POTU: Adam Warlock is... THANOS II #4
Written by Morfex, Edited by Morfex
With Concepts by Anomaly, WarlorTvor, and Morfex

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

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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.)

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Continued from Chapter 1, Chapter 2, and Chapter 3

What Has Gone Before:

Adam Warlock, tainted by an evil that had been purged from a greater  evil, claimed the name “Thanos.” He sought the last of the Infinity Gems at any cost. The gem’s possessor (ironically, assigned by Warlock) was Doctor Strange, who now shunted from dimension to dimension, biding his time before the inevitable confrontation with his pursuer.

The original Thanos, along with reluctant allies and former Infinity Watch teammates Gamora, Pip, and Moondragon, prepared for battle as well. At stake would be the fate of Adam Warlock, the Soul Gem, and the Earth’s Sorcerer Supreme.

“…What is moral is what you feel good after
and what is immoral is what you feel bad after…”

- Ernest Hemmingway, Death in the Afternoon

I am Oera, the Watcher. My task is to witness and document the exploits of those cosmic heroes known as the Protectors of the Universe. In particular, I currently observe reservist members Adam Warlock and Doctor Strange. Inactive members Gamora and Moondragon also play a role in the drama.

It is important to note the background of the two main combatants at this juncture. I therefore consider their histories in relation to the events unfolding before me.

Doctor Stephen Strange was a unique man. He began as an arrogant, self-absorbed surgeon who would belittle and ignore those around him whom he deemed his inferiors. In time, he learned  humility and sacrifice under the tutelage of the Ancient One, Earth’s former Sorcerer Supreme. From Master of the Mystic Arts, Doctor Strange eventually earned the mantle of Sorcerer Supreme left by his departed master. Indeed, the disciple had become the master. He was a man of excellent judgement and character, his immense power tempered by his strong sense of right and wrong.

Now Strange had come full circle. His tenure as bearer of the last existing Soul Gem had affected him in ways he could not begin to imagine. He remained a force for good, but aloof. Arrogant. Self-absorbed. His lessons in humility seemed a distant haze in the recesses of his mind. Now there was only the task at hand: maintaining possession of the Soul Gem at any cost. In many ways, he was now a lost soul, detached from that which made him worthy of his title.

Keeping the Gem would be no easy task. Adam Warlock, the previous Gem-wielder, had returned to stake his claim. What was worse, he had come claiming to be Thanos, scourge of the living. Adam’s delusion did not interest Strange, only Adam’s desire to wear the Soul Gem once more. Warlock would fight to the death for that. As would Strange.

Doctor Strange had known that Warlock would come for the Gem sooner or later, even without the Thanos motif. In his arrogance, Strange thought himself prepared for that eventuality. Imagine his shock when the Soul Gem on his brow would not respond to his specific directives against Warlock. Surprised by the Gem’s failure, he was forced to flee.

Strange learned that the Soul-Taker creature that inhabited the Gem was the cause of the Gem’s failure. With the help of the true Thanos, Strange managed to curtail the senses of the Gem’s vampiric consciousness. The Gem’s powers were Strange’s once more to manipulate. Thus fully empowered, Strange was once more prepared for the inevitable confrontation. But Warlock was a formidable foe, and Strange needed time to prepare.

Time was the one thing Strange did not have. The false Thanos was fixated on the Soul Gem. He pursued Strange across dimensions and planes of reality. He would not stop until his rightful property was reclaimed.

Thus did the chase proceed. One predator stalking the other across reality. One to buy enough time to implement his plan to eliminate a rival, the other to acquire a unique cosmic artifact of which he had intimate knowledge.


Moondragon touched the Ebony Blade with distaste written across her face. As a former Avenger, she knew of the Sword’s corruptive might. In many ways, it was akin to Warlock’s Soul Gem. Powerful, addictive, deadly, and it slaked its thirst on the souls of its victims.

When asked how he had obtained it from the Black Knight, Thanos had merely smiled, that deadly gleam in his eye indicating that she would rather not know. She would, however, ensure that the Blade was returned to its rightful place once their mission was competed.

Moondragon hoped she would not regret having told the Mad Titan of the alternate universe visited by Captain Marvel. In that eventuality, the corrupted Warlock was ultimately defeated by the Sword.*

As a mistress of the martial arts, Heather Douglas also received extensive weapons training. It was a strange sensation for her to wield the blade, swinging it about in full circles, alternating to her right and left sides. The mystic wards placed by Thanos seemed to hold; the Sword’s influence was not detected.

Genis Vell, the hero called Captain Marvel, had recounted seeing “Thanos Warlock” impaled by the weapon in an alternate universe.* Although Moondragon hoped that would not be necessary, she understood the need for a failsafe. Perhaps the Blade’s presence would be enough to convince Warlock to consider negotiation. She shook her head in frustration. She knew how this would end, one way or another. She sheathed the Ebony Blade back into its scabbard and set it aside. She would join the others on the observation deck soon, but she needed to calm the restless doubt within her. Heather took her levitating meditation stance and began to focus on nothingness.

(* See Captain Marvel #13 for details.)

Interlude 2

Gamora and Pip whispered to each other in private. “Pip, I have never seen Adam so… lost. It’s as if the Adam we know isn’t even present. But how can that be? I’ve never felt more myself than after our last chrysalis stage.”*

(* See POTU #15 for details.)

Pip nodded, puffing his cigar intently. “I know what you mean. In the past, each time that Adam seemed like he was the underdog, he was really manipulating things behind the scenes to his favor. The Magus, the Gauntlet, even with the Infinity Thrall, remember? This time I don’t see that, unless…”

Gamora turned to eye the troll just as intently. “Unless what, Pip?”

“Well,” responded the Laxidazian. “What if our Adam could purge himself of the Taint using his mastery of the Gem he knows so well?”

“You mean this second Thanos’ obsession with acquiring the Soul Gem might be a subconscious suggestion from the Adam we knew, buried deep inside?”

“You are fools if you believe such a thing.” Moondragon had heard enough of the conversation upon her approach to pass judgement upon it. “I remember Adam Warlock just as well, and I tell you there is nothing left of him in that monstrosity. I am a telepath, remember? The creature seeks a familiar artifact of power, nothing more. Do not raise your hopes that this will end in any other manner than with the entity’s destruction.”

Gamora stared at Moondragon with a complete lack of emotion. Pip had seen that look on her face before. It was the expressionless observation of an assassin weighing the thousand different ways that she might cut a target’s life short. After an uncomfortable silence that lasted entirely too long, Gamora replied. “You are probably right, Heather. Let’s end this travesty.”

The being that claimed to be Thanos could sense the unique energy signature of the Soul Gem that he longed to possess. For one of his limitless cosmic powers, it was less than child’s play to trace the usurper’s whereabouts. The challenge was that, with each arrival, he found that Doctor Strange had already departed. Across realms of possibility, an infinite series of jumps could continue indefinitely. He must watch for a pattern to predict a destination one step ahead of the usurper. He must devise a means of pre-positioning himself.

The man that bore the Soul Gem was by no means defenseless. In fact, between his vast knowledge, expertise, and the various artifacts at his disposal, he was equal to most any adversary. But Adam Warlock was no ordinary opponent.

Ultimately, Strange tired of running. Satisfied that he had bought himself enough time to prepare, he stopped his dimensional shifting. In a realm that was devoid of life, he waited. Peering into a mystical Sphere of Seeing, he observed his foe’s approach.

Thanos II arrived shortly thereafter.

The Sorcerer Supreme had multiple spells at his command, but the self-proclaimed Thanos was not without his own resources. Ironically, free of the Gem, the corrupted Warlock was capable of every cosmic ability he had ever displayed prior to being given the Gem by the High Evolutionary years before.

The knock-down, drag-out battle spilled across the multiverse and parallel dimensions. With the Soul-Taker blocked, the energies of the Soul Gem were Strange’s to command once more.

Thrust and parry, spells cast, blocked, and struck. Thanos II suffered multiple binding spells which he quickly broke. He was burnt by the flames of Faltur, struck by the Rod of Regimon, enveloped in the Thorns of Thakul. Thanos II was attacked by every spell in the Doctor’s arsenal. Quite purposely, Strange avoided beckoning the powers of the Vishanti. He had something else in mind for that source of magic, in case all else failed.

Thanos II observed that the Doctor was actually attempting to destroy him, going against one of Strange’s most basic moral codes, the code against killing. And therein lay Strange’s weakness. Even under the addictive influence of the Gem, Strange must still be hindered by his own ethics. The dark Warlock knew well the lure of the Gem. It was this knowledge that he would put to his advantage. Killing a villain would be regrettable to Strange, but not unthinkable. Murdering an innocent, however…

Using the Gem’s vast might, Strange delivered what he knew would be the killing blow, and Warlock instantaneously caused Wong to appear in his place. Wong was fatally wounded by the emerald beam of death. Believing he had just commit murder, Strange wailed in agonizing frustration. The Gem’s influence waned for the briefest moment of inconsolable regret, and Strange found the strength of will to tear the accursed Gem from his brow and toss it aside.

The Sorcerer leaned over his servant, sobbing. Thanos II recovered the Gem and held it tenderly between his right thumb and forefinger.  “Perfect…” The illusion of Wong dissipated, and Strange turned to face Thanos II in a fury.

To Be Continued!

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