Chapter 31: "Key and Lock"

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It is paradoxical, yet true, to say, that the more we know, the more ignorant we become in the absolute sense, for it is only through enlightenment that we become conscious of our limitations. Precisely one of the most gratifying results of intellectual evolution is the continuous opening up of new and greater prospects.

- Nikola Tesla

"Bad days are coming. We have seen worse. What they did was a message to all of us -- a threat. This menace is very real. It is very powerful. And it is traveling a very long way to destroy us all. We will raise our defenses. We will fight them to the last. And we will defend those that cannot defend themselves... Today we fight, brothers and sisters. Today we stand up and never, ever relent. Brothers and sisters -- prepare yourselves, today we go to WAR."

- Thor Odinson (Earth-616)

(The above quotes were retrieved from the old University of Michigan Servers in the summer of '89 PA)

1

Loki's Palace, Jotunheim

Silence filled the chamber. At one end stood the so called higher beings of the Megaverse, and at the other, the small band of new arrivals. The former noises and general air of disagreement that'd permeated the hall was now replaced by silence and cold shock. It was Triton, son of Poseidon, God of the Seas, who broke the stillness.

"This is what we've been waiting for?" the petulant yet powerful godling said, thrusting his finger toward Meg. "We've pinned all of our hope, our very lives, on this girl?!"

"Triton..." Athena began, but he cut her off.

"NO!" he roared, stepping into the middle of the chamber. "We could all be safe in our realms. Ast-Murath wants the mortal plane, not ours. It would be foolish to attack our homes. No, strike that, it would be insane. The combined powers of the gods on our own ground would erase him from existence. But no, instead, we went against Zeus' orders and have now been labeled traitors. I'm sure, even now, the Amazons are scouring the known worlds for us!"

"Have you no honor?" a new voice asked from the crowd of mortal new comers. "What happened to the brash Triton I knew in my youth? What happened to the warrior and guardian of the mortal seas? Have the prospects of either exile or death turned him into a mewling cur?" Astrild, once more in control of Tammy's body, asked coldly, stepping in front of her friends and comrades.

"Is that really you, Astrild?" Loki asked, before the stunned Triton could form a response. "It has been far too long, little sister."

"I told you I'd see you aging before the end, brother," Astrild replied, smiling sadly.

The crowd parted swiftly, with many of the higher beings yelping in shock as the God of Thunder created a pathway and hurtled toward his sister. Scooping her deceptively small form up in a bear hug, he spun her around, shouting with joy.

"By all the fates, you have returned to us, sister!"

"It is good to see you, brother," Astrild laughed against her will. Thor always had the ability to make her laugh, no matter the circumstances. Reluctantly, she continued, "Put me down, Thor; there will be time for reunion, but right now time is short and there is still much to do."

"The enemy is moving faster than we feared," Hasani interjected as Thor set his sister back on her feet. "I don't know if the servants of Ast-Murath have deveined out reasons for venturing to Hetra 3 or not, but it's only a matter of time before they do."

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