Cosmic Union (The Directors' Cut) Issue #19
Written and edited by the Silver Surfer
ISSUE #19: "HIDDEN PLAYERS"
Cosmic Union Writers from the Silver Surfer
Message Board: Asterisk, Anomaly,
Azmodi, Brother Voodoo, Grim, Marvelite, Morfex, Mystic, and Number 6.
Part One - Body and Soul (Morfex)
Oera the Watcher nodded to Adam Warlock in response to his exclamation. "Yes, I am the Watcher chosen by default to witness this event's culmination. I will not interfere. By all means, proceed."
Adam Warlock knew well the Oath of the spatial spectators. He was certain, at least, that she would not interfere in favor of the Dark Circle. "I was not referring to you, Watcher, but rather to the creature behind you."
Scrier stepped forward. "Perceptive, Golden One."
"Galactus told me of his intent to recruit you to our side of this conflict. Was he successful?"
"Like the Watcher, I prefer to wait and see the outcome before taking a side."
Despite Adam's stoic expression, his disdain was subtly evident. However, he could no longer afford distraction. He turned to his allies and nodded. All the gathered heroes entered their assigned, now transparent, Dark Circle counterparts superimposed over the Cosmic Beings. As the villains had before them, they sat within the infinite energy circuit. They felt their bodies becoming energy, yet maintaining an odd coherence merged with their counterparts. Now they truly understood the reason the event was deemed the Union.
Thor merged with Loki and Surtur.
Starhawk merged with Korvac and Galactus.
Quasar merged with Maelstrom and Epoch.
Gladiator merged with Dark Phoenix in the altered form of Gamora, and the Grandmaster.
Captain Marvel merged with Doctor Doom and Franklin Richards.
The golden Surfer merged with Mephisto and the Universal in the form of the Beyonder.
Doctor Strange merged with Dormammu and the Vishanti.
Adam Warlock merged with the Magus in the altered form of Pip the Troll, and the Soul-Taker in the form of Count Abyss. He was the only hero to retain complete composure, having sampled omnipotence before this.
Tyrant remained alone in the midst of the circles. The energy streams he channeled from every angle were like the spokes of a wheel.
The heroes' intent was to dilute, counteract or interrupt the energy transfer to the Dark Circle's members, thereby leaving the energy to those Beings for whom it was intended.
The harmonic field of energy wavered. Each hero felt the draw of nigh infinite power coursing through his veins. Perhaps due to the overwhelming power itself, perhaps due to Mephisto's malignant influence, each hero secretly wondered what would happen if he did claim a portion of the Union for himself. Several heroes were ashamed at the thought, others remembered tales of the X-Men's Dark Phoenix and her fall. Still others recalled the adage: "Absolute power corrupts absolutely." Still, their mere presence was not sufficient to the task of offsetting the Dark Circle's access to the Union as they had hoped. The villains must have known this, for they did not seem concerned by the heroes' actions, reveling as they were in the glories of the infinite.
Adam knew that, in order for the intended infinite circuit to complete its purpose, the villainous circuit must be interrupted somehow. He focused his mastery over souls upon Dark Phoenix and the Magus before him. "Gamora, Pip, now!"
From within the physical frames of the two villains, despite being intangible in the omnipotent conversion of matter and energy, the spirits of Gamora and Pip fought from within to regain control of their bodies.
So enraptured with basking in the free flow of the infinite, the Dark Phoenix and the Magus were taken unawares by the return of their host forms' original inhabitants. Gamora was the first to reclaim her body, as the Phoenix force became a huge fiery bird surrounding her. The bird attempted to reenter by means of Gamora's mouth, but it was too late. The whirling energies of the infinite circuit began tugging at the Phoenix by the tail, an inevitable pull more effective than any black hole. With a fiery screech, the avian entity swirled instantly to nothing, further adding to the energies present.
Adam Warlock scanned the Nexus once more for Thanos. Surely the Mad Titan would have known that Gamora and Pip would return to the bodies that had housed them. He had carefully chosen their bodies, after all. Was he counting on that as part of his plan?
Dormammu reacted to the Phoenix's departure with near panic. "No! Not when we are so close!" To his comrades, he exclaimed, "Thanos lived up to his part of the bargain! The rest depends on us!"
Adam finally understood. Thanos' unwavering sense of honor would not allow him to break his promise of access to infinite power for his fellow members of the Dark Circle, if that was their arrangement. But he had to build in a post-promise failsafe to ensure that they would not interfere in his true goal, whatever that might be. Ingenious, thought Adam, although he expected nothing less from the Mad Titan. Still, the spectral messenger from the beginning of the Cosmic Union had warned of eight and one other. Despite the realization of the messenger's identity, Adam suspected that the intelligence passed on was valid, serving the messenger's ultimate purpose. Adam had assumed that Doom was the ninth, but with Thanos not present, there were again eight. Who, then, could the ninth be?
Pip was having greater difficulty than Gamora had had in reasserting control, as the Magus beat himself in the face, hoping to make pain force Pip away. To do so, the Magus had become tangible once more, further interrupting the dark usurpation of the Union.
The villainous circuit was damaged beyond repair. The infinite circuit of Cosmic Beings ejected them from the energy transfer, leaving only the heroes to guard over the culmination of the Union. Dormammu and Mephisto, the first two to recover from the ordeal, fought and clawed mercilessly to regain their positions, but to no avail. An equal number of conduits was no longer viable. They were barred from reentry.
The bodies of Gamora and Pip had already begun to revert to their usual forms. Pip's face was bruised and bloodied by the self-inflicted pounding, but the Magus and Pip still wrestled for control. Gamora was quick to retrieve the huge displacer cannon that the villains had used on Glorian and the Destroyer-armored Goddess. As the soulless essence of the Magus was finally forced out of Pip, Gamora fired the weapon. The Magus wailed as he was banished to whatever transdimensional corridor that held the Destroyer-armored Goddess and Glorian.
The villains circled about the impenetrable Union toward the two former members of the Infinity Watch. Gamora instantly aimed the cannon at them. Doctor Doom had foreseen that possibility, and activated a mechanism on his armored left wrist. The cannon began to overheat, forcing Gamora to drop it. Within a moment, it was melted to slag.
"So much for the easy way," Pip commented, still rubbing the welts on his jaw line.
Without warning, the Soul-Taker screamed. Green fumes rose from the body of Count Abyss, swirling toward Adam Warlock's Soul Gem. Although the Gem on Adam's brow no longer contained the dimensional Soul World, it still served as the Soul-Taker's default prison, clearly by the decree of forces greater than any present at the Nexus. Despite Adam's protestations, the vampiric creature re-merged with the emerald Infinity Gem.
Too late, Adam realized that what had worked for Pip and Gamora could also work for
" Count Abyss!" Thanos' ninth! Adam silently cursed himself for a fool. The answer had been in front of him all along. Thanos had never intended to come to the Nexus of All Realities himself. Time and again, omnipotence had proven not to be the best means to his end.
With the Soul-Taker disembodied, Abyss began manipulating the energies of the Union to his advantage. "I want a soul!" The decree caused a welling up of the infinite energies in him and away from the other Cosmic Beings.
The golden Surfer knew little of this Count Abyss, but he knew that having the Count manipulating the Union from within the cosmic circuit would be disastrous. In this case, better the Devil he did know than the Devil he did not. "Scrier! You can no longer stand in the shadows and observe! Your time has come to act!"
Scrier had apparently been considering that same line of reasoning. He approached the Union, unhindered by the wall of force that had prevented the villains from reentry. With one swift motion, he removed Count Abyss from the cosmic circuit and replaced himself in the vital position. The Infinity Gauntlet's energies had already become a part of the circuit's energy flow. Abyss lay, discarded between Adam's friends and the Dark Circle members that had recovered enough to swarm toward them.
Doctor Strange had also recovered enough of his wits from the rapturous thrill of becoming one with the Union to speak. "Gamora! The Union must pass! As long as Dormammu artificially prolongs the superimposed dimensions, the Nexus will be inescapable."
Gamora smiled, then said to Pip, "Cover me."
Pip was flabbergasted, seeing Loki, Maelstrom, Mephisto, Dormammu, Doctor Doom, Korvac, and the quickly recovered Count Abyss approaching. "Yeah, right!" The Troll ducked behind Gamora, trembling.
"That won't be necessary, Gamora." Susan Richards, the Invisible Woman, spoke. As she made herself visible, her words were accompanied by an unexpected burst of invisible force slamming against Dormammu's weakened form. At first, it seemed to have little effect. But suddenly, the dark-haired Faltinian, exhausted from the effort of prolonging the Union, fell before the invisible onslaught. "Warlock was right to have planned a ninth silent partner to counter Doom." She turned toward Franklin, still in the cosmic circuit. "Besides, I could never be far from my baby."
Gamora, Pip, and the Invisible Woman girded themselves to face the remaining members of the Dark Circle.
Part Two - Rude Awakening (Mystic)
Dormammu's loss of consciousness caused Galactus to stir from his apparent catatonia. Galactus opened his eyes. He looked at the heroes around the circle and recognized what was happening. Galactus' eyes began to glow and turned to Tyrant at the center of the circle. Two huge bursts of light shot out from the World Devourer.
The Tyrant screamed as the energy poured into the reservoir that was his armored form. He began transforming, as tentacles spewed from every angle of his body. Through his eyes, red energy crackled like the smoke and sparks from a burning fire.
In a matter of seconds, the energy flow stopped and the Devourer of Worlds had no more energy to distribute. The flow of the infinite circuit was staved. Almost instantly, Tyrant's swelling form burst with energy, redistributing itself across the infinite as was supposed to have happened earlier.
The Cosmic Union had de-energized and passed.
Part Three - Taking Flight (Morfex)
With no energy left to manipulate, the remaining members of the Dark Circle, including Count Abyss, bid a hasty retreat back to their respective dimensions, the bitter taste of defeat in their mouths. Each had touched the infinite, but was unable to maintain it. There would be time enough for plotting retaliation. For now, against the likes of Galactus and the others, departure seemed the most viable alternative.
Maelstrom was the last to depart. Noting that the others had already left, he addressed Quasar. "I do not care what the others believe, I am certain Thanos orchestrated our failure. Thus, I shall return the favor. The others do not know Thanos' true motivation in this affair. But I know. He seeks to become Abstract " With Maelstrom's final word, he too disappeared, leaving Quasar and the others to puzzle over his statement.
The two remaining, intangible, superimposed circles separated mystically into tangible forms.
Tyrant was the first to disappear from the Nexus in a flash of multi-powered light. Quasar noted a sinister grin upon the creature's face. Wendell felt saddened by the Tyrant curse, and by the need for a mortal being to make the ultimate sacrifice, one's sanity and conscience, for the Universe to continue. He thought of Ganymede, and his sadness deepened.
Scrier and Galactus nodded to each other, a begrudging respect shared between them. Without a word, the two entities disappeared from the Nexus. Similarly, Surtur and the Vishanti vanished without comment, their parts played out in the event.
The Beyonder/Universal entity spoke. "Once, all thought me a sentient universe. Then, a sentient Cosmic Cube. Know you all that I am, by definition, that which was inside every Cosmic Containment Unit combined, no less. Kosmos, Kubik, Shaper, all are parts of the whole that am I. The Power Universal is my life's blood. While I exist in my complete form, no other Cosmic Cube may coexist. Now and forever, I am the Beyonder!" The Cosmic entity paused. "Wait! Something is missing? This cannot be! I am not whole! The Power Universal was present in the Nexus in its entirety at the culmination of the Union! I must go to reclaim the fraction that has been stolen from me! To me, my Herald!" With the Union no longer affecting dimensional travel, Glorian appeared from his transdimensional shunt and bowed to his master. The self-dubbed Beyonder and his servant vanished, for parts unknown.
In his Nether Realm, Mephisto gazed through his blood red orb at the Beyonder's desperate proclamation. Grinning malevolently, he held up his Cosmic Cube, once an empty gift of Thanos, now with energies swirling inside of it.
Epoch explained her escape from the pod to quasar and Starhawk. "The energies of Eon and Eternity are my heritage. My place among the Union Circle was required to culminate the final wave of the natural phenomenon. Thanos imprisoned me for a reason, to ensure that the Union could not climax until he had positioned himself to maximize his plan. Once he was ready, the prison gate was opened without a struggle, and I was drawn to the Nexus by the Power Eternal. Thanos manipulated the timing of my participation as if he had had prior knowledge of the event."
Franklin ran to his mother's arms. "Mommy! I knew you were here all along! That's why I wasn't scared! Did you see the pretty light show, Mommy?"
Sue Richards held her only son tightly. "Yes, Sparky. You were very brave. I am so proud of you." She kissed her son's forehead tenderly, feeling the boy lovingly returning her maternal embrace.
The Grandmaster regained his composure and addressed the heroes. "Our alliance proved victorious in the end. Whoever said that winning was not everything, did not experience the Cosmic Union. Of course, with the culmination of the Union event, the need for an alliance has ended " A self-congratulatory smile on his face, the Elder departed from the Nexus.
Oera the Watcher noted the departures for her report on the matter. She suspected that the surviving members of her race would reintegrate with the Union's passing. Thor, Asgardian God of Thunder, turned to the Watcher in private. "Our thanks, Milady, for thy timely intervention in this conflict."
Oera seemed troubled. "What do you mean, Asgardian? I am but a spectator here."
"Let the others believe so, Milady, but the Son of Odin knows differently. The Invisible Woman did not defeat Dormammu single-handedly. I witnessed as much. But fear not, Milady. Thy secret is safe with me. Thou hast my word."
Oera nearly panicked, then saw the broad, handsome smile of the Odinson. Looking to both sides without moving her immense head, she returned his smile with a barely perceptible upturn of her lips. She departed, strangely pleased that her anonymous gesture had been recognized after all. Uatu's past motivations suddenly seemed more clear to her.
Part Four - Anticipation (Mystic)
In another plane of existence, the Dark Titan watched them through a mystic portal. Already, the dimensional doors had tightened and closed.
He had removed himself from the Universe during the Union's peak convergence, housing himself within the Celestial's armor and had entered the Domain of the Unliving. During the Union, Death's ban had no meaning. The passing Union's aftereffect of returning beings outside the Nexus to their proper realms would not affect him within the armor.
He would remain. Soon the Abstracts would reawaken with sentience.
And his former Mistress would meet her new husband and co-ruler of the Kingdom of Death.
CONTINUED IN COSMIC UNION #20
Go to the next chapter, issue #20! And 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! Also, 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 below or by e-mailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org