Somewhere in the universe, a yellow dwarf star careens heedless through space, orbited by a blue and green marble inhabited by a young race in the throes of early technological development. Efficient means of intergalactic observation - let alone travel - are still hundreds of years beyond that race's current science, so the domain of their knowledge extends to no more than a minute sphere in the vast expanse of the universe. In the darkness beyond that sphere, in a galaxy unnamed in any of their languages, under the baleful red gaze of a somewhat larger star, on a titanic space station orbiting a barren, war-scarred planet, four mighty beings gather together, to talk, to scheme, to plan ...
The mechanoid Ares is the first to arrive - it is, after all, his space station. Flanked by two gleaming battle-droids, he marches in precise, military step to his position at the other end of the hall. Ares is vaguely humanoid in shape, though his legs have too many articulations, his neck extends and retracts freely, and additional limbs occasionally extrude from his torso with a metallic whir. His eyes - a row of glowing red dots running in a circle around his head - narrow slightly in reaction to a silent wireless signal transmitted to him by the station AI: The others are here.
Glaakidrill is next to enter the chamber, her mandibles grinding against each other, feelers twitching in anticipation, and six legs clacking rhythmically against the metal floor. Like Ares, she is flanked by two bodyguards: insectoids like herself, their rear stingers crackling with the barely-restrained energy of their disintegration enhancers. The show of force might impress an organic, but not Ares. His speakers come to life, emitting a synthetic stream of chirps and clicks in Glaakidrill's language: "You're late. Where are the others?"
"Right behind me," Glaakidrill responds. On cue, Faust and Ichthyus enter the chamber, the one walking, the other undulating through the air, leaving faintly iridescent trails of slime wherever her bulk presses against the walls. Faust would be unrecognizable, not only to the young race mentioned earlier, but to any other as well, his body being a bizarre patchwork of wings, scales, claws, tentacles, horns, fur, scales, and skin stolen from a hundred other races. He would be called an abomination in any language that had the word. Ichthyus, on the other hand, would be recognized by a score of the older races through several galaxies: they had seen her kind before, in their nightmares. The slithering softness of her pallid, larva-like body and the cold, oblique gaze of her huge fishlike eyes revolts even Faust to some degree.
"My corsairs stand ready, five hundred exactly, as agreed," chitters Glaakidrill. "And we all know that Ares will have prepared his according to plan, as long as no gilkaws got caught in the production line." Her rapid twirling of feelers is her race's equivalent of mocking laughter. Ares ignores it, and Glaakidrill continues, "As for you two latecomers, are you -"
Ichthyus's sepulchral "voice" sounds in all of their minds - inaudible to Ares's drones, of course, but audible to Ares's own partly biological brain. "I have located the artifact's most recent resting place. It landed some weeks ago on an early Electronic Age planet inhabited by a primitive simian species. There is no transit outlet there, as we suspected. So you will need me after all -" here there is something like a chuckle - "and in anticipation of that, I have already mapped the necessary ether-pathways. We can depart at any time, if Faust -"
"There is no need to question my preparations or competence," burbles Faust peevishly, speaking through two entirely differently-shaped mouths at once. "I prepared the rune sequences some time ago, as you know, and I have rechecked them a hundred times while these bugs were off carousing."
Glaakidrill clacks her mandibles in irritation at the racial slur, but holds her temper. "Then what are we waiting for? Those pathetic monkeys will never know what hit them, and soon the artifact will be in my pincers - er, I mean our pincers, of course ..."
This time, all four beings emit their racial equivalent of laughter as they depart the chamber, and then the station itself, for the battle cruiser waiting outside. The passengers aboard, the cruiser glides smoothly away from the station, heading for a young, blue-green planet in the orbit of a far-off yellow dwarf star ... a planet called Earth.
Earth: the Tesseract
On Earth, shrouded in fog off the coast near New York city, stands a tower with neither doors nor windows. This curious piece of architecture, The Tesseract, has never drawn so much as a curious glance from any of the millions of residents on the land nearby, for it is visible neither to human eye nor to any artifact of human technology. Yet for all that it is not entirely unnoticed, or unused, for its tenants are something more than human - those that were ever human to begin with, that is.
The Tesseract's silent exterior belies the constant, even frenzied activity of its techno-mystical computer systems, which constantly monitor transmissions from the Earth on a variety of electromagnetic wavelengths, passing them through hyper-advanced signal processing software and nearly sentient semantic analysis tools all aimed at answering a single question: is anything happening that deserves the attention of Earth's mightiest heroes? The Tesseract also monitors incoming data from outer space, on the off chance that something interesting might come in, but nothing intelligible has ever come in from this direction, except signals from the Mars probes and other man-made spacefaring missions - until now. Twenty minutes ago, an extra-terrestrial signal arrived, unmistakably alien, but at the same time, unmistakably in English, delivering only one phrase, again and again: "Come to me. Come to me. Come to me."
And so, six mighty beings gather in the tower - to think, to talk, to plan. Seldom has Earth's history seen so much power concentrated in a single place. Seldom has there been such cause as there is now.
OOC wrote:Please describe your arrival in the Tesseract, preceded if you wish by a description of whatever you were doing before arrival. I'm working on the assumption that the team has seldom gathered before - in fact, this may even be your first meeting here, although presumably you all have at least been in contact before.