The smell of decayed flesh threatened to overwhelm him. It was not the pungent smell one would have expected. It was sweet almost palatable. The six-foot figure with a roughly medium build and flowing white hair was in such horror. Never had he seen so many dead. Everywhere the eye could see the dead were piled one upon the other, so great were the piles that there was an entire necroscape of mountains, hills, and valleys, all composed of corpses without number. He fell to the ground in abject horror, his mind unable to cope with the mass genocide that lay before him. One of his hands went completely through the surface of the necroscape. It was most unsettling as he pulled his hand from a putrefied and rotting skull. He screamed until his voice broke. He was nearly mad as the sensory overload worked its shadows into his heart, his mind his very soul. Only the crying of a small child was enough to bring him from his comatose state. It was a small yellow boy, probably one of the indigenous to the planet he had landed on. The language was indiscernible, but the child was afraid and crying as he waded though appendages and other limbs, which were locked in the eternal dance of petrifaction. But from one of the valleys of the necro landscape, he ascended, like a black phoenix rising from its long imprisonment from the incinerator. Large and terrible to behold, his massive frame covered with thick dense muscle. More then seven feet tall and his eyes were like razors cutting away the facade of life. "Did you do this"? Came the traveler, the child clinging to his side in terror, sobbing uncontrollably. His only reply was a deadly smile and black vapors that were cold. As ice came forth. "Why? For Death," he said; his voice was like the grave as it boomed across the necroscape. "You are mad!" came the traveler "No," he said, "I am Thanos!" When the traveler awoke he was still in a fever, such a vision was terrible but he knew that it was a revelation that would one day be reality. This Thanos would arise and destroy all life. He had to prepare, he had to begin collecting for the next universe. It would be his all consuming passion he would be the Collector.

Her name was Sui-san and she was an Eternal, a race of extremely long-lived human like beings that were infused with the energy of stars. She was very beautiful, her skin smooth and without flaw. It lacked pores and looked almost like a statue. Her hands were slender and gentle, yet there was a sense of strength that great force could be generated if necessary. Her eyes could be any color as she used her limited control over her molecular structure to change them as her mood changed. Lately they had been dark. Before her and Mentor came to Titan, there was a great civil war amongst their kind and the price on her spirit made her sick. No medicine seemed to help and things only got worse with time. But during her search through the world computer, I.S.S.A.C., she came across a passage

from an arcane tome. It spoke of the dragon of the moon and how his followers were blessed with peace of mind, and an inner strength of staggering proportions. She set up a parabola, as the file she downloaded told her. It instructed her to draw in ashes and a light candle at each axis point. She also found and ingested the strange herbs that it spoke of as the biotechnology of Titan could conceive of nearly anything. Sui-san began to chant the tongue on the manuscript over and over until it seemed to spill out of her mouth like blood through a gaping wound. The candles began to waver as a mysterious wind came into her bedroom. The temperature began to decrease and even her thick skin could feel the preternatural winds stinging her cheeks. She breathed deeply as she inhaled the icy cold that went all the way to her heart. When she opened her eyes, she saw a great beast of obsidian, formed like the shape of a great black worm. Many were the legends of such a beast. It was rumored to be made of darkmatter, the material the universe itself used to make blakholes. Other legends had it as the Uroborus, the serpent that bit its own tail. She was not afraid. 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. It embraced her in its icy grip. It did not crush her, but she could feel the great pressures as her hand went through the obsidian worm like an apparition. The only reason she knew it existed was the terrible cold that touched deep and the great pressures against her lithe form. It was cleansing as its breath went up and down her entire form. "The life force in you is strong," it quipped as the icy grip of the dragon put her in a near cryogenic state. Her body temperature began to fall rapidly and Her mind went numb as gentle madness crossed her face. "So there are two life forces," came the dragon again. Its dark matter was now exerting incredible pressures with its dark matter. The breath was forced out of her and she questioned herself, Two? For a moment she was lucid and There was no doubt what the implication of the dragon’s statement were. Sui-san was with child. She struggled helplessly against the creature which was the combination of a black hole and a psychic reaper. Memories were forced from her limbic system at its leisure and it displayed a great intelligence despite the fact the creature seemed primal and incredibly old. But her will was strong, even stronger then the dragon of the moon had counted on, and she fought with all her considerable mental strength, which actually caused some of the dragons dense mass to loosen its hold. She tried to scream but her scream was muffled for nothing could escape the living black hole, not even her scream. She awakened in a cold sweat, her companion, Mentor, was already awakened from her struggles. "Are you all right?" he asked. "You struggled with the covers as if they were alive," he said in a fatherly manner. Sui-san collected herself, for she was not one to trouble others with her problems, "It was merely that I have not slept with someone in a long time, normally I use a sleep environment because it monitors alpha waves and ensures that the sleep cycle is uninterrupted." She half smiled and tried to side step the question as she lay her form against his great chest, and put her hands through Mentors silvery crown. Mentor was her companion and the leader of the Eternals, and it was he that brought the sundered Eternal to Titan to begin with

"Sui-san, you cannot deceive me. I know you better then any other, what is troubling you?" " Mentor," she paused. "Yes," he replied as he placed his great jaw upon her back and pulled her closer "I believe that I am with child." Mentor pulled back, "We can do an examination at the first light if you like." She looked into his eyes, "There is no doubt I am pregnant and worse I fear for the child's life." The next day she was brought before the citadel of the world computer I.S.SA.C It appeared in holographic form, a representation of the computer in humanoid configuration. This form was how the computer usually presented itself to the populace of Titan when speaking to them. The world computer did not hook her up to wires or inject her with chemicals. It merely gazed up and down her form with its holographic head that was fed information from the world computer itself. Its form was like the universe, only carved into the shape of a man, and its head was like a Helmut used to conceal ones self in battle. "There appears to be no abnormalities, but preliminary scans show that there is a child." Mentor looked at Sui-san and was amazed of the intuitive nature of his wife, and he to now feared for the child. "Can you bring up a visual?" I.S.S.A.C gestured and an image of an extremely developed fetus was looking at the group, almost as if it were aware of what was going on. It was still small and not all of its features were clear, but it seemed to smile and Mentor and Sui-san were in awe for one thing was indeed certain: the child was aware. This was confirmed moments later by the world computer who registered active alpha waves, which meant that it was cognoscente. After that day, Mentor began to teach it in the womb, by reading books and reciting mathematics. Everyday Mentor would sit and speak to Sui-san’s belly. Mentor had often thought that teaching could be done in this fashion. If his son, as the computer had predicted, was truly aware then its impact would be even more profound if he taught him while still in the womb and very important if he was to be the next prince. There were even signs that the child was trying to communicate, as it kicked and moved in a commutative fashion. One day, Sui-san came across the strange herbs she had ingested, or at least thought she did when confronting the dream of the moon dragon. This made her wonder if perhaps they were the same herbs that she had used in her dream when she encountered the dragon of the moon. But if it was just a dream then, why were they here? A sense of fear came across her again but she quickly put it aside when the child kicked and seemed to be aware of the herbs presence. The child seemed to want his mother to ingest the herbs. Then it occurred that perhaps the herbs had made the child aware. She took the herbs and did so until the day her child would be born. There was one thing that technology did not seem to change: the look on a father’s face as he sees his son being born. With the technology at Titan’s disposal, it was not a painful process but a few minutes at most. Things were going smoothly until the world computer signaled that the child had stopped breathing. Sui-san screamed as she heard this. Mentor tried to restrain her, but the angst in her

was great. She was injected with some chemical agents that were nano-technology based and they were programed to go inside her and take care of what was causing the problem. There was pause and the air of Titan grew still as an eerie quiet blanketed the world computer chambers. I.S.S.A.C then confirmed that the process had worked and that the child would live. A sense of relief crossed their faces as the world computers last bit of data had eased Mentors mind. Sui-san screamed, however, as her Child's face was bloated and purplish in appearance. The world computer said that the child would be kept for observation. Sui- san was given a relaxing virtual reality emotion stimulation module to give her peace of mind. Then I.S.S.A.C spoke, "There is something strange; it appears to be a mutation of the amygdala, the part of the brain that was once called the God-center. Religion and God are like a template that is overlaid, but in this case it appears abnormally large. His synapse fires at incredible speeds and his signals move across his cortex so quickly it often appears to be simultaneously." "What all does this bear?" said Mentor evenly. "It is unknown I have never came across such readings. Only time will tell if it is good or bad."

"He who fears he will suffer already suffers from his fear." Michael D Montaigne

His name meant foreseeing but he could not foresee the power hungry actions of Zeus against Kronus or foresee that a rumor of a dubious nature would be one of the factors that would put him in a position most dire. He was seized by Kratos (strength) and Bia (force) and carried off to the mountain of the Caucasus. Their Hephaestus chained him to the high rock by the orders of Zeus himself. The new king of the gods would break the will of the one who opposed him. This one was called Prometheus. He stole fire from the gods and gave it to man. For his crime, he was to be chained to the great rock with shackles of unbreakable adamantium. Bitter cold would torture him at night, and in the morn, the great vulture would come to eat out his liver. However, his healing ability always compensated and it always grew back. He was for all practical purposes immortal, and though he could not die by conventional means, he had often wished he could. This cycle was to continue for eternity or longer, so was the decree of Zeus himself. But never would Prometheus yield to the tortures of Zeus, though the chains of adamantium did bind, always was his mind free: Free to roam, to dream, to escape the torture put upon him. But perhaps he had done it to himself, for he had always been able to see through to men's hearts and even the gods themselves. He could have easily outwitted them. During his trial, he came to know the forces of Thanatos and Eros on a daily basis. That both concepts were neither good nor evil but merely pieces in the grand mosaic. During the greatest moments of pain, such as when his liver were being devoured, he contemplated whether the secret was true? What did

Zeus fear? Knowledge? What was it that drove the king of the gods to chain Prometheus to the rock and dethrone kronus? Prometheus was different then most of their ilk. He did not transform into beasts and have lusty escapes with unwary maidens. Nor did he practice their licentious behavior. In many ways, the gods were worst than men. Then one morn, as the vulture was tearing at his liver, he had a vision . A vision of a New World, a world free of strife and decadence and this gave him hope in the midst of his own darkness. At the very moment of his epiphany, a great hand crushed the larynx of the vulture in one hand. Only one had such power and that was Hercules, who was dressed in similar raiment and wielded like power. He went by the name of the Forgotten One. He used his vast strength to pull the shackles from the rock and to bring Prometheus from the mountain. He was brought to another place, a place of majesty that rivaled Olympus itself. The denizens were remarkably similar to the Olympians and then he concluded the secret was true, he was indeed a member of another race of god-like beings they called him by his new name. His true name "Mentor."

"One has not watched life very observantly if one has never seen the hand that kills tenderly" - Friedrich Nietzsche

Titan was a world that pursued knowledge in all its various forms: art, science, philosophy and religion. It sought what the earth philosopher Plato would call the Republic. A society that lived not by consuming products and losing one's self in material idolatry, as many of earth's populace had done. Instead, it sought spiritual and intellectual development. Even though, it was an admirable goal Mentor knew it had been tried before. In the 1980s, the earth nation Russia had used the philosophy of communism to enslave its populace. To facilitate the integration but not have a true authority. Titan would require an ingredient that other civilizations did not have, an intercessor of sorts, this ingredient was the autonomous AI enigma I.S.SA.C and with it was Mentor's brainchild: the intergalactic web. It allowed communication through a series of independent AI units sent out through the galaxy. Since much of their thought was independent and unknowable even to Mentor, it was not exactly sure how they accomplished their goal, for all things that lived evolved, and the AI programs did this with remarkable results. The web had established contact with virtually every sentient race in the galaxy and beyond by using FTL transmissions. (Faster then light) These particles were Tachyons theoretical particles that moved backward through time. Through the web, Mentor began to populate the world of Titan. He did this by creating a plaza where an intricate series of wormholes, were connected like tunnels to different worlds and their populace. Those who wished to come were given membership to Titan. Those who sought knowledge were encouraged. Theologists, scientists, philosophers, cybertravelers, historians, mathematicians - no one was denied as long as they were willing to eschew violence. Mentor and Sui-san had another son, they called him Eros. His nature was different then his older brother, Thanos, who seemed more brooding and quiet. Where Thanos was stoic, Eros was social. Where Thanos was dark, Eros was light and found pleasure in all things. His nature was something that helped provide Sui-san company to forget the rebellion and death that seemed to cling to her memories like a leech. Eros' power to make his mother feel good often seemed unnatural and Thanos thought it manipulation most foul. Sui-san had many daughters,

before both Thanos and Eros. Mentor also used bioengineering to mass-produce other Eternals with the eggs of Sui-san. Mentor, who had took an avid interest in young Thanos since his birth, continued teaching him and introducing him to higher mathematics and intricate thought. Thanos' mind was something to behold. It seemed to seek a pattern in whatever problem it was dealing with and then through some process, which seemed more magic than thought, it would solve the problem. It was more like art. That was the only way Mentor could understand Thanos' mind, for nothing else was like it. At this stage, Thanos realized that his imagination was his most powerful weapon and Mentor encouraged Thanos to use it. He enhanced this by introducing his son to a new mode of Knowledge: cyber-links. This allowed Thanos to travel the intergalctic web as a cybernaut given form through interaction with the sentient program I.S.S.A.C., who help him travel the intergalactic web. Thanos was able to stay in the web longer than any other citizen of Titan, due to his mutated mind. It seemed, for most minds, there was a limited time in which one could spend on the web without side effects. These side effects included bodily detachment, disassociation, and coma. It seemed that the only thing which interested Thanos at all, besides his relentless pursuit of knowledge, was Eros and his relationship with Sui-san. He thought it was of a dubious nature and resented the younger sibling. When Eros was born, it seemed that no longer could she think of anything else, except Eros who sought nothing but pleasure and play. Thanos knew her trials and knew he could help her, but she turned instead to Eros Often times young Thanos would come to the Garden of Eternity which was operated by the priests of Pama which had a sect on Titan and brought with them their greatest achievement: The Eternity Ash, a great tree said to be the seedling of Yggdrasill itself, the great mythological tree which was a symbol of universal life from the legend of Odin who hung on the world tree to the modern myth of Christ who also had hung on a tree to save men's souls. It was an aweinspiring site, with its mighty branches, which seemed to extend beyond even space itself. Its wood seemed to palpitate and move up and down as if it were breathing. The leaves each a different color, each a different shape with intricate designs that were said to be able to foresee the future. Thanos sat as he meditated on the day before him. All he could think of was Eros and his mother, Sui-san. Eros was unworthy if anything, thought the young Thanos. He should be disciplined for his manipulation. When in Eros' presence, Thanos often felt something alien reach out and touch his mind, his pleasure centers. But if he had pleasure centers, they were somehow immune to Eros' touch, perhaps it was because he was the polar opposite of his brother. Thanos' attention was drawn to a great spider web which, from young Thanos' vantage, was nearly three meters a cross in length. In the center was a great arachnid with eight hairy legs and a great mouth meant to devour. It seemed a bird had been caught and was attempting to escape. But the webbing held fast and the bird struggled flapping its wings in murderous frenzy. But this only succeeded in trapping the foul further. Thanos watched as the spider grew ever closer and appeared to grow larger and more like a force of nature than an instrument of death. The avian made a terrible squall as the spider wrapped it in a web coffin and began to drink its life force. For some reason, this act piqued the young Titan's curiosity.

It seemed to make him think deeper than even the most difficult math equation he had come across to this point. Then something stirred in him. Something dark. After Thanos left the garden that day, he continued his search for knowledge and went to the galactic web. Thanos engaged in cybertravel using a porthole to hook his mind directly into the system itself. It was extreme and only those hooked into cyberverse could stay online as long as Thanos could. But the difference is that most of them had been hooked in since birth, and yet his ability was already rivaling the most competent cybernauts. Thanos visualized a great chessboard using his imagination to manipulate the cyberverse to his designs. This practice of shaping the terrain of the cyberverse made Thanos' mind even more focused. He was able use his witnessing the act of the spider and the bird to see past the veil, to see ones and zeros of the intergalactic web. Through the web, he saw the game in true manifestation and decided to use it to hone his strategy. I.S.S.A.C., the sentient program, took the other side, and they began to play as they always did. "Today, I will beat you," said the young Thanos. For an undisclosed amount of time, they played, so long it was impossible to ascertain as time moved differently in that environment. Thanos was able to play I.S.S.A.C. to a draw. When he came off the web and into his own body again, he removed the cable from a hole, which was in his cortex. But something strange happened as the hole had closed up. Normally once a cortical cable was inserted, the hole remained and could be covered but it was there on a permanent basis. Young Thanos seemed to have a power that his brethren did not have. He decided to study and learn all he could of his heritage. Thanos was nearly ten years old, but the years on Titan were equivalent to ten earth years and the life span of an average Eternal was longer then the average Kree or Skrull, and much longer than a human. Titan, as Thanos, already knew he was made up of an eclectic of many worlds, which were connected through the web. Many of the races that lived on Titan were not Eternals, like himself, but were from other worlds. With only the seeking of knowledge in common, Thanos unlocked his father Mentor's personal files with ease and did not even have moral compunction, for morals to Thanos were subjective and he saw it merely an obstacle that had to be removed. He learned his father was from a race of Eternals different than his mother, and that they had absolute control of the molecular structure. He learned they wielded great energies which were the stuff of the universe itself. He learned that his father had been punished for his knowledge seeking and hung from a great rock. This intrigued Thanos, as he wondered what would make his father seek knowledge out at such an extreme cost to him But the young Thanos would not be tortured or injured for his knowledge seeking. He would develop those powers, that he seemed to have from his father's people. Thanos would never be put in positions such as his father was, he would be the one to wield power. Again, Thanos went to the garden to reflect on his knowledge. How his father had sought knowledge at a high cost to himself. How he would develop his powers from his father's side. He also saw how his father was an outsider, growing up in Olympus instead of the Kingdom of Eternals, and like his father, he felt out of place. His goals, different than the others of Titan though they sought knowledge, they thought to merely sit on that knowledge. Thanos was more pragmatic and looked for ways to increase his uses. He also saw how he came about his name. How him and his brother were named when his father was in the throws of Thanatos and Eros

between life and death. Him and his brother were symbols of what his father had gone through, of what it meant to have a beginning and an end. But while Eros was the life urge, he had been named after Thanatos the death urge Thanos was distracted as he saw another bird caught in a web and wondered what lesson the Eternity Ash was trying to teach him. Then epiphany! Was he not one who traveled the web? Much like the lonely spider, Thanos too was alone and mistrusted because of his appearance. It then occurred to Thanos that he could be the bird or be the spider. Eros broke Thanos' concentration, "Brother, why do you come to this place?" Thanos said nothing as he watched the spider get closer. "Brother, you seem distracted," said Eros. A smile began to appear on his purple face as the spider was nearly upon its prey. Although he was not so much different than his father, both were seekers of knowledge, both were outcasts, and though Thanos was physical as well as mentally different, he knew he would always be apart from his mother, from his brother, even from his father. Thanos saw himself as a kind of orphan. "Brother, what has you so intrigued?" and when the bird screamed, Eros saw what Thanos had been looking at and when he looked into his brother's eyes he saw the kill. And he saw something that terrified him. "Tell mother I am coming, brother," said Thanos, "and that I have a gift."

Continues from issue #1 and issue #2 of Thanos: Dead Men Tell No Tales

"The devil has the farthest perspectives for god - that is why he stays so far away from him. The devil, in other words, is the oldest friend of insight" --Friedrich Nietzsche

It was not often the devil was allowed to appear before the great gathering. It was even less frequent that he would be allowed to speak. But he had been chosen to speak at a trial that would ripple forth and alter Eternity itself. Mephisto waited in his stygian realm for the proper moment. Then an aperture would be opened and he would stand in the great hall of manifestations; Mephisto nervously plucked at one of his demons eye balls, impaling on each of his fingers completely through and swallowing the eyeball in a single motion, as he waited. The hall of manifestations was a realm where the abstracts were given form, and cosmic justice was dealt out by a mulitversal entity who was feared by all. His Title was spoken in whispers across the galaxies To some he was called the Dread Tri-Judge and his fearsome three headed visage inspired terror in all who had the unfortunate happenstance to cross his path, for his judgments were final. When the great aperture appeared there was trepidation even in Mephisto’s steps as he walked through the gate. However, the fact that he was chosen by her gave him faith. The hall of manifestations was a terrible site to behold as the true essence of a Celestial was manifested before him. Even Mephisto had to shield his eyes from the glory of what appeared to be a soul

of a God. The essence was like raging fire engulfing itself, and brightness was all around it and radiating out of its midst like color of amber. In addition, standing next to the reveled essence of the soul was an armored representative of the great Celestials. He was called the "One Above All” and the soul of the Celestial was under his charge. But the leader of the Celestials armored form paled before the unsheathed essence of the deceased Celestial. On a great throne of bronze was the Dread Tri-Judge who had three faces that were like those of men, save they were hewn from stone and were white like wool. When he spoke, it was like thunder in the firmament, and black clouds formed in the Hall of Manifestations, "MEPHISTO, YOU HAVE BEEN GIVEN VOICE BY SHE WHO IS THE ANTITHESIS OF FOREVER. THE GATHERING BEFORE YOU IS JUDGING THE ACTIONS OF ONE OF ETERNITY'S MANIFESTATIONS DURING THE SECOND HOSTS VISIT TO EARTH. THE CRIME WAS DISCOVERED BY THE LEADER OF THE LANDING PARTY. THE PERPETRATOR OF THE CRIME WAS THE CELESTIAL WHO WAS CALLED THE GOLDEN ONE. A GREAT BATTLE ENSUED AND IT TOOK THE ENTIRE HOST TO SUBDUE HIM, THROUGH THE WEAPON GIVEN TO HIM BY GALACTUS HE WAS FINALLY SLAIN. BUT HIS SPIRIT HAS APPEALED AND SINCE THE CELESTIAL HOST ASKED A MEMBER OF THE GATHERING FOR HELP THE FINAL JUDGMENT IS OURS. SPEAK MEPHISTO YOURS IS THE LAST VOICE TO BE HEARD BEFORE THE VERDICT SHALL BE RENDERED.” Mephisto looked around the gathering and next to the Dread Tri-Judge was he who was forever the man-like entity who clothed himself in the raiment of stars. On his left hand side was the great Galactus who was from another universe. A universe with a different Eternity, with different concepts he was as ever the alien. Mephisto spoke with arrogance as he addressed the great cosmic gathering before him. "I speak for her. She thinks that the crime by the Celestial was not a crime and will one day play a part in the mosaic that is Eternity and asked me to stand as a proxy. When she asked me to speak for her, she called me as an expert witness. For the actions of the Celestial in question are of a genetic nature, genetic manipulation if you will, and thus considered evil. And am I not the manifestation of evil?" A dread silence filled the comic gathering as he paused to collect his ancient thoughts. Mephisto grinned sardonically as his serpent tongue flickered in and out of his hellish maw. “Although I was not aware that one of the mighty Celestials was on trial, it is irrelevant" Mephisto’s tone was condescending and mocking. The One Above All moved a leviathan like limb toward Mephisto’s direction, and Mephisto seemed to cringe, as the great limb seemed to threaten ominously as it pointed in the stygian lord’s direction. Energies of an unknown nature began to crackle around the One Above All, and a great white light filled the gathering. All began to take cover, but a mere gesture from the dread Tri-Judge was enough to stay his hand. “I WILL BROOK NO MORE INTERRUPTIONS IN MY COURT, ANY FURTHER ACTIONS SHALL BE DEALT WITH MOST HARSHLY. CONTINUE,” said the Living Tribunal as he gestured for the stygian lord to speak his mind. "Why should evil exist?” He paused as if for effect, “is it hunger that makes one evil?” And the lord of evil looked at the Galactus, “Is it appetite? When the great Galactus has plenty of food he can see his place in the scheme of things, and how he will give back to the universe far more then he has taken.” The Lord of Lies grinned malevolently but then he continued, "but when he is hungry then even Galactus is in doubt and he can no longer see his place in the

great mosaic. And certainly they whom he devours can see no good in it." Galactus eyed the Lord of Evil with contempt as if to say with a glance that he would not forget Mephisto’s slight. “Perhaps it is love that causes evil? Perhaps if we lived alone we would have little trouble.” Mephisto glared at Mistress Love and her companion Sire Hate who were also among the gathering, "and if something were to happen to one’s mate,” Mephisto continued emphasizing certain words, "and she is carried off then there is no rest. Only turmoil and angst. Or perhaps…” said Mephisto “…evil springs from ill temper,” and Mephisto’s eyes met the One Above All, the leader of the Celestials. "The moment we begin to lose our temper, we are undone. Perhaps it is fear,” and Mephisto looked at the dreadful forces of Chaos and Order. “Even if it is the twigs breaking or the leaves rustling, it causes us lack of peace and we have to sleep with one eye open and one ear alert, we are always in alarm." Mephisto stopped as the cosmic gathering seemed to be listening to Mephisto’s every word. “But in truth it is none of these,” said Mephisto, “neither love, nor fear, nor ill temper or even hunger, but all that is evil is due to our different and unique natures. Galactus is different from Love and Hate, and Love and Hate different from the Lords Chaos and Order, therefore I conclude that your evil is not my evil and each fulfills a purpose. Even as Galactus devours a planet, it is done in purpose and the universe could not exist without it. This DNA will serve a purpose, or so my mistress believes, and she would not seek it to perish because of the Celestials, who seek to control every facet of their creation. Let them also know that they too must serve and follow their place in the scheme of things.” “THE LIVING TRIBUNAL HAS REACHED HIS VERDICT AND ALTHOUGH THE GOLDEN ONES CRIME WILL STILL BE PUNISHED BY THE CELESTIALS, HIS CREATION, A STRAND OF GENETIC MATERIAL THAT IS A COMBINATION OF DEVIANT STRAIN AND ETERNAL STRAIN, SHALL SURVIVE, AND SHALL ONE DAY MANIFEST ITSELF IN THE GENE POOL. SO DECREES THE LIVING TRIBUNAL." Then all the assemblage began to depart and Mephisto also departed to his own realm where he was met by a rat like creature "You done well, Lord of Lies, the mistress is very pleased and you will be rewarded for your guile." “Then tell me this, what does Mistress Death want of the Celestial DNA and why does she want it to exist in the scheme of things, is it not a celestial affair?” The mouthpiece of Death, which had manifested itself as a rat with biped characteristics spoke, its words like venom. "You were to gain the Celestials’ anger, it was this that caused the Tribunal to rule against him, and she knew that you and you alone could accomplish the task. That way she will not be blamed and the Celestial will not hold anything against her.” With that the mouthpiece of death was gone and Mephisto wondered what would become of the DNA. He looked on at the one who carried it in his genetic structure. "We will be seeing each other. Alars and I will be curious to see how your offspring turns out and why Mistress Death seemed to have such a vested interest."

“We may lie with our lips, but we tell the truth with the face we make when we lie" -- Friedrich Nietzsche

Mentor had called a family meeting at the request of his son, Eros. The subject at hand was his other son, Thanos, who had done something so strange that young Eros had begun to fear for his mother’s life. Eros was thin and lanky with chestnut color hair and eyes that could change

color by will alone. In contrast, Mentor’s build was wider and more physically impressive. He pushed his hand through his white hair, which was full and course. And queried aloud "Where is Thanos and why has he not answered my summons?" Mentor’s mind was similar to Thanos in the respect that they both did things for reasons. Mentor had to know Thanos’ reason, and had every faith in him, for it was obvious to Mentor that Eros had not seen the circumstances correctly and was perhaps misinformed. When Thanos walked into his father's chamber, Eros was talking to his mother, Sui-San, and Mentor was pacing nervously. Eros was the first to acknowledge his brother, “Greetings brother, we have been waiting on you for some time now." Eros began to pour himself a drink, and offered Thanos one also. "I will decline, brother, you have enough vice for both of us," Thanos showed no emotion when he spoke and his face was like immovable stone. Eros glared at Thanos and then Eros reached out and began to touch Thanos with his mind. He could feel its sickening touch against his cortex and was not pleased. He spoke aloud a single word "sensulist" and with utter disgust. Thanos hit Eros with the back of his hand. Blood was everywhere as Eros cradled his broken nose with both hands cupped tightly to his face. "You will find Thanos’ mind not as easy to manipulate, as our mother’s." “Enough of this, the both of you, such behavior will not be tolerated especially in my presence," boomed Mentor. Sui-San was in tears, but quickly found her stride as she challenged her darker son's motives. "What is this gift Eros was telling me of? Thanos, I have always cared for you, loved you." "Spare me the rhetoric, you are still under the chemical dependence of my sensualist brother and I will not speak to his mouthpiece." Sui-San was enraged and slapped Thanos across the face. The effect was more than the mere forces of the blow, but in his mind, he felt betrayal. Thanos began to walk out of the chamber when his father called out to him, “Thanos, they do not understand you like I do, how your mind works, how quickly you learn and adapt." "Do you?” said Thanos coldly, "Even your mind is but a pale shadow compared to my own, you are all like children before me!” Thanos grinned sardonically, "Goodnight mother." Mentor did not attempt to stop his son for he felt it better if he had time to think on it. Thanos contemplated how he would deal with his sibling, and he still had to give his gift to his mother. For as long as she was under his brother's control, she would never truly be free. He did not fear retribution from his father for he knew that his father who had been his teacher had the most respect for his mind and would never do anything as long as he was seeking knowledge. Although his brother was addicted to every pleasure, he too had his vices "pride his one fatal flaw.” Thanos walked over to the great Plaza in the middle of Titans Square. Within the plaza was the web, a great collection of wormholes and portals to over a thousand worlds. The Farcaster Gates had been set up by I.S.S.A.C., a sentient computer in Titan’s early days. It was through this series of dimensional travel gates that Mentor had populated Titan and exchanged knowledge with other civilizations throughout the galaxy. Thanos had already visited many worlds and had learned many disciplines, from abstract physics to four-dimensional geometry, which was used in the construction of modern time travel machines. During his visits to other

worlds, he had made certain observations. For example, the world he was now going to was not heavily trafficked by other Eternals, nor was it trafficked by the other worlds, which were hooked to the Farcaster Gates. The gravity alone made the planet uncomfortable. Add on a hardcore group of zealots that lived for the sake of combat and it was easily understood why this world was not a tourist attraction. Thanos made the necessary adjustments and placed a strange helm over his purple pate. He soon found himself standing on the planet of Vandus. Large heavily limbed creatures called Taurians were the dominant life forms. Other races cultivated them for their physical prowess and size often exploiting them. Seeing as how their technology was limited and most of them could be trained, it was quite easily understood how they made up the greater force of bodyguards and servants within their galaxy. But Thanos did not come seeking a slave or a bodyguard; he wished to experience what the orange-hued Taurians called “the gift.” Thanos had been observing the tribe for some time and had learned many things about their culture. Thanos spoke a challenge in the high tongue of Aruk. An impressive looking specimen came forth to answer, his thick hide and thicker limbs ready to bless Thanos with the gift. Thanos clenched his fists but was surprised by the speed of the great orange Goliath. He was also encumbered by the planet’s gravity. He moved as one who moves in water. The Tuarian easily struck him off his feet with a single blow. The Titan’s head concussed against the rocky terrain but was unhurt as he raised his great bulk for a counter attack. The Tuarian’s eyes were like slits, and his toothless maw shot a kind of spittle that blinded Thanos. The Titan was immediately struck with a series of repeated blows that were both powerful and skillful, striking vital spots on the Titan’s body. His limbs effectively paralyzed, Thanos was in no danger, but he had not counted on the Tuarians being so formidable. But he was ever adaptive and his limbs were once again under his control. However, he feigned weakness to draw his opponent in and used utility of movement to conserve strength and wait for the proper moment. The Tuarian struck another great blow, causing spittle and blood to fly from Thanos’ mouth in all directions. Soon the Tuarian made a fatal miscalculation and there was an opening in his guard. There it was, not drastic, but enough for Thanos to strike him with an uppercut, completely dislocating the Tuarian’s jaw. Thanos began to get used to the effects of the world's gravity and was soon in a position of superiority. Although the Tuarian was bleeding, it still had fight and began to trade blows in a pugilistic manner. The two warriors fought valiantly and it was unsure who would walk away. But a telling blow was delivered, and Thanos fell before Taurian and was helpless when it delivered the fatal blow.

Thanos removed the helm and took out the cable, which was linked directly to the Titan's cortex. This cyberlink connected his consciousness to a robotic simulacrum. The simulacrum was covered by a layer of flesh and blood and the cyberhelm could project his consciousness to any planet within the makeup of the web. Apparently, there was something wrong with his link and he had lost his connection to the world in question and his simulacrum. Another robotic double could easily be constructed. That was no problem, however, he could not easily replace the knowledge that was lost or the time that was wasted. There were still some flaws in the process but it was clear that he could download his conscience into a simulcrum if he desired. Thanos sat for a moment

in contemplation and then "revelation" - Perhaps it had not been a complete loss. Yes, he had found a way to deal with his brother.

Continues from issue #1, issue #2 ,and issue #3 of Thanos: Dead Men Tell No Tales

“When stepping into the stream of consciousness, don't slip on the rocks.” --BUDDHA

The circle was nearly complete and soon he would come. Soon he would take everything of any value from her. It happened in a moment of weakness. A time when she was alone. Tears began to swell in her eyes as she tried to remember the exact circumstances of what had happened all those years ago, but the memory was reluctant. It happened before she was rescued from the barren world when all the other inhabitants had killed themselves in a civil war. It was in that time of loneliness, between hopelessness and desperation, that her mind reached out and did the unthinkable. She knew of the legends of how all she had to do was call his name in a last desperate attempt, as she tried to hold off madness. The great dragon of the moon was summoned and offered her a Faustian bargain. It claimed a mighty being from a powerful race would rescue her. But in exchange she had to give vow that she would give her first-born child. Such bargains were not uncommon, one just had to be willing to pay the price. But now she was no longer a prisoner on that barren and war torn world. Her temporary insanity had abated, and although she was grateful to the Dragon, there was no way she would ever give her first born son, at least not as long as breath remained. To prepare herself for the dread day of his return, she studied volumes of mystical tomes and forged her spirit in magic most foul. She was nearly ready for the great worm, the mystic circle was drawn and she now stood in its center. According to all the ancient tomes, this would protect her and give her time to pull her ace from her sleeve. In her delicate hands was a puzzle box, her ace as it were. She had purloined the cube from the race called the Skrulls when they had once visited her world. While the artifact itself was from the Skrull Empire, it was said that the architects of the puzzle box dwelt in another universe all together - a universe where the laws were said to be contrary. Her hands were very adept as they found every crevice. Her skilled fingers went over all the intricate patterns, causing the puzzle box to rearrange its formations. A schism opened in reality and twisted things began to swim forth, their bodies turning inside out. But it was not the strange beasts she was waiting for, they were merely the by product of the summoning. A voice called out "Have you summoned me to complete the bargain?" She was silent as she continued to nervously run her hands across the puzzlebox. "You will not have my son, no matter what," her tone was angry and full of regret. "There is no choice in this matter,” declared the dragon as she was ripped from the center of the circle, and its great icy claws clutched at her garment pulling her closer until its great head was

nearly on top of her. She tried to turn away as she saw a hideous maw filled with a thousand deadly needle like teeth. "There is always the matter of faith, Sui-San, if you have none your mystic circle will have no strength.” The dragon changed the subject, "Did you feed the child the herbs which will make its mind a product of both universes?" Sui-San turned away, she had to play her hand perfectly or else all would be lost. And looking into his face would break her of this she was certain. Body heat began to flow from the women and into the dragon in great torrents. She grew colder and colder, and her body took on the deathly pallor of a corpse. "Answer me, woman,” it raged, while its ebon breath caused a frost to form over her nearly inert body. “Don't you realize,” it continued, “That I shall take your child anyway. My masters have need of him, he is to be their protege, their champion." Her teeth chattered with such force that she feared she would sheer of her very tongue but she stammered as she put forth a mighty effort with the great dragon of the moon about to devour her, "I I I Knnnooowww yyyoourr ttrrruuue naamme." “True name?” replied the dragon, “None know my true name." “Iiiiiinnnn bbbbeettwwwenneerrr,” she said, the effort stealing the last of her strength. The great dragon howled, its voice like a mighty blizzard as it was thrust in the puzzle box, and her fingers, which were still moving feverishly, closed it up locking the creature away. The puzzle box was then thrust to the ground with such force that it was imbedded with only the top showing. Her mind was filled with terrible visions and two great eyes were peering down upon her from one side and a head with a baldpate on the flank. Their eldritch gazes bit into her skull, gnawing with teeth of dementia, tearing into her cortex where all her memories were contained. Try as she might, she was unable to resist as they raped her mind repeatedly with the esoteric visions of nightmares which would never pass. The one trapped in the puzzle box was freed and then hovered above the woman who was now sobbing and sitting in a puddle of her own bodily fluids. The creature was now in its true shape, with one part madness and one part sanity, half of every concept that man had ever imagined was its essence. It took her child and she reached out in final desperation as the In-Betweener along with Chaos and Order took the young child and were gone along with her son. But as the darkness fled, a voice came from behind her, “Shaper of Worlds, I thank you for your boon,” her face taking on a different continence entirely, “I could never have done it without you." The Shaper was impressive as volatile energies encircled his nosfertu like visage. Its unearthly glory nearly sent her prostate but her studies had brought her in contact with many demons and her mind was unafraid. “And I you,” said the Shaper where his cosmic herald Glorien was not far behind. His form but a streak of light that danced around the shapers crowns like a willow the wisp. "Your vision of a utopia,” continued the Shaper, “Is something I wish to see fulfilled. Even if I must confront the forces of Chaos and Order itself.” “We have been beneficial to eachother,” she said somberly, “Truly there will be no world like Titan, it shall be a gem amongst the stars," said Sui-san.

The Shaper was silent as his mighty gaze was drawn to the young child he had just saved by placing a simulacrum in its place. "The child's dreams are grandiose like nothing I have ever seen,” said the Shaper, his great Skrullian face was staring squarely upon the visage of the small child. "Rarely have I looked upon one so young with such vision," The young child seemed to stare at the Shaper and something formed in his mind, and young Thanos smiled at the evolved cosmic cube, reaching out with his little paw, reaching for his dreams.

A Matter of Life and Death - Chapter 4

“War is death’s feast!” said the Young Titan enthusiastically. He looked at the Tachyon Projector, a machine that utilized FTL (faster then light particles) to peer into visions of the future. The visions were used as a teaching tool, but its applications were limited by the filter, which was sometimes unable to decipher the images on the holo-screen before them. The Holo-projector revealed two great star cruisers hovering over a smaller one. The star cruisers that were projected on the screen were using gamma incendiary projectiles to break down the smaller opponent's hyperdrive. Five more star cruisers came out of a gravity gate and surrounded the lone starship, which was now dead in space. I.S.S.A.C., the sentient computer created by Mentor, had anthropomorphized itself in a holoimage and was currently addressing a classroom, which consisted only of Eros and Thanos. However, other than the holo-image of I.S.S.A.C and the Tachyon Projector, the room was comfortable looking. There were two chairs that had cushions and seated the two students. There were some Holos of Mentor and Sui-san hanging on the wall and some other sentimentality as well. "I do not see how death will profit either way, Thanos, a war between equals can only end in genocide," said Eros. "I had no idea you could be such a visionary,” gibed Thanos, his voice dripping with black bile. “It is the older man that declares war, but it is the youth that that must fight and die. I believe that is a quotation from one of the priests that first came to this world when the stargates were opened and the first ecclesiastical stepped forward, but I believe it is appropriate." “How intriguing,” said Thanos, "a sensualist quoting the priesthood." Thanos had a glare in his eye as his commentary dripped of venom, "I must confess, brother, I don't always understand how that mind of yours work….” Thanos interjected "Which clearly illustrates the limits of your own intellectual capacity, brother." Thanos was also cut off by the holo of I.S.S.A.C., "Let us hold a discussion in peaceful manner, learning is best carried out in an environment that is devoid of stress and emotional tumult." "I capitulate, teacher, I was merely prodding my brother’s lazy intellect. Continue,” said I.S.S.A.C., “but try to stay on topic. The next question: what use is war? And what, if any, are the benefits of such a disclosure?" "What good is killing one’s fellow sentient? Titan has existed since its beginning and there has ever been peace, will you Thanos deny the evidence of your own senses?” Eros moved his arms in animated fashion, as he found his blood beginning to boil. “I believe a culture can exist without the threat of war and I fail to see why murder should ever be glorified!”

"In the long run, dear brother, are we not all dead?” asked Thanos. “Death is as psychologically important as birth, shrinking away from it is unhealthy and abnormal which robs, the second half of life of its purpose. Death borders upon our grave and our crib stands in its shadow." "You are mad, Thanos, there is no longer any doubt in my mind." "Let us carry out a discussion in an environment,” said Thanos as he repeated the words of the teacher, “devoid of stress and tumult, let us stay on topic sibling." For a moment Eros and Thanos were facing each other as they were now standing and confronting one another. I.S.S.A.C was trying to break it up, Mentor quickly came into the learning facility and held Eros back who was in a frenzy trying to get at his brother. Thanos merely stood his ground and grinned. Sen-Sui was not far behind her mate as she chided both her sons for their violent behavior. Nevertheless, Thanos was oblivious as an image upon the Tachyon Projector caught his attention. The Tachyon machine was on auto mode and so it constantly switched positions. The projector was observing piles of bodies as a laser field took out an infantry unit, their bodies sliced and burned beyond recognition. However, as the landscapes changed, the Tachyon Converter jumped to various points in the future. But no matter how often the machine changed positions, the image would always be there. Thanos left without saying a word, ignoring both the protests of his mother and his brother. "Father,” said Eros, his tone nearly indignant, “Why do you cater to him? Thanos is mad!" Mentor did not speak right away, as he seemed to be collecting his thoughts for a proper response, "And are you a sensualist, Eros?" "You have always been partial to him, haven't you father? It is like he is your pet project or something!" Mentor turned his back and clasped his hands, "You are closer than you know, Eros,” said Mentor, his intonation subdued.”All my knowledge has gone into Thanos he is an experiment if you will, an experiment to create the ultimate intelligence.” There was a great silence and Eros was at a loss, "From the special herbs your mother gathered, to placing Thanos directly under I.S.S.A.C.’s tutelage. Everything has been done to see just how far a mind could evolve and if a pure intellect would be good or evil. His mind is like a black hole in which nothing can escape, so I often give him some room. If too much pressure is put on him or he felt threatened,” Mentor paused as if for effect, “his mind could prove to be the ultimate weapon." Eros was dumbstruck, "Does Thanos know this?" “Of course,” replied Mentor, “He has been aware since his birth. With a mind like his, how could it be otherwise?” “Where is mother?” asked Eros, “she was in here just moments ago." “I do not know,” said Mentor, “Perhaps she went to meditate, she has been much troubled as of late." “You do not understand, father, I have tried to tell you but you seem to turn a deaf ear. Mother is in danger." Thanos began to concentrate and focus as he cleared his mind of all extraneous thought and then his eyes began to burn like fire. Like a miniature sun gone nova, they began to flare out

and then they exploded outward, their murderous sockets blazing with hellish fury, totally destroying the alloy construct which he designed to absorb its might. He raised a gauntleted hand and an energy bolt lanced out and destroyed another construct. It was only days ago, he recalled, when he would have struggled to unleash this much energy without tiring, now he was doing so without any strain whatsoever. His mind was already like a razor, all that was needed was to enhance the body until it matched. The Titan then hit a button on his belt and four cyber-modules, that up to this point had been used by Mentor to serve the inhabitants of Titan - their duty was to perform menial tasks while the citizens of Titan sought more spiritual matters. Thanos had placed in the robots systems a virus that caused a loop- a loop that would cause the systems to perform a series of related steps over and over, and abort when the specific conditions were met. The specific condition was the destruction of the young Titan himself. Thanos smiled as they surrounded him on all sides. Soon heavy-mechanized hands that had been designed to aid were now being used to kill. Blows that registered at superhuman speed hit the Titan repeatedly. They moved so fast that he did not have time to defend himself. His outer raiment was quickly tore apart under the deadly computerized assault. The Titan’s massive forearms rose reflexively to cover himself but the mechanistic assassins were tireless. They would continue until they registered that all life signs of the Titan had ceased. Waves of pain wracked the mad Titan as his skin blistered and bruised. The Titan merely cleared his mind and then there was no more pain. To one such as Thanos, it was always a state of mind. The automatons attack was deadly but they were also predictable. He knew that they would remain until they had performed the objective. With this in mind, the Titan's hands moved out with deadly accuracy, disabling the automatons at their joints. Thanos grinned, as he knew that the recursion program would not allow them to back down or recalibrate their strategy. He continued his assault against the joints of his attackers until they were destroyed and limbs were strewn across the floor. His eye beams fired up as he prepared to clear away the scattered parts, for he did not wish to draw undo attention to himself. Even Mentor would not tolerate the restructuring of servant droids to assassins. It was considered the ultimate crime to build a weapon. Naught but slag remained of the servants as his eye beams greedily slurped up all the evidence. His body was beaten and bruised, but he closed his eyes and focused all his energy and he was whole. Clearly, thought Thanos, he was closer to the first generation Eternals who could utilize their cosmic force to heal themselves, in fact they were essentially indestructible by physical damage. He had finished his workout and now proceeded to investigate something that was like a splinter in his mind eye, driving him mad. It had transpired while watching the Tachyon machine. An image of what appeared to be a figure that was dressed in dark robes, watching the killing even as he was watching whatever it was. At first, the Titan thought it was just an observer but as the scenes changes, the observer did not. How could one observer be within a distance of several light years nearly simultaneously? It would have to move faster than light. He went to his own personal holo-machine and turned on the Tachyon Converter. Great battles appeared on the screen as men lived by the

philosophy of “kill one and you are an assassin, kill millions and you are a conqueror, kill everyone and you are a god.” Nevertheless, Thanos did not come to view the killing, he came to view the figure. For hours, Thanos sought whatever it was and for hours, he came up empty. His body was feeling chilly but he continued his quest for the unknown figure. He rubbed his hands together to generate warmth. Then it hit him - Epiphany! Thanos knew at last who it was at least on an intuitive level. Eternals did not grow cold, they were immune to such effects, the cold was unnatural and when he turned he saw it was the image he was searching for. It was a beautiful woman, dressed in long flowing robes and the great cold was her breath and it chilled him to his very marrow. "It is you,” said Thanos, but Thanos was distracted as the doors of his chamber opened and Sui-San walked in. "Thanos we need to talk, it is of dire importance,” said his mother, her face flushed. "At last, mother,” said Thanos, his voice like the grave, “we are alone."

Sui-San looked into the mirror and wondered if they would come for her. She wondered if she could escape their grasp for much longer for she knew their arm had grown long indeed. As tears flowed from her eyes, she felt that she was somehow being watched and then she had a vision of a terrible realm. A realm she had seen but once before. A realm that had made such an impression that she had lived in terror since his last visit, and in an esoteric globe, she saw him, the one she had duped. Then her body began to tremble and her head smashed against the glass, cracking it down the middle. Only her son could help her now, only an agent of death could save her from the forces of madness. She felt guilty for having brought her son to this point but it was the only way. She could feel the forces of chaos peeling away her thoughts. Her mind being suddenly thrust into the mouth of madness. And when she looked into the cracked mirror once more, she saw the avatar of insanity, and so terrible was the sight her, that very breathe was tore away from her breast by his unseen hand. He sat in a prison forged of solid insanity, it’s great globe of depravity completely encircling the servant of Chaos and Order. His veiny, bald pate seething with indignity at having been duped by a cosmic cube and having been humiliated by Sui-San in front of his masters. His cylinder of madness hung just between the twin polarities of actuality. Two great triangular constructs that were the physical manifestation for all extremes in reality. "Retsam redro lliw ton yalp yna erom," came the mouthpiece of Lord Chaos. When the In-Betweener turned, he saw a child walking upside down and in her hand was a red balloon with a fearsome face and jagged teeth. The In-Betweener bowed his head as the mouthpiece of Chaos chided him, “Ouy era a loof reneewteb-in," But then the mouthpiece showed him Sui-San looking into a broken mirror speaking aloud to herself as the vision sent by Lord Chaos had overwhelmed her. The InBetweener placed his face against a floating piece of glass that materialized in his cell and he looked through the looking glass with great anger at the one who had put him in this position. The little girl began to dance in a twisted version of a childhood dance, all things were normal except the child's limbs moved opposite of how they should, folding in instead of extending out. Sui-San was afraid and through the mirror, he could taste her fear, how she only wanted to be free. But the In-Betweener now knew what he must do and as the prison vanished, he knew

that he had another chance. He then stepped through the looking glass and was gone, leaving the twisted child laughing wickedly as the balloon began to grin.

"If Marylyn Monroe was alive right now, what would she be doing? Clawing at the lid of her coffin.” - Tyler Durden, “Fight Club”

My mother was the last person I thought I would see but this didn't disturb me for I wanted to see her eventually but the timing was premature and yet there was something unusual, perhaps this was a ploy to set me up but I am not so easily duped. "Greetings, mother, how may I be of assistance?” I waited for her to make the first move and then she spoke. "Thanos, I wish to die." Had it been any other this statement would have likely shocked or paralyzed, it was almost believable but as I studied her sudden bewilderment and the way she raised her hand to her mouth as if she were trying to cover something, I knew immediately that she was attempting to deceive me; any dullard would have picked up on that. 'To do that mother would violate Titan’s most sacred law. I’m sorry, I am unable to assist you, perhaps mentor or Eros.” Then the unexpected happened as all the exits were locked by what I could only perceive as magic, a science that I had only begun to study in its fullness. "I WILL ASK YOU ONLY ONCE MORE, SON, WILL YOU KILL ME?!" The words caught me off guard and now I truly wondered if I could accomplish such a horrific task. But it was not out of evil that I considered it, for was the worshipping of one force over another simply a matter of biased and relativity to the independent observer? I knew my purpose and if I truly was worthy of death this would be my baptism, I knew at last I would have to become the spider or be devoured by my own hesitation. But could I kill even my own mother? The severity and tone of her words bit through my normally stoic demeanor as the emotional outbursts were unusual volatile, normally she was more disciplined and not prone to such violent behavior. But when she grasped me with a strength nearly equal to my own and then hurled me against the wall with enough force to completely shatter a body twice my mass, my suspicions were confirmed and I sensed other forces at work within her as well. My mother had come to be purged and as a good son I would not deny her wishes “Did I not give you birth?! And how do you repay me?! By disobedience!" Vomit spewed from the mouth of my mother and her head began to contort. She was beautiful in her depravity, an icon of dementia, my mother had become art and I the artist. But it was most interesting that I pictured her holding me in her arms when I was a child and now I was going to kill her, but even this thought did not disturb me. Was I not Thanos? I looked at my monitors overhead and saw Mentor and Eros attempting to breech my fortress, time was now of the essence. Mentor was using a sonic drill, which was just as insignificant as his puny cosmic might against the shielding around my sanctum, but my sanctums senses had shown that Mentor had sent a signal to the main frame I.S.S.A.C. Mentor had apparently signaled I.S.S.A.C. to use a virus to break the electronic coded lock, but my recursion loops would keep them busy while I finished my dark task.

I could hear them speaking as Eros was with his usual mindless self, "How much longer can we hope, listen to this conflict, before it’s too late. Surely mother is no match for that monster Thanos!” I laughed at the irony of the statement, as my mother delivered a blow that nearly shattered my jaw never had I felt more alive. Mentor was calling in the force droids and spoke with his link to I.S.S.A.C. “It appears we will need as much firepower as can be summoned," he said. With that, I knew I had to finish this and quickly. I took out a mystic blade and prepared to be baptized into the supernatural. "The blade struck deep down the middle and blood sprayed into my mouth, as I cut into her cortex with the dagger’s sharp point, but still she struggled against the inevitable and although I was loath to do it, I had little choice in the matter. I continued to cut until I severed the corpus callosum, an operation that cuts 200 million nerve fibers. The sheer number of fibers alone attests to the complexity of the operation, especially with a dagger. Finally, I had split her mind in half, separating the right and left hemispheres. For a moment she had regained her senses. "I thank you, son, the In-Betweener had taken possession of this body, he sought to claim us both for Chaos and Order, that twisted god who rule another universe." Her brain was hemorrhaging and it was quite clear that even an eternal could not survive much more damage without succumbing, but she showed remarkable fortitude and still she struggled to speak despite her obvious agony. "Son, long ago I made a bargain with a great beast who called itself the Dragon of the Moon.” She tried to find the strength to continue but the loss of blood was taking its toll, “The great worm whose body is composed of dark matter. My people had been drawn into a great civil war. A war so brutal and bloody that it would haunt me even to this day. And after all had either left our world or had been killed, the dragon came to me and offered me a bargain." She hesitated for a moment as she struggled to keep consciousness. I was impressed. "In my moment of darkness, I accepted the price - my first born son - in exchange for escape from the world that was now my prison. But for the rest of my days, I studied the mystic rites and uncovered an artifact of great power, an object known as the cosmic cube. I sought to use its influence to deceive the forces of Chaos and Order by sending a doppelganger to them on the date of your birth, I encouraged Mentor with your fascination with Death, for I knew the day would come. You must finish the rites or I will be forever a prisoner of Chaos and Order’s realm. You must devour my mind so that it is beyond their touch. For it is that which they crave with their jagged teeth of lunacy and it is the last part of the rites in which even they must be bound by their own words and will have to abandon their plans for vengeance.” But then the voice of the In-Betweener interjected, “Now you are both mine!” And the room began to spin and a great gate was beginning to open. My body was shattering, but no sooner did I use my control over my molecular structure to regain my true self, then I found my body frozen, but it was all a matter of control. Soon I felt her breath against my neck and then I knew that she had chosen me. I smiled, as I knew my victory was now assured. With naught but sheer depravity and madness driving me, I was again upon my mother’s broken and bleeding body. It appeared that the In-Betweener had not expected me to keep my mind when it summoned its realm to this universe. I ended the conflict quickly as I completely vivisected her form. The In-Betweener would again be sent back to his masters a failure.

Somehow, the vivisected form of my mother was still alive, the forces of Chaos and Order would not let go, truly they were terrible forces to behold. Then I realized the price of using mystic means. And though I was bound by the letter of the law, still would I take this lesson for later examination But I knew there was no other option and when I reached down and took her brain with all its nerve endings and neurons I opened my maw wide and devoured it, according to the mystic rites and performed as stated. It was the only way to ensure the conclusion, however no longer would I deal with mystic rites and spells, for they had left a bad taste in my mouth. Thanos was then bowled over by a sensory overload as he struck the floor. “Thanos, I have called you forth from this day on. You shall be my avatar,” said the skeletal figure, which hovered above Thanos’ chamber that was now painted with the blood of his mother. “You are the balm that will soothe my burning heart, you are the one who will give me purpose. FROM THIS MOMENT ON I AM YOUR SERVANT AND I SHALL SPEND THE REST OF MY DAYS EITHER WORSHIPPING YOU OR DEALING DEATH OUT.”

There was a great explosion, as Thanos’ chamber doors were forced open and an elite guard of twenty came forth. Thanos did not even resist as they took him away. Eros could think of nothing except attacking his brother, but he easily struck him aside, “Unhand me, you shall not lay hands upon me again.” Eros massaged the bruise that was beginning to form over her right cheek. Mentor grew introspective and withdrew it was more than he could handle, for he knew the part he played and the awful ramifications that had ensued, and then he thought he saw his former mate standing over Eros or at least someone that had a remarkable likeness, but then the apparition was gone. INTERLUDE - A GRIEF OBSERVED
The way to mourn the dead is to take care of the living who belong to them. - Edmund Burk

I was saying my good-byes. But although I looked unflappable inside, I was devastated. How could it be otherwise? My own son had killed his own mother and, in my own way, I had encouraged it as much as if I did the dark deed myself. I clenched my fists until my knuckles were white, cosmic energy erupted from my fists as it tore a whole in the ceiling of my son's sanctum. To look upon her was more then the soul could bear, and yet my detached outlook allowed me to accomplish the impossible. However, I would have no one else dispose of her remains. She was my companion and I would see this through to its bitter conclusion. I used my own hands, and then my imagination began to wonder how it happened and I could feel reality itself blur and then I heard his voice truly it was like the grave. "Father are you enjoying this? I did it all for you. A gift in your honor, father. A gift for all your endless hours of tutoring. It was ... the only way I could truly repay you. Do you not understand?"

The voice sounded just like Thanos and I could even see his terrible visage with his ebon stare and his malevolent grin. Yet, I somehow knew it was an illusion, deep down in the core of my soul, I knew. I waved the illusion off, saying that I would pay the illusion no heed. "I must confess," came the voice in my head again, "you have quite the will but you were ever a dangerous man and I needed something to break your unwavering resolve." I continued to ignore my "son". Eventually it would pass. No doubt it was a side effect from the rather traumatic experience. I took a mental note of illusion's incredible detail and was truly amazed what grief could do even to a mind such as my own. The voice was persistent and it then said, "You are next father." But it was amazing how my mind could conceive of such an accurate creation, how a part of my mind could be so different from my own being. Yet the illusion continued, unhindered by my seemingly uninterested placid expression, and then it grabbed me! I could feel his iron fingers grasping around my throat and I could hear his voice echoing, endlessly, within my mind. "Does this appear to be an illusion to you, father? Can you not feel your life force not seeping away from your grasp? Glorious . . . isn't it?" It was at this time that I made another mental note about the sensation I was experiencing, of how although it was completely generated by an illusion. It's reality was staggering and then . . . I couldn't breath! And for a moment, I wondered if it was not an illusion at all. For if it felt real, and it sounded real. Then the question dawned on me, Could an illusion - if that is what this is - really kill? And as I looked upon the horror before my eyes, his grinning purple visage holding me aloft over the remains of my deceased mate and my feet dangling in the air. His empty eyes were tearing into my mind and then I was lost. I felt a tap on my shoulder and Eros, my second son was standing before me, through a darkened haze. He was asking me if I was alright, I nodded unreassuringly. It was then, like an out of body experience as I saw myself standing next to a screen with the AI computer I.S.S.A.C asking me what to do with Thanos. End Interlude

God providentially foresaw the devil's turn to wickedness, and also that of evil men, but permitted this for the good of all creation. - Augustine

As the lord of evil, I had been following the One who had possessed the DNA since the trial of the Dreaming Celestial and wondered what the off spring would become.*
(*See Thanos: Dead Men Tell No Tales: Issue Three for details on cosmic trial.)

And as I gazed through the mists that cut through all dimensions I began to study the one who called himself Thanos. In appearance, he was rather apish and aesthetically unappealing, this was no doubt the deviant strain showing itself. But as I watched the purple pollywog grow I began to be intrigued by this strange demigod, who's father was once a citizen of fabled Olympus and who's mother would be considered a witch. My God - if there is such a thing - must have a sense of humor, indeed. A mind so sharp in the body of a bloated purple frog.

But as he vivisected his own mother, I was in awe at the depths of dementia his mind was capable of plummeting. And I wondered was he devoid of conscious completely. Or was it he was simply capable of both extremes? Was he, perhaps, just as capable of doing a monumental good as well? My mind reels at the thought of his own mother allowing her son to court Mistress Death, herself, as if she were some fleshless maiden instead of the reaper of souls. Truly, Thanos was blessed. Sui-San and Mentor will give a whole new meaning to dysfunctional family. As my gaze falls to Mentor, it appears that the father of the One has gone somewhat mad. From his disoriented appearance it is clear that he is being haunted my his own psyche, as if he is in communion with ghosts and attempting to rationalize his own madness. But it is rather enjoyable watching a mind as strong as Mentor's crack, if not shatter, much like an egg. Omelet anyone? Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha! So witty I am at times that I amuse even myself. But if I wish to take full advantage of Mentor's misfortune, I must be swift! Thanos will not allow himself to be imprisoned for too long. And what, I wonder, does Mistress Death want with this purple toad is beyond me. But whatever happens it is most clear that his soul, no matter how dark, could not possibly reach the sygian depths of such as I. And yet the Celestials are an enigmatic lot, and the Dreaming Celestial was reputed to be on par with the mightiest of them. The flames of my netherworld begin to wane and standing before me, once more, is Mistress Death's mouth piece, "You will go to Titan, Lord of Lies. The In-Between is seeking Thanos' rather unique DNA and Mistress Death thinks you may be of service." The Mouth Piece's putrefied flesh would be repugnant to most, and the trail of maggots that drop from every orifice would annoy even I had there falling bodies not fed my flames with their pathetically, worthless lives. "I will steal the DNA from under his very nose," I informed the mouth piece while silently musing to myself means in which to accomplish said task, And then Mephisto shall again be what he was in ages past. Hmmm, how shall I do this? I could send a demonic lackey in my stead. Yet since I know they are untrustworthy - perhaps as untrustworthy as I - I will do this myself, in person. It has been ages since I did this trick, since Samarian times to be exact. Back during antiquity when magic was science. But the last time I did this a prophet trapped me in a heard of pigs and sent me tumbling over a cliff. Not the most ... outstanding notation within my demonic résumé, to be assured. The transition must be seamless, I purloined one of my most powerful artifacts, one I had not used since I had taken one of my other guises. A guise which was extremely effective. I held the trident outward and pointed it at the stygian waters at Mentor's image and I was there. Unlike mortals, I needed no device of transport, no point of transition, it is simply I will it and then it is. Truly a staggering thought for mortals to understand. I had to be careful. Mistress Death would be watching, closely. And using the body of Mentor to mask my essence, I slipped in to Mentor's body as casually as one puts on a garment of clothing. After seeing his own mistress vivisected it is no wonder, that he was virtual catatonic.

Yet it is times such as these when beings such as I slip on, and act. To some, it is known as temporary insanity. To one such as I, it is another bag of flesh to wear and discard as I see fit. I get no complaints as I imprison Thanos in a cylinder of adamantine. The same substance mighty Zeus used to imprison this body on a rock while vultures tore out its liver on a daily basis. Within the container are a liquid full of hallucinogens and other chemicals to keep him in sedated. But he is not unconscious, far from it in fact. Although I probably could have killed him without any complaints, it was not wise for that would bring in my mistress. And I could sense her watching me, carefully. We were all standing over the body of the inert Thanos then. To my right is my son Eros, truly he does a father proud his pleasant demeanor masking something much darker. But perhaps the most mind staggering thought Thanos could have gotten that ridiculous hair as well as his apish appearance. I.S.S.A.C. was running tests, when I made requested for a sampling of Thanos DNA. Suddenly, I feel something as cold as ice against the back of this bodies neck and its hairs begin to stand on end. I turn to see the entourage of Mistress Death. Eros is completely oblivious to her presence as is the world computer I.S.S.A.C. But how could it be that the other the forces of death work in the universe everyday and no one is the wiser? She is terrible to behold, as her socketless eyes seem to watch the body of the inert Thanos. Her mouth piece with is a putrefied shade that has a small trickle of maggots dripping from the corners of its mouth. Its seems to be also staring but not at Thanos, in fact it seems to be staring at me. But I am not concerned for some reason this body seems to mask my thoughts from her. And much akin to the forces of death, which do their work daily, my actions are none the wiser to those closest to this host body's heart. Since it was common knowledge that when men grieve, and especially after someone discovers the utter horror that Mentor had moments prior, men tended to act differently. No one would suspect a thing, as was the plan. "How goes things, Mephisto? Mistress Death feels that the In-Betweeener watching from afar. I use telepathic means to communicate so Eros does not suspect," her mouth piece, that stood off to the left and behind her mister. "Even now I'm taking precautions to protect the DNA, my mistress," I retorted. The mouth piece spoke bluntly, "Seek not to deceive us, Mephisto, for Mistress Death is watching closely." And then the voice was gone. I needed time! So I command Eros to obfuscate the truth of Sui-sans death. I told I.S.S.A.C. to tell the populace of Titan that Sui-San will be taking a temporary leave of absence and will travel through the farcaster gates to all the planets on the web and may be gone for quite some time. After all, I cannot have a populace on edge or deal with constant interruptions of fools consoling me, especially, when there is an opportunity for power to be had as great as this one was. I begin to weave an intricate strategy, yet Mistress Death's distraction allowed Mentor a foothold. A strong voice addresses me. "You will not hold my body forever, demon." "Nor do I intend to, old man," I mused in retort to the essence of the body in which I currently held dominion over. "Your addled mind, although enjoyable, as I watch it tortured, you are now only as good to me simply as a means to an end, and nothing more."

"And what end is that?" Came another voice, not of Mentor's. Standing before me was Thanos and Mistress Death, it appeared he was in some kind of astral form and next to him was his mother. Thanos told me of the threat of the In-Betweener had passed and that I could return the DNA to its rightful body. He saw what I was doing perhaps he had even been watching all along. For truly I did not believe him capable of leaving his very body. I clenched the teeth of the body of the one I wore in indignation but then smiled and spoke, "But of course, I am ever Mistress Death's humble servant." "And now my pawn," came Thanos. But I also now realized that Mistress Death would never sit by idly and as her socketless eyes seem peruse this body it came to me what would happen if she found me out. What punishment would be for defying her ebon will? The thought alone was enough to send shudders through this bodies spine. I returned to my fiery lair, promptly after that brief discourse, and while Mentor would forget what had occurred, the effect of my presence in his body would no doubt have long lasting effects and gaps in his memory. Yet, it was of no matter to one such as I. Mistress Death, it seems has truly chosen Thanos, but although the Mad Titan may have seen through my plan because I did not realize him capable of leaving his body I will have the last laugh. For Mentor will discovered the weapon I planted and such a crime is eternal banishment for that apish brute! Ha ha ha ha! Truly, Mephisto is the lord of all evil.

Silver Surfer
Galactus had commanded me to find him a world for him to consume. And like a good herald, I complied. My star spanning senses reveled the very fabric of the universe. My gaze saw a planet roughly a light year distant. I was upon it in seconds and went through a wormhole of nearly ancient design. It's energy signature indicated it was a former gateway used by many alien races to trade and interact but most of those races had long perished. I hit the wormhole at star spanning speed. The wormhole curved and I moved my body in impossible positions as I performed the cosmic act of surfing. The first wormhole was connected to other wormholes I adjusted as the wormholes shifted and changed it was one of the many pleasures of being the Silver Surfer, herald to Galactus, himself. It was times like these that I truly relished being a herald of Galactus. The technology used to create this device was likely a large dense object that simulated the spinning motion of a blackhole. With such an object, even space and time could be warped. It was likely Shi'ar technology or something similar to the farcaster gates used by Titan. When I came out of the transport device, I detected an energy signature nearly on par with my own. I quickly descended upon a lush jungle world and was hovering just over the tube, which had only been here a short time. I knew this not because of my cosmic senses but could smell the foliage that was still burning from the impact. I gestured with my cosmic power and the cylinder was raised until it was even with my board. I used my senses to discern the origin of the cylinder and had determined that it had come from Titan. After all I had been the herald of

Galactus for nearly a century now and was familiar with a great deal of technology. I then detected the DNA, which was in his body and realized the terrible potential if it were to go awry but did not think it my place to destroy what he had not created. In fact, I had done enough destroying as the herald of Galactus. But before I left I used my cosmic power to free the sentient being and then proceeded to find Galactus a world to consume but later I would wonder if I made the right decision in freeing the entity from its prison, if not destroying the entity entirely.

Interlude: World Devourer
If one were made of an indestructible substance, could he feel the solar winds across his face? If space were curved like Einstein theorized, could one surf it like a wave? If one could ride the crest of a galaxy and soar through the heart of a sun, could one believe himself an Angel? These were not questions to the Surfer, they were facts. And when his master hungered nothing could bar his way. The great metallic sphere of the World Devourer actually bent space and time around itself because of the incredible density of the Galactian metal, which rotated in a counter clockwise position. The Surfer came through several light years from his former position to get to his master position (total elapsed time three seconds) and then from that point soared through another fifty miles of the great sphere he encountered just coming out of hypertime to appear before his ominous master, like Moses before his God. He bowed and prepared to receive the dread Ten Commandments of the force of nature that was known only as Galactus (total elapsed time five seconds). When the Surfer looked at Galactus, he did not see a man or even a member of his own race as most sentients did. Instead, he saw an outline containing indescribable energies that cried for escape. Yet deep within the raging energy field was the schematic for a mortal man: A man who went by the name of Galan, at least that would be the closest translation since he came from another universe with a physics and linguistics that was unknowable to any save Galactus himself. Lore had treated Galactus with many names and many titles: the Harvester, Tester, the Great Destroyer. Even his name, Galactus, was but a shortened form of a word used by the very first planet he encountered which meant the end of all things. When Galactus spoke to the Surfer, it was not words; the thoughts simply appeared in the Surfer’s head. When Galactus chose a world, nothing could stay his mighty hand and the world he had chosen was the one the Surfer had just left. It was the one where he encountered the powerful being locked in a stasis tube. The Surfer did not question his master’s command, he knew that he had by his own choice given himself over to Galactus and was duty bound to perform as instructed or else risk the very safety of his own world Five seconds elapsed and the Surfer was once again hovering over the planet he had just came from, his cosmic senses magnifying the jungle planet and just watching. After a few minutes, a cosmic flare erupts from his silvery form and then he just waited for the inevitable for Galactus to come and another world to fall.

Chapter Seven: LOVE TRIANGLE
He was called Dagon by many and was nearly immortal. He had garnered vast mystical might and knowledge. He conditioned his mind until it was like a Razor. So sharp was it that he could

kill by thought alone. He cloaked himself in a raiment of darkness and ice and was nearly completely given over to being a shadow. Mistress Death had allowed him to interact with her realm as she did to all those who were loyal and worshipped her ways. Dagon was terrible to behold and when he spoke, it was like a whisper riding the lightning and its timbre. Resounded in the firmament. "TELL ME IS IT TRUE! DO YOU HAVE ANOTHER PARAMOUR?!” The Realm of Death was more silent then usual as Dagon spewed his threat in her dark lap Mistress Death was not unlike most lovers who had grown weary of the same old thing. Though Death did not speak, it was clear that she had found a replacement. Her socketless gaze devouring the distance between her and her former paramour. Dagon’s eyes burned crimson with indignity heaping upon him by his former lover. Mistress Death's mouthpiece was a rat like creature with terrible teeth that would grow forever unless it had something to gnaw on. And when it spoke, it was as if it refused to chew on the words he was currently using any longer "Restrain yourself, surely you know who's presence you are in, and how lucky you are to still be able to leave. But if you continue your present course, the invitation may be rescinded." The terrible rat like creature paused and even Dagon, who had put fear in many, whose very name had literally been used to cast certain spells by sorcerers, knew that if he wished to leave, silence must reign. His tone was more reserved, his demeanor was humble. "Is there something I can do to win your favor I have worshipped and served you for centuries." The ratlike mouthpiece spoke and Dagon began to wonder if his mistress had a voice at all. He wondered if perhaps she needed a conscious servant to work through. Perhaps her terrible language of unconsciousness could not be discerned by a conscious mind. He wondered if only a living soul could understand her morbid thoughts, the necrosyntactical structures that made up her alien thoughts. Thanos alone was not the sole being considered, there was another. The rat like creature gestured and an aperture was opened in Death’s realm to reveal a planet and a being made of liquid metal hovering above its horizon. The rat like creature smiled to reveal crooked and yellowed teeth. "The Surfer has also been considered. If you wish to prove yourself over the others, perhaps a courtship ritual could be arranged." "What do you speak of?” said Dagon evenly. At the end of one rotation of the sphere, Mistress Death will have only one paramour. The only question will be who will bring her the Ultimate Nullifier. The scene shifted and Mistress Death dismissed the paramour and looked planet ward to her newest chosen - the Mad Titan. Dagon used his mystic might to open a gate into Galactus’ mighty ship. Clearly, Mistress Death had aided him or even he would have been unable to unlock such a vessel without being summarily removed by the cosmic sage who called himself Galactus. Even he was in awe as he looked at his surroundings, even one who had seen Death’s realm could not help but be overwhelmed by technologies that bordered on mysticism itself. However, Dagon knew that he must rid himself of his awe if he and he alone were to be Mistress Death’s paramour there was much work to be done. Love was a strange thing he thought and he now risked it all, even oblivion.

He had traversed a sphere called earth, a world that seemed to have a special place even for cosmic beings and he remembered the mortal beings whom he looked down on so much, because of their emotional weakness. Nevertheless, he now saw himself doing the very same things. Was the nullifier not a gift to soothe over his lover's anger? At first, he sought only power would appease, now he was powerless as he sought the affection of Death itself. Truly he thought the universe was a conundrum. To be held in her embrace was now all he desired How far the mighty have fallen. He looked about for something he might use against his rival but the ship was vast and even his mystic senses seemed confounded. Then he spotted it - a sample kept in a cylinder. A creature he knew well for it was quite dangerous and capable of causing great damage. In fact there was an entire zoo. Yes, he thought to himself, this would be the weapon to use against his rival - the Brood would be perfect. Thanos stood like one who had just seen freedom for the first time, but this was not strange considering it was the first time he had ever left the home world of Titan. He had been banished and was now a stranger in an even stranger land. The sun beat senselessly on Thanos’ mighty brow as his eyes looked heavenward and saw a flash in the sky. But there was something unusual within this flash, the outline of a man and he seemed to be hovering in space. Thanos rigged his vessel of banishment into a makeshift computer system, for Mentor had seen fit to remove Thanos of all things to show that he was ever a citizen. Even the machinery that would enable him to farcast (a gate developed by Titan to trade with other systems). His makeshift computer he had developed with the machinery also showed a great starship of immense proportions. His mind began the work of deciphering how to get from this world and back to Titan where he would make Mentor pay. Even though it was Mephisto, thought Thanos to himself, (see last issue for details). Thanos had now been acknowledged by Death herself and it was only proper for him to introduce himself to the rest of his people. After all, if Thanos was nothing, he was a gentleman. Thanos worked feverishly but kept looking over his shoulder, as something appeared to be watching him. No doubt, he thought, it was some form of wild life of which a being of his stature could simply dismiss. He noticed it again but kept working. Soon he was surrounded on all sides by a group of strange creatures that were a combination of insect and reptile. "You will be taken as a host to our Queen,” they stated as their insect like bodies cut off all avenues of escape from the Titan. Thanos’ optics narrowed and his eyes glared malevolently. "I already have a queen and she is jealous but if you wish I can introduce you." Thanos’ fists began to glow as the Brood launched their first assault against Thanos, striking him with their stingers repeatedly. Thanos was lost under a barrage of Brood bodies, their vast number quickly pouring over the Mad Titan with his smile as the only thing left showing. The Surfer watched as his master began to leave his starship and descend planetward. It would not be long, thought the Surfer, and another world would be extinct so that Galactus may go on. But his gaze turned toward the planet where he saw the one he had freed and he was in a struggle. At first the Surfer thought to turn a blind eye, after all were they not all going to fall before his master? The Surfer buried the sight deep into his conscious. Galactus was an amoral being if such a thing existed and if he were to be his herald he too must turn off his conscious, otherwise he would go mad. But his attention was drawn toward his mastership, where his

cosmic senses detected an intruder. The Surfer moved swiftly, his senses focusing on the strange creature's energy signature until he came upon the shadowy being called Dagon. "I cloaked myself with an intricate spell, how could you have sensed me?" “Even the energies you used to cloak yourself can be detected if one has the appropriate senses. If you are to cloak yourself truly, you must cloak yourself against all senses not just the ones like your own." "I begin to see why my Mistress was so enthralled by you. Your point of view is unique and when someone like my Mistress seeks a paramour it is not merely for power, she is more then capable of imbuing her paramour with what ever he needs. Yes I begin to see it all now, my Mistress is for all practical purposes unconscious, who better to choose than one whose phenomenology transcends all others - you are the ultimate in consciousness, your experience of the universe would allow her to truly savor what she had killed through her, she could be both life and Death.” Dagon did not have a physical body in the strictest sense, as his raiment seemed to hang on the air with only two crimson orbs to give it sentience. “I could never compete against one such as you, I envy you but I won’t allow you to continue no matter what the cost.” In his hand was the weapon of legend, the weapon called the Ultimate Nullifier. "You do not know what you do, the origin of that weapon is lost in obscurity and only its guardian, Galactus, may wield it without hope of sending himself to oblivion along with everyone else." The Surfer’s very presence infuriated Dagon, he was rather plain compared to the complex creature before him. Dagon knew in his blackheart that he was doomed the moment he let warmth back into his being. But he would have Death or no one would and the very universe would follow him to oblivion if necessary. Their bodies were strewn everywhere the eye could see, their death cries filled the landscape. Thanos surveyed his handiwork while his massive bulk crushed the head of his enemies. One of his hands reached into an abdomen of one of the creatures and pulled out its entrails and scattered it to the wind. Thanos’ laugh filled the air and he now realized being labeled monster was a relative thing like everything else in existence. A monster was merely defined by the strength of the fear it produced in another. To most, the Broods were killing machines, but to Thanos they were not but birds trapped in a web, on the tree of eternity. Thanos seemed to be able to pull back and observe from a distance and yet he was still there while he ripped apart the bodies of two attacking Brood who did not know that this conflict was long ago decided. A putrid brown substance covered Thanos’ body. In truth he realized that unless you wore your victim’s flesh and adorned yourself with your enemy's blood, unless you were clothed in its innards you were not truly experiencing your victim's Death. Too many so-called killers detached themselves so that there were without any conscious. But for Thanos this was not the case, he wanted to kill yet still have a conscious. He wanted to experience every moment, hear every scream, feel every struggle and smell the gathering corpses. In that moment, Thanos experienced a first person account of another's Death. However, the Broods were not yet through with their would-be destroyer despite the great pile of bodies that had gathered during the conflict. For some had assimilated very powerful

mutants. Some of those with great power. In addition, some of those with powerful connections and a vested interest in Thanos’ destruction. "So you are the newly chosen, are you? We shall see how you handle this, Titan, as I extend my consciousness through the Brood's body, becoming an embodiment of pestilence itself." Thanos felt the Brood’s grip, which was like iron. Soon the creature's mind locked into the Titan's mind and for the first time felt an attack he had not encountered. The Brood was in his skull, rummaging through his memories until he came across what he needed and Thanos was wracked with terrible pain. It was almost more than he could bear as the image of his own birth was used to unbalance him. While the other warriors began to attack Thanos who was now helpless in Dagon’s psychic tendrils, Dagon was using the force of his will to crush Thanos’ brain. But the Titan did not even wince as blood sprayed from his nose, and crimson tears erupted from his ruptured ducts. Dagon could get no screams from Thanos, no satisfaction from Thanos, merely a smile - truly he was terrifying to behold. "But you will pay for the perverse image you implanted, but not before I transform your memory into an image of Death." The two lovers of Death faced each other on a psychic plane of reality, there two astral forms on a necroscape of aborted fetuses, there umbilical cords wrapping around the leg of Thanos as if they were his father, their lives hanging somewhere between life and Death, beginning and end. "You have no experience in this type of combat, Titan, and you will be lost to the powers of Chaos and Order. Observe, Thanos, as I send your mind to a place where reality and illusion are blurred. It will be much like viewing yourself in two mirrors where you will be lost within an infinite set of recursions you will forever be trying to awaken only to find you are still in a dream, and when you truly awaken, it will be with a new host as the egg of the alien is planted within slowly you will began to feel his thoughts invade your will until you are no more" "I am Thanos and my name means Death, I will surrender my individuality to no one or nothing,” Thanos’ head grew immense on the psychic plane as he by force of will alone separated himself from the illusions. The Surfer noticed that Dagon was distracted, his mind clearly somewhere else. The Surfer contemplated using a cosmic blast to end the conflict. He did not wish to remove the Nullifier for fear of activating it by accident, but the Surfer had no choice. There was a terrible click and Dagon soon learned that not even the paramour of Death could use it without ramifications and was sent to oblivion and the Surfer had to wonder if perhaps that was Death’s plan all along as the Nullifier’s terrible energies took his body completely. The Surfer then prepared to out race Death but found that the Nullifier could not be out run and was sent to oblivion along with Dagon’s former body. Dagon’s death scream was terrible but at the last moment, he managed to transfer his consciousness completely to the Brood but not without ramifications - for without his prime body he was beginning to feel himself become another. Dagon shook as each synopsis in his brain began to be replaced one by one, it was all a matter of time before the transfer would be complete. Thanos cleared the battlefield of all remnants with a series of energy spears, for without Dagon’s mental assault the others fell easily. The cosmic energies were of such intensity during the assault that the egg which was implanted in his body by the Brood while he was in mental combat immediately perished.

“It appears that the beast could not take the heat." Thanos’ eyes met Dagon’s eyes for the last time as the alien life form slowly took Dagon over and a strange look crossed his face. Then he was Dagon no more. They met upon the plateau, Death and Galactus. "Your herald is quite formidable. I had not expected him to create another body out of cosmic stuff and transfer his consciousness and I do not think he could have done it without your help, Devourer?" “If that is a threat, it falls on deaf ears. I will transfer your newly acquired paramour to a different world - that will make us even." "You are my servant, Devourer, do not forget that,” Death’s hollow gaze stared callously at Galactus. “I am Galactus, the first and the last, The Alpha and the Omega, and I fear not even you." With that, Death was gone but Galactus then contemplated, was he truly beyond Death’s, touch was not Galactus once Galan. Thanos found himself floating in the cold vacuum of space, obviously transported by the devourer Galactus. But Thanos was Death’s paramour, what need he fear from anything alive. Thanos was caught in the clutches of a powerful tractor beam from an oncoming star cruiser. And from afar, Mistress Death sat on her throne of bone and flesh and observed her newest addition. A gift from her new paramour, an alien life form known as a Brood. But as the Brood looked into her Mistress’ terrible gaze, for he now knew her thoughts and realized even an unconscious being can scream.

I was Sui-San but now I am dead. This should be a harrowing thought. But it is not the first time my spirit has been out of my body. Nor is it the first time I had seen extradimensional entities. My spirit had never confined me in any way or shape before this but this was the first time I was going to meet the great judge. The three faced entity who was both God and the Devil. The embodiment of cosmic justice itself. He whose power existed simultaneously in an infinite number of universes. In most cases, one would only hear of the Dread tri-judge if he had committed cosmic crimes or was a vastly powerful mystic entity bent on universal domination. Or one creating a mystical imbalance of such magnitude that it could endanger reality itself. However, what was not known to most, and how could it be other? Since when one meets his most majesty, most terrible, he does not usually get to tell anyone about it. But one thing is certain. Everyone meets him, without exception. Every soul in creation will get its chance to meet the Living Tribunal, for what is time to such a being, or even form. "I would normally be unafraid for no vision could unsettle me. But as the lord of madness, and his polar opposite phase into the void, their hideous faces burn in my mind. A mind that is no longer there, and yet is perhaps even more so. But the fear, although it be illusory, is not the less strong. And even though I no longer have hands to sweat, I believe that they are perspiring, and I believe that my heart is trying to force itself out its chest. And even as these beings that are composed of pure thought and spirit and do not truly have physical forms as they begin to phase into the void and yet there is more reality than anything I have ever known. More horrific than anything I have ever felt. Endless set of nightmares tear themselves down

and ideals as perfect as when they were first conceived, truth as the philosophers of the universe have always sought. It was all here. But it was now in this form before, there was form. It was the mirror of consciousness itself. It was impossible to tell who were the angels and who were the devils. In this case, I believe it was all a point of view. For angels, if one struggled against, could seem as monsters and monsters could be angels if one only could cease and be still. And when I looked into Lord Chaos’ deformed visage, an entity of whom I have had varying degrees of intimacy with while alive and one who had promised to hold me for always, it began to plague me with its twisted machinations and perhaps my murder by my son did not save me, as I believed perhaps Chaos and Order would keep me in their twisted realm despite my best efforts. Both dead and alive, a prisoner to their twisted point of view. Suddenly, I fall prostate and the great judge arrives. He is the supremest force that can be comprehended. And although I no longer have eyes, the sight of his glory blinds me. So overwhelmed am I that I call out from the grave, "Thanos-" I am now an exile from my home world of Titan. And the veils of plenty have been lifted, my eyes truly open for the first time. Despite the Devourer of Worlds’ failed attempt to trap me in space. I knew all I had to do was wait for the proper moment. And I knew that once I had been unshackled from the Titan’s bonds of paradise that Thanos was inevitable. I look at the craft before me. The craft that will get me from star to star, and when I am ready, I shall use it to return to Titan as a conqueror. Then I hear a voice upon the ethereal winds itself and it calls my name - "Thanos." The voice, although distorted through the infinite dimensions of time and space, is familiar and yet I cannot place it. But what is clear is that it beckons from beyond the grave. But I am drawn back to reality and I soon find myself in a small room, which is no doubt a waiting point. I sit and stare at the metal doors as my eye beams force an opening. The great gathering is not meant for human eyes. As I look upon it with my astral form, and realize as I face him that I am but a mirror for creation. And my consciousness did not stem from my brain, but the ever-elusive mind, which is not part of the body, but the universe itself. Like an Eco system on an unimaginable scale, with consciousness itself returned to the primordial well and recycled, but instead of physical components being broken down it was spiritual ones. I can only cower in awe as I am before the singular, most powerful consciousness in existence for that is truly, what this being was. And it was now my time for that which happen to all, now was the time for my judgment. When Lord Chaos spoke, the terrible noise flowed from its maw. It was like a primordial life form oozing from the cracks of the barren terrain of a cooling planet first formed in a genesis. But I could not discern its esoteric message nor could I discern my fate, I cried once more, “Thanos.” The doors began to open-end, then the voice in my head again, “THANOS.” I had to find where this voice was coming from, or what it wanted. Then it occurred, perhaps it was my senses being expanded by Mistress Death. Perhaps this was her baptism. Her gift to her new paramour.

When the metal doors were burst, open I saw the faces and inhabitants of the darkest parts of the universe. I saw their visage and form and it was the product of a hundred artists or a hundred mad men. But perhaps the gap between artist and mad man was no different than looking upon my own face for was I not myself both artist and mad man. I count twelve of them circling me in a room that is like a metal version of the great spider web I had encountered on Titan. It was clear they thought me their prey. But they would soon learn the difference, and I would have a starship. Finally, the prodigal would return to reclaim his inheritance. But they seem to hold their positions as they look at me and signal their brethren to flank me on all sides. I concentrate, and my fists become as twin suns. They're murderous fury waiting to be unleashed. Then the unexpected happens, as the gravity is suddenly gone I find myself air born. They are smarter than I gave them credit for. But I will not make that error again. I feel the bite of a hell whip on my backside. A weapon first developed by the Skrulls for torture and murder, it was said to be capable of rending virtually anything with an atomic structure. The entire left side of my lattismus is torn from my body and left to float in the zero gravity simulation chamber. They have tactics and they are well armed. They use their environment to its fullest potential, but this still only gives them a .001 percent chance of victory for Thanos always learns from his mistakes. Then I hear the voice in my head again, "Thanos!" Call his name, Thanos, and I wonder what my final fate will be. And when I look upon my offspring, I realize he is a monster. But he is a monster who spared me from the clutches of eternal madness. And was it not my own hand that orchestrated this? Was it not I who set him up to kill his own mother? But there are consequences in saving myself. Consequences that trickled down and by this very act of murder, I changed him forever. I cannot help but believe that if I had not been so selfish, then perhaps the universe would not have to fear this Death worshipper. The Living Tribunal readied himself for judgment, and I wonder what would become of me for was I not as guilty as Thanos in this cloak and dagger affair. He stood with his fearsome visage almost beyond all imagination. His great form like a supernova. And when he spoke my astral form itself began to burn, and I wondered if this is what the judgment felt like. I wondered if this was what it was like to have ones consciousness returned to the universe. I felt myself dissipating but I could still hear what he was saying. "THIS MATTER WAS DEALT WITH ONCE BEFORE. AND IT WAS DECLARED THAT THE DNA ALLOWED TO REMAIN BUT THIS TRIAL IS NOT ABOUT THAT. IT IS ABOUT TWO OTHER THINGS: THE FIRST BEING CHAOS AND ORDER’S CLAIM ON SUI-SAN’S SOUL." His voice was omnipresent and omnipotent, and perhaps this was all he truly was, a voice with form being something merely cosmetic. “THE SECOND, SINCE ALL THINGS IN EXISTENCE HAS A POLAR OPPOSITE, WITH LIFE THERE IS DEATH, WITH HOPE THERE IS DESPAIR, AND WITH LAWLESSNESS THERE IS JUSTICE.” Across the gathering I could see his hellish glare, as the evil lord Mephisto grinned and I could feel his unholy touch wash across my mind, my very consciousness, and even in the hands of what I could only call god. I did not feel secure in the presence of the fisher of souls.

“I WOULD HAVE DONE THIS EARLIER EXCEPT THAT CERTAIN EVENTS HAD YET TO TRANSPIRE, BUT NOW THAT THOSE EVENTS HAVE UNFOLDED SO TOO CAN MY JUDGMENT.” I called out a final time, “THANOS!” as the tribunal was declaring his final judgment. I heard the voice upon the ethereal winds as my hand wrapped around his alien skull. He attempted to struggle, but he was no match for my eternal heritage. I heard bones crack as my fingers push their way through his temple and the green life fluids painted a trail in the zero gravity environment, like paint on the canvas. Some of my attackers surrounded me and began to assemble a molecular decomposer. The device was potent and may have even been able to injure me. I grasp upon the web and pushed myself to the ceiling where I was pursued quickly by more than half their ranks ... and then when they were in position, I shattered the ceiling with my eye beams causing them to be sucked into space. I grasp onto the web and held on until the automatic assemblers repaired the damage. I then followed them back to their place of origin and began tapping into the ship’s computer system. I used the experience I gained on Titan in cybernetics when I plug my mind itself into the ships computer central system. I had done this on Titan when attempting to gain knowledge, and although I might have engaged in a physical confrontation for exercise or a challenge, I normally preferred to do things through the intellect. I quickly overrode the computer system and used the assemblers and other robots to take over the ship. And when I finished, I returned to the flesh. Only to be confronted by a woman with light blue skin and what appeared to be a sword. She boldly declared, "Ýou have been challenged and are honor bound to face me on the combat field.” She held her sword with great skill, but such a weapon would avail her naught against Death’s paramour. She screamed as she attacked, “AAAAAAAA!” and ran at fantastic speeds and then kicked me with incredible force for a woman of her size. She then used the momentum she got from me to propel her into the air where she landed smoothly and in a crouched position with her sword protecting her flank. "I am impressed,” I said. “It is sad that we must oppose each other and even sadder you must die, I was thinking you could serve me." She ran at me once more, her blade whipping at fantastic speeds so quickly that it made the air itself sting. This time she cut me twice before I could even react. I touched at my throat and felt my life fluids course through my body like quicksilver. The blade truly must have been unique and must have been forged by a genius. However my powers of recuperation easily healed the wounds, but I was now determined to show my new attacker that Thanos was to be feared. Our eyes met for perhaps the last time and in our glance the victor was decided. She struck me full and her blade drove completely through my chest. I was even more impressed as she demonstrated the strength to push it all the way to the hilt of the blade. A small trickle of blood came from her mouth as I pulled her heart out of her body from behind. I then allowed her to gaze at it as I crushed it in my grasp, she looked surprised that I was still alive with a sword driven completely through my physical form, however she must have been unaware that Eternals are capable of moving vital organs with ease. Even the lowest of Eternals possess such abilities.

She fought valiantly and her skills were unlike anyone I had encountered before, her speed and fortitude were something to be noted and cataloged for later retrieval. But then I heard the voice again, “Thanos,” and then I was literally pulled from my very body and was in a great hall where I saw my mother and Mistress Death, along with a gathering of some of the universes most advanced life forms. My mind quickly adjusted as the being that calls him the Tribunal spoke, “THANOS YOU HAVE BEEN SUMMONED TO HEAR THE VERDICT FOR IT INVOLVES YOUR DNA. “LORD CHAOS AND MASTER ORDER’S CHARGE CANNOT BE DENIED, THE UNIVERSE MUST HAVE A BALANCE AND THE CELESTIAL DNA MUST HAVE ITS OPPOSITE SO I AM PLACING THE COPY IN THE HANDS OF CHAOS AND ORDER FOR THEM TO DECIDE WHO SHALL OPPOSE THANOS. “FURTHER, SUI-SAN’S CONSCIOUSNESS WILL BE RETURNED TO THE UNIVERSE WHERE HER GUILT FOR HER ACTIONS OF MANIPULATING HER SON’S LIFE SHALL BE USED WHEN HE BECOMES ONE WITH THE COSMIC CUBE AND HE SHALL FACE DEFEAT IN THREES. “AND ALL IN THE GATHERING SHALL FORGET WHAT TRANSPIRED THIS DAY, SO AS NOT TO AVERT THE GRAND DESIGN.” I was returned to my newly acquired ship as the memories of what had just transpired were quickly fading, but not before I saw Eros garbed in a battle suit and armed with the most potent weapons in the web, but in the back of my mind all I could do was hear a voice and it called my name, and there was another word “CUBE.”

INTERLUDE -- This takes place before Thanos’ birth.
The nova erupts with blasphemous fury as it destroys the surrounding solar system. The citizens of that solar system never quite know what transpired. The sun took the visage of a great purple beast whose steely gaze hung in the icy void. When I awoke it was in a cold sweat, my bedding was completely drenched. That made the third dream in as many nights. The dreams always began with me in some strange and terrible manner, I would find myself in a state of confusion and then some terrible catastrophe would destroy everything. Was the future set? Was there no way this terrible vision could be averted? This anti-savior or whatever he was made even I cringe. Not because of his power. My brethren had plenty to spare. It was his mind. A mind whose thoughts could not be perceived. Whose motivations could not be comprehended he was a Nihilist. My wife attempts to comfort me, but it is impossible – I can never know peace until this monster is dead. I know what I must do. I must somehow find him. Yes! The resources of my brothers, the elders. Yes! Surely with such power, even he must fall but will my brothers heed my warning or will they think me mad? With the Grandmaster’s computers, surely we can find this child and kill him before he is grown. But I must consider what if I’m wrong, what if I kill the wrong child? My wife comforts me and my daughter wraps her arms tight around my neck as if she were never going to see me again. That is the only course of action despite the terrible consequences. I, the Collector, must gather my brothers and destroy this monster no matter the cost! And if I must do it alone, so be it. I, AM MY BROTHERS KEEPER.

I am three beings in one: Using the web which connects a thousand worlds, and Titan’s greatest creation – an AI construct called I.S.S.A.C., I am man and machine, Father and son. A main line holds the three of our consciousness together through a program designed by Mentor, and transmitted via the galactic web where the tri-signal is interpreted through my impact armor. Which I currently wear to protect me and receive the signals during my combat with Thanos. When the tri-com link is interpreted father, son and an entity that isn't wholly a ghost but an AI construct manifest only in my mind’s eye are one. And although the experience is harrowing and confusing, as I am unsure of even such elementary things as whose thoughts are whose. Yet despite the effects on my mind it is a necessary evil if we are to undo my brother Thanos. Even now he captures me with his predator like gaze and freezes me with his blank stare like some Golem from earthly legends. Enhanced shock troop armor magnifies my natural strength by a factor of five, and metals put together carefully through the science of nano-technology make it lighter than the strongest metals known, but also twice as strong. This should allow me to survive his initial attack. Or at least until the three fields can be brought into play during my tri-fold strategy. It will be a dangerous experiment involving the unification of the three universal forces of weak/strong force electromagnetic and gravitational. It will be used to effectively paralyze him. Then once that has been implemented a needle containing what my father Mentor calls the most potent toxin in the universe. It came from his home world when he lived in Olympia he called it Hydra’s Blood .The Hydra was said to have nine heads that even when cut off would continue to grow and one head was said to be immortal and its blood was so potent that the merest touch would cause instant death. It was eventually responsible for killing the demi-god Hercules when his clothing was painted with the deadly toxin and his flesh burned like no fire could dare to claim. In my left hand I wield a solenoid chronographer and as the power of the fields build, it will eventually have the ability to absorb all electromagnetic energy even those that ran the electrical network of Thanos brain. He stares at me with Arrogance and confidence surely he will be over confident, for over the time we have confronted each other he has dispatched me with the kind of ease that makes me think that even this advanced weaponry from the web is naught but a summer shower against his stone like visage; as if his terrible reign of evil shall be eternal. But he is a monster a, murder and a madman and there will be a reckoning. I cry out. "Father protect me from my brother’s evil!" It is not merely for effect, as Thanos smiles at my apparent weakness via the contact with Mentor he can actually hear me and through our conduit absorb Thanos blasts if giving sufficient warning. But my resolve fails me as I look to what my father once called the development of the ultimate intelligence – a being whose mind is even more dangerous then his formidable body, a mind so adaptable and agile that it can penetrate through one’s very thoughts and know his enemies every weakness. I am fortunate as my conduit harmlessly absorbs his first cosmic blast with Mentor who is superior even to my brother’s cosmic might. I am grateful that the three-fold conduit with Mentor and I.S.S.AC saves me from my brother’s first attack. But I must also allow my father to generate the first of the three fields with his own cosmic might. And he will need all his strength and concentration. He breaks in and it is the first time I can feel our thoughts being separated.

"EROS, THERE MAY BE SOME SIDE EFFECTS GENERATED BY THE FIELDS, EXTREME HALLUCINATIONS MAY OCCUR. GUARD YOURSELF BECAUSE IF WE FAIL I WILL BE UNABLE TO GENERATE AN ENERGY FIELD OF THAT MAGNITUDE AGAIN. IT MAY TAKE CENTURIES FOR MY COSMIC MIGHT TO RETURN TO ITS FORMER LEVELS, AND THERE IS ALSO THE CHANCE THAT IT NEVER WILL. "SO, MAKE IT COUNT SON!" My first attack using the solenoid chronograph seems to jar him to his very marrow as he literally drops to his knees. Its capabilities of completely disrupting all signals even the electrical signals generated by Thanos brain should end this quickly. He seems to go through a process not unlike being turned off and I wonder if it is painful or if he is afraid. Even now, he is likely experiencing a feeling of being separated from his body as if he were in the form of a dead man. I go to strike again and incredibly, as if from some terrible dream, he reaches out with surprising speed. It was a ruse and he uses his vast strength to then grasp the solenoid chronograph with his bare hands. He smiles as if to say fool! He sends an energy lance that completely obliterates it. I am truly in shock, how, I wonder, can mere flesh and blood stand against such weaponry. It stands against all reason. "Father," I cry out! "EROS GIVES US MORE TIME, THE FIELD IS BUILDING UP IN POWER EVEN AS WE SPEAK. BUT BE WARY HIS MIND IS CAPABLE OF ADAPTING VERY QUICKLY SO WE MUST OVERLOAD IT AND NOT GIVE IT A CHANCE TO ADAPT." My thoughts turn back to the fight at hand but it is too late, as he manages to grasp me with his grip which is like stone and his body as unyielding and hard as iron. Could my brother have somehow transformed his very flesh? Could my brother be like some golem from the ancient earth legends, an invulnerable foe driven by some dark magic? I have to wonder as even his face is like something onto granite. Even with my enhanced shock troop armor, I am only capable of minimal movement despite my increase in strength. But using one of the techniques from the priests of Pama that I.S.S.A.C. sends via our cosmic Internet link I manage to separate myself from my brother's grasp and give myself some distance. To allow our plan to formulate. I am interrupted by a signal from father, which blasts, in my mind: "EROS THE FIELDS SHOULD BE GETTING STRONGER, I WILL BEND THE LIGHT WAVES IN FRONT OF YOU, ALLOWING YOU TO ATTACK YOUR BROTHER WITHOUT DETECTION FOR THOUGH HE SEES HE WILL NOT SEE AND THOUGH HE HEARS HE WILL NOT HEAR." At first, my father’s riddle is lost on me. Then I began to see through my hand, and then my brother is no longer able to detect my presence I have in fact become invisible and completely undetectable. I did not come to lose and I am armed with the most advanced technology from a thousand worlds, from a thousand cultures and even that has been enhanced by the AI program I.S.S.A.C. Thanos’ defeat is assured even, an ultimate intelligence could not cope with a computer construct that errs not.

My mind begins to deceive me as images of my mother and my brother as a child materialize before me. My beautiful mother Sui-San is holding young Thanos in an unbreakable grip of love, I cannot explain why I see this only that perhaps I am being effected by the fields being generated by my father and I.S.S.A.C. My father breaks through, "PREPARE TO IMPLEMENT THE FIELDS YOU WILL HAVE TO USE YOUR ARMOR DIRECTLY BUT BEWARE THE EFFECTS ON YOUR MIND BY THE ENERGY FIELDS MAY BE EVEN NOW EFFECTING YOUR PERCEPTIONS, BUT STEEL YOURSELF WE ARE NEARLY DONE." I am the sacrificial lamb and will pay any price to see my brother pay for his crimes against my mother, but a maverick thought then seeks to undo all we have been trying to achieve I have to wonder if my motivations to destroy my brother are truly just. If perhaps the reasons I think Thanos should be destroyed do not match what is right. It is only an illusion but I have never seen a child and his mother so close as Thanos and my mother. It is difficult to look upon it as every emotion within revolts against what I see. Then it hits me: Epiphany! And I wondered even now how could she love such an ugly child? When I was more beautiful. Could my mother and him have been of a like bent? Nooooo, how could I be so jealous and filled with such hate over my brother's happiness? Must get this out of my mind or I will not be able to finish the most important part of the plan. I cry out, "Father!" "SON, I CANNOT TAKE THIS CUP FROM YOU, AND YES THERE IS SOME TRUTH IN YOUR MEMORIES – YOU HAVE ALWAYS BEEN JEALOUS OF THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN YOUR MOTHER AND YOUR BROTHER BUT THAT MUST NOT IMPEDE WHAT MUST BE DONE. IF HE GETS THIS SHIP, HE MAY RETURN TO TITAN " My father’s voice goes unheeded as the images before me wreak their terrible toll on my psyche. A child that was mutated from birth and yet all I can see is her soft kisses against his stony visage and it causes me to burn, and I hate him, not because he was ugly, or even evil. I hate him because she loved him more. "EROS!" I am drawn back to reality by a COM link established by I.S.S.A C and his image appears before me. He looks as though cut out from a section of my home galaxy, as his body seems composed of the stars them selves. But I do not have to worry about Thanos spotting him for it is an image produced in my mind alone, and the voice I believe I hear is a group of mathematical signals translated by my impact armor and reinterpreted to my brain. I.S.S.A.C. manages to clear the images generated by my mind and I have a momentary sabbatical. "I have implemented the force field from titan through the web and have used the connection from your armor to implement the manifestation of a chrono-field and then from your armor extending it through his body effectively immobilizing him in 5… 4…. 3…. 2…. 1…. My mind then is forced to return to the images and illusions generated by the force fields on my fragile mind as I remember him suddenly becoming cruel, as he would torment insects just for what seemed a thrill, and then I see the malicious child holding what appears to be a small insect. The young Thanos then looks at me and in his hand, the insect is I! The insect is me and I can feel his hand upon my form and it is crushing me, is this real or are the effects of the force fields being felt directly upon me?

The images subsided and the great Golem appeared to be inviolate and unstoppable, and the seed of doubt was planted. As I became visible, he came for me and when I looked into his eyes my life flashed before me. And at that moment, I knew I was going to die. But to my surprise Thanos was frozen as the force field went from my armor, and reacted with the field sent by the world computer of titan. I took out my tool of death a needle, which would punch a hole into his iris and inject his brain with the hydra venom, a reactant that was so volatile that upon contact it would immortally cause him brain death. But I hesitated, and I wondered if my motivations were not so pure if perhaps it was not that my brother was a monster that was driving but my childhood hate of my mother holding him, my jealousy which drove me to do the act. And when I was faced with that terrible truth I realized that if I did this act it would not be for justice it would be because Sui-San loved him more. Now that she was dead, it would always be so. I could not do it, for my mask virtue was a convenient lie, which I used to hide my true intentions. "EROS THE FIELD IS DISINCORPORATING YOU MUST ACT NOW OR ALL IS LOST!" The needle dropped from my hand to the floor and I just stood before him ashamed, and weak I could no longer continue my father attempts to save me from my sins by calling me. "EROS!" The unthinkable happens as Thanos’ adamant grip wraps around my throat and he looks into my eyes, holding the very weapon I would have used to destroy him. I wait for the end and for Thanos to justify his monster hood by calling me just as he did my mother, but the deathblow never comes and he just turns his back on me laughing maliciously. I cannot allow it I will force him to kill me but it does not happen as Mentor uses the signal and the intergalactic web to transport me to Titan. And there I sit in utter despondency. And as the effects of the force fields leave me, I wonder did those memories truly happen did the murdering madman called Thanos show me mercy? Or did Thanos somehow know how I would react, know that I was never a threat? Could Thanos have known all along that I was jealous and that I could never kill him without killing myself? Could my brother have known me better then I knew myself, and could his act of mercy been some clever subterfuge designed to break my will and drive me mad? It appears that I will never know the answer but if I am to survive I must enforce that Thanos is a monster and incapable of doing good. For otherwise, I might have to believe that Thanos, whose name encompasses the death urge, showed me mercy.

Progressive Warfare
On an unknown moon of a distant planetary system: At last, I have arrived. I leave my new supervisory robots I created in charge of my ship in orbit and teleport down quickly. I paid two mercenaries for information on the toughest training facility they knew of. Both responded by mentioning a moon in this sector. But they claimed it had been abandoned by the original owners and adopted by a new mysterious one. One who studied the arts of war and excelled. It is exactly what I am looking for. One to challenge and test myself. For without a fair test, how can I gauge myself to see where I am in my training? For the longest, I have been fighting my own creations. But how can I hope for a challenge when I myself have programmed them. I know everything they know. Knowing their programming, their

moves become predictable, easy to bluff, feint and maneuver. Even at increased speeds and toughness, they are not my match. I must now venture outside and test myself against the knowledge and experience of others. There is a sign at the entrance of what appears to be an underground base. It reads, ‘All ye who enter accept the challenge of death'. I pay it little attention as I step through the entrance. Clearly nobody has been here in quite some time. I continue walking down narrow hallways filled with spiderwebs. Finally, I come to the end and there is an opening. A circular room with many doors. I walk towards the middle and wait. Statues abound around the room, most on pedestals. Perhaps the room is considered a shrine. I imagine this to be some test to see if I am worthy to fight the current occupant in his domain. My suspicion proves to be right. Five doors open and metal warriors spew forth. Judging by the way they move and the stances they take, each seems to have a different skill. One of them, an acrobatic one, quickly flies over me. I raise my hand to block him, but he is not attacking. He simply wants to get on my other side to make sure I don't try and make a run for it. Surrounding me is a typical strategy I expect them to use. Attempting to make me feel nervous, fear or even despair can give them an advantage if I hesitate at any moment. But I feel none of those. They waste no time in attacking. The first jumps forward, swinging his long metal arms at incredible speeds. I dodge most and block the ones I cannot dodge. He is an outside fighter, coming in only as far as he needs to reach me and then stepping back out remaining out of reach from me. I apparently pass his quick test and he drops back as another metal warrior springs forth. This one is a ground fighter. He fights with his back on the floor attempting to trap my legs and sweep me. I avoid the sweeps and his traps. He gives up and drops back as the 3rd robot attacks. He is an inside fighter. He plants himself in close and attempts to use his hands to grab me and gain leverage. I shake him off and return the favor but he steps back before I can get a good hold. I stop and resist my urge to pursue as the next robot steps up. This one is strictly a kicker. His enormous hydraulic legs give him not only a good range, but also enormous power. I dodge a roundhouse kick that breaks a statue, an artistic depiction of a warrior. The torque on his leg could easily decapitate if it connected. I backup a little but quickly turn as I realize it is but a ruse to push me into the 5th robot's range behind me. He summersaults over me with razor sharp claws for fingers hanging down. They appear to be made of adamantium. A substance I have been studying as of late. I grab his hand above the finger claws and fling him into the other robots. But he is quick and turns in mid air, avoiding the collision and lands next to them. Once again they move to encircle me, creating a perimeter of metal around me. This time, they attack in unison. I have been holding back to see what they each have to offer. I have no reason to do so anymore. The ground attacker slides forward as I take a step back to avoid his grabbing my leg. I raise my right hand to block the outside attacker's fist and duck slightly to

avoid what could be a jolting hit by the kicker. The outside attacker swings again in conjunction with the acrobatic fighter. His razor sharp claws swing forward. This time I am ready as I grab the acrobatics’ hand and pull him in. Using his own hand, I cut through the outside attackers long arms and then into both by bending and breaking his arm and slicing through both their chests with the claws. I turn to see the kicker launching his leg at my skull, hoping to end it all with one hit. I drop quickly and sweep his other leg from underneath. Unbalanced, he falls on top of the ground kicker that had begun to crawl in. His heavy hydraulics pin the ground fighter long enough for me to smash my pulsating fists through them both. I turn to see the last robot standing - the inside fighter. He dashes in quickly attempting to get me off balance. Even with his robot hydraulics, he finds this a task he is not capable of doing. I grab his wrist abruptly and turn for leverage, slamming him into the ground. With a wrist-lock on him, I create better leverage by placing my boot on his neck and facial area. I apply pressure and step down and even this strong metal begins to bend. I finish him by ripping his metal phalanges and penetrating his chest cavity area with it. I stand up and look as a door opens. A seemingly easy victory, but these metal warriors were indeed very skilled. I make a mental note to program some of the strategies they used to my own robots. Clearly they must have been used to train specific ways of fighting for someone or some great warrior race. It is inconsequential now. My next phase of testing is about to start. I walk into a new room and look around. It is a room with no furniture, containing only framed paintings on the wall, almost museum like. A large wooden chandelier hangs from the ceiling. Clearly, the decorators of the place enjoyed the art of interior decoration as well as the art of combat. Patiently, I wait. The lights dim. My ears catch an almost imperceptible swish of air movement. Instinctively, my head pulls back. Three knives lodge themselves on the wall next to where my face was. I look up to see fireballs erupt and fall toward me. I tumble out of the way. Darkness falls on the room, save for the flames of the fireballs on the cement floor behind me. Sharp nails rise from the floor. I jump up and hang on the chandelier. I look down and notice the now fully protruding nails to have some sort of liquid on them. Poison, no doubt. Abruptly, the chain holding the chandelier is cut. I fall but immediately blast the floor with eyeblasts. I land on an area cleared of nails and with some mild rubble of solid cement around. The room is clearly a death trap. Initially I had thought it a test of skill and or speed. It is not. I quickly realize that it is a test of wits. A test to see how well one thinks under pressure. I turn to look at the paintings. Instantly, I realize that they are not part of the décor. They are miniaturized sensors hiding, reporting my location, my movements, even my physiology to attempt and find a way to defeat me. I unleash my eyebeams on all the paintings. Behind them fried metal computers melt away. A door opens. I have apparently passed the 2nd test. I have proven myself. A creature stands in the next room next to a center fountain. Are you sure you are ready to fight me? I will not spare your life if you fail…

"Nor I yours," He clearly expects to hear that answer. Would I have traveled this far only to turn around? Not likely. He removes his purple hooded cape and we walk to the center of a pentragram within a circle. In the back of the room, there are words that are faded. I can barely make them out, "S insterho d Train ng Base". Perhaps describing the original owners of this facility. I turn to pay attention to my opponent. He looks more like a sorcerer than a warrior – somewhat scrawny. Not overly muscular…but toned. Still, he seems confident and I know better than to judge someone based only on looks. Symbols cover his body, burnt in no doubt as part of a religion he must practice. He is not one I can take lightly. Clearly this is his life and he has dedicated himself fully to the art of fighting. We begin. He lightly taps at my shoulders with his legs – just feeling me out. Perhaps trying to draw me into making a quick mistake for him to capitalize on. I wait instead. He circles around me, in a low stance. No doubt he has watched me and has attempted to find weaknesses. He charges at me, lethal hands singeing the air they pass through. I block the first nine but finally one gets through and he hits me in the jaw. I strike in retaliation but miss him as he spins to the side and catches me on the side of my ear with his fist. I fall forward, appearing off balance. He lunges forward and I sweep him with my back foot. He falls back not having expected me to have faked my fall. He is not the only one with tricks up his sleeve. He is more cautious now. And yet, I can see it in his eyes…he has full focus and determination. I must strive to be like this in all my fights. He advances once again, this time with a flurry of kicks. A frontal kick followed by several roundhouse kicks…all delivered with incredible speed. This time I don’t wait to counter and retaliate. I take a blow from one of his kicks to my midsection, in return, I hold his leg to pull him slightly in and my reverse punch slams into his midsection. Had I not been holding on to his foot, he would have flown back through the wall behind him. Instead, his face clearly registers internal damage that I’ve inflicted on him. It does not take him long to recover though as he uses my holding of his foot to balance himself and launches his other foot connecting flush to the side of my face. I fall to the side with ringing ears, as I let his foot go. He spins and lands in a push up stance. I turn from my side to my back and before I’m able to do anything else, he is up and dropping an axe kick to my mid section punishing me where he previously connected. I cough up blood. Still off balance and unsure of where I am, I react on gut instinct and grab his foot, twisting his ankle and breaking it. He falls back. I get up slightly dazed, but ready to fight. He gets up also, leaning on one leg…he looks at me and nods his head. I nod also and rush him, not knowing if he has a healing factor in his biological makeup. He grabs me by my front armor and spins me over, slamming me with full force to the floor while keeping his broken leg from touching the ground. I am close enough to grab the foot he is balancing on. With his elbow and arm pressuring my throat attempting to cut off my air intake, I wrap my fingers around his ankle and squeeze. His ankle shatters. Unable to hold himself up, he falls to the floor. I spin him over and get on top of him. I prepare to deliver the final blow. He looks up in extreme pain. His hands come to the side of his face and he closes his eyes, as my right hand powers up and I prepare to finish him. An aura forms around his head…

On Thanos’ ship in orbit: I awaken slightly dazed. My head aches in every possible way. I look around and recognize the infirmary of my ship. I touch a command control button on the side of my bed. "SR-32?" I call out. The supervisor robot I have left in charge on the bridge immediately acknowledges and comes to speak with me. He enters the room looking at the data on the monitors. "Yes, Lord Thanos," he responds reverently. "What happened?" Fearing answering me, he tries to phrase his answer in a way that won’t upset me. "Your opponent mind blasted you with some form of psychic energy – disrupting your neurotransmission sequences. In effect, he scrambled your neural pathways, sir. If not for your Eternal heritage and strict control of your own molecules, you’d have easily perished." He spoke very softly. "I had your armor fitted with a tag before you left so that I could monitor and lock on to you should…trouble…occur. My logic programming concluded that you had beaten him anyway…he cheated by resorting to another tactic other than physical combat. There was nothing for you to learn from him." I manage a snicker despite my condition. "No," I manage to say as I turn to look the other way. "Two very important lessons have been learned here!" "Sir?" "The first is the obvious. I must develop mental defenses of my own. Psychics are abound in the universe. It is obvious to me now that I have not paid it enough attention. While I’ve been focusing on my combat skills, I failed to see that I must have complete defenses in every way, shape and form. It is a weakness that I can and must correct. I can’t allow myself to be so open to such an attack again!" "But sir, he cheated," SR-32 responds. "Which brings me to what is perhaps the most important lesson of all. When one is losing in a game…", I pause thinking of the exact words I want to use, "you…change the rules…" I turn to a monitor to look at my condition. My own body can repair itself. It just needs some time. It is a perfect opportunity to correct my weaknesses. "Get me all available data on mental projection, psychic energy and neural field analysis. I must begin working to correct this flaw immediately!" "Yes, sir," SR-32 responds as he turns to exit the room in search of the data I need. I rest my head on the pillow under me and turn to look outside the window into space. I may have been defeated, but with each defeat, I become stronger. I learn from my mistakes…And one day, the universe will know the name, T-h-a-n-o-s! Delirium assaulted the landscape of my imagination with terrible visions of what may be. Of those many lying dead, and of those begging to die. The child's unholy birth would foreshadow the end. The visions were becoming so palatable that I could smell the putrid remains decaying flesh in my nostrils, and in the back of my throat the coppery taste of fresh blood. The visions I was having were beginning to seep into our own world. It seems my terror has given them breath. However so terrifying were the dread epiphanies that even my brother En Du We Gast would tremble despite his iron nerves that he had garnered with years of steady gaming: and with stakes that were always life and death.

In the beginning, the visions were the reason I started collecting specimens. So that if necessary, the universe could be repopulated. However, the dreams were becoming more frequent. In addition, I thought it mere folly that collecting alone could save creation. Who did I think I was the great space being who collected specimens after the gods destroyed everything? Ha ha ha ha I was merely an obsessive old fool as all elders tended to be but I knew it. That was my strength but also my weakness. I sat and waited for my brother Elders, En Du We Gast and the one who called himself the Contemplator, to arrive. We could then make our move and do what had to be done. Being Elders, we were a patient lot after all we were the first beings to come into existence, and although there a lot of details one thing was sure because we were incredibly old we needed something for us to continue lest we grow bored and die. My family was enough but I feared that I would lose them one day, and if I did then I would need a reason to go on. There was also no way I could allow Thanos to be a threat, at least as long as my family was around. My thoughts were interrupted. My brothers arrived in dramatic fashion. The Contemplator, a small a seemingly inconsequential being, could be quite formidable as he had absolute control over his body. Even now the contemplator was in an astral form and my other brother, Gast who called himself the Grandmaster because of his own obsession used the method of breaking down his quantum structure and reassembling them over great distances to appear in my ship. Nevertheless of all the Elders, my brother the Grandmaster was the most impressive with a keen mind that had memorized the rules of thousands of different games and who had steel like nerves that allowed him to carry the consequences of his games to there dread conclusions. His power was something to behold for in all my walks I had never seen one of us who were his Equal in raw power. But of any Elders, we were the closest.

I spoke to him first, "We would find a way to slay the child if necessary before it becomes a threat. Perhaps by using your vast network of computers on your home world to hack into the world web and pin point the location of the child by using the intelligence, I have gathered with the visions. According to the dreams I had there would be a great supernova when he was to be born " Gast replied but it was with sarcasm, "Dear brother, I respect you but even one of my knowledge cannot decipher such arcane musings, even I have my limitations." The Grandmaster made me fool foolish and there was certain amount of truth in his words but it was all I had. "His mother was to be a virgin, I said, "or at least she would not procreate in the normal manner, and then there was the Magi who would bring gifts." Gast spoke again, "Listen to yourself, brother, you sound like your spouting mythologies. His mother was to be a virgin and he was to born with the explosion of a supernova you will forgive me if it sounds a bit to foolish" "And there was a name in my visions, Alars and Sui-san, I know that is vague but perhaps a prophet is ever doomed to watch," the Grandmaster attempted to comfort me in his own unique way.

"Brother, do not be such a fatalist. I will use my computers to tap into every data base available, perhaps we can come up with something." The Contemplator interjected, "Perhaps there is a certain amount of fate involved here, after all even as we speak I am on the world of Titan which is governed by one who goes by that very name and also a women his mate. I am there to contemplate on the world tree which is rumored to be connected to Yrrgissil itself." Gast also spoke, "I.S.S.A.C. the great AI construct also resides and he is rumored to be nearly sentient and the best games man in the universe. Let us go there." My brothers had alternative motives but they would serve as a means for now. "We need a plan," I said, "Let us pose as gift bearers like in my vision and during our visit. The Grandmaster can use the power primordial to end the child's life without drawing attention." Gast agreed, but I could sense he was more into his games and the Contemplator was there for his own obsession as well. I was not so different, but I still had my wife and child, Corrina, to drive me while they had only there obsessions. Yet, I could not deny that without our obsessions, we would cease to be and perish. The Contemplator broke into my thoughts, "Tell us of your dreams and visions. Once more I have my focus on the great tree." "I believe I already told of the dreams and visions, Contemplator, perhaps in your trying to gain insight into the big picture, you lost sight of small details." "Granted, brother, the flesh can be quite bothersome, even flesh as immortal as our own. I seek the meaning of all things." "Will you never understand how it is the details that make life palatable, Contemplator, not the vague musings of the universe. I see it as the obsession that drives you to live nothing more." "Enough, my brothers, let us be to our business with the power primordial. I will simply still his life and no one will be the wiser." The Grandmaster was terrible to behold as the very air around him seemed to burn truly his power was up to the task without even a gesture his primordial broke down my quantum structure, and if he so desired he could make it permanent and so I had certain fear. The Contemplator would no doubt rejoin his body via his astral self." Titan was vast, and the technology a marvel even by Elder standards this Mentor’s feats had truly not been exaggerated this was a paradise and a technological wonder. His accomplishments had gained my respect. Even my brother Gast was in awe or at least respectful. The three of us saw what seemed an endless line of all those wanting to see the child. It was greater then I had supposed this mentor had indeed garnered a great deal of repute from the surrounding planets in a short time. Then in an elder's reference everything was a short time. An Erie silence then blanketed the world as black ships pierced the atmosphere. They looked more like blades then ships, and it seemed alien to such a peaceful world. As this I then had understanding as the hovering blades began to slaughter the surrounding populace. I watched in abject horror as flesh peeled away from bone and then even the bone itself melted into nothing. Violet energy lances that used their tendrils to pull down the magnificent achievements of this great world were toppling the great spires of titan. Their great weight crushed those trying to flee its decent. As I walked over, I saw women trapped under the debris her body horribly broken. With all my strength, I attempted to move it. But I had not used the power primordial in such a fashion and my skills were inept. I screamed for my bothers for help but they were no where to be found no doubt off feeding their manias.

My hand began to shake and spittle dribbled down my chin as I strained until every muscle in my body screamed, "NOOOOOOOO!" The Grandmaster’s hand brought me back to reality, "Brother, what transpires that you draw such attention to us?" "I am fine," I said. But I doubt if he believed me, for the Grandmaster could probably read even my thoughts for the extent of his powers were unknown even to me who had spent a great deal of time with him. However, with my hands trembling and my body almost white I doubt he had to read my mind I did not know how much longer we would have to wait to see the child but I didn't have to see him I could feel him I could sense the grip he had on this reality already. There was an awareness that perhaps he even knew we were here. After all, he was no ordinary child My perusals along with my brother’s were drawn to a great hologram, which hung over the city. It was of course unmistakable; it was the mother and her monster child. Yet, strangely the image reminded me of my own wife and my Corrine. There was a great beauty as the monster child was juxtaposing with the loving mother. I felt my resolve begin to falter as I stared at the hovering image. That I would not have the strength to carry out my dread mission. And even if I somehow managed to kill the child, how was I different? Especially when I had my own reasons that had nothing to do with ensuring the universe survival. I loved my wife and daughter but so did this woman love hers. Who was I to end his life? Then the world around me grew dead and the image of the mother and child faded. The air had a chill and my body began to exhibit the unmistakable characteristics of gooseflesh. Stench was nearly overwhelming as the body count began to grow, a child were dead and sitting with his face completely burned away it was quite disturbing as I fell to the ground to cradle the dead youth in my hands. Then it spoke without even a mouth to speak the words. They are only a burnt and charred head and yet it still had all of its hair. "SAVE US FROM WITH THANOS. SAVE US FROM WITH THANOS." I was then encircled by a band of children singing. The faceless children horrifying to be hold, but even in the midst of my horrific vision, I could here the voices of my brother elders trying to call me back to the real world. But the visions were becoming more real and they were lost to me. I felt my body go stiff and a great gauntleted hand then pushed itself through my chest cavity there was gasp as the hand destroyed my lungs and on this hand were six stones and they began to speak "There is nothing you can do, the wielder of the gauntlet cannot be smited until the appointed time, and not even an elder is powerful enough to hinder the will of the Infinity Gems. So while you may watch you may not act. While you may see, there is no one to share that terrible vision not even your wife and child. And know this, Collector, they too will grow weary of life even if you could end the servant of death’s life and then you will be alone. My brothers held me up as my strength was all but gone but I had returned from the dreams but. So terrible was the last vision that my mouth had a trickle of blood coming down the corner of my mouth. It would appear even if I could muster the will to do the deed, I might not live long enough to finish the task. But no matter, my brothers still would see him and kill him even if I could not."

I waited as we were nearly upon our goal. The line had moved much during my visions but when I turned to my brother the Contemplator, he was clearly somewhere else. His attention obviously drawn to some cosmic tangent other than the matter at hand and I could see Gast playing with what appeared to be a gaming council of sorts. Yes our obsessions ruled us not the other way around we were possessed not the possessors. My eyes again saw something out of the normal a great man with eyes that reeked of death but he was hooded so I could not see his face His voice was like the grave, "Let me show you what I have sown." The great being gestured for me to follow and my brothers were still distracted so much that it did not even seem to phase them that I was leaving. He showed me a great room and I began to vomit as I saw something even more terrible, some kind of large specimen vivisected for study. "This is my mother," it said. I pushed him away, "You're a monster and I will see you dead." It pulled back its hood and it was the purple anti-beast from my dreams. "Will you?" it said sardonically, "Look at your brothers: the Grandmaster so obsessed with his games that he has already forgotten his purpose, and the Contemplator, almost gone from the start your obsessions Elders are your undoing. And my obsession with death will be the universes undoing." It smiled at me. My body began to convulse and hemorrhage, it was now clear that the visions would kill me for they were now reality. I tried to focus on my wife and child to bring me back. I was now before the child and my brothers each lost in they're own obsessions it was up to me and yet it was so innocent and beautiful. It did not matter if I was caught but before I could act, the child spoke. "Do it." I was astounded the child could speak or was it another terrifying vision? " You cannot because you are weak it is your lot that will be exterminated, for the weak cannot be tolerated." "You cannot speak," I said, "you are a child." It then replied, "I have never been a child." The child then grew to monstrous proportions and held me in an unbreakable grasp, "That is ever the curse of seers is it not?" The creature was inviolate I would die, "Forever destined to watch but incapable of action for the visions are so terrible that they become reality." I blacked out and when I had awakened, I was safely on my ship with my brothers by my side. "So did you kill the child?" said Gast, "you were in there for sometime, I would have used the power primordial but I thought you more then capable." I did not wish to appear weak, so I said I did it. "I killed the child." I was a liar and perhaps my brother knew this, but they said nothing. I returned to my obsession of collecting for I knew now that it must take up my every moment if the universe is to go on for my weakness has caused a transfer of obsessions. But that is what drives us on. After all if an Elder loses his will to live he dies.

I must constantly challenge myself if I am to continue to progress. Directly overhead there are several large plates being added while I finish my initial warm ups. The giant claws, which I

created to accomplish this task, struggle even now as I double the previous weight bringing it up to several hundred tons. The weight stops at the midway point as the unimaginable amount of tonnage takes its toll on my physical form. The body begins to shake and there are sounds of ripping and tearing but I am Thanos; and what is pain to one such as I. An astral vision in garments of purest white tears a hole from what ever dimension it came; Her face, even her movement, is unmistakable. However, the effect of having such epiphany can be murderous, especially on the flesh as over 100 tons rain down on me from above. My automatic forcefield takes care of the debris. Even my floor is intact, as the adamantium, which I created, is undamaged. "You will soon meet the one responsible for your perversion, the one who tainted you with its evil," the vision declares. "MOTHER" "The last time I saw you, you looked much different," I say. But my sarcasm is not lost to her as she says, "This is true, but what else could a woman say when she had been vivisected and examined from every angle from her loving son?" "I see death has given you a sense of humor, although a black one," I reply. She seems to suddenly grow despondent as she then says, "I have paid for my sins as will the entire universe, but all I can think of when I look upon you is the blessed child I held in my arms and showered with kisses." "I find such sentiment unpalatable." "As I’m sure you do a mother’s unconditional love." "Be away bothersome vision and return to your exile from beyond, I have much to do before I return home and visit my brother and your mate. " "Know this, that death will abandon you just as she abandons all for one such as her cannot love and will lie and conspire to get what she wants." However, before I even have time to relinquish my hold on what just transpired, her black highness appears before me, being carried by two of her servants and the apparition of my mother gone. "Mistress death what do I owe the pleasure of this visitation? " She does not address me directly, but instead does so through her mouthpiece which stands apart from the other servants. A large humanoid configuration of a diseased rodent. "THERE IS A SORCERER WHO CURRENTLY HOLDS THE TITLE OF MAGUS IN THE UNIVERSAL CHURCH OF TRUTH, HIS GOAL IS TO BECOME IMMORTAL SO THAT HE AND ALL MEMBERS OF THE CHURCH WILL BE ABOVE MY MISTRESS’ TOUCH. SUCH A BLASPHEMY CANNOT BE ALLOWED TO CONTINUE. BUT THE CHURCH IS ONLY IN ITS BEGINNINGS AND CAN STILL BE CRUSHED. NOT ONLY WILL YOU BE ABLE TO CRUSH ONE OF YOUR MISTRESS’ FOES BUT YOU WILL ALSO BE ABLE GAIN SOME POWER OF YOUR OWN BY BECOMING HIS ACOLYTE. IT IS WRITTEN IN THE CHURCH’S ARCHIVES OF ONE WHO WILL COME, THAT ONE SHALL BE YOU." It hands me a kind of sacrament, which I devour and then turn to the task she has assigned me. My thoughts are interrupted by my robotic servant SR-22. Although I had been there for some time I was not sure how long, for Eternals are extremely long lived and I could have been there for a century perhaps longer for time is not the same for beings who stand outside its jail.

"Master, you were immobile and conversing with yourself for an extended period of time, is everything all right?" I am silent as I always am after visiting her, a return to the flesh is truly terrible and it causes the hate I have for this vessel and all like it to grow and fester only the embrace of Death can bring sweet release. "'I brought the bionic enhancements, as you requested a teleportation device you enhanced from home world of Titan" EXCELLENT SR-22 NOW LEAVES ME, THE MOMENT IS NEARLY UPON US. When I arrive, I cannot help but make a connection with the Ikons, the ceremonial dressings, the layout, it is a religious sect. Not merely any but the one my mother followed when I was but small. The creature was alien and spoke in a strange tongues as did my mother when she went into trances for what seemed long periods, and when she had awaken she always seemed to weep the return to the flesh as well. All around was a congregation of humanoids who would do anything for the master which stood surrounded by many strange symbols clearly he was building an army of followers but for what purpose? But if my Mistress had me come, then clearly this being was more formidable than he appeared. I walk down the center aisle as all around me there is crying and self-mutilations. The being that leads the congregation is somewhat insect like in appearance and like most insects, he was ruthless as he punished a young couple on the alter as they kicked and scream with there two bodies sewn together for adultery. Or so it appeared. Such sophistry was difficult to refrain from, as I wanted to tear down this altar. But in what seemed to be a cross from a past memory and a vision I saw my mother holding my body before a similar altar and I had to wonder the strange coincidence At first he does not seem to even notice me as I approach the altar, which soon begins to run red with crimson and spills onto my boot? Why anyone would follow such foolishness as this so blindly. His eyes opened and they glance at me with such indifference that even I could not predict their next move. But with his stare I soon felt his alien presence rummaging through my mind seeking to know who I am. "THANOS YOU COME AT LAST AS IT WAS PROPHESIED BY WHO WEARS THE MANTLE OF THE OF THE MOON. AND YOU WISH TO GAIN SERVICE AS MY ACOLYTE?" The being goes through my mind and answers my questions before I can even ask them, it is as if he has stolen my free will. "DO NOT BE AFRAID, YOUNG Thanos, WHEN I WEAR THE ROBES OF THE MAGUS I AM ONE WITH GOD AND NOTHING CAN BE HIDDEN." Why would my mother bring me to such a place and for what purposes? Clearly the old ways must be torn down and replaced by my own dark visions. "THOSE QUESTIONS WILL BE ANSWERED IN TIME MY NEWLY ACQUIRED ACOLYTE ALL IN DUE TIME. NOW, YOUNG THANOS, DRINK OF MY CUP." I drink the bowl of wrath for what does someone whom worships death itself. And in the corner of my eye I saw her kneeling next to me, her hand gently on my shoulder as the contents burned my innards burn with retribution but I did not cry out after all, was I not Thanos? But as I saw him, my mind seemed to go numb and I saw it come from his stomach, first as black

shadow tendrils reached toward me, their touch like ice. And in the corner of my left was my Mistress who stood by me protecting me from the touch of God. Time passed and he taught me his methods, and although I never learned to project my thoughts with ease into another's mind, I soon learned that I could prevent him from seeing my own. I began to develop a defense and soon my resistance was enough to where I could hide my thoughts from the Magus by simply thinking of something else. But to keep such a front from one such as he was difficult and he tested my mettle, as I had to maintain my vigilance both day and night. I learned more defensive incantations then offensive ones, but I eventually learned how to bind my own cosmic energies with those of his own dark reservoir and it increased my energies almost exponentially as it added a mystic element to my normally destructive powers. This would be my edge when he would try to destroy me, for one thing was evident to him and that was my strength was growing daily and soon I would pose a threat. My mother had such faith in her religion and I recall how she performed the rituals almost tirelessly and without fail. Faith to me seemed a weakness as those who saw it preyed on the weakness and it was her only fault for other then her faith and the blasphemy of giving birth she was a strong woman. But her faith failed her as it does all those foolish enough to waste there time on such rituals. "TOMORROW IS THE BAPTISM AND THEN YOU WILL MEET GOD FOR THE PROPHECIES SPOKE TRUE, YOU ARE THE SEED OF THE GOD AND TOMORROW HE WILL CLAIM YOU AS HE INTENDED FROM THE BEGINNING AT LAST THE PRODIGALS SON RETURNS." The creature’s words began to fill in piecemeal memory which did not quite understand what my mother was doing as she followed these exact rituals during my youth. She was preparing me for this. Was I to be her sacrifice? And if so why did she not do it? And why was she telling me now? I return to my chambers to prepare when she appears her countenance more ebon than even Mistress Death. She covered herself with purple raiment and her deathly pallor and sunken in face could only sob as she just looked upon me: her hand reached out to touch me but, as she drew closer I saw her robe open just slightly and an insect like abdomen was revealed. A knife then came from on high like some great judgment. "YOU REVERTED TO TYPE PREMATURELY INSECT," I begin to draw upon his own dark reservoir, which I wedded my own energies to during my training with him and surrounded my fists with the hybrid mystic/union. I knocked the blade from his grasp with one of the fighting techniques I had learned with my last opponent; he seemed surprised by my physical assault, thinking that I would only use a mystic attack, and how I was also able to incorporate his own skill in a new and creative way. "How is this possible? You have not the necessary training to defeat a Magus from the Church of Universal Truth." He tried to enter my mind and determine my next course of action, but he found it impossible, as my mental defenses were now equal to the task at hand. Once again I had countered him successfully, I had spent all my time not merely in study but in learning both my opponents strengths and his weaknesses and using old knowledge in new and innovative ways. "I NEEDN'T LAY HANDS UPON YOU MYSELF, OBSERVE AS MY FOLLOWERS CAN DO IT FOR ME."

Zealots of the Magus surround me, but instead of fear or apprehension, there is only a grin as they rush headlong into there own personal Armageddon. My fists begin to crackle as my newly bound mystical energies crush bone and tear muscle. They soon learn the folly of their ways and make a hasty retreat leaving me to confront their master once more. "Such devotion, I have never seen its like, hahahaha." He attempts to use his eldritch energies upon me when I use my power, as I have never done, to erect a shield. It was apparent that my mind could now shape the energies in certain ways that it could not before. But clearly there is a greater surprise on his face than mine as he found I was not the strawman so easily dispersed as he had once believed and now his own life was forfeit. But he then attacked me in a different way as I felt my very spirit being drawn from me like water from a well. He would use my own spirit to add my newly acquired might to his own. And quench his unholy thirst. Then the unexpected occurs as I hear him scream. Behind him, an apparition of my mother standing with a knife that was intended for me. He fell to his knees as he began to gasp his last breaths. And for the first time, his utter alien countenance began to take on a familiar emotion that all those I encounter eventually come to FEAR. As I walk closer, he covers his face and waits my blessing. "It is done you now have life eternal," I say sardonically. Nevertheless, my mother who was present gestured to the altar where the God was making his way into our world. An ebony tail encircled me as a serpent its prey. His touch was like the vacuum of the void and his breath was like fire but he could not melt nor break my resolve, and the dragon of the moon at last revealed himself to me and I saw how he drew me here since my birthing, for My mother begged me to flee but I am Thanos and there was something seductive as it whispered its dark secrets to me and made its false promises as all gods do. When his silvery eyes met my own it was the true test and for the space of several moments the fate of my very astral being was in dire straights I could feel a familiar presence standing between itself and me. When I finally recover, I was not sure what has happened only that I was different as I have looked the God of the moon in the face and have found it wanting. But I have also seen my own twisted reflection mirrored back upon me, and it called me to this place. I do not know what it wanted, only that I have completed my task and given the Magus his greatest wish as his statue will forever adorn the temple somewhere on the perch between life and death. One must always be careful what one wishes for. "THANOS YOU HAVE DONE WELL, MISTRESS DEATH HAS DECIDED THAT YOU WILL BE HER PARAMOUR." The yellow teethed rodent teeth rodent is before me once more, "Tell your Mistress, I thank her for her boon, I could feel her embrace when I met the God of the moon." "MISTRESS DEATH WAS … YES YOU ARE MOST WELCOME," the rodent seemed to choke on its own words, as he was cutoff by his Mistress’ ebon glare. Death even seemed to smile, her dark features hidden in cowl. There were still many unanswered question but such is the way of spiritual matters and the weakness of the flesh.

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