Protectors of the Universe #12Written and Edited by Morfex
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Protectors of the Universe
(Note: This story continues from Protectors of the Universe #11. For other stories taking place in this continuity, see the POTU Archive Page.)
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Twelve of Twelve: "True Universes"
"Let justice be done, though the heavens fall." ("Fiat justitia et ruant coeli.")
- Lord Mansfield, In Rex vs. Wilkes.
two groups of Protectors proceeded toward each other. Their intent was to
converge at the entrance to the Primal Temple amid the battlefield that was the
Imperial Compound of the Universal Church of Truth Throneworld, Sirus X.
grouping consisted of: Beta Ray Bill, Jack of Hearts, Phoenix, Quasar, Aleta,
Replica, Brotus, and Nova. Each was battling overwhelming odds despite their
powers. Swarmed by Inquisitors by the thousands, they could not take an innocent
life and were thus stifled.
and Starglow had been previously among them, but had used a brief window of
opportunity to reach the skies and take the battle directly to Rune.
second grouping of Protectors and their allies consisted of: Adam Warlock,
Kismet, Ganymede, Gamora, Binary, Crucible, Ayesha, Him (formerly the Magus),
and Her (formerly the Goddess). They too were limited by an imposed code against
killing, a code several of them balked at. The Protégé had been among them,
but he too had seen an opportunity to take the fight to Rune.
the other Protectors, Starhawk hovered near the entrance to the Primal Temple,
merged with Bubonicus’ Cosmic Union remnant that had allowed the Ultraverse
and the Universe of Marvels to begin transposition. Stakar was surrounded by a
legion of Rune’s most ferocious and loyal young Grand Inquisitors.
was nowhere to be found, although the others believed him to have betrayed their
cause for no better reason than entertainment. This came as no surprise to
Ganymede, but Quasar and others were still reeling from the betrayal.
villains Bubonicus and Malevolence had been thwarted, averting untold disaster,
but those conflicts had delayed and distracted the Protectors of the Universe,
and now Rune’s master plan was reaching fruition. The Godwheel had already
transposed itself about the orbit of Sirus X, it’s magics protecting the
planet’s fragile gravity and tidal forces. The Godwheel was only the
beginning. The overlap was accelerating as it spread outward from Starhawk,
reaching other planets in the Sirus X system. Even the planetary defense grid
could not halt the expansion.
and Jack of Hearts witnessed Rune’s return after his presumed confrontation
with the missing Air-Walker and Starglow. Quasar suppressed the gut-wrenching
fear that they no longer lived. He turned and addressed his teammate. “Bill
and the others can carry on this fight, we have to find Starhawk and put an end
this madness once and for all.”*
Protectors of the Universe Spotlight in this issue for the events leading to
Jack of Hearts smiled at this. “My sentiments, exactly.” The two Star Masters made their way into the Primal Temple.
They were immediately separated by the chaos that
raged within. Kismet and Ganymede had already managed to trespass upon the
sacred grounds. Inquisitors were joined by priests and acolytes, press against
the Spinsters to force them to exit. Several clergy members recognized both
women. Kismet was briefly considered the Matriarch of prophecy, while Ganymede
served as a loyal Inquisitor Gehenna Midas for over a solar cycle.
and Kismet were able to meet up just outside the ring of Inquisitors that
guarded Starhawk in the temple’s central courtyard. “Kiz!” Quasar shouted
above the din of battle.
She responded. No other words were necessary. They both knew that nothing was
more urgent than securing the safety of their offspring, Starhawk.
apparently felt the same way, as she suddenly appeared behind them and was able
to clear a path for them using her flaming Power Cosmic. “Get to Starhawk!”
Nova cried out to the distraught parents. “I’ll hold off these goons as long
as I can!” It was difficult to envision the sheer number of Inquisitors
pressing against the three heroes. Despite their best efforts to preserve lives,
several Church soldiers had killed each other through random energy discharge,
suffocation, and compression. Nova tried not to let the smell of her cosmic
flames reaching the corpses affect her resolve. She had not murdered them, she
had only begun to cremate the cadavers. The mental image sent a shiver through
and Kismet each bore mighty powers as well. But would brute force hold the key
to their son’s release? Turning toward Stakar, they hesitated. Kismet spoke what Quasar was thinking too. “What if, by
disturbing his interaction with the spatial anomaly we make things worse?”’
How much worse can it get?” He surveyed the shifting human landscape about
them. And the awe evoking sight of the Godwheel looming over them, blocking
nearly a third of the sky above the temple courtyard. “We’ve got to try
came a calm voice from behind them. Quasar and Kismet turned to see the traitor
Starfox standing calmly, arms crossed over his chest. “You will do nothing.”
His voice was melodic and pleasing despite the din of carnage about them. His
tone was pacifying, his manner so friendly, it was nearly impossible to resist.
voice erupted with rage. “You! I’ll kill you for this!” Kismet had rarely
seen such fury cross Wendell Vaughn’s face. It startled her into realizing
that Starfox had nearly mesmerized her with his powers of influence. She
shuddered as Quasar was upon the Titanian Eternal, beating his face right and
left with unrelenting blows of solid quantum force.
No! Stakar needs us!” Kismet’s voice succeeded where Eros’ had failed.
Quasar knew that she was right. His pummels ceased.
spat blood and chuckled, his face swollen and bruised. “Wendell Vaughn. I’m
impressed. I didn’t know you had it in you. Adam Warlock will attest to the
fact that my apparent betrayal was all a part of his master plan to reopen the
aperture between universes. How else would we be rid of the Dark God, except by
banishing him back to his native reality?”
stiffened in shock, not knowing whom or what to believe. “Why wouldn’t Adam
have told us all?”
"The Church's telepaths would have easily learned of my intentions through you or the others," Starfox continued, his speech slurred by several loosened teeth. "Dell, you have to decide whether you can believe me or not. And choose quickly, because the end is near. Look!" Starfox gestured toward the courtyard's sky.
and Jack of Hearts found themselves back to back for the first time since he had
departed to regain his physical body following the Cosmic Union event. For him
it was weeks, but for her it was over a year due to the time travelling
incursion into the past that Epoch had arranged for her undercover work on Sirus
battling in both directions, the two spoke each other’s names simultaneously.
Ganymede struck an Inquisitor squarely in the jaw with her staff, then shouted,
blasted an armed robot-like mechanism that approached them rapidly. Nothing was
left of the construct but scattered shrapnel that imbedded themselves into the
temple walls, “Ganymede, I have to tell you… While we were apart, I was with
facial expression did not alter in the slightest. Her composed battle senses
served as an adequate mask for her rarely displayed emotions. “I…
understand.” Her voice bore an ambivalent, neutral tone that wounded Jack more
than anger would have.
you don’t,” he continued. “It was the daughter of Mephisto. She lured me
with promises of a return to human form, then seduced me with her magics. I
should have been able to resist, but… I only blame myself. Can you forgive
flattened three Inquisitors with one fell blow. “Jack, we are fighting for the
fate of two Universes! Put it in perspective! If we survive, we shall speak of
it again.” Two hundred more assailants approached them, laser rifles flaring.
The two Protectors put aside their personal matters to concentrate on the task
at hand: reaching Starhawk across the large Temple courtyard.
outside the Primal Temple, Gamora and White Raven were both thrilling to the
life-and-death dance in which they were immersed. Their every sense was tingling
as the adrenaline rush of eminent danger gave them their fourth wind. The
onslaught of Grand Inquisitors seemed endless.
spoke White Raven, “if I have to die today, at least it was battling beside
you, Gam.” Raven’s genuine smile made Gamora’s stern visage nearly crack
from behind the attacking Inquisitors, a new wave of combatants emerged. Dressed
in black and green, the private army of the master crime lord known as the
Grinner began cutting a swath across the Church forces.
turned to her comrade-at-arms. “Rave, did you have anything to do with
Raven’s self-satisfied grin told Gamora all she needed to know.
Dark God descended on the Protégé, hungering fangs bared. “You were to be my
heir, groomed since our final battle to thrive and share in my worldview. I
would have bequeathed to you not one Universe, but two! Why did you turn your
back on such a future?”
brothers split suddenly, causing Rune to miss either target and slip between
them. Noel and Erik looked at each other and nodded, having agreed upon Adam
Warlock’s proposal for the resolution of this seemingly interminable conflict.
They held hands once more, then slowly appeared as four translucent forms. Rune
attempted to ravage them with his fangs and talons, but to no avail. The quartet
of spirit-like forms were completely intangible.
the four ghostly halves began to consolidate into two wholes once more, but
differently than before. Erik and Noel had known to expect some pain, but the
new consolidation was protracted and excruciating. Rune’s futile efforts to
engage the siblings in physical combat gave way to a morbid fascination with the
two different men appeared. One was very much like Adam Warlock in appearance.
The other appeared quite different. Clearly, the golden hued being was fully of
the Universe of Marvels, while the beige skinned, brown haired young man was
fully of the Ultraverse.
immediately, Rune recognized what his Protégé had done. “No…” whispered
the Dark God, as realization caused his mind to race. “This cannot be…”
two men abandoned the conflict with the Prince of Void and made directly for the
courtyard in which Starhawk stood like a statue, immersed in a swirling spatial
anomaly. The anomaly was the source of the Ultraverse’s incursion upon this
reality, a Cosmic Union remnant that broke down all physical laws of time and
Quasar, Nova, Kismet, and Starfox cleared a path for the two men. By this time,
Jack of Hearts and Ganymede had reached their teammates and were attempting to
ensure a viable approach vector for the former brothers as well.
was in close pursuit. He uttered the obvious as he descended. “You are no
longer identical!” Grabbing one of the two entities by the foot, he slowed the
being down. Unfortunately for Rune, he had grabbed the individual that had
clearly been based on Warlock’s genetic template. The second being, the
Ultraverse native, proceeded to Starhawk’s location, but held off from making
physical contact with the remnant or its host. The golden entity swiftly pried
Rune’s talons from his ankle and swung the cosmic vampire’s arm, releasing
him in the direction of the remnant. The Ultraversal former brother awaited
wings flapped erratically, attempting to gain control of his flight once more.
By the time the Dark God managed to extend his bat-like appendages fully, the
beige skinned former brother nearest to Starhawk grabbed Rune’s ankle much as
Rune had done only a moment before. Before anyone could react, the Ultraverse
portions of the Protégé Kireleon leapt directly into the misty maw that was
the remnant aperture. Shu-Ji energy ensured that the powerful Rune did not
escape his grasp.
scream could be heard even beyond the range of sound. The Dark God struggled
violently, but to no avail. His essence was also absorbed, presumably back from
whence it had come. The rending, sucking sound that had accompanied the
anguished cry sent many reeling toward the ground looking for cover. The sky
seemed to be literally falling! In fact, everything that was of the Ultraverse
was becoming intangible and imploding toward the Union remnant in a sudden,
impossible rush. The Godwheel itself swirled like a kaleidoscopic whirlpool into
the remnant in mere seconds. With no Ultraversal material left to absorb, the
remnant closed in upon itself and dissipated to nothingness. Starhawk collapsed
into the waiting arms of his parents and teammates.
remaining brother was clearly saddened by the sacrifice. Kismet left her
recovering son to Quasar momentarily and approached the man whom she had
befriended in her time as the Matriarch. “Kireleon, if there is anything I can
golden entity turned to meet her sympathetic gaze. “I am Kireleon no longer.
Kireleon was a name we chose to reflect that we were both Noel and Erik
combined. Now I am neither Noel nor Erik. You may address me as Reon.”
Protectors of the Universe continues in Protectors of the Universe #13! 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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