“Yeah,” Cade said. He laughed. “The most absurd war in the history of the entire universe. And you’re providing weapons.”
Dr. Caleb said nothing.
The flight from the submarine was one of silence.
Dr. Lucius Caleb’s Apartment
The two men stepped into Dr. Caleb’s small apartment. Cade realized he’d never seen it before. It resembled his broken friend a whole lot at that moment: neat, tidy, but full of nothing.
“I don’t suppose you have any beer?”
Cade heard Dr. Caleb chuckle from his small restroom. “I do, but it won’t work. Your system w…”
“Yeah, I know what my system will do now, thanks. I figured out how to turn that nonsense off during the flight here.”
Later, both men had nearly five beers in them apiece.
“So,” Dr. Caleb said, somewhat slurred, “why are we drinking?”
Cade didn’t say anything at first. He simply sat back and smiled.
“Because we need to talk about what you’ve done.” Cade made eye contact with his old friend, “And this way, I’m less likely to beat it all out of you.”
Dr. Caleb said nothing, merely averted his eyes and took another sip of beer.
“Sir, uh, sir, I’m getting some odd readings here.”
The man in the black suit and white shirt stepped over to the young officer’s holoscreens. The readings were very peculiar.
“What are we looking at?”
“I’m not certain yet, sir. But the thing is, it’s on the other side of the universe, quite literally. For whatever this is, to register on our systems, it is a power we’ve never encountered. The energy readings are not just off our charts, sir, the readings are beyond all, even our most sophisticated, AIs’ meausring capabilities.”
“Is it moving,” the man in the suit asked.
“Yes, sir. It’s moving. And none too slow.”
The man in the suit sighed. “No point even telling me it’s general trajectory, judging by these readings.” He backed away and took in all of the screens and went silent for a moment.
Finally, he spoke up. “What’s it doing, son? Is it a destructive force, something like a massive black hole?”
“Sir, according to our systems, it is doing no damage to any celestial bodies. It’s just simply moving entire galaxies out of its path.”
The man in the black suit backed up and sat down in a chair.
He wanted to say, “That’s impossible.” Because that was what he believed to be the truth. But there was some seventy years of research, programming, and billions of dollars worth of artificial intelligence teamed along side the brightest human minds that were gathering and deciphering the data he saw.
The simple fact was, it wasn’t impossible.
It was simply on its way. The man in the suit stood.
“Any ETA on this, well, phenomena, son?”
“None we can positively make, sir. Whatever this is, it’s heading toward us faster than we can account for. At the same time, sir, this thing is on the other side of the universe.”
“Then hazard a guess.”
“Could be six months,” the young officer said, “could be fifteen years. Uh, sir.”
Dr. Caleb’s Apartment
“So,” Dr. Caleb said, “are you going to ask me why I did it?”
“I already know why you did it,” Cade said.
Cade stood, walked to the small fridge in the tiny kitchen nook, and pulled out another beer for both men. He hated to admit that he needed it. Luke was his oldest friend. At times, they hated one another. But both men understood one another. That wasn’t something easy to find in a world that only wanted to get to know its own technology.
But the man had lost his mind. He’d gone utterly rogue on his own soul. And Luke was going to put millions in jeopardy with his Deal.
Cade sat back down on the couch. Dr. Caleb sat in a small chair that looked to Cade to be uncomfortable. Somehow it didn’t surprise him to see Luke choose that as his favorite seat.
“So,” Cade said, “what did you get up to while I was trying real hard to be dead?”
Dr. Caleb laughed. “I watched the world go mad. And I did my research.”
“And your scheming,” Cade said. He wanted to be genial with his old friend. But not too genial.
“Yes,” Dr. Caleb said, “and my scheming. Please don’t begin a conversation starting with, ‘I just don’t understand, Luke,’ and then go into some diatribe on my humanity or your supposed morality.”
Cade chuckled. “Wouldn’t think of it, brother,” he said. “You generally do the lecturing in this relationship, remember.”
“This is true,” Dr. Caleb replied.
“But, did you do anything worthwhile? Anything for yourself, Luke? I mean, besides plot to go to war with God and that sort of thing.”
“What,” Dr, Caleb said, “you mean like go on vacation, find a woman, sire an offspring; some nonsense like that?”
“Yeah,” Cade said, “exactly: some nonsense like that.”
“No, Cade, I didn’t. I watched gods descend onto the earth and reset the entire role of mankind’s government. I watched humanity sink into some sort of peculiar hive-mind, something I could not admit for several years.”
Dr. Caleb stopped for a moment. Cade did not rush him.
“I met with old things, old gods. I read your book. I contemplated all of it, everything, and tried to reason with it all using science, math, anything.”
“I fell apart as I found more and more that these ancient ideas, these ancient Forces, had merit within the context of our universe, Cade!”
Cade watched as Dr. Caleb’s eyes went manic, but he did not stop his friend. He understood that this was something that Luke needed to get into the open. He drank another sip of beer.
“At the quantum level, it all began to coalesce for me, to converge into something horrible. I’m not, I’m not saying I believed it all at first, Cade! For some time, I simply denied it all. I denied it all because it didn’t mattere how I did the math, the equations turned out the same every time. The demise of humanity. The evolutionary stage we’d conceived as our next goal was not that at all, Cade!”
Dr. Caleb stopped himself, sat back, and breathed. He put his hand on his left wrist and checked his pulse. After about eighty seconds, he sat back up.
“No, Cade. Our next evolutionary stage is the assimilation of ourselves into Something. Something that surpasses all of my—all of humanity’s—abilities to calculate. Something horrible that will take our will and transform it into Its own Will.”
For a long time, neither men said anything.
In a very tangible way, Cade understood his old friend’s fears. The thought of something powerful enough to have actually designed, built, and put into motion a universe so vast, so efficient, and so meticulous was beyond human ken. The only difference between Cade and his old friend came down to the fact that Cade had accepted the reality of such a possibility many, many years before Luke.
But the real problem was not any of those beliefs or conjectures. The real problem was the Deal that Luke had made with a Devil.
Cade sat in thought, pondering what he could do, how he could maybe buy his old friend some time. Because Luke Caleb had made deals with an Underworld that made anything equivalent in the human world look like kindergarten in a gated community.
He spoke after nearly ten minutes.
“Signal your benefactor. The first one, though. The one who isn’t a god of war.”
“Why,” Dr. Caleb asked.
“I’m going to fight him. And I’m going to win.”
Cade was almost angered by how loudly Dr. Caleb laughed.
“And how do you plan to do that?”
Cade sipped from his beer, smiled, and said, “extremely quickly. Any other way, and I’m dead before the room starts to get dusty.”
“Cade, why would you possibly want to do such an idiotic thing?”
“To buy you some time, that’s why.”
Dr. Caleb turned his head slightly but said nothing.
“Luke, you’ve dealt with a mafia of fallen beings so powerful that you’re only sitting here now at their mercy. I’m only sitting here now because that aforementioned God of War isn’t let loose yet.”
“Yeah, ‘oh,’. I’m in no danger, provided you did as you said regarding my body. When this all comes to a head, you already know which side I come down on.”
Cade watched both anger and fear pass over his friend’s face.
“But you need time. I can buy a little with some old-fashioned intimidation. Something that will slow them down just enough for you to decide what you’re going to do.”
“What I’m going to do about what,” Dr. Caleb asked.
“Those weapons you’re thinking about giving to the wrong side for the most absurd war in history.”
“They’ll kill me, Cade!”
Cade leaned up and put his beer on the coffee table. He looked at his old friend dead in the eyes, until Dr. Caleb finally relented and continued eye contact.
“Yes, Luke. Yes, they will. But one way you keep your soul. The other, you’d better hope me, my book, and every other religion with a similar story is dead wrong.”
Three Days Later
An undisclosed room location discovered by Dr. Caleb
The Fallen walked into the dim room. It stopped. Cade could hear Dr. Caleb’s pulse increasing. His old friend was petrified. He understood why: if he lost, Luke was DOA.
Cade watched as the Fallen looked into his eyes, then rose to its full height. He made no move to give his plan away.
He set it in his heart to end the fight before the dark angel could defend itself. As the angel took one step forward, Cade readied himself, stirred all of his systems, and stopped limiting his own technology.
He wasn’t surprised at all when the Fallen angel absolutely roared at him and launched in his direction.
One Week Later (Now Present Time)
The world celebrated. Paris, New York, San Francisco, Hong Kong, Vatican City, Miami, Brussels, London, Johannesburg; all over the globe cities, monuments, buildings, and sometimes entire blocks burned bright with a blue hue shone on them with lights by those cities in honor of the moment.
God had returned. Had even returned earlier than planned.
Now in Jerusalem, the Prince sat on the World Throne. Behind him stood the King of God, the brightest of all the Creator that now walked among humanity. The Prince beamed and the Pope genuflected, and the world shouted in approval, in utter joy, for the unity it now felt in the presence of God.
The Prince held up his hand. He then spoke to all continents, worlds, and nations in their own tongues.
“Our Greatest Hope of becoming what we were meant to be has returned to us!”
The world again cheered. The Prince was as magnanimous as the God King and patiently waited. Then he held up his hand again. Silence.
“But the One they spoke of to us some four years ago, the One who would claim us as His mere servants, now threatens our hope. Threatens our unity. This One comes to start war with man! A war in which He will not grant us freedom, no, He will take that freedom! He will take the things we have labored for now generations, centuries! We cannot allow Him to take all that humanity has come to understand!”
It took nearly five full minutes for the world’s cheers to die down. The Prince radiated light and beamed nothing but smiles to his world.
“Once God had sought to enlighten us to His tricks,” the Prince said. “So bravely They came to the surface of our world, at His grumbling permission, to give unto humanity, a genetic mutation that God brought about Themselves, at the behest of Him, so long ago, enlightenment and understanding, opening our eyes to His Truth and His Awful Law!”
The Pope nodded approvingly from the left of the Prince.
“And for this,” the Prince turned and looked at the God King, “God was punished.”
A collective gasp the world over.
“Cast away from us, the very creation God had been assigned to oversee, some locked in chains, some locked inside celestial bodies, others, far below the Deep of our Earth, where ancient Waters still run bloody with the violence of His oldest mistakes. But God has returned! And we, humanity, stand, finally united, finally as one, with God, and we will fight Him when He returns. But we do not have much time,” the Prince said, winding his speech to and end,”so we must act quickly! All of our plans must not be made in vain! Action is what we are called toward now. Let us all act as though this day were our last.”
The Prince let the last words sink in, then finished.
“LET US PREPARE FOR WAR! It will be the day of our final independence!”
Most of the security, bodyguards, various members of the organizations tasked and paid hefty sums for protection went temporarily deaf from the blast of cheering, screaming, yelling, clapping, and sounds of approval from the massive crowd that had gathered at the Temple in Jerusalem.
The God King smiled radiantly, a bluish aura began to glow more profoundly around the King as the world applauded, until eventually that blue light had encompassed all of God, the Prince, the Pope, and the Throne of the World.