DCM Vertigo


Return of the Gods

Satisified Minds
by Toby Kernan

Being the final part of the Gods trilogy started in Prelude to Twilight and Twilight of the Gods.

Knock. Knock. Knock.

"Hello?" answered the man behind the door, opening it slightly while adjusting his glasses.

"Mr. Wesley Dodds?" asked the man standing outside the door. The man inside inspected his visitor. He was a very tall man, over six feet, with a long, thin frame. He was a good looking man, with long black hair and piercing green eyes. The crooked smile on his face gave him a very mischievous look. He was well dressed in a black Armani suit and looked very well groomed.

"I am sorry," replied the man behind the door, "but you are mistaken, my name is Walter . . . "

"Please, Mr. Dodds," interrupted the visitor. "I have little patience for such trivial games. Why don't you just invite me in and we can have this discussion in private?"

The man behind the door stared at the visitor for a moment, finding something familiar in his looks and demeanor, but he couldn't quite place it. He looked into the man's eyes, and could see the fierce determination in them, and resigned himself to granting the man's wish. He opened the door and beckoned the visitor inside.

The two men made their way down the hall into a study, which also served as a library, shelved wall to wall with books. The man sat down in a comfortable leather chair, and watched as the visitor walked around the room, scanning the vast array of reading upon the shelves.

"Varouk's 'The Dreams of Madmen'," responded the visitor, eyeing a certain tome. "I always found the work pretentious, to say the least . . . "

"If, I may," asked the man, uninterested in his visitor's taste in reading. "Who are you, and why are you in my home, and calling this Wesley Dodds character . . . "

The visitor sighed, as if annoyed, and turned to face the man, "Can we please drop this tired charade. Originally, I had intended to tell you my name was Tom Shipe, private investigator, blah, blah, blah, but I grow tired of such silly games. My name is Mephisto, first of The Fallen, and I am here to gain the powers to return back to my home in Hell."

Wesley tried not to let his jaw drop in complete surprise, but it was impossible. Standing in his den was one of the oldest creatures in all of creation, a fallen angel that had ruled the realms of Hell for millennia. Here he was now, standing in Wesley's library room, making idle banter about a philosophy book.

Mephisto continued. "I am here because I have been trapped in this human form for over two decades now, and I grow weary of this silly form. I want all my power back. I want my home back."

Wesley was stunned. "And how is it you think I can help you?"

"I have need," responded Mephisto, his voice full of fire and passion, "of a former possession of yours. I need the Materioptikon."

Wesley almost laughed, then replied in a very sarcastic tone, "I don't have that damn thing. I haven't for seen it since . . . "

"Since," interrupted Mephisto, "you handed it over to Shadow Cabinet for protection after Zebediah Killgrave tried to steal it and rule the world with it. It took my quite a while to locate his grave and extract the information from his corpse. You know, he still holds quite a grudge against you and the Avengers League. It took me even longer to locate you, Wesley. Some of you silly immortals go through a lot of trouble to hide your true identities."

Wesley winced his nose in disgust. "Okay, so . . . I am not a member of Shadow Cabinet and have no knowledge of . . . "

Mephisto looked slightly anger for a moment, then regained his composure. "The Materioptikon is powered by the ruby of Morpheus, the King of Dreams. Something you know a great deal about, my immortal little Sandman, and I think you know plenty more than you are telling me."

Wesley couldn't help stifle a laugh this time. "Okay, I'll play along. Why should I help you? I am sure that whatever you are going to use it for will be for no good."

Mephisto smiled. "I have secrets Wesley, secrets even an immortal like yourself might be interested in."

Wesley rolled his eyes in disbelief. "What could you possible have to interest me, devil?"

Mephisto came close and whispered something in Wesley's ear. Wesley's eyes grew wide in disbelief, then he bit his lip, as Mephisto finished telling his secret.

"You lie," whispered Wesley, stunned by the secret.

"I do not," replied Mephisto, a twisted smile upon his face. "And if you tell me where the Materioptikon is, then I will prove it to you as well."

Wesley considered the offer momentarily, then slowly replied.

"Okay. You win."

Four days later, a man calling himself Tom Shipe stopped his blue Ford Taurus rental car in front of the Time and Space Museum in Boston, Massachusetts. Despite the fact that it was late in the night, long past the Museum's visitor hours, the man strode up to the front doors like he owned the place. Finding himself locked out, he spoke a small magical incantation, and soon the doors' locks melted away like butter on a hot July day.

As he entered the building it was obvious he was a determined man on a mission. He paid none of the displays any attention as he wove his wave through prehistoric displays and glass cases filled with worldwide historic memorabilia. Finally, when he reached his destination, the Native American History Room, the intruder, better known as Mephisto, smiled as he entered the room. Few events in the history of mankind were more horrendous and evil in nature than the near total destruction of the Native Americans by the European Conquerors. So many thousands of lives, destroyed by war and ravaged by disease. Mephisto made his way to the display, which referenced the two hundred lives lost at the massacre at Wounded Knee, South Dakota in 1890. There, as Wesley had instructed, he placed his hand under a plaque, found the desired switch, and pressed it, opening a panel in the side of a far wall. Mephisto strode to the portal, and walked inside.

Mephisto began to walk down the corridor. It was very tall, nearly ten feet, and almost twice as wide. Mephisto looked around the walls, and noticed that there were security cameras in several corners. He wasn't surprised, he figured his presence was known, and was waiting for some sort of resistance to taking the Materioptikon.

"Don't move intruder!" Mephisto heard, from behind him, when he was halfway down the corridor. Mephisto turned to see several men standing there. Both the men were dressed in military style, and Mephisto noticed several electronic devices connected by wires and metal to their bodies. Cyborgs, thought Mephisto to himself, unimpressed. He also noticed that a third one had appeared in the corridor in front of him.

"You got two seconds to surrender, buddy," said one of the cyborgs, named Cole, then he spoke into his mouthpiece. "Reese and I have a bead on the single perp, Malcolm. How about you?"

The single cyborg to Mephisto's front, Malcolm, acknowledged.

"Stupid cattle," Mephisto began with a smirk. "Do you think that in my last three decades in exile I would no learn to master a few tricks? Just because I am no longer an arch-devil doesn't mean I couldn't learn to wield all kinds of nasty magic."

As Mephisto utter the last world, he hurled to small objects at the feet of the two cyborgs behind him. The men watched as two small scorpions landed at their feet. Not understanding their significance, Reese moved to squash the tiny creatures. Suddenly, the creatures were tiny no more, each growing to almost human-sized proportions. Cole fired his weapon, releasing a shot of energy that blasted through one of the creature's giant pinchers, as the other snapped at him menacingly.

Seeing that the two cyborgs behind him were thoroughly engaged, Mephisto began to walk towards the single cyborg, Malcolm, standing before him. He watched as a blast of energy from Malcolm's rifle blew straight through his chest, hitting the ground behind him. He also noticed the shocked look on Malcolm's face as his weapon had caused the form of Mephisto to disappear completely.

"A simple illusion," Malcolm heard a bodiless voice say, standing directly to his left. Suddenly, Mephisto reappeared next to the cyborg. He quickly put the flesh of his hands in direct contact with the exposed flesh of Malcolm's face. The cyborg turned a pale gray, gagged, and fell to the ground unconscious.

Mephisto walked from the corridor into a small, stone room. The room was empty, except for two items. The first was a glass display case, sitting upon a stone pedestal. Inside the case was the item Mephisto had come for, the Materioptikon. The other item was something very different indeed. Standing there was the form of a man, but this was no man. Where flesh and bones would be, instead was a three-dimensional picture of a beautiful sunny sky, complete with a sun and moving clouds. It was as though Mephisto was looking at the sky, cut into a human form. The form had a black top hat upon it's head.

The form spoke to Mephisto. "The Shadow Cabinet will not let you have the Materioptikon. Mr. Twilight will stop you. The invisible beast will stop you."

Mephisto watched as a barking, frothing dog mouth came leaping from the form of this 'Mr. Twilight'. The mouth, Mephisto assumed which came with an invisible beast attached to it, snarled and made its way towards him. Instead of running, Mephisto bent down and extended a hand to the beast. Rather than bitting the hand off, as Mr. Twilight had expected the beast to do, it instead sniffed, whimpered and seemed to lay at the intruder's feet. That had never happened before.

"Did you really think," said Mephisto, smiling, as he began an intricate weave of hand gestures used in spell casting, "that a hellhound would attack the very master who created it. I like your power though, very interesting. I wonder though . . . what would happen if . . . "

Suddenly, a teleportation portal opened at the side of Mr. Twilight. Mephisto watched in fascination as the magic portal he had opened, and the portal-like form of Mr. Twilight seem to fight each other for space, twisting and contorting the form of the poor creature. Mephisto watched as Mr. Twilight screamed as his body and the magic portal seemed to combine into one strange form, looking much like a black hole, then seemed to implode upon itself and disappear into nothingness.

"Utterly fascinating," replied Mephisto as he made his way to the display case which held his prize. He laid his hands upon the plexi-glass cover and whispered an incantation which turned the plexi-glass to nothing more than dust. He then picked up the strange looking object, closed his eyes, and made his first "wish," and in an instant, was gone.

Mephisto found himself standing at the top visitor observation deck of the Queen-Takara Business Complex in the middle of downtown New York City. He had always loved the view from this spot, a panoramic scene, which encompasses countless miles of one of the world's largest and more depraved cities in the world.

Mephisto began to wax poetically to himself, noticing that there was nobody around on the deck to disturb him, save his newfound pet he had decided to bring along with him.

"Ah, miserable Earth. Thirty years I have been forced to live upon you, skulking around in a pathetic human form-forced to eat and sleep and crap and feel pain and every other nasty thing that miserable humans do. I hated every stinking minute of it. Now I can change it all, make things right, and go home.

"But wait, I have a better idea. I believe a little revenge is in order. You see, in my hand, I hold some serious power. This silly device holds the Ruby of the King of Dreams. Well, it is going to be my dream now. First a small gesture, something to make me feel more comfortable . . . "

Suddenly, the human form of Mephisto was gone. In its place was the traditional form of the demon, complete with crimson skin, long crimson hair, and a pair of nasty horns protruding from his temples. He continued his rantings.

"There, much better. Now Earth, it is time for your punishment. You see, lesser man have used this little Materioptikon before, but never someone who has lived through countless lives and has felt unlimited power. I have the vision none of the previous bearers ever had. I think we shall all see my vision now. Earth here is your 'punishment', welcome to my world!"

Mephisto closed his eyes and concentrated and felt the energy of the Materioptikon brush over him, then spread like fire outward. When he reopened his eyes, the world around him was very, very different. The sky was no longer blue, but instead a sickly, blood red with clouds of gray. The building which he stood upon, once just a simple tower of stone and glass, was twisted into a demonic version of itself, complete with hideous stone gargoyles and very gothic, evil-looking architecture. Mephisto peered down and noticed that the city had gone through a similar metamorphosis.

Elated, Mephisto decided there was one more effect necessary for that authenticity he was searching for. Concentrating again, Mephisto watched as a rip in the fabric of space opened, and he watched as green, hideous, winged form of demon N'Astirh stepped through.


"Indeed," replied Mephisto, beaming with pure joy, "I have decided that Hell needs a tenth plane. I think we will call this one . . . Earth!"

Mephisto laughed as the portal behind N'Astirh grew larger, and from behind the green demon spewed forth the forces of Hell out into the mortal plane.


Father Richard Craemer turned from his rosebush pruning when he heard the almost inaudible whisper of his gardening partner, John Walker. Something was wrong, Father Craemer could suddenly feel it. The air, which before had been warm and inviting, now had a chill.

"Is everything all right John?" asked Father Craemer curiously. Since John had received his blessing from The Presence, he was usually very intuitive. The lines of worry and frustration on his face were unmistakable.

"Look to the sky, Father," John responded, the tone of sadness in his voice was impossible to miss.

Father Craemer looked to the sky. Gone was the beautiful blue sky, replaced by a strange crimson sky, with hideous swirling clouds of gray. It might have been a nasty sunset, had it not been the middle of the afternoon.

"What is happening, John?" asked the Father, stunned by the strange weather.

John was slow to respond, seeming to think about, and choose his words carefully. "The first of the Fallen has been in exile upon the Earth for three decades. He has been searching for a way to go back home, but instead found a way to bring his home to him . . . "

Father Craemer was stunned. "First of the . . . Mephisto? Has brought Hell to Earth? Won't the Presence move to stop him?"

John's face deepened into a greater sadness. "Mephisto has found an artifact which belongs to something as old, maybe older, than The Presence himself. He has used the object to block The Presence and other agents of the Divine from this plane. Soon evil will spread like a plague across the planet, corrupting all but the strongest of minds and hearts. If it goes on long enough, there will be no way to go back."

Both men turned in horror as they noticed the Sanctuary for the Forgiven Church, their home, begin to change behind them. The building's gray stone walls turned to deep, black obsidian. The simple small towers grew to tall hideous spires, filled with stone snakes slithering together in a sickening mass. The large stained glass window, which had just moments before contained a depiction of the Virgin Mary holding a baby, now was a picture of a demonic grinning Mephisto.

"What can we do?" asked Father Craemer. He was hardly a man who could stand aside and watch such degradation to his home and defilement of all he held sacred. He had stood toe-to-toe with one of the arch-devils before, and he wasn't going to let Mephisto take his world now.

John stood from his gardening, and brushed himself off. "Come Father. We aren't the ones who can save this world, but we can help set things in motion. Let's go visiting."

Continued . . .