–End of the Age of Death,
The Dead Worlds
Post Exodus 586–
The Void . . .
It was power -- it was truth -- it was death . . . It was Alec . . . and it could not be escaped – the Dead Gods had been fools to think otherwise.
Damned Dead Gods! Face me!
World after world he sought them – the Dead Gods, the cause of it all.
Thus far he found only their Dead Worlds – planets once full of life, now abandoned and desecrated.
One after another he found these “Dead Worlds”. When he left them, they were particles of dust drifting in space, waiting to be reclaimed by the universe.
He stepped out of the Rift, found himself on yet another lifeless world. The moment he entered, he knew it was vacant, even the Dead Gods were long gone – only their scent remained, as though taunting him ever deeper into the Rift.
Lighting fell like rain from the orange sky. While the rain itself was acid, drenching his naked body. He let it all wash over him, hoping it would cleanse him, eat away his sins – or his flesh, thus ending his pain. But it wouldn’t be that easy, the darkness was a part of him now – it was him. The rain and lightning merely tickled his bare skin. He ignored it, just as he ignored the cyclone of sand and wind tearing apart the distant horizon. A storm was coming, one powerful enough to reshape the very landscape of this world. But Alec didn’t care. He only had eyes for the marvel before him.
It was unlike anything he had seen before. It seemed impossible, but a structure remained . . . a tower -- a shining black rectangular tower that rose hundreds of feet to the sky. While all else had been obliterated in this world’s harsh environment, the tower somehow stood -- seemingly untouched. He left the Rift pulsing at his back -- the sky broiling in front of him, and he went to investigate.
As much as he wished to continue his pursuit of the Dead Gods, he felt compelled to satisfy his curiosity; he needed to know the nature of the tower; why it alone was left standing when all else turned to sand.
Besides, he had time . . . he had all of eternity to find the Dead Gods. Sooner or later, he will catch up to them, and when he does, he will put an end to what they started. He will show them how truly laughable their immortality is; that even their lives have an inevitable end -- and he will be the cause of it.
The rain stopped, replaced by driving gusts of sand. The wind should have carried him away, the sand should have scoured his flesh, but he ignored it as easily as he ignored the acid rain.
Calmly, he strolled to the tower. He didn’t give a thought to the impending storm, choosing instead to indulge his mind with thoughts of how he would end the Dead Gods, and how happy he would be when his dark power washed over them – erased them. He laughed, picturing them vanishing in a wave of the black wind . . .
Just like they did when last he faced the Plague . . .
. . . Nathalia . . . oblivion.
He wasn’t laughing any more.
No matter how deep into the Rift he went, he couldn’t escape the knowledge that he sent her to the Void as well.
He knew it would come to be . . . he had always known. All those he loved would die. All would die. It was what he was born to do – to erase the error of the Dead Gods.
He was made to destroy it all . . .
But who in the dead made me?
He was often plagued by that thought.
He could imagine only one possibility -- that he was son to the Void itself; birthed to enact his father’s vengeance.
But he didn’t give a dead about the Void, or its war with life and the Plague. This was his war, his decision to make. And he had decided . . .
He was going to destroy it all.
It was ruined, corrupted now. If ever there was goodness in the universe it had long since ceased to be. Nathalia was the only good thing left in it, and he had destroyed her. She alone kept his power at bay. With her gone . . . he couldn’t think of a single good reason not to destroy it.
He knew deep down that no matter what he did she was doomed – but for it to happen because of him, made it insufferable.
But was it because of him?
He had asked himself that question on every world he visited, and the nearer he drew to these supposed “Gods”,the more he found them to blame.
Yes, the Dead Gods were the cause of it all, and they would pay for what they have done.
Soon enough . . .
But first he had a mystery to solve.
What in the dead hell is this place? Alec wondered as he stood at the base of it, trying to find some kind of entrance into the strange structure. The walls were all smooth, like glass. As far as he could tell, there wasn’t a single nick or scratch on any surface.
The winds intensified. On the horizon, sand dunes flowed like waves.
Alec knew that he had to solve this mystery soon, or else he would be plowing through a mountain of sand to get back to the Rift.
He could think of only one thing to do . . .
Why not, he thought, sending his energy outward to bore a hole into the tower . . .
. . . he awoke on his back, still outside. The storm was on top of him. The air had been replaced by clouds of whipping sand.
“That was interesting . . . But please, human, do not do that again.”
The speaker was very near, had he not been, the sound of his raspy voice would have been lost in the howling winds.
Alec saw the man’s shadowy outline at his side. Because the air was thick with sand, his features were indistinguishable.
No . . .
It was no man. He saw the creature quite clearly.
“Dead God . . .” Alec grumbled, getting to his feet. “Prepare to die.”
“Gladly,” the being calmly said, even bowing in acceptance.
Alec wasn’t interested in playing games. His power went out, tearing the being apart almost instantaneously.
No . . . he thought. Halfway through dissecting the being, he had entered its mind.
Death would be a blessing for this one.
The being reformed on the ground -- a pile of shadows.
Alec had learned a great deal by tearing apart its mind, but there were many gaps; blank white spaces were answers should be. Somehow this Dead God was able to keep secrets, even from Alec. It would have been another mystery, if Alec hadn’t seen a familiar face in the Dead God’s memories; a face he had seen often in the mind of the goddess, Alana.
Anon . . . Why are you working with a Dead God?
He was dying to meet this, Anon; he had more than one question he would like to ask the man (or god, which he honestly seemed to be). But he had to solve one riddle at a time.
“I know you’ve been here before, Imorbis. But what is it? And more importantly, why have you brought me here? Speak up, destruction isn’t my only gift, I can create pain as well.”
“Pain?” the crumpled form responded, slowly lurching to a humanoid shape. “You have seen my pain, human. Surely you know that you have nothing new to show me.”
Alec was at a loss, unsure how to deal with the being. Killing him would be a gift, and torture was meaningless. With all his power, he had no means by which to make him speak.
“Think, human . . . Yes, it was I who brought you here. But why else would I have done so, if not to tell you what you must know; the truth of the Plague, and why you exist.”
Alec felt like a fool . . . a powerful godlike fool. He had been following a path through the Rift that had been laid out before him by this Dead God – he had seen the truth of it in Imorbis’ mind. He had thought he was going to simply lay waste to it all – Dead Worlds, Dead Gods, and all they had wrought. He thought it was his choice, his war . . . but he was just a tool -- a dumb, omniscient, world ending tool.
He remembered his fights with Nathalia; how they always ended with him feeling as foolish as he did now. He also remembered there was a way to avoid such arguments, or failing that, at least dig himself out of a hole.
“Please, Imorbis’, can you tell me what in the dead hell this thing is before we are both buried in sand?” Alec said, attempting his best effort at politeness.
The creature’s face split into a grin.
“Your kindness is appreciated, but not necessary. The only thing that would have kept me from speaking would have been my death . . . which you have decided to withhold. I guided you here because there is much you must know before you meet your true enemy. To begin with, would be the tower. We, the Makii, have named it ‘Alpha’ . . . we believe it is the beginning of it all, as ancient as the universe itself.”
“So, what is it? And how in the dead did it get here?” Alec asked, resting his hand on the smooth black wall.
“We know not. As I said, it is ancient, and existed before there was life, possibly before the universe itself. For a time, Alpha was known to the Makii as only a myth. On occasion, we heard stories from those we conquered. Stories of a black pillar that moves through worlds, and where it lands, change and revolution are sure to follow. They called it the ‘God Stone’, and even worshipped it as if it was the creator itself. But the Makii were the only true gods, all others religions we burnt in the flames of the Oneness . . .
Our conquest of the universe continued, and stories of the ‘God Stone’ were all but forgotten. It wasn’t until our dominion was complete that we encountered it. After our victory, our quest to understand existence had begun. And to gain this knowledge, we tracked the spread of life back to its origin, back to the chaos that is the universe’s core. The core is a place where galaxies collide, and black holes are more abundant than stars. Virtually all of the races considered it uninhabitable. For a starship to even venture near such a place, would be a risk no captain would dare take. But with the power of the Darkbridge, the Makii took one step and we were here.
And what we found on this planet, this world . . . was the pillar, Alpha. Here it stood, as though it had been waiting for our arrival the entire time. And yes, human, once it was found, there was a great change.
You wish to know what it is?The Makii sent their most gifted to answer that very question, of which I was one. And though theories abound, all we could determine for certain was that beyond a doubt this is where it all started . . . creation. Right here, on this world. The secrets of the God Stone defy all our logic, powers, and technologies. Whatever it is, we only know that it started us on the path to the Singularity, the Oneness, and yes, even most recently, the Plague.”
“How do you know that?” Alec asked, though he didn’t doubt Imorbis’ words for a moment.
“The universe has known suffering and death, even before the creation of the Plague. The Age of War was one such time.The blessings of the mind -- invention and creativity -- were devoted to one thing, murder. To achieve the death of one’s enemies, faster and more efficiently than your opponent – this was the key to victory, and the goal of every planet and every race. The carnage lasted for millennia, and seemed as though it would continue without end . . . Until one man made a remarkable discovery. His mind had evolved. In an age where technology and machines held the key to victory, he changed the balance of the war.
Many had the power to control the machines, but this man did so unaided, with only the power of his mind. With a thought, he could tap into and take over any machine. Eventually, this ability became known as the Singularity. His descendants carried on his power, and enhanced it. They became known by their ancestor’s given name, Makii. When their numbers grew, they dominated the universe.
But many powerful enemies remained. As did many technologies that even the greatest machines could not defeat. So again we, the Makii evolved. This time we achieved the Oneness. No longer did we simply control machines . . . we controlled all things. When at last we opened the Darkbridge, we were unstoppable. We called ourselves gods, and ruled the universe as though we were truly such. But we died. We all died. To hold such power, yet be faced with mortality was an inconceivable notion to the Makii. So, once more we had to evolve . . . to be Gods in truth that was our goal.”
“But you made the Plague instead.”
“No, it was then that we found Alpha – an encounter that could be no coincidence. The Plague came later . . . As I said, theories abound. Some say it is a door, or a ship, perhaps even a god. Me, I believe it is the Void -- a shard of the abyss that ended up in our reality and warped the universe, forming matter, the stars, planets, and eventually life as well.
. . . I thought I could control it, harness it. Use its power against itself. And at last, the Makii would have a chance at immortality and could escape the Void forever.”
“Nothing escapes the Void,”Alec blurted out.
“Yes, with much regret, I see how foolish a notion that was. I now see the God Stone in a new light. Yes, it is the beginning and the end, but more aptly, it is a path. Evolution. We, the Makii tampered with that path, redirected it. We were so consumed with the importance of our own existence, we failed to realize we put the entire universe in peril.
But know this before you go further, human; the Void itself has come to claim us, all of us and everything. The Dead Gods are empty vessels the Void has filled. Your true enemy – the one which you were made to face – is chaos itself. The Plague was most certainly a grievous error, but it pales in comparison to what it has birthed into this reality. Creation itself will crumble if it cannot be stopped. That is why I brought you here, to where our path began. Before you go further, you must know that your powers were meant to pave way for a new beginning, and not just an end.”
“I’m a tool,” Alec bluntly stated.
Not since he first met the Red-Mage had he wanted a drink so badly.
“Yes, human,” Imorbis replied with all honesty. “You are a tool to bring us back to the Maker’s path.”
The Maker? Alec thought, not even bothering to voice the question out loud. He already had enough to ponder.
“Who are you, Imorbis, really?”
“You must have realized it by now, human . . . possibly seen it in my mind.”
Alec knew, but he didn’t want to say it. He would never say it.
“I am your maker, of course.”
Of course . . .
“Great, just don’t expect me to call you, dad, Imorbis.”
The Dead God sent him a warped grin.
“I would not dream of it . . . son.”
Alec almost scattered the Dead God’s particles to the wind, then and there. But there was more that he needed to know, and as much as he hated to admit it, he needed the Dead God.
“Now, human. What else would you like to know?”
“Just one thing.”
There was more to the story. He had to know it all.
“Where is Anon?”
“I thought you would never ask. You will find him when you find your enemy, on the world Ki'minsyllessil . . .
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