Cosmic Union (The Directors' Cut) Issue #6
Written and edited by the Silver Surfer
ISSUE #6: "SOUL SURVIVORS"
Cosmic Union Writers from the Silver Surfer
Message Board: Asterisk, Anomaly,
Azmodi, Brother Voodoo, Grim, Marvelite, Morfex, Mystic, and Number 6.
The first battle was over. Quasar had recognized their attacker, Maelstrom. Considering their previous encounter, months ago, this conflict had gone well. How could Maelstrom have escaped the consensus of Infinity, Oblivion, Eternity, and Death? A mystery for another time. Knowing a little of the way Thanos thought from experience, Wendell figured this was a stall tactic of some kind. What were the bad guys waiting for?
Wendell wished he had Epoch around. His goddaughter was a wealth of information in times like these. Information Quasar remembered one of the briefings of the "Eclectic Eight" as he facetiously referred to the gathered heroes Adam Warlock and Doctor Strange had chosen to confront this crisis. Warlock had said that information was the key to this 'Union,' not force. Epoch had to be found. At least it would give him something to do other than physical combat. With Epoch's, Galactus' and the Grandmaster's resources on their side, Quasar felt they had a good chance of surviving any threat.
Then there was Starhawk. Quasar still did not know how to react to that little bombshell Stakar dropped at the meeting. It helped that Professor Xavier put Quasar in touch with Cyclops and Phoenix. They had years of experience in meeting and dealing with adult versions of their unborn children. But Starhawk had been aloof during their infrequent breaks, so Quasar had not pressed the matter. "What did the guy feel, abandoned? As if I had known he existed. Does he want me to play catch with him, or what?" Quasar had tried to reach Kismet to tell her what had happened, but had had no luck thus far. She was last seen leaving Titan with Ganymede weeks before.
Quasar entered the Planning Room of Strange's Sanctum to find Adam Warlock and Doctor Strange discussing strategy. They paused to include him in the conversation. Quasar hesitated, then spoke. "Doctor, I'd like to see if I can track down what really happened to Epoch."
Stephen Strange spoke. "We just received word from Beta Ray Bill that they have a good idea about who took Epoch from the library world where she had been corroborating her research. Not surprisingly, it was Thanos."
"How can they be so sure?" asked Quasar. "I'd figure Thanos was pretty good at masking his handiwork."
Warlock responded to the question. "Well, the Star Masters had reached a dead end until Drax the Destroyer arrived at Epoch's last known whereabouts, ranting 'WHERE IS HE?' Then taking off again." Quasar couldn't be sure, but had Adam Warlock just made a joke? Couldn't be, he decided. Warlock continued. "They are on Drax's trail and will keep us posted."
Quasar considered the new information. "That's it then. I need to figure out how to find Thanos' base of operations."
Adam Warlock nodded. "I agree, you should attempt a rescue operation to bring back Epoch. We will need to have her knowledge at our disposal." Thanks for your concern for her wellbeing, Quasar thought to himself.
Adam continued. "Take Genis with you. He has proven useless thus
Quasar was quick to defend his ally. "Give the guy a chance, Warlock. He's even younger than you are."
Adam nodded. "Here is his chance. Quasar, you and 'Captain Marvel' can attempt a rescue operation to bring back Epoch. I must now enter the Soul Gem for a brief time. Will you watch over my physical body, Doctor Strange?"
Gamora's soul was content in Soul World. It was her only true remaining home. She did not remember how she got here, nor how long she had been here, nor why the others here did not seem to acknowledge her. Things were still hazy, confused. But it did not seem to matter. In the secure womb of this safest of worlds, she felt at peace for the first time since since since before the Infinity Gauntlet affair that thrust her back to the living. She remembered the Negative Zone, then Earth, then Syphonn's final defeat, then Adam leaving yet again. She remembered going with Thanos on a research expedition. His goal had something to do with ashes ?
Then, a familiar form stood before her. Her pride was not as quick to react as her heart. "Adam, it is so good to see you!"
"What manner of trickery is this, Magus? Your tone of voice is almost convincing."
"Adam, what are you talking about? Look at me! It's me, Gamora! Someone must be messing with your mind."
"Gamora? Nonsense. This mind-game has gone far enough, Magus. I did not come here to be mocked. I came with a purpose."
"Adam, this is crazy. What do I need to do to convince you that it's me? For argument's sake, say I am Gamora. How could you prove it? And what would the Magus gain by pretending to be me?"
Warlock considered. "A karmic aural cleansing should dispel these delusions of yours." Adam concentrated his soul-powers at the Magus before him. The aura glowed, then crumbled like shards of glass. Gamora's soul stood before him revealed. "Gamora? How is this possible?"
"Thank you Adam. Your cleansing freed some of the cobwebs from my memory. I remember this. Thanos sent me here. He said it was to ensure my survival. I know him. I sensed his sincerity. But the Magus fašade? I haven't a clue "
Adam huffed a quick, ironic chuckle; a sound Gamora had heard only a handful of times before. He shook his head in realization. "Thanos is ingenious in his scheming! Clearly, he has somehow freed the Magus from Soul World. But to what end?"
"Adam, what is going on?"
"Come, Gamora, I must make you a new body."
"There is nothing for me out there. This is where I belong. I don't want to return to that universe. Can you understand?"
Suddenly, a shudder engulfed them; a ripple in the fabric of Soul World that left as quickly as it had come.
"Your point is moot, Gamora. A dimension-threatening crisis is growing, and is not the Soul World in essence a dimension? I ask for your help in the outer world. Gamora, help me to save idyllic Soul World before it is too late."
"Blast you, Adam! Don't try to use your manipulative persuasion on me! I know you better than anyone! I guess I have no choice in the matter, as usual."
"What if I told you that you could have retribution against Galactus for his assault on your memories during the Infinity War?"
"How could you I never told you about that "
"Inconsequential. Can you resist the opportunity?"
"No. Very well, then, do what you must."
"First I must find the Goddess here as well "
Ultimately, they found the Goddess lounging unclothed in a natural hot spring, smoking a cigar. Some of the bubbles rising to the surface did not seem to be coming from the spring's foam. "Hey, pals, long time no see! Yup, it sure does your old friend Pip good to see the three of us here, together again...!"
Part Two - Cosmic Containment Units (Morfex)
Kubik, Kosmos, the Beyonder, the Shaper of Worlds, seventeen others from across the cosmos, and a nascent Cosmic Egg were gathered instinctively for the next wave of the Union's tidal effect. Cosmic Cubes, Cosmic Containment Units, by whatever name, they were all exactly where they belonged, destined for this moment.
Glorian, Herald of the Shaper, was the only apparent witness.
The wave of cosmic energy struck upon them as they had hoped. It swirled about them turbulently, melding them into a composite being of untold power. As the wave subsided, an entity unlike any since the last Union emerged from the flickering remnants of the Union's effect.
"Go, herald! Announce it to the farthest reached of space! My arrival is at hand! Now and forever, I am... the Universal!"
Mephisto sensed it first, then retrieved his hollow trophy, the lifeless cosmic containment unit Thanos had tricked him with during the Infinity Crusade. It shimmered, then began to disappear. Mephisto used his hellish senses to determine its destination and purpose, He smiled, baring fangs from ear to ear. "I knew that bauble would come in handy one day "
Part Three - Watching You Watching Me (Anomaly)
Thanos smiled malevolently as he saw (through well-placed mystic sensors even Doctor Strange could not suspect or detect) the heroes conspiring against him. "Do they truly hope to defeat Thanos of Titan, former paramour of Death? Do they expect Thanos to simply hand them victory? Thanos has been born yet again, and my baptism will indeed be a fiery one!"
Thanos then turned and, facing nothing but a wall grinned as if he knew somebody was watching. The Magus/Goddess incarnation was observing Thanos from afar. They began to wonder... "Could he know? We are beyond Chaos and Order, and yet, is he not Thanos? Perhaps he is attempting subterfuge, and is not even certain of being spied upon, but only wishes us to think that he does suspect in case someone is watching him." The Dual Being considered this, and many other things, from their mystic chamber in Thanos' lair.
The Grandmaster looked on, viewing the Magus/Goddess from afar. He smiled. "Perhaps I will let you destroy each other, and then I shall destroy the weakened opponent that remains, using my secret weapon, the Phoenix. You will pay for your previous affronts, Thanos of Titan. The Grandmaster has ever been the true master at such games."
From beyond, the one true Thanos viewed the Grandmaster with amusement. "Everything is going exactly according to plan. My doppelganger plays his part only too well among the others. Thanos is truly reborn after all."
Uatu the Watcher observed all with waning dispassion. As with prior crises that had stricken Earth, there was a breaking point beyond which even he must act. That point was fast approaching, and he felt the oft too familiar pull of growing concern. Did other Watchers feel thus? Was his predisposition toward involvement the very reason his people assigned him to this sector of space? He shook his immense head and returned to his observation.
As Adam Warlock attempted to exit the Soul World, he was confronted by the Soul gem's vampiric sentience. "Can it be?" Asked Warlock. "You are the sentience within the gem. Somehow, our coexistence must be keeping you from your rightful nonexistence, as all other Abstracts have ceased to be."
"Help us, Adam. We are so alone... so cold... the Union will take us all!"
Warlock felt little pity for the vampiric entity that had bedeviled him for so many years. As Adam continued on his journey back to reality through the transitional plane, he could still hear the pleading of the Soul gem's sentience. "Please, Adam. Don't forget us "
Somehow, Tyrant had been reinstated to reality, freed from his bondage to Oblivion. He began to slowly reassert his will over his physical form. "So much to do. There are many that will pay for their actions against me. Galactus, hear your creation! The Union is upon us again, and this time you shall be the one that is exiled!"
"That thinking aloud can be a bad habit, Tyrant, but unfortunately you don't have time to learn from your errors." A voice like the grave was strangely familiar to Tyrant, a reminder of a battle he once fought.
A smile showed itself upon the preternatural entity that was the Tyrant of the cosmos. "Thanos! Old friend, have you come back to die? I have missed you! You should have stayed away. Did the mighty Thanos of Titan learn nothing from our last encounter?"
Thanos' form was secured in shadows, his hulking frame different somehow than the silhouette Tyrant would have expected. "Indeed, I have learned that drawing attention to oneself will only secure defeat. Subtlety, my impetuous Tyrant. Subtlety is your lesson for today."
Strangely, something seemed to reflect off the Titan amid the shadows of his form. An energy lance fired from the Titan, striking Tyrant directly on the chest. In his anger and pain, Tyrant noted that Morg, accursed Herald of Galactus, must have also regained consciousness and was fleeing the scene.
Thanos calmly floated into view, but his body had been replaced with a strange type of armor Tyrant had not seen before in person. It was mystical in nature, of that much he was certain. Suddenly came recognition. It was the form of the most powerful of all Galactus' Heralds: the Destroyer armor. In Tyrant's present condition he was unsure if he could withstand a prolonged battle with that weapon.
Thanos spoke. "Yes, Tyrant, I sensed your return through that sphere I purloined from you the last time we met. You could eventually pose a threat to my plans, but I digress."
It was a cataclysmic blast as two indescribably powerful entities clashed. Locked in a nigh unbreakable grip, Tyrant and the Destroyer possessed by Thanos began to level whole planets around them.
Thanos spoke. "This armor was constructed to combat Celestials. Even you must fall before its might."
"I am Tyrant! Creation of Galactus! He who was from the previous "
The Destroyer's fist slammed against the jaw of Tyrant. Thick, black ichor sprayed against the Destroyer's gleaming form. "Talk less, fight more." Thanos gibed.
Tyrant expanded to nearly ten times his previous size, while the Destroyer's brow began to radiate incalculable energies. Would whole star systems die again? Oera the Watcher continued witnessing the unfolding events for posterity.
TO BE CONTINUED IN COSMIC UNION #7.
The next edition of Cosmic Union can be found in issue #7 of CPU. Be sure to also check out the new Cosmic Unionverse Page for details about the Cosmic Union continuity, as it begins to shape into a whole new cosmic universe of Marvel characters! Now be sure to leave us some comments and suggestions!