Adam Warlock is... THANOS II #1
Protectors of the Universe: Adam Warlock is...
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“Come you spirits…
And fill me from the crown to the toe, top-full
Of direst cruelty!”
- Shakespeare, Macbeth, I,5
What Has Gone
The Protectors of the
Universe left several of their ranks on the planet Sirus X following their
ordeal there.* Adam Warlock and Gamora, along with their long-time ally Pip and
his former paramour Mama Alpha, entered into another stage of pupation. Kismet
and Starhawk stayed behind to safeguard the chrysalis chamber until such time as
they completed their metamorphoses and emerged…
(*See Protectors of the Universe #1-15 for details.)
(** In Marvel’s Thor #25.)
The swollen wombs
pulsated with life, a subtle droning echo emanating from their cores. Without
warning, one began to open, and from the aperture emerged an amethyst figure
bearing a sinister expression. "Thanos is reborn," whispered the
formerly golden hued Adam Warlock.
Warlock began to peel the sticky, fungus-like matter slowly from his skin, which was now a darker violet. His eyes had a silver gleam in them, and his bearing was reminiscent of the Mad Titan. The other two cocoons, one of which contained two life forms, began to shudder and crack as well, but they no longer concerned him. His first conscious movement upon being freed of the chrysalis was to place his fingertips onto his forehead. The Soul Gem he had borne for nearly a decade was noticeably absent. And a dark purpose was born.
One – Two Degrees of Separation.
(The next morning…)
Sirus X was a planet in flux.
It’s Dark God, Rune, had been
banished back to the Ultraverse from whence he had come, by the efforts of the
Protectors of the Universe.
The price among the heroes was half of a merged being that was native to
both the Universe of Marvels and the Ultraverse.
Known by many names (Gemini, Noel,
Erik, the Protégé, Kireleon), the merged entity was partly based on a genetic
sample of the one-time Supreme Being, Adam Warlock, during his foray into the
Ultraverse. That aspect of Gemini which was native to this Universe managed to
remain and survive after Rune’s exile, two halves of two wholes combined. The
non-native aspects sacrificed themselves by returning to the Ultraverse along
with the vampiric Prince of Void.
The entity that remained now
referred to himself as the Protégé Reon, and ruled Sirus X and the Universal
Church of Truth with an iron grip tempered by justice, and the knowledge that
the Protectors would return should he ever stray. The Protégé’s vision for
the future of the Church had also been influenced by the counsel of Aleta, a
member of the Guardians of the Galaxy, who had claimed to have come from that
No more would the Church that Rune
established during Earth’s Hyborean Age be known for its Grand Inquisitions.
Now was no longer a time of expansion, but fortification. The Church’s
political boundaries would likely be tested by trans-galactic empires on every
side now that news of the Dark God’s departure was made public. The threat of
conflict and worse loomed on the horizon. The Kree had emerged once more as a
galactic force, and the Shi’ar and Skrulls were reeling from the
implications.* Thus did the Protégé surround himself with allies and enemies
alike in order to prepare for the coming storm.
(* In Marvel’s
Maximum Security #1-3.)
It was another crisis entirely,
however, which spurred Reon to convene the gathering that was now taking place.
Reon looked about the conference
room at the faces of those who sat about the table. White Raven, his ambitious
lover and one of the deadliest women in the Galaxy, sat to his right as his
Minister of Information. To his left sat the Grinner, the Church’s Minister of
the Interior and a known underworld crime-lord of vast interstellar influence.
It was a precarious arrangement, but one that benefited all parties involved for
the time being.
The human Enclave scientist known as
Crucible and the Matriarch Ayesha sat to the Grinner’s left. They were
welcomed consultants given the nature of their relationship to Reon. The Protégé
had been cloned from Adam Warlock’s genes in the Ultraverse, and these two
were essentially Warlock’s genetic parents, and by inference, his own.
Next to them sat their offspring,
Paragon (the woman formerly known as the Goddess) and the Magus. Now unique
individuals, but still adapting to the burden of bearing the normal human
dichotomy of good and evil within each of them, they would likely not pose a
threat to the Universe for some time to come. They could still, however, bring
their unique insight into the subject of the conference.
Sitting uneasily beside the children
of Ayesha were the recently emerged Gamora and Pip the Troll. As Adam Warlock
had surmised,* their most recent hibernation within their original birth bodies
had evolved them into the pinnacle of their potentials. Although they appeared
much as they did during their first meeting with Adam Warlock, their natural
abilities were permanently enhanced by the residual power of the Infinity Gems
they once bore, as well as by every incarnation they had ever achieved.
(* In Protectors
of the Universe #13-15.)
Both Gamora and Pip appeared
restless. Bored with the waiting, Pip distracted himself by recalling the vision
of loveliness that was Mama Alpha upon her emergence from their mutual cocoon.
Adam’s chrysalis effect certainly managed to optimize her positive features,
Pip considered longingly. She had returned to her tavern at his behest,
considering the circumstances, but he would definitely look her up the next time
he was in town.
Beside these two friends of Warlock
sat Kismet and Starhawk. Kismet once considered herself to be the perfect mate
for Warlock, but had since further evolved genetically to become the equivalent
of his sibling. As the son of Kismet and Quasar, Starhawk also shared a genetic
kinship with Warlock.
The final person at the table was
Brotus, the Protégé’s Minister of Defense. Brotus was one of the rare few on
Sirus X who fully recalled the temporal loop excised from this reality in which
Adam Warlock’s future self, also referred to as the Magus, ruled the Universal
Church of Truth in Rune’s stead.*
The former Chief Inquisitor was a
tall, strikingly handsome, muscular human with light blue skin and a half-meter
long, dark blue braided beard limited to the growth from his chin. His head was
clean-shaven except for a long braided strand of hair growth near the nape of
his neck, the same length as his beard.
(* See Marvel’s
Classic Warlock Series.)
In a different setting, Brotus might
have been a farmer, a poet, or a philosopher. He was a gentle, caring soul in
his private life. And yet, as Chief Inquisitor, Brotus had faithfully committed
multiple atrocities in the name of his god. Now Fate had placed him in a
position of prominence among the Ministers of the Protégé’s Universal Church
of Truth. Perhaps, he mused, this was to be his penance for the sins of his
The Protégé finally addressed
those present. “Except for the Grinner and White Raven, all of us present have
a connection of one form or another with the being known as Adam Warlock. It is
he whom I wish to discuss. Let us begin with you Gamora.”
Gamora looked about the table,
wondering why she was even present. Given the circumstances, every minute’s
delay doomed Adam’s soul, and possibly the Galaxy. “We all know why we are
here, Reon. We’ve wasted enough time.”
“Please, Gamora, one more time,
indulge those of us that did not witness the event.”
Gamora realized the futility of her
dissention. Ultimately, time would best be served by expediting the proceedings.
“Very well. Adam Warlock has emerged from his cocoon in a form unlike any he
has demonstrated before. Identical to his appearance during the Infinity
Gauntlet, but with violet skin and bleached white hair, more reminiscent of his
Magus phase.* What confounds us is that, as we emerged, he attacked us all and
departed. His parting words were, “I, Thanos, go to claim what is rightfully
(* For a visual,
see Marvel’s Captain Marvel #11.)
Pip added almost too quietly for
anyone to hear, “As if one Thanos wasn’t bad enough.”
Kismet interjected. “My fellow
Spinster* is correct, Protégé. He took me and my son unawares. As we guarded
their cocoons night and day we were prepared for every possible attack from
without. It was thus a complete surprise to be attacked from within.”
(* Kismet and
Gamora are members of Ganymede’s Spinsterhood. See Spinsterhood #1-5 for
The Magus pressed the fingertips of
both his hands together. “There is no doubt of his first goal. Warlock will
seek to reclaim his Soul Gem.”
Starhawk added his opinion. “Then
we must forewarn Earth’s Sorcerer Supreme, for it was Doctor Strange whom Adam
entrusted with the gem prior to his slumber weeks ago.”*
(*In POTU #15.)
The Protégé spoke next. “Agreed.
And because of the unique and deadly nature of this crisis, I have brought in an
outside party as a consultant due to his clear connection with the matter. I
believe he needs no introduction.”
The original Thanos of Titan emerged
from the door behind the Protégé’s seat. Already strained nerves tensed
further at his appearance. His signature smile widened at their reactions.
Protégé continued. “I have
assured Thanos that all of us will abide by the truce I have extended to him
until the resolution of this crisis. You will afford him every courtesy, my
Thanos paced about the table,
clearly enjoying every moment of the uncomfortable silence that ensued,
particularly among the heroes present. He acknowledged White Raven with a brief
nod, which she returned in kind. Although the “Dangerous Artifacts” Affair
had ended poorly, other transactions between them had proven more prosperous.
Thanos viewed Gamora with what Pip
could only assume was a sense of pride, though one the Titan would not readily
admit among so many long-time adversaries as the Magus and the former Goddess.
Though no greetings were exchanged, mutual respect was apparent.
Finally the Titan’s expression
transformed into one of grim determination. “As you now know, Adam Warlock now
claims that he is Thanos. That fact alone makes this matter of particular
interest to me. I can think of only one reason for Warlock’s claim. I was
recently able to purge myself of a long dormant spiritual… infection, if you
will. I suspect that the excised malignancy survived and has somehow purposely
imbued itself within Adam’s soul.”
Kismet spoke up. “That would
explain the strange sense of dread I experienced upon his cocoon’s
(* In POTU #15.)
“Precisely,” continued Thanos.
“Adam Warlock, for all intents and purposes, possesses my beliefs and, shall
we say, my motivations.”
Gamora, who had spent more time with
the Titan than anyone present, knew exactly to what he inferred. “Why would
this so-called ‘infection’ seek out Adam? Did you purposely target him as
“Gamora, my dear, of this you can
be certain. Of all the entities in the Universe, Warlock is the absolute last
whom I would want to make privy to my more recent innermost thoughts, desires,
musings and motivations since his last supposed insight into my psyche. In
answer to your question, I did not consciously target Warlock. I did, however,
know that his infection was a distinct possibility, one for which I can readily
adapt. I have my suspicions as to why the taint affected Adam specifically, but
that is irrelevant for now. What matters is stopping him before he achieves what
only Thanos can. Absolute power.”
Paragon, the woman formerly known as
the Goddess, could not pass up the opportunity to speak. “So the well-laid
plans of the infallible Thanos have finally gone astray.”
Ayesha reached over to Paragon and
grabbed her wrist in a movement too fast for the eye to follow. Paragon winced
at the pain of Ayesha’s talons digging into her flesh. The Matriarch spoke
with deadly earnest. “Mind your tone, my child.” To that, Paragon fell
Thanos proceeded to the
Matriarch’s side. “I do not believe I have had the pleasure of your
acquaintance… in this incarnation, Matriarch.”
Crucible nearly interceded, but a
subtle gesture from his wife Ayesha indicated that she would handle the
situation herself. “Lord Thanos, I am Ayesha, Matriarch of the Universal
Church of Truth, and biological progenitor of Warlock, Kismet, the Protégé,
Starhawk, the Magus, and Paragon.”
Thanos’ eyes held deadly focus on
the woman before him. “Of all this, I am well aware. Tell me Matriarch, did
your beloved husband ever tell you from whence he and his cohorts at the Enclave
obtained the original Ayesha Sample that served as your genetic template?”
Crucible’s eyes widened in dread.
Before Ayesha could respond to this cryptic query, Thanos turned once more to
Reon. “Protégé, I will depart immediately for Earth to offer my… special
brand of assistance to Doctor Strange. Gamora and the annoying troll will
accompany me in my vessel, which stands prepared to depart. They will serve as
appropriate distractions for any last vestiges of the former Adam Warlock.”
Starhawk stood. “What of us? We
have as much right as any to be directly involved, and more right than you,
The man known as the Grinner
observed Thanos carefully for his reaction. The Mad Titan’s face betrayed no
hint of anger. “The rest of you will be needed to serve as our final resort
should we be… less than completely successful. Kismet will lead the
contingency plan, which I have outlined on this datapad.” The Titan slid the
small device across the smooth table and into Kismet’s waiting grasp.
The Magus eyed his parents warily
before offering, “Then you admit to the possibility of failure?”
Thanos’ teeth shone once more, but not in a smile. “Of this I am certain, Magus: Thanos will succeed. But which one? That remains to be seen.”
Brotus interjected as well. “Of
what value am I to any contingency plan?”
Thanos was growing weary of
explaining himself. “I have been made aware of your special gift for
perceiving realities in flux. This may prove useful in ensuring Adam Warlock’s
darker nature not conquer the Galaxy… again.”
To Be Continued!
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