Ares wrote: ↑
Sat Oct 03, 2020 11:06 am
Part The Second
In Hell, the heroes realize they've been played. By having Peter and MJ so close to the contract, it basically lights up like beacon, attracting Mephisto to them. At which point, Mephisto reveals his other two acquisitions. The first is Nick Fury, bound and captured. Apparently Mephisto managed to capture Nick during the Feat Itself event, where a Secret Minion of Mephisto replaced Nick for the moment with Thor. The other acquisition is Gorr . . . except not. With a shift of appearance, Gor transforms into Desak, Destroyer of gods.
Mephisto lays it all out. Desak had originally been empowered by a being known as Tarene, the Designate, a cosmic being whose purpose was to help elevate mortals to godlike beings. Desak had been chosen to fight gods who were more threat than benefit to mortals. During a battle with Thor, Desak had been badly injured, but taken away to recover. Meanwhile Tarene had lost most of her power, being reduced to the status of Thor Girl. While Desak recovered, Mephisto approached him, offering him the chance to get revenge on Thor and Tarene. Desak agreed and Mephisto empowered him further.
Using his time travel powers, Desak acquired the black blade he would use and created the false identity of Gorr, which he used to again attack Thor and break his confidence in both himself and his family. Though he did die, the version of Desak/Gorr that was killed was from a future point, while the current Desak/Gorr continued to do Mephisto's will.
During Fear Itself, Tarene regained her power and left Earth, only to immediately be killed by Desak/Gorr. Her essence exploded in a cosmic blast that Desak/Gorr bound up in a hammer made to resemble Mjolnir. Then the aforementioned Secret Minion of Mephisto, disguised as Nick Fury, gave Thor the Gorr comment, which caused Thor to drop his hammer in surprise. The Secret Minion then used illusions to cover up the switch, Mephisto brought Mjolnir to Hell while Thor's connection to it was shakey, and replaced it with the new, fake Mjolnir that replicated most of its abilities. When Thor tried to lift the new Mjolnir, the enhantments Mephisto placed on it prevented him from doing so. Thor thus became "Unworthy" while Jane Foster picked up the new hammer.
The reason was simple. Mjolnir had been forged by dwarves and empowered by Odin for Thor. The worthiness enchantment had been placed to ensure only someone who embodied the best of Asgard could lift it, which Odin was sure Thor would some day be able to do. Mjolnir is, at it's core, a symbol of Odin's love for his son, and his faith that his son would grow up to be a good man.
Now Mephisto had the hammer, the contract, and Nick Fury. With the hammer and the contract, Mephisto could start breaking the bonds of love between those who felt it strongest. But he couldn't simply just will their love away. He had to find moments of weakness where doubt could be injected, openings that could be exploited, memories that could be twisted. That's where Nick Fury came in. In Nick's head was the knowledge of when some of the best and strongest people in the world had been at their weakest. And with Desak's ability to travel through time, Mephisto was able to send his Secret Minion to points where these people were vulnerable. An illusion here, a suggestion there, and couples began to lose faith in each other.
At the same time, when the fake Mjolnir was destroyed in the battle with Mangog, Thor was able to tap into the essence of Tarene (believing it to be a cosmic storm) to bring Jane Foster back from the brink of death. This weakened that essence enough for Mephisto to drag it to Hell and used it to fully power the spell he was working on. Tarene's essence, after all, was meant to enlighten mortals. She was connected to them, so it appealed to Mephisto to twist her power and her connection to destroy humanity. Mjolnir would act as the anchor to the spell, Tarene's essence would connect to people and empower it, and the misery created by the heroes would reinforce it, so that the spell could literally drain love from the universe, resulting in the upheaval the heroes have been fighting.
The heroes, naturally, are pissed. Mephisto has messed with their heads, tainted their memories, and literally sucked much of the joy from their lives. A fight breaks out, but Mephisto has plenty of powerful souls he can call on. These are the villains who are dead but are promised revival if the heroes are destroyed. Desak leads the charge and proves to be a dangerous match for the heroes, actually beating the crap out of Thor . . . until a loud "GET THY HANDS OFF OF MY SON!" as a pissed off Odin arrives in Hell, accompanied by Loki.
Odin lays into Desak, his memory restored, of how Desak and Mephisto messed with his head during particularly weak Odin Sleep moments, weaving in false memories, driving their family apart, making him think he'd created the false hammer and been a part of some pre-historic Avengers team. Thor, Odin and Loki all take on Desak while the other heroes face Mephisto's other forces. The Asgardians are actually working together incredibly well as a team, until he sends a powerful beam of energy at Loki. Thor dives in front of his brother to take the hit, knocking him to the ground. But instead of trying to help Thor up, Loki plants a foot on Thor's chest and raises Gram over his head to kill Thor.
Loki has been Mephisto's Secret Ally this whole time. The one who did so much meddling in Asgard to turn everything to this point, the one who impersonated Nick Fury, the one who was behind so much . . . only it isn't really Loki. The current Loki is a hybrid of four different Lokis. The original Loki who got into mischief with his brother. The evil Loki who menaced the world, whose jealousy twisted him to become a monster (helped along by Mephisto), the child Loki and the most recent Agent of Asgard Loki. Mephisto can actually bring forth the Evil Loki whenever he wishes without the recent Loki's knowledge, and has used him to further his plans. And now, Evil Loki in control, he's going to put an end to Thor.
Only he can't. Because the three other Loki's are fighting from the inside, and rather than lose their brother, they force Evil Loki to stab himself in the guts, buryingt he sword up to the hilt. Thor sees this, understands it for what it is . . . and that connection to his family is fully restored. His father loves him. His brother loves him. And all of his fears and doubts about himself shrivel in the love he feels for them.
In the lowest depths of Hell, the ritual circle that Mephisto had been using for his spell has a large box, bound in chains forged from a darkness older than the universe, fortified with eons of evil, sin and hate. In this moment, that box explodes, a blur flying out of it. It flies and flies through the entire, endless realm of Hell . . . right into Thor's open hand. Mjolnir is back with its owner.
Thor just lays into Desak, telling Odin to help Loki. Odin does, and sees that Loki is being ripped apart by the sword, by the truth of who he is. Using the sword as a basis, Odin physically splits Loki into two beings. One is the evil version of Loki that menaced Marvel for so long, the other is the more sympathetic trickster Marvel has recently come to love. The evil Loki looks down at himself, over at Odin, and laughs before teleporting away.
Meanwhile, Thor is just laying into Desak with everything he has, beating him backwards, until Odin and Loki join back in, and all three of them kill Desak for good. The other heroes have routed their opponents too, and Mephisto is pissed. Without Mjolnir, the spell he'd forged is crumbling. But before it does, he's going to make the heroes suffer. He knows he cannot keep their love, or can he steal their souls. So he will settle for their lives. And drawing on the power of Tarene, Mephisto is able to blast even Odin backwards and start slapping the heroes around. Thor flies forward, but Mephisto blasts him backwards, even knocking Mjolnir from his hand.
Only for Spider-Man to swing by, flanked by the armored Mary Jane. Spidey actually catches the hammer, and for the first time, he's able to lift it. See, Peter's nobility by this point is beyond reproach, and he was never lacking in that quality to lift the hammer. However, since the hammer is meant to embody the best aspect of Asgard, it also requires a brave warrior's heart. Peter, at his core, is not a warrior, whereas a soldier like Steve is. But when the situation demands it, when Peter gets truly, truly mad, he does have the heart of a true warrior. Such as now.
Peter swings up to Mephisto and just clocks him in the face with Mjolnir, and sends the demon reeling. Mephisto tries to retaliate, but Hawkeye shoots Mephisto in the eyes with arrows that had been enchanted by Dr. Strange and blessed with Holy Water. Mary Jane blasts Mephisto, and when Mephisto tries to counter attack, Mockingbird hits Mephisto with a similarly enchanted and blessed staff. Peter and MJ both grasp the hammer together and just beat the ever loving crap out of Mephisto, with each of the other heroes Mephisto has taken something from preventing the demon from fighting back. Finally, they actually take the contract Mephisto had tricked them into signing, shove it in Mephisto's mouth, and togehter, Peter and Mary Jane just smash Mephisto's entire head open, the contract exploding like a bomb inside of him and a white light exploding everywhere.
The ritual circle shatters and Tarene's power washes over the heroes, and brings them back to Earth. Tarene manages to form herself briefly, telling the heroes that her power is almost spent, and it will be a long time before she is back to the level of power she once had. She thanks them for freeing her, and promises when the time comes, she will gladly help humanity on it's path towards enlightenment. The heroes will note that things feel different, and Tarene says that the explosion of all that positive emotion, combined with her own eneries that can warp time and space, have resulted in a few changes. She smiles and hopes the heroes will not mind most of them.
Danny and Misty return home. There, Luke and Jessica are waiting, having been watching their daughter Danielle . . . and Danny and Misty's daughter, Lucy.
Danny and Misty get a flood of memories and get tears in their eyes.
Hank and Janet return home to find Nadia waiting for them. It turns out that Hank and Janet are married, Nadia living with them, and all three of them have retired from superheroing to focus on science work, including providing technology for other superheroes. Scott and Cassy Lang show up, with Scott as the official Ant/Giant-Man and the 16-17 year old Cassie as the new Wasp.
Wanda and the Vision return home to find Wiccan, Speed and Viv all living with them, the three teenagers casually refering to Vision and Wanda as "mom and dad".
Clint and Bobbi return home. No kids, but both are in their classic costumes, they have their wedding rings and both have their souls. They immediately being to make up for lost time.
She-Hulk returns home and looks like herself again
. Deal with it Jab.
Nick Fury takes his seat in the director’s chair of SHIELD and states that it’s good to be back.
Thor returns home to Asgard, which is as it was, the gods restored and Odin on the throne. All of the Unworthy Thor stuff has been erased, with Thor now having wielded Mjolnir all this team. Jane Foster did have some flavor of her adventures, but did so wielding the Thunderstrike mace and using the Thunderstrike name, which she still does to this day. Also, the cancer she had was given to her by Desak, so that’s gone too. Loki shows up and reveals that Jotunheim is under new management. It turns out his evil half has taken over Jotunheim and is calling himself Utgard-Loki, after the Frost Giant who was recently killed. Utgard-Loki will now act as the traditional, evil Loki (going simply by Utgard for short), while current Loki remains a good guy, albeit a mischievous one.
Several villains that had been in Mephisto’s realm managed to escape and return to life. However, they and all of the other villains have their contracts with Mephisto cancelled, and can now lead their own lives.
Mephisto himself slowly begins to reform, badly injured and bitter as all get out. But with Desak’s power destroyed, Tarene gone, the contracts gone, he’ll never be able to pull off a stunt like this again. As it stands, it’ll be centuries before he’s back up to full power. He’ll have to be even more tricky for the time being if he wants to get his revenge.
The final shot of the story is Peter Parker and Mary Jane Parker in their apartment, holding each other and watching the sun set, smiling as they declare their love for each other.
Love Conquers All.