Powers Cosmic #1
Written by Morfex, Edited by Azmodi and
(Note: This tale immediately follows the events of Cosmic Union: the Directors' Cut, and the Protectors of the Universe Spotlight: "Introductions.")
Powers Cosmic #1
Voracity, Chapter One: "Creation's Price"
Special thanks to Anomaly and Marvelite for their suggestions.
Terrax stood at the top of the lush island peak that
his land-manipulating abilities had created. His communion with the planetary crust felt
strangely satisfying, for the first time since his initial betrayal of Galactus long
months before. The planet's rock strata shifted at his whim, but unlike previous crude
manipulations, Terrax now worked with this world's changing patterns, not against them. He
went beyond his base nature to test the limits of his powers. He sensed the planet's
entire geological future: earthquakes, volcanoes, continental drift, and simply sped them
along. The result of his creative impulse was splendor.
This world was uninhabited, yet full of life. He had immodestly named it Tyrosia. Terrax had found it during his tenure as Herald of Galactus, but some inexplicable urge caused him to spare this orb from his former master's predations. He had led mighty Galactus to an inhabited world instead, saving this one for himself as a place of retreat. The irony was not lost to him: the Silver Surfer would have made just the opposite choice. Their different perspectives seemed irreconcilable, so they had learned to stay clear of each other's spheres of influence. The Surfer owed Terrax several debts, and non-interference seemed a mutually acceptable recompense.
This small tropical island that had not existed before this day was, to him, a work of art, something he had never truly appreciated. He wondered why he had never considered using his Power Cosmic to enhance the growth of vegetation before this. He knew of other former Heralds that had. Since regaining his original organic body,* his priorities were changing. (*see Cosmic Union for details.) His motivations were evolving, he knew not why, yet he welcomed the changes. Conquering petty empires seemed trivial to him when he was molding an entire world. His mind was free of pointless ambitions during these past few days. He felt he could re-create each planet in the cosmos as he saw fit, a new and grandiose agenda worthy of an heir to the power of Galactus.
The feeling began suddenly, a sensation Terrax had not experienced since mortality. Could it be that he was hungry? No, the gnawing came from deeper than the pit of his stomach. It was a mental craving at first, but it was growing, becoming something akin to the early stages of withdrawal from a drug dependency, then progressing further still. Terrax's eyes opened wide with horror as the sensation became all-consuming, overwhelming his very rationality. Two words emerged from his mouth, guttural and haunting. "I hunger "
His organs felt torn from within, then reformed, then torn again. He gagged on black bile as he held himself in a fetal position, crying like a hurt child longing for its mother. The feeling, the pain, could not be described, only experienced.
The mountain Terrax had shaped from the seabed shook terribly. The lush growth of ferns and other tropical plants began to wither and turn to dust. Terrax screamed as the raw bio-energy of the island shot convulsively around and through his glowing frame.
With the last vestiges of his conscious will, Terrax recognized that this seizure was related in some way to his use of the Power Cosmic. "Help I need Help." Almost instinctively, Terrax sent out a summons that only a handful of kindred beings could sense. Then the phenomenon overwhelmed him, leaving only a feral appetite.
He absorbed the island's precious unrefined energies greedily. The portions that were inefficiently spilled dissipated into the mists of the surrounding seas. Terrax lost all ability to reason, thriving only on the instinct to feed off of a meal in which he had never before partaken. Eventually engorged, Terrax fell, face first, to the dead ground of the once majestic isle, slowly regaining a semblance of his sanity.
"What what is happening to me?"
Terrax was surprised to find that someone was present to answer him. A voice cut through the dead and stifling air like a dagger. "You, Terrax, like your former master before you, now require bio-energy, that most rare and precious of substances in the vast cosmos. And by feeding off of it, you inflict agony upon our sovereign. For this you shall perish."
Terrax lifted his head from the lifeless earth to see through his blurred vision six beings he had never seen before this. Still drunken with the island's life force, he could not muster up the focus to properly defend himself as the six humanoids approached him, intent on his demise.
There was a sight that few would ever behold, a vista
so wondrous and breathtaking, that it would inspire legends. For on this day, the Powers
Cosmic traveled together for the first time through a solar system far removed from busy
trade routes and overburdened stargates. They traversed space with a grace and beauty that
made them seem like a sentient comet cluster. The comparison was not far from the truth.
For these were a majority of the former Heralds of Galactus, recently restored to their
original organic bodies and imbued with the ability to channel the Power Cosmic.* (*see
Cosmic Union for details.)
The Silver Surfer, Firelord, Gabriel the Airwalker, Nova, and their newest addition, Starglow, swerved and swayed like a flock of playful birds soaring the skies.
Once, months ago, most of them had united under far grimmer circumstances. "The Herald Ordeal" had brought all but Starglow together to take down the threat of the merciless Herald, Morg. Even the villainous former Herald known as Terrax had joined them.
This time they united in the glorious fellowship of service as Protectors of the Universe. Morg was now quarantined in a stasis dimension under Epoch's care.* (*see Cosmic Union and Protectors of the Universe for details) And what of Terrax the Tamer? Following the events of the Cosmic Union, he had departed peaceably for parts unknown.
The "Herald Ordeal" confrontation had cost Nova her inorganic life. More than any other present, Frankie Raye basked in the joy of her newfound life and the freedom of her organic existence. She could not wait to make up for lost time.
For Starglow, the Zenn Lavian former empress known as Shalla Bal, it was different. Shalla Bal had always wondered what it was like for her beloved Norrin to become the Silver Surfer. Now she knew, and the experience was nearly overwhelming. For years, she had waited for his return to Zenn La, but then the Other had come first, ending their world.* (see Marvel's Silver Surfer Vol. 3 for details.)
Galactus had shown an unfathomable mercy then, abducting all sentient life on Zenn La at the moment of its destruction. So precise was the Devourer's timing, that the Other were not aware of the rescue. Unfortunately, many suffered substantial damage, and were held in containment pods aboard Taa II, Galactus' home base, until they could heal. Galactus, for reasons of his own, created an illusion so real, that the universe's populace believed Zenn La continued. In fact, Galactus populated the illusions with the actual minds of the true Zenn Lavians. Even they believed their bodies were real. Mental and spiritual manipulations by the likes of Mephisto victimized the true soul of Shalla Bal, but her returns to Zenn La were returns to the grand illusion.
Shalla Bal had not been one with her organic form in over five decades, since the Other had come. First, she became one of Galactus' phantom mirages, then she served within the artificial construct known as the Punisher. Now, she dwelled within a form of living, solid Power Cosmic, as had all Heralds prior to the Cosmic Union. She attained the cosmic level of her beloved Norrin Radd just as he had attained a new level. Of all the Powers Cosmic, Starglow was the only one not inhabiting an organic body. At some level, this made her feel different from the others. Her damaged body remained in the same stasis dimension as Morg's.
This group of entities reveled in each other's company,
more so than with any others they might term friend. They were more than kindred spirits,
more than teammates. They were like a family, for who else in the cosmos could relate to
their experiences roaming the spaceways?
Like most families, however, this one was not without its strained relationships. Each had unresolved issues with the others. Each had inner conflicts and confusing emotions that must one day be addressed. But for this brief moment, all gloried in the Power, the special bond they shared. It was a Power that was present everywhere in the Cosmos, and their enhanced senses could detect its symmetrical flows and patterns. It was truly a sight only few others could behold or comprehend. This was the nature of Galactus' gift to them.
And then, abruptly, the moment of revelry was ended.
Firelord noted that the Silver Surfer subtly took the lead. "Surfer, we are all exact equals here. Your renowned superior attitude is misplaced among us."
"Curb your belligerence, Pyreus Kril. I simply noted a spatial flux pocket and sought to disperse it before it hit the rest of you."
"Your arrogance knows no bounds, Norrin Radd. This is about our last encounter on Earth, isn't it? I defeated you in fair combat and your galactic ego is in denial. You assume that you will lead this gathering, but you are gravely mistaken."
Nova interjected. "Talk about a hothead. Back off, Firelord, you are the one that is making planets out of pebbles."
Starglow interjected. "How dare you come to Norrin's aid, as if you had the right? And I assume you want to lead? You who could not avoid getting yourself killed the last time you fought?"
Firelord turned to Shalla Bal. "And I assume your majesty wants to take command? Do not forget your debt to us, Starglow. Is this the thanks we can expect?"
"How dare you? Yes, I owe you all my life. I am glad to repay the debt by serving here when I should be guarding my people through their healing process.* (*see Cosmic Union for details.) But for you to lord it over me? How petty can you be?"
"Why should we follow you? Your reign was a virtual one. You have no real experience in commanding others."
"But I do." Spoke up Gabriel Lan. "Commander Pyreus, I am disgusted by your behavior. You should be ashamed of your comportment. As a former officer in the Xandarian armed forces, I expect better from you. Now apologize immediately."
Pyreus Kril was taken aback by his best friend's tone. But before they were Heralds, before they were even friends, Gabriel Lan was his superior officer on board the Xandarian vessel 'Way-Opener'. Pyreus' loyalty to his commanding officer had deep roots. "Understood, Captain. Shalla Bal, Norrin Radd, forgive my outbursts. I have always been, as Nova called me, a 'hothead.' I am sorry."
The Surfer was impressed by Kril's words, as well as Gabriel's. He had noted subtle changes in all their behaviors since returning to their original organic forms. Could the flesh be affecting their personalities? In the case of Gabriel, it was apparently for the better. Airwalker's time as an automaton, then as part of Galactus' worldship, lent him an air of subservience ill befitting a leader of his reputation. There was no doubt that a leader serves his followers, but submissiveness was a sign of weakness. This stronger sense of authority was one worth nurturing. "Gabriel, I suggest that you serve first term as leader of the Powers Cosmic. None but you and Shalla Bal have led others regularly before "
Shalla Bal finished Norrin's sentence " And I am not ready to lead again."
"I am flattered by your vote of confidence, Norrin, but I do not seek the position." Gabriel responded.
"Well," said Nova, "that fact earns my vote."
Firelord spoke as well. "I serve best when I serve under you, my Captain."
The Surfer smiled. "Then it is unanimous, Gabriel. Will you take up the mantle we offer?"
Gabriel looked each of his comrades in the eyes. None showed a hint of apprehension or doubt. "Yes. I accept."
Just then, all members of the Powers Cosmic heard the subtle plea simultaneously. "Help I need Help." All knew it was Terrax, all sensed his desperate terror, and where to find him. Gabriel was unequivocal in his words. "We are needed. Follow me!" All changed trajectories and leapt into hyperspace without a word; so unanimous was their intent.
The Powers Cosmic arrived on the uncharted planet and
instinctively followed Terrax's trace. "Do you feel it?" said Nova. "The
island we approach, it's aura
it's as if Galactus has been here!"
The Surfer noted a flash of light from the crumbled remains of the mountain's peak. "Up there!"
The five compatriots flew to the light's source to see Terrax lying on his back battered and bloodied. His eyes were closed and he was not moving, despite the familiar glow of raw bio-energy that engulfed him. Surrounding him were six individuals, each clearly ready to do battle. All were humanoid, some races recognizable: a Skrull, carrying a baton with a blackened sphere on each end; a Xandarian, dressed in a dark and twisted parody of the uniform worn by the Nova Centurions.
One of the six took a step forward. It was clear to Norrin Radd and Shalla Bal that this ebon coated male was Zenn Lavian, despite his nearly waist-length charcoal hair. "Former Heralds of Galactus, we challenge you in the name of our sovereign Tyrant!"
Recognition struck Shalla Bal. "Roddan? Roddan Bal, is that you?"
Continued in Powers Cosmic #2: "Identities" from Cosmic Powers Unlimited. Be sure to also check out our new Protectors of the Universe Reference Page. And don't forget to send some comments below!