Silver Surfer Volume 1 #23-25
At the end of Silver Surfer Vol. 1 Issue #18 (published in 1970 and written by Stan Lee), the Silver Surfer, still trapped on earth for betraying Galactus and still feared and hated by all of society, declared revenge on the human race. This is a continuation of that series.
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Issue #23 - "Terminal Ferocity" Part 5
Axiom rose from the fetal position he had adopted during the transformation. The last thing he recalled was an unfathomable feeling of anger and loathing towards his new master. Galactus hovered in front of him, looking down on his new creation.
Legis Tahrn's peacekeeper uniform had been transformed into a material quite unlike any he had felt before. It was obvious that it was infinitely more durable than it had been. Similarly, his skin felt different, as if it had toughened without losing its flexibility. He suddenly became aware that his facial features had gone: Where there had once been large black eyes and a wide mouth, there was now a plain surface, the same navy-blue color as the rest of his skin.
These, however, were only surface changes. As Axiom, he could feel the power cosmic within him. It radiated from his very heart. He truly was a herald to the force of nature that was Galactus! Out of curiosity he reached for his lash. It was still there, but felt somehow different.
"Your weapon is no longer made from crude matter, herald," boomed the voice of Galactus. "Instead, it consists of quantum energies, bound at the subatomic level. It should be more than enough to protect you from any resistance you may encounter."
Axiom drew the "quantum lash" and watched the glowing pink energy extend from the grip. He drew his arm back and snapped it out, and he could feel the power of the lash almost rending space-time itself before him.
"We leave now, herald. Board my "Worldship" so that you might learn of your future, and of my history. You must be prepared for when the Hunger starts anew."
"As you wish, master." Axiom moved through space under his own power, no longer needing the bubble of air that Galactus had formed around him. He entered the vast ship, and followed Galactus to a room full of data terminals.
"You are to spend the next few weeks in here, Axiom. When the Hunger starts, you will no longer be ignorant to the ways of the universe."
"I exist only to serve you, Mighty Galactus," replied Axiom, and sat at a terminal. Galactus nodded, and left.
The Silver Surfer came to his senses as the earth shook beneath him. His body still ached from the blast of energy he had sustained when he had approached the spacecraft that now hovered above him. The being within obviously had vast power, but there was something else: It was familiar. A creation of Galactus, the Silver Surfer would recognize his former master's power anywhere; and this alien, this Terminus, reeked of it.
Slowly he brought his hands up beneath his shoulders, and lifted his chest off the ground. He turned his head to inspect his board, which was half buried into the ground to his left. The red dust of the Australian desert reflected in it's gleaming surface.
Suddenly the earth shook once more, and Norrin Radd realized that this was no ordinary earthquake. He rose to a crouching position, still woozy, and looked around.
The massive frame of Terminus stood a hundred meters away, driving his lance into the earth. He stood at least a hundred feet high, clad in a banded metallic armor, trimmed with purple and red. His face, the only visible part of his body, was a pale yellow color, and looked almost amphibian. Once again the earth shook as he rose his lance and drove it further into the desert floor. The Surfer recalled what Magneto had said about the alien: That it was bent on stealing the planet's resources. So much like Galactus, thought the Surfer. It cannot be a coincidence.
Determined to discover the reason this alien was so familiar to him, the Surfer mounted his board and flew up to Terminus' hundred-foot height.
"Hold, alien!" he cried.
Terminus' massive head rose to meet the Surfer's eyes. He studied the Surfer for a few moments, as one might study an insect before swatting it. At length he spoke:
"Leave me, gnat. Neither you, nor the puny inhabitants of this rock can stop the ravager of worlds from taking his bounty. Any interference will be dealt with . . . harshly."
"I care not for this world, alien," replied the Surfer, "but I seek information about you and your power. Where did you--"
Twin beams of cosmic energy erupted from Terminus' eyes, striking the Surfer full in the chest. Not since his earthly battle with Galactus had he felt such power! The beams had almost loosened the subatomic grip he had on his board! He clenched his fists, and yelled back to his assailant.
"You will not sway me, Terminus! Tell me what I need to know! Your power is--"
Norrin Radd never finished his question. Terminus' left hand swung from above and batted him from the air. He landed heavily on the desert floor, winded for the first time since leaving Zenn-La. He shook his head, and looked back up at Terminus.
Only to see the point of the alien's lance driving down towards him.
Axiom felt the knowledge flow into him like some sorts of intravenous drip-feed. He learned about Galan, the explorer from the universe which existed before this one, who would be the last survivor of the "big crunch" - the end of his reality. He read Galactus' transcription of Galan's encounter with the embodiment of his universe, who offered him a chance of survival.
He learned of Galan's new existence as the great Devourer of Worlds - the balancing force between Eternity and Death. He read through the countless texts that the ship's computer had harvested from the libraries of long dead worlds.
After some time, he learned of the Silver Surfer, the first Herald of Galactus. He followed the Surfer's travels with his master for the centuries of his tenure, until the rebellion on the faraway world of earth. The thought of turning against the master made Axiom catch his breath. The mere thought made him feel nauseous! Why would anyone turn against the great plan that Galactus embodied?
He wondered about this Silver Surfer. The former herald was no doubt living a life of hedonistic glory on the planet that he had saved.
The full force of Terminus' lance struck the Surfer's earth-bound torso. With the alien's incalculable strength behind the shaft, there was nothing Norrin Radd could do to resist the assault. His body was driven almost fifty feet below the surface, and he lost consciousness for the second time in that makeshift grave.
In the darkness of his subterranean prison, the Silver Surfer dreamed. Memories shaken loose from the attack washed over his unconscious mind. Memories from perhaps a thousand years ago . . .
Norrin Radd had been serving his master for only about a century, then. He had done his best to bring the Devourer to uninhabited worlds, such that innocents would not come to harm. On this particular occasion, he had been drawn to a system, which radiated life energy, since there were two life-rich planets encircling the star.
Upon reaching the first of the two worlds, the Silver Surfer became aware of a civilization. He observed the inhabitants for a few hours, concluding that they were sentient beings; a technologically advanced race, in fact. Their squat pale yellow bodies waddled from building to building as they carried out their daily business.
After this brief pause, he flew to the second planet. This one was overgrown with lush vegetation, but appeared to carry no animal life. A perfect world to present to Galactus.
He backed off from the system somewhat, then let loose the flare of power cosmic that would summon his master. Within an hour the great Worldship of Galactus appeared, and the Surfer directed his master to the second planet.
"You have done well, my faithful herald," boomed the Great Balancer. "Galactus will be sated this day." With that, the feeding process began, and the Surfer sat on his board at a respectful distance.
It was only towards the end of the absorption process that Norrin Radd realized that something was amiss. An artificial satellite that he had failed to notice before had been observing his master's feeding, and relaying information back to the first world. Without warning, the satellite reconfigured itself, and began siphoning off energy from the dying world! Hurriedly the Surfer flew his board to within firing range of the satellite, and destroyed it; but not before it had beamed the siphoned energy to a point on the other planet.
Galactus finished his feeding, unaware of the events that had transpired. He silently returned to the Worldship, barely paying his herald notice.
While Galactus meditated nearby, the Surfer investigated the first world, searching for the receptacle of the stolen power. He never found it.
When the Silver Surfer awoke, he mentally summoned his board. When it did not come, he attempted to stand, only then realizing that he was clasped to an inner wall of Terminus' ship! His board, too, was held fast to the steel wall by a foot-wide clasp.
Already angry at having been dummy-punched by this alien twice, the Surfer's eyes began to glow with the Power Cosmic. As the energy began to flow through his arms to his hands, he found it drained into the wall behind him! The voice of Terminus boomed from outside:
"Try as you might, gnat, you will not escape from my energy siphon. Once my ship has drained your power, I will leave your gutted corpse for the vermin to dispose of!"
The Surfer realized that he was trapped, and resigned himself to bargaining with the alien when he returned to his ship. With his cosmic senses, he was able to see through the wall and watch Terminus as he resumed his collection of the local resources. Suddenly Terminus stopped, and turned his head to one side, as if listening to some distant sound. At length he raised his head and looked off to his left, and the Surfer craned his neck to see what had caught the alien's attention.
It was Magneto's craft, heading this way!
Issue #24 - "Terminal Ferocity" Part 6
The electronically enhanced voice of Magneto rang out across the closing gap between his craft and the immense alien, Terminus.
"Alien! We had a deal, and Magneto expects that you will honor it!"
Terminus, after a brief pause to examine the oncoming plane, returned to his harvest of the uranium in the ground below him. He didn't seem to consider Magneto a threat at all.
Magneto's voice now had a tinge of anger in it. "Hear me, alien! Honor your deal, or feel the wrath of the Master of Magnetism!"
The taunt bounced off the armored form of the enormous alien. He continued driving his immense lance into the earth, pausing every so often to reach down and pick up huge handfuls of mineral, transferring them into the hold of his ship.
From within the massive craft, the Silver Surfer could do nothing but watch the alien tear the ground up. He was held to the wall by an energy-siphoning clasp, unable to escape. His board, though within sight, was no help - held as it was to another part of the wall by a similar clasp. Again the Surfer craned his neck, using his cosmic senses to watch the happenings outside.
Magneto looked up at the armor-clad behemoth before him. As he had suspected, the alien had not kept his word. The Master of Magnetism had struck a deal with Terminus before the alien had entered earth's atmosphere, promising to lead the alien to the resources it needed if it would grant him the power to rule over the planet.
Now he felt like a fool.
A well prepared fool, however.
"Blob!" He commanded. "While I keep him occupied, prepare our surprise!" With that, Magneto lifted himself off the ground, riding the earth's magnetic field. He spread his arms wide, and concentrated on Terminus.
"The alien's armor is obviously not made of iron," he thought to himself, "but there are enough ferrous metals in the alloy for me to make him acknowledge me!"
Terminus suddenly felt a pull on one of his arms. He ignored it at first, trying to continue the harvest of minerals, but it eventually strengthened to the point where his right hand was suspended above him. Summoning his strength, he was able to pull the arm back to his side as he stood upright and faced the insect causing the disturbance.
"You promised me great power, alien!" shouted the red-clad gnat. "I have shown you to your precious resources, now honor your pledge!"
"Mighty Terminus does not deal with ameba! Die now, puny ones!" With that, the alien lifted a massive arm, and his outstretched hand began to glow with cosmic energy. Suddenly Magneto's hovering form made a pushing motion, and Terminus felt an immense force actually push him back, almost losing his balance!
Angrier than ever before, Terminus stepped forwards and extended both his hands, intent on incinerating his assailants.
Magneto called down to his subservient mutants, now outside the plane. "Scarlet Witch! He prepares to fire! Protect us now!"
As Terminus let loose a beam of cosmic energy towards the band, the Scarlet Witch made a series of gestures, and a kind of lens appeared between the mutants and the alien. The energy passed through the lens, but was converted to harmless light!
"Excellent!" cried Magneto. "Hold it their, Witch! Now, Blob, let me respond in kind!"
"Respond in kind?" thought the Surfer. "Magneto had little power over me, and just barely enough to touch Terminus! What could he possibly do to worry the alien?" Again he turned his head to watch the fray beyond the hull of Terminus's ship.
The Blob, who had earlier retreated to the aft of Magneto's plane, now appeared outside carrying a huge tube-shaped object. "Could this be what the 'second stop' was for?" wondered the Surfer, remembering that Magneto had told him of two stops before they rendezvoused with Terminus.
While the Scarlet Witch maintained her protective lens, the Blob carried the object to the front of the group, and mounted it onto his shoulder. "Some sort of weapon, obviously," thought the Surfer.
It wasn't until Quicksilver retrieved a large metallic lump from the craft and loaded it into the rear of the tube that the Surfer realized its use. "A magnetic accelerator! Magneto is going to use the tube to propel that lump of metal at Terminus! Obviously the Blob is the only one strong enough to stand his ground with the massive recoil such a weapon would have!"
For the first time the Surfer believed that the mutants might face Terminus and survive!
"Now, Terminus," cried Magneto, "feel the power of Homo-superior!" And with that, he made a sweeping gesture from the Blob to the alien. The lump of metal rifled through the huge barrel and shot towards Terminus at nearly light speed, leaving a spiraling trail of superheated air in its wake. It struck the monstrous armor near Terminus' right shoulder, and the sheer force was enough to knock the alien over.
Almost insane with rage, Terminus rose to one knee and let loose another barrage of cosmic energy only to have it filtered through the Scarlet Witch's lens and pass through the mutants with no harm.
Suddenly another shot rose from the gun, which had been rearmed at superhuman speed by Quicksilver. This one struck Terminus square in the chest, and he fell backwards once again.
In fury, the immense alien struck the ground with both fists. The tremor, strong enough to topple the other earthbound mutants, did not shake the Blob. It did, however, dislodge the railgun from his grip, and it fell to the ground.
With the time he had bought, Terminus grabbed his lance and boarded his ship. He was obviously dismayed at the uselessness of his power, and the assault from the mutants. He made his way to the deck on which the Silver Surfer was captive, and turned to the Zenn-Lavian.
"You insect friends have cut short my visit to this world, but I shall use your power to make my escape!"
And as Terminus moved to a nearby control panel, the Silver Surfer felt the siphon begin drawing his power cosmic into the ship. The pain was almost unbearable as the craft lifted off the ground and back into the atmosphere.
Despite the blinding pain, the Silver Surfer still had the presence of mind to brace himself for the impact - for at any moment now the ship would attempt to pass through Galactus' barrier!
Issue #25 - "Terminal Ferocity" Part 7
High above the surface of the earth, the massive spacecraft of Terminus ascended into the heavens. Using the power of the captive Silver Surfer, it rocketed spaceward with its cargo of uranium stolen from the Australian desert. Terminus himself stood in front of a large console on board the ship, his back to his prisoner.
Norrin Radd was using what little strength he had left to tighten his body. Though the ship was draining his power, he knew that he had to brace himself for the impending impact. For any second now the ship would attempt to breach the impenetrable barrier, which held him to earth.
Once, many months before, he had attempted this very feat. After a failed invasion of earth by the Badoon, he had theorized that it would be possible to pass through the barrier if he were within the ship's protective field. He had had to cut short the experiment, however, to rescue an innocent victim of the Badoon's sortie.
This time, he was an unwilling participant in the experiment.
"Unwilling?" Thought the Surfer. "Were I to breach this barrier, I could return home to Zenn-La! Home to my one true love, Shalla Bal!" He almost let himself relax at the thought of her, but caught himself just in time.
Wham! A huge tremor shook the craft as the Surfer's tightened body struck the cosmic forcefield. Trying as it was to ascend, the ship was almost torn in two, except for the fact that the shackles holding Norrin Radd to the inner hull were quickly torn apart. Terminus, though startled by the impact, had the presence of mind to stop the ship before the Surfer was thrown out. Quickly he descended several floors to find his dazed captive.
"What have you done, gnat?" he boomed. "Is this some feeble attempt at escape?"
"I cannot leave this world, Terminus!" responded the Surfer, growing angry as his strength slowly returned. Angry at Terminus for holding him, but angrier at the fact that the barrier held true. "I am trapped by a forcefield erected by the same entity from which you stole your powers: mighty Galactus!"
"Forcefield--" began Terminus, when he suddenly comprehended the Surfer's words. "Stole! You dare accuse me of stealing the powers of my birthright?"
"You need not maintain the pretense, usurper! I was present when you siphoned the energy of Galactus as he devoured the world neighboring yours! You-"
"Enough!" roared the massive alien. "You lie! My powers have been handed down through generations, and were originally bestowed upon our race by a powerful demon-god! You dare defy the legends?"
The Surfer stood. "The legends have been warped over time, Terminus. Centuries ago I visited your world with my former master, and I was there when one of your ancestors stole a tiny fraction of his power! I can only surmise that your race found a way to synthesize and amplify the power cosmic, and imbue themselves with it!"
Terminus took a step back, a bemused look upon his amphibian face. "Could it be true? Could the prophecy be realizing itself before me?"
"Prophecy?" prompted the Surfer.
"The legends speak of a demon-god who devoured our sister-world, then granted one of our race great power. In the centuries since we have merged and multiplied, each time enhancing the energies within us. There is a prophecy that one day we would find a herald of the return of the demon, and that we would take the rest of his power by force!" The immense hand of Terminus rose and pointed at the Surfer. "You, insect, are to lead me to this 'Galactus', so that I can fulfill the prophecy!"
The Surfer thought about the alien's plan. Even if Terminus were able to free him from his earthly prison, the villain would stand no chance against the Devourer of Worlds! A deal could safely be struck!
"Very well, Terminus! Free me from this world, and I shall lead you to my former master! There you will either fulfill your prophecy, or meet your fate!"
Terminus reached down and grabbed the Surfer roughly, clenching him in one hand as he climbed back to a higher deck. Once he reached his flight console he began scanning Galactus' barrier. "Strange that my ship did not detect it immediately," he mused. "But now that I understand its makeup, it should be a small task to mask your presence and get you through it . . ."
After several minutes, Terminus raised the hand in which he held Norrin Radd. "Prepare to locate your former master, silver one! We pass through the barrier now!"
The Surfer felt the seething energies fill Terminus' hand and envelops his body. After a few seconds he felt completely encased in a glutinous cocoon of power. "This energy will shield you from the barrier. Once we are through, it will dissipate. Be warned: If you attempt to escape, you will be able to pass back into the barrier, but then you will once again be trapped!"
The Surfer nodded, and prepared himself for freedom.
Slowly the craft began to ascend once again. The Surfer, though hopeful, braced himself for another impact. This time, however, it never came. Protected by Terminus' field of energy, he passed through the barrier unharmed!
"I am free!" he cried. "Finally I am free of the earth, and its hate-filled inhabitants! No longer must I endure their prejudices!" He turned to Terminus. "If I am to fulfill my side of the deal, you must release me from this craft. Only outside will my cosmic senses allow me to locate my master."
"I sense that despite our differences, you will remain true to your word. Therefore you may leave the confines of this ship. Your board has been released from its bindings. But be warned! Stray too far, and risk my wrath!"
"To me, my board!" commanded Norrin Radd, and obediently his board appeared and flew beneath him. "After years of imprisonment, we are once again able to surf the cosmic waves!" Eagerly he flew out of the hatch and into space.
Despite his obligations to Terminus, the Silver Surfer could barely remember the sense of liberty he felt now. The earth, by now, was thousands of miles below them, and the stars above beckoned. He felt the solar wind pass over and through him, as he jubilantly surfed in huge circular patterns.
Only one task remained Locate Galactus, and lead Terminus to his doom. The alien was formidable, true, but his power was nothing compared to the Ravager of Worlds. Even now, free of the protective atmosphere of earth, the Surfer could feel his own power growing. Here in the depth of space there was an abundance of cosmic rays for his body to absorb. Soon he would be as powerful as Terminus himself!
Nevertheless, he had struck a deal with this alien, and (unlike Terminus himself) the Silver Surfer would uphold his side. Using senses that he had not needed in years, he swept the cosmos for his former master. Galactus' energy signature was unique, and despite the strong signal he received from Terminus himself, the Silver Surfer was able to pinpoint his former master's location with ease.
Once he was certain, he turned back towards Terminus' vessel. There was no hurry, however.
Once his prisoner was outside, Terminus began his work. Now that he would learn of the whereabouts of the demon-lord Galactus, it was his duty to contact the others of his kind. Thousands of members of his race, each calling themselves by the same name (since they were all but facets of the one individual) were roaming the cosmos. Each had their own reasons for survival, yet each was awaiting this day: The day of reckoning. The day that the power which was rightfully theirs would be claimed once and for all.
The day Galactus would die.
Heading back to Terminus' ship, the Silver Surfer was no longer using his cosmic senses to locate Galactus. Had he been, he would suddenly have noticed the myriad of energy signatures suddenly light up around the cosmos - all identical to that of Terminus.
He would also have noticed that they had all begun to move in unison . . . towards Terminus' ship.
To be continued...
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