Galactus continued his assault on Kaer Maga, after conjuring a mystical wall to protect himself. Hyourinmaru quickly dispelled the barrier and he, Superman and Loki rallied to try to bring him down. Surrounded, Galactus drew one of the artifact weapons he had consumed – a glowing red scythe. He attacked Hyourinmaru, slicing into him before dispelling the protective magics that bolstered the Dragon Disciple.
Within moments, Loki’s reinforcements had arrived. The Cult of the Deceiver, a throng of over a hundred pious humans, appeared in a wisp of smoke. They shouted zealously as they charged into battle. At the same time, Doom and his minions arrived with the pieces of the Sihedron. Galactus stepped toward the advancing army – cuing the cautious Arrow to move behind Doom. Just then Galactus unleashed a powerful blast of energy, instantly vaporizing the Cult before him. Loki, indifferent, merely stepped away.
Green Arrow let loose a volley of arrows at Galactus, each connecting to deadly effect. And yet the Destroyer still stood, continuing to battle the Pathfinders.
After taking some time to reunite the Seven Shards, Doctor Doom at last reforged the mystic and powerful Sihedron. He looked forward, eyes glowing. Yet it wasn’t Galactus who was the target of his wrath – it was the heroes. The Sihedron had the power to destroy all heroes in the universe, and in one fell swoop his long-running plan was nearly complete. Galactus had been a ploy, a trap to rally the Pathfinders to his cause – to aid him in collecting the Shards and fighting his enemies. He had plotted this moment for nearly a year, and as he held the weapon in the air he laughed maniacally. At last, he would have his vengeance.
But suddenly, from the blue, a blast of energy shot the Sihedron from Doom’s grasp. It was Natasha Stark! Not back from the dead, but never having died to begin with. The suit that was destroyed had been an empty decoy, leaving Stark to plot her return. Stark blasted the stunned Doom in the back, knocking him down.
Stark wasn’t alone. Behind her flew in 52 Iron Suits, each powered up and ready to fight. Doom stood and tried to retaliate but Stark moved in, unleashing a barrage of pulse blasts. Four strucks his limbs, knocking him to the ground. The fifth was delivered at point-blank range, as she placed a palm to his chest. She charged her suit to full capacity, exploding with energy. The blast consumed Doom’s suit of armor, light beaming from the creases. Doom shouted in pain as the energy pulse consumed him, leaving only a charred crater where he once stood. Protecting her allies in a field of energy, she finally had a few, delicate words for her friends.
“What the hell did you idiots get yourself into NOW?”
Galactus unleashed yet another blast but this time, protected by Stark, the Pathfinders were unaffected. Taking the moment, Green Arrow prepared a single, well-aimed shot. He fired an arrow directly between The Destroyer’s eyes, the shot exploding out the back of
Galactus’ head. Galactus kneeled, nearly destroyed as the new 52 suits surrounded him. They all prepared their blasters in unison and, with a combined explosion, destroyed the Destroyer. Galactus’ shell – more machine than god – crumbled, turning to ash as it rained to the ground.
The threat passed, the Pathfinders regrouped around their returned friend and apparent savior. Hyourinmaru, wary of the Sihedron’s power, opted to destroy it. The others agreed. Hyourinmaru summoned nearly all of his mystical energy, freezing the Sihedron until it was frigid and brittle. Finally it shattered, sending out a wave of energy that nearly evaporated what magic the Disciple had within him. Yet with his last remaining will, he resisted and held onto his aura.
At last, it was over. Doom was destroyed. Galactus was destroyed. The Drow were scattered and leaderless. The Acolytes and minions of Doom were powerless. Thanks to Captain America’s influence, the rebellion against Doom’s regime could at last turn back the tide against his tyranny.
One by one, the remaining Pathfinders gathered their things and prepared to leave Golarion for good. Some happily, some relucantly, and others so numb to the unending chaos that the departure seemed surreal. Hyourinmaru rested enough to regain his strength, before using his mystical mastery to teleport the heroes across space and time to their homes. “Nobility. Loyalty. Honor. Friendship,” was all Hyourinmaru uttered to his departing allies.
Captain America, Deadpool, Spider-Man, Hulk and Wolverine all returned to New York. With Magnimar now under the control of Sheila Heidmarch, the fate of southern Varisia looked promising.
Superman, Green Arrow, Black Canary, Dove, Flash, Aquaman, Zatanna and Huntress all returned to either Metropolis or Star City of their world, eager to rejoin their Justice League allies.
Iron Woman reconnected with Eviana – who had recovered from her possession and infection by the Galactus-spawned technovirus. After apologizing for her transgressions, Queen Eviana set about restoring North Varisia to its former beauty and glory, and the Elves once more protected the woodland realms. Stark and her apprentice Aa’rya powered down the engineering lab aboard the Watchtower before returning to their own version of New York. There, Stark was at last reunited with Pepper Potts.
Jenkin Dragonsbane and Doctor Strange II formed an unlikely pairing, seeking out ancient lore and destroying rogue dragons together.
Batman remained aboard the Watchtower for some time, ensuring all was in order on Golarion. When the peace at last seemed assured, he used the teleportation pad on the main deck to transport himself back to Gotham City.
Valhalla Odincousin followed at the heels of his god and mentor Thor, who stood with Loki before Hyourinmaru and prepared to visit the revered Asgard.
“Come,” Thor whispered to Loki, “Let us return home. As Princes of Asgard. As brothers.”
“Brother,” Loki sighed solemnly.
“Despite all you have done,” Thor explained, “You’ve proven yourself to be a hero, and honorable. Mother would be proud of you.”
Loki nodded silently, preparing for the spell. Hyourinmaru cast upon Thor and Valhalla, sending them across the cosmos. Yet as he turned to Loki, the aura of deceit and mystery around the Asgardian clouded the Disciple’s memories. Hyourinmaru could scarcely recall anything about Loki – not their time together nor concerns for bringing him along. Nodding to the apparent stranger, Hyourinmaru instead turned to his new apprentice – Spyro – and vanished together in a wave of frozen air.
Left alone, Loki returned to the remains of Doctor Doom. In one of the fallen tyrant’s pouches was another Shard. An Eighth. This one glowed softly in a golden hue, humming with untold power.
“That’s interesting,” Loki commented to himself. He held the Shard, looking it over, the lust for power ever-strong in his veins. Finally, he couldn’t help but laugh.
“That’s very interesting.”