DCM Vertigo


Return of the Gods

by Toby Kernan

"You sure have a lousy sense of timing," stated Wendell Vaughn, the tone in his voice tinged with annoyance. One minute he had been with his fellow Avengers League members in New York City, the next he had been teleported to the other-dimensional dwellings of the Universe's appointed watchdog, Eon.

"Hello, Wendell," replied Eon, as cool and calm as ever. "I called you here because you are needed --"

"I am needed right now at home as well, Eon . . . " interrupted Wendell. "In case you haven't noticed, something is seriously screwed up in New York City and I was in the middle of a battle when -- "

"That something is why you are here, Wendell . . . " interrupted Eon.

Wendell stopped, confused now, as realization began to set in. He had a bad feeling whatever was happening at home was suddenly a lot bigger than he had first suspected.

Calmer now, Wendell waited for Eon to continue.

Eon did. "The Arch-devil known as Mephisto has been trapped upon Earth as a mortal for several decades. Recently, he has acquired a very ancient and very powerful artifact, powered by the magic of the Endless. The Endless possibly predate the existence of this universe themselves. Has used this power to fuse the planes of Hell and Earth together.

"Normally, such a scheme would not effect us on such a cosmic level, but because Mephisto has fused his dimension with this one, the consequences may indeed be catastrophic. The delicate pendulum, which swings between Master Order and Lord Chaos, swings dangerously towards Chaos's side. Pockets of corruption and evil have begun to surface on other worlds as Hell continues to break through to this reality. Other cosmic entities have begun to notice the changes and are considering plans to eliminate the earth . . . "

"Whoa," shouted Quasar, trying to take all this information in, "nobody is gonna destroy my home. Not while I'm the cosmic champion. There are plenty of heroes on Earth, I'll just gather them and lay an assault upon Mephisto, and take this artifact back . . . "

"I fear," spoke Eon, "that your heroes are simply not enough for this task. Even now many are being corrupted by the taint of Hell's evil that is spreading like a plague over the Earth. Your friends, led by the Chosen ones, are doing the best they can, but they are being led on wild chases, and losing precious time. We need more power. Power that cannot be corrupted by evil, as most mortals can be. We need Earth's gods . . . "

"Well," replied Quasar, "Captain America and Flash went to Asgard to get Thor."

"That is a start, but not enough. You must go and see to it that others join this battle. If you do not succeed, your Earth will surely perish, and maybe, all of this universe as well.

"I know of the locations of several colonies of Earth Gods. Many left your planet after Mephisto and an angel named Asmodel hatched a plot to murder them. You must do everything within you power to convince them to come home and help against Mephisto."

Quasar came out of quantum jump just outside the atmosphere of the planet Eon said was called Antti, the current location of Earth's Eternals. Eon said they traveled the universe in something called the Uni-Mind, but had settle upon this previously uninhabited planet several years ago.

As Quasar entered the planet's atmosphere, and journeyed towards the surface, he could definitely understand why they had chosen this location. The planet was pristine, probably much like the Earth had been before humans had come and permanently altered its physiology. Quasar quickly swept past a massive blue ocean that stretched for countless miles, to fly over a gigantic continent filled with vast forested lands. Trees grew tall and thick, and in the spaces between Quasar could see large forest animals scurrying. Wendell was delighted to pass a flock of strange-looking birds with long purple feathers and bright orange beaks. He swooped down close to the trees and caught sight of strange looking simian-styled creatures with elephant like trunks and bright orange fur.

Wendell adjusted his Quantum Bands, as he continued his flight, to pick up the energy signatures of the Eternals. Eon had informed him that the Eternals should be relatively easy to find, as their energy should prove to be distinctly different from the primitive animals that lived upon the planet.

Suddenly, Quasar was struck in the back, caught completely unaware of his attacker. Luckily, he had been protected by an quantum energy field, or the blow would have surely ripped him in two. Dazed, Wendell turned to see his attacker, and was met with a most unexpected surprise. The creature was huge. It looked similar to a hawk from Earth, except it was the size of a compact pick-up and it's feathers were a dark crimson in color. Wendell suspected he had been targeted by the gigantic bird for it's lunch.

Not wanting to harm the creature, Wendell quickly created an energy rope and wrapped it tightly around both the creature's massive talons and it's sharp beak, taking away it's ability to attack. Then, Wendell used his ability to manipulate the energy to create a gigantic energy catapult, and fired the creature far off in the distance, hoping that it wouldn't go through the trouble to come find it's former attempted meal.

As Quasar stood there, hovering, he heard a female voice speak to him inside his head.

{Well played, cosmic guardian.}

Quasar looked all around, seeing a human-looking woman and man standing in the air, hovering around thirty feet away from him.

"I use to have a parakeet as a kid," said Wendell, smiling. He spoke the words, although he was sure it was hardly necessary. "How did you know I was the cosmic guardian?"

{I recognize the bands you wield. I met a previous wielder of the bands, a Green Martian named Nezz Zebbel.}

"Interesting," commented Quasar, suddenly remembering he wasn't here for idle banter, "You wouldn't happen to be Eternals from Earth would you?"

This question seemed to furrow the brow of the male and raise the brows of the female.

{I am Sersi. This is Caduceus. We are indeed Eternals. Who are you and why do you want us?}

"My name is Quasar," replied Wendell. "I am from Earth, and I am here to ask for your aid. Earth needs you."

The woman seemed to be lost in thought for a moment, then turned to the male, who nodded gently.

{Then come with us, we will take you to New Eternia to see our leader Zuras.}

"To be honest, Wendell Vaughn," spoke Zuras, "I am not sure many, if any of us, care to return to our homeworld."

Quasar sat, cross-legged, in front of the Eternal Leader. When he had first arrived, it had been only a handful of Eternals standing in what seemed to be a meeting area of their home city, New Eternia. The city was, in fact, a cluster of homes built into tall, thick, dense trees. The whole city reminded him very much of the Ewok village in Return of the Jedi, complete with rope bridges connecting all the homes. It appeared that the Eternals had chosen to leave their home in as much as a natural state as possible, even to the point where Wendell noticed small, squirrel-like creatures scurrying around the room they currently sat it.

Quasar had spent the better part of an hour telling his tale of Mephisto and how his plot threatened to disrupt the entire planet.

Zuras continued. "The losses we sustained during the attack of the legions of Heaven and Hell were great, and many still have not recovered from the blows. Harvest, Calculus, Highnote, Brightsword, and Sea Witch of our new brethren the Young Gods were all slaughtered. Ajax, Gilgamesh, and Valkin were also taken. My own daughter, Thena, was among those who died so that others of us could escape.

"These losses were overwhelming for some. Ikaris, whom I considered almost like my own blood, could not bear the loss of my daughter, and left us soon after we settled here. He could not settle, the loss was still overwhelming."

"I am truly sorry for your losses," commented Quasar, sorrowfully, "but this is a crisis situation here. The Earth is in serious peril. I don't want to see our world die. Worse still, Eon has said that these plots by Mephisto are starting to affect all of reality. He said soon the Earth might be obliterated, or else the entire universe will be destroyed. Now, from what Eon told me, Mephisto was one of the primary conspirators in the plot that caused the deaths of all your friends and family. Now, I don't care if you come back for justice, or revenge, or what, but you need to come back and help me."

Quasar watched as the crowd that had gathered around them began to rumble.

"It is our homeworld, Zuras."

"Those that were killed would not have wanted use to stand aside and left Mephisto achieve victory."

"There is too much at stake here High Father, for us not to react."

"The deaths of our brethren must be avenged."

"It appears," replied Zuras, sullenly, "that my people have spoken Quasar. For the many reasons, it appears that we will leave our new home and travel back to Earth and help stop Hell's spreading influence. I see this as our only course, whether our motivation be it revenge or justice or pride. I fear that running away was not the best choice in the first place, and now it is time to make amends for that day's actions."

{Are you sure about this, Eon?} asked Quasar, as he made his next quantum jump. This time, his jump took him not through universe itself, but instead to an entirely different dimension.

{What do you mean, Wendell?} asked Eon telepathically, through their link via the Quantum Bands.

{From what you have mentioned this fella doesn't exactly seem like the helpful type . . . }

{Under most circumstances, Wendell, he probably wouldn't be. Set isn't one of your . . . nicer . . . Earth gods. When Mephisto and Asmodel hatched their plot to murder the Earth Gods, Set formed an alliance with several other gods in an attempt to take advantage of the situation. They were betrayed, and forced to meld with human forms.}

Wendell looked around himself, and wondered then how Set had got himself into his present situation. It was almost as if Eon had read his thoughts . . .

{Five terran years ago, Set attempted to steal the ancient magic of all the Egyptian Gods. He was stopped by agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., along with Thor and the Sorcerer Supreme. Dr. Strange used his powers to trap Set here in the Shadow Dimension.}

{Why do we need him?} asked Quasar, not exactly thrilled about releasing an evil, very powerful God from his prison.

{He hates Mephisto, and his partner Asmodel, because it was their plot that caused him to be bound to a human and greatly decreased his powers and abilities. Set is a very bitter and vengeful god, and will gladly take the opportunity to extract revenge upon someone who wronged him so. He is evil, but a predictable, and at the moment, the lesser of two evils. We need every advantage and surprise we can muster at this time, and a wild-card like Set might be exactly what we require to defeat Mephisto.}

{You are the billions of years old cosmic brain, I'll take your word for it,} said Quasar as he prowled his way through the endless area of darkness and black. Quasar could hear creatures whispering in the dark, and could see them moving, but he then just fired up his energy field a little brighter, and whatever it was went scurrying back into their darkness.

Finally, Quasar came to his destination. It looked very odd and misplaced. Sitting, in the middle of all the dark, suspended in nothingness, was a large silver cube, about 20'x20'x20'.

Quasar heard Eon in his head again.

{That is Set's prison. It has weakened after years of abuse by Set, and the creatures, which live in this vile plane. You should be able to use your powers to break the cube open. Just bombard it with a variety of energy spectrums and eventually it should crumble.}

Quasar sighed in resignation, and started to fire massive amounts of energy at the magical jail. Eventually, after around an hour, small cracks began to show. It took another hour of work, but eventually Quasar gave one final blast and the walls melted into nothingness. Floating there was a shell of a man, curled into a fetal position. If this was a God, thought Quasar, he was much worse for the wear his five years of isolation had taken upon him.

"Set?" asked Quasar as he came close to the creature, thinking he was maybe unconscious or possible even dead.

Within seconds the creature seemed to awaken. Quasar stared into its pitiful, emaciated eyes, and felt sorry for the creature. Then the look in his eyes changed to one filled with fire and anger. Suddenly, the creature stood and the body was transformed. Now, it was no longer small, frail, and white, instead replaced by a regal, well tanned, well muscular form with eyes that burned with passion and hatred.

"Who are you," hissed Set, his low voice filled with anger and hatred, "and why have you freed me?"

"Now, chill out," said Quasar, "I can just as easily put you back in." It was a total bluff, but Set didn't have to realize that. "I am Quasar, Universal Guardian. I have freed you, Set, because I have an offer for you that we both can benefit from."

Always the opportunist, Set, after five years of imprisonment, had no problem listening to Quasar explain what was happening to the Earth. Set didn't like it one bit. The Earth was his to conquer, not some foolish demon's. Worse still, the perpetrator was Mephisto, who Set had a distinct loathing for. In his view, he owed that demon much. Besides, thought Set, this could be an awesome opportunity for him. He could avenge his pains upon an old nemesis, then take the Materioptikon for himself, and use it to seek his revenge upon Doctor Strange, Thor, Oliver Queen, and all his other enemies.

"I will help you creature," said Set, smiling, "Just get me home and tell me what I need to do."

Quasar shifted uneasily as he prepared to transport himself and Set back to Earth. He could not shake the feeling that in order to stop a devil, he had just made a hellish pact with something just as bad.