NOTE: This is my take on the same basic concept as "Exiles."
Only a moment ago, Alice and Olivia had been fighting for their lives. This had been no ordinary prison riot, and these were not ordinary women. They were better known as, respectively, Dr. Spectrum and Joystick, and they were inmates in the Negative Zone prison, which was under attack by the forces of Blastaar. Alice and Olivia knew each other from having both been servants of the Grandmaster, Alice as a member of the Squadron Sinister and Olivia as a double agent within the Thunderbolts. And in a situation like a cosmic prison riot, any familiar face was a friendly face.
But that was now all in the past. Their new lives were now unfolding before them. Alice and Olivia had decided to chance an inter-dimensional escape portal offered to them by the mysterious Untaa, and now they were in his fanciful domain, a place where time literally stood still and infinite timelines unfolded before them on an equally infinite number of monitor screens.
It was not only the two jailbirds who had been plucked from oblivion and brought to Untaa’s safe haven. There were also Philip and Magdalene, partners in adventure and partners in romance. Philip was formerly the Swordsman of his native Earth, and latterly the Swordsman of the core reality, Earth-616. Currently, however, he was simply Philip, having discarded the costume for a golden suit of lightweight but extremely durable armor. Magdalene, too, wore armor, both literally and figuratively. The destruction of her native world, and her manipulations by her former leader, the head Gatherer known as Proctor, had combined with her silver battle-wear and the considerable cosmic power she channeled through her quarterstaff to make her a force to be reckoned with by anyone who dared cross her. At this time, however, she was cool and serene while Untaa addressed his newly assembled troops.
“You come from worlds which have either rejected you or have been destroyed by forces beyond your control. I am here to offer you worlds without end on which to sate your thirst for adventure while also stabilizing the space-time continuum. Do you accept my offer, or shall I cast you back into the chaos from whence you came?”
“Hey,” said Olivia, “all that matters to me is that I get to see non-stop action. So I’m in.”
“As a scientist,” said Alice, “this is a dream come true. Count me in.”
“We have spent years searching for direction in our lives.” said Magdalene. “I am in favor of accepting your offer, but what do you say, Philip?”
“I say,” replied Philip, “bring on the worlds without end.”
“Very well.” said Untaa. “If you would turn your attention to the central monitor, you will see a timeline where the Age of Marvels was very short-lived indeed. Not long after the formation of the original Avengers, the Earth’s heroes all fell before the might of the mythical Olympian monster known as Typhon, who then conquered the world and eventually the universe. However, Typhon’s triumph was contingent upon the continued imprisonment of the Olympian gods in the Realm of Shades.
“Your mission, then, is to journey to the Realm of Shades and free the Olympian gods before Typhon can complete his rampage.”
And with those words, Untaa waved his hand and a portal appeared, through which the team passed...
...out of the frying pan and into the fire, for in the stygian setting of the Land of Shades, they immediately encountered a giant tentacled monstrosity with a gaping saber-toothed maw into which the creature intended to banish all four of the adventurers.
“I think I dated this guy in college.” quipped Olivia.
Philip’s blade sliced through any tentacle which came near it, while Olivia used her superhuman agility to distract the monster; this gave Alice the opportunity to use her power prism to create light-constructs in the form of chains in which the monster’s remaining tentacles were bound. With the creatures maw completely exposed, Magdalene fired cosmic beams directly into the monster, causing it to explode in a blinding fireball.
“Well done, my love.” said Philip to Magdalene as they embraced passionately.
“Get a room!” snarked Olivia.
“That’s enough of that.” said Alice. “We still have to find the gods and free them.”
“Rejoice, then,” said a woman’s voice from somewhere in the dark surroundings, “for thou hast encountered the huntress Artemis.”
As the strikingly beautiful and powerfully built Artemis approached the quartet, she continued, “Since our exile to the Land of Shades, I hath been restless for adventure and did intend to hunt the Erinneye which thou destroyed. However, I sense thou art honorable warriors come to this dismal land with noble intentions.” She paused and smirked. “And if I am wrong, all of thee shall fall before my might.”
“You’re one tough cookie.” remarked Olivia. “I like you.”
“I assure you, Artemis,” said Magdalene, “our intentions are the most noble. Indeed, we seek to bring freedom to you and your fellow Olympians.”
“Quite a boast for a group of mortals.” said Artemis. “However, I hath witnessed thy powers in action and do have confidence in them. Come, then, let us tarry no longer.” She turned around and begin walking back into the darkness. The quartet followed her.
After what seemed like an eternity, they came to a clearing in which all the Olympians were gathered around a fire built to combat the cold which brought a chill to even the hardiest immortal’s bones.
First to notice the approaching party was Zeus’ half-mortal son, Hercules. “Zounds!” he exclaimed. “Artemis hath returned accompanied by a quartet of warriors, three of which art women of exquisite beauty. The fortunes doth indeed smile on the Lion of Olympus.”
“Sorry, Herc,” said Philip calmly, “but Magdalene is spoken for.”
“And what of the other two?” asked Hercules hopefully.
“I was kinda hoping to get cozy with Artemis, to be honest,” said a smiling Olivia, “but if you and her would agree to a threesome...”
“Truly,” laughed Hercules, “thy heart be after mine own, fine maiden.”
“A place and time for everything.” interjected Artemis. “My fellow gods, these mortal travelers claim they can offer us the freedom to return to our beloved Mount Olympus.”
“Impossible.” declared a weary, visibly weakened Zeus. “I hath already attempted to set Hercules free, and failed.”
“Thy powers art still waning, my liege.” said Athena. “Remember Typhon and thee didst battle fiercely one-on-one not long before he returned from exile seeking revenge.”
“Thou speakest truth.” huffed Zeus resignedly. “If the mightiest of all gods cannot pierce the barrier between the Land of Shades and Olympus, what hope hath mere mortals?”
“Perhaps,” offered Magdalene, “the key lies my cosmic teleportation powers combined with your own powers, milord Zeus.”
And having said that, Magdalene began twirling her quarterstaff, gradually creating the cosmic portal known as the Slash/Way, much to the awe of the Olympian gods who thought they had seen it all.
Zeus stood up and said, “With all of my meager remaining strength, I doth cast the mightiest thunderbolt I be capable of into yon portal, and WE SHALL BE FREE!”
The bolt glided through the air and struck the Slash/Way. Suddenly, sunlight shone upon the gods and their guests. Once their eyes had adjusted to the glare, they saw the magnificent courtyard atop Mount Olympus standing before them.
“It is done.” declared Zeus before collapsing on the ground. His wife Hera was the first to run to his side, followed by Athena.
“He yet lives.” sighed Athena in relief. “With a goodly amount of relaxation, he shall return to normal.”
It fell to the ever-dour Ares to bring down the celebratory mood. “A great battle doth stand before us. Typhon must be destroyed forthwith.”
“Aye, half-brother.” said Hercules. “Let us all place our personal vendettas to one side and join together to mount an assault on Typhon.”
The other gods cheered ferverously, the lust for battle boiling in their blood.
“Death and destruction!” shrieked Olivia, joining in. “YEAH!”
Soon, the Olympians and their mortal allies were tracking Typhon by following the path of carnage which he had wrought through the world: burned-out husks of battleships and tanks, scorched grounds, fallen buildings...and fallen super-heroes, seemingly every one of them having gruesomely met their end through Typhon.
Eventually, they located Typhon in what had once been New York City’s Central Park, but was now a smoking crater where the mighty Asgardian god Thor had been the last super-hero to fall, having passed on to Valhalla after taking Typhon’s enchanted battle-axe square in the chest. All of the city’s surviving citizens had evacuated, leaving the arena free for the battle ahead.
First to strike was Olivia. She knew she was way out of her league, but that was the way she liked it.
“Insolent gnat!” boomed the voice of Typhon as he swung his axe, missing Olivia by a wide angle. “Thou seekest to disrupt the triumph I hath begun to savor?”
“Yeah, pretty much.” replied Olivia.
In truth, Olivia was but a distraction which enabled her more powerful companions to charge at Typhon. Taking point was Ares, his own battle-axe connecting forcefully with Typhon’s shoulder. Typhon roared in rage and pain as he swung his axe at Ares, who in turn blocked it with his own axe in a deafening clash and a shower of sparks.
Ares was mean, but Typhon ultimately proved meaner. Yet by the time Typhon was poised to deliver the killing blow, he found himself surrounded by the Olympians and their allies.
Magdalene saw a clear shot at Typhon and took it, one end of her quarterstaff blasting with a thousand times the power which had blown up the Erinneye. Injured by energies unfamiliar to him, Typhon howled, “By Tartarus! IT BURNS!”
Artemis added fuel to the fire by shooting a flaming arrow at Typhon, hitting him point-blank in the eye. Typhon was now having difficulty standing straight, and as he buckled, the Olympians and their allies descended on him, striking at him from every angle.
Just as it seemed like victory was at hand, Typhon rallied, shifting into his true, monstrous, form, that of a dragon with multiple heads. He shook off his enemies and, just as they had shown him no quarter, neither did he.
Hercules was the first to rise to the challenge, grabbing one of Typhon’s heads and ripping it off. “Have at thee, thou malefic monstrosity!”
Alice used her power prism to construct a giant buzzsaw out of solid light, cutting off several heads before slicing heartily into Typhon’s midsection. The Olympians and their allies attacked the gaping wound ferociously until Typhon was all but turned inside out, and the evil one finally breathed his last. The world had been saved.
Abruptly, the skies above clouded over, and in a brilliant burst of lightning, a recovered Zeus stood before his bloodied but unbowed subjects. “This is a glorious day for Olympus,” he declared, “for not only hath one of our greatest enemies fallen, but the mortals’ realm hath been rescued from doom by us.”
“Aye, father,” said Ares, “and as our just reward, we shall once again rule over the mortals as we did during the Golden Age of Olympus.”
To everyone’s shock, Hercules objected vociferously. “I say thee nay! Dost thou forget I am half-mortal? What right hath we to impose ourselves upon the evolution of mortals?”
“THOU DARE SPEAKEST OUT OF TURN?” roared Zeus.
Hercules stood his ground firmly. “I do.”
“Wherever be the evolution thou speakest of, godling?” asked Athena. “In the time since we were rightfully worshiped, mortals hath allowed the world to go to ruin. I stand by Zeus.”
“SO SAY WE ALL!” shouted the other gods in unison.
“We’d love to stick around and watch you keep squabbling,” said Olivia sarcastically, “but we have our next mission to get to. So...see ya later. Maybe.”
“Wait!” said Hercules as the outworlders began heading for Utaan’s portal. “It be clear that there art no place in this new world for I. Thus, I must quest for new challenges and new frontiers. If thou wouldst allow me to accompany thee...”
“I have no objection,” said Alice, “and I doubt Utaan will. Sure, come along with us.”
“Thou hast my eternal gratitude.” said Hercules.
“And maybe I’ll get to have you in another sense sooner or later.” said Olivia under her breath.
“Lead on, friends,” said Hercules as he followed the outworlders into the portal, “unto the next world.”
NEVER THE END