Project Genesis - Episode Eight: Requiem of the Gods

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Blind Hemingway

Ancient Iwaku Scum from 2006.
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  1. Primarily Prefer Female
Surrealism, Surreal Horror (Think Tim Burton), Steampunk, Sci-Fi Fantasy, Spaghetti Westerns, Mercenaries, Dieselpunk, Cyberpunk, Historical fantasies
Requiem of the Gods

" "What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him?
For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honor "
Psalm 8. 5​


I was born a child, much like any other human being. This is a fact that we all know. However, I was gifted, coming from a long line of supposedly advanced ancestors. They claim I am the final piece of along blood line that reaches back more than 3000 years during the days of Rome in Palestine. I can go even further back, to an era when humans were still living in isolated farming communities more than 5000 years ago. The Church says that I am a member of the Hebrew Kings lineage.


666 years have passed since the Ghost Bombs wiped out most of the large cities around the world. Millions died from a senseless act done by two super powers that were against the teachings of God. The bombs were the means that the Lord removed all the bad people and spared those faithful. This current war has been called the final phase of a millennial conflict between the Believers and Nonbelievers. I am the end game of this conflict.

I've spent nearly a week in the wilderness. I've encountered many people and beings, all in attempts to teach me about the role of humanity in the world. I've aged in a matter of hours, perhaps one of my best known miracles. I had my first convert in the means of a young boy in the body of a man; the purest of all people in this world. I conquered foes in battles, proving my worth as a military leader.


Yet...Is this all I was meant to learn?

Does this really matter?

What I know is that I am the The Host of Seraphim, the Judge of Mankind, Messiah to the True Believers of the One True Faith...

These should prove to be strong enough reassurances to the coming of my reign.
At first..... It didn't seem real... even now... it's still setting in.

I've been left behind.... My dogs have been left behind....[ALIGN="right"]

They attacked Ada and Altair..... Then they just left. Honestly..... Right about now.... I feel the exact same way that I used to at my old home with my family.... Alone....

I'm sitting here, with Ada's head in my lap, trying to think of the words to say to console her, even if she doesn't need it. I think it's more or less my own need to assuage my own feelings of betrayal. After all I've gone through.... The place I took solace in seems so far away now....

Altair.... he's truly worked over.... his leg is s gruesome mess.... the moment he lets me, I need to work on it as best I can... but at this point... it's sad to say but it's likely going to need to be amputated. I really don't want to think about dealing with that... I know I can.... I was at least talked to about how to kludge together anything for survival over this amount of time...

I... almost moved to help him but he seemed to be pained to see me like this or to need my help... So I stayed with Ada.

He seems to be clinging to the last shreds of his pride.... and... He keeps calling out the name "Sahar"... Ada's quieter but no less affected, it's easy to read her eyes...

I'm trying.... honest, I am, to try and figure out a way to find some silver lining, but.... all that's left to see is the bleakness of this situation. That rain.... from when I found Ada and Altair is back... Not much, just enough of a drizzle to make me think.... that maybe... someone up there understand how confused and hurt I am... How broken these people seem....

It covers everything, and washes the grime away.... like tiny little hand carrying off impurities... Touching us. It's a small... very small comfort. It's currently washing out some of my hair dye.... and what little makeup I own.... I can see it washing the blood away from Altair's skin... but even with the soft sound of weather, I can still hear his anguish. I can his his form writhing in pain and possibly internal conflict with his pride...

It even covers the face of this woman who's head rests in my lap. Even if she won't cry.... the raindrops seem to do it for her...

Brisket is missing...

When Smith shoved me back.... I...... I lost my hold on her.... I saw her run off... I didn't go after her.... Now I wish I had.... She's still just a puppy...

And now.... for the first time in what seems like forever.... I feel warm tears sliding down my cheeks and my vision starts to blur. I feel..... empty.... uncertain of how to feel.... my mind feels like it's honestly shut down... I can't seem to really think...

I think I hear someone making an awful whimpering noise.... and I look over at Altair... but it's not him.... And it isn't Ada either... Then I realize slowly.... that I'm the one making the pathetic noises as I sputter and shake, my body quivering as I sit there in the mud with Ada. And yet.. at this point... I have no more room to be ashamed. Finally I gently move Ada's head from my lap for a moment to gain some distance, I feel nauseous.....

My knees are trembling as I suddenly curl over, my mouth opening automatically as I vomit. the warm liquid slides out of my mouth and onto the muddied ground as a part of me wonders why and how I ended up here at this point. Wasn't this exactly what I was trying to avoid? Was it my fault for trying to help? Was it Ada or Altair's for their situation? Or was it the family I had joined.... and that had now left me....

I lift my head up for a second, only to feel nauseous again and I wretch again, then finally sit down a little further away, wiping away the remainder of the vomit with the back of my hand. I can't even tell if I'm crying anymore or not. I can't tell if I understand any of this yet...

My body moves of its own accord as I go to check on the dogs... but.... I can't bring myself to do it.... I don't want them... I don't want those dogs... all I can think of is how Brisket fell to the ground and scampered off....

Was she hurt? I know she's hungry.... was she able to find something to eat? Is she safe?

I run a hand through my hair and pull out the accessories, the blue and black tubes fall to the ground as the portions of dyed dreadlocks fall free. With my other hand, I tie them back...then I make my way back over to Ada and Altair...

I tell Ada that we're going into the kennel to get out of the rain... plus, I know there's supplies in there that could help Altair.... At this rate, his leg needs to be dealt with....

He seems resistant as I help him up.... then I quickly see that walking is out of the question and I tell him to grab my shoulders as I give him a piggyback ride into the building... Luckily... he's not all that heavy... I set him down in a chair inside and then go back for Ada who is up and walking at least, but not nearly as fast as she would be, so I do my best to guide her in before trying to clean Altair's leg but as the blood washed away... It was clear that it wasn't use saving... But I worked on his face too, they had broken his nose when kicking his face, and he looks more than a little bruised...

I had to break his nose back into place and then I washed away the blood and dealt with what I could.... I tell Ada that I'm going to need her help holding him down in a bit while I dealt with the twisted and limp thing that was his leg... I went around collecting supplies like I would with one of the dogs....

All the while, all I could think of was how... crazy this was... This had to be a nightmare... right?.... I had to be asleep on the job again... Any second now, someone would wake me up and tell me that I hadn't been answering the radio again...

Any second now....




Summary: Chestel is trying to deal with the fact that she's been left behind. She tries to put on a brave face for Ada and Altair, but it is useless. Brisket is missing and it starts raining. She gets Ada and Altair into the kennel, then tells Ada that she will need her help holding Altair down while Chestel works on removing his now useless leg. She's still in shock over the entire moment.
To be a machine...Some people view being a hybrid of human and cybernetics to be a good thing.
I'm not so sure....

In reality, I should be just as butchered as Altair is now. The true face of pirates...Fucking, fucking...Fucking pirates. My body believes it should be screaming in pain, like the time I was raped and lost my arm to my rampaging kin....Maybe my life would have been better off as the new 02....I could have slaughtered those assholes one by one...Their blood would have quenched the thrist I feel in my mouth. Now all I have is the bitter and inhumane taste of dried mud and shit from the soldiers' boots. I want to kill them for what they did to me...Does any of this make any sort of rational sense?

Unlike Altair, I can make use of my legs. My upper half suffered the greatest amount of blows, this is also where all my false body parts are located...I'll have to make repairs... He then looks me in the eyes. For the first time in my life, I see the responsible for one of the largest revolutions in recent history, plead like a young child to make the pain go away.

"My sister...We have to find her...Infinity was reborn on the hopes of finding her once again and stealing her from the evils of Semile...Then I could have forced change...Change for the better." He cries to me.

I call him a lunkhead, he knows that when I harass him, it's rarely out of spite. Ever since the first time I acted as a double agent between his rebellion and Nova Corps, I've respected him, save for his stubborn attitude of "I'm always right." He wants me to help him somehow, but I know like Chestel does, it'd spell his death if stays on... He then grabs my fake arm, not wanting me to leave his side.... This makes it all the more difficult because right now I'm not in the best of conditions either and I have to help Chestel.
Eros could have tried to move against him, as instinct bid her. She knew that she ought to have made some move to stop him in his actions, but her body was tired and her soul Do I have a soul?, it hurt deeper than the cuts could penetrate. She cried out, she knew that she had, and yet it was not the strangled cry of someone seeking help from an attacker, only the muffled sounds akin to sobbing that hung in the air after her lips closed.
His emotions were too convoluted to read anymore, Eros was not bothering to try. She had sensed his intent from his wild emotions as he entered the room, and armed at that... still, she could not bring herself to fight for control over his broken mind. Perhaps some sort of euphoria could have saved her, but perhaps it was for the best what happened. He might not love her, but at the last moment, he allowed her to go free. Masochistically, she loved him still. The pain he inflicted in every way could not dim the selfless adoration that flowed from her, but no amount of apology could halt the tears that welled in her eyes.
Two arcing crescents marred the smooth skin of her throat, two attempts he made to finish an act. Neither one cut all the way across. For a few moments, until the guards came, she thought it was his will to watch her bleed out. To prove I can still bleed, like any human? but then the men came. It was too much strain on her already wounded body and Eros began to lose feeling as they bandaged the wounds. But I am still alive. He let me live, and to me this is enough. I do not know if I could have blamed him, though, even if he had allowed me to die...
The men did not immediately take her away, they were unsure of where to move her, confused as to his means. Were they now supposed to finish the deed, to kill the fragile and fragmented person they saw bleeding and hardly able to move? "S-sir? one ventured, flinching in fear.

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In stories, worlds were destroyed in brimstone and steel.

Jerek's world vanished in seasalt and surge.

Leaping from the deck, Jerek straightened his body into a spike, driving himself through the frigid water. Behind him came the phantom current hurling him both toward and away from the wounded ship. He grasped the water with clawing hands, frenzied hopes to lay finger or palm upon an edge. Dayne's face lurked beyond the spray and roiling current, a smug smile curling across bloated purple lips. The 00 tried to call out to him, ask him why, demand answers...but only silence filled his lungs and stole his breath.

He was dying...and it was all for the misplaced trust he had placed in God.

Perhaps there was no God.

As consciousness slid from Jerek's eyes, the cold and absolute creeping across his vision a current caught his crooked form and ferried it away.

He barely felt the prod and pull, instead he jerked into his own when flat against the sodden sands. The flicker of a thousand fires died upon the sea's broad back, the remnants of Dayne's sacrifce...each coiling twinkle another soul lost. Coughing, gagging, perhaps an action more akin to choking, Jerek spewed his stomach's contents. A small ways from him sat Setem, his face troubled and distant. His eyes were also on the ship, no doubt thinking of the pointless loss of had all been just one massive sacrifice.

Gasping in exhaustion, the 00 pulled himself toward the dripping Setem.

"He...will pay...for this..." he gasped out, wheezing.

Summary: Jerek is alive, saved by Setem...his faith has been completely shattered (Work in progress)
Is this how it will always be?


Lives lost...

Someone close snatched away...

Impossible, there is no one left to take away. The glorious Brotherhood, voice of the repressed side of humanity flees through a city in celebration with it tail between its legs.

"SHIT! SHIT! SHIT! SHIT!" Lars swore as the drone of HK engines hounded them through the depopulated industrial park his still injured leg throbbing painfully as he furiously worked the peddles it the antique van. Yuri was still useless the loss of both his oldest friend and ex lover tearing into the man deeper than even the loss of their last hope. As an effective resistance the brotherhood was done, even the one or two active cells were cut off if they were ever still alive. The revolution was now a bloodied soldier and a half crippled police officer. Peace only came when Lars pulled into an alley somewhere in the inner city where the buildings were to high and thick to allow the HK to follow, downside was they would be looking for the van.

"Come on big guy." Lars said climbing into the back wincing with the effort. "They were soldiers, everyone knew the risks and you can't blame yourself."

Fanfare sounded nearby signaling yet another screening of the 'messiah' walking in from the sands of the desert to lead her people, signaling that the crusade had kept every promise and their word was irrevocable truth. Yuri spat bitterly at the sound frustrated at his inability to disprove the claim. They had defeated Norfolk, they had crushed the Brotherhood, they had recovered Sahar. For the moment it seemed the Crusade's arrogance was only matched by their invincibility.

"Lars, dear friend it seems I owe you my life." His eye looked into his companion's but it seemed his focus was elsewhere. "Not I will return the favor. I want you to leave, go on the vacation you're meant to be on. Go back to the police and try to do some good. So long as there is one person the believes things can be different, one man who when he looks at another sees an equal, sees all men as equal and individual there is hope."

The subtext chilled Lars, he had heard such talk before from men of both sides of the line and the law. "And what will you do Yuri. Where will you go?"

Yuri closed his eyes for a second in thought the dried blood on his face cracking as he frowned slightly. "I am a soldier who was survived the war, whatever happens I don't think we'll see each other again. Farewell comrade."

(Yuri and Lars escape to the city and Yuri says goodbye as they prepare to go their separate ways)

Why can't I stop shaking......?

My whole body kinda..... feels heavy.... I never thought this would.... even happen.... I never thought that..... They could just turn around and.....

Why it feel like I'm gonna cry?..... Why do I feel so sluggish?... I don't understand....

I don't understand.....

I know I wasn't really one of them.... but..... I don't understand why they would do that.... how could they do that?...

How could they do that to Altair? To Ada? I mean, I know the former tried to kill me, but.... even so....

I don't understand......

Ada still looks like she's in shock...... am I?..... Do my eyes look like hers? Wide like that?

Altair is not in shock.... but with that much pain, I wouldn't blame him... I really don't want to do this..... I don't want to have to cut off his leg.... I don't want to be the one to make him feel more pain....

We couldn't find any pain medications left.... when me and Ada searched, all we found were broken bottles and empty cabinets. Some how seems reminiscent of our situation. Every thing had either been destroyed, or taken with when they left.....

So as I collected supplies, I tried to get Ada to understand that I needed Altair to sit still, that this wasn't fun for me either.....

I don't want to do this.... I don't want to hurt anyone.... I don't want to do this... Do I use a scalpel?...... What about one of those.... Oh.... they didn't break the bone saw at lea.....

They destroyed the blade.... Why would they do that?....

Ok, so.... I guess I'll have to use the biggest knife I can.... Serrated would probably hurt him more, so I wont use that unless I have to.... So I guess I'm left with... this....

I don't want to do this.... I don't want to do this.....

I slowly walked over to Ada and Altair, blade in hand, my movements were slow, I still felt like a zombie in a sense. I watched as Altair clung to Ada in a sense of desperation, and I pulled off the top and sleeves of my uniform, leaving the black undershirt on as I tore it, then made a tourniquet on Altair's leg.... I wasn't sure of what I was doing, All I knew is that I didn't want him bleeding like a stuck pig when he wouldn't have much left to bleed after what my once comrades had done. I tied it tightly, much to Altair's obvious pain, which was known through horrid groans and pleadings.

If I didn't have to do this, I wouldn't. And I looked up at Ada, and with heavy, somber eyes and while biting my lip, I told her to get ready. Pleadings became more fierce when the blade drew close to his skin, And I stopped for a moment, and with cold eyes I looked up at the man. Drawing up as much corage I had left to speak with, I told him in a very clear tone of what was going on. My only hope was that he would stop struggling.

"Would you rather drag around a useless limb that would slow us down further? We'd have to carry you everywhere. Do you want to bleed out? Because if you keep struggling, I'll just walk away. Would you rather it get infected? I'm trying to save your ass.... Do me a favor and stop giving me trouble."

He quieted down some, and that was both a blessing and a curse. I was glad he did, so I could focus, but it also scared me that I could talk like that to someone. I told Ada to talk to him, get his mind off of this, comfort him, anything.

And then, almost like a machine, my hand drew the blade close again, and trying not to cringe at what I was doing and started cutting away at his leg. The blood wasn't what disturbed me.... it was the crumbled peices of bone.... the mangled muscles and connective tissues.... It was..... too easy to cut through it.... it scared me. So much so that I couldn't stop. I had to get it over with now, or I wouldn't be able to continue.

I couldn't hear Altair's groaning and crying. I couldn't see Ada cringe when I made the first incision. I was absorbed in what I had to do. Blood dripped down the mangled limb and my hands and finally, like some discarded trash, it fell to the floor while I knelt there, body frozen, bloody blade still. The sound of the flesh falling to the floor disturbed me. I looked up at Altair and Ada with haunted eyes before grabbing what bandages I found and opening them up after trying to clean the blood remainder of Altair's leg.

I did the best I could and hoped like hell that it was enough. I wrapped the bandages tightly, and tried to figure out how long he could go before needing them changed, and how many bandages we had now. I was silent as I went through the inventory of what we had now, then checked Altair over again, trying to make sure nothing else was damaged. His sides were bruised, slightly tender, one of his ribs may have been bruised, but there was nothing I could really do for that.

Finally I had Ada help me get him onto one of the silver tables normally used for dogs and tried to make him comfortable. He needed rest, and that was certain. Quietly, I drew Ada aside into another room while trying to wipe the blood from my hands. I was tired. I was exhausted. All I wanted was to sleep, but for some reason, I felt like I needed to watch over these two. I felt like I had to help them now, unlike before when I had tried to stop the others and had been flung back. I had cowered. I had been scared. It was pathetic. I should have done more....

I should have helped Ada and Altair, even if that meant enduring their pain too.

In the end, though, while they were left with physical injuries, I was left with a confused conscious and emotional bruising, and was starting to doubt my own sanity.

I wanted so badly for this to be a nightmare.....

Slowly I remembered I was with Ada and shook my head. Tried to talk to her. Figure out what to do, some kind of a plan. She still seemed disturbed by all that had happened, I didn't know what to do, so I patted and rubbed her back, telling her we'd figure something out....

Then, while trying to figure out how to deal with Altair's new disability.... I had been looking through every drawer in the room, trying to find anything to help us more. But had nothing. In the midst of this, I turned to her, and with my now haunted, scared eyes, I stared up at her, tears cornering my eyes and for some reason, I said four, small, desperate words.

"Take me with you."

I knew her and Altair had to have been traveling together, and now that a paranoia was forming in my head of people suddenly up and leaving me, I was left, afflicted with abandonment issues that I'd probably never be able to own up to or admit.

But still, I stood there, tears running down my cheeks, afraid of being left alone again.

I hadn't really felt much anything since what had once been my family had left, so I was grateful to finally be able to feel the salty tears on my cheeks, or the small bits of left-over blood drying on my hands.

Summary: Chestel amputates Altair's leg and she and Ada set him up to rest while Chestel leads Ada into another room and in the middle of a small discussion of planning, Chestel asks to travel with Ada and Altair, unsure of her own life anymore and afraid to be left behind again.
It is ironic. Life has a habit of throwing you fastballs and you often don't know how to deal with them. Or why in fact, these events had to have happened in the first place. Just about a week ago, I had been nothing more than a silly little doll for Nova Corps to use in their quest to track down the 00s. Had I ever actually faced one in hand to hand combant? Not really...Well not counting the night I lost my arm to my enraged brother. But we all know the out come of that event.

I find myself close to Altair. In all of his life, he has considered me more than a simple friend. He's always called me a "sister" but that is just a pet name...As Chestel informs him of what must be done, it is natural that he should be fearful. I know I was when my arm was thrown off with violent force. But...I guess unlike him, the nanobots had already started their slow healing process. When Talbot Sr. found me lying naked, save for a thin blanket, in the rubble of a Semile street corner, what had once been a flesh and blood limb ceased to be anything more than a more stub of healed flesh, looking like a surreal pegleg made of my own skin. I never real this information to anyone...But I know that I am horrible when it comes to masking emotions.... Tablot Sr. said that I had the most expressive eyes he had ever seen in a young girl. At times I still wished I had that innocence still...

Chestel then looks at me.

It is time.

I look Altair in the eyes, I try to be stern... Masking my emotions is all I can do in these days of death and war. She informs me that I should do something to keep him relaxed and calmed. I then do what came naturally to me. I decided to sing...

Now the people, they all dream
Of a land free and green
Where nowhere can be heard the battle-cry
The fighting's gone too long
And it just drags on and on
I'd like to know some peace before I die

Looking back... Maybe this wasn't the best song to use. I can't really say why they came to me but they did. I had remembered this song, a melody, my brother had thaught me when we were little and still liviing on the shores of Texas... They've stuck to me for all these years, so it only makes sense, I guess... I kept my eyes closed, but I know Altair was staring into my eyes...Those damn things... I kept humming the lines over and over again. I hoped that it helped to drown out the sounds of the flesh and bones being cut away from the body. Again...These noises brought me back to that night I lost my arm. He lost a leg and I lost an arm...All for the same cause

A few moments pass by, and I find myself moving him to a table to rest. My brain can't stand the memories flowing through my mind and I am exhausted beyond belief...Yet, I know this is not the end. Chestel had taken me to a back room, I guess she too needed a break from reality. She tried speaking to me, but my mind kept dwelling on the past, something I haven't done in years. My attention was brought back to reality when she started to rub my back. Funny, no matter how advanced the human animal pretends that it is, it is the simplest of sensations that bonds and brings us closer together. Touch...I never knew that it could be such an important feeling. I guess living my life with a damn android made me forget about these things. Does this mean, I've been too focused on being a machine vs. a human being.

Chestel then stopped and began looking for various items. It seemed that the pirates had taken anything of value or worth. Soon afterwards, she looked me in the eyes. Her's told a sad tale of being left alone...This was confirmed when she said, "Take me with you."

I then said, "Alright"

Such a simple word...Yet it would change the outcome of my journey forever. Chestel has done so much for us already...Even if we've only known each other for a few hours, there already is a connection that cannot be denied. We both have suffered without having a family and now by divine chance; it seems that a family has found us.

"It won't be an easy journery...Even where we go...I am not sure of yet. But we can handle...We're survivors."

Summary: Ada dwells on the events at hand. She accepts Chestel's pleas to take her with them.
Two serpents... held apart... coiling around the staff...

"Vitals and tissue damage are within contractual parameters. We're reading zero flux on the ECG and protean-level synwaves. Metabolism is good and hormones are... well... to be expected."

With a smile, David Talbot handed the data slate over to Thaddeus Dayne. The two men were stood behind a reinforced viewscreen, overlooking a hangar-sized chamber. The space was one of sleek metal and sterile floors, empty save from the circular altar in its centre where Sahar lay pierced with tubes and needles. Medical staff moved around her in white suits, like drifting ghosts, whilst Dr Sherriden sat by her side, her head resting on the edge of the altar. The doctor had not left Sahar's side all through the seven days of celebration that shook the streets beyond the ministry. She was exhausted, and wanted only to be by Sahar's side as the vultures circled.

Dayne took the slate in his robotic fingers and slowly typed in the command code that would sign the girl over to Church control.

"Only a little late on the delivery," Talbot joked as he checked the cufflinks of his expensive black suit. "Unfortunate business, really. Men like Grazer should never be trusted with security matters. But at least the package was unharmed, yes?"

Dayne looked up from the slate. He was dressed in his white ministry robe, blond hair hanging between his cyan eyes - every inch the opposite of the businessman before him. "Time will tell, Mr Talbot. Your commodities are fragile ones."

The head of Novacorps gave a little laugh and pressed one hand to the glass. In the hangar below, Miss Cordelia was giving instructions to some of the Ministry scientists as she handed over reams of data and blood workups. Talbot watched his assistant as he answered, "A perfect product is anathema to good business, Mr Dayne. But I think you'll be happy with Genesis nonetheless. Altaire was a victim of his ego, 02 a victim of his id. Eros and Jerek were both too submissive - they lacked any real initiative, cognitively speaking. We tried to get the balance with Zion, but only succeeded in making him fickle and ill-disciplined. Then of course there was Rhiannon and Setem, who were each a little too adjusted I think. Lacking the spark, don't you agree?"

Dayne remained distant, his head lowered as he typed on the dataslate. "As stipulated in the contract, all research on the Eximus gene is now the property of the Crusade. Four of your defects have been terminated and the other three will be executed as part of the Ghosting Feast. There will be no Homo Eximus - only Man and Messiah."

The pause from David Talbot was as brief as the black look that passed across his eyes as Dayne said this. Then he smiled again and turned from the screen. "Of course, Minister." Then he paused again before adding. "By the way, I heard that my little Eros almost infiltrated the highest seat of government. I guess she wasn't just a pretty face."

Dayne looked up, the memory of Eros still fresh in his eyes. He had ordered the girl to be taken to the Ministry vaults, to wallow with Zion and Rhiannon until the day of execution. His servants had burned his sheets and flushed the scent of her from the air system. But still he could smell her... taste her... and it was the thorn that pierced the ice.

Dayne handed the slate back before his face could waver, his metal fingers thudding against Talbot's chest. "You will, of course, have VIP clearance at the Ghosting Feast. You and Doctor Cordelia have been reserved seats next to the High Priest."

Talbot took back the slate, now wiped of Sahar's records, and dialled the number for his chauffeur. And then he looked up, with a smile as deceptive and insidious as any of Dayne's. "Most hospitable of you, Minister. You can rest assured that we'll be there. This is one show we have no intention of missing..."

* * * * *

On the floor of the holding chamber, Miss Cordelia crossed the floor, leaving the Crusade scientists engrossed around the genetic data on the computer. She passed behind the sleeping Doctor Sherridan and leant over the circular altar on which Sahar lay riddled by machines.

"Not long now, my sweetest daughter," rapsed her whisper. She slipped the protective glove from her hand and ran it across Sahar's brow. The girl was dreaming, beads of sweat forming as her body twitched between the cradling machines. "Soon they will know you. And they will weep to behold their end."

She kissed Sahar's forehead then glanced up, watching the other scientists as they studied the data. Everything would seem calm to them - the readouts stable, the genetic code consistent, the bloodwork and hormone counts perfect.

But this was just the calm before the storm... a deceptive calm perfectly engineered by Miss Cordelia. And the storm - Talbot's storm - would be the one to wash the filth away.

* * * * *

At the north end of the city, in the Beneficent Chapel of the Cathedral of St Leopold, Tobias sat with his head in his hands.

The High Priest had done his duty and called the first meeting of the Magi - the twelve elders of state who would advise Sahar in the days to come. Ever since the idea of Project Genesis was conceived, the selection of the Magi had run alongside it. The foremost thinkers and philosophers of the Crusade, it was their role to remain completely impartial (at least within Crusade doctrines) and to offer Sahar the education and wisdom she would need to conduct her holy ministry.

If she was the carte blanche, then the Magi were the translators of the physical world. These old men would answer her questions and provide her evidence - no more. And by this method a Messiah would be refined, free of prejudice and unexposed to flaws in human reasoning.

"A degree of suspension is necessary," argued one old Magi. "If Genesis were to suffer Cartesian anxiety, then all would be lost!"

"Well that completely defeats the point!" shouted another, "She must be free to think. Our only solace is in the innate principles."

Another Magi got between them, gesturing to Tobias to get his support. "But the High Priest made it clear - there was to be no innate epistemology engineered into the product."

"Then how can we educate her properly, without a point of human reference?"

"Cogito ergo, my friend," explained another, "Game theory is our strongest asset at this point. Genesis will guarantee our removal from the state of nature."

"Impossible!" another shouted, "Without conditioning there will be no ascetic deprecation. She will dominate us like the slave class unless we maintain control. If she is our manifest will, then we have already destroyed ourselves."

"Precisely - through the eradication of the individual self. We are extensions of the Messiah now. Relationism and relativism are no longer required."

"No! That was not the agreement!"

"Yes it was!"

"You're both idiots! Her epistemology will be purely empirical. We can avoid the Cartesian defeat if we assert the rationale of probability."

"Sit down!"

"It is the rationale of potentiality that is needed here, you fool! That's the whole reason for having a Messiah!"

"But even with empirical reasoning we cannot ensure praxis. What we should really be discussing is the agency of the Messiah's will. Because, like it or not fellows, there will be relativism. She cannot control everything."


Tobias sunk deeper, trying to block out the argument. Through the stainglass window behind him, fireworks were shooting into the sky and neon banners were lighting up between the high rises. The sound of celebration could be heard through the ancient walls, the city brought to a standstill by street parties and parades. Tobias wished more than ever that he was out there with them now, far away from these quarrelling philosophers who would soon wield the power of a god.

* * * * * *

Even further away, where the sound of celebration was a distant echo in the streets of Park Heights, a man opened his eyes. It was the only fact he was sure of - that he was a man - for the vague memories of his name and his nature did not fit with the sight before him: a white gloss ceiling decked with beautiful murals, satin curtains fluttering in sunlight... the scent of fresh coffee and honeyblossom.

Before this he had been on a cold deck, wet and bloodstained, but now there was only softness, as if reality itself had become a little kinder and sunk to accomodate the shape of his aching body.

Heinrich turned his head slightly and looked across the room, focussing over the black and white tiles of marble, past antique chairs, a chez longue, a grand piano of polished ebony. Then he looked a little closer, down at his own body, which was dressed in a silk robe. His skin smelled of soap and even his prosthetics had been cleaned, oiled and polished to a sheen that caught the morning sunlight.

Somewhere there were violins playing and as he turned his head to trace the music his eyes caught movement in the corner of the grand bedroom. He blinked again and focussed on the man pouring the coffee. The butler was stood beside a table where a breakfast tray had been prepared: eggs and bacon steaming, a plate of waffles and toast stacked beside them, silver cutlery perfectly arranged.

The butler finished filling the coffee cup and then looked across at Heinrich. "Welcome home, amigo."

The hispanic voice was jarring, out of place for a butler, and Heinrich frowned as he saw the stubble and the rough features that contrasted with the outfit. Focussing again, Heinrich made out the familiar eyes and familiar smile of a man he knew...


The butler picked up the tray and carried it to the beside table, setting it down gently and smiling at Heinrich. "It's a good thing you kept coming to me for maintenance," said Reza Deane, Heinrich's old arms dealer, "I made sure the chips in your arms were up to date on the registy. Good thing too, or Citizen Heydrich would have been sharkfood now."

Heinrich scowled in his half-slumber, trying to reconcile the words with the face of the man he had been tracking - the man believed to be complicit in the framing of the Norfolkians for the Tesla Raid. For so long Heinrich had sought to expose this double-agent who he had once called a friend, and now the same man was dressed in a butler's suit and standing over him with coffee. Nothing made sense anymore.

"It's funny," Reza continued as he stirred some sugar into Heinrich's coffee, making it just the way he used to when Heinrich would visit him for his monthly augmentation checks. "The money I was making from my cover as an arms dealer was ten times what the Ministry gave me as a spy. But you know what the difference was?" He placed the coffee in Heinrich's mechanical hand, helping him to grip it. "The Ministry jobs had real principle behind them, y'know? He's been paying me to keep an eye on you for a long time."

The smell of coffee filled Heinrich's airways as he tried to make sense of the words. "Who...?"

There was a pause and then Reza slapped him on the shoulder and moved away from the bed. "Eat your breakfast and get your shit together. There's someone you have to meet."

Reza crossed the room and started to pull back the curtains. And as he did so, Heinrich lifted the coffee cup, focussing on it and making out the crest of the Dayne family's coat of arms.

Two serpents... held apart... coiling around the staff...

[SUMMARY: Talbot officially hands Sahar over into Dayne's possession. But it is clear that he and Miss Cordelia do not accept this as the end of Project Genesis and the Homo Eximius race. Meanwhile, High Priest Tobias is near exhaustion as he helps prepare the Church for the handover of power to the Messiah. And in an expensive mansion on the edge of the city, the outcast Heinrich Heydrich awakes to find himself in the hospitality of the very man he was hunting - Reza Deane, a double agent who has some connection with Dayne.]

I smiled slightly as Ada agreed to take me with on their journey. It filled me with a small amount of hope that I truly hadn't felt in a very long time. It put me at peace, and no matter how temporary the feeling was, I was thankful to Ada.

I wound my hair into a bun as I nodded to the words she had said, my eyes peering up at her as she spoke of hardships and of being survivors. But... honestly, I felt slightly dead.... Well, actually, I felt that I SHOULD be dead... either now, or a long time ago.... I felt like I was biding time until the last call. Then.... I felt something trickling down onto my lips.... With all of the dirt and waste that resided on my skin, I was unsure of what this odd taste was... I lifted up a hand to swipe away some of the odd substance and looked at it to find that... it was my own blood. I was having a nosebleed.... I have never had one before... And I was puzzled by it, but I merely grabbed my nose, in some pathetic attempt to stem it while I tried to continue to talk to Ada.

I looked up at Ada again, then smoothed back some stray hairs before talking. "Where do we go? Where can we go?" My voice was awfully tiny, a tired, weak whisper, it cracked it places, rasped in others. I was ashamed of my own human mortality. I was ashamed that I could bleed, that my body ached, that my voice was hurt from screaming and yelling at my comrades to stop hurting Ada and Altair. I was slowly gaining a headache... I was tired.... I just wanted to sleep.... But I was afraid of my own dreams at this point. I didn't want to forget what was going on.... I didn't want to think about it, though, either.

So I stood there, fingers pinching my nose, eyes tiredly trying to keep focused on Ada while I waited for answers.

Summary: Chestel is in deep thought and asks Ada where to go from here. She gets a nosebleed.
No fire for the conquering heroes and no wreath to crown their shivering heads. Setem and Jerek sat at the ebbing edge of violence and watched the loyal sea retrieve their handiwork. The flickering eyes of ruin once waving on the sea foam had dwindled to an ember in the early evening. Pushing and pulling, the tide offered the scoured shape of a door and retreated for another gift. Riddled cracks, black tar etchings spider webbed with an almost eerie grace across the wood and dipped into the sea around it. Arm caught against it, a body bobbed almost suggestively between sandy slope and darkened waters buoyed by suspended faith. Jerek held it solemnly with haggard eyes but said nothing; no words could relieve his sense of loss. Setem found nothing left to say toward his once captor. The crusader had been delivered his divine providence by means of eradication. What was Semile but a puppet populace and what were they but the discarded strings?

"Was there ever a God?" The question went unanswered and Jerek hung his head. Sand clung to wet forehead and his body trembled in the evening wind.

"Yes, but this is not His will," Setem finally responded, turning and shifting to his feet. The two cut a duo of silhouettes in the fading glow of the sinking battleship and perhaps that was all they were…shades too foolish to remember themselves dead. "Now, put your powers to use and dry us off…we have a long trek from here to Semile."

Jerek did not move, but the temperature around them both rocketed. Water hissed annoyed from their wet vestments as accelerated molecules converted them to steam. In no time the two were standing again in slightly damp uniforms and pacing down the lonely stretch of beach. "Semile?" Jerek asked, a thick depression muddying his thoughts, "What is left for us there?"

"Answers and vengeance," The hydrokinetic responded shortly "We are no longer bound by a city usurped by a single man."

"Dayne." It was a curse, not an answer.

Setem felt no need to respond, only accelerating their pace along the debris strewn sands. So it was he who spotted the writhing shape borne by waves and not Jerek, his eyes bobbing on Setem's bootheels. Leaping down toward the crest of tide, Setem coaxed the struggling figure closer. The shape was a man, splayed wires hanging from his cheek like dead leeks and his dark eyes almost sad in their acceptance of the inevitable.

Wrenching him from the surf, Jerek was already drying him while Setem coaxed water from the wounds riddled in his body.

"Who are you?" the youth asked, his fingers brushing the metal wires and then pulling away.

Summary: More musing. Oh ho! Cyborg found in the bay! The plucky adventurers drag the fellow up.
The body that Jerek and Setem was that of Ada's body guard, Jerry. They had been separated for several days now because of Norfolk's mistaken attack on the captured Tesla. The machine had then been survived the sinking of the airship, only to be found bobbing around in the sea by one of the pirate crews. It had been there when Altair's closest friends were gunned down or killed off by the same group. Jerry had also survived the aireal bombardment by Semile on the Norfolkians. Things had now come full cycle. Jerry was in the grasp of the 00s. A toss about by every single major player in this complex game of espionage and depiction.

When Setem asked him whom he was, it was already too late for Jerry. With so many wirings and other parts tossed every which way, it would have been like a soldier who had been shot to pieces. He began to ramble, "Believe in the coming of the Messiah and await it daily although it may be delayed. The messiah will be a regular human being, born naturally to husband and wife... The Messiah is not created, but born. The messiah is not a Modern Prometheus!"

Within this machine's ramblings, there was a hint of truth to it. When man reached the point of transhumanism, when does the concept of dehumanization come into play? Semile in all of it's so called religious statehood chose to focus on concepts such as "limitations", "enhancement" and "improvement". Thus came the social Darwinist and master race ideologies and programs of the past as warnings of what the promotion of eugenic enhancement technologies might intentionally encouraged the events happening in the present...

"I know where the real messiah lies..." Jerry continued to ramble.

"What did he say?" Jerek asked, this time putting his full attention on the machine and Setem.

"The messiah! The messiah!" Jerry responded.

"Are you saying there's another?" Setem then asked.

"Yes, yes, foolish boy! Yes! I know where she is too. I am connected to her..."

Jerry then closed his eyes, giving the two men no clue other than a strange beep coming from its body...
Eros was gaining strength, a product of her artificial creation, it was assumed by the scientists. She was still weak, her body coated in bruises displaying beneath the skin the spattered blood that had previously marked the surface, until they had cleaned her, swaddled her in white blankets and tubing. It was surreal, she was still floating on the edge of reality and the current but her focus was not long held. Wherever she was, she was not alone. There were others, tied up in a more obvious way than she was. They were separate from her, she could not hear them, only sense their emotions. Soon, though, their emotions grew too heavy from her and she shuttered her last sense.

There was an air to the entire area, she could tell before she isolated herself from others; people outside were beginning to stir, they were no longer enraptured by their suffering. Jubilation spread now and then, a spark that warmed her insides, but the apprehension and fear would send unneeded chills down her spine that caused her to feel uneasy, ill. It was better, she decided, to stay alone and not feel at all.

In theory, this would have worked, had she truly been able to stop feeling. However, it was not so easy. Sickness overwhelmed her whenever she stopped her mind from whimsically drifting through void, a feeling she did not understand fully that caused her to waste precious liquid when she weeped. It was partly loss, this she knew, she had felt loss before. Another feeling would rise, unbidden, to the surface of her psyche when she brought herself to face reality, linked to the pain that engulfed her deeper than her bodily injuries could account for; this pain was the real source of misery, a sadness she could hardly endure. Around her, things were changing. Without Dayne, for he had left her, there could be little doubt, she did not want to be a part of the world outside. Looming before her was death, this she knew and accepted. She was bereft, there was no longer a use to Eros Lancelay, she had served whatever dubious purpose she was intended.
"Has she attained Type 3 readings on any of the personnel?" asked Inquisitor Bellik as he watch Eros through the viewscreen. Beside him a small greying man, dressed more like a monk than a scientist, adjusted the dials on the chemical feed.

"Not at all. We're keeping the suppressant dosage high. She can get Type 1s and partial 2s, but nothing classified. The facility is still very secure."

As the two men talked, a servant came into the control room with a tray of drinks and set them carefully on the table.

"And the others?" Bellik asked, adjusting his sterile gloves as unblinking eyes watched Eros toss and turn in her sleep.

"A fine contrast," answered the scientist. "In the 69 hours since capture, Rhiannon hasn't moved - virtual catatonia - whilst Zion on the other hand hasn't kept still. He's been probing every inch of his cell, looking for chinks. We haven't found a sedative compund yet, but we will."

"You had better," the Inquisitor answered with the level grace of a serial murderer, "And I want this Eros fully baseline by the time of the Ghosting Feast. No Eximus brain functions."

"You can't..."

Bellik and the scientist turned as the frail voice reached them from across the room. The servant who had brought in the drinks stood hunched by the door, hands clasped as he smiled apologetically.

Charles Grazer, once Minister of Corporate Affairs, was now little more than a ghost. Through pale skin the bones pressed like ivory, hung around with grey prison fatigues the likes of tattered flesh. Though malnourished he smiled - the smile of one utterly broken and resigned to helpless love of the machine that had destroyed him.

"You can't sedate her," his black, wet eyes looked up at Eros and he held the drinks tray to his chest, "She's the Messiah's heart. Compassion, you see? And heartache. It makes us weak... thank God it makes us weak."

He gathered up some used plates and coffee mugs, even as the Inquisitor watched him. "We tried so hard," he uttered softly, "All these years, didn't we? Yes - tried so hard to kill it, so we only cry when no one's watching. Hide the weakness. But Eros is love, the helpless and unveiled. The Messiah's heart that bleeds. We have to smile... we have to smile so the cameras don't see us, so the Thought Police don't see us being Eros. It's her. She betrays us, all our weakness, the human flaw."

"Be on your way," Bellik ordered, cutting through the broken chatter of the ex-minister, who simply nodded and shuffled out of the door. The old man carried the used cups and plates away, checking for dust on the metal walls even as his brain tried to process something. And all the while his vacant smile held.

The Ministry had reduced him to rapture - to a prophecy of what man would become in the shadow of the Messiah. For only a moment and little more, Bellik considered this. For what else was the Messiah but an extension of his own role - a force of terror and persuasion that would break the initiative of a single mind? Just as Charles Grazer's individuality had been erased and his body reduced to a servant vessel that trudged the halls of the Ministry, so too would Semile be rendered to the base mechanics of perfection.


Bellik removed his sterile gloves and fixed his stare on the scientist once more. "I want the sedative compound perfected by first light. All security teams at the Ghosting Feast are to be equipped, should the 00s get out of hand."

"Rest assured, Inquisitor," answered the scientist as he made another adjustment to Eros's chemical intake. "Security procedures are being coordinated by Lieutenant Lars Mullman of the Semilian Police. He comes highly recommended."

For a moment Bellik paused, as if remembering the name from somewhere before, but then there was a crash from down the corridor as Grazer dropped his tray. With a sneer Bellik continued onwards, disposing of his gloves and exiting the control room. He passed Grazer at the end of the corridor, stepping over the man as he held the broken shards of a coffee mug and chuckled to himself, helplessly. The broken ceramic cut him, but still he smiled and clutched, as Eros would clutch Dayne until the ending of her days.

* * * * * * *

"Where are you taking me?" Heinrich asked. His voice echoed down the hallway as he glided effortlessly over the luxurious carpets. The butler, Reza, was pushing him in a wheelchair, for Heinrich's legs had not yet fully regained function. On either side he saw mahogany doors and hallways stretching off into other wings of the mansion. The one they were moving down was adorned with old paintings and the occasional statue - relics from the time before the Ghost Bombs fell. It seemed that Dayne had made this place a sanctuary, the last abode of the works of Ancient Greece and the Renaissance. The paintings must have been priceless, but Heinrich could not tell who had painted them or how long ago. All he could feel was the weight of history, vast and terrible.

It was as if Dayne was purposefully surrounding himself with works of greatness, perhaps to dwarf his own murderous existence. For even a man who had consigned thousands to death might perchance feel small amidst the works of Da Vinci and Van Gogh. Perhaps in this Dayne found his conscience, and thought to himself that a little genocide was nothing when others could move humanity through a painting or a sculpture.

Or perhaps Dayne counted himself amongst these masters, and hung the last vestiges of their works like trophies in his own hard-won abode.

Heinrich did not know and did not care. He just wanted out. As Reza pushed him along he willed his legs to restore themselves - for his strength to return so that he could fight or flee his way from the bowels of Semile.

"I'm taking you to his greatest treasure," Reza answered, his breath on Heinrich's neck as he pushed the man along. "He's only allowed three of us to see it, and we've guarded it for decades. But now you'll be the fourth. He wants you to see."

"See what?" Heinrich asked as they came to the end of the hallway. Ahead of them, a plain wooden door was inscribed with the crest of the Dayne family - a sword lain upon a heart and pushing it slightly out of shape. Reza reached over Heinrich's shoulder and turned the brass handle, opening the door into bright and dazzling whiteness.

And then, with a soft motion, Heinrich was ushered forward into the light.

* * * * * * *

Three days had passed.

Ada had managed to get an old radio working, and what little she could intercept from the Tower of Solon was conclusive enough: the Messiah had returned after vanquishing the Norfolkians, and in a few days time she would be inducted as the next leader of state. At the Ghosting Feast she would be proclaimed and her ascension celebrated by the crucifixion of the Fallen Angels - Rhiannon, Eros and Zion.

Chestel had ignored most of the propaganda and had tried to keep herself occupied. Ada was customising a speeder from the wreckage of the ship she and Altair had crashed in, and Chestel did her best to fetch parts and help with the work. She had even done some welding under Ada's supervision. It felt good to be useful, and even better to have Ada watching over her. With the soldiers gone the camp was eerie and wasteland-like, the other tents in tatters and the old buildings smoking and burnt-out. She and Ada had worked for most of the three days, as if by the act of continually making noise and shaping metal they might stave off the darkness that hung over them.

It was near the end of the third day that Chestel broke for water, sitting on a piece of sheet metal as she sipped from a canteen. When she heard an unsteady noise behind her she did not turn, but simply swallowed and spoke. "How do you feel?"

Altair was moving slowly from the infirmary building, each step a shaky, painful motion. A prosthetic, crudely-shaped by Ada, held up his weight along with a crutch tucked beneath his arm. The man's hair was now pure white, as if leached of all colour, and his body bore the marks of Norfolkian malice. His left eye was swollen almost permanently shut, making it seem like he was squinting as he looked at her. For all the pain he must have been in, Altair's recovery was a force of will. He kept himself moving, even as the girls worked on the speeder, and endeavoured to adapt to the crutch and the prosthetic.

"Like someone hacked off my leg," his voice rasped.

"There's food by the campfire."

"Still not hungry." Altair limped in front of her, looking out across the wastes as evening wind tussled his hair. His good eye watched Ada, who was crouching by the hull of her scratch-built speeder and soldering wires together. "I guess I should thank you."

"Ada told me you were ungrateful."

"I was..." Altair whispered, more for himself than for Chestel. She saw him shake a little, but it was not from the effort of using the crutch. For a long time the 00 stood with his back to her before speaking again. "I thought there was a difference, y'know? I thought good people use power to survive and evil people use it to prosper. That's why I hated them - the Crusade. Semile had clung to God in order to survive the Ghost Bombs, but then the Crusade had used the same God to justify their decadence."

Chestel handed him the canteen and Altair's hand shook as he raised it to his lips. "But you were wrong?" she asked, her voice level as she looked up at him.

Altair swallowed and nodded slowly, "My rebellion set out to tear down the Crusade. But I never planned for what I would put in its place. The people still need God, even after all this time. They still need a way to deal with the horrors and the unfairness of life." His eyes lowered. "Just as I did. The Infinity Rebellion was all speeches and idealistic bullshit, just like the Crusade. I trusted in my powers and my righteousness to deliver me. But now my friends are dead and my sister is no safer from her abusers."

He looked at her for the first time, his half-swollen eye birthing tears as his body shook. "What comes after the revolution, Chestel? What do people live by when the walls are torn down? Tell me... please... what would you put in place of these monsters?"

[SUMMARY: Bellik, the Crusade's chief interrogator, gives instructions for the captured 00s to be sedated on the day of the Ghosting Feast. However, there is a hint that the double-agent Lieutenant Mullman is already sabotaging security arrangements for the ceremony. Meanwhile, Altair recovers slowly as Ada and Chestel work on fixing up a speeder. He is now a broken man, unsure of his cause.]
"Celebration, huh. I'll show them a celebration."

No one heard his words as Yuri sat on the bar stool, hunched so low over the grimy top most though he had already passed out. Gone were his fatigues. Traded away for the contents of a a few bottles and replaced by the dull coloured simple dress that was near uniform among the uncatalogued underclasses who needed to be watched and controlled, but never known. The back read "Block 483 BZ" and Yuri presumed the whats there the man he had traded his boots for it had lived. Though it could have been stolen, it didn't matter. He had resigned himself to the machine.

Ideology had failed and defeatism had taken its place. One man cannot win, not when he is fighting for something as abstract as staying just that, a man. Many had fought for that cause and mad been ground down by the gears of the machine that endlessly turn not no reason but to keep turning. And so oiled by the blood of those who sought freedom Semile ground on.

But some gears sun in a different direction to the rest, and all gears after them had to comply even if they didn't notice they were slowing the main cogs. Two such men entered. Their blue uniforms resplendent amongst the filth on the room. Both had shock batons gripped tightly in their gloved fists and the shadowy patrons who were still awake shifted nervously many hiding various illegal substances the bar served and shrinking away. But the policemen payed them no attention, their goal was the barman and information.

While one kept his eyes on the patrons the other produced a warrant and held it out to the barman, who eyed the paper suspiciously from a safe distance, the pout of date picture still bearing a resemblance to the wanted man. Wordlessly the barman pointed to the now passed out Yuri. The atmosphere immediately, all fear disappeared as all eyes turned to the sleeping figure. Now safe the sub-citizens were looking forwards to a show.

They stood either side of him the leader charging up his baton before pressing it into Yuri's shoulder, causing every muscle in his body to jerk and next thing Yuri knew he was staring at the ceiling as several people laughed. Then, a man to each arm they carried him out. "Yuri Solotov. You have been Identified as a potential disrupting element to the upcoming celebrations. Lars Mullman ordered you arrest personally."

The cogs never stop turning.
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Chestel sat there for a moment, her face smudged, dirty as she set her gaze straight ahead. A serious, almost unfeeling look on her face as she thought. Her eyes were smudged with small bits of dark makeup that she could still find, and a small nose ring had been done a few days ago. She gave herself the piercing as she tried to distract herself these days. Makeup, piercings, body modifications.... that was how she hid in her emotions. IT was a coping mechanism.

She had been working hard with Ada..... Anything to stop from thinking about this horrid mess....

Chestel gazed out for a bit longer, then looked back at Altair, taking a deep breath, which turned into a tired yawn as she ran a hand through her dyed tendrils of hair before she spoke.

"I don't know what to tell you, Altair....." She answered simply. She glanced at him slightly, then took a deep breath.

"All I want is peace... but I haven't a clue of what it takes to get it... I don't know who would be able to lead us into a time where people are safer. I don't know what I'd put in place... I will freely admit that.... with everything that's gone on, that I don't really believe I understand this world..." Chestel admitted quietly.

"I'm just as confused as you... the only difference is, I'm used to being unsure and confused... not everything is clear-cut... It's a part of life... I dunno what else to tell you."
"Stupid leather boots. You'd think these pirates would have left something other than dress uniform pieces behind."Ada groaned to herself while she continued to thighten the last of the remaining bolts needed to complete the damaged Tesla airship into a salvageable speeder. It was nothing fancy, though for a quick job it'd be able to make the hundred or so miles that seperated them from the "known world." Placing the wrench in her hand on the ground, she rubbed her aching feet. Her Nova Corps work boots had dried rotted from the nearly constant rain. The nuclear fallout from the few bombs unleashed by Semile were enough to cause a shift in weather climates, causing much of the heavier clouds in the atmosphere to release their waters.

"This isn't going to look pretty..."

Ada then sat down on a wooden crate that was labelled in several different languages, all of which were deviants off of good old American English and Latino Spanish. Ada began to unlaced the tall black boots that she had gathered from the abandoned hanger of the Norfolkains. Ada was now barefoot, she had a few sores, but nothing was infected, at least not yet. Working on repairs caused the body to perspire. This lead to all sorts of dangerous diseases that make her feet just as limp as Altair now was.

Her stomach growled. She hadn't eaten in those three days. Something in the back of her mind was telling her too hurry. Even while the propaganda was playing, saying Sahar now belonged to the government, she continued to think about going "home." However, she was sure that Tablot and his goonies had already ran sacked her home in an attempt to find where their pretty little double agent had ran off of to. She would be even more important to them now that 02 had been died for more than five days. Any traces of his nanobots were now gone. The ones within Ada probably wouldn't last for much longer either now that their host was no longer alive. Though in the end, it probably wouldn't have mattered to her, most of her organs were now combined with robotic parts anyways. Sometimes, she felt that her mind was the only thing still human about her body.

Then, there was the sound of heavy footsteps and heaving breathing. Ada quickly jumped to her feet. Her training had been similar to that of the Special Forces or British SOS, her body screamed in pain and exhaustion but her mind said she had to fight. There was only two of them. They were probably highway thieves. No one really knew how many people lived out in the wilderness, after 600 years of dormancy the trees reclaimed the earth as their own. Ada then stepped forward, her bare feet sank into the mud. Moving forward she slowly reached a barrier that had been set up by the Norfolkians. She had a "grease gun" slung close to her side. These weapons weren't meant for accuracy. 70 shots in a minute, made the foe keep his head down. It was always better to wound than kill in war. Wounded men would be a drain on the economy and would keep more potential soldiers off the field while they patched up their friend.

Ada raised her submachine gun up. Waiting for no response from the outsiders, she opened fired. A few seconds later there were crows flying away, scared away. And yet still, the sounds of foot steps came closer and closer. Soon two men in tattered governmental uniforms appear. A third being was flung across the older one's back. They had their hands raised in the air. Much like Ada and her allies, they were exhausted from a long journey in the woods....
Miles had turned Jerry's cross-wired muttering into less of a surprise and more of an annoyance.

"We're heading the wrong way," Jerek muttered, passing under the arms of a low branched pine, "I think we're moving in circles."

"And lo' the Messiah will be of flesh and blood, conceived and born through blessing!"

Setem turned to Jerek, raising an eyebrow and looking again to the sky. "We've been heading in the right direction since we started moving. Have you never learned to survive outside the city?"

Jerek made a face, shifting to accommodate the muttering Jerry, "There was never a need before."

Setem snorted and continued on, pushing branches aside for his companion to get through.

"And the world will be made as new! Glory and honor to the True Messiah!"

"When we reach the outpost, we'll need to be careful." Jerek stepped up next to Setem and affixed him with his own tawny eyes, "Alerting Dayne of our survival will be our end."

"I know,"
Setem muttered, pushing forward "You don't have to keep reminding me."

"Just reinforcing stratagem," the soldier answered "You can be a little heated sometimes."

Setem laughed, wheezing toward the end as the chill of the forest settled deeper into his body "Me? Heated? I'm not the one who throws fire."

"Mature..." Jerek growled, but he was smiling. It felt good to be alive, despite the agonizing walk and the unceasing mumbling of the cyborg. The beep had settled into a monotony and almost spurred their progress. In order to find out its meaning, they'd need more advanced technology than the forest could give them.

The outpost was their answer.

"Misguided souls, pray that the Messiah cleanse your bodies of sin and usher you toward a brighter tomorrow."

"Shut up." Both Setem and Jerek ordered, the pyrokinetic even bumping Jerry into a few tree trunks.

"If I wanted a sermon I'd just ask Jerek to speak."

"Better my sermons than your complaining." Jerek snapped.

The sound of gunfire roared through the forest, painfully close enough to send both men ducking.

Setem hissed, pressing himself to the muddy earth, "Norfolkians?"

Jerek's eyes had changed, his mind already rifling through strategy. If it was a contingent of Norfolkians, outflanking them was beyond possibility. If they were already spotted than a counter attack would be pointless, especially without a bead on their numbers.

"Damn," He muttered, "Let me think."

Setem was moving forward, keeping low to the ground and Jerek followed slowly.

"We're survivors," he said to Setem, hissing through the silence between gunfire "We're unarmed and with a downed man, we are no threat. Maybe we can get close enough to use our powers."

Setem nodded, eyes focused ahead.

As they stepped from the forest, hands raised tiredly, Ada leveled her gun. It was one woman and Jerek almost smiled. Another survivor perhaps? She certainly didn't look like a Norfolkian...but she carried one of their guns.

As the four converged on each other, Jerek opened his mouth to speak.

"Ah! Ada, how wonderful to see you've come for me." Jerry greeted jovially, twisting a bit on Jerek's shoulder.

Setem shot Jerek a look the soldier did not return.

The next move was hers.
"Jerry?" Ada questioned aloud. It had been more than a week since the Norfolkians had carpet bombed the Tesla. She had given up on trying to find the android. She then noticed that the android was strapped on the back of one of the strangers. "Oh, you idiot...Getting yourself blown up." She had a tender love for the android, she did in fact create his personality off of Talbot Senior's. Ada lowered her firearm and then strapped it across her back.

"Welcome strangers. I didn't expect that the Norfolkians would have been that crude and leave more of their sailors behind. Come, come. We don't have much to offer you food wise. I managed to catch a deer a few days ago, I can offer you some dried jerky, if you wish."

Ada was still unsure of the two strangers, her robotic arms were picking up faint signals of increased brain activity coming from both Jerek and Setem. This meant that these men were probably illegal genetic creations. However, if they tried anything funny, she could kick their asses with her combat training. After all, NOVA Corps ensured that she get the best training for being an 00 Hunter. Besides, they were weak and starving. They wouldn't be able to use their powers effectively...

Sighing, she approached the two men. It would be nice to have new faces to talk to.
"...then next thing we knew, we were washed up on the shore with this preaching android."

"The Nephilim Force had withdrawn from all outlying territories. And the Norfolkians are in full exodus. We travelled for three days. It's like a ghost-land out there."

Silence followed in the wake of Jerek and Setem's story, leaving only the slow crackle of the campfire as it painted shadows on their tired faces. Ada sat between them, tinkering with Jerry, little sparks and judders of sound issuing from the bot as its electrics were re-wired.

Opposite them, Chestel was knelt by the fire tending to the rusty kettle as it boiled more water. The girl had not said much since the strangers arrived - she seemed to focus instead on the little things; patching wounds, fetching water, cleaning weapons - as if it was the only thing her mind could anchor to. Behind her, Altair sat on a fuel barrel, his prosthetic leg outstretched as he stoked the fire with his crutch. The cloud-veiled moonlight shone upon his white hair.

"We were angels of the state," he rasped, "Our free will a fantasy, our purpose but to sing their songs and carry their messages."

"What did you labrats expect?" Ada muttered, not looking up as she continued working on Jerry.

"We thought the message was a good one," Setem answered, "But like deep waters, there's no beauty beyond the surface. We were tools at best. At worst... the broken parts of the Messiah."

Jerek flexed his hand and the fire picked up again, burning the damp wood in defiance of nature. "It makes sense now. It's like a ritual... the whole of Semile is performing a ritual. They kill Altaire, the arrogant part of the Eximus Gene... then 02, the bestial part. Then Setem and myself, the subervient parts. Then Rhiannon, the passive, and Eros, the over-emotional. They're stripping away the parts of the Altered that are weak. It's like purification of the divine gene... like..."

"Alchemy." Altair found the word that Jerek could not. "It was always their obsession. The Church believes the Messiah will not come till the Great Labour is complete. The people must suffer, they must perservere through fire and torment. They must be brought so low and cry so loud... so that gods and stars can turn their backs no longer."

"She doesn't deserve this," Setem's hand shook as Chestel quietly refilled his cup with hot water. His eyes were wet, though she could not tell if it was tears or the smoke of the fire. "How can men do these things...?"

"Makes sense," Ada muttered again. "What else do you tell a nation that's been through an apocalypse? You have to tell them that there's a point to the suffering. Otherwise, it's just suffering and that's no use to anyone."

"And what use is our suffering now?" Altair asked, his eyes adrift in anger as he glared at Ada. "Do we just limp away and die? Let the rain rot our flesh?"

Somehow, Jerek managed a smile. "But like you say, Altair - we're angels. And one thing angels have... is rebel pride."

"War in heaven?" Setem's face grew a little lighter as he looked to Jerek.

"The Ghosting Feast is at midday tomorrow." Jerek glanced across the camp. "With that Tesla Speeder of yours we could make it to Semile by first light. If all the Church's hopes rest on Sahar, then she's the keystone that'll bring the whole tower crashing down. We get the Philosopher's Egg - we break the ritual."

"I can fly us in," Ada said. "With Jerry's help I can mask our signal from the Tower of Solon, at least until we're in visual range."

Altair sneered. "You're getting too excited - all of you. The entire Nephilim Army is surrounding the city. They'll rip us apart the moment we approach." He glanced at Setem. "And don't even think about taking the sewers again. After the Cathedral attack they sealed them up and rigged them with aether drones. It's hopeless."

"There's always the Sympelgades."

Everyone stopped at the new voice, turning to look at Chestel. The girl's empty eyes were finally looking at each of them. It was as if she had arisen from some terrible coma. Shrugging, she continued refilling the kettle, "The soldiers used to talk about it. It's a hole in the Semilian sensor grid - about five miles up from the centre of the city. We could never exploit it because we didn't have anything that could reach that altitude. The hole is caused by the Trinity Buildings of the State Treasury. They were constructed by something that interferes with the Tower of Solon. It causes a chink in the sensor grid about 4 miles directly above..."

"I know those buildings," Jerek added. "They're built in triangular pattern, about twenty feet apart. They're off-limits to the Sky Lane because of the signal loss. If something dropped between them, it wouldn't be seen - it would fall all the way to street level."

"Five miles up? That's the fucking troposphere! The fuel in the speeder would freeze."

Jerek smiled again. "Not if I keep it warm."

"And it's a 4 mile drop from the Sympelgades to the peak of the Trinity Buildings! Someone'll spot us..."

"Not if there's a storm cloud." Setem retorted, getting to his feet.

Jerek joined him. "We'll fall from heaven, right into the city's heart. Chestel, can you guide us to the hole in the sensor grid?"

The girl nodded, slowly rising as well.

"Woah, woah! Wait!" Altair snapped. "So not only do we have to get the speeder into the troposphere but then drop through the Sympelgades, THEN through a storm cloud, THEN between three buildings only twenty feet apart?!" He pointed at Ada. "You really think this girl can do that kind of pinpoint flying?!"

Ada got up, slinging Jerry across her shoulders and following after Jerek, Setem and Chestel as they moved towards the speeder. "You're right, Altair. It's too difficult. If only I had a psychic to help me..."

Altair remained sitting, blinking as he watched them move away. Then the words finally sunk in and his eyes went wide. Struggling with his crutch, he rushed to get up. "Oh shit! HEY! WAIT FOR ME!"

* * * * * *


"It's easier than I ever imagined."

Dayne locked the control-mannacle around Eros's wrist.

"In the years when I dreamt of this moment, I assumed there would be something... some feeling that would make it harder... some thought that would hurt me... weaken me..."

He secured her other wrist, then closed the restraints around her crossed ankles. "But how can anything as small as love or guilt survive in moments like this? When one is borne upon the tide of history and feels the very stars turning in his hands... how can anything as small as regret even register on his soul?"

Eros tried to move her head, but it was wired to the shaft of the metal cross, dozens of nodes and uplinks grafted to her skull and regulating her neural connections. Beneath her hair a metal strip ran the circumference of her head, like a silver halo, monitoring every thought and sensation.

"When the eyes of every man, woman and child of the world are upon you... how can you be anything but a god? Humanity lingers only in the private moments. But in great action we are but machines and angels, and we play our parts."

Her fingers twitched, trying to reach out to him, but he turned and strode across the rooftop. Zion was tied to the central cross, his head lowered and eyes shut. Like Eros he was naked but for the red robe, scarlet like sin, that hid the scarred and burned expanse of his flesh. On the right-hand cross, Rhiannon was similarly robed, her body tensing as she struggled against the metal restraints. She was not frozen as Eros was... perhaps because she did not heed the millions of eyes that were watching her as the sun rose above Semile.


The Ghost Temple had been the fastest-built construction in history, thrown up in the few months between now and the first public announcement of Project Genesis. Thousands of labourers had been drafted to complete the structure, and for their reward they now filled the hundreds of temples and meditation chambers that occupied the floors below the rooftop. As Dayne crossed the massive expanse, an entire company of Nephilim soldiers stood to attention, white cloaks flowing in the morning wind. They were the war heroes of the recent campaign - soldiers who had personally ended more than fifty Norfolkian lives. Their ranks were puncutated by cyborgs who formed a perfect sensor grid over the entire building. Meanwhile each of the five points of the star-shaped roof was manned by a Mech with its weapons levelled on the buildings beyond...

...and this was where the people of Semile were gathering. On hundreds of rooftops and thousands of penthouses, the citizens were cramming every inch of space, all eyes set on the Ghost Temple. Those who could afford it drove a constant circuit of the Sky Lane in their hover-cars, always keeping beyond the cordon of HKs and Merkabah tanks that floated between the buildings. And the remainder, of which there was close to seven million, swarmed like ants in the streets below, gazing at the giant screens that covered the sides of the high-rises. Many had camped for weeks and this entire section of the city had been brought to a standstill of rapture. Fireworks shot up between the buildings as giant crosses and latin banners cavorted in a snowstorm of confetti. The cheering was like thunder, rising from the depths of the earth.

"Is everything ready?" Dayne asked the two men who stood amongst the throng of priest spreparing their hymn books and censers.

"External perimeter is secure," grunted Colonel Gustave, who unlike everyone else had not put on his parade uniform. He was still dressed in grey combat fatigues, his side-holster unbuttoned as if he was already expecting trouble.

"And internal checkpoints are in place," added Lieutenant Lars Mullman of the Semile Police. The man was in full uniform, boots and badge sparkling.

Dayne nodded to him. "Thankyou for your prompt efforts, Lieutenant. I know you were brought in at short notice to take the place of our dearly departed General Jerek. But you have performed his duties expertly."

Lars gave a smile as enigmatic as any of Dayne's. "It was my pleasure, Minister. I hope today is the change in history we have all been waiting for."

Dayne missed the undertone. "I have no doubt." Turning, he began his stride towards the great stairway that would take him into the heart of the Ghost Temple. He was set to rendezvous with Inquisitor Bellik, the High Priest and the Twelve Disciples - the wise men who would be the Messiah's advisors. Together they would escort Sahar up the forty floors of the building, reciting the prayers of ascension at each level and throwing the switches that would send the electric charge through the three crosses which the sacrifices were strapped to.

A pyramid of design, murder and divinity.

It was the Day of the Ghosting Feast... and all things were drawing to an end.