Demons of Creation

"The most tragic wars in history are often the result of the misguided idealism of leaders in whatever cause strikes their fancy at the moment."-The High Instructor, taken from Hymns of Steel and Might

Chapter III: Session in the Abyss

The Chapel of Lost Memories looked somber, dark, and dismal, as it normally did. The Chapel was a circular room, with Doric pillars around the edges. The front of the Chapel was a chair with several chains on it, as well as a spotlight. The "ceiling" was a stained glass window with the massive Greek letters "Alpha," "Sigma," and "Omega" on it. The floor was stone for the most part. However, there was still a massive opening in the center of the floor. This opening was a portal into a murky depths of a realm known as the Styx, the River of the Dead, Limbo, or simply, the Abyss. Every soul that died on Urt ended up there.

On the bank of the Styx, a lone figure sat. He was dressed in a dark cloak, and the only part of his face that was visible was a pair of glowing red eyes. To his side was a small rowboat, which he had previously used to ferry the dead across. Now, he simply watched the souls of the recently departed flow into the Styx and bubble and sink with it rather then taking them across. His days of ferrying were long over with. He was once known as Charon. Now, the cloaked skeleton was simply known as the Gazer in the Abyss. He gazed down long and deep into the Abyss, and it gazed back into his red eyes. He had many other names, but all were forgotten and irrelevant now.

A second figure walked behind Charon and bowed. This one looked vaguely human in form, but had no exposed skin. He was dressed in what appeared to be a high-tech jumpsuit, vintage gasmask, and black leather on areas the gasmask or jumpsuit did not cover. On his belt was a tranquilizer pistol. When he spoke, his tone seemed somewhere between masculine and feminine. He was also not technically a "he" at all. This figure was a transvestite eunuch simply known as "The Mediator."

Charon turned his skeletal head to face the Mediator. "You realize the Dreamer's status, correct?" he spoke in a tone that sounded like some prophetic ancient crone. The Mediator nodded.

"You know what must be done, correct?" Charon asked.

"Yes," the Mediator responded, "For both our sakes, the Dreamer must awaken."

"Our fates are intertwined with that of the Dreamer's. It is now a blind, idiot god with almost no control of its powers," Charon commented.

"This is something my master, the Almighty, has recognized. The Dreamer can easily lose control and threaten several parallel universes and star systems within this universe. Without a strong mind guiding it, the Dreamer will remain as it is until it is too late. Brute force is simply out of the question, since if the Dreamer is destroyed, there will be a gaping hole in the fabric of the multiverse itself," the Mediator continued, "Not to mention, we'd also be annihilated."

"Yes. In accordance with the Protocol, I have found two minds on Urt that would satisfy our requirements. Both are of roughly equal skill, but are polar opposites," Charon replied.

"Hold. You said "Urt," correct? That world's still around after all this time?" the Mediator replied.

"Yes. It is the only world available to us, due to certain 'special circumstances' with the Dreamer," Charon responded.

"Who are the two, then?" the Mediator asked.

Charon turned the image of the Styx into a portrait of Cosmo Stein. "This fellow, Cosmo Stein, is the first one. He's a Union Engineer, and partial cybrid. He prefers his "Daedalus" shotgun, stoicism, intellect, persistence, and routine to win battles. He also can command combat drones telepathically by a neural implant. He not only follows the letter and spirit of the law, but can debate with anyone that opposes this viewpoint of strict adherence to his personal code."

"How about the second one?" the Mediator asked.

Charon turned the portrait of Stein into a short Confederate girl. "This is Nan Tro Pi, the second pick. She's the total opposite of Stein. She's short, quick, passionate, and improvises very fast. She doesn't care much for the war or even the Confederacy, and is fairly used to living independently. She prefers to use her "Spartacus" viblade, quick thinking, agility, and the "Vox" variant of field modulation to win battles. She also has a small songrider she captured from the Confederates. She does whatever catches her attention at the moment."

"It is a shame what we must do. These two have no personal quarrel with each other, but now are told they have to kill the other for the sake of their world," the Mediator replied.

"You, of all people, should be aware that war is rarely between large numbers of people with direct personal grudges against each other. It's mainly just nearsighted ideologue leaders forcing them to kill each other," Charon responded.

"Yes. I used to be the Horseman of War, until I resigned in favor of a more qualified individual. Besides, the Protocol would be crystal clear here. There can only be one mind leading the Dreamer. The Protocol prohibits us from directly guiding the Dreamer, so we must select someone that can handle the Dreamer's power," the Mediator added.

"Correct. It is your task, then, to telepathically link the two and inform them of their mission. They must know the connected mind of their enemy, and kill them in order to claim the prize. Your mission will be to keep both of them alive until they have the chance to directly kill each other. If one dies by something other than the other's direct hand, we're all doomed. That's what the Protocol says, and you know we cannot violate the Protocol," Charon commented, "You must be neutral, and favor neither."

"Yes. Should I also give them visions of us, this place, and the Dreamer? The Protocol advises that such visions might help cue them in to our motivations and origins," the Mediator asked.

"Yes. Also, remember the Protocol advises we should make those visions at least somewhat cryptic," Charon added, "After all, it makes it better if we give the information out in small doses. It will motivate them to fight longer and harder."

"Yes, sir. I've always liked being cryptic. Back when the Almighty had me as Horseman of War, my specialty was covert operations and espionage. Heck, my most dangerous weapon was a dart gun. However, the Almighty replaced me with a specialist in all forms of combat. Come to think of it, his name was the English translation of "Stein." He was quite a character," the Mediator said.

"Well, do not let that bias you in any way. You are supposed to be neutral. Now, go out there and do your job," Charon ordered.

With that, the Mediator nodded and left the Chapel. Charon turned the portrait of Nan Tro Pi back to the image of the Styx, and continued to gaze.

Soon, either Cosmo Stein or Nan Tro Pi should be in there, killed by the other, Charon thought. And after that, the Dreamer shall awaken, and the Protocol would be fulfilled.