Getting the civilian news helicopters to leave the area had been surprisingly easy. In Rear Admiral Dale Bridges’ experience, reporters valued getting ‘the scoop’ over their own safety to the point of insanity. In this one case, however, telling them this had become a joint USA-Canada operation to contain the threat from these alleged ‘gods’ had gotten them to clear the area with a previously unseen haste. They’d seemed almost relieved to have a reason to comply.
For their part, these gods didn’t seem to even notice the change to military helicopters and drones. Didn’t seem to be aware of the massive force that had gathered in the water and air and on nearby islands. Or maybe they did, he thought. Maybe they did and just didn’t think we were relevant.
Rear Admiral Bridges was a good Christian boy from Georgia. When he’d first heard that a Church of Hell was arising on Earth, he’d decided to wait on his retirement. Oh, sure, they called themselves the Church of Adversity, but in the esteemed opinion of Rear Admiral Bridges that was what they called back home a ‘real crock of shit.’ They were devil worshippers, and no argument would convince him otherwise.
No, it was clear to him the End Times were upon them, and Rear Admiral Bridges was going to do everything he could to protect the good Christians of America from the Antichrist. He also would protect the other, non-Christian citizens, for the Admiral believed judgement of his fellow man was a privileged reserved for the Almighty, and even if it wasn’t he couldn’t exactly check people’s faith once battle broke out.
His outspoken Evangelicalism was what had landed him command of his mission. Previously, that loud belief that the End Times would come during his life had prevented him from rising above his current rank. Now, however, the US government could no longer ignore that forces beyond mankind’s comprehension were very real and very active, and men like Rear Admiral Bridges found themselves entrusted with increasingly important duties.
When Enki, a man claiming to be a pagan god, had gone on national television claiming another man was the Antichrist, Bridges had been suspicious. He of course didn’t doubt that the antichrist would be showing himself soon, but this Arthur fellow the Satanists claimed was now ruling hell seemed like a more likely candidate, even if he had been dead for three years now. But when Ryan was filmed by the Canadian news standing in a castle full of literal demons, he’d had to concede that maybe this pagan god had a point.
Rear Admiral Bridges didn’t like calling them gods. It smacked of sacrilege, which was one step from idolatry, and from there it was only a short hop straight into the eternal fire of hell. Still, no better term had presented itself, although privately he believed the Church of Hell on one thing – there was a civil war in hell, and these ‘gods’ were demons battling that war with humans in the crossfire.
Privately, he believed they were all demons, and that it was his duty to send them back to the pit they had spawned from.
His orders had been to not engage, to only watch and make sure the battle did not spill further into civilized areas. To ensure he could carry out those orders, he’d been given command of a whole new breed of aircraft carrier, a Hive Class carrier laden with no pilots but swarms of drones. The vessel was so advanced, so experimental it had no official name, just DARPA-17.
Beyond the drones, the ships three nuclear reactors could generate a plasma field that was the closest thing to a science fiction force field the real world was likely to get before the End Times, and the drones had been equipped with both missiles and experimental Directed Energy Weapons. The Admiral had spent the entire battle hoping the so-called gods would spill out into the ocean, that he would be authorized to find out if his faith could slay demons when backed by the greatest weaponry the United States of America had developed.
It had not, and now his men were joining the Canadians in scouring the island to find out more about what had happened. This part was part of the joint operation. Canada was a military power, stronger than most people gave them credit for. However, in the face of unholy war breaking out on their soil, they’d turned to their neighbors and asked if maybe they had anything up their sleeve that would possibly help against the unknown. Like the neighbor knocking on your door, asking if you could spare a cup of sugar and a three billion dollar piece of military hardware.
The USA had been happy to oblige, sending two Nimitz class carriers and the one operational DARPA-17. They’d done so with a smile on their face because there would be a time after the battle when cleanup had to happen, when the dust settled, and the good old US of A intended to seize every asset they could to prepare for war against a foe they barely understood.
“Sir?” The Admiral was startled out of his reverie by the younger man’s voice. “Some of the marines have returned. They have something.” Bridges dismissed the man and headed to see what they had recovered from the battlefield.
The spoils were in two boxes that had previously carried equipment – equipment they’d dumped into the ocean to replace later. This pleased Admiral Bridges, because it meant the Canadians didn’t know they’d recovered these. The smaller box of the two hadn’t actually been emptied. It contained a small black stone, perfectly round, about the size of a golf ball. When Bridges picked it up it was warm to the touch and looking closer he could see stars in it, like it was a hole into space.
In the other box was the body of the young woman who had claimed to be the Egyptian goddess Bast. Bridges remembered her being pretty enough on the news, but this was a frost bitten corpse, one with dried blood caking her foot and abdomen. He frowned at the sight, noticing one oddity.
“What are those?” He pointed at her wrists.
One of the Marines stepped forward and saluted. “Sir. They are zip-ties, sir.”
The Admiral’s frown deepened. “I’m sure there’s a good reason you restrained a dead women, Captain…”
“Quinn, Sir. Toby Quinn. And yessir. The dead woman has a pulse, sir, but no other signs of life.”
After already deepening once, the Admiral’s frown seemed like it surely had reached its limit, yet at this news it extended further, reaching the limits of what his face would allow. “I see.” He looked at the half-frozen body again, the half-frozen body that was clearly not breathing but apparently still had a beating heart, and shuddered. “Seal it up. We’ll let the eggheads deal with it.”
The Admiral turned to head back to the bridge. It was time to take the DARPA-17 back to American waters with this precious cargo. Let the Canadians have whatever scraps remained on the island where so-called gods used nuclear weapons against each other – something told Rear Admiral Bridges that they already had the greatest prize.
Next time these demons claiming to be gods go to war, he thought, feeling a sensation of certainty sweep over him, they’ll find we mere mortals won’t just stand by the sidelines.
We’ll show them that we cannot be ignored.