TC-N3

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NFA: Comets were not a rarity in the skies of Heaven. The suns that were the physical bodies of Keter and Daat lacked much in the way of planets but they did not want for smaller debris such as asteroids and comets. Hardly a year passed that a comet was not seen, if not two.

NFB: Of late there appeared in the sky a comet so bright, with a tail so expansive that none living had seen its like, nor was anything similar recorded as written history. But a tradition passed down purely by word of mouth said such an apparition had been seen just once before.

NFC: It was believed widely the Great Deluge, now five thousand years in the past, was preceded by the omen of a great comet sent by Keter himself. In those days Keter dispatched prophets who stirred the inhabitants of Heaven to build the many ships that preserved their lives.

NFD: But no prophets accompanied the present comet. Some of the more learned began to study the sky and hit the blackboards. Several academics reached the same answer almost simultaneously. The comet would not merely presage another Great Deluge, but actually be the cause of it.

NFE: Indeed, looking back at the time the Holy Ones first entered the history of world-dwellers, when Keter treated with angels, nephilim, and men directly through the agency of his avatar, there is little doubt the Great Deluge was really unleashed by its own cometary auspice.

NFF: In the years following the universal flood the eloah Chokhmah, with the willing assent of a yang named Michael, formed the first union of divine and angel. And Michael spoke to those who dwelt in the city of Salem on the western marches of the lands held by House Adan.

NFG: Michael taught a quiet and life-affirming spirituality that much appealed to the yen of the city. Hy even tamed the heart of Ophan Lilith, the fierce daughter of King Melchiyahu, without causing the keen edge of har prowess as a warrior to dull in the smallest way.

NFH: Keter answered Michael with contrasting "teachings" of his own that took masculinity to a level far beyond parody. Female siblings were reduced to mere tokens to be wagered in a death duel that marked the entry to adulthood for dirks, with the winner taking all.

NFI The result was a society immersed in perpetual violence, and when force could not be applied outside it turned inward, Adanite against Adanite. Having set such a thing into motion as his "Law" Keter could not alter a single precept without demonstrating that gods could err.

NFJ: So House Adan stumbled through the centuries, with their economy perpetually engaged to wage the next war as though it would be a repetition of the last war, leaving them wholly unprepared for the actual conflicts that did, quite infrequently, arise.

NFK: The outbreak of industrial warfare in Heaven captured Keter's attention for two decades, but after that the action moved to the colonies, and there Keter went, in union with angelic flesh, as Lord Asmodeus, leaving Lord Abaddon, the incarnation of Daat, to rule in hyz stead.

NKL: Daat never went native. He saw little wisdom in assuming world-dweller flesh serially as Keter did, but there were times when it was useful. This was one such time. The humans of the other world had begin to announce their existence, by radio, to the universe at large.

NFM: So Asmodeus went to Palato to deal with all the ramifications of that development, leaving Abaddon as the Lord of all Heaven. Abaddon moved from hyz palace in Rumbek to Mount Adan, and in very short order was reminded why hy had always despised Keter's warrior-priests.

NFN: But Nedra, the ambassador from Earth, was of the B'nei Elohim. Whether Begotten or Made, they were created specifically to act as servants to the elohim Chokhmah and Binah. In a pinch, other elohim would do. Abaddon spurned the Eyes and made Nedra hyz personal attendant.

NFO: Nedra remained present when Abaddon commanded hyz subjects to stand before hym, as hy often found har insights to be most illuminating. At one such audience there appeared one of the erelim, an angel of the middle rank in the middle eschelon in the army of Keter.

NFP: Hy was the Erel Raziel. Hy stood at stiff attention even had hy had done in the quarter-hour just prior to the audience as the Hashmal Morax, one holding the highest rank in the same eschelon, reviewed the extensive pile of documents in the erel's service jacket.

NFQ: Disbelief had steadily and quite visibly grown on the hashmal's face as the unpleasant interview went on, with Raziel forced to listen to a lecture on discipline from the fattest Eye of Keter hy had ever seen. But now Morax, too, stood stiffly at attention before Abaddon.

NFR: The office of Morax had been revealed to be nothing more than an anteroom to a parlor, and the hashmal merely a doorman. A large table occupied the center of the reception hall, ringed by eight chairs, and there Lord Abaddon sat with Nedra, a yin Raziel did not know.

NFS: The Lord did not sit at the head of the table in a position of honor, as it was perfectly square. Hy and the female angel had simply chosen to take a seat where it suited them, with Abaddon at a profile to the visitors and Nedra seated across the table, facing them.

NFT: After gazing at Raziel for a time, Abaddon turned to Nedra and said, "Let us hear the playback." Har fingers danced over a device on the tabletop and hidden speakers repeated the interview that had taken place in the office of Morax. Hashmal Morax seemed surprised.

NFU: "Now before me stands one Erel Raziel," the voice of Morax was heard to say, "once commander of Dark Brigade, transfered to logistics after certain unfortunate events within hyz family called hyz judgment into question. It seems that jealousies erupted at home.

NFV: "But such things sometimes do crop up in a harem situation. One wife killed another, so you strangled the guilty yen yourself. That was a mistake, Erel. With as few as three wives, the rank of ophan remains open to you. This is not the case with only two wives.

NFW: And your mistake was compounded by misfortune when a third wife died of an extended illness. Of course, you could not be unaware that command of Dark Brigade is considered a stepping-stone to flag rank. The position seemed to be wasted on you, in light of those events.

NFX: But now Lord Abaddon hymself, Daat incarnate, demands audience with an erel grown soft shuffling papers in the morass of army supply." Raziel remembered trying not to laugh aloud to be told this by a fat hashmal who was literally shuffling the papers of his service record.

NFY: "Do you know why that should be?" "No sir." "And in the time since you received the order to appear before the Lord have you given no thought why hy demands your presence?" "I have, sir." "Then by all means, Erel, state out loud where your mind has wandered in silence."

NFZ: "It seems to me, sir, that Lord Abaddon would know that the life of Sizouze belonged entirely to me, and when it was taken by Ayil it was my duty to take life-for-life. Lord Abaddon would wonder why the combat career of an officer of Dark Brigade was suddenly terminated.

NGA: "Lord Abaddon, sir, might wonder why that officer was abruptly steered into the supply army. The Lord might wonder at the wisdom of punishing that officer for the 'crime' of avenging the theft of something that belonged entirely to him, the life of his own wife."

NGB: Naturally you would cast the upcoming audience in a positive light, but it seems to me, rather, that Lord Abaddon will explain to you that an officer who cannot maintain discipline in hyz own home could not be expected to maintain the discipline of Dark Brigade.

NGC: "Three years after the fact, sir? Why would the Lord -- ah, yes, I see what you mean, sir. You must be correct, of course." "I note in your service record, Erel Raziel, that you have never before been in the presence of a seraph, neither Lord Asmodeus nor Lord Abaddon.

NGD: I will give you advice that might allow you to survive the immanent audience. Take what military bearing you call up while standing before a hashmal and scale it up to a far, far greater degree. Do not speak to the Lord Abaddon unless it is in direct reply to a command."

NGE: "Yes, sir. Thank you, sir." "Have you seen the comet?" Raziel remembered how he called upon every scrap of his ingrained military discipline to avoid breaking into a wide grin. This Morax was frightened by the comet, yet he dared not make supplication to Lord Abaddon.

NGF After all, as the hashmal just said, one only spoke to the Lord in reply to hyz commands. "Yes, sir, I have seen the comet. In times past such things were taken to be signs. But now we know them to be balls of ice and rock hurtling in the space around the two suns."

NGG: Certainly you must have heard the warnings from several universities that this particular ball of rock and ice will actually strike Heaven." "I have heard such speculations, sir, but I also know even the greatest scholars can make mistakes. I have dismissed them from my mind.

NGH: After all, if there were anything to these rumors, the Seraph Abaddon would dispatch heralds to all of Heaven with the commandment to prepare for another Great Deluge. Instead hy spends hyz days rebuking army officers for the sloppy way they handle their family at home."

NGI: Morax was not too stupid to comprehend that an insult had just been hurled at him, but he was too stupid to understand exactly how Raziel had managed to do it, nor could he assemble a suitable riposte. He settled for barking an angry order. "Fall in!"

NGJ: Nedra stopped the playback. Abaddon said, "You, hashmal, are dismissed." Morax nearly tripped over hymself in hyz rush to depart from the presence of his lord. When hy was gone, Abaddon said, "Please, Raziel, sit at the table. Anywhere you like. Do you take wine?"

NGK: Raziel was so ill-prepared for this it took another urging from Abaddon before he took a seat. Then hy remembered the Lord had framed a question. He said, "I do drink wine, Lord." "Excellent. Nedra here has a crisp white from Haaretz. Or did you say it was from Earth?"

NGL: "Earth, Lord," sha said, "but with a long layover in Nyduly Wood." "I'll take a glass too. Don't be too surprised, Raziel, if you find it to be even more crisp than you expect. Nedra is one of the B'nei Elolim. They have certain talents. Har talent is disposing of heat."

NGM: Despite the warning Raziel was surprised. Hy expected the wine to be room temperature, but instead it was cold nearly to the point of having crystals of ice. But it was delicious. "Nedra assures me sha could turn a pond into an ice rink with just the touch of har hand.

NGN: "Such a waste of a talent here in Heaven, Lord," sha said. "You have far more ice rinks than ponds." "Your advisory talents serve me far better. Did you know, Raziel, that despite being an angel, as sha quite obviously is, Nedra here was actually born on Earth?"

NGO: "I know little of the B'nei Elohim, Lord. Yet I fear the Lord has taken a spy into hyz coNGidence." "I'm counting on it, Raziel." Hy turned to Nedra. "Take a good look for your people in Rammon. This is the one I will send." "If my Lord pleases, they are not my people."

NGP: "You know what I mean." He took a sip of wine and faced Raziel. "Are you surprised at the familiarity?" "Yes, Lord. Hashmal Morax left me totally unprepared, as you must have discerned." "In the beginning, to be sure, I was the way the Eyes imagine me now to be.

NGQ: And were it my father here instead, things would seem much different. But in this I think I more closely resemble Chokhmah than Keter. I need no groveling world-dwellers to constantly remind me who and what I am. And I never get tired of fucking with the Eyes.

NGR: "That was well done, back there in the office of Morax, by the way." "Thank you, Lord." "Did you know Keter has even set his Eyes to watch over the other world?" "If my Lord speaks of the colonies, I do know, although I do not understand the purpose of Lord Asmodeus."

NGS: There is a line of scientific inquiry that is necessary in the colonies, but some of the colonists have brought these arts home to House Sala in Rammon. That does not please Keter, nor does it please me. We would quickly move to quell this, but the comet has intervened."

NGT:: The academics you spoke of to Morax are actually correct. If nothing is done, the comet will strike Heaven and bring a second Deluge. Rammon says they can reach the comet, but they lack the means to deflect it. House Adan has such means.

NGA:

NGA: You will be flown with the weapon to a military airfield near Saharad, in Rammon, where it will be forked onto a truck. You will then drive that truck to the northern Ice, to a place you will be shown by map.

  • NGA: Make sure you can see the ship.
  • NGA: Don't let them pressure you into giving away the secret to arm

the bomb until you see it has been loaded onto the ship.

  • NGA: Daat set a glass ball on the table and rolled it toward Raziel.

"Catch."

  • NGA: Drop this glass ball and a much larger one will immediately

appear, large enough and insubsubstantial enough that you can walk into it. When you return hat will be the signal for me to arm the bomb.


  • NGA: If you do not return, I will take that to mean they have put you

to torment and learned the secret to arming the bomb. In that event, it will never be armed. I will send forces in to extract the bomb and you, if you are still alive, or avenge you, if you are not.

  • NGA: Are you still willing to go?
  • NGA: "I am, Lord Apollyon. Will my Lord entertain a supplication

from hyz humble servant?" "I would that my wife accompany me to Rammon."

  • NGA: "That is actually an excellent idea, Raziel. Consider that

you must drive the weapon from Saharad to the northern Ice. One might suspect a single Adanite officer, but if hy takes his spouse along they are just on holiday, no?"

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