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By Richard Johnston

an EPIC series proposal by
Christopher Golden & Tom Sniegoski

Guardians of the Galaxy is a classic Marvel series with classic Marvel characters. But where once it was superhero adventure in space, this series would be darker. It's Guardians a la Predator and Aliens, if you will.

Welcome to the distant future of the Marvel universe. If readers are familiar with the history of the Guardians of the Galaxy, great. However, this series would be designed to be continuity-free. You don’t ever have to have heard of these characters to enjoy the story. We’ll tell the readers all they need to know during the story . . . and here it is:

Once upon a time, a group of disparate heroes gathered and became an elite force for justice in the galaxy. Over time, a tenuous peace was developed in the galactic quadrant, and alien threats had been defeated, some even destroyed. Seven years ago, the Guardians of the Galaxy were honored in a ceremony that also signaled their retirement. They were so effective, they had made themselves obsolete.

They were heroes.

But that was a long time ago.

Fast forward seven years to NOW. A great deal has changed. It should be noted that the Shi’Ar, Kree and Skrull etc. are still out there, but how exactly they would work into the overall cosmology of this new future is flexible.

Peace has been established amongst the sentient races in the Milky Way, our quadrant of the galaxy. The union has enemies, of course, but they are not, themselves, united, and therefore present no overall threat. All they can usually manage are minor, random attacks, the equivalent of terrorist attacks upon the United States in the present day. There are entire planets and races of those who would destroy this union if they could. But overall, there is trade and commerce and peace.
But not for long.

We begin with Vance Astro, who is now the leader of a small, exploratory colony at the farthest reaches of inhabited space. Vance has returned to what he loves most: the life of a space explorer.

Vance and his team of one hundred and eight have set up a temporary settlement and have been doing research on the planet for the last three months. One night, suddenly and viciously, the settlement is attacked. The attack comes so unexpectedly that Vance cannot protect his crew. However, the telepathic Vance manages to send a psychic distress signal out into space, though fragmented at best, before he is brought down. It will be quite some time before we learn of his fate.

What of the other Guardians of the Galaxy?

Charlie 27 is now owner and operator of his own intergalactic shipping company. Think of the business as a kind of cosmic FedEx. He is content with his life, at peace now that the quadrant is free. He has settled down with his wife and he has a newborn daughter. Charlie says that he doesn’t miss the old days of danger and adventure but in fact, deep down he does. In his spare time, Charlie 27 is refurbishing the Guardians' old starship, the Freedom’s Lady. As always, he is a decent man with simple ambitions, quiet and strong. Though he thinks fondly of his old friends, he does not miss those days. He was always a soldier by necessity.

Nikki is another story entirely. With peace comes prosperity, and with prosperity, the desire for entertainment and for luxury. Nikki is one the Milky Way's most popular fashion models. But celebrity has done little to help her adjust to these new peaceful times. The lonely life she now leads, and the horrid, violent memories of her childhood have led Nikki to become a drug addict. She is volatile, and yet well-loved. Still the wiseass, the tough chick, the happy girl . . . but then, so was junkie supermodel Gia Carangi.

Yondu, of course, is still a warrior. The sage, the monk, the philosopher-soldier. It is all he knows. Currently, the finned Beta Centaurian is a combat and weapons trainer for the galactic militia. When we first see him he is on Mars colony administering a final exam (physical combat, of course) to the graduating class. Secretly, Yondu has also become romantically involved with one of his female recruits. Her name is Erika Killraven, and she is the descendent of a legendary freedom fighter from Earth’s past. Even Yondu’s people, before their slaughter by the Badoon, knew of Killraven’s exploits, just as they had heard of Alexander and Cleopatra and Napoleon, among others. Erika has proven herself to be quite the warrior and Yondu expects that with more experience she could perhaps, one day, live up to the reputation of her ancestor. Yet he must reconcile his almost monastic reticence with the passion he feels within for her.

Martinex has gone through the most changes of the group, including a kind of mutation of his silicon-isotope organic crystal form. He has allowed his body to mutate so that he could connect himself to a vast array of communications systems positioned throughout the Milky Way. Martinex has become extremely paranoid about the possibility of another invasion from somewhere out in the galaxy. His body has grown long, crystalline tendrils that have merged with the communications technology of the master satellite. Martinex hangs in the center of a vast crystalline web that radiates from his body. His body has hooked itself into the central control systems for all the satellites so that he can listen for the sounds of a possible invasion, but he is also haunted by the lingering communications of ages past that still bounce weakly about the stars. He seems to have really gone over the edge, rambling about the voices of ghosts he hears throughout the universe. Martinex’s body is a kind of receiver, picking up signals from all over – even from civilizations long dead.

It is Martinex who intercepts the fragmented bit of Vance’s psychic distress call. This sends him into a complete frenzy, as he fears the worst. Immediately he contacts the other members of the Guardians.

Meanwhile, on an enormous asteroid at the edge of colonized space, we meet those responsible for the attack on Vance’s research team and the object of Martinex’s paranoia. The main villain of this series is Sa Tome, who believes himself to be the last Warlord of the Badoon. After several later attempts to control the Terran system, the Badoon suffered a crushing defeat at the hands of the Guardians and the combined might of the Milky Way resistance forces, the surviving Badoon retreated into deep space where they were hunted down for their crimes against the galaxy.
The Badoon have become practically extinct.

Warlord Sa Tome, however, will not concede this point. He would rather see his entire species eradicated than accept what has happened to the once galactic conquerors. Along with a group of Badoon geneticists, Sa Tome has found a way to breed new Badoon warriors. The geneticists have found a way -- through genetic manipulation -- to speed up the evolutionary process and create the ultimate killing machine. No longer the product of breeding, these new reptilian soldiers are grown in vast science labs at the core of their asteroid science base. Sa Tome looks at this as the dawning of a new day for the Badoon. Humanity will pay for its arrogance. First among those to suffer will be the Guardians of the Galaxy, who are legends in the eyes of both humans and Badoon. And what better way to subjugate the human race than to destroy their legends?

But what are these new Badoon warriors, exactly? The Guardians, most hated enemies of the Badoon, are about to find out.

Charlie 27 has grown used to his friend’s paranoia, though he is still horrified to see the changes that Martinex has undergone. When Martinex tells him about the message from Vance, Charlie doesn't know what to think, given his old friend's apparent mental instability. And then it happens. Suddenly and without any warning, vicious attacks are launched against colonies around the Milky Way.

The new Badoon have an impervious carapace that covers the softer portions of their body. These warriors can fold themselves up into an armored ball of sorts that is so strong that they can be launched from orbiting starships. On Jupiter, and all over the galaxy, the starships seem to be nothing more than trading ships. The objects they jettison seem like nothing more than space trash. Instead, they are warriors. The armored bodies of the new Badoon can survive planet fall, rising up from impact craters to attack with fearsome abandon.

The Milky Way doesn't know what hit it. But Charlie 27 does. He is the primary target on Jupiter, and he sees his wife die before his eyes. He barely escapes with his daughter aboard the refurbished Freedom's Lady, and heads for Mars to find Yondu.

The Mars militia training camp is the hardest hit of all the initial targets. Yondu and Erika Killraven are the only two to survive the Badoon attack.
Nikki is off on a shoot when word of the attacks comes through. Through a drug-induced haze, she watches the footage of death and destruction. Suddenly the transmission is interrupted and she finds herself looking at the face of Martinex. He proclaims that the galaxy has need of her again.
A despondent Charlie picks up the others in the Freedom’s Lady and transports them to Martinex on his communications satellite. The rejoined Guardians of the Galaxy watch as Martinex disconnects himself from the crystal communications web. This is not the Martinex that they all remember. His body has taken on a far more deadly look, sharp and jagged. He tells all those assembled that they must first learn the fate of Vance Astro and then they must deal with this new Badoon threat before it can again spread like a cancer through the galaxy.

Yondu and Erika Killraven are gung-ho enough, but Charlie-27 is reluctant. He has his daughter to think of, and he’s tired of war. But when he sees how helpless and lost Nikki is—despite the persona she seems to put on for them—he knows he must stay, if only for her.

They have not been a team for a long time. Two of their old comrades are missing, possibly dead, including their most powerful member. One of them is likely insane, one is a junkie, one is just plain tired, and the two greatest warriors among them are distracted by a love affair neither is truly comfortable with. Now they must face an enemy force made up of warriors only one of whom can devastate an entire city.

And it just gets uglier and nastier and -- more importantly -- more noble from there.

They're the Guardians of the Galaxy, after all.
They've got work to do.

Christopher Golden can be found here. Rich Johnston can be found writing Lying In the Gutters

Pages: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4

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