Goku looked up. He was panting, completely winded and without any strength left to spare. His golden hair shortened and returned to its natural black color. The saiyan hero allowed himself to drop back to the hangar deck of Four Freedoms Plaza.
There he was met by Johnny Storm, Sue Storm-Richards, Ben Grimm, and the Silver Surfer. The four of them were completely awed.
"THAT was AWESOME!" exclaimed the Human Torch. "It was everything I ever imagined it would be like to meet you! You rock soo much!"
"Remind me to never get in a fight with you," commented the Thing. Sue just shook her head.
The Silver Surfer bowed. "Truly, you are a power the universe must reckon with. I never expected a mortal being existed who had a power great enough to physically drive back Galactus as you did. Before today I had never seen any but the gods of the universe do so."
Goku looked at the four apologetically. "I'm sorry, guys. I just couldn't destroy him. Even using every ounce of strength I had it wasn't enough. I'm not even sure if a spirit bomb drawn from all the universe will be enough."
"Don't apologize, Goku," came the voice of Reed Richards. "You may have caused some major damage to this city, but you just might have saved the whole world. You gave me enough time to come up with what I think will keep Galactus from eating us. We all owe you our deepest gratitude."
"Well, that's good," replied Goku. "How will you stop him?"
"With the Ultimate Nullifier," explained Mr. Fantastic. "I've sort of manufactured my own version of it. It will be impossible for Galactus to tell it from the real thing." For Goku's benefit, Mr. Fantastic explained what it was for Goku's benefit.
"Gee, I wish my villains left weapons powerful enough to destroy themselves lying around. Would have made handling Majin Buu a lot easier!"
As Galactus returned, the Silver Surfer brought Reed Richards up with him on his board to face him. Goku rode with Ben Grimm in the Fantasticar. "Stop right there, Galactus. If you attempt to eat our world, we will destroy you. We have your Ultimate Nullifier and will use it in defense of our world!" called Mr. Fantastic.
"WAIT. There is no more need for that," came the imperious voice of Galactus. "I no longer need to devour your world." The great being regarded those before him. He took particular note of the Silver Surfer.
"Goku." The statement of his name from the powerful being was like an invocation. "Inhabitant of another Earth. Your actions this day have saved this world from my hunger." Goku felt a powerful probing of his mind and body. "Your power comes from your spirit. It comes from life. Were your energy of some other source, it is likely that in my extremely weakened and vulnerable condition I would have perished. And with my destruction, the entirety of this universe would have been doomed."
"Doomed?" the saiyan asked in confusion.
"Yes. I am an embodiment of entropy. My existence serves to hold back the primal forces that would tear this universe apart. Yet the cost of my existence is my hunger. So, I must feed. I do not feel remorse for the deaths I have caused, the entire planets I have destroyed. It is what I am. What I MUST be."
The gathered heroes looked on in surprise. Chatting away like this was not at all typical of an encounter with the great Devourer. Even the Silver Surfer found this familiarity to be surprising.
Galactus continued. "It is not my wont to explain myself to anyone. However, Goku, I need you to understand so that you can decide."
"Decide what?" the saiyan asked.
"Decide if you will become my herald." The Surfer turned to look at Goku warningly. He knew what all such service entailed. But before he could say anything, Galactus continued.
"I need you to cooperate with me willingly. For in you, Goku, I can see my own salvation. I need energy to continue to live. I can absorb and manipulate energy of any kind. However, when it comes to sustaining my own life force against the power that drains it, only life energy is compatible. I can use other energies to some extent, but they are inefficient. For that reason it was necessary for me to consume living worlds, for only in that had my hunger been sated for any length of time. Until I faced you."
"When I absorbed your energy, it filled me up. Not only that, but the one in another dimension with which I had become connected was filled as well. With my power restored, I have been freed of that connection. Yet still, your power was great enough to sate my hunger twice over." Galactus paused. "Now, how soon will you again have the strength to do as you just have?"
Goku shrugged. "Well, if I had a senzu bean I wouldn't have to wait. But, I guess after a few good meals I'll be good to go."
"Then, for the sake worlds uncounted, I ask you to accept my offer and become my new herald." Galactus turned his gaze to the Silver Surfer. "For my former servant, it was a solemn and dark duty. His task was to prepare worlds for my coming and destruction. For you, though, Goku," Galactus turned back to regard the saiyan, "I promise it will be a glorious role. While you shall serve to grant me sustenance first and foremost, you shall also serve to announce my coming to many worlds across the cosmos. And at your word I shall come. Not to destroy, but to set right injustice and be a bulwark against chaos."
"Hmm…" Goku mused, "it seems like something I'd like to do. But I have just one question…" Everyone looked at him expectantly. "Do I still get to be called Goku? Grandfather Gohan gave me that name."
Galactus nodded. "Certainly. You shall still be yourself. You will be both Goku and my herald. I make a promise not to interfere with your mind or will so long as serve to sustain me. And I shall be beholden to you as I have never been to any of my former heralds."
"Ok, then. I'll do it!" Goku smiled.
"Then, Goku of Earth. I take you as my Herald." Galactus extended his hand to encompass Goku. "And I impart to you the Power Cosmic!" Great cosmic energy poured from Galactus, a form of energy unfamiliar to Goku. That is, it was unfamiliar to him until his physical form began to rearrange and he began to possess the cosmic awareness that came with his new position.
Son-Goku, hero now of two Earths and countless other planets stood before them an altered being. Where his hair and eyes had been black, they now shone with a silver luster. His outfit was no longer blue, now it shone as if a blend of crystal and metallic material. A curious "G" symbol was emblazoned over the left breast of the outfit.
Goku, herald of Galactus, smiled and extended his hand palm down. "NIMBUS!" he called out. Then, forming below his fingertips, appeared an ethereal cloud of mystic silver. Goku stood on the cloud and it supported him in midair. He could feel the cloud now as an extension of himself.
Galactus bid Goku spend his time on Earth recovering his natural strength. The former Devourer of Worlds returned to his Worldship to make plans. Finally, he could concentrate his powers and energies on accomplishing something more than simply surviving and existing for the purpose of existence. There was much to think on.
After eating a tremendous dinner at the Fantastic Four's expense, Reed Richards offered to help Goku communicate with the people in his own universe. "Oh, right! I almost forgot. Chi-chi would kill me if I didn't tell her where I was going. Again."
With a stable connection back to Goku's universe, Goku contacted his family telepathically.
-Hi guys! Don't worry about me.
-GOKU? What happened? You just disappeared from the World Martial Arts Tournament. Are you okay?
-I'm fine here. I had to fight a guy the size of a moon to stop him from eating the Earth of this universe. But it's taken care of. We're friends now and I'm going to go off with him to see the universe, sort of introducing him. And keeping him from eating more worlds. Everything is ok.
-So, you'll be coming back now?"
-I won't be home right away, and I guess this is going to be a full time job. I already got new clothes for it. And I've got a whole new bunch of techniques to try out! Oh, I've got a new name.
-A new name? You've already got two- Kakkarot and Goku. Why do you need another one?
-The giant who's giving me the job always calls the people he works for this.
You can still call me Goku, but I think if you try and reach me at work in this universe you should use my new name.
-What is it?
-Harold of Galactus