Earth, Some years in the future
"Are you all right?" gasped Jenny, her small daughter Kim at her side, as the imposing man approached her homestead "do you need any help?" Through his badly ripped, metal studded, shirt she could see a deep savage cut across his chest.
He had come in from the forest. Even in his current state; injured, dirty, clothes ripped, and white hair and beard unkempt, there was a certain majesty about him.
His face looks old, she thought, but he doesn't have the body of an old man.
The man, who thought his name might be Orin, responded openly to Jenny's questioning eyes. "I cannot tell you what I am, or where I am from, I have no memory of past events."
Jenny took him inside. "You are not from here" observed Orin as Jenny tended to him "although your daughter is."
"You are observant, especially with your memory loss" replied Jenny "I am one of the survivors of the Drealth star ship explosion of twenty years ago" "When the ship broke in two and fell on greater Los Angeles" she added quietly.
This meant nothing to Orin though at the time it was seen as a modern equivalent of the old Hindenburg disaster, on a much larger scale
Jenny did not mention straightaway that those survivors, the last of her race, had received no help or sympathy from Earth's various authorities. Rather they had been treated as outcasts, and small in number, they had gravitated to various isolated locations. Leading the simple life, keeping away from authority, and not drawing attention to themselves.
Jenny and Orin talked deep into that first night. Orin, his mind a blank slate, eagerly soaked up information. About Earth and about other worlds Jenny had known. Jenny answered freely and at the same time her alien intelligence gently probed for anything that might help loosen up parts of Orin's memory. There would be other such nights for them.
The next day and at the expense of two pairs each of blunted scissors and razors Jenny trimmed Orin's hair and shaved off his beard. Those who had known him of old, including his son, would have been surprised.
Orin stayed on with Jenny and Kim and was good about the farm. Not with things mechanical, but building and repairing sheds and fences, digging trenches, planting, and in the care of the farm animals. While he stayed with them the weather was more than favorable and none of the farm animals or indeed anything or anyone much hereabouts died. It was as if, in his presence, Mother Nature and even death itself had stayed their hands.
"You seem happy here with us Orin" said Jenny after his first week "I wonder if you were happy where you came from?" Orin did not reply. Vague and jumbled recollections had started to come to him; recollections of power, of the burden of responsibility for many, of a frequent struggle for existence and of battles almost without end.
Here things were simpler: a life of physical activity, of good food and good company. Not just Jenny. Others of the survivors of her alien race had visited them. The mysterious Orin was popular with them all. Some advanced theories as to his origins but all were far from the mark. Also Orin found the company of little Kim half alien, half human most pleasurable. She seemed to combine the very best of both her dead fathers and her mother's races. Her curiosity was insatiable and in his efforts to answer her myriad questions he felt small elements of his memory trickling back.
In his spare time Orin had his interests. He had restored a small smithies forge on the farm and there were some residual mining ores still about, the remnants of a mining past. Orin spent many hours here making a variety of artifacts. Implements for the farm, ornaments for the homestead, and other things.
Even more pleasurable than this was caring for the farms stallion named Churchill. When Orin had first come the proud animal had been close to death but he and Jenny, both in their different ways, had nursed it back to health. It was a magnificent beast, an English Shire Stallion of sufficient proportions that it could accommodate even Orin's huge frame. It reminded him of a similar animal that was once his. Riding it was a source of great joy for him.
All the while Orin had been slowly re-learning some of his capabilities, rediscovering his powers, physical and otherwise.
Early one morning Orin had been riding Churchill. Jenny came out unexpectedly to watch them and they were nowhere to be seen. Then looking into the gradually lightening sky, she beheld the impressive sight of Orin riding Churchill over a thousand feet above the ground and at impressive speed. As if they were the advance guard heralding the coming of the dawn.
Later Orin dismounted from the great beast, clearly exhilarated. Jenny smiled "you're not keeping something from me are you Orin?' she asked "Something I should know?"
"When enough of my memory returns to make sense of things, you will be the first to know Jenny" replied Orin.
A few days later Jenny and Kim looked in on Orin, in the smithies forge. One artifact caught Jenny's attention. It was a short handled hammer with rather a large head. The handle was wrapped in leather and a small leather thong was attached to the base of the handle. Jenny had seen the hammer somewhere before. Possibly in ancient drawings.
Some weeks later, after a beautiful day, Orin, Jenny and Kim partook of the evening meal out in the fields. It was mid summer and so the sky was still very light. Then Orin became disturbed. Jenny had not seen him like this. Moments afterwards Kim cried out and an early summers evening turned into night, though it was darker than any night Jenny had ever known. Even on other worlds she had been to. For a few seconds a chill went through her. Then Orin raised his hand just slightly but unmistakably and the darkness was gone.
"Orin" enquired Kim very softly "are you God?" It was a thought that had occurred to her mother on more than one occasion. Though Jenny never dared ask
"No" responded Orin with one of his rare smiles. He was very definite on this matter and yet did not choose to elaborate.
"Does this mean your memory is returning Orin?" enquired Jenny.
"Still only fragments, but more all the time" responded Orin.
Days passed without further incident and things seemed to return to normal.
Jenny found out that the incident referred to as "the darkening" had happened everywhere on Earth at the same time. Even where it was already night it became darker still. Earth's scientists were at a loss to explain it.
Meanwhile the deep cut in Orin's chest showed no visible signs of healing. Yet it did not fester. It was as if it were a permanently fresh wound. It was intractable to conventional earth medicine, Jenny's alien treatments and even what seemed to be Orin's otherwise self healing capabilities. Looking into the cut Jenny saw a depth in it that scared her. She knew it was only Orin himself that had prevented it getting worse.
Several weeks later a darkness came again. Across all of the Earth and more. A different type of darkness. Not purely a matter of the absence of light. It was also a darkness of the mind and of the soul. Orin did not stop it.
"I sense it is an old enemy" said Orin "An unbalanced, yet once fundamental force, of the Universe."
Orin continued "Though now I must meet it on different terms." "With only fragmentary recollections of who I am, and only a partial sense of my capabilities."
And with that deep wound still very much upon you thought Jenny
Orin left Jenny but returned in only moments. Wearing some of the ornamentation he had forged in his spare time. Jenny gasped. Orin, her Orin, as she now liked to think of him, was resplendent in burnished heavy full battle armor that matched his huge frame. If he had retained some element of majesty when first they met, now he looked absolutely magnificent. Somewhere inside Jenny felt deep pride. She realized that he looked like a Viking Warrior of Earth's ancient times. Or maybe one of their supposedly mythological gods. Though from her readings of Earth history the distinction between what was real and what was mythological was blurred.
In the total darkness Jenny and Kim and everyone else on Earth could see nothing. But they all felt the presence, all about them, clinging to every pore of their bodies. Were it not for Orin, Jenny might have succumbed to a fear beyond her considerable experience.
From a source that was neither the sun nor other stars, but seemed to come from within Orin himself, a light that was more than just physical light, a light that was the enemy of all darkness, including the darkness of the soul, flowed forth.
With the coming of the light, Jenny's enhanced vision saw the mass of alien energies high above them. Girdling the Earth and preparing to constrict it.
Then close by them, Jenny noticed a woman or at least a woman form. Tall and attractive in a slightly faded way, she seemed to come out of the very Earth itself. As if she had been formed from its basic elements. Orin knew her to be something from his past and yet the memory would not quite come.
He sensed, more than knew, that the planetary resources were now behind him and able to be called at his bidding. The true planetary resources that is, and not the still feeble technology of man.
As Orin prepared for battle, Jenny grasped his arm and pointed to the homestead. "All the survivors of my race, some of whom you have met, are now with us Orin." "They have all come here at my request."
Orin had known that Jenny and her kind held alien powers. That they almost never used them so as not to draw attention to themselves. Yet he couldn't resist the temptation. "You haven't been holding out on me have you Jenny?" he smiled.
"No more, perhaps, than you have with me." was her reply. "We have powers that we have always kept from the Earth authorities" Jenny continued "They may be insignificant compared to your own mighty Orin, but we will help if we can."
Orin looked across to the homestead one last time and saw that children of various ages were among the group. Some were of Drealth parentage, yet others, like little Kim, were the result of mixed breeding, human and Drealth. He realized at that moment where the true power of the group lay.
Still high above the globe girdling alien energies continued their slow constricting earthward descent. Some of them coalescing into a huge physical form.
The Drealth adults saw something they had hoped never to see again, not in any of their long lifetimes, and every last one of the adults was chilled to the marrow of their alien bones. The children, all born on Earth, did not know, they had never been told.
Orin sped skyward on his magnificent steed, Churchill, one hand on the stallion's reins and the other holding the great hammer he had forged.
The gigantic physical entity, still high above, seemed not even to notice.
Below the woman form that had emerged from the rocks and soil of the Earth moved toward Jenny and the other watching alien Drealth, drawing them, especially the children, into her protective embrace.
Raising high the hammer he had created, Orin summoned a series of storms. He had known for weeks now that he had the power to both summon and stop a storm. Since the night when little Kim had cried out in fear at the height of the first storm since his arrival and Orin had stopped it with just a wave of his hand.
Starting as pockets in different parts of the world these storm cells linked up in moments to form a planet wide super storm. Extending to the limits of the Earths' atmosphere and even beyond. To where a merely earthly storm ought not to be able to go. There the storm, which was more than a storm, engaged the equally globe girdling alien energies.
Orin astride his steed Churchill appeared to be enjoying the storm. Watching on as the elements of his own creation engaged the alien energies about the entirety of the Earths circumference. He was fascinated at the resultant swirling, writhing, planet wide confrontation.
With only partial awareness of his actions Orin, had added a cosmic element to the storm and other things. He sensed also that the women from within the earth (whom he now thought of as the Earth Mother) was also fuelling the storm.
"Odin of Asgard, you yet live" came the taunt from that part of the energies which had taken physical form.
At these words, Orin or Odin's memory return was as complete as it was instant. "As do you do Dark One" came his reply.
Jenny below gasped. Orin, her Orin, was a semi-mythological entity. The leader and Allfather of an entire race of gods.
The full enormity of earlier events flowed into great Odin's mind. The battle at the All Place, where all the different realities converge. A struggle that had involved, in one way or another, all of the great powers of existence. Nor had it be clear cut. At times the dark side of a single great entity warring against its own lighter side. Beings torn apart from within by the turmoil.
Only two entities had survived, a wounded Odin, bereft of memory and Fate, or more correctly only the dark aspect of Fate.
Dark Fate's actions were merely a continuation of the earlier battle. A desire to reach a conclusion. No matter that neither remaining adversary had yet fully regained their strength.
As the two titans came to physical contact Dark Fate thrust its fist coruscating with unknowable energies directly into Odin's deep chest wound. Staggering though the pain was, it was not totally beyond the experience held in the muscles, tissues, arteries, and veins of Odin's great body.
Pain notwithstanding Odin held his own, slowly and by sheer physical strength alone, pulling the behemoth's hand out of the wound.
During his ordeal mighty Odin had sensed his mind caressed slightly to just take the merest edge off the indescribable pain. The caressing touch was expertly guided by the Earth Mother but it was unmistakably the hand of the Drealth children, especially the half breeds and especially Kim. Though it may not have affected the result, he was grateful for it.
With ever increasing energies spreading along the impressive length and breadth of the physical forms of both titans the earth mother saw, what she had already known, that this was a conflict that her world was not likely to survive.
Then Gaea spoke again "Yours was one of the worlds it destroyed child, I am sorry." With the use of that single word Gaea welcomed Jenny upon Earth in a way that no one else had done in the 20 years she and her fellow drealth had lived here.
The Earth itself seemed to groan under the physical strain of the confrontation. In the immediate area of their struggle the Earth's crust threatened to collapse under them. Seeing the danger Gae allowed the collapse as suddenly the two titans were buried under millions upon millions of tons of rock and earth. Gaea reforming Earth's crust above them as the near omnipotent combatants sunk into the molten magma of the Earths mantle.
Still the Allfather held firm though his strength and courage were tested to their limits. Down here, in these depths, the minor comfort that the drealth children had been able to provide was not forthcoming.
Then Odin became aware that, as the roiling, swirling super hot magma became ever more active, that his adversary, was beginning to absorb the energies of the Earth from within the mantle.
Odin saw that the Earth Mother had joined them here. Acting together skyfather and elder goddess channeled the physical form of Dark Fate out from the mantle, through the Earth's crust and beyond the Earths atmosphere. Temporarily suspending its exponential absorption of the Earths resources.
Here Odin's almighty storm had stalemated the alien energies of the Dark Fate.
With his hammer in both hands Odin engaged his adversary with a power, speed, strength, and battle skill that would have made even his mighty son proud.
His son the Asgardian god of thunder Thor, whose great hammer mjolnir, was the template for Odin's more recent creation. The new hammer may not have been the equal of the old but it was, still, a creation of the Allfather and as such worthy of respect even by Dark Fate.
Almighty Odin struck his adversary time and again until the hammer construct began to break into pieces.
Yet at some point during the conflict beyond Earth's atmosphere the mental assault of Gaea and the Drealth ensued. Dark Fate was ready for it, or so he thought. The form of attack should have meant nothing to him. Indeed the adult Drealth assault was even less than that. Yet as mighty Odin had surmised, even before regaining his memory, the true power of the Drealth lay with the children. Most especially the half breeds such as little Kim.
As Allfather Odin fought the good fight the voices of the children rang loud in the mind of Dark Fate. Not just the Drealth but all the children that ever perished and ever would at the hand of Dark Fate.
Deep inside the recesses of what passed for the mind of Dark Fate there must have been just the merest kernel of residual goodness to respond to the children's cry. That single kernel was enough.