Chapter 1: Rebirth!
She heart was shredded to pieces. The pain was more than even she could bear, and she had born much pain throughout her long, five billion year old life. There was an emptiness within her chest that made life unbearable.
Her child had rejected her, utterly. It wasn't truly on a conscious level, but she had been rejected, none the less. Her son, once so close to her and his siblings, had walked away, and refused to rejoin with his humanity. Instead, he chose to follow his father's path, but it now was a troubled path, repercussions of which had already begun to reverberate throughout the cosmos. The End, she feared, was drawing close, and she would lose everyone she held dear. Something had to be done.
Who, she thought ,could help to avert the tragedy that most had seen coming? Was there anyone who could help her son turn from the path of madness? Was there one who could help fill the gap in her breast, and save the rest of her children? Already, there was trouble brewing upon Earth, trouble that very few could help to stop. Mighty beings walked the face of the earth, but they were not enough. She was unable to take an active role, and her other son , Atum, would not help.
Thus, did Gaia, Mother Goddess of all who trod upon Midgard, call upon powers that even those who call themselves gods could not fathom. Reaching forth , though the firmament and ether, she called upon Odin, former Lord of Asgard.
Odin, He who died in battle with the demon Surtur, during the foul being's most recent attempt to conquer the Nine Worlds. Odin, he who joined with Those Above All, as reward for sacrificing his Immortality in saving those most considered below him. Odin, he who caused her so much pain in separating her son, Thor, from his humanity, then dying before he could repair the damage. He who helped to bring forth the coming darkness, the Reigning.
"What pains thee, lovely Jord?," called out Odin, knowing full well the cause.
" What pains me," Gaia replied to his query," What pains me, is that my son, OUR son, has rejected me! He has turned his back upon his Humanity! You know full well what that means!" She could feel Odin nodding in agreement.
" You knew, one day, fair one, that Thor would have to take his rightful place upon the Golden throne of Asgard," rumbled Odin. He knew the kicker was coming.
" Aye, I knew one day that would happen. I looked forward to seeing our son fulfilling his destiny. But, knew you well the prophesy, of what would happen if his upbringing was not set in a certain way!" Gaia retorted back, angrily.
So, the matter comes to a head, thought Odin to himself." Yes, sweet Gaia, I knew the prophesy, and followed the pattern set forth for his raising. I knew what the results would be if done otherwise."
"Yes, you knew, but you violated the restrictions , nonetheless! Thor had to retain his Humanity, else all would be lost!" ,she shot back.
"Verily, did I , but at the time, it was necessary. Thor was gravely injured, and his human half could not undergo the procedures to heal him. I, myself, was greatly weakened by the process, but had no time to recover before I had to help the valiant warriors upon Midgard stop Surtur's fiery advance!"
"That is all well and good, brave Odin, glorious warrior king that once you were, but that still does not forgive your mistake, for you have brought forth the Reigning!" screamed Gaia back into the ether.
A note of sadness and regret crept into Odin's voice. "Yea, this I do know. There can be no forgiveness for my careless error. Surtur's vile plans, I should have seen, had I not been concerned with Thor's future. I had seen the Reigning coming, but knew not how to avert it."
" You saw the Reigning?! With all that we had done to stop it from coming forth?" asked Gaia, surprise strong in her voice," and still you did separate them?"
"Indeed," replied Odin, " and there is naught we can do."
" Perhaps," stated Gaia, " or perhaps not! If someone can convince Thor to take back his mortal side……"
"Unlikely." said Odin.
".. and protect my children from the coming madness at the same time…."
"Impossible." stated Odin flatly.
"…then we may yet stop the coming destruction! Odin, there was , once, one of my children that you did touch with power. He was closer to Thor than any other being to ever live, closer even than you or I! It was by your hand that they merged and shared a life for a time. He could bring forth Thor from his madness!"
Odin was silent for a moment. " Your plan has merit, Lady Gaia, but can it be done? He exists outside the realms that even I could visit, and he did refuse the honor of joining my warriors in Valhalla. I know not how to bring him forth."
"The One allows me entrance into those realms forbidden to you, for my children reside there once their life has passed. I can go and call him to me, perhaps the pleas of his mother will soften his heart."
"Perhaps this is the path we must take, I wish you well on your mission, fair one. You and I can combine energies and create the warrior we need, should your actions result in the desired effect," rumbled Odin's voice, a hint of pleasure seeping through.
"Indeed," said Gaia, but not in the way you may wish it, One-Eye, she thought to herself.
Sparky fell back into the soft grass, feeling the warm sun upon his young face, as a cool breeze blew across the hilltop. The sky was a bright blue, with not a single cloud in site. The balance of temperature was perfect, never too hot, never too cold. Day after day, he would come to the field, and run and play to his heart's content. Afterward, he would always come to this hilltop, fall back and rest, until the next day, where he would start all over again. He could never imagine living anywhere else, or doing anything else. Life here was perfect.
Until this day, that is. As he rested upon his hilltop, he heard a sound so strange and foreign that he could not recognize it. It made him feel so strange, compelling him to find the source.. He crossed over his hilltop, down the small valley and up and over the next, until he came to a large grass covered plain. In the distance he saw a small figure. This is where the sounds emanated.
He ran faster than he ever ran before, desperate to get to the source. Finally ,he made it. His chest heaving with exertion, he walked up to the figure he had seen in a distance. He walked around it, wanting to do something, but not knowing what. He was startled when he made it around the figure. It was a woman, sitting upon the grass, her long black hair partially hiding her beautiful face, now pale as ivory. She was clothed totally in black, a strange liquid pouring from her deep, blue eyes, as the sounds came from her perfect, rose red lips.
Suddenly, realization came to Sparky. She was crying, and these were not tears of joy or happiness.
This was something that did not belong to this realm, it was sadness. Sadness was never allowed here, for there was nothing to be sad about. He never saw sadness before, but he knew what it was, nonetheless.
Instinctively, he leaned forward and put his small arms around her, to comfort her. He did not know how he knew to do this, for he had never experienced heartache. But this was the right thing to do, and he knew it. The lady seemed to brighten a bit, then put her arms around him in response.
" Ma'am, what's wrong?" Sparky asked her, really needing to know the source of her pain.
Sniffling, she looked directly into Sparky's eyes and replied," I have lost my son." Sparky looked at her inquisitively.
"Where did he go? Have you looked for him where you saw him last?"
Gaia grinned a sad smile at the innocent, childlike questions." No child, he has been taken from me. All the things that made him my son have been removed. He no longer claims me as his mother. It makes me really sad."
Sparky had a weird feeling come upon him. He felt his eyes sting, and his throat tighten, as his heart seemed to rip itself to pieces. A small tear fell and ran down his small cheek. He wanted to help her, but did not know what to do." Can I help?"
"Yes," she started, " you can help, but it would mean coming back, Eric. You would have to leave your little Paradise here. Your brother has turned his back on me. You were closer to him than any other living being. You, of all, are the one he claims to call 'brother'. I cannot, or will not force you, but the lives of billions may rest upon your decision. "
Sparky stared wide-eyed at her, the mention of his real name opening a flood gate of memories that long were suppressed here in Paradise. Images of friends, foes, and family flashed before his eyes, as his old thoughts, dreams and beliefs bounced around inside his rapidly clearing mind. He closed his eyes to shut them out, but it did no good. He was reawakened.
Eric looked straight at Gaia, then stood up to his full six foot, five inch height and looked down upon her in recognition," Gaia?' he whispered, as the cool breeze passed strands of his long, blond across his face, and ensnared in his goatee.
" Yes, Eric, it is I. I should be surprised that you know me, but I am not, for you shared your very being with my son, Thor, for quite a while. His memories of me must still be encoded in your mind. You and Thor are never fully separated, are you?"
Eric shook his head, brushing his hair from his eyes," No, it seems that we are not. Even now, I feel a wrongness, Thor isn't himself."
"This is true," she replied," there has been much wrong with him, of late. He has rejected his Humanity, and in doing so, has put the lives of all in the Nine Worlds in jeopardy. Please, Eric, you knew him, and are his brother. If any can bring him back from the brink of madness, it is you!"
"Hoo boy," he muttered under his breath. " You truly don't leave me many options, do you?" he asked of her, as he stared first up at the perfect sky, then at the idyllic scenery that surrounded him. " Either refuse, stay in Paradise, and allow billions to die, or go back to the world that hurt me so much…."
"With all it's cruelty, suffering, sadness, pain, misery, love happiness, friendship…" she continued.
"…… and possibly help save everyone that was dear to me, as well as all the other people on that silly little planet. Well, it's a no brainer, something that I've been accused of being at times in the past." he finished. Looking up into the clear sky, Eric says " I'll do it. I'll go back." His heart fell as he spoke those words, for it is hard to leave Paradise once you have tasted it.
Placing her arm through Eric's offered one, Gaia leads Eric off into the distance, filling him in on what has transpired since he had left the mortal plane, preparing him for his vital mission.
It had started as a bright, hot day in Manhattan, the sun beating down upon the lowly beings that claim mastery of their little spot in the cosmos. They scurry like ants about their little realm, dwarfed by giants raised by their own hands. Yet, their man-made titans were, themselves, made insignificant by the sight of that which floated above their proud isle. Asgard, city of the Norse gods that most had relegated to myth and legend, did hover over their metropolis, casting shadows o'er the heart of the land.
As the day progressed, the Lord of Asgard sat upon his golden throne, using the Odin force handed down to him upon the death of his wise father, Odin, to look out upon the world of mortals, the self same world whose pull had caused him to relocate the Golden realm. He saw the mortals suffering in the heat, and briefly he wondered if he should remedy the situation, and bring down a cool rain to sooth their troubled hearts. Nay, he decided, he must not tamper lightly with their lives. Already, there were those who looked upon him with awe and worship, that which not occurred in at least a thousand years. It's best not to do too much, he thinks.
The end of the day draws near, and as he watches the sunset, he starts to make plans for the evening, hoping that Amora will be most accommodating to her lord this night. Though the sun is now down, he feels the heat rise back from the asphalt and concrete, bringing forth a small bead of sweat upon his regal brow. Even a god such as he feels temperature differences, and he now welcomed the cool breeze that slowly starts to build.
He starts to move toward the feast hall, and stops. The breeze has now picked up into a wind, one that grows stronger by the passing second. Dark clouds now billow up, arising from nowhere, growing thicker and more menacing. All of Asgard is now enveloped in the clouds, hiding Midgard from the view of Asgard. Being Lord of the Storm, he feels that there is something ..unnatural..involving this weather change. He uses the barest hint of the Odin power to explore the source of this storm, but there is none he can detect. Perhaps his senses are playing tricks on him, Thor thinks to himself. Let it rain, they can use it, he concludes. Asgard is safe, so all is well.
The clouds grow thicker and thicker, heavy with the promise of much needed relief. Lightning flashes, and thunder reverberates through out the concrete canyons, as huge rain drops start to pour froth from the heavens, hitting hard anyone foolish enough to be outside to watch the spectacle The ground saturates, as the water pushes its way down deep into the earth.
Gaia stands out in all her glory. Her hair plastered to her head, her garments soaked and hugging the contours of her body, her pale skin shining with a glow that hasn't been seen in several thousand years. With outstretched hands, she calls forth into the heavens," Odin! Hear me, great Odin! The time is now! Pour out your power, bring back that which is needed! The Champion must be awakened, his arms and power must rise once again!"
A great peal of thunder answers Gaia's cries, and a mighty voice rumbles out, "As it has been asked, so shall it be done!," and with that, a mighty bolt of lightning strikes the earth, where upon Gaia then pours her own, raw energy into that same spot.
A second fork of lightning shoots out into the cosmos, and stops dead, and incredibly, starts to solidify. A shape starts to form, a strange triangular head, with a long, leather wrapped shaft appearing to emerge from the base of the head. The object finally emerges , it's final form set, a mighty weapon forged of mystic Uru, and perfect in form from the metal chain at the base of the handle to the stylized letter T on the top of the head. The magical weapon, Thunderstrike, floated in the vacuum of space, drawing in to itself all the energy aimed at it from the realm of Earth below.
This is the moment, Gaia thinks to herself. A powerful energy bolt issues forth from Gaia's slender hands, penetrating the saturated ground.. A bright beam then explodes from the earth, hurdling toward the heavens. It intercepts Thunderstrike, just prior to the magical energies being fully set , and fills it with a glowing, pulsating energy.
"NO!!", screams Odin, his voice shaking the firmament. " GAIA!! Sweet, foolish Gaia, what have you done!? Do you truly understand the results of what you have done?"
Gaia glares back up at the heavens. "Yes, I know EXACTLY what I have done, One-Eye! I have made it to where none can remove the magics we have wrought this day! He must be free of all prejudicial influence, all threat of HIS power being revoked if he displeases an angry or sullen god. NONE must be able to interfere with his mission in his new life! Neither you, I ,nor our mad son! A true blending of our powers, much like that of the Mighty Thor before your interference."
Angry, shocked, Odin merely replies," I do hope you know what you are doing, for I have grave misgivings." Then his presence seems to leave the sphere, returning to where Those Who Are Above All exist.
"Aye, Odin," she calls back to the now empty ether, " I know exactly what I am doing." She turns her attention back to the spot on the ground where she had delivered her magics.
It was dark, confining, and cold. The air was stuffy, entirely too stuffy. He felt as if he couldn't breath, no matter how hard he tried. There was no light, no sound, no feeling whatsoever. Suddenly, he hears a faint voice, a voice so sweet it made him wish to cry for joy. He recognized it." Eric," it called to him.
It was Gaia, his new mother.
"Eric, you must awaken, quickly!' she called out to him, as she stretches her right hand once more back toward the heavens. A star in the night sky brightens, though no one on Earth could see it yet. It grew brighter, and larger, as if responding to a silent call.
Eric struggled, for it was supremely hard to move. Finally, his left hand seemed to break free from its lethargy, followed closely by the right, then the rest of his body. His mind was clouded, but he had one clear, rational thought: I must get to the voice.
The star grew brighter and brighter, moving at a speed unknown to man. It entered Earth's atmosphere with the force of a mountain dropped by a huge, invisible hand. The plasma trail formed by it's re-entry was seen as a huge falling star by the more observant of Gaia's children, those who scanned the night sky in search of dreams of knowledge.
He struggled to reach his destination, now just a few feet away. The voice called him more urgently now, encouraging him to break free of the confining womb of the earth. He knew she was up there, and he so wanted to reach and please her.
The fireball streaked through the sky, breaking through the upper cloud layer of the storm, and hurled passed the Golden City of Asgard, causing Thor to snap around to see what had just passed, for he sensed tremendous power stored within the object. He could not piece the veil placed around it, though, and this disturbed him greatly. He wore a trouble brow as turned around and retreated into his chambers to think on the situation.
Eric dug upward more frantically now, he was just inches from breaking free of the enveloping earth. Finally, his left hand broke free, and he felt the cool air and rain fall upon his fingertips. His left hand full emerged from his muddy prison, just as Thunderstrike, his mystical mace, broke through the clouds, rocketed straight down, and hit with an impact that would have thrown ordinary beings about as easily as rag dolls
It did not impact the ground, however. It landed squarely in his left hand, invigorating him, helping him pull himself totally free of the dirty prison that had held him for almost ten years. Standing up to his full height, his body still clothed in the remnants of his old battle uniform, he lifts his mace toward the storm, as lightning and thunder announce his rebirth: Thunderstrike Lives !
Lightning strikes him from all angles, feeding him with energy and strength he had not felt in a very, very long time. Not since he was merged with Thor, had he felt such power, and purpose.
He turned around, and saw the beautiful face of Gaia staring back at him, her face filled with happiness that one of her lost children had returned to her.
Eric kneels before her, takes her hand and kisses it, as she places her other hand on his shoulder in a caring, loving way. Eric stands once more, and Gaia hugs him, thanking him for coming back.
"Now, you must go, child, for there is much to be done," Gaia tells him as she leads him from the place of his rebirth." You know what must be done."
" Mother, where should I go first?" he asked, his mind still slightly muddled from the ordeal of resurrection.
" There are those who used to be your comrades in the past, it is to they who you should go first. They are called the Avengers." With one last gentle kiss on his forehead, Gaia departs, as Eric wonder off into the dark, searching for his lost allies.
Next issue, Chapter 2: Reawakening!