Triumph of Evil (part 4 and final)
Since before time began no entity had ever been in this most sacrosanct place of all. The mind of TOAA.
Thor, Heracles and the Silver Surfer marveled at what they saw. Though all three were now great powers in their own right, there was nothing that could truly have prepared them for this.
The reason for their spirit essences having been drawn into this most inviolate of places could have been anything from a continuation of the game being played by the seemingly mad TOAA to a cry for help from that ultimate authority.
The three did not come under any immediate attack, yet palpable evil existed here, in this innermost sanctum, the one place where it should never be. The Silver Surfer sensed a precarious balance twixt that evil and all else here. The clear cause of TOAA's instability. The Surfer saw also that until this inner conflict was resolved TOAA might be something less than omnipotent.
The Surfer detected that evil had evolved in this most unlikely of all places. Possibly a product of untold millennia of chosen isolation. The external alliance of evil did no more than perhaps stimulate it a little in the entreaties they made to TOAA.
About the three great beings existed the knowledge of all things. All events that had ever taken place or might ever have taken place in the former Multiverse. All unfolding events in the embryonic Multiverse still aborning.
Then in the uneasy co-existence, the evil that had established itself here struck out again – its goal - total domination of the mind of TOAA . It was a battle that the two Skyfathers and the great cosmic being known as the Silver Surfer could not avoid, even if they wanted to. There was simply nowhere else for them to go.
For what could have been the merest moment or, just as easily, all of eternity the great battle raged.
For the Surfer and the two Skyfathers it was not a battle that involved planet shattering blows of hammer or mace or energy exchanges across star systems. Rather it was fought at a metaphysical level.
Whatever element of goodness within TOAA had drawn forth the conscious spirit essences or souls of the three great powers it had been seeking their help. By comparison the evil here sought to overwhelm the intruding spirit essences. The chosen form of attack to remove from them every ounce of courage, honor and nobility they possessed.
Thor and Heracles had visited upon them all those past events which had tested them to their utmost limits. All at the same time. On top of this the untimely deaths of their fathers Odin and, more recently, Zeus were visited upon them again.
The Surfer was subjected to equally distressing and testing events including repeated alternate dream fantasies of the death of Shalla-Bal and indeed all of Zenn-La. An attempt to, crudely put, "break him."
At times Thor, Heracles and the Surfer found their individual consciousness co-mingling and were able to give support to one another. It was during this co-mingling that the two great skyfathers gleaned the truth of relatively recent events concerning he who was once the mortal Norrin Radd.
The Power of the Silver Surfer revealed
A mere few decades before the destruction of our Multiverse the Surfer had by choice become largely planet bound. Living in harmony on a world harboring the final few survivors of the greatest race of sentient beings that ever strode the stars. The mighty Brell. Many millions of years ago Brell star fleets moved across space time, dimensions and realities and policed them as easily as we might walk to the next street. Even in decline, a single Brell soldier on an out posted world could smash an invading star fleet. This was at a time when TOAA had long since retired from events and when the Living Tribunal seldom needed to adjudicate. The mighty Brell were an active force for stability and order like no race before or since.
Through one of those most impossible twists of fate a disputation between the great Galactus on one hand and Tyrant, Morg, and Terrax on the other had spilled over into the star system that the Surfer had begun to call home. The beautiful world that had become a sanctuary for the Surfer was nothing more than collateral damage in the conflict. The Surfer's appeals for reason were ignored.
At his then power level the Surfer, to his undeserved shame, was unable to prevent the destruction of that world and its inhabitants. The ageing and much diminished Brell could have saved themselves but instead chose this as their time to depart the living. In their final act passing on to the Silver Surfer all of the residual knowledge and power of their once great race. To the one being in all of eternity they felt it could be entrusted.
At first Norrin did not entirely realize the knowledge and power that was now his. Though he was honored by the final act of the Brell.
Thor and Heracles saw that even now the Surfer was still cautious with this power. Reluctant to draw on it for anything more than was necessary.
The attempt to "break" the souls of the Surfer and the two Skyfathers was a fundamental mistake of the first order. A clear demonstration that the purely evil components within the mind of TOAA were not of themselves omniscient. A mistake that TOAA in his normal state would never have attempted. Doubtless given a sufficient aggregation of power even the Silver Surfer in his present form could be physically defeated and his conscious mind destroyed. What could never be done would be to take from him the nobility of his soul while still leaving a soul of sorts. No more than one could remove the courage of Thor or the honor of Heracles.
Though the inner resolve of all three, in their own different ways, was tested to the utmost limits of their capacity, they all held firm. At the moment of realization that this form of attack could never succeed, the evil within the mind of TOAA ejected the conscious spirit essences of the three titans and returned them to their physical bodies.
To the waiting and now recovered Iron Man and the remaining members of the evil alliance there had been subjectively no apparent lapse of time . All stood dumbfounded looking on at TOAA. That entity stood before them completely immobile having appeared to have shut down. The Silver Surfer, Thor and Heracles all knew that the inner battle taking place within the mind of TOAA was still unresolved. Whether they had made any difference to TOAA's internal conflict, only that ultimate authority knew. Though, mayhap, the Surfer had an inkling.
The Living Tribunal was not with Iron Man. Even before the armored one signaled the fact, the Surfer realized that that the Tribunal was attempting to stop the spread of the fledgling Multiverse. A Multiverse based on the conceptions of the evil now existing in the mind of TOAA and plumbing, at least in part, the wildest depths of depravity, the wildest dreams and aspirations of the minds of the evil alliance.
Elsewhere, what had started out as a far distant future, single shard of reality. A seed almost casually sown by TOAA had now spread deep into the past and splintered into a myriad of alternate time lines. Now even with the intervention of TOAA temporarily withdrawn that embryonic Multiverse was evolving of itself. Each splintering alternate time line more thoroughly grotesque, more chillingly bizarre than what came before it.
Thanos and Tyrant had still not been recreated. Still Thor, Heracles the Surfer, and Iron Man were still confronted by an evil alliance that boasted the likes of Dormammu, Mangog, Annihilus, Mephisto, Hela, Pluto, Perrikus, and Loki to name just a few.
As Thor and Heracles prepared to engage their foemen, an uncharacteristically impatient Silver Surfer thrust these miscreants aside with just a gesture consigning them to the same oblivion as TOAA had earlier consigned our former Multiverse. Knowing now the nature of the Silver Surfers power neither Thor nor Heracles was surprised by this demonstration, though Iron Man looked on disbelief.
With that the four heroes teleported from the chosen home of TOAA, in the truly limitless ethereal sea, to join the Living Tribunal in his great task. Behind them TOAA remained immobile, locked in a form of his own choosing, all his attention now turned to his own inner conflict.
The heroes arrived at a nexus point between newly emerging realities. There the Living Tribunal himself seemed hard pressed.
This entire embryonic but rapidly emerging Multiverse was throwing everything it could at him. The Surfer knew the Living Tribunal had been empowered by TOAA as the ultimate adjudicator in our old now obliterated Multiverse. He had not been vested with adjudication powers for this abomination of a Multiverse now aborning.
Instead of facing the likes of Thanos, Tyrant, Mephisto, Mangog, Dormammu and many others the heroes found themselves confronting in physical and physical/energy form the very worst nightmares created from the deepest recesses of those evil entities minds. Entities spawned by an act of TOAA. Something ultimately far worse.
Thor, Heracles, and even the Living Tribunal looked over at the Surfer.
Atop his great board the silver skinned power house moved across to the Living Tribunal hovering a little above the Tribunal's visage. Mighty energies flowed between them in both directions. The two titanic entities launching a sustained assault against the nearby nexus point.
By their side Thor, Heracles and Iron Man, joined the assault on the nexus point after first fending off an attack from creatures they would never have encountered even in their worst nightmares.
At first nothing seemed to happen at the nexus point but then the grotesque alternate realities slowly began collapsing in on one another which was certainly no bad thing. At the same time the slowly converging realities began unraveling from the past leaving a state of non existence behind.
All present could see where this was going to end. Just as all present could see that it was time for a different act of creation.
"Perhaps I can help with that" came a smooth telepathic communication and physical voice that seemed to gently permeate everything. He who is above us all had finally resolved his inner conflict to the benefit of the untold trillions of living beings that were just a few moments from creation.
TOAA allowed the Living Tribunal, the Silver Surfer, Thor and Heracles to participate in the great act. Iron Man watched on in total wonder.
TOAA did not recreate our Multiverse exactly as it had been, though the he could have done so. There were a number of quite noticeable absentees and not a few new faces among the greater and more influential powers of the new Multiverse.
After it was all over, God decided to hang around for a while. He left the Tribunal in the same adjudicator role but the Almighty decided to keep a closer eye on things than he had been doing. Call it therapy for his previously self imposed isolation.
Thor and Heracles became the representatives for all of the new Multiverse's pantheon gods.
The Silver Surfer?
He became a kind of very high level, highly efficient cosmic policeman carrying out something of the role that the mighty Brell had carried out in our old Multiverse.
Of course he still found time to soar among the stars and just on the odd, and highly unlikely chance, that he did come across something he couldn't handle?
Well in God and the Living Tribunal he had some pretty persuasive friends.