#2 - When Gods Clash!
A display of strength and fury is what produces the combination of lightning and pure physical prowess that smashes Ares, God of War, through the hallowed gates of Olympus, home of the Greek Pantheon.
“Thou art warned, foul offspring of Zeus, do not cross the path of the rightful God of Thunder in this day, if thou care for thy honor and thy welfare” the Odinson says, enraged, his enchanted mallet still crackling with energy and his godly sinews all ready for battle.
“You are mad, Asgardian, if you think you can best me on my home ground!” Ares, though fazed by the previous blast, is already on his feet, and brandishing a lance to confront the Thunderer.
But some recap for our reader is due at this point. The scene: Olympus's Gates, where Thor and Ares are clashing under the astonished stare of a few minor godlings. On one side of the battlefield, carefully laid on the ground, the unconscious and dying form of Hercules. The reason: Thor has come to confront Zeus himself and force him to give once more to the Lion of Olympus his godly status and his true immortality. The troubling part: the Odinson is spent after a tiring battle with Surtur and a terrible ordeal he suffered in his last and now discarded mortal form. The good part: Thor is very ANGRY, and that means serious business, even for the Olympians!
“Thou art below my notice, Ares!” Thor parries the Greek God's thrust with his hammer “I am not interested in a fight, but if thou thinkest of stopping my rightful mission here, thou will deserve the fate visited upon thee!”
Angered by the Asgardian's scorn for his status, Ares presses on with his lance, managing to torn Thor's cape twice, but not being able to accomplish more. The Asgardian is more than willing to grant himself the pleasure of dispatching his foe slowly, but he knows all too well that time is not a commodity for Hercules, so he quickly ducks below the Greek's guard, following with a blow to the jaw, sending his opponent sprawling on the ground.
“Thou disgrace the tales of valor of the ancient myths with thy clumsiness” Thor lowers Mjolnir on Ares, crashing the lance “And thy evil mind has proven nothing more than a nuisance in the past”. The Asgardian doesn't give quarter, ignoring the kick Ares gives him in the stomach and lowering the hammer another time, striking Ares square in the face. The God of War is stunned, long enough for Thor to pick him up and throw him with all his strength at what's left of the Gates, completely crashing them and clearing his path to Zeus's Royal Palace.
“I will not fail thee, my friend!” he says, picking up Hercules and carrying him inside the city, not even glancing at the unconscious form of Ares to the side.
“You can't be allowed to proceed further, Asgardian!” a strong female voice is heard as Artemis steps right in the middle of the road, blocking Thor's way to the Throne Room.
“Although we regret our brother's current state and Ares's unforgivable manners, you have to respect our customs and laws.” Apollo speaks, shining with the full light of the sun and siding with his more belligerent twin sister.
“We promise we will bring Hercules' situation to Zeus's attention. And we will beg him to show his mercy to our brother, like we did many times before” Aphrodite, known to someone by her Roman name, Venus, speaks sincerely. “But we have to ask you to stop your rampage and leave now”
Her soothing voice and splendid features placate for a moment the Thunderer's rage, but soon after a hot-headed reaction on someone else's part precipitates the conflict once more.
“We don't need to ask him nicely, sister! We will throw him out like the underling he is!” Hermes, whose speed is not equaled by any being in the multiverse, darts forward hitting Thor on the face and escaping his sudden retaliation. “You had some nerve coming here and thrashing our Gates like that! You barbarian!”
“No, Hermes! We don't need to resort to violence ...” Apollo's words of wisdom are lost as Hermes starts spinning around the Thunder God at top speed.
“Useless words, my brother” Artemis, being the warrior she is, leaps into the fray all too willingly “Hermes has chosen our course!”
“Thy power is confusing, Olympian!” Thor finds it hard to breathe inside the whirlwind Hermes has conjured around him “But I've known this trick for years now, practiced it with my fellow Avenger, Quicksilver. Thou art faster than he is ... but ultimately as easily to thwart as he ever was!”
Using his own mastery on the elements, the God of Thunder pushes himself to the border of the whirlwind, where his opponent is actually running, while willing the wind to slow down with his indomitable will. Then, before Hermes can predict his move, he places Mjolnir on the path the Olympian is following, letting the powerful weapon stop the swift movement of his feet.
Hermes is stunned by the impact with Mjolnir, at the incredible speed it happens, and Thor doesn't even flinches from his position as the whirlwind dissipates around him.
“I will not stay my hand against gods like I do with mortals. I know you can heal from the wounds Mjolnir can inflict to you, regardless of the amount of time required” Thor shouts to the astonished audience of Olympians all around.
“Same here, o proud one! I'm sure you will find my attack as familiar to you as that of my brother, reminding you of your other comrade, the mortal bowman. But you'll find Artemis's arrows more painful for your Asgardian flesh than those of Hawkeye!” Artemis shoots with unerring accuracy a salve of three arrows toward the Thunder God.
Thor is fast in spinning his mallet, intercepting two of the arrows in flight and breaking them, but Artemis's aim is a divine power, and the third arrow goes past the Thunderer's defenses, piercing his left shoulder and drawing blood from it.
Thor's reaction is immediate as the countless battles he has waged in his immortal life have taught him. Artemis is a goddess but also a warrior, and Thor knows all too well how far from helpless that makes her. He would give the same respect to Sif's prowess or the Valkyrie's sword in the battlefield and he would defend from them with the same strength, especially if the life of a friend is at stake, like now.
So he hurls Mjolnir toward the Virgin Goddess of the Hunt, striking her and breaking her divine bow, buying himself some respite from her upcoming shower of deadly arrows. Then he grabs the one still piercing his shoulder, drawing it out and clenching his teeth in pain, but not letting the slightest sound escape his lips.
“You leave my twin sister alone!” Apollo takes to the air, aligning himself with the sun, of which he is the Greek representation, and he shoots beams of powerful and searing solar energy toward the Thunder God, at the same instant Mjolnir returns to his waiting hand.
Thor intercepts Apollo's beams with the enchanted mallet, but Apollo presses on with his attack ...
... meanwhile in the Royal Palace, Hera watches the confrontation, wondering why her husband Zeus has not yet entered the fray, wasting the offending Asgardian and teaching him who is truly Supreme in Olympus. Her hands prepare forming magical gestures as she herself determines she won't hold back much longer ... especially if that will seal the fate of Hercules, the bastard son of Zeus she always hated since ancient history.
Little she knows that Zeus is enjoying this with the company of someone else, whose mischievous deeds are well known throughout the Nine Realms ...
“My brother is putting up quite the fight I thought he would” Loki smiles evilly, while tasting the sweet ambrosia from the cup Zeus just gave to him “Making his next downfall all the more pleasurable!”
“He came at the right moment, God of Mischief!” Zeus says with no sympathy for his treacherous guest “There has been unrest in Olympus for the decree I punished Hercules with, taking his immortality away. Many see him as a hero and were whispering against me ... now they will all thank me for saving them from the Thunder God when I will finally confront him. They will all address my right to rule as it pleases me ... and this lesson will serve well to the proudest among my children, as they are humiliated by the Thunderer's fury”.
“I knew you would see things my way if our goals could be met with the same actions” Loki grins, thanking the Norns he has been spying on Olympus for some time, finding the right words to say to Zeus to secure his assistance. He massages his side, where the wound Sif recently inflicted is still aching. “Now I would take my leave to ensure that all the stages of my plan come to fruition!”
With a simple spell he leaves the Olympian Throne Room, as Zeus snorts, thankful that the hateful fiend is out of his sight and gauging when to join the battle below.
“Our scanners can't find him yet, brother” a tall and slim figure, with crude hands and a polished metal surface, says, while operating the controls of a sophisticated equipment.
“He's vanished from Earth. But as soon as he enters again our dimension we will know it. Our scanners are attuned to the specific signature of his enchanted mallet” another figure, standing behind the first and very similar, though radiating a faint light, replies.
“Indeed his mallet is the prize we truly seek, brothers” a gaseous cloud, resembling vaguely the other two beings, speaks from above, floating wildly in a contained field.
“Truly it is, First One” the second who spoke comments “All the brothers are waiting for that enchanted metal to empower the true leader which will guide us to the conquest of all animal and plant life on the planet. The mineral kingdom is the only one meant to last ...”
“No mere earthen element can lead us” the First One speaks “only a magical element can, Uranium”
“You are right, Hydrogen.” Uranium nods, his radioactivity flaring up a bit in response to his emotions “Keep your vigil, brother Vanadium” he adds, while leaving the control room.
“I will” Vanadium nods “I want to be the one trumpeting the birth of our next and most powerful leader: Uru!”
“It is most ironic that I find all ye Olympian Gods resembling one of my fellow Avengers” Thor is still holding his mallet, blocking with it the onslaught of deadly solar energy Apollo is showering upon him “Thy detached manner and thy solar-related power reminds me of the synthezoid known as the Vision”
“But I'm far more powerful, Asgardian” Apollo presses on his advantage, noticing how Artemis has not yet recuperated from Thor's attack, and Hermes is still stunned on the ground.
“But thou art not a warrior, God of Literature and Poetry!” Thor says, suddenly jumping to the side and letting Apollo's attack shower on his brother Hermes, which brings the Sun God to suddenly stop.
“No! You've made me hurt my brother!” Apollo rushes to Hermes burnt body to ascertain the damage he wrought and leaves himself open to Thor's fury.
“I have only made plainly visible that the arms so skilled in playing the lyre and charming the Muses are better left out of the battlefield, for they bring more dangers to the allies than to the foes” Thor lowers his mallet on the Sun God with such a rage that the handsome Apollo falls on the ground, unconscious “Know this, God of Light, even thou art as honest and kind as my beloved Balder, that I find no pleasure in hurting you or any of your kind. It is with Zeus that my quarrel is!”
“Right you are, Thunder God! You don't need to fight us!” Aphrodite approaches him, her aura of seduction stirring more than one muscle in Thor's body. “Leave my brethren and come with fair Venus, I will comfort you and help you in seeking Zeus's favor without further violence”.
“Thou art a sight to behold, Milady” Thor answers, feeling Aphrodite's skin emanate a powerful and compelling perfume “And thy beauty eclipse that of my friend Wanda, before she was corrupted, or even that of dark-tressed Sif and gold-haired Amora”
“Aren't you tired of this fight? Is this truly helping Hercules, Thunder God?” Venus's voice is like a siren's song, hinting to undreamed pleasures she could elaborate just for Thor's sake. So she goes closer to win the battle than her more violent brothers ever did. But not enough ...
“I am tired ... but not to the point to fall for your trick, o beautiful one! Too many times Amora has woven similar spells upon me, to the point I can easily overcome them!” he grabs Aphrodite in his strong arms, ignoring how the touch of her skin arouses even his godly frame, and undoing her enchanted belt, which is known to have the power to transform weapons into harmless devices, he uses it to bind her to a nearby column.
“I could almost let you go forth for humiliating that ... overrated slut!” a strong female voice speaks “I've never suffered her since Paris chose her over me, back when I urged the Greeks to attack the Trojans. But you're helping Hercules and you must be stopped before my husband could be convinced to grant you your wish!”
“Hera! I wasn't there when thou brought on Hercules the ignominious fate he now suffers, or the Avengers wouldn't have been thy prey so easily. And, powerful in magic as thou might be, on par with loving Frigga, I don't fear thee and thy treacherous soul!” Thor readies himself for another fight, as Zeus grins from his watching place ... waiting to see his proud and annoying wife put into place for a time.
“Now why can't I get through and scry the Olympian citadel, to find out if my beloved is in peril?” Amora wonders in her private room, working her skilled magic expertise “And with Sif playing around with the Avengers this could be the perfect occasion to regain his undevided love!”
“Always the scheming one, my dear!” Loki speaks, appearing suddenly in the room, taking the Enchantress by sheer surprise “I haven't thanked you yet for ruining my plan with Surtur and hurting me”
“You revolt me, Loki!” the Enchantress is quick to cast a protective shield and strike at the God of Mischief with a powerful spell, only to find out it was just a carefully woven projected image, hiding Loki's true position ... at her side.
“Too late, beautiful one!” he says, blindsiding her and gagging her with a spell, while binding her limbs with mystic chains. “Now I will have some fun with you ... after which you will become more cooperative in my future plans with my brother, should he escape Zeus's wrath”
His eyes glinting maliciously he disappears with the bound Asgardian goddess to a place where her screams, and there will be many while she tortures her, won't alert the general populace of Asgard.
“Fall, spawn of Odin and the Earth! Like the barbarian you are!” Hera unleashes another barrage of spells on the tiring, but still bravely fighting Thunder God.
“I'm tired of thy Olympian unsettling superiority, goddess!” Thor hits violently the ground with Mjolnir two times, invoking the clouds and the rain that are his to command “Olympians have always tried to make Asgardians feel like a barbarian tribe ... but thy exquisite manners will be thy own downfall, Hera! A warrior I am, and a warrior is more than an Olympian can face these days, after centuries of soft living and millennia of lazing inactivity!”
Invoking the power of Lightning from the skies, he strikes Hera with a mighty discharge of the heavenly fury, making her taste the same power Zeus has always commanded and to which she never expected to be subjected to.
“Now if the Olympians have ceased their futile attempts to prevent my rightful quest, I'll take you to thy cowering father Zeus, friend Hercules!” Thor says.
“I'm no coward, Thunder God!” Zeus suddenly appears in the middle of the thunderstorm, totally unfazed by it, actually playing it like a skilled musician. “But I've let you go this far only to make you and my own subjects well aware of who rules the Olympian Gods!”
“Boastful words are thine, Zeus! Now let's see if thy actions match thy insolence!” Thor spins his hammer and takes to the air, reaching the same height where the other god is waiting for him.
“Insolence is your own province, Odinson! As you will learn as painfully as possible very soon!” Zeus replies, his eyes aflame and burning even redder than his beard and hair.
And so a momentous clash of wills starts in the Olympian sky, when the Thunder God wrestle with the Supreme God of Lightning for control of the very element that identifies their immortal powers.
Olympians scatter all around, looking for a cover in the hailing winds and pouring rain while the mad elements become even wilder as both immortal try to gain the absolute control. The gods that were defeated by the Thunder God haven't regained their senses and are tossed aside by the raging storm, save for fair Venus, tied by her magical belt to a column, the only witness of the conflict above.
Thor's voice shouts Asgard's fabled battle cries “For Odin! For Asgard!” as he spins his hammer and exerts his will to best Zeus. But the Supreme God is operating in his own dimension, where he is Ruler, and his control of the storm is far greater than Thor's.
Still he is impressed by the Asgardian's valor and unrelenting attack, he can see the Thunder God is bleeding from the wound inflicted by his daughter Artemis, and hurting from the recent ordeal in which Hercules himself was mortally wounded. Had not Odin be in his sleep, Zeus would have probably chosen another course for his action, but, as he said, Olympians need a lesson in power and supremacy and the Thunder God is the lamb to be sacrificed on the altar of politics and godly schemes.
But it's not an easy victory for Zeus, as sweat starts showing on his forehead, quickly wiped away by the hurricane winds and the cold rain. Thor makes up with his rage and willpower what he lacks in elemental manipulation and godly power, receding very slowly, straining his muscles to the max.
At last, though ...
“ENOUGH!!!” Zeus shouts, striking Thor with the full brunt of the storm, and then closing in to smash him with fists that could shatter Mount Olympus itself “You have proven a worthy opponent, Thunder God! But I won't let anyone question my will!”
Thor falls to the ground of a devastated city, right to the side of his friend whose lifetime is expiring in ragged and ever decreasing gasps.
“Have mercy on him, Father!” Venus, wet and trembling for the ordeal she has just lived through, begs him with her tender soul “On both of them! Please, abandon Hera's vengeful plots and save Hercules and don't let your wrath fall on the brave Thunder God!”
“Indeed, Father. My sister speaks with wisdom, for a change!” Athena, Goddess of War and Reason and the very incarnation of Zeus's Wisdom, speaks.
“Why didn't you fight for me, daughter?” Zeus asks to Athena, ignoring Aphrodite's plea.
“I'm Goddess of Reason, Father! And Reason says the Thunder God was right in his motives” Athena speaks calmly and impassive in her shining armor.
“Well, then I won't dispatch him. But I'll punish him for his effrontery ... in a very fitting and humiliating way!” Zeus says.
“What about Hercules, Father?” Venus insists.
“I won't let him die ... yet! It's my decree that he's put in suspended animation in my Palace! I'll ponder his fate when it pleases me!” Zeus states. “Now, since not even I can lift Mjolnir, I place an encasing spell around the hammer in the spot it fell ... and I exile Thor from Olympus! Let's see how he will do without his vaunted mallet!”
With a gesture of his hand, both deeds are accomplished, as Thor is propelled toward Earth, his clothes aflame with the attrition, in a region just north from Greece, in the Bulgarian countryside. Mjolnir remains confined under a spell in the very center of the Olympian city, a reminder for everyone of whose power truly bested the Thunder God!
“Do I have always to do things all by myself?” Loki's rage is apparent as he stares into a scrying pool at the fate of his hated brother “I hoped for a harsher punishment for him. Something on par with your own sufferings, my dear” he adds, turning toward the bound Enchantress, still reeling after the torments he submitted her to.
“But maybe ... just maybe, I got a better idea” the evil one says, noticing the colored tents of a traveling circus near the place where the unconscious Thunder God just landed.
“I told you I saw a falling star!” a deformed gnome says, while jumping into the field, where a crater has been formed by the impact of the flaming projectile hurled by an angry god.
“What is it?” asks the fat and bearded woman.
“He's gorgeous!” says the lithe trapezist at her side.
“I say we bring him to the boss! With those muscles he could help with the animals and the hard works” comments the knives-thrower.
“Why is he nude?” asks again the bearded woman.
“Maybe he's a fallen angel” says the Tarots reader.
“What do we have here?” asks the Clown, once the godly prisoner has been carried over in the main tent.
“Our underlings found him outside, but I doubt they guessed who he is” comments Princess Python. “I think he's Thor!”
“I agree” speak at unison the Gambonno twins.
“And what should we do with him? If he's Thor, all naked and without the hammer!” the Human Cannonball asks.
“I say we let him have a long, hard look to my hat” their boss, the Ringmaster, finally speaks “And then he can be ours to command, doing the hard work and even showing off for the ladies in our next stops. And if it turns out he's really the Thunder God ... well, we will find more useful ways to exploit his being the servant of the Circus of Crime”.
“I certainly have one thought or two about his services, too” grins Princess Python as everyone bursts into laughter.
“Now that's really amusing” laughs Loki in the distant Golden Realm ... while behind him Amora weeps on the fate of her beloved and on her own ...
Next: Thor in the thralls of Ringmaster and the Circus of Crime, Hercules still at death's door, Amora a prisoner of evil Loki and the Elements of Doom (did you spot them?) bent on exploiting the Uru enchanted mallet to their own ends. What else could go wrong? Find out in THOR # 3, as Sif looks herself for most of the answers and ends up with more than she bargained for!
Author NotesFirst off, I'm sorry it took so long to get # 2 done! Real life, my leaving MV1 and launching MDL all conspired to snuff out most of my inspiration and so, though I had the story all clear in my head, I couldn't find the calm and concentration to type it. I'm glad, though, of the final product and I do hope that next issues of THOR will come out faster than this one.
I hope you will enjoy the wicked plans I have for Thor in our next few issues, some of which you have probably guessed from glimpses in this one. I want also to thank all those who mailed me about THOR # 1. I'd like to print here your letters, but I've run out of time for today and I'm sure you will prefer for me to post the issue ASAP instead of letting it wait till tomorrow :). But keep writing me ... or the writer's block could hit me again!
Thanks again to Alvaro Ibanez, Jeff Melton, Jonathan Pizarro, Adam Di Stefano, Barry Reese and all those others who support me with their kind words.