The Twilight War


Twilight War -
Chapter 6

Written by Warren Entros, edited by James Pedrick
Above logo and below image created
by J.S. Johnston
Click here for larger version of below image

Click here for larger version!Mordrin sighed irritatedly. The mists of Helheim were wreaking havoc with his clothing, and he dared not waste the time to restabilize their molecules. He was surrounded in dimness, just enough to see without enhancing his vision. Cold steam rose all around him, and he seemed to walk on damp ground, despite the cold. Helheim was an odd place.

Stepping lightly, he looked around, walking in a haphazard path. Direction seemed to mean nothing, here. Looking up, down, and around, all he saw was mist, not even the odd ground he trode upon. Mordrin wandered aimlessly for several minutes, wondering where Hela, ruler of this realm, would keep an unstoppable suit of mindless armor.

Suddenly the mists cleared, and a single figure stood before him, illuminated in hellish light. Attired in green and black with an elaborate headdress, Hela addressed her intruder, "What brings you to my realm, stranger? Does thou wish death?"

Mordrin raised his brows and rolled his eyes; Asgardian pontification truly grated on him. He addressed the witch, as he saw her, "I am seeking the Destroyer, and I know he is here. Bring him to me, wench."

Hela's eyes widened at this. Few dared speak to her in such a manner. He would be taught a lesson, "Aye, the Destroyer is here, you dauntless buffoon. And when he is done with thee, thou shalt spend eternity in my realm."

Mordrin looked at her oddly, for a moment, but was taken aback by the sudden appearance of a great metallic form lumbering toward him, armor shining in the otherwordly light. The Destroyer.

"I have come here for you, Dest-" he was cut off as the mindless raised an arm and fired, knocking him to the ground. He looked down at his chest, steam curling from it. His grand outfit had become a charred rag. Anger flared, and so did his eyes. He struck back, tainted Power Cosmic flying from his fingertips.

Standing, Mordrin continued the barrage, and approached the Destroyer, who amazingly stood and took the onslaught. The Shadow raised a hand to strike a blow, and was struck down by an armored fist.

Shaking it off, Mordrin looked up just as two more blows rained down on him, driving him to the ground once again. Hela laughed somewhere in the distance.

The Power Cosmic flared, searing off the remains of Mordrin's garb but pushing the Destroyer back a few paces. He stood, and and fired again, a constant torrent of power, burning into the Destroyer's chest plates. He advanced, the stream of cosmic might turning white with intensity, and the Destroyer stepped back, giving ground.

The flow shut off, and Mordrin lunged forward, slamming his fist into the Destroyer's face plate over and over again. An armored hand swung into his face, knocking him back. Another doubled him over.

Before another blow could be struck, Mordrin roared in anger and frustration. He would not be treated like some weak-willed fool! Norrin Radd shouted in his head and beat against the walls of his prison. Mordrin grimaced.

Mystic metal shrieked as Mordrin jammed a spear of solidified Power Cosmic through the Destroyer's midsection. If the Destroyer had possessed eyes they would have widened in shock. Hela gasped. It staggered back, and Mordrin rose with a gruel smile on his ebon lips.

Striding forward, he stopped in front of the Asgardian suit, and it did nothing. Touching a finger to its chest, Mordrin concentrated. There was a scream, and an opaque spirit wafted from that metal form, drifting off into the fog. Smiling, he reaching into his own chest, black skin warping, and pulled out the small device Thanos had given him. Reaching around the metal suit's massive head, he attached it with those miniscule clasps, then stepped back.

Instantaneously, the small device extended metallic tentacles, enrapturing the back of the Destroyer's head, seemingly burrowing down into the mystic steel. Then it simply faded from view, though Mordrin did not now to where. And then, following the device, the Destroyer vanished too, beginning whatever task the Titan had set for it.

Turning toward Hela with a smile on his face, Mordrin stepped toward her. Her eyes fixed him with a hateful gaze. Norrin had never liked Death, and neither did Mordrin. His smiled slipped not a bit as he backhanded her across the mouth, then disappeared before he could face the repurcussions.

Wiping the small trickle of blood from her face, Hela cursed him, and vowed to make the stranger pay for his indiscretion.

 

Thanos travelled for what seemed like forever, though it quite possibly could have been no more than a minute. Brushing past inconcievable realities, for many it would have been a fatal journey, but not for Thanos of Titan.

His trip ended with a shattering of senses, all veils ripped away to reveal his destination: The Nexus of All Realities.

Slowing, Thanos brought his vessel to a stop between the dichotomies of Order and Chaos, landing on a small piece of rock that had once held the prison of the In-Betweener. It was barren, now, no life to be found.

Standing, Thanos reached into one of his gloves, removing the cosmic symbol. Holding it up, he briefly examined it. There had been no time to analyze its structure. All that mattered was its purpose, curious as its form may have been. He'd known what it was as soon as he'd picked it up on his sensors, months ago. The Collector had beaten him to it, but he'd always kept its existence in the back of his head, waiting for the perfect time to use it. That time was now.

Clearing his head, he then opened the compartment in his belt buckle, pulling out two shining objects and pinching them between two metal-clad fingers. The Reality and Time Gems. Gamora had delivered him the latter, before the Titan had triggered a temporal inversion rift, engulfing the remaining four Gems. Warlock had naturally set out after them. An obstacle removed.

Either used without of the benefit of the other Gems to balance them could have terrible effects on reality. Both used simultaneously without the other four could have disasterous results. Using them here would surely draw some attention. Thanos was counting on it.

Opening his palm, he laid the two Gems out. Taking his other hand, he pressed the symbol down upon the Reality Gem.

There was a flash, and a sizzle, and when Thanos looked down again, the symbol was gone, the Reality Gem sparkling with an uncharacteristically bright glow. Tossing the Time Gem into his other hand, Thanos held the Reality Gem to his eye.

He smiled.

His plan had worked, the symbol had bonded to the Reality Gem, its image seeming to floating within the Gem's interior. Now it was time.

Once again grasping both Gems in one hand, he held them high, and used their destructive power to its fullest potential. Space warped, changed colors sickeningly quickly. Lights flashed, the rock below him shattered and reformed, froze and melted a dozen times beneath his feet.

Thanos aged to a hundred million years, and then back to a fetus, and then flickered back in forth. His skin bubbled, his bones cracked, and became dust, stone, air, and water.

The polarities of actuality flickered, ominously. Their glows dimmed, then grew stunningly bright, and back and forth over and over again. A thousand million things happened at once. The display lasted less then a second, or more than a thousand million years. Time was meaningless, now.

And then it all ceased, with the wave of one great hand.

"THANOS OF TITAN," a thunderous voice said, echoing through the Eternal's skull. He spoke not only to the Titan' ears, but to his mind as well. A startling combination. The being continued, "YOU WILL CEASE YOUR ATTACK ON THE NEXUS OF REALITIES. BY DOING SO YOU ARE ENDANGERING ALL FORMS OF EXISTENCE, ALL REALITIES."

Thanos lowered his arm, and looked up at the bearer of that tremendous voice, the entity known simply as the Living Tribunal. He smiled, in defiance of the situation. All was going according to his design. This had been the one part of the plan that had given him pause. But he pressed on, addressing the second most powerful being in Creation, "I am well aware of what I do, Living Tribunal. And I will not cease my actions. Not so long as I possess these Gems." He opened his hand, revealing the Time and Reality Gems.

The Tribunal's eyes flashed, "IT SEEMS ADAM WARLOCK'S CHOOSING OF YOU AS BEARER OF THE REALITY GEM WAS IN ERROR. IT IS A SITUATION WHICH MUST BE RECTIFIED."

Thanos replied defiantly, "No matter who protects these Gems, I will seek them out. When Thanos of Titan wishes something, it is accomplished. The Gems will never be safe; reality will never be safe." So close.

"He speaks the truth." another voice chimed in. Eternity strode to the fore, standing beside the one being he counted as a superior, "As long as the Infinity Gems remain out of my custody, there will always be risk. They must be entrusted to me. That is the only way to ensure the sanctity of all the innumerable realities that exist. And if not all the Gems, at least the two most dangerous; the Time and Reality Gems."

"THAT CANNOT BE ALLOWED." the Tribunal responded, "AND THANOS' BETRAYAL OVERSHADOWS MY GIVING THE GEMS TO ANY OUTSIDE PARTY, LEST THAT PARTY SUCCUMB TO THE GREAT TEMPTATION OF USING THEM AS WELL. A FINAL SOLUTION MUST BE FOUND."

Thanos smiled, "I await your judgement, Living Tribunal." So very close.

The Tribunal paused, as if considering, before he finally announced, "A DECISON HAS BEEN REACHED. I WILL POSSESS THE REALITY AND TIME GEMS. AS I AM A PART OF ALL REALITIES, THEY WILL NOT BE REMOVED FROM YOUR REALITY, AND THEY WILL NO LONGER BE ACCESSIBLE TO ANY SAVE MYSELF AND THE ONE WHO STANDS ABOVE US ALL."

Thanos smiled.

"That is not acceptable, Tribunal! I must possess the Gems! I know what is best for reality, for I am reality!" Eternity demanded.

"IT HAS BEEN DECIDED. SURRENDER THE GEMS TO ME, THANOS OF TITAN." the Tribunal ordered.

"As you wish." Thanos said, holding his hand out, the Gems displayed plainly. A sparkling beam fired from the Tribunal's outstretched hand, catching the beams and slowly pulling them toward the eternal judge.

Finally they reached their destination, and the Tribunal closed his mighty fist with a flash of light. He spoke, "IT IS DONE, NOW-" he cut off abruptly as his eyes flashed ebon, "WHAT, WHAT HAVE YOU DONE?" he demanded. The great light in his chest flickered in time with his eyes, turning black, almost as if the Tribunal fought for control of himself.

Eternity screamed, "What have you done, Thanos!? The Tribunal falters!"

His expression pleased, he studied the scene before him as though he were doing nothing more than looking over a field of gently rustling cornstalks. He began, "The Tribunal was an obstacle in my quest, so I removed him. There was but one way to do that: corner him into possessing an artifact which sprang from a reality that that particular manifestation of the Tribunal did not represent."

Eternity snarled. The Tribunal shook.

Thanos continued, unperturbed, "As I was using the Gems indigenous to my reality, that manifestation of him appear here, and he possessed the Reality Gem, not knowing that I had bonded to it an other-dimensional artifact. Taking it into his being has caused him to forfeit all the power that manifestation has in my reality."

"The Living Tribunal is omniscient and omnipotent, he would have sensed-" Eternity began to stammer, but Thanos cut him off.

"Under most circumstances, he would have sensed my trap, as would you. But not here, not where all realities transect and converge. Even an omniscient being's senses would be taxed greatly and dulled while manifesting here. He was unable to discover the deception until it was far too late."

"Why, Thanos? Why have you done this?" Eternity questioned.

"You will see, Eternity. Soon enough, you will see." Thanos responded with a smirk.

"I should smite you as we speak for your actions."

"This is the shared realm of Chaos and Order, Eternity. You have no power here."

"Then they shall-"

"I stand outside the field of Chaos and Order's influences. They cannot detect me, much less harm me."

Eternity nearly spoke again, but he was stopped by the flood of light and power that suddenly ripped out of the Living Tribunal's body, pouring out of his eyes, nose, mouth, and chest. Slowly, his floating head sank, dipping lower and lower until it crashed into his body. Space around them roared as if it lived.

Eternity wore a look of horror as the Tribunal's body crumbled, spidery cracks crisscrossing it, then shattering a moment later. His golden form exploded in a brilliant flash, so unbelievably bright it cannot be described by mere words. The flashpoint expanded in a sphere until it encompassed the entire Nexus of Realities. A thousand voices screamed in vain, a chorus of fear and loss, hopelessness, and then it was all gone. Small motes of light were all that remained of the once proud and infinite entity that had once sat before Thanos of Titan.

Thanos took his hand from his eyes, and smiled, his triumph complete.

"You will pay for this action dearly, Thanos of Titan. So swears Eternity."

The Titan turned, but only glimpsed the flash signalling Eternity's departure.

 


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