FANTASTIC FORCE #6

Doom and Emma crept up Mount Wundagore.

“Why do you carry that spear?” asked Doom.

“It’s from a guard in Limbo, so presumably it’s good at hurting demons,” said Emma. “Which serves us both as an aid in getting up to the peak, and as a backup plan in case Chthon does rear his ugly head today.”

“That circumstance will not arise,” said Doom, as Emma turned away some Darkholder guards with telepathy. “We have time enough to prevent that from occurring.”

“Where’s Rocket, anyhow?” said Emma. Suddenly, a massive thud shook the mountain. Doom and Emma turned their heads to see what it was.

***

“Ya like that?” yelled Rocket from the cockpit of a Latverian mecha as he fired a missile that knocked a 200-foot demon beast down to the ground. “Is that the best you people can throw at me?”

Just then, three more demons of the same size came out of portals facing Rocket. Rocket cackled as he sent hordes of Doombots in their direction to slow them down, then called in airstrikes with Latverian drones. An unknown object then registered behind Rocket on his radar. The radar blip passed Rocket and flew over the demons, at which point Rocket recognized it as Jim, flying in full flames. Jim roasted the monsters to a crisp one by one, then flew up to Rocket’s cockpit.

“How’s it going, buddy?” asked Jim.

“Shut up,” said Rocket. “Shut up and torch more demons.”

***

Sue and Jen, both invisible, climbed the mountain from the opposite side as Doom and Emma. They walked up Sue’s force staircase, and Jen asked, “What if Doom gets there first?”

“Then he will, and Longshot might die,” said Sue. “But I’m going to do my damnedest to make sure that doesn’t happen. That’s what heroes do.” Jen nodded.

Suddenly, Sue heard a voice in her head. Terribly sorry for this, said Emma, but it’s what has to happen. Sue fell unconscious, the two became visible again, and the force staircase disappeared. Jen grabbed Sue with one arm and held on to a ledge with the other. She threw Sue up onto the ledge, then climbed up herself.

“Looks like it’s up to me,” muttered Jen as she tucked Sue into a crevice where she wouldn’t fall. Jen began to climb the mountain by hand.

***

Doom and Emma neared the summit. “Did you eliminate Susan Storm?” asked Doom.

“Don’t use scary words like ‘eliminate,’” said Emma. “Yes, I knocked her out.”

“And the She-Hulk?” asked Doom.

“Sue put up a lot of resistance, more than most people I’ve dealt with,” said Emma. “I won’t have that in me for a few minutes.”

“So be it,” said Doom lifting himself onto the summit. “I see our furry acquaintance has joined forces with the android.”

“Yes, they seem to make quite the pair,” remarked Emma. Just then, N’Garai began pouring out of the doorways to the Darkholder camp. Emma turned to diamond, and Doom began blasting N’Garai with his gauntlets. The two were soon overwhelmed by the sheer volume of enemies, until Jen began punching and throwing her way through the horde.

“Fancy seeing you here,” said Jen. “I’m not going to let the two of you kill Longshot.” Emma turned back into her flesh form to use her telepathy on Jen, but before she could, Jen casually flicked Emma in the head, knocking her back and making her fall unconscious. Jen stood before Doom.

“How do you purport to stop me?” said Doom.

“Oh, you’ll see,” said Jen.

“I’ll see what?” said Doom with a scoff.

“It’s called the Joseph plan,” said Jen. Just then, Jim flew past, a giant demon monster following him. The monster knocked Doom over as it burst into the Darkholder camp, wrecking several buildings.

“Because I was just stallin’,” clarified Jen. Jen and Jim ran and flew in through the new opening to the camp, passing a dazed Doom. The two heroes found the sacrificial altar, with Longshot strapped to it and Darnocha holding the dagger. Jim fired flames at Darnocha, but she magically froze both Jen and Jim in their tracks.

“A valiant effort, heroes of Earth,” said Darnocha, “but no one stands in the way of destiny.”

A silhouette appeared in the distance. “You know very little of destiny,” said Doom. “Destiny is the will of Doom.”

“Oh, I was worried you were a no-show!” said Darnocha, clapping her hands. “This will be so much more fun if you’re the first one to die.”

“I should have killed you when I killed your sister,” said Doom. “I expect you will be meeting her soon, however.”

Doom and Darnocha both fired magical beams at one another. The two spells countered, and Doom walked forward. They fired magical beams again, and the two countered again, but this time Doom fired a laser from his gauntlet with his other hand, hitting Darnocha and knocking her down. Doom reached the altar, and grabbed Longshot by the neck. Emma ran up to the scene, still clutching the spear from Limbo, but did nothing.

“So you’re going to kill the Prince?” said Darnocha. “I could have guessed. You never had any other ways to solve problems, did you? You kill anything that’s too hard for you to deal with. Doesn’t it get so boring?”

“Cease your prattle,” said Doom. “I cannot be—“

Just then, Darnocha came up and stabbed Longshot in the back with the dagger. Dark energy from the black clouds above began to flow into his eyes and mouth.

***

Rocket saw the dark vortex forming at the top of the mountain. “Goddammit!” he uttered.

Sue then revealed herself on Rocket’s windshield. “Let’s go,” she said. “Chthon is in town.” Rocket flew the mecha up to the summit.

***

As Longshot began to glow black, Emma threw Doom the spear. Doom held it aloft, ready to destroy Chthon and Longshot, and then stopped. He dropped the spear, and it clattered on the altar.

“What are you doing?” said Emma.

“I will not slay this innocent man,” said Doom. “Not… not this time.” Doom made arcane gestures in the air and muttered an incantation, and suddenly the darkness began to flow out of Longshot and into Doom himself.

“What the hell is he doing?” asked Rocket.

“Looks like he’s taking Chthon into himself,” said Sue. Emma and Darnocha both attempted to interfere, but Sue made a force field around Doom and Longshot.

***

In Victor Von Doom’s mind, he found himself in his throne room. Sitting in his throne was a creature of darkness, whom he knew was Chthon.

“You have no place here,” said Doom.

“But you brought me here,” said Chthon with a chuckle.

“And I shall remove you,” replied Doom. Doom lunged forward at Chthon, and began to wrestle with him.

***

“Is he crazy?!” said Rocket, seeing Doom writhing from the darkness inside him.

“You don’t know him like I do,” said Sue. “He’s wretched, but the one thing no one can knock him on is sheer willpower. If anyone on this planet can hold Chthon down, it’s him.”

***

Doom put his hands around Chthon’s neck. “You will yield,” said Doom. “And you will perish.”

“You have no idea what you’re dealing with,” said Chthon. “A force of nature like me cannot be kept down.”

“I,” said Doom, “am a force of nature. You are a pest.” He squeezed harder on Chthon’s neck, and the elder god went lifeless.

***

Doom awoke and turned to Darnocha, who gasped and backed away. “I have just slain an elder god,” said Doom. “You will be less of a challenge.” Doom performed a spell to bind her in place, then called forth a bolt of lightning that incinerated her.

Doom turned to Emma, Rocket, Sue, Jen, and Jim (the latter two having been freed from Darnocha’s spell). “Longshot is alive, but mortally wounded,” said Doom. “Rocket, take him to the nearest hospital. The rest of you, round up the Darkholders and turn them in to the authorities.”

“Um, about that?” said one Darkholder standing near the heroes. “We kind of planned a release of millions of N’Garai to celebrate Chthon’s arrival. They’re gonna show up any second now. Kinda pointless now since our dark master isn’t coming to reign on Earth, but what are you gonna do?” The Darkholder shrugged and chuckled.

“Change of plans,” said Doom. “I will fly Longshot to the hospital. The rest of you seem to have a disaster to prevent.”

Doom grabbed the Prince and took off. N’Garai began to appear by the thousand and pour down the mountain.

“We can’t let them get into the city!” said Jen.

“Already on it,” said Sue. She took a deep breath, and formed a force field fifteen feet high as a ring around the entire mountain. “I can’t hold this for long. Go kick some demon ass.”

Jim took to the sky and began burning N’Garai, but they kept appearing in greater number than he could eliminate. “Green chick, Blondie,” said Rocket. “Take me down the mountain and over the wall.”

Rocket climbed on Jen’s back as she and a diamond-form Emma began punching their way down the mountain. When they reached the bottom, Jen grabbed Emma and leaped over the wall.

“Now what?” asked Jen.

“Now Blondie makes people bring me electronic parts,” said Rocket. Emma nodded, turned back to flesh, and began commanding nearby people to bring their phones and other devices to Rocket, who began dismantling them and assembling something.

“Is that another bomb?” asked Jen.

“Please tell me you’re not going to blow up the entire mountain,” said Emma.

“Oh no,” said Rocket. “This is gonna be way more badass.” Rocket grabbed the bomb, and summoned a Latverian drone to pick him up and carry him above the top of the mountain. Seeing the portal the N’Garai were spilling out of, Rocket hurled the bomb inside. It exploded with purple energy, and suddenly the portal vanished. Jim cleaned up the remaining N’Garai with fire.

The five heroes met at the base of the mountain. “What did you even do?” asked Sue.

“Spacetime collapser,” said Rocket. “Destroys rifts and portals. Easy build once you get the hang of it.”

Transian reporters approached the five, asking what had happened on Mount Wundagore. The heroes stumbled over one another trying to explain, until everyone but Jim fell silent.

“We dealt with the demons,” said Jim, “but there was a bigger fight before that, and none of us were all that involved.”

“Then who was?” asked a reporter.

“Doom,” said Sue, with a sigh. “He risked himself to kill the elder god Chthon. Doctor Doom just saved the world.”