Powers Cosmic #8Written and Edited by Morfex
Logo created by Lord Thanos
Published by the Cosmic Powers Fan Fiction Group in
THE COSMIC POWERS UNLIMITED FANZINE ISSUE #43
Characters are the properties of Marvel Comics
Powers Cosmic #8
"Posterity" - Part Two: Mortal Coils
(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 #7
What Has Gone Before:
During the Cosmic Union event, the former Heralds of Galactus learned that their bodies were solid Power Cosmic constructs of the World Devourer. Their original organic forms had been held in stasis in a secured chamber of Taa II, Galactus’ solar system-sized base. Reunited in body and soul, all the Heralds but Morg were granted access to the Power Cosmic through their organic frames, thereby making them susceptible to the all-consuming Hunger of Galactus.
Shalla Bal, Empress of Zenn La and former lover of the Silver Surfer, had served Galactus as well in several incarnations, including that of "Ardina" (translated roughly as "Star glow" from the Zen Lavian) and that of the Punisher robot that defended the Devourer’s Worldship. In an act of valor she nearly died, and the combined former Heralds created a Power Cosmic body for her soul to inhabit. Possibly due to the Universe-wide changes brought about by the Cosmic Union, her non-biological form was growing more and more unstable, flaring uncontrollably.
The heroic former Heralds remained together as a division of the Protectors of the Universe called the Powers Cosmic. Then came the death of Galactus the Devourer, and his heirs knew that the Universe would never be the same again.
…Only Days Ago…
Alicia Masters left for Earth with the Fantastic Four. The Surfer had felt for a brief time that love and happiness were possible at her side. Galactus’ death changed everything. Despite his feelings for her, Norrin’s responsibilities clearly negated any possibility of a future together. His goodbye was more than a farewell until next time. It was a reluctant severing of ties. The Universe had a purpose for him that outweighed returning Alicia’s love, he knew that now. Once the Terran spacecraft had taken off, the Surfer also departed the surface of the Shi’ar Homeworld.
Mantis did not depart for Earth with the Avengers, but rather opted to stay and help the Shi’ar with rebuilding. Her abilities with plant growth and manipulation would go a long way to help clear debris and reestablish the capital’s renowned aerie gardens.
Mantis felt a deep remorse for having abandoned her Spinsterhood teammates on Sirus X.* The irony did not escape her: the sentient plant that she had rescued from the Sirusian Imperial arboretum had been returned to the planet Verdant only to be consumed by the Devourer of Worlds.** The entity would have been better off remaining a prisoner on display for the Dark God of the Universal Church of Truth. Mantis silently swore that she would somehow make amends for the recent choices she had made.
(*See Spinsterhood #5-6 for details.)
(**See Galactus the Devourer #4 for details.)
When the Silver Surfer departed the Homeworld of the Shi’ar, his first destination was the Worldship that had played such a key role in devouring the energies of the Devourer thanks to a computer virus created by Reed Richards of the Fantastic Four.* As the Surfer had suspected, it still lay at the heart of the new sun. All that remained of Galactus was this star that, strangely, did not alter the gravitational forces or temperatures of the solar system in the slightest. For a medium-aged sun to suddenly have a binary partner was unprecedented, and the inherent dangers were clear.
(* Marvel’s GTD #6 again.)
Logically, the Shi’ar had dispatched a series of scientific vessels to determine the precise nature of the new stellar phenomenon. The Surfer had referred to the second sun as "fitting recompense" after what the Shi’ar had suffered. In fact, it was the cause of unmitigated fear, a constant reminder that the stellar system was the cemetery of a Cosmic Being. The Shi’ar scientists confirmed that the damaged Worldship lay at the heart of the new sun. Although it had been unable to process all of Galactus’ energies, it had not been completely destroyed.
Majestrix Lilandra Neramani considered her advisors’ suggestions, including relocating the Throneworld altogether. There was no guarantee that the Worldship would continue its tenuous aversion of disaster indefinitely. There was also no guarantee that Galactus would not somehow re-corporate and seek out the first inhabited planet he could find.
To make matters worse, countless opportunistic species were setting their sights on the technological marvels within the heat-less sun. To Galactus’ credit, the Worldship’s defenses would easily deal with clumsy attempts at incursion, but Norrin Radd recognized the potential for a clever creature like Thanos or Tyrant to manipulate circumstances to their advantage. If Reed Richards could reprogram the Worldship once, surely others could as well. Still, for a while, the vast vessel was his to command. His first order was to recall Galactus’ personal scout cruiser from the orbit Gladiator had helped him to establish around Homeworld* before it too became a target of scavenging on the surface.
(* Last issue.)
With Galactus gone, Norrin also feared for the fate of Taa II, Galactus stellar system-wide home base. Fortunately, its automated defenses and repair systems were superior to those of the Worldship. In addition, its location was unknown to all save Galactus’ creations. Again, the thought of Tyrant haunted the Surfer’s thoughts. Yes, securing Galactus’ unequaled technology must take precedence over all else.
Norrin Radd phased through the wall of the Worldship as he had done before. The energy release by Galactus had clearly taken its toll. Several of the Worldship’s mechanisms were inoperable. The Surfer deemed it most logical to use the ship’s still functioning hyperspacial capabilities to relocate it back to Taa II for repair and safekeeping.
Suddenly, Gladiator appeared beside the former Herald. "No, Surfer. You cannot remove the ship from the new sun."
"I assume you stowed away on the smaller scout vessel we salvaged from Homeworld, Praetor. Now is hardly the time to lecture me or to make demands. Depart immediately."
"Listen to me, you stubborn fool! Our scientists have theorized that mechanisms aboard this vessel are absorbing and redirecting the gravitational and heat forces that should be emanating from the Galactan star. This Worldship serves as the engine that averts those forces from throwing the entire stellar system into chaos. Relocate it, and the new sun will certainly throw the entire system into ecological chaos. Imagine the forces, tearing the inner planets into asteroid belts, attracting moons and worlds from their current orbits. Imagine the axis of Homeworld tilted, planetary revolutions and rotations irreparably altered. Imagine icecaps melting, jungles catching fire, land-quakes, volcanoes, is that what you want to accomplish? Hasn’t the Shi’ar Empire been through enough because of you?"
"Your blame is well-placed. You are correct, I am the cause of the destruction across Homeworld. And I am here to begin to make amends. I want to free the Shi’ar of the burden of defending this husk from pillagers and plunderers from across the Known Galaxies."
Gladiator stood firm, arms crossing his massive chest. "We first need time to determine which mechanisms are stabilizing the stellar upheaval. Perhaps we can remove or replicate them."
Suddenly the computer voice of the Worldship crackled. "Intruder Alert, Intruder Alert. Self-Destruct sequence activated. Annihilation imminent."
The Shi’ar Praetor fumed in anger. "What have you done?!"
"What have I done?!?! I am not the Intruder here!" The Surfer stared anxiously at the computer screen. "Computer deactivate Auto-Destruct immediately."
The response sent a chill down the Surfer’s spine. "Unable to comply. Automatic deactivation can only be achieved on Taa II."
Gladiator’s fists began to seethe with energy. "You have doomed us all!"
Mantis appeared from around a corner that led to Galactus’ menagerie and gardens. The Surfer shook his head. Was boarding the Worldship so easy after all? Without the Punisher robot that typically served in the vessel’s defense, perhaps its destruction was the best alternative, though not in such close proximity to inhabited worlds.
Mantis addressed the two men before her. "None of us caused this, but we had best find a solution quickly!"
The Surfer was quick to address the display screen. "Ship, show me a visual of the intruders."
Within several sectors of the Worldship, pirates forayed into the depths of the vessel. Several lay dead at the hands of the automated security mechanisms such as the ones that attacked the Surfer only hours before.* Two were easily identifiable to the three Protectors.
(* GTD #6.)
Gladiator scowled at the screen. "Nebula and Gaetar! Pirates and scavengers of the worst ilk. How did they manage to get this far into Shi’ar space? Our defenses are the best in the Known Galaxies."
The Surfer focused on the matter at hand. "A question for another time. We must initiate the hyperspacial jump!"
Gladiator’s eyes glowed with an intense fury. "If this Worldship ceases to function, then the Shi’ar Homeworld will be irrevocably altered! There must be another alternative!"
Mantis pleaded with her teammates from the Protectors. "Kallark, Norrin, now is not the time for debate! How long until the ship self-destructs?"
"Five minutes at the most." The Surfer strained for another alternative, but none came to him. Why must every recent crisis be resolved by choosing the lesser of two evils?
The Surfer made up his mind. "The Worldship’s anti-matter auto-destruction will easily take out the entire solar system, and possibly beyond. At least if I shunt it through hyperspace to Taa II for repairs, the damage from the unhindered sun will be less extensive than that."
Mantis felt the vessel shudder and convulse beneath her feet. "There is no more time! We must decide!"
Norrin Radd looked toward Gladiator, if not for validation, then at least for understanding. The Praetor’s heart sank at his own words. "Do it."
The Surfer activated the Worldship’s hyperspacial jump sequence that would return it automatically to its home base with a ten second time delay. Most of the surviving scavengers had evacuated by then, frustrated that their booty had already begun to self-destruct in their grasps. The three Protectors quickly exited the vessel and stopped just beyond the new sun’s corona.
"I have failed you, my Majestrix." Gladiator’s words were weighted down in regret.
The hyperspacial rift opened, and the Worldship slipped through it. In an instant, it was gone. Unlike the Shi’ar technology that created Stargates, the more advanced Worldship did not damage the spatial fabric of the area. The Surfer, Mantis at his side on his board, and Gladiator watched the new sun as their fears awaited realization.
But the gravitational and heat effects did not come.
Gladiator’s rare tears did not have a chance to stream down his face in the vacuum of space. Only their Protectors’ communication implants allowed them to speak. "How… how is this possible?"
The Surfer was equally dumbfounded. "Perhaps your scientists were wrong after all. Perhaps the Worldship was not the cause of the new star’s lack of heat and gravity. Perhaps Galactus himself ensured the survival of the Shi’ar in a final gesture of mercy."
"Mercy from the Devourer of Worlds? Do not be absurd! Surely there must be another explanation." Already, Gladiator was reverting to his hostile self, quickly burying all traces of the helplessness from only moments before.
The Surfer’s relief was palpable. "I depart immediately for Taa II then. I must ensure that none abuse the technology Galactus has left behind. Contact me when you receive word from our allies on Sirus X. I would return there with you once my fellow Heralds are available. They must be informed of these events."
Gladiator balked at the command and nearly lunged toward the Surfer. Mantis quickly held his arm in a gentle embrace. "Kallark and This One must return to Homeworld now, Surfer. Do what you must, as will we."
Nodding, the Surfer departed for open space between star systems, from which he could safely create a spatial aperture.
In space around Taa II, the Worldship’s computers spoke. "Auto-Destruct deactivated. Warning, damaged defenses off-line. Repair mode initiating."
The beautiful, indigo skinned Nebula smiled at her incredible good fortune. She turned to her massive male companion. "Gaetar, old friend, today is our lucky day…"
Air-Walker was quick to compose himself. "Red Shift, Blue Shift, Terrax, I know not if you consider yourselves friend or foe, but I do know that the Tyrant is a threat to all who bear the mantle of Galactus’ legacy."
Blue Shift did not hesitate. In a swift blur of indigo, she rushed into battle. Terrax spared a final, uncharacteristically concerned glance toward Starglow before following suit. Red Shift’s eyes darted suspiciously among the former Heralds, then he proceeded as well.
Gabriel Lan continued. "Surfer, you know the Shi’ar best. Go try to reason with them. But first, the orb."
Norrin Radd nodded to his friend, one of the few souls from whom he would follow commands in a crisis. "Understood." The Surfer knew of what orb Air-Walker spoke. He reached into the solid Power Cosmic that was his surfboard and removed the small hand-sized orb of Tyrant that contained the physical body of Shalla Bal. The orb was also the storage place for the multitudes of Zen Lavians and Xandarians that escapes annihilation.
Tyrant had recovered from Starglow’s uncontrolled flare of painful Power Cosmic sufficiently to see his orb change hands. His sinister grin spread once more. "Ah, I thought I sensed the presence of my property. Thanos’ theft will finally be resolved this day."* Suddenly, Terrax, Red Shift, and Blue Shift were upon him.
(* See Marvel’s Cosmic Powers Limited Series #1-6 for details.)
Lan continued his directions. "Nova, Firelord help them against Tyrant. I will take Shalla Bal into the heart of the new sun. It is there that her salvation lies. Make certain to keep Tyrant away from the orb." With that, Gabriel sped toward the core of the Galactan star.
The Silver Surfer signaled the lead battle cruiser of the Shi’ar armada with a sign of universal peace. The vessel, which only days ago would have feted his role in ending Galactus’ threat, fired upon the former Herald. Fear clearly drove them.
In this instance, the Surfer could not argue with that fear. He had never known greater fear for the fate of all Existence than in the moment Galactus died. Norrin Radd suspected that the more superstitious among the Shi’ar would even begin or adapt quasi-religious cults, willing to make sacrifices to their new sun. The sad pattern was the same across the Universe. The weak attempted to draw solace and security worshipping that which they feared most: the Unknown.
The Silver Surfer could not have known how right he was. In an underground base in the equatorial region of Homeworld, the Shi’ar group of religious zealots known as the Crystal Claws held a secret meeting to discuss the Universe-altering events of the day. Eric the Red and the Shi’ar assassin named Bloodwing* stood side by side before the secret altar to the M’Kraan Crystal. The hooded priestess before them read silently from the sacred texts upon the altar. Eventually, she closed the tome. "It is as the Prophecies have foretold, my Brethren. The new sun heralds the event we have anticipated for millennia. We must prepare for the Coming of our Savior. We have little time."
(* Last seen in Captain Marvel #14 on sale now!)
Eric the Red responded with reverence. "We understand, Holiness." With that, the two men departed.
The priestess lowered her hood, and observed the representation of the sacred crystal before her. Deathbird grinned malevolently at her own twisted reflection. "‘Thy will be done, oh, mighty Tyrant!’ Bah! Soon, D’Ken, dear brother, our time will come again…"
As Air-Walker approached the epicenter of the star, he could feel the familiar light awash over him. Truly this was the remains of his former master and friend, he thought. Gabriel spared no time for mourning. There would be time enough for that if they survived. As with every Herald, Air-Walker could adjust the amount of light he observed by varying the density of the Power Cosmic glaze that covered his eyes.
At the center of the sun he released Shalla Bal and focused on the orb. Gabriel looked at the orb sadly. He remembered Epoch’s warning during the Cosmic Union event.*
(* See Cosmic Union for details.)
"Regrettably, the countless Zenn Lavians and Xandarians suspended within the orb must remain there until the orb's dimension stabilizes itself. My seal should dissipate when the dimension is ready."
Pyreus Kril had spoken up at that. "Xandarians? You mean that Galactus saved the lives of Xandar's inhabitants as well? But why?"
Epoch had continued. "Probably for the same reason he saved Zenn La; above mere mortals he may be, but the Devourer does ever demonstrate a subtle affection for his Heralds."
Gabriel Lan had asked, "How long will it be before they can emerge?"
"Without interruption, they should be able to exit the sphere within mere months by Earth's standard of time. The pods will not be awakened until their return to real space."
Back in the heart of the sun, Gabriel shuddered at the memory. "‘Without interruption.’" For the life of Shalla Bal, Gabriel was willing to interrupt the healing process. It was a decision that weighed heavily upon him. The needs of one individual could not outweigh the needs of so many.
Starglow’s erratic pulses of energy flared again, and the decision was made. Gabriel used his Power Cosmic abilities to open an aperture between dimensions. He held Shalla Bal once more and entered the orb. At first, Epoch’s seal seemed impenetrable. Still holding Starglow in one arm, Air-Walker pulled out his rarely used implement, a curved horn of solid Power Cosmic. Perhaps it was his blowing of that powerful instrument, perhaps it was Shalla Bal’s energy burst, or perhaps it was her mere presence on both sides of the seal, but Gabriel’s gambit paid off.
What Air-Walker found inside astounded him. The Xandarians and Zen Lavians remained quietly in stasis, their rows of pods not unlike an endless series of coffins. But the pods that had preserved the original physical bodies of the Heralds were all opened and emptied except for one: Shalla Bal. What surprised Gabriel was that there should have been two. The creature Morg should also have been present, healing adjacent to Shalla Bal.
Gabriel expanded his senses to track Morg across the pocket dimension. He was nowhere to be found. He had somehow managed to escape his fate before the orb was secured in the Surfer’s board at the conclusion of the Cosmic Union event.* But the only being to have made contact with the orb before Shalla Bal’s recreation as Starglow was… Epoch?
(*See Cosmic Union #12 for details.)
The mystery would have to wait for another time. His preeminent concern was for the safety of Shalla Bal. He checked her physical body’s condition using his interface with Galactus’ technology from when he had served as the Worldship’s artificial intelligence. She was still terribly damaged, but no longer beyond his ability to help. The timing would need to be precise.
He opened the pod and used his abilities to merge the two forms. Simultaneously he used his healing power to help stabilize her. He felt the upper limits of his power begin to strain, and he knew that any further would unleash the Hunger of Galactus he so dreaded. He had failed her. He could not risk the Hunger again as he had on Sirus X after her conflict with Rune, Dark God of the Universal Church of Truth.*
(* See POTU #11 for details.)
As on Sirus X, he ultimately did not need to. The flare of Cosmic Power that she suffered served as a super-charge of healing for her own physical form, synchronizing with his own healing efforts. Once completely superimposed, her body, soul, and power balanced each other such that the sudden energy bursts ceased. She would have control again, and be as the other Heralds were, integrated. The former Heralds had suspected that the timing of the reunification with their physical bodies immediately after the Cosmic Union was more than coincidence. Only Starglow had remained as they had been for so long, spiritual essences possessing solid Power Cosmic bodies. They too might have shared her erratic power surges had they not rejoined their birth forms. Now she would be free of the wildly shifting energy releases, but suffer the potential of the Hunger as well. A bitter victory, Gabriel mused.
Shalla Bal’s beautiful physical form began to swirl and shift from her golden, long-haired "Ardina" form. Her appearance altered before him, a silvery surface appeared as if made of…
"Plasma." Shalla Bal whispered. Crackling drops of plasma energy surrounded her transformed figure.*
(* See cover of CPU #42 for a visual.)
Air-Walker and Plasma emerged from the orb in time to turn around and witness Tyrant reaching the sphere despite Terrax’s and Nova’s best efforts. As the Tyrant took possession, everything else seemed to freeze in the Universe. The creations of Galactus seemed the only beings capable of movement. The Shi’ar armada that had been exchanging fire with the Silver Surfer paused in mid-energy discharge. Confused, the Surfer returned to the Galactus star.
Before Tyrant spoke a word of triumph, the inevitable happened. As if from space itself, Eternity stepped forward from between folds of space and time. Beside him was a purple cloaked being that could only be Mistress Death.
The former Heralds shuddered at the cold that washed from Death’s form. Awed by the vision they stopped their conflict with Tyrant, who also ceased hostilities out of respect for greater beings.
Eternity spoke. "You have been allowed, as all of the heirs of the Cosmic Balance, to witness this day’s events."
Air-Walker was quick to interject. "All? But where then is Morg?" Before the Cosmic Being could respond, Gabriel’s senses still specifically attuned to tracking Morg’s biochemistry, turned to new incarnation of Tyrant. "You!!"
Continued in Posterity Part Three
Continued in Posterity Part Three. 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 email@example.com
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