I often wonder what the Gods thought would happen upon their return. Maybe they thought we needed guidance, that their magnanimous but firm hand would turn the human race into something of universal beauty.
They probably didn’t expect a war. I wonder how omnipotent beings didn’t see it coming. If there’s one universal human trait, it’s that we don’t like to be told what we can and cannot be. Even by our creators.
But it’s not the Gods I fear. It’s men.
“You cannot be serious?” I echo. My compatriot grimaces at my tone, baring his teeth in his annoyance. He turns away and continues setting the charge.
We’re three hundred feet below street level of one of the God’s free cities. They’re utopia’s where humanity enjoys equanimity and safety… provided they worship the hand that feeds them.
“You think I got time to joke?” he says, straightening when the last one is ready, grabbing the roll of wire by the dowels on either side of the plastic base. He lets it loose as he walks backward. I follow behind him at a clip.
“I was told this was a reckon mission, not that we were going to blow up part of a city and all the citizens in it!” I rush forward, grab either side of the roll by the dowels so he can’t keep moving away from me. “ I did not agree to this.”
“Of course you did,” he says with a sneer, face smudged with dirt and grease from our trip into the undercity. “What, you think those people up there are innocent? They chose their side, now they can pay for it.”
He tries to yank the roll back but I hold tight. My voice is steel. “I. Did. Not. Agree. To. This.”
He jerks the roll out of my hands, glaring daggers at me. “You didn’t have to.” The tone holds no room for argument. “You can do your duty, or die with them.”
He continues moving back, and after a moment I follow him.
I wait until we’re out of sight of the charge, near out of the undercity, when in a moment of trust, he turns his back to me to pick up the pack we’d abandoned.
The shot from my pistol is muffled by the silencer. No echo to sound my betrayal, to sound the alarm for our troop nearby. The shot through his neck is an instant kill.
His body drops. I catch it, wary of setting off the still-active charge. I’m debating my next move when I first hear, then feel the rumbling ground beneath my feet. There’s a white-hot shot of fear in my chest as I remember the still active bomb below the undercity. I’m debating whether I have time to deactivate it before the earthquake sets them off when the ground above my head is suddenly peeled back, as if the crust of the city were nothing but a thin layer of wrapping paper around me. I dodge rocks and bits of steel as debris falls.
When the sunlight strikes my eyes, I turn my face upwards to face the God I knew had found me.