Ebony plumes of smoke choked the sky as the exhaust ports rumbled to life. The triumphant sound of fire giants celebrating echoed in the cavernous bellows of the city-turned war engine. Logevellir lurched forward after weeks spent repairing the sabotage Harland had wrought. Deafing klaxons roared off, alerting the armies five miles below to begin their march forward. The outer shell of the engine began to glow in time with Surtr’s heart, first with crimson hatred for what had been nearly taken from him, then suddenly as if ignited by nuclear fission the white hot heat of the titan’s wrath and malice made manifest.
From atop his throne of divine skulls the monarch of magma directed the movements of his monstrosity. Levers creaked and cogs ground like mill stones.
“TURN THE ENGINE NORTH,” commanded Surtr.
Confusion painted the faces of the command crew, but with fear of their titanic master the giants did as they were commanded.
“Husband?” The fire giantess Sinmore approached the throne.
“ASGARD WILL BURN. IN TIME. THE FIRES OF RAGNARÖK REQUIRE KINDLING,” Surtr flowed into a standing position, consuming a slave at his feet. “THERE IS NO BETTER KINDLING THAN THE CASTOFF REMNANTS OF THE RUS. THE DEFENSES IN ASGARD HAVE BEEN RAISED, WE WILL MARCH ON SVARGA INSTEAD.”
As the forgemasters of the heavens toiled The Varðmaðr witnessed the armies of Muspelheim turn to march north on Svarga. With a sideways step across the rainbow the smell of two thousand three hundred eighteen new sunflowers registered somewhere across one of his attentions. He leaned over and kissed his wife, Polymitera.
“You’ve been gardening.”
“You know I don’t garden. I just rearranged a few things. Made some room out back for a swing-set for when the boys come to visit. Néos is out there now playing with the bees.” she replied.
“He’s trying to teach them to sing. You should tell his… father, that Néos’s E note is out of pitch,” Gunnar said without moving.
“It’s time then?” Laurel asked.
“Just as Ciara predicted. They’re marching on Svarga instead. I’ll track down Harland if you get the other one.”
“One? Is Ciara not coming?” Laurel asked confused.
A knock at the front door answered the question.
“I’ll be back with Harland when I find him,” Gunnar said as he slid backwards across the rainbow, back to the spire of Varðmaðr Vaka.
Polymitera shook her head, crossed the room and opened the door. On the stoop was Ciara, one leg raised brushing snow off her shoes, a small white envelope balanced on her head.
“Sorry,” said the darkly robed woman, while handing the envelope to Laurel. “I was in such a hurry to get back. The storms are getting worse on Earth. Is anyone else here yet? I figured Gunnar would be here already.”
Laurel moved aside and invited her band-mate inside, “You just missed him. He’s gone to fetch Harlan. I thought Brendan would be with you. Can offer you something? Tea? Ambrosia? Whiskey?”
“I haven’t seen Brendan. I assume he’s been spending his time with his children. I’m shocked he hasn’t called on your services yet. Four would be a handful for anyone. And to answer your question, yes to all three. But first you should open the letter. It’s from Susan.”
Laurel raised an eyebrow and tore open the correspondence.
Ciara said she’d see you soon so I thought I’d write you, just to be certain you knew. Atropos has disappeared. Ciara can give you what few details we discovered. I figured it was you who grabbed her, but Ciara didn’t seem so sure.
“Ciara. Where is my daughter?” Laurel asked trying to remain calm.
“She’s off with a ghost somewhere. Nevermore says the ectoplasm smelled a bit like Aesir stuff. Just a shot in the dark, but I’d say Loki is up to something.”
“THAT HORSE FUCKER!”
“All I’m saying is that Laurel’s domain might be safer. Temporarily,” Brendan insisted.
Aisling balanced two of the children in her arms and scowled at her husband wordlessly.
“Fine. If you can take care of all four of them I’ll shut up. I’m smart enough to know when I’m beaten.”
The other two infants flitted on gossamer wings between the two.
“I love you husband, now go. If you can save Tir na nOg and the rest of the universe, I can raise four children,” Aisling said while repositioning little Máire.
Brendan stepped outside, positioning Gae Bolga over his shoulder while he pinched the bridge of his nose. His wife had no idea how bad it was getting, in the upper echelons of the Tuatha or back on Earth. How was he going to convince her to move some place safer?
The fist of Hephestus slammed on the carbon steel of the eighty foot suit of armor like a hammer on an anvil.
“It’s the best I could do with supplies running low. It won’t put up with the abuse you can, but it will give you the ability to go toe to toe with that monstrosity,” the forge master’s eyes shifted left towards the other mechanical creation, “And it’s not as gaudy as what the dwarves slapped tog–.”
Dorthen cleared his throat rudely, “Lord Gunnar, Lord Harland I present to you Gullinbursti version 2.0.”
Beside the 80-foot armored mech stood a 150 foot jewel-studded golden boar with titanium tusks.
“Dorthen. I say this with the utmost respect, but it’s a pig,” Gunnar said scratching his head.
“Leave my pig alone,” yelled Harland climbing into the moth’s cockpit, “This is great dwarf. Where’s Gunnar’s?”
“The Gullinbursti is meant to be piloted in tandem with Lord Gunnar,” said Dorthen.
“What about the jewels, though? Isn’t that kind of a waste?” said Gunnar jumping into the cockpit and pushing Harlan into the other seat.
“When you’re ready to see what a waste they are you may activate the button labeled LASERS,” Dothen grumbled.
Brendan looked around, noticing the lack of an Irish craftsman or fae-forged weapons. Under his breath he muttered, “Looks like we’re shit-outta luck.”
Ciara grinned and ran a finger over her keyrings bringing forth her helicopter, “I’m sure we’ll be fine. Besides, where’s you sense of adventure? Legends aren’t forged from the easy fights.”
“PRESS FORWARD. INTO THE CITY. CHARGE THEIR LINES AND BRING ME THE HEAD OF PERUN!” the tyrannical orders echoed from the titanic siege engine towards the armies below.
Fire giants and gigantic tanks began spilling like magma into the city of Svarga. What was once the drawbridge to the castle Surtsey now served as the sword to Logevelir and sliced down through three blocks of the city. Divine servants fell in droves to the gun and cannonfire of Muspelheim’s army.
The Rus, in an effort to assist other pantheons had stretched themselves thin. Only Perun, their king, remained to protect the city, and he was quickly losing this fight. His axe, charged with lightning and dripping with the steaming blood of twelve-score fire giants had just cleaved through a tank’s outer armor when the air beside him rippled and exploded.
The tear in reality was a gateway, from which spilled einherjar and valkyrie clashing Asgardian steel against Muspel-obsidian. The voice of Tyr rang over the din of battle, “You died and were brought to Valhalla for this fight! Give them not an inch or I’ll throw you to Hel myself!”
Surtr’s attention was drawn to the gateway and Logevellir’s sword swung hard toward the gods – and was deflected by the invisible force of Laurel’s Unseen Shield. A giant roman centurion strode through the gateway flanked by swift black helicopter. Surtr stared in disbelief and then recoiled as the his engine’s legs were buckled beneath him.
A golden boar uncloaked from Harland’s illusion and began turning for a second charge.
From overhead Ciara, Brendan and Thor dropped from the sky and entered the chest cavity of the machine via Unbarred Entry. Despite the guard placed there Mjölnir, Scáth na Spéir and Gáe Bulga were undeterred. The three gods were awash in giant innards as they forced their way toward the heart of the metal beast.
“We must find the engine more quickly!” Thor yelled throwing his hammer through the two closest walls and charging. “Follow! Hammer, to me!” Brendan and Ciara just grinned and followed after.
Outside Harland lined up the golden boar’s charge. He turned to Gunnar, “Ready?”
“Just a second,” calculations ran through Gunnar’s mind. “There!”
The boar shifted two degrees right. “Ready,” Gunnar said.
“Then I’ll leave this part to you,” Harland said as the illusion of his self disappeared.
“Gods dammit Harland!” Gunnar muttered, slamming down the button labeled LASERS.
Millions of scintillating jewels on the boar’s outside began to glow and a bolt of silver energy arced forward slamming into the Logevellir’s abdomen exposing precious servos that operated the city-creature’s lower extremities.
Meanwhile, Surtr who had begun smoldering in rage rose from a melting throne. “HOW DID THEY KNOW? WHO HAS BETRAYED ME? I HAD THEM, THEY WERE TO DIE! IT WAS PROPHESIED!!!”
Sinmore’s sword pierced through the back of Surtr and remained embedded in a wound of dripping magma. The titan toppled to his knees. “Stay down,” said Sinmore who changed faces into Harland, “You’re beaten.”
“I THINK NOT!” Surtr replied as lava poured from his wound. The titan rose and began to glow white hot. His size doubled in a second and quadrupled in two. The air rippled and Surtr’s growing form was slammed into another Unseen Shield as Laurel used Come Running.
“What are you doing here? I thought you were with Gunnar!” she screamed over the sound of Surtr’s roar of anger. Harland shrugged.
At that moment her vigil brand on Ciara and Brendan erupted in her mind. Laurel squinted at Harland with suspicion and teleported to the Tuatha’s aid with Come Running, using Come Along to bring Harland with her. Three sacred relics had pierced the heart of Logevellir and forced a chain reaction that Laurel was immediately at the center of.
Gunnar’s wedding ring throbbed alerting him to his wife’s peril, and he too used Come Running. In the blink of an eye there was a rainbow explosion and the entire party (plus Thor) stood atop Gullinbursti watching Logevellir explode in a brilliant array of shrapnel and magma. The explosion reformed into a terrifying display as the fire and magma began taking the form of The Devourer sweeping towards the party.
Expletives fell from the mouths of more than a few of the band as cataclysm swept towards them.
“Nah, its cool. I’ve got this,” Harland said stepping forward, snapping his fingers.
All-at-once the fires stood motionless. The party blinked. Then Gunnar saw what had happened and slapped Harland on the back, “Nice. You could have let us know what you were doing though.”
“Wha- What’s going on?” Laurel asked confused.
Gunnar pointed at the frozen flames. “There.”
Embedded in what was once Surtr’s back was The Sword of Broken Time.
“I kept asking myself what beats an all consuming destruction. Then it hit me. Nothing. So that’s what I used, a split second of nothing applied right where his anger was going to burn hottest,” Harland smirked.
The gods cheered and immediately leaped back into the raging battle. Within minutes the forces of Muspelheim were routed and Bullets, Axes and Pain had only to drag Sutr’s frozen form back to Tartarus.