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The Eternals - Judgment of the Fifth Host, ch. 4

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All main characters are copyrighted by Marvel Comics. This is a story of the Bronze Age Eternals.

Previous installments: Prelude, ch.1, ch.2 , ch.3

Chapter 4

Ajak stood among large stones on a mountain top in the high Andes. He wore the form-fitting garb of an Olympian Eternal, plum wine colored with stripes of gold, with a golden belt and boots. His mid-length brown hair fluttered in the breezes around his dark glasses. In all directions, the rocky peaks stretched out to the limits of sight.

On both sides of an open field, muscled workers wearing small waist-coverings over their bronzed skin were swinging picks or dragging skids of stone set on log rollers. They were terracing the sides of the mountain top.

Ajak struck a bare rock-face with his fist and the surface cracked. Then holding out his hands, he caused the largest chuck of stone to levitate into the air in front of him. Opening one palm, he pulled to himself a stone ax and set to work, fashion the floating stone into a carved block. Ajak stepped back and surveyed a nearby terrace, found a recently cleared space and levitated the block into position to form the base of a new section of wall.

The Celestial’s images then began to flash a time sequence. Before all the Eternals’ the magnificent mountain top city of Machu Pichu formed, with gates and stairways, aqueducts and plazas. The Temple of Three Windows. The Temple of the Sun. All new and shining in cloud-gauzed mountain skies.

The image of the scales emerged, superimposed on the city, and the pans tipped slightly, dipping down on the right side. The scales glowed burning bright and disappeared, leaving only the image of a new structure – The Temple of the Condor.

Before this temple stood Ajak and a new sequence of images showed the Incans bringing him gifts. First, a plum wine cape with a golden clasp. Then a suit of their best-forged mail. Finally, they came to him on their knees and held up to him a golden helmet, with a long, ornamented beak over the eyes. Its beak ended in a golden disc to represent the sun around which the condor soared. It had two crests plumed with golden feathers.

Ajak grinned and took up the helmet. Setting it on his head, he strode regally into the Temple and sat on a carved-stone throne inside. Behind the throne, carved in low relief inside a circle in a smooth face of stone, was a profile image of Ajak wearing the condor helm, his limbs set in an angular dance.

Images flashed to show Ajak the Condor-God set in stone on the walls of village temples us and down the Andes. They showed Ajak soaring over the people, the gold feathers of his crests gleaming and waving, his smile bright with satisfaction.

Again the scales super-imposed over the scene. The pans rocked, evened out and then dipped down on the left side. The scales darkened to an ominous purple glow, then disappeared again.

Ajak pushed back through the crowd of his kin and stepped out on the ice before the Celestial.

“Great Celestial! What you show is true. While I had set out just to aid them, I was seduced by the worship of the beautiful Inca people. In my pride, I became their god, losing interest in furthering their culture and contenting myself with their offerings and admiration. It is an episode of shame.

But I have paid the price for this error, as all the Celestials must know. The Third Host returned centuries ago and fought with the Asgardian gods and other deities of this world. They did not overlook me, but humbled me before the people. They imprisoned me in the resurrection chamber that held me until the day the Fourth Host arrived[1].”

Ajak crossed his golden-braced arms over his chest and bowed deeply.

“Great Celestial, is not my term of centuries in prison sufficient judgment? I make myself a god to earthmen no more.”

A mirror image of the contemporary Ajak appeared on the black screen. It stood still for a moment, then his Incan helmet and armor began to glow. It shimmered and disappeared. Then a blast of force struck Ajak and threw his backward. Ikaris raised a hand and levitated his hurtling form above the group.

His elaborate outfit was gone. Ajak hung limply over them in the simpler garb of an Olympian. The scales returned to the screen, tilted against the Eternals. Then the screen swirled again and a red form began to appear.