Ultimate Crisis

by Bob Young, Chip Caroon, Ritchie Filippi, and JM de Joya

Green Lantern
Captain America
Wonder Woman
Martian Manhunter
Jean Grey
Dr. Doom
Silver Surfer
Black Adam

Latveria, in the Balkans.

Dr. Doom and the Silver Surfer arrived in Castle Doom, the edifice where Doom ruled the people of Latveria with an iron fist. "Welcome to my home, my silver friend."

The Surfer looked around unimpressed. This place was quite primitive compared to what he had seen on other worlds. And besides, it would all be in ruin soon. "I thank you for your hospitality, Doctor."

"Think nothing of it, my friend," Doom said. "Let me show you around."

The Surfer agreed, convinced that nothing on earth could harm him.

Dr. Doom led the Surfer into one of his many science labs. "In here, I have something that I think will be of interest to you, silver one."

The Surfer entered. He doubted anything on this planet could be of the slightest interest to a being like himself. Still, he had nothing else to do while he waited. "As you wish."

"Step right this way," Doom said. "You will never forget this!"

Doom pointed to a monitor that was scanning the stars. The Surfer looked at it. He liked looking at stars. "What am I meant to see that I have not seen, before, Doom?"

While the Surfer stared at the screen, Dr. Doom quickly grabbed a cable tethered headpiece, which looked like a pair of earphones. With desperate speed, he clamped the device over the Silver Surfer's head and immediately pressed a button.

"What are you – ?" the Surfer began, but never finished.

Suddenly, a wave of disorientation hit the Silver Surfer. He felt a jolt of unfamiliar sensations. He wobbled, suddenly weak. He felt like the life was draining out of him. He tried to grab the device on his head, but his hand coordination was suddenly disabled, and he couldn't get a grip on it. He tried to activate his cosmic power but it didn't come. He felt like it was being drained out of him.

"I have been preparing this for days," Dr. Doom said. "I have certain . . . mystical abilities. Like the psychics of Earth, I sensed the coming of your master far in advance. And Dr. Doom knows how to turn tragedy into advantage. Your power will be mine. I will then do what you should have done. I will destroy the heroes of this world and allow your master to eat in peace. I will gain his trust. And then, when he is feeding, when his attention is diverted, I will strike and steal his power as well. And then I . . . Doom . . . will be the king of the stars!"

That was the last thing the Silver Surfer heard as he collapsed to the ground in a heap. Beneath his mask, Doom smiled. He checked the monitors of the massive battery where the Surfer's vast cosmic power was being stored. It was fit to explode! Had anyone less brilliant than Doom built it, it would have. But Doom knew that even his well built super battery would not last long. He had to act now.

The machine was set to rearrange the cosmic energy signature to match Doom's brain patterns and DNA. Confident of his preparations, he put the device on his own head and set the machine to reverse.

Doom went into spasms of pain as staggering amounts of cosmic energy entered his body, rearranging his cells. Making him different!

He had never imagined such pain! If he could have, he would have ripped the headset off, but he was in the throes of convulsions that hindered his coordination. He could only wait until the process ended and hoped it worked.

He felt the power entering his body. The pain subsided and he started to become giddy. He was becoming something new! He was becoming power! Cosmic power!

When the process was completed, Doom threw off his headset and laughed. "I've done it! I am now a god!"

Doom pointed at a pillar in the corner of the room and casually atomized it. He laughed with fiendish joy.

Doom looked down at the Silver Surfer. He thought about killing the alien but some instinct deterred him. If there were a problem with the cosmic power, he may need further study on this creature. Best to let him live. The Surfer was powerless now anyway, so there was no danger in permitting him to survive a while longer. He could do nothing to harm Doom now.

Doom summoned his guards and had them take the Surfer to the dungeons. Doom told his advisors that he'd be leaving Latveria for a while. Doom stepped out onto the balcony. With a thought, he levitated into the air. Then he flew, under his own power - no rockets or magnets - soaring into the night sky.

A note of caution caused him to encircle his kingdom of Latveria in a field of protective cosmic energy . . . just in case! Doom left his small kingdom behind, intending to claim a bigger kingdom . . . the entire universe!

In the Hall of Justice, Captain America had called a meeting of all the superheroes he could reach. The hall was jammed with dozens of costumed characters. Cap did his best to remain calm and appear confident. He wanted to inspire the others.

The entire JLA was assembled. Former members like Quasar and Hawkeye arrived for support. The Fantastic Four had come, as did Young Justice. Even the X-Men came, despite their usual habit of remaining incognito. They had teamed up with the JLA before, back in the Avengers League days, so Cap called them in as well. Solo heroes appeared, such as the Green Arrow, Captain Britain, Adam Strange, Moon Knight, and Daredevil. Strom, Troia, and Artemis came at Wonder Woman's request. Aquaman - once a member of the Avengers League - heard the JLA summons, and answered, bringing the Sub-Mariner with him. The President, Alan Scott - a.k.a. the Sentinel - monitored the meeting, fully prepared to become the Sentinel again should the need arise. He had SHIELD ready to act.

Captain America was in the central meeting room with a select group of superheroes. This group would most likely be the main leaders during the course of this latest threat. Reed Richards, Alan Scott, Jean Grey, Wonder Woman, Martian Manhunter, Iron Man, and the Vision were gathered around the table, with a few other heroes standing along the wall.

"Thank you all for coming," Cap said. "You all know the situation and things look to be getting quite grim. We'll need to be at our best. Sadly, the Doom Patrol is unavailable, having gone into the Negative Zone, and the new hero of Metropolis, Superman, has left the Earth temporarily on some mission."

"Our numbers are still strong, though," Wonder Woman interjected. "I've never seen this hall so packed."

"I'm still concerned, though," Cap continued. "There are a few of our own that are unaccounted for. And we've already received reports of more of those cosmic beings coming to Earth."

"Not just coming," Martian Manhunter said. "They're here."

Alan Scott flipped his cell phone closed. "He's right. That was the UN. They're picking up several incoming objects in orbit."

"How close are they?" Jean asked.

"They're already here."

"Define here," Captain America said.

Alan sighed. "Everywhere."

They came like an invasion force . . . only more dangerous than any army.

Like angels of death, they came with the force of storms over the Earth's skies, eager for combat and completely unafraid of anything they might find on this primitive little world. Nothing would deter them! The master needed this planet to die and they were here to prepare things so that Galactus could more quickly devour this tiny, petty globe. They were doom incarnate. Each one carried incredible destructive force, near infinite. Together, they were unbelievably powerful, like an unstoppable army marching into battle.

The heralds of Galactus had arrived!

It took little effort to pass through the illusionary shield generated by Green Lantern. It took even less effort to smash through SHIELD defensive satellites.

Terrax, the rock-faced executioner, rode atop a chunk of asteroid. He had the power to control any piece of ore, stone or earth. He held his lethal battle ax in his hand and chuckled at the thought of the bloodshed that was soon to come.

Dark haired Black Adam was glad to return to Earth. He had known Earth well, long ago. And he had a vendetta that he had been waiting thousands of years to settle.

Firelord, the flaming warrior, held his fire-stick tightly. He was all business, and though he found no joy in destruction, he would not hesitate to serve his master, as he had done for so many centuries.

Lobo, the pale skinned wild man of the group, laughed in anticipation of all the chaos that was to come. The Surfer's message had warned of numerous Alpha-level powered meta-beings. Lobo loved a good fight and was hoping that he'd find a challenge here.

The fifth herald, the only female, was known as Harbinger. She was the least experienced herald. Harbinger was not happy that Earth was the latest target, because she had been born there and still had fond memories of her childhood. Still, the master wanted the Earth for sustenance and his will was strong. Alas, the Earth was doomed.

Firelord, who was acting as the group's field commander in the Surfer's absence, nodded to the others. It was time to split up. They knew what to do. Each one had done his job plenty of times and this was to be a by-the-numbers operation.

The five of them went their separate ways. Terrax's asteroid crashed soundly into the ground. Terrax laughed at the impact. Lobo was also looking for trouble. All the heralds were lost in their own thoughts but still intent on completing the mission. They each had a small device would be enlarged once it was powered. These devices were important to Galactus' plan.

Harbinger flew the slowest. She was not motivated in this matter. She needed to talk to someone. The Silver Surfer was her closet confidant. Talking to him would make her feel better. She tried to sense his power . . . But something was wrong. She sensed his power coming from someone, be he didn't seem to be Norrin Radd. Had something happened to the Surfer? She stretched out with her senses and tried to track her fellow herald. She had a hunch he was in danger.

Somewhere in the northwest part of the United States . . .

A plane rushed through the air, cutting through the clouds like a hot knife through butter. Like the grace of a bird, it glided through the air swooping up and down on wind currents. Test pilot Hal Jordan was behind the gears of the plane. Some could argue that he is the bravest man in the world, while others could just as easily argue that he is one of the biggest idiots in the world. He was making just over minimum wage with this side job, but he loved every minute of it! The rush of adrenaline . . . the feeling of not knowing what is going to happen next, he just loved it.

He closed his eyes for just a second, and that's when all hell started to break loose.

A small ping awakened Jordan just as a huge 'rock' shaped object plowed through the right wing of the plane, sending it into a dangerous downward spiral towards the forest below. Thinking fast, Jordan hit a red button on the panel in front of him. After a quick hiss, he was shot out the top of the plane and a good thirty feet higher. Just as fast as he was shot up, he began his decent. With both hands, he ripped the cords on his chest and a whiplash pulled him back, slowing his decent. The wind gently hit the inside of the parachute, keeping Jordan suspended in the air as gravity quickly pulled the plane down and crashed it through trees before finally smashing into the ground.

Oh. My. God. What a freaking RUSH! Jordan thought. What the hell hit me?

Jordan looked around as he slowly glided downward towards the trees. That was when he noticed something different, something wrong. There was a crater in the not too far distance, smoke filling the air around it.

Jordan hit the ground hard, but got right back up to his feet. After pulling a small pocket knife from his shirt, he cut the cords tied to the parachute.

"~ Hal, are you okay, man? Something passed through the radar so quick that we weren't able to warn you in time! Our readings show that it had traveled around the whole world at a velocity beyond known levels! ~"

Hal pressed the button on his walkie-talkie. "Yeah, don't worry, I'm fine. You have any idea what hit me though?"

"~ Nope, sorry man. None at all! Your one lucky SOB to had survived though, you know you got some guardian angel looking over your shoulder! ~"

"Really. Well, if I was so lucky, than it wouldn't have hit me at all would it have? I'm going to check out what ever it is, someone might need some help or something!"

"~ Ok, stay connected onto the line though. Paramedics should already be in the area, I called them as you went down. ~"

"Ok, good!"

Hal looked around, trying to remember the direction of the crater that he had saw beforehand. Finally, after about a minute, he moved toward where he thought it had been. Passing through the trees and bushes that blocked all of his vision. Finally he got to the crater, and stopped dead in his tracks.

A minute passed, and there was only silence. Then the walkie-talkie went off again.

"~ Well, what do you see man? Everything ok? ~"

" . . . I . . . I'll have to get back to you . . . " Jordan cut the walkie-talkie off. He suddenly wished he had that special green ring on his right hand, the one that would change him into Green Lantern. But he never used the ring while he was flying. Once the fear of crashing was removed, he lost his edge. He would live or die by his own skill. No ring!

Hal approached the smoking crater, curious but leery. Was it a meteor? Probably, but with all that was going on, he shouldn't make any assumptions, should he?

His instinct proved correct. He was amazed to see a figure climb out of the smoke and rubble. It appeared to be a stone man carrying and ax. The strange being looked around, seemingly unimpressed. He glanced over and saw Hal Jordan. And a devious smile crossed his stone visage.

Uh oh! Jordan thought, wishing more than ever that he had his ring with him.

Terrax lowered his ax, slicing it into the ground. A fissure opened up, heading right toward Jordan. Jordan dived out of the way. Little fragments of rocks flew every which way. One of them struck Jordan on the head, knocking him senseless.

As Hal Jordan lay unmoving, Terrax approached him. He considered killing the helpless human. But he needed information first. Terrax placed his hand upon Jordan's head and utilized his cosmic powers of awareness. The same powers that help him navigate through the cosmos and translate all languages, now allowed him to see into the mind of this small, humanoid creature. Terrax needed directions. Locations. Coordinates.

"Ah!" Terrax said. "The location for me is the place called India. Excellent. I shall go there and set up the mechanism. And then I shall . . . entertain myself!"

Terrax was so excited about the possibility of death and destruction that he forgot the unconscious human at his feet. He then used his power to cause a large chunk of rock to float into the air. Climbing aboard, the rock began to rapidly jet off into the sky. Terrax was on his way to India.

Back in the Hall of Justice, Captain America, Iron Man, Alan Scott, and Reed Richards had retreated into a back room to discuss the current situation with SHIELD and the defense department. The rest of the heroes waited in the main room of the Hall.

The door opened and they walked out. They looked grim. The army of heroes that had assembled waited for Captain America to speak.

Cap tried to look in control of the situation. "It appears that five invaders have finally made their way to Earth and landed, all in different locations."

"I could tell that without the satellites," Quasar said. "My quantum bands are practically shouting in alarm. Their power is like a beacon."

"Aye," Thor agreed. "Mine hammer Mjolnir did throb and tingle, as if to warn me that great battle is at hand."

"Their minds stand out amongst the population," J'Onn said. "They are old and powerful and cold. All but one, who seems to be surprisingly mortal".

"They have evil intent," Mantis added. "This One feels the menace in the air."

"Yes, it does look difficult, but this is what we do, people," Cap said. The world needs saving, so what? We do this on a daily basis. And now, with everyone gathered together, there's very little that can defeat us. We have five opponents, so we divide and conquer. Let's beat them back before their leader shows up. Earth will not fall . . . not under my watch. Now, let's roll!"

Elsewhere in New York City . . .

"Sleep tight," the nurse said to the little girl, gently closing the door behind her. Suddenly, she a sniffle, and came back in. "Lisa, honey, what's wrong?"

The girl began crying, as if scared of something, like the dark.

"There's a tall man in the room, Miss Tina. With fangs."

"Oh, like the bogeyman?"

"Don't say it . . . it'll get you too!" she whispered. "It's scary . . . when you closed the lights, and the door, he stood there, looking at me like it wants to eat me. Miss Tina . . . I'm scared."

The nurse kissed the girl on the forehead, and turned to her. "Don't be scared of the dark, Lisa." She closed the door and turned out the lights. "See? Nothing there."

Lisa whimpered, her only relief coming from Miss Tina standing next to her.

"It's okay," the nurse said, holding Lisa's hand.

As soon as the last syllable left her mouth, the building shook violently, and the sound of an explosion echoed through the hall.

Lisa started screaming.

Down on the street below, Lobo had landed. Hard. New York City was not his destination for his device, but he decided to have a little pleasure before business. Besides, he loved the idea of a challenge. By attacking this city first, he would draw all of the little heroes out. Once he had finished with them, he would move on to put his device in place, unchallenged.

Spider-Man was late. As a JLA reserve member, he did get the notice about the meeting, but it took him a while to get into the city.

It just so happened that he was swinging over the hospital as Lobo was attacking it.

Oh, great, he thought. It's one of those days.

Seeing no alternative, he dropped down to the street below.

"Okay, let's get this over with," Spidey said. "I don't know who you are, but you're not here to help."

Lobo turned and looked at Spider-Man.

He started laughing.

To be continued!