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Book 8, Chapter 42 - A War of Two True Gods

 Cloudhawk and Legion acted at the same time.

The scant few demon Elders who still lived were unable to follow what was happening. Until just this instant, their King and the Grand Elder had been close allies. Why, after the God King's defeat, were they now at each other's throats?

Strangely, they felt no intense energy or contest of strength. Yet every demon - and even the humans and gods locked in battle nearby - felt their collision. It was abstruse, all of Sumeru instantly shifted into a void-space as though it faded from reality and became a dream.

These mortals could not comprehend the acts of these two true gods. Neither could they fathom the means in which they fought. Skies were absent the expected flashes of energy and the grounds didn't shake from impact.

It was a confrontation on a higher level. Both men wielded the laws of existence as weapons!

A Quintessence was as close to a true God as one could be. If the universe was looked at as a computer system, true Gods were system administrators. They controlled the architecture and bent it to their desires. With a thought they could add, copy, erase or amend any piece of it.

This included matter, energy, even souls and life itself. It defied explanation by the physical laws mortality was constrained by. Thus were these beings unbeatable and unkillable.

Mortals were powerless against Quintessences. Even if they could rip a star apart with their bare hands, they were still forced to follow the laws of the universe they lived in. All that they were - their spirits and thoughts and bodies - were all pieces of a mathematical model they couldn't break away from.

Cloudhawk and Legion had become more. They could see and change these structures. With the smallest alteration they could make all mortal things crumble away, like a palace built on quicksand. All that they were would be rendered meaningless.

In short, everything that obeyed the laws of physics were no threat to a Quintessence because physics obeyed him.

Like a harmless amoeba in a petri dish, they couldn't dream of challenging the scientists that put them there. They were constrained to their fluid, their tiny little world while the scientist could make whatever adjustments they saw fit. Such fragile little things could be wiped out with no effort at all.

The two true Gods existed on a different plane. And although inexplicable to mortals, their mode of combat was simple. Grasp the rules of creation and use them to destroy the other!

Each man knew what they were fighting against. After their ascension their bodies could be destroyed, their mind and spirit unraveled, but they could not be truly killed. Through mastery of the powers of creation they would merely form anew. It was impossible to completely erase the string of information that made them, a mote of data would always persist. The tiniest bit of data was enough to resurrect the whole.

Their battle was two hackers battling for control of the system. With no conventional way to destroy the other, the only path to victory was to wrest command of the rules from the other and delete them entirely.

Both fledgling gods had strengths to play on and weaknesses to exploit.

Cloudhawk's handicap was how fresh this power was to him. Limited aptitude was compounded by slightly less ability. So his deficiencies were Legion's strengths and vice-versa. Legion's obstacle was his inability to completely eliminate Cloudhawk. The human-turned-god was too important to destroy completely. To do so would be to erase all of the demon's centuries of effort.

Legion couldn't kill his target, instead he needed to be contained. But Cloudhawk's hands were not tied. He was unscrupulous in his acts, clawing for any method to make sure Legion was cut from existence.

Legion's will filled the space as though he were the embodiment of cosmic consciousness. "Do not resist, this is a struggle you cannot win. My race has waited for the birth of destiny's child for countless millennia. Your end was written in the instant of your birth."

Cloudhawk didn't respond. He continued to struggle for supremacy, so that he had enough control to silence his foe for good. But he was losing ground.

"If you cannot defeat me how can you hope to defeat my people?" Legion's will spread farther, more potent. "Even if you could, how can you stand against all of my kind? So long as you exist, this universe is in danger of being annihilated."

A wave of invisible, primal energy burst forth to envelope a radius of ten thousand meters. Demons Elders who could not flee fast enough let out a piercing scream as cracks appeared from head to toe. With deafening blasts their bodies detonated, the fragments themselves exploding into ever smaller particles until even atoms were ripped apart. All that was left was fragmented pieces of code before even that scattered into nothingness.

Absolute death. Nothing more existed of them. Even the most fundamental pieces of existence that were contained within them were deleted.

Those demons who still lived were rife with fear. They'd watched their companions die before them, but it wasn't the death that scared them so. As those elders vanished, gradually all memory of them vanished also. It was as though they had never been!

Any part of the universe involving them, from footprints to homes to anything they touched, all was undone. Life smoke on a breeze memories of those elders wafted away from the minds of survivors.

Memories were just strings of information. Residuals of the things that created them. For creatures like Legion or Cloudhawk, these remnants were enough to reform. In other words, if even a single being remembered them there remained the tiniest impression. If Cloudhawk was atomized in this conflict, just the memory of him could be used to bring him back to life.

Thus to these two true gods life and death were meaningless. They could be changed, reversed, altered and amended. To them there was existence and non-existence. To destroy a thing was not enough. All their data must be removed from the universe's collective memory.

With the complete destruction of the demon Elders, the living ones forgot who they were and all they'd done. From the most fundamental memories they were eliminated and all their influence forgotten. What they were and all they had done was cut out - and not just from those here. All demons, Gehenna, the earth, and all across the universe these collections of data were wholly erased. Everything they ever did, said, touched or interacted with was gone.

A violent surge of energy passed through Cloudhawk's body. He saw fractures begin to appear in his legs and then they broke apart. Legion's attack had erased a portion of Cloudhawk's code.

"Give in! You have no other choice!"

Legion's hysterical command filled the cosmos.

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