Written by Morfex, Edited by E.A.
"GODS AND MONSTERS"
*Originally published in Cosmic Powers Unlimited #2 as POTU Spotlight #2*
Note: This takes place in the
Cosmic Union/POTU continuity
Continues from Super-Skrull #2
"As I write this journal entry, a heretofore unknown clarity fills my being. This self-imposed exile between galaxies has afforded me the solitude to truly indulge in unbiased self-assessment.
"I have been both hero and villain, warrior and outcast, military leader and loyal follower. I have participated in campaigns both devious and direct. I have returned again and again to challenge the accursed planet Earth's defenders. I have been called 'the Invincible Man.' I have been labeled renegade, and served a mad god. I have existed as discorporate atoms. I have witnessed the destruction of my Imperial Throne-world at the hands of the dreaded Galactus. I have slaughtered innocents while suffering from dementia and disorientation. I have nearly died of disease. I have witnessed my race frozen in permanent unnatural form.
"I have faced foes both honored and despised. I have known emotions both reptilian and mammalian. (This little-known consequence of our ability to shape-shift, this permanent memory of confusing un-reptilian emotion, is the ultimate punishment for, and ultimate irony of, our racial hubris.)
"As a hatchling, I viewed the stars and felt wonder. As a young conqueror, I viewed the stars and felt ambition. Lately, I view the stars and feel nothing.
"I live in perpetual shame, for I am a Skrull, and I have known defeat. My place in Val'kla'mor is no longer secure. More likely, I will rot in Hlavek. Sl'gur't, why have you abandoned me?
"It has been 17 writhes since I began my latest in a long series of exiles. Is it as penance that I suffer this primitive method of writing by hand, or as solace in its elegant simplicity?
"My vessel hurtles into oblivion, beyond the edges of known space, away from empires and galaxies. It is a void through which nothing else penetrates. In it I seek, if not true inner peace, then understanding of my true purpose."
Klr't, The Super-Skrull, began to doze off between written words. His grip on the writing tool weakened at one point. It fell to the floor with a loud ringing sound, forcing the green-skinned humanoid to open his eyes. Fatigued from cycles without rest, he finally opted to retire to his nesting area, and was quickly asleep.
The Klr't's rest ended abruptly. The vessel's proximity detectors were sounding violently. He raised the view-screen, hoping to get a glimpse of what could possibly be out here in the supra-galactic void.
The view-screen showed
"A small Celestial?" The Skrull wondered aloud. He was startled by the sound of his own voice, a sound he had not heard in several sleep cycles.
Another voice penetrated the air as well, by some unknown means. "I am the God-Stalker. I have need of your abilities, Klr't of the Skrull." With that, the being reached out with the staff he bore. There was terrible pain, agony beyond memory, then blackness.
The Super-Skrull slowly stirred, but he could not be certain if his eyes were opened or not. Total blackness consumed him. His hands were somehow immobile. Klr't attempted to struggle, but in vain. Even his mouth would not function properly. His ears, however, maintained full sensory input.
The voice of the self-proclaimed God-Stalker returned. "Be still, Super-Skrull. You are a guest in my Desecration Annex. The procedure is not a lengthy one, so be still, and there will be less pain. Given your circumstances, I thought it might be amusing if I shared with you my motivations for such an act.
"I once blindly served the entities known as the Celestials against the likes of Blackwulf and Tantalus. But an encounter with an acquaintance of yours, the latest Captain Marvel, helped me to put things in their proper perspective. I asked myself questions unthinkable to a servant of Cosmic Beings. And my conclusions were unequivocal: every last Celestial must be destroyed. Their influence must be wiped from the cosmos. Every mutant, Eternal, and Deviant strain of affected species must be annihilated. But what does this have to do with you?
"You have wasted your potential long enough, Commander Klr't. I will now put your powers to their proper use. Your bionically re-engineered body's surgically implanted power receptors have changed much since their initial installation. It was your time in Earth's so-called Van Allen Belt that caused this change. And that is what will prove of use to me.
"The shape-shifting Skrulls will be the first to fall. They are a direct result of Celestial influence on the natural order of your original homeworld. The Celestials have sinned against evolution long enough. The spawn of evil will be eradicated, then the source of evil itself."
The agonizing pain returned to Klr't for a brief moment. Before his mind could process the excruciating sensation, it was gone. "There. The procedure is complete. I go now to reunite with my unlikely Allies in the impending Celestial War, Terminus and Stellaris. I will forego your extermination for the nonce, so that you may bear witness to a cosmic injustice righted, and your contribution to our holy cause applied."
Klr't awoke with a start; his nest remained warm and otherwise undisturbed. The ship's proximity alarms remained silent. There was no sign of a visitation. Relieved, but still unconvinced that the echoes of pain within him had just been a dream, he headed for his exercise facility. With his ability to simulate the superpowers of Earth's Fantastic Four, he caused himself to ignite, to stretch, and to assume a rocky exo-skeletal form. Even his separate hypnosis ability seemed to activate in tests. But his powers of invisibility and force field generation were completely gone. Could that have been what the God-Stalker was after? But why?
Realization struck. A delusional demigod would hunt down his people. All because of genetic tampering done by space god's millennia ago. That, and the influence of Captain Marvel. His hatred seethed, but he knew that returning to the current throne-world of Satriani would take another 17 writhes, too long to warn his people. They would be caught unawares, exterminated like vermin, and then the God-Stalker would be back to gloat. And he was helpless to prevent it.
"NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!" screamed the Super-Skrull with none to hear his anguish.
From hundreds of meters away, the view of the starless void was peaceful except for a lone vessel, no larger than Galactus. In one window, a green-skinned life form could be seen, mouth agape in a muted yet chilling silence that lent the void an eerier quality than usual.
To Be Continued...
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