DCM Vertigo


Twilight of the Gods

Divine Harm
by Toby Kernan

Daimon Hellstrom grimaced as he felt the wave of powerful magic sweep over him. Someone had cast an extremely powerful spell, perhaps the most powerful he had ever come into contact with. Daimon gritted his teeth as he felt his entire body go numb momentarily, then breathed a sigh of relief as the feeling seemed to wash over him and move on.

The humans standing around him had not been so lucky. Daimon had been slumming with the normal humans of Hong Kong, disguised as one of them, hoping to locate the deadly Atlantian Sword of Kamuu, a powerful magical artifact that had been linked to a very wealthy English sword collector. Daimon suspected the man had no idea the true power that he held within his collection, and Daimon wanted to secure the piece before the ancient and powerful weapon fell into the wrong hands.

Daimon looked around him. It appeared as though time itself had been stopped. No clocks moved. The people were all frozen into their positions, and nobody but himself seemed to have been aware of the happenings. Daimon wondered what had spared him of the effect, suspecting it had something to do with his demonic heritage. Daimon supposed there might finally have been an advantage to being the son of one of Hell's biggest arch-devils.

Daimon had determined to seek out the cause of the 'disturbance', when he felt another crackle of energy behind him, and felt the sudden presence of something divine. Daimon couldn't help but recoil in disgust, as his demonic heritage came bubbling to the top of his consciousness. Daimon turned and saw, standing before him, unaffected by the spell, just as him, a gathering of three individuals. One was a middle-aged American Indian, and Daimon could feel his shamanic abilities radiating around him. Another of the trio was a Caucasian female, and she had a mystical aura which even Daimon couldn't decipher. The third entity, and the cause of Daimon's revile, was an angel from Heaven above. Daimon knew something big must have happened, for an Agent of the Presence to seek out the Son of Hell.

"Daimon Hellstrom?" asked the woman.

"What has transpired here?" asked the impatient Hellstrom. He didn't like anything that was occurring at all. He knew they were here to ask him to help them, because they hadn't simply attacked. Daimon had never been a big fan of group dynamics, he was just a little too hot-headed and impulsive for such things.

Zauriel stepped forward to speak, "Heaven and Hell have combined their forces to hold the Earth in a powerful spell and murder the world's 'false gods'."

Daimon could hardly stifle his laughter, "The mighty Presence is allowing this?"

Zauriel's look became very sullen as the mention of the Presence seemed to disturb him, "The Presence is . . . absent . . . as are Michael and Gabriel. I think Asmodel and the Arch-devils had done something with them. Their location is something we are trying to discover."

Daimon was truly enjoying this conversation, much to the seeming annoyance of the trio, " . . . and you are here to seek my aid? Why would I want to help you?"

Destiny, the woman, stepped forward once again, "You will aid us because you find it enjoyable to do so. You will be standing against both Heaven and Hell and shaking your fist in defiance of them both. In the end, when we are victorious in our mission, you will have the satisfaction of knowing that you thwarted the plans of some of the most powerful entities in the universe."

Daimon was impressed. The woman must have had some psychic, intuitive abilities, because what she said spoke right to his personal feelings. He did indeed enjoy thwarting the plans of his father, whom he hated with a passion. He also liked the idea of going up against some of this universe's most powerful. He decided the hunt for the sword could wait, this would surely be a much grander adventure.

"Okay," replied Daimon, "you have talked me into it. What is the plan?"

Irene smiled warmly. "We have to make one more stop, and I believe that the solution to our problems lies there."

" . . . and that would be where?" asked Zauriel, curiously.

"Salem, Massachusetts."

Set knew he had to move swiftly, as time was no longer on his side. The spell, which would save him from the slaughter, would be ready soon, and Set was set to capitalize on the situation. The spell had one requirement, that being five entities, each standing on one point of the five-star pentagram that was used to perform the incantation. That meant that the Elder God had to handpick four other individuals to survive the deadly attacks on the Gods, and survive in a new, powerful pantheon with him. Set had a plan. These five individuals would start anew, and use their powers to control the world as Gods once again, as he had in ancient Egypt so long ago.

Set closed his eyes and concentrated on a specific individual. Normally, when the Earth was not under a massive spell that held those with demonic or divine heritage in stasis, the spell was impossible to use, because it was too hard to pick one individual out in a sea of several billion, even when that entity was divine. Now, Set had little difficulty locating his target. He just hoped that the use of such power did not attract the attention of any of the devils or angels that were roaming the Earth, slaughtering anything with a 'god' heritage.

Set smiled as he located his query. It was hardly suprising that this individual was currently here, in Cambodia. This area of Earth was currently a hotbed of bloodshed and conflict. The perfect place for a God of War.

Set found him sitting in a small hut, looking as though he was brooding over something. He was outfitted in his traditional dark blue armor, flanked to one side by a large mace and an automatic rifle in the other. Set met the penetrating stare of the glowing eyes, the rest of the god's face hidden behind his massive war helmet.

"What transpires here Elder God?" asked Ares as Set looked for someplace to sit, "One minute there was a delicious war going on, the next all the stupid human cattle were frozen in their tracks."

"We are under attack," explained Set. "The armies of Heaven and Hell have besieged the Earth in hopes of cleansing it of all 'false gods'."

"And you are here to form an alliance?" asked Ares, understanding the gravity of the subjects. All the humans combined held little chance of stopping the Gods, thanks to their powers and invulnerability, but devils and angels were another situation entirely. Their mystic and divine powers could harm the Gods, and if both were working together, then this was a dangerous situation indeed.

"I am here," replied Set, "to offer you sanctuary from the attack, and a chance to not only survive, but to thrive once this whole battle is over, in a new and powerful pantheon of gods."

As much as Ares hated to ignore a battle, this was an offer he could not refuse. Ares nodded in agreement, and joined Set as the two flew off towards Europe, and Set explained everything he knew of what was transpiring.

The Norse God Thor and his current companion, Anodyne, watched as the two Gods flew from the hut in Cambodia in a Western direction at high speeds. Thor and his companion were determined to follow, Thor had been contacted by a mysterious mystic, via telepathy, informing him that his long-time enemy Set, had been the cause of this sudden stoppage of time upon the mortals of Earth. Thor and Anodyne had been told that they needed to follow, but not yet engage Set, in whatever activities he was planning, and keep a close watch. Thor had known that Set was powerful enough to detect his presence, but his mysterious benefactor had assured them that neither of the presences would be detected by Set. So far, that had seemed true, as neither Set nor Ares had seemed to pay them an ounce of attention as they seemed to fly in a direction leading them northwestern, perhaps to Europe.

"These are strange events indeed," whispered Anodyne to her lover Thor as they also began to fly after the two gods.

"Indeed," replied Thor. "Me thinks Midgard is in most horrid peril. Perhaps Ragnarok itself has come to pass."

"The Twilight of the Gods?" asked Anodyne, curious.

"'Tis a possibility," said Thor as the two followed the two Gods to wherever they led.

Zuras was most disturbed by the events that had recently transpired. The Eternals had taken a vote, and decided to once again leave the solace of their Andes Mountains home of Apacita and venture amongst the humans when a powerful wave of magic had swept over the Earth. All the Eternals had felt it. It was as though time itself had been held still. Nothing good could come from such a spell.

Zuras had decided to halt the journey out amongst the humans, so that the elders could go to Council and try to determine the cause of this spell, which seemed to loom menacingly over the Earth. The Council had barely begun to concentrate when word that outsiders had come to their city, seeking refuge.

Zuras had gone to greet them, and found himself in the Presence of those dubbed the Young Gods, or at least some of them. The news, which they carried, was most disturbing. The Eternals listened in horror as Daydreamer of the Young Gods explained what they knew. It seemed Heaven and Hell had come to Earth, claiming a Holy War, a Jihad, against all whom would call themselves Gods. Daydreamer explained, with tears in her eyes, about the deaths of Calculus, Harvest, and Highnote, which they had seen through a psychic bonding held by all the Young Gods. She also explained how the agents of the Presence had stopped time on Earth with a powerful spell, and how they were sweeping the world, destroying anyone or anything that claimed 'false godhood'.

Zuras took the Young Gods into the Council and added their powers to the circle. A new strategy was being mapped out. Zuras had decided to combine everyone's powers and journey out into the world psychically, to see if the situation was a grievous as the Young Gods made it out to be.

As the Council concentrated, and spread their minds collectively out into the world, they found that indeed the situation was worse than they had suspected. They watched in horror as devils, demons, and angels, in mass, planned and attacked 'Gods' across the globe. The Council watched in horror as the Helipolitan Death God known as Grog was beheaded by the ancient entity known as Eclipso. They watched in revile and disgust as the angel known as Tabris place his sword deep inside the gut of Susano-Wo, upon top of Mt. Fuji.

Suddenly the picture worsened as the group seemed to find themselves just miles away from their own location, at the edge of the Andes Mountains. At first the picture was far away, and it looked as if a large black cloud was making it's way toward their home. Then the Council noticed it was no cloud. It was bodies. Hundreds of twisted demonic forms, their leathery wings flapping in the wind. At the head of the group was a horrid looking creature. Zuras felt he would have been much at home with the Eternal's enemies, the Deviants, deep in the bowls of the Pacific Ocean. He was a sickly green demon, with a long snout, cloven hoofs, and glowing red eyes.

The creature looked up, as if feeling the presence of the Council around him. Impossible, thought Zuras to himself.

The demon seemed to smile. "I feel you there," the demon replied happily, "We are coming for you. N'Astrih and his army are coming to rip and tear and shred your flesh. We will render you limb from limb and feast on your bones. The blood of the Eternals will flow like a river."

The Council 'awoke' from their psychic travels, all were alarmed and scared. The army of N'Astirh had filled the skies, hundreds of demons would soon swarm upon them.

Zuras decided there was only one course of action that could save them. They must leave the Earth.

"Quickly," cried Zuras, as he made his way out of the council chamber. "Gather everyone into the Pavilion of the Stars, we must form the Uni-Mind and leave immediately."

The members scattered. Moments later, the great horns were ringing, which was a signal that the Uni-mind was to be formed. Zuras prayed there would be enough time, as the keen eyes of young Eternal Sprite already saw the cloud of demons moving quickly towards Apacita.

"There will not be enough time!" said Zuras solemnly as others gathered around him, and helped him lead the masses into the pavilion. The chanting necessary to create the Uni-mind had already started.

"Then a distraction is necessary," declared the Eternal known as Ajax, as he stepped forward. "The masses must be allowed to escape . . . "

"No," cried Zuras, "I cannot allow you to sacrifice yourselves . . . "

'It must be done," said Ajax bravely as he grabbed his sword and began to fly towards the oncoming hoard.

"He stand no hope by himself," Zuras heard someone say, as he watched in horror as others began to join Ajax. Gilgamesh the Forgotten One and The Eternal known as Valkin, amongst others, flew to join him. So did Brightsword and Sea Witch of the Young Gods.

Zuras then watched in horror as his daughter Thena, went to join the group. He watched as Ikaris made his way to join them as well, then Thena whispered something in his ear. A sullen look on his face, Ikaris agreed, then bowed his head solemnly as Thena kissed him upon his forehead, and headed to join the assault squad.

Ikaris quickly made his way to Zuras, and pulled the Eternal leader into the Pavilion.

"They have made their choice," said Ikaris sadly, a tear flowing down his face, "now do not let their sacrifices be in vain."

Zuras and Ikaris joined the remaining Eternals and Young Gods, chanting and raising their arms in unison. Soon, their bodies and minds were melding into one form, the Uni-mind. As the gigantic form reached it's full potential, it began its ascent into the sky, it's destination somewhere in the stars, somewhere far away from the tragedy that was about to occur.

As the Uni-mind climbed high into the air, it turned a fraction of its attention to the battle below. The entity watched in unified sadness as the small, brave band of heroes distracted the onslaught of demons. They watched as one by one, the group was overwhelmed, and all the heroes were slaughtered, torn to bits in a most gruesome fashion.

Hermes Trismegistus smiled in satisfaction as he watched the events around him transpire. He had never liked the Gods, they were mostly a foolish, arrogant, cowardly lot, and he didn't see their deaths as anything other than a benefit to mankind. Not that he cared much for mankind either, having killed himself centuries ago to be rid of humans as well. He had spent hundreds of years with them, and that was more than enough time to learn that the majority was little more than stupid sheep.

Hermes disliked having been awakened from his glorious eternal sleep. He liked even less having to do the bidding of the god Set. He was sure though, that Set figured himself safe and secure in his plan. He was wrong. It was Hermes who had contacted Thor and Anodyne, and even now, hid their presence from Set and Ares. Hermes knew Set's plan, to create a small pantheon of Gods to rule the Earth. Hermes wouldn't allow Set the satisfaction. When the time came, the balance would be kept, and Set's plans will come to a most unexpected fruition.

"Are you here Dr. Fate?" asked Zauriel as the four stood outside his Tower in Salem, Massachusetts.

"The Doctor is within," said Destiny confidently as she walked up the wall of the Tower. Without so much as a single hesitation, Irene Adler walked up to wall, which contained no door or any other seeming means of entrance, and walked right through. Naze and Zauriel followed quickly, leaving only Daimon Hellstrom outside.

"I hate this guy," mumbled Daimon, as he made his way through the wall, "so uptight and arrogant."

The four found themselves standing in an empty stone chamber, which contained no doors or windows, or any furnishings. Seconds later, the Doctor appeared.

"Doctor Fate, we need . . . " began Zauriel.

"I know why you are hear," interrupted Fate. "This blood war has greatly disturbed the balance between Chaos and Order. Chaos has shifted fully into control. The balance must be set right, before it causes the extinction of this very planet. Other more powerful creatures have noticed the shift and have begun to make their own plays for control."

"Okay," said Daimon Hellstrom, bored from all the talk and no action, "so what are we gonna do about all this now that the gang is all here?"

"I believe," declared Dr. Fate, "that would be where my other visitor this day comes into play."

"What other visitor?" asked Zauriel curiously.

"The King of Dreams," said Dr. Fate, rather matter-of-factly. "Morpheus claims that the Presence is trapped in his realm."

Next Issue: Angels assault Asgard, devils attack Olympus, and the heroes head to the Dreaming to find the sleeping God in Twilight of the Gods #4.