Mr Fantastic looks down on the body of Galactus, marvelling at the intellect of the dying brain inside. He speaks into his recorder, frustrated he hasn’t yet invented one that can simply read his mind. Not without it being able to record all of his mind.
“What to do?” he says. “So much to learn. We’re both creatures of science, yet Galactus is a being of death. I must be true to my cause of life.”
He notices the exhilaration in his voice, the way it fluctuates between unbridled joy, the situation’s gravity, and pockets of resentment.
Here lies the most powerful being in existence, at my feet, no less, he thinks. Its armour intact, with and all the secrets within - of communication, transport, energy transferal, energy storage, weapons, molecular sciences, atom manipulations. Pure science, in all its glory. Yet it took, after all these years, all those battles, a sorcerer to bring Galactus down. A magician!
“Strange…” Richards mumbles. “Where is he now? He has no idea of what’s in front of me, its grandeur.”
A sudden flash of light consumes the room. Everything goes white. At first Richards thinks he’s been teleported somewhere. Gradually, his eyes adjust.
“SORRY,” a towering voice booms.
The light appears bigger than the Baxter Building they’re in. Impossible. But it shrinks with every second.
“SORRY REED RICHARDS,” it says, again.
The force of the light is too great. It pins Richards, despite all his elasticity, to the wall. Straining to lift his fingers free, he looks at his instruments.
None of them are showing any reaction.
“Verbal annalist: I’ve been hit by the Hulk, Thor, All of Galactus’ heralds. Galactus himself. Nothing has had this much power!” he shouts for his recorder. The presence grows closer as it condenses. Fighting to keep his face from pressing as flat as the rest of him, Richards forces air into his lungs.
“Rewind! Play!” he calls.
“File empty,” the recorder says.
The light shrinks further, its force easing in turn. Richards swings a fist at it, then again. His hands become liquid things, recoiling all over the room.
“Johnny! Ben!” he calls into the house speakers, but when he looks to the monitors, his allies are still looking bored, guarding the door.
“Why can’t they…? Johnny! Ben!”
“REED RICHARDS…” the voice says. “MY APPOLOGIES. IT IS… HARD… TO CONTAIN MYSELF IN A FORM SO… MICROSCOPIC. TO COMMUNICATE AT SUCH A… BASE… LEVEL…”
The light shrinks further, finally stopping at about 12ft tall. Within its heart there is a flowing creature that looks vaguely insect-like.
“Listen, Reed Richards,” it projects. “ I will tell you of Galactus, then offer you a choice.”
“Who are you?” Reed shouts, still pinned to the wall. “Who? What are you? WHY?!”
“Why? Because you are clever, for what you are, and have caught, like a grain of sand in my eye.”
“Record!” Reed screams, with anger, at his implements, but none of their needles waiver.
“I am Galactus,” the being continues. “I was there at the beginning, which has always been, and will be again, in this infinitely layered, simultaneous pulse you call time. What vanity led you to believe, in all the cosmos, billions upon billions of planets, I would look like you? Talk like you? How small is your ape mind?”
“Galactus? But this is…” Reed points to the purple clad figure on his bench.
“I decided to know this universe I was reborn into, so sent aspects of myself to examine regions, to take on the shape of some of the more predominant species of their zones. Engage and learn from them, while self-sustaining.”
“Be silent, Reed Richards. Listen. This is a rare. You have no concept of the liquidity of existence. The scope of dimensions. The variables, life forms, sciences and powers beyond your stiff, limited range of logic. You have not the imagination.”
“There are infinite dimensions. Did you know that? Infinite. You can only perceive three of them, yet honestly thought, in your travels, you have shaped all of existence? Fought for all of reality? All that is? That your speck of a world could be the epicentre of such… complexity? You have battled superbly, achieved breathtakingly well and beyond your peers, influenced the skies, but barely altered pockets of your pocket of something that is endless. Still, in this moment, I acknowledge you, containing myself long enough to offer this…”
“I am here to oversee the re-ignition of this ‘Galactus’. I can perform this task, leaving you with the truth of how insignificant you are. Or, simply depart so that you might revive your… regional… aspect of me, after which it will erase this meeting from your memory, so that you might still might believe in your inflated sense of power, that you are kindred with me, worthy of Eternity, influential in all dimensions, in all realities, upon the highest cosmic scales. The choice is yours…”
“You know what I will chose…” Richards snarls.
“I do not care.”
“Well, look for the answer, you bastard!” Mr Fantastic shouts. “Look into the heart of a grain of sand! Look into my mind!”
“It is too small. That is what yonder fragment of me is for.”
“Damn you! Don’t make me say it!”
“This smallness brings me pain, Reed Richards. Our time is short. Decide.”
Richards stares at the ground. He has never lied, not once, not to himself. He always thought his honesty was his greatest power. Yet here he now is, contemplating the biggest lie of them all. He knows that there are no villains in this decision, that there is nobody forcing his hand.
“My ego… it motivates me to achieve. It drives me to do so much good in this world…”
Without another word or sound, the creature expands, everything becoming white light again, then is gone. The Galactus body remains, dying, but revivable if Richards combines his intellect with the power of Thor.
Reed Richards knows he must work fast, before the experience can haunt him, before the scope of it tears him down. This is his greatest defeat. Though, soon enough, he’ll never know.
Ignorance and bliss, he acknowledges the irony.
“Testing…” he says, to his recoding equipment, bitterness choking his tongue.
Half-a-dozen needles jump.
“Johnny!” he calls through the intercom. “Quick, summon Thor!”
“On it, Reed!” the Human Torch’s voice replies.