Apokolips was hot. Of all the things I could have noticed when I stepped out of the wormhole through time and space to arrive on the homeworld of the evil New Gods, that was it. The sky was completely pitch black, not so much as a star to be seen nor a sun. The only source of light seemed to come from below - the fires of the engine that was the planet. I didn't know a whole lot about Apokolips - just that it was probably the most evil place in the entire universe. No life could grow here, not when the air was so filled with toxic fumes that my contacts recognized it as deadly to humans.

Without my suit, I'd be on my knees gasping for air in a few seconds. Dead within a minute. Humans were not meant to survive on this planet.

"Thank you, Fatherbox," I said, the portal closing behind me as I looked at who was directly in front of me. The walkway was a long one, a good fifty feet that overlooked a massive hole that glowed a bright red. It was probably one of the few sources of light on this otherwise blacked out planet. The walkway was clean, no railing to speak of, just a long stretch of metallic metal and at the end of it was a god.

There was no mistaking Darkseid, that was for sure. He stood at about seven feet tall, leaving me barely coming to his chest, his shoulders broad and arms thick. He was mostly dressed in a dark blue armor that covered him from head to toe, leaving only his molten gray arms exposed. Even without recognizing him from sight after years of exposure to him, his presence filled the air and it was unmistakable. The very air felt oppressive, like there was a weight bearing down on me from every angle, crushing me.

This was the presence of a god - the New God of Tyranny, Darkseid.

"That Fatherbox was a gift," Darkseid uttered, his voice carrying a weight to it. An unnatural power in it that demanded that you listen. "To a human that earned a modicum of my respect. It does not belong to you." Despite everything I had endured and accomplished, there was a part of me, deep down, that wanted to run. The sheer power in his tone reverberated through me in a way that tapped into a primal part of my brain that demanded that I get the fuck out of here.

I shoved that part down and threw on an easy smile, "I'm afraid that it does now," I told him, my tone unrepentant. I couldn't match him in power or presence. That was just beyond me at the moment. However, I wouldn't be cowed by him. Not after everything.

I had known damn well what I would be getting into when I committed to this course of action. Right at the very first step when I looked up at the Warworld with a plan and asked Klarion for a little help seeing it through. I knew what Darkseid was. How powerful he was. And that the Darkseid that I stood before was a mere fraction of his true form.

"You know what they say - Finders keepers, losers suck. Plus, Vandal Savage won't be in any position to use it. Not any time soon," I continued, daring to walk forward and the oppressive feeling increased. Darkseid still didn't look at me, choosing to gaze out into the glowing red pit. Still, I think that got his attention. "Call it spoils of war. He's been defeated by me."

Darkseid didn't say anything as I took another step forward. He didn't until I took another, "You are the second human who has dared to stand in my presence."

"Do I get a reward?" I asked, my tone flippant as I continued to walk forward. All around me, that oppressive feeling was getting stronger. As if I had the full attention of an invisible force of nature far beyond my capacity to comprehend. That probably wasn't too far off from the truth, now that I thought about it.

"Your predecessor earned my respect for being the first. It is far less amusing the second time," Darkseid informed.

"Damn, you really do live in an echo chamber," I remarked, continuing to stride forward until I was satisfied at being about a dozen feet away. "Surrounded by New Gods that lick your boots and people that have been terrorized until they broke. No wonder you were so desperate for a playmate." I remarked, my easy going smile growing a fraction when Darkseid, the God of Tyranny gave the barest hints of a reaction.

His head moved, as if he was going to glance over his shoulder at me, but he stopped himself short. He didn't say anything, so I continued.

"That's the only thing that makes sense to me. You're locked into an eternal pissing contest with New Genesis and Highfather - worse, it's a cold war with neither of you moving against the other. The people here? They worship you even as they fear you. So, you got so damn desperate for something to break up the monotony of your days that you picked a pissant like Vandal Savage and orchestrated a little game to divvy up the universe." I shook my head, letting out a depressed sounding sigh. "That's just so sad. I think I might shed a tear."

If I didn't have Darkseid's full attention before then I certainly had it now. Slowly, meticulously, almost as if his body was made out of granite that couldn't move like a normal body, Darkseid began to turn around. I couldn't deny it, my heart started to pound when his blood red eyes were fixated on me. He had a heavy set face, no eyebrows or anything like that. Just a heavy set face that had a web of cracks on his skin around his eyes that glowed red with the same power that his gaze contained.

"You wish to take Vandal Savage's place," Darkseid intoned, sounding thoroughly disinterested. He regarded me coldly. His expression was completely blank, offering not even the barest hint of emotion but I still felt like he was regarding me like a dog turd that he stepped in and didn't notice. There was a long beat of silence between us, a slight smile on my face as I waited for him to continue, curious what his verdict would be. "I will not allow it. Begone."

It was as his eyes surged with power that I responded, making no move to dodge or avoid what was coming. Batman with his special brand of bullshit might be able to dodge what was coming, but I sure couldn't. So, I didn't try, "Really breaking my heart here, Darkseid, but I'm not here to replace Vandal Savage. I'm here…" as I spoke, light erupted from Darkseid's eyes, a jagged red streak of light that jerked around before slamming into my chest and completely bathed me in that light.

The Omega Beams. Lasers that were fueled by the Omega Effect, one of the fundamental aspects of the universe. Just as there was Order and Chaos, there was Creation and Destruction. Because of that, the Omega Beams could completely annihilate anything that they touched. In theory.

In practice, there were more than a few things that had survived getting hit by them. Kryptonians, mostly, but it was proof that it could be done. By that train of thought, I just needed to be more durable than a Kryptonian. Or, rather, my barrier needed to be.

Twice as durable as a Kryptonian seemed like it would be in the safe zone to avoid taking any damage.

I settled on fifty.

With my barrier as it was now? I could walk on the surface of the sun for a leisurely stroll.

The light of the Omega beam faded away, I remained standing, the same smile on my face and I finished what I was saying.

"... I'm here to replace you as the God of Tyranny, Darkseid," I concluded, searching Darkseid's expression for any trace of emotion. And, to my surprise, I saw it.

Darkseid laughed. It was an awful sound. Truly, truly terrible. I'd rather listen to nails on a chalkboard, squealing metal, a dentist drill, and every other horrid sound in the universe than listening to him laugh. I cocked an eyebrow, my smile never leaving my face. Thankfully, his laughter stopped as soon as it began.

"You do not understand your own folly. If you did, you wouldn't utter such foolishness," Darkseid voiced, and he sounded amused.

"I wouldn't be so sure about that, Darkseid," I returned, my tone light as a feather. "I like to think I know a bit more about the multiverse than the average idiot. I understand that what I'm speaking to is just an avatar - one of many with one per universe. Your power is limited in this one because it's too small. I imagine if you funneled too much power into this universe, it'd just pop like a balloon." I spoke, and I saw it. The amusement in his face bled away to become the emotionless mask once again. "The real you is in the spaces between the universe, so damn big that if I'm not careful, your corpse will fall on the multiverse and shatter it like glass."

I knew what I was dealing with and I chose to come here. I chose to follow through because I was confident. I was confident that I could kill Darkseid… and take his place.

"How am I doing? Does it at least sound like I know what I'm talking about?" I questioned him, taking another step forward. I didn't see any panic or anything like that, but I knew I was dead on the mark when his eyes narrowed a fraction of a fraction.

"For what reason would you desire to take my place?" He questioned, sounding like he thought I couldn't do it. Fair. It wasn't like I didn't understand how crazy my desire was. But, he was very mistaken in the belief that I couldn't follow through.

"Because, quite frankly, you're shit at it," I told him, offering a small shrug as if to say 'what can you do?' "Yeah, I get your hands are tied with New Genesis, but even beyond that, there's more to being a tyrant than just making everyone beneath you suffer. This world? Absolute hell hole. I mean, when you have a physical incarnation of child abuse working for you, you gotta at least take a moment and reconsider your actions."

"You dare lecture me on the nature of Tyranny?" Darkseid questioned, as if he couldn't believe that I had the audacity. "You, a short lived mortal?"

"I like to think I've gotten some nice on the job experience," I admitted. Earth was mine in every way that mattered. I could go anywhere, I could see anywhere, and there was no secret made on Earth that I was not privy to. Ever since the start, I carelessly violated people's right to privacy to spy on them without remorse. I used that information to blackmail and extort anyone that got in my way. I manipulated, lied, stole, and killed to get my way.

I was a tyrant. People might call me a savior or a saint but no word was a better fit for me than the word tyrant. I became one ruthlessly due to my desire for control and this was the ultimate manifestation of that desire - I was going to challenge a god for his power so I would never lose that control. Not to anyone.

I understood that. I accepted it. Embraced it. And everything I did leading up to now, while I couldn't say I would do everything the exact same, I could say that I had no regrets.

"My planet is on the verge of becoming a utopia. A tyrant is not evil by nature. It's merely absolute power to make everything what the tyrant wishes it to be," I told him. What was done on Earth would be done across the multiverse. I would become the New God of Tyranny and because I willed it to be so, so shall it be. "But, for my plans to follow through, you have to go, Darkseid." As I spoke, I reached into my jacket and pulled Duality from its holster.

"Amusing," Darkseid remarked, not moving an inch. "I will commend you for this - you are far more audacious than Vandal ever dreamed of being. Perhaps if you were not so misguided, I would not mind entertaining your delusions."

My smile widened as I cocked Duality, pointing it at Darkseid's chest. "What delusions would that be?"

"I cannot be killed," Darkseid spoke, as if it were a fundamental fact of the universe. Something that could not be denied or refuted.

All the same, I knew that was factually untrue. Darkseid had been killed before. The spiteful bitch used his corpse to fall on the multiverse, and it was only saved by the heroes. In various media, he had been slain and brought back.

"I suppose we'll just have to see about that," I said, pulling the trigger to Duality and calling the gun a gun was a huge disservice. Honestly, I'm not sure what it could be called, but it was far more than just a gun. The moment the hammer struck the Origin Bullet, Duality barked in my hand as an unyielding torrent of pure energy rushed forward that completely annihilated everything in its path. The white energy shrouded in crackling lightning washed over Darkseid, as the torrent carved a line through the planet of Apokolips.

It was only dumb luck that I didn't fire a hole right through it and destroy the planet. And I knew that the torrent would be ongoing and it wouldn't stop until it hit the source wall at the very edge of the universe. Anything and everything in its path was simply gone.

All except Darkseid, who took the Origin Bullet to the chest, and I felt its effects nearly instantly.

It wasn't like Darkseid didn't have reason to be so certain that I couldn't kill him. Compared to some of the universes out there, this one was beyond weak. I doubt that the true Darkseid paid this universe much attention at all. After all, when you had a Superman who could sneeze and blow away an entire solar system… wasn't it far more likely that a threat would come from that universe rather than the one where Superman struggled to lift a big boat?

Even among those universes, things that could properly kill Darkseid were rare. Especially when he could far more freely use his power.

"What… have…" I heard Darkseid gasp, falling to his knees, a hand clutched to his chest. Everything behind Darkseid was nonexistent. The oppressive dark clouds above were pushed back, revealing the stars, and one of which was the torrent of energy that had just hit Darkseid. He was missing an arm, his eyes were blinded, and he was leaking Omega Energy that burned through the floor. "...you…"

"I've killed you," I told him, his blood weakening the platform with each drop spilled. "I expected so much better from you, Darkseid. You fell face first into the trap every two bit tyrant falls into - you underestimated your enemy," I told him.

"Vergil… St… Jude…!" Darkseid gasped out as the walkway began to creak under his weight. It jerked down, the metal bending.

I gave Darkseid an honest smile - the very last thing he ever saw before the walkway gave out. "Goodbye, Darkseid." He didn't make a sound as he fell into the heart of the planet. I don't think he wanted to give me the satisfaction of hearing him scream as he died.

However, I didn't need to listen to him to know the exact moment the being known as Darkseid was snuffed out. When the titanic creature beyond the curtain of reality was murdered in cold blood for the sake of power. I felt it. Deep in my bones, the fiber of my being, to my very soul simply because I felt it.

I felt myself becoming more.

Death was the first part of the process, but Healing and Rebirth happened at the same time. It had to. Otherwise I would not survive the process.

A scream ripped itself from my throat, Duality clattering to the floor as both hands went to my eyes as they felt like they had been replaced with burning hot suns. I think I smelled the scent of burning flesh, but I'm not sure if that was actually me or not. Despite the pain in my eyes and the raw, agony filled screams that ripped from me as I fell to my knees, I was becoming more. My vision expanded in scope - Apokolips and Earth were so small. So incredibly tiny as I seemed to grow in size. Not physically, but mentally. Until planets were as tiny as marbles.

More than that, I felt myself being stretched out across the universe. Almost as if my soul was a rubber band that was being hooked to the multiverse except my soul started off a bajillion times too small. The pain was indescribable. I couldn't feel my body anymore, but my scream echoed across the cosmos, my vision a blur of realities.

"What's happening?!" I saw Superman ask, looking aghast as we stood in the ruins of a city, his clothing torn and his red cape billowing behind him.

"Don't go near him!" Wonder Woman shouted and I was distantly aware of grabbing my head with my hands and howling.

"Lord Darkseid!" I saw an old woman shout as my body writhed in a throne in the heart of Apokolips. Granny Goodness. The god of child abuse. I had to kill that bitch out of moral principle.

"My lord!" Seconded a girl wearing the costume of a Fury. Blonde hair and blue eyes. Supergirl?

There were more. I got flashes of all fifty-two universes and the Dark Universes, but they were all bundled up. I couldn't tell the difference between any of them. It was all just a mess of noise and agony that dominated my very being as my consciousness was stretched to fill a mold that it was far too small to fill. Across the multiverse, I felt hands being placed on me - people seizing upon the moment of weakness, hands of concern, and even hands of love.

It was impossible to tell how long the agony lasted. It could have been years for all I knew. It felt like it lasted hundreds, but it was probably only a handful of seconds. However, my consciousness stopped being stretched and the waves of agony receded. The images and flashes began to sort themselves out as individual universes.

"Who are…" I heard Superman utter in the universe that I caught a glimpse of before. I knelt in a crater that he had punched Darkseid in, but despite my newfound godhood, I was still unmistakably myself in appearance.

"My lord, Darkseid?!" Granny Goodness howled in a number of universes, feeling the death of the Old God of Tyranny most keenly.

Supergirl clung to me in another, "My lord, what has happened to you?" She shouted, her fingers digging into my arm as she looked upon me with such concern.

The multiverse was big. So very big.

I understood Darkseid's mistake much better now. My universe, the one I spent the last year in, was so very small. So tiny and insignificant. Whereas in some universes, I had a massive tunnel to channel my power through, in it… it was barely large enough to be called a pinprick. All the same, it was my home.

"What did you do to Lord Darkseid?! What did you do to my father?!" One of Darkseid's kids howled, towering over my body - the one that had slain the Old God of Tyranny. Across the multiverse, I breathed in deeply, gathering myself and feeling the power that hummed within me, and rose to my feet. Everyone watched me with a variety of emotions - fear, apprehension, confusion. I should probably do something about that.

"Darkseid is dead," I told to all those that listened in every universe. "My name is Vergil St. Jude…"

I smiled an honest smile.

"The New God of Tyranny."

...

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