Time: The future
One moment the stars were as they should be and the next Galactus knew he was in an alternate reality. The differences were subtle but obvious to one such as he. Then the titan felt himself hurtling across myriad realities each a little different from the last.
The great one knew he had been ensnared in what was still a very rare phenomenon. An ever shifting alternate reality vortex. Prior to the alternate reality wars these phenomena had not even existed. They were a direct consequence of all realities having been shaken to their foundations and the permanent partial loosening of the barriers between them.
There is not much that Galactus cannot do and it was within his power to return to his own reality. But the hunger was upon him and to immediately stay the effects of the reality vortex would have take not inconsiderable effort. He decided to allow the phenomenon to run its natural course. In any event it interested him.
Finally the vortex deposited Galactus near a world that seemed a very dull imitation of the Earth. Even so it stood out as a beacon in a reality that seemed to otherwise consist only of varying degrees of darkness. The stars here were very dull and very few and far between no matter what part of the reality they were viewed from.
Galactus had not trod this reality before even during his extensive travels with Odin during the reality wars. Instinctively he knew it to be a reality that had not participated in the wars. Heraldless and weakened he chose to feed upon the dim Earth world. It offered him little resistance. When the deed was done Galactus still hungered. This world contained only a fraction of the sustenance our own Earth would have provided. Before it was destroyed in the reality wars, that is.
In the darkness an indeterminate distance from the few sworling remains of the world a monstrous image took form. A telepathic message boomed into Galactus mind. "I should thank you visitor for sparing me the trouble of eliminating this most tiresome of worlds." "Still it had its uses and served to amuse me at times – you have done me a disservice in destroying it."
The image looked not unlike Lord Thor of Asgard another of the great powers to have survived the reality wars. Yet Galactus saw there were differences.
Energies that might loosely be described as dark lightning crackled and raged about the Thor like image before eventually discharging towards Galactus. The dark lightning crashed ineffectually against the world devourers personal force fields. Still Galactus sensed the dark mystical forces within the lightning and knew it to be something more than a mere electrical discharge. Rolling thunder followed the dark lightning. It rolled across as waves of deafening (even in the relative vacuum) solid bands of blackness, darker even than the lightning that preceded it.
Galactus tired of the assault. He took upon himself a pure energy form and lashed out with the power cosmic blunting the assault. Close to him the darkness gave way before the power cosmic. However the effectiveness of his attack dropped away the greater the distance from him. In this place he found himself subject to some sort of inverse square law.
The dark lightning and dark thunder ceased abruptly. The Thor image coming from a source that Galactus could not locate with precision transformed from mere image to concrete physical form. It held in its right hand not a hammer but what was either a long knife or short sword. In company with it were what appeared to be two ravens. The similarity to Huginn and Muninn ended there. "If there was a Dark Thor here was there also a Dark Asgard?" mused Galactus. If so he could not immediately discern its whereabouts.
Assuming the same physical size as Galactus the Dark Thor leapt at the world destroyer with the probable intent of gutting him end to end. Galactus smashed the Dark Thor aside with a two fisted blow that sent it reeling end over end almost out of sight. It was as if the Dark Thor being unfamiliar with the entity before it had underestimated both its size and power. Dark Thor seemed to recalibrate its own capability and re-engaged Galactus on a somewhat more equal footing.
There seemed to be only one expression on the Dark Thors face. A permanently frozen look of sheer berseker savagery. The great Galactus was no stranger to savagery. Two of his own past creations, Morg and Tyrant were once considered among the most savage entities in our reality and Galactus had seen other things in the reality wars that even he preferred not to dwell upon. Still there was something in the eyes of the Dark Thor that went beyond all of this.
Galactus saw that remaining in this reality served no useful purpose. He had come here weakened and the single world he consumed had not been enough to placate his hunger. This battle with the Dark Thor entity had thus far been inconclusive. Still he was in this entities reality. More there was something troubling about this reality. .
With considerable effort Galactus managed to thrust aside the Dark Thor and returned to his own reality. For some reason it did not seem to occur to the titan that he might be followed by the white ravens.
He thought he should apprise the Lord Thor of our own reality of what had transpired here – some time or other.
Somewhere in the Earth Reality
Lord Thor looked out from the high place at Hlidskjalf. By his side the mighty Magni, the noble Balder, Lady Sif, and the warriors three. Every one of his senses told him there had been a disturbance in the now quite fragile boundaries separating the realities. Still even here in this place looking through the realities he could not discern the nature of the disturbance. Heimdall stood nearby his sensory perceptions at their highest possible level.
Thors mind briefly wandered back to the reality wars. Earth by then an advanced technological civilization had been a major battleground. Due in no small part to its position astride the central reality axis. Instants before its destruction Odin had teleported all of humanity, indeed all living things of the Earth out of harms way. To a softer, safer, gentler place. In honor of the Earth all the surviving great powers of our reality had agreed to call it the Earth reality. Even though, paradoxically, the blue green world was never re-created.
The final battle of the reality wars itself had taken place near the then nexus between all realities. The now destroyed multi-reality black hole. It was here that Odin weakened in battle had sacrificed himself to save the mighty Thor thrusting his son away before being consumed in the death of the all multi-reality black hole. Odin had not been seen or heard of since by any entity of our reality. Still the mighty Thor persisted in the belief that his father, possibly in greatly weakened form still existed somewhere among the realities.
Thor came out of his reverie.
"Milord" cried Heimdall but Thor had already sensed the disturbance and just moments thereafter a great darkness spread across all of Greater Asgard.
The dark lightning cascaded down upon the city and the waves of dark thunder deafened its inhabitants.
Neither had been summoned by Lord Thor.
No Asgardian god could believe that a storm could be sustained over all of greater Asgard against the will of their lord and liege the mighty Thor. Surely in all of the remaining realities there was no power capable of doing this? Still that seemed to be what was happening as for long moments Asgard's Lord sought to quell the dark storm.
What they did not know and what even the mighty Thor himself had only begun to suspect was that the entity that now confronted them was not merely creating energies or teleporting them in. Rather it had actually brought with it whole chunks of its own reality. A dark reality much of which consisted of nothing but mystical dark storms – dark lightning and the even darker thunder.
It is not without good reason that Balder the Brave is known as the god of light. In perhaps his greatest moment Asgard's noblest god set the light against the darkness starting to roll it back from many parts of greater Asgard. All mighty Thor sustained his great friend and comrade in arms against the inevitable counter assault by the Dark Thor. Where Balder had shown the way the mighty Thor finished the job and the light came again to Asgard.
Even so amidst the now brighter skies, intermittent dark lightning, rolling black bands of Thunder and some swirling black acid rains persisted for just a while. Still it became obvious to the dark god that even had he brought his entire reality with him he would not have been able to sustain the dark storm above Asgard.
Previously concealed from most Asgardians the anti-Thor entity now stood out clearly levitated high above Asgard City. It carried the short sword with which it had recently and unsuccessfully sought to gut the great Galactus. The entities two faithful white ravens flew near it. A few others accompanied the dark lord. Suffice to say that the mighty Thor would not have kept company with the equivalent entities of our own reality. Dark versions of the Fenris Wolf and the brutal Mangog headed down to Asgard City intent upon menace. While a dark Midgard Serpent coiled itself about the bulk of Greater Asgard seeking to crush it. Strange bedfellows indeed, or perhaps not.
The mightiest surviving god of our reality rose to meet his dark counterpart. The anti- Thor threw his short sword at Asgard's Lord with speed and power and crackling with dark arcane energies. Mighty hammer deflected dark sword as Thor anticipated the move. It was apparent that the short sword was to Dark Thor what mjolnir was to Thor. It had some similar properties and some disturbing additional properties. The sword was also capable of cutting through realities. Several times during the battle it disappeared only to reappear inches from Thor's throat. Always though the Lord of Asgard anticipated it and parried it with mjolnir. Also once it left the anti-Thor's hands the short sword seemed subject to no particular size constraints. Sometimes it came at Thor as a mere sliver and sometimes it was larger than the OdinSword itself.
Elsewhere Asgard moved against the Dark Thor's accomplices. The mighty Magni wearing what had once been Thors belt of strength engaged the anti-Mangog. Lady Sif and the warriors three rallied to his side. Balder the brave stood watch ensuring as god of light that the darkness that the Dark Thor entity carried with him did not again dim golden Asgard. Heimdall and others powered the Destroyer construct against first the dark Fenris Wolf and then the anti-Midgard Serpent.
As the battle progressed the Heimdall and other powered Destroyer annihilated first the anti-Fenris Wolf and then the dark Midgard Serpent by means of its disintegration beam. The belt of strength assisted Magni finally began to get the better of the anti-Mangog.
These struggles though seemed to pale into insignificance when compared to the struggle above. Eventually Thor succeeded in grasping the anti-Thor's short sword and holding it. He sought to break the sword into shards and was on the verge of doing so when it again sliced through the realities. However it did not return to its dark master with any haste and Thor moved in close pounding his adversary without let up.
Whatever the true nature of the Dark Thor entity; in its current physical form it was capable of bleeding. Its face smeared in white blood from the unending rein of hammer blows. Battered and bleeding the Dark Thor fell to Asgard below. At that point his short sword finally returned to him.
The Dark Lord then sought to do something that the mighty Thor himself might have done in the same circumstances. He prepared for an anti-god blast calling unto himself not only all of his own dark god life force but all of the power of the large chunks of his own reality he had brought with him. Clearly intending to channel it through the short sword which was now larger than either the OdinSword or the sword Twilight.
At this precise moment the mighty Galactus came to Greater Asgard in part to speak with Lord Thor of his own encounter with the dark Thor but also because he had perceived recent events.
Whether the Dark Thor entity thought that it was capable of beating either the great Galactus or the mighty Thor in our reality it clearly harbored no illusions that it could beat both of the titans at the same time. Even before launching the dark-god blast it left with what remained of is retinue and returned to its own reality.
Inevitably and by mutual agreement the two greatest surviving powers of our reality followed it. As the two titans arrived in the reality of the Dark Thor they came to the same conclusion at exactly the same time though perhaps through different reasoning. "It is a construct" announced Thor "the entire reality is a construct."
"It did not even exist before the reality wars" replied Galactus "that is how it was not involved in a war that extended to virtually all realities."
At first neither of the titans could locate the Dark Thor amidst the roiling dark storms of this reality. Still an unseen and not unfriendly motivation guided them to the fortress of the Dark Thor. It was a massive edifice crackling with dark and arcane energies and all manner of strange beings. Though modeled somewhat on Asgard it was different. Larger, yet it stood alone – built upon nothing else and with nothing else around it.
There they were greeted by Dark Thor. For the first time his visage showed something other than the permanently frozen berserker rage. A smile appeared on Dark Thors face. Thor would have preferred the berserker rage.
The great Galactus warned the mighty Thor of the inverse square effect he had encountered earlier in this reality. With this in mind the two titans moved closed indeed the impressive dark fortress before unleashing their assault.
The combined assault of Thor of Asgard and Galactus of the Universe was beyond all belief beyond power incarnate. The Dark Thor retreated into his massive edifice which shook and shuddered to its non existent foundations under the assault.
Even so it might yet have failed but for the emergence of a supporting force within the planet size fortress itself. Under such an attack from without and within the fortress burst asunder and the Dark Thor entity was nowhere to be seen.
The force released was unmistakable. That which had not been seen and was presumed by most to have perished long ago. That which men, gods, cosmic powers and abstract entities, and unknowable forces from other realities know only as the OdinForce!
At the time of the reality wars there was a massive living energy configuration that roamed the stars. It was like unto a single aggregation of the entire entire race of Watchers. Though more powerful still. It was purely an observer. The reality wars troubled it mightily and it moved from reality to reality attempting to escape the confrontation.
Eventually it created its own reality to escape the all consuming struggle and grew quite mad in the process. It was at this very point when the reality wars came to their conclusion with the complete destruction of the all reality black hole nexus. A weakened Odin caught in the destruction of the all reality nexus was cast out upon the new constructed reality. There barely conscious the Allfather was taken by the mad energy construct. The construct then modeled its entire newly created reality on thoughts contained within the weakened Odin's mind. Holding the All Father captive ever since and never permitting him to recover.
It was one of the greatest inequities of all time in all realities that the great architect of victory should have been so cruelly treated for so long.
Throughout all the remaining realities the word spread. Great Odin, along with Galactus and the mighty Thor, the prime architect of the victory of the Earth reality and its allies in the reality wars still lived.
A new hope for the future began to emerge among all living beings of all realities!
Place: The World Ship of Galactus – somewhere in the Earth Reality
Time: Cycle 5 of the Odin Custodianship
"What you have told me so far is a matter of record great Galactus" said the Silver Surfer, hovering on his board at the devourer's head height "and leaves more questions than answers."
"Patience little one" responded Galactus "if I learned one thing from Odin it is that a story of this magnitude must be told slowly and savored, be it imaginative tale or factual account.
"When you and Thor helped free Lord Odin, what became of the Dark Thor and the entity that created it" enquired the Surfer.
"They were one and the same" responded Galactus "at least they became one and the same and therefore suffered the same fate"
The Surfer went to ask more questions but Galactus held up his hand indicating he would brook of no further interruptions.
"In all truth" said Galactus "the mighty Thor and I might not have penetrated the shields about Dark Thor's fortress but for the Allfathers brief resurgence from within."
Still Odin's shattering signal from within the fortress that had both helped breach its barriers and alerted his rescuers had drained him in his weakened condition.
Thor and Galactus were forced to enter the shattered fortress to try to locate Odin. They were guided but barely by the very slightest tendrils of the OdinForce. Parts of the Dark Gods fortress might as easily been parts of Asgard. Great halls, ante-rooms, corridors, huge courtyards, magnificent statues. Though as if at night with no fires or torches to light the way. Other parts of the fortress were totally unrecognizable even to Lord Thor. Either they had been created on the basis of something in Odin's mind beyond Thors experience. Or more likely in the act of creation they had been so fundamentally distorted as to not even be a caricature of that upon which they were modeled.
Thor and Galactus were not at first confronted by Dark Thor. Rather it sent its minions against them. Groups of crazed warrior women that could only have been modeled on the Valkyries. Even more crazed male warriors. A tall (by Asgardian standards) woman that had the look of death about her yet otherwise bore no discernible resemblance to Hela. Beings of similar stature but that would have made Asgard's ugliest trolls and giants seem fair by comparison sought to waylay them in the large winding corridors. All the defenders came at them in a manner reminiscent of anti-bodies seeking out an invading organism. Though none among them proved anything more than a distraction.
All the while Thor sensed the Dark Lords white ravens watching from the darkest places among the darkness but just moving out of reach whenever he sent energies to destroy them.
Thor and Galactus continued to follow the slight guidance from whispery elements of the Odinforce. At times there were corridors too small for the world devourer's mighty frame and there he simply blasted the surrounding areas to make room. The two titans would have gladly leveled the entire planetary fortress from within but feared harming a weakened Odin.
It became apparent that some of the winding corridors and paths led into other less than pleasant realities. The ever more fragile more attenuated elements of the Odinforce seeking to guide both of the titans away from such places. Thor considered a direct teleportation to the strongest discernible concentration of the Odinforce. The World Destroyer counseled against such actions given the nature o this reality.
Finally though the two titans came upon Odin still without sighting Dark Thor. Neither wished to dwell upon the circumstances under which they found the Allfather. Suffice it to say that he rejoiced in his new found freedom. It was not that the powerful Dark Thor had leeched energies from Odin. It did not need to do that but rather that it had prevented him from recovering from his weakened condition on arrival in that reality. It had long since taken all that it needed from Odin's mind but had nevertheless refused to release him.
At that moment the dark Thor entity fled the fortress. It was not essentially a coward but recognized when it was confronted by a superior aggregation of force. As Galactus tended to Odin Thor intercepted his dark counterpart. Seeing the circumstances under which his father had been constrained the Lord of Asgard was unable and unwilling to restrain the fury growing within him. His fight was his and no one else's.
In theory and against Thor on his own the Dark Lord of this reality still held the advantage. But tell that to the Odinson.
As short sword and hammer clashed for the second time the anti-Thor called again upon the dark lightning and dark thunder. The dark lightning came down not in a straight line but in long curves wrapping itself about Thor of Asgard and seeking to smother him in dark mystical energies. The black bands of the even darker thunder sought to do the same. Dark Thor
With energies coruscating about his entire body and his hammer Lord Thor struck his dark counterpart again and again with blows beyond all counting. Also from somewhere he summoned the counteracting white lightning which cleansed his body of the suffocating dark lightning and thunder and negated the dark storm swirling about the combatants.
Dark Thors face appeared to cave in, white blood covered his whole body and it seemed as if he could no longer stand. Strangely though the battle did not end as might have been expected. Instead the mind of the Dark Thor entity which was already merging on total insanity even before is clash with Thor completely broke. It fell back to the fortress below and lay crying and yelling pure gibberish as if an infant child.
"You said the energy configuration that created this reality became as one with the Dark Thor" interrupted the Surfer. Galactus looked around. He had become so engrossed in telling the story that he was reliving it, forgetting about the surfer's presence.
"At first the Dark Thor was just one of the energy configurations creations to populate this reality" said Galactus "based on Odin's memories of his son." "Through the Dark Thor entity the energy configuration vicariously lived out certain fantasies" continued Galactus "but it was not enough, and the configuration had to become as one with the Dark Thor, at first temporarily but eventually irreversibly."
"I can't imagine how it must have been for Odin" whispered the Surfer. Galactus said nothing.
Then after a pause "Did you not notice what happened Surfer?" enquired the world destroyer "when great Odin was freed of the Dark Lord's influence these 5 cycles ago?"
"It is said that every single star in every surviving reality burned just a little brighter" whispered the Surfer. "That is in fact so" said Galactus.
After a time of recovery from his ordeal Odin had been asked by representatives of all the remaining realities to exercise temporary custodianship over them.
This was partially in recognition of his role as principal architect in the earlier victory of the earth reality and its allies in the reality wars. However many hoped that the wisdom of Odin would help to prevent a further reality war. It gave an entirely new meaning to the term "Allfather."
With Odin's temporary custodianship of the surviving realities drawing to an end Galactus and the Silver Surfer saw that the strategy had worked.
As to the Dark God and his entire reality Odin carried out his own sentence. The reality was reduced to pure beneficial energy and dispersed among all the other realities that they might derive some sustenance and benefit therefrom.