The moment Molu awoke, he stared at the figure of an old man who stood wagging his finger at him.
“Finally, I’ve caught up with you! Why, I had to chase you into the very bowels of the earth, then
from there to here! It’s taken my--”
The strange old man paused to catch lost breath.
Molu snorted, coming fully awake, and he arose, threatening the white-haired, old man from old habit.
“No, you don’t!” thundered the visitor with a battle-scarred master sergeant’s voice of command. Molu, feeling it, suddenly shrank back, something he had never done before. Even his heart stung him for his behavior, something it had never, never done before. Grown confused and amazingly meek, he let the old man take even greater liberties.
Using a stick for a cattle goad, the intruder made Molu step out into the open.
“I suppose a beast like you hasn’t got a proper man’s name!” the strange man scolded. “Well, no matter. You are E! A rather rough E, I might add! Did you hear that, beast? No, I suppose it doesn’t mean a thing to you, in your present state, but it will. It will! I can assure you that you’ll look upon the world with new eyes before I am through with you!”
And the man spoke the utter truth! Molu, under the hand of wise discipline and wisdom, submitted increasingly to training. Before long he was speaking verses from the great Book the man brought--or, rather, a bright, shining being in red-gold garments delivered to the cave. There was another book, too, but much smaller. With it Daniyel (for Molu learned his name) taught letters and also words that would empower him soon in his battles with the enemy.
Everything the Voice of the Light had spoken came to pass. Molu was healed of the broken heart suffered when he slew his second wife. He was also forgiven of other wanton crimes, the murders of the old women in the Hidden City and the slaying of the Wolflings. As he grew in understanding and spirit, he acted more like a man than he had ever been designed to be. The beast fell off from him more and more; the Atlantean monster he had been, created only for perverse amusement by the Atlanteans, sloughed off increasingly. He still looked rough and shaggy, but his inner being was changed to that of a God-fearer. Now he had come to trust and follow the Most High God--a complete transformation of what had been a mindless, violent beast.
He still had problems with the old beast nature, however; it was not entirely eradicated, it was only subdued by his new spirit and new mind. Many times he felt he wanted to rise up immediately and test his mettle against the enemy, the widespread Algol who infested the major portion of the habitable earth. Each time Daniyel admonished him, telling him he was not yet ready for that. Without the Word of God firmly implanted in his heart, he would fare like poor U, who nearly lost his mission, rising to the challenge only at the last, and then at the cost of his life.
Feeling contrite, Molu submitted, though a titanic struggle went on his soul, the right way as opposed to his old nature. Once or twice he was even tempted to strike out with his hoof and cut the old man right in half, particularly after he had chastised him for some minor infraction, like running a Wolfling off a cliff or sitting down on one and crushing him.
The Wolflings! They did not believe Molu was a changed beast, and hung about Molu’s training camp, taunting him as much as they dared. The Old One did not seem to hear any of it. But Molu’s ears stung with the obscene laughter and jests.
“Look! He is a dog to this old man, to be whipped about and kicked! And he doesn’t mind it!” All day long things like that were flung at him.
Finally, one day when Molu could not bear another moment of their taunts and jeers, Daniyel turned sharply to Molu.
“I’ve heard every word! But rejoice that you are counted worthy of persecution! Don’t react to them. They are ignorant of the ways of God, which have been taught to you. You have a golden treasure, worth the whole world and more! Don’t throw it away for a few moments of vengeance. ‘Vengeance is mine, saith the Lord.’”
Hearing this, Molu let out an enormous blast of pent-up frustration and steam. He turned his ears away from the Wolflings, and though they let him have it with doubled venom, he kept his head, and gradually they faded away, unable to get a rise out of him.
One day Molu noticed something was different. It was so quiet! Too quiet! He went beyond the camp, searching and searching, but he could not flush out a single Wolfling. They had gone! Given up!
The Old Man was right!
Molu, feeling a wonderful triumph in his spirit, returned to his training with renewed vigor and joy.
He learned all the verses put to him. He submitted to all the tests and obstacles that Daniyel could devise.
He passed! He got a top grade! He graduated! What an achievement! Molu felt like the whole world was a wonderful, shining place at that moment. Now he could go forth as the Lord’s mighty champion, to fight and destroy the enemies of God and man (for Molu, despite his uncouth, bovine appearance, knew himself a true man).
But more important, he felt redeemed, washing in the cleansing Blood of God’s Son! Not only was his guilt washed away and he received absolute pardon, but he received deep healing for the rejection he had suffered since he had come, a beastling, to the women under the mountain.
Yes, he still had vestiges of the old life, but they no longer mattered so much. A shaggy hide, a tail, a bullish physiognomy, that was only the outer shell, when he knew himself to be made in the Image of God the Most High--reborn, in fact, into that Image from the abortion the Atlanteans had made him.
He was happy for the first time in his existence! His midnight had been turned to day. He felt great joy, thinking of the future ahead of him as a child of God and a Dire Knight, in which he would receive all that had been promised in the big Book. He had been made a son of the Most High through the redemption of His Son, the Alpha and Omega, the A and Z, and the Aleph and Tau--He who was the First and is the Last, the Beginning and the End, and the New Beginning.
Now the training he underwent was rigorous, and it went like this. Reveille occurred before the crack of dawn. Molu scrambled from his bed, his eyes glued shut with sleep, and rushed to the appointed place, and there he stood at attention while a trumpet was blown. Molu never saw, at that hour, who was blowing the trumpet so fiercely and loudly. Making his tail shoot out stiff as a board, it shook the very ground he stood on.
Fully awakened by the trumpet blast, Molu was put through some paces by his trainer. As Daniyel called out a letter from training manual, Molu had to answer with the appropriate verse as he was marched up and down. The verses electrified him with enormous power, and Molu enjoyed bellowing out the responses. By the time this part of the morning was completed, Molu was ravenously hungry. But Daniyel never allowed him to eat a bite until they learned several new verses. Later, after a sparse and
brief breakfast of raw greens and fallen tree fruit and nuts, Molu continued in his training for the rest of the day. Hearing and reciting, he was drilled in the verses that meant life and death to him and the success or failure of his coming mission. A strange thing happened to him at the same time he was reciting. The words burned into his heart and stayed there, glowing away until he felt sometimes he might burst with the golden glory of his inner treasure. He wanted to rush and tell the Wolflings everything he had learned. Indeed, he had done so--once. Thinking he just had to share a particular power-verse, he bounded into the Wolfling camp, blurted out the verse, and then saw the camp burnt up in a blinding flash of sheet lightning. It was a terrible disaster, but Molu seemed to learned best by the hard way. After that, he kept his “war words” to himself, recalling that Daniyel had instructed him to keep them until the exact moment and in the exact place they were needed.
Finally, the time came that Molu the E graduated from military school. Daniyel, satisfied that his trainee had learned the ropes, stepped back--then Molu looked for him, he had vanished!
Molu looked everywhere for the old man, calling his name repeatedly. At last it dawned on him that he was now commissioned, and it was useless to keep looking for his trainer, for Daniyel might never come again. Molu wept, just the same. He loved the old one, regardless of the rigors of the training.
Feeling the terrible loss of his mentor and friend, Molu wandered and found himself gazing into the vast glow of the bi-form Crystal. He had no business loitering there, for his mission lay elsewhere, he sensed. What would the Almighty direct him to? he wondered. He knew the word to move out might come at any moment.
Suddenly, he bellowed in pain, for a bright light was shining like a spear and stabbing him in the shoulder. He lunged away, escaping it, but another spear of light shot at him, and yet another. He jumped here ands there, but he couldn’t move fast enough. The spears of light multiplied, and he began to burn all over his huge body.
Driven by intolerable pain and terror, Molu did something entirely without thought. He took a huge leap into space, not considering that he was leaping into the Crystal itself. There was a tremendous crash as he plunged through the outer circuits, thrashing his way down, down, down.
Finally, he came to solid footing, but all around him was darkness, flashing lights by the trillions, and ear-splitting noises, some very high-pitched, others very low and booming. Confused, startled, still in pain, he began to move, smashing his way this way and that to get free. But the alarms grew even louder, and then, piercing the outer envelope, he fell through, finding himself outside the Crystal, which was shooting out rays and racing with color of every hue.
Voices sounded, employing every language man had ever spoken on the Earth. Molu, after a time, began to hear words he recognized.
“You----stop-----do not destroy us----we are friends----we can help you----do not destroy---”
Molu looked about but he saw no one. The voices continued. “We have detected your thought patterns---you are Molu. You are Molu!”
Startled, Molu grunted assent.
“Molu! Do not destroy us. We can help you. If you will not destroy us, we can direct power to you, mighty power which you can use against your enemies.”
Molu, realizing it was the Crystal speaking to him, was very angry. “You are my enemy! You stabbed me with spears of light! You hurt me! I will destroy you!”
“No, Molu! It was not us. The Gorgons are your enemies. They placed instructions, directing us to use our power against you. We did not attack you. It was the Gorgons. They are your enemies. They did not want you to use our powers, so they sought to destroy you.”
“Will you send the spears of light against me?”
“No, not if you do not attack us. We have over-ridden the Gorgons’ instructions, so that we will not be destroyed by you. Now, what do you wish from us? Do you wish to enter into an agreement with us?
We do not belong to the Gorgons. They have betrayed and endangered us. So we are free to offer you aid as an ally. What is your answer?”
Molu didn’t know. He had not been prepared for this. What would his trainer have done in his place? Should he destroy the Crystal? Or would he enlist its powers as an ally against the Gorgons, the things that had just tried to kill him?
Molu spent considerable time thinking about this, and the Crystal waited, and waited, and waited.
Finally, Molu decided that there would be no harm in having an ally. With Daniyel gone he felt very much alone. The Almighty had not spoken as yet, and so he felt even more exposed. What would the Almighty have him do? Was it not to go to war against such things as these Gorgons?
“Good!” the Crystal declared, having read his thoughts. “Here are the terms of the agreement. Do you find them acceptable, or are their changes you would like to make?”
Molu found his mind filling with point after point of a rather lengthy contract. It stated exactly what “powers” the Crystal had to offer an “ally,” and what was not to be expected from each of the two parties, and also gave the cut-off date for the agreement. An ending clause in very small lettering he could not read detailed conditions that would compromise and even terminate the contract.
Since the covenant was put in terms Molu could understand, he looked it through and came to the conclusion that there was no harm in it that he could see. But could the Crystal actually do what it promised? Was the Crystal that powerful?
Molu was doubtful, as he gazed at it. He had nearly destroyed it, yet the Crystal claimed it could use “nano-technology” and “robot” to repair itself. Once repaired, it could also lift him high above the earth, put spears of light in his hands that he could throw at his enemies, and then bring him back safely to the ground. If he chose to use his own lightning, that was up to him.
The Crystal anticipated his doubt, and in seconds ran through a series of simulated flights with him, showing him what he could do and also could not do with the Crystal’s powers. Molu bellowed with huge satisfaction as he watched a tiny Molu flying higher and faster than any eagle, then shooting great, shining spears at his enemies, then finishing the job with lightning bolts. It was wonderful to his eyes, watching them burn up. He wanted to do it.
“Good!” declared the Crystal. “Now would you like to perform a test of your new powers? We can do it on what you call the two Moons.”
Minutes later, Molu was destroying entire lunar mountain ranges with his lightning-like rays, gouging out new canyons many times the size of the Grand Canyon on the West Bear Island of North America, and even whipping up vast storms on the surface of the fiery Day Moon. Shielded by the Crystal, Molu had the time of his life playing havoc with nature.
So an alliance with the Great Crystal seemed a good thing to Molu at the time. He was spared having to wait on God for the words that would direct him. Molu reasoned that he already knew what to do. All he needed was the power to fly, and this Crystal was giving him all he power he could possibly want. What more could he ask? He wasn’t going to war alone, but with a buddy. What could be better?
At the time Molu came to this view and was flying about the two Moons and exercising tremendous powers of destruction, Earth’s ocean fronts grew still. Terrorizing polar storms besetting the many corners of the Earth, even extending icy fingers into the subtropics, now quieted and disappeared. It was a great Silence.
The Algol, Rom allies, and the Gorgons as well wondered with growing amazement at the Silence settling over the world. Only the oldest and wisest of creatures inhabiting wild seacoasts did not share in the growing perplexity. Motionless on their rocks and on concrete cairns that had once been luxury resorts and condominiums in past eras, they watched the waters and clouds patterns in the heavens, and knew this time of things was drawing to a close, and another was soon to begin.
Some of these creatures were human, others not. But, human or non-human, they knew the signs and their meanings. In others, who did not share in understanding, the change inspired fear and foreboding. The Silence could only entail doom, as they saw it. They hated this dreadful Silence, and shook their heads and clenched fists at it. But those who understood something about the Silence looked upon the forces of change with different eyes. They saw an Earth gathering her strength and biding her time for perhaps the greatest and final onslaught against the invaders.
Lacking the wisdom of such wise observers, the Rom Gypsies stood to lose their favored trading position with the invaders, the Algol and the Gorgons. They were, thus, alarmed and made nervous as the Silence lengthened and grew, to their sense, all the more ominous. East and West Rom joined in the spreading alarm, and they staged great shows of pomp and pageantry, all they could afford, to cover up their terror.
The fears of the master Algol were not so easily allayed. In the growing unease they had second thoughts about the colonization. Was it a mistake? Had they miscalculated concerning the host planet? Did it contain resisting powers they had not detected, innate forces that could destroy them? After all, they had been attacked recently, quite unexpectedly, and sustained such grave damage that they had been obliged to abandon the entire South Continent. They still did not know what being had inflicted the damage. Was it human? Some Algol thought it was human. Others argued that no human possessed such great powers. It was a specimen from some other galaxy, seeking to drive them from their new home, and they needed to be on guard against others of its kind.
The attacker had been slain, but when they tried to take it for analysis, the specimen had been whisked away by yet another unknown species. Earth was becoming a very strange place, indeed, to the Algol! They had not counted on so much interference after they had colonized.
Some Algol, high-placed and in the confidence of the Queen, recommended that the colony disband and they seek out another planet, more friendly than Earth had proven so far. The vast majority, however, favored Earth, since the Queen favored it. Leading scientists, however, continued to report
their findings on the undetermined cause of the entropy in the Earth’s hydrosphere. A conclusion was reached and transmitted to the entire Algol community. It said the current oceanic depression was caused by magnetic lunar storms (the First Moon, and the Second Moon, were showing signs of disturbance) of unprecedented scope. Watching the scientific panel and hearing the announcement, the Algol community breathed easier. At least there was a natural explanation.
While the Silence settled over the Earth’s surface, and Molu went to work on the two Moons, certain great forces were stirring beneath the surface, in Roncommon.
Though some fragments and some monster-fragments had already escaped of late, most continued to drowse peacefully, just as they had for centuries and eons. Now, as if Molu’s lark on the First Moon had triggered something subconscious, the monster-fragments came suddenly to life. They roared against their confines with rabid tempers. The terrible playthings of the Titans were bored with Roncommon, their gigantic holding tank, and they demanded immediate release into the Upper World from which they had been driven ages before.
This change could only mean the ushering in of the end of one world, and the birth of a New, when such forces began to storm at the Gate of Roncommon. Extending feelers they encountered negative resistance--the Door shut against them. Having found it, they boiled with ire and frustration. In the depths of their Stygian consciousnesses, somehow they realized that to open the Door was to escape the unending obscurity of their existence. For millennia, they had dwelt within the boundaries of Roncommon, sunk in the slime of dark cages. But their jailer, the blue Centaur, had vanished! No one took his place. Now they could move about freely, and they did so, seeking the exit Door. In repeated contact with it, they discerned less and less resistance. Then one monster-fragment slipped through, followed by another with a lion’s head and serpent body that could fly and spout fiery streams. Yet another, its multiple hedgehog like snouts and goiter-like throats sticking out of a bloated body the skin of which seemed covered with innumerable beans. Others of equally grotesque shape and wickedness, slowly, but in increasing numbers, followed. As for the first, she surfaced in the East, and like a hurricane moved against the coasts of East and West Romany, devouring the ships and the human population that fell to her as prey.
Still, that was no catastrophe for the master race of Algol. One sea-monster was nothing to concern them. Let the Rom deal with it, they thought. Humans, after all, were expendable. As for the Great Silence hanging heavy over the entire waters of the Earth, that was reason for concern. Though explained by their scientists, they keep a close eye on the phenomenon, watching for any change.
As for the hard-beset Rom, unable to drive the sea-monster from their shores, they settled on sacrifice as the means to placate the monster. They sent the most beautiful woman in the country, the Princess Andromeda, in chains to the coast.
Molu, meanwhile, unwittingly entered into the world scene as an undetermined factor of change, catastrophic change. As soon as he had tested out his powers, he wanted to use them on Earth. He soon grew bored with the Moons, where he had no spectators, and wished to return to his own stomping grounds, to stomp and make hash of some enemy.
Caught by surprise, the Algol watched their latest nemesis, transfixed at their view screens. The unknown attacker arrived by air, employing an invincible arsenal of lasers and lightning bolts against them, destroying great computer centers, infrastructures, light-shielding domes. This assailant was well-shielded and survived their laser defense system, the same that had incinerated the last threat against them. The Algol were appalled as they watched their single enemy wreak havoc on the light and UV-shielding dome of their main Space Port, reducing their facilities and several warships of the Cygnusian starfleet to shards. The Port sustained heavy damage, with the surviving Algol and Nergulian allies trapped, reduced to helpless rage and fear, while the hateful foe burned huge swaths through coastal installations.
Then, suddenly as he had appeared, he was gone, swept skywards in a whirlwind. Dazedly crawling out of the ruins of the Port, the remnant Algol shook heads as they looked about with incredulity at the devastation. Like flaming torches, several mile-high incubators poured smoke and fire into the sky through the gaping, fragmented dome. Billions of their kind had perished in the attack. Now equal numbers of infant Algol in warming chambers, were exposed to the planet’s temperatures and outside air--perishing before their eyes! and as the Algol who still could moved to flee, they found there was nowhere really to go.
The mighty, dreadful Gorgons? Disgusted, seeing that the Crystal had failed to terminate Molu and had turned hostile toward them, they thought the better part of valor was gather their darkness and flee with the swiftness of arrows shot into the night. So they flew off, leaving their allies to face a terrible fate. Not certain they wanted a face-to-face confrontation with Molu, so well equipped as he was at present, they sought refuge in the center of the continent, in recesses of the Mountains of the Moon, where they bided their time until an opportunity to recoup their losses presented itself.
If only they had known Molu’s true state. An appointed whirlwind snatched him from the scene of victory, but that was only to knock some sense into him. He had done wrong, and it was now time for him to consider his mistake. With the density of his skull, that would take a certain amount of strong impressions.
The first impression was struck--the kind that the Bear Islands (also called the Turtle Islands, East and West), were famous for since the beginning. Funnel like twisters, Titanic Atlases, Ajaxes, and Herculi, that could hurl grass stems through tree trunks without bending the stems, they were powerful to sweep a Two Horned off his hooves. Molu was having the time of his life killing Algol and the Nergul and wrecking a good ten percent of what they had erected on Earth when he felt himself seized bodily and spun upwards into the air. He knew instantly he was in the grasp of a truly Greater Power. That Power could only be God’s breath. The dread cyclone that seized him, transported him quite a distance from Atlantis, then dropped down somewhat roughly in East Bear Island, in the south-central parts that had once been called Georgia.
His mouth filled with the local red clay grit, his eyes blurry, Molu snorted and rolled about on the riverbank where he landed. He got up, stamped about, furious with the interruption. Though he knew what had happened, he didn’t like it at all.
Before Molu could think what to say, a Voice spoke.