Protectors of the Universe #12

Written and Edited by Morfex
Logo created by Lord Thanos
Published by the Cosmic Powers Fan Fiction Group in

Characters are the properties of Marvel Comics

Protectors of the Universe #12
"True Universes"

(Note: This story continues from Protectors of the Universe #11.  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

See "The Story So Far" for information on previous events

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Part Twelve of Twelve: "True Universes"

"Let justice be done, though the heavens fall." ("Fiat justitia et ruant coeli.")
- Lord Mansfield, In Rex vs. Wilkes.

The 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.

One 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.

Air-Walker 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.

The 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.

Of 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.

Starfox 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.

The 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.

Quasar 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.”*

(*See Protectors of the Universe Spotlight in this issue for the events leading to this scene.)

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.

Quasar 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.

“Dell!” She responded. No other words were necessary. They both knew that nothing was more urgent than securing the safety of their offspring, Starhawk.

Nova 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 her.

Quasar 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?”’

“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 something!”

“No.” 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.

Quasar’s 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.

“Dell! No! Stakar needs us!” Kismet’s voice succeeded where Eros’ had failed. Quasar knew that she was right. His pummels ceased.

Starfox 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?”

Quasar 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.

Ganymede 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 X.

Still 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, “You first.”

Jack blasted an armed robot-like mechanism that approached them rapidly. Nothing was left of the construct but scattered shrapnel that imbedded itself into the temple walls. “Ganymede, I have to tell you… While we were apart, I was with another woman…”

Ganymede’s 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.

“No, 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 me?”

Ganymede 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.

Just 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.

“Well,” 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 with amusement.

Suddenly, 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.

Gamora turned to her comrade-at-arms. “Rave, did you have anything to do with this?”

White Raven’s self-satisfied grin told Gamora all she needed to know.

The 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?”

The 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.

Strangely, 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 transformation.

Ultimately, 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.

Almost immediately, Rune recognized what his Protégé had done. “No…” whispered the Dark God, as realization caused his mind to race. “This cannot be…”

The 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 space.

Below, 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.

Rune 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 Rune’s descent.

Rune’s 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.

Rune’s 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.

The 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 do…”

The 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.”  

The End

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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