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“Why are you here,” Dr. Caleb asked the creature.
“To look a gift horse directly in the mouth,” the creature replied.
When Cade looked again, the creature stood no longer twenty feet tall but his own height. He felt real pain when he caught the thing’s punch in his left hand.
Cade had fought many times in his life, had been trained, had for at least two decades understood the mindset of fighting. But the Fallen angel proved to be the most challenging opponent he’d ever faced. For one thing, the creature was powerful beyond measure. He found himself fighting with nearly all he could muster, only to be beaten, again and again, by the god. The longer he fought, the more angry he became, his pride eating away at his senses, until the blows ceased.
“This will do,” the creature said. It stood above Cade and looked down at him. “This indeed will do.”
And then the creature was no more. Cade could hear his old friend laughing. That sound did his pride no good, either.
“What the…. What the hell are you laughing about,” Cade asked.
For a moment, Dr. Caleb said nothing. The silence became deafening in Cade’s ears, despite his best efforts.
“That was pathetic, Cade,” Luke said. “That was absolutely pathetic.” He heard the rustle of clothing as Dr. Caleb stood up. Footsteps approached Cade but he wasn’t ready to move yet. The pain from the beating he’d just taken had him convinced to lie still yet a bit longer.
“If that, that fuckin’ thing,” Dr. Caleb said, “wasn’t a whole hell of a lot older and wiser than the both of us, then the both of us would be, right this moment, dead.”
Cade laughed despite himself. “Do tell,” he said.
“He, it, whatever the hell that thing is, knew you were holding back, like the idealistic moron that you are, Cade.”
It wasn’t often that Cade heard genuine anger in his old friend’s voice. Usually, it was mild disdain with a dash of patronizing humor.
“Almost messed up your plan, did I,” Cade asked. “When exactly did you start believing in my ridiculous book, Luke?”
“The moment that I met him,” Dr. Caleb said. He hadn’t missed a beat in responding. “Meeting a god, an alien, fuckin’ angel for all I know, has a tendency to rewrite the rules, Cade.”
Cade finally stood, brushed himself off, and walked toward Dr. Caleb, who he noticed immediately took two steps backward.
“Come on, Luke. No reason. We’re not enemies.”
Dr. Caleb smiled. “Not yet,” he said. “But you’ve not yet figured out the whole plan.”
Cade leaned his head back and sighed.
Nearly 18 Years Ago
Special Forces had let him go. The FBI had let him go. One after another, police departments, too. Not even the specialized security firm he’d managed to get hired to would keep him once the news leaked.
Cade had a bad heart.
No doctor knew how to cure the problem. Cade had something of a ticking time bomb in his chest. For all intents and purposes, most times, his heart worked just fine and dandy. But there was something wrong with it, with his whole circulatory system, and one day, it would all erupt like some mad volcano, and someone would end up insuring a man who’d someday incur high medical bills.
So they all let him go. And Cade hadn’t become bitter. For one thing, he knew that would only give his body a solid reason to betray him but also, well, hell, he couldn’t blame all those who’d let him go. As a wise leader, Cade would have done the same. When it comes to espionage or shootouts, bad hearts just don’t belong.
Cade had never told Dr. Lucius Caleb about his bad heart. It had been difficult to avoid the subject on numerous occasions, but he’d managed to keep it from the Good Doctor. Because he knew that the moment Luke knew it would give the brilliant madman yet more reason to find a way to outfit him with a synthetic body. It didn’t matter how many times Luke had run the experiment on others long after Cade had left his side, he knew: Luke had his sights set on him eventually. The man was obsessed in the most peculiar of ways.
Like countless other men like himself over the course of history, Cade had become a P.I. That night he was on the lookout for yet another cheating husband. Just as he’d found his quarry and whipped out the camera with the 450MM lens, Cade’s heart had clearly decided that night to be the end.
Cade fell over. Dead in an instant. He never heard the sirens. Never saw Dr. Lucius Caleb’s face on the scene.
3 Years Ago
Dr. Lucius Caleb sat in his office, all but virtual, and once again read through his late friend’s peculiar religious book.
The only light in the large room was above the book. It wasn’t the sound that had startled Luke but the feeling that overtook him: pure power. A power such that he’d never felt in his life. He was stunned by the virility of that power, nearly rendered speechless by that intensity. Nonetheless, Dr. Caleb found his overblown ego to be useful at times.
“You are,” he asked. Dr. Caleb was using all of his strength to continue looking at the Bible.
The voice that Dr. Caleb heard was an octave deeper than a normal human man’s voice. “I am a god,” the creature said. “And you have something of use to me.”
Still, though now sweating and shaking a bit, Dr. Caleb did not look up at the thing that now stood only a few feet from him.
“And what might that be,” he asked?
“You know that already,” the thing said, “and though I must admire your resolve, you must look upon me, human. For I am a god, and you are nothing.”
Dr. Lucius Caleb looked up from the Book and a breath escaped his lungs without his permission. Truly, he thought, a god stood before him. One with humanitarian interests. Dr. Caleb, without telling his old friend, had always feared his Biblical God. To Luke, that god seemed maniacal; homicidal even. It was what that Bible called ‘the Serpent’ that Dr. Caleb had most understood.
The benevolence of enlightenment. The concern for the new species that had been created, so lost, so confused. That Serpent had given them hope; a reason to believe in themselves, unlike their own Creator.
For him, the god that stood before him looked to be a chance to undo such hatred.
The god smiled upon him. Dr. Lucius Caleb shivered with no inclination as to why.