Part 14: Audience in the House of God
Goddammit, close votes. Anyways, TOO LATE. I might switch again to Yang later, ok?
"Forgive me, father, for I have sinned."
The figure knelt, as was proper, before the movable statue of bronze that guarded the entranceway to New Jerusalem. The city, the first and capital of the Believers, was also one of the smallest. Built according to biblical prescription, it towered, a cube of gold, almost blinding in the desert, and when one got close, it burned with trapped heat.
His robes were heavy and dusty. He had to have gone a long way to arrive, by foot, through rough land, for the believers built no roads through such sacred places. He gasped, for even though the air was breathable here, just outside the walls, the dust found its way into his lungs. He waited for a time, and at last the golem raised its burning sword, and he half-walked, half-crawled inside.
Inside, he could hear the sound of muted singing, and the quiet pounding of recycling machines, and little else. The marble of the floor was hot beneath his (now bare) feet, and out of the corner of his eye, he caught a small girl child darting furtively into some dark corner. He caught the sparkle of tears.
"Children are sinful and need our guidance, as well you should know, David," a voice said. He turned, and found himself face to face with Sister Godwinson herself.
"Amen," he said. The sun was setting at last, giving the white of the woman's robe the hue of gold as well.
"As we are all children before the Lord." she said. "Needful of proper penitence for sins of old. Did not the prophets say that tribulation would be needed before the true kingdom of Christ rises? Then surely such tribulation is today."
"The crusades go not well?"
"In the north, at least, there is some progress. Our troops are moving forward, driving the infidels before us. They have set forth mighty cannons against us, but by the grace of the lord and the armour of our faith, they do not strike true. Their guns may spew fire, but our arms are fortified by righteousness, and do not falter."
"In the south, though, Lal's forces continue to thwart us. An entire division was encircled today. They have given me the assurance that they would fight to the death, but their mission has already failed."
She looked at him directly in the eye. "How did your mission go then?"
He shifted uncomfortably. "Well, in a way. I have spoken to the unbelievers as you have requested, and made some progress."
"The secular materialists, Zakharov and Morgan, have assented to our overtures of peace."
Miriam nodded. "The faithless will always seek comfort for their doubts, for their souls will always know their sin. This so-called friendship will ease the path to their cleansing."
"Meanwhile, the warmonger and the heretic have gone even further, and accepted us as brothers in pact."
Miriam laughed, an odd shrill noise. "Ha. How it must have pained them - they who worship the demons that dwell in the Earth - to accept the contract I wrote. Did they make you deny the Christ? Must you do penitence? I hear they are uncomfortable in those parts with godliness."
"No. I fear, though, it is pity with which they accepted our terms, not fear of the Lord. They have sent us gifts, too."
"They will of course be inspected for blasphemy." He added quickly.
Miriam sighed deeply. "Do not be afraid if they think poorly of us. The servants of the Lord will often look pitiful to the outsider. The lamb looks weak, for those who do not see the shepherd. But what, in the end, is the thoughts of man, before the eyes of the eternal?"
"But we are weak," he said, suddenly brave. "In body if not in mind. Perhaps we should make peace with the Peacekeepers or the Hive for now, and build our strength. One would offer us a truce, so as to make war against the other."
"Didst not the prophets say that the Antichrist would come, masked as a giver of peace?"
"I know, I know, but we would be using this peace for faithful reasons in the long term. Would you at least consider it?"
"I will pray for guidance."
And that was all that could be said.
A message would come later, by courier, for the Sister allowed no vulgarity like a network node in the House of God. The man gathered up his heavy robes once more, checked the hidden breathing apparatus, and walked out into the cold of the desert night. He had, after all, a long way to go.
- Excerpt from psi-infiltration report: Gaian Empath's Guild
-Continue with war on two fronts
-Peace with Yang
-Peace with Lal