Protectors of the Universe #5Written by Morfex and Mystic, Editing by Morfex
Logo created by Lord Thanos
Published by the Cosmic Powers Fan Fiction Group in
THE COSMIC POWERS UNLIMITED FANZINE ISSUE #26
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Protectors of the Universe
(Note: This story continues from Protectors of the Universe #4. For other stories taking place in this continuity, see the POTU Archive Page.)
Epoch watched her teams from Io, their
Jovian moon headquarters. The
former Spinsterhood training facility had proven more than adequate for housing
her gathered teams from this timeline and others.
Each group of the Protectors was precisely in the position that Epoch had
Phase One had been completed. Each of the groups had a task to perform and was where they
were supposed to be. She had chosen
to mix and match the teams on this occasion to maximize the element of surprise
and take the extra-universal creature, Rune, and his Universal Church of Truth
unawares. Future missions would
probably be less flexible.
The Church served as a platform for Rune
from which to deploy his plans of universal conquest.
Of vampiric nature, Rune enjoyed employing brainwashing tactics -
ensuring converts, slaves and guards for his already immense and still growing
empire. The planet Sirus X or
"Throneworld," was the headquarters of the extra-dimensional creature,
who reclaimed the godhead of the Universal Church after millennia away from this
Universe, in the continuum referred to as the Ultraverse.
The Spinsterhood, consisting of Gamora,
Ganymede, Kismet, Moondragon and Mantis, had attempted to infiltrate the Church.
Both Moondragon and Mantis had been uncovered and removed from Throneworld.
Mantis was now embroiled in the insanity of Galactus the Devourer.* The others
still remained on Sirus X.
(*See Marvel's GTD
The Powers Cosmic team consisted in its
entirety of the Silver Surfer, Nova, Firelord, Air-Walker and Shalla Bal, now
known as Starglow. Currently, only
Nova, Air-Walker and Starglow were on Sirus X. Along with several others from
among the Protectors' mightiest, they had thus far failed to breach the security
shielding surrounding the Dark God's Throneworld.
This was precisely why Epoch had sent
them there. Their containment would avoid their involvement in delicate matters
across the cosmos. The only reason the three former Heralds were even on the
Church Throneworld was that Epoch wanted to prevent their meddling in the cosmic
conflicts against Galactus and Thanos that currently plagued the rest of the
galaxy, and their teammates, the Silver Surfer and Firelord.
Epoch recognized that, should the Powers
Cosmic ever become aware of this fact, they would certainly hold her accountable
for the command decision. But the mortals' sense of arbitrary ethics was growing
rapidly tiring to her. Cosmic concerns left little room for the petty judgments
of finite humanoids. Even Heralds of Galactus must learn their place.
The Star Masters consisted of Gladiator,
Drax, Captain Marvel, Quasar, Beta Ray Bill, Starfox, Starhawk and Jack of
Hearts. Gladiator, Drax and Captain
Marvel were off-planet, on missions unrelated to the Protectors' conflict with
Rune. The Shi'ar Praetor was by the side of the Majestrix Lilandra, deciding the
fate of the Silver Surfer.* Drax and Captain Marvel were exploring the recently
amalgamated Microverse.** The other Star Masters each had a role to play in the
campaign against Rune. Epoch paid particular attention to the progress of
Starfox, Starhawk, and Jack of Hearts in the conflict.
(*See Galactus the Devourer
(** See Captain Marvel
Adam Warlock of the special-assignment
unit known as the Defenders was also involved. Warlock, along with Kismet gone
undercover, was given the task of facing his creators and enlisting them to stop
the Church from bringing about a new amalgam of the two universes that Rune
sought to create. But Rune was not the only extra-universal invader on Sirus X.
The Protégé was the strange merging of
the two beings forming the entity Kireleon (formerly Gemini). They/He would also
be forced to return from whence they/he had come. No extra-universal being would
be allowed to take up residence within this Universe and jeopardize Epoch's
long-term plans. Epoch knew that this bi-universal amalgamated being was the key
to Rune's plan, and to his downfall.
It was Adam's job to destroy the Protégé,
or to convert him to their cause
and then betray him. Adam had placed himself back into his old body and appeared
to be taking control of the situation. The
Champion of Chaos and Order was well adept at caring for himself.
He would not require help or direction to accomplish his Machiavellian
Epoch intended to send Rune and Kireleon
back to their Universe of origin, dead or alive, before they could do harm to
this Universe. Although she was not
allowed to interfere directly due to the cosmic implications, she could act
indirectly. She had strained cosmic law to the breaking point since the Cosmic
Union, taking full advantage of the shambles that was the Cosmic Hierarchy in
its wake. But events unfolded on higher planes that would soon tip that scale
back into balance once more. Epoch's time to act was now.
Rune's inexhaustible ambition would
eventually allow him to threaten the entire cosmos. Already he had come
perilously close to obtaining supreme power the last time he was in this
Universe. This time, more attention would be paid to stopping such
ambitions from coming to fruition. Her
predecessor Eon had given Epoch a genetic directive to protect this Universe.
But Eon had not stipulated how. Epoch was fast learning that any means
justified the desired results.
Epoch had given her team as little
information as possible. The Church
employed many telepathic securities and psi-actives within their guard.
The less that each Protector knew, the better their chances of
The existence of the Spinster
Moondragon's formidable telepathic defenses had ironically given her away
already. And she had paid dearly by
means of a mental rape of sorts at the hands of the Dark God and his many
telepathic minions. Any further
knowledge of Epoch's plan could prove fatal to each member as well as to its
overall execution. Nothing else
must go wrong.
Meanwhile, the Guardians of the Galaxy
had appeared, despite the Cosmic Union's and the Destiny War's fracturing time
distortions, in an apparent mission to stop Epoch's original creation known as
the Timeless. It mattered not to
her. The original Timeless members
were predominantly extra-universal like Rune, so they too must be expunged
eventually. They had served their purpose in this reality, and the core
Divergent Timeless would prove far better suited to crisis resolution throughout
the multiverse. The Guardians were another matter entirely. The conflict between
the two groups might well eradicate both challenges to Epoch's plans. Pitting
rival factions against each other seemed a practical approach.
Epoch turned to watch a screen with Adam
Warlock at the center. He was the key to Epoch's plan, the most valuable pawn on
the board that was Sirus X. Phase Two would now begin…
Starfox relaxed in his elegant chair,
facing the Dark God Rune and the Goddess Alevolen at the Imperial dinner table.
While Rune devoured raw meat of questionable origin, Eros partook of the
excellent selection of Sirusian liquors. The son of Mentor spoke in his typical
"If you choose to consider the
means I have laid out on this datapad, the three former Heralds, Quasar and Beta
Ray Bill shall be neutralized in one fell swoop. They can then serve as
batteries to empower your mechanisms and implement your plan. Their energies
will ensure your success."
Rune briefly picked the hanging flesh
from between two fangs with a clawed fingertip.
Alevolen sat beside the Dark God, intent
on the conversation. "Why do you tell us all this, Eros of Titan? What do
you achieve from this betrayal?"
Starfox grinned mischievously, a smile
not unlike that of his brother Thanos. "I can make you both an offer that
we might all find… amusing. Brotus, your Grand Inquisitor, was right to bring
me here, rather than to the Protégé. Brotus' loyalties, at least, are not in
Brotus stood behind the Dark God, nearly
two meters of indigo muscle. His pose and features were the equivalent of a
military "at ease" position. They did not betray the doubts and fears
that filled his mind. What kind of man was this that could betray Brotus'
beloved Mantis and her teammates on a whim? Brotus knew his duty in bringing
this Starfox to Rune, but he did not have to like it. Starfox seemed to get a
great deal of gratification from playing at "cloak and dagger." Was
his existence so tedious that he must endanger his former friends merely for
entertainment? Brotus fought the urge to scoff aloud in disgust.
Rune lowered the shank of half-devoured
flesh to his plate. Raw juices still dripping from his lips, he said, "Do
continue, Eros. You have my undivided attention."
White Raven held Gamora's hand, waiting
for the second squeeze that would indicate a desire to make the bodily switch
from the decaying form she had worn since the Infinity Gauntlet Affair, to her
original birth body. It occurred to White Raven that Gamora might not be able to
muster the strength to signal her choice. It was a conundrum. Though many had
assumed White Raven to be too casual in issues of life and death, she felt
intensely about a person's right to self-determination. She had known Gamora for
years; they had met under the tutelage of Thanos of Titan. As sparring partners,
then friends, they had seen each other through intense life-altering
experiences. Now, before her, a friend required a leap of faith.
Raven turned to Kireleon, Protégé of
the Universal Church of Truth. "My love, I fear that Gamora may not be able
to convey her choice. What if I am wrong?"
"The decision is yours, dearest.
You know her better than almost anyone in the Universe. Stop trying to think for
her, and think AS her."
"If I am wrong…" White Raven
turned back to the near mummified remains of the corpse that withered further
with each passing hour. "May the Space Gods help me… Gamora, if you want
to transfer bodies, then say and do nothing! If you want to rest in peace and
let nature reclaim this mortal coil, then give me a sign. Flutter your eyelids,
breath deeply, vary your heart rate! Anything!"
Kireleon felt almost embarrassed for his
paramour. "Darling, she is now incapable of responding. You know that there
will be no answer."
Raven swung around, suddenly angered.
"I do not care! I am the one who will regret this if I am wrong! You just
want her as another pawn to exploit, like Crucible, Ayesha, and Kismet!"
Kireleon was unused to being addressed
in such a manner. "Raven, you are distressed, so I will forgive this
affront… once. If she does not wish to live, she can choose honorable suicide
as befits a member of the Order of Astral Samurai. She will still have the power
White Raven bit her lower lip, nodded,
and escorted the horizontal hover-gurney bearing Gamora to the Imperial Beehive.
The Protégé disappeared, reintegrating with that portion of his dual self
already in the Beehive. Being in two places at once had its advantages, but he
was not yet a full native of this reality, and must use the power sparingly.
Gehenna Midas and Binary left the
Imperial infirmary, still shaken by Gamora's condition. Gehenna was, in
actuality, Ganymede of the Spinsterhood under cover. She was doubly concerned
because she feared that the Dark God suspected her of less than total loyalty.
Her reaction to Rune's demand* demonstrated hesitation, and she felt that it may
have spelled her downfall. She must find a means of undoing the damage, but she
could not do so alone. She must find allies.
Perhaps Binary could be trusted. She had
served with the Starjammers after all. But how much of that heroism was Carol
Danvers, and how much of it was from the entity that now walked beside Ganymede?
The Spinster had to find out, and quickly. She waited until they were alone in
the Training Room, as Binary had agreed to a sparring match to take their minds
off of the last few hours. When Ganymede was certain that all recording devices
would receive false messages from her ever-present datapad, she spoke.
POTU #4 for details.)
"Binary, White Raven mentioned that
you were a former member of the Starjammers while your submerged consciousness
was controlled by the Terran now known as Warbird. She said that, in recent
months, you found that you could free yourself from that domination, and that
you came to the Universal Church of Truth seeking purpose."
"And what concern is it of
yours?" Binary responded to the personal intrusion with hostility, having
expected nothing more philosophical than a battle-training session.
Ganymede did not want to draw further
suspicion, but her options were limited. "None. Just making conversation.
Mostly, I was curious if you had found the purpose you have sought."
Binary looked at Gehenna cautiously,
attempting to discern an ulterior motive. "Very well, my first memory was
that of being experimented on by the alien species known as the Brood. They
grafted me onto the Human/Kree hybrid then known as Ms. Marvel. My consciousness
filled the void that was her vacant mind, but her own identity eventually became
strong enough not to need me anymore. In her sleep, I was evicted from her body.
By then I had served with the Starjammers, and discovered the meaning of heroism
and sacrifice. I took the Church's tenets at face value, and here I am."
Binary then considered Ganymede
carefully. "You are a Grand Inquisitor, Midas. Have you found your life's
purpose in that?" Binary's tone was surprisingly bereft of sarcasm. It lent
itself a hint of genuine interest in the answer. This was not just a rhetorical
question after all. Ganymede let out an internal sigh of relief.
Knowing that her next words could mean
her death, Ganymede continued. "I have found purpose, and personal
fulfillment, but not in the Church." She awaited some reaction from Binary,
but none came. The red and white energy being merely listened intently. "I
am, in actuality, a member of the Protectors of the Universe, and specifically
the sub-grouping called the Spinsterhood. We are a unit of warrior women seeking
to bring justice and freedom to the Cosmos."
Binary slowly shook her head in
disbelief. "Why… why do you tell me these things? They are sacrilege! You
as much as admit to heresy and treason!" Suddenly, the entity accessed the
focused energies of a binary star system's white hole to blast Ganymede with a
fiery beam of force.
Ganymede barely averted the attack. She
knew that the onslaught had been less than Binary's full potential, but enough
to hurt even a Spinster. Ganymede took a defensive position, her weapon of
choice, a Spinsterhood staff, entering her hand as if from thin air. "True.
I take a terrible risk in doing so, but I feel you would make an excellent
addition to my team."
"Protector… of the
Universe?" Binary was taken aback by the prospect. "But you do not
even know me! How do you know I will not immediately turn you over to the Dark
God?" Binary soared into the air, but the Training Facility's ceiling did
not extend higher than thirty meters, so her maneuverability was less than in an
outdoor environment. She clapped
her hands together and a wide dispersal beam of white energy approached
Ganymede tapped one end of her staff,
and a smooth sheen of protective force enveloped her body like an oval about
her. The energy wave bounced off the defensive surface, ricocheting back in
Binary's direction. "Because, Sister, I sense in you a kindred spirit.
Among my many powers is the ability to discern allies, and you are an ideal
candidate for recruitment. Tell me, have I misjudged your character?" The
staff shielding could not withstand another such blow. Ganymede had either just
guaranteed her own demise, or forged a new alliance, she knew not which.
Binary was momentarily lost in
introspection, hovering in the air. Ganymede would not take the offensive in
this instance. Suddenly, the uneasy silence was interrupted by Ganymede's wrist
communicator. Ganymede glanced at it, then addressed the Binary Star above her.
"White Raven has summoned us. It is time to make your decision."
Continued in Protectors of the Universe #6! 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!