PRESENT TIME (17 MONTHS LATER)
Luke Caleb could no longer call himself ‘doctor.’ He felt that no man with so much specialized training, education, and know-how should embark on decades-long temper-tantrums, making deals with Things he should have known that he could have known nothing about. He’d never even believed in such things. Yet his own Hubris and fear had all but possessed him toward working with such unbelievable Evil. Primary Evil. Something he’d never believed could exist. Something beyond the heart of man, the only place Caleb had ever believed evil could exist.
For months, Luke had been holed up in one of three submersible factories containing the synthetic bodies he’d built. Three months after Cade died, Luke had been visited by a member of the Underworld of Evil he’d done business with.
That particular liason had looked to have been made of nothing but light itself. And yet never had Luke felt more terror. Not even when cowering before what Cade had called a ‘god of war’ that had looked like a giant man-goat.
Its exterior was nothing more than a blinding illusion masking a creature filled with blazing anger and hatred. Luke Caleb had mustered all of his significant ego and bravado to maintain his composure during the visit.
Smooth words and flattery flowed from the mouth of the creature, and yet Luke had heard every word as intended; flowery code concealing the deadliest of threats and punishments—the kinds that destroy a man from within, breaking him, making him into nothing more than a soulless puppet to his master. In that moment, Luke understood that the glowing beings calling themselves ‘God’ and currently preparing and training its “creation” to war with “the Father” and the dark, deadly things from this Underworld were one in the same.
After a lengthy exchange, mostly Luke staying silent as the creature orated, he’d agreed to the new terms and had set to work on the modifications to the synthetic bodies. Cade’s defeat of one of their own, one with much power, had prompted the modifications. Luke took to it like the madman he’d partially become, because doing something gave him a reason to stop watching Cade die, again and again, in his mind.
When he was finished no more than a month later, Luke had been given word that his part was complete, and now he was to do nothing but wait. Luke Caleb was made prisoner inside his own factory. The factory where he’d built weapons for things he’d grossly misjudged. Without anything to occupy his mind, Luke fell into all sorts of bottles and tried his best to stay in them, inebriated and dulled, so that all of his pain would at the very least just stop yelling at him for a time. Luke figured himself bound for Hell, if such a thing existed, anyway, so he wasn’t keen on being there just yet.
The Prince was once more to take the podium and speak to mankind when the Earth began to shake. All of the men and women inside the temple began to fall to the ground. The beings of light that called themselves God were the only ones who could stand as the world rumbled and rolled.
Inside their minds, all of humanity who listened to their self-proclaimed god could hear the words:
It is The Father. We must make ready now, my Creation.
All over Jerusalem, buildings and structures began to crumble and fall. Save for the rebuilt temple, of which not a single bit of plaster was moved.
An electromagnetic pulse blasted the night sky. Satellites fell out of orbit, careening toward nothingness. Millions of tons of debris that had gathered and taken orbit around Earth were vaporized and gone.
Anything that flew began to fall out of the sky. Passenger jets tumbled into oceans, cities, rural areas, and towns. Fighter jets, helicopters, drones; no mechanical flying thing was spared.
The few instruments—instruments all over the globe—that hadn’t been hit at that point all registered the pulse from the same direction: due East. No matter where the instrument sat on Earth, the direction was exactly the same.
Then came another pulse from that peculiar East that was enough to shut down the most advanced energy plants humanity had imagined. Stage 10 and 12 fusion reactors that not only created clean energy but were equipped with layer upon layer of redundant electronics and artificial intelligence barriers were shut down instantaneously. Not a single mechanical or electric vehicle on the planet was immune either, as traffic the world over immediately halted.
No form of electronic communication was possible after the second pulse. Phonecalls ended, text messages were not sent, the internet itself was gone in an instant. Humanity went mad. Without the technology that mankind had ingested into both its psyche and physicality people on the planet simply lost control of themselves. Fires erupted. Violence broke out as people fought to loot, steal, and do whatever it took to survive as the helpless animals they had become. Those who had made efforts to divorce themselves from the addiction to technology simply hid and waited for the worst to blow over.
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Over and again, Luke had read his old friend’s book. The so-called God (the one this new ‘God’ currently training man called ‘The Father’) of the first part of the book, he could never seem to find any peace about. That God’s so-called son, in the second part, made more sense to him. Therein Luke found a teacher that he could at least understand. A man of peace but not pacifism. A man who chose the wisdom of being lowly over the haughty nature of Hubris.
Luke spent every waking moment in the grip of alcohol’s stupor. Still, he read. Still, he pondered it all, which he knew just drove him to drink more. He didn’t care.
Though he didn’t give much of a damn about anything, Luke still forced himself to do one thing every day: take a drunken stroll beneath his own creation—the synthetic bodies that he had promised to something called Legion. He’d jump on his cart and drive like the drunkard he was, then he’d hop out, try not to fall down, and walk beneath the work of his own hands.
Every time, he could see the goat-god in his mind; such a horrendous thing. But in a way so familiar: like an icon that had endured for ages, unchanging save for growing more horrible with the passing of time and hatred. Sometimes the vision was the only thing that gave him a moment of peace: knowing that millions before him had made similar deals with such iconic things of ancient power. At least, he thought, I won’t be alone in Hell.
And then Luke would see Cade standing there, stoic, like some idiot out of a movie, telling him to stand up. To look the damnable thing in the eyes and defy it to the end. “Would you bow to Hilter,” Cade had asked him. Only within the grip of very expensive bourbon could Luke Caleb imagine such audacity. And the question would haunt him until he died.
Yet with each self-imposed trip to the synthetic bodies a thought began to take form in his mind, a form of actual understanding of the fever-gripped ‘Father’ that mankind’s new god wanted to defeat so badly: that strange being had chosen the very same sort of man that Luke had. Men and women like Cade. Perpetually stubborn, offensive at times; those who would kill if necessary, never relishing in the death but only the victory over something believed in with all of their being. People who could be counted on to do whatever was right when the time came. Not pretty, not proper, and certainly not average, men and women like Cade were rare, and it seemed that mad hatter ‘Father’ character in Cade’s book understood this. Like a seed, the thought took root inside Luke, and he began to drink less as the days passed.
Something of his own mind began to creep back inside his skull.
Dr. Lucious Caleb began to understand.
PRESENT TIME (17 DAYS LATER)
Those of humanity who had survived the chaos stood in awe of the sight before them.
As with the pulses, no matter where on Earth one stood, due East was a sight that modern science had perceived as entirely possible, but had no data on which to verify such a truth: the Eastern sky split like a cloth.
Billions heard the sound that followed. Something like a brass instrument, like a trumpet, only so loud as to blast windows into pieces and cause ears to bleed.
And then mankind witnessed the biggest nuclear strike in the history of its own species. Mankind’s new god had prepared him for the initial assault. Quietly, quickly, the military leaders of the world had armed and guided weapons with energy that mankind’s new god had taught them to harness. The sort that requires more than an EMP blast to shut down.
People watched the missiles as they darted upward into the night sky, toward the tear in space and time. Not one human said a word as the night began to glow with rocket fuel burning at searing temperatures. All over the world, humanity watched as something appeared from the tear in their sky.
A man. He had no wings, no inhuman qualities. It should have been impossible for anyone to see this man, given his distance from the whole world, yet all who looked East saw him.
He held up his right hand.
Humanity went temporarily blind as its own weapons detonated, turning what had been a torn, black sky into something more like being merely miles from the Earth’s own sun.
Dr. Lucius Caleb spoke a command and the magnificent, submersible factory began to surface.
He immediately shut down the virtual interface, as blinding light blasted his eyes.
“Holy shit,” Luke said.
The computer told him that the factory had surfaced.
“Is the light dissapated,” Dr. Caleb asked.
“On screen,” he said.
Before he could register what he was seeing, Luke heard the voice inside his mind:
He is here. The Father is here. Our first strike has done little more than amuse him. It is time for the War! We must fight for all that we have struggled to attain: unity, equality, self-determination, democracy! Once and for all, we must fight for the right to rule ourselves, free of his restraints!
Then Luke saw the tear in the world. He sucked in a deep breath. Such a thing, he knew, was within the realm of quantum physics. But never such a thing did he believe that he would witness. And, in the midst of the darkness stood a man.
“Holy no, that shit isn’t possible,” Luke said.
He knew better. Reality itself had been changed. A reckoning had come for a creature that thrived on chaos, Hubris, and often pure destruction. A creature that knew better within its own heart, but that sought to do anything but what it knew best for itself. A humanity that had turned bloodshed into a commerical property, and had begun to worship first its own technological prowess, and then itself. A cycle that repeated, over and again, spilling blood and souls into chaos for millennia.
In that moment, Luke understood more than he’d ever wanted.
Then the voice entered his mind again. But not as he’d ever heard it prior. This time, in that voice, Luke heard menace and animosity, and he wasn’t the only one. Millions, maybe more, people woke in that moment, that voice triggering the weight of truth, with no ceremony in the least, onto their backs.
I now call forth my sons and daughters, my children, Legion! For seventy generations, you’ve wandered this desolate planet, formless, void, and lost. A new form awaits you, our children, in the depths of the Atlantic, as this is only fitting! Go now, and take thy new form! Let us, once and for all eternity, do what we must!
Dr. Lucious Caleb sat down in a chair. He didn’t even bother trying to remain standing aftger hearing the words.
Not for an instant did Luke believe that all he had to do was ask forgiveness for his treason against an entire universe and that his ‘sins’ would be all forgiven and forgotten. No peace had he managed to find with the old book he’d taken from his oldest friend. And yet he no longer cared about such peace. He cared about something deeper yet, and it confused him somewhat.
Dr. Caleb leaned back in his chair and looked up at the black of the submersible factory. He smiled. It surprised him, the warmth of the tears falling down his face.
Somewhere in the Atlantic ocean
Formless things darted across the surface of the waters.
They drifted without effort below the surface and were soon confused. They could not find their promised destination. Eventually, however, Legion understood that its new form had surfaced and now bobbed about the top of the waters.
Hundreds at a time, Legion took its new form. The synthetic bodies dropped to the floors of all three factories, and had anyone been present, they would have heard shouts and the roaring of things evil.
None of them knew about the doctor hidden away.
None of them saw him laughing, watched him weep like some crazed lunatic left with no recourse but to blow all that he’d mistakenly thought was the right thing into oblivion.
“I hope to hell you were right, you stubborn son of a bitch,” Luke said.
There was no fanfare, no long sequence of explosive charges finally detonating the factories into dust. Dr. Lucius Caleb said one word and all three were instantaneously evaporated by pure, nuclear energy.
In a brilliant flash, Luke Caleb and Legion were no more.
The creatures of light that man had worshiped as God turned to a bluish-black glow. Few who were near them could look on them directly, as something about the unearthly hue of the light hurt their eyes. The Prince and the Pope watched as their powerful benefactors became, in an instant, their enemies. Both men were ripped to shreds like so much cloth.
And then things began to emerge from the tear in the peculiar, always-Eastern sky. Men fell dead, their hearts failing them for what things they saw emerge through the rip in space.
Nothing such as humanity had ever imagined, save for in his wildest religious dreams, prepared him for the things that came through the tear. Stories of angels had become those of silly, fat little children holding harps. Those stories did no justice to the truth. The things that emerged from that tear in space were, in every way imaginable to man’s senses, alien; strange, terrifying, and possessing power that made humanity’s nuclear energy seem a light bulb to the sun.
Silver blood rained down on the Earth as a few of mankind’s weapons hit their mark, and as the Fallen fought, sometimes killed, but were more often slain by the Angels of the Father. Not even in the most ambituous of humanity’s entertainment and religious beliefs were cataloged the sheer terror and destruction of the most absurd war in the history of the universe. Earthquakes decimated what the war did not take, as geographical locations with no known fault lines were split and broken up, thousands and more dying in the chaos. Millions ran from their homes in the desperate hope to find a safe place. So many of them perished.
In the depths of CERN laboratories, men gathered with the Fallen. They had reprogrammed the massive Hadron Collider. It had become apparent to all of them that The Father was far more powerful than any of them could have imagined. For one thing, the so-called ‘Father’ had not even made an appearance on the madness-inducing scene. So far, only His Angels and one man, presumably ‘God’s Son’, had emerged in the tear in the universe.
Thus some of humanity and the Fallen had reprogrammed the Hadron Collider to be something of a final solution; and Oppenheimer-like weapon. A term like ‘weapon of mass destruction’ seemed silly when compared to the actuality of the new function of the Collider.
Once set in motion, the Hadron Collider would bring about the kind of anomaly in a quantum universe that would utterly end that universe. No mere ‘scorched Earth’ policy, this endeavor promised to end the entirety of reality in a moment, perhaps less. The madmen and women, both those of human origin and those of the Fallen, smiled at their zero-sum victory.
Above, the War raged on.
In the midst of the War, many of the Fallen had turned on mankind. These Fallen had resumed their original forms in the midst of battle. No more creatures of light, man’s supposed ‘God’ became those creatures of legend written about in so many tongues. And those who did not perish from the hand of those creatures fell almost catatonic at the sights they witnessed. Dragons, Wyvern, monsters of old; giants, beasts, and demigods crushed and ripped mankind apart, as they also fought off The Father’s Angels.
As the fighting raged on, the Earth itself began to change shape. Tectonic plates all over the globe shifted, moved, realigned. Buildings nor people were spared as the very planet humanity had come to worship like some misplaced god betrayed him. The very graves that humanity had so carefully plotted and planted also betrayed him, as the dead flew up from the Earth, and rose up to war against the Fallen and those of humanity who had taken up arms with them.
It seemed that all of the universe itself was in peril. For if the Fallen and humanity could not win their democracy once and for all, they had agreed to end all of reality in a flash of quantum particles.
And then a voice. Everything was silenced in an instant. The Hadron Collider simply ceased to function on any level. It was as if time itself stood stock still.
No matter the continent, nation, tongue, or religion, everyone who heard that voice knew from Whom it emitted. And the words it spoke caused many hearts to break, and to surrender, while some it merely filled their hearts with pride and rage at what day was now upon a little, blue planet called Earth.