Powers Cosmic #7

Written and Edited by Morfex
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Powers Cosmic #7
"Posterity" - Part One: The Day Galactus Died

(Note: This story continues takes place after Galactus: The Devourer!)

The Powers Cosmic are:

The Silver Surfer, Norrin Radd of Zenn La

Starglow, Shalla Bal of Zenn La

Firelord, Pyreus Kril of Xandar

Air-Walker, Gabriel Lan of Xandar

Nova, Frankie Raye of Earth

Continued from Powers Cosmic #6

Interlude One – Tyranny Ascendant

The asymmetrical vessel was a twisted forgery of Galactus’ Worldship. Its origin was lost to time. Its current occupant recently usurped the mantle of the insane energy nexus being called the Tyrant. His identity was unknown to the Protectors of the Universe,* but his legacy of obsessive conquest was as feared throughout the Known Galaxies as the Hunger of his creator, Galactus.

(* See Cosmic Union for details.)

The Anti-Heralds gathered upon the summons of the new occupant of the Tyrant mantle. Supernova, Terraxia, Dark Hunter, Talos, Deathbird, and Ronan the Accuser* stood in respectful silence before a demented throne of twisted cables within the Tyrant’s ship.

(*Note: this takes place before Marvel’s Inhumans & Maximum Security.)

"Ah, my Anti-Heralds! Finally returned from the banishment thrust upon you by the accursed Terrax?* You will be pleased to know that Tyros is marooned on his now-barren planet, an impenetrable barrier of his own making imprisoning him. After your defeat, the other ‘Powers Cosmic’ departed in opposite directions, as the Hunger was upon them. I have felt the feeding by Terrax and Firelord, and the unbearable agony is equal in intensity to any caused by Galactus’ voracity."

(* See Powers Cosmic #3-5 for details.)

"But the Death of Galactus has empowered me beyond all prior measure. Now only the Heralds stand between me and total domination. Their looming threat of Hunger must be extinguished at any cost. With their deaths, the bio-energies of the Universe will be converted into Power Cosmic no longer."

"I have special tasks for each you. Ronan, go to Earth and retrieve your Kree property, the beings called ‘the Inhumans.’ Begin a reign of terror against the Shi’ar that will distract them from our more subtle activities."

"As you command, sire," spoke Ronan of the Kree, nearly choking on the submissive words. He was quickly growing weary of his servitude as an Anti-Herald, though the benefits in sheer power were indisputable. Tyrant was poised to be the most powerful conqueror in the Known Spheres. Then why did Ronan question his place here?

The Kree Accuser’s hesitation was not lost upon the new Tyrant. He addressed another whose ambitions might prove an eventual challenge to him. "Deathbird, rejoin your sister. Ensure that her attentions are also diverted from anything related to Galactus and his progeny."

"If that is your wish, my master," responded Deathbird of the Shi’ar. Her tone was less mutinous than Ronan’s from months of experience bowing to her sister’s whims. She was accustomed to biding her time for the ideal opportunity to make a power play.

Tyrant smiled, a maniacal grin that did justice to his predecessor’s insanity. "As for the rest of you…"

Interlude Two – Liberation

Terrax surveyed the beginnings of a vegetal renaissance upon his barren world. Since the departure of the other former Heralds, he had seeded two of the major continents with life. The work was exhausting, but fulfilling in its own way. Unfortunately, it also allowed him far too much time for silent contemplation.

He had sensed Galactus’ demise only days before. Although there was no love lost between them, Terrax acknowledged at some unconscious level that his place in the Universe had been enhanced by their interaction. On several occasions, the mantle of the Power Cosmic had been taken from him. Now, ironically, its overuse led to the same voracious appetite the Devourer displayed.

Despite his resentment of Galactus for manipulating Terrax into enduring servitude for a time, some remote part of Terrax’s psyche sought closure. Perhaps it was to gloat that he had outlived the arrogant Force of Nature. Perhaps it was to put past mistakes behind him. Perhaps he had felt an infinitesimal twinge of debt to the Devourer’s memory. Perhaps he simply wanted to console the captivating Shalla Bal. In any case, he actually wished that he could pay his last respects to the site where Galactus had met his end.

Between instants, it came to pass. One moment he leaned upon his axe, partaking of the vistas his efforts had created. The next, he hovered upon a flattened boulder in space, observing a binary star system unlike any he had traversed in his time as Herald. Effortlessly, he had somehow managed to relocate to the sector of which he had been thinking. What force could have brought him here? Even the combined might of the former Heralds had had difficulty penetrating the barrier that had imprisoned him. There was no sense of energy expenditure on his part. This was clearly the doing of another entity.

The mystery would have to wait for another time, for he was not alone. Beside him stood two beings. One was an orange tinted, nose-less, muscular male humanoid bearing two swords. The other was a tall, indigo skinned female humanoid wielding a long trident.

The sword-bearer spoke first. "Terrax the Tamer, I presume. I am Red Shift, former Herald of Galactus."

The woman spoke next, practically continuing Red Shift’s sentence. "And I am called Blue Shift, though you may address me as Andromeda."

Terrax eyed the beings before him warily. He sensed their kinship as wielders of the Power Cosmic, but his suspicious nature overcame his curiosity. Axe raised in challenge, Terrax uttered the words that had been mulling through his mind for days. "What has become of Galactus?"

The Powers Cosmic made their way across galaxies toward their ultimate destination, the site of Galactus’ death. Firelord, Air-Walker and Nova flew under their own power. Starglow conserved her volatile energies by riding alongside the Silver Surfer on his solid Power Cosmic board.

Norrin Radd felt as if the weight of the Universe was upon him. In his heart, he knew that his fellow Heralds could be counted upon to share the burden. Then why did he feel that it was his alone to bear? Galactus’ death may have affected the Surfer more profoundly than any of the Powers Cosmic members. He was the first Herald, he had witnessed the Devourer’s passing, and he felt personally responsible for the demise of a cornerstone of the Cosmic Balance.

The Silver Surfer always took every setback or defeat personally, as if he were the sole Protector of the Universe in existence. His eyes bespoke a sadness that made very clear the possibility that he blamed himself for the terrible consequences that would surely arise as a result of his former Master’s demise. His mind continually returned to that fateful day, not long before, when the Universe as he knew it was irrevocably altered. Before his reunion with the Powers Cosmic on Sirus X, before Rune’s defeat, before Hyperstorm’s death, before Thanos’ rampage across Rigellian space, to the day Galactus died…

The capital city of the Shi’ar Homeworld had entire sectors laid ruin under Galactus’ fallen scout vessel. Amazingly, the casualties were minimal due to a successful evacuation implemented as a result of an early warning by the Celestial Madonna, Mantis.

Despite the wreckage, Majestrix Lilandra Neramani insisted that the Shi’ar hold a victory celebration and a banquet in honor of the heroes that had fought so valiantly against the impossible task of ending the threat that Galactus posed to sentients throughout the Cosmos. Sitting side by side, the Starjammers, Avengers, the Fantastic Four, Mantis and Alicia Masters toasted to the preservation of the Known Galaxies besides Lilandra and various Shi’ar officials. The Silver Surfer and Reed Richards did not attend the fete, bearing as they did the ominous weight of knowledge that a far greater horror than even Galactus awaited the Universe.

Galactus’ final words ran through Norrin’s mind again and again. What evil could have caused the insanity and death that the Devourer had foreseen eons before? Was it connected to Red Shift’s claim of a "second master"? Norrin considered the possibilities. One of the Elders of the Universe? They had once claimed the Devourer’s death would allow them supremacy in the next Universe. The Tyrant? He claimed that every feeding by Galactus caused him unbearable pain. Mistress Death? The Other? Ego, the Living Planet? Mephisto? The Supreme Intelligence? Scrier? The In-Betweener? His mind reeled with the possibilities. He knew that he must consult the likes of Epoch for guidance in this overwhelming matter.

The idea that Norrin Radd was chosen for the express purpose of putting Galactus out of his misery at this precise juncture in history went against the Surfer’s belief in free will. He understood the difference between irrevocably pre-ordained Destiny and an elaborate centuries-long cosmic contingency plan developed by one of the keenest intellects in the Universe. He took some solace from accepting the latter as the truth.

The Surfer turned to Reed Richards. "Reed, how long will the virus that controls the Worldship’s programming last?"

"If the vessel survived Galactus’ transformation, it should be another few hours before its ‘immune system’ purges the override. Until then, it should submit to your commands. Given Galactus’ final words, it may even obey you indefinitely."

"Thank you, my friend. Your efforts have helped to save billions of lives this day…" And cost trillions tomorrow? The Surfer thrust the errant thought to the back of his consciousness. Richards was not responsible for Galactus’ fall. The Surfer himself bore sole blame, as far as he was concerned. "Reed, I never had an opportunity to thank you directly for aiding Shalla Bal in dealing with the onset of the Hunger upon us."

"You are welcome, Norrin. And don’t worry, I know how busy you were with your own obligations and with Alicia. I am so happy for you both."

"Yes, Alicia…" The Surfer’s tone said far more to Mister Fantastic than did his words.

Reed Richards knew the weight of responsibility that the Surfer must feel. "Norrin, I will make certain Alicia understands what the implications of today’s events truly are. She will understand…"

"I… thank you again, Reed Richards." The Surfer gave a weak wave, then departed on his glistening, cosmically glazed board.

His ascent allowed him full visage of the Devourer’s fallen scout vessel. Already several Shi’ar salvage and demolition experts were surveying the vessel at Lilandra’s request. The Surfer knew what would come next. The squabbling over salvage rights, the attempts to pirate and reverse-engineer the technology. He would have none of it. With his remote viral control over Galactus’ mechanisms, combined with his own cosmic might, he began to lift the vehicle from its crash landing site.

But the exhaustion of the past few days had taken its toll. Particularly on the planet’s surface, the Surfer was slower to regenerate his waning energies. The vessel surged and creaked, shuddered, and began to descend again, threatening the lives of the salvage crews below.

Suddenly, Gladiator streaked by, in a blur only a Herald could have followed. Within instants, his massive strength made the difference in raising the structure. Once free of the ground, the vessel, the Surfer, and the Praetor of the Shi’ar Imperial Guard rose through the atmosphere to a safe orbit.

Through the Protectors of the Universe, each member was equipped with a means of communication even in the vacuum of space. Using this method, the Silver Surfer addressed the man who had just come to his aid. "Thank you, Gladiator, for your timely intervention."

Gladiator’s reaction was furious. "How dare you speak to me in such a cordial tone, given your choices of the last few days? You abandoned any right to call yourself my friend or a Protector of the Universe the day you renewed your servitude to the Devourer of Worlds. The fact that his threat is gone does not absolve you of your sins in the slightest. What if the Terrans had failed? You led him here! Strontian I may be, but this world has been my adopted home for more than half my life!"

Gladiator had been hostile toward the Silver Surfer during the entire Galactus Affair. It was clear to Norrin Radd that the Praetor Kallark had no use for anything or anyone connected to the Devourer of Worlds. Radd understood that Kallark was only protecting his home, as Norrin had done for Zenn La. Would he have reacted any differently had their roles been reversed? No, he was certain that Gladiator would never have allowed himself to fall into slavery under a mad God in the first place.

Thus, the belligerent tone from a fellow Protector of the Universe stung his already guilty conscience. "I accept that you have a right to your anger. I will immediately take my leave of your Empress, then remove myself and Galactus’ vessels from this system once and for all." Without another word, the Surfer descended once more to bid farewell to Majestrix Lilandra and those Terran heroes who had aided him.

It was just prior to Galactus’ arrival in the Shi’ar Homeworld’s solar system that Lilandra Neramani and the Silver Surfer had learned of the planetary lockdown of the distant Sirus X, Throneworld to the Church of Universal Truth.* When the Surfer descended once more, after his discussion with Gladiator, Lilandra bade him approach. "Norrin Radd of Zenn La. I have received another update from my operatives in Church space. Your allies among the Protectors are still limited to the surface of Sirus X."

(* See Protectors of the Universe #1-12 for details.)

"Thank you, Majestrix. Nevertheless, the urgency of disposing of Galactus’ technology and determining the nature of Galactus’ remains takes precedence over all else."

The leader of the Shi’ar Imperium nodded solemnly. Although she knew that the Devourer’s technology was now Shi’ar by right of victory, she spared the Surfer that particular debate for the time being. He was one of their honored saviors, after all. "Surfer, I know that absolution must come from within, but your decisions this past few days have certainly saved more lives than were lost. In the end, is that not what is most important?"

"Majestrix, you presided over the trial that resulted in a glimpse of Galactus’ true purpose.* Although the memory was fleeting, does his death not haunt you with nightmare visions of what may come to pass in his absence? Is the horror not palpable to you as well?"

(*See Fantastic Four, Vol. 1 #262 for details.)

Majestrix Lilandra, Empress of the Shi’ar Imperium, stood before the Herald, an unspoken terror shared between them. She blinked forcibly, quickly burying the dread behind her usual regal demeanor. "The deed is done. May Sharra and K’ythri preserve us all." With that, Lilandra returned to the heroes who prepared for immediate departure.

Firelord addressed the Silver Surfer in a typically irreverent tone. "Cease your idle reveries, Surfer. Attend, before us, a gathering."

Although the Surfer did not appreciate Firelord’s attitude, Pyreus Kril’s words rang true. Norrin Radd focused on the vista at hand: Terrax, Red Shift (whom he thought dead), and a being that looked like an Atlantean from Earth’s oceans stood side by side within view of the binary stars that inhabited the Shi’ar Homeworld’s stellar system. A Shi’ar space armada was fast approaching, clearly alerted to their unwelcome presence.

Before the Surfer or his compatriots could react, all of them sensed a hyperspacial rift opening beside them. From beyond the rift emerged the unmistakable appearance of the Tyrant. Grinning malevolently, the creature spat, "What a lovely reunion, all of Galactus’ familiars, gathered in one place for the slaughter!"

Just then, as if the timing could have been any worse, Starglow fell from the Surfer’s board and hovered only meters away, emanating a luminescence that caused even Tyrant to shield his eyes with his forearm. Simultaneously, Air-Walker, Terrax, and the Surfer cried out, "Shalla Bal!"

Continued in "Posterity" Part Two

Continued in Powers Cosmic #8.  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 by e-mailing cpufeedback@yahoo.com 

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