The Transcender Threat
Legend has it that from the elevated place of Hlidskialf, within the palace of Valaskialf, Odin of Asgard can see all that transpires in the nine worlds.
The legend is true, insofar as it goes. In reality looking in one direction Odin can see all of importance that transpires in our entire Multiverse. Looking in another direction he can see into the time stream – back into the past and also into some of the more probable futures.
As Thor approached Odin, the Lord of Asgard was upon Hlidskialf looking forward in the time stream into a very grim yet highly probable future. "Father" said Thor interrupting Odin's dour thoughts "I have brought them." Accompanying Thor were no less personages than Captain America, IronMan, the Silver Surfer, and Dr Stephen Strange himself.
Coming out of his contemplations Odin addressed his visitors " I have requested your presence here in Asgard because of a threat faced by all of the nine worlds." " Nor do I believe the threat will end if the nine worlds are destroyed." "The longed feared Asgardian Ragnorak is as nothing compared to this threat" finished Odin.
"Look hither" said Odin pointing into the distance "for something of a view of those who would destroy us." The perception afforded the four heroes was incomplete as the enemy were among the very few in the Multiverse with the power to partially cloak themselves against Odin's detections. However it was enough for the assembled heroes, even Stephen Strange and the Silver Surfer, to involuntarily shudder.
"In your vast experience mage or yours Surfer" enquired Odin "have either of you ever encountered the like ?" "Can you add anything to our existing knowledge of them ?" "Never" said Stephen Strange trying hard to contain another involuntary shudder "never anything like that." "Nor I" enjoined the Surfer. " While Earth has many heroes" continued Odin "you four in particular have a special place in our hearts here in Asgard." "I ask you to join us here for the coming battle and should you agree I propose augmenting each of your powers in various ways."
" Those who seek our destruction have not chosen any name" said Thor "but my father refers to them as the Transcenders because of their ability to prevail against all they encounter." "Odin has foreseen that the main attack from the transcenders will be here at the very heart of Asgard" continued Thor "with simultaneous subsidiary attacks against the rest of the nine worlds."
" What of Earth" asked Captain America "what arrangements will be made for it's defence?" "The Earth has many defenders" rplied Thor "The Grand Vizier, Heimdall and Hogun the Grim are advising them on the nature of the threat." Almost as an afterthought Thor added " My father will ensure that the ordinary non superpowered mortals of Earth will be interdimensionally transported to a safe haven."
"Ultimately all will depend on the situation here in Asgard " said Odin "if we fail here then all is lost." Without any hesitation all four of the heroes agreed to remain in Asgard, there to confront the principal threat. At that moment Odin gestured and energies arose from the very land of Asgard itself. The energies moved about the Silver Surfer – all around and within him. The Surfer felt elements of the Odinpower enjoin with his own power cosmic - a sensation he had known once before. He was exultant at his new found power but then humbly accepting of it.
Both Odin and the Surfer knew of the synergistic effect of merging elements of the Odinpower with the power cosmic. Many millennia ago Galactus and a more youthful Odin had cooperated to defeat a Universal threat . On the verge of defeat both great entities had joined into a single being and with the benefit of the resultant synergies had turned aside the deadly alien threat. It was something neither Odin nor Galactus ever spoke of again, but the experience was never forgotten.
Odin then bestowed upon Captain America a temporary but most valuable gift. An incredibly light yet superbly strong and durable suit of armour that in no way constrained the Captains freedom of movement. Indeed embedded in the lightweight armour was a small exo-skeleton element that greatly magnified the Captains strength and speed. The armour a combination of Asgardian magic and Brell technology each reinforcing the other was built long ago but had never been used. The good captains shield, probably proof against any entity below skyfather level was then mystically enhanced by the Lord of Asgard.
Iron Man was provided with one of only three Odin gems known to exist. This near inexhaustible power source was mystically implanted as an inseparable element of his armour, vastly increasing iron mans strength, durability and raw power.
Last but certainly not least Odin took Dr Strange aside escorting him into a most sacred place located to the side of Hlidskialf, a most inner sanctuary, the throne room within a throne room - only ever seen by a very few of the most faithful. I am not privy to what transpired in that place but suffice to say that Earth's sorcerer supreme emerged with a second amulet upon his person. An artefact older than any other in all Asgardian cosmology and that had not seen the light of day since Odin himself was a youth playing with his brothers Ve and Vili under the watchful eyes of Bestla and Borr.
Elsewhere in other areas of the nine worlds preparations for the onslaught continued. Hela readied her legions of the dead for the defence of Hel. The rumbling voice of Surtur could be heard throughout the nine worlds as he re-forged his great sword twilight making it even more powerful and made his followers/legions ready. At the edge of Valhalla the souls of the fallen warriors, the Einheriar, readied for a battle greater even than the Asgardian Ragnorak.
The life forces of almost all of Asgard save Odin, Thor, Loki and a few trusted others powered up the Asgardian Destroyer construct to which Odin entrusted that most magnificent weapon the newly reforged OdinSword. Odin himself grew to Surtur size at the same time teleporting unto himself his great spear Gunghir and the seldom used yet magnificent shield of Odin both proportionally increased in size to reflect his own enhanced stature.
In perhaps the strangest twist of all Oracle, released from Geirridours flaming mystical prison, joined as a single entity with Mimir. That combined entity moved to the side of great Odin there best to advise him on the coming battle. The Mighty Thor dressing in his armour, fabled belt of strength and magnificent gauntlets raised his hammer mjolnor high and watched as energies arose from the very soil of Asgard and entered the hammer.
As Odin had foreseen the Transcender attack was launched simultaneously against all of the nine worlds. Also as predicted the attack was strongest against Asgard itself.
Very little was known of the entities Odin had named the Transcenders. They were understood to be capable of matter/energy manipulation on a cosmic scale and were versed in reality manipulation. Rather than overwhelm a foe by superior force it was their way to find their adversaries greatest weakness and defeat him with the minimum effort possible. Also they sometimes fought using "proxies" created specifically for the purpose. Of their true nature and numbers nothing was known.
This Transcender attack commenced by proxy. Countless numbers of larger than human size obsidian shapeshifters appeared above all the nine worlds and descended upon them. The creatures were strong, highly durable and capable of energy projection. Their vast numbers alone posed a threat. In the skies above Asgard the disintegration beam of the Destroyer construct was joined by the power of Odin directed through Gunghir, by bolts of anti-force from Thor, immensely powerful bolts of cosmic/odinpower energy from the Silver Surfer, and Iron Man's much enhanced repulsor rays. A not inconsiderable mystical defence was mounted by Dr Strange, Loki and Karnilla acting in unison.
The skies above Asgard turned first blinding white from the energy defence and then very dark as the Transcender proxies were melted and vapourised. However the proxies seemed to come from an endless source and were soon on the surface of Asgard and in close quarter combat. It was in this part of the battle with his most formidable exo-skeleton light armour that Captain America came into his own. Skilfully using his shield with its fresh Odin enchantments he slay huge numbers of the proxies. The fallen warriors of Valhalla the Enheriar also showed their mettle in this close quarter combat.
As the close quarter combat continued the Oracle/Mimir amalgam cried out "be careful Odin we sense there may be actual Transcenders among the proxies." Indeed a few instants later a proxy near Odin grew to Odins 1,000 feet height and seized the Lord of Asgards wrists firmly. The entity was too powerful to be a proxy. For a moment the Transcender occupied Odin's undivided attention as both entities locked together, Odin in full battle armour, coruscating with energies through the length and breadth of their huge frames.
" How to determine which are proxies and which are actual Transcenders ?" mused Odin. Even as he fought the Transcender Odin interdimensionally teleported all proxies in the vicinity of Asgard to a pocket dimension limbo prison he had created some time ago. Including the entity Odin was engaging - three entities remained – all were shown up as Transcenders - as unlike the proxies they had the power to resist interdimensional teleportation. The other two Transcenders converged on Odin but the first was given pause by the attentions of the Asgardian Destroyer and the second by a massive combined attack from Thor, the Silver Surfer, Iron Man, and Captain America.
The three Transcenders then gave up all pretense of corporeal form and returned to what was presumably their normal state of beings of pure energy. Then in a brief break in hostilities the air was filled with the dying screams of thousands of Asgardians. In that dreadful moment Odin and Thor realised that the Transcenders had detected the physical bodies of the Asgardians whose souls powered the Destroyer and (protected though they were) had slain them. The Destroyer construct crashed to the floor and the OdinSword fell from its grasp clattering to the ground.
Using considerable godly power Odin almost instantly brought the Asgardians back to life. Such was Odin's use of power that he momentarily drew on the ancient amulet he had given to Dr Strange and elements of the OdinPower bequeathed to the Silver Surfer. The three energy form Transcenders looked on – Odin's act was alien to them – what is dead should remain dead. For all their alienness they also knew full well that the act of creation was a far greater one than the act of destruction. Momentarily there emanated from them something that might have passed for grudging respect. Was it possible that they, like so many before them, had underestimated the power of Asgard ?
On that note the Transcenders and their proxies that were still engaged elsewhere in the nine worlds departed the field of battle. In this first stage of the attack suffice it to say that others of the nine worlds did not fare quite so well as the more heavily defended Asgard. Still all, including Midgard and its heroes had held firm.
In the temporary respite that was afforded the Destroyer construct was re-animated again by the life forces of most Asgardians.
The second stage of the Transcender attack was an all out energy attack on all of the nine worlds but again with the focus on Asgard. At first the source of the Transcender attack could not be pinpointed. While it may have been extradimensional – they were clearly drawing on energies from different parts of our own Universe as evidenced by the greatly accelerated death of a number of stars. To what extent the Transenders actually needed these additional energies was unclear.
Under this massive energy assault Hela's domain was the first to fall. It may be thought that killing those that are already dead may not seem to matter. However the disintegration of Hela, her realm and every last one of her followers into sub-atomic fragments that were then cast beyond retrieval amongst the solar winds effectively meant that she would play no further part in events. Ymir and the other frost giants quickly followed – there greatest weakness was easily exploited as the Transenders subjected them to a level of heat greater than ever found in even the the hottest star.
Mighty Surtur and his real of Muspelheim also fell as the Transcenders again exploited that realms great weakness. Earth physicists say that there is no temperature lower than the minus 273 degrees Kelvin of absolute zero. Such laws of physics do not apply to the Transcenders who froze great Surtur and indeed all of Muspelheim at a temperature that men cannot measure but was assuredly far below absolute zero.
Asgard protected by the shield of Odin now grown to City size fought on, as Dr Strange and Loki both in astral form finally succeeded in locating the source of the transcender attack.
With all of the considerable force available to them the bulk of the Asgard force teleported close to the source of the Transcenders and launched an all out attack. The Transcender base of operation, if such it can be called, was swamped by a combined Odin/Thor godblast, the Destroyers disintegration beam and molecular disruptors and an awesome attack from the Silver Surfer utilising to the fullest extent the synergistic effects of combining his power cosmic and elements of the OdinPower. The formidably enhanced Iron Man also added his not inconsiderable apabilities.
Eventually the Transcender attack was silenced and the Odin/Thor/Destroyer/Surfer/Iron Man attack ran its course.
The weary combatants returned to Asgard and made for Hlidskialf.
Odin returned to normal size and threw off his badly damaged battle armour. The armour literally disintegrated as it hot the ground, a most depressing site. The armour of Thor had been literally stripped and fried from him, his vaunted gauntlets damaged and cracks even appeared in great mjolnor. The Silver Surfer though seemingly allright outwardly was on the verge of exhaustion. Iron Man noted ruefully that his armour had been all but destroyed and that the Odin Gem that had been mystically implaned in his armour was now drained of all power.
Asgard itself had not faired well – though the City proper had been largely protected, continental Asgard was little more than a cinder. At the high place of Hlidskialf, Odin was flanked by the Oracle/Mimir amalgam on one side and Dr Strange and Thor on the other. The battle weary monarch looked out from Hlidskialf and derived no comfort from what he saw.
Of the nine worlds only Midgard and Asgard itself remained undefeated and already the Transcenders were looking elsewhere for conquest. An increasing number of stars were falling dark as the already too powerful Transcenders drew even more power from them. Midgard, despite the best efforts of its heroes, and even with the intervention of certain elder gods, teetered on the edge of defeat. However Odin took comfort that the bulk of humanity was still safely ensconsed in the remote dimension to which he had interdimensionally teleported them.
The group gathering about Odin at Hlidskialf appeared mightily weary and disheartened. Of them all Captain America seemed strangely the least weary, his light armour almost undamaged. He was not seen as a major target by the Transcenders but the condition of his armour may also have been testament to the Brell technology which helped create it.
Odin briefly looked into the time stream at one probable future and was confused by what he saw. There seemed to be aspects of the time stream past and future coming together in the now moment. "There is definitely a local disturbance in the space time-continuum" remarked Dr Strange. "I sense it too" enjoined the Surfer.
At that moment Oracle/Mimir cried out " The Transcenders come again, this time to finish us." "We are not quite ready for them my son" said Odin wearily "if you could but by us some time ?" With that Thor raised mjolnor high and in a completely unrestrained way summoned the elements impeaching them to do his will. Both cosmic and more earthly winds, rains, storms and lightning of indescribable destructive power seemed to reinforce one another as Thor brought forth elemental forces not just from Asgard but surrounding dimensions and even, seemingly, from time itself.
Never was there such a storm as this – no planet or planetary system had ever witnessed the like – and all was directed at the implacable Transcenders.
And for a time at the storms height even these obdurate beings were held at bay. But the storm could not be maintained forever and as it's intensity dropped somewhat five Transcenders appeared in the still storm laden skies above Asgard. Odin took one final fleeting look from Hlidskialf and thought he saw Vili and Ve approaching from the past and Magni the son of Thor approaching from a possible future. He looked to Oracle/Mimir for explanation but before that amalgam could speak the Transcenders struck.
The Transcenders struck at the Asgard Destroyer not merely melting it but vapourising it. Moments therafter they gathered the OdinSword briefly examining before teleporting it to an unknown destination. As the life forces of thousands of Asgardians were released Odin directed them to their physical bodies. He then invoked an Asgardian spell never before used and the thousands of Asgardian bodies merged into a single large physical entity of immense size. The AllAsgard entity picked up a nearby Transcender and hurled it far from Asgard only to lose a hand in the process. Such was the nature of the Transcenders that the AllAsgard entity was unable to regenerate the lost hand.
Still the Transcenders pressed the attack and Odin again grew to Surtur level size. In still another strange twist of fate Odin teleported unto himself Twilight the sword of Surtur. Instants before his realm had been frozen Surtur had thrown the sword from Muspelheim to Asgard for Odins safekeeping. It certainly looked more than strange the Allfather now aggressively wieldin this great weapon of what was once one of his greatest enemies.
The Silver Surfer, immensely powerful though he now was, was struck in flight by energy thrusts from two Transcenders acting simultaneously. He plummeted to the soil of Asgard stunned but still very much alive . Meanwhile the trio of Dr Strange, Loki and Karnilla just barely escaped instant vapourisation by the erection of a mystic force barrier that required their full combined power.
Under this final attack the Odin Shield itself still protecting Asgard high above the City gave way, overheated and overloaded it shattered to into countless minor pieces. With his energies depleted Odin was unable to reform it.
As Odin then struck with Twilight, one of the Transcenders struck at Oracle/Mimir with bolts from its eyes separating the amalgam into its components and then crushing the less mobile Mimir underfoot.
Against all odds and all reasonable expectations Midgard and its heroes still held on by a thumb nail against the Transcenders.
Using Twilight a beleagured Odin had absorbed and contained within the sword part of the energy form of one of the Transcenders. As Odin braced himself in this grim confrontation Oracle cried out "look Odin, look the past and future heroes of Asgard and Midgard are converging on this now moment." There could be no mistaking it, heroes, villains and others of Asgards and Midgards past and some more probable futures were converging on both Asgard and Midgard.
The legions of the past and of the future were too numerous to name here – long forgotten ancients joined with those yet to be born the whole unstoppable tide converging on the Transcenders. The Transcenders could perhaps have escaped their fate merely by leaving the vicinities of Asgard and Midgard. Instead more Transcenders were drawn in against the unstoppable force. They might as well have been children trying to stop the waves crashing against the shore.
Thus the Transcender threat, the greatest ever faced by Midgard or Asgard, ended .
The final blow was struck by an entity as ancient as it was powerful - the Demi-Urge -acting in concert with Odin's brothers Vili and Ve. This ancient entity which had once given life now struck the death blow of the Transcenders.
Afterwards the legions returned whence they came to the distant past and in some cases to a future which may never be.