The End of Atlantis

Well, today's my big day, and I'm getting ready for that special occasion. I just woke up, and laying on my back beneath the silky sheets, I can already imagine how amazing this will all be. How everybody will cheer for me, freed from their petty utopia, more constricting than the clingy, translucent fabric of my nightgown. I can feel the fluttery warmth already in my breast, the last vestiges of what little fear and doubt remain after the Renewal's treatment. Calling on the strength God gave me and the Renewal taught me how to use, I banish it with a scornful thought. Destroyed utterly. Bernardus would be proud.

Maria said she can stave off stage fright by treating it like a normal day. I, of course, am immune to such concerns, but her reasoning is sound. This is my day to shine, and what better to start it off than with my daily devotions? I feel the lithe tension rise in my back, my thighs. I plant my hands on the mattress and, twisting my entire body clockwise, rise up on them. Spreading my legs up into perfect splits, I lift the covers up above my head. With a single whirling motion, I launch them across the small room and flip myself over in midair, landing catlike on the cool bamboo floor, the gossamer threads of my translucent nightie clinging to my body in all the right places. Yeah, I know how I look. Aaron tells me I've got good form; if only he could see me do it in this outfit. His tongue would roll on the floor.

I slink across the room and open my blinds, revealing the vast undersea residential apartments of Atlantis, dimly lit by the water-distorted sunrise. I take a deep breath, then whistle, signaling the room lights to turn on. Since today is my day in the spotlight, I'm feeling rather exhibitionist. But hey, everybody's going to see me later, right? No reason to hide anything now. I grin as I slowly shed my thin raiment (Yeah, that's right. I like to use archaic words. Remind me of the way things used to be.), holding the sly knowledge that anybody looking through my window is going to get quite a show, considering the body God saw fit to bless me with. Besides, whirling kicks are easier to do without the petty restrictions of clothing.

With a deep breath and a swaying motion, I lose myself instantly in the deep, warm seas of the training form. My soft, nude body becomes hard as the structural beams of Atlantis itself as I transform myself into a beautiful, lethal instrument. I don't have to think of the myriad strikes I unleash at the army of invisible assailants who surround me every day; my body knows them, knows that thunderous punch carries the weight and fury of God's wrath, that each lashing kick is the scourge of God sent to punish those who built this beautiful human hive. After no less than seven minutes of this, I freeze in my current position, returning my mind to its rightful place, noticing the thudding of my heart and the droplets of sweat pouring fetchingly off my pale skin. Bernardus would be proud and aroused.

With a single, calm breath, I return gracefully to neutral position and bow to my Maker, prostrating myself so low to the floor that my hair pools around my head like a dark halo and my nipples graze the smooth and cool bamboo. Then, just to remind my lucky viewers how special I am, I rise and turn to the window, do that coy little finger wave that always drives the boys nuts, and smile, knowing that I just made one or several somebodies feel very dirty. I giggle at the thought, then turn to the floor-length mirror at my side and consider myself.

Ah, me. That's what I think every time I look at myself, especially naked. Quite a few people I know wish they could see, even once, what I see at the moment. When I was inducted into the Renewal three years ago, the council said that I was blessed upon seeing my body. I can see that now: I am pretty much perfect. I am lithe and thin, but I am possessed of a strength belied by my slight form. Despite my thinness, I have just enough body fat in the right places to keep the boys whistling. I like that part especially. My skin, normally fine and pale, is flushed pink from my exercise. I have fine, wavy black hair that cascades down below my shoulders, which I sometimes move forward over my ample breasts, just enough to tease without ever really covering them. My perfectly-formed legs extend down from my deliciously curvy hips farther than you could imagine. My face is heart-shaped, with a narrow chin that brings out my small mouth. My nose is long and thin, just cute enough that you want to poke it. Above that, I hold my biggest (well, not literally, but you know what I mean) treasure: huge, pitch-black, almond-shaped eyes that seem to carry the wisdom and mystery of God Himself, the kind you could get lost in for days and days until you die because you forgot after looking into my beautiful eyes for days and days that you actually have to drink water every once and awhile. Really. That almost happened once. Funny story.

Of course, remember when I said my body was "pretty much perfect"? Well, you probably saw this coming, but here's the obligatory catch, what nobody notices on their first time. (Act fast if you want one!) Thing is, I have really bad vision. The one thing God didn't see fit to gift me with. The Renewal doesn't like that, but they're willing to put up with it in light of all my other…talents. Those beautiful, inky pools of mine that I know you just want to stare into forever and ever until I have to give you mouth-to-mouth resuscitation (and I know just how much that would excite you) may be really good for getting people do what I want, but they're actually pretty bad for what I suppose was intended to be their primary function. That is to say, seeing things. I know I gave you the whole big song-and-dance (Especially dance…I know you liked it. Say it. For me.) of my wakeup routine, but I forgot to mention one thing. I put in contacts, even before I did that little twisting thing that you loved so very very much. Because if I didn't put them in, I would have failed to see the edge of my bed and tripped most painfully. I'm what they used to call in what was once the United States "legally blind," and my contacts are so thick that if my eyes weren't made of pure beautiful darkness, they would be visible. Lucky for me, my eyes are really gorgeous. It kind of makes up for things, don't you agree?

Of course, there's only so long I can admire my wondrous self in the mirror. I feel my body up and down once or twice for good measure, making sure everything's still there and is in functioning condition. (Oooh…and it is. But no time for that.) Then I set myself to the task of putting on clothing. I walk softly over to my wardrobe and consider piece after piece and how they would look together, searching for something flashy and eye-catching, but not so much as to draw more than passing attention. I want to stand out, like Lilith, but I don't want to be the focus of a crowd until the time is right. Again, like Lilith.

Finally I decide on the right thing. It's a short purple dress of a wispy, clingy material similar to that of my nightgown. It's a bit less revealing, but I can definitely feel a draft between my thighs when I move around. Which is a good thing: not only does it make me feel exactly as radiant as I am, but it will also make it far easier to do high kicks if something goes awry. Which it won't, but hey. Just to be sure.

I put on a bit of purple eyeliner for the finishing touches, and then I examine myself once again. I'm just as gorgeous as I was a few minutes ago, but I seem more…refined. Less of an avatar of God's raw glory and more like a…lady. A classy one, but natural at the same time, owing to the fact that I wear on my feet the lightest sandals ever known to womankind. I especially like the way the thin, dusky fabric of the dress clings to my legs and how the makeup enhances my already hypnotic eyes, such that my focused gaze would at this point cause most men to bow slavishly at my feet.

I like that image.

Oh, I forgot to mention. My name is California, but you can call me Cali. My mom named me after the former state that she loved so much. I never knew what to do with that name. I always hated it. So, when the San Andreas Fault finally blew half the region fell into the ocean, it seemed only natural that my name should undergo the same change. Atlantis is built on underwater ruins of San Francisco, and certain members of the Renewal like the symbolism there. Cali shall part Atlantis as God parted her name. Goodbye, false paradise, hello, freedom.

My name is Cali. This is going to be great.

***

I emerge from my room and walk out of my cramped apartment complex to the central avenue, where thousands of people while their days away among idealistic art-deco shopping centers and perfectly smooth brass boulevards. The space is lit by the soft blue morning light filtered through vast overhead skylights that allow just enough light to remind you that you're underwater, but not enough that you might even be able to consider the idea of leaving. Just enough to let me know I'm still trapped here.

Not that any of the multitude promenading down the…er, promenade…notice any of that. Just like every day, they're perfectly happy in their lives of captive solitude, their every whim catered to. Everything they could ever want. With just a tiny bit of a smirk I stride down to greet the milling crowd, reveling in my own beauty as I swing my hips and smile at everybody. Just to let you know, this is an act of defiance. See, most people here waste their sense of wonder on things constructed by humans. It's disgusting and blatantly masturbatory, the way they do it, the way they worship Atlantis and the things people have constructed, like an animal admiring the craftsmanship of its own cage instead of trying to escape. It's sad, the way people reject their own perfection and choose to marvel at only artificial things, and I defy it every second I think of my own beauty, every time I show my sacred body off before others. I worship only the perfection of God's craftsmanship, the human body. Today, as I walk down this disgustingly perfect boulevard full of sickeningly blind and happy people, I am more than just a beautiful woman or a holy avenger. I am a preacher, showing through my very existence God's glory in crafting humanity. Every passing glance I draw, every lustful sigh or envious glare, is another little victory, another person who more fully understands God.

But something's wrong today. People aren't looking at me. One older man's gaze passes over me and doesn't even twitch. A pair of young ladies fail to blush in envy of my beauty, too intent on discussing some petty matter of fashion. A young man doesn't even look up from his preoccupation with the imperfect little woman he so oafishly hangs his arm around. And all of them, all of them marvel exclusively at the paradise around them, not noticing the marvel of their own existence, not noticing the marvel of me. Of course, I expected no better. What else should I hope for from what a certain old philosopher referred to as "sheeple"? And this really just confirms my fervent belief that Atlantis, this haven of humanity where nobody is human, where nobody thinks or understands what God demands of His people, needs to burn. God punishes those who refuse to see by making them blind. As for those who refuse to live…well, if they're so tied to this hellish paradise, they deserve to burn with it.

Anyway, I pass through the crowd with no undue fuss. It's unpleasant, but bearable; the people don't look at me like they should, but no biggie. It doesn't bug me. I'm feeling great today, just like I should on my day in the spotlight. Speaking of which, I should hurry up; the show's about to start, and the Renewal can't pull this off without their star. Well, that's what Truth says, anyway. But seriously, she (or is it he?) is right though. I quicken my pace, arriving at the elevator in short order. It takes me down, down to the Foundations, the bottom levels of Atlantis. This takes a few minutes, because the colony is sort of big. Okay, really big. I'm traveling down slightly below the seabed itself, and I'm more than a bit bored by the time the ride ends.

Still, I get there soon enough. The elevator car opens up to reveal the familiar base of the colony. This part of town is considerably different from the upper apartments and living areas. Better. The lower reaches are strictly functional: no brazen walkways and shining sunlight here. Heck, no windows even. Everything has a purpose, and nothing is wasted. I would describe the décor, but there is none, as the entirety of the area is taken up by vast, whirring machines, clean \ but not gleaming, that keep the city alive, keep its heart beating. A soft red light pervades the place, just enough to see by, but not enough to waste energy. In stark contrast with the gleaming, proud opulence of the upper reaches, this place is beautiful, and it's the closest thing in this damn city I have to a home. On a less auspicious day, I might play here for a while. Maybe I'd climb the huge, swinging wires in the databanks, or maybe I'd strip and go for a swim in the geothermally-heated vats of the waterworks. I never know for sure until the mood strikes me. Of course, the fact that it's just fun isn't the real reason I call this place home. The real reason is because of what lies beyond a tiny iron door in the wall of one of the labyrinthine hallways, the one that looks like it might lead to a supply closet or something. No reason to tell you when I can show you, I guess.

The door is difficult to open. It's not locked, sure, but it's jammed with years and years' worth of rust and grime, which is part of the point. There's no point cleaning the hinges off, it would take too long, so you just have to be powerful enough to break through the filth with sheer force. Easy. I tilt myself sideways and bring my foot up to deliver a single, crushing kick to the center of the door, causing it to dislodge with a satisfying crunch and swing open. I walk through into the narrow corridor beyond, making sure to close the door as tightly as I found it, so that nobody weak can find this place. After a short walk though some narrow hallways and pipes, I finally arrive at my destination.

The Renewal sanctuary is beautiful. It's a broad oblong room dimly lit by candles held on simple metal stands, a reminder of how God shuns the false light of machines. There is no décor whatsoever, no evidence of that this is my proving ground and paradise. In the back of the room is a single, unadorned steel door. The entire room is austere and reserved, and only those enlightened few taught by the Renewal even stand a chance of understanding the perfection of this place. Good thing for you, I'm one of them.

Of those enlightened few, almost all are here, and when I enter the room for the last time as the radiant angel of vengeance that only these blessed few know me for, they let out cries of joy and throw themselves at my feet, knowing that the day of our victory is at hand, for I have come at last to bring it. I look at them one by one: Bernardus. Maria. Aaron. Cecilia. Lilith. As my glance lands on each, they respond with ecstatic awe, rising from their prostration only enough to crawl over to me on their hands and knees and worship me by touch, to stroke and pet the perfect flesh, the perfect me, that will lead all of Atlantis to understand our glory. I invite it. I lay back and allow all of my brothers' and sisters' hands to appreciate my glory; it is good that they understand, are willing to touch and feel and taste me. It shows that they are not bound to this place's petty rules, that they understand the truth of humanity, the truth of God. See, people are really only made of two things when it boils down to it: beliefs and drives, and I can feel both in the hungry, worshipful hands that slide over my body. (And I bet you wish you could, too. Heh. I bet you thought I forgot you were still there.)

That was good. But, my brothers, my sisters, my children, I have work to do. Well, that's what I tell them with my body. As pleasant as their worship is, I find the prospect of my duty more exciting. (Which is really saying something. The Renewal has some enjoyable ceremonies, for sure.) So I rise and rise and rise, borne upon the wave of humanity until I stand above them all on my own two feet. They follow me and rise, and even in the dim candlelight, they seem somehow greater, more exalted. The light shines more brightly from the sweat on their foreheads, and the light in their eyes, normally soft, is now brilliant. But there's one more rite, they remind me with their eyes, with their prostrations. As if I needed to remember.

Muttering words of prayer, I bend down and kiss the head of the first supplicant, whose name I don't remember. I lean over and brush his bald, shining scalp with my lips, but the room is dark. I can't see his face or remember his name. Whatever. I open my lips and lazily push my tongue out, tasting the acrid sweat and filth of his head. It tastes real, tastes good, and he gives a brief, involuntary shudder, prompting me to complete the rite. I withdraw my lips and point my tongue, licking slowly, savagely down from the man's forehead, his nose, until I just graze his lips. The man gazes up at me, beaming in awe. Little, pitiful pools have formed in his nameless eyes, and I can see myself reflected there. The reflection is distorted, doesn't reveal my beauty. Just a skinny woman in a skimpy purple dress.

Now this is strange. Although their worship of me continues, I no longer feel like the angel meant to play the part. Just for a second, I feel not power, not sureness. I just feel…nothing, looking into my black eyes, a distorted reflection in the eyes of some other person who I know I've met, know I've spoken to a thousand times, but can't recognize. Maybe he doesn't have a name, maybe he's forgotten it. Maybe I forgot it? No, I don't forget. Not ever. A sudden flame of contempt explodes within my chest, and I finish the ritual. Pressing all the fingers on my right hand into a single point, I unleash a blindingly fast raven's-beak strike to the supplicant's temple. He collapses, the same idiotic grin on his face as before. He might be dead, although the brethren don't know that. My fingertips have red on them.

Love. It's always a give-and-take relationship. We here at the Renewal worship God to remember that there is always less "give" than "take". All systems tend toward entropy; that is the way of nature, the way of God. Who are humans to fight God's great plans?

I look around. More wait around me, many more. For some reason, I can't see their faces, can't remember their names. But really, it's just the light. The dim light comes from above, but doesn't reveal their faces. It's too dark for that. Just the light, I repeat, muttering ever more words of prayer as I bow, kiss, and kill (Well, maybe kill. What do I know?) each of my fellow believers in turn. This is the most sacred of the Renewal's rituals; our Ark and our Rapture. Those few faithful here shall die and so live forever; all else shall perish in the flood.

***

The rite is done, and all of my former brethren lay crumpled and strewn haphazardly across the floor. They have blessed me with their lives, and are finally at peace Now I open the small iron door at the back of the room. This is harder than it sounds, for a few reasons. Not only is the door rusty and a bit difficult to pull, my right hand is sore and slick with blood. Still, I get it open okay. Bowing my head, I stride into the darkness of the sanctum, making sure to shut the door. It's dark in here, so dark that I can't see my hands or hair. The dark is warm and heavy, and it has a complex flavor, bitter and pure. The dark is the only thing I can see in here. In this place where all are blind, we must rely on faith to guide us. Faith and Truth. And when I whisper that, I know they're both here now.

Faith and Truth. The leaders of the Renewal. The Alpha and the Omega, if you want to be cliché. The two of them inhabit this room, never leaving, never revealing their faces. They are the darkness here, and I can feel them all around me, wrapping my body and molding softly into my graceful contours, entering my lungs when I breathe. The sensation makes me smile, and in response, they hold me even tighter, until it feels like my entire being is clutched tight in a second skin of darkness. Even though I am their greatest disciple, I still have to surrender myself to them this way every time I wish to speak to them, a comfort and an honor for which I thank God every day. Of course, at this point, I'm not so much thinking as being; it's hard to describe what it's like when Faith and Truth talk to you. Yeah, they envelop your body, but that's not all. It's like they enter you through every orifice and pulse through you: you are them and they are you. It feels weird and terrifying and glorious. The small part of my mind that they leave to me feels a detached sense of bemusement; the rest is lost in ecstatic darkness. I wait patiently, letting the shadows run through me, until Faith and Truth finally speak.

Hello, Cali.

I try to say something worshipful and eloquent, but my lungs are full of shadows. It comes out as a hoarse grunt.
We trust you have finished the rite?

By way of an answer, I offer my bloodied right hand, opening my fingers and turning my palm up in God's favor. I feel the tip of a warm, moist tongue trace its way across my palm; a second later, another. I imagine them as a pair of brilliant, invisible angels holding each other tight in the dark, so close that each melds into the other. They both lick this blood from my hand and roll it back and forth on their tongues. Now they kiss each other passionately, and the blood stains their lips red.

We are pleased.

I can do nothing but inhale, drawing ever more darkness into me. My breath makes a rattling sound as ecstasy makes my diaphragm quiver.

You are a great being, Cali. God has chosen you. You know this. The task is ready. But you are not yet ready. The angels move closer to me. I gasp. My lungs feel ready to explode from the massed dark within, but I dare not let it out. We shall ready you.

Slowly, one of the shining angels reaches out and touches my sternum, and the blessed darkness fills my chest to bursting. When my lungs fill up completely, the darkness flows into the rest of my body. I swell. I was perfect before, but now I pulse with a divine power I had not known possible. I know now that if I wanted, I could remake the world in God's will. The darkness smiles. Faith and Truth smile.

Now, Cali. Go. Raise your arms, and will this cursed Atlantis to part.

I find that with this sacred strength, I can speak. I can speak in the dark, I can speak to Faith and Truth, and my voice does their will. "Yes. The waters of God's vengeance will pour in and bury this place beneath the waves," I murmur.

Faith and Truth seem amused by this. Pleased and amused. Our thoughts exactly. I feel a small hard object, cold and cylindrical, pressed into my right hand.

The darkness smiles.

***

So here I am. In an elevator. Figures.

The best day of my life, and how do I have to travel? A goddamn elevator.

And of course, it's not like anybody else is here to toy around with. Not many people ever bother to go down to the Foundations, and so not many bother to come back up, either. Sure, it's beautiful symmetry, if you think it sounds dignified and philosophical. Right now it's just boring. No play for Cali, not even on her big day.

I tap my feet. Tap-tap-tap. The elevator hums at me. Hummmmm.

Bored.

I tighten my grasp on the metal cylinder in my still-red right hand. The simple device is shiny and slightly cold. It has one function and one function only. Out of sheer mind-numbing boredom, I finger the button on the end contemplatively.

No. Not yet. My hand doesn't slip; the blood coating it like a second skin has dried, and now serves as a weak glue to keep the device in my hand. Holding it, squeezing it, makes me feel strong. It focuses the divine power and wrath sealed into my body, allows me to do direct it with pinpoint accuracy, if I so desire.

And I so desire.

But I won't do it yet. I've got to wait, got to wait for the perfect moment. I growl in frustration, feeling an intense rage build up in my chest. More than usual. It makes me smile because it's power, a power that most people here have forgotten. But they'll remember it today.

The elevator hums to a stop. I'm annoyed and ever so bored.

The doors open, letting a young man in, and then closes behind him. A toy! I'm not annoyed. And I probably won't be bored ever again; at least, not for what's left of my mortal life. I seize the moment draw myself up to him, pushing him back against the wall and pinning him. Then I start rubbing myself against him, hard, which is always a crowd favorite. To top it off, I look deep into his eyes while I do it. That ought to keep him in line long enough. My twin black orbs have always worked before; there's no reason they should fail me now.

Of course, I probably shouldn't have said that. I mean, I'm an avid student of dramatic irony, I should know better. If you share my interest, then, what comes here should amuse you to no end, because the irony here is probably hysterical from your point of view. I guess I'd find it funny too, if it didn't deprive me of my toy. Well, and if it weren't so insulting, seriously. So the kid puts his hands flat against my shoulders, right? Nothing unexpected there. I smile, and I can tell he's enjoying it. But then the sick bastard pushes me away. Hard, actually, hard enough that I fall over and hit my face on the floor. What was he thinking? Sure, I know that most people here don't understand God; I mean, if they did, they wouldn't deserve to drown, would they? But what really gets me about this kid is that I didn't know people had gotten that idiotic, that far from understanding themselves. I mean, it's a basic fact of human nature, a divine edict: go for the best. So, when somebody who's the perfect embodiment of God's will makes you an offer, you take it. You don't question it; you just enjoy and praise the Lord for your good fortune. But this sicko just doesn't get it. Blasphemer. Moron.

Anyway, this kid pushes me back, and I fall down, and my face smacks against the floor, hard. My jaw hurts, which is kind of surprising. Apparently, ultimate divine power provides neither physical stability nor resistance to minor injuries. Oh well. I quickly sit up to discover another surprise: I can't see. Well, I can technically see. But it seems my contacts got knocked out of my eyes when my face hit the bottom of the elevator, so I can't exactly go after this idiot now, seeing as how I can't really see him. Well, there's still one way I might get my fun in before the big moment. See, when I sat up, I didn't just sit up. I put myself in a position that you might describe as…vulnerable. I reveal just enough leg and a bit more than enough chest, and I curl myself into the most welcoming position you can possibly imagine. In the most pathetic, whimpering, alluring voice I can produce, I ask, "No play?" This amuses me to no end inside; I always thought it was funny how much of the power God has vested in me involves making myself look weak.

The elevator stops. I see the pervert's blurred silhouette turn toward me for a second. Then the doors open and the idiot nonbeliever walks out without a word, leaving me alone again.

The doors close, and the elevator continues its ascension.

My grip on the detonator in my red right hand tightens. My knuckles crack.

***

At long last, the elevator ride is over. Of course, since I can't really see much, the only way I can tell this is by the fact that morning light floods the elevator. Anyway, I walk proudly toward what I believe to be the threshold and promptly trip over the tiny gap between the elevator car and the balcony. I don't quite fall over, but I come close. Seems that ultimate divine power also doesn't include eyesight. Or dignity.

Not that any of that matters anymore. I don't need the respect of these walking corpses. Their fear will suffice.

But, I hear you cry, don't they deserve any chance at redemption, any at all? Of course not. It's too late for that. It's too late for everybody here, all these sheep who deny beauty, deny glory, deny God. That's the regular deal, isn't it? God earns the peons' adulation by virtue of His glory. Since the caged citizens of Atlantis refused that generous bargain, I'll giving them a second offer. One that they, in the immortal words of some ancient movie…person…"can't refuse". Heh. God will collect his tax a bit differently today. Because when you really get down to it, there's really only one reliable way to show God's glory: through power. God shows his power and receives worship out of fear. That's the old deific bargain. And I'm the tax collector.

I slowly stand up as tall as I can and raise my face to the morning sun. Although I can't see it right now, I know that I'm on top of the tallest spire in Atlantis, one of the few that penetrates the foaming peaks of the waves and reaches, like the Tower of Babel, toward the heavens. In other words, a complete and utter failure and an affront to the Lord. Still, this is the only place where I can feel the bite of the breeze, smell the salt of the sea, or view the pure, unfiltered light of the sun. ("View" being in purely hypothetical terms at the moment, of course.) At least this tiny portion of the blasphemy of Atlantis has some redeeming merit. If I had my contacts, I know that from here, I would be able to see the shattered remains of what was once the California (dear God I hate that name!) coastline in the distant east, or look down beneath the waves and spy the luminous undersea structures of Atlantis itself, gleaming in the filtered sunlight. Don't get me wrong, the place is gorgeous, a "triumph of human will and artifice", and all that jazz. And that's exactly why it must go.

My thumb caresses the detonator button, slightly crusted with dried blood. I feel the fresh sea breeze blowing through my hair and the warm sun shining on my face. A seagull cries in the distance.

I smile. Then I do it.

Click.

Nothing happens. Has something gone wrong? I feel the sacred power in my hand begin to wane. I frantically grasp at it, but it pours into the detonating mechanism, draining me of every bit of the incredible strength God had handed me. Now I am, once again, just human, just Cali. Did I do something wrong? Have I done anything at all to deserve this abandonment? I almost wail in anguish.

Then I hear it. BOOM. A rumbling explosion from deep beneath the waves. Then again, maybe hear isn't the right word. Feel is better. I feel it detonate at the sunken base of the colony, destroying the foundation. Its shockwaves rip through Atlantis's structure, turning the cold structural beams into dust with holy wrath. They pulse through the surrounding ocean, bringing massive amounts of water to the surface. I imagine great waves spreading in every direction. One section of Atlantis collapses entirely, and in my mind's eye I see the purifying seawater draining into it, destroying all like the Angel of Death. The distant sounds of screams fill my ears like the leitmotif of some forgotten symphony.

The shockwave pulses through the bottom of my feet, up through my legs, through the curves of my hips, and chest, down my arms, up to the top of my head. But this isn't just a shockwave. It brings with it a massive flood of the familiar divine might with which I have been entrusted.

But it's not done. I'm not done.

I close my eyes, throw my head back, raise my arms to the heavens, and feel God work His will through my body. I gasp with effort and ecstasy as I feel Him reach down through my body to the second, then the third, then the fourth and fifth bombs and ignite them with His own right hand. I imagine that God's hand is red.

BOOM. BOOM. BOOM. Explosions rip through the entire complex one by one, straight down the middle. I can't see them, but I can feel them, hear them, and pinpoint their locations with God's aid. Piece by piece, the entire complex collapses on itself and the ocean parts to fill in the empty space. Water pours into the wrecked Atlantis as a massive waterfall, all draining into the same place, for the same reason: to purge this place of all its darkness and decadence, and to leave behind not even a memory.

BOOOOOOOOOOM. The last explosion shakes the tower on which I stand, and I fall down. There is no shame in this, but it still kind of hurts. But that's unimportant. I keep my hands up, willing the sea to open up beneath me and swallow this entire colony, and it happily obliges. I feel the tower shift and quiver, and I make no effort to escape as it begins to tilt forward, offering my hazy eyes a tiny glimpse into the ocean's maw. I smile as the tower trembles collapses under me and think of all the Renewal has accomplished, all I have accomplished. I close my eyes and see the shining angels Faith and Truth stroking me, licking my hand. I feel the divine power that had suffused me wane, and I just let it go. I don't need it anymore. The deed is done, and, sitting silent and blind on a falling spire over the wounded sea, I am at peace.

I think it would be nice to go for a swim. I twist in the air into a perfect swan-dive, ready to pierce the water's surface. I notice that the tower is falling too, its shattered pieces about to crush me beneath their bulk.

I always knew it would end this way. I always wanted it to. What better way to prove my devotion? Abandoning my graceful dive, I smile, then laugh. Falling, tumbling wildly, I laugh and laugh and laugh until the remains of Atlantis crash down on top of me.

Glory!

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