So the time before last when I'd gotten banned...yes I'm referring to 3 30 day bans since APRIL...
I received a message from FB at the top of the page in the same place as "On this Day"/Obnoxious Holiday themed messages appear...the message from FB asked if I'd like to participate in a survey regarding my experience with Facebook. I of course pounced on the opportunity and scheduled myself as available the following day. They didn't contact me until a few days later and then a person who told me they were working for Facebook asked me if I'd be comfortable answering a few questions, I agreed.
The link in question to that original notification:
( Image behind cut )
He asked how long I'd been on the site (I said I wasn't sure but I knew it was more than 6 maybe 7 or 8 years) asked how was my overall experience ( I said abysmal) He asked me to go into detail and I expounded that the majority of that time I've spent banned from posting because of Facebook's broken reporting feature and their blatant AntiBlackness and Transphobia.
I talked briefly and passionately about the nature of each time I'd been banned, how racists, Nazis, Transphobes, are able to say what they want without repercussions, but if Black and especially Black and Trans people try to defend themselves they are banned. If they post screenshots they're banned. Even if they say the word wh!te. Talked about how Trans People still have to deadname themselves, how Black people are banned for the faintest slight against an all encompassing wh!te supremacy that wants them dead and silenced and how these polices aid in that. How nearly all these wh!te terrorists had an active social media presence that was unchecked. How FB is a safe haven for Nazis, Klansmen, Transphobes, and even Child Pornographers (and cited a BBC article in which FB was under investigation regarding that and then FB allegedly tried to frame the journalists). How with "real name policies" abusers can follow their victims...I tried to address every concern I could think of as quickly and direct as possible because I knew I'd be recorded and I knew this is one of the rare moments with a direct line to FB HQ. I mentioned the staggeringly low amount of Black FB employees working at FB and cited a 2% figure I'd read in another article to prepare for the interview...which he corrected me on and said it's WAAAAAY less than that and said the last time a Black person walked on their campus it had DOUBLED their representation.
I called out the racist nature of their staff allowing Black Lives Matter banners to be destroyed repeatedly. I brought up every issue I could think of. He told me that FB was working on those issues and they wanted to stay in touch with me. He also read the last reason I was banned and said that there was nothing wrong with what I'd said (it was an article about wh!te aggression and how when wh!te people ask Black folx if their social justice posts mean they hate wh!te people...and the author and I both said yes) and took the 30 day ban off my account that had been on for a little over a week or 2.
He then said they would like to stay in contact with me so I could address these issues further, would send me an email (and a $50 Amazon gift card for the trouble. It never came spoiler alert), but in order for me to be able to address those issues I'd have to go 40 days without getting banned...and they'd even clear my slate so I wouldn't get an automatic 30 days for the slightest infringement (something I'd said over and over again in the Support Inbox any time I'd get banned addressing their blatant racism and transphobia) 40 days...on an app where folx get banned for saying s!lence is v!olence.
I told him as much and said that the test shouldn't be whether I could survive their arbitrary, anti-Black and ever changing community standards that only protect wh!te supremacist fragility but that FB can go 40 days without harassing Black and Trans People. He said the email would be a direct line to him and he would PERSONALLY APPROVE EACH AND EVERY ONE OF MY POSTS, like I NEEDED A DAMN BABY SITTER. The equivalent of when Barney's Employees get caught being racist and then offer Black people a chance to shop with the store closed so now EVERY employee can watch them and make sure they're not up to something. I told him that not only do I post entirely too much for that to EVER work but that it's insulting and DOES NOT FIX THE PROBLEM.
Hire more Black and Trans staff so the people who are determining whether or not a post is racist or transphobic ACTUALLY KNOW WHAT THEY'RE DOING. Babysit your racist coworkers, instead of this impossible task that serves no one and just gives y'all time between scandals. He said we'd have to address that in the following emails and he looked forward to chatting with me over the next 40 days. I thought at this point at least I have a direct line to FB and even told my FB followers as much in case they still had to deal with FBs anti-Blackness and Transphobia (I said I'd do as much and he said he would never tell me not to post something which what is the point of these 45 days then?).
Instead of sending every single thing I was going to post before I posted it I utilized that email to send screenshots of FBs racism and Transphobia, of Black activists being banned, of a Black activist being banned to the point her IP Address wasn't usable...he never responded personally to these emails but the latter Activist I mentioned did have their IP Address unbanned within 3 days of my email so I'm unsure if that had anything to do with it or if they'd never planned on correcting any of their Anti-Blackness. I didn't want to squander this access on just protecting my account. If he was interested in me making an impact...why wait the 45 days?
I'd collect evidence now and send it. I'd replied to his original email over 10 times and never got a direct response. I'd pointed out that if the number of emails I was sending seems overwhelming, think of the amount of emails you'd receive if I sent you one before EACH AND EVERY SINGLE POST I MADE. And would have to wait I guess seemingly forever for a response. I would never find out what would happen after the 45 day trial because as fate would have it someone reported A POST I MADE DEFENDING MUSLIM PEOPLE AND WISHING THEM A SAFE RAMADAN. I of course was flabbergasted it was one of the most benign things I'd ever said to get me banned but it honestly does not matter what I post, legit anything can get taken down.
I'd contacted the FB connect a few more times with no response and contacted a few podcasts I knew that reported on Tech and SocioPolitical issues including the Reply All Podcast. I waited the 30 days out and my page was up for a few more weeks until ultimately...I've been banned again for 30 MORE days just before Dragon Con, and this time for saying to a violent and disgusting Transphobe that he was "objectively ugly". This wasn't a post, this was a comment, and one buried under 100 other comments on a Pro-Trans post that had over 2.2K shares...someone at FB has personally made it their mission to fuck with me.
It is damn near impossible for a Black Trans person to keep their page public and pro-dismantling the oppressions that want them dead. I keep my page public for accessibility...for every sorry ass racist transphobe that stumbles their sad ass on my posts there are a dozen other people that are so thrilled they found a space where they're validated, celebrated, and their oppressors are masticated then defecated.
And this is coming from someone who has as many followers as I do some Black Trans folx are tryna be heard on this site that wants them desperately silenced and don't have as nearly a big reach as me...(which is why I try to signal boost as much as possible...)
How many times do they have to go through that shit? How many days can they go without a safety net? How do y'all sleep at night?
It's basically a fantasy WWII analogue in broad sketches as written by Harry Turtledove, with geography and cultures upside down and backwards. For example the USA analogue, Kuusamo, is East Asian, appearance wise, but speaks Finnish. The Finland anallogue, Zuwayza, speaks Arabic, and cutlurally has no nudity taboo when it's in the desert. And the Soviet analogue, Swemmel's Kingdom of Unkerlant is in the western expanse of Derlavai, has the Russian Revolution analogue in the Twinkings War and Swemmel's merry slaughtering of the Unkerlanter aristocracy.
Much moreso than Timeline-191 (hilariously to a degree) the Derlavai series has some radical gaps between the historical WWII and the real one, among them that the Poland analogue, Forthweg, is taken out last, the magical nuclear weapon is used in a demonstration and when that doesn't take to wipe out the capital of the Magyar-speaking Japan analogue, Gyongyos.
Also the most radical sudden shift in terms of characterization when the sympathetic Algarvians of book one with breathtaking speed become the Nazi analogues of book two through the end, while Unkerlant goes from being the least sympathetic of them all to being approximately how the 1945-era USSR was seen at the time of the end of the war.
Idle as a painted ship/upon a painted ocean-Rime of the Ancient Mariner
They stood by the sign with a kind of sick fascination. For a moment flashes of memory that were only possible with minds partially human came. In their bassinets they had been sleeping when a monstrous force had stormed into the hospital, a towering mountainous flaying force hewn in a quasi-human form. The God on the Gilded Throne was six feet shorter than the usual avatars she projected even in her armor but a fourteen foot tall god that had erupted into Gotham and callously murdered innocent and guilty alike and reduced the place to a horrific charnel house had a way of remaining a clear and present presence in the minds and hearts of them whom the beast had fallen upon and devoured.
Then they looked to the right of the monument. And for a moment time itself stood still.
Two infants in a statue held by hands and wrists without arms. The names Karlee Meir and Rachel Roth, the 'Lost Ones'.
Meir sighed and then flexed for the first time unconsciously something she would come to do very knowingly and replaced her Azarathi garments with a golden armor with a black cape, raising a hood over her brown face, her white pupilless seemingly blind yet far-seeing eyes gleaming. Rachel Roth likewise replaced the flowing dress she'd worn beneath her Azarathi robes with a much smaller and more form-fitting kind of plate-armor, and they looked into Gotham.
Should we risk that they will know who we are?
We've seen what the God on the Gilded Throne can do. It calls you sister, perhaps you can cloud minds as readily as it can if they do.
With that the two then took their first steps into Gotham, entering the decaying East End. It was a city at once modern and ancient, solid and liquid, air and stone. Gambrel roofs that seemed more in place in ancient New England where over them danced witch-fires vied with newer buildings that were corroded with rust on the screens. Doors sagged and the stench and slime of mold was all too present. A low-edged hum of despair that was almost tangible even to non-empaths and which was seemingly overpowering at first to Rachel Roth was there, and for a moment she fanced she saw a swollen-bodied nude woman with a fanged mouth gazing with sad and almost protective eyes before vanishing.
Further they strode into Gotham, the empathic presence of Dagger beginning to manifest for the first time. The God on the GIlded Throne and her avatars, the monstrous entity known as the Azar was a knife that flayed the soul and carved and butchered without pity or shame. The Lightdancer was an elemental tempest, a living storm wrought in demi-human form and even in her purely human guise a storm-scale living testament to divinity wrought in a human guise.
Dagger herself was a figure who transcended categories and unknown to her but not as much to her sister who gazed for a moment with wonder and then sadness and horror and sadness again would become quite monstrous for this. A being whose defiance of the writ in stone order of things made her presence hard to quantify, something in a tooth that could never be found yet never gotten out. A spectre always on the edge of consciousness yet not seen and an impending and nightmarish presence. A shining brilliant eye-searing light of gold that left blindness and confusion where once had been order.
Unknown to Rachel Roth likewise her own presence was beginning to flower outside of Azarath. Something like a storm-cloud in her own right, but where the Lightdancer was a being of hope and awe and dread terrible aspect in her storm-wrought presence, the daughter of the demon was something ominous. Hellscape made flesh, something monstrous and the blazing hell-light writ into human form, not a figure of dismal darkness as human imagination in its wretched bigotry would have wished but light, brilliant and terrible as the sun or an atomic bomb. A willowy tall being with a dancer's grace and a nightmare and harbinger of death, and likewise to her sister of choice a being even then deciding to grasp a power akin to hers. Hers the destiny to level worlds? No. Hers the destiny to save them.
It was then that as they walked in the moonlight a figure strode up to them. He was a tall man in a purple suit with green hair and a rictus, a cringing whipped person whose back was still bleeding from the pain following him. A harlequin and a mad clown, and as he turned to them he doffed his hat facing not one monster of a make unknown to him but two.
"Tell me, children, have you ever danced with the Devil in the pale moonlight?"
Rachel prepared to move but Karlee placed a finger on her shoulder and smiled.
No sis, let me.
She lowered her hood and a brown face with carbonized charring appeared, her flesh still reflecting her natural form and content in her brownness she turned to look at the monstrous lunatic.
You don't know the Devil, little man.
Casting off the glamor that had made her seem more human she swelled to a height without her armor of fourteen feet and within to twenty feet. That same wrenching presence as a monster of the outside context, the jarring of the carefully created systems made her jar even the eyes of the deranged and savage Joker, who realized with a start that for all that he knew he was a being of two dimensions, lines of ink and pencil, balloons and the like, and that his atrocities would help continue his existence and that of his world that he faced another being equally aware. A being grasping that awareness for the first time.
Rachel looked with a start as a balloon suddenly manifested over the Joker reaching from his mouth with a jagged element on his laughter as tears fell from his eyes. Karlee Meir smiled ruthlessly and then grabbed the balloon straight away from the Joker's head.
Odd font, this. What is this? Comic sans? Really? You, the Joker speak with COMIC SANS?
That last pair of words was a sudden bellow that caught Rachel by surprise and as she watched she realized appropriately for a moment that here in their home, out of the shadow of a greater deity, she was watching the moment in time at which a fledgling entity grasped a greater truth. It was then that she herself grasped that truth and realized with awe that in every world and clime there were multiple iterations of the same people. She could be a being of three dimensions, or two dimensions. A being crafted out of words or clay.
This then was part of how to extend life. She could defy the great contours of fate itself with this knowledge given time and space, could extend a cycle until it was postponed and never came. Not the destroyer and the monster she'd seen in Azarath, a savior and a redeemer. These thoughts passed in a whirl within time and the twenty foot tall being that was her sister was striding toward the Joker, a speech balloon appearing over her mouth, one colored with a riotous rainbow like aspect and written with a jagged font that represented a tear in reality. A dark blue almost purple italic text that was visible in the lighter part of the rainbow's coloration:
Comic sans. I knew you were an evil bastard.
Then raising the balloon in a mocking salute she began to blur and smash into the Joker with his own speech balloon, the blows raining on him with a speed and strength that he had no means to contest, leaving him wrecked in less than a minute. Harley leaped to protect her lover and master but a glancing blow with the balloon led to her falling unconscious and then the balloon seemed to vanish in thin air.
Rachel Roth looked to her sister in awe, saying:
So that's the great secret, then.
She looked with surprise at her own speech balloon. Where Dagger's was a rainbow coloration and a dark blue italic font, hers was a squiggly one reflecting the infrasound reverberations in her speech pattern, some text bold and others normal in contrast to the ones of her sister.
It is indeed. We are all of us products of a creation by a blind idiot god at the center of nuclear space. Our existence is a random set of events stacked together with beginning, middle, and end. Climax and resolution, plot twists, and all that crap.
All of us at this level know that, I think. Most of us just use it to gain power and to become the central characters and greater scope forces maneuvering mortals and then mocking about what fools those mortals be. Arrogant, that. We make them pawns and then laugh at them for games they don't get choices to be involved in. We make them puppets, and then because we overawe them pretend that they are inferior to beings that give them no option but to be manipulated.
She shrugged again and then they resumed walking in Gotham, aware of its two-dimensional aspects now that they saw it and the more fascinated and repelled by it all the same:
I don't really care past a certain point. I realized when I grabbed that damned balloon that I'm in the most annoying part of any story, really. The origin. The point where I am evolving to be awesome and yet not as awesome as I could be expected to be.
She then sighed.
For a moment she looked down and rubbed the back of her head and sighed on a different note.
I came to bury our mothers but the time's not right for that. More things to do, more horrors to uncover. Wonders to witness at the dawn of a new age.
A portal opened in an alley and a drunk who watched it dropped his booze and decided from that point he'd rather be sober. The portal opened outward in Metropolis, ironically enough in Suicide Slum.
Really? We couldn't come out in the nice shiny financial district? Really?
She shook her head.
All right. Well, we're here. Now what shal-
It was then that she saw with a terrible smile the next phase of things and her growing power and knowledge and her sister's likewise led the two to suddenly alter all that they were doing. A monstrous figure lurched out of a building it had torn down, roaring in discontent and anger.
Kalibak, son of a pitiless and dreadful god from beyond the stars.
And toward Kalibak was hurling a brilliant figure, a blur of red and blue, a figure that held Rachel in awe and it was then that the look of confusion on the part of Karlee was replaced with first a wide-eyed stare of comprehension and then a smile that began to cross her face with a shark's grin of razor teeth.
Why this is Hell, nor am I out of it-Faust.
The Gate of Death, Pandaemonium:
Three months' time had lapsed since my hands and body had turned grey. I looked at myself in a mirror and saw a monster, skin the hue of ashes, eyes that shone with violet instead of white, hair turned indigo. Runes burned in my flesh. We met four lords, the Tetrarchs of this strange and unholy sphere. Angra Mainyu, Ahriman. Lord of the Abyss, King of Pandaemonium, God-Emperor and Anti-God who sat on the great Obsidian Throne and ruled with an iron fist and a will of terror. A being of towering proportions in jet-hued armor with a roiling red cape and four glowing eyes, the rumbling infrasound undertone within his voice like a hammer to the face. Jvarasura, known to the Sumerians as Nergal, God of Plague. Though in his case less God and more an Asura. A rail-thin skeleton with a light hue of sickly green flesh and maggots weaving in and out of his body. Known as the Hand of Death to his followers we detested him most.
Then there was the sadistic Prince of Pleasure, Ravana. A Rakshasha who'd managed to best the previous such deity in a clash for the title and now that deity was reduced to being his chamberlain. Ten heads and ten arms had he and he was a figure of towering destruction and death, and all who beheld the lascivious gaze of twenty eyes shuddered and felt befouled save the other Tetrarchs. He was a master of weaponry and bellowed in triumph and delight at his mastery, where to Angra Mainyu he was simply a fop who'd usurped his true master and no love was lost between them.
And of them too there was Indra, an Asura who was like a thundercloud rewritten in the form of a man. Of them all he scared us more even than the King of Pandaemonium did, for his were hands that cast lighting and light in the darkness and Unlight of that realm. His hands that scarred flesh and proved able to break invulnerable flesh to create oozing wounds that were then cauterized in scorchingly painful fashion, and at each of their hands had we suffered. Each time one of us sought to shield the other we were punished for success or failure as our captors wished, but each time we did so we learned more of the nature of the monsters beyond the Veil. And of the means to leave this place.
Three months' time passed and our bodies were scarred as thoroughly in Azarath, and my sister Rachel had an adornment placed on her face by Angra Mainyu when he sought to give her another 'blessing' as his father. A gemstone set in a chakra with a dark black hue when he'd placed it on her but in defiance she'd glared and summoned against it the power of her soul-self and it became red. He snarled then and sought to cast her down but I shielded her in turn and darkness mercifully swallowed me.
She'd come to understand, however, that Pandaemonium had several gates, and the one that could be fled from to another corner was one marked, of all things, in Latin. And on it did these words appear: Abandon All Hope Ye Who Enter Here.
Some part of me fueled by the growing power of my kindred among the Urhalzantrani recognized this and realized the nature of the place, and its ties within the greater complexes of Hell, a realm ruled by what in some takes was its Eighth Pit, the Malebolge. A Dark Dimension of sordid terror and nightmares where Hell was made manifest in all its foulness. And yet next to the everlasting light and the blades and the laughter of the God on the Gilded Throne one was light and one was dark and that was all I could see then as a gap.
So we came then to that gate, together, and the Tetrarchs seemed unaware of it though in truth we knew that we would be in a race between their power and hers as a native child in half her heritage of that dimension. She levitated in a lotus position and began a set of chants from a book we'd found in the Azar's library, the fiendish works of the Mad Mullah, the Heretic Hazred whose works revealed the Yog-Sothoth and Cthulhu cycles and the rise of the Great Empire of Xoth vingtillions of years before all that was now was present.
As she finished her incantation, part of me understood the words spoken and I learned later a great lesson in power and simplicity alike:
By Ten Thousand Eyes and Ears I the gates of Yog-Sothoth declare open, the gates between the realm of joy and of sorrow, flesh and blood, reality and rhyme. Open unto these spheres the power of Yog-Sothoth who made all things and is beyond them, the Old Ones were, the Old Ones Are, the Old Ones shall be. Not within the spaces known to mankind but between them walk they!
An eerie glow began to form and there was an element as of a river of glowing bubbles that burbled and spoke with ten thousand voices, and she extended to me her hand and I took it as we managed to step through the gate. It was then that Angra Mainyu rose behind us as a towering being in red wearing only a loin cloth, the semi-Elizabethan ruffle, and carrying the vast white Sceptre as he sought to reach through the gate to take us.
She formed a strange sign akin to that of a Magen David and spoke words of banishment and the Elder Sign closed the gate of Yog-Sothoth, the monster in Pandaemonium howling in fear and in pain.
Then we looked in shock. We were standing once more at the gates of the Doors of Night, clad not in the armor in which we'd been sent out but in torn blood-stained rags, scars and still-bleeding wounds visible, and we were at the foot of the massive throne on which the God that sat there leaned forward, lips peeling with that hideous squelching sound and eyes igniting like suns.
Well done, Good and Faithful servants. You have ascended from children to women, now.
My sister bellowed:
I am no-one's servant and neither is she!
And with that I in turn looked at her and the disconcerting smile on her face and as she leered downward, she unleashed the same shadowy bird from Pandaemonium, a great corvid form that hurled itself forward at the God on the Gilded Throne and began to peck and claw at her face. The God screamed and my sister and I turned and spoke a second incantation:
Yog-Sothoth knows the gate, Yog-Sothoth is the gate. Past, present, future, all are one in Yog-Sothoth.
The Gate opened and we were carried through with a scream as the God on the Gilded Throne descended and tried to lunge at us. As we fell through the skies, we landed with an echoing boom in a park in a city that at the time I did not know.
Dusting ourselves off, I asked her:
So where we are we now?
Then I looked around and blinked, relieved more than words could say that shifting the color of my eyes was but a shift in the color, not the nature or kind of my vision.
I looked at her and her face went from the exhilarated rush of escaping two monsters to the kind of quiet stone face I would come to know all too well.
We're home. The Earth we were born in.
How do you know that?
She pointed to a sign that said: Memorial to the Massacre of Gotham.
Tis better to reign in Hell than to serve in Heaven.-John Milton, Paradise Lost.
This is the measure of my power, daughter of my blood but not my sentiment.
Four eyes glared into her two, as she calmly folded her armored arms across her breastplate.
These theatrics are to convince me of what, precisely? Bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh you may be but if you intend to break me, you can do nothing to me that Azarath has not already done.
He looked upward, before forming a great scepter out of what seemed to be flowing bone, a strange kind of collar arising behind him with a quasi-Elizabethan aspect extending beyond his horns, beneath it a vast white cape.
The scepter whirled with terrifying speed to a point that its sound created an infrasound assault on both our ears that led us to fall to our knees. Then a sudden blast of flame erupted from it and smashed into me, hurling me against a wall. The impact was painful and my armor, the one my sister had given me beneath my robes, burned, which did hurt but less than I expected. And it was then that Rachel went ballistic.
Her voice was that of a whisper of the wind across the graveyard. It echoed with an infrasound resonance that matched that of the being facing us, but where his was a rumbling akin to boulders grinding together, hers was a funeral dirge.
What stings worse, father? That in mutilating yourself to gain power you still lose to a demented half-human who has altered herself into something that should not be, or that I am what I am precisely by being what it is that I am and gain greater power than you have by betraying yourself? To become a monster you took Chaos and tortured it into being Order. I will not have my destiny decreed by a God on a Gilded Throne or a Daemon who sits on a throne of obsidian and plots and schemes to work will through the deeds of others.
You have made a Hell that at least is straightforwardly Hell and not in the guise of a Heaven. Here, and now, I swear henceforth and forevermore to defy you now and forever until the Last Battle, when I shall cast down your twitching corpse before the Universal Emperor as a mark that the sins of the fathers do not pass into their children, and to show him that the daughter of his enemies can do more harm to my own father than his spawn.
Energy began to form out of her like a great bird, glowing with an eerie golden Unlight that made him stand in awe, then as his teeth ground together and his eyes began to glow, he roared:
My daughter in flesh you are indeed, and in spirit likewise! The soul that you prepare to turn against me I shall baptize in my essence, that you shall learn the folly of seeking to cast down your own kindred.
Hellfire lanced out of four eyes as he roared in delight and she stood calmly, eyes beginning to glow, two eyes becoming four. I finally managed to put out the flames on my own robes and through an incantation of the Azar's began to form armor of my own as a mystic construct hardening into plate and a cape. Armor of gold, designed like that of the knights in books and scrolls, and a cape of obsidian.
And with that the blasts that struck her vast glowing bird caused her to scream. And with my own armor formed I realized something of the nature of what we were facing when he withstood my eyebeams with an outstretched hand, the beams absorbed into his hand as he turned toward me and four eyes launched four beams that I dodged by levitating upward, preparing to dive down as shadows against the lord of Pandaemonium.
He then casually reached out with his hand and a grip of iron enfolded me, hurling me down to the ground with a thunderous booming sound, and she, now with her own four eyes unleashed a sudden wave of force that threw her father upon his back. Snarling he sought to rise against her and she focused the same wave with sufficient force to smash him into the ground repeatedly.
It was then that a sudden set of lightning bolts crashed between us, one of them striking me with sufficient force that I fell unconscious. She told me the rest, how she'd seen a monstrous being like a thundercloud in the form of a man. Dark, an ebony hue covering him, his body crackled with lightning that left an ozone odor in the air and a crackling metallic taste in her mouth. He had landed with a tremendous eruption of light and a sonic blast that left her on her knees groaning in pain.
Eighteen arms had he, and nine heads, each of them with glowing eyes and throats that gleamed with the terrible light of the caged lightning. The lightning flew down and the thunder followed, and her bird formed again, interwoven with darkness this time. And the monster laughed and then hurled multiple bolts of lightning into it. And for the first time in her life the great bird shattered and she screamed in pain.
And so we awoke. I felt.....different. And I looked at my hands. I blinked. There was a charred carbonized set of runes on them.
And they were grey.
We screamed and a sense of weightlessness overcame us. We awoke in the iron citadel of Pandaemonium, seeing before us the awed and angered face of a monster clad in dark armor with four glowing yellow eyes and a snarling bestial face, complete with gigantic curved horns like those of a ram. He looked at Rachel and said:
So you were sent home by her, then? Child of my heritage you may be but you are no spawn of my thought.
He then grinned at both of us in a fashion horribly reminiscent of her.
But now you shall learn the kind of things of which I am capable, especially when my foes deliver into my hands two such lovely pawns.
Seven days passed since the announcement by the strange figure across the world. From that point, strangeness began to break out across the world, signs and wonders indeed. A kind of Midas Effect was noted where random objects began to turn gold, sometimes with a crystalline-like construct of turquoise hue in the form of a two-headed dragon, one head gnawing on the other but never seemingly the same, and the shifts on each object likewise strange.
The wind seemed to whisper and to howl with a thousand thousand manifold voices. At times the skies would flash with dread lightning in cloudless skies and then vile clouds would form and blood rain from the skies. Random spasms of darkness fell, the Sun darkened across the planet, where the Moon was visible its light taking on a blood-sheened hue. The small hours would be ridden with frightful nightmares of a splendid and wondrous realm of ivory and gold. Its buildings were gem-adorned, its inhabitants ever-young and shrouded in cowls with a vaguely-birdlike aspect that hid only eyes that seemed to gaze in pain. Others wore only the clothes in which they were born, wrapped in serrated barbed wire, screaming silently into an uncaring sky.
Cyclopean statues and buildings, sharing that avian motif, and countless worlds and stars dancing in an immensity too grand for humanity to know. And at the center of it all a being clad in crimson hue on a great throne. The dreams could not decide if the throne was golden and the being clad in what seemed like blood woven into thread, or an immense skull carved into the form of a throne, the being clad in armor and wielding a terrible staff that oozed with latent malice. Here instead of a robe the being wore dark green armor with a light blue cape, a quasi-helm shielding the chinless round face that broke out in too-wide fanged grins, those terrible crystalline blue eyes fully visible.
The armor's gauntlets were adorned in rings, jewels covering or crusting some rings, others simple bands of what seemed gold. And in a still more nightmarish vision the ivory and gold were replaced by an immense throne of skulls over a sea of vile blood, the armored monster having grown more greatly in size, the staff replaced by a colossal sword and gazing out into the infinity of space, master of all it surveyed, caring not from whence blood flowed, merely that it flowed was rationale enough. The immortals wailed in despair, transformed into bestial entities of reddish hue and great bat-like wings with fanged jaws, wielding tremendous axes in clashes against each other.
Still further in time the entity would grow still greater, no longer recognizable as a being of flesh and blood. Angles flowed and move where angles ought not to move, what was convex became concave, what was obtuse became acute. Sensations that warred against the many sensations of the sapient mind indicated movement and the whole was a colossal force that assailed the mind. In this latter case there was another vision of a strange and terrible figure clad in silver armor, a knight going to war against the chaotic dragon of the Outer Light.
Dark smoke rose crackling with lightning and lanced out and the monster screamed....and across cities and worlds in the night and in the day the screams of nightmares and visions rang out. The monstrous manifestations in the night were accompanied by still further wonders in the day. Wounds of ancient nature began to heal, scoured desert began to bloom. The boom and the crash of the bomb and the gun were stilled and there was a certain gallows humor in the rage of the aggrieved fanatics who denied their outlets sought in turn to seek martyrdom otherwise and succeeded only in making progressively stronger and deeper dents, howling in frustration.
The blind began to see, the deaf began to hear. Faith-healers were at a loss to explain how such wonders occurred, how the limbless regained limbs of greater power than the ones lost. How the ashes of the cremated re-formed into bodies that were ever-youthful, shrouded in the same hoods and garments as the people in visions. These Returned Ones began to preach a great and a splendid Gospel of the ever-watching Undying Flame whose light burned eternally.
Those who proclaimed them demonic adversaries of the Beyond found themselves helpless, if merciful made to be the agents of their own destruction, if merciless slain by demonstrations of a fiendish power to which science had no answer.
One case in Turkey caused a brief sensation, when a tall anonymous figure with long hair and a resemblance somewhat to a clean-shaven version of the Jesus in iconography in Christian Churches was called the Anathema and beset by terrible power from two of the Returned Ones. The figure in turn unleashed a bluish only vaguely corporeal light that banished the entities, left them smoking and vanished and then vanished himself, leaving only a sign of a two-headed eagle to mark his appearance.
The Returned Ones' signs and wonders led to the first stages of conversion to the new religion of the Undying Flame. From tens in the third day of the week, there were hundreds of millions by the seventh. And it was that night that the skies fell dark and strange stars appeared and flashed across the skies, comets trailing and colliding into the Earth with fire and smoke. When the skies returned to their norm, smoke billowed into the skies, impacts leaving vast craters from which emerged most of ten thousand who gazed at the world with a strange mixture of hunger and the uttermost despair.
Their muscles rasped with movements and the Immortals of Azarath gazed upon a world that gazed at them with awe and fear, the uttermost manifestation of the great dreams turned into the darkest nightmares, each neatly subverted. Yet they too gazed at the skies as a flash of sickly green light revealed the form of the Monk, his dark blue cowl whipping in an unnatural wind, hands extended and his bearded face smiling with a sinister glee.
I reveal my inmost self unto the Undying Flame that illuminates all that is before it.
Now and forever, world without end!
The message stands even more firmly when they repeat this in going again after someone innocent and this when coupled with FUCKING WANTING TO START A GODDAMNED TERRORIST ATTACK.
Fuck that shit and the horse it rode in on.
UC Berkeley Labs, SERENDIP:
It all began with the first confirmed contact with extraterrestrial life here, in a lab. A bored technician, one Kate Masterson was picking her nose while looking at the screen. She'd signed up for this thinking it would be cool and she could geek out. Instead it was sitting at a screen playing Solitaire or watching or reading porn most days. Most days, yes. Not this one.
The radio crackled and a signal spoke with identifiable speech.
Vekeltrir I-Nishi-Azarath. Zezhelanzunui makatrivhrk. Azarath-nizhan karlthruhn. I-nishi-Azarath Zezhelanzunui! Atralzhen dezhadiir!
She dropped the phone she was playing Candy Crush on with a startled jerk.
Alien speech. An actual alien had just chatted on her goddamned radio.
"Holy shit. Holy shit."
She began to hyperventilate.
The radio kept speaking:
I-Nishi Azarath! Zezhelanzunui! Zezhelanzunui!
The voice was strange. It didn't sound like a hacking, this was genuine speech. Carried on strange wavelengths by unidentifiable to her means.
"Dr. Stevenson? I......I think you need to come hear this."
The doctor came in expecting to point out that it was some misidentified radio background from another planet.
He heard the continuing speech:
Veteladanzhiir Zezhelanzunui! Azarath tarahlvat metelzadrir ukhrel shazhirr.
"Son of a bitch."
He looked at her.
"If this is authenticated......we just proved aliens exist."
It was then that televisions around the world began to crackle with a sudden and jarring distortion. A peculiar kind of crackling appeared globally, a crackling that would much later be recognized as including infrasound elements. The hacking began to spread across devices, phones all suddenly, regardless of model producing a similar static effect. Radios began to crackle more loudly, and then on screens a face appeared.
Clad in a brilliant silver robe that seemed to shimmer and weave and never hold the same patterns when looked at consistently, the face was a very human-like one. The chief difference was that at certain angles of light the grey eyes seemed to glow with an eldritch golden light.
A mraculous speech was spoken that was no different than the signal and yet understood across worlds:
You may know me as the Monk. I come to bring you a great and wonderful truth, an end to war and carnage and fighting.
We come from a realm of serenity and the uttermost peace, where all is golden and glorious. We bring to you the wisdom of the Undying Flame, the Outer Light that holds together the stars themselves.
We come in peace among you to work our signs and wonders, that you may see that we are no mere prophets preaching invisible manifestations of Beyond but worshipers of a very real and tangible God, promising you every sacred dream of Mankind fulfilled, as all is written.
Worry not, O children of the Earth. Gods shall walk among you and we shall show you what it is to exist in the realms of time and space a part of them and yet removed from them, we shall grant you reality beyond your wildest imaginings.
The man's hair was a dark black, his goatee melding with eyebrows that wouldn't have looked out of pace on Thuifr Hawat. Big and bushy, the man's appearance in some ways seeming to be the most affable to whoever heard him, his words speaking with honey and sweetness to those who gave them credence.
In the word of our God who hangs the stars to burn, whose hands are the hands that heal, whose are the hands that still the wine-dark sea, we bid you greetings. Seven days from now we shall manifest among you. A new aeon dawns, O children of Mankind, an age of signs and wonders, when ocean freighted with the dreams and weight of time gives up her secrets, when the children of men frolic and gambol as of the birds of the air.
We come upon you to bring you wonders. You shall find them beyond your wildest imaginings.
Shanar Hezhatin stood in the crater left by the brawling Gods. He had seen the entity that had made the Crater as a sheer display of strength but once. A being of seemingly unstoppable force and serenity in silver armor who'd appeared with a tall Barane of an alternate Tamir III,the species' characteristic brown skin, black hair, and brown eyes overlaid with skin that in parts gleamed with a metallic hue of remote and strange hues from other dimensions. Humans. Such a strange race.
He stooped down, looking at stones where the monstrous Starspawn had collided. These might be valuable in his researches. Known as Shadows, these rocks were touched by the essences of the Beyond, infused with marvelous and mysterious powers testament to the Gods that made them. His pursuit of a greater and more terrible weapon was still ongoing, but looking at the aftereffects of his Omegas successfully withstanding a blow from the kind of entity that spawned them Shanar had an uncharacteristic melancholy thought.
Supposing his Kesheli concept did come to fruition, blending the genetics of the template of the Omega-1 with the strange material he found in the wake of explorations of the Pharaoh Nephren-Ka, the creation of a God among Gods. Holiest of holy relics, pieces of the Soul and Messenger of the Outer God, The first model had easily shown a power of dreadful nature, capable of acting on a multiversal scale. Only a worst-case scenario, his creations entirely victorious in this bloodbath and assuming the role of God-Emperors and Empresses over the whole of the Imperial dimension could motivate it.
He still took the stones, the melancholy growing. What price success for one who mastered one of the fundamental forces of a universe if the price was these vast craters, bleeding mountains that weeped multi-colored ichor, and rumbling rasping after-echoes that kept percolating into eternity. At times he seemed to catch flashes of the immense green and clawed and silver form of the maddened Worldbreaker, at one point scraping residue that proved promising after an initial scan into a tube.
He'd looked up and he'd seen the colossal form towering over him, fanged mouth leering straight down at him and he'd raised his hands to shield himself, a glowing sphere of nuclear energy forming by default and dissipating with glass blasted from dust in a circular pattern around him when the illusion vanished. Yes......only at the worst possible case for the would-be master of the New Gods would this happen. In fact, if he could will it at all, there would never be such another abomination birthed in his laboratories again.
The Worldbreaker's roars were not those of the silver-armored figure, the juggernaut who casually floored Gods and Monsters alike as was the will of the Outer Gods, their sole condescending recognition that some level of mortality served an unfathomable to it place in the omniverse. They were the bellowing and monstrous echoes of madness, of an entity steeped in death as a means to aid the dying overwhelmed by too much death in too short a time. The Starspawn roared in itself, its monstrous hands smashing into the armored form of the Worldbreaker, the gelatinous tissue splattering and reforming and doing no harm but only serving to make the Worldbreaker still more angry. The collision had driven them over the Pass of Gold to the coast of the immense sea by it. With a sudden overpowering dive, the Worldbreaker hurled the Starspawn down, the impact creating a colossal crater and permanently scarring the coast of the Imperial Bizjarran Throneworld. Registered globally on Richter scales, the impact and the awakened forces led psychics to shriek for years about the burning star that fell from heaven holding the concentrated might and malevolence of unfathomably long-lost eras.
The oceans balked and broiled around the impact, waves rattled and storming along the coast of the islands of Hataria beyond, the Starspawn growling in pain and agony as its body lay before the entity that in spite of the almost absurd size-difference held it in a grip of iron. The claws resumed their butcher's work, and the Starspawn assailed the Worldbreaker with waves of force that would have annihilated many lesser things. The very invulnerability that made the Worldbreaker wielder of the deadly lightning-infused clouds meant the blows registered with pain but did not scratch the surface. Instead the Smoke roiled out in clouds, searing open entire parts of the Starspawn. Nine suns glowed a terrible blue light, glowing with a deep and deadly hate.
A monstrous hand lunged forth to grasp the Worldbreaker, whose rumbling howl followed with a vicious squelching sound as the gelatinous hand was thrown beyond in the Valley, smearing itself across a mountain even as it sought to reform. The Starspawn spoke a Word ancient even to its kind, a Word of last resort that was supposed to destroy anything that heard it. Yet even here the invulnerable power of the Worldbreaker held, though the entity briefly stopped and hacked up blood, the hatred growing and blazing with still more power.
Above them the skies turned to constellations of the sky around the Citadel of Temple Azarath, dreams and visions seared through the mind of those not already affected by the terrible clash in the Pass of Gold, by repeated world-wide seismic patterns, by the realization that entire military forces of millions had been wiped out in a single terrible instant. A figure formed in the wake of the visions, blonde hair whipping as did the billowing light blue cape, the sonic howl of the Starspawn followed by its reassembled hand smashing the Worldbreaker's face down briefly as it reattached to its body, the entity's raw brute strength finally permitting it to jostle the briefly-shaken Worldbreaker.
Then it paused and gazed in wonder at Zezhelanzanai who formed an Elder Sign known to the entity's rivals and with a sudden twisting and malforming howl of denied vengeance the entity began to shrink and dissolve in a terrible foetid odor as the Worldbreaker's aggrieved bellows continued. As Suvacel fell, green hands grasped her and weightlessness took her, along with a sad and lingering:
"What have we done to ourselves?" She never understood the question until years later.
The Worldbreaker's mindless howls echoed as Zezhelanzanai stood before it with Vincent on her right, recognizing in wonder the Witch-Queen of Domdaniel. As the entity glared at her with an even more intense and almost palpable hatred, the Witch-Queen spoke an ancient incantation:
That is not dead which can eternal lie, and with strange aeons, even death shall die.
The death-madness fled and Deborah stood once more in thin-air, hovering with her eyes closed, tears falling down her face. It had been centuries since last the madness took her and each time it struck with deadlier and deadlier force.
She felt Vincent's metallic flesh enclose her and the chalky-white skin of the Goddess faded into the light brown skin of the human woman, and then she looked with those same eyes for a window in time at not the maddened wrath of the Azar, a terrible and mindless flame that flailed and absorbed ever more into itself but what the Azar could have been. Her own sister, speaking only:
Forgive me for whatever I do when I do not remember..... her hand waved to encompass all around them....the beauty of family, of friendship, and of love. You have nothing to forgive yourself, it was an act of hubris on the part of an Elder God.
She smiled and said:
I'll be seeing you.
The flame of Domdaniel vanished with light already infused by a growing odor and a darker and duller shade of green and as Igna landed in the Citadel, the familiar pattern reasserted itself with an agonized howl as the Azar of Azarath rose triumphant, but saddened in ways never easy to understand. Flashes of memories that never fully formed, but one that haunted it and made it madder and wish to destroy that which was seen:
a very human light brown face with wavy black hair smiling through a tear-strewn face and saying: Thank you. If there is ever a means to do for you as you have done for me.....
The entity howled and raged and stormed through its citadel, its anger reflected across its dimension in storms of blood and fire and pillars of smoke, things that made its pieces and servants quake and hide. Its anger blazed with heat for a month as the painful memories clawed into its head and it beat its head upon the floor.
The Pass of the Dead:
Xaderavcal's eyes were wide with a horror that shook others for the sight that the invulnerable and unconquerable warlord could be so....normal. So frankly terrified out of her wits. An entire Pass strewn with corpses, the wreckage of machinery scattered in helter-skelter fashion. Mountains leveled with casual and brutal ease, and that immense crater that formed a half-moon shape to a degree with aspects like the wings of an enormous flying furry creature from the planet Tamir III.
She spoke telepathically to the one survivor of the other side, catatonic with horror, shock, and guilt, and to those of her side. Including Vizornii Hezhatin, who stared blankly into space enfolded by the arms of her love, the youthful green-furred Meremi, whose eyes were wide with concern and fear for her loved one.
You who have withstood the terror of what was once the Pass of Gold shall be honored above others. You have entered into the Valley of the Shadow of Death, and thus this is now the Pass of the Dead. You have survived a terrible Wrath from Beyond unleashed by something dreadful and horrible. Regardless of cause, this is no little feat in itself.
She remained silent for two more hours. A total of fifty million soldiers from both sides committed to what should have been a decisive moment, and upon the awakening of That Thing within the clone, each struck down with but six survivors. She whistled tonelessly and began laments echoing in voice and mind.
For as terrifying as what had ensued was, the war was still in full flame, and those who'd drunk deeply of horror would glut themselves more fully still.
The monstrous Starspawn of Dread R'lyeh, though a pitiful shade of the entity that was father and maker to them all, still towered a full mile in height. Its wings were vast enough to blot out Shuhar's light and cast the Pass of Gold into shade. Deborah's lancing form of light was dismissed by the enraged wrath of the youthful-seeming female of R'lyeh until two fists collided into the left side of its monstrous tentacle-adorned face. A shrieking howl like the murder of Shuhar combined with the whine of a radio echoed, pulverizing both sides indiscrimnately. The monster staggered back, two echoing footsteps following, as Deborah hovered, eyes glowing with a terrible light.
You are in the wrong space and time, Starspawn. The Stars are wrong for your kind.
The creature turned a deep crimson and its eyes focused on her, grasping onto mountains as it leaned forward. Its voice burbled with the malignance and ancient power of Something from the far-off days of the Beyond:
Wrong for all but one of us, little white thing. You are a cast-off of a warlord, vainly seeking to adhere to a cycle even as you believe you subvert it. My father stormed the gates of the Heavens and the price paid is my perpetual endurance. I do not appreciate little children's temper tantrums seeking to kill my host.
Deborah snarled in turn and then smiled as she said:
Your host chose poorly in taking something not hers to take.
The Starspawn's eyes blazed hotter and a sudden assertion of the entity's will struck Deborah like a sledgehammer, the entity dismissing the hammer-blows of the Beast that created sonic booms and the rays of Vincent with the greatest of ease.
Its eyes remained focused on the growing light and many-angled aspect of the form rising before it, a creature of such power that even a Starspawn was as to it as a mere mortal was to the Starspawn. Fascinated at the sight of a forming piece of the entities its dread father had worshiped and conquered existence in the name of in its lifetime the creature some worlds dubbed Cthylla, youngest of the dreadful spawn of Dread Cthulhu, waited with expectancy and desire.
Deborah fell headlong but righted herself in mid-air. Growling as the entity's claws dragged into the mountain-side, carving weeping wounds that brought rocks and an eerie substance of glistening light down with them, and the entity seemed to either be bowing or preparing to attack, she called to herself the most dreadful of all of her powers, the Black Smoke. Not the whisps that formed automatically as a part of her honed reflexes in combat, the unleashed power of the darkest and most gruesome aspects of what the would-be healer and redeemer aspired to.
For a wonder the Starspawn's gaze was diverted. It seemed almost amused at the sight of a growing cloud of darkness enveloped by crackling blue lighting, the effects creating weird and eerie aspects. The entity's will casually unleashed a massacre of all save a very few in the Valley beyond its power to protect, including the Generals, who it spared to see the ruin of both sides brought by a God. By tens and hundreds of thousands had both sides fought. By tens and hundreds of thousands did both sides die, a harvest wrought by the unleashed power of the Ancient Ones, whose tombs marked the contours of all that was or would ever be, entire wings of existence dedicated to pinning them off, the fell cycle of dying and rising the melody to lull the dreaming Gods to endless dreaming Death.
The power that had caused stars to burn or that had struck entire universes in darkness of smothering Void that had naught but nothingness within it. Entire peoples and weapons and lesser forms of life stood rigidly still, machines suspended in mid-air or even in mid-points of frantic blind loading and firing. Then a wave of tremendous and corrupt power seared forth and as one they died, leaving a valley strewn with the burning husks of crashed and exploded machines, with armor that shielded against the dreadful rays of the Imperial Army's lightning or plasma firearms and at least partially against the sheer raw power of the metanormal for those not born or shaped thus, be they children of the harshest military discipline or metanormals of great and dreadful power themselves, capable of fracturing worlds in death-throes if killed violently. Death consumed them all with the methodical ease of a farmer's scythe.
The rolling wave coursed around and struck Deborah and she screamed with a terrible and rending sound that was accompanied by the wrathful laughter of the Starspawn, its hands extended in a blasphemous gesture of beneficence, its echoing sonic/psychic/mystical overtones smashing Vincent and those shielded by the entity that lurked within Vizornii Hezhatin around like ragdolls. The power that led her to scream led the awakened child of the Silver Key, the Umr' at Tawil known in other times and cycles as the Yog-Sothoth, simultaneously existence and the key to manipulating it to stop in its tracks.
The madness of uncontrolled death roiled upward, assailing the Psychopomp veiled by her own cloud with such overpowering force that as she screamed her eyes glowed with an eerie hell-light and her muscles began to rasp with the sheer force that had been unleashed. The Starspawn in its ancient malevolence leaned forward again, its body now a silver of supreme arrogance and confidence. All it took to unbalance the New Ones was a mere massacre? The jest of the Outer Gods to the Ancient Ones was one in poor taste indeed, and she looked forward to her father's rising and the resumption of his imperium with new goals directed at the ones who'd betrayed him.
The scream stopped and a monster fell from the cloud, clad in an oversized variant of its own armor, still wearing the cape and loincloth without. Its face now resembled that of a fanged Ceratopsid, the same nine golden suns that blazed on a white face torn in pain and agony blazing still hotter, a brilliant and terrible blue light searing from them. What disconcerted the Starspawn was that while still immensely shorter than itself, the entity stood some hundreds of meters tall and it was looking at it with not the eyes of serene confidence expected from the Lightdancer but with the rasping muscles and rumbling breath of something much more dreadful.
A Worldbreaker, a figure of towering fury and dread sufficient to make even a Starspawn pause in its arrogance and assumptions, and as Cthylla looked, the very furthest tip of the entity's claw lovingly brushed the unconscious Vincent, relieved to see that its love was shaken but unharmed. Then the entity lunged upward at the Starspawn, a mountainous bulk moving with the swiftness of light itself hurling amidst the immensity of the outer abysses.
The impact scattered corpses in a cyclonic wind and the Starspawn flexed its tremendous wings and hurled itself into the sky as the Worldbreaker's claws rent into it in a primordial and savage fury. Roaring echoes spoke into the brain of the Starspawn. The very dangers of slipping control of a psychopomp whose very heroism was as much a means to forestall its own pain as otherwise, and the rather difficult problem that something completely indestructible was now extremely furious and in direct wrath at it.
The child of the Silver Key transformed back into Vizornii Hezhatin. It had one task first, to ensure all left alive were removed from the ruined Pass that would soon be redubbed in reflection of the horrors that had been unleashed there, to purge their minds of the horrors that had been witnessed and felt. And then if needed to force the Worldbreaker and the Starspawn back into their cages with brutal force, if necessary. The unconscious, some bleeding, some raving with eyes closed and swatting at invisible foes and screaming at eyes that would not close and gnashing oozing mouths, felt peace as dark green hands closed around them and they vanished in weightlessness to peace, to awaken days later in an Imperial infirmary.
The Citadel of the Temple Azarath:
Zezhelanzanai gazed into her pool in shock. The very nature of what was seen on that world, the unleashing of the most dreadful sides of the one truly heroic of their whole brood, going back to their titan Godlike Father had jarred the Azar so much that for a moment she was lucid again, but flush with the power of millennia. It was a rare chance to aid and not to harm, and Zezhelanzanai sought to make the best of it. As Azarath briefly flexed and for a moment within time across countless worlds lived up to the soiled promises of decency and honor therein, the green armor of the Azar vanished in a cloud not of sickly smoke but a flashing of brilliant neon-green light.