A Glory of Gods (PG-13, Marvel comics, Hercules, Odinson, Wolverine)
Hercules was doing his best to sort out his life. For too long, he'd been a drunken, womanizing, lout.
Once, he'd been the greatest of all heroes, but by the end of the 20th century, he'd become a joke.
Then one day, he looked up into an uncaring sky and decided that his failures could no longer be borne.
He had to do the thing that the mortals of this time called "cleaning up his act".
It wouldn't be easy.
But he had to try.
Just a few words whispered in his ear, and he was no longer Thor.
That was the amazing part -- it wasn't just that he had become unworthy. He was no longer Thor
There was nobody he could explain that to.
Not even Jane.
However, he was still the Odinson. Still a warrior of tremendous might. And if Jarnbjorn was not Mjolnir... well, he would just have to make do. There were realms to defend and enemies to slay.
So be it. If he couldn't be Thor, then he would make himself anew as best he could.
It wouldn't be easy.
But he had to try.
They met in a seaside bar somewhere on the Mediterranean coast of Spain.
The waitress - a pretty girl with dusky skin and dark eyes -- blinked in amazement as the Odinson entered. He was barechested, with a tattered red cloak around his shoulders, and the wicked steel of Jarnbjorn casually wielded in one hand.
"Mead," the Odinson growled as he stalked past her. The waitress tore her eyes away from him long enough to register what he'd said.
"We don't have mead!" she protested in Spanish.
"Wine then," the Odinson said with a shrug as sat on a wooden bench with a thud.
The bench was pushed up against a table. Hercules was sitting across from the Odinson.
The bar was empty. Most of the customers had fled with Hercules entered. The rest took to their heels when the Odinson made his appearance.
The Odinson took a moment to examine his old friend and older enemy.
"You've lost weight," he said eventually.
Hercules nodded. "And you've perhaps gained some."
The waitress reappeared and put a beer mug full of red wine in front of the Odinson. He handed her an ancient coin that was worth more than the entire bar. Then he drained the mug in one long swallow and handed it back to the waitress.
"More," the Odinson said evenly. The waitress clutched the mug against her as she fled back to the bar.
Hercules watched the exchange with no particular expression on his face, but there was perhaps a hint of regret in his eyes.
"What do you want, Hercules?" the Odinson asked.
Hercules considered saying that he wanted the Odinson to stop feeling sorry for himself and grow the fuck up. But he knew he didn't really have the right to say that to anyone -- at least not yet. And besides, the resulting fight would surely endanger innocent mortals. That was the kind of thing Hercules was trying to get away from.
"There is something important that we must discuss," Hercules replied slowly.
The Odinson didn't reply.
"They say the youngest of us is dead," Hercules finished.
The Odinson's eyes narrowed. "Impossible," he said.
"I know," Hercules responded, "but we are among the few who know that it is impossible."
Another mug full of wine appeared in front of the Odinson. It didn't last any longer than the first one.
"Very well. Let us visit his supposed grave," the Odinson said as he used the edge of his cloak to clean spilled wine from his chin and chest.
Hercules nodded and got to his feet.
"I... I don't know how to make change with this," the waitress said desperately as she waved the coin that the Odinson had given her.
"Keep it. Buy a palace," the Odinson replied distractedly.
Hercules and the Odinson called upon powers that allowed them to walk a path that mortals couldn't really understand. Whatever it was, in just a matter of seconds it took them across the Atlantic and most of the North American continent, depositing them in a place the mortals called Alberta, in a region of mountains and forests.
They were left standing in front of a rickety and abandoned-looking cabin.
The Odinson looked at Hercules questioningly.
"The X-Men and the Avengers cooperated to hide him here," Hercules said.
The Odinson smiled bitterly -- the only kind of smiling he did of late. "Let me guess -- they are concerned that mortal madmen will once again attempt to make monsters of his flesh and blood?"
Hercules nodded as he opened the door. A dozen defensive systems promptly failed as alarms simultaneously went off on six continents, two worlds, and at least one alternative plane of existence.
"How long do we have?" the Odinson asked idly.
Hercules shrugged. "A team of X-Men will teleport in within a matter of minutes. The Avengers will take longer -- say a half-hour. SHIELD and NATO are mustering their forces, but they will naturally be the slowest of the lot."
The Odinson's blue eyes met Hercule's dark eyes. "I have no desire to battle with any of them. They are warriors honorably doing what they feel is their duty."
"I agree," Hercules replied softly.
Actually, that was the most hopeful thing he'd seen and heard from the Odinson since they'd met. Whatever the Odinson had become, at least he had not completely lost who he once was.
Inside the cabin, Hercules casually engaged a mechanism and the stone floor under their feet began descending into a crypt.
More alarms went off. More defensive systems inexplicably failed.
Their descent eventually ended with a jarring thud. Then Hercules and the Odinson both contemplated what was hidden below the cabin.
It was kneeling figure, covered with some silvery metal, that was positioned on a low pedestal. Claws jutted out of its hands and formed a crossed 'X' in front of its body.
The Odinson frowned, "It's that accursed metal, isn't it?"
Hercules nodded. "The mortals call it adamantium."
"How did this come to pass?" the Odinson asked.
Hercules let out a long breath. "Logan had lost much of his ability to heal. He was weakened and his enemies knew it. He fought battle after battle, slaying many foes, but he continued to wane. Eventually, he tracked the origin of the worst of his attackers. It was a man named Cornelius. He was one of the sages from the original Weapon-X program and he was attempting to replicate his earlier work. As always, there were mysterious backers hiding in the background."
The chuckle that rumbled out of the Odinson's chest was dry and humorless. "And how did that work out for this Cornelius fellow?"
"About as you would expect," Hercules shrugged.
The Odinson nodded towards Logan. "So everybody believes he is dead?"
"And they don't know the truth about him?"
Hercules considered that. "Some perhaps suspect, but they do not know."
Both gods were silent for a moment.
"How long do you suppose until he rises?" the Odinson finally said.
"Impossible to tell," Hercules said with a shake of his head. "But when the young god of Fury arises, I'm sure it will be a suitably bloody experience for somebody."
"Why have you brought me here, Hercules?" the Odinson asked tiredly.
"I am wondering if we should intervene," Hercules suggested. "I thought that was too big a decision to be left to a single god. And I thought another god should know where he was hidden. It might be important someday."
The Odinson considered that for a long moment.
"I do not think we should intervene," the Odinson said eventually.
"I agree," Hercules replied.
The Odinson nodded slowly.
"Then perhaps it is time to leave?" Hercules suggested. The longer they stayed, the greater the chance that they would find themselves in a meaningless battle.
"Yes," the Odinson said as he reached out and rested a scarred and calloused hand on Logan's shoulder.
"A glory of gods," the Odinson said softly.
"What?" Hercules asked.
"It's something a man of learning once told me," the Odinson explained. "In the English language, groups of creatures have fanciful terms to describe them when they are in groups. A pride of lions. A murder of crows. A skulk of foxes..."
Hercules chuckled. "My favorite was always an ambush of tigers."
A smile flicked across the Odinson's face. "My acquaintance suggested such a term for gods -- a glory of gods. Perhaps he was trying to flatter me."
"There's already a word for that," Hercules pointed out. "A pantheon of gods."
"Yes," the Odinson agreed, "but a pantheon implies that gods in question are all related by blood and their region of origin. What do you call a group of gods from separate pantheons?"
Hercules thought about that. "Ah. Now I see what you mean. 'Glory' would seem to be a good word in that situation."
Then Hercules worked the control and the platform began to rise back to the surface.
"Goodbye, Logan," the Odinson said as they rose out of sight. "We will see you someday."
"And we'll see you in glory," Hercules added quietly.