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by Marc Singer
Part of RIG VEDA! This issue follows (in order)
Covenant #6, Pulse #8, Legacy #6, and Seekers #5!
In the end, there was Shiva.
Even a god might have been surprised to find themselves nestled in a spaceship, buried deep beneath the cold Newfoundland soil. Housed in the mighty, multi-limbed body of a robot produced by that spaceship; living in the frail mind of a human who had once called himself Eldin Vincent. And planning to cleanse this sick age with the aid of a virus invented by a race that was completely alien to this planet, and long since vanished from it.
But Shiva was not surprised in the least. For Shiva knew that these material things would pass, as all material things would. In the end, only he would remain, to usher in a new age where men were as Gods, and he was God of Gods. It was an odd chain of events that led to this, yes, but who could say they knew the subtle paths of the Dancer at the End of the World, as he turned, and passed, and prepared to tread on a corrupt humanity once again?
A woman entered Shiva's chamber. She had a very masculine strut, made quite comical by the fact that her body, which had been slain some weeks earlier, was gradually decomposing. Still, she seemed very threateningpartially due to the ice-cold psychosis of her personality, and partially due to the scars across her forehead, indicating where her original brain had been removed by the spaceship's scalpels.
"My Lord, you called for me?" The body had once belonged to Sarah Vincent, wife of the mortal fool who had summoned Shiva when the spaceship's automated defenses attacked him. Shiva had dominated Eldin Vincent's petty mind, then placed the wife's brain in the robot body he dubbed "Kali." Then he grabbed the black, bilious soul of a dead Omega, and placed it in the woman's body. A primitive Cro-Magnon brain from the ship's cell banks was inserted to govern the body, but the will, the hate, and the lethal Omega power all came from Deathbringer.
DeathbringerJurgen Hunyadi, if that name had any meaning anymorewas at first disgusted to be trapped in a rotting woman's body. But the former Nazi was nothing without a master to serve, and the promise that he could serve as regent over all things material was enough to win Deathbringer's undying allegiance.
Shiva waved a hand, and a nearby wall suddenly showed a three- dimensional display of Chicago. One point was highlighted. "I have need for you, servant. A group of short-sighted Omegas has gathered here and is attempting to thwart my will. They must not be allowed to stand in the way of my cleansing."
"They are all as good as dead, my Lord." Deathbringer began to tremble with the anticipation of battle and death.
"You need not slay them all, servantyour priority is the man called Covenant." Another wall showed Covenant's face. "He is the one leading their regressive ritual. Killing the man called Warner"the wall showed Warner as well"will also please me, as he will be the host for the Godling whom Covenant desires to summon."
Deathbringer could no longer control his/her shaking. "What of the Hauptmanns? You said they would be there as well!"
"They are, servant. And their deaths shall be your reward for services rendered. But you must stop the ritual first. Now take one of my steeds, and go!"
Deathbringer ran to the bay where the escape pods were stored. The ship's original masters had found no escape in those pods when they crashed millenia ago, but this day the pods would help complete their work. Shiva had fitted all but one of them with the virus that would trigger humanity's recessive Omega gene. By this time tomorrow, every human who could aspire to Godhood would be as oneand all the weak, corrupt ones would be purged.
The one remaining pod was reserved for Shiva's servant. He/she was no longer Sarah Vincent, or Jurgen Hunyadi, or even Deathbringer; it was Kalki, the pale rider who heralded the end of the Age of Chaos. And the end of all who dared oppose Shiva, the Lord of the Lingam, the Destroyer of Worlds.
In the Colony, Anne Benson was mopping up the last of the SIRECOM strike force that had tried to take over Chicago's sanctuary for Omegas. It was Anne's fault that SIRECOM had comethey really just wanted her and her grandfather, Harveyand she was determined to stop them.
But for all her power, the only reason they'd won was because a team of rogue SIRECOM agents called the Seekers, themselves Omegas, showed up at the last minute and turned the tables. One of those agents, a fellow named Hickman who seemed to have some kind of bionic parts, was now helping her gather the last few attackers who'd penetrated the Colony and gotten trapped inside once it was sealed up.
Hickman smiled appreciatively as Anne twisted their weaponry into pretzels. "You're Anne Benson, I presume?"
"You presume right. I guess SIRECOM has a file a mile thick on me, huh?"
"Sort of." Hickman slapped some foam restraints on his fellow agents; the foam hardened within instants of being exposed to air. "Ms. Benson, you know you're wanted in two states. I suppose it's pointless asking whether you really are a fugitive Omega..."
"Yeah, and I really did attack all the people your agency said I did," Anne said, frowning. "But they always attacked me first."
Hickman smiled again, sadly this time. "The law doesn't care, Ms. Benson."
"I've learned that lesson already, thank you. If you're planning on turning me in, could you at least wait until after we deal with Shiva?"
"Naturally. I'm not a psycho like Carter. But I'm just warning you now that I may have to take you in later."
Anne shoved the sullen, demoralized prisoners down the burnt- out hallway. "Gee, Hickman, thanks. That really puts my mind at ease."
Before Hickman could reply, a burst of energy surged down the wires running along the walls. The energy leapt right out of the wiring and coalesced into a human woman. It was the Seeker called Flux, and since the Colony's PA system (like all its electronics) got shorted out in the battle, her energy-conversion was the best way of communication between people.
"Mister Covenant needs you in the meditation room as soon as possible. He said he's ready to begin the ritual, whatever that means." Flux disappeared in another burst of energy.
"Looks like we'll have to continue this discussion some other time, Ms. Benson; maybe in a cell with your lawyer present." It was obviously a joke, but Anne didn't laugh. "Still, it's too bad that we couldn't at least account for Carter first. I hope that bastard didn't make it out of here alive."
Anne was amazed to find herself nodding in agreement. "That jerk ruined my life. Or at least changed it forever."
Hickman stared at his bionic hands. "Yeah. Mine too."
Since the Colony didn't have a brig (Danny Anderson designed it to be a Utopia, not the terrorist training camp SIRECOM imagined it to be), the prisoners had to be scattered around the complex. While Hickman took some to the gym, Anne escorted hers over to the ward reserved for "feebs," the non-Omega humans who lived inside the Colony.
Most of the "feebs" were huddled in one big cafeteria, where Thomas-Peter Musafa, the powerful African Omega known as Conflagration, stood watch. Anne quickly perceived, by the way the Omega guards were showing as much hostility to the feebs as they were to the SIRECOM hostages, that Thomas-Peter was there as much to stop a riot as he was to play jailer.
On her way out of the ward, Anne was stopped by a jumpy redhead named Galbraith. This Galbraith, Anne gathered, had made himself the de facto leader of the feebsbut only because he was friends with Thomas-Peter, who was the one the feebs really looked up to. Galbraith was followed by an old man with a strange bruise over one eye.
"Miss Benson! Miss Benson! Over here!" Galbraith flashed a good would-be politician's smile. "You are Miss Benson, right? We've all heard so much about you... allow me to introduce a friend of mine."
Anne tried not to telepathically pry into other peoples' minds, but with this old man, she could barely stop herself. He was radiating an intense fearof her. "Uh, Mr. Galbraith, I'm not sure if "
"Anne Benson, Frank White. Frank White, Anne Benson. And I, of course, am Tom Galbraith. Heh, heh." He laughed at his own joke, then saw that no one else was. "Anyway, I've been meaning to introduce Frank here to your grandfather, since it might be nice for them to talk to somebody their own age. Frank used to be the only senior citizen here."
"That was very thoughtful of you," Anne said. Of course, it was also Galbraith's way of ingratiating himself with more powerful Omegas, but Anne didn't mention that. "But I'm afraid I don't have the time."
"No problem! Just ask your grandfather to stop by sometime, Frank here would love it." Frank's emotions said otherwiseat any mention of Harvey, his fear flared up.
Anne found Frank's fear astonishing. Did all the feebs (there I go using that awful word again, dammit) really fear Omegas that much? Well, Anne didn't have time to find out, and she certainly didn't have time to watch Galbraith terrify this old man for his own ends. She excused herself, and left the home of the feebsno, the humansno, the
The people who fear Omegas, Anne decided to call them. And looking at the destruction around her, she figured they had good reason.
Although Anne had been in the meditation room mere hours ago (searching fruitlessly for Eric Anderson, the most powerful Omega she'd ever seen, who was probably killed by Kali), she hardly recognized it now. Allen Covenant had decorated the walls with pictures of men. Gleaming, muscular, unreal men ripped from every magazine in the Colony. Every few minutes, Flux would charge in and pin up another one.
Isaac Warner was in many of the pictures, usually dressed in his old "Stingray" pro-wrestling costume. The real Isaac was wearing a flowing white robe (a sheet, actually) and sitting in the center of a circle Covenant had painted on the floor. Covenant was currently dabbing paint all over Isaac, making funny cunieform patterns.
Harvey was standing nearbyAnne was shocked to see him pinning up pieces of his own OVERMAN comics on the walls. "Grandpa, what are you doing?"
"What's necessary, honey."
"Yeah, but... I just didn't expect to see you ripping up your Overman comics like that...."
Harvey stopped pinning and looked at her. "Annie, we're trying to save the world here. What's a few comics compared to that? It isn't like I live through the things." He returned to his work, and Anne could hear him mutter, "Besides, these things are full of crap."
Anne walked over to Covenant and Isaac. "What's the point of all these pictures? Do torn-up magazine photos have any magical value?"
Covenant quickly shifted into his lecture mode. "They have symbolic value, which is almost the same thing. The 'gods' are highly susceptible to them; in a sense, the gods are just very glorified, complex, and extremely antisocial symbols themselves. These symbols will help convince Nergal to enter Isaac's body again, and give him power without dominating him." Covenant briefly lowered his mental shield and told Anne, (They'll also help convince Isaac that he's powerful enough to contain Nergal. I hope.)
(Covenant, even if this does work, will having a "god" on our side really balance out Shiva? Or is it just a theological arms race that will end up destroying the planet?)
Covenant furrowed his brow and thought a moment, keeping his thoughts private from Anne.
Finally, he said, (The answer is yes.)
After he was done helping out with the ritual, Harvey tried to refortify the Colony. Although his strength was useful in clearing debris and filling gaps, much more delicate work needed to be done; besides, he didn't like the way the Seekers kept sizing him up. It wasn't long before he offered to replace Conflagration down in the "feeb ward," so the pyrokinetic Omega could do some welding.
Harvey was only in the cafeteria for a few minutes when an obnoxious red-headed man approached him. "Excuse me, you're Harvey Hauptmann, right?" Harvey nodded, warily. "Great," the man prattled on, "my name's Tom Galbraith and I represent the normal humans here. Allow me to introduce " Galbraith spun around, and seemed shocked to see that nobody was behind him. "That's funny, Frank was here a minute ago." Galbraith explained, "Frank is the only other fella your age in the whole Colony. I thought it might be nice if you met."
Harvey stared past the man, watching a potential conflict brewing over by the food line. "That's really nice, pal, but I'm sort of busy keeping a handle on things here. Will you excuse me?" Harvey forced his way over to the near-fight, where three Omega teens were trying to cut ahead in line. He sent them packing, and then smiled as he saw who they were accosting: a man in his late sixties with an odd bruise over one eye. "Hey, buddy," he said, offering his hand, "you must be Frank."
Frank recoiled in terror, and his eyes popped wide open. The change in expression moved the bruise around, and suddenly Harvey recognized it. Frank and ran out of line without getting his food. He shuffled out the door just as Galbraith caught up to Harvey. "What's gotten into him?" he asked.
Harvey clenched and unclenched his fists, his knuckles making loud cracking sounds. After a pause, he said, "I don't know."
But he had a good idea. That bruise was made by somebody's hand, he thought. And the only person who would've been around to make an old bruise like that... was me.
"IAO NERGAL IAO NERGAL NERGAL EVOE EVOE IAO"
Allen Covenant, clad in a white sheet covered with painted designs, led all of the Colony's telepaths, mentalists, and mystics in the chant. Anne was there, sitting under a wall covered with pictures of weightlifters, porn centerfolds, and superheroes. She still wasn't sure what to make of all this; she wasn't very religious, but participating in a ritual to summon a Sumerian deity seemed wrong. Heretical.
It's bad enough that I don't really believe in my own God; now I'm worshipping someone else's? Of course, I don't really think this "Nergal" is real eitherbut then that mean's there's no way to stop Shiva. And it doesn't matter if I believe in Shiva or nothe still wants to kill everyone, which is why I'm enacting a pagan ritual.
That's the problem with Christianity, Anne thought. You're damned if you do, and damned if you don't.
The guards at the end of the hall turned Frank away; they wouldn't let anyone near the prisoners, especially a "feeb." Frank nervously walked back down the hall, quaking with each step. And when he rounded a corner, his worst fears were realized. The old, but still incredibly muscular, Overman was standing there.
"No use running anymore. I guess we couldn't avoid each other long, could we, Frank?"
Every nerve in Frank's body screamed for him to runbut why bother trying to outrace Overman? He loosened his muscles and said, "I guess not. I just can't believe that you would have come for me after all these years."
"No, no! I just came here by chance! I guess that after all these years, it was only a matter of time before I met one of the people I beat up in Cleveland."
Frank was truly surprised. "Cleveland? You beat me up in Berlin." Harvey's jaw dropped. "Back when I was Franz Weiss of the army of the Third Reich."
Up on the surface, Jimmy DeLeon and the cyborg called Threll were trying to repair the Colony's electronic sensors and defense systems. Jimmy was worried that a second SIRECOM attack could happen at any moment.
He worked frantically at a tangled skein of cables. Too frantically, because he kept screwing up and taking longer than he would if he were calm. "You seen anybody snoopin' around the area, Threll?" he asked, in his thick Jamaican accent.
Threll scanned the junkyard. "One large canine of some sort is poking around. Seems to be a stray, not an attack dog."
"I hope so. The last thing we need is another attack."
A loud whistling sound caused Jimmy to drop his pliers, and sent the big wolf-hound scampering for cover. A tiny black dot detached itself from the sky and plunged towards the ground. The dot grew larger, into a smooth round ball with strange spherical clusters on the sides, and the whistle turned into a roar. Threll grabbed Jimmy and lunged to one side as the sphere crashed, sending garbage flying everywhere.
Jimmy picked himself up and ran over to the crater. The sphere had plunged right to the center of the Colony. Jimmy moaned, "Me and my big mouth," and jumped down after it.
Harvey had gotten them some coffee, and they sat in the hall and drank. And talked. "I guess it was a bit silly of me to assume you were coming after me," Franz said. "Or that you even knew who I was."
"I didn't," Harvey said between sips. "I did recognize that shiner, though. Looks like my craftsmanship."
"Yes, you gave it to me in the Ardennes. I have cherished it and kept it all my life." Franz laughed. "No, really. You punched me out and hung me on a treethe whole thing took about two seconds, I don't doubt that you've forgotten it."
Harvey blushed. "Sorry, Franz, but I, ah, did that to a lot of Nazis. Er, Germans, that is."
"Oh, call us Nazis, Harvey. For God's sake, if any one group ever earned an epithet, it was us." He took a long sip. "But after you punched me, I decided to desert the Nazis. Not because of any morals, I was simply afraid the Americans had more men like you. But I've since felt that I owe you, and this bruise, for getting me out of that group before it was too late."
"You weren't really into their propaganda, then? You didn't support Buchenwald and all that?" Harvey clearly wanted him to say 'no,' and perhaps salve his conscience for thinking that this Nazi was... well... a nice guy.
"Oh, not many people were that into it, Harvey. And then again, everyone was." Franz rubbed his bruise. "It was a strange time. Nobody would say they supported book burning or window breaking, but as soon as Der Fuhrer said it was alright to do it... everyone became a supporter. Just by not saying 'no.' I was one of those, Harvey. I never said 'no' to them, not even when they drafted me and sent me to kill."
Harvey nodded. "Not a brown shirt by action, just by..."
"Inaction. I don't know if that's better, or worse."
There was an awkward pause.
Harvey broke it. "Say, if you don't mind my asking, how did you end up here? You aren't an Omega, are you?"
"Oh, no. My granddaughter, Clara. When she reached puberty, she manifested her Omega, and her parents wanted to turn her in to the authorities. I... did not want to see history repeat itself. As a boy, I ratted on a Jewish family that was hiding in my town. I suppose it is only just that their situation be revisited in some small part on my own family... like the Indian gods' karma."
He touched Harvey's arm. "But I would not sit by and allow it to happen again, Harvey. I argued against reporting her, and when I could fight no longer, I kidnapped her. And we ended up here."
"Where I like it much better," said a new voice. A young girl, surely not a day over 13, stepped out of the cafeteria. She looked a lot like Franz, except her ears were extremely long and tapered up into thin antennae. "I heard everything you said, grand-daddy," she added guiltily.
"Of course you did, my dear. That is your power. Clara, please meet Harvey. He's... an old friend."
"Nice to meet you," she recited. "Grand-daddy, is it true that you were a Nazi?"
Harvey knew that he never had, and never would, experience the agony that tore through Franz and contorted his face. But Franz said, "Yes, darling. I was."
Clara smiled. "Wow, did you steal old treasure like in the Indiana Jones movies?"
Franz frowned and turned to Harvey. "Perhaps I had better volunteer to teach a history class here."
Then there was a tremendous crash from above.
"SEKHER NERGAL ES SEKHER ISAAC ES KHU SEKHER"
Now was the crucial moment: Covenant finished the chant, raised his ceremonial kris, and slit the goat's throat. Mirry winced, but kept her concentration up (earlier she'd objected to the goat's slaughter, but she conceded that it was one goat weighed against the entire world). All the Omegas concentrated, because this slaughter would summon Nergal. And Covenant said they didn't dare let him break all the way through, or they would all very quickly join the goat.
Covenant dripped the goat's blood over Isaac. A few more minutes and they would see if it worked....
The ceiling came crashing down as a huge silvery sphere forced its way into the room. One large chunk went sailing right for Covenant and Isaac, but Anne leapt to her feet and caught it, scraping Covenant's "magic circle" with her foot as she did so.
Anne shouldered the debris off to one side. "You guys okay?"
Covenant was sweating fiercely. "Not for long," he grunted. "This interruption is giving Nergal a chance to break through, andAHHH!" Covenant collapsed. Anne tried to help him up, but he yelled, "Everyone keep concentrating! We need a few minutes to abort the ritual and force Nergal back!"
"SUCH A SHAME THAT YOU DO NOT HAVE THOSE MINUTES." The voice boomed from the sphere that was the room's new ceiling. A smaller hemisphere grew out of the side, then irised open to reveal a woman standing within. She smelled of death.
"By the Dulcimer Tones of Jim Nabors," Covenant grunted, through half-closed eyes. "Is that Sarah Vincent?"
"Sarah Vincent has left this frail vessel. I am merely the messenger of your doom."
The body was all wrong, but Anne only knew of one person who spoke nothing but lame Satuday-matinee dialogue. "Deathbringer! You putz, aren't you dead yet?"
The decomposing body smiled. "Ah, the Hauptmann frau. You may claim the honor of being my third victim." He leapt for Covenant, but Anne blocked him with a TK field.
Covenant was writhing on the ground, and Isaac was slowly joining him. "Need time " the ex-wrestler pleaded. "Nergal " for one instant, a lion's head flickered around him"break-ng thrgh "
"Everybody else focus on the ritual," Anne commanded. "I'm going to finish off this recurring B-movie Nazi once and for all."
Harvey, followed by Franz and Clara, charged to the center of the Colony to see what had happened. He ran past Jimmy, Threll, and Warren Davis, the wounded Colony security chief; they were all pressed up against a corner. Warren shouted, "Hauptmann, I wouldn't ", but by then Harvey had rounded the corner.
A large silver sphere blocked the hallway. Instantly, it began shooting pulses of light at Harvey. He skidded around and dove for cover, but not without taking a hit to the back. The impact sent him flying.
He landed next to Warren, who said, "I warned you... you okay?"
"Yeah, it only hurt my shirt and my pride." Harvey's back was slightly burned, though. "What is that thing?"
"I don't know. But whatever it is, it's keeping us from getting to the meditation room."
Harvey scowled. "If only we knew what were going on in there...." Then he noticed Clara's antennae.
Franz had the same thought. "Clara, darling," he said, crouching down beside her, "can you hear what's happening on the other side of that big metal thing?"
Clara concentrated, and her antennae twitched. She said, "Lots of people are breathing hard. One man is chanting. Two people are fighting. One is named Frau and the other is named Deathbringer."
Both old men paled. "Then it was true all those years agothe Deathbringer is real?" Franz gasped.
"Yeah, and he refuses to stay dead. Last time, Anne and I only beat him with Eric's help, and nowwe've got to get in there."
Anne had to keep Deathbringer busy; if he/she drained any of the telepathic power that was being used to restrain Nergal, the god might break through and kill them all. So Anne kept pummeling Deathbringer, letting the vampire drain her powers a little more each time instead of someone else's.
The rotting woman laughed. "You cannot keep this up, Frau. You have no men to save you, and I grow stronger even as you weaken." She threw a punch which Anne's TK shield barely blocked.
Anne's punch landed solidly on the woman's chest, but Deathbringer's stolen force field was now almost as strong as Anne's blows. Anne tried broadcasting images of Deathbringer's original death again, but they didn't make him drop his power-leeches.
Instead, Deathbringer seemed rather confused. "Who was that man who just got killed?" he asked. "Ach, never mind." The vampire's next swing knocked Anne flat. "Stay there, Frau. You shall wipe my palate clean once I devour the rest." He stalked towards the prone Covenant.
Anne tried another approach. She jumped up and telepathically broadcast an image of herself kicking Deathbringer. Then she feinted a kick at him/her, and telekinetically yanked on his/her legs at the same time. Deathbringer blocked the wrong attack, and Anne was able to pull him/her to the ground. However, the woman's rotten legs weren't up to the strain, and Anne accidentally ripped them right off Deathbringer.
The vampire started pulling him/herself along on his/her arms. "The mere absence of legs has never halted me before! Why, I "
Deathbringer was really around the deep end, and for some reason his/her mind was really easy to manipulate; perhaps his insanity, or perhaps this body's brain was easier to deceive. This time, Anne convinced him/her he/she was draining all of Covenant's energy, when in fact Anne commanded him/her to really return all of Anne's stolen power.
"Hah! I am more powerful than ever, woman! You shall feel my wrath, first you and then "
The wall next to Deathbringer exploded outwards. The plaster itself was pulverized, but all the magazine pictures went flying. Harvey stepped through the dusty cloud, little paper images of Overman fluttering to the floor around him. Several people followed him, including another old man (Frank?) and a little girl.
"Hauptmann!!!" The legless corpse spat bile when it screamed. "You will be the next to taste my revenge! Tremble in fear, mortal!"
Anne picked up the sickening creature. Telekinetically, of course, she certainly didn't want to touch the thing. "You got here a little late, grandpa. It's all over except for the hyperbole. His, that is." Anne broadcast an image of Deathbringer killing everyone in the room, just to placate it. "Now what are we going to do with him? I, for one, am getting tired of this Zombie Nazi theme. We need to keep him from hopping to a new body."
Jimmy stepped through the hole. "We already thought of that, m'dear, as soon as little Clara told us Deathbringer was here." He snapped a large metallic rings around Deathbringer's forehead, and connected it to a small power-pack. "It's a Dynamax psionics inhibitor. We took it off a SIRECOM agent. Should keep the bastard trapped in this body." Jimmy stared at the creature and pinched his nose. "And that may be punishment enough."
With the inhibitor on, Anne's projection no longer reached the vampire. It realized with a start where it was, and began screaming.
Anne shoved Deathbringer out the hole, so it wouldn't disturb the chanters, and the other Omegas followed her. Once Anne got outside, she saw there was a succession of holes leading to the med-room. "Boy," she remarked, "I can tell a Hauptmann has been through here."
Harvey chuckled. "Ahh, there was no clear path to the room, so Threll and I made one. Went right around that funny ball." Then he grabbed Deathbringer and turned serious. "The question is, what will we do with him?"
Warren, rubbing his injured shoulder, said, "He's a freaking Nazi. Execute him."
Harvey glanced over at the other old man. "A couple days ago I would have agreed, Warren. But now, I don't know. Maybe even Deathbringer can redeem himself. Right, Franz?"
Franz was shaking his head. "Well, I'll concede that anything is possible. But only if the Deathbringer is willing to try and balance his crimes, make amends for them." He stepped over to the creature. "What do you say, Herr Todtshoepfer? Are you willing to make amends?"
For a moment, Deathbringer was lucid enough to stare and reply. "Who the fck are you, old man?"
Franz sighed. "Let's say that I am what you could have been. And you are what I might have been, if I hadn't decided to take my daughter here. If I hadn't received a timely bruise."
Deathbringer gazed at him. "You... you once served the Fuhrer too, didn't you? Then help me, brother! Free me!" Franz turned his back on the creature, causing it to yell louder. "Join me in establishing the New Reich! It can be like before..." He/she started to warble the Horst Wessel Song.
Franz went back to the circle of Omegas, and told Clara to run along. After she had been gone a few minutes, Franz said, "I think we need to kill him."
Harvey looked crestfallen. "But even a Nazi can repent...."
"If they're a real person, perhaps. Not if they're a monomaniac like him. I doubt he will ever do anything but murder. He is too much in love with death... he refuses to see any other options."
Anne leaned on her own grandfather's shoulder. "What about the woman whose body he's stolen? Shouldn't we save it for her?"
"Have you seen that body?" Warren asked indignantly. "Whoever used to own that is long dead. Or would die as soon as they got popped back in it." He held out his hand, and a shotgun materialized in it. "Look, that sicko will never go away if we don't do him now. Will anyone stop me if I do it?"
He looked long and hard at Franz, Jimmy, and Threll, and especially Anne and Harvey. Anne and Harvey both averted his glance; but neither said they would stop him. No one did.
"Then it's settled. I'll handle him."
But before Warren could move, Franz stepped in his way. "Hand me the gun."
"I thought you wanted to kill him."
"I most certainly do. But he must be killed for the right reasons, and hatred and anger aren't among them. So hand me the gun."
Warren, finally understanding, handed it over. Franz took it and walked across the room.
"Ah, mein freund, you have returned with weapons! Now free me, and we shall "
None of the Omegas looked, but they all heard the gunshot. Perhaps Clara did as well.
Anne, Harvey, and Franz were all sitting atop a trashheap, looking out over the crater Deathbringer's ship had made. Apparently, Covenant had ended the ritual in time, and sent Nergal back without supperat least, Isaac wasn't trying to kill everyone in sight. But now Covenant had to start the ritual all over again, and he was bitching about the availability of another live goat.
But all wasn't completely in vain. Jimmy and Hickman were trying to decipher the ship's computer systems, and they said there was a good chance the computers would have Shiva's exact location. They might even be able to fly the ship back there.
The Colony, however, was now wrecked beyond hope, and everyone seemed to know where it was. They would have to leave as soon as they dealt with Shiva.
"How do you feel, Franz?" Harvey asked.
Franz coughed. "The first man I've killed in fifty years? I feel like total hell, Harvey. But someone had to do it."
"Why not just let Warren?"
"I had to take some responsibility for Deathbringer and his twisted philosophy. Because if I had just said 'no' all those years ago...."
There was another awkward pause as they sat out there, in the sun, on the trash.
"Hey, Franz," Anne said, twirling an old Coke tab around her finger. "If Deathbringer was so evil that he had no hope of redemptionand I don't doubt that he wasdo you think that maybe somewhere out there, there's someone who's really good? You know, so good they'll never be corrupted? As a balance to Deathbringer?"
Franz thought a long time, and seemed to pull his answer from the depths of his soul. "Possibly."
Anne smiled. "You think maybe we'll ever meet them?"
Franz sighed. "No."
END OF PART SEVEN
Allen Covenant, Isaac Warner, and Threll were created by Chad Imbrogno. Hickman, Flux, and the Seekers created by Matt Dempster. Shiva, Deathbringer, Jimmy, Warren, Mirry, Conflagration, Galbraith, and the Colony created by Matt Rossi.
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