God, the Creator of the Universe and Lord of all Existence, sat upon his seat of power in the lonely citadel he himself had fashioned, and in his infinite wisdom, allowed himself to reflect upon what he had made.
Not for the first time, he was conflicted. Not in the sense you and I would be, but as conflicted as a being of infinite power could allow himself to be. What seemed to him as less than milliseconds before, he had sent a flood upon the Earth to wipe out almost all of the creatures he had created. This was not a deed that had been carried out without some thought: the unfathomably massive mind of the Creator had run billions upon billions of calculations instantaneously before coming to his decision. That had been an infinitely minuscule exercise of his thought prowess, but more than enough, he told himself, to justify the act.
Yes, the flood was inevitable. It had come to pass, and would stand as an example of God's power to men in the future. This was fitting, as the flood had been a reaction to the evil deeds of men, a punishing response he hoped the survivors would never forget. In addition, it was men that had inadvertently brought about this conflict within God.
When God had created man, he created them in his own image. They were most intelligent among the animals, and were blessed with "souls," spiritual representations of themselves that permitted them a connection with God and Heaven. This soul, God had hoped, would be triumphant over their minds when time came for doubt within their hearts, and in this way they would find Heaven and eternal salvation.
However, man had sinned. This had been predicted, but God was still upset by it. He thought back to Eve, who had directly opposed his will when tempted by one of God's messengers in the form of a serpent. A rather elaborate trick, God had decided in retrospect, but one that was necessary: he had to know how strong the will of humans were. With greater sadness, he thought back to Cain, who had sinned in the most awful way without provocation. Only the third of his kind, and he had committed an atrocity. And now, in all the thousands of humans who now inhabited the Earth, God had found only Noah and his family to be righteous, and had sent a flood to obliterate the rest.
It is an enormous weight on the mind of an omnipotent being when he sees something he has created in his own image become an abomination. He is not only moved to sadness, a sadness so great we cannot comprehend, but he is moved to doubt his own omnipotence. Where did he go wrong? Was giving them freedom a choice a mistake? And would things ever turn out right in the ways of men, for them to find redemption and return to their rightful place in Eden?
If they are created in his image, can he himself be all that pure?
It was at this point that Lucifer, most blessed and mighty of all God's messengers, entered the citadel. To God, Lucifer appeared tiny and, as he extended his perception, even dirty, yet God looked upon him with something resembling pride. He knew that to a human Lucifer would appear both beautiful and terrible, a worthy representation of the power of God. It had been Lucifer, in the guise of a serpent, who had tempted Eve in the Garden of Eden at God's request, and it was he and he alone who God trusted.
"Lord," Lucifer said, with a reverent and humble tone. "Lord, you are… unwell."
It seemed strange to Lucifer to use this word to describe his master. He did not know how it had become part of his vocabulary, and certainly didn't know whether it was applicable to God. Yet, he had sensed the conflict within his Creator, and had thus come to the citadel, partly to offer assistance and partly out of curiosity.
God crossed the length of his citadel, pausing briefly to admire the beauty of Canis Major as men would see it, and brought his window to Earth before him. He looked out, and perceived the flood in all its horror. A small child screamed in Hebrew as her father lifted her above the water at his own expense. Thousands of miles away, an old widow lay down on her bed, fearful but accepting her fate. As the water hammered on her front door and spilled through her windows, she thought of her lost husband, and imagined him beside her. Elsewhere, the weight of the water collapsed a Temple somewhere in Anatolia, killing sixty-four people as they prayed for His mercy.
God felt everything his creations felt as they drowned, magnified tenfold on his already heavy heart.
"Do you know what name they will give to acts such as these, Morning Star?" God questioned Lucifer, telepathically enlightening him with the knowledge as he did so.
"Genocide," Lucifer said after a pause. "But Lord, that will surely only be applicable when they do it to themselves, for some difference or argument they have in their folly imagined. You are their creator. Their laws or terms do no apply to you."
"Don't they?" God replied. "I can think of nothing more applicable."
Lucifer's brow furrowed. He wanted so badly to offer consolation to his creator, but could think of nothing to say. "I don't understand."
God smiled. "I am not as I could be, Lightbringer. My emotions only exist as long as I choose them to exist. I stand here, in this citadel, in contemplation, only because I have shut myself off from my full power. One might say that I become more human in order to personify myself. In doing so, do I not bring myself closer to their judgement?"
A solemn silence fell upon the chamber of the citadel. Not for the first time since his creation, Lucifer searched the part of him that was not fully part of God, a conscience independent of his master that God had allowed him to retain. He was looking for an answer, his true opinion on the subject. Finally, he answered.
"No," Lucifer said, almost overcome with both fear and fulfilment as he defied his master's word. "Even in your de-powered state, you are beyond their questioning. You represent all that is right. Those faithful to you will always see this."
God reflected on what a success Lucifer had turned out to be. Unlike the other messengers, Lucifer was more than an extension of God himself. He was a wilful creature, wise and powerful, yet still unwaveringly loyal. He believed fully in the rightness of God's doing, and out of choice. If only man could be more like Lucifer.
"Perhaps that is the problem, Lucifer," God said. "I am All. The Beginning, and The End. The Alpha, and The Omega. And yet, man still rejects me. I left them to develop after Abel's death, and they twisted themselves against me, and in response, I have changed. I cannot forgive them their sins any more, because if they do not turn to me, then they turn to nothing. Hence this," God gestured towards the window and, with reluctance, Lucifer looked upon what the flood had wrought. "Punishment for choosing nothing over me, because to them, a life of sin followed by nothingness is more attractive than a life of servitude followed by Heaven. When this flood is done, there will be more souls in Limbo than in Heaven, and they have no excuse. There can be no forgiveness for that."
"Then," Lucifer spoke, "Then we must give them an excuse. Perhaps balance is what is required. I doubt they would so quickly choose a life of sin if punishment, rather than nothingness, followed."
God had feared Lucifer would come to this conclusion. In his wisdom, he saw that Lucifer was correct. Yet, even though He had sent this terrible flood to Earth, he could not bring himself to punish man any more. Only an eternity of torment could mirror an eternity of Heavenly bliss, and God would not provide the former.
"Can you see into the future, Star of the Morning?"
"I can," Lucifer replied. "With tremendous effort. But I have never been curious enough."
"I can, too," God said. "With no effort. Are your curious about yourself, Lucifer?"
Lucifer thought for a moment before answering.
"Up to this day, no. I have trusted your great plan as you revealed it to me. But today, after this conversation, I am for the first time unsure."
"Yes," God thought as he looked upon his messenger. "I sense doubt within your heart. Somewhere within you, so deep not even you can find it, you doubt that I will always protect and guide you. Do not deny it, as I have seen it, and you have not."
"Then," Lucifer answered. "Can you tell me, Lord, what is to become of me?"
"I can," God said, closing his eyes. "I see you as you will be. As great as you are now, but terrible also. No longer a creature of redemptive fires, but one of torturous flames. An abomination in direct opposition to my will in men's hearts. The living personification of Evil and Temptation, living in total absence of my presence. Horned and cloven, a fearsome being."
At these words, Lucifer fell to his knees. He clutched at God's robes and kissed his feet.
"Not me, Lord," Lucifer screamed. "Please, you must be…"
Lucifer almost said 'mistaken,' before realising it was futile.
"You will become like this, because it is what men require. Only you do I trust to create something terrible enough to balance Heaven's wonder. It is to you I delegate the responsibility of Punishment."
Tears in his eyes, Lucifer rose. He felt as if his heart was being torn from his body. The last time he had acted as the enemy of God, with Eve in Eden, it had been almost too much for him to bear. How could he exist in absence of God's presence, when it was God's presence that gave him power? How could such a place exist, when God was everywhere? For the first time in his existence, he felt angry, betrayed by God's decision.
How could God do this to him?
"That anger which you feel now is the start," God said lovingly. "You know now that I will deny you the solemn pleasure that Heaven provides, for the rest of eternity, and you want to hate me for it. Even now, horns grow upon your head."
Lucifer felt his temple and found God's word to be true. Tiny bumps had begun to protrude. He tried to accept his fate.
"What should I do, Lord?"
"Go from this place," God instructed as he waters on Earth rose higher, tossing Noah's ark dangerously. "I have released the other messengers in Heaven from my will. Tell them I have forsaken you, and try your hand at turning them against me. When I created Heaven and Earth, I left a small part empty should I ever need somewhere devoid of my presence. Take those who will go with you there, for that will be your realm from now on, and they your servants. Take all the souls that currently reside in Limbo, and do with them what you will. They are yours to torture."
"No," God thought as he spoke. "Leave Adam and Eve in purgatory. I have yet to judge them."
"So," Lucifer said, as his Heavenly flesh cracked and fell away to reveal red hot scales beneath. "This is how it is to be, until the end of time."
"Yes," God nodded, watching hideous claws grow from Lucifer's once-beautiful fingers. "You are no longer the Bringer of Light. You are Satan. You will be the jailer of evil souls, and the righteous living will call you their deceiver. All sin is to be blamed on you from now on."
"I understand, God," Satan replied in a new voice. He wiped his tears from his flaming eyes and turned towards the door of the citadel. "I don't suppose we shall ever see each other again."
God smiled, remembering Lucifer as he was. His smile remained even as the last trace of love he had for Lucifer left him.
Then, Satan was gone, to tempt the other messengers into becoming as he was. To defile the Angels. To create Hell, both in service and resentment of God and Heaven.
A war over men's souls had begun.