Who: Guardians What: the trip to Knowhere When: Sunday 8/19 Rating/Warning: Soul Stone Orange for death
By the time they landed on Knowhere, it was too little too late. The head of a celestial was lit from within, glowing orange with fire. The debris blasted loose from a thoroughly mined out right eye was floating like a demented halo into the cold vastness of space.
Inside was a maelstrom of death and destruction left behind in Thanos' wake. There were no screams and there was no crying. No one left there lived any longer, although it looked as though many escape pods were ejected at extraction points. It was likely those were the lucky ones, allowed to escape. The bodies of orphans, miners, gamblers and prostitutes littered the path from the landing pay. It wasn't looking much better by the time they got to where The Collector hoarded his belongings covetously to himself. That too was in shattered ruins and The Collector was nowhere to be found.
Pieces of it the walls were scattered like perfectly sized children's building blocks, thrown aside in a temper tantrum. Metal twisted skyward in silver ribbons and crooked shards. Cases smashed. Corpses crushed. Relics overturned. Everything left behind and broken.
The case that the Aether was once housed in was laying broken open. There was no trace of any crimson glow within.
Knives held in clenched hands, Drax the Destroyer stood in the middle of a blasted out room with the need for revenge blazing in his heart, as hot as the fires now lit within Knowhere.
"We are too late," he said. "I have missed a chance to drive my blade deep into Thanos' heart, and to keep this stone from his wicked clutches!"
They may have been late, but Peter felt like they were right on time. Letting go of the tightness in his chest, he couldn't help the grin that bloomed across his face.
"Do you know what this means?", he cried out, his blaster hand in the air triumphantly. "Gamora! He doesn't win! He can't! He can't get the stone without you, and he's not here! We can get there first!"
“Let’s get back to the ship,” said Nebula sharply, looking around like she distrusted her own eyes. “Say nothing more until we are away from this place.”
Meanwhile, Gamora was shocked by the devastation around them, even though she had dreamt it before. Her dreams had no scent, and the smells were overwhelmingly of death. Thanos had been here, he had done what he did best, and left. At least, like Peter had promptly mentioned, he hadn’t been able to get at herself or Nebula. Nodding at her sister, Gamora decided there was no point in lingering here. She turned around, hand on her sword just in case, and wordlessly started back towards the ship.
“We can’t get the stone without incredible personal sacrifice. And unlike him, any of us would mean ours.” She told Peter. “I am not sure we can circumvent what the stone and its guardian require of those who seek it.”
Although he heard Nebula's warning, Drax didn't move. There was a sickening shift in his stomach that might have been due to the massive amount of cheese-flavored crackers shaped like fish which he consumed on the way there. Then there was pain. It burned within him, creeping up both arms before he lifted them. His knives dropped with a clatter, fingers already crumbling away like ash left behind from a dying fire.
Much like the dream of another place, he looked to his friends and then to his captain. "....Quill?"
Drax the Destroyer said no more. The rest of his body was instantly consumed. His remains lifted up into the smoke-filled air of Knowhere, drifting away.
Peter’s eyes widened as he watched Drax dust off. Frantically turning towards Gamora, he tried to take a step before watching his own legs disappear as quickly as the rest of his body. He wanted to call out, say something, a final “I love you”, anything but it was too fast.
Within moments, Peter was nothing more than dust in the wind, which was ironic considering he hated that song.
Gamora was focused on getting out, and didn’t even look back when Drax called for Peter. She did see his expression, however, and turned. By the time she looked, Drax was almost nothing, and she had no time to say anything else. Soon enough Peter was dissolving into dust, into nothing, and oxygen was stuck in Gamora’s chest. She couldn’t breathe, couldn’t speak, and her eyes were wider than ever before. Her hand wrapped around her sword tighter as she let out a solitary whimper after which she started feeling lighter than ever. She was going to be gone too, it was immediately obvious.
Looking to her dissolving hand around her sword, and then to her sister, Gamora’s last thoughts were unclear. Her mind screamed in confusion, a thousand ways to wonder what was going on. But alas, no answers and no peace. Just like her dream death.
Her last sight of Nebula was her sister shaking her head, eyes wide, lips soundlessly forming the syllable No. No, Gamora wasn’t supposed to go like this… none of this should be happening without all the Stones… just no.
* * *
Nebula stood alone in the dust of her comrades, in the wreckage of Knowhere, in the ruins of sense in the universe.
If she were someone else—perhaps someone of whom parts still remained in her—she might have fallen to her knees and screamed. She might have fisted dust and wept. She might have cursed. She might have… anything.
Whoever that might have been, between Thanos’s piecemeal replacement of her parts and his repeated fractures of her soul, this Nebula did none of that.
She stood silently. Closed her eyes. Allowed herself a moment of envisioning Gamora’s face, searing its last expression into her brain.
Then turned on her heel and walked slowly back into the ship.
They were fools to think they could change this. All that remained was, as it has always been: killing Thanos.