GE 999 Ultimate Journey Stop 6-1 ~ 6-3
Stop Six is called “Twilight of the Gods ~ Ragnarok.”
Asgard lies at the center of the Milky Way, undetectable to all, the home of the gods. Every ray of light emanates from here and returns here.
Riesenheim, the giant-built soundless fortress protecting Asgard [cf. Harlock Saga].
A number of floating islands 30,000 feet above Asgard, and a spring that irrigates the land, pouring upward and then cascading down (call it a “waterup”?).
The heart of Asgard, Valhalla the holy land.
In the heart of Valhalla, the divine palace of Glasheim.
Ruling from Glasheim, seated on the high throne Hlidskjalf supported by the world tree Yggdrasil itself, Wotan surveys the entire universe…through countless monitor screens
And what Wotan is looking at right now is nothing else but the battle between the Metanoid and Galactic Fleets. Each side has about 20,000 ships in play (this is the whole Galactic Fleet plus many pirates Emeraldas has hired, against presumably only the forward elements of the Metanoid Fleet). The Mahoroba is right up front, having just made it in the time for the start of the battle. The captain is Takeshi Kondo. The battlefield is so huge it spans light years!
Wotan groans. Everything is going down just as expected, and he knows exactly what will follow: planets will start getting destroyed in the crossfire, then weapons of mass destruction will be used, the Galactic League will tire and be defeated by the Metanoids, but the latter will not rest on their laurels, they will go on to destroy everything. Nothing will remain but the flames of hell, which will burn eternally.
Wotan’s wife Fricka tries to console the god, telling him that the battle isn’t his fault. Wotan asks for Erda (goddess of prophecy, and Wotan’s unofficial wife). Erda pops up. Wotan asks her what she thinks of the battle. She responds that from the look of things it will all go the way of Ragnarok, just as Loge foresaw. And then she adds “However, that kind of future never showed up in my foresight at all.” I’ve marked this line red because it’s so important. Translation: Yes, things look terrible, and things would seem to be going Loge’s way, but I, Erda, have never seen Ragnarok. This is huge, because Erda is the greatest seer of them all. If she never foresaw Ragnarok, then there’s a good chance that crisis will be averted. And yet, Wotan is so angry and overwhelmed at this point that he ignores that last sentence completely. Instead, he comments on how Loge foresaw things and lied to the gods to make them happen.
Fricka begins to criticize Loge in the nastiest terms, not realizing that the more she attempts to deflect guilt from her husband and onto the scoundrel god, the worse she makes matters. She berates the trickster half-god for betraying their trust after they took him in (but it was Wotan’s decision to take him in, it was Wotan who relied on him!) and so on and so forth. It gets to the point that Wotan stops Fricka. “Don’t say anymore,” he tells her.
Then Thor comes in.
By way of introduction, I should make clear that, as far as Ultimate Journey is concerned, Thor is not Odin’s son, but his wife Fricka’s younger brother. Thus the two gods are brothers-in-law.
Thor comes accompanied by 1) his younger brother Froh, god of spring [a.k.a. Freyr], 2) Wotan’s own daughter (by way of Erda) Brünnhilde, 3) Fricka’s younger sister Freia, 4) and all of them escorted by the Valkyries.
Thor starts by speaking of Loge. The trickster was last seen in the Ultimate System, but he’s totally vanished. It’s clear he’s up to no good. Brünnhilde speaks next, trying to persuade Wotan to communicate with the Darqueen and make it clear to her that the gods wish her to go back wherever she came from. “And if she resists…’ Thor adds a pretty obvious threat. The Thunder God is ready to go to war against the Darqueen in order to prevent the destruction of the universe.
Now Wotan starts screaming at them. Have they forgotten the “Divine Anti-War Principle”? If the gods intervene in a Midgard war, they lose their status as gods. He will not allow that to happen.
Thor basically calls him antiquated. The times have changed. Midgard’s people can travel the stars, and they are even capable of battling such entities as the Darqueen. The gods’ role of watching over Midgard’s people’s progress is no longer necessary. They must design a new role for themselves.
Fricka tells her little brother to stop, but Wotan stops her in turn. Let him speak his mind, he tells her.
Thor says that the gods have to step down from their high places and actually live together with the people of Midgard, Now that the latter have evolved so much, it’s time for gods and men to join hands to build a better tomorrow. Brünnhilde begs her father to listen to Thor and let him take care of the situation, especially since the Thunder God’s particularly stricken by the fact that Loge (one of his best friends) has betrayed them all. Erda tells her daughter to shut up.
Wotan frowns and thinks and thinks. He then says to his daughter: but how have the people of Midgard evolved so much? Don’t you think I know the reason? It’s because you and Freia helped them out in all sorts of ways behind my back!! [Interesting, so basically Freia and Brünnhilde are kind of the Prometheuses of this universe... We kind of knew this from the way these goddesses behaved (add other ladies like Miime into the mix) and behave even now in the affairs of men. But it's cool to hear it so flatly stated.]
All of a sudden, Wotan’s rage vanishes and he looks at his daughters tenderly, with a tired voice saying: well, you had your own way of doing things, and what’s done is done. “The daughters grew confused at this sudden change, which seemed overly dramatic.” That’s a quote from the novel, and if you read my previous post you can guess what Wotan is up to here.
Wotan lets everyone know he intends to have Thor succeed him as head of the gods. The succession will occur once the war between Midgard’s people and the Metanoids has been made to stop [Wotan does not go into the how this will happen or who will accomplish it, but he obviously expects Thor to take charge]. Starting from right now, Wotan will go into his chambers and “meditate”. His meditation is not to be disturbed. While he is meditating, all power will go to Thor. The end.
Now, this is an interesting arrangement, isn’t it? Wotan announces he’s going to retire, but not till “the job” gets done. And yet, he’s not gonna do “the job”, but have his would be successor do it. And then once his successor has done “the job”, he can succeed him. A simple-minded person like myself could easily ask: why not step down now, Wotan? I mean, if you’re actually (temporarily) giving up all power to your successor literally until the point when he will succeed you and then take power permanently, then why not just surrender that power immediately??
There are many possible interpretations. Here’s a benign one: Wotan wants to test Thor. Is Thor ready to be head of the gods? Let him show it. If he fails, then Wotan can rescind his decision and Valhalla will not suffer from bad management. Here’s a malicious interpretation: Wotan wants the war to stop, but if he intervenes he’ll lose his divine status. So he’ll dangle a carrot in front of Thor, let the thunder god do the dirty deed and lose his powers. Then Wotan can resume his authority unimpeded and with both the war and Thor out of the way.
The narrator notes at this juncture that Thor feels unease at Wotan’s words, because he expected more resistance from the old god and instead he’s practically gained everything he wanted~
Froh speaks next. We learn that he’s friendly and beloved by all, but that he’s also extremely punctilious. Froh points out that these decisions should be brought before the Elder Council for consideration [Elder Council, Council of Elders, or Senate, are all good translations of the Japanese term used]. Wotan says in times of emergency this procedure should be dispensed with, and anyway Froh can take care of patching up things later because he’s good at that.
I find two things here utterly mysterious: 1) What is this Council and who’s in it? They make it sound like it’s something separate from Wotan and company…? 2) What did Wotan mean when he said he knew Froh was good at fixing problems like that? Oh well, moving on..
Froh yields to Wotan’s wishes, and promises to support Thor in everything. Wotan then takes a sword from his belt, Gram Sword (one of the Three Regalia of Valhalla, we’re told) and hands it to Thor. Before retiring, Wotan gives some more advice to Thor, particularly telling him not to attack anyone first, but that if he is attacked (and the attacker isn’t another god) then he’s free to respond as strongly as he wishes. Thor looks pained, and Wotan reads him like a book. Yes, this is a sly, underhanded maneuver, but as a god there’s no other way. It’ll be up to Thor to determine how to proceed.
Wotan finally walks away, and even in his private discussion with Fricka we see that he’s still playing the role of a tired god who’s had to yield to the impetuous next generation. (Clearly, since Fricka is Thor’s sister, he’s not about to tell her that he’s totally using the lad~).
The young gods are in a state of shock, but soon enough Thor snaps out of it and begins giving commands: “Assemble the troops!” His specific instructions to Froh are as follows: 1) Activate the soundless fortress Riesenheim (it’s called “soundless” because it can instantaneously warp anywhere and catch the enemy by surprise; Thor commands it); 2) Assemble all of the God Paladins [??] within 3 hours; 3) Have everyone gather at Noatun (a.k.a Godship, the spaceport of the gods) within 6 hours; 4) Have the entire fleet launch within 9 hours.
Thor commands Brünnhilde to assemble the Valkyries and prepare for battle. Brünnhilde surprises him by telling him that already yesterday she had all of the Phoenix Gales (i.e. the super fast combat ships that the Valkyries ride) moved into Riesenheim. To his question, she says that she didn’t calculate that they’d be launching soon so much as hoped for it.
Baldur [who never shows up in Wagner's Ring] comes to talk to Wotan. He is Wotan and Fricka’s young son, beloved of all. He’s just heard from his mother that the fleet is about to launch and wants to join in. Thor and Froh refuse, particularly because they think some day Baldur will be head of the gods, and he’s too young to be fighting now. Brünnhilde comes to Baldur’s aid, arguing that this will be a great chance for the young one to get some battle experience. Thor still refuses, saying this battle is too dangerous.
But now Froh gets into the act. He suggests having Baldur command the fleet from within Gullinbursti. Now, in Norse mythology Gullinbursti is a magic boar owned by Froh, so we can assume in UJ that Froh is referring to his own ship. So Froh’s idea is to have Baldur oversee things and learn about war without being truly exposed to danger.
It’s easy to see how Thor is overwhelmed by the fact that both Brünnhilde and Froh are supporting Baldur in this (Froh goes so far as to say he is prompted by a feeling that somehow the youth of Baldur will be needed in the coming battle). The Thunder God relents, allows for Baldur to take Gullinbursti and agrees to Froh joining Riesenheim [so actually, Baldur will be alone in Gullinbursti, wow!].
BUT! Instead of being grateful, Baldur rejects the proposal. He says he’s already got a ship to ride in: Sleipnir. Thor is outraged. Sleipnir is the head of Valhalla’s own ship, how can Baldur command it?? Ah, but then Baldur bares his arm and reveals he’s wearing the bracelet known as Draupnir. Draupnir is not only one of the Three Regalia of Valhalla, but it’s also the key that activates the Sleipnir ship. When Thor asks Baldur when did Wotan give him that, the lad replies: “Three days ago.”
Thor finally realizes he’s been totally duped: Wotan wasn’t acting on the spur of the moment, he’s been planning everything all along. Thor has no choice. He tells Baldur he can take Sleipnir but warns him to obey every one of Thor’s commands, otherwise he’ll tie bind him with Gleipnir and have him returned to Asgard. Baldur assents.
After this two more gods, Tyr the War God and Aegir the Sea God, turn up. [Apparently there is a controversy in the ancient sources whether Aegir is a god or a giant, but here in UJ he's definitely a god.] They question Thor’s actions, but after talking to him and seeing the Gram Sword, they readily throw in their support. The gods are off to the field of battle!!