PANTHEON – Chapter II

Note: So I clearly overestimated my ability to deliver these chapters in a timely manner. I like to think Chapter II was just a special kind of difficult and I’ll be able to deliver future chapters on time. I don’t want to lose momentum.

You can find all Chapter of Pantheon in one place and in order over on the Pantheon page!

CHAPTER II

A Creation Myth

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Shit. I can’t see a thing.”

“Gah!”

“I’m not the only one!”

“You’re not supposed to swear.”

“Shut the fuck up Dem.”

“Bridge!”

“Wait, are we all alive? Does anybody have a light?”

“Oh! I do!”

A single beam of light bursts forth from a flashlight in Bridge’s hand. A beacon amid sprawling and endless nothing. She points it up and around, temporarily blinding Lonti, Quivica, Cirom, Dem, and Forse as she scans them. They are alone, yet somehow alive, in the void.

Dem looks up at all of the adults. He’s perceptive enough to notice they’re all scared. He looks down at his feet. He isn’t standing on anything, he’s just suspended in midair.

“Was this what was supposed to happen at zero?” He asks. The others look his way, and then turn their eyes toward Forse in judgement. Bridge points her flashlight directly at Forse’s face, causing her to squint and look away.

“Mom?”

“Stop shining that light at me!” Forse yells at Bridge. Bridge turns the light away, but Forse still refuses to make eye contact with her son. “No. This isn’t what was supposed to happen.” She admits.

“What was supposed to happen?” Dem asks. “Nobody ever told me.”

“Because we wanted to protect you. Keep you… innocent.” Forse attempts to explain.

“What does that mean!?” Dem yells.

“It was the end of the universe!” Forse yells back. “Okay!? We were all going to die. Everything was going to die and nothing would ever live again forever and ever!”

“… Why was the universe dying?” Dem asks quietly, trying to wrap his head around it all. How could something like the universe just stop?

Forse looks around to the others for help. Anybody who knew the answer to this question was long dead, and they never cared themselves to find out. For as long as they could remember, the countdown was already taking place.

“You know the Bastion?” Bridge jumps in. She points the flashlight at her own face and nearly blinds herself. “Ah! Wow!”

“Of course.”

Bridge points her flashlight away and continues while rubbing her eyes. “It’s like when a machine in the Bastion breaks, but we don’t have a replacement part for it. It just kind of broke down, and nothing could fix it.”

“And once the universe died, then nothing else could live.” Quivica states, just to make things clear.

“Except for, apparently, us.” Cirom says. He’s thinking out loud more than anything. Somehow, they are all still here. Except here is nowhere. “Everyone who was alive at the end is still… here.”

“No we aren’t.” Dem points out. “Dad isn’t here.”

“Seriously Forse?” Lonti accuses. “Does he know anything?”

“Shut up Lonti!” Forse responds. “You could never understand!”

“Clearly.”

“Mom. What is she talking about?” Dem asks softly, scared he already knows the answer.

“Yolas is dead.” She says, not consolingly but instead with all of her anger. “Last night he took enough pills to stop his heart.” She starts to speak over Dem’s mounting cries. “He didn’t want to live to see the end of everything.”

“No!”

“Yes Dem!”

“No you’re lying again!”

“This is the truth! Your father is dead. The universe is dead.” Forse states, putting the final nail in the metaphorical coffin.

Dem has to close his eyes, it hurts to much to keep them open with the tears streaming out. He closes his fists and tightens up. He feels too vulnerable with them open. He yells as loud as he can, keeping any more words from his mother or anyone else at bay. They were meant to die, but they are here, but here is nowhere so what was the point.

As Dem’s anger grows, the void comes alive. Dem wishes to send the others away, and a wave of chaotic force bursts from him to do just that. It cuts them. Rips their clothes. Breaks Bridge’s flashlight. Everything plunges into darkness once more.

A strange sensation builds in Dem’s core. Like he’s a pot, about to boil over. He doesn’t fight it. Instead he screams into the void, a beacon of golden light shining from his chest and out of his mouth and eyes. The maelstrom’s arcs and flurries glow as gold too, hitting Lonti and Bridge, hurting his mother, heading towards Quivica.

Cirom follows the shockwave with his eyes. It’s going to hit Quivica. It’s going to hurt her, and he will stand for no more of that. He must get to her in time.

Putting all of his focus into arriving in front of Quivica in time, Cirom’s body arcs and throws itself toward her. There’s no other way to put it. He’s flying.

His body inelegantly jolts to a stop before her. Their eyes meet. She wonders, will this boy sacrifice himself for her? He decides, no power in existence will tear them apart.

Cirom turns to the oncoming golden light, and a fire lights in his soul. He yells, forcing that fire to grow, and swings a fist into the oncoming storm. All of his strength travels down his bone and into his bare knuckles, slamming into Dem’s own golden energy. A flash of white light from Cirom’s fist shatters the golden shockwave before Quivica and him. Cirom can stop him.

“No more!” Cirom cries out, his own chest glowing white, his eyes and mouth becoming emitters of brilliant white light. He knows what he’s doing now, and throws his whole body at Dem. The child clearly isn’t in control. He’s still screaming, each wave of force bursting forth when he exhales to scream once more. But Dem is taking a deep breath, and when he yells next, the shockwave will be deadly. Unless he can stop it.

Cirom thinks on the power he’s found. It emerged so he could protect the woman he loves. Now he needs it to save himself and her, as well as Forse, Lonti, and Bridge. He needs more power and dammit, he will have it. If all of this is coming from an engine within him, Cirom just pulled the cord on it. He becomes a meteor of white light, reaching his apex above the crying youth who could end them all.

Right hand raised into the air, Cirom dredges every last ounce of his power to the surface. The women all cover their eyes from the blinding light. Brighter than any they had known on the Bastion. Cirom clenches his hand into a fist. Dem yells out once more. Here comes the storm. Cirom brings his fist down like a hammer. Golden and white energies make contact. Two unstoppable forces collide, and they create a big bang.

The golden and white lights crack and shatter, sending flecks of both out into the void. As they travel into the distance, they start spinning, becoming small swirls of light, growing as they go in an attempt to mimic what Cirom and Dem have created in the center.

Dem has fallen below, knocked unconscious from the conflict, but Cirom floats above, light gone, sweating and breathing heavily. Between them, a swirling mass of golden and white lights spins. A dark center with pure energy moving around it. Something new. Growing with each passing moment.

“Dem!” Forse yells, flying under the light to retrieve her son before it over takes him. Lonti, Bridge, and Quivica all regroup with Cirom as well.

“What did you do?” Quivica asks Cirom. He shrugs, no idea how he did any of it. He only knows the why.

“You were in danger.” He simply says.

“So…” Bridge states, watching Forse return to them with Dem in her arms. “We can all fly now. And apparently make light… whirly… things.”

“You don’t know what that is?” Forse asks, looking down at the light, her feet now dipping into it as it grows. “They’re all over the children’s books I read to Dem.”

“What is it?” Cirom asks.

“It’s a Galaxy.” She says. “Comprised of suns and planets and everything else.”

Lonti looks around at the other flecks thrown into the distance, growing and becoming galaxies in their own rights. “They’re all galaxies.” She points out.

“In all the old stories, the universe was filled with galaxies. Constantly growing and expanding.” Forse continues.

“Which means…” Quivica concludes, “Cirom. You’ve just created a universe.”

“How is any of that possible?” Bridge cuts in, more in wonder as she watches an orb of light among many move around them. The galaxy is still growing.

“I think I get it.” Cirom says. “What if the universe wasn’t dying? What if it was just restarting? What if, because we made it to the end, our prize is that we get to shape the next universe? As gods!”

“Gods!” Lonti scoffs. “Like with the primitives!?”

“Like with our people.” Bridge says to Lonti. “I found a chapel in the Bastion. People believed in a higher power even up until our time.”

Lonti cocks an eyebrow at Bridge. “If I’m a God, then I can simply wave my hand a make a bottle of wine.” She makes the motion mockingly, and yet a full bottle of wine appears in her hand in a pop of violet light. She lowers her eyebrow and looks from the bottle to Bridge. “Okay I believe you.”

Lonti takes a swig of her wine. Quivica draws a circle in midair, creating a small sphere of land with her red energy and sending it off in the universe. She starts pointing around and making more, laughing as she does. Forse rests a hand on Dem, and a soft wave of silver light pours from her hand over him, waking him up. Bridge tries to get in on the fun, reaching out for a star, and waves her hand at it. A jolt of black light leaps from her fingers to it, and it splits into two. Bridge looks at her hand, disappointed.

Their universe continues to grow around them, stars and planets becoming giant while the six gods remain human sized. Lonti takes another swig of her wine and asks the only question left in existence.

“So what now?”