The massive dimensional rift was visible to

Shall Asgard Survive?

Asgard City – the Palace of Odin

Some time in the future

The chamber lay in the deepest and most inaccessible part of Odin's palace. First down interminable winding stone steps and then through a labyrinth of slowly descending ever narrowing corridors. Millennia ago Asgard's Liege had locked and barred the chamber with only the grand vizier as his witness. Incredibly no one had come to the chamber again, at least until now.

Nothing Asgardian, not even the Destroyer armour itself, had ever been made more secure than the contents of this chamber. An ancient spell placed upon the entrance door and huge lock made them and the walls around them impervious to physical attack. The same potent spell had also made the chamber proof against even the most persistent interdimensional intruder. The spell was not just to keep intruders out but also to keep something else in.

The weapon lying so long in the chamber had only ever been used once on that fateful day when the evil aspect of Infinity had foolishly sought to challenge Odin's supremacy over the heavens. Odin had hoped it would never be used again, though he could not bring himself to destroy that which he played a part in creating. Possibly the weapon could no longer be destroyed by anyone.

Legend had it that of all the Asgardians who had ever lived only Odin in his prime could safely wield the great weapon though when the time came to use it even he had struggled not to be seduced by it. At a later time Odin had created enchanted wrist bracelets intended to make it possible for his son to wield the weapon if this became necessary. Later still Odin had told Thor of the weapon.

Now on the eve of Asgard's darkest ever hour the huge chamber door lay open. Thor now the Lord of all Asgard stood just outside. A magnificent two bladed axe untarnished by age and with it's blade shining far brighter than any ambient light would allow was just inside the chamber. The OdinAxe just as it must have been when first created. It was held in some form of casing of enchanted metal and heavy oak and surrounded by a containment field but as Thor looked on the wood and metal vaporised and the energy containment field dissipated. In its present form the OdinAxe was a little too large for an Asgardian god to wield comfortably, though it could assume any size that its wielder chose. No longer contained the axe remained in a levitated position about six feet above ground level.

Thor was reminded momentarily of other axes he had either seen or heard of such as Skurge's axe and the axes of the former heralds of Galactus, Terrax and Morg. But these all paled into insignificance beside this magnificent weapon.

Lord Thor moved into the chamber and without any prompting on his part the great axe flew into his hand and reduced to a more comfortable size. Thor sensed immediately the seductive evil in the axe. Odin had warned him of this.

As possessor of both the Odinpower and the Rune Magics Thor was now perhaps more powerful than even his father had been, save possibly Odin at his prime during the great Silver Age. Even so caution had dictated that the Odinson use the enchanted wrist bracelets as his father had intended.

Even with the dampening effect of the bracelets Thor could feel the aggressive influence of the axe trying to exert dominance over him. It was stronger than the innate will of the destroyer construct had ever been.

Thor pondered on why a creation of Odin's could be so seductively evil, but then remembered his father's words as if they had been spoken yesterday. With all of the nine worlds and much more under threat from Infinity, Odin had temporarily allied himself with the elemental beings Ymir and Surtur. The axe was a creation of all three of them and certain other forces that had existed at that time. Thus it contained an element of evil, though ultimately it had served its purpose.

As Thor moved up into the light of day with axe in hand he sensed it drawing ambient energy from its surroundings and willed it to stop. Thor decided to "trial" the axe but not in Asgard itself.

Deep Space

In an uninhabited star system Thor threw the axe at near light speed straight through the systems yellow sun. The axe returned dutifully to Thor's hand and was not even warm to the touch. During the second or two that it had taken to pass through the sun the axe had, without Thors bidding, greedily absorbed much of the sun's energy leaving the star a pale imitation of it's former self – much reduced in size and luminosity.

Thor then prepared to carry out a further "test" with the intent of using the axe to take the energies from a relatively nearby star about to go nova and teleporting them to several relatively close yet dying stars. Thus breathing fresh life into them. However before the test was complete an unseen and undetected force smashed the axe from Thors grip and gathered it up. Then taking control of the axe it unleashed the full force of the super novae directly at Thor.

Possessed of both the OdinPower and the Rune Magics it is highly unlikely that the mighty Thor could be injured by a super nova explosion. However with the possibility that the axe's usurper had added unknown energies of its own the son of Odin opted for caution. Thor did two things in the mere moment of time available to him. First he teleported a modest distance away to reduce the impact of the supernova energies and second he used his hammer boosted by the Odinpower to erect a most formidable force shield about him. . It may seem odd that possessed of all the OdinPower Thor would still use his hammer but the bond between them was so strong that it was unlikely he would ever cease to carry it with him.

Thors precautions proved more than sufficient as the Thunder God tensed for an anticipated second assault. It did not come immediately. If the attacker thought that gaining mastery of the OdinAxe would be a simple matter it severely underestimated the weapon. As Thor watched on the aggressor was clearly distracted as it struggled to assert control over the great axe.

Thor's assailant struggled mightily to control the OdinAxe. At the time of its creation the Axe was programmed only to accept control from Odin or (possibly and at a later time) Thor. The Thunder god being a mere stripling at that time. Even then the axe would only submit if their will was strong enough. Millennia ago the axe had still sought to seduce Odin when he employed it, and other things, to turn aside the evil aspect of Infinity. Most recently the axe had also sought to exert dominance over the mighty Thor but had begrudgingly recognised the Odinson as its master. In this regard the dampening effect of the wrist bands Odin had made for Thor long ago were helpful though not decisive.

Thor's assailant knew the history of the axe as he had been there and played a part in its creation. Not unreasonably therefore, he expected to be able to exert his influence over it. But it was not to be. Responding to the desperate need of the time both Surtur and Ymir and others now thought long gone had played a part in the axes creation. Nonetheless it was Odin's enchantments that had been predominant.

Thor thought that Surtur looked somehow different. It had certainly been a very long time. Set in the elemental's forehead was a gem that Thor knew to be the power infinity gem – one of those gems that made up the Infinity gauntlet. But it was more than his – Surtur had surprised Thor in obtaining the OdinAxe and the fire giant had not been known for stealth in times past. On Surtur's back was a huge sword that could only have been the mystical Twilight – sword of legend.

In Surtur's grip the OdinAxe had grown greatly in size though whether this was of Surtur's or the Axe's own doing was unclear. Then the Axe began to glow first red hot, then white hot, then into incandescence and then beyond reaching temperatures in excess of anything naturally occurring. Temperatures at which even the most powerfully enchanted metals should be vaporised. It seemed an odd thing thought Thor since one such as Surtur was a creature of fire and used to intense heat. Still perhaps even an elemental fire demon had its limits, temperatures at which even it could be uncomfortable.

At that moment Thor threw his hammer the mighty Mjolnor directly at Surtur's hand. It had been some time since the Lord of Asgard had thrown the hammer in anger and he rejoiced in it. Also seeing no reason to hold back he threw the hammer with the full force of the OdinPower behind it.

Surtur cried out in pain momentarily releasing his grip on the OdinAxe. Whether this was due to the force of mjolnor's impact or the heat generated by the OdinAxe or a combination of both was unclear. The OdinAxe moved like a thing alive. Spinning about with the middle of its shaft as an axis the Axe spun so quickly that it formed a hemisphere of pure raw sharpness and unequalled cutting power. Surtur sought to brush it aside with his huge tail but instead cried out in pain for a second time as his great tail was completely shredded.

When Odin and others created the axe it was intended to cut through any known physical object enchanted or otherwise. Though advance sciences had created new metals since that time there still existed no physical object that could resist the axes cutting power. The thickest Adamantium might as well have been hot butter to the Axe of Odin. It had even been created to slice through energy fields.

Giving up, at least for the moment, on the OdinAxe Surtur noticed that the hammer of Thor had been thrown with such force that after hitting him it had travelled a very great distance. It was now returning to its master on a curved path avoiding going too close to Surtur. The elemental saw his chance and sought to draw the hammer towards him. Mjolnor continued to return to its master but at much reduced speed as Surtur drawing increasingly on the power infinity gem sought to gather it for himself. As Surtur drew evermore on the power gem Mjolnor's speed became painstakingly slow.

Is there a power anywhere in the Universe that is so great that it can keep the hammer of Thor apart from it's master? Particularly when it's master is possessed of both the OdinPower and the Rune Magics? If there is such a power it would need to be greater than even the apocalyptic power of Surtur utilising the power infinity gem. A power which proved unequal to the task. To put the matter beyond doubt Thor teleported the minor distance to his slow moving hammer to recover it.

Surtur was enraged at his lack of success. He grasped his great sword Twilight from behind his back. "Keep the disgusting axe" he yelled "and your insignificant hammer." "What need have I of them when I wield the greatest sword in all existence?"

Sheathing mjolnor in straps on his back Thor grasped the OdinAxe in both hands and for the first time in the battle mystically increased his size to equal Surtur's 1,000 feet. At Thor's mental instruction the OdinAxe increased it's size correspondingly.

Drawing without reservation on the power infinity gem the giant elemental thrust at Thor with the legendary sword spoken of only in whispers throughout more than one Universe. The inconceivably powerful OdinAxe sentient in it's own right lashed against the great sword Twilight. Both Thor and Surtur held firm. The two huge and powerful frames locked together as Surtur kept on drawing on the power infinity gem.

But the first to give was neither Surtur nor Thor and most certainly not the magnificent OdinAxe. As Thor and Surtur thrust at each other again and as OdinAxe and Twilight struck each other with galaxy shattering force small cracks and fissures began to appear in the great sword. As sword and axe clashed against each other again with the same galaxy shattering might Twilight finally shattered.

Surtur looked on at Thor with pure malevolence. "Do not think that because you long ago broke the cycle and the dominance of those who lived above in shadow, that the enmity between us is over" said Surtur. "That we both ultimately survived the Asgardian Ragnorak does not put an end to the hatred I bear you, not a thousand Ragnorak's would do that." "I came to destroy you son of Odin, while you were far distant from Asgard." continued Surtur "and to take that which I played a part in creating."

"I have been gone long and have learned much in that extra-dimensional place you know only as the "fires of evil" but it is time for me and my allies and followers, both new and old, to return to the Asgardian plane." threatened Surtur "there to reside once more." When Thor re-created Asgard and eventually several others of the nine worlds a new Muspelheim certainly did not feature in his plans. Surtur left this fact unstated.

With that the monstrous elemental reformed the great sword and Thor noticed that he had totally regenerated his destroyed tail. Then Surtur left the field of battle teleporting away interdimensionally.

Thor returned to Asgard. His testing of the power of the OdinAxe had been more thorough than anticipated and the great axe had not been found wanting. Still he was troubled – the sword Twilight was capable of causing rifts in entire dimensions even without drawing on the power gem – had Surtur been holding back? – it didn't seem so.

Moreover Thor knew a little more of the extra-dimensional "fires of evil" than Surtur might realise. When in times past the son of Odin had sought out some of the Multiverse's most powerful god pantheons he had learned certain things he would prefer not to have known. Thor shuddered, just for a moment.

The massive dimensional rift was clearly visible from Asgard. Through it poured a stream of fire and fire demons all heading to the vicinity of where the realm of Muspelheim had once been located. On the other side of the rift was the exultant fire giant Surtur, his sword Twilight raised high. Doubtless the elemental had used the monstrous weapon to create the rift.

There was nothing ordinary about the fires that poured through the rift. They were of mystical origins and as such needed neither combustible material, a minimum flash point nor a gaseous supporter of the combustion. More than this the fires were also both sentient and malevolent. Their core temperatures beyond what might have been encountered in the fires of the former realm of Muspelheim. Some of the accompanying fire demons were recognisable as followers of Surtur while others seemed to be of a somewhat different ilk. Larger and more powerful. To the casual observer Surtur's legions appeared subservient to the larger demons and even the fire giant himself did not seem to have full control over events.

Thor Lord of Asgard stood ready. In his hand one of the greatest weapons in existence - the fabled OdinAxe which once helped turn aside the evil aspect of Infinity itself. The son of Odin raised the great Axe and it immediately began absorbing most of the oncoming fires and many of the fire demons. Thor instructed the Axe to teleport the fires it had absorbed to pre-arranged extra-dimensional locations, several uninhabited star systems comprised of huge ice worlds of varying degrees of intense coldness. Thor felt the Axe becoming very hot though not beyond his ability to hold it. Indeed after millennia of inactivity the sentient axe seemed to be relishing the conflict.

Some of the fires and fire demons managed to escape the Axe's attentions but others of Asgard stood ready for them. Among them the formidable Destroyer construct standing equal in height to Surtur and powered by the life forces of an unknown but large number of Asgardians. Thor's son from his giantess mistress Jarnsaxa, the mighty Magni, stood ready now holding his fathers hammer in hand. Thor thought that right about now he would have welcomed he support of the frost giant Ymir and his followers. But the elemental was long gone and in any case would never have sided with Asgard against Surtur.

When Thor broke the endless cycle of those who live above in shadow Surtur did not perish in the final battle. For a time he lay purposeless even semi-comatose in the great void. However he was eventually plucked from that place by those who inhabit the extra-dimensional place known as the fires of evil or sometimes the living fires of evil. At first Surtur found himself comfortable in this place among somewhat like minded entities. Still he was but one of a number of elemental fire beings of great power. Also the vast roiling sentient fires themselves proved somewhat intractable to total control. Even with his quiet recovery of the sword Twilight and acquisition of the formidable power infinity gem he was not able to fully and completely dominate this realm.

When Surtur decided to return to the Asgardian plane he found it difficult to fully extract himself from the fires of evil. Not entirely to his satisfaction, he was accompanied by some of the fire demon followers of another great fire elemental and these bore him no special allegiance.

The source from which the fires and demons came was an almost inexhaustible one and could supply far more material than was required just to re-create Muspelheim. Indeed a small part of these fires would be enough to consume and replace all that Thor had re-created. As Surtur saw the surge of fire and fire demons largely teleported away by means of the OdinAxe he called a temporary halt to the surge and the fires and lesser fire demons obeyed him. Although the gaping dimensional rift remained open.

Still armed with Twilight and with the power infinity gem Surtur stepped through the rift to confront the mighty Thor. At that moment though Surtur sensed the disintegration energies building atop the visor of the Asgardian Destroyer construct. Since the Destroyer was a weapon created to slay Celestials he could hardly ignore it.

Drawing on the resources of the power infinity gem Surtur threw the huge Twilight sword at mind numbing speed and unerring accuracy directly at the Destroyer construct's visor. Almost at the exact same moment the Destroyer unleashed it's greatest weapon the fabled disintegration beam. Caught in the beam Surtur's sword was entirely disintegrated but not before it slightly unbalanced the Destroyer moving its head slightly such that the beam went awry smashing through the gaping maw of the dimensional rift.

Surtur just barely evaded the edge of the disintegration beam as it streamed past.

It is said that nothing can withstand the disintegration beam of Asgard's Destroyer construct and indeed very few things can. But as the disintegration energies crashed into the vast roiling mystical fires on the other side of the rift they seem to anger and excite the living fires rather than quell and destroy them. So much so that the fires and certain of the fire demons came on again through the dimensional rift even against Surtur's express will.

Seeing its error the Destroyer construct led by the life force of Baldur the brave ceased its onslaught – but too late!

Raising the magnificent OdinAxe again Thor called for Magni and the Destroyer to aid him. Together the threesome launched godblast against the rift which seemed to be growing in size every second. Magni using mjolnor, the Destroyer using the life forces of the gods that powered it and Thor employing a full OdinPower blast in unison with the OdinAxe. In mere moments the monstrous rift was sealed – those coming through it pushed back to their side. The OdinAxe seemed to sing with raw power.

Even with the dimensional rift sealed Surtur, many fire demons and vast roiling masses of fire still existed on the Asgardian plane.

Holding the OdinAxe with both hands and at arms length Thor began to rotate at a speed defying description. All that could be seen was a blinding light of pure raw cutting power. In this form Thor launched into the remaining fire demons shredding all life from their impure forms and leaving only dispersed small non sentient fires.

The Destroyer, Magni and Thor all then turned their attention to a swordless Surtur. A further visor disintegration blast from the Destroyer was enjoined by bolts of anti-force from Magni and the full force of the Odinpower launched through the OdinAxe from Thor. Is there an entity anywhere that could withstand an attack of such magnitude? Certainly not Surtur.

The remaining fires of evil that had accompanied Surtur turned even more malignant seeking to suffocate Thor, Magni and the Destroyer but at best they were a minor inconvenience and easily teleported away to distant ice worlds by a Magni needing no aid from his father.

So it was that the elemental being the fire giant Surtur was no more. The power infinity gem which he had used less than efficiently seemed to just float near where Surtur had been. The OdinAxe seemed to be manipulating it's master to move towards the gem. Now there was a thought - the OdinAxe with the power infinity gem embedded within it and wielded by the mighty Thor could any adversary stand against such force? But no, the gem would be returned to its rightful place – Thor of Asgard had no need of it.

When Thor had re-created some but not all of the worlds destroyed after Ragnorak he had been right not to re-create Muspelheim. In this new order there was no place for Surtur and his followers. If Surtur had not sought to return to the Asgardian plane he could have lived on among the fires of evil a place to which he was well suited. His return to Asgard accompanied by malignant fires and fire demons assured his fate.

As to the OdinAxe, would the sentient weapon meekly consent to a long containment again? Would Thor have need of this weapon again? Should the great weapon be carried permanently by Thor and Magni become the permanent holder of Mjolnor? But a Thor without his hammer is not really Thor is he?

In any event these are questions for another time and place.