Infinity Conquest #2
Written by Josh Reynolds,
Edited by Marvelite
Continued from Infinity Conquest issue #1.
In the not too distant past the objects of power known as the Infinity Gems disappeared from this reality and came into the possession of the abomination known as Rune. Rune was summarily dealt with at no little cost by Adam Warlock, and the Infinity Gems disappeared once more, supposedly destroyed along with the mysterious seventh gem, the Ego Gem, heretofore undiscovered.
However, this was not the case. They simply returned once more to their rightful reality. Warlock suspected as much and began a quest to recover the gems, especially that of the Soul, which he considered his personal property. The gems were scattered across space and time to various locations, with no rhyme or reason. All but one. The Reality Gem, the most potent of the six alongside Warlock's Soul Gem, was reclaimed by Thanos of Titan, it's former guardian. During the short time Warlock appointed him secret guardian of the gem, the Mad Titan, using his charge's power, ensured that the six gems could never be used against him. He also made sure that should he ever lose it, the Reality Gem would return to him if he so desired.
Thus, when Warlock defeated the cosmic vampire Rune and lost the gems in the process, the Reality Gem was catapulted through the dimensional barrier back into the grasp of Thanos. As a consequence of its abrupt departure, the Reality Gem dragged its five brothers back to their native reality as well, scattering them in the process. The other five gems were thrown to vastly different locations and have hitherto remained undiscovered. Up until now.
The emerald gem pulsed softly in Urgar's horny palm. The Rock troll smith grinned in pleasure as he glanced down from his work. "Yes master, soon it will be ready, and you will stride where once before you required the aid of others to move." He crooned, stroking the glowing gem. Then he carefully placed the stone into the tiny pouch hanging from his thick neck and returned his attention to his work, raising glowing uru tools. Soon his master's new body would be fully repaired. After a few minutes, he sat back wiping sweat from his hairy brow.
Before Urgar, the Destroyer armor stood silent and menacing, only a few dents and areas of charred metal remained for him to fix. Soon it would be time. Soon the Soul-Taker would live and consume once more.
Adam Warlock stood like a statue upon the surface of Earth's moon, a grimace of fatigue upon his features as he concentrated, stretching his senses out upon the cosmic winds. They were out there. He knew they were. And he would find them.
The Negative Zone was aflame with war; just the way Annihilus liked it. The insectoid warlord howled in bloodthirsty joy as he tore through the ranks of his rival, Blaastar, like an emerald buzz saw. Suddenly, the inter-dimensional scavenger fell heavily, his cosmic senses reeling as if assaulted. He sensed power. Immense power. And nearby. He shot once more into the air, disintegrating the few foolish troopers who had gotten too close. The power would be his and his alone!
Behind his sinister mask, Doom's eyebrows rose in amazement as he watched the readout scroll down the monitor before him. One of his weekly scans of the Negative Zone had revealed the presence of an immense cosmic power source; one he had felt the muscle of first hand. Standing abruptly, he left the technicians gaping as he hurried from the lab, dark green cloak flapping at his ankles. There were preparations to be made.
"What good is it if it can't give us what we want?!?" Kang howled in exasperation. Rama-Tut turned from the highly advanced machinery before him and scowled.
"Stop complaining! You knew as well as we all did that the gems powers can't be used upon each other. Otherwise when Thanos first sought them out he would have simply used the Reality Gem to bring the others into his grasp as you so childishly wish to do!"
"Rama-Tut is correct Kang. Calm yourself, please. Allow him to scan the gem." The Scarlet Centurion quietly admonished his past incarnation. Kang muttered unintelligibly as he stormed out of the lab. Rama-Tut smirked.
"That is one who will have to be dealt with soon I think."
"You may be correct, though I am loathe to admit it. We will have need of Kang's power and resources when Thanos catches up with us."
Kang smiled as walked down the stone corridor that led to the Sphinx-ship's control room. It was all too perfect, really. His brother time-lords believed him to be little more than a bloodthirsty stooge; a weapon to be manipulated to their own ends. And perhaps at one time he had been. But the Destiny War had taught him one thing at least, and that was that what you see isn't always what you get. His smile soon turned to laughter as the Conqueror continued down the corridor, his plan already set in motion.
Bifrost was covered in a blanket of blood and bodies. Thanos, tiger's grin plastered to his stony features, stood amidst the carnage and took everything the Asgardians had and turned it back on them tenfold. In reality it wasn't a battle or even a massacre. Thanos was merely excising his frustrations, and the Asgardians were the unwilling targets. Odin came to understand this ten minutes into watching the conflict going on outside his gates and to say it angered him would be putting it mildly. He shot to his feet, a silent decision reached. Too many times of late had Thanos of Titan done some measure of harm to Asgard and it's peoples. This would be the last of such incidents. Odin snapped his fingers and his great, three-pronged battle spear, Gungnir, appeared in his hand. Then with a snarl to shame Fenrir, the lord of Asgard willed himself to the battlefield, death in his eyes.
Thanos dropped the body of his latest opponent to the multi-colored ground as he noticed that no more enemies swirled around him. The Asgardians had retreated back a good kilometer, dragging their wounded with them. Thanos's section of the bridge was clear but for the dead. He snorted in annoyance.
He knew what was coming next and he wasn't looking forward to it. He did not have the time to waste.
With a rush of cosmic wind and a thunderclap of power, Odin suddenly stood before Thanos and leveled his spear at the Titan's broad chest. "This ends. Now." Odin grated.
"I wouldn't have it any other way,"
Thanos replied. With roar, Odin hurtled forward, spear leveled.
Thanos braced for the impact, teeth bared in a ruckus. Gungnir ripped into
the Titan's chest. As the three blades entered his torso, Thanos
wrapped his hands around the haft of the weapon and used the Allfather's own
momentum against him, slinging Odin away. The deity landed with a crash
some hundred feet distant and almost immediately rolled to his feet, unscathed
but dazed. Thanos wrenched Gungnir from his flesh with a grunt and dabbed
at the trio of oozing holes left behind. Eyes burning with cosmic energy,
the Titan tossed the weapon aside and raised clenched fists to shoulder level.
"First blood goes to you." He laughed.
Then, as Odin crouched, preparing to charge back into the fray, Thanos extended his arms swiftly and released a barrage of cosmic energy. The crimson power washed over the god in mid-leap and he crashed to the ground, millimeters from his intended target. As Thanos stepped back, Odin got once more to his feet, unscathed but for a few errant scorch marks by the brutal energies that had ripped into him, and thrust out his silvery gauntlets, releasing his own volley of energy that slammed the Mad Titan from his feet and tossed him like a rag doll into the golden gates of Asgard with bone shattering force. Thanos remained upright in a great crater in the center of the right gate for a few moments, his armor smoldering, before he collapsed back to the surface of Bifrost. The Eternal staggered into a standing position as Odin slowly approached, his fists crackling with unreleased power. Thanos braced himself as another burst of divine energy roiled across his crossed forearms. Odin halted a few feet away, still pouring an unceasing wave of celestial fire upon his foe. Thanos gritted his teeth against the pain and began to move forward against the flow of power, still blocking it with his thick forearms and spread fingers. With every step he took, more burning energy wrapped around his frame, until, only scant centimeters from Odin, he was completely engulfed in cosmic flames. With a roar of pain, Thanos lunged forward and wrapped fiery arms around Odin's torso. Odin screamed as his own energies licked at his flesh and wrenched himself backwards, out of the Titan's grasp. Thanos smiled through the pain and fell upon his retreating foe with blazing fists. The Allfather crashed to the ground as Thanos smashed him repeatedly, unrelentingly in the face, snapping bone and crushing cartilage.
Bloodied, the lord of Asgard struck back
desperately and savagely, his blows crunching into Thanos's blistering torso,
shattering several of the ribs on his left side. As Thanos reeled back,
Odin shot upwards, both fists locked together and hit the staggering form before
him with all of his divine might. Thanos shot up and backwards, hurtling
like a meteor over and off of the Rainbow Bridge, to plummet like some deranged
falling star into the abyss below.
Odin stood for a moment, dragging the back of one rent gauntlet across his shattered nose, and watched the retreating form of his foe. Then, with a tired gesture he summoned Gungnir to his grasp and leapt from the edge of Bifrost, intent upon finishing what he had started.
Annihilus tore at the floating rock with all of his cosmic might, attempting to bore into its heart. The insectoid warlord could feel the emanations of power bleeding from this point, calling to him. Bringing him here to this desolate and lifeless area of the Negative Zone.
But it had not brought him alone. Blaastar watched with sinister curiosity as his chief rival attacked an obviously worthless hunk of rock for no good reason that the hirsute ruler could discern. After mopping up Annihilus's remaining troops, the Living Bomb Burst had become interested in the reasons behind his enemy's flight from the battlefield and had followed him here with a small detachment of his royal guard to finish their conflict.
"However if that green winged freak left the battlefield to come here, that stone cannot surely be as worthless as I believe." Blaastar grunted to himself. With a snap of his clawed fingers he motioned his soldiers forward. Once Annihilus was his, he would rip the truth about this place from him, layer by bloody layer.
As the bestial troops of Blaastar flew forward in the zero gravity of the Negative Zone towards their distracted prey, Annihilus cracked open the rock with a mighty strike of burning power. The disintegrating pieces of the rock floated away revealing a tiny amethyst hued gem. The Living Death shrieked joyfully with his harsh metallic voice and grasped the stone in one armored claw as the troops of Blaastar suddenly swarmed over his form.
Annihilus shrugged his emerald wings and the Baluurrian warriors were thrown in various directions. Screeching, he rose into the air and unleashed a hail of cosmic energy, obliterating at least a dozen of Blaastar's finest troops. Blaastar roared and hurtled from his vantage point, using his power blasts to launch himself towards his rival at great speed. Deftly controlling his abilities the Baluurrian monarch stopped short and turned his power blasts upon Annihilus, slamming the insectoid alien back through the air. Annihilus managed to halt his hurtling form a meter away and pumped his wings with undiminished energy, smashing into Blaastar only a few moments later like a runaway truck. The warlords scrabbled for purchase at each other's throats, energy bleeding off of them in waves.
"I possess greater power than you ever imagined primate, and it will spell your long overdue doom!" Annihilus crowed as his energies enveloped the head of Blaastar and burned portions of gray flesh down to bone. Blaastar did not rise to the bait with his usual bombastic vigor as he valiantly struggled to keep the seemingly enhanced abilities of Annihilus from overwhelming his defenses, his teeth gritted against the searing pain. Annihilus rammed glowing armored fists into the Baluurrian's sides, cracking and breaking the thick bones of his ribcage, driving splintered fragments into his lungs. Blaastar howled bloody foam and wrapped his digits around the metallic head of his foe, cosmic energy blazing forth, warping the surface of the insectoid head. The self-proclaimed emperor of the Negative Zone unleashed all the power at his disposal; draining every reserve he possessed in his stocky form and released it all in one massive blast, which spread like a small nuclear explosion through out that portion of the Negative Zone. The few remaining Baluurrian troops who remained were incinerated before they even had a chance to scream, as was any other form of life in that region, as the shockwave expanded.
Johnny Storm flipped over backwards in his chair in surprise as the alarm system
began to screech. "What in the," he growled as he shot upright
from the floor. Suddenly the voice of Reed Richards sounded over the
"Ben, Johnny, Sue - all of you please come at once to the lab. It's urgent!"
Storm's body burst into flames and he was out of the room like a shot.
When Reed said urgent, you knew damn well it was urgent, he thought grimly as he flew through the twisting corridors of the Baxter building towards Reed's lab.
Despite his speed, the Torch was the last to
arrive. "Glad you could get here, Match head!" the Thing
rumbled, swatting an orange paw playfully at the Torch's head.
"Yeah, yeah, lay off lummox, as if anyone could beat a ten ton boulder like you downhill any way." He laughed.
"Fer yer info sunshine, I only weigh
eight tons," the Thing snorted. Mr. Fantastic cleared his throat
noisily, staring down his nose at his teammates. "Yeah Stretch?
Spit it out!" the Thing peered at his friend, wincing as Sue Richards
slapped his rocky head and put a finger to her lips.
"If you two are finished, we have a problem. A few minutes ago, my sensors in the Negative Zone picked up a large explosion emanating from a region I had been studying for the past few days. The explosion is expanding throughout the zone, annihilating everything in its path. At first glance this isn't our problem. However, my readings indicate that the explosion could breach the dimensional wall at several points, opening holes between our dimension and the Negative Zone. And we all know what that means."
"Yeah, overtime." The Thing and the Torch quipped simultaneously.
"In a manner of speaking, yes. We will have to alert the Avengers, Dr. Strange and anyone else we can reach immediately. Then, I believe it is in the best interests of the world if we enter the Negative Zone and discover the cause behind this disaster." Richards replied, a slight smile on his face as the Thing slapped an orange mitt to rocky brow, the very picture disgust and resignation. "Sue, if you could arrange for Franklin."
"I've already spoken to Alicia, Reed. Franklin's looking forward to helping her with her work at the gallery." Susan Richards grinned, "I think a few days of playing with clay out in the fresh air will be good for him, something other than those videogames someone continues to sneak him." she said, mock glaring at her brother.
"What? The box said they encourage hand eye coordination and problem
solving ability, and besides the chick with the bazookas on the front was
hot." He protested, holding up his hands in surrender.
"Ben, go warm up the dimensional flyer. Johnny, gather our gear. We don't know how long we'll be gone." Reed grinned. "We have a job to do. Let's get to it."
Adam Warlock uncoiled from his meditation stance, wiping lunar dust from his clothing. He had come to a decision. While he could sense the presence of the gems, he had no way of tracing them. Only three beings he knew of could do that and two of them he could not trust. The third was dead, transformed into something both more and less that he was, but his technology still existed, in orbit over the planet where he had met his fate. Adam Warlock slowly rose above the surface of the moon and shot away into the vacuum towards the Shi'ar homeworld. And toward the worldship of Galactus.
Urgar squealed as the emerald light punched into his forehead, then he dropped, boneless, to the floor of his smithy. His rude little soul screamed as it was absorbed into the Soulworld. The Soul-Taker laughed silently within its emerald prison as it flexed the uru fingers of the Destroyer, it's new home. It sensed limitless souls all around, ready to join the bliss of Soulworld. And far off, like a tickle at the back of its limited intellect, it could sense the one it had been bonded to, and the one whom it would bond with again. One way or another. The Destroyer moved out of the Urgar's hovel into the wilds of Asgard, a hunger for blood and souls burning within its mystic form.
Kang smiled as he listened to the argument between his brother warlords from where he sat in the control room of the Sphinx-ship. Rama-Tut wished to study the Reality Gem more before attempting to use it to track their quarry. The Scarlet Centurion felt that they had wasted enough time on the Living Pharaoh's studies and wished to hook the gem up to the ship's scanning devices. Kang turned off the monitor with a flick of his finger and reached over to the vessel's main console and sent a message pulse burning through the time stream. Then, the Conqueror of the 30th century laced his fingers and leaned back in his chair and waited.
To Be Continued.
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