Mighty Olympus lay shattered and burning. Hercules knelt from exhaustion, hands covering his now thoroughly unrecognizable face. No Olympian maiden would find anything attractive now in this bloodied and bowed figure.
Zeus himself lay motionless – the axe of Desaak buried deep in his chest. Something in the mystical make up of the axe had prevented Zeus from healing himself. The god slayer had drunk deeply of the god power of the skyfather and there had much to drink.
Ares lay dead nearby, divested of all godly energies, he seemed little more than a husk. The god of war had been easier to defeat than Hercules. No doubt something to do with the mixed parentage of the lion of Olympus. Some among the Olympian warriors had actually fled the carnage, but this was no surprise to the god hater.
Of all who might have aided Olympus only the alien Thor substitute Beta Ray Bill had come. Bill's origins did not matter to Desaak. He was in the possession of the power of gods making him a natural enemy. Still Bill had fought a surprisingly stubborn rearguard action enabling many non combatants to flee the fallen city. He had proved more resistant than most of the gods of Olympus. No doubt his alien origins contributed to this.
Desaak stood above Hercules. "Where is your friend now?" he asked exultantly "where is the son of Odin when Olympus needs him most?" Desaak's hard expression gave way to the very cruelest smile of triumph. Then the god-slayer awoke. Even by his standards it was a magnificent dream. A dream that would one day become reality. But for now another matter claimed his attention.
On Earth the mighty Thor continued to find and re-awaken his fellow Asgardians. Slowly refilling the lonely rooms and halls of Asgard. The son of Odin had retained some knowledge of the rune magic and also the barest thread of that which was once known as the Odinpower. As if it were somehow a final tenuous link to his father.
Taking a respite from his searches Thor drew Heimdall aside. "I can still sense him" said Thor. "Whether he is free and hail and hearty or a prisoner subject to great depravations I cannot tell but my father still lives" "I cannot now spare the time to search him out" continued the Thunderer "but I would have you do so." Thor endowed Heimdall with the little Odinpower that was left and also Sif's sword with its well known interdimensional teleportation capabilities. It was Thor's belief that the combination of Heimdall's vast sensory capabilities and the residual Odinpower would assist him in locating Odin. Through his sister's sword and the residual Odinpower, transportation should not pose a difficulty for Heimdall. The rune magic provided just one clue. Heimdall's search should begin with the pantheon known as the Aalyetians or sometimes as the wisdom gods, respected for that attribute among all the pantheons.
"You said that Odin was dead" flashed Desaak as his powerful hand began to crush Orikal's windpipe. "I told Thor that I could not detect his father on any plane of existence" responded the seer "which need not be the same thing." "I see that you did not go the way of other things of the Asgardian plane" sneered the god slayer. "I am not a native of Asgard" replied Orikal "some seem to forget this given the length of time that I was held captive by Geirridour's flames."
"I can sense him" said Desaak, after a pause "I sense the Allfather." "What of that?" said Orikal "even if he lives, he is almost certainly beyond your reach, why trouble yourself?"
"We are not discussing a mere godling here" continued Orikal "Odin the Allmighty was the most powerful skyfather among all of the Multiverse's pantheons – leave well enough alone!" "You will tell me what you know seer" said Desaak "or I will crush the life from you, and do not presume that I am alone in this venture!"
Heimdall arrived in the remote pocket dimension of the Aalyetians without difficulty but was unprepared for the sight that filled his eyes. The total annihilation of the modest city state of this most gentle of pantheons. The entire city was a burned out cinder with not so much as a single building surviving. A few bodies totally drained of god energies lay scattered among the charred ruins of a city whose magnificent architecture once surpassed both Asgard and Olympus. The handful of bodily remains each grotesquely shrunken did not reflect the total population of the wisdom gods. The destruction here was no vainglorious dream of Desaak but cold hard reality.
"It is a truly saddening sight old friend" came the voice "I think we both know who the author of this destruction must have been." "Bill" exclaimed Heimdall rejoicing at the sight of one of Asgard's most powerful and dearest friends. "What are you doing here Bill?" enquired the former guardian of the rainbow bridge. "I seek the same goal as you noble Heimdall" responded Beta Ray Bill.
The two looked on at the surely unprovoked destruction that lay before them. Bill thought to himself that it could hardly have been any worse if the great Galactus had come this way. "Does even Desaak have the power to destroy an entire pantheon?" enquired Heimdall. "I think you will find he has the backing of at least one other who has reason to hate the gods even more" replied Bill "else he would not have come on a fools errand." "Slayer of gods he may be but even Desaak knows he is no match for the Allfather." Heimdall nodded thoughtfully but Bill did not elaborate.
Heimdall then drew on the remnants of the Odinpower to enhance his already vast sensory powers. The god who could both hear and see the movement of a butterflies wings worlds away now found that his sight could now pierce the dimensional veils to follow even the very faintest interdimensional trail.
Desaak had extracted at least some of the information that he had sought from the Aalyetian gods. Information crucial to his next step in the search for Odin and it did not matter to him overmuch who might come across his handiwork after the event. Others though had gone to great pains to ensure his path could not be followed. Still whomever they might be, they did not reckon on the Odinpower boosted senses of Heimdall.
The faint interdimensional trail detected by Heimdall lead to a vastly distant dimension.
"I fear we will need all of our combined resources to follow this trail" said Heimdall. "the interdimensional jump is beyond even your experience Bill." The sight of Bet Ray Bill twirling mighty Stormbreaker and Heimdall wielding Sif's sword in unison whilst drawing again on the precious Odinpower would have been quite impressive to behold. If anyone had been watching.
So distant was their interdimensional jump that it took Heimdall and Beta Ray Bill a time to reach their destination. They had even considered breaking it into several separate teleports. Heimdall had to insulate himself against the onrushing sensations as they moved through myriad dimensions. "I can feel something assisting us Bill" said Heimdall "helping us make the jump"
"Gods of wisdom indeed" sneered Desaak "the Aaleytians were not so wise as to be able to avoid their own destruction." "Was it really necessary to completely destroy them?" asked one of his companions "they gave you the information you sought, at least in part" "Your actions will enrage many of the god pantheons" continued the companion "who might not otherwise have concerned themselves with us."
One of Desaak's companions was the single entity that comprised the aggregation of all of the dark gods even Cellestion Zheillia (though companion may be a poor choice of words). A more unlikely combination and inherently unstable relationship probably did not exist. Desaak hater of gods and the dark gods haters of everything, especially other gods. Yet they had cooperated so far in the great venture. Perhaps their other companion had subtly manipulated them holding them together at least as long as it suited her/him. However conflict constantly threatened to break out.
Odin had indeed "died" as mortals and even some gods understood the term. Yet distant pantheons, with an interest in such matters, had moved to recreate him. Then, in time, as Lord Thor had thwarted the plans of "those who live above in shadow" and taken his long respite – the Allfather had reclaimed most of the Odinpower. It should never be thought, however, that Odin was nothing without the Odinpower – far from it. The Odinpower is only an aspect of Odin, possibly one upon which he had at times been over reliant. During it's absence other aspects of Odin's nature came to the fore.
After his "re-creation" Odin had stayed for a time as the guest of the gentle Aaleytians. Though they were not known as the gods of wisdom without good reason, still they had learned from him as he had from them. Wherever he now was the former Lord of Asgard would no doubt be greatly angered by their demise. After his time with the Aaleytians passed , Odin moved among other distant pantheons. He was respected and his knowledge sought wherever he went. Until the time came to move on.
Orikal did not lie to mighty Thor. At the time when Thor had asked him Orikal could not in truth detect Odin on any plane of existence. When Orikal later became aware of Odin's distant existence he simply chose, for reasons best known to himself, not to divulge this information to anyone.
On reaching the very end of the barely perceptible interdimensional trail left by Desaak and others Beta Ray Bill and Heimdall chose to take stock of their unusual environment. It was beyond anything that either had experienced. Dormammu's dark realm was cosy by comparison. Heimdall used the full extent of his sensory capabilities backed by every ounce of the residual Odinpower he could gather. At first he was unable to detect either Desaak or more importantly any direct trace of Odin. Then he sensed the residual Odinpower growing within him. "Perhaps it is Odin's indirect way of assisting us" thought Bill.
In a dimension as far removed from our own as it was possible to be, an invigorated Heimdall felt the Odinpower build within him. He rejoiced in it, taking it as a clear sign that Odin himself was at hand. As the build up continued Heimdall felt some discomfort. Long ago when he had briefly exercised custodianship over Asgard a portion of the Odinpower had been bestowed upon him. More recently he had received the merest residual thread of the Odinpower. Now he was apparently to receive it all, something totally beyond his experience.
"It must be Odin" exclaimed his companion Beta Ray Bill "there is no other explanation."
With that exclamation the semi-darkness of the bleak and barren dimension lifted and their environment took on a lighter, warmer and much more comforting aspect. From some indefinable point Odin appeared walking towards them both. Outwardly it seemed to be the Odin of old. The Odin that had walked among gods and at times among men over millennia. Odin whose name was spoken in whispers across the Multiverse. A force for good, feared by many, respected by all. But then appearances can be deceiving. "If anything he seems even more regal" thought Bill.
As the Allfather moved to speak, Desaak and the all dark gods entity teleported into the dimension. With them was the designate now exposed as the true manipulator of events. It was the designate as never before seen - fully matured but bitter and twisted as her manifold destiny had not come to fruition. What stood before them now was an entity with the full power of the mature delegate but embracing a dark side previously unknown. Clearly she continued to sponsor Desaak. Her very maturity suggested that this version of the delegate now present may have come from elsewhere in the time stream.
Desaak, smiling contemptuously, rushed at a Heimdall who was still coming to terms with the enormity of the Odinpower thrust upon him. Heimdall was off balance as Desaak swung his axe at Heimdall's head with a blow clearly intended to decapitate the guardian. Heimdall dodged just barely.
The huge all dark god entity swiped Beta Ray Bill aside as if he were less than a rag doll and reached out with the intent of crushing the Allfather in it's grip. Odin struck with a single bolt of pure elemental energy that shattered the cohesive bonds holding the dark god entity together. With that all of the dark gods seemed to spill out of the entity, Chelleston Zheillia, Perrikus, and all the other contemptible entities. This event seemed to momentarily confuse them. It was not a moment that Odin needed. Before the designate could intervene Odin lifted one hand and scattered the dark gods or rather their sub-molecular component parts to all four corners of this dimension. The look on the face of Cellestion Zhellia, leader of the dark gods, the moment before she was despatched was one of unadulterated hatred. At that moment she knew this was no mere battlefield removal that her brood might live to spread their evil again. No this was a permanent solution to a narcissistic evil that had hung over the pantheon gods for at least as long as Asgard had existed. Odin added a strange irony to this final justice visited upon the narcissists. The dark gods were at their most comfortable in filth and squalor and in the anguish and pain of their victims. Their component molecules had been dispersed to an environment, though bleak and barren, that was as sterile and pristine pure as it was possible to be.
Meanwhile Heimdall did not make the mistake of striking Desaak with an energy attack that the god slayer would simply absorb. He knew full well the consequences of that – the god slayer fed on god energy. As Heimdall now enjoyed the Odinpower in its fullest measure he might as well use it but in a different way. As Desaak swung again with his axe Heimdall grabbed the blade and ground it into metallic dust as Desaak watched on in disbelief. An enraged Desaak a skilled close in fighter by any standards gathered Heimdall, much to the latter's surprise, in a reverse bear hug.
As the Delegate moved to confront Odin, Beta Ray Bill rushed to Heimdall's aid striking Desaak a mighty blow with his fist in the side of the god slayers head. It was sufficient to cause the Desaak to release his grip on Heimdall. The duo then gathered in Desaak each physically restraining him with their combined efforts. Still Desaak sought to turn this encounter to his advantage trying to absorb Asgardian energies from his close physical contact with the duo. He sought first to draw forth the essence of the god power within Beta Ray Bill. and received a most unwelcome surprise. He was not able to absorb some of the energies within Bill and instead lay writhing upon the ground, as much in surprise as in pain, after Bill sent the power cosmic crackling through him.
Heimdall recalled a time in Asgard when Bill lay dying and was tended to by both Odin and the Silver Surfer. He surmised that by some means or other Bill must have retained some of the power cosmic passed on to him that day and that Desaak was now the unsuspecting recipient of those energies.
The Delegate did not hold back in confronting Odin, there was no reason to do so. She gathered him in a grip that seemed a strange mixture of a lover's embrace and an attempt to crush the life out of him vast energies coruscating about them both. She was surprisingly strong and for just a moment she seemed to hold her own against even this version of Odin. The Allfather could have dealt with her in a variety of ways but he saw her for what she was - a creature in torment and out of her time. He touched her briefly almost gently on the forehead and it seemed to ease the torment within her. Odin then sent her back to that part of the time stream whence she came with all knowledge of recent events. It was indeed unfortunate that the delegate would not achieve her prophesied destiny but perhaps at least she would now know some release.
Odin stepped forward as Desaak, shrugging, regained his feet and his composure. If he was in any way concerned at being outnumbered by this most formidable trio he did not show it remaining typically defiant. "What are we to do with you god slayer" said the Allfather "forbearance and a slap on the wrist as I used to treat my once stepson are not for one such as you." "I know of your origins which in part explain the way you are but I can no longer allow you to menace the pantheon gods." continued Odin. "Whatever the original wrongs against you, your own evil actions have more than outweighed this." "Desaak you must die this day" said Odin "and know that I take no pleasure in the fact that bringing about your death is my last act before returning forever to a higher existence."
After the long overdue demise of Desaak, Odin, or at least that which was once Odin, did not tarry. Heimdall now acted as a repository for the Odinpower and on his return to Earth/Asgard would relinquish it to the mighty Thor. The former Lord of Asgard said his farewells of both Beta Ray Bill and Heimdall and asked to be remembered to his wife and son and all of those now slowly returning to Earth.
Will we ever see his like again?