
"Bah! My former prison holds no interest for me. I want something the entire Universe seems to have forgotten about. I want the Infinity Gauntlet."
"The actual glove?" Adam began to consider, and realized what the Soul-Taker's goal was. He planned accordingly. "It no longer bears any gems. It has no value."
"If that is the case, then the exchange will be easy for you. I consider it a memento of my departed brethren, the entities that inhabited the other Infinity Gems."
"Very well. Transport us to the castle on Monster Island on the planet Earth. That is where I keep it."
Instantly, Adam and the form of Count Abyss stood in what used to be Adam's bedroom. The sphere that Eternity had given to Adam was cracked and collapsed within itself on its stand. Outside, swirling clouds of black and red could be seen in the sky. Adam approached a wall and applied pressure with both hands, his fingers in a specific formation. A mystical barrier dissipated, a stone from the wall opened like the cover of a book, and there it was. The leathery, ornate glove that formerly held the six Infinity Gems before Adam surrendered godhood.
Adam spoke. "What will happen to the souls of Gamora and Pip?"
"What do I care? They will probably return to their physical forms, or dissipate to an afterlife appropriate to them. Of one thing you can be certain: any fate would be better than the suffering they endure now." Again, Count Abyss grinned evilly.
"What guarantee do I have that you will keep your word?"
"Adam, you know me better than any of my previous hosts did. Evil or not, I am an abstract entity bound to my nature, that of the darkness in the soul. I have no reason to deceive you now, when I can get what I want."
"I will give you the gauntlet if you swear to release all the souls formerly inhabiting Soul World, not just the two."
"What!? Oh, very well. As the Union progresses, I will have no more need of them as a food source in any case."
Adam placed the gauntlet on a table. "Release them all, parasite."
The body of Count Abyss began to smoke from every facial orifice.
Multi-colored wisps swirled up from the being, then quickly departed through the castle window. An echo could be heard across the strong winds outside. "Thank youuuuuuuuuuu " Strangely, the thousands of voices did not seem to contain those of Gamora and Pip. Perhaps it was because their bodies still had a presence in the physical plane. And what of the non-soul sentience of the original Count Abyss, also noticeably absent?
The Soul-Taker quickly grabbed for the gauntlet. As soon as his hand made contact with it, it began to glow. Adam had to shield his eyes, as the energies filling his chamber were too intense to view directly. Adam was all too familiar with the nature of the power around him. He feigned ignorance. "How can this be?"
The Soul-Taker basked in the energies he absorbed. "The Power, I never dreamed! The Living Tribunal stated that the Infinity GEMS would never work in unison again. But except for the empty relic on your brow, the Gems are no more. Their POWER is another matter entirely. I now contain the sum total of all SEVEN gems within me, unburdened by Nemesis or the other Infinity Gem abstracts! I bear more control than you or Thanos or Nebula EVER did! As soon as the Union subsides, I will reign supreme!"
Adam forced himself not to smile. "Here, then, you forgot a little bit." He touched the Soul-Taker's forehead, as he had done with Tyrant on Taa II. A small reserve of Infinity energy that he had kept in reserve emptied itself into the Soul-Taker.
The Soul Gem upon Adam's brow dimmed to a dull olive hue.
Suddenly, spirals of force swirled within the room as the Soul-Taker entity inhabiting the body of Count Abyss fully encompassed the last vestiges of the Infinity power. His eyes glowed with an intensity Warlock knew only too well. "I am whole I am Infinite." Suddenly, he turned his head sideways and up, as if hearing a summons Adam could not. "To the Nexus " he said. Just as suddenly as Surtur, the Grandmaster, Galactus, and the Universal Beyonder before him, the form of Count Abyss disappeared.
Through the mystic Doctor Strange, Adam Warlock summoned all the heroes that had gathered on Taa II once he learned that their battle had become moot with Cyrus' appearance. Within moments of the Soul-Taker's departure, Adam's chamber contained: Doctor Strange, Quasar, Starhawk, Captain Marvel, Thor, Gladiator, Ganymede, Jack of Hearts, Kismet, Moondragon, Drax, Norrin Radd, Pyreus Kril, Gabriel Lan, Frankie Raye, Tyros the Untamed, and a being Adam did not recognize, carrying a huge armor-like shell over his lean but clearly powerful shoulder.
Doctor Strange spoke first. "Adam Warlock, may I introduce you to Cyrus, the being you knew as Tyrant."
Part Two - Division of Labor (Morfex)
Adam stood quietly as Doctor Strange recounted Tyrant's tale to him. He nodded curtly, then spoke. "A total of ten individuals (we original eight, plus the Tyrant and one other), are needed at the Nexus to counter the Dark Circle's influence of the Cosmic Union's apogee within the Nexus of Realities. The rest of you, rendezvous with the 'Star Master' ship and prepare the 'Io', the Collector's ship, and Tyrant's vessel for aiding Earth's heroes against the ever-increasing dimensional overlap."
Adam turned to Norrin Radd. "Surfer you are of no use to us in this form. Kismet," he turned to his female counterpart. "You found our creators unworthy of the cosmic powers they attained.* You removed those powers from them and keep the extra stores in your skull amulet. Please give the power to Norrin Radd."
(* See Marvel's quarterly Powers Cosmic Unlimited #2 for details.)
Kismet was surprised. "How do you know of this, Adam Warlock?"
Adam was nonchalant. "I monitor you and the Enclave periodically. Call it a family interest."
Kismet thought to argue further, but both Quasar and Ganymede nodded for her to accede. Norrin Radd knew the risk of energy incompatibility, but felt the attempt was justified given the circumstances. He was one of the chosen counter-balancing beings required to see the Union through its course, after all. Kismet aimed her skull amulet at Norrin Radd, and a burst of energy encompassed him.
Norrin returned to his glazed form, board in hand, but all gold, not silver. Adam smiled. "At least until Galactus returns to you the Power Cosmic with which you are accustomed, you can still serve as 'the Golden Surfer.' Now, every moment we delay, the chaos mounts. Let us be off to the Nexus of All Realities." With that, the Eight and Tyrant were gone, leaving a room full of doubtful and uneasy allies.
Ganymede commented. "It seems the final member of Warlock's strike force was not among our number here "
Part Three - Where Are the Bad Guys? (Morfex)
It was child's play for Thanos to seal the Celestial breach caused by the Destroyer armor. The dimensional energies that had leaked out were reabsorbed, and all was as it had been before Captain Marvel's flight. Except that the Star Masters were now aware of his base of operations. No matter, he thought, easily rectified. Thanos asked Dormammu to relocate the Celestial to the Florida Everglades on Earth.
As the Celestial materialized on Earth, Thanos convened a meeting of the Dark Circle of Nine.
They sat around the chamber, as they had that first time, each anticipating their glory in the culmination of their plans. This time, Doctor Victor Von Doom sat with them. Doom noted internally that the hour was 9 a.m., on December 31, 1999. The end of the world as it had been known was imminent.
"First, a brief disciplinary measure." Thanos turned to the Magus.
"I do not know why you chose to bring the Goddess with you when I returned you to the physical plane in the same manner as Dark Phoenix and the Soul-Taker. She is your diametric opposite, pure self-righteous Good in every way that you are self-serving Evil. Your poor judgement nearly threatened my carefully laid plans. But the matter has been rectified. She is no longer a significant factor in this scenario."
The Magus scowled at the group, ready for anything. Thanos reached out his hand past all of the Magus' supposed defenses and began to strangle the Magus. "This body may now bear your physical likeness and stature, and it may house your soulless essence of evil, but it is, after all, just the body of a Laxidazian troll that I have throttled often. You are fortunate," Thanos said as he threw the Magus back into his seat choking and gasping, "that I still have need of your particular skills. Consider the matter ended until after the final phase of our plan. At that time, our peers shall determine an appropriate penalty for your betrayal."
Thanos turned to the group as a whole. "You are all aware of what is to come next. You have thirty Earth minutes. Prepare yourselves to enter the Nexus of All Realities."
Beta Ray Bill observed the entire scene from the bridge of the 'Star Master.' When the Universal, Thanos, and the Black Celestial all vanished, he turned to his crew. "Xenith. Keep track of the two figures that remain in space."
Beta Ray focused his sight on Glorian, herald of the former Shaper of Worlds, and the animated Asgardian Destroyer armor.
Outside, Glorian turned to the Destroyer/Goddess. "You have pledged to serve my Universal Lord, whether falsely or not, I cannot know. But if you will join me, I go to this Nexus he spoke of."
The Destroyer indicated assent with a brief nod, and the two sped off, too quickly for the 'Star Master' to follow so near to Earth's gravitational field.
Morfex spoke to Beta Ray and Xenith. "The Collector's ship is now approaching Earth orbit, as is another vessel. The data we downloaded from the 'Io' indicates that the craft belongs to Tyrant."
Xenith spoke again. "We are being hailed from Earth, Bill. It is Ganymede and the Spinsterhood. They wish to rendezvous with us "
CONTINUED IN COSMIC UNION #17
Continued in to the next issue of Cosmic Union. 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! 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!