The seventy-fourth assembly of the United Nations was in session, and exactly one thing was dominating all topics of discussion: the presence of gods. Lalitha Rajan, Secretary General, had known it would be dominant, but she hadn’t expected the discussion to so quickly turn acerbic.
Then again, she also hadn’t expected for the United Nations Extranormal Entity Taskforce to be annihilated before it would even be deployed.
“Something must be done,” Grigori Kovalenko, the Ukrainian representative, said. “This Kali attacked a United Nations Taskforce. These gods have declared war on us, and we must respond in kind.”
“With all due respect,” the Turkish representative, Ezgi Akdeniz, began, and Lalitha Rajan had to consider that venomous phrase. Nothing in it ever said any respect was due, and yet it still seemed to imply that at least some should be given. It all came down to tone. The interpreter was doing an excellent job keeping their tone neutral, but Ezgi sounded like he was explaining things to a small child It strong implied there was very little respect due, “This is only one goddess. Kali. We do not even know if these gods are working together, or who they are working with.”
“Svetovid has raised a palace for himself on the banks of the Kalmius,” Grigori said. “Moloch established a temple in El Ávila. Bast has decimated Grant. There are more. These gods mean to take their old places, their old roles, again. We must act.”
“And act we will,” Lalitha said, regaining control of the conversation. “But calling for action without a plan is just blowing air. Our last attempt was catastrophic.” Although at least we didn’t fail as badly as the United States when it tried to act alone, she added to herself. It would be undiplomatic to point it out. It would also be undiplomatic to point out that so far, any nation that had attempted to act alone had been met with failure.
The truth of the matter was the United Nations was not meant for this kind of situation. It was intended to keep the peace. At the moment, there was precious little peace to keep.
The representative from Kenya, Rashid Otieno, stood up. “Madam secretary, with all due respect,” – and there’s that phrase again, Lalitha thought, trying to contain a surge of frustration – “What single plan could possibly be made? We are dealing with threats across the entire globe. Not just gods, but monsters. How could we come up with a unified plan for threats as diverse as demons and gods and umkovu?”
Lalitha’s interpreter quickly explained a umkovu was a type of reanimated and mutilated corpse that poisons people’s food. All of them had, for this meeting, given their interpreters earpieces that would allow them to get information from a team of mythologists for any unfamiliar terms mentioned. A good interpreter was a difficult find and finding one who was also an expert in multiple culture’s mythology was nigh impossible.
“I spoke with Lakshmi yesterday,” Lalitha said. The apparent non-sequitur had the desired effect of drawing everyone’s attention even closer. “She had several things to say, including wanting to disavow Kali’s actions.”
That meeting had been nearly overwhelming. Lalitha practiced Panchayatana puja, and had years ago chosen Lakshmi as her Ishta Devata, her cherished deity and primary focus of devotion. Lalitha had never, in her wildest imaginings, believed she’d be taking a meeting with Lakshmi herself. Let alone that Lakshmi would contact her to apologize for the actions of another goddess.
“She also helped me understand how divine beings work. They do operate by organizing themselves into pantheons, and rarely work outside of their pantheon. As such, I propose a resolution to consider pantheons to be sovereign entities. They would be responsible for policing their own members, and could be treated with in all matters – including war,” she nodded to the Ukrainian representative with those last two words, “as if they were a state, followed by immediate invitations to all pantheons we can contact to join as a member state. ”
She had expected the immediate uproar. Aids were already scurrying about, handing off documents that detailed the full proposal. It wasn’t standard procedure to propose new resolutions in the middle of a session. Nothing was standard about what was happening out there, however. There couldn’t be the usual delay in action, not when everything was so close to the end.
“Lakshmi lied to you!” a voice shouted, cutting through the tumult. Silence slowly returned to the room, and all eyes turned to the speaker. Grigori had risen to his feet and was pointing an accusing finger at Lalitha. “She said that they rarely act outside their own pantheons, yes? Yet this Ryan Smith, this Eschaton, he works with members of a half dozen pantheons. How does that fit into your theory?”
How did you know the term Eschaton, Grigori? Lalitha thought. She only knew what it meant in this case because of Lakshmi. Who had told him? To hear him talk, he wanted nothing to do with the gods. She opened her mouth, ready to explain what she had been told, but her words were cut off by the sound of doors slamming open. “I know a good entrance line when I hear one!” a voice said. She was surprised to hear her native Hindi, but looking around the room no interpreters were speaking.
All eyes were focused on the individuals who had just entered the General Assembly hall. At the lead was a man they’d seen on television – Ryan Smith. A newborn god and the figure who had kickstarted so much of the chaos. With him were other gods. Lalitha recognized Athena, Crystal, and Anansi – the first two from the conflict with Enki, and the second from the situation in Ghana. The final woman had avoided the news so far, but reports had stated Dainmu was working with the other four. “I’m really sorry we couldn’t schedule this, but there’s a pretty big time crunch going on right now,” Ryan said.
Guards around the room raised their weapons. Each of the five gods gestured, and guns were sent flying across the room, plummeting to the ground, shooting to the ceiling, being encased in ice, or turning too hot to be held. Reporters turned their cameras on the approaching gods, but those were allowed to shoot where guns did not.
Lalitha stared in openmouthed shock. Even though that display was less impressive than some she had seen – the sunbeams at the battle in front of a hotel had certainly been flashy – it was something else to see it in person. Men and women gesturing and suddenly things beyond possibility happened. Steeling herself, she stood up. “What do you want?” she said through clenched teeth.
She didn’t like admitting she was holding her breath. As easily as they had disarmed the guards, they could have killed everyone in the room with the same amount of effort. If they took umbrage with her tone, Lalitha knew she would be dead before she even realized she was under attack.
Thankfully, no attack came. “Well, Madam Secretary General?” Ryan said, looking hesitant. It was almost like now that he had the eyes of the world on him, the bravado that had caused him to shove open the doors was evaporating. “We needed to talk to this council. There wasn’t any way to get an appointment in time.”
“In time for what?”
“The world is going to end. Not in some distant future, not even in the near future. In fact, the sun is going to end next Tuesday unless we start acting right now.”
The room again erupted in shouts and general chaos, all sense of decorum vanishing in an instant. Anansi held up his hands, and suddenly all sound ceased. People were still trying to shout, but no sound was passing their lips.
Ryan turned his eyes on Lalitha. He’d re-found his confidence, it seemed.
“Well, Madam Secretary General? May I have the podium?”
There was nothing to do but nod.