26 Stories

26 Stories: Gods of an Empty Universe

A little lunch-time posting for today, as I managed to get this story out quicker than planned. It is short and does end without resolution, but one can’t just put a nice bow on the last battle of all creation, can one?

Gods of an Empty Universe
21st Floor

The armada sat at the edge of the known universe. Behind the massive fleet of dagger-like craft, all bristling with weapons powerful enough to destroy stars, Heracles Station completed its power-up. The station drew the last energy of the star it surrounded into its massive capacitors. The star, one of the largest and hottest discovered, extinguished. In its death rested the hope for all life in the known and unknown Universe.

On the bridge of the largest ship, the Perseus, the Supreme Admiral stared into the void. The black beyond was absolute; no stars existed past this point. The bridge was busy around him, his crew handling the preparations with a deftness that belied their nerves. Training and discipline were all that held them together, now. It had to be enough. A klaxon indicated that Heracles was starting the first phase of an operation that had taken thousands of years of human ingenuity, technology, and self-preservation. Determination forged in conflict and violence since man had made his first kill on the prehistoric plains of Earth came to fruition here, at this moment, in this infinitesimally small point.

When the Heracles triggered the device, a tear formed in the black before the Perseus. The Supreme Admiral drew in a breath. The moment was here. “All hands on all ships,” he said simply, “execute Omega. May whatever god you believe in watch over you.” There would be no rousing speech. No genuflection for posterity. If Omega failed, there would be no history to remember this moment, and if it succeeded, due to its secrecy, no one would ever know how close they were to obliteration.

The tear in space widened. Alarms sounded, but they were not unexpected. There would be no surprises. The enemy on the other side had abandoned subtlety eons ago. The fleet to his back had done the same. Trickery. Magic. Binding rituals that only bought time. Humanity and the Enemy were past all of that.

Now, it was all out war.

The ships—the Perseus, the Athena, the Hermes, and the rest—were not named as they were by accident. While the conflict with the enemy preceded the ancient heroes and gods of that time, they were perhaps the greatest of the warriors who pushed the Titans back and imprisoned them. Symbolism was important.

The rift opened wider, and even from here, the Supreme Admiral saw the things behind it, pushing to get out. Almost immediately, images of great, unspeakable horrors battered at his psyche. “Are the psych-fields holding?”

“Aye Supreme Admiral, operating within acceptable tolerance.” Every contingency had been planned for, including the mental assault. The shield circuitry was patterned after sacred runes of protection. So long as they continued to operate, the only effect would be unease, hardly unique during a life or death battle.

The first of the Titans tumbled out of the rift in space, something that looked like the bastard offspring of a starfish and a slime mold. Targeting algorithms struggled to lock onto it as the thing’s unreality confounded the computers. But the algorithms were only confused for a moment, and the sound of a steady lock sounded on all shops across the fleet.

“Fire,” the Supreme Admiral ordered.

The starfish-mold was annihilated in a conflagration of mystical and conventional fire. Whatever it was, whatever it had been, trapped for eternities in its prison, it was now nothing. Still, no one on any of the bridges cheered. It had been a small intruder. The gap was wider, now, and other things, countless in number and strength, were pouring through. Targeting tones were sounding in a cacophony, as well as warnings of incoming attacks. Lines of magical energy, columns of flame (the Supreme Admiral mused for only a second on how that shouldn’t be possible in the vacuum), and swarms of enemy targets rushed to meet the armada. Behind the vanguard of monsters, larger creatures reached through and tore the opening wide. Approaching fast were beasts that dwarfed the Perseus.

The Admiral readied himself for the end. One way or the other, creation had been occupied by Titans and humans.

By the end of this final battle, there would only be Gods in an otherwise empty universe.

THE END?

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