The Pantheon Iteration

Summary: An ambitious experiment in godhood has resulted in a war that pushed the multiverse to the brink of annihilation. A final confrontation resets the scenario with different parameters, but will it be enough to save existence?

The Engineer's Throne

The Engineer sat upon the Pillar of Creation, modulating the parameters of the failing Pantheon Scenario. The original Scenario aimed to distill the essence of the human psyche into divine embodiments, and to determine which, if any, dominated. The conflagration that erupted between them laid waste to uncounted worlds, now cooling embers drifting through dead universes. Each visceral detail, each gruesome death, each grisly genocide, was displayed in full detail to the Engineer.

The Engineer was beyond mortal conceptions of good and evil, with time and transience being similarly alien. While followers and fanatics attributed a male gender to the entity, the Engineer was similarly beyond biological classification. The only semblance of humanity was its appearance, a cloaked figure upon a raised dais. Beyond it, above it, and beneath it were an abyss of utter darkness, black beyond the coolness of a dying universe.

Yet unknown to all others, the Engineer's throne was also a prison. The Engineer created the Scenario, but rarely intervened. The Scenario was intended to be self-correcting, but even a transcendent entity had constraints. Each intervention was constrained by a billion variables indescribable in human language. The Scenario's firstborn trinity were intended as tools for such modeling: The wise Oracle, to provide insight; the fickle Trickster, to bend boundaries; and the scheming Courtesan, to nakedly abuse the constraints.

The Engineer needed not directly communicate with the Firstborn, given their own natures and purposes. Such was the sublime power wrought from transcending mortality and morality. The Firstborn, ever mindful of their roles, distilled the essences in themselves to create the Pure Ones, the embodiments of Mind, Body, and Will. They served as foils for the Firstborn, and the engines that started the planar wars. The Pure Ones were the logical Thinker, an engine of enlightenment; the stalwart Paladin, an unstoppable blade of justice; and the feral Beast, a naked and savage ferocity.

The Pure Ones presided over the explosion of that war, but no single force triumphed. The Paladin, Thinker, and Oracle found common purpose against the Courtesan, Trickster, and Beast, but neither alliance dominated. Thus, the Engineer introduced the third generation into the conflict, syncretic Wild Cards intended to overcome each of the dueling deities. Each combined diametric opposites into a more viable whole. The guileful Liberator emerged from the Thinker's ingenuity and Trickster's subversion. The domineering Tyrant emerged from the Paladin's might and the Courtesan's selfishness. The serene Observer emerged from the Beast's instinct and the Oracle's wisdom.

The Engineer behold the Wild Cards emerge, and for a while, he bore hope. However, they lacked the unifying purposes of the others, intervening both for and against both alliances. The Liberator and Tyrant primarily opposed each other, while the Observer sought to contain the conflict from spilling into other worlds. The war nevertheless dragged on, killing untold worlds in the way.

The only shock that came to the Engineer was a shudder across the Pillar of Creation itself. Upon examining the source of the disturbance, the Engineer knew something approaching fear. The Thinker engineered a forcible entry to the center of existence. Behind the Thinker would come the others, both to help, oppose, or exploit the breach. For the first time in its vast memory, the Engineer looked away from the Scenario.

The Thinker approached, clad in high-tech, green armor and holding an assault rifle. The Engineer drew no weapon from beneath his dark robes. Instead, he called forth a weapon uniquely suited to his would-be adversary. A forest of graphs, equations, and projections appeared between the Engineer and Thinker, like a phantasmal army. The Engineer saw the Thinker inhale every detail of those models, which undoubtedly mirrored his own.

Instead of breaking the Thinker, the green-clad demigod only issued a single order. "The Scenario must be reset."

In agreement with his own opinion, the Engineer made it so.

[thinker spooked in mirror, reset]