Cosmic Treasure Hunt: The Director's Cut #3
Written by Mark
Rosendorf and Alex Soto,
Edited by Alex Soto
Cosmic Treasure Hunt
The Director's Cut
Disclaimer: The following characters
belong to Marvel Comics and DC comics. No profit is being solicited for this
Author’s comments: The following
story is what the authors sort of expected from the Marvel vs DC crossover that
took place a couple of years ago. A lot of characters have changed since then.
This story is intended as entertainment reading of some of our favorite
characters. Please enjoy.
Though I am no longer in contact with the original co-author of this piece, I humbly hope that were he to read my Director’s Cut changes and additions, that he might be proud at the improvement over a piece that we both agreed to and loved creating.
--Alex Soto (Mystic)
"So, what's the deal, Bruce?" Nightwing asked as he leaped to the ground from a high tree branch. A pair of black hand-sized binoculars sporting a brightly colored "N" on the top, rested in his left hand. "Are we going through with this or what?"
Batman was wrapped in his cape as he silently stood in place. His eyes slowly rotated as he observed every part of his surroundings, from the dirt on the ground to the leaves on the trees. "We must go through with this, Nightwing, and we must find the Traveler's gem before the others do," Batman answered in a low voice as he let go of his cape. Softly, the cape swung in the low wind that began to blow throughout. "I don't want that kind of power in the hands of any of the others.""You noticed some of those heavyweights too, huh?" Nightwing responded. "I don't know what would be worse, the Joker and Luthor having control of the gem or Darkseid himself?"
"What did you see from high up?" Batman interrupted.
Nightwing, seemingly a bit taken back by his mentor's notorious lack of conversation answered, "Scattered footprints. Some were going North, some in the Southwestern direction, most going Southeast, no tracks directly in the Eastern area, however."
"Then that is the direction WE will go."
"How do you figure?" Nightwing questioned.
"The others are too far ahead in the directions they have gone for us to catch up to them. The contest could be over by the time we get down there if any of them happen to stumble across the gem," the Dark Knight explained. "Besides, even if we could catch up, a lot of them may be too powerful for us to take down. Our best bet is to explore the areas the others haven't come across yet." Batman began to walk East with Nightwing following him.
"We're still going to have a lot of territory to search, Bruce," Nightwing’s voice quivered ever so slightly.
"Don't worry, Dick," the Batman said confidently as he pushed a branch hanging down from a tree out of his way. "Traveler mentioned that we were chosen for his contest because of our detective skills. We have to assume there will be more clues along the way."
Nightwing nodded and continued to follow with a clenched right fist and an almost paranoid, reconnaissance in all directions.
"Looks like we have a mission to accomplish," Superman answered wide-eyed. He had realized very quickly that this was the legendary Captain America he had heard so much about.
"I'm not sure I like being forced to do this," Captain America replied realizing he was working with a legend himself. "However, I have to admit I like being paired up with you better than some of the others."
"Me too!" Superman answered with a chuckle. "Me too!"
They shook hands and rapidly began assessing the area. It was comprised of a dense forest with trees almost 50 ft high. Superman attempted to peer through the dense mass with his vision.
"I've found it! I believe it's this way," he quickly responded pointing to the East.
"It will probably be in our best interest to develop a strategy," Cap replied as he looked around at the dense forest.
"How about you do an air reconnaissance of the area and I follow. This way nobody can sneak up on us."
"I can fly you also..." Superman began but was interrupted.
"We'd be too big a target. We seem to be dealing with some extremely strong powerhouses - even as strong as you are. I would rather avoid a conflict if possible," the Captain answered with a genuine voice of concern.
"If you're referring to Darkseid, I've handled him before!" Superman replied attempting to relieve the Captain.
A brief hesitation occurred as the Captain pondered what Superman had said. Then, in a colder than anticipated voice, he responded, "Actually, I was referring to Thanos. I have no idea who Darkseid is." Following those words, the former World War II soldier took his shield off his back and attached it to his arm. "Best to be prepared!" he exclaimed as he leapt through the bushes towards the East.
Superman began to levitate, a bit more uneasy than he was before.
"Imbecile! Must I explain everything? These energy emissions clearly indicate that the gem is toward the East! Perhaps your armor is cutting off the oxygen to your brain!"
"You would do well to watch the manner in which you speak to the Lord of Latveria, Kang. I was simply asking why is the mathematical convergence of this source irrational?"
"The mathematical con-convergence?" Kang said as he turned to his instruments.
Several seconds passed. Dr. Doom folded his arms knowing well Kang had no idea what his instruments were displaying. Finally the silence was broken.
"Who cares? Our job is not to analyze the thing. It's an Infinity gem. Or have you forgotten these gems don't conform to the normal laws of physics!"
"The only thing I've forgotten is what an annoyance you are!" [Footnote: These two last teamed up in the Infinity Wars. M&M]
Let's get on with this," Kang said as he began following the arrows his scanner was attempting to guide them to.
"Yes, time is of the essence. And for once, it is not something you can manipulate!" Doom sarcastically answered.
Though Kang did not turn around, his grinding teeth would give him away if he were not wearing his own face plate. "You are lucky I need you alive to find the gem," he thought to himself. "As soon as it is mine you will be the first thing I eliminate. Along with those pesky Avengers, and Ravonna..." His mood quickly changed to thoughtfulness as he remembered his once love, and the possibilities available with the power of the infinity gem.
Vril Dox and Braniac-5 found themselves surrounded by mud within a forest. Both men stood up and wiped themselves off.
"What in blazes?" Dox asked as he looked toward a stranger resembling a younger version of himself. Braniac-5, without saying a word, offered a small microchip to his partner and gestured toward his ear. Dox took it and held it up as he began analyzing it.
"Interesting. It looks like a miniature version of the L.E.G.I.O.N. translator I was working on. Yet it's much smaller and has technology like I've never seen."
Braniac-5 rolled his eyes with impatience and gestured toward his ear, this time, more rapidly. Dox then placed it in his right ear.
"There, now we can communicate," Braniac said. "I figured that would make things easier."
Braniac-5 began pushing buttons on his handlink but Dox covered it with his hand, attempting to get his attention. Braniac looked up.
"Who are you?" Dox asked as he stared at his partner’s face. "I'm sure I don't know you, yet I recognize some of your features, like I do know you."
"I do know you Vril Dox," Braniac-5 answered. "Or at least I know you from my history tapes back at Legion headquarters in the 30th century."
Genuine surprise crossed Dox's face. "30th century? So L.E.G.I.O.N. is still active? What happened? And who are you?"
"I am from the Legion of Superheroes, not L.E.G.I.O.N, Dox," Brainy said in an annoyed tone. "And I do not see how any of this pertains to our mission. Besides, one should not know about their own future so let's just worry about today, shall we?"
"You're obviously a descendant of mine," Dox said frowning with his arms folded.
"Don't remind me." Brainiac returned to work on his hand link. "According to my mini-computer, there are very obvious energy surges coming from the East, so..."
Dox interrupted him as he pulled out a laser pistol from a holster under his left pants’ leg. "And there are also many enemies out there in this jungle probably on the same path. You may be from the future, but I think we can agree that I'm more experienced in these types of fights. I better take the lead."
Braniac-5 nodded appeasingly as Dox began to walk ahead. Brainiac then placed his handlink onto his belt buckle. "Neanderthal!" he mumbled to himself.
"What do you make of our current situation?" The mighty Titan asked in a more calmly voice than most of the other participants.
"It appears destiny has me constantly battling madmen," Warlock casually answered. The sarcasm was not lost on Thanos. It was not too long ago that these two had battled over the Supreme mantleship of this reality.
"You've appeared to survive it all," murmured Thanos with a smile observing the dreadlocks that fell over his shoulders, "although you seem to change somewhat every time Death embraces you." [Note: This takes place shortly after the Ultraverse: Black September storylines. M&M]
"The nature of the universe is change, as you yourself should be intimately familiar with," responded Warlock as he turned his head up and looked at the sky. A man in a blue suit and red cape circled slowly pass them. "That creatures aura is strong!" Warlock replied turning to Thanos.
"I don't think he will be our main problem," Thanos somberly answered without even looking up from his scanners.
"This Traveler guy...remind you of someone?"
"Yes, he was an apprentice of The Stranger a long time ago," Warlock retorted.
"I see you remember bits and pieces from your godhood also," Thanos answered.
"Very little. Who do you suppose he is in coalition with?"
"I've been thinking of that myself. It must be a being with enormous pull if he is willing to toy with beings from different universes." He stopped briefly, as he took his scanner off his belt and began to configure it. "Perhaps he is collaborating with The Stranger again," Thanos replied as he changed the resolution of his scanner.
"...Doubtful," Warlock thoughtfully replied. "My guess is not one being but two."
"I see. Then we have an advantage, don't we?" Thanos replied grinning.
Warlock turned to Thanos as his cape fluctuated along the currents of the wind beginning to pick up just behind him.
"Are we in agreement about what must be done?" the Titan asked.
"It appears to be the only way," Warlock nonchalantly replied.
"And the methods?"
"Though it seems to happen more often than I like, we appear to be in agreement," Warlock answered as he turned away and began walking.
"My scanners show that we should head..."
"East! Yes, I know," Warlock interrupted. "We certainly don't want to be the first ones there. I suggest a steady, moderate pace," Warlock continued as he passed through some bushes.
"Agreed!" Thanos replied, now following, mentally filing he must learn how Warlock gathered his information.
A buzzing sound rose from one of the bushes as the tiny wasp-like creature caught up to her master.
"This could solve all our problems, Darklore!" she said with unusual happiness. "Count Abyss will finally have a fair fight on his hands."
"Agreed! We must obtain the gem at all cost!" he said with his arms folded looking into the forest.
"Perhaps we should get Warlock to help us," Meer’lyn cried out. "After all, we helped him once."
"Though that is true to some extent, he actually helped us. Warlock and his Watch provided a distraction to Count Abyss. With that we were able to win. We actually owe him!" Darklore said finishing his discourse.
"Oh! Well maybe we can collaborate. Isn't he himself an infinity gem wearer?" Meer’lyn continued to optimistically ask.
"Was. My mystical senses tell me there is only Traveler's gem here. Location - eastward," he said with his eyes closed.
"Then let's go!" Meer’lyn impulsively replied as she took the lead and began flying eastward.
"Hold it! I sense all pervading evil...coming this way," the mystical sorcerer answered.
"Then let's prepare an ambush," Meer’lyn said frowning.
"I do not know many of the others. This might not be a good idea," Darklore replied.
"We're not fighting Count Abyss, Darklore. These players are not omnipotent! If there is evil, then we must destroy it."
"Very well. Hurry then, they're approaching quickly..." Darklore began to whisper as he took cover in one of the bushes close by.
"I must say, Darkseid," Orion began to say, "It seems very unlike you to allow someone to force you into a course of action, even by one as powerful as this Judus Traveler person. I would figure pride alone would make you refuse to take part in his game, let alone, while relying on me, your sworn enemy, as a partner."
"Too true," Darkseid said with a smile. "But sometimes, circumstances force us into certain actions. It was pride that forced me to confront this Judus Traveler earlier and realize that he is every bit as powerful as he says he is."
"A mistake," Orion interjected.
"Was it now?" Darkseid questioned. "Were it not for that confrontation, we would not have known if Judus Traveler was what he claimed he was. However, the fact that he withstood my initial attack is the proof we needed that the gem he challenges us to find is, in fact, a source of power. With that power in my possession, I could even exceed Judus Traveler's power reservoir."
"How can you be so sure this gem is as powerful as Traveler claimed. For all you know, he could be scamming the whole lot of us?" Orion questioned.
Darkseid laughed again. "For all your battle savvy, my son, you are still naive. When Traveler...dispatched me, he did not do it under his own power. The gem began to glow as he held me in stasis and continued to glow as he threw me to the ground. It is in fact what he claims it is."
"So you think the gem is Traveler's power source. But if that is the case, why give it up?"
"The gem is not his power source," Darkseid said with confidence. "I have reason to believe that he is being supplied with this power."
"How do you know?"
"Because what we are involved in, Orion," Darkseid pondered, "is a cosmic chess game and we are but pieces on the board. There are certain 'higher forces' that would not allow him to continue with this unless one or more were playing the role of benefactor."
Orion's head turned toward his partner. "But if the gem could make one such as you so powerful, why allow him to continue with this?"
"Because cosmic beings, powerful as they are, are a narrow-sighted lot," Darkseid answered. "They see the marginal power of the gem, like which Traveler used against me. However, with the technology and science at my disposal, I could exploit it for all of its potential, which is more then they realize and is why I continue on this quest."
"You seem to know a lot about this gem we seek, Darkseid," Orion said with suspicion.
"It is simply a hypothesis," Darkseid smiled and walked ahead. "And my theories are usually correct. Now let us continue with this."
Orion hovered on his unit rider behind Darkseid suddenly wondering if it is in his best interest to win this contest or not. "If what you say is true, father," Orion muttered to himself, "then no matter what happens, I will not allow that gem to fall under your possession."
Continued in Cosmic Treasure Hunt #4
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