Worlds fought back. Lines were drawn.
The War began.
22nd May 2001 (Earth time)
Her name is Roma, and she was the Protector of the Multiverse.
Ruler of Otherworld, Roma watches across the Multiverse from her Starlight Citadel. Hers is the duties to ensure things proceed as they should across all the different dimensions from her position at the centre of the intersection of all realities.
She has failed.
Her most trusted advisors have joined her for an emergency meeting, and Saturnyne finishes explaining the problem. “One hour ago, the walls between the different dimensions started to fall one by one across the Multiverse, all centred on Earth.”
Roma paced around the display, and stared intently at the graphic. “The cascade seems to be spreading and picking up speed,” she observed carefully, “If we do not act quickly, a crosstime tsunami could sweep across the worlds and reach us.”
Another graphic of Earth blinked and turned red on the display as the array of infected Earths grew ever wider. “So many already my love,” whispered Meggan clinging to the arm of her husband, Captain Britain.
“Sixty four, and counting!” snapped Roma, swinging around in anger. “Yet I cannot act until I know the cause of this… this disaster – or even where it originated.”
Saturnyne raised one elegantly sculpted eyebrow, and flicked a lock of her platinum hair from before her. “That, your Grace, I can answer at least.” Taking the display controls, she zeroed in on the middle of the crowded array of earths.
Tilting her head slightly, Roma regarded the sole earth rotating before her. “There appears to be nothing extra-ordinary about this earth. No obvious meta-human activity, traces of demon and….. the Hellmouth. That…. would explain some of the more exotic energies coursing through the causal walls.”
Obviously perturbed, Roma turned and paced. “But why? What has triggered this off? What else are we missing?”
Meggan found herself drawn to the earth displayed before them, her senses screaming something at her, and her ever changing body morphing in response. “So green…. Pure green energy shimmering… alive…”
Roma exchanged a shocked glance with Saturnyne. “No... surely not the Key? Not after all this time?”
The row of infected earths, now banished to a sub-display, blinked and grew longer.
Saturnyne was already at the computer controls, running an analysis. “The energy of the Hellmouth alone would shield it from all kinds of searches unless it was visually sighted – and that’s assuming it hasn’t taken some kind of form. But it would explain why the Hellmouth energies would choose to leak out through the walls of causality, rather than the obvious opening itself option.”
“The Key, milady? What exactly is that?” inquired Captain Britain, gently leading his wife away from the display.
“It can be described best as an energy matrix vibrating at a dimensional frequency normally beyond human perception. As to what it does, it sustains and reinforces the dimensional walls between the dimensions, shoring them up where needed and collapsing them if absolutely necessary,” replied Roma absently, her fingers skating across a complex series of instructions.
“Eventually, after millions of years, it became vaguely sentient and started to spend more time just visiting and observing. Which is when we, and many others, first became aware of it,” said Saturnyne, her own attention now firmly fixed upon one particular construct composed of green crystals.
“I have confirmation,” said Roma with sorrow deep in her voice, stepping away from her readings. “The Key has been used on the Hellmouth, and their combination has produced an unstoppable cascade. Even using the nullifier on that reality will not prevent the ripple effect from eventually spreading across the entire Multiverse.”
Another earth on the sub-display blinked and changed to red. The room was silent.
“I don’t understand,” said Captain Britain, scratching his head. “This is like a form of wildfire spreading, correct? Can’t you just form some kind of firebreak or a wall or something to stop it?”
Roma stared at Saturnyne. Saturnyne stared at Roma.
The corner of Saturnyne’s mouth curled up in an unwilling smile, “Sometimes I almost see why you keep this barbarian around.”
“A firebreak! Inspired, my champion!” exulted Roma, swiftly crossing the room to the Nullifier, whose crystals now seemed to gleam with deadly purpose. “I regret that this must be done, but destroying these universes will save the rest of the Multiverse from suffering the same fate as this… infection.”
“What?!? You’re going to destroy them all?” exclaimed Captain Britain, shock clearly visible on his face. “All the billions of people in those universes!”
Roma shook her head sadly. “Not those ones – they are already lost.”
“Brian,” said Meggan softly, holding him back, “She means to destroy the next two universes to fall, so as to stop the rot.”
“Precisely,” said Roma and sighed. Then pressed the crystal inwards.
Suddenly, the world without shrimp no longer existed. The world where the Inca’s had conquered all of North America no longer existed.
There was a brief pause while everyone stared at the display of infected earths.
Roma bowed her head. “I regret this immensely, but as Protector of the Multiverse, I had to take the needed action to preserve the All.” She turned and went to leave the chamber. “I must mediate.”
Captain Britain held his wife close to him. “But what now? What about all those universes?” he said, almost begging.
“They, Captain,” said Saturnyne coldly, “Are no longer our problem. They are isolated and cut off from the main meta-human parts of the continuum.” She operated a control and the display shrank to a small dot of light which blinked once and disappeared.
"They are on their own now."
(Roma, Saturnyne, Captain Britain, Meggan: All property of Marvel Comics)
Author’s Notes and Timeline