Waged At The Stroke Of Midnight
Written by Azmodi,
Edited by E.A. Morrissey
War Waged At
The Stroke Of Midnight
Part Two: Longest Night - Chapter
Follows events in The Twilight War,
Forged Before Nightfall, and Part One:
Continued from Part Two: Longest Night Chapter Nine
The Corona blazed tantalizingly out of reach, and Wylig grimaced as a small bead of sweat formed on his brow, only to instantly dissipate in the cold void. He floated amongst his soldiers, at the heart of his small army, waiting for his astral fingers to close around that small star, and feel its infinite potential flood his body like a welcome potion.
Despite his inner attentions, the Dark Watcher felt the disturbance in real-space as it occurred, saw super-imposed over the galaxy of the Infinity Equation the millions of flashes, which accompanied that disruption. The white sunbursts swiftly formed themselves into humanoid forms, mostly gruesome and deformed figures, nearly all of whom immediately flocked to the towering presence of the Black Celestial, that regarded them silently, as he did all others.
Yet a handful of the welcome intruders did not veer immediately toward Tiamut - four made immediately for the Dark Watcher’s own impassive figure. Despite his pre-occupation, Wylig recognized these beings easily enough - the armored shape of the human High Evolutionary, the two Deviant rulers Tantalus and Tode, and finally the unmistakably strange creature that was the Kree Supreme Intelligence.
The Infinity Equation pulsating in his fingers, the Dark Watcher fixed his eyes on the four beings as they came to a halt in his presence, even as he kept striding toward the mental phantasm which seemed to never come into reach.
It was the geneticist who spoke first, "We learned of your plight, Wylig, Supremor and I, and agreed that your path was preferable to the Living Tribunal’s, or apathy. We evolved the Deviants of Earth, and now present them to you, so that you might be victorious in your endeavors."
"We are yours to command." Lord Tantalus said with uncommon reverence, though his eyes were already drifting toward the night-black shape of the renegade Space God, "Any who are allied with our creator we serve with our lives."
Tode echoed the Armechadian, "We await only your command."
Wylig nodded absently, looking out at the field of Deviant soldiers, all now his to throw up against Eternity and his multi-faced master. Millions of them, but untrained - their overwhelming numbers would be hampered by their inexperience in cosmic matters.
"Go to your god, we will be departing shortly." the Dark Watcher said, and like two excited children Tantalus and Tode hurriedly bowed, before making their way into the circle of worship that now ringed the Dreamer’s feet.
"We would also like to join your efforts." the Supreme Intelligence asked, the pools of his eyes studying Wylig carefully, taking the being’s measure.
"As you wish. My thanks for restoring my legions to their former glory - victory is now possible once more. We will begin the assault on Eternity momentarily . . ."
The Dark Watcher trailed off slowly, as he felt a change come over his consciousness - it seemed to split, and he was for the first time truly in two places at once, as much in his body as in the reality of the Infinity Equation. He blinked his eyes, seeing the High Evolutionary and Supreme Intelligence clearly, even as the powerful Corona throbbed distantly in the darkness. It sat far away now, farther than it had before. Yet now as Wylig approached, he could see it more clearly with each tentative mental step. No longer was the Equation frozen in place, but at last accessible.
The renegade’s astral paces grew to a feverish dash as the Infinity Equation grew larger within his mind’s eye, its promises infinite. In the void of space, Wylig called to his army in a booming voice, "Gather yourselves, for now we march on the domain of The One. Fight well, for the fate of both the future and the past rests on the outcome of this battle. Target Magrashem, the Vishanti, and the Great Void, for they are Eternity’s chief lieutenants - when they fall, disorder will encompass his forces."
In the darkness, the Equation glowed white as Wylig neared, and its holy light seemed to pierce his mind, illuminating it from within, igniting mental fires he had never known he possessed. Excitement grew in his heart as he neared the awesome object, his astral digits reaching for it with every step, the warmth growing closer always.
The cosmic army organized itself as the Dark Watcher stood frozen in his own silent ecstasy, the legions rallying to Eyalus, Tiamut, or Atum, now cloaked in the god-flesh of the Demogorge. Wylig saw it all, and more clearly than he had before. With each beat of the Infinity Equation, with each closing step, the Omniverse presented itself to him with greater clarity, and all things seemed clearer - the very fabric existence and heart of being was presented naked to him as he reached out and finally touched the glowing Corona, and felt its power roar through his spirit. The seconds passed, and the Equation became one with the Dark Watcher’s soul, granting to him its most incredible potential.
An inner glow rose up from Wylig, drawing the attention of all nearby - it was as if he had swallowed a star. His back arched suddenly, and from his mouth erupted a shattering scream that echoed across the depths of space. For seconds there was only the cosmic shout of awakening, and then there was the power that rose in his gullet and churned outward from his eyes, nose, mouth, and fingertips - torrents of pure force that all strive to avoid lest they be purged from existence.
A shock-wave erupted from the Dark Watcher as the final union took place, accelerated by his own amazing willpower; it spread outward with increasing speed, a palpable feeling of energy that announced to all the birth of a new power within the Omniverse.
The entire assemblage quaked as the tidal force passed over them and they felt the merest fragment of the potential that Wylig now wielded, and as one they were glad he led them.
Slowly the massive outpouring of force from the renegade subsided, and in deafening silence he blinked, staring across the his army. He felt as if he knew them all intimately, for their minds were laid bare before him, splinters of thoughts and emotions that came to him in mutters and flashes. In his own cocoon of supremacy, the Dark Watcher was stunned by the sheer burden of information had now possessed, and dared not consider how full the breadth of his knowledge would be had the universe itself not been so near breaking.
Yes, as he perused his legions he saw the disorder, the entropy that abounded within the shambles of the Omniverse, the destruction he himself had wrought. He saw how little of the great tapestry remained, how many pieces of the grand equation was missing, yet he felt no sorrow over the devastation - his actions were pure he knew, and it was that single fact that sustained him.
His eyes still chained suns within his sockets, Wylig gestured off-handedly, a roaring rift opening in space before him, large enough to admit the entirety of his titanic host.
He strode toward the tumultuous gap in the strands of reality, and beckoned his forces and as one they followed him, into the realm of The One and the depths of final conflagration.
The glow subsided gradually, and without pomp Orikal delivered Draupner to Thanos’ open palm, "The final transmogrification is complete."
The Titan nodded as the ring fizzled from his hand, transported back to the pocket dimension in which he stored the various Asgardian weapons.
Orikal turned his strange gaze on Doom, who returned it without flinching, "Step forward, so I might alter your molecular structure in order to maximize your offensive and defensive energy output."
The Latverian hesitated for a moment, considering if his royal person should be so defiled. Finally he did pace to the cosmic entity, who touched him lightly on the grow. Cool energy spread through the monarch’s body, much akin to the touch of morning mist. In no more than a minute it was over.
Doom stepped back, using his cosmic senses to examine the changes that had been made within him. He was stronger, he felt it. Beneath the frozen mask, the lord of Latveria smiled.
"Uatu?" Orikal questioned, unsure if the Watcher desired to be modified.
He nodded solemnly, reluctantly moving toward the weapon-smith, "I do not plan to engage in combat, but I must be prepared if I am left with no choice save to defend myself."
The same changes were made throughout Uatu’s molecular structure, and the alterations were done swiftly as well. The Watcher stepped away sadly, filled with the new potential for destruction.
Thanos nodded in satisfaction, "We are nearly read - we await only Warlock’s return."
"What will be your strategy?" Gladiator questioned, for he knew he would not be present to see it carried out; powerful as the Strontian was, he would be reduced to particles within seconds if he ventured into the beleaguered realm of The One.
"To eliminate the leadership of each faction." Doom said coldly, playing with a carefully controlled sphere of energy in his palm.
"Our main goal is to use the Infinity Equation to tip the balance of the battle between the Tribunal and the Antithesis in the favor of the Antithesis. Elorkhaios will then apply the necessary amount of power to destroy the Antithesis, thereby ending the Omniversal threats of both him and the Tribunal."
"What if Wylig does not bring the Equation with him, or he has somehow managed to unlock it? And what if Elorkhaios does not aid you?" Beta Ray Bill inquired grimly.
"The Dark Watcher will not be capable of using the Infinity Equation, as I have said numerous times - the encoding sequence is entirely unbreakable. If he does not have it on his person during the battle . . . I will find it, and quickly."
"And Elorkhaios?" the horse-faced warrior prodded.
"If he does not choose to help us . . ." Thanos turned to Uatu, who gave him only a cold look, ". . . we will discover just how powerful the Infinity Equation truly is. We will be forced to use that alone in the attempt to destroy the Antithesis. It comprises the most substantial part of the residual energies released in the Prime Divergence, but it may not be enough to disrupt even a weakened Antithesis. How much power it will take to aid in the Tribunal’s destruction I do not know . . . The Equation may be all but drained when it is time to face the Antithesis."
Bill nodded, though he only understood a portion of what the Titan had said. Nevertheless, his grim tone had spoken volumes - never before had the warrior heard such obvious uncertainty in the schemer’s voice before.
"Warlock has signaled me." Uatu said, even as he willed the golden man and his companion across the gap between Earth and the moon. In a scant moment they were materialized within the chamber.
Loki quickly surveyed the assemblage, taking the measure of them all. His eyes narrowed when they fell upon Thanos.
"You serve here at our leisure, Asgardian." the Titan warned, "Do not give me cause to treat you as I did in our last encounter."
"You will have no need, Thanos." the God of Mischief said with stark seriousness, "I desire to see the Celestials and their allies dead - Asgard was my home as well, even if I did wish to see it ground beneath my foot."
"We were momentarily confronted by Tantalus and Ghaur." Warlock mentioned as he opened the small satchel, revealing three glistening Gems, "The High Evolutionary’s plan was a success."
"Yes," Uatu agreed, "the entirety of Earth’s Deviant population departed not long ago. By now their journey to the Hasmian Galaxy should nearly be complete; the assault on The One’s stronghold will commence shortly."
Warlock nodded, "You have the Reality Gem?"
"Doom was successful in retrieving it from Vyer, and damaging several of Wylig’s allies in the process." Thanos said assuredly, producing the radiant jewel from his belt-buckle, along with a second Gem, "Beta Ray Bill has also kindly loaned us his Power Gem."
"I did," the false Asgardian said, "although I remain ignorant of why you need it. Did not the Living Tribunal rule that the Infinity Gems could no longer be used in unison?"
The Titan replied as he strode toward Warlock, carrying the jewels reverently, "He did, but in his current state he no longer possesses the power nor the inclination to enforce his ruling - the Tribunal’s attention is more than occupied at the moment."
"I had thought the Gems’ power only a sham, capable of only harming shades of the various cosmic entities." Gladiator proffered negatively.
Thanos chuckled, "The boasts of gods - the Gems, though not as potent as they were once thought, are more than capable of challenging many of the beings who comprise the divine spectrum. Few entities are capable of dismissing them as truly without threat."
The Titan stopped before Warlock, and slowly placed the Reality and Power Gems in the schemer’s palm, adding them to the Space, Time, and Mind Gems that already resided there. Thanos stepped back then, awaiting the transformation.
It was instantaneous, as the power flooded into Adam Warlock’s body and his mouth went agape with the sudden sensation of power. Cosmic fire sprang up ‘round him as the familiar sensation of omnipotence channeled back into his body and all things became so much clearer.
Still kept within the ring of white flames, he methodically plucked each Gem from his palm and placed it on the knuckle of his right hand, fusing the jewel to his flesh. Finally he removed the Soul Gem from his forehead and wed it to the center of his hand, completing the rebirth of the fabled Infinity Gauntlet.
Warlock willed the fires away, and spoke with a voice that was the same as the one he had possessed before, "I am omnipotent once more. I admit, I had forgotten the true breadth of sensations the Gauntlet opens to its wielder."
Thanos nodded, pleased, and his silver orbs turned to Orikal. The former prisoner shook his strange head, "He is beyond my ability to modify, now."
"Then it is time." the Titan said, "You are all clear what must be accomplished?"
As one Doom, Warlock, Loki, and Orikal nodded, while the second architect of it all, Uatu remained stoic.
"If you would open the portal then, Watcher, so we might -"
"There are two others who would join your band." a voice said suddenly, powerful and mysterious.
The assemblage searched for the source of the sudden exclamation, and found it swiftly.
"Stranger," Uatu said, his voice touched with hope, "and the Deviant Kro?"
The embodiment of the unknown nodded, indicating his pink-skinned comrade, "He will fight alongside us. Do not worry, Elorkhaios has already educated him as to the circumstances. We both stand ready to aid you, as does Elorkhaios - he will arrive at a time of his own choosing."
Thanos nodded graciously, the small measure of confidence he had been missing now returning to him, "Excellent. Uatu?"
The Watcher did as he was bid, willing open a passageway, which would lead into the very heart of The One’s realm. The Titan moved to enter, only to be halted by a sudden sensation - he shuddered, and true fear sprang at last to his stony countenance.
"What . . . was that?" Doom questioned as the wave of disorientation passed, and his senses were once again his own.
Thanos fixed him with a haunted stare, "It is the surge of reality that accompanies the activation of the Infinity Equation."
"I thought your encoding impenetrable?" the Latverian spat.
The Eternal’s silver optics searched the space before him for an answer, but he could find none, "I had thought that was so . . . Never had I conceived that even Wylig was capable of unraveling so complex a locking mechanism."
"Do we remain here, then?" Kro questioned, as concerned as the others.
"No," Thanos said starkly, a measure of assurance already returning to him, "we must press forward. The Infinity Equation has not yet had time to fully bond to him yet - if we strike him swiftly enough, we will be able to separate it from his spirit."
"Then we must go - now." the Stranger boomed, pushing past his new allies to step unhesitatingly into the undulating rift.
The Titan plunged forward next, followed by the others, as Gladiator and Beta Ray Bill looked on. At last the aperture sealed itself and was gone, leaving only the two heroes to wait, their stomachs already beginning to churn at the thought of that far-distant battleground.
The veil of space parted before the cresting head of the army, and as one they sped into the strange domain of The One. Indeed, it was like no other realm in all the Omniverse; space was not ebony, but instead an undulating sea of emerald flecked with shades of deep blue, and it seemed to slowly undulate as would a lazy tide to the march of a slow symphony.
Peppered about the cool murk were the brilliant shapes of up-ended, needle-like pyramids, their bases and sides all decorated with magnificent scrollwork of gold, platinum, and silver. In the sparse natural light they still glittered, only hinting at the wonders of the past they contained. They stretched out across the unending field of limbo, sparkling even far in the distance like subdued stars twinkling at the very brush of dawn’s first stirring.
In the very heart of the odd place sat the largest of all the inverted structures, its sides encrusted with brilliant and glittering gems set deeply within the grooves of silver and platinum. Atop the base reigned a magnificent throne, a mirror image of the pyramid’s finery. Finally, impassively occupying that chair was the tremendous figure of The One, master of the realm and all memory since the very first epoch so long ago. His robes, though only of plain white and blue, seemed to of infinite pureness, as if he was also in the process of constant purification. From his post he watched without fear as the confrontation readily unfolded itself before his watchful optics, every detail observed and recorded with astonishing accuracy.
Marring the upper-reaches of the realm was a throbbing scar, which stretched far across the dim emerald sky. It pulsated with scarcely contained thunder, and with the passing moments slowly began to widen, promising to reveal the wonders and horrors that lay behind its ugly face.
His back turned to The One and even the recent invaders, Eternity fed the gash with his own might, pouring infinite power into the wound, forcing it open through his own force of will. To his side Mistress Death only watched, while Galactus stood far-off, at the side of The One, further insuring no harm would come to that great receptacle. All about the realm were scattered the whole of Eternity’s sprawling army, thousands upon thousands comprising the great host; they only watched and waited for their moment of triumph.
Wylig’s mind moved with frightening efficiency, as he mentally reached out to his commanders - Tiamut, Eyalus, Chthon, Grandmaster, the High Evolutionary, and others - ordered them without hesitation, assigned them specific targets that he knew would crumple Eternity’s efforts if eliminated.
At the head of the great living wing of his army, the empowered Dark Watcher cried with relish, "Fire!"
As one his legions complied - his twin handfuls of cosmic entities, his millions of Deviants, himself - all poured their anger and hatred down at the surprised gathering below them. A literal sheet of destructive force plunged downward at quickening speed, tearing into Eternity’s followers as does a hurricane tear asunder a tropical isle.
A quavering scream rose up from the besieged entities as the wave of energy struck, shattering some of them to fragments, only serving to enrage others. Their retaliation was instant as the beings rallied themselves, sending searing pillars of devastating light back at the swooping crescent of approaching enemies.
The Deviants shrieked in surprise and pain at the first cosmic assault they had ever experienced, and by the hundreds they perished, unable to defend or heal themselves properly. But Wylig’s engine of war did not halt despite the counter-attack - it pressed forward despite the searing beams raking the careering crescent, and soon fell upon the mass of Eternity’s army, breaking apart as the two factions engaged one another directly.
The emerald sea of strange reality was alive with conflict and hideous clangor as the incredible creatures did wae against each other, and in those opening moments of the final cataclysm it seemed as though heaven itself would die in the blood-tinged flames.
Wylig rose above the battle swiftly, extricating himself from the countless entities who sought to disembowel him, though all knew that he was now far above them. Absently he extinguished a small cluster of Chayores, melting their bodies with a single strike of blue fire. He raced through the conflagration, his eyes unaffected by the constant explosions, the curdling shouts, and the stench of charred god-flesh already rising up around the arena of destruction. He focused solely on the dark pillar that was Mistress Death, her cold radiance already beginning to touch him as he drew closer.
A dying Deviant Mind-Siren suddenly fell across his path, its flesh burning off as it roared at its looming demise. The Dark Watcher ended its suffering instantly, reducing it to cinders before the living weapon could further impede his desperate journey. He could feel the power of the Infinity Equation further seeping into him with each passing, terrible instance. His might was great, but soon he knew it would be far greater - soon he would be able to challenge the Celestial Trinity as whole, not as individuals.
Wylig felt the dark shadow fall across his back as he tore through the fields of carnage, and had no need to look above to see what creature had deigned to mirror his path - such a terrifying entity could only be Eyalus, his metallic wings spread outward like a blood-thirsty ravens. He too trekked toward the growing crevice in space, though his target was different. Even from so far off the Dark Watcher could sense the growing anticipation in the Lord of Pain, the sensation of a final dark desire at last nearing fulfillment.
The fingers of conflict thinned as the twin engines of decimation neared their destination - where one Eyalus’ razor-wings had shredded dozens of entities as he swept through the masses, now he only occasionally took a being’s life, for there were so few of them.
The massive forms of Eternity and Death rose up before them both, dwarfing the ants that warred impotently at their feet. The Lord of Pain’s optics glowed dark red as he willed himself larger, the journey toward Eternity’s impassive figure nearly complete.
An aura of power surrounding him, Wylig mimicked his comrade, his Watcher-shape swelling to greater size, until he stood on equal footing with the ebony Mistress. Death turned, her concentration at last interrupted, and the Dark Watcher caught a fleeting glimpse of her grim visage as he careened headlong into her cold embrace.
In the tumult of combat, still could the renegade hear the wrenching cry as Eternity was set upon by the Master of Suffering, deadly wings slashing through folds of universal cloth and flesh, seeking to tear that single eye from that crescent of a face. In addition, the Wylig was consumed by the rigors of battle, and an intensity of combat he had never before experienced.
The darkness of inter-dimensional transport ended abruptly as the paltry group was spit out into the chaos of warfare. Thanos scrambled to his feet as swiftly as he could, knowing even his immortality was worth nothing in such circumstances. He looked about feverishly, a child peering into a world of angry adults - he was nearly blinded by the sheer output of spectra being forced upon his silver eyes. He squeezed them shut, for fear that he would lose the keenness of sight soon, should he dare look upon the immortal conflict for only a second more.
The deafening screech and stench of death rose up all around him like a heavy mist, buffeting the Titan’s sense in every way. He reeled, fearing collapse, that his now mortal mind would no longer be able adequately to interpret the sensations. The cold sting of madness dared to skirt the boundaries of his intellect, Wheeling closer to the heart of his mind with every pass.
Thanos clamped his gloved hands to his eyes and ears, trying to stymie the severe onslaught that threatened to overwhelm him. He seemed caught in liquid amber, neither up nor down, floating, falling, unable to breathe, still trapped within his damnable mother’s womb. The amniotic fluid poured into his throat and he could not close his mouth; Thanos felt the sickeningly warm liquid seeping down into his lungs, sapping his life. His eyes threatened to burst as pressure built up in his brain, attempting to pop it with glee.
Then it was all gone in an instant, removed. The Titan breathed deeply, and did not feel the sting of the broken molecules of dead entities, their nuclei rotting to quarks. The stench did not rise up into his nostrils, and the pain of distant cosmic fire did not sting his eyelids.
"You may open your eyes now." a calm voice said from above.
Thanos did as he was bid, experimentally peering out into the fray with new sight. He saw clearly, throngs of entities acting like barbarians, slaughtering one another with lances of energy, anti-matter weapons, and other constructions even he did not recognize. There was chaos all around, save for the small sphere that enveloped him, protected him, kept the small Eternal from the more harmful sensations that abounded in the realm of The One.
He did not need to look up to know the identity of his benefactor, "You have my gratitude, Uatu."
The Watcher only nodded as he observed in silence the decimation. The small party he had helped gather spread out swiftly into the symphony of ruin, choosing their targets carefully, wasting no time with extraneous confrontations unless they were forced to.
An Arrow-head trio comprised of Warlock, Kro, and Doctor Doom sped toward the towering monstrosity of the Great Void, who rained havoc down on the entities that dared challenge him, incinerating many of them with a single searing blast of chronal power. About the armored being’s head swooped Vangaard, eliminating the gnats that slipped through the titanic creature’s defenses.
Doom broke off suddenly from the group, veering towards the armored herald as Warlock and Kro continued onward, their hands already beginning to spout beams of cosmic force. The Great Void felt the sting and retaliated immediately with a wash of force that both heroes absorbed with gritted teeth. They sojourned on, directing their assault at the Void’s mechanical countenance, trying to blind it and halt that deadly blast of power that so often emanated from the creature’s stoic visage.
The Latverian fired on Vagaard, catching the servant off-guard, blackening his silver aegis. Doom pushed forward, grabbing the herald’s strange helmet and tearing it from the man’s head, revealing a surprising face. Doom paused for a moment, stunned, only to be beaten back by a barrage of force from Vangaard’s sterling staff. The servant rushed forward, pummeling his enemy without hesitation, seeking to end the confrontation rapidly in order to aid his master.
Thanos’ gaze turned from the intense encounter, searching for his other allies, found the Stranger engaged in feverish combat with the Shaper of Worlds, even as dozens of Deviants peppered him from behind with blasts of raw, unfocused power. The mysterious entity grimaced with every impact, but did not give in, pressing his advantage over the former Cosmic Cube, his fingers biting into the white flesh of the Shaper’s arms as they struggled.
With a shout the Stranger crushed both of being’s limbs in his hands, and a moment later demolished the Shaper of Worlds’ odd countenance with a well-placed blow. The entity’s body collapsed in upon itself as would a dying star, consuming its own ebbing energies. The Shaper’s corpse shook as the Stranger pushed backward, smashing Deviants as he did so, attempting to gain as much distance from his foe’s body as he could.
The Shaper’s cadavre exploded in a flash of light so intense that the Titan shielded his eyes momentarily, only to look back a moment later to see the Stranger singed, but otherwise unharmed. The enigma burned away the few remaining Deviants who sought to sap his strength and then moved onward, searching for his other allies in the tumult.
"We are fortunate that the Deviants have had little time to grow accustomed to their powers," Thanos remarked, "for they are proving quite potent."
"Yes." the Watcher replied simply, his attention turning to the periphery of the battle, and to the massive gash which dwarfed all the combatants save a select few, "Wylig engages Mistress Death, while the Lord of Pain attempts to halt Eternity’s efforts to enlarge the passageway between this plane and the corridor in which the Living Tribunal and the Antithesis reside."
The Titan smiled darkly, "At last father and son settle their differences . . . We must move quickly against the Dark Watcher; the Equation appears to be bonding to him more swiftly than it did to me - soon he will have access to its full potential. You must bring me into proximity with him, so I might remove it from him, if it is possible to do so."
Uatu frowned but nodded, launching into flight, though he stayed as far off from the conflict as possible, using the pyramid-structures to shield his movements. Yet still he passed through a sea of corpses, some still half-alive, moaning for the lives they once had, crying as they looked down at the charred stumps were appendages had once sat.
"The receptacles for each aeon of The One’s memories remains unharmed." Thanos remarked curiously, unfazed by the fields of dead and dying.
"They are protected by inordinately powerful spells of nullification - only a truly massive amount of force is capable of penetrating the barriers which surrounding each kone." Uatu replied, even as his words were demonstrated: a tremendous bolt of energy slammed into a nearby pyramid, only to sizzle and die on the pristine platinum inlays.
The Titan nodded, eyes staring ahead as the duo steered through the chaos of war, avoiding the bloated carcasses of the dead, knocking aside the smaller corpses until at last they were free of the organic debris and only the titanic forms of Wylig and Death stood before them.
The Dark Watcher fought valiantly, his confidence increasing with every passing moment, pressing the ebony Mistress to the fullest extent of her resources. All about them the very fabric of space shook, rumbling with each impact of fist and fire. Behind them the ugly gash continued to grow, fed even by the residual energies of the confrontations occurring before its opening eye.
"Closer, Uatu, closer." Thanos prodded, even as he began to feel the fury of the conflict through the Watcher’s protective bubble.
"No," the Watcher said sternly, halting his approach to the warring giants, "I can go no further without risking the destruction of us both. When the battle has quieted we will continue."
The Eternal turned to the observer, but it was obvious Uatu would not be moved. Thanos admitted his pseudo-defeat and turned to watch the carnage unfold, the two-fold battle between not only Mistress Death and Wylig, but between Eyalus and Eternity as well.
Warlock shouted as the Great Void’s assault burned across his body, charring the countless scratches marring his flesh, baking the blood to nothing. However, he pushed on, through the stream of deadly force, feeling his imminent victory. From the corner of his eye he caught a glimpse of Doom - Doom driving his fist again and again into Vangaard’s broken countenance, until the herald could fight no more. Without hesitation the Latverian abandoned his foe, rushing to the aid of his erstwhile comrades.
"We must break through . . ." Warlock heard from his other side, and he turned to see Kro fighting the deluge as fiercely as he, even though the Deviant’s skin was now a deep crimson, and peeling off in great bloody strips, "We are almost to him . . ."
Adam nodded, feeling his hair ablaze, ignoring the pain even as he realized how little he had truly known of omnipotence. He fed more power to the slim energy barrier surrounding him and Lord Kro as they slowly trekked toward the Great Void’s monstrous countenance, trying to blind and destroy him. Doom joined their efforts swiftly, adding his powers to the shield, and at last they seemed truly to move. Though it felt as though he had a tremendous Boulder strapped to his back, Warlock stepped forward, each footfall bring him closer to his enemy’s demise.
Suddenly the resistance was gone, the free-flow of offensive power ceasing abruptly. The trio looked up, confused, only to see the Time-Keepers floating above their heads, plying their own powers against the stoic shape of the Great Void. All around the time being there was a flock of Deviants, pouring down their unfocused energies upon his un-changing aegis.
"Now!" Kro cried, racing across the burned corridor of space toward the armored entity’s un-protected visage, the two others following close behind. As one they struck, pouring pure cosmic force out at the Great Void’s silver features, uniting their assault with the attack of the Timekeepers and the Deviants.
The Void shrieked as its armor began to melt, silver running to quicksilver, and its anguish death cries drew the attention of its followers. Yet they were too late - Warlock and his comrades did not feel the burn of energy upon their backsides as they pressed their advantage, tearing further and further into the Great Void’s metal frame until at last the monstrous entity toppled with a death-rattle, its visage now little more than a smoking shamble. Its dying body plummeted down into the depths of The One’s domain, away from the constant irregular disc of the battle.
Warlock lashed out with the Infinity Gems swiftly, shattering whatever shocked enemies had dare congregate around him. He looked up into the air, searching for the Timekeepers, but they were gone, already seeking out a new target.
His eyes searched the field of war, quickly glimpsed the massive shapes of Eternity and Eyalus doing battle near the widening maw in the distance, "We must find Vyer - the Lord of Pain shall fall, and that shall be accomplished through his servant."
"And Eternity?" Kro questioned grimly, his face a mass of blood and raw tissue, healing far too slowly.
"He must be eliminated as well, but later; we cannot halt the opening of the aperture that leads to the Tribunal’s dimension, but we must be the first ones to enter it, so that we might control the conflict between him and the Antithesis. If Eternity or Wylig gain entrance before us, all is lost."
Doom nodded in the other direction, "The World Devourer does nothing - he must be dealt with before he becomes a threat."
Warlock turned, and saw the truth of the monarch’s words. Despite the chaos, Galactus stood by stoically, only watching with impassive eyes. He made no move to help either faction. The golden hero’s eyes narrowed as he spied a small device on the Ravager’s chest, yet its shape was unmistakable.
"The Ultimate Nullifier."
"What could he have planned?" Kro inquired, recognizing the feared weapon.
Warlock shook his head, his gaze already returning to the battle, seeking out a familiar black shape, "I do not know, nor do I care at the moment - Galactus will be dealt with when the time comes, if necessary. We must find Vyer and eliminate Eyalus, and then hope Thanos manages to wrestle the Infinity Equation back from Wylig."
"If he fails," Doom said bluntly, "Elorkhaios alone will have to face both the Living Tribunal and the Antithesis."
Adam Warlock did not reply as he plunged back into the fray - there was no reason to.
Concluded in Chapter 11
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