POTU: Adam Warlock is... THANOS II #2
Written by Anomaly and Morfex
Edited by Morfex, Mystic, and Anomaly
With Concepts by Anomaly, WarlorTvor, and Morfex

Logo created by Lord Thanos
Published by the Cosmic Powers Fan Fiction Group in

Characters are the properties of Marvel Comics
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Protectors of the Universe: Adam Warlock is...


(Note: For other stories taking place in this continuity, see the POTU Archive Page.)

Continued from Chapter 1

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“All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players:
They have their exits and their entrances;
And one man in his time plays many parts.

- Shakespeare, As You Like It, II, 7

What Has Gone Before (see last chapter for details):

On the planet Sirus X, once Throneworld to the evil Magus, Adam Warlock emerged from his most recent cocoon claiming to be Thanos, and appearing identically to the alternate universe Warlock recently encountered by Genis-Vell* This newly self-proclaimed Thanos’ first task upon rebirth was to break free of Sirus X and travel to the planet Earth.

(*See Marvel’s Captain Marvel Vol. 3 #11 for details.)

His goal was clear: to reclaim the Soul Gem from Doctor Stephen Strange, the interim Gem Bearer assigned by Adam at the conclusion of their confrontation with the Ultraverse’s Rune.** The original Thanos of Titan, joined by the newly regenerated Gamora and Pip, were in close pursuit of the corrupted Thanos II.

(** See Protectors of the Universe # 1-15 for details.)

Note: This story takes place just prior to the appearance of the Walker in Marvel’s Captain Marvel series.

Moondragon recalled the events of the last few weeks. First, she had reunited with the Avengers against the threat of Morgana Le Fey. The next thing that she remembered was awakening on the moon of Titan under the care of Mentor, its ruler. Meditation had helped to regain her peak prowess, but did little to explain the unaccounted time, or the new dragon tattoo-like mark that appeared emblazoned upon her forehead each time she now used her telepathic powers.

Mentor would not speak of it, insisting that the information could prove dangerous to her. Moondragon had ultimately decided to bide her time. She had sworn to herself to eventually solve that particular mystery regardless of Mentor’s warnings. It was in her nature to be fully self-aware, and partial amnesia was intolerable.

Soon thereafter, Heather Douglas had departed toward Earth to help in the training of Genis-Vell, the son of a former colleague. She felt that his new-found Cosmic Awareness, once tamed, might prove useful in deciphering the mystery of her missing memories. She was unaware that the new Captain Marvel already had complete recollection of her missing time, from the Cosmic Union to Rune’s violation of her memories.*

(*See Cosmic Union and Spinsterhood #1-5 for details.)

Her time back on Earth was eventful. Moondragon had even joined with a group of Avengers to confront the Infinites, and later, the extraterrestrial perpetrators of the Maximum Security event.

Having partially resolved that particular conflict, the “Avengers Infinity” team learned that Earth was given a temporary stay of sentence to be addressed once the new Kree conflict was settled. Moondragon was free to do as she pleased once more. What pleased her was returning to her ministrations of Genis, especially after the kiss he had given her upon concluding the Skrull Intelligentsia affair.*

(* See Marvel’s Captain Marvel Vol. 3 #9-11 for details.)

Genis had given her the romantic gesture after meeting with an alternate reality version of his father, whom he had helped to defeat an evil Adam Warlock that called himself Thanos. Genis had told her of the Ebony Sword that had ultimately defeated him, and of the alternate universe’s now inert Infinity Gem currently in Genis’ possession. As former bearer of a Gem, Heather Douglas knew the deadly implications of its non-native presence in this reality. Multiversal crossover always created dangers beyond which most mortals could even comprehend.

Heather Douglas had chosen the name Moondragon after believing she had defeated the Dragon of the Moon, an entity of ancient malevolence.

Moondragon shuddered at the memory of the Dragon’s later influence on her psyche. Half of her flesh had appeared a deep ebony, a mark of the Dragon’s taint. The cosmic being known as the Beyonder had enhanced her powers as well, and Manslaughter’s madness had unhinged her. Those were dark days, in which she was manipulated by the Dragon into attacking her allies. The thought still gave her a sense of consternation.

The Dragon was thought to be banished by the sacrifices of Moondragon herself, the Eternal called the Interloper, the human Manslaughter, the Gargoyle, Andromeda, and Valkyrie of the Defenders.* Most of the heroes sacrificed had managed to survive and resurface in one form or another. Was it so incomprehensible to imagine that the Dragon of the Moon could reappear as well? She had heard rumors that had caused her spine to tingle, but otherwise she had seen no proof that the Dragon was free once more.

(* In Marvel’s New Defenders #152.)

She was surprised by her bout of unease, a characteristic unbecoming of so evolved an entity. She must regroup and reconsider how best to convince Genis to aid her in her quest to free the women of the Kree Empire from forcible mutilation of their precious birthright, the right to wield psychic power, something for which she could truly sympathize. In addition, she intended to gain further intelligence on the state of the latest Kree / Shi’ar conflict, something she knew the Earth had not seen the last of.

Genis had refused to accompany her. He had disappointed her before, but this was different. He could be so infuriating! This cause was just. Perhaps she should simply modify the telepathic dampers that she had placed on him to…

But no. Her days of altering the wills of others were over. She had had only the best of intentions in establishing the dampers in the first place, something she did not regret. She liked to think of them as training wheels. She would not leave them there indefinitely. Perhaps if she told Genis about them he might begin to see reason, to realize just how much he owed her…

She shook her head in frustration. She knew what his reaction would be. That stubborn, pig-headed, immature…! Again, Genis caused her emotions to swell as few others could. She had just departed from Rick Jones’ apartment in a cloud of righteous indignation.*

(* This story takes please immediately after Marvel’s Captain Marvel Vol. 3 #15.)

Without warning, she sensed his presence. Thanos of Titan, who had robbed her of a normal childhood. The Mad God who had killed her father, then become his reason for unliving. Thanos, former bearer of the Infinity Gauntlet, and later the Reality Gem.

“Greetings, Moondragon. It would appear that you are most fortunate. Thanos of Titan comes with an offer to lift you from your spiritual depravity.”

“Have a care, Mad One! I am no longer the self-aggrandizing woman who left Titan all those years ago. I now seek a higher Purpose.”

“So predictable.” said Thanos, whose polished smile was so sharp it could have sliced her throat with the corners. “Thinking that polishing the headstone changes the contents of the grave. Tell me, why does your kind consistently make such lofty boasts? Is it guilt, fear, or perhaps the burden of mortality itself that is your undoing? Consider if you were truly immortal, would you still be making such altruistic statements? Or would you be a worse monster then I ever was?” His voice echoed as if off tombstones and his tone was thick, like an untilled patch of midnight ready to reap a deadly harvest.

“That remains to be seen, Titan.” she countered. “What of your own pitiful efforts at trying to win over an abstract concept like Death, or your many futile attempts at claiming ultimate power? Answer me, Thanos! I want to hear what you have to say, Titan, before I turn your mind into a gelatinous mass!”

“Like you did to your father, Heather?”

“YOU DARE TOO MUCH! Thanos, rivers of the mind are mine to steer as I see fit!”

“You may control the rivers of the mind, Moondragon, but you are about to release the floodgates.”

Suddenly a kaleidoscope of strange images buffeted Moondragon like a large hammer against her psyche.  Heather tried to scream but she could not. If not for her considerable mental skills, she would be instantaneously reduced to madness.

“Look more closely, Moondragon, as the curtain of reality is pulled back. What do you see? Images you thought you buried so long ago, resuscitated.”

Moondragon was in horror as the denizens of the planet she once enslaved held her fast. She tried to defend herself by using her powers, but it was no use, as the inhabitants seemed immune to anything she could do.

“Guilt can be a terrible jailer don’t you agree, Heather? However, it appears that you can no longer hear me as you are probably somewhere between shock and catatonia.”

Moondragon ceased to struggle as she heard a different voice calling from the shadows. It was her father, Arthur Douglas, and he smiled as he held her close. Upon seeing her father, her troubles seemed to melt away. For a brief moment she gave in to the illusion as she rested her head against her father’s shoulder and broke down into tears in his arms.

“It would have been alright, Heather, but you just wouldn’t listen, my baby girl.”

“I tried to be good, Father.”

“Don’t lie to me, Heather! You know you’re not supposed to manipulate the minds of others.”

“I am learning. Truly!”

“Then why, when I tried to punish you on Ba-Banis, did you kill me?” A black bile came from her father’s mouth in great torrents, and the word “Why?” kept ringing in her mind.

Heather screamed as she closed her eyes, trying to make the images vanish. A great beast of obsidian, whose shape was that of a great black worm with small tendrils extended and probing, appeared to wrap her in its coils.

Many cultures had legends of such beasts: Jormangand, Uroborus, Satan. In Titan’s culture, the Dragon was the ultimate expression of the mind, and according to legend, it could take shape from dark matter, a material of which both black holes and the human psyche were theoretically comprised.

There was very little she was afraid of, it was one of her greatest strengths and her greatest weakness. Courage was a good thing, but lack of fear could prove fatal even for an Eternal. Eternal, she thought? Since when was she an Eternal?

Suddenly Moondragon became very confused. Whose thoughts were these in her head? Apparently, they had seeped in when she had let her guard down upon seeing her father.

Then it dawned on her as the Dragon embraced her in its icy grip. Who was the woman whose thoughts had somehow found there way into her mind? Whatever the woman felt, so did she. Moondragon could feel great pressure as her hand went through the obsidian worm like an apparition.

Then came clarity. These memories were being fed from Thanos’ own mind, but it was more than that. Somehow there was a symbiosis between her and the woman. From the images, both had given themselves over to the Dragon of the Moon in a similar bargain.

“The life force in you is strong,” it whispered with the tongues of insanity, its breath as cold as the yawning reaches of the void. Moondragon could both feel and observe Sui-san, whose name she unexpectedly somehow knew. It was the selfsame woman who was now being put in a near-cryogenic state.*

(*See “Dead Men Tell No Tales” for details.)

She watched as Sui-san’s body temperature began to fall rapidly and then she felt her own mind going numb as well. She awakened in a cold sweat, trying to catch her breath. Her teeth were chattering as she tried to speak. “Wwwhhooo issss Sssuuii –ssssaaannn?”

She recognized Thanos’ voice immediately. “Perhaps you will not be so eager to rush into the flames next time, my dear Moondragon.”

Finally, Moondragon stopped her teeth from chattering. Oblivious to her surroundings, she did not desist from her inquiry. “Who is Sui-san?”

“She was my mother,” said Thanos, “and the first in the Dragon of the Moon’s lineage. You are the twelfth in a line of Dragon priestesses.* Now, let us discuss why you are here.”

Heather could not understand what it all meant. Or what connection she had with a former member of this supposed priesthood. Suddenly, Heather felt a numbing cold that burned her, and when she looked at her reflection in a nearby surface, her tattoo was throbbing up and down as if alive. She suddenly became aware of her surroundings. She was aboard some kind of vessel by the incessant low-level hum of engines.

“Gamora, it’s Moondragon!” Pip was clearly pleased to see his former teammate through the observation window. “The old Infinity Watch, together again! This is great! Only Drax and Adam are missing!”

Gamora whispered in Pip’s ear, “Remember, Heather has had her memories altered. She will not recall her time as a member of the Spinsterhood or the Protectors. Don’t bring it up, or I’ll have to gut you like a fish.”

Pip stuck his tongue out at Gamora in mock disrespect. “I bet you say that to all the guys,” he whispered back to her.

Gamora ignored the troll’s response as they entered the medical laboratory aboard Thanos’ vessel. Arms crossed, she turned to her foster father. “I assume you arranged this little class reunion for a reason.”

“As former bearer of the Reality Gem, am I not entitled to a sense of nostalgia?”

Gamora knew Thanos better than to think that pathos was a motivating factor with him. “Then I can assume that we all continue to be functional pieces on your and Adam’s eternal chessboard?”

Thanos merely tilted his head slightly at his foster daughter’s insight.

Moondragon surveyed her surroundings groggily. Thanos of Titan, Gamora, and Pip were gathered in a room that could only logically be a part of the Mad Titan’s space vessel. A stellar backdrop could be observed through a view port, with the planet Earth’s horizon visible in one corner. Using discretion at the sight of several former allies, Heather Douglas refrained from continuing her conflict with Thanos for the time being.

She addressed Gamora first, having the most respect and familiarity with her from their time together in the Infinity Watch. Still dizzy and head throbbing, she spoke. “Gamora, what is the meaning of this abduction? I could have thirty Avengers here in a matter of minutes if the answer does not satisfy me.”

Gamora had little tolerance for the other woman’s presumptuousness. But given the circumstances she accessed her shallow reserves of patience. “Moondragon. Adam has emerged from one of his cocoon cycles convinced that he is the one true Thanos. We suspect that he was infected with, for lack of a better term, a taint that serves as a template for Thanos’… unique outlook on life. He desires the Soul Gem that the Earth sorcerer Doctor Strange now bears, and will not rest until he possesses it. With it, he will be virtually unstoppable.”

Ignoring Pip, Heather turned suddenly to face Thanos squarely in the eyes. “Something about you has changed, Thanos. Something that always felt so familiar…”

Thanos knew that Moondragon was an important part of his plan, and so, like Gamora, showed her more patience than he was usually wont to do. “Yes, you and I do have something in common, though I am loathe to admit it. We have both been touched by the Dragon. But enough of this. One more ally must be recovered if we are to stop Adam Warlock.”

Doctor Stephen Strange hovered above the plush carpeting in his study, legs crossed and fingers twisted in a complex mystic positioning. Magical senses enhanced by the Soul Gem he bore, Strange’s astral self ventured further into uncharted domains of  multiple spiritual planes than he had ever dared before. This Infinity Gem was the last of its kind, and though it had a sordid past embroiled in countless cosmic struggles, surely its current use was as the Universe had intended, safeguarding dimensions from unwanted incursions.

Such incursions were far more commonplace after the event known as the Cosmic Union. Inevitably, the dimensional overlap’s unnatural protracted length at the hands of the dread Dormammu led to unintended transference of beings between realms. Strange’s efforts to rectify this were intended to ensure a safer multi-dimensional habitat for all. But something was clearly amiss. For every multidimensional incursion that he succeeded in reversing, two seemed to take its place. And not merely other dimensions, but other Universes had begun to bleed into this one. According to Starhawk of the Protectors, that should be impossible. The Cosmic Union event was like a universal reset button, forcing non-natives of this primary Universe of Marvels back from whence they had come.

But inexplicable exceptions abounded. The Guardians of the Galaxy, the Buried Alien, Nate Grey, Bishop, Cable, Rachel Summers, Valeria Von Doom, Haywire of the Squadron Supreme, Captain Marvel’s extra-universal inert Infinity Gem. Even ones he chose not to reveal to his supposed allies among the Avengers, Fantastic Four or the X-Men, such as Blink and the Exiles, or Yellowjacket. Non-natives had been cleansed by the Union, only to proliferate like unwanted weeds once more. What caused some beings like Rune and Gemini to be summarily ejected, while others thrived? And what was so blasted interesting about this particular Eternity that merited so many visitors?

Perhaps it was Dormammu’s tampering, perhaps it had to do with Galactus’ recent death. Whatever the cause, Doctor Strange had his work cut out for him.

During Strange’s extended stay in the higher planes of existence, many mystic battles were fought, new alliances forged, and new enemies earned. As time did not progress equally among the varied strata, only weeks had passed since the Sorcerer Supreme had taken upon himself the burden of the Soul Gem.

Oddly, it was no real burden at all. Adam Warlock had spent nearly a decade, in Strange’s opinion, whining and complaining of the terrible cost of bearing the artifact. Why had Strange not felt such torture? The doctor knew full well that the slow healing of the gem’s inner realm called Soul World progressed. He also knew that the Gem remained the prison of the vampiric soul entity that Adam had called the “Soul Taker” during the Cosmic Union event.* That internal paradox of both Heaven and Hell was one of the many mysteries of the Gem that he fully intended to solve. Until then, the most important fact was that the spiritual abilities of the Gem had come without a discernable cost to the Sorcerer Supreme.

(* See Cosmic Union for details.)

It was amid these varied forays through countless tiers of reality that Strange first recognized the mystic summons from his native plane of existence. It took several leaps from dimension to dimension in order to retrace his steps back to the Earthly realm.

Wong stood dutifully by the doctor’s form as he re-merged his astral and physical selves. “What is it, Wong?” Strange spoke curtly.

Wong was not phased by Doctor Strange’s tone. He knew that the Master’s work was vitally important to existence, and that Strange would tolerate only the most urgent of interruptions. “Doctor, there is a priority message for you, from the Protector’s communicator implant you had removed upon your return from Sirus X.”  

Strange had no need of allies or interruptions now that the last Infinity Gem was his. The communicator's removal was a natural reaction to that fact. "Well, don't just stand there, activate the relay!"

Wong bowed his head at the jeer, then proceeded to do as the Sorcerer Supreme commanded. The communicator hummed as it began to slowly form the beginnings of a blurred holographic image.

Just as Strange was losing his patience with the coalescing hologram, a tapping of the window drew his attention. Hovering before the second story window was the golden hued Adam Warlock, bedecked in garments hearkening back to the days of the Infinity Gauntlet affair. Given the house's special means of protection, Warlock could not enter uninvited.

"Wong, quickly, open the window for our guest!" The communicator laid on the desktop, discarded and momentarily lowered in priority. Wong obeyed the command, and soon Warlock was within Strange's study.

"Adam Warlock, I see that you have emerged from your self-imposed recuperation. I trust all is well?"

"Indeed, Doctor Strange. I am once again prepared to take on the burden of the Soul Gem."

"Again you refer to it as a burden. Would it surprise you to know that during my caretakership, I have not felt its sway once?"

"Ah, but years of experience have taught me just how insidious its effects are. You will not know how much you have come to depend on it until someone asks you to remove it. As a test, allow me to ask: Will you now willingly return the Soul Gem to its rightful possessor?"

"This is quite unnecessary, my friend. I would not seek to inflict such pain on you, especially one to which I seem immune. Perhaps it is my extensive experience in the realms of the spiritual that spares me the agony."

"Perhaps. Nonetheless, I wish to reclaim my property, as was our arrangement upon our last encounter."

"Very well, if that is your final stance on the matter."

Finally, the communicator that lay upon the Doctor's hand-carved desk completed the up-link of the holographic display. Starhawk and Kismet, two of his fellow Protectors of the Universe, appeared within the hazy image. "Doctor Strange, Adam Warlock is not who he seems! Do not, under any circumstance, surrender the Soul Gem to him!"

Adam’s flesh began to alter in tone to a dull amethyst. “I see we are going to have to do this the hard way after all.”

“By the hoary hosts of Hagoth! What has happened to you, Adam?”

“The name is Thanos, and my name means Death.”

Doctor Strange positioned his fingers and quickly mouthed the appropriate words to summon the one thing that might end it before it began. It formed out of the air itself, stopping Adam dead in his tracks.

“You seek to bind me in the Crimson Bands of Cytorak.” Adam did not even attempt to escape from his mystic holding cell, but only seemed to study its arcane nature with curiosity.

“Wong, we must summon the Avengers quickly. Apparently some misfortune has befallen my former comrade.”

Wong was besieged with a look of horror. Strange turned to see the Crimson Bands of Cytorak firmly in place, but Adam was nowhere to be found within their boundaries.


Adam appeared next to him like one of the eastern ninjas of lore, who disappear in a cloud of smoke and reappear ready for the kill. “It is a simple task for one who is beyond Chaos and Order.” said Adam as he struck Strange. The Doctor’s last ditch effort to block the physical attack was met with a shattered hand.

“Tell me, Strange. How important is it for a sorcerer to be able to make the appropriate manual gestures when doing a spell?” The fingers of the Doctor’s right hand contorted further, snapping like twigs. The agonizing jolt of pain was nearly overwhelming, but the Sorcerer Supreme would not be so easily defeated.

Amid the searing pain, the Sorcerer Supreme unconsciously used his good hand to reach up to his forehead. “There are other avenues, my friend.” But when Strange tried to use the Soul Gem, it simply would not work.

“The Soul Gem is vampiric in nature, but like a dog it is loyal to its true master.”

Strange’s eyes darted about wildly. “Liar! It loves me now! It never loved you!

Adam was impassive at the response. “Very well, then. Let us put your claim to the test.”

Suddenly, there was a bright flash, and then Doctor Strange was gone. The sorcerer found himself on a star ship with Pip the Troll, the Astral Samurai Gamora, the former Avenger Moondragon and one other.

“Welcome to my Sanctuary, Doctor Strange. It is good that you remain in possession of the Soul Gem, or our cause might already be lost.”

Back in Strange’s Sanctum Sanctorum, Wong stared in dismay at the self-proclaimed Thanos. The amethyst form of Adam Warlock turned to meet his eyes. “It is a pity your Master has departed. A pity for you, that is.”

To Be Continued!

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