Protectors of the Universe #9Written by Morfex, Edited by E.A. Morrissey and Anomaly
Logo created by Lord Thanos
Published by the Cosmic Powers Fan Fiction Group in
THE COSMIC POWERS UNLIMITED FANZINE ISSUE #31
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Protectors of the Universe
“We classify disease as error, which nothing but Truth or Mind can heal.”
Mary Baker Eddy, Science and Health.
(Note: This story continues from Protectors of the Universe #8. For other stories taking place in this continuity, see the POTU Archive Page.)
more on the characters in this story, see our new
Official Handbook to Protectors Universe
Part Nine of Ten: "Pestilence"
not bring himself to look the Protégé Kireleon in the eyes. Throngs of
soldiers stood behind Chief Inquisitor, awaiting his next command.
The being formerly known in the Ultraverse as Gemini could not disguise his
sense of betrayal. “Brotus, my once loyal friend. I have called you brother
and shared my innermost thoughts with you. You know me to be on the side of
Right. Stand by my side, brother!”
response was a mixture of guilt and anger. “You also know me well. I must live
and die by my Oath, it is all that I have now! I cannot join you against my God
and… my God!” Brotus seemed dumbfounded as his gaze fell upon the male twin
of Ayesha and Crucible. “…the Magus returns…”
Warlock’s left eyebrow rose suddenly at the Grand Inquisitor’s words. He
whispered suddenly in Gamora’s ear. “He knows. Somehow he recalls the
time-loop we wiped out years ago here on Throneworld. This may be the answer to
our little dilemma…”
nodded, imagining the implications.
his exclamation might undermine his authority, Brotus quickly regained composure
before his troops and addressed Gehenna Midas and Binary. “Inquisitor Midas,
Lady Binary. I know you both to be soldiers of honor and loyalty to the Faith
and to our Oath of Service. Step forward and join us against these heretics.”
spoke first. “I… cannot, Chief Brotus. With all due respect, their cause is
the just one. I have learned what Rune intends for this planet and for our
Universe. I must oppose him.” Gehenna looked toward Binary, anxiously awaiting
her reaction as well. It was only recently that Binary learned of the fact that
Midas was actually the Spinster known as Ganymede. Would she betray that trust
and rejoin the forces of Rune?
paused, and both sides held their collective breaths in anticipation. “She…
is right. Join us, Brotus! Your forces will follow you! They know you to be a
man of conscience. My heart tells me that my faith in the Church is misplaced,
if its Dark God can intend such horrors.”
already wrestled endlessly with that issue in private, and so he gave no hint of
hesitation. “Let those words of blasphemy be your epitaph. Attack!”
had sufficient forethought to design the Beehive for most any contingency. With
a press of a button on his armored glove, a 3-meter thick wall of solid sirusium
arose between the two forces. “It will only buy us a few moments!” he
pulled his long red cape about him. “Sufficient time to take the battle to
Bubonicus… and to Rune. Let us make our way back to the laboratory,
Back in the
original laboratory of the Beehive, labeled Lock 43, the gathered
revolutionaries hurriedly considered their next course of action.
quickly explained to Gamora her theory of the Phoenix. “Despite the planetary
defense grid in place, I believe the Phoenix force is everywhere at all times.
It can be contacted through a former host, I’ll wager. Gamora, you have the
means to defeat the Plague-Bringer, Bubonicus, just as the future Phoenix IX
will. You have been a host for the Phoenix’s energies.”
corroborated Aleta’s tale. “It is our best hope of defeating Bubonicus,
it due consideration. “I am willing to try.”
dimensional aperture, the emerging being was a tall humanoid. Its body was
completely covered in armor reminiscent of Celestial technology. It bore a long
staff, clearly related to the armor’s design.
Starfox, and Alevolen witnessed the entity’s arrival from a slightly raised
platform. At the base of the platform, Jack of Hearts operated the device that
fed cosmic energy of sufficient combined intensity to puncture the barriers
between dimensions, despite the planetary defense grid in place. Jack’s mind
was not his own. He was a thrall of Alevolen’s influence.
for the gateway also served as a rack of imprisonment for Beta Ray Bill, Quasar,
Nova, Starglow, and Air-Walker. Despite Starglow’s increasing energy output,
all eyes were momentarily fixed on the emerging entity.
Bubonicus. “I give you liberation, and this world as well, to slake your
thirst for holocaust long unquenched. My part of our ages-old bargain has been
has, Prince of Void. Very well, here is my gift to you.” Bubonicus extended
his left arm, and handed Rune what looked like a hovering pinpoint of a black
hole, plasma energy crackling about it. “Behold! This is a Union remnant from
the Cosmic Union cycle before the one that allowed your current access to this
Universe.* In combination with the most recent Union’s organic host, it can
open a rift between universes large enough to superimpose them upon each
other.” The hovering remnant shifted in space toward Rune, stopping in his
grasp. Bubonicus rose, suspended several meters in the air. “My incarceration
has lasted millennia. I am anxious to return to my cosmic duties. I accept this
world as a token of your appreciation.” With that, he rose into the sky and
flew off toward the north.
See the Cosmic Union Saga for details.)
perplexed. “Organic host?”
mused on the words. “Of course. Starhawk!”*
Star Masters #2 for details.)
trembled in anger. “Starhawk?! To think, Alevolen handed him to me as an
offering, and I discarded him to the Protégé for entertainment. I must have
Starhawk! But if we cannot bring Starhawk to the remnant… then…” His grin
broadened once more. “Starfox, I have one more task for you…”
quick to remind her allies of Bubonicus’ intentions. “But what of the coming
to the disguised Malevolence. “Flee if you will, but I must have Starhawk, at
any cost. Or soon I will discorporate from the extra-universal malady I now
suffer, regardless. Bubonicus’ powers are species-specific. Unless you are a
native of Sirus X, you have nothing to fear unless he targets you or your
species specifically. You told me it was in your best interest to see my plans
reach fruition. Let us see this through to the end together. Starfox and I will
recoup the Union host, you and your thrall remain here and keep the dimensional
gateway open in case we need an escape route from the coming plagues.”
nodded acceptance of the plan, and Rune and Starfox were off.
extended his staff into the atmosphere. His ability to create diseases was
limited by specificity toward a given species or individual. Sirus X bore
multiple sentient life forms, making his task more challenging. Still he sensed
that the majority of the sentients across the continents, the native Sirusians,
numbered in the billions. It was a place for him to begin.
recalled her time as host body for the Dark Phoenix during the Cosmic Union.
“But I have returned to my birth-body. The host body is the shriveled cadaver
that you see before you.” She indicated the desiccated corpse before them in
the laboratory where she and Adam were recently resuscitated.
not be dissuaded. “There must be a means of summoning the Phoenix Force
through this physical link.”
added another possible consequence. “There is no guarantee that the Phoenix
will not be an even bigger threat to the Universe than Bubonicus or Rune. We are
supposed to protect the Universe, not gamble with the lesser of three evils.”
replied Adam, “but Bubonicus is a menace that cannot be tolerated.”
Starhawk added. “The Phoenix Force is not evil by nature. During the Cosmic
Union, it was surely the taint of Thanos that ensured the prominence of the
Phoenix’s darker aspect.”
turned to Gamora. “At the end of the Cosmic Union, you battled Dark Phoenix
for control of that body. If you were to re-enter it partially and summon
considered. “It’s worth a try…”
spoke up, “Gam, I know you’re a thrill-seeker, but this is suicide! I
thought I had lost you twice, and that’s enough for me! I know I can’t talk
you out of it, but you’re not going in there alone.”
agreed. “I can reanimate the mummified corpse to full health, but it will be
soulless and revert to its original human form, as it was before Adam helped you
restructure it at the onset of the Infinity Gauntlet Affair.”
committed to the plan. “Then we do it together, Sisters. The more of us that
participate, the better chance each of us has of surviving.”
added, “I am willing as well.”
interjected. “One complication. The Phoenix Force seems to have an affinity
for female hosts.”
so,” added Binary, who recounted Professor Xavier’s brief link with the
entity during their joint service among the Starjammers.*
See Dave Cockrum’s Starjammers #1 & 2 for details.)
concurred. “The 31st Century Phoenix is a male also, a mutant by the name of
stood firm on the matter. “This corpse was a female host focusing a female
spirit. We will have a greater chance of success with female summoners.”
deferred to Gamora’s judgement on the matter. Gamora’s composure was
decisive. “Agreed. The rest of you can serve as a line of defense against
Brotus and the coming tide of soldiers. Is everyone ready?”
Ayesha greedily stepped forward, anxious at the prospect of affecting the nature of the newest incarnation of the Phoenix. The Goddess referred to by Kireleon as Her stepped forward too, still apparently somnambulant. Gamora pulled out her knife, symbol of the Interstellar Assassin's Guild.
off, ladies. And I use the term loosely.”
blazed with fury at the insolence, but Crucible’s touch on her shoulder caused
her to avoid confrontation for now. Crucible spoke. “Come, my love. Our parts
in this drama have yet to be played out. Leave them to their parts.”
being known as Her followed Ayesha and Crucible away from the gathered heroines.
Kireleon had returned to Him and Her a semblance of normal functioning, but it
was a far cry from active participation. Crucible wondered silently of what use
they would be in the coming conflict.
Binary, Ganymede, Replica, Aleta, Kismet, and White Raven each laid their hands
on the newly resuscitated body of the young blond, Caucasian woman of Earth.*
Adam Warlock, using his Soul Gem, allowed each woman present to have partial
access to the receptacle of the soul in there midst. Divided seven ways, each
bore a majority link with their own respective bodies as well. When the link was
securely established, Warlock removed himself from the process.
Infinity Gauntlet #1 for details.)
to the Protégé. “I will require your access to Rune’s legion of
impressed by the golden being before him. “How do you even know of them? They
are one of the Church’s most confidential secrets.”
that Moondragon is a cosmic-level telepath who could not be easily overpowered
stood in a circle around the cadaver, which rested on a raised laboratory
countertop. Moments passed. Suddenly, from the heart of the corpse burst forth
orange tinged cosmic flames, a firebird effect that, though warm, did not burn.
It filled the air above them. “What do you wish of me?” asked the fiery
entity. The voice was like an echo, though strong and feminine.
the first to respond. “We know you as an entity of passion, life, curiosity,
and healing. We understand that your history of possessing humanoid form has led
you down dark paths as well. We seek a boon, and make an offering.”
continued. “The offer: we know of your desire to regain physical form, but
your hesitation to possess or replicate a fallible host. But you can create a
new body for yourself, one that cannot suffer the base depravities of humanity.
We offer ourselves as templates for a wide range of human emotion. Pick from
among us those traits you desire in yourself and discard the rest. The result
will be a daughter, sister, and mother of us all.”
to the bargaining. “Reach out across this world and touch the countless souls
of the faithful that, despite their misguided beliefs, live to do good. We know
you have been misled before by manipulators and corrupters, but this is your
chance for redemption! Absolute power may corrupt absolutely, but the burden
becomes lighter when shared by a multitude!”
Force pondered the bargain. It’s longing to return to humanity was evident.
“Very well, your suggestion has merit. And what do you wish of me?”
“In an alternate future, you eliminated a blight on Eternity caused by a
creature named Bubonicus. We know you are capable of eradicating his taint on
Phoenix’s avian head nodded, then its body expanded, engulfing the women of
the circle. From the center of the swirling energies arose a stunningly
beautiful female form, distinct from all those present. Her costume was
reminiscent of the traditional green she wore as a member of the X-Men, but her
angular facial features and dark brown hair pigment bore no resemblance to Jean
Grey. “From the ashes I am reborn! I am fire, and life incarnate! Now and
forever I am Phoenix!”
out and felt the deadly plague that struck at each native individual throughout
Sirus X. Within hours, the world would be nothing but a necrosphere. Imagining
every molecule and genetic structure without disease, the Phoenix’s fiery
wings enveloped the world, a gesture of nurturing and healing. Within moments,
the threat was obliterated. Winded by the effort, the newborn woman before them
nonetheless asked angrily, “I go to confront Bubonicus.” She disappeared in
a shimmer of energy, a firebird consuming itself to nothing.
circle looked at each other incredulously. Aleta was the first to speak. “It
worked! Thank the stars…”
“And not a
moment too soon,” proclaimed Starhawk. He pointed to the portal from which
they had entered. A deafening noise exploded from the other side. “The
Inquisitors are outside the door.”
confronted Bubonicus in the clouds above a northern city of Rune’s Throneworld.
You who are the plague of worlds, disease-bearer. This world and all its
inhabitants are now under my protection! Be gone from this plane of existence,
for my allies and I have sworn to protect this Universe!”
roared with laughter. “Bah! Of what consequence is your desire? I am the
End-Bringer! I am to Mistress Death what the Celestials are to Eternity! Simple
mascot, your efforts merely inconvenience!”
used his staff to imagine a disease specifically designed to kill Phoenix. He
attacked her with the staff, sweeping its full arc horizontally across her
waist, making passing contact. “I sense you are the abstract embodiment of
passion, but with newly found resolve to maintain absolute control. My cure for
your existence is a plague of wild abandon, a cancer on all moral and ethical
limits within you!”
Phoenix’s first reaction to contact with the staff was dread, buy a moment
later a satisfied smile crossed her face. “Foolish vermin, I already carry
antibodies against your dark plague from exposures to corruption I have had to
endure in the past. You have no power over me. I on the other hand…” The
flaming wings of the Phoenix spread, but not in a nurturing embrace as before.
Now fiery claws extended to grasps at Bubonicus.
plague-bearer’s body language gave away his sudden concern. He turned toward
space and rushed at a vector away from the Phoenix. Unknown to him, the
planetary defense grid was still intact. The collision was visible from nearly
half the globe, in daylight, twilight, or night. Bubonicus recovered
sufficiently to see Phoenix approach him once more. Thinking quickly, he made
his way back to the dimensional gate from which he had emerged. Phoenix was
still in close pursuit.
Bubonicus reached his escape route, the dimensional aperture flared.
body was burning itself up at an alarming rate; the increased power output
melted the bindings of the siphon to slag. Gabriel turned to Shalla Bal,
half-conscious with pain. “Shalla, release us…”
Starglow burst suddenly from her shackles, her body supercharged and clearly ready to burst like a Nega-Bomb. Desperate for a means of powering down, she instantly rushed toward Air-Walker. By the time Alevolen could react to Shalla Bal's liberation, Gabriel was almost free, one of his shackles melted to slag as Shalla's had been.
Beta Ray Bill, Quasar, and Nova watched in helpless frustration as Alevolen dropped from the platform with the stealth of a jungle cat. "Destroy her!" she commanded to her thrall, the Jack of Hearts.
noted that the dimensional energy fluctuations meant a different destination. He
knew not where, but he knew that any realm was preferable to the threat he faced
to jump back through and disappear. The portal began to shut behind him as the
final energy sources, the captive Protectors Nova and Beta Ray Bill, were freed.
Phoenix forcibly kept the portal open and followed closely behind.
immediately recognized the location of Bubonicus’ arrival. The prison realm of
Hyperstorm, grandson of the Fantastic Four’s Reed and Sue Richards, and the
X-Men’s Jean Grey and Cyclops. In what Phoenix felt was a twist of cosmic
irony, Hyperstorm was the son of future versions of Franklin Richards and the
Phoenix Force-wielding Rachel Summers. Her energies instantly recognized the
kinship, extended tendrils of maternal compassion toward Hyperstorm.
weeks, Reed Richards, Doctor Strange, and Starglow managed to negotiate a
settlement with the Living Tribunal for usage of the near infinite energies that
swirled within this Hyper-realm. * Power siphoning devices were implanted within
the base of the skull of the now-organic former Heralds, the Silver Surfer,
Nova, Firelord, and Air-Walker. These four heroes now suffered from the Hunger
of Galactus whenever they used power levels above a certain degree. With the
implants, that Hunger was constantly staved, though the mechanisms also
implemented an upper power limit approximating that of the Silver Surfer during
his time on Earth.
Cosmic #5 for details.)
of the limitless Hyperspatial energy was the comatose Hyperstorm. Bubonicus knew
nothing of these events, but as a cosmic entity, he sensed the connection
between the prisoner and the Phoenix entity before him.
I shall infect your son with a particularly horrific pestilence tailor-made for
his anatomy. I give you one warning, let me depart with your oath that you shall
not follow, or Hyperstorm will suffer an excruciating demise.”
understood the threat that Bubonicus posed, but as a creature of passion, her
maternal instincts were compounded a billion-fold by the women that contributed
to her persona. The sense was overwhelming. How could protecting one’s child
ever be wrong?
well, depart.” The Phoenix opened a rift into another dimension. “You have
my word, I shall not pursue.”
armor made his emotional response to the statement unreadable. He stepped
forward into the aperture, his staff-bearing his hand the last thing to remain
in the Hyper-realm.
his words came. “It is a pity that you did not procure my word of honor that I
would not harm your child. A parting gift…” The staff extended suddenly,
piercing Hyperstorm through the leg. Instantly, boils and swollen pustules began
protruding from his exposed flesh.
Phoenix’ reaction was instinctive. She instantly sealed the dimensional rift,
Bubonicus’ hand still on this side. The severed hand and staff fell onto
Hyperstorm’s containment apparatus. The Phoenix extended her wings toward the
sealed scar that remained. Knowing Bubonicus could still hear her through the
scar, she addressed him. “I shall not pursue, but nor shall I allow you to
escape the confines of your new unpopulated dimension.”
immediately turned to her “son”. Extending her fiery wings again, she
attempted to purify him as she had done with the populace of Sirus X. Phoenix’
efforts went on for long, but amazingly, to no avail. She thought of another
recourse, telepathically sharing her “antibodies”, her experience in dealing
with the corruption of her past.
served to awaken him from his coma, as Bubonicus well knew it would, she
thought. Hyperstorm screamed in agony as the plague’s pain drove him to
began falling from the eyes of the Phoenix as she touched the cheek of
Hyperstorm. “Jonathan Richards. I am sorry. Bubonicus’ disease is beyond my
ability to purge. It must be because you are a descendant of my energies and
somehow immune to my powers. Or perhaps it is due to your unrepentant corruption
and madness from before Galactus brought you here. But I can at least end your
the Phoenix snuffed the life from the being before her. Her ethics rationalized
that the euthanasia was truly an act of kindness. She knew that she could not
bear her child suffering another moment of unrelenting torture. Still, she felt
it did not bode well that her first hours of regained humanity included the
ending of a sentient life, and a family member’s, no less.
lifted the staff and armored hand of Bubonicus. The glove bore no organic
material within, only the last smoldering fumes of some discharged energy. She
melted the weapon and gauntlet to slag, then to atoms, then to nothing.
Bubonicus would not threaten the Universe again while she was alive.
away, in real space, the former Heralds instantly felt the change. Their
implants no longer tapped Hyperstorm’s energies. The Hunger threatened to
overtake them again…
Conctinued in Protectors of the Universe #10! Also see POTU Spotlight #5: Delta Ray Dawn, which also leads into POTU #10! 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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