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Book 7, Chapter 61 - Doomsday Shif

 Cloudhawk dreamed.

They were visions of chaos and peculiarity.

He imagined himself as another species, living in a place of miracles and illusions. These creatures came to this dreamcape from other worlds, all possessing great mental powers. With a flick of their wrist mountains rose and fell. With a thought clouds parted and rain fell. All were like gods.

They were a miraculous people whose reach extended to the stars. With no limit to what they could accomplish, they built a vast cosmic empire.

Yet for reasons unknown, this great society which had lasted for countless generations fell into decline. For all the pride they had in their mental powers, they began to fade. Their immortal bodies began to wither.

He watched as this magnificent species teetered on the edge of extinction. All living things lived and eventually died. All things waxed and waned. Even the universe would eventually pass into oblivion. Birth and death, creation and destruction - they were twins born of the same source. Two sides of a mirror.

There was no living thing that was immortal in the true sense. Nothing was indestructible. Societies - like people - aged and went into decline. Just as the young robust man cannot escape the march of time, neither could a species. It was the way of the universe.

Fear took them. Panic. Their civilization came under threat from outside forces. The desire to live was a basic part of any creature or society, so with their incredible potential the species began a terrible experiment.

An experiment that, once started, could not be stopped.

Living things were inherently selfish. From the tiniest microbes to the largest civilizations, they were built on the destruction of lesser creatures. Cows ate grass, a disaster for the sprouts of green. Lions ate meat, and thus brought an end to the beasts of the field.

Following this principle, humans did all within their power to build a better life. They cut down trees, cultivated the land, raised and slaughtered animals, fished the seas and so much more. Everything that humanity created was erected on a foundation of exploitation.

With this in mind, what the grand civilization did next was understandable. As one of the greatest species in the universe, in order to preserve itself, it saw all other living creatures as a necessary sacrifice. Indeed, to them lesser species were akin to how humans saw cattle. Even smaller, for the gulf between these societies was so great. Those of inferior evolution were merely resources to be used for the higher purpose of continuing their dominance.

Thus, the cataclysm of untold civilizations began.

Cloudhawk wasn't able to see all the details. These visions came in fits and starts, like a fever dream. After what seemed like only a short period his consciousness returned and his eyes shot open.

"Hey, you're awake!"

The voice caused Cloudhawk to shoot up into a seated position. He patted himself down, finding serious but no life-threatening wounds. Nothing that his constitution and a few good nights of sleep wouldn't repair.

Dawn was seated beside him, concern on her face.

When Autumn and the others brought Cloudhawk back, Dawn couldn't believe what she was seeing. What was left on this earth that was such a threat to him? He wasn't just strong, he was unbeatable, achieving heights no human ever had.

Dawn had begun to worry that Cloudhawk had fallen into a trap laid by Belial. The artisan was a demon Elder, after all, and they were known for their cunning. Only that thought disappeared when she saw the other body they were carrying. Belial himself, wounded even worse than Cloudhawk. She didn't have any explanation.

After coming to, Cloudhawk was quiet for a long time. His encounter with the God King had gone very poorly. But as fatal as it had nearly been, it was a priceless wake-up call.

Lately Cloudhawk's strength had given him an inflated sense of confidence. Since there was no one on this planet who was his equal, he had no metric to compare himself to. That turned into conceit. His vicious defeat at the God King's had was because he went in cocky and unprepared.

What's more, he learned quite a lot from the exchange. Now it was time to plan his next step.

After a little while he brought his mind back to the present. His loss didn't appear to affect him much. Cloudhawk had a sturdier ego than that. He'd already shed the shame of his defeat when he looked at Dawn. "Where's everyone else?"

"Outside," she answered. "What you found was amazing. We've gathered enough evidence to prove what the gods were up to. The news has shaken Stormford to its core."

To its core? Well no shit. The secret base had a thousand god corpses lying around now, which alone was a fact that would blow the average citizen's mind. Beyond that there was also a Source crystal the size of a city. All of this would shatter everything the Elysians thought they knew. The perfect societies they cultivated were nothing more than cattle pens, and humans were the livestock.

"Let's go take a look."

Cloudhawk and Dawn left the bedroom and where immediately met with the noise of a city in chaos. Hundreds of thousands of people were marching in the streets, separated into various camps. Conflicts big and small were everywhere he looked.

All the churches in the city lay in ruins.

The situation was as follows: Stormford's leadership had formally declared their independence from the gods. Many in the city supported their decision, but there were still many who refused to believe the wealth of proof shoved under their noses.

Dawn was indignant. "What the fuck is their problem? Isn't it obvious by now?"

"I doubt it's religion. They're probably scared. We don't even know what's going to happen when war with the gods comes." Cloudhawk watched the tumult unfold and heaved a sigh. "We're so far beneath them."

His defeatism took Dawn by surprise. "What's going on?"

He didn't hide anything from her, so he answered honestly. "The God King and I fought."

His revelation hit her like a ton of bricks. "What? You and the God King..."

"Actually, it was the God King from a thousand years ago. That's who I fought."

What the hell did that even mean? The God King from a thousand years ago? Even if Cloudhawk was a thousand years old, the sentence didn't make any damn sense!

He walked her through the events within the Source crystal. She listened in shock, amazed that the God King could do what Cloudhawk claimed. Was he saying that their enemy knew what Cloudhawk would do a thousand years before he did it?

"This can't be right. If the God King knew about you, why not get here earlier to make sure you weren't a threat? If he knew exactly where you'd be, he should have at least left a few Supreme gods to deal with you, right?" Dawn was filled with skepticism. "IF the God King was really able to see that far in the future, there's no way you could have gotten this far."

Cloudhawk scowled at the weighed the situation. "That's the crux of this problem. I think it has to do with the Great War. It was more complicated than we understand."

"More complicated?"

"Even the God King's power over time has its limits. I'm willing to bet it had to be in a certain place with a certain relic to access a time a thousand years in the future. But even if he can see and interact with the future, he can't go there. Maybe it can't even pinpoint the exact time things occur." Cloudhawk paused for a moment before continuing. "Anyway, there's one thing we can say for certain. The God King knows about me and where I would be - but he didn't kill me. It wants me to get stronger."

"Maybe it hasn't had a challenge for so long and is looking for an opponent?" Dawn surmised. "A lot of the best run into this problem."

"You underestimate the gods. I'm sure there's some deeper reason."

Whatever the case, if the God King wanted to kill Cloudhawk then he'd had any number of opportunities to do so. Hell, he could have been silenced as a baby. But the God King did no such thing. That could only mean Cloudhawk was worth something to it.

But he had felt it. There was definitely the intention to kill Cloudhawk in that attack. So Cloudhawk might be valuable, but also a threat. Probably that was the reason why the God King seems to be wavering between killing him and letting him live. He could tell from their exchange that the God King tried to kill him with a heavy heart. But even if it didn't want to kill Cloudhawk, there was precious little time for him to save himself and his species.

Dawn asked the obvious question. "So what should we do now?"

"Move." He replied.

"Move? Move what?" Her confusion was clear.

"Everyone." After this conflict Cloudhawk saw their shortcomings clear as crystal. It was not yet the time to face the gods, and being forced into conflict would only result in mankind's extinction. "The army of the gods will be here soon and we can't fight them off. I'm talking about an exodus. From this whole planet. We can't stay here."

Dawn looked at him with wide eyes, speechless. He wanted to evacuate everyone. Where? He was talking about a huge number of people!

The first thing that came to her mind was the city beneath the jungle planet. Why not? Maybe the Demon King knew what would come and prepared the place for them.

"But we can't possibly transfer everyone."

"We have no choice... it's the end of the world." Cloudhawk cast his gaze across the city and delivered the verdict in a low, sad tone.

Dawn believed him. An unprecedented disaster was on its way.

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