The Star Ravagers
Some Time in the Future
For the first time in its long existence the entity knew pain, as something more than an abstract concept.
No matter, the star was nearby and in moments the still adolescent entity would feed off it. It was not such a large star, as some stars go, and would likely be extinguished in the feeding process. Did it matter that this star system supported intelligent life? Not really. The Star Ravager, like other energy configurations of its ilk, usually avoided populated systems. Sometimes that was not possible.
Before the Ravager could begin feeding, a massive solar flare moved out from the surface of the star, seeking to envelope the entity. This was no ordinary, naturally occurring solar flare. Apart from its greater than usual speed and size it seemed subject to mystical direction.
Located just inside the orbit of the closest planetary mass to the star, the Star Ravager waited to absorb the flare. Instead it found itself confronted by another sentient being coming to it within the core of the solar flare. Taking a brief snapshot of the newcomers' inner mind, the Star Ravager saw that it was confronted by one of the gods of this system.
An entity that actually chose to reside within the intense heat and crushing pressures of the star.
Atum, son of the elder god Gaea and the Demi-urge.
As the two vastly different entities fought, the existence of the star that they contested came into doubt. The Star Ravager drawing increasingly on the energies resulting from the fusion reactions within the star. Atum, desperately trying to prevent this.
Powerful as Atum was, and weakened though his adolescent adversary had been, the result of the contestation, and therefore the fate of the entire star system, seemed in some doubt.
Until, that is, the arrival of another entity, not entirely unrelated to Atum.
A mature individual of the Star Ravagers race would never have chosen to feed here. A mature individual of the race would have recognized the star system for what it was. A system always to be avoided.
Before the contestants now stood a figure out of legend. The mighty Thor, liege lord of all Asgard, son of Odin, and the ultimate protector of the one populated planet of this system and by obvious extension the star that gives it life. And, as circumstances would have it, younger half brother to Atum.
Raising his legendary hammer, Mjolnir, Thor of Asgard drew forth from the Star Ravager those energies that it had stolen and returned them sunward. He also used Mjolnir to transport the large amounts of plasma and hot gases that were swirling about Atum and the Star Ravager. Also returning them sunward.
Balance was restored to our sun, thankfully before any permanent damage was done to it or the worlds that it nurtured. One world in particular.
For the merest moment mighty Mjolnir seemed to react adversely. Thor saw that he had gone too far in the process, absorbing some of the utterly alien energies from the Star Ravager. Thor sought to immediately reverse the process but, at this moment of balance, and for reasons best known to himself, Atum drew out the Star Ravager's inner life force and crushed it.
Where the life force of an entity is low, even impossibly low, Thor the mighty can revive that entity. Be it physical being, energy construct, or something else. What even the mighty Thor cannot do is to bring the dead back to life. Only he who is above us all can do that.
Nor is it the same thing to entirely reconstruct an entity from its molecular components. Not when the life force itself has gone.
So, for the first time, since the act of original creation a Star Ravager perished.
The knowledge of that death was immediately known to all those of the young Star Ravagers race. Wherever they might be.
Thor and Atum looked out among the stars and saw a number of them disappear, seemingly winking out of existence. Normally it would have taken many years for the light from those stars to reach Thor and Atum. But the Star Ravagers had a way, possibly the teleportation of light, to bring their unmistakable demonstration directly to Thor.
Thor knew he would not need to go out to them. The Star Ravagers, the mature adults that had so steadfastly avoided our star system, would now come and they would come in strength.
Atum would likely be a casualty. Still the Star Ravagers would doubtless hold Thor, as the greater of the two gods, ultimately responsible for this the first death of one of their kind. What, short of the entire destruction of Sol and Asgard, would satisfy them now?
Atum returned sunward seemingly unrepentant and unable to accept the consequences of his actions.
Thor looked at the sun now returning to normal. The sunspots, the corona, the solar flares and he marveled at it. Would the great Galactus, or the Celestials, or the Star Ravagers even, have felt this way? Thor knew they wouldn't. The gods still retained a sense of wonder, something that distinguished them from the cosmic powers.
Thor returned to Asgard and to the high place at Hlidskalf. From where it is said he can view all things. He saw that no further stars had been expunged. That the Star Ravager demonstration, possibly an expression of grief, seemed to be over. All the stars expunged had belonged to lifeless systems.
The son of Odin pondered on what little he knew of his adversaries. They had, in times past, sought to avoid conflict and usually only fed from the suns of lifeless star systems. Their only recorded confrontation, until today, was long millennia ago. It was over a single star system with the nearly as enigmatic Celestials. That conflict led to stalemate and eventual withdrawal by both races. Thor had seen today that a single weakened adolescent had been almost too much for Atum himself.
Thor sought the advice of seers, mages, and sorcerers among them Dr Steven Strange, Orikal, Mimir and even Loki. Each was able to add a little extra knowledge of the Star Ravager entities.
Meanwhile Asgard's grand vizier, Thialfi, ensconced himself within the archives of Odin. There, deep in a bound volume of the chronicles and edicts of Odin, he found the first real clue. An indication as to the true nature of the Star Ravagers, where the lay in the overall scheme of things and, just perhaps, what could be done about them.
"It is passing strange" thought the mighty Thor "that even long after his death, my father still continues to help us."
The Star Ravagers came sooner rather than later, much sooner. As Thor knew they would. They came as individual mature units. Twenty of them in all. A representative group.
At the edge of our solar system these individual energy configurations joined as one to form one single sentient being. There they/it stayed unmoving, infinitely menacing.
As if they/it intended to expunge our star system without even taking the trouble to enter it.
The thunder god had only just moved humanity out of immediate harms way. Purely interdimensional teleportation had been out of the question. The Star Ravagers, though native to our Universe, were frequent interdimensional travelers. They knew the dimensions better than almost any entities
Thor had teleported all living things of the Earth, save the most very powerful of its heroes, to the safest place he knew. An alternate reality construct, created, not so very long ago, by the combined efforts of many different god pantheons from various parts of the Multiverse. The gods could not even agree on a name for the construct and it remained known only and crudely as Alternate Reality One. Fortunately that was the only thing they could not agree on. The mighty Thor did not completely believe that humanity was entirely safe, even here, and had thus taken further steps to ensure their safety.
Thor had arranged for the most powerful of the Earth's heroes to be on hand at Asgard should they be needed. Which event seemed not unlikely.
Balder lord of light, together with the Grand Vizier, Lady Sif, and the warriors three remained at the high place of Hlidskalf there to view events and be available as required.
The ever vigilant Heimdall remained at his post, his superlative senses ever alert, as always.
Atum might have remained in the sun there to fight and die, he might perhaps even have chosen to flee, though this was not the way of the son of the Demiurge.
Instead he assumed his most powerful form, and one of the most powerful god forms known, the primal force, god slayer and demon killer known variously as the Demogorge, the God Eater, Ra, and Ammon Ra.
Teleporting to the location of the Star Ravagers, the Demogorge, shining more brightly than any sun, orbited the monstrous Star Ravager energy configuration using his vast energy siphoning powers to draw off the alien energies.
For the merest moment Demogorge seemed to have some success, growing into a larger and even more grotesque and eventually unrecognizable form before losing all control and crashing into the Star Ravagers. As every molecule, every sub atomic particle that had been Atum/Demogorge was absorbed by the Star Ravagers it became clear that stars were not necessarily their only source of food. Something the mighty Thor, thanks to the grand vizier's research, already knew.
The Demogorge fought magnificently. He must surely have known that it was a suicide mission. Perhaps he hoped that his own death would serve to satisfy the Star Ravagers. But it was not to be.
Upon the death of the Demogorge, the Star Ravagers began feeding, from the edge of our star system, upon the energies and the mass of our sun. It was if the life blood of our sun was being sucked through a giant straw, thousands of miles in diameter and billions of miles in length at speeds beyond that of light.
At that self same instant, the Multiverse's most powerful god struck back.
Very close to our sun the mighty Thor looked on at the massive worm hole through which a constant stream of energy, plasma, and superheated gases was being siphoned off and teleported to the Star Ravagers. It was a fearsome sight to behold, even for a god.
With seemingly comparative ease the son of Odin shut down the wormhole stopping the teleportation before the sun became unbalanced. Before doing so though he directed a massive sky father level god blast through the wormhole and directly at his adversaries.
The god blast was just as awesomely powerful as it was unexpected. Both as individuals, and as the temporarily formed composite being, every one of the mature adult Star Ravagers felt pain. Hitherto only a theoretical concept of not even vague interest to them.
The aggregated Star Ravager entity had been absorbing direct and converted energies from our sun at a frightening rate. Still it was only at a rate commensurate with feeding. They had not been prepared for the godblast overload.
The composite entity separated into its twenty individual sentient entities and began moving menacingly into our star system at high sub light speed. Occasionally taking very short teleportation jumps.
One of the entities, for reasons unknown but possibly sheer petulance, vaporized the rocky mass of Pluto further demoting it in status.
As the Star Ravagers moved further into our system they were at their very highest state of awareness fully ready now to absorb even a multiple godblast type attack. Instead they were confronted with permanent cosmic storms at a level hitherto beyond their experience. Even with their very short teleportation jumps the Star Ravagers could not seem to avoid the storms. Unquestionably the storms were interfering with energy flows within each of the individual Star Ravager energy configurations. At least one among the Star Ravager postulated that they might be entering some form of entrapment.
As a precaution against the energy disruption effects of the cosmic storms some of the incoming Star Ravagers took on powerful physical forms while yet others retained their energy form.
Of a partially mystical nature the disruptive storms seemed too powerful to be the creation of any single being, even of he who is the god of storms himself. The Star Ravagers, but vaguely, sensed the contribution of other beings – other skyfathers, other storm gods, yet others with power over storms, and yet other beings of considerable mystical power.
The storms only increased in intensity the as the Star Ravagers moved inwards toward Earth and the Sun.
All seemed quiet on the blue green world of Earth now devoid of humanity. The home of man seemed peaceful and very vulnerable as it lay seemingly unprotected. Nothing could have been further from the truth.
The father and yes even the mother of the now dead Atum/Demogorge lay awaiting vengeance. The earth mother Gaea and the Demiurge were in good company as great Zeus of Olympus, Vishnu and the other skyfathers of the Earth pantheons stood with them. The Demiurge having returned from a higher plane of existence for the confrontation. While the Earth Mother was not naturally given to destructive acts, who is to say how a mother may react to the loss of a son? Even when that mother is an elder god.
Eventually, their task of harassing and harrowing the Star Ravager intruders done, the cosmic storms weakened and abated. Then, just as Orikal had predicted to Thor, the Star Ravagers broke into three groups eight individuals proceeding to Earth, six individuals making the dimensional leap to Asgard, and another six individuals proceeding directly sunward.
As Orikal had predicted the dimensional jump to Asgard had not proven so simple. With the rainbow bridge removed, Thor had "hardened" the dimensional barriers between Earth and Asgard. The Star Ravagers, though accomplished interdimensional travelers, only just succeeded in crossing the dimensional rift and were weakened and disoriented upon arrival. An arrival that found them facing the All Asgard Destroyer construct supported by the most powerful heroes of Earth and a burning star that could only have been Balder the Brave, the Lord of Light, in full enraged flight.
But not all events went as predicted by Orikal. Two individual Star Ravagers broke away from the group heading toward Earth. By means unknown they had perceived and then entered the alternate reality construct wherein lay not only humanity but all living things of the Earth. Seemingly defenseless.
But appearances can be deceiving. In this alternate reality, Thor had entrusted the defence of humanity to most capable hands. The mighty Beta Ray Bill armed with the shield and sword of Odin, led as mighty a group of warrior gods as the major god pantheons of the Multiverse could provide. Pantheon Skyfathers, Gods of War, Thunder Gods, Gods of Strength and among them, and not at all out of place, stood the warriors three, lady Sif and her brother Heimdall.
As the Star Ravager group heading for Earth came close they felt the full force of skyfather level god blasts from all of the leaders of Earths pantheons. Powerful though this was the Star Ravagers seemed readied for it. What they were not ready for was the powers of creation of a grief stricken father now to be used solely for an act of destruction as the Demiurge lit up the heavens.
The Star Ravagers heading sunward had a simple mission of revenge. To expunge our sun and thereby end our star system. It mattered not whether any sought to bar their path.
Only one person stood in their way.
At that self same moment, other Star Ravagers began arriving at the edge of our star system.
As the Star Ravagers approached even closer to Earth, multiple god blasts from all of the pantheon skyfathers, save the mightiest skyfather of all, seemed to have no effect on the intruders. Despite their having been weakened by the intense cosmic storms visited upon them during their journey inwards through our star system.
It did not bode well for the small blue green world.
Then the grieving father, the Demiurge, let loose. Where once, long, long ago great seeds of creation had been sown upon the Earth now the seeds of unparalled destruction were visited upon the intruders. If anything, having returned from a higher plane of existence, the Demiurge was even more powerful now than he was then. Somehow too, the Earth mother Gaea added her own power to that of the Demiurge.
A massive coruscating god energy force net descended upon and fully encased two of the Star Ravagers. The force net started slowly contracting in size. There was nothing they could do about it. They were crushed within just as assuredly as if they ha been physical beings. Even energy must have some space in which to exist.
The remaining four Star Ravagers involved in the attack on Earth strove desperately to absorb the inconceivably powerful energies directed at them. To no avail. The energies were too alien, to fundamentally different from anything in their long prior experience. The energy configurations struck back attempting, and nearly succeeding, in drawing out and feeding on the god power of Zeus. But the wrath of the Demiurge was not to be denied.
Writhing, contorting, their entire energy flows distorted, the Star Ravagers moved variously between physical and energy and other forms, back and forth, in their attempts to escape the overwhelming torrent of elder god force.
Eventually the power of the Demiurge ran its course. The four Star Ravagers yet lived though but barely. Two of them were so weakened as to be now locked in grotesque physical forms and unable to return to their true energy configuration form. These two were no longer able to maintain high Earth orbit and plummeted to the waiting and not so welcoming arms of Mother Earth. Gaea had her revenge and in truth if you knew what the Earth Mother did that day, you would never think of her in the same way again.
The remaining two Star Ravagers now greatly weakened were destroyed by final godblasts from all skyfathers assembled.
Alternate Reality One
In another reality entirely, a place intended to shelter humankind, Beta Ray Bill, brother to Thor in all ways but one, directed the defence of humanity. Here while several of the multiverse skyfathers held their own, war gods and thunder gods from a dozen pantheons had their very skin fried from their bodies and their bones disintegrated to less than dust. Fortunately the Warriors Three, Heimdall, and Lady Sif were mot among them.
The two Star Ravagers though, seemed to reserve their most savage energy thrusts for the Korbonite. Only the shield of Odin saved him from certain death that day and even that began to heave and buckle and eventually melt. Staring defeat and death in the face Bill threw aside both the shield and sword of Odin and drew the mighty stormbreaker unto himself. Seeing that the death of the human race and of all other living things of the Earth was imminent.
Bill twirled his awesome hammer, cousin to mighty Mjolnir itself, faster and with more purpose than he ever had before. And with this action he succeeded, as he and his mighty brother had intended, in transporting all six of the still attacking Star Ravagers to another reality. A type of battlefield removal, if you will, but this reality was worse, by far, than the most mind numbing nightmares imaginable. Of all the Star Ravagers that attacked this day these unfortunates faced the most dreadful fate of all.
It was not a place that anyone from our reality ever returned from. Some time ago Bill and Thor had glimpsed it, but barely, from the very edge of our Multiverse.
Bill had held off this maneuver, and rightly so, for there had been a very real danger that all combatants, and those who were being protected, might also have suffered the same fate. Praise be to Thor that it did not!
The third group of Star Ravagers, the six entities attacking Asgard, were weakened after overcoming Thor's hardened dimensional barriers to the realm eternal. Confronting them lay the All Asgard Destroyer brandishing the Odinsword, certain of the heroes of Earth and Balder the Brave. The god of light, appearing as a small but brilliant star above Asgard City.
Two of the Star Ravagers struck out at the noble one placing him first in time stasis then, for reasons unfathomable, removing his godhood. As a merely mortal man the bravest Asgardian of them all plummeted earthward. The lady Storm caught him in flight and brought him to Earth. While she in turn was struck, Captain America spirited the noble one away and inside Asgard's walls. For whatever temporary protection that might offer.
The Destroyer construct levitated into the Asgardian sky and thrust the Odinsword directly into what appeared to be the maw of one of the entities. Energies vast and unfamiliar crackled first along the length and breadth of the sword and then over the entire body of the huge Destroyer construct. Almost unthinkably the Destroyer dropped the OdinSword.
Still Odin's creation was not to be gain said. Though lacking the additional empowerment of the life force of Odin or Thor it waded among the Star Ravagers. Fists lashing out before the construct allowed energies to gather atop the visor of it's most feared weapon. Two of the Star Ravagers fell before it's disintegration beam.
Two of the remaining Star Ravagers surrounded the Destroyer and moved in to smother it with their body energies moving over it and penetrating its armor. In the process partially melting its legs. The Destroyer crashed to Asgard below but was not yet done.
For a time Earth's heroes seem to mill about as if they were minnows among titans. But they gathered themselves and through a coordinated attack involving Iron Man, the Hulk, the Sentry, the Silver Surfer, Cyclops of the X-men, and the Human Torch they were able to destroy one of the weakened Ravagers. Loki added his own mystical contribution.
At that same moment Hercules, who now counted himself more of Earth than of Olympus, lifted the monstrous Odinsword from the ground. As he prepared to throw it, energies from the very land of Asgard arose unbidden to strengthen and support him. The son of Zeus threw the sword with a force and power that surprised even him. As it sliced into the Star Ravager, totally irreconcilable energies met head on resulting in an implosion of the first order of magnitude. Sword and Ravager were gone.
One more Star Ravager weakened, yet attacking to the last, fell before a combination of anti-energy particle beams from the Destroyer, the power cosmic of the Silver Surfer, Iron Mans repulsor rays and mystical blasts from Loki and Karnilla.
The final Ravager retreated from the field of battle.
A few million miles from The Sun
The final group of Star Ravagers, six in all, moved sunward. Only one entity barred their way.
The architects of the cosmic storms, that had harried the Star Ravagers, had bid them cease. Yet some persisted. In truth Odin, Zeus, Vishnu and yet others such as Dr Strange had unleashed ancient arcane forces that had been contained since even Odin was a boy. The genie was out of the bottle and could not be immediately put back in.
The mighty Thor took full advantage. He gathered into the head of Mjolnir the force of many of the storms still raging about.
To the oncoming Star Ravagers it appeared as if Thor was preparing for another of his troublesome god blasts. Yet it was something even more ferocious.
The mighty Thor did not become as one with his hammer, rather he became one with it. God and hammer a single living entity. The god hammer. An attack only ever used once before. When he turned aside the Celestial sixth host. .
The built up energies and power within the god hammer cannot be contained for more than a few moments and thus Thor lashed into the Star Ravagers. Cutting a swathe of destruction across them.
Feeling outmatched the six entities formed into a single unit which only served to hasten their demise. Thor completely disrupted the energies within the configuration casting them out among solar winds, eddies and vortices across the length and breadth of the Multiverse.
At the edge of our star system - Sol
As the conflicts in the inner part of our star system came towards their, not necessarily inevitable, conclusion, reinforcement Star Ravagers entered our star system heading for the inner planets. They found they could not teleport in. The swirling, sworling cosmic storms and ancient mystical forces, the genie that had escaped the bottle, would not allow of it.
Not all of these unleashed forces looked kindly upon men and gods. But, if so, at least men and gods had their place here, whereas these Star Ravager intruders assuredly did not.
As the new Star Ravagers, struggled onwards through the mystical and physical storms and towards the inner system, they were met part way by a recovered Demiurge, the extra-terrestrial form of Gae, Earth Mother, the recovered All Asgard Destroyer, gods of an array of Multiversal pantheons, and all of the skyfathers of the Earth. Not least among them Allfather Thor, bristling to attack and still in his godhammer form.
In an event that will be talked about until times end, and perhaps beyond, the Star Ravagers turned and ran outwards from Sol eventually teleporting away. The unleashed mystical and physical cosmic storms that had so hindered them finally ceased. The genie back in the bottle of its own volition.
It came to pass that every last one of the valiant and noble souls that perished that day, distant pantheon gods and mortals alike, found their way to their own versions of Valhalla.
Some among them swore that they saw the ghost of great Odin gathering the fallen in and returning them whence they came.
Only the mighty Thor himself knew the truth.