Location: Sector 53685 (Uncharted Space)
"I hear you, Maker. The war you speak of is tempting... and there are many among Earth's champions who have irked me with their continued existence. However, my answer is no."
No matter where he goes, the population size suffers a terrible shift. Even though it was unexplored, this region of space teamed with wildlife. A pristine series of ecosystems covered each planet. Each ecosystem was a perfect cycle of life and harmony. This harmony lasted for eons. And yet, because it existed, Thanos ended it all in less than three days.
The Maker stood at the foot of his throne of broken bodies and shattered bones. While he may be the smartest man in his universe, and likely this one, Thanos has caught him slightly off guard. "I admit... That wasn't the answer I was looking for. I could have sworn we had a reasonable working relationship. Also, the fact that you have an unquestionable affinity for murder."
"Our partnership in the battle against Doom has long since ended," Thanos said as he leaned forward to meet the Maker's gaze and make his point clearer. "There is no benefit for my entry into your game and you have no force that can push me into doing so."
The Maker was ready to make a move at that remark. He may not have the forces needed to make Thanos join him, but he had more than enough to put him down for good. Unfortunately, the Uprising took priority and war with the Mad Titan would be counterproductive.
"Fine. I'll take my leave." The Maker activated a teleporter on his wrist and started to dematerialize. Before he was completely gone, however, he accidentally dropped a lone photo. He did this with a smirk. "Enjoy your graveyard..."
Thanos was no fool. He knew the Maker left a photo of something meant to pique his interest. "Such a thing would work on lesser men, but what could have been left for me?" His curiosity pushed him into observing the picture in its entirety.
A moment later, the space next to him began to distort as a portal formed. With a green fire enveloping the immediate area, a female form passed through the vortex. She has Hela, the former queen of Hel.
"Good day to you, beloved... You seem troubled." She placed her arms around Thanos, but he gave little response. The picture occupied the bulk of his attention. "Who is this child?" she said as she took the photo.
Thanos turned to her with a smile that could chill the heart of the most fearless armies. "That, my dear, is the Star Brand. I had heard legends of its unspeakable power, but it can only be obtained through specific means."
"Yes... I recall the Earth being affected by the mythical White Event some time ago. It was strange that, contrast to the stories, there minimal changes to Earth's population. This... boy is the result?" Hela proceeded to raise a throne next to the titan as Thanos took back the picture.
"Such power can be beneficial to us both... but we will need information before proceeding." Thanos's eyes glowed for a moment. At his beckoning, a pale woman soon walked over the smoldering fields and bowed before the thrones. "Tell me, Black Swan... In your travels, have you encountered one who carries the Star Brand?"
"I have, my lord," she said as she rose back up. "Whoever wields it holds unspeakable power, bound only by imagination and experience."
"And the White Event is the only method to receive it?" Hela asked.
The Swan did not want to answer her question. She still seethed at the memory of the death god humiliating her. Thanos's gaze, however, forced her to respond. "There is one other way. The wielder can willingly give the Brand to another sentient being."
Thanos was silent in thought while Hela and the Black Swan glared at each other. Without a word, he activated his transporter and all three were on his flagship. "Computer... set course for Earth-148611."
"My lord... I highly advise against that," Black Swan interrupted. "That universe was sealed away by the Living Tribunal. It is amongst the most dangerous realities in existence."
"It is also the last confirmed sighting of one particular wielder of the Brand. The deadliest one," Thanos replied with a smirk. "I find myself interested in seeing what will happen when two Star Brands collide with one another."
"How do you intend to convince the Star Brand of Earth to fight?" Hela took Thanos's arm as he reviewed a list of humans with psychic aptitude.
He observed the information, but also kept watch of Black Swan's reactions. Her eyes gave a very noticeable twitch at one specific profile. "Yes... this one will do just fine... Now, Swan... tell me everything you know about this universe."
Location: N.S.A. Headquarters, Maryland
"You sure you don't want to come with us, sir?" The office employees were piling into the elevator. At long last, the weekend was finally here. The time for libations had come. In that office, only one man stayed behind.
"You know I'd love to go... But, the sooner I finish these reports, the less I have to work on Monday. You all have fun!" With a wave, the elevator doors closed and only the sound of fingers hitting keyboards could be heard. He eventually paused to look at his overflowing whiteboard, wondering the same question as he does every hour. "What are the Ultimates still up to?"
"Philip Nelson Vogt... Hear me... Hear the voice of Thanos..."
A sharp pain struck him... as if a knife was driven through his forehead. The man fell to his knees in agony, but also felt the horror of what he was experiencing. Thanos was a monster he studied extensively. "What... What do you want from me...?" he managed to say, his darting around the empty room.
"I have been given information on... another... like you. A man of great power. As such, I require your services regarding a special child."
He struggled to get to his feet, but the pain seemed to only get worse. Still, with all of his psychic training, he fought back. "I... will NEVER... help you!"
"Oh, you will, Philip. In fact, the seeds of your ascension are already in place and the players have been made known of their roles. You will help me... and the Black Event will be your reward..."
A moment later, he was back in his seat. Slight headache, an odd itch on the back of his neck, but overall, he was fine.
"What was I doing, again?" He looked around his desk to see were he left off and saw a single photo. A photo of the Star Brand. He calmly dialed his phone and stared at the picture. "Hey, Joe. I need you to send me everything you have on Kevin Connor a.k.a. Star Brand..."
In that instant, someone, somewhere, threw his head back, and laughed...