Written by Morfex, Edited by Janus and
"Universal Truths, Part Five: Grave Concerns"
Ganymede (Gehenna Midas), Gamora, and Kismet ("the Matriarch").
For Moondragon, please see ongoing issues of Marvel's Captain Marvel Series.
For Mantis, please see Marvel's Galactus the Devourer Limited Series.
Guest appearance: Adam Warlock.
(Note: This story continues directly from Spinsterhood #4. For past stories taking place in this continuity, see the POTU Archive Page.)
Adam Warlock left his allies at the spaceport. Although there was a current planetary state of emergency, Sirus X was much like he remembered it after his first encounter with his future self, the Magus. Despite the knowledge that the timeline of that future had been eliminated, Adam felt a compelling sense of deja vu.
He felt strangely compelled to steal his way into the Imperial Compound under cover of night. He entered the facility that appeared from his memories, the place of his birth: the Beehive. Its presence did not seem to surprise him, somehow. He dispassionately recalled the Fantastic Four's account of the newly reconstructed Beehive on the Earth country of Genosha.*
(* See Marvel's Fantastic Four #12 for details.)
Upon entering, Adam saw that Kismet awaited him with open arms. "Dear brother, you have returned to us!"
"What is the meaning of this, Kismet?"
"You are here to learn the universal truth, Adam. You are here to learn how our parents could possibly create beings of such cosmic power and physical perfection with such limited terrestrial resources."
"Our parents? They created us using Earth's advances in science."
"Are you certain? Could it be that we are not merely creations of the Enclave, but of other forces as well? Forces that intended us for a more cosmic purpose? You bear the Infinity Gem. What if you were designed to be able to do so?"
"Do you seek to confuse me with these hypothetical questions?"
"On the contrary, dear brother, I seek to enlighten you! Thus, in repayment for your past services to him, the Universal Church's Dark God has gathered here our parents, Crucible and Ayesha!"
Past services? Have I met the Dark God before? Adam thought. Ayesha?! What does she have to do with my parentage?
Two beings appeared before Warlock and Kismet. One he knew well, and for a brief moment, had considered him a father-figure: Wiadyslave Shinksi, the Terran scientist that had created him. Shinski wore strange raiment; his armor bore a striking resemblance to that of the infamous Doctor Doom. He held his faceplate mask in one arm.
The other bore an uncanny resemblance to Kismet when her skin was golden. Unlike Kismet, the woman had what appeared to be long, thick, metallic tentacles instead of hair. Adam found her trappings to be vulgar; she wore buckles and leather as if ready for some human game of sadism. Warlock remembered Sue Richards' description of She Who Is To Be Obeyed and fought off his revulsion. The decorative outfit seemed all the more inappropriate, given that the creature was clearly due to give birth very soon.
Shinski, the one Kismet referred to as Crucible, spoke. "We of the Enclave never forgot our first creation, the offspring of the Beehive's Lock 41. You were not our first attempt, Adam, though all of your predecessors were not viable or superhuman. Our many failures led to desperation, but our cause was just. We would have made a deal with the Devil himself, if need be, to achieve our goals..."
Adam nearly interjected, then thought better of it. Let Crucible speak as long as he wanted, perhaps the pieces of the puzzle would fall more easily into place.
Shinski continued. "We finally received the help we needed from an unexpected source. The genetic matrix that we dubbed 'the Ayesha Sample' was a gift from the stars. It was this genetic template, combined with my own, that led to the first of our progeny.
"That being was you, my son. You managed to escape, but we survived and never forgot. As time passed we monitored your actions. Sometimes with hearsay, at times with spies, often with accounts of cosmic exploits and infinitely perilous confrontations. We bided our time, developed other projects with mixed success. We even created another paragon of the new breed, who eventually evolved into the woman dubbed 'Her.' She too departed, but this was expected, and indeed, part of our long-term plan. In time, we were sure, our prodigal children would gather together. We built that contingency into the very fabric of 'Her'.
"We were proud of our creations' inbred ability to increase their power and influence. We were impressed by the powers of resurrection, manipulation of the soul, and channeling of cosmic level energies. We knew we had achieved our greatest successes. We needed only to reassert control over our creations."
"But 'Her's' birthplace had also been destroyed during a superhero raid (was it by the Avengers, the Defenders, the New Warriors, the Thunderbolts? We could not even recall, there had been so many). All our data had been corrupted. We had gained and lost cosmic powers of our own.
"That is when I became Crucible, and when I decided that, instead of crossing the 'Ayesha Sample' with another sample of my DNA, I would simply grow Ayesha into a distinct entity. The being we also called 'Her', and later, Ayesha, was to be the mother of a new race to populate the world in our image of human perfection. You and Kismet were the only two 'in vitro' successes out of hundreds of attempts. Ayesha would incubate your siblings in a more traditional manner: in utero.
"While I oversaw the final stages of development of my future consort, my fellows among the Enclave delved into human experimentation among the Genoshans, in a vain attempt to mass-produce an army of super-slaves. This effort led to direct conflict with Earth's Fantastic Four."
"A Genoshan ally of the Fantastic Four utilized a Black Hole grenade against me and Ayesha, causing us to be drawn into another Universe. It was there that Ayesha sensed Noel and Erik also bearing her genetic imprint. In time, we tracked them down and learned of their connection to you, Adam.*
(* See Ultraverse Unlimited #1 for details.)
"They returned with us to this actuality, with the aid and company of the Dark God they both called 'Father.' I do believe you know of whom I speak, Adam."
"Of course " said Adam, reeling at the implications of what he was hearing.
"The Prince of Void staked his claim to the Church of Universal Truth that he had established among the stars of this Universe during the Hyborean Age. This gave us a base of operations to recreate the Beehive yet again, only this time using advanced technology from a hundred civilized worlds.
"Even so, we did not know if we could repeat our prior successes. Thus did Ayesha become impregnated with the twins that we hoped would become your new brother and sister, Adam. But something went wrong. Instead of the golden hue of their predecessors, the fetuses had a violet complexion, white hair, and no determinable consciousness. Scans revealed them to be soulless, comatose flesh, and this was intolerable to us. So we reviewed your exploits and devised a plan to salvage their viability."
Crucible pressed a button on his suit, and a tubular container raised from the floor. Within it stood the lifeless Asgardian Destroyer armor. Swirling about the armor were two streaks of gold and violet smoke. Warlock did not need his mastery of the soul to determine their identities.
Adam was aghast at the sight of his Good and Evil selves, entrapped. "How did you find the Magus and the Goddess? After the Cosmic Union "
Kismet chimed in. "Fearing ultimate dissipation, they took refuge in the Asgardian Destroyer armor after being ejected from the Nexus of All Realities. When the Union passed, the armor also traversed the dimensions to the reality in which Erik and Noel dwelled. It seems that that eventuality has strong ties to our bloodline, a bloodline that the Dark God finds most appealing. There seems to have been an Asgardian connection as well."*
(*See Cosmic Union # 19 for details.)
Kismet continued. "Your Soul Gem may be free of spirits and half-spirits, but your heart does not carry Good and Evil as it should. You are no longer this Universe's Supreme Being. You must therefore reabsorb that mortal burden to attain true humanity once more."
With those words, the wisps of smoke that were his Good and Evil emerged from their containment, and, through his eyes, abruptly re-entered his soul for the first time since they had been cast out. The Master of the Soul screamed aloud, more in irony than agony. How could one be in tune with the powers of the Soul Gem and not be aware that his own soul was incomplete without the parts he had banished?
Adam stood erect, shuddering with the disturbing sensation of good and evil re-establishing their rightful sway in his mind. He remembered for the first time since before the Infinity Gauntlet affair, since before his self-imposed hermitage to prepare for the return of Thanos: he was a good man!
He turned with concern toward the spiritual husks that were the Magus and the Goddess. The smoke that had entered him continued to swirl about the Destroyer armor. "Why have they not dissipated? They are not true spirits."
Kismet smiled. "They are more than just the Good and Evil within you, Adam. They have earned their own proper identities. Thus, our parents have arranged for physical bodies of their own to function as permanent housing for the fledgling entities you see before you."
Ayesha stepped forward. Suddenly, as with Adam, her eyes were filled with the essences that were the antagonists of the Infinity War and Crusade. The swirls of mist disappeared inside her, and did not re-emerge.
Crucible turned to Adam. "My son! Use your powers of spiritual acuity. Have the nascent near-souls bonded with the soulless twins?"
Adam nodded without thinking, then suddenly gripped his chest. "It cannot be! Even with my Good and Evil returned to me, my soul is not whole! How is this possible?"
Kismet turned to Crucible. "It is as we feared, father. Adam's return to the normal human condition has made evident that which has long been hidden: the Soul Gem may be devoid of spirits since the Cosmic Union, but the Soul-Taker still inhabits the Gem, and feeds off of Adam's essence. Additionally, Adam's current form is but a pale copy of his original physical form, the one I animated so long ago.*
(*See Marvel Two-In-On #54 for details.)
Kismet's expression was one of genuine concern. "Adam, during your afterlife within the Soul Gem, I used my cosmic level abilities to bring your physical body to the prime of health. When I learned that your spirit would not return to it, I withdrew the life force I had shared, and let your corpse rest in peace. The reintegration of your true body and soul should make you feel whole again, more than the sum of your parts as you now stand."
Adam was not swayed. "This form has served me well through the past few years. Why should I do as you say?"
"Now you have an opportunity to reclaim your original body, a body now free of the Soul Gem!"
"I have been offered that particular temptation before.* I choose to resist, for the Soul Gem is a burden and responsibility that I gladly bear to keep the object from evil hands. Loathe as I am to possess it, letting it be abused by others is a worse fate still."
(* See Marvel's Warlock Limited Series #4 for details.)
Crucible stepped forward. "My son, please listen to us. We seek to offer you a chance at a real life. Trust us."
Adam was adamant. "When I was first born, I rebelled from the likes of you, Crucible, who sought only to manipulate and control me. How has that fact changed?"
Kismet opened an adjacent doorway, revealing Adam's relocated original gravesite. "Behold, the three gravestones that indicate your first burial place, recovered from their anonymous site. Watch as my abilities stretch forth across the patch of ground as they did once before."
All eyes turned to the graves. Very quietly, the three corpses began to emerge from their plot of earth.
Adam was dumbfounded. "Why have you done such a thing? What do Gamora and Pip have to do with my reintegration?"
The three corpses stood, as if newborn. Their physical forms were at the very pinnacle of health and power. These were the birth-bodies of the three former members of the Infinity Watch.
Ayesha smiled, a grin reminiscent of Thanos in its self-satisfaction. "Why, my son. You have been a squatter in a human corpse long enough. Now, you can return to the body that you were born with."
"And what if I refuse?"
"See for yourself, in that mirror "
Adam turned to see his own reflection. His face was beginning to decompose, layers of dried flesh peeling from his cheeks. He touched his face with both hands and said, "Gamora and Pip "
Gamora turned to Ganymede as the two Spinsters guarded the manually carried hover carriage of the Dark God en route to the sacred pilgrimage site. Ganymede stared in horror at her teammate, afraid to reveal their relationship. When the others were not looking, she subtly pointed at her own face, mouthing silently the words, "Your face!"
Gamora looked at her reflection in the metallic sheen of the carriage's side. She saw the strips of dried, flaking flesh peel back from her nose and forehead
Continued in the big finale, Protectors of the Universe #1! Be sure to also check out our new Cosmic Union Continuity Reference Page and Protectors of the Universe Reference Page for other stories in this continuity. And don't forget to send some comments below!