Thousands of millions of light years from the Earth there exists the largest and oldest black hole in our Universe. In itself there is nothing remarkable about this. However the same black hole exists in all the different dimensions of our Multiverse. It is the only naturally occurring multi-dimensional black hole in existence.
Its gravitational pull is so immense it is said that, when close, only the great powers of our Multiverse can escape it. For untold ages unfortunate worlds, star fleets and individual starships approaching too close, from whatever dimension, have been sucked into the gravitational well never to be seen again. It is said that if they could survive those intense gravitational pressures in anyway at all that they were spewed out of our Multiverse into the timeless, limitless void that exists beyond. Sometimes spoken of as the ethereal sea. The ever watchful great powers are used to things going into the black hole. They are not used to anything coming back out.
Hlidskialf in the Asgardian plane of existence
Standing in the elevated place of Hlidskialf and dressed in full battle armor Odin Lord of All Asgard looked into the time stream viewing the alternate near futures. They were all exactly the same and all equally bleak. Each showed a steady stream of awesomely powerful entities streaming from the black hole into every single dimension of our Universe.
"It is everyone and everything that ever posed a threat to the Multiverse and was eventually destroyed" said Odin "the Transcenders, the Evil, the Unknown, Those who Live Above All to name just a few.
"The alternate futures may diverge at a later time Allfather but all show the same result in the near future, virtually a 100% certainty." said Uuatu the Watcher. "Aye" agreed Lord Zeus who noted the respectful tone in the Watcher's voice "all alternate futures are converging as one" Also at Odin's side was the greatest warrior of this or any other time. Odin's own son by birth the mighty Thor, the god of Thunder and heir to the Asgardian throne. Standing a little further back was the Asgardian Destroyer construct holding the Odinsword itself.
"Can we not seal the entrance to the black hole father?" asked Thor. "It has already been done my son, as best it can" said Odin. The Living Tribunal himself in conjunction with great powers of each individual dimension has done so." 'I myself assisted in the process"
Zeus noticed that strapped to Odin's back was the OdinAxe itself. One of the greatest weapons that the gods of any pantheon in the Multiverse could bring forth. Soberly Zeus reminded himself that the Lord of Asgard only brought it forth very rarely during the greatest crises. Zeus could not recall a crisis to match that now almost upon them. In Odin's hand was another great weapon of Asgard, the shield of Odin itself. "If sheer formidable majesty were enough" thought Zeus "then surely our enemies would take one look at Odin and never trouble us again." In truth great Zeus was himself wore his own battle armor and was only slightly less imposing than the all father himself.
"By agreement with the Tribunal our initial task will be to face those forces which have been our traditional enemies" boomed Odin "other great forces, gods and cosmic powers alike will deal with the threats known best to them." "Indeed thou cans't see our enemies aligning themselves even now in that manner."
"That's as may be" said Zeus "but all now present (and he looked at the Watcher as he said it) know that the accumulated traditional powers that have confronted Asgard are greater than anything faced by any other powers of the Multiverse . "There is the crux of it " responded Odin "if we win here then victory is certainly assured for all and if we lose then the Multiverse entire will be lost.''
"How is it that these powers can exist again?" asked Thor "after they were so completely destroyed?" "They have not been taken from the time stream mighty Thor" responded Odin "Rather it doth seem that they have been re-created all of them down to the minutest detail by that which is the power beyond the power and that now exists only in the timeless, endless void of the ethereal sea." "But what manner of being could have such power as to re-create so many vastly powerful entities" persisted Thor "surely it is beyond the power even of the Living Tribunal?" "Aye" said Odin. "There is only one power beyond the Tribunal" said Thor. "Aye" said Odin. "Then let us all hope that he doth regain his sanity" finished Thor. Everyone assembled, even Odin remained silent for a moment. Were they offering up prayers of their own? Can even a Watcher pray if the threat is dire enough?
Suddenly and totally without warning Asgard was almost overwhelmed by an energy surge beyond anything it had heretofore known. Behind the surge the most fearful sight imaginable. The Transcenders, more powerful than the Celestials themselves, in company with the Unknown, the Evil, and the Those who Live Above All. Behind them, yet others indistinct amongst the swirling energies but possibly including Desaak and the Dark Gods.
In viewing events from Hlidskialf all there assembled, even Almighty Odin, had thought they were viewing near future merging alternatives. That there was still some small element of time in which they could consider their actions and prepare their defenses. This was not so, as the conjoined near future alternatives became the now moment.
Asgard answered the challenge. Thor hurled the mighty mjolnor coruscating with bludgeoning Asgardian power directly into the middle of the Transcenders . The Destroyer construct, OdinSword in hand let loose with the full force of its disintegrator weapon. Odin allowed his godly essence to become one with the OdinAxe itself, the resultant outpouring slashing into the Transcenders. Lord Zeus waded amongst the enemy directing all the power of Olympus against them. Even the Watcher, uncharacteristically and perhaps a little awkwardly, waded into the conflict.
If it were just the Transcenders then sheer courage alone would surely have forced them back. Still they were backed by many others. Mighty mjolnor, hammer of Thor, much to the Thunder gods surprise did not return to its master's hand and could not be detected amidst the swirling energy inferno. The Destroyer construct was not merely melted into slag but in fact vaporized in the attack as the OdinSword crashed to the ground. The screams of the life forces empowering the Destroyer now set adrift could be heard even upon the Earth. Odin, Allfather level godblast notwithstanding, felt his armor literally burned from his body. Lord Zeus fared even worse and the Watcher at least momentarily more resembled a charred husk than a living entity.
Quick thinking as ever Asgard's lord threw the OdinShield out amidst the fray. While it appears as just a normal Asgardian shield, the OdinShield can assume almost any size and can act as a force field protection for a city, a continent or even an entire planet if needed. Created long ago by Odin and the ancient Brell civilization working together it immediately cocooned All Asgard from the indescribable power of the attack.
Odin looked about in the time afforded them by his shield's protection and saw with some surprise that the OdinSword had been removed from the field of battle presumably by the Transcenders. He saw also that the OdinAxe was undamaged. If anything the axe seemed almost to be enjoying itself as indeed it was virtually a living thing. Even he great Odin was struggling to hold on to it as it sought to strike out against the intruders. Odin was reminded again of the great wisdom of his decision long ago to create the axe.
What are the limits if any of the OdinPower? Some say that since the time of its first manifestation those limits have never truly been tested. That Odin has never faced a force or aggregation of force of sufficient power to administer that test. Until today that is.
The re-creation by the power beyond the power of past defeated enemies that once threatened the Multiverse was precise down to the most minute detail. Foremost among them all the Transcenders, the Unknown, and Those who Live Above All.
The Transcenders were so named by Lord Odin himself because of their ability to transcend almost any opponent. Even the Celestials stood aside for them after a brief yet brutal encounter. The re-created Unknown were just as enigmatic just as unknowable as the original. In effect they were the original. An enigma rapped in a mystery cocooned in a puzzle. Like the Transcenders they were powerful enough to have threatened all existence by themselves. So too were Those who live above all – they were to all the pantheon gods of the Multiverse what Those who live above in shadow were to Asgard.
Even in Odin's worst nightmares never did he think that the three so disparate groups would ally themselves together. By comparison entities such as the Dark Gods and Desaak the god slayer and even the menace of the Enchanters seemed no more than a minor annoyance. Still all these and many more ranged against Asgard.
The unbearable totally unrelenting pressure exerted on the Odinshield by Asgard's myriad enemies continued. The great shield containing all the residual power of the long dead Brell and reinforced by ancient Asgardian magics still held for the nonce buying Asgard's defenders a few snippets of time in which to rally themselves.
When mighty mjolnor did not return Thor was momentarily weaponless. What of that? Are not the very fists of an enraged son of Odin among the greatest weapons of all times? Two great pounding hammers themselves. Still Thor did only need to think it and two other great weapons appeared in either hand. The spear and the mace of Odin. And who would gainsay his right to bear them? is he not blood of the blood itself?
As the Odinshield began to heave and buckle Odin saw that he might once again need to call forth all the heroes of all times of Earth/Asgard to assist him. Still he would wait for the moment, when he judged the time to be right. This was not a resource to be squandered. Odin was never going to let his shield be totally destroyed by the onslaught and eventually he pulled it back re-shaping it for the smaller task of just protecting Asgard City itself. The Lord of Asgard teleported all outlying Asgardians to the temporary safety of the city. At that same moment Thor drew on almost all of the power lying within the land of continental Asgard. Moments thereafter all of continental Asgard was incinerated by the Transcenders/Unknown/Those above all attack. Asgard City was now adrift in space – no matter Odin could re-create the continent with comparative ease, provided of course that he survived.
The colossal forces ranged against Asgard suddenly concentrated their assault entirely against Odin himself. Two, three, four times and more the Lord of Asgard was struck down by an accumulation of force sufficient to shake an entire Universe to its very foundations. Each time Odin regained his feet holding the OdinAxe high his voice boomed out "Let Galaxies tremble, let Universes themselves be shaken Odin fights on!"
It is said that Gungir the spear of Odin is not so much a source of power itself as a means for Odin to more efficiently and effectively channel his own power. Similar things have been said of Odin's mace. If so then the son of Odin used the spear magnificently. The mace remained in Thor's belt for the moment.
At Odin's rallying call both Allfather and Bloodson launched simultaneous god blasts against their multitudinous adversaries. Odin combining his god essence with the axe supreme and Thor utilizing Gungir in a way that the spear had never quite been employed before. Such was the intensity, the raw force, indeed the sheer majesty of their counter-attack that the front line of their myriad enemies faltered and fell back rather than die that day. But Zeus could see that all was not aright. Behind the fall back those who were the enemies of all who lived prepared a masterstroke – an energy surge employing all their power at a level they could not permanently sustain. An energy spike if you will capable of destroying an entire Universe and focused, in an almost cowardly way, on the Allfather.
Sensing the attack the merest moment before it was delivered Zeus interceded placing himself directly in the line of fire. Zeus Allfather and liege lord of all of Olympus, gave his life that day that Odin, fellow skyfather might yet live. Even in the midst of ferocious battle Odin had the foresight to gather in the atomic and sub atomic particles that had formerly constituted the entity Zeus.
Elsewhere other great powers continued their own fight. Eternity, Infinity, Galactus, Master Order, Lord Chaos, Mistress Love, Master Hate and many more. Even, in his own strange way, the Stranger. "How fares Asgard?" enquired the great Galactus. "Odin yet lives and Asgard still stands!" was the response from Eternity. Heartened by the great news all of the great powers redoubled their efforts.
The death of Zeus while tragic beyond all belief initially served only to anger Odin and Thor still further. Thor now mystically grown to the 2,500 feet height of the Transcenders placed the enlarged Gungir upon his back and waded into the fray with Odin's enlarged mace. As the anger increased Thor found himself entering a form of controlled warrior's madness. It gave him increased strength and power even beyond his current level yet there was no loss of intelligence or control or tactical capability. The sight of the greatest warrior of all times now 2,500 feet tall and enraged to the nth degree by warriors madness, and wielding the enlarged mace of Odin, is one of the most awesome sights that you will ever see. It is enough to send shivers down the spines, or whatever passes for spines, of even the most powerful proponents of evil. Odin saw that some among the ranks of the assembled enemy faced with this sight departed the field of battle in most cowardly fashion.
Odin, also increased to Transcender height, joined his son wading into the seemingly limitless enemies of Asgard. Odin wielded the axe with a consummate skill that would have been the envy of any axe master that ever lived. The OdinAxe became so stained that day that for a while the slime, the blood, the protoplasmic fluids, the energy residue, and other things that shall not be mentioned covered it such that it's natural silver gray color could not be seen at all. Then as if tiring of this it shone with the intensity of a million suns burning away even the most stubborn residue.
Almost all powerful though they were the forces of evil found themselves sorely upon the defensive against the fury of father and son.
Eventually Thor's controlled warriors madness seemed to run it's course. At this point the mace of Odin had been totally shattered and he cast it aside. Gungir too had been lost in the battle. Yet through the roiling energies that now extended far beyond the Asgardian plane, Thor saw a sight that has been the constant source of hope for untold trillions of people since its existence became common knowledge. Mjolnor hammer of Thor returning at speed to it's masters hand.
The return of the mighty mjolnor only served to bring home a message that anyone from the smallest child on the most remote planet through to the Living Tribunal himself knows. There may exist powers that can temporarily sequester the great hammer of Thor but there exists no force, and no aggregation of force that can permanently keep the hammer of Thor from the hand of its master. One way or another mjolnor will always return to the Thunder God. This is one of the irrefutable truths of our Multiverse.
As the fury of Thor's attack seemed to subside Odin's actually increased. Odin for the first time since his birth also entered the state of controlled Asgardian warrior's madness. If there is a sight anywhere in the length and breadth of the Multiverse that is even more fearful more truly awe inspiring than the son in full warriors madness then it is the father in the same state OdinAxe in hand.
When finally but finally Odin's warriors madness was spent all fell quiet. All the enemies of Asgard in their entirety either lay dead or prostrate before him or had vacated the field of battle.
Odin restored continental Asgard removing the OdinShield from the city proper and allowing it to levitate down onto the continental mass. Then gathering the atomic and sub atomic components that had constituted the entity Zeus, he re-created the Lord of Olympus.
Yet at that very moment with Asgard and indeed the Multiverse entire about to celebrate it's greatest ever victory the power which is beyond the power recreated for the second time all those forces that had both individually and collectively almost destroyed the Multiverse.
Odin now nearing exhaustion had no option other than to draw on the most ancient spell in all of Asgardian cosmology. One that had in fact never been used and therefore never been tested in the field. Notwithstanding that it was in actual fact the most powerful mystical spell in existence. So powerful was the incantation that it could be used once and once only. As Odin stated the short incantation gesturing as if it were a piece of magic that he used daily it worked with singular efficiency. In less time than a single beat of a butterflies wings all those forces of evil ranged once again against Asgard and indeed all of the Multiverse were frozen locally in time.
"We have only one choice" said Odin "in the mere moments available to us the Living Tribunal must seek out his master and attempt to reason with him, otherwise all is lost!" "The Tribunal is dead" said Thor quietly "in every sense of the word, could you not feel it father?" Odin realized that the intensity of the battle had been so great that he not detected the passing of the Living Tribunal almost certainly the gravest news since the creation of our Multiverse." The Lord of Asgard saw that the Tribunal's demise was at all levels: physical, energy, mental, and most importantly of all at a spiritual level. The Multiverse protector had ceased to believe in what he did. "You must go father" said the mighty Thor "there is no one else really." "you must go and attempt to reason with the power that is beyond all powers, the creator of the Living Tribunal." And Odin saw that it was so, that there was no other alternative.
Odin hovered at the edge of the huge multi-dimensional black holes massive gravitational pull. The mighty Thor accompanied him. "You must remain here my son" said the Allfather "if I fail you are our only hope." With that Odin allowed himself to be drawn into the largest naturally occurring gravitational well in existence. For the slightest moment he lingered at the core of the black hole then chose not to resist the inevitable forces that thrust him out beyond our Multiverse into the timeless, limitless, void beyond.
Every one of the different Universes that go to make up our Multiverse are limited in some way or other. Whether it be by curvature in a higher dimension or some other mechanism. Thus in reaching the edge of a Universe one finds oneself come in at the opposite extremity or (possibly) moving into another dimension.
Not so the limitless void or ethereal sea beyond. Here one could travel the equivalent of trillions of light years and not make any impression on what is truly, not just practically, infinite. In other words one could travel all that distance and effectively go nowhere at all. Odin saw that there was nothing in the void – well almost nothing. He sensed the irradiated power of that which is beyond the beyond, the power beyond the power. The creator of the Living Tribunal. The source of the irradiated power was inconceivably distant. So much so that an exhausted Odin would need to use not inconsiderable reserves to teleport that distance. Here in a place where there were clearly no additional wells or reserves of power that he could draw on other than his own heavily depleted personal reserves. "It is as if having set a clockwork Newtonian Multiverse in operation and having created the Living Tribunal he decided to retreat from all further participation" thought Odin.
At not inconsiderable effort Odin teleported a distance beyond even his imagination. At his destination he found a large throne room strangely like his own. Except of course someone else was seated upon the throne. No doubt the semi familiar environment was for Odin's benefit. "With the death of the Living Tribunal I may be the most powerful operational entity in the Multiverse" thought Odin "But here in this place that means exactly nothing." Unthinkably far beyond any form of help, his energy reserves substantially depleted for the moment and far beyond access to other reserves Odin realized he could almost certainly be struck down on the barest whim of the occupant of the throne. In his weakened state Odin was not certain that he could even teleport back the inconceivable distance to the void side of the multi-dimensional black hole under his own power.
"Lord" said Odin both in physical speech (for all it's remoteness this was still a physical place rather than some abstraction) and telepathically "What are you doing to us?"
The occupant of the Throne arose. He reminded Odin somewhat of a more majestic version of his own father. Again presumably a comfort thing.
The entity hesitated. "Odin ____ I have been lonely."
Odin's first fleeting thought was that he who was the power beyond the power had gone mad, at least in terms of Odin's frame of reference but as they talked at the greatest length Odin saw that this was not so. Time meant absolutely nothing in this place. When Odin returned to the Multiverse 100 billion years might have elapsed or no time at all.
"Come again Allfather" said he who is above us all.
Odin teleported with ease to the ethereal sea side of the multi-dimensional blackhole and via that he again entered our Multiverse. He had never felt so well, so thoroughly refreshed even as a child. Thor awaited him at the edge of the gravitational well. To Thors perception Odin had simply entered and immediately returned from the black hole. Though in that instant Thor knew that the threat against the Multiverse had simply ceased to exist.
Odin related the essence of events but nothing like all of his discussion with The One Above All. Much of that was not something he could or would share with anyone. "It would be best then not to leave it so long before someone visits him again" said Thor almost smiling. "Others were re-miss in this" said Odin making an oblique reference to the Living Tribunal
"He who is above us all would be content with a visit every few billion years." finished the Allfather also almost smiling.
"The replacement for the Living Tribunal?" enquired the mighty Thor "or will he simply be re-created?" "There will be ahh – different arrangements from those that once applied" responded Odin "the system with the Tribunal did not work well." "Come my son" said Odin "I have to talk to you of a somewhat expanded role for Asgard."