Protectors of the Universe #11

Written and Edited by Morfex and WarlorTVor
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Published by the Cosmic Powers Fan Fiction Group in

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Protectors of the Universe #11
"Ultraverse Unleashed!"

(Note: This story continues from Protectors of the Universe #10.  For other stories taking place in this continuity, see the POTU Archive Page.)

For more on the characters in this story, see our new
Official Handbook to Protectors Universe

Part Eleven of Twelve: "Ultraverse Unleashed!"

“All that is in tune with thee, O Universe, is in tune with me!” - Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

Part One (written by Morfex)

I am Oera, the Watcher. I have taken upon myself the task of observing the exploits of the cosmic heroes known as the Protectors of the Universe. Today, a majority of the Protectors stand against the onset of an encroaching alternate Universe, a place referred to in the past as the Ultraverse.

The Ultraverse was a place of marvels in and of itself. Ultra-Earth bore numerous heroes in its past: the Strangers, the Solution, Freex, Exiles, the Squad, Firearm, Solitaire, Sludge, Mantra, Warstrike, Nightman, Elven, Wrath, Shuriken, Eliminator, Foxfire, Siren, and many more.

Several Ultra-heroes bound together to form Ultraforce, the ultimate expression of heroism on that alternate Earth. Native Ultra members of Ultraforce included Hardcase, Prime, Prototype, Topaz, Ghoul, Pixx, and Contrary.

As inevitably seems to be the case, the light of the heroes was counterbalanced with the darkness of numerous villains, including: Necromantra, Primevil, Lord Pumpkin, Boneyard, Argus, Doctor Gross,  Rhiannon, and the ultimate predator of all Ultras, Rune, Prince of Void. It is because of the machinations of Rune, the Dark God, that the Ultraverse threatens to superimpose itself upon the Universe of Marvels.

All this, my people have witnessed through the recurring windows between universes that have caused trans-universal exchange in both directions. Several entities from the Universe of Marvels have interacted with the Ultraverse in the past: the Black Knight, Sersi, Loki, Thor, the Grandmaster, the Avengers, Spiderman, the X-Men, Juggernaut, Reaper, Siena Blaze, Adam Warlock, the Phoenix Force, Conan the Barbarian, and others.

The nexus of godly activity in the Ultraverse was a multidimensional complex known as the Godwheel. As the foremost representation of the outer extents of the Ultraverse, it was the first to crossover into this Universe. The Asgardian thunder god Thor was the first from this Universe to visit the parallel Ultraverse many months ago, arriving in Vandalla, a segment of the Godwheel reminiscent of Asgard. The Godwheel was the now abandoned home of many such pantheons.

My vantage point is now just beyond the planetary defense grid that locked down all travel to and from the surface of Sirus X. From here, I can see that the Godwheel now encircles the planet. It reminds me of the rings around the planet Saturn in the Sol System that originated so many of the Protectors. The Godwheel’s circumference was just within Sirus X’s planetary defense barrier, as Rune presumably had intended to avoid outside interference with his plans. Rune chose the planet well during Earth’s long ago Hyborean Age, for Sirus X is the “closest” point in this dimension of reality from which to access the Ultraverse without involving Earth’s heroes from either Universe. Thus, his native adversaries like Prime and Mantra, two of the preeminent defenders of Ultra-Earth, would not be able to thwart his efforts.

Following the Cosmic Union in this Universe,* the physical laws of cross-universal visitation and transposition changed forevermore. I witness the coming events with trepidation. Although Rune has succeeded in bringing about an increasing Ultra-Marvel overlap, the ramifications to both universes are not clear. The ever expanding sphere of overlap has surpassed the planetary barrier, and will soon encompass this system’s sun.

As a Watcher, I can only continue to observe the events as they transpire, and secretly hope that the Herculean efforts of the Protectors will suffice to save two Universes.

(*See the Cosmic Union Saga for details.)

Starhawk felt his powers turned inside out as he made contact with the Cosmic Union remnant in Rune’s possession. His inexperience had led him to an impetuous attack, which may have doomed the Universe he had sworn to protect. He stood frozen next to the Dark God, swirls of astral mist encompassing his transfixed form.

Vowing internally to set the matter aright, he delved into the very depths of his powers, searching for clues to reverse the damage.

In the back of his mind, Starhawk recalled his own words at the resolution of the Cosmic Union. "I am Stakar, also known as Starhawk. My biological parents are Kismet and Quasar. An alternate future version of myself will one day serve with the Guardians of the Galaxy as 'The One Who Knows.' Although I am not all-knowing, I do have abilities beyond those of my birthright. I wish to learn of my heritage and develop in the use of my abilities as they expand. I believe that among the Protectors I can learn more about my powers' origins, and my ultimate purpose."*

(* From POTU Spotlight #1.)

The words echoed in his mind. Without meaning to, he had stumbled upon another clue to his powers. He was somehow intimately related to the Union event and its various remnants throughout the Universe. His first encounters with a Union remnant were during the Cosmic Union itself, then during the emergence of the Guardians of the Galaxy to this era.* Three interactions had to be more than mere coincidence.

(See POTU: Guardians of the Galaxy #1 for details.)

Did his additional powers derive from the Union event itself? Or was it an energy that waxed and waned as did the cyclic event? Would he live to see the next Union cycle? Who was the last Union cycle’s avatar, prior to his birth?

All these thoughts raced through his mind simultaneously as he internally struggled to reverse the expanding overlap of two realities. Externally he remained a statue representing the interplay of trans-universal forces. Stakar swore to himself again, I will find a way…

Panic filled the streets of every city on Sirus X. In a matter of hours, Sirusians had been swept with a plague and then had been purged of it. They had learned the bi-theistic Truth of their Universal Church, and witnessed the Godwheel’s looming presence appear over their skies, blocking out nearly a fifth of their sunlight. Madness ran rampant among the populace, as all their Dark Prophecies seemed to be approaching fulfillment.

Riots were breaking out all over the capital city. Mama Alpha and Heater Delight, friends of Mantis, Starfox and Pip the Troll, took shelter in the basement levels of Mama Alpha’s nightclub. They feared for their friends, and for their lives.

The Spaceport rocked with explosions from overheated engines. Everyone was attempting to escape the planet’s terrible fate, but the planetary defense grid barrier held. None could depart until the crisis was over, and by then it might be too late.

Jack of Hearts, Beta Ray Bill, and Quasar confirmed that Nova, Air-Walker, and Starglow had stabilized their powers sufficiently to reenter the fray. Replica, Aleta, and Brotus secured their position near the dimensional gateway. The Phoenix emerged from the portal bearing the still form of Hyperstorm, to the immediate realization and horror of the former Heralds of Galactus. For Hyperstorm had served as an energy conduit that guaranteed avoidance of the onset of Galactus’ Hunger upon their now mortal frames.* The Phoenix gently placed Hyperstorm’s lifeless body on the ground, then turned to the others. In a voice that echoed the anger and frustration that they all shared, Phoenix asked, “Where is Rune?”

(*See Powers Cosmic #5 for details.)

Brotus stared at the woman before him, equal parts of every female hero on Sirus X, as well as hints of a group consciousness touching every woman on the planet. It was like hearing the legendary World-Mother herself. “I…” Brotus saw the beauty as well as the purpose, and could not help but think of his beloved Mandy Celestine* and her abrupt departure.** Shaking off the bitter recollection, he turned to his wrist communicator. Addressing the Protégé, he spoke. “Sire, we have succeeded in uniting forces with the others.” Nodding to the Phoenix, he continued. “Rune and Starfox have surely sequestered themselves in the Primal Temple to revel in the success of their efforts. We will rendezvous with you there.”

(* Mantis’ stage name.)

(** See Spinsterhood #4 for details.)

Quasar used his Quantum Bands to encase Hyperstorm in a nigh-impenetrable energy coffin, still choking on the idea that Eros could be a traitor to their cause. He remembered Ganymede’s warning,* and shuddered. Jack blasted the dimensional jump gate, ensuring that no further surprises would emerge. As one, the varied entities assembled departed for the Temple in question.

(*See Star Masters #5 for details.)

Back in the laboratory labeled Lock 43 in the reconstructed Beehive, Adam Warlock noted that the appearance of the Godwheel was wreaking havoc with the planet’s telecommunications satellite network. His broadcast of the Magus would have to wait, but Adam always had a backup plan.

The Protégé turned to Adam Warlock as he disconnected his wrist communicator after Brotus’ message. “It is too late, Adam. Rune has succeeded. I suspect that Starhawk’s disappearance is directly related to the current state of events. Now there is but one recourse left…”

White Raven suspected what the tone of her lover meant. “Kireleon, I…”

“No, Raven. I know that our ‘alliance’ was one of convenience for both of us from the onset. Please, do not try to make it into more than what it was.”

Gamora felt sorrow for her friend. She was ashamed at herself for having thought that White Raven was simply sleeping her way to the top. Clearly, genuine emotion had entered the interplay between the mercenary and the Protégé.

White Raven was an independent woman, opportunistic and ambitious. These were qualities that frightened of most men, but the Protégé had clearly been attracted to them. In her profession as a mercenary, spy, and assassin, romance was always a minor consideration. Physical gratification was found often enough, but not the meaningful relationships that she convinced herself she never wanted. Kireleon made her want to change all that. She had once joked with Gamora about going soft, but when Gamora looked toward Adam Warlock when she thought nobody was watching… White Raven knew that was the same look she gave the Protégé. A feeling of… dare she think it? Commitment.

But if Kireleon was willing to return to the Ultraverse, she could not follow. Her affair was not only star-crossed, it was universe-crossed. What hope was there for her to have a happy ending? That is what I get, she thought, for letting him get too close…

Adam Warlock knew that the Protégé, the entity that once bore the names Noel and Erik, was correct. Addressing everyone gathered, Adam spoke. “Come, it will take all our efforts combined if we are to salvage victory from our present circumstances.” Crucible, Ayesha, the Magus called Him, the Goddess referred to as Her, Kismet, Gamora, Ganymede still in her guise as Gehenna Midas, Binary, the Protégé, and White Raven all gave varying gestures of assent.

Crucible spoke up suddenly, with the air of a self-styled general addressing his troops. Adam nearly interrupted the old scientist for wasting their time, but Kismet’s silent plea for tolerance was unmistakable. “Adam Warlock, Kismet, Ayesha, Gemini, Him, Her. You and Starhawk all share a genetic structure that binds you forever to me and to each other as family.” Crucible could not disguise the pride in his voice. “You are my legacy, my clan, all I ever wanted in a dynasty of power. Like every family, you have internal conflicts, rivalries and issues that cannot be swept away by one old man’s speech. But I am confident that you can set aside your differences and rally to a common cause: defending the Lineage from the base intentions of the Dark God Rune. Fight each other tomorrow, if you must. But for today, we stand united!”

Surprising everyone, the usually dominating Ayesha placed her hand gently into her husband’s and gave him a look of genuine respect and affection. It was the hint of a gentle side of her that none but Crucible had seen before. Perhaps family could prove her salvation, thought Kismet.

They all departed the Beehive amid the incoherent babbles of soldiers soiling themselves in confusion. The Inquisitors were victims of their own zealotry, torn between the worship of the Dark God Rune and the memories of the God they called the Magus. But not every Inquisitor was inflected with such internal conflict…

Part Two (written by WarlorTVor)

Outside the Primal Temple, Rune commanded his Army of loyal Inquisitors, most too young to be confused by the appearance of the Magus, numbering in the thousands. Starfox was nowhere to be seen, but Starhawk hovered adjacent to the Dark God, suspended in the swirling astral mist that was the Union remnant bequeathed to the Prince of Void by Bubonicus.*

(*See POTU #8 for details.)

It seemed that, among the Inquisitors, no care was given to avoiding friendly fire. Literally thousands of multicolored energy beams pierced the sky and ground, none relenting until the Protectors were captured or dead.

The Protectors did not have the same luxury. They must take care not to unduly injure or slay any of the attackers. They stood for all life in the Universe, even the lives of the misguided fanatics who now sought their destruction in their religious fervor.

The Protectors and their allies formed a circle facing outward, hoping to use their skills, training, and weaponry to deflect the onslaught, and give them sufficient time to reach the Dark God. Many of the Protectors present could fly, but were burdened by the strafing fire of a seemingly limitless supply of aerial assault vehicles.

Quasar and Beta Ray Bill sought to clear a path in the swarm of attackers, but to no avail. Although not overpowered, they were literally buried in assailants from every angle.

"Fan out people!" Quasar called out to the others. "Here they come!" His last orders were muffled as a swinging pulse-rifle butt came colliding with his jaw. He spun around, clutching onto his bleeding face to see an Inquisitor before him, rifle set on maximum.

Without a word exchanged between them the ex-Heralds of the Devourer of Worlds, Nova, Air-Walker and Starglow took flight, as the battle raged on the ground. Finally it was Shalla Bal who spoke. "This is madness, Gabriel!"

“We cannot afford indecision in the coming moments for it may lead to our undoing. Come! We must join the battle!" He soared toward the ground in a blur and Nova followed. The only one who remained hovering above the ground of Sirus X was Starglow. She took it all in and finally found a target.

THE target, to be exact.

She plummeted toward the battle, a fiery blast of Power Cosmic lancing from her extended hands, striking the ground nearest to the Prince of the Void, Rune. The ground exploded all around the vampire and he merely took a step back toward Starhawk, his long arms shielding them both from the onslaught of Power Cosmic that was exploding all around them. He roared in defiance. The roar was more like a deadly hiss of venom, as his long fangs were exposed.

Rune’s eyes widened madly while taking flight; his fangs were extended ready to drain the life out of yet another victim. He shouted back to one of his loyal Inquisitors, “Secure Starhawk and the Union remnant!”

"Air-Walker!" Nova called out. Gabriel Lan slammed his fist, sending a massive Grand Inquisitor doubling over. After watching his adversary crumple to the ground, he swirled around to see where Nova was pointing. She gestured toward the white-golden form of Starglow. At first he could not comprehend what was wrong and warranted such a response from Frankie Raye. Then he noticed the long, leathery wings of Rune, who was in close pursuit of the former Herald.

"What is she doing?!" Nova demanded.

“Go see to Starhawk!” he responded. He took flight once again, in pursuit behind Rune. Blast after blast of Power Cosmic lanced from his fingertips, searing the air around the vampiric creature. He had to be careful not to exceed his previous power limits lest he bring about the Hunger of Galactus within himself now that Hyperstorm was dead.

Then a plan formulated in his mind. He stopped his futile, scattered attacks upon Rune, and started to channel all the Power Cosmic into his hands. Pools of golden and blue light manifested around his clenched fists. Then he clapped both hands together and fired off one massive bolt of energy that streaked through the heavens.

The blast struck Rune in the small of his back, sending him spiraling out of control. He roared, pain surging through his entire form. The Prince of the Void soon regained control and stood there in midair. His face contorted, he gave voice to a howl of vengeance.

Air-Walker nodded, and watched as Rune began to head in his direction. Without a word, the ex-Herald of Galactus swirled around and headed planet-ward, in a blur. At speeds faster than the speed of sound, he soared down, passing layer after layer of white clouds. He could see the battle on the ground being waged, and even from this distance he could tell that it was not good for the Protectors of the Universe. Then he heard… laughter?!?

He swirled around to see nothing! Rune had not followed him! "Shalla Bal," he hushed under his breath and through clenched teeth. His plan was to draw the vampire away from his fellow Herald, so that he could buy time for Starglow to regroup and remount a coordinated and well thought out offensive, instead of a spur of the moment attack that had pulled them into this situation. "Starglow!" Air-Walker shouted. He was in the process of converting all of the Power Cosmic energy in his being to gain even more speed in order to do something -- anything! -- to aid his companion, the Hunger of Galactus be damned! For Rune was almost upon her. He knew it, he could see it play out in his mind's eye, the Dark God’s long fangs extended ready to strike and dig deeply into Starglow. "Starglow! Look out!" His words boomed through the thin upper atmosphere of Sirus X.

But the warning came too late.

Starglow stopped for a moment, in order to turn and look behind her in disorientation. "Gabriel, what are you…?" Her question died in her throat. Her eyes widened in sheer terror and fear of what was to come. The dark shadow of Rune was upon her. He hissed in anticipation of the soul that he would soon devour. He held onto Starglow's slender, white-golden arms, which glistened under the pale light of world's suns, his fangs inching ever closer to her slender neck. She wanted to lash out with all her might, but she was frozen. Traumatized! Somehow this Rune creature was affecting her! That had to be answer! Her eyes rolled up into the back of her head, her body started to tremble, she could feel the tips of Rune's fangs slowly beginning to pierce the solid Power Cosmic that was her physical form.

But no trails of blood seeped from the small wounds in her neck down Rune’s yearning throat. Rune was taken aback. “Bah! This one is useless to me!”

Air-Walker darted through the heavens in a blur. He came upon the horrific sight that greeted him. Rune was upon Starglow, his head angled skyward. Shalla Bal was deathly still in the arms of the Prince of Void.


Air-Walker blasted toward the beast, power churning in his hands. He stopped for only a moment behind the Prince of Void, his hands collapsing on either side of Rune’s head. Gabriel pooled all the Power Cosmic that he had accumulated in the last few moments and released all of it in one concentrated blast against the vampire.

Rune screamed, his hands releasing Starglow, her body plummeting earthward.

"Shalla Bal!"

Air-Walker pushed past the dazed Rune, and soared toward the ground, arms outstretched to his fellow Herald.

Rune for his part quickly recovered from the attack, and headed in the Herald's direction but thought better of it and decided that it was not worth his effort. After all, there would be more than enough time to feast upon souls when his plans reached fruition. He decided that he would merely watch and wait, all the time laughing demonically.

Air-Walker paid no mind to the laughter taunting him. He merely continued downward.

Starglow was just in his grasp.

He pushed his body to its limits and beyond!

And for a moment time itself seemed to stand still.

He clutched onto Starglow, only a few meters above the surface. Air-Walker pulled upward, his proximity to the ground caused the patches of grass and dirt to be uprooted and to break free form the planet that gave them life.

Gabriel Lan covered kilometers in seconds, and finally stopped at a small patch of grass. He rested the white-golden form of Starglow onto the ground. He called out to her, over and over again, but there was no answer, merely a deathly silence. Air-Walker feared the worst. Her head lulled upon her shoulder, and at that moment Lan's heart missed several beats.

By this time, he knew that expending any further energy would bring about the Hunger to consume worlds. He also knew, in the light of rationality, that he could not save her if it meant betraying their oaths as Protectors of the Universe. She would not forgive him so high a price. His sorrow deepened.

"No" he hushed, breathlessly, his face lowering into his hands. He had been wrong! If he and the fellow members of the Powers Cosmic had challenged Epoch’s decree and not come to Sirus X, they would be aiding the Silver Surfer as Nova and Starglow had suggested. He would not be presiding over the deathly still form of Starglow at that moment. He screamed in rage. He had been wrong and it had cost the life of one he was coming to cherish.

Gabriel Lan arose from his kneeling position and turned away, a tear streaming from his eye. His head hung low in submission.

Then he heard it. A sudden gasp of air!

Coming from Starglow's position. Air-Walker's eyes widened and he swirled around to see the white-golden form of Starglow move. The bloodless wounds on her neck were no more. She was completely healed! He darted toward her and kneeled beside her in the wet grass. "Starglow?" he asked. No response. "Shalla Bal?" His tone became more firm and he reached for her slender hand, and took it into his own, adding pressure to it.

Her head lazily rolled over to face him. And she smiled sweetly. Her head was pounding in her ears and her memories of the last few moments were nothing more than a daze. "What… what happened…?” He actually managed a faint smile at this. And he felt the strangest thing emerging from Starglow. Power! Life! It seemed to vibrate from her very being. It was as if everything that had just transpired had never happened! It was strange. Rune should have sucked the soul from her, but now he felt that she was stronger than ever. Could it be the Power Cosmic in some way? Was it related to her power surge at the dimensional gate? Air-Walker thought for a moment, but then realized in a rush of happiness that he simply did not care.

"Oh, thank the Gods," was the only thing he could manage to sigh, as he lowered his head and held her tightly.

Part Three (by Morfex)

Rune hovered above the din and observed all. His signature ear to ear toothy grin emerged as he turned to face the being once known in the Ultraverse as Gemini.

The floating Protégé Kireleon addressed the Dark God. “This confrontation was inevitable, you know.”  

Rune grinned. “My son, it is the stuff of legend. Come, embrace your father.”

The merged brothers balked at this. “You are not my sire, nor is Adam Warlock. I deny your bloody heritage!”

Rune’s lengthy bat-like wings flapped loudly to maintain his altitude. “What choice have we? We are at cruel Destiny’s whim.” Almost to quickly to follow, Rune was upon him.

The Protégé defended himself with a burst of cosmic energy akin to Adam Warlock’s. “I do not believe in predestination! My fate is my own to decide!” Kireleon fired a bolt of energy that frayed the edge of one membranous wing.

Rune stung at the pain, but never lost his smile. “Fool! We all serve our parts in the tapestry of Eternity. And my designated purpose is to conquer all in a swath of bile and gore!” The Dark God descended on the Protégé, hungering fangs bared…

Continued in Protectors of the Universe #12

Continued in Protectors of the Universe #12!  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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