By Wim_Garnet 6 Comments
All main characters are copyrighted by Marvel Comics. This is a story of the Bronze Age Eternals.
Previous installment: Prelude
That the others would come had not concerned Ikaris. Over the next day and night, they arrived from the poles and from all points of the compass. They answered the homing call and came into the halls of Olympia. Sersi, true to form, opened the stores of Olympian wine to make sure the first night of the gathering evolved into a loud revel. Eros, as the Avenger Starfox was called in this place, needed no great encouragement to join her. His model was irresistible for most.
On the morning of the following day, Ikaris looked up at the throne of Zuras. Knowing he would soon need to speak from that seat, he meditated on how this situation had come to be. Since the transmission from Titan, he had been mulling the sort of questions not often considered among Eternals. Their life on Earth had spanned millenia, but what was its value, its meaning? Was he proud of what he and his relations had accomplished?
Ikaris shook his head to clear his mind, and looked up at the arms of the throne where the hands of his father Zuras had often rested. He wished for the presence of those hands. Had this knews come from anyone other than Zuras’ brother Mentor, he would scarcely believe it to be true. But soon, all the Eternals would face this truth with him and wonder.
He turned to survey the gathering: Olympians, Polars, Eternals who chose diaspora around the globe. Many of their brethren had retreated into space, but these remained. At the forefront stood his sister Thena, covered regally from her toes to her wrists in a suit of gold that glowed from within. As she met his gaze, she shook the long hair that matched her angular, golden headpiece. She was every bit a queen of the Eternals. The fact that she too had the strength to stand as Prime both encouraged him and threatened him a little.
Beside her, Sersi leaned on Eros, draping the green glove that covered her right arm across his shoulders, pressing a bare thigh against him now and again suggestively. Ikaris never approved of Sersi’s short, tight garb, her ludicrous low boots and long gloves, but it was the least of his problems.
Eros was dressed in red and white stretched tight over his well-muscled form, the distinctive fox head emblem on his chest matching the gold of his wrist bands. He did not appear to mind the attention, nor did he take it too seriously. When Sersi flipped the impish pointed curls of bright red hair, he gave her the slightest glimmering glance and smile. Ikaris was glad for his great strength and absolute boldness, so he overlooked Eros’ wantonness more easily.
Yes, Ikaris thought, they are an odd group: Khoryphos always carrying his lute, Kingo Sunen dressed for battle in the armies of the Shogun, Ajak outfitted like an ancient Incan god, Phaestos like a workman of a contemporary steel mill. Fortunately, he remembered, their appearance masked incredible power. He feared they would need every bit of it.
The Eternals had all gathered in the main hall to hear the full news from the Prime. A hush fell as Ikaris climbed to the throne, turned and held his hands high.
“My brothers and sisters, light of the eyes of our father Zuras, it gives me strength in this moment of foreboding to see you all gathered here in this hall. We face what could be a turning point in the history not only of our world, but all worlds. The Fifth Host of the Celestials is abroad among the stars.”
Each Eternal had heard the gravity in the summons they recently received from Ikaris, but none of them was prepared for this news. Heads shook and brows furrowed. Voices erupted all through the hall. The Prime Eternal held his hands up again.
“You are right to express your shock. It nearly beggars belief. But I assure you that I had word late last night directly from Titan. The computer ISAAC has recorded the last days there and you can view the images if you wish. As we poured wine here, a Celestial was rising from the surface of Titan and beginning his transit to Earth. Apparently, his mission on Mentor’s moon is completed.”
Sersi spoke up first, her tone derisive but honeyed as ever.
“And what mission could this cosmic visitor have there? Or anywhere? The Celestials created the races of Earth in the mists of history, but they have rarely been seen since. What’s the point of coming back?”
Kingo-Sunen answered, his eyes black under his samurai helmet. “As you yourself say, Sersi, the Celestials are not quick to busy themselves. We can be sure they come for a reason.”
Ajak stepped forwarded, the feathers and gold of his Inca headpiece flashing. “Who summoned them? The Fourth Host came to Earth only when Ikaris triggered the ancient beacon.”
Ikaris’ face remained grave. “They were not summoned. They come because they so choose. The news from Titan is that they come this time not to observe or experiment. They come to judge. The Fifth Host has gone out to all corners of the universe. One Celestial comes to all the planets where they have intervened in the evolution of races. They come to see if each race is of value, or whether certain experiments should come to an end.”
This time the noise in the crowd was overwhelming. Ikaris roared them to order with great exertion.
Gilgamesh raised his thick right arm and called out “Can the Eternals, with all our power, seem so little to them that they could think of our end?”
Light from the nearing sun glowing on his head and shoulders, the amethyst figure soared into the field of tumbling rock that stood as a gateway to the orbit of the red planet. Although some of these islands in space were of sufficient size to house races, none had atmosphere or the building blocks for life. Earlier Hosts had seen no cause to add them. Nor had the races in this system seen benefit in staking down settlements in such hard places.
Following the straightest possible course through the rocks, the figure soon came to the edge of open space. But at the last moment, he veered toward a vast, oblong rock, as many times the length of his own body. As he neared it, he put one arm forward, found a balance point and began to push it free of the gravity that determined its orbit.
Once in open space, he shifted the great rock so that he pushed from the narrowest point, the length of it stretching out before him. Dust from the surface trailed out past and behind him. An observer from the Trilogy might have thought himself the discoverer of an unnamed comet.
The amethyst giant propelled the rock until it was within the red planet’s orbit and beyond the pull of its gravity. Then he sent it spinning on its own course and resumed his path to the Trilogy planet.
“Enough!” Ikaris roared. “We have squabbled for hours. The meaning of the Celestial’s visit is not becoming any clearer to us. Neither are we any closer to deciding a course of action.”
The crowd of Eternals stilled, some nodding, some still too hot with anger or confusion to recognize Ikaris’ words were true.
“What then?” Khoryphos asked, striking a wistful chord on his lute. “If only great Zuras were here to give us his wisdom.”
Ikaris moved in front of the throne of Zuras and sat down solemnly, taking his place as Prime. “The Eternals have one sure way to become of one mind. You should each retire to your rooms and meditate on our future, calming your minds in preparation. In two hours time, we meet in the courtyard to form the Uni-mind.