The Throne Of The Universe

Over the years, Max Black a.k.a. Quantum has seen Noriko Null pull off crazy stunts. Defeat indestructible robots with a mathematical formula, hack into a god’s mainframe on the surface of a neutron star, get into a fistfight with a goddess. Claiming to be the legitimate heir of a quarter of the entire galaxy in front of the absolute rulers of the known universe is just a different kind of insanity.

-Why are you claiming to be a goddess!? – he asks her.

-It’s the only way to get the Nine Gods to support mortal rule. If they declare me a goddess it means I get to rule the Mortal Republic, since I got the territory from the gods I defeated; then I’ll let the actual government rule in my place, like Dionysus did with the Guild – Noriko answers.

-Am I the only one who finds a lot of disturbing points in that explanation, besides “how are you going to argue about being a goddess when you aren’t one”!? – Quantum adds.

-Watch me.

Noriko walks towards Ereshkigal, the Sumerian goddess of the underworld who holds the decisive vote. It’s impossible to read her face, but her red eyes are quite intimidating. Even for the Slayer of Gods herself, who gathers the courage to address the Nine Gods.

-Distinguished divinities, my point is very simple. What is a goddess? A being with powers and knowledge far superior to those who worship her. Do I really have to explain why I qualify?

-I can attest that she is worshipped as a goddess on planet Myridia – Tyche assists her.

-This is ridiculous. You are the daughter of a mortal man, given birth by a mortal woman! – Hera protests. Noriko tries her best not to smile when she asks her:

-Then should Dionysus be stripped of his godhood? His mother was a mortal, wasn’t she?

-She was a demigoddess. His father is almighty Zeus, but even that is not enough to qualify him as a true god: plenty of demigods have perished over the eons. What makes a god, child, are immortality and power. You lack both – Hera mocks her.

-She has died before, at the hands of my father, yet she is among us now – Tyche again helps her.

Iss that true, Hadess? Did sshe die? – Nephthys asks the lord of the dead.

Her body is mortal, there’s no denying that. But she has control over her soul: she has survived outside of her body once, during her fight against the creature called Abyss.

That does not make her an immortal goddess! Gods cannot die!!! – Poseidon objects.

Demeter would object to that – Isis comments. The natural rivalry between pantheons is only helping Null: since she’s primarily been an enemy of the Greek gods, supporting her hurts them.

-Well, there you have it. If godhood is defined by worship, immortality and power, I should qualify as a goddess and be recognized as a vassal to Zeus.

-A valiant effort, Null, but the Nine Gods will never consider you a goddess. You simply haven’t done anything impressive enough – Inanna explains her.

We are not here to discuss that. We are holding a vote whether mortals can be recognized as vassals. There are four votes for, three votes against, and Zeus is absent. We are waiting for your vote, Ereskigal. What is your decision? – Isis asks her, taking back control of the debate.

The Sumerian goddess is still staring at Noriko. Her support would be a major victory for all mortals, who would finally gain some representation on galactic politics.

Look at the beings before us. Mortals who can access the power of the Drylon or control the Blood. Their power cannot be allowed to grow, and for that reason alone I shall…

-Vote yes and I’ll give you the Dragon Tomb! – Noriko suddenly interrupts Ereshkigal. You could hear a pin drop in the absolute silence her words have created.

Are you trying to bribe the Queen of Darkness, child?

-Drylon weapons are the only thing that can kill you. Vote for mortals and I’ll help you get rid of the only thing that can be a real threat to you.

-What are you doing!? You can’t make a deal like that!!! – Vesta protests.

The Dragon Tomb has been lost for a billion years. Do you think you can find it?

-Yes! – Noriko answers proudly, her silver eyes shining.

Very well. This is the will of the Nine Gods: if Null recovers the Dragon Tomb and delivers it to the Throne Of The Universe, mortals will be recognized as vassals and allowed to rule themselves in the name of their god.

-Yes!!! – Quantum rejoices, landing a solid high five with Null.

If she fails, all worlds that refuse to follow divine rule shall be utterly destroyed.

-What!? That wasn’t part of the deal!!! – Noriko protests.

-That’s the other part of being a god, child: we can play by our own rules. I like Ereshkigal’s idea: I will make sure that someone else finds the Dragon Tomb before you, I will ensure that all those who defy my husband’s power die painfully, and I’ll make you watch – Hera tells her.

She stands up from her throne and walks away, theatrically covering herself with her cape. While the other gods talk among themselves Tyche places her hand on Null’s shoulder.

-Well played. Are you well? You seem a little pale.

-I just gambled the fate of the entire galaxy on finding the most powerful weapon in the universe and giving it to the same gods who want to enslave it – Noriko suddenly realizes.

-See? No pressure there! – Tyche cheerfully reassures her.

 

Gordium, 48,000 light-years from Earth

This world has known nothing but war for centuries. There are over three hundred countries and thousands of city-states, all in constant conflict, with factions changing every few years.

Gordium’s fame as the galaxy’s dark hole of hope makes it one of the reasons why nobody has made a serious effort to conquer it: it’s better to stay away from a planet crazy enough to worship Enyo. The only thing that gives Gordium a passing resemblance to a functioning society is the 73rd Division of the Enyo Army stationed on the planet: they make sure the Gordians continue slaughtering each other but keep enough people alive to keep the war going.

News travel slowly on Gordium: the technology is roughly the same of Earth’s early 20th century and you can’t trust any information sent by the enemy, which on this planet is anyone from a different town. But when the city-state of Karkhedon shuts off all communications and all its enemies deny any involvement, it’s enough to attract the attention of the 73rd Division.

The reconnaissance team’s airship flies over the city wall and hovers above the streets, with three dozen soldiers jumping out. They land on the debris of rubble that spreads over half the city: their powered armor protects them from the fall and from the heavy rain.

It’s a bleak sight: dark, cold, and everywhere you look there are remnants of houses destroyed by explosions. In other words, nothing unusual for Gordium.

-No sign of recent activity, sir – one of the soldiers tells to the Commander. Other than the sound of rain, his voice is the only thing that breaks the eerie silence.

-There are supposed to be half a million people in this city. Is there a curfew or did one of these idiots invent chemical weapons again? – the Commander asks.

-Only one lifesign detected, sir – another soldier reports. It’s easy to keep the locals in check when only the 73rd Division is allowed to use advanced technology.

-Let’s go investigate. Keep your weapons ready, gentlemen, if they think they can take us in a trap we may get some laughs tonight – the Commander orders, leading his troop; he’s already tasting the chance to order his men to teach the locals a lesson.

With every step, he’s a little less confident. It doesn’t take much to encounter the first corpse, laying in the street without any wound with an expression of pure terror on his face. But there’s another a few feet away, and another one, increasing in numbers as the troop approaches the city square.

There, the commander almost throws up inside his black metal helmet. There’s a pile of corpses, people of all genders and ages amassed on a pile under the heavy rain.

And sitting on top of all them, there’s a slim figure. Hard to see in the darkness, until she moves her head to look at the 73rd Division. And they see a silver light shining in her eyes.

-Took you long enough. I have been killing time for a week now. It grows boring – she says, standing up and sliding down the pile of dead people.

-Identify yourself! – the Commander orders her, and his soldiers take aim. She’s obviously protected by a forcefield: the rain isn’t even touching her.

-It is not wise to antagonize your superiors, little man. Lower your weapons and I might consider sparing your inconsequential lives.

-I give the orders here, missy! Your shield won’t protect you from us; now identify yourself and…

-First of all, did you just seriously call me “missy”? Second of all, you should not be afraid of my technology: you should be afraid of this – she says, pointing at her head.

The Commander doesn’t have time for games: he pulls the trigger. Not only his weapon doesn’t fire, but one of his soldiers drops dead without any warning. And a couple seconds later, another.

-You see, my brain was designed to work in conjunction with a Drylon device that can store infinite amounts of information. Without it, my mind tends to overflow and that can be… unsettling for little minds. In other words, I bleed genius.-

The Commander can feel something inside his head, clawing away his sanity. All he can think about is pure unadulterated terror, and it has a face: an Asian girl wearing a red leather jacket, long black hair, and black eyes with a silver iris.

-Now, I believe you asked for my name. I wasn’t given one, but Hermes calls me Viper. I like it.-

The Commander falls to his knees, crying. Viper takes off his helmet and places her cold right hand on his forehead. There are sparks when their skin touches, flowing from him to her.

-There was another foreigner visiting Gordium three years ago. A Demon. Tell me where she is.

-Beneath… Sanctuary… of Kalika…

-Good soldier. Now answer one more question – she says, taking the knife from his belt and pointing it on his throat.

-What do you bleed?

 

The Throne Of The Universe

The inner workings of universal politics aren’t a pretty sight, as Noriko just learned. The Nine Gods seem just as petty and immature as the lesser ones, but their actions carry much more weight.

-I wasn’t gonna say anything in front of, y’know, the bad guys, but can you really find the Dragon Tomb? Everyone thinks it’s impossible – Quantum asks her, keeping his voice down.

-Well, you know me and impossible tasks – Noriko shrugs, putting on a façade of bravery when she’s actually terrified at what might happen if she fails. It’s hard to keep a straight face, however, when a goddess with skin as white as snow suddenly hugs both her and Quantum.

-Finally the boring’s stuff over! Who’s up for an orgy? – Inanna asks without a drop of shame.

-We should really leave this planet. Where’s Hades? – Noriko quickly changes the subject, trying to break away from Inanna. It’s not surprising that she can’t, but Quantum is also stuck with her: even when he turns his body into pure light, her hands still hold his arm even when he has no mass.

They’re not alone: Oblivion, the massive Lord Of All Demons, has walked towards Inanna.

I also wish to talk to these mortals before they – he says, tapping her shoulder.

He doesn’t finish because Inanna, moving faster than the eye can see, grabs Oblivion and literally rips his head off his body, spraying dark blood everywhere.

-Can’t you see I’m talking here!? Mortals these days, no respect. Where was I?

Noriko is screaming, her face and clothes covered by hot blood, and Quantum feels the urge to throw up as soon as he changes back into matter. Hades has moved towards them, and his icy touch on Noriko’s shoulder doesn’t help her overcome the shock.

We really should be going. Would you mind destroying the planet when we’re gone? – he asks.

-Sure thing. Nice talking to you, sweetheart – Inanna says, tossing Oblivion severed head into Noriko’s hands before all mortals are teleported away by the Lord Of The Dead.

They’re back on the bridge of the Ragnarok, on the docks of planet Fortuna in the Olympian Galaxy. Oblivion’s severed head falls on the ground; Vesta runs to Noriko, seemingly still in shock.

-I’m going to wash this blood off. Get ready, we leave for Earth in fifteen minutes.

She storms off to her quarters without saying anything else.



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