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 Chapter III: 

Signs and wonders began in those days when men and women fell to their knees shrieking in agony at the overwhelming power of new sensations. Eyes saw that which in wisdom should not have been seen, ears heard countless sounds building and folding in on each other. Skin toughened and physics suspended such that the flesh could endure strikes that should have sent it careening miles beyond, arms began to display power sufficient to grasp carbon and bring forth diamonds. 

Muscles rasped, men and women began to levitate off the ground initially in panic and then with purposeful will as they grasped the power of flight. It was a time of glory and of splendor. It was in the midst of this change that a crackling field of glowing ebony light wreathed in silver lightning appeared and from it manifested a tall man with strange metallic elements that seemed to both extend from his flesh and to be his flesh. A single glowing red eye looked around in the darkness and with stealth belying his massive bulk and eight foot tall frame the man quietly vanished into the night. 

________________

The next morning, Daniel Chandler awoke with a sense of purpose and determination. These immortal monsters had bequeathed to him and to others great power, now. Now they were not Gods alone, now there were others. New Gods. Gods made from humanity itself. 

He grinned and then flexing his new abilities relished the sudden blurring sensation that followed before appearing to a disinterested Immortal of Azarath. 

The Immortal stood up. 

Foolish boy, you don't know what's happened to you. 


He blinked. The face that looked at him was human, like his, but.....

I was once a farmer, boy. A Goth in the realm of the Caliph. The monster's power came over us and we were transformed, remade into her image. 

The face that looked at him was human but the voice that echoed was strange. It was a man's face yet the voice that spoke was a rumbling contralto with a reverberating infrasound aspect, one that made his bones ache and him clasp his ears to hear. 

The immortal grinned and the smile frightened him. Too inhumanly wide and the teeth seemed to shift from a normal human's to fangs. 

All are one in the Azar, boy. 

He growled. He was a white man, dammit. An American white man. Everyone knew people like him were the greatest to have ever been in the history of anything. 

Two words echoed in that same contralto: 

Prove it. 


He growled, roaring in pleasure as his hands glowed and then lances of fire slammed into the monster, followed by his leaping high into the air and then directing himself straight down at the Immortal, covered in clouds of smoke and fire. The being grinned with a savage and terrible smile and his body suddenly landed on crossed arms with a sufficient impact to knock the breath out of him, followed by the human-seeming being picking him up casually and hurling him headlong into a defensive position that was concrete-reinforced. 

He landed with an impact that only partially registered, grinning and raising himself up. 

Firing more blasts, he was surprised that the Immortal didn't even try to dodge them, before the Immortal blurred and then lifted him up by the throat one-handed as though he were a ragdoll. Pain again, overwhelming. The raw elemental fury of a God unchained. Malice gleaming in eyes that went from brown to crystalline blue, that same unnaturally wide shark-fanged smile emanating itself. The being then slammed him into the ground with an impact that registered even with his new invulnerability and he winced. 

The difference, boy, between the power given a God-his pink hands tried to slam into the being's face to no effect and his vision was blurring and darkening-and a jumped up mortal who thinks his brain is as intelligent as his organ. 

The creature smiled at him, and creature it was now. Inhumanly tall and robust, still retaining elements of 'his' visage, but then raising its own fist and a blurred set of tremendous impacts followed with spurts of blood and the loss of vision altogether in one of his eyes, as well as staving in his jaw. A beam blast right into the eye of the mutated human led him to resume his seeming default form and then growling. 

So it's that kind of thing, is it? 


The being smiled. 

Then it changed again and it truly was an it now, reptilian flesh with multiple eyes and the gruesome formation of a second head following with the second head seeming to gnaw on the neck of the first. The clawed hand tore into his flesh and then the being's twin heads focused on him and a blast of light followed and the last thing he saw was a brilliant flash of light, before the being resumed a normal-seeming human form and sniffed. 

Pity. I expected more. 

________________

Coman, the Monk and Magistrate of Azarath, once Father Vigitius, a still-clinging to the old ways Roman under the Caliphs, grinned. His lucky day. Three, no less, of the fanatics who'd been empowered. One of them commanded the wind and the storm, crackling with electricity and hovering via an unnatural current of wind that the individual in question had created. This one was Korean, and the glowing lightning gave him an image of very old days, an ethos a proud clinger to the ways of the Gods would approve of. 

Another was a rumbling and snorting  transhuman spectacle, a primordial manifestation of rage and anger. Once a black man who'd been tall, gangly, thin, and in the middle of yet another 'diligent' police officer who was giving him the glove for no good reason at all, now he was a massively muscled form that seemed to be champing at the bit to strike an opponent worth standing up to him. Easily three times the size of a normal person and several times more abroad, he slammed his fists together and created a shockwave, bellowing: 

"You are false Gods who deform the human soul in pursuit of your own ego! Now, now you would see what real power is!"

The third was a giggling freak with a pair of gloves that to his surprise were bladed. An impractical weapon worth the debased entertainment of ordinary men and films of nightmares made real, and a very poor choice of weapon to fight someone who was the champion of a multiversal monster.

As he calmly strode toward them all he smiled.

Gentlemen, his voice echoed and inwardly he screamed as the contralto of his God echoed through him. The strong and sharp feminine undertones with his massively built form made it dissonant enough that even the transhuman being who towered in godlike proportions was brought up short for a moment-do you seriously think you can fight a God? 

He grinned, that same dissonant voice echoing from his vocal cords: I am the God's messenger, her champion, her first and greatest voice among the Immortals! Her magistrate, her iron fist to punish the unworthy! 

With that he began to move casually in a blur, dodging easily the lightning sent by the Korean man, shouting: Lightning may be yours to command, Li Yong, but perpetual you shall not be! 

Bolts of lightning struck him and he laughed at the ease with which his enhanced flesh ignored them, but then the transhuman slammed into him with a sudden leap and his momentum was arrested from surprise. Gravity and physics took some kind of due still and he careened toward the ground, slammed into it. He registered with a savage grin the sets of smashing hits to the face the roaring transhuman unleashed, smiling and then with a sudden lunging motion threw him off, only to feel to his genuine surprise the bladed gloves jammed into his sternum, aiming for his heart. 

The grinning figure who stood before him laughed. 

"Not so impractical now, are they?" 

He cackled. 

"Blades I gained from the land of dreams." 

His eyes changed to a more reddish hue. 

"Creatures like you bleed when exposed to the power of other Gods." 

Thrusting still harder he was rewarded with a satisfying crack and then jammed his blades forward, squeezing and the Monk screamed with a sudden agonized sound like the Heavens splitting before he fell down to his knees. 

 The laughing man failed to see the brief assertion of a Greater Power and then the sudden darkness drew his eyes to the sky. The Moon was gone, he realized. It was the most obvious and yet the most subtle demonstration of power. The Monk's fallen body dribbled blood, rattling with breath and a strange serenity crossed his features until the darkness cast a bolt of light and the serenity became fear and then the skies returned to their normal day. 

The Monk raised himself up and cracked his neck, glaring with glowing eyes. 

Uppity mortal
, hissed the contralto. Clever one, but still uppity. Mortals don't harm Gods and get away with it. 

With that the creature lunged forward at him only to find his fists caught by a metal hand as he looked into the one metal and one flesh eye, brown and set within brown skin with half an afro extending from it, of a man who was towering, over his normal human height. Near seven feet tall before his transformation, closer to ten feet tall after it, Vincent Smith grinned. 

As his other hand glowed and shifted, the metal forming into a cannon that began to glow with an eldritch light, the men were awed as Vincent spoke: 

Hellspawn of Azarath, I have a simple word and task for you. 

Oh? 


Burn. 


A crackling eldritch light surged forth and with the sudden blast the Monk screamed again, flash-fried and his healing sternum letting in the head to his internal organs. Thrown head over heels by the shockwave, he slammed into the ground with a sudden and sharp groaning sound, even with divine enhancement his vision blurry. 

Vincent turned to the men and then looked them over with visible contempt and a fair degree of condescension. The Afro seemed to shrink and metal flowed, covering the two-thirds of his body that had been normal flesh as naturally as the third that was. 

Amateurs. He snorted and then walked off, seeking his next foe.

The Monk was left, smoking until the skies changed again and then he rose in a jerking fashion with rasping breaths, restored to his current state of being.

"Please let me die!"

No.
The voice that followed echoed with the demonic laughter of a God toying with its creations.
 


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