Become Like God

rating: +16+x

« Your Eyes Shall Be Opened

Circe Galanis pulled the motorbike to a halt, kicking up a cloud of dust. She'd arrived.

The mountainside of the Isle of Lemnos offered a stunning view of the Mediterranean. But she wasn't here for that. She was here to find the archaeologists.

Circe pulled off her motorcycle helmet. Her dark hair, the tips died electric blue, had been neatly tied up in a ponytail.

"Hey, you! Are you lost? This is private property!" A middle-aged Greek man with greying hair approached, gesturing wildly.

"I'm here to see Doctor Anders."

He looked suspicious. "Doctor Anders has not told us to expect any visitors today."

"You wouldn't be expecting them. But tell him visitors are coming anyway. Tell him I'm from the Church."

The Greek man nodded. "Wait here."

He returned with a old man, his head bald and his skin deeply tanned from many years under the sun. Under the gaze of her left eye, Circe could tell he had a lower limb prosthetic below his right knee, and a pacemaker in his chest.

"Well, this is unexpected. Now, you've met Lucas Iraklidis - he's an old friend of mine. I'm Doctor Anders, but you can call me Max!" He held out a hand. Circe took one look at the sweat and dirt on it and decided not to shake it.

"I'm Circe Galanis. Call me Circe."

Max Anders had noted immediately that her blue left eye didn't match her brown right eye, but upon closer inspection, her entire face unsettled him. Her skin was just a little too perfect to be natural.

He realised he was staring. "I don't think we've met before, Circe? Are you a local?"

"No. I've come from California. Originally." The name had thrown him off, but he recognised the accent.

He dropped his voice, as if worried about someone overhearing. "Then… you have an particular interest in archaeology?"

"The Hand of God?" She said it casually.

"Well, that's… our best theory. You see, this has been a sacred site since ancient times…"

Circe interrupted. "I'm here because you're in terrible danger. You need to flee."

"What?" Anders and Iraklidis both looked startled. It was a difficult statement to casually work into conversation.

She repeated it, slower and with more emphasis. "Terrible danger. Need to flee."

They now looked back at her with concern.

"It's the Horizon Initiative. The Fanatics. They've worked out what you're looking for, and they'd rather it stayed in the ground. I believe they plan to put you in the ground as well." She said this in a calm tone, but sounded so serious that Anders couldn't doubt her.

"How long do we have?"

"No idea. l think the Greeks were on the island already, but they were waiting for the Turks to come over. They'll probably be on Lemnos today. We probably have until tomorrow."

Anders looked concerned. "If this is true -"

"It is. My friends in the Serpent's Hand intercepted their communications. They haven't let me down yet."

"Then… Come with me. We need to discuss this."

Anders went over to the cluster of tents. Some were for shelter or storage, but the largest covered the dig site. This deep pit had been carefully carved into the dry earth to expose a mass of tarnished bronze. Three researchers climbed out, covered in dust and sweat, and assembled around Circe.

The Broken Church did not believe in augmentation, not for the rank and file. Even Anders, with his many years of service, had not been deemed worthy to receive God's Ichor. That had its own advantages, it meant he could blend in as just another archaeologist with an interest in Mycenaean Greece.

From the way the members of the Broken Church were looking at her with suspicion, Circe was pretty sure that they'd worked out that she had a very different attitude to self-augmentation. It was probably the eye, it had a glassy look even when it was moving. Still, they listened as she told them what she'd told Anders.

He turned to her as she finished. "So, Sister, what would you council?"

There was a murmuring of discontent, something about heresy. Anders silenced them with one look. "She has no reason to lie. The Church may have been Broken, but that is no excuse for causing further division."

Circe thought that Anders seemed like a sensible man. "The safest thing to do would be to leave. Abandon the dig. There are other pieces of God that could be found, even on this island. Staying here will gain you nothing."

"I understand," said Max Anders, his mind made up. "If you could lead my friends and followers to safety, I would be grateful. I shall remain. I may be able to persuade them not to destroy this Fragment of God, if only for its historical significance."

There was a burst of noise from the others. Loud. Incoherent. Insistent. Circe closed her eyes and waited for the argument to end.

Anders tried to remain calm, but ended by shouting. "I'm an old man! I can't have much longer left! To abandon the very Hand of God to the ignorant and unbelieving, with which the ancient Mekhanites shook the Earth… But I will not let you join me in my madness!"

There was a moment of silence.

"I wasn't finished," said Circe. "That just the safest option. There is another that is far more dangerous."

"Well?" asked Iraklidis, the old Greek getting excited. "What is it?"

Circe smiled. "We move the Hand of God."

Her plan had taken a while to explain. While she tried to dumb it down to the level of an ICSUT "Introduction to Applied Thaumatology" lecture, that was apparently still too advanced for archaeologists. She revised her explanation.

"OK, so this is an Everhart resonator - it makes magic from electricity." It had barely fit onto the back of her motorbike, and she was glad she had the others to carry it into position. "If we plug it into the generator and connect as many car batteries as possible, I should have just enough power for an apportation - that's when you move to your destination without going through the space in-between."

"Why didn't you just say you were going to teleport?" asked the youngest of the archaeologists, a young man with a mess of brown hair and a German accent. He was called Alex, while the middle-aged woman from the USA was called Cameron.

Circe ignored him, and held up a roll of fibre optic cable. "This is a ritual circle."

That required further elaboration. "We do not have the time to draw out the usual runes or sigils. Fortunately, they're just data. I have digitised and synchronised the information, so if we loop this around the dig site, everything within the circle will be transported to the destination. Well, obviously it'll be a bounded cylinder, I'll need to factor in the z-axis."

They all looked sceptical, or possibly just confused, but they still helped her to set it up around the edge of their dig site. As Circe connected the Everheart resonator to the various cables and began charging it, she made some last minute adjustments to the code, then plugged the cables into her mobile phone, which had more processing power than most desktop computers. It took her a few minutes, but she had most of the calculations worked out when she was interrupted.

"Ms Galanis!" called out Iraklidis. "Are you ready to go?"

"No!" she yelled back. The generator was running, in addition to every engine that could charge a battery, and she struggled to make herself heard over the noise. "I need a few more minutes!"

"They are here already!" Iraklidis sounded panicked.

From outside, Anders voice was calm. "I'll stall them. If I don't get back in time…" He hesitated, then made up his mind. "Leave without me."

Two pickup trucks pulled up in front of a pile of stones and rubble that had been piled up on the road leading to the dig site. Men climbed out of the back, then pulled out concealed weaponry. The Horizon Initiative had no uniform, and so the Wolves of Project Malleus resembled armed insurgents or common criminals, with their civilian clothes, wide variety of firearms, and grim expressions.

For now, they kept their distance, as two men from the Shephard Corps climbed out of the vehicles. They'd been given the dignity of the passenger seats.

One was an elderly Greek Orthodox chaplain dressed in black. The other was a younger Turkish cleric in white. Neither of them were carrying weapons, but considering their company, neither of them needed to.

Max Anders smiled as warmly as he could manage while facing armed gunmen. He stood alone between them and the tent that covered their dig site, the rocks they'd piled up on the access road forcing them to stop a good distance from it. He called out nervously. "So, Matthiou! Has it really come to this?"

Matthiou Andrianakis, Shepherd of the Horizon Initiative, called back at him, loud but calm. "Max. There's no need for any bloodshed today."

Max Anders called back, "Your friends may disagree!" While the Wolves were not currently pointing guns at him, they held their rifles in a way that suggested they would soon be taking aim.

"Başar insisted we bring them." He gestured to the Turkish man beside him, who was looking over at the dig site with great interest. "Max, if you agree to leave, they mean you no harm. That goes for you, and all your companions."

"And leave a Fragment of God at their mercy?"

Matthiou Andrianakis frowned, sadly. "The time for debating theology has passed, Max. Now is a time for action. Don't make this more difficult than it needs to be."

Başar Sadik called out "What are they doing in that tent?" There was no answer from Anders. "Look, they have something wired up! This man is stalling for time!"

As the Wolves raised their weapons and began to approach, Anders quickly crouched behind a rock. "If you come closer, I will shoot!"

Sadik almost laughed. "He's bluffing!" The Wolves seemed much less confident, and began looking for cover.

Anders held up a pistol, then quickly lowered his arm back behind the rock. "I'm not!"

Andrianakis said sternly, "This is unbecoming of you, Anders. Please, see reason."

Sadik grabbed Andrianakis's sleeve and pulled him to the side, getting them out of the Wolves' line of fire. "I think they can handle one old man." He spoke up in Turkish. "Give him one last chance to surrender, before -"

"Anders!" called out a loud voice, with a slight note of feedback from electronic amplification. "If the plan was to threaten them, you should have told me."

Circe Galanis walked out the tent, unconcerned by the fact that all guns were now pointed at her. Her left eye shone with a brilliant light, and floating in front of her upraised right arm was a circular shield of translucent blue energy, darker regions depicting three lightning bolts bursting out from a circle, Circe's personal sigil.

The Horizon Initiative was not entirely lacking its own thaumatologists - they had plenty of kabbalists, miracle-workers and mystics. But they rarely saw anything like this.

"Mágissa!" someone called out in Greek, and was not wrong.

"Perhaps Anders was stalling for time. I am not. You come closer, you find out what a Maxwellian witch can do."

Anders looked at her, eyes wide, shaking his head. He clearly thought she should focus on apporting out of here, rather than on saving him. But she'd come to do both.

There was a long moment of hesitation, then one of the Wolves pulled the trigger of his automatic rifle. Circe's thaumaturgic shield blocked his bullets in a shower of sparks, thaumaturgy dispersing the impact of the bullet so that it harmlessly fell to the ground. Other men also opened fire, assuming the barrier wouldn't hold for long, while others began to circle around to the sides, noticing that it only covered her front.

It would protect her long enough. Circe lifted the plasma projector she held in her left hand, a blocky relic of Soviet paratech. She carefully calculated the trajectory with the aid of a camera mounted on the barrel and sending feed to her left eye, took aim with artificially precise muscle movements, pushed the paraweapon out through her own shield, and pulled the trigger.

There was a thunderous crack as a bolt of plasma fired directly at the truck on the left, heating metal until it melted.

When you wanted someone dead, conventional weapons were reliable enough. But when you wanted to set things on fire, there was nothing better than plasma. Under the gaze of her left eye, Circe could clearly see that the Horizon Initiative had brought explosives with them, intending to leave nothing but a smoking crater when they left. They were so predictable.

Their premature detonation created a huge fireball, obliterating the first truck and turning the second into a burning wreck. Circe was far enough away to feel the force of the shockwave but remain standing, but those closest to the blast were killed instantly, and those a little further away were maimed by shards of metal and showered with droplets of burning fuel.

Circe, with the calm clarity that came from consciously controlling your own autonomic nervous system, felt only the satisfaction of a plan coming together.

Anders had been behind cover, and seemed to be physically fine as she walked towards him. He got up and met her half way, babbling something about how she shouldn't have come to get him, still clutching the weathered pistol he'd been brandishing to buy time. He lacked the integrated ear-protection and sound system she'd placed in her own ears, so the explosion had probably deafened him. Circe didn't bother trying to explain that her consciousness was still within the apportation circle, and that his presence or absence was a key variable for her to factor into the calculations she was making.

Several members of the Horizon Initiative had been moving to flank her as she blew up their vehicles, and so had survived the blast relatively unharmed. As she approached the tent covering the dig site, Circe spotted one approaching to her right, and spun around to face him with her shield, just in time to block the bullets he fired directly at her. Before he could take cover, she fired her plasma projector again, hitting him in the shoulder with explosive force. He collapsed, an agonised scream quickly trailing off.

Suddenly, Anders was raising his gun and firing behind her. Circe spun, and saw one of the Wolves of Project Malleus dropping as Anders shot him in the chest. He had approached while she was distracted, taking aim at her exposed back. Circe turned to face him just as another man that had been behind him opened fire, a spray of bullets striking her shield. With a crack from the plasma projector, his chest became a scorched crater, and he too fell to the ground.

Circe glanced over her shoulder to see that Anders had been hit by the gunman before she could take him out. Scanning the battlefield with her left eye, she saw another man crouching behind a boulder to her left, and she fired at him. She didn't hit him, but she sent shards of scorched rock flying into the air. She hoped that would convince him to stay behind cover.

Anders was clutching at his chest, but Circe had no time for that now. Keeping her shield up to protect her back, she bent down and placed her shoulder under Ander's arm. She'd been suppressing her adrenal response to ensure clear thought and steady aim, but now she let it loose, and with a sudden surge of panicked strength she carried a stumbling Anders towards the dig site. Iraklidis ran out to meet her, taking Ander's other arm to carry him down the ramp and into the apportation circle.

The canvas above them was now on fire, but since the Everhart resonator was fully charged, that didn't seem to be a particularly pressing problem. She passed Anders over to Iraklidis, and with the help of the two other members of the Broken Church, they found somewhere to lay Anders down within the circle. Ignoring their panicked questions, Circe picked up her mobile phone, where part of her consciousness had been running the necessary calculations for their apportation. Circe did not want to end up off target. With a slight error, she could very well end up embedded halfway through a wall.

Suddenly, bullets cut through the air above them, and they all crouched low. The pit that had been dug to unearth the Mekanite artifact provided them with just enough cover to protect them. This did not make Circe want to stay any longer, but fortunately she didn't have to.


As she spoke the word, she glimpsed the face of Başar Sadik, entering the tent and taking aim just in time to see her go. His face and clothing were burnt, and he now held an assault rifle in his hands, with two other gunmen close behind him. Circe had never before seen anyone who looked quite as angry as he did in that moment. Then she was gone, leaving nothing but a burning tent, a hole in the ground, and severed jump leads connected to car batteries.


Circe and the four members of the Broken Church still lay on Greek soil, but the dirt and the tarnished bronze buried within it had been transported into the offices of a small software company in Bulgaria, where an identical circle of fibre optic cable had been set up. The room had no windows, but the door was open. Around the edge of the room stood six members of the Church of Maxwellism, very glad to see her arrive in one piece.

Circe stood up, then regretted it as she nearly fell over. Even with the accumulated energy in the Everhart resonator, that apportation had still taken a lot out of her. But a celebratory energy drink would have to wait.

Anders had been hit.

"Wounded!" she yelled, and while she'd hoped not to need it, the stretcher that she'd requested was rushed in. "Multiple gunshots, in the torso." Anders had been placed on his back, and it was clear he'd been hit three times, twice in the gut and once in the chest. He was bleeding profusely and gasping for breath, not dead yet but clearly on his way out.

Iraklidis approached his old friend, and held his hand tightly. He looked at Circe with compassion. "Don't blame yourself." He let go as Anders was carefully lifted on the stretcher. "I think he knew it would end like this."

"He was wrong." said Circe. "It's not going to end like this." Iraklidis looked surprised by her confidence, so Circe explained. "We can keep his blood oxygenated and pump it artificially. It actually isn't very difficult."

Cameron looked up at her, shocked. "That's not our way!" Alex got to his feet and began to move towards the door, but Anders was already gone, whisked away to the best cybernetic surgeon in Eastern Europe.

Circe didn't understand the fuss. Tired, she sat back down on the ground. "At this point, it's just medicine. Like his leg."

She couldn't quite hear everything they said since they were both talking at once, but it seemed to be some sort of tirade about the theological difference between the two.

Circe interrupted. "Besides, we still need him." She gestured at the bronze machinery on the ground in front of them. "He's probably the only person who can work out how this thing fitted together."

"Ms Gallanis, your sect of the Church is… forgive me… not known for taking an interest in antiquity." Iraklidis hesitated, then asked with a tone of reverence, "What exactly are your plans for this Fragment of God?"

"This is an ancient Mekhanite weapon. For shaking the earth and levelling cities, at least according to historical accounts."

Iraklidis frowned. "Well, I wouldn't put it in such crude terms…"

"You want to know my intentions?" Circe smiled. "I want it reverse engineered, ideally miniaturised. If all goes to plan, I'll implant it in my arm and use it to destroy our enemies."

As they reacted to her irreverence with horror, she added, "I think that's what the ancient Mekhanites would have wanted."

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