Two figures stood on a lonely dune, silhouetted against a violently crimson sky. One form was stiffly regal, wearing a tall, tapered white crown and the raiment of the dead. A linen shroud bound his body with his arms crossed against his chest, leaving only face and hands exposed. These were the brilliant green of lush summer vegetation.

Ra stood beside his grandchild. The ancient sun deity was splendid in snowy linen robes. He died each night to be reborn into the sky each day, even as the lily closes and sinks underwater only to rise and bloom again. But that cycle might yet end. The creator god, the defeator of Chaos, looked into the distance with shining eyes. It might have been from his own luminosity, it might have been from tears.

The earth stretched before them, a dry brown waste. The green ribbon of fertility they presided over was gone. The red lands had taken over, destroyed everything. Set had won. Then he himself had died. The world was unraveling at the edges, coming undone like a cheap cere-cloth. The god of death and regeneration waited for his ancestor to speak.

"You know, the sun is greater. I am." Ra spoke, convincing the world and himself of this truth. "The sun always rises." As he spoke the sky glimmered and the horizon glowed a pale fushia. The sun disc rose, a bloody orb. It shown like it did upon setting, with an unearthly cranberry light. Both gods watched in silence. Osiris, who had not seen the living world's sun for countless millennia; and Ra, who looked at the familiar face as he would his own reflected in a calm temple pool.

He toyed with a large white feather, tickling his chin in a thoughtful manner. "Ma'at is forever." Somehow his tone both commanding and defiant. The sun god's dark eyes were sorrowful.

Osiris spoke through unmoving lips. "Even forever ends." His fingers moved gracefully, unhindered despite his bound arms. He took the ostrich plume, it nodded gently at his touch, bending under its own weight. He studied it intently, as a new father might his firstborn child. Thoughtfully he slowly raised it to his mouth, as if it were some key to unlock his lips.

Ra reached over and took the feather back. Ma'at was his tool, his way to keep order. To keep the universe together. Like all tools, she too would eventually fail. He could feel it happening, the knowledge ate at his heart like a great serpent, yet still he denied it.

It was the fault of mankind, of that he was sure. He thought of the stately lion-headed goddess drenched in blood. "I should have let her kill them all."

Osiris knew of whom he spoke. "You did rightly, you could hardly have done otherwise." He paused delicately, "This would have come sooner, had there been no one to worship us."

"The fight against Chaos should have been won."

"What would be the point of existing if you had defeated it entirely? We define ourselves as much by what we are not as we do by what we are."

"But I exist to fight it, to defeat it."

"And what would have happened after that?"

Silence.

"We have tried to fight Chaos since creation. Most of mankind has done the same. We taught them to."

"They have not succeeded. Not even in their." he spit out the word distastefully, "modern incarnations."

Osiris observed magnanimously, "We are not infallible; we cannot expect it of our creations."

Ra's response was silence. A loud silence, full of unspoken anger and potential. The feather of ma'at was still in his hand. His heart was heavy. But he did not speak.

Osiris shook his head silently. His green face remained serene, yet there was a crack between the rise of his cheekbones and his eyes. Taut skin remained solid, yet appeared loose. The great god bowed ever so slightly to his grandfather. In doing so his face fell into the sand and lay there, like skin sloughed off by the cobra. It looked up at the two gods, like a hollow eyed death mask painted the obscene green of advanced putrefaction. Osiris looked up, his face now nothing but blackness. It was the darkness of death, with the depth of the Nile's fertile soil. In the end, grandfather and grandchild are the same.

The black devoured the deities, slipped over the sands, sliding down the lofty dunes, encroaching on the ends of the world. The sky's hue deepened momentarily- hanging for one second like a drop of blood before falling into the darkness. Stars shone vaguely, distantly, stilly-as if they feared to shine.

Then came the rushing, the roar of blood coursing through their ears, the sound of every river flooding its banks and of every ocean merging into one great deluge. A turbulent crashing of waves filled the empty jar of night.

Chaos was reborn.

Time did not exist, or had no meaning.

In the interminable black, something changed.

A single blue lotus--narrow and pale, fragile as spun ice--rose, and shimmered with a newborn light all its own.