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Printed from https://www.writing.com/main/view_item/item_id/538452-Challenge-for-the-Gods
Rated: GC · Novella · Philosophy · #538452
What happens when the Angels fight for a job that isn't theirs?
         The setting is reminiscent of a boardroom, but it's unblike any boardroom in Manhattan, in that at the table sit seven Angels, in their preferred forms. Gabriel, Michael, Lucifer/Satan, Kali, Beelzebub, Loki, and Fate. The table is large enough to hold thousands, and the settings are rich and full, with a flavor of agelessness, yet an aura that would make one think of ancient castles as well.
(indent} At hand is the discussion of how and if one of the Angels should assume the duties of God, since God seems to have lost interest in His Creation, or, at any rate, isn't interacting with it in any visible way.

         "It doesn't matter if He has chosen not to take action in 2000 years or not, it is His Creation, and it is His ineffable plan! We haven't the right to interfere!" exclaimed Gabriel, slamming his hand on the table.
         "Gabe, old friend, and dear nemesis, if the old boy had any interest anymore in what went on down there, he'd be being plenty active, since I and mine haven't slowed our activity one bit. At last count, we held influence over better than 60% of the power structure down there. If it weren't for the Chinese breeding like rabbits, that'd be more like 80%! Hell, we have fully 90% of the Catholic clergy under our influence, whether they know it or not!" anwered Satan, filing her/his nails, as the fallen Angel was currently projecting herself as a smartly attired female corporate lawyer from New York.
         "And we would be able to muster more resistance to your sly manipulations and temptations of our people, if only the Moslems would figure out that Mohammed had never said he was either the first or last prophet to be sent, and stop attacking their bretherin indiscriminately!" Michael said in confrontational tones.
         "Believe me, We thank you for noting our success in misleading certain of the members of that particular sect into helping us sow our appointed dissentions." adknowledged Satan with a nod "Anyhow, the point is, He isn't taking action, and someone has to run the game down there, or it devolves into the Chaos He created it from."
         Loki spoke up "Maybe that's His purpose, you know. Then again, there's nothing to be damaged if he isn't playing anymore, if we were to, shall we say...step into the power vaccuum? At the very least, if He is still paying attention, and is interested in the results, it would force him to take some sort of action to stop us. If He's not, then we accomplish just what we're here discussing, and order is restored either way."
         "Order." snorted Gabriel, "I thought you, of all Angels, abhored order. Isn't your whole purpose? Chaos?"
         "Not at all, dear Gabriel. As you well know, my interests are in creating a balance...creation of chaos to prevent order from creating stagnation before balance is achieved."
         "Well, so far as I am concerned," began Kali, "This era has become far too stagnant already, and I am ready and willing to step in and stir things up a bit. Put some hardships on Man that will force him to continue the growth that He said He'd intended for them to do."
         "I agree." rumbled Beelzebub "This time has far too little to create the growth of awareness and spirit, it feeds too little to them. The souls we've been collecting so successfully are weak, and have little flavor. Their lives haven't been involved enough to create them as entities. Most of them coast from day to day with as little thought as an animal.
         "He said people were created to experience, and grow, to be the perfect Creation from the perfect Creator, yet He no longer makes their lives fulfilling enough or difficult enough, either, to force them to develop a true sense of "self" and "other" as equals. This must end. Besides, He is omnipotent, omnipresent...if He was unwilling to let this happen, we never would have been allowed to reach this point, anyhow. What I want is for us to determine how the new God is going to be chosen fairly. Our Realms can't take another thousand "year" war. Especially not with the quality of the souls we've been getting the last couple hundred years."
         Gabriel spoke up again "I refuse to be a part of it, or to attempt to usurp His power. I have no wish to be cast out like Luke over there." he inclined his head towards Satan, now examining the polish of her $1500 pumps "But...since the rest of you seem to be set in your ways, should He not interfere, I would be willing to stand as judge for whatever contest you have in mind, and serve the winner, in His stead. I only say this because in the unlikely event He does not stop the lot of you headstrong fools, I would have to agree, He's lost interest in His Creation, and I, myself, still find those mortals intriguing, even after all these millenna."
         "I saw this event ages ago, and have already prepared a contest, since I am independant of all of you, even Him, as far as I can be, if you insist on doing this." interjected Fate, quietly.
         "Quit bragging, you ancient, and delicious looking baggage," growled Beelzebub, leering lecherously at the scantily clad and attractive young lady who was the projection of Fate in her Clotho form, "We all well know you knew these events were coming long before we did. Hell, why don't you make it easy, and just tell us who wins, so he can assume His duties right now?"
         "It's not that easy, Be, you lovely old devil, and thank you for the compliment. These mortals must choose for themselves who is to rule, if not Him. And even I cannot foretell what will happen when Free Will is involved, I can only see the patterns, as you know."
         "Fate, whatever the proposal, we all know you to be a disinterested third, as it will make no difference at all in your Great Work, and will accept your proposed contest. I am also certain we would all be willing to accept Gabe as judge." Satan said, checking her hair in a pocket mirror, "Why don't you get to the point, and tell us what it is we've got to do?"
         "Well, first, it's not just yourself, Loki, Mike, Kali, and Be interested in this...Selene and Set would like to be involved as well, and I have so arranged." Fate paused, but none of the Angels present raised an objection, so she continued.
         "As you all know, I have my own followers. 1000 mortal years ago, I caused an already insane alchemist to create seven jewels. Within each jewel lies the True Name of one of you who wish to be Him. I had the gems delivered to a metalworker who put them into the chasework of a chalice, which was then delivered to the Reverend Mother of one of my convents, concealed in a box. The Reverand Mother was instructed by me to make an identical package, and give both to her newest novitiate, with instructions to hide one package in a place away from their home, where it would "never be found", and deliver the other to the Reverend Mother of another convent, along with a letter containing the same instructions. For the last thousand mortal years, that chalice has traveled, with no way of knowing if or where it was hidden by the novitiate, or if it was the package passed to the next Mother. That chalice could even now be in one of my cloisters, or in one of the gathering places of my followers or it could be hidden anywhere throughout the world. Even if it had been hidden, it might have been found by someone unconnected to us, lost again, or anything in the myriad of possibilities...even I could not locate it for you, now, without going through what each of you will now have to do." she took a deep breath, and noted she had the rapt attention of the whole table, which had been joined at some point by Set and Selene.
         "Only a mortal will be able to find this chalice. A mortal knowingly working for his chosen God, who is aware of the reward that "God" offers for his successful retrieval of that chalice. The reward, which is built into the chalice itself, is the powers of a True Prophet. Power to foresee the future, to charm the masses, to perform miracles, including the healing by laying on of hands, or returning the dead to life. Or even sowing the seeds of destruction and war by their very presence. All of these powers belong to the mortal first to touch this chalice in the service of their chosen God, so long as that mortal continues to serve that God."
         "Then it has already begun" breathed Gabriel, "and what we are waiting on is for each of them to find thier mortal representative, and begin the search."
         Fate smiled slyly "Exactly, dear friends."

         Davey Lewis was very much loved by his parents, but he gave very little sign he knew this. Little David was autistic to an extreme, and what little communication he ever made vocally, oddly enough, was usually in the form of Biblical quotes. Since neither of his parents were religious people, they assumed his Grandmother probably read to him from the Bible when she was watching him, since she often stated that God put extra trials on those especially close to him.
         Davey was sitting on his bed, a normal 5 year old's mess around him in the room, but he'd entered an "episode", and was simply sitting on the rumpled bedspread with his arms wrapped around his knees, rocking, and humming a droning little tune.
          He would not respond when his mother spoke to him, even when she offered him his favorite banana pudding pak, and she knew from experience that to physically touch him or forceably interrupt him at these times was to invite a screaming, biting fit that often resulted in Davey injuring himself, and always in him being exhausted and more unreachable than normal for several days. Because of this, she simply sat in the doorway, watching her precious son, and wondering what she had done in her life that could have caused whoever ran the universe to hurt a baby to get back at her.

         Seth Avery knew he looked cool today. Seth always knew he looked cool. If he could get paid for looking cool, he'd have it in the bag. As it was, he was sauntering down the Ave, in the college district, hoping to find some of his friends, so between them, they could pool enough cash, or panhandle it, if necessary, to get a good buzz on tonight, and maybe even some munchies to take care of the munchies (a concept which always made him giggle mentally, but Seth would never do anything so uncool as to be seen giggling for real
         Anyhow, even panhandling in the college area, and scrounging some old burgers out of the trash bin behind BurgerBarn if he had to (he knew their scheduel for throwing out old food as perfectly as did every other street person, drifter, or "Ave Rat" in the area, as well as that of the other fast food joints) beat working there. Especially since he'd have to wear that stupid paper hat, re-dye his hair to a natural hue (and just one at that), and stop wearing it in spikes. Not to mention having to lose his eyebrow and lip rings, and his septum spike, which he'd paid way too much for, both in cash, and in pain, to be willing to give up over a piddling minimum wage job, when he could live freer, and better in his estimation, by drifting and scrounging the way he did. Responsibility was just too much of a drag on having fun, man.
         He saw Felix, Mouse, and Tugger grouped together just far enough away from the Korean grocery store that the owner wouldn't come out and bitch at them for loitering, already panhandling. That grocer might bitch when they were in front of his store, but he appreciated their money enough that he never carded them if they came in and bought a few bottles of Night Train or Thunderbird. Granted, he did watch them like a hawk, making certain they weren't shoplifting. Not that his watching ever did any good. They, as a group, were so accomplished at this passtime that they always got out with a handfull of pre-packaged sandwitches and some chips to share. But they figured he was making a profit on the booze they were buying, so he could afford to lose a couple half-stale sandwitches he'd never sell, and would have to toss out in a day or two, anyhow.

         Sgt Richard Smith had been "Smitty" since joining the Marine Corps. He figured he'd always be Smitty, because he lived for the shit.
         Right now he was in some godforsaken mudhole in the mideast, missing half his squad, under shellfire, and freezing his balls off.
          Goddamn! Was this the life, or what!? His adrenal glands were working overtime, and he was feeling the most real he'd felt since the last time he'd been in a "certain death" position.
         "Green! You got 'em!" he hollared to his team leader "I'll be back as quick as I can!"
         Peeking over the small berm creating his cover, he once more got a facefull of rocky mud as the machine gun nest sprayed at the movement. As soon as their burst stopped, and he was certain they were scrutinizing the area he'd directed their attention to deliberately, he rolled over four times to his right, popping up in an unexpected area, still in their field of view, and dashed five fully sprinting steps before diving into a shallow depression, sliding on his belly in the slick mud, and digging deep scratches in his chest and gut during the slide.
         "Yah yah yah, you motherfucking raghead bastards! Motherfucking sand niggers! Eat THIS!" he screamed incoherently as he started firing the instant his belly contacted the mud, and didn't cease until his magazine was empty.
          He rolled rightwards, to get a little more cover from what lip there was to the depression, and, laying on his back, changed magazines, and lobbed a round from the underslung grenade launcher towards the bunker's remembered position.
          It took Smitty a moment to realize that the indentation in the mud suddenly seemed lighter, and a moment further to see the man in full battle armor of a bygone era was the source of the light.
         Staring unbelievingly at this figure, standing upright, and seeminly unconcerned about the battle raging around him, Smitty decided he was about to die, and had finally been vouchsafed a vision of his personl God, War, when the figure spoke up.
         "How would you like to survive this, soldier? Not only survive this, but go on to a fight against unbelieveable odds, unwinnable by one not in service to his God. If you win that battle, to be forevermore the ultimate warrior in my service? Able to deal death, give life, and enforce your causes throught the mortal world through exercise of the forces you command?" Michael spake, from his guise as Mars.
         "Fuck, man, sounds good, but you might wanna keep your head down, right now. Them raghead bastards got 'emselves a Ruski twelve-five, and are making a hell of a mess out of anyone they see moving."
         "Richard, my dear, dear comrade in arms, only you can see me, I appear only to my faithful, and you have made me your God above all others but the God, the creator, and for this reason, I approach you."
         "Yeah, whatever, Mac, get down, or out of the way, I gotta clear up that bunker before the rest of my team's mostly toasty."
         "Might this help a bit?" asked the Angel, handing the prone man what appeared to be a shoulder fired missle of some sort unfamiliar to him, but that was impossible, when it came to munitions, Smitty knew 'em all!
         "Yeah, it might....but what the fuck is the bastard?" he asked, finally giving his full attention to the tall man with wild hair in the ancient polished metal and leather armor.
         "Well, it's still in testing phase down at the weapons development center in Langly, Richard, but they're calling it the Mars shoulder mount system. Lighter than a Dragon, and I. R. guided. you disconnect that box from the front, it stays connected by the two filament wires. Sight through the peep on the box, and leave it lying on the spot you aimed it, then fire the missle any direction you want, and it hits what you've painted, period. Or leave the box on the end, firing triggers the laser, and you track your target with it until impact. This one's loaded with one of the compressed and dampened tactical nukes your Army has been working on for light artillery. about a 500 pound bomb yield, with next to no secondary radiation."
         "Holy shit! A shoulder fired, multiple fire, guided weapon capable of firing multi-purpose rounds! Why they been keeping it away from us!? 500 pound bomb rating? That'll do, baby, that'll do!" Smitty grabbed the odd rocket launcher, which looked somewhat like a corss between a Russian RPG-7 and a mad sci-fi writer's conception of a ray gun, popped over his little berm, and fired immediately. He was rewarded quickly with a loud explosion of noise, and a shower of debris.
         "Woo-fuckin'-hoo! Boy, that'll do! I gotta get me one of these babies!"
         "You shall have them, and anything else you wish to ply your trade with, Richard, as soon as you find me the grail." assured Michael/Mars.


         "Lemme get this straight." said Bartholemew T. Harris III "You say you're the Devil himself...Lucifer. Awful nice legs...not at all what I expected from all the childhood horror stories, babe, by the way. I was expecting more an 8 foot tall red skinned thing with horns, goat's legs, and fangs.
         "Publicity agent thought it'd be better for me to maintain that image rather than build a new one, since my nemesis got to form the original for me. Keeps the recognition factor high." Lucifer/Lucy Higgens, General Counsel, explained.
         "Yeah, ok. Anyhow, if I sign this contract, find this silly little cup, you'll grant my every desire from then until I, of my own free will, break the contract, but either way, you own my soul?"
         "That's about the length and breadth of it, Barty, babe. But, on the other hand, the rate you're going, I'd own your soul anyhow, so what have you got to lose?" answered Lucifer, still in her high-powered Wall Street Exec guise.
         "Soul, schmole, I'm an athiest, besides, what do I care about what goes on after I'm dead? I certainly won't be sticking around. So you'll guarentee in writing that my every desire will be fulfilled for life? I'll win every case, no matter how guilty the client, I'll bring in huge grosses, quadruple bill my hours, make partner the day I find this cup thingy, cheat on my taxes without getting an audit, that sort of thing?"
          not only in writing, but written in the blood of an infant, Barty."
         "Well, Hell, where do I sign!? no way could you fulfill that kind of contract, but I could sue you for breaching it in any court in the world, and make millions, if you're anywhere near as rich as you look, you crazy bitch. Not even any fine print, a single page, no codicils, just an open-ended contract to fulfill my every desire. Damn, P. T. Barnum was right!"
         "Yes he was, Barty, yes he was."




more to come....
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