DCM Vertigo


Twilight of the Gods

If Gods Could Dream . . .
by Toby Kernan

Naze, Irene Adler, Dr. Fate, and Daimon Hellstrom stood upon a high cliff, overlooking one of the most amazing botanical sites ever viewed. Below them, for as far as the eyes could see, was a beautiful and lush forest, filled with every type of colorful plant and flower imaginable. Small animals and insects flew and frolicked through the vast expanse, which seemed to extend indefinitely off into the crystal blue-skied horizon.

"Amazing . . . " whispered Naze. He had never seen anything so beautiful in all his life.

"This is HIS doing," said a voice which caused the four adventurers to turn. Behind them stood the tall, thin, white skinned form of Morpheus, the ruler of the realm of the Dreaming.

"It has been growing since he came here. Even without his full powers, his mind and will are very strong. He is reshaping my realm to his liking. This cannot happen. Come, we will venture into his garden and see what we can do about returning him to his rightful home."

The four watched as Morpheus parted them and stepped off the ledge, gliding down gently to the vast garden below. Smiling, Irene Adler fearlessly did the same, followed by Naze, leaving only Daimon and Dr. Fate. Fate noticed Daimon was reluctant to attempt a similar measure.

"I can fly anyway," Fate said mockingly towards Daimon as he to stepped off the ledge and floated towards the group below.

"Stuff it!" yelled Daimon as he ran towards the edge and propelled himself off. He soon found that he was falling uncontrollable towards the ground below. Unlike the others, who softly glided to the forest below, Daimon fell to the ground with a harsh thud.

"Anybody who laughs is gonna eat fist . . . " remarked Daimon as he noticed Naze and Irene smile, and could feel Dr. Fate was doing the same under his mask.

"Let us proceed please," said Morpheus, unamused.

The group found the Presence sitting by a small flowing stream. He was laying on his back, eyes closed, seemingly realized. He was surrounded by flowers in a variety of vibrant colors, and a small family of birds were happily chirping on a low-lying branch beside him.

"He looks so happy . . . " commented Dr. Fate

Daimon had seen and heard enough, he couldn't take it anymore. With a wicked smile he summoned up all his strength and, at the top of his voice, bellowed "Hey God, Wake Up!"

The others watched in shock as the man sat straight up with a start, sending the small animals scurrying and the birds flying all around.

"Hello," the Presence said simply, dusting himself off, and sitting himself cross-legged on the ground before them. He beckoned them to come and sit down with him. Naze and Irene quickly did so, followed by Dr. Fate. Only Daimon and Morpheus were slow to join them.

"Not what I expected." said Daimon, unimpressed. This was the creator of the universe sitting before him. All he saw was a simple creature. Still there was a certain air around him, which seemed to command respect, and so Daimon grudgingly joined the group, although he chose to stand several feet behind the rest of the group. He felt Morpheus standing close-by, behind him.

For several minutes, the group seemed unable to start a conversation. For the four adventurers, the situation was awkward to say the least. Before them sat the most powerful being in all existence. He had lived billions of years and created everything in being. What does one say to someone like that? Even Daimon seemed to be at a loss for words.

Morpheus was the first to speak. "These four bring you word of what is transpiring outside the Dreaming."

Dr. Fate was the next to speak, and soon the others were chiming in. The Presence's face went from blissful calm to sadness to great anger. What he was hearing was utter madness. His very angelic army upon the Earth, slaughtering people. The planet held in stasis, as blood seeped into its very pores. He had been ignorant and foolish, spending his time in his Dream Garden, ignoring the threats, which could now destroy everything. Such an event surely was disrupting the balance between Chaos and Order. Death was surely gaining the upper hand over life. Soon, entropy would gain power and possibly destroy the whole universe. He must return and set things right. He would not let his precious creation be destroyed by the foolish machinations of Asmodel and Mephisto.

"How can I leave here?" asked the Presence, puzzled. "My body, mortalized, lies in the gardens of the Pama Priests and the Coatl, probably guarded by the Elders who imprisoned me. I am held asleep by the Star Conqueror, which is attached to my face and holds me in this slumber."

"I have considered this," decreed Morpheus, "and I believe I have a solution."

Set, Ares, and Loki set down upon the ground, in front of the unassuming building, and found the front doors opened and waiting for them.

"Why have you called me back here?" bellowed the angry Set. "You know the Twilight is drawing ever closer near and I still need to retrieve the other two Dark Gods to finish the circle and prepare for our ascent as the new ruling pantheon of this world."

Loki lagged behind Set and Ares as the two strode confidently into, what appeared to be, an alchemist magician's laboratory. Even for a God, the whole story had been hard to absorb. First, the armies of Heaven and Hell had stopped time upon this planet, and had spilled forth from their domains to Earth. Second, their intent was to kill all Gods they deemed to be 'false gods', including those of the Norse, Greek, and every other race. Set had informed him that even as they spoke, The Angels were moving against his Asgardian home, killing everyone that could find.

Lucky for Loki though, Set had offered a solution, and apparently this mage, Hermes Trismegistus, was the keeper of the power. Loki was still skeptical though, and as he walked into the room where the mage stood, he could fill something amiss. There was an aura of powerful magic in the air. There were few wielders upon this plane that could wield such power, but Set had informed Loki that Hermes was no ordinary human. He said Hermes was the greatest alchemist that had ever lived, and that he had discovered the secrets of eternal life.

The three Dark Gods watched in amazement as the mage known as Hermes Trismegistus laughed cruelly at them, confusing them.

"You, Set," said Hermes, barely able to stifle his laughter, "are a blind fool. What do you think would be left to rule? If the unholy alliance of Heaven and Hell succeed, then the entire universe will be thrown into catastrophic chaos and will probably cease to exist. If their mission fails, then you will be no better off than before. Still, I have feeling they will fail, so I have prepared a few surprises of mine own. These are my thanks for awakening me from my much desired slumber. I killed myself for a reason, and now you will see why life amongst the humans is something quite intolerable."

"What treachery is this Hermes?!" shouted Set, clutching his staff and preparing to incinerate the conniving mage. "I will personally see to your eternal pain if you have moved to cheat me."

"Hardly," said Hermes, coldly, "Destiny cries for balance, and I will maintain it so. Look behind you fool."

Suddenly the three Dark Gods looked behind them, and a swoosh of air met them. Then two streaking forms entered the room. One quickly crushed into Loki, knocking him to the ground.

"What evil doth transpire here?" cried Thor, standing above his unconscious brother, his companion Anodyne beside him.

"How in the hell," asked Set, as he mentally prepared a death spell, "did you find this place, Thunder God?"

"As I said," Hermes replied, smiling, "the balance will be maintained, and the arrogance of foolish Gods will be humbled."

Suddenly, the doors to the room closed, sealing the six occupants inside. Anodyne quickly turned, and tried to open the doors behind her, but found they were locked with a powerful magical spell, and unable to budge. Then Hermes began to whisper softly, and the other four conscious inhabitants watched as lines of energy filled the room, covering the floor, walls, and ceiling. The lines connected together, and formed one giant, room-sized circle pentagram of magic.

Set realized that Hermes was casting some sort of powerful spell upon all of them, and turned to fire a blast of energy from his serpent staff at the mage. His blast went straight through the form, destroying what appeared to be little more than an illusion.

"What are you doing, mage?" screamed Set in utter frustration.

"Why, something wicked, dear Set . . . " laughed Hermes, as the room was filled with chanting.

Each of the four awake inhabitants - Thor, Anodyne, Set, and Ares - fell to their knees as they felt powerful magic sweep over them, consume them, and feel every once of their bodies tingle with energy.

"What you are feeling now," proclaimed Hermes, "is your 'Godly' bodies being taken from you. Soon, your nothing will be left but your immortal souls, and they will soon be on their ways to brand new homes. Human homes. While the Angels and Devils that are waging this war are fools, because their antics could possible destroy all existence, they are correct in one aspect. You are arrogant. This will teach the five of you a lesson. A lesson in humanity. Goodbye."

The four awake Gods watched in horror as their bodies crumbled to dust, and they felt their very essence move into the air, then suddenly, there was nothing but darkness.

Naze looked down, as the slumber that had held him in the Dreaming left him, and could barely control the astonishment. He had thought Morpheus's idea was impossible at the best, and certainly quite insane. But now, here he stood, staring down at his hands. Only these hands weren't the weathered old hands of a Navajo human. These were the hands of a young, male, blue-skinned Kree.

"By the bowels of Hell!" Daimon exclaimed as he, and the others also awoke from their slumber to find themselves in similar situations. It had been the idea of the King of Dreams. He found the outlaw Priests of Pama where they had been dreaming in his realm, lost in their own slumber. Then he went to them, explained the situation, and asked if they would let their conscious lie in slumber, while the minds of the four heroes entered their bodies and attempted to save the Universe. Being the peace-loving protectors that they are, the Priests had no qualms about sharing their forms.

The four heroes awoke in the Priest's sleeping quarters and looked around at one another. Several other Priests were also in the room sleeping, but as the four awoke and looked around, it was easy to identify themselves, as they stared at their new forms and marveled at their new bodies.

"Amazing," mumbled Irene Adler. "Just a few days ago I was an ordinary woman, now, I am inside the body of an alien creature, rescuing God to save all of existence. It is a little overwhelming . . . "

"Yes, well," said Dr. Fate, seemingly annoyed. He didn't like being away from his form or her powers, "How are we going to save the Presence? The Elders can be extremely powerful, and we don't have the magic, which we wield in our earthly bodies. What is more, I doubt these pacifist priests have any weapons which will be of much use to us."

Daimon rolled his Kree form's eyes. "We don't need to fight them overtly. We just gotta get to the Presence and get that thing off this mug, then he can start kicking tail. Guess this one calls for a little stealth and tact.

The Collector watched as a procession of Pama Priests made their way up the pathway to where he was standing. It was he who had been left to guard the Presence, while Gardner and Grandmaster went to discover how the events upon Earth were transpiring.

The Collector eyed the group as they made their way towards him. It wasn't as though he felt a threat, they were pacifist priests, exiled from their own Kree Worlds because they had chosen to worship the giant plant-like Coatl race, rather than engage in the ceaseless battles and warmongering which plagued the Kree. Not only that, thought the Collector, but while they knew of his presence on the planet, he was sure that the Priests had no idea about the prisoner which he was watching over.

The Priests made their way close, and the Collector noticed that they bore huge baskets brimming over with a variety of fruits and vegetables. Although, because of his existence as one of the Ancient Elders, he no longer had to eat, that didn't mean he didn't choose to. Have established himself as the Collector, he had tasted some of the most exotic and rare tastes in all the universe, and the brimming, beautiful foods which were coming his way looked to be of the finest and tastiest quality.

The closest of the Priest, a beautiful, young pink-skinned Priestess, made her way to directly in front of the Collector, and laid the basket before him.

"These, visitor," spoke the woman, "are some of our finest, as gifts to you. Please partake of them, and enjoy your days in our gardens. You will find few things more beautiful than the trappings of M'T'Ki."

The Collector could not resist as he quickly pulled a ripe looking green fruit from the top of the basket and plunged it into his mouth. Delectable, he thought to himself. So tasty, so fresh, so juicy. This was one of the finest fruits he had ever tasted, and he began to chomp upon the fruit with zeal. As he shoveled the fruits into his mouth, he noticed the disgusted look upon the face of the Priestess, who seemed to find his actions gluttonous. He didn't care. The fruits were too fine to resist.

Then suddenly, pain began to erupt from his stomach. Something was very wrong. He could feel the sweat bubbling up all over his form. He gagged as the acrid taste of poison filled his mouth, and tears stung his eyes. The fruits were not the delicious treats they had first seemed. Nor were the pacifist priests, which populated the planet.

As Collector wiped the tears from his eyes, he watched in horror as most of the priests made their way towards the spot where the Presence had been hidden. Something was amiss, and the priests had someone discovered who was here, and were making some sort of rescue attempt. Collector, between bouts of viscous vomiting, raised his arm blaster to destroy the priests before they could remove the Star Conqueror from the Presence's face. The Collector was one of the oldest living creatures in all the Universe, and knew that the sickness would indeed pass soon, but a brief distraction was all the priests had probably hoped for.

As Collector aimed his blast, he felt his arm snapped backwards, as strong, leathery vines grasped every appendage of his body.

"You would commit violence against our priests?"

Collector heard their voices in his head, and turned to see a half-dozen members of the plant-like race the Cotatl standing behind him. The ancient pacifists were indeed very powerful creatures, and in his current, weakened state, Collector could do nothing but watch the seen unfold before him.

Collector watched as the Priests of Pama made their way towards the humanized Presence, remove the creature from his face. Collector suddenly was filled with fear as the human form disappeared, and the Presence returned to his rightful form.

The Presence viewed the scenes at both Olympus and Asgard with sheer horror. The bodies of the false gods, as well as Angels and denizens of the Underworld, lie everywhere. There was bloody covering as far as the eye could see. Above the spectacles, in the skies, beyond the eyes of common creatures, were the forms of Lord Chaos and Master Order, two of the first beings created in the beginning of this universe. Normally close to equal, now Master Order was shriveled at sickly and looking as if death was imminent, while Lord Chaos was huge and grossly bloated. The Presence knew he had come just in time, because if Master Order "died," and only Chaos remained, then the Universe would simply cease to exist, and his life's creation would be lost.


With one simply thought, all of time ceased to exist, and all forms in the universe came to a standstill. With his next thought the Presence sent all of the devils, demons, and other creatures from the lower planes back to Hell, and closed the portals by which they had come. Next he sent all the Angels back to Heaven and closed their portals, then removed the spell from the Earth, which had held it in stasis. Finally he restarted time as normal, and returned to his Heaven where he would have to think about how to fix all the evil that had transpired in his absence.

Suddenly, the two stood before the great and mighty creator, to be judged. One had been here before, leading the first rebellion against Him and his heavens, splitting the entire ranks in a battle that haunts all involved even now, after countless millennia. The other had stood beside Him in that battle, but over the course of countless years, had changed, corrupted by his power.

"Mephisto and Asmodel," said the Presence, standing in front of them, Gabriel and Michael flanking each side, "I just need to know why?"

Asmodel stood rigid, the look of his anger burning brightly in his eyes. "Why? Why? Because we sit here for ages and do nothing? Because you favor these humans more than us? Because I am tired of this 'life'? Because you are unfit to rule here, and I am all you are and more? Because the time has come for change, and I WILL BE THE HARBINGER!"

The Presence, as well as the Angels beside him, could scarcely believe what they were witnessing. Even Mephisto seem to be taken aback by Asmodel's crazed outburst. Something had snapped in the Bull Host of the Pax Dei. He was no longer the Angel he once was. Some evil disease had festered inside of him.

Mephisto simply shrugged his shoulders and searched for a proper reply. Nothing he could find was appropriate. The truth? He hadn't thought the crazy plan would have gone this far in the first place. He now realized his foolishness. He had done this for little more than to gain the attention of the Father who he had spurned, and in turn had spurned him.

"Well," said the Presence, obviously saddened by the events, "there must be punishment for the damage you two have caused. Because of your action, my Angels are in shambles, and the entire universe almost ceased to be. Heaven will be cut from the mortal plane for quite a while, while we examine why the others were so ready to follow your lead into darkness.

"As for you two, your punishment shall fit your crime. You craved more power. You crave the disruption of human world. Now the two of you will be part of it, and you shall be stripped of all your powers. You shall walk amongst the humans as mortals, needing to eat, sleep, drink, just like they do. You will not age or die, but if you catch a disease you will feel it, if you go without food you will crave it. You will do your penance, stripped of all your powers, until I feel you have found what it is you lack. Compassion. Empathy. Humanity. It is something we have all lost here, and I will now look to regain."

"NO!" screamed Asmodel for an instant, then was gone in a whiff of smoke.

Irene Adler, the mystic Naze, and Dr. Fate stood above the rock bluff overlooking Turkey Creek Indian Reservation, and watched the sun rise over the horizon, filling the sky with a brilliant cascade of colors.

"So it is over now?" asked Naze, as he felt the first rays of sun touch his flesh and warm him.

"For now," replied Dr. Fate coldly, "but so much has changed upon the Earth. The Eternals have fled, and it will be some time before the pain inflicted upon the other pantheon of 'gods' allow them to once again roam this plane. The armies of Heaven and the Legions of Hell have lost their leaders, and are now thrown into chaos. Seven new entities of power walk this planet, hidden in mortal forms, waiting for the day when they can remove themselves from their shells. The Presence thinks he has restored the balance, but Lord Chaos still has the advantage, and is simply waiting for the time when he can take control.

"But," said Irene Adler, "we did a good thing today. And when the need arises, there will be us, and others, who will emerge to do so again. Today we were heroes, and every world needs heroes. Not Gods, who have lost touch with humanity, or Angels who never had humanity in the first place. But people, full of hope and caring and compassion and determination."

The three heroes watched the sunrise, just happy that the world was given the opportunity to live another glorious day.

The saga continues in Return of the Gods #1!