9Volt 5

Title: Year 2000 (Even the Holy Die)

rating: +2+x

Far in the cosmos a god died.

Its soundless cries traveled outward faster than the speed of light, sweeping across vast expanses of superclusters and the nigh endless civilizations within them. In mere minutes it met Earth and sped past. Its strength had waned yet it went on for hours before even the most potent psionics of faraway worlds could only sense it as a slight tingling.

Only those that ever knew of the god's existence heard it. They heard it well.

"We can't break into the blood bank a second time."

Haider Amjad shouted at Farah Onteus, who was dazing out while standing by one of the refrigerators formerly stuffed with blood bags. Only a handful remained at its bottom.


Haider stepped over the obsidian slabs littering the apartment flood, careful to not nudge the metal stands dripping steady streams of blood from attached bags. Vital fluids pitter-pattered into grooves on the slabs, filling their heptagonal engravings.

"…the Voruteut are pushing into our universe hard and the gods need our aid. I get it."

There was a flash of light from one of the slabs. All the blood had vanished, whisked off to the far reaches of the universe where two universal guardians waged their intense struggle against extrauniversal invaders. It entered their holy forms, supplied the energy they needed to keep fighting, staved off a Voruteut-wrought shredding of the universe and all its connected realities. The other slabs followed suit.

"But it's a blood bank. For people that need blood to live."

Farah was still blankly gazing. Haider rounded the kitchen counter and planted a hand on Farah's shoulder.

"We can't do this again."

Farah brushed his hand aside. "Shouldn't a historically large Voruteut invasion be more worrying?"

A mental message from across the stars wormed its way into their heads. The Holy Sixth and Holy Fourth had been pushed back to near the afterlife's gravity well, away from the Voruteut entry point. The Voruteut were more coordinated than normal. The invasion wasn't lessening.

The abrupt psionics turned Haider's speech to jelly for second. "I- I- Wh- Do you not get-?"

"I do, but the bank's surplus means we are fine. Most of this will expire in a day or two."

"But will the next batch be that way?"


Haider groaned. "Look, it's one in the morning. I'm tired enough that I couldn't magic my way back in there even if I wanted—"


A sharp headache stabbed the two.

"Fuck, did you feel that?" Haider said as he clutched his temples.

"Yes," Farah replied between winces of pain. "What did…"


Their minds rebelled against the experience. They fell to the floor, disoriented.

"FUCK!" Farah shouted. Haider didn't attempt a response.


Brain still reeling, Haider staggered off the floor. Farah rolled to face him. His face had blanked.

"The Holy Sixth is dead…"

"…they're dead and I've failed the Church."

On a normal day the cafeteria of the Toronto Ortothan Church would bustle with chatter, every conversation bounding off of the cavern walls as people chatted about daily occult matters. Today an uncomfortable silence took its place. Quiet enough for (now Aímact Priest) Sean Glen-Marcas's laments to be a beacon of noise.

"Sean, come on," Diana Olivier said. She gave up on rubbing the sleeplessness from her eyes and laid a hand on the one Sean had placed on the table. The other hand was busy covering his face.

"Listen to me."

Sean turned his head up and uncovered his face.

"Nothing about this is your fault."

"But I was asleep. I heard the Fourth and Sixth's calls to action. I chose to keep sleeping."

"Sean, listen. You weren't the only one sleeping that night. The rites for attaining priesthood are tiring." It was an unspoken rule for newly appointed Aímact Priests to sleep in on their first day of the job. Sean had no need to break it. "You had to rest."

"Not if the universe was endangered."

"Other people were fighting for it. I'm certain that the millions of Ortothans across the galaxy were giving their blood or whatever they have for this. It's fine if you slept." Her voice dropped all the energy it carried. "You wouldn't have changed the outcome."

"But what if I would've…"

Adjacent to the duo Alison Killian sat, fidgeting with the origami crane she had made of the breakfast menu. She faintly picked sentence fragments of other conversations as she tried to pretend her friends were just fine.

'Billions of years for the First to die, billions more the Second and Third, millions for the Fifth, thousands for the Seventh, just over three thousand for the Sixth. What'll it be for the Fourth, a fucking century?'

'We'll be alright.'

'If another Voruteut invasion like this happens again…'

'When they get through again we'll be…'

'We'll be just fine.'

'I can't believe there's just one left.'

Alison leaned down low, hoping no one would see her tearing up.

The Central Council of the Jena Ortothan Church was a rarely occupied room. Seven stained glass panels were planted into the wooden walls, showing all those within the ascension of the Holy Seven to godhood, their victories, their deaths, the ongoing struggles of the surviving two. By a corner was an often ignored panel: a cracked and bleeding sphere, overlaid with the symbol of the universe and the Voruteut spiral. A reminder of what failure meant. On either side of a central podium were humanoid renditions of the Rakmou-leusan, the Holy Fourth, and Yorun-leusan, the Holy Sixth. Grand knights with four and six arms respectively — statues their sculptors never imagined would need changing.

Typically it would be used for the bimonthly meetings of every Grand Aímact Priest, where they could discuss the matters of the regional churches each one controlled and any matters important to the Church of the Second Hytoth as a whole. Now, a week after the centennial anniversary of the Church, a day after the death of the Sixth, the priests filed into the chamber for the second impromptu meeting ever held.

Once all had been seated the wooden doors swung open for a final council member. Koru Archpriest Albano Arnox, highest priest of the Church of the Second Hytoth, holiest of humans, crept down the aisle between rows of watching priests. His stiffening body seemed more so on this day than any past one.

Beneath a heavy quiet he stepped up a set of stairs to stand at the central podium. His weary eyes scanned the clusters of people (and the few beings not wholly fitting the word's definition) before letting out a sigh.

He asked a simple question.

"Now what?"

The priests turned their eyes to the statue of their fallen defender, seeking any guidance in its marble structure, then to the stained glass of failure, then to their leader.

No answer came.

28,000 light-years from Earth, the Messengers of a dense star cluster hummed a mournful tune through bursts of X-rays. From all around the numerous civilizations of Opened Star Cluster sung their own tunes, sending a myriad of messages into the void of space in an interstellar chorus. Most messages would not be heard by the other civilizations for years to come. It didn't matter. They all knew it was happening. They all joined.

Miles beneath Antarctica something prayed for an outside world it had not seen since nearly a century ago. It prayed the future would become more certain.

Rakmou-lesuan floated above a marred chasm in the universe's fabric.

They witnessed faint particles moving at faster-than-light speeds, radiating from the far off remnants of Yorun-leusan. The thaumic masses that had made up Yorun-leusan's being were shedding their energy into space, each mass expanding and dissipating like gas. If any mind was left in there it was surely fractured beyond repair.

Ages ago Rakmou-leusan's fellow guardians would cycle between preventing the entrance of Voruteut through the chasm and their other duties. Now, billions of years since their ascension to godhood, they were the only member of the Koru-teusa, the Holy Seven, still standing. Any allies they once had were scattered across the universe or dead. Nobody else would watch over the chasm.

For the first time in their existence, Rakmou-leusan was alone.

In a momentary reprise they extended their mind to their mortal avatars and observed existence.

On a desert planet a species of many-limbed spheres floated about a newly constructed statue. It was shaped like one of their own kind, although with six limbs instead of a number ranging from twenty to sixty-three. Six concentric rings around it signified a position of importance, far surpassing that of any hive leaders. Mourning did not exist for them. Honoring the dead did.

Sentient filaments of incandescent gas in an intergalactic void, minds existing solely from the random movements of their constituent particles, rearranged their masses to form trillions of fractals with six and seven-fold symmetry. They quickly returned to their natural states, yet the emotion lingered.

Every member of an entire civilization left their homes and entered Ways, hoping their new-found dimensions would spare them the day the Voruteut won an invasion.

Rakmou-leusan retracted their mind, briefly pondering. They cast it out again.

Near the six-armed statue the spheres built another, one with four-arms, surrounded this time with seven circles. The filaments coalesced in a defensive formation and begun an eons-long journey to fight by the Fourth's side at the chasm. From the abandoned homes of the fleeing civilization great machines rose into orbit, wielding cannons to rival the Voruteut's might. Around the Messengers of a star cluster an old war renewed with heightened fury.

They shifted their gaze to an oft forgotten species of two-armed two-legged creatures. Wearing dull red robes they entered a chamber built for yearly ceremonies, sitting by slabs of obsidian. At the command of a leading priest they all pricked their bodies and let drops of their blood leave for the last god they trusted. There were tears, there were prayers, there were chants and hollers to keep pushing ahead.

Rakmou-leusan returned to watching the chasm. With limbs of glistening white thaumaturgic energy they grasped onto weapons seen by some civilizations as spears, poising them above the entrance, waiting for any Voruteut to try to enter.

The universe was still willing to survive.

It was all that mattered.

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