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The Sacrifice

Chapters: 6 Pages: 28 Word Count: 7,551 Genre: Science Fiction/Fantasy/War Story

In the distant past, in a time long forgotten, the Elder Races numbered in the hundreds and ruled the Milky Way Galaxy. Now they find their supremacy threatened by an enemy capable of destroying universes. An encounter with one of these Evil Ones turns into a desperate fight to save a bunch of apes, apes destined to evolve into humanity. Witness the full might and fury of the Elder Races in this story about demons and demigods.

Chapter 1: The Leviathan

Our universe is 13.82 billion years old, with a radius of 45.6 billion light years. It seems incomprehensibly big. No one knows for sure what exists beyond it or what came before.

Some believe that at the edge of our visible universe is another, only in this universe, time runs backward, with the future being the past and the past being the future. Others think we live in a multiverse and that our universe is but one of an infinite number, no more unique than the grains of sand on a beach. A variation of this theory is that we reside within a black hole, which lives within an older universe that too is trapped within an even larger black hole. Or maybe that older universe collapsed in on itself, creating the black hole we now call home.

We might never know. No one has yet devised a means to see past the Big Bang, the point in which our universe came into being. There might not even be anything to see. But what if there was? What if something did come before? What if life existed in this previous universe, and it had evolved like we did, eventually becoming sentient and learning how to travel between the stars? How old did it get before its universe came crashing down? A few billion? A few trillion?

Again, this might be all pointless speculation. Nothing might have existed before the Big Bang, but what if something had? And what if the life that had come before, ancient beyond counting and in possession of powers beyond imagination, found a way to cross over into our universe?

A Zelturian, a centaur-like alien with a long tail and dark skin, indulged such thoughts as he made his way to a pedestal. It stood within the bridge of his flagship. Crystals studded floors made of gold and silver, as well as the walls and the rails that guarded the balconies; the latter required because the multi-level bridge dwarfed even the largest of aircraft hangers.

King Brumah waved a hand, and the forward wall became transparent. It shifted and focused on a distant star: a red giant, which shrank at an accelerated rate.

King Brumah thrust a finger, and the image zoomed in. Partly concealed within an inferno, an array of fossilized tentacles thrashed about; the Leviathan gobbling up the much bigger star.

King Brumah fought back a shiver. The Leviathan was an Evil One. That was not what the creature’s people called themselves. Few would speak their real name aloud, either out of fear that doing so would summon a Leviathan, or simply because those two syllables were too terror-inducing to utter. Even King Brumah found saying their name unsettling.

He examined a readout of the star. It had shrunk another solar mass, and yet the Leviathan showed no signs of growing. Most disturbing.

“Is she refueling or harvesting more matter to construct yet another sphere, my liege?”

King Brumah looked down at the halfling-size Retikkee that hovered beside him. “We still don’t know yet if Leviathans need to refuel, Warrior Ti.”

“Nor do we know exactly what the spheres do,” Ti said telepathically.

“In the last thousand years, the Evil Ones have consumed 3% of the Milky Way Galaxy,” King Brumah said. “Destroying every sphere we find delays them from obtaining their ultimate goal.”

“A goal we are still ignorant of.” A blob of slime, shaped like a tongue, slithered forward. “Destroying those spheres is not a long-term strategy,” the Umamorph said.

“We have a strategy. The question is: can we hold out long enough to deploy it?” All turned. A Zee, a humanoid with a vertical slit for a mouth, levitated in the air. “My people, with the Shimmering Lady’s aid, are working on it. Again, we just need more time.”

“We Vijics will do our part to see that you have the time to make your plan work.” Queen Spenta lumbered into view; a towering mass of muscle. “We Vijics enjoy a challenge.”

“Better to play it safe, and nova bomb the star system from afar,” the Zee said.

“A supernova won’t even stun the beast,” the Umamorph said.

“True, but it will deny the Leviathan valuable resources.”

“It does not matter,” Ti said. “Our sensors detect that the Leviathan has already extended an anti-polarity field around the star. Our nova bombs will have no effect.”

“Then we have no choice but to engage the enemy,” King Brumah proclaimed. He got on his knees and raised his hands. He entered a battle meditation. With his telepathy, he strengthened the mental resolve of his warriors, as well as saw through their eyes. He tried to think of only victory, though just beneath the surface, fear of failure gnawed at him, reminding him that the Leviathan was power incarnate. It could not be killed, only banished, and they did not have…

No, King Brumah thought, jerking his head sideways. He could not let himself succumb to despair. The Leviathan also existed in the dreaming realm and would undoubtedly hear his fears. She would make a play for him, hope to turn him against his people. He must be strong. He must—

A slender hand came to rest on his shoulder. He turned to see an ethereal being, a creature of the dreaming realm, her arm little more than wisps of starlight.

Everyone else on the bridge appeared to be oblivious of her presence. The Shimmering Lady smiled. “Take my strength and know that she won’t claim your soul. Not this day.”

King Brumah nodded, sweat dripping from his brow and said for all to hear, “Move forward.”

Beyond the flagship’s main viewer, hundreds of thousands of warships, each the size of a large city, appeared and accelerated towards the moon-size Leviathan. Their bows blossomed, a memorizing light show of red, yellows, and oranges. Beams extended from them, plasma trails that guided liquid metal at relativistic velocities and hit with world-destroying power.

The first quantum beams struck the Leviathan dead center, and she howled, a horrific cry, but then the inferno that engulfed her expanded and the rest detonated harmlessly.

“The beast’s hellshield is transferring much of the kinetic energy into an alternate reality,” the sensor officer said from his terminal. "Our attacks have little effect.”

“Perhaps,” King Brumah proclaimed, “but doing so taxes her. Continue the assault.”

Minutes passed, and more quantum beams exploded against the inferno. King Brumah eyed a monitor beside him. The firepower they were throwing at it would have destroyed a hundred stars and yet— A graph spiked, indicating that the creature was about to—

Beneath the inferno’s surface, a tentacle whipped a crimson beam that moved in a wide arc.

“The beam’s temperature is off the charts. I’m detecting multiple spacetime anomalies.” The sensor officer turned. “My lord, it’s burning holes in space.”

“Order the ships to spread out,” King Brumah said. “Prepare for micro black holes.”

The beam tore through a dozen motherships. Each hit created a short-lived black hole that sucked what remained of the ship in, as well as anything too close.

“Moving the ship out of the beam’s path,” the helmsmen said. “There. We missed it.”

“I’m getting abnormal readings from the red giant,” the sensor officer proclaimed.

King Brumah and the others looked forward. Ribbons rolled across the star’s surface, then rocketed towards them like the fingers of a giant hand.

One solar flare washed over King Brumah’s flagship, tilting it sideways.

“Aura fields are holding,” said another member of the bridge crew.

“Don’t stop. Continue firing,” King Brumah commanded.

Millions of quantum beams besieged the Leviathan until one penetrated the inferno and destroyed a tentacle. The creature recoiled.

Cheers erupted throughout the bridge.

The Leviathan moved away, plowing through hundreds of motherships, and went superluminal.

“The Leviathan has escaped,” Ti said. “She is headed for Retikkee space.”

“All ships, engage hyperdrives and pursue,” King Brumah said. The fleet bolted forward, and the swirling currents of hyperspace replaced the stars.

The Zee floated forward. “When will the Evil One reach your homeworld?”

“That is not her destination,” Ti said. “We have calculated her trajectory. It will take her to a solar system 37.3 light years from ours. Behold.”

A yellow star materialized before them, along with nine planets. The inner five planets were rocky, while the outer planets were made up of gases. Two had rings.

“Correction,” Ti said. “The Leviathan is headed for the third planet from the star.”

“We should destroy that world before she can create another Leviathan,” Queen Spenta said.

“We cannot,” Ti said. He pointed to the world, and it grew and twirled, displaying seven continents. "Several intelligent species inhabit this world, but of note is the Orrorins. We believe they have the potential of becoming a Type Zero Civilization.”

“How far along are these Orrorins in their evolution?” The Umamorph asked.

Ti made a gesture. A bipedal creature with brown fur appeared before them. “They have yet to create stone tools,” the Retikkee said, “but as you can see, their five-digit hands, one being an opposable thumb, are well suited for complex manipulation.”

“Hands are useless without a brain to command them?” Queen Spenta said. “When do you project they will have the cognitive abilities to fashion tools?”

“Between 3.9 and 4.3 million years,” Ti said.

“Or never.” Queen Spenta sighed. “We can’t justify the risk, not for them.”

King Brumah closed his eyes and fell into a dreaming state. He envisioned descendants of the Orrorins, furless and standing fully upright, with smooth flat foreheads and dressed in garments, building cities and flying spaceships. The Shimmering Lady, who now took their form, rose over them. “The Orrorins are the key to your salvation. You must protect them.”

King Brumah’s eyelids receded. “No, we must defend this world.”

“My liege,” Queen Spenta said, “we Vijics value life above all else but—”

“We are Elder Races,” replied King Brumah. “It is our sacred charge to protect the younger races. Besides, I had a vision.”

“What did you see in your vision, my liege?” Queen Spenta asked.

“That our fates are intertwined with the Orrorins,” King Brumah said. “If they die, so do we. We must defend them, no matter the cost.”

“Something is happening,” the Umamorph said. “The Leviathan has come to a stop.”

King Brumah returned to the dreaming realm. The Shimmering Lady floated over the world, beautiful and elegant. She reached out with her arms and prevented the Leviathan from getting closer. He gasped. “The Shimmering Lady is fighting the Leviathan!”

“She has never confronted the Evil Ones directly before,” Queen Spenta said.

King Brumah nodded. “No, she has not.” He turned. “The Leviathan might not be able to land, but she can still send her dark servants.”

Everyone gazed at the unspoiled world.

“Then we must deploy our ground forces at once,” Ti said.

Chapter 2: Engineer Un

Engineer Un hovered within the cargo bay of a Zelturian transport. Like everything the Zelturians built, it comprised of gold laced with silver and time crystals. Massive topazes laid embedded within the floor, a critical component of the craft’s transporter.

His head swiveled, noting the size of the hold, which was bigger on the inside than on the outside thanks to dimension manipulating techniques. A hundred Zelturians, each between fifteen and seventeen feet tall, filled it. Each carried a warhammer with a crystal head.

Un spotted a few aliens besides the Zelturians and scanned for a particular Vijic.

“What worries you, my friend?”

Un turned. Standing at twenty-one feet tall, the Vijic princess Mithra stared back at him, her T-Rex-like head only a few feet from his.

“Your husband to be honest,” Un said telepathically.

“My husband is on a different transport. A Vijic transport,” Mithra said. “Why? Has he been picking on you again?”

Un nodded.

Mithra sighed. “I’ll have to talk with him.”

“A good smack across that noggin of his should do the trick,” Princess Shakti said. King Brumah’s oldest daughter trotted forwards and brushed her long snow-white hair aside. “Or if you would preferer, I could zap him with some lightning.”

Mithra chuckled. “I’m afraid I would have to hurt you then, and what would become of our friendship? Still, I need to speak with my husband.”

Shakti turned to Un. "You two have known each other since childhood. Kamru Mazdah picks on you because he can. You must stand up for yourself.”

Un slumped. “I guess so. I’m just so used to being walked on.”

Mithra snarled. “Tell me who else bothers you, and I will eat them.”

“She’s good for it. Trust me,” Shakti said. “I once saw her eat a baby pitt worm in one sitting. Didn’t even give her gas.”

Mithra’s crest rumpled, and she hissed. “Watch yourself, or I might eat you.”

Shakti laughed.

Mithra bent down. “So, who troubles you?”

“Everyone,” Un said. “My people see me as an embarrassment. That is why I am being forced to fight on the frontlines. I’m cannon fodder you see.”

“And yet you have survived several battles with the Evil Ones,” Mithra said.

“I don’t know if I would have made it if I hadn’t befriended you two or Angra Manta.”

“Nonsense,” Mithra said. “You are a fine warrior.”

“But I am not warrior caste,” Un said. “I am engineer caste.”

Shakti shuffled sideways on her four slender legs. “The engineer caste might not have been the ideal fit for you. I’ve never agreed with your people’s caste system. While you Retikkees are less individualistic than we Zelturians, you are not mindless drones. For you to be consigned to a particular caste simply to meet a quota is an injustice in my mind.”

“You have many strengths,” Mithra said. “For example, you are the most empathic Retikkee I have ever met. That is a rare gift.”

“I agree,” Shakti said. “You would have made a fine communicator.”

Un shook his head. “We Retikkees care more about order and obedience than empathy. That is why I was not made a communicator like my parents.”

“Which is their loss,” Shakti said. “One cannot obtain true wisdom without empathy.”

A musical chime played from crystals embedded in the walls, informing all that they would be landing soon. Mithra grabbed her spear, while Shakti drew her two morning stars. Un raised his hands, ready to fire thermal kinetic lances when the need arised.

***

A portal formed in front of them, and beyond was a primordial landscape. Princess Mithra stepped through, then glanced behind her shoulder and eyed the dart-shaped Zelturian lander heading south. Other vessels descended, most of different designs, and troopers departed them until hundreds of millions of aliens gathered, their lines stretching as far as the eye could see.

Mithra took her place near the front and looked forward. Meteorites fell from a red and orange sky. Once lush savannas burned. Winged Horrors flew in the distance, swooping down and igniting tall grass as they passed. They launched hellfire at them.

Mithra raised her shield and deflected several. Then Gultians hovered forward, worm-like creatures with tentacles for arms. Masters of magnetism, they erected powerful magnetic fields around the host. The fields directed the incoming plasma away. Next, with a wave of their tentacles, the metal from the ground separated from the rock, swirled up, and formed balls. Another flick of their tentacles, and they streaked forward, and the sky boomed.

Craters formed wherever they hit, flinging the ground forces into the air, yet the enemy didn’t move, even as the Gultians fired electromagnetic beams at them.

Mithra watched, her concern growing. “Why aren’t they rushing us?”

Shakti scanned the landscape. “We aren’t their primary concern.”

Mithra’s irises widened. Orrorins fled to the forests. Winged Horrors plucked them up and tossed them about before ripping them apart.

Mithra hissed. “They’re slaughtering the Orrorins.”

“We must do something, or they will be driven to extinction,” Un said.

“We will,” Shakti said, “but first, we must wait for the signal.”

A horn bellowed. A Zelturian general lifted his warhammer, and lightning struck it.

“There’s the signal,” Shakti said, and she trotted forward. “Charge!”

The earth trembled as the host moved, an army comprising of over seven dozen Elder Races. Some carried swords, warhammers, and spears, a handful of which glowed. Others, like the rock giants, the Enju, readied their fists, and their stone hides absorbed hellfire. The Winged Horrors took notice. Some remained airborne, while others landed. The two armies collided.

Winged Horrors rushed Mithra, their numbers seemingly endless. The tailed humanoid demons were enveloped in a dark, blistering smoke, which originated from a forge buried deep within their chests. Fire rose from their back spines and the bat-like wings that kept them afloat.

The Winged Horrors assaulted Mithra with claws and razor-sharp teeth. Her shield deflected them as she twirled her spear and beheaded any who got too close.

The heat emitting from their bodies was smoldering, and it washed over her.

Above, Retikkees, Gultians, Zees and other airborne Elder Races engaged the flying Winged Horrors. They shot fire, frost, lightning, gamma bursts, and light rays. The Winged Horrors hurled hellfire back. Gaps began to form in the electromagnetic fields the Gultians were sustaining. Sometimes the projectiles got through, and Mithra had to raise her shield.

Tornadoes twirled in the distance, summoned by Zelturian casters. They besieged the enemy’s rear and pressed them against the host. Hail fell from the sky and coated the ground beneath the Winged Horror’s feet. Some slipped, even as their feet melted the ice.

“The enemy continues to attack the Orrorins, despite our efforts,” Un said. He floated overhead, firing thermal kinetic lances and calling down meteorites.

Shakti waved deeper and shattered her enemies with her morning stars. “They’re attacks are designed to distract us. We must break through.”

Mithra jumped over a Winged Horror and landed on his buddy, crushing him. She twirled and brought her shield down on the first. He split in two and exploded like a fragmentation grenade. Mithra elevated her shield and deflected the blast.

More Winged Horrors came at them, driven mad by bloodlust and their Leviathan.

After beheading another, Mithra said, “We need to make an opening.”

“Agreed.” Shakti raised a hand, and several lightning bolts lit the sky. They hit the enemy lines like mortar shells, creating a corridor for them to traverse.

“Advance,” Shakti bellowed, and Mithra followed her, along with Un and thousands of others. Tornadoes moved in to prevent the Evil Ones from closing the gap. They reached open ground and galloped forward.

They made it to the forest. Thousands of Orrorins hid in the trees and howled at them. As they neared, the leaves and branches caught on fire.

The wind chuckled. “You cannot save them, little princesses.”

“It’s the Leviathan,” Mithra said. “She mocks our efforts.”

“Maybe, but she will not win.” Shakti gestured to the sky, as if beseeching a deity. An arctic breeze swept from the north and quelled the flames.

“Amusing, but pointless,” the wind said. “The Orrorins will die, as will your universe.”

The Orrorins shrieked and retreated at the sight of the Elder Races.

“Un, use your telepathy to convince them that we are friendly,” Mithra said.

“But they are not fully sentient,” he said. “I do not know if I can communicate that to them.”

“Use your empathy, friend Un,” Shakti said. “Don’t try to speak to them in words, but with feelings. I have faith in you. You will not fail them or us."

Un sighed. “I… I will try. Well, here goes nothing.”

Un extended a hand. The Orrorins slowly approached them. One even walked up to Mithra and sniffed one of her toes.

She bent down and let her feel her talons. She smiled. “You’re a cutie, aren’t you?”

The Orrorin looked up and grinned.

“It is done,” Un said. “I have convinced them we are all the alpha male.”

“I knew you could do it.” Shakti leaned back on her hind legs and examined the landscape. “We need to find the Orrorins shelter and quickly.”

“My brethren spotted caves with a lining of onyx a few miles north of our position,” Un said. “Onyx is immune to the Leviathan’s transmute powers.”

“Good thinking,” Mithra said. “We should hurry.” She cradled the Orrorin female in her palm and led the soldiers to the mountain.

“You will never reach that mountain,” the wind said.