Protectors of the Universe #1

Written by Morfex and WarlorTVor, Edited by Morfex and Marvelite
Logo created by Lord Thanos
Published by the Cosmic Powers Fan Fiction Group in
THE COSMIC POWERS UNLIMITED FANZINE ISSUE #19

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Protectors of the Universe #1
"Conflict of Interest"

(Note: This story continues directly from Powers Cosmic #5, Star Masters #5, and Spinsterhood #5. For these and other past stories taking place in this continuity, see the POTU Archive Page.)


Part One by Morfex

Gamora's flesh withered. She could not prevent it. Ganymede was certain she would blow her own deep cover if she showed the slightest concern for her fellow Spinster. Instead, she counted on White Raven's friendship with the Astral Samurai. "Raven, take a look at your so-called 'Deadliest Woman.' Looks to me like she's coming apart at the seams."

White Raven and Binary turned at this comment, then rushed to Gamora's side. Raven spoke first. "Gam, what is it? What's happening to you?"

Gamora held them at bay with one hand, while the other clung to the right side of her face, attempting to hold her cheek together. She was unsuccessful. She felt a gaping whole in the side of her mouth that made it difficult to speak. "My… body…"

By this time, the entourage had paused. The curtain of the carriage was pulled aside, and White Raven turned to the Dark God they escorted. "Forgive me, my Prince, my favored agent has taken ill. She is in desperate need of medical attention."

"Nonsense, my dear. Bring her to me…"

White Raven hesitated a moment, remember the sucking, crunching noises from the Imperial Courtyard only the day before before. The Dark God of the Universal Church of Truth noted the pause, and called to Gehenna Midas, loyal Grand Inquisitor. "My daughter, bring the one called Gamora into my carriage now."

Ganymede's alter ego was a high-ranking soldier in the Church's army of conversion. Now, her deity had made a request of her, a request that may well cost the life of her Sister to the cause of protecting the Universe. But she could not afford to show hesitation. She knew what she must do. She…

Suddenly, White Raven addressed the Dark God once more. She held a listening device tightly to her left ear. "My Prince, word has reached us that planetary defenses have been in full effect for hours. This traditional trek without the means of advanced technology has kept us from learning this fact. The natural radiation of this mountain range we now cross blocked most forms of communication until now. For your safety, we must all return to the Imperial Compound at once! A transport will arrive momentarily."

The Dark God pulled the curtain back in full for the first time: His head was grayish brown, balding on the top, but with long strands of charcoal hair growing over the neck. His distended mouth appeared to literally stretch from ear to ear. His thin frame was toned, yet sickly-looking. From his back grew two leathery wings.

Gamora stared at the Prince of Void with the one eye that had not yet decomposed. Hissing through her skeletal jaw, she stated the identity of the long hidden Dark God: "Ruuuuuuuuuuuuuuuune…….!"

Gamora swallowed with difficulty. By the Suns! she thought. Rune! Thief of the Infinity Gems, whom Adam confronted in an alternate universe filled with superpowerful entities known as Ultras. She must find a way to inform Adam, before it was too late for them all.


Adam Warlock stood erect, incredulous at his own helplessness. This was the man who had defeated opponents by will alone, outwitted the Devil, usurped cosmic supremacy from the Mad Titan, returned from the dead countless times. How could one woman hold such sway over him?

"Genetic imperative, my child." Answered Ayesha as if privy to his innermost thoughts. "Like it or not, you are of my genetic template. As descendants, you and Kismet and Noel and Erik have no choice but to obey me." Suddenly, the woman called Ayesha suffered a dramatic contraction. Crucible and Kismet rushed to her aid.

Crucible was the first to speak. "My love, what is it?"

"The twins arrive shortly, dearest. Ungh!" Her twisted features displayed the intensity of her agony. "There is no time! Aaaaaaaaaaaaargh! The pain! Glorious!!!!!!!"

Kismet attempted to aid in the birthing process, but with no formal training, she felt lost. Adam stood like a statue, beads of cold sweat streaming along his temple as he utilized ever iota of his will to supercede the commands of She Who Must Be Obeyed. Perhaps her distraction would be enough for him to overcome her apparent control.

The birthing was almost instantaneous. Crucible was the first to comment. "They are here! They are magnificent! They are… cocooned, as expected. Watch as the cocoons grow exponentially as the moments pass. At this rate, they will emerge as adults within a few hours… My love, it is everything that we ever dreamed of…"


Beta Ray Bill turned to Air-Walker. "Gabriel, have you seen Adam or Eros?"

"No, my friend. But we have more important issues to address. The planetary media is reporting on the worldwide defense parameters. It seems there are multiple dangers threatening the Church worlds. Galactus has returned, and is feeding solely on sentient life! And… this cannot be!"

Starglow watched over her friend's shoulder at the viewscreen before them. She audibly gasped at the report. "Norrin has become his Herald once more! We must find a means of departing at once! He will need our help!"

Nova was quick to agree. "I'm with you, Shalla Bal. This Church gig can wait, Silverado needs us!"

"That's not all," said Jack of Hearts, pointing to the screen once more. "Look at that report on Rigel! Thanos has killed them all! No wonder Sirus X is under lock-down! They could be next!"

Quasar was dumbfounded. "Thanos? But what about the recording he left at his base?"

Bill was quick to respond. "Subterfuge, no doubt. Sif was right about Thanos' return. I was a fool to think that Good could vanquish Evil permanently. But reports indicate that Thor and Firelord are already dealing with the problem. Still if we could but penetrate the barrier…" Bill's thoughts ran immediately to the safety of Delta Ray Dawn in orbit beyond the defense grid. He felt helpless to protect her or the embryos she nurtured in her laboratory. His heart was torn between his duty to the Universe, and his duty to his own people. She had tried to make the decision an easy one for him, but it was no less painful.

"No…" said Air-Walker, surprising everyone. "Epoch sent us here for a purpose. A greater threat lies here, and we must discover what it is! Firelord and Thor can deal with Thanos, while Mantis and Gladiator can help Norrin, but we must deal with our own crisis. If we leave, the Church may commit a far more heinous crime! Epoch, Captain Marvel, Drax, Moondragon, all can help with the crises beyond our means to aid."

Unknown to the Protectors on Sirus X, Captain Marvel and Drax were combating each other in the Negative Zone, while Moondragon impatiently awaited their return, amnesiac to her participation among the Spinsterhood and the Protectors.

Starglow and Nova looked at each other and knew that they were both thinking the same thing. Frankie Raye spoke first. "I don't care! We've got to at least try to get through!"


Quasar and Bill traveled to the planetary barrier with Air-Walker, Starglow, and Nova. Every effort to pierce the veil was met with failure. Nova shook her head in irony. "What is it with us and getting stuck on planets?"*

(*See Powers Cosmic #3 for details.)

Air-Walker threw her an annoyed glance, but understood her frustration. "We cannot leave to stop the threats of Thanos and Galactus. We must trust that our comrades not present on Sirus X will be up to the challenge. Our mission lies here, and Epoch has convinced me that the threat here is no less dire. Let us attend to it promptly."

Bill and Quasar nodded solemnly. Nova and Starglow seemed less than satisfied, but could not think of anything else.


Eros entered the bar and addressed the proprietress. "Mama Alpha, it has been a long time."

"Eros! Honey, you are a sight for sore eyes! Heater will be so happy to see you!"

"Good to see you too, Mama. Where can I find the luscious Ms. Delight tonight?"

"Heater is pulling a double shift as a dancer tonight, making up for us losing Mandy Celestine."

"Mandy's gone?" Starfox recalled the name from the confidential personnel files on the Protectors that he had procured unofficially. He knew that Mantis had been posing as a dancer here.

"You know her? Don't let Heater hear that. You know how jealous she gets…"

"I know. That is why I left last time."

"Eros, honey, have you seen my little bundle of love, Pip, lately?"

"Funny you should mention him. I just saw him a few weeks ago. He was on his way to Calculex, last I heard."

"Calculex. Hmmm, maybe it's time for me to take a vacation once the planetary defenses go back to normal…"

Eros stepped into the back rooms with Mama Alpha's blessing. She even gave him a bottle of their finest Cratarian distillate "on the house". Eros entered one of the dressing rooms to find the curvaceous Heater Delight applying cosmetics to the most unlikely of places. Not wanting to startle her, he cleared his throat with a less than subtle, "Ahem!"

Heater turned around. "Eros! Baby!" Her full kisses quickly rekindled his desire for her. Truly, she was a delight. Eros ignored his investigations and, consumed with the moment, spared no thought of his comrades or their fates.


Replica and Aleta dressed carefully to avoid recognition. Despite being from an alternate future, both women held strong ties to the Universal Church of Truth, and neither wanted to attract undue attention.

Replica firmly gripped the ankh-like symbol about her neck. "Aleta, I am a Universalite! Please, don't make me do this! I can't stand to betray my faith… again!" The young Skrull woman was clearly distraught.

Aleta turned to her teammate with concern. "Replica, you know we have to do this. I was the Matriarch of the Universal Church in our distant future. But the buildings I had frequented were thousands of years old! I know where all the secret entrances are. Trust me. I won't let you do anything you'll live to regret…"

"How do you think Starhawk and Alevolen are doing?"

"They know what they need to do. Let's give them the benefit of the doubt."

"Does Alevolen remind you of anyone, Aleta?"

"Not especially. Who do you mean?"


Part Two by WarlorTVor

Time.

Doctor Victor von Doom knew, as every time-traveler knew, that time traveled much like a stream of water. As with a stream of raging water, whirlpools take place, back drafts, rapids occur, the tides would shift and run in an opposite direction than it had intended to in the first place. Time, much like rivers, would finger outward, creating new streams or merely colliding into a barrier and the river would stop from there, or at times it would enter a pools of standing water never to move forward again. The timestream worked in much the same way. All these instances created ripples in the "set" timestream and created parallel universes. Alternate timelines would be given life, and focal points in the timestream would cause this, be it a time-traveler's interference in an important event or a watershed event completely on their own accord. And Doom was quite familiar with the theory, even before he became a member of the mysterious Protectors of the Universe team that called themselves the Timeless. Since he was literally a man out of time, Doctor Doom familiarized himself with all theories of time travel and its effects, no matter how archaic the theories seemed to him. But even though, through his infamous exploits in time travel, he was responsible for creating alternate timelines and parallel universes, he'd never actually "seen" one form right before his eyes. And nothing, not even all the knowledge of time travel that one could accumulate through years of study, could prepare Doom for what he witnessed in that moment.

The events of the last few minutes played back in Doom's mind as if reviewing his mental notes of those events would prove and shed some light at what he was now looking at. He, alongside his fellow Timeless, had been locked in mortal combat in the ancient corridors of what would be called Castle Doom in the future. They were battling no less than a version of Doctor Doom from the past and an army of Doombots. Of course, he had no recollections of he, himself, traveling to a past Latveria and confronting a future version of himself. The Timeless were being overrun at every turn by his past self's forces, and defeat was on the horizon. That was until the dark form of Black Axe, a minion of Kang the Conqueror, whom the Timeless encountered during one of their past exploits, appeared from a fissure that tore away at the very fabric of space and time. After the newly arrived Black Axe commanded the team that was the Timeless to enter the site of sheer confusion that was Castle, Doom seemed to be a distant, yet not fleeting memory for all of them. But now, in the wake of one confusing experience, was replaced with that of another one, this one more hectic in nature than the conflict in the medieval style castle.

Doctor Doom felt a wave of uneasiness wash over him, moments before he lunged into the fissure of space and time, then the instant when he witnessed an alternate timeline take shape. He turned his head to one side and saw himself! He blinked. And once again opened his eyes, and there by his side stood himself - or rather a divergent version of himself would be more accurate. Through the shafts of green, blue and pure white light that blurred past him, he watched his divergent self take note of his presence as well. A glass shine separated the two, and that was when Doctor Doom took note of a divergent version of the entire Timeless behind the other Doom. Suddenly he took note of something that was gravely wrong! Not on the side of his divergent self, but on his!

For Black Axe, the one who had summoned them away from the battle, was nowhere to be seen! He looked on his own side of the looking glass, in order to find him, to no avail. Black Axe was nowhere to be seen! Where did he go? But that was not the only thing that was out of place on his side. Justice Peace was there! He was flanked on either side by Century and Nathaniel Richards, but the fissure had closed behind Doom. He, in fact, had almost been left behind for the fissure closing at an extraordinary rate. During the chaotic battle, Justice Peace was shuffled out of the fold, no where to be seen. Doctor Doom looked onto the other side of the glass shine to find that Justice Peace was not among this divergent team of the Timeless.

"What was going on here?" Doctor Doom hushed.

He turned to face the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel. They would soon arrive at their distention, wherever and whenever that maybe. Doom looked back toward his divergent, and his obsidian armored hand reached out toward the glass shin that separated him from his divergent self, he watched as the other Doom did the same. His hands only a few inches away from the glass barrier, he hesitated. A dark thought raced through his mind.

What if he was the divergent and not…?

Doom never had a chance to finish his last question, for a blinding white light washed over both his version of the Timeless as well as their divergent counterparts, and the fissure of white, green, and blue streaks of light was no more. The only words that seemed to remain with him kept repeating in his mind: "The Destiny War. The Destiny War."*

(*See Marvel's Avengers Forever for details.)

Only to be replaced with darkness.

And all the questions that ran through Doom's mind all at once were no more. He had no remembrance of the encounter - if it can be called that - with his divergent self through the looking glass. All he remembered of the experience was arriving in their darkness that now seemed to encompass them. The blinding golden light from behind them quickly exploded into non-existence, the telltale sign that the fissure collapsed in on itself. Doom staggered to his feet and started to survey his current surroundings, unaware of what he had just witnessed ever took place.

"Where are we?" rumbled Death's Head in disdain.

"A better question, Death's Head," Nathaniel Richards started, stepping forward, he reached into a compartment on the silver armor he bore and pulled out a small deceive, he activated the miniature device a thin beam of golden light lanced forward illuminating the darkness. He scanned the device back and forth, "would be when are we?" Richards concluded after a long pause.

Doctor Doom stepped forward and removed a scanning deceive from his obsidian armor, the feeling of uneasiness nothing more than a distant memory. He waved the device back and forth and made mental notes, as he input commands. "From the chronal emissions that my device is detecting, we are in our proper place in time, the early 21st century, a few weeks after Richards assembled us as the Timeless, to be exact."

"That answers the when," Justice Peace stated, looking around the darkness. "But not the where, Doom."

"You are in the Spinsterhood Retreat on the Jovian moon of Io. The Great Forum to be exact."

The words had not come from any of the Timeless members, after they all exchanged quizzical glances with one another; they turned behind them in order to face the owner of the voice. Richards shined his device in the direction of the voice, and before them stood the Guardians of the Galaxy!

To Be Continued...


Thanks for reading our first Protectors of the Universe story-arch!  The story continues in Protectors of the Universe #2!  Be sure to also check out our 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!


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