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THE GUARD #20: "It's The End Of The World As We Never Knew It" (December, 2004)

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  • Kenn Beck
    THE GUARD #20: It s The End Of The World As We Never Knew It (December, 2004) [Writer s Note: The Guard has been delayed due to personal difficulties. We at
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 3, 2004
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      THE GUARD #20: "It's The End Of The World As We Never Knew It"
      (December, 2004)

      [Writer's Note: The Guard has been delayed due to personal
      difficulties. We at Alt. Marvel apologize for the lateness. When last
      we left our heroes, Pathway was trapped on yet another alternate
      Earth, where she finds The Guard with a very different roster;
      Scione, Skin and an older Pathway are joined by Speed Demon, Angel,
      the Uber-Adaptoid, and their leader, The Wizard. She joins the Guard
      of THAT world in an epic battle against the greatest villain they
      have ever faced; Manikin! Meanwhile, in our world, our Manikin is
      awaiting trial for the murder of two fishermen who themselves
      murdered a young Irish mutant. To make matters worse, the Guard's
      headquarters has been infiltrated by Emily Parris, a.k.a. The


      "So who is this kid?" Pathway asked Skin as they walked up the ramp
      towards the staging area.

      "We don't know," Skin replied. "We raided the remains of Charles
      Xavier's mansion and looked through his records. This kid was
      mentioned in the Morlock files. Apparently he was among the Morlocks
      who were survived the Great Massacre, but he disappeared soon after.
      Scione has been waiting to find him since the day we heard about him."

      "Why is she so excited about him?"

      "The files say he can negate people's powers. He'd give her a shot at
      normal life."

      "How powerful has Manikin become? Can he destroy the world?"

      "He's done it already," Skin replied gravely. "There's less than
      three percent of the world population left, and his tampering with
      Earth's energy field is causing the planet to have massive thermal
      shifts. The only hope the world has if we can destroy him." Skin
      paused. "So you said you're searching for your sister?"

      "Yes," Pathway said.

      "I never had a sister," Laura Dean told her younger self. "My mother
      had her terminated."

      "Before I was born, I sent my sister to Liveworld. She was physically

      "How wonderful," Laura Dean replied. "I wish I had had the same

      "Are we there yet?" Angel asked from the back of the group.

      "Silence, child," The Wizard scolded.

      "Why don't we just have the Uber-Adaptoid teleport us to the briefing
      room? Or better yet, just teleport us from downstairs?" Angel said.

      "You know damned well he can only slide us once a day, and we have to
      be at our most prepared. We can't do that unless we're absolutely
      ready to go."

      Speed Demon appeared in front of them. "Any day now, kiddies. I've
      been in the staging area for a full minute already."

      They reached the staging area and Wizard turned and addressed his
      team. "This may well be it for us. Young lady," he said, looking at
      Pathway, "I cannot tell you how bad your timing is. We can't leave
      you here, yet there is no way in Hell I can vouch for your safety. If
      we fail, the world is likely done with anyway. As such, I encourage
      you to use your powers and bail out the instant you are able."

      "I can't just leave you guys to die," Pathway said. "There has to be-"

      "What?" Scione asked. "What could you possibly do for us? Take us
      with you? To where? You want us to leave our world behind to be
      destroyed by this madman, so we can play dimensional hopscotch
      forever? We won't just run from this fight, child. We're the only
      hope this world has."

      Pathway looked at the elder Laura Dean, who nodded solemnly at
      her. "She's right," the weathered woman said to her younger self. "We
      may be doomed, but that doesn't mean we can give up. We may die
      trying to stop Manikin, but if we don't, then defeat is assured. But
      either way, this is not your fight. You have to leave as soon as you

      Pathway nodded. Whatever connection she had with the Manikin of this
      world, it wouldn't help. He had already slaughtered Alpha Flight. He
      was truly insane. She shuddered, wondering how she would react if the
      Whitman Knapp she knew ever went off the deep end. (1)

      "Enough. Ready positions, people," The Wizard said. The Guard took up
      positions in a rough circle around the Uber-Adaptoid, with their
      backs to each other. "In the center, next to the Adaptoid, child.
      We'll do our best to protect you."

      Pathway stepped next to the Uber-Adaptoid and looked up at the
      automoton's face. It bore a striking resemblance to Whirlwind's. The
      thought of this reality's versions of her teammates dying saddened

      "Now," The Wizard said, nodding at The Uber-Adaptoid.

      The teleportation happened so quickly the change in scenery almost
      didn't register to Pathway's eyes. In less than a twentieth of a
      second, the environment was completely different. There was no burst
      of energy, no explosion, no tingly feeling. They were just suddenly
      on the edge of a vast grassy plain.

      The Wizard looked around, scanning the area. "Adaptoid, do you have a
      fix on Mondo?"

      "Affirmative," The Adaptoid replied. "Subject: Mondo is 8.2 yards,
      bearing 202.5, altitude differential plus 14 feet.

      "I'm right here," Mondo said, literally emerging from the side of a
      rocky butte. "I was just keeping a low profile."

      "Where is the child?" Unuscione nearly bellowed.

      "Small town. Two miles west."

      "Let's move," The Wizard said, levitating the team. His powers had
      been internalized in this world. Pathway still had a hard time
      believing that he and Speed Demon were heroes in this world.

      [Meanwhile, On Our Earth…]

      "Knapp. Visitor."

      Manikin scratched at the skin by the edge of his power inhibitor
      collar. He had seen a number of these in his days, especially while
      helping to quell the riot at the Vault, but this was his first time
      wearing one. (2) "Heather."

      Heather Hudson walked to the seat next to the cell Manikin was
      in. "Whitman. How are you doing?"

      "I'm in prison for two counts of murder. How's the leg?" (3)

      "This isn't funny," Heather said.

      "I'm not kidding," Manikin answered.

      "My leg is fine. Whitman, what were you thinking?"

      "What was I thinking?" he said, standing up and walking to the bars
      of his cell. "Those two ignorant bastards killed a boy and then
      chained him in a tarp and sank the body. They killed him because he
      was a mutant. Or because he was Irish. Or both. What was I thinking?
      I was thinking they deserved to die."

      "You are not judge, jury and executioner."

      "I dunno, Heath, I'm starting to warm up to that last one."

      "Damn you, Manikin, this is SERIOUS!"

      "SO AM I!" he bellowed. "It never ends! Magneto goes out and launches
      a war on humanity, Xavier and his students stop him, and Xavier makes
      the most stirring speech I have ever heard in my life. (4) And within
      a couple of weeks, the old prejudices rear their ugly heads again. We
      save the Wizard's life, and what does he do? He makes it his mission
      to destroy us. (5) We stop someone from destroying the world, and
      they just pop back up time and time again. It's useless. The old ways
      are dead. I'm tired of the never ending battle."

      "We're trying to get you back to Canada. You need mental help,
      Whitman. This merger of your forms, the personality conflicts-"

      "There's nothing wrong with me, Heather. I am the best of my four
      forms. Every positive attribute has been brought together in one
      form. I am a new stage of evolution, a higher power. And it's high
      time I started to make a difference in the shape of this world."

      "You're not God, Whit."

      "Not yet, Heather."

      "You're insane."

      "We'll see, won't we?"

      Heather rose up. "I'm going to see about getting you transferred to
      Glacier Bay. We're reorganizing the Flight, we can protect you. (6)
      There are threats against your life."

      "Don't bother," Manikin said. "I don't need to be in Canada, even in
      their `special security' center. No one can hurt me."

      "That collar renders you powerless, Whit."

      "Does it?" he said, suddenly appearing next to her.

      She took a quick step backwards. "How the Hell-"

      Manikin grew visibly angry. "After all we've been through! After all
      the years of me being loyal to Alpha Flight, of fighting the good
      fight, and you flinch back like that, like I'm some sort of wild
      animal?!" He teleported the collar off of his neck and into his
      hand. "This collar is designed to stop mutant powers. I'm much more
      than a mutant now. Sirius pushed my powers to their limit, and I have
      evolved beyond `mutant.' I only wear it because it signifies that I
      am not running from this. That I'm willing to deal with whatever they
      think should be done. But don't think for one second that they've
      `contained' me. I'm here because I WANT to be here. Because I WANT to
      show them what a joke their justice system is. Magneto. Sirius. The
      Wizard. I'M the only one in prison, and I'M the only one who killed
      someone who was actually guilty! I still believe in doing what is
      right, and that's why I haven't left yet. I want to see them mess
      this up with my own two eyes."

      "And if they find you guilty?"

      "Have you been listening, Heather? I AM guilty. What do you want to
      know? Will I let them punish me? Will I let them put me away? Will I
      let them kill me? Is that what you really want to know?"

      "Yes," Heather said quietly.

      "Well, we'll just have to wait and see, won't we?" Manikin said,
      teleporting the collar back to his neck and then returning to his


      "There," Mondo said, pointing at a small house on the outskirts of a
      tiny dusty one street town. "He's holed up in there."

      "Is he alone?" the Wizard asked.

      "No. Wade is there with him."

      "You left WADE with the child?"

      "Yes," Mondo said matter-of-factly. "Why not?"

      "Wade would- no, WILL- sell him out the first chance he gets!"

      "No. Wade fears him."

      "What?" Skin said. "Wade doesn't fear anything."

      "Except the kid," Mondo said. "He won't even go into the same room."

      "Buffoon," The Wizard said.

      "Let's go!" Unuscione said. "Now!"

      They descended towards the small house. They landed in the dooryard
      and approached the small covered step that served as a porch. When he
      reached the front door of the house, The Wizard stopped them. "Wade
      is very particular about protocol." He turned back and knocked seven
      times on the door. "Deadpool," he said loudly. "It's The Wizard. I'm
      coming in."

      "No need to shout," Deadpool said from the spot he was hiding under
      the porch roof. They all looked up and saw him clinging to the
      rafters by his legs with his guns pointed down at their heads. "And I
      should shoot you in the head just for calling me Wade. Is this the
      `Laura' kid Angel told me about?"

      "Get down here," The Wizard said. Deadpool swung his body up and let
      his legs lose their grip on the beams, cartwheeling gracefully
      through the air and landing on the ground.

      "Go right in. He's in the living room."

      "Won't you be joining us?" the elder Laura Dean asked.

      "Get the Hell out of here. You know what happens if I go near that
      little lima bean?" Deadpool drew his finger across his neck.

      Unuscione nearly destroyed the doorway rushing into the house. The
      Wizard stepped through the doorway, and looked back at Speed
      Demon. "Coming?"

      Speed Demon looked nervously at Deadpool, who made another finger
      across the neck gesture. "No, I'll stand guard out here, keep an eye
      out for Manikin." He reached into his pack and took out a purple
      singlet. "Give this to `Mella."


      Unuscione stopped in her tracks when she reached the living room.
      Sitting on the couch holding a small, tattered teddy bear to his
      chest was a small boy with green skin. His face was streaked with

      "Are you here to kill Leech?"

      "No," Unuscione said. "We're here to protect you." She walked forward
      tentatively. "There's a bad man, and he wants to hurt you. But we
      won't let him." As she approached, her field diminished in intensity
      with every step. She looked around in amazement, and started to cry

      "Why is shimmery lady crying?" Leech said.

      "I am happy," she said, as her field disappeared completely, and her
      feet touched the ground for the first time since The Mimic had
      amplified her powers. She looked around and saw a mirror on the wall.
      She stepped towards it and looked at her face, haggard and weathered.
      He body was a disgusting mess lacking any kind of hygienic upkeep.
      But she was bare. No energy field. She had never felt so free. She
      looked back at Leech and smiled.

      Leech began to smile as well, but quickly stopped when Unuscione
      smashed her fist into the mirror, sending sharp shards cascading to
      the ground. She picked one of them up and walked towards Leech. "I'm
      only gonna take a little bit. I promise I won't kill you. But I need
      a part of you to keep me from going back to what I was."

      Leech recoiled in fear and instinctively turned up his powers. The
      only effect it had was to prevent the others from using theirs to
      stop Unuscione.

      "Carmella! Don't!" Skin yelled.

      "I just want to cut a little piece of his skin. See if it will keep
      my powers from reactivating," she said. "I promise. I won't kill him."

      "No!" Mondo yelled, grabbing her by the arm.

      The wall suddenly exploded inward, and Speed Demon flew through the
      opening unconscious. He was about to hit the ground when his black,
      oily suit speared tendrils out and softened his landing. Outside, the
      Uber-Adaptoid's mechanical form was splayed out like a technological

      "He's here!" Deadpool screamed from outside before he was covered in
      a thick, pink fluid. His skin immediately began to smoke as proto-
      acid devoured his flesh. His regeneration factor created new skin to
      replace it, but it too was eaten away. Deadpool screamed in agony and
      dropped to the ground as the horrific cycle continued.

      As The Wizard turned to look outside, Unuscione sliced at Mondo's
      arm, creating a deep gash. She lunged and caught Leech by the collar
      of his sweatshirt, and yanked him forward. "I need it! Just a tiny
      piece!" she screamed. She pulled the jagged shard of mirror behind
      her, rearing back to carve off a piece of Leech's arm, and was struck
      in the forehead by a highly focused beam of energy. The piece of
      mirror fell from her hand, and her eyes went completely blank as
      smoke wafted from the drink stirrer-sized hole that had been burned
      through her skull. Her form slowly fell backwards.

      Speed Demon came to almost instantly, and looked over to where
      Unuscione's body lay in a heap.

      "NO!" he screamed, and simply disappeared. The world around him
      seemed to freeze as he accelerated at maximum speed and left the
      house. In front of him, the glowing avataristic form of Manikin
      hovered in front of him. "You murderer! I will kill you!"

      "Unlikely," Manikin said as he fired pencil thin beams in a wide
      pattern. Speed Demon, still moving at super speed, ran into multiple
      beams, and his legs and arms were neatly sliced off. His costume,
      which had seemed to have a life of his own, instantly flared into a
      full-fledged symbiote defensive mode. It grabbed the limbs and
      brought them back into position, the microscopic tendrils working to
      reattach the nerves and blood vessels. It sprouted tendrils with
      spikes and claws, swinging them wildly in front of itself, trying to
      deter any form of physical attack. Speed Demon's body was losing
      blood quickly, and the symbiote tried to save its host, but it was
      obvious the battle would be lost soon. Manikin fired another stream
      of proto-acid at Speed Demon, and the symbiote abandoned all pretense
      of saving anything but itself. It detached from Speed Demon's body,
      which died as it hit the ground, and leapt in insane arcs like a
      slinky across the dirt. It headed towards the senior Laura Dean, who
      screamed as the symbiote enshrouded her form.

      The Wizard levitated Leech and began moving him towards the front of
      the house. "There's no more time! We have to take him out! Turn off
      his powers!" he yelled at Leech.

      Manikin decapitated Leech with a single blast.

      "Fool!" Manikin said. "He can't stop me! Neither can you!" He
      teleported the right half of the Wizard's body three inches to the
      right, splitting him cleanly down the middle like a ripe piece of
      fruit. The two halves dropped and Pathway screamed in horror. Angel
      tried to fly as high as she could reach, but Manikin blasted her from
      the sky. She hit the ground with a heavy thump.

      Skin grabbed Pathway and pulled her back towards the house. "It's
      over, chica. If you are ever leaving, it's got to be now."

      "No! How can he do this?!?" Pathway said, her eyes streaming tears.

      Mondo transformed into solid adamantium and deflected one of
      Manikin's energy beams. "Go now. It's over."

      "WHITMAN!" Pathway pleaded. "What has happened to you? How could you
      do this?"

      "Laura?" Manikin said, confused. "How did you get so young again?" He
      looked over to where Laura Dean's adult form writhed under the
      smothering influence of the symbiote, struggling to escape and not be
      overwhelmed. "Another trick. It won't do you any good."

      "It's not a trick! I'm from another world! A world where you were
      kidnapped and tortured by Sirius, but you never resorted to becoming
      a genocidal monster!" she screamed.

      Manikin smiled. "It's only genocide if you focus on one race. I'm not
      particular about who I kill, girl."

      "Neither am I," a voice said from behind her. A thick green energy
      bubble formed around Manikin. The bubble began to collapse, and
      Manikin managed to keep it at bay by expending tremendous amounts of
      energy. Scione held her hands out, as if trying to feel through her
      energy waves. "I can't hold on much longer."

      Skin was amazed. "He blasted your brain! How-"

      "His attack was apparently too precise. I can't see, and I can't
      remember what my father's first name is. But I'm still alive. But not
      for long. I'm getting weaker, and it's only a matter of time before
      he overwhelms me. At least try to kill him before I die."

      "I think I know what to do," Laura Dean said from behind them. She
      was covered head to toe with the symbiote that had served as Speed
      Demon's costume. "This creature that Speed Demon wore amplifies
      powers. Mine are amped up a thousand fold. I can use it to tap into
      the anti-matter dimension. I'll open the door way, and all we have to
      do is let some of the anti-matter leak in. That will kill him."

      "Si," Skin added, "and everything else here!"

      "You have any doubts that he has already destroyed the world?
      Humanity is dying, either way. He's left nothing to rebuild with. The
      only difference is if we destroy him with us."

      "Won't that destroy the whole universe?" Pathway asked.

      "Maybe," Unuscione said, fighting to contain the enraged
      Manikin. "But it's the only way to destroy him."

      "As soon as the breach opens, the anti-matter will explode and kill
      us. With me dead, the breach will close again. With any luck, it will
      only destroy the Solar-System."

      "Hurry," Unuscione said, blood spraying away from her as it dripped

      "You have to go," Laura Dean said.

      "I can't!" Pathway screamed. "Even if my powers worked, I couldn't
      just leave you guys to die!"

      "We're dead already," Laura Dean said. "My sister is dead," she
      added, crying softly. "Yours isn't. I'll open a gate for you. It
      should take you to where you want to go the most. Keep looking for
      Goblyn. Forget about us."

      "Never," Pathway said, giving her a quick hug. A swirling vortex
      opened behind her.

      "GO…," Unuscione said, dropping to her knees.

      Pathway looked back at Laura Dean, Skin, and Unuscione one last time.
      The symbiote stretched out at the last second and shoved her through,
      a small piece of the creature being sliced off as the portal closed.

      Unuscione smiled. Skin turned to Laura Dean and nodded.

      Unuscione dropped, as did her shield, and Skin caught her, holding
      her tightly. "It's all over, chica. You did it."

      Manikin screamed in rage as he fired a beam of energy to destroy
      Laura Dean, but she managed to open a small portal into the anti-
      matter universe. A small streaming blob of anti-matter entered the
      air, and as the beam struck it, the Solar System was annihilated.

      [Another Universe…]

      Pathway trudged a couple of steps through the dense forest and then
      collapsed to her knees, sobbing uncontrollably. All the horror she
      had endured was too much to bear. To see her teammates slaughtered
      before her eyes, to leave knowing that that world was now ash, it
      broke through her walls of sanity. She wept miserably for the people
      she had known for less than a day.

      For an hour she sat on the ground crying. All the frustration over
      the search for her sister, all the grief of learning time and time
      again that the worlds she was stepping into were not her own, that
      death and devastation seemed to follow her like a stalker, came
      flooding forward. She knew that she was leaving herself vulnerable to
      whatever evil this world had to offer, but she couldn't stop. Her
      eyes would run dry after a couple of minutes, her throat would hurt,
      and she'd feel cried out, and then a fresh wave of grief, guilt, and
      relief would hit her at once, and she would start anew.

      Only when she heard a howl of sadness from the trees did she stop.
      She looked around, wiping her eyes. Looking down at her feet, she saw
      a small blob of the symbiote that had enveloped her older self. The
      same symbiote that had increased Speed Demon's powers, and protected
      him. Would it be able to help her? She hesitated for a moment,
      fearful that it might actually kill her. But then she would be free
      from her travels. She held out her hand and the blob slowly rolled up
      her fingers. It flowed weakly over her skin, covering only the lower
      third of her arm. She sensed a consciousness communicating with her,
      almost pleading with her.

      The howling had stopped. She looked nervously around. More noise.
      There was some rustling in the trees, and Pathway realized for the
      first time that she was truly defenseless. She was exhausted and
      powerless on a hostile world with something stalking her through the
      trees. And strangely enough, she felt a strange sense of relief. If
      this were the end, then she would welcome it. She'd rather die now in
      this place of relative peace than to find another world where her
      teammates were dead, where the world was full of horror and
      suffering. She only wished she could see her sister one last time.

      "Come on," she said weakly. "Just end it. Please." She closed her
      eyes and laid her head back. She heard a frantic scramble of
      underbrush and braced herself for the end.

      She felt a warm hand on her face, and opened her eyes, and suddenly,
      her wish for death was forgotten.

      "Goblyn?" she asked.

      Her sister knelt down and grabbed her by her shoulders.

      "Goblyn. Is it you? Are you the Goblyn from my world?"

      And then it hit her. In all the worlds she had visited, she had not
      ONCE seen a version of her sister. Was Goblyn such a miracle that she
      had died in every universe except her own?

      Goblyn stooped and hugged her sister tight.

      "It is you, isn't it? Oh, Goblyn, I've missed you so much! I've been
      searching for you for so long! My powers are malfunctioning, so I
      don't know if I can get us back home. But at least we're together,

      Goblyn stroked her sister's face.

      "I'm so sorry I almost gave up," Pathway cried.

      Goblyn put a finger to her sister's lips. The symbiote twitched and
      began to slide up Pathway's arm. Goblyn growled slightly, but Pathway
      soothed her. "It's okay. It will help me."

      She stood, and Goblyn helped her up. Suddenly, Goblyn's head snapped
      to the side, and her fur bristled. "This isn't home, is it?" Pathway
      asked, and Goblyn shook her head in the negative. "Is it safe?" she
      asked, and Goblyn once again replied in the negative. As if to answer
      her, a slow steady rumble grew out of the forest, and t leaves on the
      trees began to rattle.

      "I think I can try another portal. Give me your hand. Whatever
      happens, I'm never losing you again." She grabbed her sister's hand
      and squeezed.

      She held out the other symbiote-covered hand in front of her, and
      felt a voice in her mind guiding her. A pinprick of light appeared
      before her, and began to grow. The trees began to shake more
      violently, and the sound of flames crackling grew louder. From over
      the trees a giant form made of flaming stone crashed through the
      trees. Its body seemed to undulate, as if not entirely solid, and
      it's feet disappeared into a fine mist as it traveled.

      "I am Eff-eph, the Fantastic! All those who trespass must be

      "Let's go," Pathway said, and she stepped through the portal with her
      sister into yet another unknown world.


      1. Pathway has a nasty surprise awaiting her. See issue 18 for
      2. In The Guard #12.
      3. Heather was injured the last time Manikin saw her in The Guard #5.
      4. Check Out The Gene War for details!
      5. The Guard #1-3 holds the truth.
      6. That's right, folks! Alpha Flight Returns! Look for them in
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