Protectors of the Universe Spotlight #4: Obliterator Reborn
Written by Azmodi, Edited by Morfex
With a slight shimmer of light, the gaunt figure of En Dwi Gast, the
Elder known simply as the Grandmaster appeared in the darkness. Night had fallen long ago
on the solitary planet he stood upon now, but the lack of light was far from a hindrance
to senses enhanced so far as his were. His ancient eyes saw through the darkness far
better than any man's did in the peak of noonday.
He slid those two orbs across his surroundings, looking to see if any surprises were awaiting him amongst the lush trees and virulent waterfalls of the paradise world. Glowing eyes looked back at him from the dense foliage with suspicion, but none of their owners dared make their presence any more known, for they sensed as surely as the Elder did the true order and balance of power that had existed since his arrival mere moments before.
His cataloguing of the landscape complete, the Grandmaster strode forward with purposeful steps that were nonetheless far from rushed. A being who had lived for five billion years, nearly as old as the universe itself, was not used to being expedient in his endeavors, and today was no different.
The Grandmaster 's motions were neither hurried, nor panicked. As he walked along, nearing the being he knew lay no more than a handful of yards before him, his nerves remained colder than the most frigid of Jovian ice, and he studied his surroundings with impassivity, the very heartbeats of nearby insects noted for possible future use.
Nothing escaped the steely notice of the Grandmaster. Nothing.
Feet padding across soft emerald grass for no more than a minute longer, En Dwi Gast finally came to his target and reason for visiting this sphere floating alone in space. Before him hunched a great creature, nearly as tall on its knees as he was on his feet. It appeared nothing more than a corpse frozen forever in a pitiful position, rotted eye-sockets staring blankly at the ground below, creeper vines twirling around it as if it were a stone pillar in a fabulous garden. Here and there, amongst plant-life and lifeless gray skin, patches of rusted and damaged equipment were visible, but those glimpses were fleeting.
Nevertheless, the lanky gamesman sensed a flickering of life still in that rotting pillar of flesh and metal, a mere smoldering of the Power Primordial still lingering in his bones, albeit untapped.
The Grandmaster nearly shook his head with disgust at the pathetic state one of his fellow Elders, a Brother, had fallen to here. He had played his game and lost, yet had not had the dignity to stand again on his feet and ascend to the board once again. A disappointment, most assuredly, but one not unforgivable. His family was long-dead, and the Elders were now substitutes for them, though at time poor ones. He would not abandon his Brother, this time. Gast would grant him a second lease on eternal life.
"Obliterator. Taht Pacle, it is time that you freed yourself from wallowing in your sorrows and rejoined your Brothers." The Grandmaster spoke authority, as if disciplining a young child, "There are great things afoot, and we would have you at our side when we take advantage of them."
The husk of a being stirred, barely. A hand that had not moved since his defeat, a head that had not been raised for nearly that long, slowly moved from their olden placements. Raising, wavering, from the ground, the Obliterator's fingers reached out for the Grandmaster, tattered shreds of fetid flesh hanging off them like draperies. His once mighty skull was nothing more than a shrunken bulb, bone showing through torn skin more often than not.
The mockery's mouth opened, revealing horribly rotted stumps that had once been teeth, and moaned, a deep, mournful sound that nearly managed to penetrate the Grandmaster's icy facade of cool dispassion. So pitiful and weak did it sound, all hope and purpose long ago wasted away into nothing more than a mound of offal.
Almost mechanically, the blue-faced Elder flicked his wrist at the creature before him, seeking to end that awful sound before it truly did begin to affect him.
End the sound indeed did his action, as Taht Pacle's wretched form was engulfed in glowing golden light and lifted into the very air itself. Working almost as if they had minds of their own, beads of radiant golden energy pinched off from the encompassing cloud and began to swirl around the near-corpse. With each pass, the layers of vegetation and rusted machinery dropped away, absorbed into the living light itself.
Within moments the Obliterator was at least a shadow of his former self, standing on unsteady feet, towering above the Grandmaster, but far from intimidating his fellow. Yet remained the tattered rags of flesh he wore over his skeleton, now painfully evident as the bulk harness around his torso had been stripped away.
The Small globules of light still hovered around the taller Elder's head, as if waiting for orders from their master.
"Do you wish your former appearance to be restored, Obliterator, or do you prefer your current guise?" the Elder asked, as if he were some type of cosmic plastic surgeon.
"N no..." Pacle answered, his voice regaining a small measure of the resonance and authority it had possessed in the past. "Please, heal my flesh, but let it remain gray and tight against my bones...I shall wear it as penance for my defeat at the hands...of the Silver Surfer and the Dark Phoenix... and to remind me what a pathetic thing I once was."
The Grandmaster nodded at the other Elder's request, the orbs of energy immediately rushing in to bathe the rotten flesh of the Obliterator with thick beams of radiant, healing light. The flagging skin became taut again, mending and pulling tight against newly re-forged muscle. The blackened craters of Taht Pacle's eye sockets slowly filled once again with the whites of eyes, followed closely behind by the color of irises and black of pupils.
Something in his eyes had changed, the keen intellect that the Grandmaster remembered from centuries before had returned. No longer did the Obliterator's eyes tell of a simple dullard. Gast had lifted the veil of stupidity the other Elder had carried as punishment these past few centuries.
As the lights at last cleared away, escaping into the forgotten void from whence they came, the Obliterator stood as he had before, but differently as well. In the past he had been a deadly cartoon, pudgy features and thick shock of black hair inviting laughter and cheerful insults before those playful words turned to fearful cries. Now, gray skin pulled tight against his elongated inhuman skull, triple moons just cresting the sky beginning to shine on his bald pate. The Elder of destruction seemed not a comical farce, but rather a fierce engine of war who looked nearly as dangerous as he truly was...or would be.
"I thank you for your restoration of my body and mind, Grandmaster. In my stupor, it mattered little to me what became of my physical form, so lost was my mind in the depths of despair, caught between life and death; for my ambitions had been destroyed, yet I could not die, either." He spoke, the longest trail of words he had spoken in centuries. His voice was a basso rumble, now, as it had been in the past. Yet En Dwi Gast saw past the domineering shell with ease. Within that gigantic form still lurked a child who would not become a man once again until a weapon of destruction was lovingly slipped into his eager fingers, "But, as much as I am glad that you have broken me from my sorry state, still am I without purpose. No longer have I any worthy weaponry. No longer can I continue my life's calling -- to obliterate!"
"That," the Grandmaster said as his wrist flicked out once again, calling upon more spheres of ambient light, these glowing silver in the rising moonlight, "is a situation that can be easily remedied."
The globules of energy spun faster and faster, weaving a pulsing web of silver that slowly solidified as the orbs reached such a pace that they ceased to be mere orbs, but became the very fabric of the floating web, which bulged with some as yet unseen contents.
Gast gestured at the swollen sac of cosmic threads, "Open it, Taht Pacle, and take what you will."
The Obliterator gazed at the Grandmaster with a bit of puzzlement, knowing that his veneer of friendship could very well have been nothing more than the gateway to another one of his byzantine plots. Nevertheless, the destructive Elder strode toward the energy construct, reaching it with a mere three of his massive steps.
He reached out massive hands, seemingly able to shatter boulders with the slightest bit of pressure, and sunk his thick fingers deeply into the silver web-structure. With a single great motion he tore away the star-spun threads, and as he looked into the glowing epicenter of the cocoon, his expression could not help but melt into one of pure, unadulterated joy.
A wide smile plastered on his gaunt face, the Obliterator reached far into the energy-web, and gently pulled out its contents, treating the shining silver contraption as if it were made of shining egg-shells that would shatter if the wind blew too hard against it.
"Amazing..." was all the gray Elder said as he hefted the massive pack onto his equally gigantic back, clipping it onto his tarnished suit of ebon armor. He looked down in surprise as tendrils of ringed steel suddenly extruded themselves from the device, trailing down his bulging arms like silver snakes and washing his already formidable armor in a sea of silver, black, and gray.
A small wisp of liquid metal wound up to his head, entering his ear without a sound. His eyes grew distant as the small string of steel communicated its intentions to its new owner and master. Meters away, arms crossed over his chest, the Grandmaster looked on impassively, studying every detail of the Obliterator's reactions and movements, picking out weaknesses that could be exploited if the huge being ever turned against him.
His eyes clearing, the Obliterator turned to his benefactor and said, with obvious child-like wonder, "What an amazing piece of equipment, Grandmaster..."
"Nanotechnology has always been so, Taht. Think of any weapon, and it will be at your fingertips," Gast said, reinforcing what he had already programmed the device to tell its new bearer.
The Obliterator nodded vigorously, "I thank you deeply, and I would have you know that any ill-will I bore toward you in the past has surely been erased by this wondrous gift. I will help you in whatever endeavor you and our other Brothers embark upon."
In his fellow Elder's words of thanks and praise, the Grandmaster saw the darker shadows, the seeds of what could eventually grow into great willowy trees of betrayal. The Obliterator's hatred for the master gamesman had obviously not died as he had been reborn, but rather it been reduced to a flickering cinder that promised either to extinguish with time, or roar again into a glowing bonfire.
Gast nodded once, stiffly, in response to Taht Pacle's stream of kind sentiments, filing away his other observations in the labyrinth of his mind, in case they would ever be called into use once again. The Obliterator was indeed a force to be feared, especially now, but he was short on the ability to conceal his true feelings, even if those very feelings were barely existent, and he was most likely not even aware they still lurked in the corners of his mind.
Silence dragged on for moments more, and finally the gargantuan Elder said to the far smaller one, "Now, Grandmaster, surely you have stirred about another great plot to bring us all power beyond our wildest imaginings. What shall it be, and more importantly, what shall I get to obliterate?"
A cold smile flickered across the Grandmaster's thin blue lips, gone so quickly that a mere human would have thought it not to have happened at all. "That, my Brother, is something I will explain to you during our journey, as we must no longer waste any more time dawdling here, on this lonely orb."
"Always more games, En Dwi. But this time I am more than ready. Take me wherever you wish, and I shall follow."
Again the pale blue Elder nodded his head once, almost mechanically, this time as the two nigh-immortal beings began to slowly fade away from the looming trees and gentle caress of the strengthening moonlight.
When their two motley forms had at last vanished from sight and sound of the creatures in the thick bush, the small planet itself seemed to breathe again, and the creatures relaxed stances that had unknowingly grown stiff with nerves and fear borne of primal instinct. The silent pall of the metal beast had been lifted, and life eased back into what it had once been.
The Obliterator returns in Star Masters #1 also out this week, so go check it out now! Be sure also to leave us your feedback!
|Cover and Introduction||Cosmic Powers Unlimited Issue #3||Send
|Cosmic Union Issue #3||Obliterator Reborn||Star Masters Issue #1||Tales
|Supergirl Part 2||The More Things Change... Chapter 5|
|COSMIC POWERS UNLIMITED #1||COSMIC POWERS UNLIMITED #2|