DCM Vertigo


Twilight of the Gods

The Myth of Gods
by Toby Kernan

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

Asmodel had been patient, and this was something new for him. He had always been an action kind of guy. Slash out with his blade first, then, if there were any usable pieces left, ask questions later. That was his job. He was the King-Angel of the Pax-Dei, the very armies of Heaven. One of the three most powerful angels currently residing in Heaven. He held more power than nearly anyone in the entire universe.

The problem, it would seem, is that power was simply not enough. He wanted more, and he had the knowledge to obtain it. Now, it also seemed, he finally had the time.

Asmodel knew things that only a couple of other beings in all the universe knew, and it was time for action!

Despite what the people of many planets believe, the all-power being known as The Presence was not all-powerful or all-omnipotent. He was a close as any creature would ever come, but He still had moments where mistakes were made. Even though it happened eons ago, the sting of the Great War still lingered in His mind still recounted the time when his most favored, Mephisto, had led an uprising in his Heaven and tore very existence apart.

The Presence thought of such things as he walked through the beautiful garden. He reached down with his fingers and picked a Belluda Flower, its delicate purple petals swaying in the wind. He held the flower to His nose and breathed in deeply, intoxicated in its scent.

Sometimes, there was truly an advantage to being amongst the mortals. Every so often, a century or so, The Presence put all His omnipotence away, and took the form of some mortal race, so He could walk amongst them and see how they lived, in order to better understand them. This time He had decided to "vacation" on the beautiful garden world of M't'Ki, a homeworld to the displaced Cotati and pacifist priests of Pama, exiles from the Kree. It was a world like no other, bereft of technology, instead one giant botanical garden filled with flowers and trees and small animals of every exotic type and beauty. It was amazing to walk amongst such beauty. He was impressed with all the priests and Cotati had done with a planet that had been all but barren two centuries ago. Being mortal, The Presence swelled with pride, for these were creations that made those or war and pain almost worthwhile.


The Presence turned to see a very beautiful woman standing behind Him. She was a Pama priestess, and her beauty was stunning. In her hands she held a huge bouquet of the most beautiful flowers He had ever witnessed.

"Hello," He said rather enthusiastically. He loved to interact with mortals. Normally He would simply read her mind and see all, but on these "vacations" He stripped Himself of as much of His power as possible. It was a challenge to Him, to figure out His creations without having to resort to using His mighty powers. Even a God needs challenged sometimes.

It wasn't as though He feared for himself when He was powerless either. No mortal could do Him any real harm, He couldn't be "killed," and only His three closest Angels - Michael, Gabriel, and Asmodel - knew that He was not in his normal state.

"Would you like to smell of my bouquet?" asked the beautiful priestess rather coyly. The Presence found her beauty intoxicating, and her movement to him enticing. The Presence would have to ask her why someone so stunning had decided to become an outlaw priestess. It was those kinds of insight that fascinated Him.

"I would love to," said The Presence warmly as she came within touching distance of Him. He bent over and deeply inhaled the beautiful bouquet. Then suddenly He felt something move within the flowers and attach to his face. Then He felt nothing.

As the creature attached to The Presence's face, the beautiful woman transformed into something completely different. Now she was not Kree, she was not even a woman. ‘She' was The Elder of the universe known as the Gardener.

"So it is done. And the games now begin," came a voice from behind the Gardener. From the trees came several other creatures, strangers who did not call this planet home.

"Indeed, Grandmaster and Collector," said the amazed Gardener, "it would appear that Their plan actually has succeeded in its first phase. In his mortal form, the Beyonder known as The Presence was susceptible to the powers of the Star Conqueror. Now, lost in His own dreams, He is unable to regain His power and return to this plane until we let Him. We have captured the very creator of the universe and have Him hostage."

"Yes," said the Collector, wearily. "Now let us hope that They are able to bring their plan to fruition. I fear that if They don't, and The Presence somehow awakens, we will suffer a most horrendous fate."

"Bah," said the Grandmaster, scoffing at the Collector's cowardice, "I have lived long. I fear nothing. Let the games begin . . . "

Michael stood at the Gates of Heaven. Something was wrong, he could feel it. He decided to gather Asmodel and Gabriel and make a check of all things, especially on The Presence, who had left on one of His 'mortal vacations.' Michael hated them. He knew that they were potentially dangerous, but Asmodel had assured him that The Presence had picked one of the safest planets in all the universe, and there was no possible threat.

Michael raised his wings and made his way to the Tower of Gabriel. There, he saw a sight, which sent shock and dismay through his entire body. The once beautiful tower was beautiful no longer. It had been transformed. The beautiful stained-glass windows were now covered in bars. Inside, Michael could see Gabriel, trying to say something, pounding on the windows. No sound came.

"What is the meaning of this madness?" bellowed Michael as he swooped towards the tower to free Gabriel. Suddenly he was struck with a horrific blow, and was sent spiraling downward, until he hit the ground with a thud.

Michael turned, stunned, to see his attacker. It has been Asmodel!

"Sorry, Michael," said Asmodel, rather calmly. "But I have a plan. The Presence is gone, and the only two threats to it are you and Gabriel. You are both going to have to take a ‘vacation' as well. With you gone, I can control the rest, and set my own agenda in motion."

"The other Angels . . . " protested Michael weakly.

"The other Angels will follower their leader. They will follow the strongest. Now, that is I, Michael. I already have many by my side. They feel what I am about to do is just. They feel it is right."

"They will know . . . " Michael tried to announce, feeling suddenly new entities surrounding him .

"Some might not follow at first, but I will garner enough to my side. Who will oppose the mighty king - Angel of the Pax Dei? It won't be you or Gabriel. You see, Michael, I have made some deals with some ‘old friends'. They are gonna help me attain everything I ever needed . . . "

"No, you fool," whispered Michael as he recognized the two new entities that stood to each side of him, "How could you let them back up here? How could you align yourself with Them? You are surely mad, Asmodel."

Mephisto and Neron each took an arm of Michael and lifted him into the air.

"I am no fool Michael," proclaimed Asmodel triumphantly, "My plan is perfect. Heaven and Earth will cower before me. The false gods will be scourged. In the end, I will reign supreme. Now, dear Michael, it is time for you and Gabriel to take a vacation. I am thinking someplace warm. Hell, maybe?"

"No . . . " was all Michael could utter before his weakened form was dragged from the Heavens to a deep, dark prison far below.

The Horns of Heaven rang. All of the Angels collected themselves together. Such meetings were indeed a rare occasion. Angels were by nature a very private lot, and rarely would you ever find them grouped in such a fashion.

As the group assembled, Asmodel moved upon a podium and began to speak. His voice was booming, and had a mortal heard it, their eardrums surely would have burst and the hearing would be gone forever.

"Hear me fellow Angels, I, Asmodel, King-Angel of the Pax Dei, have a message for you from The Father. He has watched the events of his precious Earth, and he is not pleased. The Living Tribunal, his keeper of peace, has been slain. The precious balance between good and evil, order and chaos, has shifted."

Murmurs could be heard moving through the Angels. The Living Tribunal had been a very powerful creature. Such a death was no small feat.

Asmodel continued. " . . . and who slew the Tribunal? Those evil creatures that take The Presence's name and power in vain. Those foolish creatures who believe they have power above all others. They style themselves creators. The style themselves masters. They are nothing. They are the false gods."

Now, the crowd's whispers were getting louder. Amongst the Angels, there were few creatures more reviled than 'Gods.' Those who think they had the powers of a God. There was only one God, the original, The Presence.

"Well," spoke Asmodel, with a fire and a passion that seemed to captivate the entire audience, "with the death of the Living Tribunal at their hands, The Presence has finally had enough of their kind. They are an infestation that can no longer be tolerated. We will cleanse this Earth of their menace. He has decreed it so. A Holy War will now begin!"

As the Angels cheered and raised their excitement to a fevered pitch, not all of the Angels were pleased. Zauriel stood there, and watched the spectacle with sheer horror. This surely was utter madness, to send the Armies of Heaven to Earth to cleanse the stain of the Gods. Zauriel wasn't different from the others, he didn't like these false gods either. But this wasn't the way of Heaven. This wasn't the way of The Presence.

Zauriel decided it would be best to speak with his friend Michael and try to make some sense of this entire mess.

The Council of Nine had assembled in the home of Mephisto, deep in the bowels of Hell. Unlike the mighty numbers of Angels assembled in Heaven, Hell didn't work that way. Only the strongest rulers needed to be present for this meeting. All the others would follow whatever they had to say.

Mephisto put down his glass of wine and waited for his eight cohorts - Neron; Lord Satannish; Belial; Beezebub; Lilith; Shathan the Eternal; Azazel; and the God of the Underworld, Hades - to settle down so he could begin his speech.

"Fellow Lords, I have a most interesting tale to tell you. I have been contacted by King Asmodel, and he has offered me a deal . . . "

To say that shock filled the faces of the other Lords of Hell would be a mild understatement. An Angel had been in contact with one of the Fallen. More still, he had offered some sort of deal. This was incredulous. Nothing had happen like this since they had lost the Great War, and had been cast to Hell.

"It seems we have been offered forgiveness. A chance to make amends and regain favor with him."

Now, snorts of humor, and outright laughter streamed from the mouths of the Lords. This was inconceivable, and completely unfathomable.

Shathan could hold back his comments no longer, "What shall we have to do for the mighty Presence? Grovel? Kiss his feet?"

"Hardly," snorted Mephisto in disgust, "All we have to do, is use our forces to help kill the false Gods of Earth."

The laughter stopped. Many at the table appeared curious and stared intently, waiting for more. Hades appeared uncomfortable.

Mephisto continued, "I know the whole forgiveness thing sounds too good to be true. Hell, I am not even sure I care for his forgiveness. What I am thinking of here is power, new power that we can take for our own. Enemies that we can slay without fear of Heavenly reprisals. A chance to roam the Earth and kill and wreak havoc and mayhem. Now, doesn't that sound like fun?"

The speech had worked. The Lords all had eaten up ever word. It seemed to be an all win situation. What was the worse that could happen? They were already condemned to Hell.

Hades didn't like the way this conversation had gone. He himself was one of those false gods.

As if they could read his mind, suddenly Neron and Shathan the Eternal were upon Hades, and holding him as Lilith cast a very powerful paralysis spell. Suddenly Hades could not move. Had it been somewhere else, he might have been able to escape or flee. This was Hell, and Lilith's magic was too powerful.

Mephisto walked slowly to Hades, and smiled as he began to speak, "Poor Hades, I am afraid your time as a Lord in this Hell is up. The time of the false Gods is over. Let the blood pour."

His short speech finished, Mephisto pulled a dagger from his cloak. Hades recognized it. It had been forged centuries ago for a human immortal named Solomon Kane. It had been blessed with ancient magic for the sole purpose of killing gods. Kane had tried to use it on Hades once, but Hades had survived when the blow had only wounded him. This time, Hades feared, he would not be so lucky.

Hades fears were correct as Mephisto plunged the dagger deep into Hades heart, then he cut the organ free and held it, still beating. Hades eyes rolled back up into his head. The first false God was dead. The Twilight had begun.

The Museum of Ancient Wonders, Los Angeles

Night watchman Douglas Blane pulled the pistol from his holster as the glow of his flashlight caught the movement of the intruder. Douglas tried to aim his pistol in the movement's presence, but it was too late. With blinding speed, the intruder swung his arms wide, and Douglas felt a light powdering of dust cover his eyes, nose, and mouth. Within a matter of seconds, Douglas lay on the cold floor beneath him, fast asleep.

"Ah, Douglas Blane," softly spoke the intruder as he bent over the sleeping watchman, "I regret to inform you that I am the bearer of ill tidings. Your occupation and O positive blood type are about to lend to your unfortunate and untimely demise. But, if it is any consolation, as you head into the afterlife, your death will help prolong the lives of gods through eternity." His speech spoken, the intruder pulled the sleeping man from the ground and slung him over his back, and carried him into the adjacent room.

The intruder pulled his sleeping captive into an Egyptian room filled with mummies and other artifacts. As he came to a specific glass case, he dropped the slumbering body onto the floor next to it. Sure the case contained the preserved corpse he required, the intruder balled his hands into fists and came down hard upon the glass case, smashing it into hundreds of pieces. Then he picked one of the larger, jagged pieces from the ground, and slit the throat of Douglas Blane from ear to ear. As the blood pooled on the floor, the intruder placed his hands into, then painted a red ankh, the Egyptian symbol of life, across the face of the corpse. Then he began a series of spoken invocations, quietly calling upon the corpse's spirit to return to its former housing. He could feel the magic forming in the air around him, as he preformed the ancient spell's final rite, kissing the corpse on first the forehead, then the lips.

Suddenly, the corpse sat straight up, and let loose a wail that the intruder was sure was heard in Las Vegas. Then the creature sat, strangely silent, seeming to knock the cobwebs from its decayed brain.

"Who in the name of the Elder Gods disturbs my death so? I went to considerable trouble to commit suicide," said the corpse in a slow and creepy voice that sounded harsher than nails across a chalkboard.

"It is I, Set," said the intruder calmly, as he stood before the animated corpse, "who has awoken you, Hermes Trismegistus. I believe the beginning of the Twilight is here . . . "

"And," interrupted Hermes, "You need The SPELL. Then, Elder God, we had best get to work. Just remember, after this, we are even, Serpent God. A life for a life, and when this is done, I shall return to my slumber for eternity. You might enjoy immortality, but eight hundred years on this Earth was more than enough for my tastes."

"Agreed," mumbled Set, almost incoherently, "now, let us began . . . "

Next Issue: Heaven and Hell bring their war to Earth and the carnage begins in Twilight of the Gods #2!