Like I mentioned earlier, my Ariel has a twin sister that was born from another mother. Miranda.
Well, maybe the same mother – it’s a painful chicken-egg situation, not really knowing who came first.
Miranda is the bride of the Nameless, and the two of them together are destined to destroy everything that has ever existed. She controls Matter in all of its forms, and the Nameless force that puppets her body has no respect for our material world. They’re universal pyromaniacs that wish for fertile ashes.
Ariel was meant to be the anti-Miranda – someone that was just as powerful, but more focused on maintaining the continuity of material existence.
We’ve spend many lifetimes trying to prevent Miranda from coming to power, but it was a foregone conclusion that someone, somewhere, would mess up in the worst way, and let the Chosen Light shine forth. Her mother Cathy is as good a person to blame as any.
Which makes me equally culpable. I’m no longer sure if I’m just a Variant of her, or the other way around. We look the same, had the exact same daughters, but have lived immensely different lives.
Whatever – I’ll spare you my moebius philosophy. I promised you an Apocalypse in parts, so here is the first one.
I first confronted Miranda in Munich, on November 20, 2011, during Jenny’s resurrection.
Cassandra sent Douglas Waters from Berkeley to Germany, so he could meet with me and Ariel. He’s one of Cassandra’s life-long errand boys, but he means well.
Douglas has already shared his version of what happened that day on his short-lived blog.
He had a piece of Jenny Samuels’ DNA, from when she was 12 years old, and Cassie wanted us to resurrect her. It’s a long story, but let’s just say that Jenny is extremely important. She has always had literal angels and devils sitting on her shoulders, fighting for her attention.
We started the process in an underground parking garage on the grounds of the Allianz Arena – the home of Munich’s soccer team, FC Bayern. It was Sunday, and not a game day, so it was completely empty except for us.
Miranda appeared during the resurrection ceremony, interrupting the process at the worse time, after Ariel had turned her body into a biological machine devoted to replicating Jenny. Ariel was an unzipped collection of bone, muscle and nerve endings, and Miranda almost tore Ariel to pieces just as Jenny was born again.
I was only concerned about getting Ariel her body back. She was still turned inside out, yelping for air on the cement floor of the parking garage.
Once I forced Douglas to run away to safety, I unlocked the first level of the Golden Sphere – the light of creation emitting from black flames.
We had stolen the Golden Sphere from Miranda. Simply put, it’s a weapon of mass insurrection, suitable for fighting the Creator of all things. Miranda was the rightful owner, but could do little more with it than make kids pee their pants.
As I brought out the Golden Sphere, the Nameless just growled through Miranda’s teeth. “If you don’t return what is mine, I’ll destroy your daughter and the rest of this groaning world.”
Before the air around us caught fire, the Grand Supreme folded into the fray just long enough to take the newly created copy of Jenny away to Goddess knows where. She wrapped up naked Jenny in her punk patch dress, and gave an empty-eyed grin before she cut away.
It was so bright – I was breathing flames instead of air.
“Cathy was never quite enough for me.” Miranda started to grow taller, until she had to hunch her huge, bald head underneath the cement ceiling. “She had the will of The Black, but not the way to The White. You, on the other hand…”
Ariel was flopping around on the floor, throwing off her skin and muscles so that her spine could be free.
“Your connection to Spirit, and to The Black, makes you a bridge between the two poles, and we intend on climbing you to take our rightful place at El’s throne.” Her breath was excessively sweet, like granulated sugar quickly caramelizing in the intense heat.
I only had moments to act. I willed all microscopic life still alive in the Allianz Arena complex to converge upon Ariel, so she could feed and escape. Massive waves of bacteria, amoebas and dust mites were pulled by my power over Spirit, amplified by the Golden Sphere, so that the winds darkened with trillions of congealed cells rushing towards what was left of my daughter.
“I will take one hundred steps before leaving this world in ashes. Follow me only if you want to witness the end.” With that, Miranda punched a hole in the roof, and pulled herself up to the surface.
I burned away the falling rubble, and then tended to Ariel. Her spine was growing in fits and starts, until it reminded me of a dinosaur’s, except with unnatural flesh and organs growing out of her back. I could feel that her essence was still there, still fighting for a familiar shape, but all she could manage in that moment was to generate dozens of arms up and down the length of her broken body, which were enough to propel her through the far wall of the garage, and eventually up to the surface.
By then, I was naked and burning black from head to toe. I was try to process what the Nameless had told me – that the transference of Ai’s Spirit power into Cathy, into me, meant that I was a nothing more but a tool for The Black’s long wished for insurrection against The White. My blood brought forth a perfect vehicle for the Nameless, for The Black, and my connection to all life was just the hole it needed to punch through this world, and into The White.
I didn’t want to be a tool. I didn’t want anything except to be left alone, and to raise my daughter in peace. No more missions for the Collective, no more swimming in the hopes, dreams and fears of the biosphere, nothing but a calm stillness that I deserved to taste at least once.
Explosions from the world above took me out of my pointless thoughts, and I levitated myself up through the hole that Miranda created, only to see Ariel’s spine wrapped around Miranda, who must have been two hundred feet tall at that point.
I quickly flew up towards the Allianz Arena, which reminded me of a huge, white bird’s nest mixed with a honeycomb. I entered via the large opening at the top of the structure, so I could situate myself to open the second level of the Golden Sphere.
I could feel Douglas and a few other spectators watching me as I floated down to the grassy field, which was already charred black due to my aura. I burned away half of the stadium walls just by looking at them, leaving a pool of melted plastic and twisted metal, and then focused on Miranda as she tried to rip the arm-legs off of Ariel.
I didn’t want to hurt any of the bystanders, but I felt I had little choice if it meant I could stop Miranda in her tracks. So I knelt on the steaming dirt, palms sinking into the ground like sand, and sensed deep into the planet until I could feel its radiant life blood. It noticed me back, and rushed upwards with glee towards my intended target. I grabbed Ariel’s nervous system and forced her to flee, just as a geyser of magma one hundred feet wide enveloped Miranda.
Her clothes burned off instantly, and as her skin blackened, she staggered around the pool of yellow-red lava for a few moments, before teleporting away, followed by a massive amount of wind that spread the magma far and wide into the nearby area.
I tried to call off the mini-volcano, but the Golden Sphere didn’t seem to listen. It wanted chaos, and it wouldn’t rest until the greater Munich area was overcome, first by massive earthquakes that felled office parks and historic churches, that collapsed all U-bahn tunnels and buckled streets and highways. Then the lava intruded, seeping out slowly in some places, and bursting forth with reckless abandon in others.
Swans boiled in the lakes at Olympiapark.
Flocks of tourists buried under the rubble of the Rathaus at Marienplatz.
Airplanes and model ships burning in the ruins of the Deutsches Museum.
U-Bahn and S-Bahn trains melting into slag deep under Haupbahnhof, as passengers claw against the immobile windows and doors.
The Isar river evaporated, replaced by a lava flow filled with half-submerged building fragments and cars.
I could feel the screams as thousands of people died every second, and I tried to ferry their souls safely to the Structure, but the Golden Sphere twisted my intentions, and just swallowed their energy for kindling.
I could also sense something very strange going on at the Münchner Freiheit train station – everyone in the general area was scared out of their minds, but not because of the earthquakes. Something immense was streaming out of the station exits and into the sky – a cloud of liquid metal spheres, varying in size from the smallest pin prick to a soccer ball. They rushed upwards and outwards, following a carefully orchestrated flight plan around screaming children and Sunday window shoppers, and past the falling rubble. It took less than a minute for the thousands of mirrors that lined the ceilings of the station platform to disappear, leaving little more than flames behind.
I didn’t need any more information than that. A major node of S.OS had quickly left the underground complex that sheltered it for decades, headed for safer points unknown.
Everywhere I looked, burned. I couldn’t turn off the light. I couldn’t stand it, and so I jumped out of the remains of the Arena, the whole complex already overrun by magma, and found Ariel on the top a nearby hill, near the stump of the wind turbine.
As the tide of flames rose steadily, as the waves of destruction pulsed over Bavaria towards the rest of Europe, I was overwhelmed by the millions crying out for their imagined saviors, only to be met by a swift and voracious death. I was supposed to be the guardian of their shining spirits, but all I could do was watch them suffer, and cry burning black tears of failure.
I grabbed Ariel by the base of her brain stem, and searched deep inside for any remaining connection that I could use to bring her back to me. She was like a huge, dissected snake, coiled around my glowing, midnight skin, and I sang her a song that contained all of the addresses we ever lived at while she grew up, all of the cities and countries we secretly called our own. I just kept my eyes closed as I felt her flesh twist and reshape around me, as her spine shrank and her arm-legs became her rib cage. There was so much heat everywhere, and the sound of air raid sirens and fighter jets whooshing overhead, quickly replaced by a bubbling silence.
I opened up my eyes to find Ariel whole again, naked and clinging for dear life onto my back. We were surrounded by a half-solidified bubble in the molten rock, that had long since enveloped the hill. I was no longer burning, but the Golden Sphere was still holding back the Earth’s blood, since it still thirsted for destruction, and intended for me to be its final vehicle.
“We have to get her.” Ariel’s first words as she awoke, as I could feel her engine revving up.
“We’re going to get her, dear. Where is she now?” The two of them were more than twins, and Ariel could always sense what Miranda was up to.
“She’s destroying Tokyo… so many dead!” She let me see through her eyes. It was just before Midnight in Ikebukuro, and Miranda was as tall as the Sunshine 60 tower – 60 stories up to her eyes. Her flesh was repaired, but she was still naked. She was kicking the Animate building to pieces, leaving 9 or 10 stories of broken glass, blue rubble and anime goods that she was wading through like toy blocks. Broken bodies and smashed cars littered the streets like wind-swept sakura petals.
“I need you to take us there, now. Can you do that for me?”
Ariel nodded silently as she tightened her grip around my back. There was a sharp, wrenching sensation, and then we appeared on the sidewalk, near the East exit of the Ikebukuro Train Station. Ariel was on the ground, growling in pain, holding her head between her two elbows. When she looked up at me her nose was bleeding out of the left nostril.
“Fucking head explosion! My big sister is really playing for keeps.” Ariel stumbled to her feet, wiping the blood away with her arm, and once she realized we were naked she covered us with off-white, old school Collective bodysuits, lousy with circuits. I could feel the extra code in them – bespoke pathways designed to slightly minimize Miranda’s growing influence over all Matter, including our aching bodies.
Once the bodysuits rebooted our OSes, I suddenly realized that the sidewalks all around us were covered by hundreds of fresh corpses. There was a blocks-long trail of bodies from Sunshine 60 street, right around the Humax movie theater and Book Off store, all the way down the stairs and escalators leading into the station. There wasn’t a bit of blood on their faces – it looked like they just immediately crumpled to the ground like tossed jackets.
Carefully made up young ladies headed home after a casual night on the town. Stinky young men who just finished spending hours drinking. Shop keepers, waitresses, and unobtrusive homeless men. Everyone fell over sucked dry of their souls a few moments after Miranda arrived.
Neighborhoods full of proud electric signs were now dark, and sirens pervaded the chill.
When we left Munich it was early afternoon, but now the last Narita Sky Access Limited Express train had just arrived in Ikebukuro, right on time at 23:48.
Every jet lagged traveler who spent an hour on that Airport train, and any person within a hundred mile radius, was already as good as dead.
Not that we knew that then. I was busy calling all of the Japanese Collective over the Bodyweb – Satomi’s secret army of former Agartha Labs employees.
By the time even a few of them arrived, our failure was already so complete and catastrophic that it’s hard to comprehend.
I’ll give you all of the tragic details next time, but just remember – this was still only the beginning of the end, and it is going to get unimaginably worse.