Friday, March 28, 2014

Episode 100: Welcome to Muspelheim

After the Battle of the Gates in Front of the Bifrost Bridge, Thor invited the members of DCM, Inc. back to Asgard for a fête. He led them down the great stone halls of Asgard, turning left at giant battle axes and right at suits of armor. The group was awed at the vast, ancient feel of the place, and were drinking it all in as they were led into a great feast hall adorned with giant helmed elk heads mounted on every wall.

"Have a seat, my friends," boomed Thor, as he gestured to the great table in the middle of the long room. "All the food and drink you could want is yours for the asking. There is wine, there is champagne, there is a great Ring of Shrimp. And here is my maple sriracha. I've brought three varieties, each more virulent than the last." The company beamed with wonder at these delights and more, and immediately tucked in and made merry.

As the revelers were getting comfortable, one of the elk heads suddenly spoke up with one of their typically bawdy drinking-hall jokes:
What did the the elephant say to the naked man?
"It's cute, but can you breathe through that thing?"

Polite laughter echoed through the hall. Pewter tankards were refilled. Thor turned to the group and said "We here in Asgard, as well as those in the world at large owe you a boon. For saving the world, I will give you a gift beyond measure: I will let you each ask me one question. And I, with all my powers, will attempt to answer it truthfully."

Kobayashi was called on first, and he blushed with the enormity of the task. "What has happened to Chastity?" Thor looked him in the eye, and was temporarily at a loss for words. The words "Chastity has not been seen here for a long, long time" before he heard the capital C in Kobayashi's voice, saw the rouge in his cheeks and realized he was talking about a girl. A specific girl. "Ah. Well," he looked within that spot a god has for this sort of thing. "You... you will be happy to know that not only is she gainfully employed," the Thunder God broke eye contact, a was looking a little uncomfortable. "but she is also rather well off. Doing quite well for herself, in fact." "Really?" beamed the young monk. "Where?" "Misty's." "Oh, I see," said the monk, looking a bit crestfallen.

At that moment, the elks chose to pipe in again with another one of their moldy jokes:
In a tiny village lived an old maid. In spite of her old age, she was still a virgin. She was very proud of it. She knew her last days were getting closer, so she told the local undertaker that she wanted the following inscription on her tombstone: "Born as a virgin, lived as a virgin, died as a virgin."

Not long after, the old maid died peacefully, and the undertaker told his men what the lady had said. The men went to carve it in, but as the lazy no-goods they were, they thought the inscription to be unnecessarily long. They simply wrote: "Returned unopened."

The guffaws were louder this time. The mead of Asgard was taking full effect. "Who exactly am I?" said the robust Gigamesh. He leaned forward over his mead, his jaw set with grim purpose. Thor grunted. "You are who you think you are - a demigod. A friend of Thor. One of the saviors of Asgard and-" There was a commotion as the door to the hall flew open and six and a half feet of leggy valkyrie strode purposefully in and towards Thor.

"Father! I just heard the news. What has happened to Heimda- Oh, I'm sorry," the redhead froze in her tracks. "I didn't know you were... entertaining." The party turned to behold Thor's daughter. When Gigamesh met her gaze, however, the valkyrie froze and locked eyes with him. She let a sliver of a smile break her countenance. There was most definitely a moment.

Thor admonished her for interrupting, and he turned on Gigamesh.  "And I see there is something about you I don't know. Something I do not like one bit." He rose to his full height, turned from his seat and stalked to the head of the table in a most dramatic fashion. "Thrud, go now. We will speak when I am done here." His daughter turned, obediently but dejectedly. She glanced furtively at Gigamesh. "Come see me." she mouthed.

"Now my friends," Thor said in what sounded a little too much like a hiss. "As I said, we are in your debt. But from what I know of you and your activities," he looked Xeno straight in the eye, "Your actions of late offend the Gods, whose job it is to protect the known universe from the likes of you. I should destroy you all right here an now. But that would be ungrateful. You deserve a chance to redeem yourselves. It will not be easy, and your success is by no means assured. But then again, you never have been afraid of incredibly long odds. Goodbye."

Before anyone could speak up or scream, the floor fell out of the feasting hall and everything went dark....
                                                    ....and down.

With a thud.

The group was in a dark space that smelled of dampness and dirt. A dim light revealed a tunnel, and what looked like an old prospector kneeling in the mud. He looked up from his task. "Hello folks. Welcome to Hel!" He returned to his work, scanning the tunnel floor for something - spotting it - and stooping low to pick up what looked like a glowing, pulsating rainbow marble.

The God Particle
"What's that?" asked Xeno, manically casting about for something to hold/bludgeon/hide behind.

"It's a Higgs Boson. What you might call a 'God Particle'. we dig around all the major abodes of deities, looking for bits they drop."

"What can you make out of them?" asked a curious Gigamesh.

"Just about anything at all," replied the old prospector.

And that's when the floor fell away again.

As the group continued their fall down the rabbit hole, temperatures increased. So did the smell of  ozone, brimstone and sweat. The blackness swirled in a nauseating fondue of dread. When everyone landed again, they were not all together...

Kobayashi landed in a cavern dotted with stalacs of both the tite and mite variety. There was also a snow leopard. The same snow leopard that had, some months ago, bitten off his finger. Kobayashi approached the cat with not a little malice and eventually grappled it to the ground. He managed to bear-hug the beast, and got it to regurgitate his finger. But rather than asking how a human finger went undigested in a cat's stomach for months, let alone how this specific cat got to the purgatory beneath Asgard, he simply tried to reattach the finger. It worked, only to immediately spawn a black infection that spread quickly up his arm and into his torso, causing him to drop dead.

Gigamesh and Xeno landed in a rough-hewn tunnel of dark basalt. The heat was stifling as the two followed sounds of industrial machinery down the vast, dark hallway. They passed a large door that had a smoked glass window, through which they could see, in an undetermined middle distance, a number of sparks or embers rising up, drifting up through thermal currents, up and into the darkness beyond the door. A little further on, they found what looked like a fire giant manning a large control console inside a large, oval-shaped room. The giant had smoked goggles, and was manipulating knobs and levers in front of a large set of smoked glass windows. The pair moved in and tried to skirmish with him, but the giant was swift and ferocious, falling upon Gigamesh and killing him swiftly with his warhammer. Xeno evaded the giant's initial attack and sidled in behind him to take a look at the control panel.

What he saw was a star. It seemed to be contained somehow in the blackness of the chamber beyond, but with nothing to compare it to, he could not tell the scale. A readout on the panel in front of him said "STAR NH201101". Another said "READY TO LAUNCH". Xeno saw the giant turn from the inert body of Gigamesh and turn to him, bloodied hammer in hand. Throwing a lot more to the wind than just caution, Xeno pulled a lever and hit a button, and as the fire giant cried "NOOOOOO!!!!!" and made to stop him, a rush of blue, crackling energy shot out from Xeno's hands and into the console. Warning klaxons sounded, and the readout flashed "WARNING: CHAOS OVERLOAD. RESEQUENCE FORMATION. CHAOS STAR ACTIVATED." A crack in the black appeared somewhere over the star, and as Xeno and the giant watched, the ground shook and the entire laboratory rumbled as a door of enormous proportions opened up and the star, now starting to swirl with an unpredictable array of different hues, rose slowly up and out of the containment room. The giant screamed "YOU FOOL! KNOW YOU NOT WHAT YOU'VE WROUGHT?" before bringing the hammer down on Xeno's head and everything went black.

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