03.0 On Guard

The heavy footfalls of a confident stride echoed through the gathering hall aboard the floating Asgardian “island”, the Cantonar, currently drifting in the North Atlantic Ocean. It was both a research vessel and a colony in one very large, city-size ship. Although the people of earth had been very grateful for the assistance that Thor and the Avengers had supplied in overcoming the foreign enemies, and the knowledge and skill the Asgardians could provide in advancing technology, no country seemed overly willing to welcome the Asgardians. The ocean was an agreeable place for them.

Built in the grand style of Asgard, the hall had lofty windows and pillars, polished stone floors, carved woodwork, and wide steps in a design that felt vast and ancient. On the throne at the head of the hall sat a very large man, with thick, dark, curly hair and beard, large middle, fat hands, and solid frame. The morning sun glinted off his polished plate armor, and his luxurious robes of deep red flowed about him.

The messenger approaching was short, thin, and youthful. Bowing low to the man on the throne, he placed his helmet at his feet and stood at silent attention.

“Speak, young man,” said the man on the throne in a booming voice.

“My Lord Gracholm – Captain of the Cantonar Colony! Greetings from the All-father!”

The man on the throne smiled and nodded respectfully.

“Word has reached the All-Father that the great sorceress, Calypso, has arisen. He believes she may attempt an attack on your colony. And he cautions that she is possessed of the art of illusion. Therefore, remain alert, and be on guard.”

“Indeed!” cried the great man, “it shall be done! Please tell the Great King that we request reinforcements.”

The messenger bowed quickly and marched out of the hall.

Turning to a man in a dark suit who stood at attention in the shadows, Gracholm said, “Sir Victor, ready the Communicator.”

********

 

“Why do I need a permit?! Permits, shmermits!” exclaimed Tony Stark to Miss Potts. He was referring to his plan to dock a large hover-craft cruiser at his building in Manhattan. “Everybody’s got to have their hand in your pocket! Although,” he said, and his face twitched with mirth, “I wouldn’t mind your hand in my pocket…”

“Indeed, Tony!” she exclaimed, rolling her eyes.

“I’m sure there will be inspections,” Stark continued, “and red tape. Miles and miles of red tape. It’s like I can’t even take a piss without having to get permission!”

He stood at his window overlooking the city, arms crossed. “Call up Geoffreys, see if he can’t do something about this permits business. He owes me a favor.”

At that moment, Jarvis’ voice interrupted suddenly. “Mr. Stark, an urgent call from the Cantonar.”

Miss Potts smiled and retreated, and the window darkened to become a computer screen. In an instant, Captain Gracholm filled the screen.

“Greetings, Mister Stark!” he boomed.

“Hello, Captain!”

“We have urgent news for you and your people. We have received word that Calypso has returned. We have been warned to take every precaution, since she is very powerful and could be dangerous.”

Stark stood listening with all seriousness. As Gracholm spoke, he typed a message to Jarvis as inconspicuously as possible. In his ear, Jarvis said, “Calypso is a Greek goddess of the sea, Sir.”

Stark remained perfectly stoic, appearing to listen with the utmost attention. Meanwhile, his mind was flying, processing the captain’s words.

“She can appear in any form,” Gracholm was saying, “so utmost security is recommended.”

Stark thanked the captain for this intelligence and assured him of being in communication about any news.

As soon as the Captain finished and ended the call, Stark said, “Jarvis, assemble the team.”

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