Untold Tales #1... featuring the Silver Surfer!
Written by Morfex,
Edited by Janus and Marvelite
Untold Tales #1
... featuring the Silver Surfer!
(An Untold tale of the Silver Surfer during his servitude to Galactus. Set approximately a century before his discovery of Earth and the Fantastic Four.)
The being known as the Silver Surfer returned to the "Worldship" that served as the base of operations for his Master, the mighty Galactus.
The Surfer was filled with great enthusiasm as he addressed the entity that had made his exploration of space possible. "Master! I have located a vital world, a world like none I have ever found before!"
The voice of Galactus boomed with the force of planets colliding. His tone, however, was one with which the Surfer was not familiar. "Does this world. bear intelligent life?" Was it hesitation the Surfer sensed? Impossible! This was the Devourer of Worlds!
"I do not understand the question, Master. Of what relevance is that?"
"No matter, my Herald. Merely the echoes of long-forgotten memories for both of us. Lead on."
The planet was immense, a vital, vibrant world teeming with flora and fauna. A pre-technological civilization was rapidly approaching their industrial revolution. The locals called their world "Magalanta", or "loving mother" in their native tongues. All in all, it was an excellent choice by his Herald.
The best yet.
Slowly, Galactus spoke the name aloud. "Ma. Galan. Taa."
The Surfer was becoming distressed. Why did Galactus hesitate? He was the Devourer of Worlds! His hunger was akin to a force of nature, his purpose was a fundamental function of the cosmos. Why would the Devourer give these insects even a passing thought? Surely this was madness, denying his own nature.
The Surfer wished to protest, but did not know how.
Finally, Galactus spoke again. "No, my Herald. This world will not be made a meal."
"Master, I do not understand. Have I displeased you somehow?"
"On the contrary, Herald. You have served me diligently and without question for over one hundred standard solar cycles. It is I who have done you wrong."
"Master, please. Galactus can do no wrong. You upset me with such words. Are you not the Mighty Devourer? Is your purpose not to clear away superfluous life to make room for worlds yet to come?"
"Your fealty to my rhetoric exemplifies the reason for my misgivings. Your unwavering loyalty is a fašade. I sought you out as much for companionship as for service. But your words only indicate the successful indoctrination of a mindless vassal. It is the companionship of your free mind that I had initially desired. And yet free, you would surely oppose me. Can there be no middle ground?"
"Master, I am speechless."
"There must be a way." The mighty star-god stretched forth his hand, and an aura of cosmic energy enveloped the smaller form of the Surfer.
The Herald fell to one knee, grasping the sides of his head with both hands. His face was a twisted expression of anguish. Then suddenly, the pain was gone.
"Arise, my Silver Surfer. Arise and remember a fraction of what it was to be a being of free will. Insufficient to recollect the details of your past, and yet enough of that which was Norrin Radd to befriend that which was Galan."
"I. I believe your effort has been successful, Galactus. I now understand your doubt and your concern. But fear not, mighty Devourer. The world below may have no means of self-defense, but perhaps I can offer them an alternative. Among my many travels in search of sustenance for your all-consuming hunger, I discovered an abandoned worldship not unlike your own, though vastly smaller in scale. The world is hollow, built inside of a large asteroid. If I were to bring it here, the natives would have a means of escape. Many lives would be spared, their species would carry on, and your hunger could still be appeased. Does this please you, Galactus?"
Again, Galactus' eyes shone with something that the Silver Surfer did not recollect seeing before. Was it pride? Relief? Contentment? Ultimately, the Devourer was too unique of a being to attempt to quantify in mere mortal terms. "Yes, that would prove adequate."
It was a simple feat for the Surfer to retrace his steps and encounter the asteroid that once must have served as a multi-generation transport vessel. He descended to the outer surface, bearing the six mechanisms from Galactus' worldship in tow. He quickly secured the six apparatuses, equidistant from each other on the surface of the oblong asteroid. These devices created an energy field that would allow the entire asteroid to traverse, in mere hours, distances that would otherwise have taken eons.
With the machines activated, the Surfer decided to explore the interior out of curiosity, something he often denied himself in his ongoing quest for his Master's sustenance. His cosmic senses detected an entryway to the inner world. He approached the nearby access on foot, gleaming surfboard under his left arm.
The access route took him to the lower levels. The miniature worldship was a haunting place, the technology reminiscent of. where? The Surfer could not remember. The place was completely abandoned. The technology was simple enough to gauge. The Surfer demonstrated a keen, adept mind for such scientific mechanisms. Why was that, he wondered? He did not recall studying any of the scientific fields that his mind seemed to grasp with ease. Galactus must have created him with the knowledge, he decided.
The central chamber of the complex seemed to bear a majority of the computer memory, so the Surfer made for this area. His arrival triggered a recording device of some kind. "We are the Oracle. We seek a better world for our people."
"I am the Silver Surfer, Herald of Galactus. What has become of your people?"
"Galactus." Suddenly, the chamber was filled with energy bursts. In space, the Surfer could have easily dodged the strafing fire, but in such closed quarters the burst hit their target with deadly efficiency.
"Galactus destroyed our world! Nearly ten millennia ago, the Devourer came to the Fabrina system and consumed our verdant sphere as if it were a fruit to be plucked from the cosmic tree. For this, the ultimate of crimes against the Fabrini, the minion of Galactus shall pay for the crimes of his Master!"
The attacks mounted. The Surfer's cosmic glaze protected him from the brunt of the attacks, but more than pain seeped in. "Galactus. destroyed a thriving, space-faring world?" The Surfer did not know why this concept so upset him now. It must have happened countless times before, but this was the first time that the Silver Surfer felt shame at the idea.
The Oracle's attack suddenly ceased. "You do not know of his attack on the Fabrini?"
The Surfer's quick mind sought to diffuse the situation, with only a few hours left before arrival in the system where Galactus awaited him, he must resolve this matter quickly. He recognized the energy signatures of the primary data bank behind a wall of the chamber. Using his molecular reconfiguration abilities, he instantly opened a hole in the wall and stepped through. The gap quickly resealed behind him.
The computer access codes were child's play for the Surfer. Galactus' knowledge must be vast indeed if his Herald could decipher technology so effortlessly.
The energy beams that shot across the previous chamber ceased. The Surfer scanned the data for the departure period of Fabrini history. The voice of the Oracle now served as the voice of the computer.
"The Fabrini had been given ample warning of the coming of Galactus. They had sufficient time to construct this massive space ark within a hollowed out planetoid, Yonada, from the asteroid belt of the Fabrina system. The details of the event can be found in the Fabrini Book of the People."
The Surfer found the massive text containing all the knowledge of the Fabrini people. The Book was provided by the creators of the ship to be read upon arrival to the hollow world's final destination. The knowledge contained within was a vast resource.
The Surfer considered the vessel. "Computer, what happened to the former inhabitants, the survivors of the. planetary cataclysm?"
"This asteroid bore the maximum capacity of occupants for over nine thousand standard stellar cycles. In the last century, every inhabitant was killed by a lethal plague which struck unexpectedly."
"I.understand. Where are the. remains of the deceased?"
"Incinerated to prevent further contagion. Every biological sample was purged from Yonada."
"What is this vessel's current intended destination?"
"Yonada is making it's trek through the stars to the promised world, where the population can reestablish its culture and thrive once more."
"But, Computer, there is no longer a population. Why does Yonada continue on this fruitless trek?"
"Programming did not include parameters for non-occupancy."
"What if I were to provide Yonada with a replenished stock of colonists, also refugees of a doomed world?"
"Then the Oracle would instruct them in the ways of the Fabrini and prepare them for arrival to the promised world."
"Excellent. Begin preparations for boarding."
In the time it took for the Silver Surfer to negotiate with Yonada's main computer, the hollow asteroid had already arrived, by means of the Devourer's advanced technology, at Magalanta, Galactus' intended target planet.
The Worldship of the mighty Galactus also hovered in near orbit around the vital globe that was to ensure Galactus' continued survival.
The natives watched with speechless awe as the Surfer descended on his board. Truly, many of them believed that their shining god had descended from on high to bestow his good graces upon them.
The Surfer was presage to the peoples of Magalanta, and so descended to the primitives below. As he had done countless times before, the Surfer approached the leadership of the various governmental offices. "I represent a force that shall consume your world. I offer an alternative to your species' utter extinction. Another world awaits, if you are willing to take the chance."
The primitives could not deny their new deity, but they did not understand the concept of leaving the entirety of their sphere of influence. Would they ascend to their equivalent of an afterlife? In their belief system, that was forever denied them. The juxtaposition was too disconcerting to bear.
The Surfer considered his options for expediency. "I demand a sacrifice your greatest minds, intellectuals, philosophers, skilled laborers. Gather them together for a special fate I shall bestow upon them!"
The primitives understood this request far better. When the Surfer's word went out, the entire surface was abuzz with activity. Soon, the intended survivors were gathered by a coastline on the planet's equator.
The Surfer was surprised that the entire selection of individuals gathered was comprised only of children. "I do not understand," said the Surfer to one of his intermediaries.
"In our society, the youngest mind has the most untapped potential and is therefore considered the most intellectually promising example of our peoples."
The Surfer nodded, acknowledging the beauty and simplicity of the concept. Knowing that the youths would more readily take to Yonada's intended education, he did not protest the choice. Indeed, he wondered why he had not requested it in the first place. "I find your selection to be satisfactory."
With this, the populace cheered. Yonada, using Galactus' advanced cloaking technology, descended into the depths of Magalanta's deepest ocean. By nightfall, the Surfer summoned the asteroid from the depths. It rose like some hidden island, seawater cascading down it's mountainous sides. The island got as near to the beaches as geographically possible. The Surfer created a silvery bridge of solid Power Cosmic to span the distance between the children and their means of salvation.
The Surfer was in continuous awe at the bravery of the young boys and girls that embraced their parents for the final time and strode onward to an unknown future. The process continued until dawn. Filled with pride, the parents celebrated with joyous song , as friendly bonfires lit the coast for kilometers in either direction.
As the sun rose on the beach where Yonada floated just offshore, the people's celebrations had begun to die down. The bridge dissolved in the glistening rays of the morning sun, and without warning, Yonada ascended from the water into the sky.
What songs would be sung, what legends told, thought the Surfer, should these awe-struck peoples be allowed to survive the coming cataclysm? Alas, they would not survive. Until this moment, the Surfer could somehow ignore that fact, satisfied that his efforts would help thousands live beyond their world and strive on a new one. That was, until Galactus required that future world for sustenance as well one day.
But why? Why should saving thousands be enough, when he could save millions? All he would need to do is take a stand, tell Galactus that another world could sate his undeniable voracity, sparing this one.
Heresy! Sacrilege! To even contemplate rebellion was to deny the Surfer's reason for being! No, that train of thought extinguished itself before it could even truly take form. The Surfer wondered, momentarily, what he had been thinking about, as if an errant thought had escaped his cognizance.
Yes, saving these people felt good, he admitted. Galactus seemed pleased, too, that fewer would die than expected. Days ago, that would have concerned the Herald, but now it seemed in keeping with Galactus' function.
With that, the mechanisms from Galactus' Worldship shuddered with energy as they attached themselves to the vital lifeforce of the planet.
In less time than it took to describe, Magalanta was no more. Over three million sentient humanoid lives were snuffed out, ants in an anthill that was the sole sustenance of a king. Should the king ponder the fates of the ants? So too were Magalantans to the Devourer of Worlds. And yet, what of the king's harbinger.?
The Surfer addressed the Devourer, with an eagerness in his tone. "Master! Has this world's life energies nourished you sufficiently?"
Galactus seemed to ponder the question carefully. "Yes, my Herald. I will not need to feed again for months thanks to your efforts. But does the passing of the many lives disturb you?"
"Master, you allowed me to save the species! This is the most generous boon you could ever offer to a sentient race unable to rescue themselves. I owe you a debt of gratitude!"
"And what of the denizens on board Yonada?"
"They will never know it was you that ended their world! They did not witness it! I have taken the liberty of reprogramming the computer to teach the children about the Fabrini system as if it had gone supernova instead of being a victim of your appetite. In time, they will forget there even was a Magalanta, and the deception will be complete."
"Deception? Why have you done such a thing, my Silver Surfer?"
"Master, they would not understand your mighty purpose, your powerful destiny. They would only see you as an interstellar serial killer! I had to prevent such an unjust conclusion!"
"Sophistry from my Herald? So now, with the slightest untampering of your soul, rationalizing and justification replace true support for my purpose and cause? My experiment has been a complete failure." With that, the Devourer extended his palm, replacing the Surfer's essence to its state just prior to discovering Magalanta. "So to, must I be undone!" Galactus' energies swirled about himself, then dissipated. Galactus stood tall, the flicker of conscience buried for another century. "So must we both play our roles in this great drama that is Eternity."
Thanks for reading this first issue! If you would like to write your own untold tale of a cosmic character for a future edition, e-mail it to firstname.lastname@example.org! Please also be sure to leave us your feedback below or e-mail it to email@example.com and let us know what you thought! Now check out another Untold Tale, this one by Grim, in Untold Tales #2!