Judgement Eve

– Judgement Eve –

By John C. Wright

*** *** ***

Azaziel not less were he mortal; yet

I am glad he is not. I cannot outlive him.
And when I think that his immortal wings
Will one day hover o’er the sepulchre
Of the poor child of clay which so adored him,
As he adores the Highest, death becomes
Less terrible; but yet I pity him:
His grief will be of ages, or at least
Mine would be such for him, were I the Seraph,
And he the perishable.

— Lord Byron HEAVEN AND EARTH (1821)

Table of Contents so far

  • *** *** ***

    Year One Cetacean Calendar

    1. Golgolundra

    Imagine the boulevards of Golgolundra on the world’s last day, and the angels circling like vultures above it. Everywhere is noise, and lights, and gaiety, and crime, and chaos.

    Imagine every wall and window of the crowded towers colorful with graffiti. The graffiti of these times are bright, not sloppy, composed of computer-assisted images of artistic depth and merit. They move, they sing, they speak to passers-by, and some of them reach from their billboards and kill whomever seems dispirited, obnoxious, dull; tiny flicks of paint flying up, reforming in mid air into blades or poisoned plumes of gas.

    Other people, beautiful or monstrous or both, dancing in the street in their fantastic costumes, applaud and cheer when some vivid near-by death splatters them with blood. They do not wish to seem dull. The whole city screams and screams with laughter.

    Why this forced gaiety? Why this hideous display? To-day is the birthday party for Crimptyphon, their founder; today is the wake for mankind.

    To-morrow the angels drown the world.

    The streets are a festive combination of war-zone and Mardi-Gras.

    Imagine most of the crimes are committed by the young, who are more extravagant. A shy young boy sees a laughing woman sway by, surrounded by handsome admirers raising glasses of champagne and poison. It takes him but a moment to program his assemblers. A diamond drop, unnoticed, stings her flesh or flies into her wine. A moment later it has taken carbon from her blood to construct a series of gates and interrupts along major nerve- channels in her spine. The programming is precise and elegant, there is no jerkiness as her arms and leg muscles move, stimulated without her control. She tries to cry out for her companions. Instead, her lips move, she hears her voice make clever excuses, and away she walks with the shy boy. He becomes a shy rapist, perhaps using his controllers to overload her pleasure centers of her brain, or pain centers, before doing whatever else to her his bored imagination might conceive.

    Or imagine a laughing woman, irked by an unwanted stare, or prompted by real fear, who programs her assemblers to shoot into the boy’s flesh, so that, in mid-festival, surrounded by unsure giggles, he will fall, his arms and legs distorted into clumsy lopsided shapes, or boneless tubes of flesh, while he stares in horror at the grotesque growths sprouting up from what was once his groin.

    And perhaps she does not know who has offended her. Without sumptuary laws, faces and bodies change from day to day like images in nightmare. Better, she thinks, to program all assemblers to reproduce and strike at random. Any flesh they enter, check for genes. Spare those who carry XX chromosomes.

    Now imagine, not two such folk, but a city of such people, creatures of godlike power and infantile rage. The sky above Golgolundra is dark with brilliant diamond points, thicker than confetti, a blizzard, and by now no one can tell who sent them out, or when, or why, or what their original programs were.

    And where the assemblers fight each other (which they do often) the reaction heat from their rapid molecular manipulations starts fires in the city. No one fights the fires.

    More people would be dead, more horribly, were it not for the Invigilators. They soar in the high pure air far above, surrounded by rainbows and rings of force.

    Their technology is very different from that of the earth.

    When they dive, one can see manlike shapes, faces and forms of ruthless beauty. Their personal shields clothe each one in a radiant nimbus of gold, and the forces which give lift to their flying-cloaks make their wings to shine. Where the nimbuses sphere their heads, the glancing light makes golden rainbows appear and disappear.

    Their faces are inhumanly perfect and stern. The mental training systems brought by the Ship of the Will give each one a perfect calm and utter sanity; the calm of a frozen winter pond.

    Is it any wonder men call them angels?

    From their eyes dart slender rays like beams of a warship’s searchlight, sweeping back and forth, penetrating crowds and clouds and hidden places.

    Where they glance upon weapons or explosives, or fighting machines, they squint, and the rays of light tremble with mysterious force, and consume what they see with fire.

    Sometimes the weapons, before they are found, discharge a futile shot or two toward the angels, whose shields flare to higher energies, flashing like whirlwinds of fire. People applaud when this happens.

    Imagine Golgolundra. Everyone laughs. No one is happy. Everyone is doomed.

    *** *** ***

    There was one young man among the dancing crowds who did not dance. He dressed in black and did not laugh. He was not doomed. And, perhaps, he had a chance, if small, to become happy.

    In his forehead glinted a ruby gem. Any passer-by with the proper machine could have read his thoughts. The grim look on his face saved them the effort; his thoughts were clear.

    The crowds parted when he walked by. The dancers fell silent. The graffiti images recoiled and did not molest him.

    He was Idomenes, son of Ducaleon. His genetic modifications were not the same as those who lived in Golgolundra. He was a Promethean; they were Typhonides.

    He came to the central tower, which served Golgolundra as administration, rebellion-center, entertainment capital, and whorehouse. Idomenes paced down the wide corridors, looking neither right nor left. The monstrous statues, grotesque murals, or weeping deformities in their glass cages did not attract his attention.

    Out from his black cloak, black diamonds fanned out, sweeping the corridors before and behind him like nervous soldiers or presidential bodyguards, edging around corners, darting near anything suspicious, maintaining their spacing and their overlapping fields of fire. He ignored all this motion. He walked.

    When he came before a certain door, perhaps he was impatient with precautions. The swarms of black diamonds fluttered back beneath his cloak, or came to rest in jewelried patterns along the chest and sleeves of his dark doublet. He raised his proud head.

    “I am here to gather the woman to my arms, and then up, into the black void of heaven.”

    The door recognized him, and, without a word, politely opened.

    She was within.

    *** *** ***

    2. Lillimara

    Lounging at ease on a day-bed on the balcony, dreamily watching the distant fires, a woman of haunting beauty reclined. Her skin was the color of coffee with cream, her hair was as black as the midnight sea. She wore it very long. When she stood, it would fall fragrantly past her rounded hips and brush her shapely calves. When she lay on her stomach it was long enough so that, even when braided, it could be used to tie her wrists and ankles. When she lay on her side, as she did now, it formed luxurious cloudscapes, and fell, little waterfalls, from bed to floor, stray locks swaying.

    Above the couch floated a mirror. She watched the little glints of her white assemblers caressing her body. Where they passed, a garment of black lace was being woven tightly around her curves. The garment had no seams, and would have to be unwoven to remove it, or roughly ripped off.

    She pretended she did not see she was being watched. Now she stretched and yawned like a cat, arching her back and moaning. She turned on her stomach, and regarded Idomenes with mock- surprise. Her eyes were half-lidded. Her frail lace garb was half- woven.

    He did not remove his gloves, but, at least, he held his hand at his sides, and made no gestures.

    Idomenes spoke first, grand with simplicity. “Lillimara, I want you to come with me to the stars.”

    Lillimara smiled mysteriously, as if charmed by distant music. Her voice was husky and low: “Men want only what they can’t get. That is the nature of desire.”

    She stirred and half-rose, so she was leaning on one arm. Her hair was electrostatically charged, so that it floated and swayed as if in a breeze, even though there was no breeze. “Many people would like to go to the stars, sweet lover. The angels won’t let them. All but your folk. The sheep.”

    “I broke an oath to tell you these things. Do not mock my people. They will be saved.” Idomenes spoke harshly, stepping forward. Now he was close enough to smell her perfume, and his expression weakened into confusion and anger. His eyes burned like the black diamonds glittering in his coat.

    She made a swaying, supple motion of her naked shoulders, perhaps intended as a shrug. “What do you have that the angels want to save? Some pretty angel-lass fall in love with you?”

    The muscles twitched in the corners of his jaw. “You mock them too? When the Ship first came from the stars, She saved us from the devastation of the Wars. We begged Her to govern and guide us. The Ship showed us how we might remove all the vicious old structures from our brains and genes, madness and rage and panic and hate. The Ship made the Invigilators to show us how it was done. Were we grateful? Did we learn? Did we listen?”

    “‘Invigilators’? How quaint. You’re so old-fashioned some times, lover. We call them angels of death.”

    “Do you think they want to kill? How many chances did we get? How many wars did we start, after how many warnings? How many people of the sea did we obliterate?”

    “‘Dolphins’. We call them ‘Dolphins.’ And there were complex reasons for the genocide-wars. Economic reasons and stuff. Turmoil. And why did the Ship make them members of the Galactic Will when humans were kept in protectorate status? Them! Them! We made them! And now we were second class citizens!”

    “‘Complex reasons’? Rage and jealousy and hate. Explain the complex reasons for the extermination camps and torture circuses.”

    “They were cutting into our trade with the Ship!”

    “Maybe they were richer because they didn’t kill each other all the time. As your people did mine. Was there a complex reason for that, too? Or was it just an expression of the rage and aggression your people will not remove from your brain-stem structures?”

    “Some people think evil has survival value.”

    “It is the purpose of the Law to see that it will not.” He spoke in a voice of dark majesty.

    “Don’t lets argue politics again!” she pouted. “That’s all ancient history.”

    “Fifty years ago is hardly ancient.”

    “We never did anything to deserve this. No children!”

    “The Ship sent a barrenness to all our women, yes, and sent plagues to sterilize the men, but that was for mercy’s sake. There were to be no children when the world drowned. And now that Crimptyphon’s coffin was found and thawed, and he grew the last few weeks to become a man, it is done. There are no children left. No innocent lives. Today is Doomsday Eve! The hour is come!”

    “And why are you here, lover?” she pouted and tossed back her head. “I hate long goodbyes. They bore me.”

    “I’ve come to save you. My love for you burns like a devastating fire. It conquers my will and heart and sense and soul! You are the fairest child of a condemned and evil race, but I cannot believe, and I will not, that such beauty hides a soul wicked past cure!”

    His eyes were narrow slits of fire. Now he stepped forward and seized her fragrant shoulders with his hands. Some of his assemblers, misunderstanding the sudden gesture, flew up to either side and hovered like wasps; a sight of terror. But either her nerves were steel (a common replacement) or she is drowned in hysteria. She threw back her lovely head and laughed.

    He said, “Stop laughing! You must want life! You must want my love! Such love as mine cannot go unanswered! It dare not.” Then, more quietly: “I will defy the Invigilators. They will be convinced by the force and ardor of my soul! If– if you were my wife — do you see what I am offering? — If you were a member of my household, the angels would not let me leave you behind!”

    She gave him a cool, remote stare, her perfect lips hovering on the hint of a smile.

    He stepped back, deflated. As he drew his hands down, the deadly assemblers dropped close to the floor and drew back.

    Idomenes said, “Why this coldness? Tell me what you want.”

    She was on her hands and knees, her fingers knotted into the silken fabrics of the bedcloth. Lillimara kept the same small half-smile on her lips, but she trembled when she spoke: “I want you to be serious. Abduct me. It is the traditional thing for bug-eyed spacemen to do, is it not? Kill my father, burn his house. Leave nothing for me to regret leaving.”

    “What a horrible thing to say. Are the angels right about us?”

    She laughed. “At times, no means yes. Except when it doesn’t. Don’t you understand women at all?”

    “Sane women, I do.” Idomenes looked at her oddly. “Are you drunk? Have you been intoxicated against your will? There may be neuro-operators interfering with your brain-chemistry.”

    He raised a finger and pointed at her. A black diamond flickered up from the floor, ready.

    She screamed, writhing backward. She was on her feet near the railing, perhaps ready to fall or jump.

    He raised his hand, spread his fingers. The black diamond fell back.

    “Don’t you dare interfere with my body!” she shouted.

    “What is it– ?”

    Silently, softly, she said, “I’m pregnant.”

    *** *** ***

    3. Harlequin

    He was dumbstruck for a moment. Then he said, “No woman can be pregnant. We can make children artificially. The assembler technology was first made for that. But no one but the angels know what codes they used to force our biochemistry into sterile patterns…”

    She said sharply, “Has it never occurred to the great Idomenes that there are assembler programmers better than even he?”

    He snorted. “No. That thought I do not admit.”

    Now she stepped forward, hips swaying, her eyes glinting with danger and pain. “And has it never occurred to you that I might have another lover? One who can give me the child you cannot?!”

    Idomenes stepped back, as if he had been slapped. “I thought you loved me…”


    “You said…”

    “I say a lot of things.” She tossed her head.

    “I thought it was that my father speaks with the angels; that my people were special, that you were attracted to my… my…”

    “Your purity? Your righteousness? It is your worst fault.”

    “You wanted my knowledge of assemblies, then. Is that it? You thought I could crack the angel’s code.”

    Lillimara folded her hands on her belly. Her head was bowed forward slightly, so that her hair fell about her like smoke. “There are needs a woman has no man can understand, and duties…”

    He turned and left at that point, his face drained and hollow, his expression something more horrid than anger. The door did not open swiftly enough to suit him. He pointed, flicked his fingers, made a fist. Black assemblers rearranged the wood into nitroglycerine compounds and blew the doorpanels out of their frame. The shrapnel and smoke which struck him left blood mingled with burns on his face, but his footsteps did not slow.

    He did not hear the end of her sentence: “…duties even stronger than love.” Her hair hid her tears.

    His assemblers reknitted his torn flesh and cleaned his skin before he had gone down two corridors. He came into an atrium. Here was what looked like a boy of eight or nine, dressed as a harlequin clown, surrounded by a large flotilla of diamond assemblers.

    Idomenes was in no mood to speak. He brought his hands together and made a gesture. The Harlequin’s assemblers trembled and dropped to the floor, dead, before any signal could move.

    “Wait!” shouted the boy. “I’m not an android! I’m real! Killing me would be murder!”

    Idomenes was pointing his finger, and his black assemblers, like a little galaxy, crowns upon crowns around him, hung in the air, ready. “All the real little boys are grown up.”

    “I’m 21 to-day. I just made myself look this way because everybody hated me as I grew older.”

    Idomenes lowered his hand. The black assemblers spread out and dropped lower, idling on stand-by.

    “You’re Crimptyphon.”

    “I am also her father.”

    “You? Impossible.”

    “I made her when I was twelve. She grew up as I slept. You’ve studied assembler technology history?”

    “The major advances in carbon, oxygen and nitrogen manipulators are credited to you. All between 16 and 20. A child prodigy.”

    “My first experiment was to stimulate my own neurochemistry to greater speed and intelligence. There was a danger of madness, its true, but what’s a little insanity between friends? I knew I had to live my life only in my youth, because my life was going to be the shortest one of all. Imagine being the one kid the whole execution of the planet was waiting for! Imagine being responsible for that!”

    Idomenes’voice shivered with pity: “It’s really not your fault.”

    Crimptyphon snarled. “What do you know of it, gentle boy? What do you know of guilt and hate, eh? They cleaned your genes of all those bad thoughts, didn’t they? That’s why you get to live, eh? But all these people in Golgolundra are based on patterns of mine! Battle-lust and killer-instinct at its best! We’ll see whose survival strategy is better! Wild or domestic!”

    Idomenes raised his hand and spread his fingers. Black diamonds swirled upward, forming little clusters in the air around him. “I don’t wish to fight you. I believe fighting is evil.”

    “But you want to murder the one who stole my daughter from you, don’t you, gentle boy?”

    “Don’t tempt me.”

    “I know who it is.”

    “The matter does not concern…”

    “Didn’t you think she was acting strange? I know you stung her with an analyser, quick, from behind, while she was jumping off the bed. Sneaky and curious, aren’t we? Maybe there’s hope for you yet, eh? Look at the blood read-out.”

    Idomenes now closed a fist and held out a pinky. One slim black diamond touched his glove’s fingernail, hovering. A unit in his thumb projected images into his eyes. “She is under a love- potion. Drunk. Its affecting her estrogen levels and parasympathetic nervous system. And… and…”

    Idomenes lowered his hand. The assembler, forgotten, tinkled to the marble floor. “…She really is pregnant.”

    Then he straightened: “But some one used a mind-altering technique on her…”

    The little boy stepped forward. “Let me see.”

    Idomenes pointed his thumb at Crimptyphon.

    To their eyes the atrium was gone. They floated in a world of gigantic molecular chains, complex diagrams, brain patterns, nerve-energy comparisons, biochemical formulae.

    Idomenes said, “They’re using a combination of neurotransmitters to trigger the sexual response, affect pulse and respiration, with this chain here used to receive a coordinating signal.”

    “Note the decentralized structure of the hypnogogic state- inducers in the hypothalamus.”

    “Mm. Clever work.”

    They nodded at each other, in mutual admiration of a shared love of craftsmanship.

    *** *** ***

    4. Crimptyphon

    Idomenes highlighted one of the imaged strands: “Here we same the same information architecture governing the internal nerve-body reactions in the cerebrum and upper brain- stem. The destruction of any part of the love potion is insufficient; it holographically restores itself.”

    “Unless you know the key control sequences. Unless you know who sent it.”

    “You know. You keep her watched. Who?”

    “I will tell you for a price…”

    “On the world’s last day? You’ll tell me or…”

    “Or what? I’ll live to regret it? Don’t threaten me, gentle boy! You’ve had your killer-instincts removed!”

    Idomenes banished the vision so that Crimptyphon could see the menacing circle of black assemblers which had formed a circle around him.

    “A man can do by deliberation what his instincts don’t allow. Talk.”

    “Hoo! Ha! But your precious purity off soul goes sour if you play rough. One slap and the angels let you drown with the rest of us. And you can’t hide the crime while you wear that ruby in your head. Domesticated animals have no secrets, remember?”

    “But then I can’t make a deal, either.”

    “But what I want, the angels won’t care. Information.”


    “Your father has a complete genetic library of all human and hominids races on the earth. The angels helped him to collect it. They gave him a program for his wife, Phyrra, so that her children will carry all racial characteristic in their genetic material, to emerge in later generations and alter them. One women with an ability to restore the entire race to full genetic diversity! I want a copy of that program.”

    Idomenes tapped a finger on his palm. One larger black diamond swum forward out of the swarm and hung in the air before Crimptyphon’s eyes. “Here it is.”

    “The whole library in one crystal? You’re lying!”

    “I’m wearing a ruby. You can check. You can also check to see that I’ll give it to you a moment after I have the name.”

    “It a deal. Turn my gloves back on so that the city mind can record our handshake.”

    “I thought Golgolundra was mad.”

    “Faked. I wanted the angels not to interfere with our internal computer sequences…”

    A set of screams from outside interrupted; there came the clamor of explosions, the roaring thunder of angel-flame cutting through walls.

    Because Crimptyphon’s gloves were working, one of his radio- diamonds carried the noise of Lillimara’s shriek. Perhaps it was a sound of delight; perhaps a cry of pain.

    Idomenes was already running down the corridors, back.

    Crimptyphon’s little legs could not keep up.

    “The library! Give me the library–!” panted the boy, the ruffles of his clown-suit bouncing and flopping with each step.

    Idomenes did not turn his head, but ran in swift lunging steps. “The name!” he shouted back.

    Crimptyphon stumbled and stopped.

    As Idomenes turned a last corner, he heard the little’s boy weak voice behind him, trembling with malice: “Fool! Fool! Who else can it be? Who else knows the angel’s fertility codes?”

    Idomenes turned the corner just in time to see, framed in the still-smoking rectangle of the doorframe, a man of unearthly handsomeness, Lillimara thrown across his shoulder, standing balanced on the balcony rail. A golden light was all around him. His surcoat was black, a color the angels did not normally use. His wings unfolded swanlike from his shoulders, shivering with crackles and darts of energy. His eyes were filled with light; he was looking upwards.

    Lillimara’s perfect bottom was high in the air; her shapely legs were kicking, but Idomenes saw her smile falter over her shoulder when she saw him.

    The angel fled upward, supersonically swift, a swirl of dust leaping after him.

    The room was empty. A moment later a crack of supersonic noise rolled like thunder far overhead.

    Idomenes stood staring at nothing, while wave after wave of grief, and astonishment at how tremendously he had been betrayed, swept through him.

    Crimptyphon, panting, walked up behind him. “Mehujael. His name is Mehujael. He’s the one who found my cryogenic coffin, and brought me back here to my home. Just in time for my long-delayed birthday party, eh? No regrets, though. Gave you guys an extra thirty some odd years to prepare while I slept. Kind of like condemned women getting pregnant to delay a hanging, isn’t it? One sleeping baby saving the world. Can’t believe how foolishly my people here wasted this technology. It’s all so obvious. The angels wouldn’t even be able to threaten us if we had kept our heads about this. But hey! Give people a way to do crimes without anyone finding out, I guess they’ll do them, right? All sorts of gross crimes. I wish I was sure the angels weren’t right about us after all. But, hey, you gotta root for the home team if its your team, right? Anyway, that was Mehujael, Urael’s lieutenant. I don’t know what Lilly did for him. Maybe she told him the Ship’s real reason for the Doomsday drownings.”

    Idomenes made a gesture, a flick of a finger, no more. A large black diamond hopped toward Crimptyphon. Idomenes spoke like a man in a dream. “Here. The library.”

    “Thanks. Where are you going?”

    “I know where he must be headed. There is only one place on Earth which will be preserved from drowning.”

    Grief and fear were in Idomenes’ voice, uncertainty in his eye. He touched the gem in his head with a nervous finger.

    The little boy whispered: “You’re afraid they’ll see, genes or no genes, that you still know what hate is. But they won’t blame you for thinking about attacking a bad angel, will they? And my daughter– don’t you have to rescue her? You’re the only one who knows where Mehujael is going. You said so. Aren’t you a hero?”

    This last comment was uttered with a sneer: A sneer which deepened after Idomenes departed.

    *** *** ***

    5. Mehujael

    Toward twilight, Idomenes saw from afar Mehujael on the eastern side of Mount Neptushem, where the palaces and museums of his father were.

    Here was the place, gathered over years, Ducaleon had brought all the works of man to be preserved, and made gardens and houses for the sustenance and delight of the expected hordes of mankind deemed worthy enough to be spared and dwell here.

    Idomenes wondered why the streets were empty.

    Not quite empty. There were two figures there.

    The dark angel was standing on the lip of a fountain, in the high square between the observatory and a many-pillared archive. The third side was railing, overlooking far slopes below.

    To the fourth side, behind and above the fountain, the ground rose again, slope upon slope and buttress upon buttress to a fantastic mountain. Palace upon palace rose up here, delicate spires high above gardens of breath-taking elegance. The mountain-top, ringed by noble minarets, was crowned above with a stepped pyramid of singular grace, whose sides were sculpted with hanging gardens. Little singing waterfalls fell shining down its many airy balconies.

    Lillimara was kneeling, her arms embracing Mehujael’s leg, her cheek against his knee. Her hair flowed around her like long banners. She was not dressed otherwise.

    Nor, it seemed, was he. The black surcoat which served him as badge of rank Mehujael had thrown away. Other clothes he had none. His aura protected him against rain and cold and other, deadlier things which might harm him.

    Idomenes remembered a time as a child, when the angels dropped their auras, and walked nude in the garden air of his father’s fields and lawns. But the Typhonides and others had filled all the air with so many viral weapons specific to angels, nerve-toxins and hallucinogens, that no angels dared lower their shields any more.

    As Idomenes approached, climbing wide flights of ivory stairs, an angry gesture twisted his fingers. An old, old program was accessed from the memory of his assemblers, a military program, written by the Sons of Typhon. Assemblers made black clouds around him as he strode in wrath up slope, and they drew carbon and hydrogen and oxides out of the air with such force that he strode as if in a gale.

    When he passed the fruit arbors, an articulated exoskeliton clothed his frame, with motors of shell and bone at all joints.

    When he passed the outer memory shrines, heavy plates of black diamond armor had collected onto the moving frame. The plate could not have stopped bullets, perhaps, but angels fought with beams of laser flame.

    As he passed around the corner of the archive-house, long firing tubes and launchers had collected on his back, and his magazines had filled with explosives.

    The wiring grown inside his armor was made of biological cable, like nerves, because his assemblers had not copper nor gold to work with. He was going through final firing sequence system checks as he rounded the second corner and stepped into the square.

    As he walked across the square toward the angel, his heavy motorized footsteps booming on the flagstones, a final touch of anger and pride made him grow ornaments of nacre and pearl and silvery horn along the hull of his black armor, and a tall gay plume sprouted high from his helm.

    He must have looked splendid, for Lillimara was gazing at him with a look of burning awe.

    Idomenes saw she was surrounded by the dark angel’s energy shield which shimmered like gold in the air along her bare skin.

    Mehujael spoke: “Have you not heard that only free men have the right to go armed? The cruelty of the angels will destroy you if you raise weapon against your betters, little serf!”

    “The Invigilators are not so unjust,” Idomenes’ voice, amplified, rang out from the his armor, which was humming with power around him. “I come to recover the girl you bewitch and abduct. My cause is right; I will not be condemned for it.”

    But he did not focus any aiming lasers toward the black shining figure, and his weapons still hovered on stand-by.

    “Not so unjust?” the dark angel mocked. “Compared, I wonder, to what? Or do you call them fair because you dream you will be spared?”

    “Our race has a shameful history. The Ship determined that that history must end. Has She not fulfilled every appearance of justice? There was no need to grant our appeal. Her mind is not mortal, not organic, works at a million times our speed, commits no errors, no oversights! How could She be wrong? Yet still She returned to Canopus for review; the world there is governed by a mind even more deep and wise than Hers. The World-Minds of every world gathered in synod. The World-Minds called upon the Star-Minds, each of whom guides many worlds; the Star-Minds called upon energies we cannot imagine to link mind to mind across the stars and waken the Will.”

    Idomenes now spoke in a voice of rolling power: “The thoughts of the Will are as infinitely wiser, deeper, more sure, more pure, as the thoughts of the Ship are above mortal organic thoughts. Perhaps you can doubt the wisdom of Ships, and Worlds, and Stars; but surely no one can doubt the wisdom of the Will! Can you, can even you, who once served the Will, doubt this?! What can you set in your soul to guide yourself, once you have rejected Infinite Wisdom’s guide!”

    “I set up my pride.” said the dark angel, and his wings spread as he spoke. “I will do no more shameful things, no matter at whose behest; but shall henceforth do only that in which I can take most pride.”

    “You are mad, perhaps intoxicated! Allow my assemblers to cleanse your system; see the light of truth; and restore my true love to me.”

    “If the Will is so wise, why are innocent people condemned? Those whose only crime is that they live on a world with evil-doers? We call this guilt by association. And what of those whose only crime is that they have aggressive instincts, even if they have, as yet, done no wrong? We call this innocence.”

    Idomenes was not sure how to answer. Then he said grimly:

    “Those who are worthy shall be spared.”

    “Worthy? By what standard? Why do you assume the Ship acts in your best interests? And why is your father’s city here still deserted?”

    Idomenes, perhaps, felt a moment of coldness. He could not answer these questions. Instead, he pointed his finger at the angel; aiming lasers followed his finger and locked on; The heavy weapons on his back reared up on their jointed arms, humming, and pointed their deadly snouts where his finger pointed. “You have bewitched my love! Poisoned her with neurochemicals and hypno- narcotics! Release her!”

    Mehujael smiled down at the beautiful woman at his feet. “Tell him, my pet, my plaything, you willingly love me.”

    Lillimara said, “It’s true. I carry his child. My dark angel is strong where you are weak. My father has given him assemblers programmed to sculpt an asteroid into a working starship. We will fly to heavens without being anyone’s domesticated slaves!” And she laughed. Idomenes soul was flayed by that laughter. In his armor, he was shivering and sweating with rage.

    “She speaks under your influence! Release her or I fire!”

    *** *** ***

    6. Urael

    The angel regarded the human weapons with amused contempt. He said: “What you describe is not an Invigilator technology. I have done nothing to her. But I see by your gem that you are sincere. Here. I withdraw my shield from her. Perform your tests. Then understand how stupidly you have been wrong. This will shatter your pride, and then you may crawl off away somewhere to die. Do you still think the Ship is so wise? By this act of aggression, by raising a weapon in anger, you have violated your parole; the Invigilator law will drown you with the others.”

    The golden glitter withdrew from Lillimara’s nude skin. She shivered in the air, for it was growing now toward dusk, and long shadows fell across the courtyard and fountain.

    Idomenes made a gesture. A slim black diamond floated gently forward, touched her skin, pricked her.

    “Ow!” She complained. She moved to curl up to Mehujael, but his golden aura repelled her.

    “I am applying a counter-agent to restore your normal nuero- chemical balance,” Idomenes said. “Just a moment…”

    At that instant, a large black diamond flew in from somewhere and shot into Lillimara’s arm, and left a small wound. She screamed in pain and terror, and a host of her own assemblers showered upwards out of ornaments in her hair into a defensive formation. Mehujael shouted in anger, and threw his aura, like a cloak, around Lillimara’s shoulders. He spred his wings to take flight. Idomenes cried out in panic and rage and hate to see his lover about to be carried away forever, and he lunged forward, fingers curled.

    He told himself later that his gun-barrage went off accidently, that his hand was perhaps jarred by the sudden motion into the trigger-gesture. So he told himself.

    With a roar like a hundred thunders, flares lit up on his shoulder-racks, rockets streaked out, trailing streams of boiling smoke; his major cannons, left and right, vomited explosive flame, jarring mind and sense and hearing; minor cannons rattled with jack-hammer concussions, a numbing blur of noise.

    Mehujael’s aura flared to it highest power, and cloaked the angel in an eye-searing flame. His compensating field was insufficient; the shockwave smashed him backwards through the wall of the archives. The beautiful building was blackened and shattered with fire, as Idomenes’ micro-rockets and beam-guided missiles jumped in through the holes.

    Idomenes was beginning to realize the enormity of his error when Mehujael, shaped now like a pillar of flame, emerged from the archive, blasting away roof and walls as the swirling column of flashing and thundering combustion unfolded to its full height.

    Like a tornado, Mehujael glided forward; an arm of lightning dipped toward Idomenes. Lesser assemblers and floating globes, like a black snowstorm, tried to swirl into the path of the beam; Idomenes had harness-jets and prosthetic leg-motors which assisted his panicked leap to the side.

    The beam of lightning blasted away huge chunks of Idomenes’ armor, and tossed him headlong in mid-leap; but the blow was glancing, and the diamond panels refracted the beam just enough to send lances of scattered fire in to the observatory.

    The beautiful building was impaled with roaring flame.

    Idomenes tried to cry out words of apology, perhaps, or peace; but the roar of fire and explosion was all around him. He jumped and fired, jumped and fired, smashing through more walls and roofs as he did so.

    Through the smoke and terror, he could see the twin slender beams of Mehujael’s eyesight slicing through walls and smokeclouds, hunting him. Mehujael’s fiery column swept through the area, devastating everything. The fountains exploded in a tangled convulsion of steam.

    Mehujael’s shields faltered, perhaps grounded or cooled by the water. Idomenes forgot all thoughts of peace when he saw the dark angel rising into the air, stealing Lillimara away. She seemed to be crying or screaming. He leapt, kicked aloft by coughing jets, and attempted to grapple the angel.

    A vast force of light and fire exploded in his faceplate as his arms closed around the burning pillar encircling Mehujael. His armor was blasted awry, molten lumps flying backward, but his arms managed to grab something. Whatever was in his grasp slid under his whining gauntlet-motors, and crackled with electrical tension, formless, like forcing two opposite magnets together.

    Mehujael’s calm, emotionless face was staring into his faceplate, a sight of eerie terror. Inches in front of his face, he saw the energy fields swirling in front of the dark angel’s eyes growing bright, gathering power…The dark angel squinted…

    A force of jarring power thrust them apart and flung them both to the ground. Here was Urael, Prince of Angels and foremost of their kind, blazing, and he stood now between them.

    From his upraised palms came a pulse; the combatants were held apart.

    Here also was stern Ducaleon. The old man wore a green thinking-robe; he was surrounded by glittering assemblers more numerous and better-made than his son’s. In his brow he also carried a ruby. A look of stern sorrow was graven on his face.

    Ducaleon pointed with his glove; a command signal overrode Idomenes’ assemblers. The black diamonds attempting to repair Idomenes’ armor now reversed their actions. The armor swayed and fell to pieces around him, disintegrating in huge sliding chucks.

    Mehujael, meanwhile, smothered his aura. Gold light, not flame, surrounded him.

    Idomenes was in pain from a dozen burns, lacerations, sprains, pains even worse; he feared bones were broken. He could not rise to his feet, and the assemblers which normally would have been swarming to heal him had fallen to the blackened ground, motionless.

    Mehujael, on the other hand, had not even mussed his hair. He flexed the wings of his cloak around him, and crossed his arms on his chest. He said nothing. Lillimara, behind him, was unharmed.

    Idomenes listened to his ears ringing in the sudden silence.

    *** *** ***

    7. Ducaleon

    All around them was the cratered, still smoking, smashed remains of once-great buildings; the works of his father’s architecture, blasted, ruined, destroyed.

    Ducaleon said: “Abase yourself before the high Exemplar Urael, and beg forgiveness, and you may, perhaps, be spared.” (The word exemplar was an old term for the Invigilators, from the days when they were meant to serve as examples to mankind, rather than as punishers.) “The asteroids of ice begin already to fall. You have led a blameless life. But if you err, even on the last day, even at the last hour, you will not be saved.”

    Idomenes, unable to rise, craned his head and looked toward Urael. The archangel’s aura was so bright that it crackled with sparks and little arcs of fire. “I ask forgiveness for harm I’ve done; I meant no disrespect.” But the words come grudgingly forth. Idomenes did not believe in his heart that he had done wrong.

    Mehujael said with disdain: “Roll over! Fetch! Play Dead!”

    The light from Urael’s eyes touched Idomenes’ ruby; he saw his thoughts. Urael said nothing.

    Lillimara, half-hidden behind Mehujael’s back, her hand on the dark angel’s shoulders, said in a sad, haunted voice: “Don’t get yourself killed for my sake. I’m sorry, Idomenes. I’m not under any influence, now. I have to go with Mehujael.”

    “Do you love him?” Idomenes knew pain beyond his wounds. His voice was a hoarse snarl.

    She hesitated. Then: “Yes.” Her voice was faint. Then she said: “Now make up with your father and go away with the death- angels.” The hatred in her voice was clear.

    Ducaleon said to Urael: “Tell me my son can be saved. I have no one else.”

    Urael spoke. His voice was quiet and golden. “His trust in us is gone. When humans do not trust, they fear. When they fear, they kill.”

    Idomenes lifted himself partway on his hands, rearing up. Blood broke through his burns. He winced. He shouted out: “How can I believe in the justice of the Will, if the reasons of the angels are not just?!”

    Ducaleon said: “Their justice is beyond our understanding. But is there any race so deserving of death as mankind? Can you think of an act of evil, no matter how heinous, which we have not done? Not done in secret, but while crowds cheered?”

    Idomenes shouted: “Is the innocent child who grows in Lillimara’s womb so guilty that he deserves death?”

    Urael spoke again: “He is condemned because no one can avow that, when he grows, neither he nor any of his progeny will never work murder nor theft nor deception on the innocent hosts who live among the Will. Quite the opposite! When humans gather, crime is certain.”

    Idomenes was angry. “Is this the principle to which I’ve devoted my life? Is this all justice is? No one could live by that standard!”

    Urael said: “There are races which do not enslave, do not murder, do not war. There are races (nearly all machine intelligences, in fact) which do not lie or falsify. You think them naïve and weak? But they are among the strongest, finest, and most productive citizens of the Will. They waste no expense, no effort, nor time nor grief nor lives to maintain the complex and clumsy and ugly apparatus of suspicion and defense, warriors and police and prisons, which you call government, without which you humans dare not risk to live with each other. Weak? So would savages whose every cottage was a fortress and every door a barricade think your race. And yet, among the stars there are crystalline civilizations so complex, so swift, and so trusting that a single lie could ruin them. Do you think our civilization weak, then? Observe our strength.”

    And, at his word, an earthquake shook the mountain.

    Idomenes looked toward the railing. He felt a swaying, weightless pitching. Beyond the rail, he saw the ground falling slowly away. There was a moment of mist. Then they were high, no longer in twilight, but back in the day. Beyond the railing was cloud.

    Ducaleon said: “We are risen! My son is still with us! Does this mean he can stay?” He pointed with his gloves, and many assemblers swarmed over Idomenes, tending to his wounds.

    Urael was silent, staring grimly at Idomenes.

    Ducaleon said, “Son! You know it is wise to agree with the Exemplar. Think of what you will gain if you quell the rebellion in your heart!”

    Idomenes said, “Father, I do not mean to grieve you. But a man cannot make himself believe a lie just because it is in his best interest to do so. Men do not believe the truth because it is profitable, or beautiful, or safe. Men believe the truth because it is true. And I was not told the truth!”

    Mehujael muttered: “Proudly said. Perhaps there is hope for you yet.”

    Urael said: “We did not tell you, for we knew you would react as you have. Our notion of justice grounded on stern practicality.”

    Lillimara, her voice thick with hatred, her eyes smoking, now spoke: “Death angel! What you call justice is nothing but fear! Fear of mankind! And because you came, out of fear, to destroy us, we have no choice but to make ourselves as fearsome as we can do! Fools! Fools! All fools! We had no interest in your World- Minds and your Will and all your grave deliberations! Do you think murder is not murder because it is done by judges or governments or gods? No, we prayed for those appeals, and every delay — sixty years of delay! — to make ourselves as ready for war as we could! What do we care if you drown the world?! Already my father and his people have altered themselves, painful mutations and ugly transformations, and sink down to dwell in the deepest chasms of the ocean bed, where sunlight never can reach. There they will breed a race of monstrosities, a race of magicians, in sunless domes and fortresses far beneath the waves! From there the Antediluvians will wage eternal war, fueled by ceaseless hate. You think to drown the world in water? They shall drown the world in blood! You cannot blockade our ascent forever! One day the stars shall be ours! Then the stars themselves shall drip blood!”

    Urael turned to Idomenes, and said, “Do you see what it is we must act to prevent?” There is a faint note of disgust to his voice. “This woman is unworthy of your regard.”

    “And yet she should not die.”

    “Acknowledge our wisdom. The one we chose to live is the only one worthy. Only Ducaleon. We spare his wife for his sake.”

    Now Urael turned to Mehujael: “But as for you, you have violated our laws. Submit yourself to our justice, or I bring terrible weapons to bear!”

    Mehujael laughed in scorn.

    *** *** ***

    8. Antediluvians

    “What do I care for your weapons and threats? I know them all, and know I am safe. But even were I not, I would not cower to you. I will do only what pride bids me do; so I have sworn; and will do no shameful thing, nor anything prompted only by fear.

    “Capitulate? How?” the proud angel continued, “Your own law says you will kill to protect anyone who might one day perhaps — perhaps!– threaten the civilization you so adore. Should I not have as much love as that for this my child, whom, if I capitulate, you kill?

    “No, tyrant, I will not listen to your ‘practical’ perversion of justice. Such thinking would make killers of us all. I say no more to you; you are unworthy even of contempt.

    “I turn me now from the creature I most despise to she I most love. Hear my will. Pride likewise will not allow me to cower beneath the bellies of dolphins, to live in the sunless mud in the pits of your seas. The stars are mine! I claim them my birth- right! We will go aloft, you and I, and I can instruct you in the secrets of angels. Come! Will you go with me? You will never see friends or father or family again if you go.”

    She spoke in a voice of passion: “You are my lord and master. Wherever you go, I find joy without equal. Carry me up to your dark wide abyss.”

    Mehujael gathered her in his arms and stepped upwards into the air. Urael started to raise his hand, a ball of fire forming in his palm, but Idomenes, staggering, stepped toward the couple and into his line of fire.

    “Lillimara!” Idomenes cried in a ragged voice: “Wait– I– I still love you — come back–”

    And Lillimara, looking back over the angel’s shoulder, had tears in her eyes. But she only said, “There are duties stronger than love. You must understand…”

    Idomenes made a choking cry, and clutched the railing, looking upward.

    It looked like a tear falling down, shaken from Lillimara as she turned away.

    Something of sorrow appeared for a moment in Urael’s face. He closed his fingers on the fire, extinguishing it without casting it.

    The teardrop glittered as it fell, swerved into Idomenes’ palm. He closed his finger and caught it.

    Mehujael and Lillimara, shining in gold, dwindled to a bright point high above, and were gone.

    Idomenes felt a sting in his palm.

    Behind him, he heard Ducaleon say softly to Urael: “Mehujael was your firstborn son. I grieve for you, old friend. Perhaps he was enchanted.”

    The assembler in Idomenes palm manipulated his nervous system and created the illusion of a voice in his ear: “Now I break my oath as you broke yours for me. My love, my dearest love, my sweet and only true love; I am compelled to go with Mehujael by my father’s will. The love potion you found in me I injected willingly, without which Mehujael could not have been deceived. He lowered his aura to embrace me, many nights, and the mind- altering effects of this love spread to him.

    “All that has been done, has been done to save my race from extinction.

    “I have been injected with your mother’s gift to replenish mankind; it was my father who directed remotely that library (which you gave him) into me.

    “It was necessary to seduce a death-angel to our cause, for we had no other way to establish a foothold on other planets, to spread far enough that no single disaster could ever threaten us again.

    “All else has been a distraction.

    “The tumults in the city were meant to occupy the angels and thus prevent Mehujael’s capture. The citadels which father has established at the bottom of the sea, the races who shall be for centuries devoted to hatred and bitterest war are likewise, distraction, that I and my child (and all my children to come) might be overlooked.

    “Evil I have done you, great evil. I beg your forgiveness knowing it might never be granted; I pray you will remember me with a love, which equals my own.

    “My fate is in your hands. Do not tell the death angels, or it destroys all.”

    Urael was saying to Ducaleon: “Mehujael has internal energies shielding his nervous system, so that he could go without his aura among your poisoned air, and fear no nanotechnology. I wish I could say he was deceived or enchanted or ill; it is not so. He spoke the truth. It was his pride which led him, eyes open, to his fall.”

    Idomenes was almost blinded with tremors of hate which ran through him. He thought: So Mehujael is the hero after all! Not deceived, nor enchanted, he sacrifices honor and family and home to oppose a hideous injustice. And he even wins the girl.

    Urael said: “There has been too much tragedy here. We will spare you son’s life for your sake, Ducaleon, because your love and strength are greater when he is near. The knowledge of our mercy may yet sooth the aggressive lusts and angers which now so torment him. Perhaps even he can find a place in the service of the Will. Turn, Idomenes, let me see your face, that I might know your thought and know if you are worthy of the salvation granted to you.”

    Idomenes did not turn, for he knew his thoughts would reveal too much.

    Down below him he saw the sea. Dolphins danced in the waves, the new masters of the world.

    Somewhere, far below, unseen, unguessed, a race of monsters and warlocks, no longer human, in dark and sunless citadels crouching on the bottom of the sea kept the only remnant of human blood alive. What hope there was for human life on earth was there.

    “What is your decision, Idomenes?” His father’s voice trembled.

    “I love you dearly, father,” he said without turning his head. “But there are duties stronger than love. Injustice must be fought, even the injustice angels do.”

    Idomenes triggered his assemblers to begin reconstructing his armor as he threw himself over the railing. There was a long plunge before he could strike the sea. He hoped there will be time for the assemblers to create what he needed to allow him survive the impact.



    Here find another tale from an aeon near or far