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Chapter 119 - Unpredictable Fate

 On this small rock spinning through a lonely corner of the cosmos, a glimmering figure stood upon its surface. It was large and wrapped in dazzling luminescence that hit most details. Even its outline was indiscernible.

Thus an orb of light stood in silence among the darkness of space, as though waiting for something.

As one of the most powerful beings in the universe, time was a meaningless construct. Yet even with dominion over time, even with the ability to know what was and what will be, this being did not have the qualifications to call itself Fate.

It sounded like a contradiction.

There were many races across the universe. When a civilization advanced beyond its own star it began to understand the nature of the cosmos. It grasped aspects of the quantum realm. During this period, in observing the rules of this microscopic realm, they may discover something strange; every time they observed them, the rules changed.

This was called the 'Uncertainty Principle.'

No matter what measures were devised, there existed no way to accurately define the qualities of subatomic particles. In other words, the rules of the quantum realm were affected merely by the act of observation. Each time a measurement was taken, the results were different.

One could say that future readings were eternally uncertain. The future was a mystery, and any interference resulted in change.

This being stood at a height no other living creature could reach. Its view was cast long, exploring destiny through the mists of time. Yet - precisely the same as these lowly humans discovered - even this creature found fate to be inscrutable. In the act of observing, the future was altered. For every action it took, knowing what was to come, the destiny it knew changed.

All it could do was exist in a single moment of time, sorting through millions of possibilities and correct toward this end. Through unending manipulation of causality and probability, through eternal time, it can nudge fate in the direction it preferred.

This was not an easy process.

Like an artist, it painstakingly focused on even the tiniest details to bring a masterwork to life. Each brushstroke had to be just right, for even the slightest mistake could render all its effort moot. Now was the most crucial time, for the masterwork was nearly complete.

A light appeared before the small planet, a not-insignificant expulsion of energy. It lasted only one one-thousandth of a second - meaningless on the scale of the universe, but precisely what this being was waiting for.

At last, this god they called 'King' acted.

A universe of deathly stillness stopped. Myriad planets spinning on their axes froze. That distant explosion, with all its uncountable particles, expanded at a snail's pace.

Where such a display should have only existed for a split second, time had been brought to a standstill. At this slow pace the explosion would persist for a full day. Plenty of time for the God King to find what it was looking for. She hovered among the storm of energy, withered and maimed, with hair white as snow. Life had left her, leaving only a quiet body wearing a small smile.

The God King reached out.

This lifeless form was plucked from the heart of the explosion and taken away. Soon after the frozen stream of time resumed. A roaring supernova released its fury into the uncaring universe, an insignificant tantrum that quickly subsided.


The Demon King returned.

Parts of his armor were cracked, but it was knitting itself back together even as others watched. Once-righteous figures were now bloody corpses, piled high. Over a hundred of them, marking where the gods' attempting invasion had failed.

Others looked upon the scene in shock and disbelief.

Alone, Cloudhawk had eliminated a small army of gods. Such power was impossible for them to understand. In their eyes Cloudhawk was truly a god, no longer a man.

"Cloudhawk, you..."

Selene was weak from her own ordeal. The fight had demanded everything from humanity's defenders. Victory had come at a painful cost, the loss of Dawn Polaris. A price paid in blood that could never be settled.

She worried for Cloudhawk. She knew him, knew how close he'd been to Dawn. Cloudhawk was the sort of man who always put himself in danger to spare others, but this time destiny had demanded Dawn's sacrifice. Although he had been given no choice, it didn't make the consequence any less painful.

"Don't worry. I'm fine. You're wounded, focus on recovery." Cloudhawk's voice was hoarse through the mask. "The energy from these corpses hasn't left yet. Bring them to the transformation altar as quickly as possible and begin the process. I leave you in charge of who receives their power."

Selene wanted to say more, but he cut her off. "I need stronger soldiers."

Shamed glances were shared among Greenland's warriors. They were too weak.

Cloudhawk turned as though to leave. No shred of the young man she traveled the wastes with remained. Selene wanted to stop him, to pull him back from the road he faced. But she couldn't. She wouldn't allow herself to be that selfish. Cloudhawk had become the Demon King, the leader that they needed. Such was his responsibility, his fate.

This was how Dawn Polaris died? Selene never thought it would come to this. In the midst of her pained disbelief she saw Legion fall in behind Cloudhawk, the Hand of Gehenna in tow.

This Legion is no good. I don't know what he's planning, but I'm sure he's using Cloudhawk!

Dawn's voice rang in Selene's ears. It was a groundless accusation - after all, on the surface it seemed everything Legion had done was in service to his king, even nearly dying. But for reasons she could not explain Selene felt the same as her lost companion.

"Here, let me help you." A woman in an emerald dress appeared by her shoulder. She glanced at Cloudhawk's retreating form before returning her gaze to Selene. "Don't worry, I trust him."

Selene Cloude and Autumn Draper had only a superficial relationship.

Within the young woman slept the will of a god. Selene had come to reject these false deities, but with Dawn gone she needed Autumn's power. If Dawn's fears were realized, then Cloudhawk needed protectors around him.

You're gone, but I will continue our mission.


Cloudhawk came right to the point, turning on his marshals with all the gravity of the Demon King. "Tell me now. How do I open the path to Gehenna."

Legion, Belial and Abaddon could feel it at last. The power and presence they felt was worthy of being called King. He bore the right to unseal the land that had been closed for a thousand years, and command the demonic armies within.

"Your predecessor established the secret base on Emerald Star for a reason. That is where the link to Gehenna resides." Legion bowed and spoke respectfully. "My King has joined with the will of the Cuirass and proved himself worthy of commanding my kin. Any who refuse to obey will be named betrayers."

"Then it's time to make the trip."

"As you wish."

Cloudhawk would wait not a moment more. Now, more than ever, he was desperate for the power of Gehenna. Their strength was his to wield against the gods.