Protectors of the Universe #14

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
Click here for black&white text version (good for printing!)

Protectors of the Universe #14
"Aftermath: Part Two of Three: Confluence"

(Note: This story continues from Protectors of the Universe #13.  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 events in #1-11

“The Story Since Issue #11”: Rune has been returned to the Ultraverse along with the Godwheel, and the rift in reality has closed. The Protectors have been reunited with their teammates throughout the cosmos. They have voted for Binary and Phoenix to join their ranks, as well as for a cessation of Epoch’s involvement with the team. The Cosmic Being has departed, leaving the team to begin to weigh the implications of a Church without its god, and a team without its founder.

Please send feedback to

Aftermath Part Two of Three: Confluence

“Let us have faith that right makes might, and in that faith let us to the end dare to do our duty as we understand it.”

- Lincoln, Address, Feb., 1860

With a brief farewell, the Protégé and White Raven, accompanied by Aleta, left for the Communications Nexus to address an interstellar empire that had lost its godhead. Beta Ray Bill also excused himself abruptly, anxious to make contact with Delta Ray Dawn in orbit.

Adam Warlock knew that other priorities must quickly be addressed. “Gamora, a few months in my energy cocoons will realign our bodies and souls. We should make preparations immediately. Unprotected, both our lives can be measured in hours.”

Gamora nodded, and asked the logical question, given that not two but three animated bodies had emerged from their displaced graves now resting in the Bee Hive. “Adam, what about Pip?”

“Funny you should mention me, darlin’.” Gamora turned to face the source of the rasping words, her former teammate Pip the Troll. Although he was energetically chewing on the end of a cigar, his body did not look much better than the desiccated corpses that Adam and Gamora had recently abandoned. Cigar smoke oozed from the flaking hole in his cheek, as well as from the gaping opening in his neck. “’Cuz here I am!”

Adam Warlock was actually happy to see his short Laxidazian friend, despite his condition. Adam’s newly regained emotional balance was a direct result of his reclaiming the Good and Evil that he had banished from himself during his brief tenure as Supreme Being. “Pip, it is… good to see you! How did you get here?”

Pip was surprised by Adam’s words of seemingly genuine concern, and his jaw dropped…

His jawbone fell to the floor with a clatter, causing his cigar to fall and burn a nearby decorative floor rug. He stamped out the smoldering black mark with his foot, only to have his leg make a disturbingly loud snapping sound. Unable to speak without a mandible, he gestured with a skeletal hand toward Morfex and Xenith behind him.

The male Skrull and the female Strontian, both inactive members of the Star Masters, had taken Pip to the planet Calculex after the Cosmic Union event.* Xenith, who was Gladiator’s cousin, addressed those gathered. “He’s been like this for days, but the stubborn little troll wouldn’t let us get him any medical help. He insisted on being brought here instead.”

(* See the final chapter of Cosmic Union for details.)

Adam addressed the nearly run-down, dusty corpse of his friend. “Quickly, we haven’t a moment to lose. Pip, your original body is waiting in the next building.”

With Epoch’s departure, and with Adam, Pip, and Gamora, accompanied by Kismet, proceeding to the Bee Hive, the remaining heroes took the opportunity to catch up or address unresolved issues with their comrades. They emerged from the Primal Temple and mingled among the courtyards of the now secured Imperial Compound, the various crises they had faced on Sirus X seemingly concluded.

The Silver Surfer greeted Air-Walker, Nova, Firelord, and Starglow as if they were long lost family members, and in a sense, they were just that. Each former Herald de-powered to their organic forms, their cosmic implements set aside. Although Shalla Bal too took her former appearance, it was naught but a manipulation of the Power Cosmic, as her organic form lay elsewhere.*

(* For details, see Cosmic Union.)

They all spoke simultaneously, anxious to recount their experiences since their last meeting. Gabriel Lan raised a hand gently and gestured to the Surfer. “Norrin, please tell us of Galactus!”

Firelord resented not being able to address the group first, but chided himself inwardly, for he knew that their former Master’s fate was more momentous even than his own confrontation with Thanos and his minions. No matter how he strove to maintain a standard of heroism and nobility, Pyreus Kril was ashamed to admit to himself that he consistently reverted to petty jealousy at the sight or mention of the Surfer.  

Within minutes, Norrin Radd had recounted the dramatic events involving Galactus, Red Shift, Mantis, Alicia Masters, the Fantastic Four, the Avengers, and the Shi’ar Imperium.*

(* See Marvel’s Galactus the Devourer for details.)

The Surfer was clearly distraught by the death of Galactus.  Starglow sympathized with his plight, as did they all. “We all sense the Devourer’s absence, Norrin,” she stated. “I suspect that his other creations, Terrax, Morg, and Tyrant, sense it as well. Red Shift too, if he survived your encounter, as villains are often wont to do.”

Among all of them, Air-Walker probably felt the greatest genuine friendship with their former Master. “Galactus’ hunger was a terrible curse from which he is finally free. That part of him which was once his mortal soul can now rest in peace. I know that we have many priorities to address, now that Epoch no longer guides us, but I feel we should first pay our respects to Galactus’ final resting place.”

Firelord was quick to respond. “Agreed.”

Nova addressed Pyreus Kril tentatively. “Then you’ll be rejoining the team?”  

Firelord nodded. “After I returned to the world that I had so wronged,* I made my peace with them as much as anyone could, and will continue to attempt redemption by your sides… if you will have me.”

(*See Powers Cosmic #5 for details.)

Gabriel Lan smiled, though his eyes bespoke sadness for the lives lost at the hands of his beloved friend during his brief madness. “I know I speak for us all when I say that your place is among us now and forevermore.”

Firelord then told the gathered former Heralds of his conflict with the Mad Titan.*  

(* See Marvel’s Thor #23-25 for details.)

Shalla Bal contemplated the implications of Firelord’s tale. “By the stars! Rigel, the Designate’s World and Parsikon IV razed! And the Illumination Stone, destroyed! What of the Designate? Where is Tarene now?”

Pyreus Kril pointed at the sky, crowded with a flurry of ships departing and arriving. “Resting on board the ‘Township.’ When Thanos combusted, the purloined artifacts were seemingly returned to their rightful places. But Tarene’s world and her people have been obliterated. She has no one to turn to… but us.”

Nova gave it some thought. “Maybe she could join the Spinsterhood like Binary and Phoenix. She can’t very well soar the spaceways with us.”

Norrin Radd responded with a nod. “I will inform the others of Tarene at the first opportunity.” Turning to Firelord’s account of events, the Surfer continued. “But, Pyreus, who informed you of Thanos’ threat in the first place?”

Firelord did not like being questioned by the Zenn Lavian. His upper lip curled in anger, but he responded. “Epoch and several other Cosmic Beings made contact with me in a vision, calling themselves the ‘Seers of the Universe.’* They informed me of the Mad Titan’s resurgence. But enough of this. What of the endless energy source that freed us from the Hunger? Why has it suddenly ceased?” Kril’s tone became one of clear agitation, not surprising considering his last experience suffering from the Hunger of Galactus.  

(*See Thor #23 for details.)  

Air-Walker recounted the events that led to the death of the extra-universal entity known as Hyperstorm, their unlimited energy source.*

(* See POTU #10 for details.)

Firelord was reaching near panic. “Then these implants are useless!” The back of his organic neck flared, and molten slag fell from it to the ground. “What will we do now?”

The Silver Surfer considered their options. “We know that above a certain level of power usage, the Hunger begins to overcome us. We must find a means to absolutely ensure that none of us ever exceed that self-imposed limit. It is the only way.”

Each of the Heralds removed his or her own now-useless implanted device as had Firelord. Starglow seemed especially upset by this turn of events. “I should have known that my solution was no more than a stopgap measure.”

Firelord’s anger mounted. “What are you whining about? Of us all, you are the only one free of the potential for suffering the Hunger! Your body is not organic!”

Nova could not let the insult go unchallenged, despite her feelings for Firelord. “Back off, F.L., Shalla Bal was only trying to help!”

Starglow saw that Air-Walker and the Surfer were also going to attempt to come to her rescue, a rescue she neither required nor desired. She quickly took matters into her own hands. “Pyreus Kril, given what you recently went through, I will forgive your comment this one time. But do not dare to speak to me in that tone again. I am no mere underling to be admonished or disrespected. My powers have, in recent hours, endangered this world as much as any reoccurrence of your malady could. Though not technically the Hunger, it is no less deadly a threat.” Firelord wisely held his tongue at that, and Starglow turned to her other teammates. “I believe that clues to the reason for my plight may also be found at the site of Galactus’ passing. All the more reason to make haste there.”

Air-Walker responded with the authority that was his right as leader of the subgroup of Protectors. “Then we are all agreed. We shall take our leave of our fellow Protectors of the Universe, then depart at once for the Shi’ar homeworld. There we shall pay our last respects to our former Master, and investigate any connection his passing may have to Starglow’s condition and the potential we bear to succumb to his Hunger.”

Jack of Hearts turned to Ganymede, the last member of the original Spinsterhood. “I’m… sorry for your loss. I know what the Retreat on Io meant to you.”*

(* See Guardians of the Galaxy #2 for details.)

Ganymede rubbed her right cheek, missing the warrior marks that had been removed for her undercover work as Grand Inquisitor Gehenna Midas. “I know you are, Jack. Thank you for the sentiment.”

Jack did not know what else to say. “So… where does that leave us?”

“Us? Was there ever really an ‘us’, Jack? We have spent more time apart than together since we met. I have my responsibilities, as do you. You chose to leave to regain control of your human form, and slept with a demoness along the way.” The words stung, but Jack knew that they were not untrue. Ganymede continued. “While I… I have spent the last year of my life as a butcher for the likes of Rune!”

“A year? What do you mean? It’s only been a few weeks since the Cosmic Union!”  

“All part of Epoch’s top secret infiltration plan. I was sent back in time and my mind was altered to believe that I was loyal to the Universal Church.* The thought repulses me, even now. In truth, that more even than Io, was my main reason for voting against Epoch’s continued involvement. Such tactics could sully the reputation of the Protectors of the Universe.”

(* See Spinsterhood #3 for details.)

Jack was stunned by the revelation. “Time-travel… So in the past year, did you become… involved with anyone?”  

“If I had, would that make you feel less guilty about your disloyalty, or make a break-up easier to bear? Understand something: I cannot accept another into my life until I reconcile the fact that I was an Inquisitor. I have taken lives. I must spend the remainder of my days attempting to redeem myself. Affairs of love seem trivial in comparison, do they not?” With that, Ganymede turned and walked away, leaving Jack speechless.

From the transport shuttle that had brought his team to the surface of Sirus X, Beta Ray Bill attempted to initiate direct communication with ‘Scuttlebutt’, but Delta Ray Dawn and Bill’s loyal sentient vessel were nowhere to be found. Bill accessed his personal correspondence records from the ‘Township’ files, only to have his worst fears realized.*

(*See POTU Spotlight #5 for details.)

The letter from Deltaredon clearly stated that she had left with the Korbinite embryos because she could not bear to see Bill torn between his two duties. Alone, and fighting back burning despair, Bill contemplated the cruel whims of Mistress Death, who had brought Dawn to him after the Axi-Tun committed genocide on his people. Delta Ray Dawn was his species’ final hope for proliferation.

Finally, Bill knew what he must do next. He decided that he would be torn by two duties no longer.

Warlock wielded the Soul Gem with an expertise borne of years honing his craft. Within minutes, Pip’s life essence had been reunited with his birth-body, though still in its troll form. “What’s this all about, anyway?” he asked his former teammates from the Infinity Watch.

Adam and Gamora told Pip about the plot of Counter-Earth terrain that was rescued and brought to this remake of the Enclave’s Bee Hive. He learned of Rune and the Universal Church of Truth, and of Kismet’s ability to reanimate soulless corpses to the peak of health, youth, and vitality. Pip discovered that the Goddess and the Magus now had  physical and spiritual identities permanently independent of Warlock. He also learned of the threats posed by Bubonicus,  Malevolence, and the near merging with the Ultraverse.

“Wow! Ya leave for a couple a’ weeks and ‘BANG!’ Universes collide and yer body starts to smell like a used sarcophagus!”

Gamora approached Adam Warlock, an aura of emerald energy emanating from within her. Adam looked to his hands to find them glowing an incandescent gold hue as well. Pip’s body also began to glow with a dull brown aura. Adam knew what it meant: their life forces, enhanced by their experiences and their tenure as Infinity Gem Bearers, were too much for their birth-bodies to contain. Their temporary shells had withered to mummified husks, but their original forms had been returned to peak health by the power of Kismet.

Despite their physical perfection, the bodies had long ago been surpassed in intensity by the life forces that they had once housed. Fortunately, adapting their birth-bodies could rectify that. The process would take months, but Adam, Gamora, and Pip would emerge with every power, skill, and strength level that they had ever displayed. They would become true paragons of every incarnation they had ever manifested.  

Adam Warlock turned to Kismet. “From our final battle with Syphonn over Monster Island, you owe me a debt you swore you would one day repay.* I require it of you now. The cocoons I now prepare will be more vulnerable than any before them. I will need you to watch over us until we emerge.”

(* In an as yet untold tale, coming soon to POTU Spotlight.)

Kismet smiled at her foster-brother. “You need not reclaim this favor. I would do so willingly, without recompense.”

The former, emotion-dampened Adam would have ignored the comment as irrelevant, but now that he had regained not only his emotions but also a measure of control over them, he took a different route. “Then I hereby release you from any debt you ever owed me. Will you please guard us during our convalescence… sister?”

Kismet nodded, touched by the gesture. She knew that Adam had had difficulty accepting Kismet’s place in his life, and even more challenge curbing his Machiavellian need for checks and balances. He had come to trust Kismet at her word, something the old Adam did not do for many.

“Gamora you and I have only a few hours left in our current state, and Pip, about two days in yours. We can reconvene here in one hour and finalize the chrysalis process. There are those whom I must address before our sabbatical.”

As Thanos’ principal adversaries convened to discuss his latest campaign of death, the Surfer approached Warlock and recognized immediately through the reluctant rapport that they shared, that Adam had reclaimed a vast majority of his fully human, fully balanced soul. It was no longer an empty, cold thing as Norrin had described it in the past from their shared spiritual experiences. “Warlock, as you have noted previously, we have looked into the depths of each other’s souls. I see now, in yours, a change. It pleases me that the emptiness within you is no more.”

Warlock felt respect for the Surfer, but even with his emotions intact, he would not classify their relationship a friendship, as he felt for Pip and Gamora. “I too am coming to fully appreciate the change within me, Surfer. But let us now join our colleagues.”  

Soon, Starfox, the Silver Surfer and Adam Warlock were held in rapt attention as Thor finished recounting his face-off with the Mad Titan, Thanos. “Tarene said, ‘It is also written that should the Tears of Designate touch evil unprotected by the Stone of Illumination, that the evil shall burn as though consumed by the fires of Hell itself!’ I watched as the thrice-cursed lunatic dissipated to naught but ash and smoke.”*

(* See Marvel’s Thor #25.)

Eros considered Thor’s words. “My brother cannot die; THAT is his curse. I assure you, he will return. When the Star Masters and Adam investigated Thanos’ former farm world, we thought Thanos’ threat finally at an end.* It was foolish to think that his influence would ever cease. Sif was right when she said that we were being complacent, and fabled Asgard as well as several populated worlds have paid the price for that complacency.”  

(* See POTU: Star Masters #2)

Thor considered Starfox’s words. “Thou shouldst not feel remorse for thine actions, friend Eros. Ultimately, Firelord and I were up to the task of facing the Mad Titan’s latest scheme. Though ‘tis true, I would have welcomed thy aid in glorious battle, still, I understand that thy part in the unfolding events of Sirus X was a vital one for the safety of the Universe entire. But why dost thou speak of Lady Sif? Was she among you recently? Was she searching for me?”  

Knowing that Thor would not be thrilled to learn of Sif’s recent romantic encounters with Beta Ray Bill,* Eros sought to cover for his Korbinite friend. “Asgardian business did bring her briefly among us, as did it call her away.”

(* See Star Masters #4 for details.)

Norrin Radd changed the subject without an awareness of Eros’ relief. “Firelord also recounted this tale to me. What I do not comprehend is why Epoch and her ‘Seers’ did not contact me to aid you as well. Thor, you were there when Galactus died. Days passed before Thanos’ attack on Rigel. I was so preoccupied with the implications of the Devourer’s passing and with securing Galactus’ Worldship from pillagers who would abuse the unequaled technology, that I did not even sense Thanos’ threat. I am sorry, my friend.”

Thor considered the Surfer’s words. “Thy sentiment is appreciated, Surfer, but the fate of the Universe quite literally weighed upon thee. Regret not thy part in past events.”

Adam Warlock mulled over Thor’s account in his mind. “Seeking out ‘the Finality’ sounds more like the Thanos of old, from before his possession of the Infinity Gauntlet. But he has matured since then. He must have had an ulterior motive. Thanos has never truly lost a conflict. Unless…”

Norrin Radd finished the thought. “Unless he ultimately intended to have the tears fall on him.”

Eros smiled at the irony. “Now, THAT sounds like my brother.”

Thor seemed upset by their train of thinking. “Thou dost believe that e’en to the devil’s bitter end, I was naught but a pawn of his manipulations?!”

The Surfer considered. “Take pride in your victory, my friend, as we all do. We only consider every possible scenario, as would Thanos. Tarene said: ‘The evil shall burn as though consumed by the fires of Hell itself.’ Could Thanos have been attempting to purge himself… of the evil taint within him?”

Adam Warlock was quick to respond. “An interesting theory, one meriting further investigation. Unfortunately, my remaining time is short and I must now depart. There is one other Protector I must visit before I retreat to the Bee Hive with Pip and Gamora.”

Starfox was silent as Warlock departed. His brows were drawn closely together in deep reflection. “Could that have been my brother’s ultimate intent?” he thought. He pondered the possibility over and over, imagining the ramifications if it were so.

Continued in POTU Spotlight #7, available this week, then concluded in POTU #15: Aftermath Part 3 of 3

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 or e-mail 

Please leave your comments below:
If you want to be contacted or have e-mail included.
Leave name if you would like it in our letter column.

Issue #38 Cover

Cosmic Powers Unlimited Issue #38 CPU Archive
Protectors of the Universe #14 POTU Spotlight #7 All The Years #1 Sins of the Father #2 Thanos #8 Longest Night Chapter 6 War of the
Blood Gods #10
What is CPU? How to Join Our Staff Cosmic Powers Website

E-mail feedback/submissions to