”“I...need you to help me...defeat my brother…”
All seven of the Avengers (Silverwolf included), stared at the birdman in shock.
“Did you...seriously just ask us to help you defeat Horus??” Tony asked, completely caught off guard. Thoth looked at him strangely, as if offended by the fact that he spoke. He recovered quickly though, nodding solemnly at Tony.
“Yes, Anthony...Unfortunately...there is no way for us to...defeat my brother...alone.” He informed them all, and Silverwolf nodded, walking up and shoving Tony in the side.
”What did I tell you about speaking before your turn??” She whispered fiercely to him, before bowing once again. “Milord, if I may..”
“Of course...speak, (Name).”
“Stark, Horus was one of us. And one of the last surviving members of the first Shifters, like Thoth here. So, imagine a giant bird man, but a falcon instead of a crane. On top of that, he has an advantage over us, one that could spell the end of our kind.”
“So he’s a bird with the upper hand. What’s that got to do with any of us? Why ask for outsider’s help, when the term you all refer to us by is an insult. Obviously we’re considered ‘inferior’, so why get help from a weaker power?” Tony reasoned, and Thoth’s eyes sparkled. A low, deep laugh came from his throat, which caused Shifters all around them to relax, some stare even more curious at the scene.
“I...appreciate you, Anthony. You have...quite some wit, don’t you.” He remarked, the sparkles turning to stars as he spoke. Tony just smirked, watching as Thoth sighed and began to walk between the group, stopping as he spoke at each one of them.
“Horus...is no bird, friends...his upperhand...is one that none of us...could ever hope to understand...much less defeat. It was...created with the help of these ‘gods’ from...other times...other dimensions. A technology...that was considered far more…advanced than our own.” Thoth explained, his eyes meeting Clint’s, and then Natasha’s.
“You were the ones that put pyramids where they are, right? Doesn’t get more advanced than that.” Bruce pointed out, making Thoth chuckle again.
“Indeed, we did. Many think we were aliens, which is a funny...funny little idea. But those...pyramids...were not put there for...the dead of the...humans. ...They were made...for protection...against...the Ultimatum.” Thoth informed them, and a wave of sadness washed over his whole body. He sat down slowly, seemingly exhausted. The Shifters around them did the same, and silence coated the forest.
“The Ultimatum? Sounds important.” Clint commented, earning a deep growl from (Name). “Why haven’t we heard of it?”
“It is not something...we wanted the world to...know about.” Thoth said quietly, pulling gently on one of the tassels of his headdress. “The...Ultimatum...is what we need you to destroy, however...so it is only right to...explain it to you.”
“It isn’t necessary milord, really. I can explain it, if you wish.” (Name) cut in, bowing once more. But Thoth held up a hand, signaling silence.
“No...it is difficult to speak about...but I of all people...I should be able to explain it.
“The Ultimatum is a movement...that was started...tens of thousands of...years ago. Horus...was the main...instigator. ...He felt that we, as our own kind...had more power than we...were willing to admit. That we were...capable of so much more...than mere ‘survivors’...as peaceful nomads.” Thoth began, earning the attention of all before him and surrounding him. Slowly, he motioned for everyone to sit, and literally, it was as if the entire forest had bowed down to join him. The Avengers, of course, were quick to comply.
“In all honesty, he’s right, your birdliness.” Tony commented, “That were-bear was physical proof that you guys are pretty powerful when it comes to combat.”
“You are...not wrong, Anthony…. However...it is much more...preferable...if we only use our strength for...self defense. I do not wish to...use my strength...on those who are...much weaker than I. However...this is where...Horus and I...disagreed.
“A...human...by the name of...Akhekh...was the one to...suggest...the idea of what many humans...refer to as ‘natural selection’. ...It is not a ‘new’ idea...by any standard of...human time. But it was not...recorded...only kept for himself...and shared with only one person...Horus.”
“Why would a human have access to Horus, though? How would he have known to go to him with that kind of information?” Clint pointed out, and Thoth turned to gradually look at him.
“Because...at the time...my people...family, and I...we spent much of our time...among others. ...Our father...Osiris...a man with the power to Shift...into whatever he wished...he showed us...the benefits...of learning with those around us. ...There was so much...opportunity...all over the small continent...where Una’svie’t was founded.”
“I’m assuming you’re talking about Egypt, right?”
“...Precisely, Clinton. I apologize...the English name...is just so...un-majestic….but it matters not. Horus...at the time...was very happy to...spend time with humans...until he spoke with...Akhekh. He was the one...who discovered this...ideology...that those who are...’too weak’...deserve no place...in the future.
“And my...brother...found this idea compelling...however...the rest of the...’gods’, as we were...referred to often...did not. Not even...Seth...our dear...cousin...agreed with it...and he was very fond of...chaos...and mischief on...war-like scales.”
“I thought Seth was the uncle of Horus.” Bruce whispered to (Name), who merely shrugged, her chin still resting on her paws as she now lay on the ground.
“Humans...do not always...remember things...the way they are. I believe...there is a...human game...that visualizes this fact…? It was called...tele-communication...yes?”
“Almost. Telephone.” Tony corrected, earning a few growls from those surrounding them. Correcting their ancient leader was a big no-no, too, apparently. Thoth merely nodded, dipping his head in thanks.
“Yes...that is what I meant, Anthony. Well done.” He said, making Tony shrug with an even bigger smirk. As if he needed another ego boost.
“But...as I was...saying. Horus was...so convinced that this...was true. He preached it to...many of our people...and suddenly...there was a large force gathering behind him. ...We...all considered it foolish...until the night of...his attack.” Thoth stated, his eyes drooping. The stars had completely vanished, now. It was like staring into voids of shadow, set along the sides of his beak.
“...It was when...we were all asleep...when we heard the explosion. ...Osiris...had been murdered...by his own kind. ...His offspring. My...my brother.” Thoth finally forced out, his fists clenching into dangerous fists. The trees around them quivered, and they all stared at him, bracing for the worst.
“How did he manage something like that? Osiris was the most powerful of them all, wasn’t he?” Natasha reasoned, disbelief in her eyes as he shook his head sadly.
“We are all of...equal strength...when we are unconscious, Natalia. And...when we arrived on the...scene...Osiris’ body was...dispersed...and thousands of our people...cackled...jeering and shouting their allegiance...to their great leader...to Horus...for delivering the new...law. That all...who are below the ultimate race...the Shifters...would fall...and it would be by their hand. ...They would become...the Ultimatum...that they go by today.
“And that...is how war began. Egypt...fell from its great glory...when the Shifters fought one another...brother against brother...sister against sister. Many humans, too, were caught in the fray...millions destroyed by the followers...of the Ultimatum.” Thoth sighed, bowing his head in grievance.
“...It is not a century...I enjoy remembering.” He finished, looking up at them all once again. The sky had turned dark gray, but the quivering of the forest had stopped. Now, everything and everyone was silent. Nothing so much as shifted, as they all remembered the sobering memory.
“So you…really want to ask for help from us? Even though you literally just said that he’s killed millions of humans, as well as thousands of your people, too?” Tony reiterated. Thoth blinked, gradually making eye contact with the billionaire. His beak dipped with his head in a nod as he stood.
“That is...correct, Anthony.” He responded, making the entire community squawk, shuffle and screech uncomfortably. Happy with this plan, they were not. Clint was the first to stand.
“Are you serious?! No offense, sir, but we couldn’t even take down Ruben. And he’s just one of his followers. How do you expect us to take down someone who is at least a thousands times stronger??” He argued, and Thoth frowned (however a beak makes a frown, apparently), and rose, as well.
“Because...there will be...assistance given...from my people...and my own power.” Thoth told them. And they would have been met with the resounding cheers of the Shifter’s and their confidence, however Thoth suddenly stiffened, his dark pools hardening as his head snapped towards the sky. Urda, who’d been silent the entire time, moved forward, ears pressed back and his tail between his legs.
“M-Milord...do you feel that?” He growled, searching the gray clouds for something. The winds began to pick up, billowing around them ominously. The great bird’s eyes narrowed, and his size began to grow again, doubling beyond the height of the great tree that he had climbed down from.
“...Yes...I do. ...I apologize, friends…” Thoth said slowly, brow furrowing. “But it appears...we have a visitor…”
“Wait a second. You didn’t say anything about a visitor.”
“Be still...Steven...all is well. I believe that our...plan...will just be initiated...a little sooner than I had anticipated…” Thoth reassured them.
And with that, the sky split open. And all the Underworld broke loose.
~To Be Continued~