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Chapter 24 - Call to Arms

 Cloudhawk explained everything he learned while in Sumeru. The whole thing sounded like a fairy tale to the others, especially to Hellflower who was struck dumb by the news. She was trained to see things in a scientific light, but all the things Cloudhawk described sounded outlandish and impossible.

If what Cloudhawk said was true, then Sumeru existed in its own split in space-time. That meant that any mode of travel, even if it could reach light speed or hyper-jump, wasn't going to get them to their destination. Sumeru surpassed even Gehenna for safety and isolation.

The demon homeland was well concealed, but as an underlying level of their reality it wasn't unreachable. Certain advanced technologies could locate Gehenna and provide entry. Sumeru, on the other hand, existed outside of their universe. In other words, unless a species had developed to where they could explore the multiverse, there was no way to reach Sumeru even if they knew where it was.

But Cloudhawk had found a way. First he uploaded his mind into the hologram world of the Divine Matrix. Then he used the matrix itself as a channel to jump directly into Sumeru, where he saw the gods' home for the first time.

Science had no way to explain this process. Cloudhawk had moved from the physical realm to the spiritual, then onward to a parallel universe. Spirit, universe, Sumeru. What connected these three? How was Cloudhawk able to make a journey like that?

"You said you saw Dawn there?"

In addition to Hellflower were several others. Selene, Legion, Belial and so forth were listening intently to his discoveries. Each was shocked. They all knew the fate that had befallen Dawn. It was certain death, no question. So what was she doing in Sumeru?

Not just that, but someone she'd been pulled back from the bring. She was as young and healthy as ever. But Cloudhawk had felt the godly power within her. She'd been transformed by it.

"I suspect it is the hand of the God King at work." Legion voiced the most logical explanation. "The God King's expansive powers can stop the flow of time, even reverse it. Its direct involvement can explain what you say."

Belial interjected. "Why would the God King have any interest in an ordinary human?"

To the people of earth Dawn had been a crucial part of the revolution. But if you extended your view to the universe, across all the scope of what the gods controlled, Dawn was merely a human female of no real consequence.

"Perhaps the God King is trying to use her against you?" Selene posited. The God King knew that its ancient rival had been reborn. They were destined for conflict, and if that were the case perhaps he could control Cloudhawk through his relationship with Dawn. Cloudhawk might be hesitant to hurt his friend, even if it was only her likeness.

"Unlikely. There's no reason for it." Cloudhawk had never had a proper confrontation with the ancient power, but he wasn't totally in the dark. If the God King wanted him dealt, it didn't need to take such complicated steps. From the very beginning, Cloudhawk's rival had been pushing him forward, urging him to make the first move.

The God King was looking for a rematch with the Demon King, but to have this fight the new Demon King had to arise. Cloudhawk couldn't pretend to know the God King's mind, but it was obviously strong enough to dominate him without involving Dawn. If she was still alive it definitely had something to do with him, but why? Cloudhawk didn't have an answer.

"I have Sumeru's location. Getting there is harder than I thought, though. We're going to need a huge labor force to build a portal stronger than any we've used before. It needs to hold any tear I make open and keep it stable. That means a lot of energy."

"Belial can spearhead this effort," Legion rejoined. "We should have enough Source for the task."

"I can help," Hellflower offered.

"We need speed at all costs. When I infiltrated the Divine Matrix I learned that most gods have left Sumeru. Probably coming here. The Abyssal God and its forces were just the beginning, meant to push things along."

Belial scowled. "You're saying the southern wastes will be attacked again."

"With ten times the number of gods - and more than one marshal." Cloudhawk paused for a moment before going on. "But this may not be a bad thing. It means our plan to attack Sumeru directly is the right one. Its defenses are weaker and that gives us a shot. We can't live out the rest of our time fighting an endless war. We have to make the first move."

The gods were few in number, at least by comparison. One pantheon was responsible for controlling a huge expanse of space. That meant countless star systems, tens of thousands of civilizations and any number of them possibly fighting back against oppression. A majority of the gods weren't involved in keeping things stable, but rather seeking out more societies to dominate.

Gods were waging a constant, one-sided war against the many societies of the universe.

It would be ignorant to assume they were weak, but even though their enemy was powerful they were outnumbered. Spread thin. Over thousands of years they tried to bolster their numbers yet never advanced their civilization, for instance by creating an artificial intelligence or other means of colonization.

Maybe they were just molds. Copies, with no way to develop any culture or science of their own.

Legion, Belial and Hellflower took their leave. The division of labor was determined: Legion would direct the demons to mine for resources, Hellflower and Belial were in charge of harnessing the potent psychic energies of Source to create a stable portal.

Cloudhawk and Selene had their tasks as well. He busied himself with reorganizing the remaining sections within the subspace Cube. The space was built back up and retained the time-acceleration properties form before so that projects were completed quicker and more efficiently.

Selene's job was to coordinate the efforts of the Alliance, Ark Base and Emerald Star. The old, young and infirm were kept safe. All the others were tapped to help complete projects or prepare for the invasion of Sumeru. Their forces couldn't be too large or it would put a strain on the portal. She had to be selective.

They were betting everything on this gamble. Not just the continuation of their species, but the fate of the entire universe hung in the balance.