Cosmic Union (The Directors' Cut) Issue #17
Written and edited by the Silver Surfer
ISSUE #17: "HEAD TO HEAD"
Cosmic Union Writers from the Silver Surfer
Message Board: Asterisk, Anomaly,
Azmodi, Brother Voodoo, Grim, Marvelite, Morfex, Mystic, and Number 6.
Part One - Crimson and Scarlet (Anomaly)
Uriah Gurdson was a senile man in his late fifties who mostly kept to himself. It was said that he often had involved conversations with himself, and talked to God. He read his Bible every day, and told all those who listened that the end was near. It was in this book called the Apocalypse. Like a modern day Noah, he said that the world was going to be burned, and the blood was going to run like rivers. He even said that there was an angel that he was helping.
Nobody believed him about his visions of demons in the heavens, along with the Lord's two archangels, who had been visiting him daily. They did not say their names, but Uriah just thought that they could not tell him about their heavenly names because it was forbidden, or something secret and holy like that.
Uriah's house was fairly disheveled, and he only began to have the visions after his wife's death. Moreover, after his mother had left him. He kept praying that one day the silver angel would bring him something that might save the righteous from Satan's evil plans.
Uriah woke up one morning and without even looking at the torn sky and blood red moon, he knew that the Apocalypse had come. He noticed something over the horizon. It was a whirlwind of crimson and it was coming his way. Uriah grabbed his Bible, and began to pray. "Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I will not falter." There was a knock at the door. In his own mad way he thought, who could that be knocking with the Apocalypse going on? Didn't anyone respect the Lord's work?
KNOCK, KNOCK! The rapping continued and Uriah stopped praying to answer the door. It was his wife, and it did not seem to matter to him that she had been dead for some time. "I missed you," he said. "Would you like some peppermint tea? I remember how you would drink that when you got wet." Tears of joy streamed from Uriah's eyes as he said in a whisper, "The Lord is coming to take his anointed back."
"I'm afraid it's more complicated then that," said his wife Mildred. "Your mother is in danger and only you can help her."
"Agatha in trouble? What's the matter, did her car break down again?" he said.
Mildred stank of the grave, but this did not even make Uriah bat an eyelash, as if such sights were commonplace.
"You really do have a gift, Uriah, just like your mother. But you never really embraced yours until I died," his departed wife Mildred said, as a worm and a centipede crawled out of her right eye socket.
"You mean the angels are real? I'm not crazy like people always said?"
"They are real, Uriah, and right now they are fighting this great evil that calls himself Thanos, and he freed other demons like the one that has your mother."
"Mildred, you don't sound the same, are you taking your medication?"
"Uriah listen. I am not Mildred. I am called Modred, and you are allowing my spirit to stay on this plane."
"Quite kiddin', Mildred, ya always were a kidder."
"Listen and listen carefully. I am not Mildred, but I need a body, I need your body, if I am to save the others and close the dimension to Chthon's dark universe."
"Anything for you, Mildred. Are we going up to Heaven, now that it's the Apocalypse?"
"I am truly sorry for this, Uriah, but I must take your body." Both Mildred's and Uriah's forms slumped to the ground like sacks of grain.
When Modred took possession of Uriah's powerful form, he stood and saw the crimson wind coming. He knew that this would be the final confrontation with the unspeakable evil that was Chthon.
The form of Uriah ascended on high like a biblical angel of yore, and met the crimson wind in the sky. Modred noted that the others were not dead either. The spirits of Agatha Harkness and the Scarlet Witch also remained in the plane of the living. They too approached the form of Uriah.
Soon the crimson wind was upon them. Now they were reunited, just like the mystic circle when they first battled Chthon, and had their physical bodies overwhelmed by his terrible power. But this time things would be different. They were not in their vulnerable garments of flesh and bone, but in the more durable form of their ethereal states, focused through Uriah llike a lens.
Men knew him as the dweller of darkness, that brother of the old ones, called Chthon or Nyotha, as his ancient ancestors had spoken his name.
On the form of Uriah was all the weaponry needed. He wore the looped cross, and had been preparing an elixir that he had drunk in days past. It was unknown whether he did it intentionally, or if he was being manipulated, but it was what was needed to send the demon back to the caverns and fissures of the ancient earth from whence he came.
The circle was joined once more. Modred and Uriah were one. Each experienced the other's thoughts. The crimson winds tore at their spirit matter. In Uriah's mind he could see the angels from his memories of recent days: one was a form of purest silver, and the other wore a form of gold. Apparently, they had used an artifact that had control of the soul to help the natural power of Uriah. Uriah was also the perfect cover, as he would not draw any undo attention to himself because he was considered mad.
He finally remembered how the silver and gold ones had come to him and told him what was likely to happen, and what he must do to defeat the Elder God Chthon. It was the best they could do, because other matters required their attention.
There was a great struggle as the winds increased in their ferocity, and Modred felt as if his spirit would be torn asunder. Then there was a cry from the house, and Modred could just make it out, it was the spirit of his wife and she was burning the crimson wind with a power that seemed even too much for its dark might. It was the power of her steadfast love, and it would allow nothing to happen to her husband.
Even this reprieve would not last, but it gave Modred, the Scarlet Witch, and Agatha Harkness sufficient time to summon their might and focus it through Uriah's spirit. Chthon screamed an unearthly wail, and the crimson wind was gone. All participants were pulled back into their original physical forms and magically transported to Uriah's home.
Agatha Harkness hugged her son. "I am very proud of you. If not for your gift, we all would have perished."
"Don't forget me, darling." It was Mildred, but this time she was beautiful, and there were no carrion eaters crawling from her eyes. They kissed. "I love you Uriah, but I'm afraid that when the Union is over I'm going to have to return to Mistress Death's realm. But at least we have now." She put her hand by his mouth and just kissed him, and Uriah's madness was seemingly healed.
Modred and Agatha turned to Wanda Maximoff. The elderly woman spoke. "Your assistance was invaluable, but you are needed elsewhere. Go now, with our thanks."
Wanda smiled and gave her mentor a brief embrace. Without another word, she was gone, encircled by the same magical force that Agatha had used to bring them physically to Uriah.
Part Two - Separated at Rebirth (Morfex)
The way to the Nexus was fraught with peril. Earth was overwhelmed with demonic invaders and predators. Some were no more dangerous than ravenous lions. Others could twist a human soul with a glance.
The Florida Everglades was one of many chi points that intersected across the face of the globe. Each chi point had a chosen defender, but this particular crossroad also served as the Earthly entryway to the vaunted Nexus of All Realities. It was also currently the aligned focal point of the Cosmic Axis that ran through the terrestrial plane of existence. Its defender was the creature known as the Man-Thing.
The Man-Thing had grown to the size of a small mountain, waving away swarms of winged attackers attempting to vie for position near the Nexus' portal. The sight was reminiscent of the mutated island Krakoa, first adversary of the second generation X-Men.
Eight heroes were also present (Norrin Radd, Adam Warlock, Doctor Stephen Strange, Praetor Kallark of Strontia, Wendell and Stakar Vaughn, Thor Odinson, and Genis-Vell), plus Cyrus (former husband of Ganymede) bearing the Tyrant armor. They approached the Nexus entry tenaciously, despite attacks from every vector. The Man-Thing seemed to acknowledge their presence by clearing a path for them amidst the continuous onslaught of invaders. Just as the portal loomed within reach, a heart-stopping screech filled the air as the Man-Thing froze in its place, as if a grotesque statue of vines and moss. The heroes paused and turned to observe what had caused the defender's defeat. There, amidst the swirling purple and orange whirlpools in the sky, emerging from an ebony hovering Celestial husk, approached the Dark Circle: Thanos, Dormammu, Korvac, Dark Phoenix, Maelstrom, the Magus, Loki, Mephisto, and Doctor Doom.
Adam quickly turned to Cyrus. "We will delay their entry for as long as we can. Get to the Nexus before it is too late."
Cyrus looked at the approaching villains, then back at the heroes. He appeared to hesitate briefly, then nodded as recognition of his destined purpose reasserted itself. He addressed the Golden Surfer. "Surfer, you and I have both sacrificed our humanity at Galactus' request. I ask you, please tell Ganymede " but Cyrus decided finishing the sentence was pointless. He held the Tyrant armor tightly and leapt into the portal. Instantly, he was gone, causing a feedback of sheer force to press against all approaching parties.
The erratically charged Nexus loomed in the background as the heroes made their final stand against the cosmically powerful and influential villains that had manipulated the Cosmic Union.
The event should have been a natural phenomenon that cleansed the Cosmos' temporal and spatial anomalies in a purifying cycle of rebirth. Instead, the Dark Circle had transformed the event into a prolonged dimensional overlap that was literally causing Hell on Earth.
Doctor Strange addressed the Dark Circle with a matter-of-fact tone. "We cannot allow you passage."
Thanos responded, apparently amused by the proclamation. He spoke plainly as well, finding little need for rhetoric. "Sorcerer, you and your allies cannot stop us, but you are free to try!"
Adam addressed Thanos. "It has been quite some time since we worked at cross-purposes, Titan. What new madness has overtaken you to attempt such folly?"
The Titan merely grinned at his former ally and teammate. "Do not attempt to paint me the hero, my friend. I am now, and have ever been, true to my nature. The fact that our interests and goals have coincided in the past was nothing more than chance."
Adam turned to his current allies. "Quickly. Delay your dark counterparts from entering the Nexus at any cost. We must buy Tyrant time to reclaim his destined role in the Union."
Each hero instantly moved to pair off with his evil counterpart.
The Surfer was uncertain which of his arch-villains represented his counter-balance in the prophesied conflict: Thanos, Mephisto, or Doom. All were among his most pernicious of adversaries. Yet others among the heroes also called them opponents. Thor and Mephisto had faced off several times before, as had Thanos and Adam, Thanos and Genis' namesake; most had taken on everyone simultaneously at one point or another.
Doctor Doom did not have any other regular enemies present to oppose him. Norrin watched as the others faced their archenemies first. With none but Mephisto and Doom left, the Surfer chose to oppose Mephisto. Although Norrin Radd did not underestimate the abilities and sheer will of Victor von Doom, Mephisto seemed the far greater threat.
Norrin stopped suddenly, still trying to acclimatize himself to the cosmic powers and perceptions imparted on him by Kismet. Recognition finally dawned on him. "Wait! You are not the true Mephisto!"
Strange and Dormammu faced each other. Strange was aware that his own magical energies were in a declining flux. He knew that, despite his title of Sorcerer Supreme, the Union had increasingly affected his abilities. Unless Dormammu had been affected in a similar manner, he had no chance of victory.
Strange noted that the Faltinian from the Dark Dimension was not spouting his usual battle rhetoric. He seemed distracted, and his flames of regency were noticeably absent. Clearly, the heroes' theory had been correct: Dormammu's ability to overlap dimensional planes was somehow contributing to the protracted Union effect. If Strange could but interrupt the Faltinian's focus
Thor faced his brother squarely. "I give thee this chance to surrender, brother. Thou shouldst know that thy participation in this matter has not escaped All-Father Odin."
"Bah, spineless cur, always seeking redress from our sire instead of facing thine own battles alone."
"Darest thou question my bravery and battle prowess? Truly, Loki, thou hast gone too far this time."
Starhawk faced Korvac for the first time in his short existence. "You are Michael Korvac of a future Earth. Why do you seek to affect this natural phenomenon, and how can you retain physical integrity when all other time-travelers have become as phantoms during the Union event?"
"You too are from the future, and you are the 'One-Who-Knows'! You tell me!"
"Although I am present here in order to oppose you, I am not the Starhawk you once knew. I have been made a part and parcel of this current era, that is how I can be present."
"Then you have answered your own question."
Quasar faced the Cosmic Assassin known as Maelstrom. Maelstrom's dark energies swirled about him and Quasar recalled their previous conflicts. This was the Inhuman / Deviant hybrid that had murdered his mentor, Eon. This was the creature that had amputated both Quasar's hands to obtain the Quantum bands. How he had managed to counteract the negotiation between Infinity/Eternity and Oblivion/Death was beyond him. The fact of the matter was that the villain that had most disrupted Quasar's life now stood before him, eagerly awaiting another chance.
Adam Warlock faced the evil that he had expelled from within himself. "Magus, I do not know how you escaped your banishment in the Soul Gem realm, but I assure you, you will regret your return to this plane of existence."
The Magus laughed aloud. "Feeble-minded charlatan! It is you who deserve banishment! Calling yourself a hero when in fact your Machiavellian manipulations place you far more often among us within the Dark Circle."
Genis-Vell looked into the eyes of the Mad Titan. He knew that their physical conflict would be a repetition of their battle within Thanos' lair only days ago.
Thanos knew it as well. With his trademark sinister grin, he reveled in the coming conflict. "Come, whelp! It is time to meet your father!"
The Imperial Guardsman Gladiator stood his ground against the menace that was the Dark Phoenix. "Chaos-Bringer! Your reign of terror ends this day!"
Phoenix laughed heartily. "Indeed, insect? And will you be the one to douse my eternal flames of hunger?"
TO BE CONTINUED IN COSMIC UNION #18
Look for more of the Cosmic Union Saga in the next issue of Cosmic Powers Unlimited. 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!