The Twenty-Fifth Chapter
After the man had crawled over every surface of the Earth and bested every creature calling itself God, he realized that he was alone, and so he left.
It was on this day that Deicide awoke with new vigor, he would make the dive into the world Demiurge had hidden from him. All through breakfast he daydreamed what this new world would be like. He recalled the stories he used to hear as a child, fables of angels visiting mortals, bestowing upon them the word of God. He looked upon the adult faces of his children, as they devoured their breakfast and gabbed on about trivial political matters in the Districts. Politics were of little concern to him now; he only hoped his children would not allow his kingdom to fall into ruin in his absence, if he ever returned. Before each child was a gaudy bowl, filled with a lump of their gray vestige material, he watched as they coaxed the creatures into eating minerals which would improve their durability under stress. Useless, he thought, as most of their vestiges were crude memories of their mother, the Abyss, flickering silhouettes of a world wonder.
“Are you ready father?” Caissa said.
Deicide nodded as he rose from the table. They made their way out of their clustered estate and into a Gate which took them to Nott’s main lab. Deicide entered to find technicians and engineers running about as if the place was on fire. Deicide was quickly pulled toward a room which had been sealed since Nott’s departure. There was no polish here, no mirrored surfaces to reflect his indifferent vanity; this long gallery was built for two uses, but possibly used for just one. Should he fall, he could be rebuilt, but not as he was, and this structure would be torn down and cannibalized to create a rebirthing chamber for the Eater.
A flood of information was honed into select choices for Deicide’s ears by the Amanuensis Array; the ship was coming alongside the wall, the massive bulkhead of the Demiurge’s chariot, the Antikythera. Soon the ship would go dark, and everything would be put on auxiliary batteries to keep everyone alive during the cutting. The lights dimmed, and then he and everyone else were in darkness a moment, then the emergency lights came on.
“Goodbye Dad,” his children called.
“Good luck, sir,” the crew said.
Then they sealed the door behind him. Deicide could feel the reverberation of power being cycled to the massive lasers ahead. He began to walk at a steady pace and tried to think of the faces of his children, all of them, even those he had trouble recalling their names. Lastly he thought of Nott, she had given her entire life for a goal that was never her own, a cold revenge, by an assassin that only knew part of the story. Being the clone of the son of the Demiurge did nothing to bring him any closer to the rage which the Abstrusian people assuredly felt. He knew the history, he knew that the people had warred with their own God, and that this God had struck them down, stole their fertility, but he never knew why. Why was the Demiurge so different from every other creature he had come across, ones who called themselves Gods?
Perhaps the Demiurge was weak, Deicide thought, cursed with sentimentalities about his creations. He wanted to speak with him before he ripped his throat out with his teeth. Force him to explain himself before watching him bleed out. But then what? Would the Aeolipile truly need him after he had opened the way to the Corridor? Perhaps he would join Nott deep within the Machine, if she would allow it. He hoped his wife would catch the thought in the vast mental network.
Now the shields were activating on the inside of this hall to protect him from the massive heat of the lasers going about their work. The Abyss covered him instinctually, and he did not struggle with her unreasonable fear, because he himself was afraid. Afraid of crossing over and finding nothing, afraid that the Demiurge had died and now his massive corpse lay rotting in some magnificent throne, but also, that he just may be alive, and stronger than he. The Demiurge was what humans would call a giant, it was said that his people were able to eat mountains and were tall enough stride across the horizon.
Deicide stopped in front of the door which would lead into the Antikythera, the metal sky which had hovered over Abstruse thousands of years ago. The door opened and Deicide was expected to be flooded with the stench of a tomb, but only found cool circulated air. It was dark of course, until the lights onboard the Aeolipile switched back on. From here he could see just inside the hole which had been made. With some trepidation he stepped through and saw that he was inside someone’s quarters. The bed was unmade, as it probably had been for eons, a copy of some maintenance manual was lying open, face down on the floor. Deicide picked it up, but even with his limited knowledge could not understand how such an engine would work, as if the laws of physics were somehow different here.
As the door into Aeolipile closed behind him, he ventured further into the room, and then into a plaza much like the enlisted quarters of his own ship. The emergency lights were on and he carefully picked past the shadows expecting someone to emerge, half-crazed from starvation or isolation, but he found no one, he could smell nothing. There had been no people here for some time. However, unlike the madness he had witnessed from falling into the Machine, there was no vegetation here, the ship seemed to be completely intact, the life support systems still functioned, and there was no field to interfere with his own umbilical tails.
Deicide came to a map of the ship, showing him his location as well as that of the bridge. Nott had done her research in the holy texts, and the bridge, and the way which opened to the Corridor was not far, but he had to find the Demiurge. The gate portals of the ship, technology they had borrowed for their own craft still functioned and he arrived just outside of the bridge, but as the doors opened he was not greeted with monitors and dials for controlling the ship, but a dry and cracked plain that seemed endless.
Deicide squatted down to brush some of the sand aside, there was metal underneath it, but it had been discolored somehow. A massive sun, artificial of course, hung high above, its blinding light hid the wires and cables in the overhead. He began walking forward, his boots crunching against the bleached sand. He was moving toward one of the two structures he could see in this disgusting waste of space, a single house, and an immense wall, or gate of some kind.
Deicide was puzzled that the house was connected to nothing else, no village, no community; he wondered what type of people could possibly live here, and what it was they did for food. When he arrived on the porch of this strange house, he began to knock, but hesitated. On a sign just beside the door, it said: Come in. He saw there were several pairs of shoes beneath him and he slipped off his boots before entering. The Abyss coiled with hostile anxiety; she seemed to only be comfortable around conspicuous violence, or at least the company of those that were willing to commit it.
Deicide saw old fashioned photographs of the people who lived here strewn about the place, as well as remnants of their existence, someone was still living here. He made his way toward the back of the house and found the owners of this home sitting on the back porch. A man and a woman were watching a child play with two dogs. They were dressed like any other civilians would be, in comfortable lounging attire that would be suitable for a common guest, perhaps even a captain they knew quite well.
Deicide opened the door and they did not seem at all surprised that he was here. The couple looked up at him, and did not rise to greet him, only smiled and returned to the giggling of their boy child. Deicide glanced at the Abyss, who only glanced back at him with the same curiousness. Deicide breathed through his nostrils, still not sure if this was some illusion, or some trap he had fallen into. His mind analyzed the scents, no fear, no sweat, only the smell of dog and the spirits this man seemed to be helping himself to.
Deicide cleared his throat. “I am captain Antino of the Aeolipile,” Deicide said.
The man had a clever smirk on his face. “And I am Glaucous,” he said, mocking Deicide’s self-important tone.
The woman next to him laughed. “Persimmon,” she said.
Deicide seemed disappointed. “Where is the crew?” Deicide said.
Glaucous took a sip from his cup and pursed his lips. “Can’t recall last time we’ve seen ones of those,” Glaucous said. “What do you say, honey?”
The woman looked up into the awning. “Let’s see, the last crew member that passed away was,” Persimmon said. “I wanna say eight thousand years ago, maybe longer since one has visited us.”
Deicide studied their faces carefully and glanced at the child chasing the dogs around. The Abyss could sense only the truth from them, and only the truth, she felt no actual life from these creatures, though their eyes followed Deicide movements, and they seemed to react to the space he commanded, it felt as if they were not actually with him. He reached out to put his hand on the man’s shoulder. The man glanced at Deicide’s sharp fingers and then back up at him. The heartbeat was regular even though Deicide had pushed a threat through his touch; they were artificial, as was this entire place, probably put here to satisfy some old sentimentality.
“Where is the Demiurge?” Deicide said finally, feeling as though he were intruding on someone’s private memory, more than likely the Demiurge.
“The Demiurge?” Glaucous said.
“Do you mean Eli, the captain?” Persimmon said.
“Ah, Elias, that old scoundrel,” Glaucous said. “Through the gate there.”
Elias, Deicide recognized the name, it was his own name, and that of Antino I, Antino Elias Myann. Not surprising as Antino was the son of the Demiurge, but why would mortals; even machines such as these speak of the Demiurge in such a candid way? Few dared to call Deicide anything but his title, unless they had known him before attaining such rank. Perhaps these human replicas knew Demiurge before he attained his immortality? He wanted to sit with them awhile and interrogate them further, but he thought better of it, Ichor had taught him that it was best not to know of the personal dealings of the target you were going to assassinate.