Cosmic Union (The Directors' Cut) Issue #9
Written and edited by the Silver Surfer
ISSUE #9: "RAPID PROGRESSION"
Cosmic Union Writers from the Silver Surfer
Message Board: Asterisk, Anomaly,
Azmodi, Brother Voodoo, Grim, Marvelite, Morfex, Mystic, and Number 6.
Part One - Containment Breach (Morfex)
The Stranger watched in horror as the New Universe Earth that he had worked so hard to stabilize in this universe, was seemingly ripped from space through a blackened void that closed behind it. Thanos appeared beside the cosmic entity before the Stranger could replace his anguished expression with something more typically unfathomable.
"Why do you approach me now, Titan?"
"Why, to engage you in battle, then defeat you, of course."
"Blunt, if not modest. I am in no mood for your schemes, Thanos, be gone!"
"Ah, but I have new tricks I have yet to show you. For example, in my quest for knowledge I have learned a valuable fact: your powers stem directly from your unfathomable nature. You remain a mystery to all because the unknown empowers you. But what if I was to tell you that I have seen through all your false origins? What if I had discovered who and what and WHERE you truly are?"
The Stranger began to tremble, not with anger but with an uncontrollable shaking coming from within his very core. "This is not possible "
"I have learned that knowledge is power, but never in more literal a way than in destroying you, former Stranger."
"Noooooooooo!" The Stranger seemed to linger eternally in that final word, then slowly dissipate into ten billion shadows, before disappearing altogether.
"And if you should ever return, remember the name of Thanos of Titan. You are no longer a Stranger to me." Thanos disappeared from space to return to his lair for the next event that would assure his goals reach fruition.
"I go now to the world of my birth. Earth's inhabitants must
know of the Universal's coming!" The being calling himself Glorian finished his
proclamation and was gone as quickly as he had come.
Before anyone could react, Drax began to stir again. His first words were, "Kronos is gone."
Moondragon was the first to respond. "Gone? Was he attacked and destroyed?"
"No, he simply stopped being. I can't explain it. The shock nearly overwhelmed me."
Genis spoke up. "We have to get this information back to Doctor Strange immediately, about Drax, Kronos, Glorian, and this Universal. It might help the heroes back on Earth understand the nature of the crisis."
Ganymede interjected. "Do what you must, but I must go after Tyrant. That means following Galactus to Taa II."
Quasar said, "We have to find Epoch. That means following Thanos."
Ganymede nodded. "Very well, we part ways here then. Kismet, Moondragon, Jack and I will depart on the 'Io' immediately."
Moondragon added, "Drax will stay with us until he is fully recovered."
Drax was quick to respond. "No! I must find Thanos! But I don't know why anymore. It's as if my entire fervor for his destruction simply melted away with Kronos' passing. Perhaps it was never mine to begin with."
Ganymede spoke. "I mean no offense, but Drax is of no use to us in his weakened state, and I cannot afford to have you playing nursemaid, Sister Moondragon."
Drax spoke for himself. "My strength has returned. Kronos' sentience may have ceased to be, but his energies still exist. With my bloodlust for Thanos gone, I belong by my daughter's side. Besides, I cannot even sense the Titan anymore."
Quasar responded quickly. "Moondragon, could your telepathy scan Drax's memories from just prior to his seizure? Maybe he was able to subconsciously track Thanos further."
With Drax's permission, Moondragon scanned his mind. "I found something that may be of help." She stated. "Quasar, I am relaying my findings directly into your mind." Heather Douglas touched her fingertips to her temples.
Quasar turned to Beta Ray Bill. "Bill, I think Genis and I can get into Thanos' base more easily as a team of two. Plus, Warlock mentioned that it was vital to keep the conflict balanced in numbers of participants."
"Do not worry, Quasar. Morfex, Xenith and I will head back to Earth and see if we can be of any assistance there. We shall relay to them the information about Kronos and the Universal, if we can beat Glorian back to Earth."
"Great, thanks for understanding, Bill." Quasar's friendly smile was genuine.
Just then, Kismet turned to him. "Quasar, you and I have much to ponder."
"Yeah, I feel like I owe YOU the apology about Starhawk. The other growths you created didn't fertilize. It must have had something to do with me or my powers."
"There is no need for recrimination. A new life has emerged, one that is half-human and half-Paragon. Perhaps the mixture will be a happy one."
"If you get back to Earth "
Kismet lifted her fingers to gently touch his mouth. "When I get back, Quasar "
"When you get back, can we get together? I mean, you, Starhawk and me?"
"I want that more than anything."
"You do? I mean, of course you do. He is your son after all, what you've always wanted since your creation."
"Actually, I meant getting together with you." She brushed his hair from his eyes, then kissed his lips, gently but tenderly.
Quasar smiled, embarrassed at the audience around them. "Well great then see you later "
Quasar turned. "Ready to go, Gen?"
Captain Marvel nodded with a sophomoric grin. He and Quasar exited to space as the two ships separated. The 'Io' was gone almost instantly. The 'Star Master' soon departed as well.
Marvel spoke. "So did you pinpoint Thanos' whereabouts with the information from Drax?"
Quasar smiled. "Not exactly. I'm going to try something I've never done before. Follow me." In space, he created a Quantum jump entry that crackled uncharacteristically for a moment. "Wow, even the Quantum Zone is being affected by this phenomenon. Let's take it slowly."
The Grandmaster was not only a master of subtle manipulation and
strategy, but also a master of all things imbued with the Power Primordial. It was nothing
for him to find the ships, worlds, and countless resources of his fallen brothers. He
absorbed the last residual primordial energy traces from everything in the cosmos except
his puppet, the Dark Phoenix. He took control of the Collector's latest world ship, a
creation perfect for the Grandmaster's latest move in the cosmic game. He cared nothing of
the flora and fauna collected therein, but took great interest in three of Taneleer
Tivan's collection chambers: weaponry, history, and superhumans.
He observed the stasis tubes filled with hundreds of superhuman beings. Some he recognized: Starfox. Mentor. Mantis. Sersi. Hercules. Krugarr. Rintrah. Sundragon. Raza. Ch'od. Adam X. Corsair. Lyja. Deathcry. Clea. Doctor Doom. Reptyl Prime. Nebula. Makkari. Midnight Sun. Avatar. The High Evolutionary. Many others he did not, but would come to know through the Collector's data.
"Impressive, Tivan," the Grandmaster said to himself. "Collectible game pieces! What a novel idea!"
Starhawk turned to Gladiator. "Can you determine the meaning of
this strange phenomenon before us, Praetor?"
Gladiator said, "It is beyond the limited minds of such as we to comprehend, Stakar. But it is vital we return to the others with the information."
"We have lost valuable time tracking Celestial space. It feels as if we have yet to play our destined role in the events around us."
"I agree. I am still unsure why I was chosen to be one of the eight heroes that shall stand against the Dark Eight in these times of chaos."
"From what you have told me about yourself, Praetor, 'unsure' is a word you should use sparingly."
As the two stared on, they witnessed before them a thousand
Celestials, like pieces of an asteroid field in deep space, all comatose. Some seemed to be absorbing swirls of color leaking from pinholes in the fabric of space.
Quasar and Captain Marvel tumbled through the quantum portal that
closed abruptly behind them. They found themselves in a dark chamber. At the center was a
silvery sphere, no bigger than a human head. Like a mystical crystal ball, the sphere
displayed a moving image. It was Epoch, Quasar's trusted friend, and daughter of the
deceased cosmic entity, Eon.
"Eppy! How do I get you out of this thing?"
"Get us far away from this place first, Protector of the Universe.
Then worry about freeing me from my prison."
Just then, Thanos appeared, grinning broadly at the prospect of the coming conflict. "So, you are the infamous son of Mar-Vell. I have been so looking forward to meeting you."
"I'll cover you, Quaze, take Epoch, and just go! GO NOW!"
"I'll be back for you, I promise, buddy." Quasar left down a corridor away from Thanos. He opened a quantum fissure barely large enough for himself. It pulsated unevenly as he jumped through, and then it sealed behind him.
Quasar rushed the orb containing Epoch to Doctor Strange and Adam
Warlock. He said, "Please find a way to help Eppy. I promised Captain Marvel I'd go
back for him. He's going solo against Thanos!"
Adam Warlock thought a moment, then said. "No, you will stay here and debrief us on everything you experienced during your foray."
Quasar started to be angry, but knew it was useless with Adam
Warlock. "Look, here is a recording of the events I took using my quantum bands. The Star Masters will be forwarding you other details any time now. Will that do?"
Adam nodded grimly. "For now."
When Quasar had gone, Strange turned to the sphere. "Epoch, we will find a way to release you." Adam began Quasar's recording in the background.
Epoch responded. "There is no time for that. I am held in a containment unit that is designed to store two things: data and dimensional energy. In my time here I have learned something of vital importance to your efforts. This data orb belonged to the being called Tyrant, who was involved in the last Unity event. But Tyrant was not trying to conquer the Universe. He was trying to save it! Tyrant's actions during the last Unity caused our reality to survive until now."
Strange was visibly surprised. "Can that be corroborated? If the orb belonged to Tyrant, there is the distinct possibility that the history within is skewed in his favor."
Epoch said, "Unfortunately, while I am held within this orb, I cannot access the complete knowledge of my parent, Eon. However a being of sufficient age -- Galactus, or an Elder of the Universe -- might know."
"Although they may also retell the events with a bias." Strange's brow furrowed in frustration.
"Yes," replied Epoch. " Short of time-travel, I cannot yet determine a way of ascertaining with certainty what really happened. But I would suggest beginning by interrogating Tyrant himself. One thing is certain. He and realty survived the last Unity."
Warlock spoke up. "Quasar's quantum recorder seems to indicate that the Spinsterhood is currently hunting Tyrant down to exterminate him."
"Then it appears we must beat them to Tyrant."
Thanos enjoyed battering the boy senseless. Genis received bruises,
gashes, and even a few broken ribs. Thanos was toying with him; he could have ended the
conflict at any time. It was as if Thanos was collecting his pound of flesh for every
battle the young man's father had had with the Mad Titan.
Genis fell face first to the floor. As he opened one blackened eye he saw, it: the Destroyer armor Thor had described to the gathered heroes during a briefing. Genis tried to remember Thor's exact words. He took a risk and positioned himself between Thanos and the armor. "Come, young, pup. Live up to your father's legacy. Defeat me!" Thanos gloated.
Thanos threw a backhanded fist at Captain Marvel, literally flinging him across the room and into the Destroyer armor.
"Gotcha," said Genis, spitting blood and a molar as he willed himself into the vacant Destroyer as Thor had instructed.
Thanos seemed unimpressed. "Do you think to defeat me in that, young Vell?"
"No, monster. I'm leaving in it." The Destroyer armor took off straight through the ceiling of Thanos' lair, penetrating into a strange swirling energy void. Confused and disoriented, Genis thought best to continue in a straight path away from Thanos, and not even look back for signs of pursuit. Eventually he came to what seemed to be a wall, spreading out in every direction beyond his ability to see. He began to pound on the wall with the Destroyer's vaunted strength. In time, the wall began to crack, and stars could be seen beyond. Suddenly the energies within the wall began to suck outward through the hole, nearly pinning him. Again Genis tore at the wall, until the opening was enough for him to fit through in the armor. He exited and looked back upon a dramatic sight:
A Black Celestial was lying face up on the dark side of Earth's moon, apparently bleeding dimensional energy like a 500-kilometer flare from the hole he had just torn through its surface.
The strain on Genis was too great. His adrenaline rush was subsiding, and his multiple wounds at the hands of Thanos began taking their toll. "Someone must have seen that flare. Quasar promised he'd be back for me Just have to stay awake " Drifting motionless in space, he began to blink more and more slowly, until he blacked out completely.
Part Two - Hidden Motives (Anomaly)
Adam Warlock nodded at Doctor Strange. "Then the time is right to play one of our cards, as the Grandmaster would say." Adam concentrated on the link he had established with Galactus during their last encounter.
The image of the Devourer of Worlds appeared before them, his presence terrible to behold. For a moment the world seemed to stop breathing. Then Galactus spoke. "The time is nigh upon us, the Union will soon become permanent."
There was no sense of teleportation, as Doctor Strange and Adam Warlock were suddenly whisked aboard the Devourer's ship. Strange had had the forethought to hide Epoch's containment unit in the folds of his cape. He hoped his mystic shields would mask the object from Galactus' senses.
Warlock glanced at the bizarre entity that was being held in a red tinted biochemical bath, possibly designed to nullify his powers. "Tyrant, I presume?" Warlock said, not expecting a response.
Warlock stared at Galactus, who appeared different to all races. To humans he was human; to Skrulls he was Skrull. To Warlock he was his function, the balance between life and death. The being that spoke was just a point of view to him.
"We must formulate our plan of attack, before Thanos can counter. The final conflict is drawing closer." Just then, a strange ringing sound surrounded those gathered, an alien alarm. "A vessel approaches. Possibly Thanos' forces."
Warlock whispered in Doctor Strange's ear. "That must be Ganymede of the Spinsters. Just the distraction we need..."
TO BE CONTINUED IN COSMIC UNION #10.
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