Deus Volt!
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It was an absolutely beautiful day, and Michael was overjoyed that his daughter Charlotte was finally getting married. It had long been time since his brood needed to be expanded, but Charlotte, to Michael's eternal joy, was a good Christian girl and was waiting until marriage. After that, like all good Christian girls, she would "be fruitful, and multiply." It was what the Lord commanded, after all.

The wedding seemed like it would be eminently joyful, and soon the bride and groom were exchanging vows.

"I do."

"…I do."

"If there is any objection to this marriage," intoned the preacher, "then speak now, or forever hold your peace."

Michael would have been the happiest father alive, but then he saw a groomsman that he had never met before. This was odd. He was quite close to his now son-in-law, and had personally vetted each and every one of the participants in this union of the flesh so as to birth new vessels to be shaped in the image of the Lord — sorry, in this ceremony of Holy Matrimony before God — and he had never seen this groomsman at any of the rehearsals or in any memory of the past.

The more he looked, the more wrong it seemed, and the more certain he became that it wasn't human. Now, some would have accused Michael of having a rather questionable history when it came to human rights, but he knew, in the pits of his sacs of flesh, that there was nothing human about this particular groomsman. It was a deeply unnatural shade of orange, and its chin seemed to melt off of its body as if housing a venom sac in its throat. Its hair seemed stiff and dead upon its scalp, and its eyes housed predation. Among the relatively youthful, supple bodies of the other groomsmen, it stood bloated and wrinkled, unnaturally aged yet completely ignored.

Michael stood, fighting an unnaturally soothing buzzing at the limits of his hearing.

"Daddy?" said his daughter, shocked.

"Who is that man?" said Michael, controlling his voice as he pointed at the chitinous (he was sure it was chitin, now, for that was a gift given to him by the Lord) monstrosity.

"This, dad?" said his now son-in-law. "Come on, you know who this is! It's Cousin Donny! Don't you remember him?"

"SAD! I get the best, the best marriages. I love you. I love you all. Sad! Marriage is a very successful chance of success. Total knockout. Sad! When you're a god they let you do it. You can do anything. Grab them by the marriage. Sad! Losers and haters won't get it! Sad! Bigger and bigger is the esophagus of negotiation. Too much winning!"

Everyone cracked up. The bride was crying tears of joy. The groom was doubled up in laughter. The fucking thing had this stupid smug grin on its face, like it had just won some stupid argument.

"I want you out of this building," said Michael. "I want you away from my family. This is a house of God, and I'll not let you defile it any further."

"Come on, daddy," said his daughter. "Don't be like that. It was just a little raunchy, that's all. He didn't mean anything by it."

"It's just locker room talk," said his son-in-law, which caused Michael to feel a sudden and profound pang of regret.

But there were much more important things at stake. He stepped into the aisle, ignoring the hysterical crowd, and made his way to "Cousin Donny."

He grabbed it by the arm and was about to force it out, when—

He was staring at the smallest shadow of something that transcended vision. It stretched beyond all comprehension, for it was older than mankind and older than the faith he knew to be true. It was the primal insect, that had roamed the skies above the dinosaurs, the great Cicada, that was reborn from every death, called Khepri by the Egyptians1. It would live forever, rising from nothingness and returning to it, while the humans that now infested the earth would pay it lip service, knowing nothing of what they worshipped. He was insignificant in its shadow. He could not fight it. He would go back and accept the payment his child was due to render. He was nothing. He was scum. He was—

He was Michael Richard Pence, follower of Ion, devout of Yaldabaoth. He was an heir to the true god of the earth. He was a master of the flesh, for he was a Zend of the Nälkä, and he knew the secrets buried deep within the Bible, the secret Christianity barely spoken of in the waking world. He was a man of ambition of vision, and he would not bow before a false idol. He had already resisted the terrible demons of gear and wire that claimed to be the gods of tomorrow, but a being of flesh? Of discarded chitin and muscle?

Why, he couldn't have asked for a better canvas.

As a Zend, he wasn't given the same level of power afforded to the Karcists, but his superiors had seen to meld his flesh with that of the electric eel. When he had first received his gifts, he had despaired, thinking them a curse of the Machine. Oh, how wrong he had been. Even the most instinctive beasts pulsed with lightning in every motion. Instinct was lightning, the God-given fire of Yaldabaoth. The power he wielded was as divine as that of more traditional fleshcrafters, and possibly even more versatile, as he had learned in his experiments with all those young men.

"Mike Pence Electroshock: 10,000 Volts!" he shouted, involuntarily, as lightning discharged from his hand into the chitin and flesh of the homunculus before him. It screeched deafeningly, but Michael didn't care. His baby girl was in danger. The flesh needed to sustain itself, and no god would stand in the way of that.

He could feel the tendrils of an ancient god striking through concept-space at him. It didn't matter. The lightning purified. It culled. It was an eternal cure for all that ailed. That was his role in the Faith of the Flesh. Some bred, some built, some sculpted, but he changed. Beneath the veneer of rationality, the mind was nothing more than instinct vaguely shaped by cosmic coincidence, nothing more than the primal creation of God, the one true God, and that no matter what anyone might try, His Will would not be denied.

As the homunculus chittered, Michael created an electrical skeleton, arching throughout the homunculus's body. The creature had no recognizable brain, so the circuit would be imperfect, incapable of higher thought; the creature would still be incoherent, most likely, but it could now be programmed, nudged in specific directions at his discretion. With luck, it would keep its anomalous properties; if so, its ramblings could sway even larger crowds. That horrid cicada demon had yielded to the might of God.

"Daddy?" said Michael's daughter, blinking confusedly. "What just happened? Why are you up here?"

Michael looked out at the crowd. The laughter had died down, and everyone… everyone seemed as if they hadn't noticed anything strange at all. He suspected that it was the creature's effects, that something about it short-circuited the logic of lesser minds, and if that were the case…

"Nothing to worry about, sweet," he said. "It's… it's just your Uncle Donny. He's just a bit confused, but he's a good friend of the family! Don't you remember?"

Here was the perfect puppet, who would advance the holy cause of the flesh. Michael could only imagine what would come next. There was a Karcist, ruling in Russia, whom Michael planned on turning to for advice; and when their plans came together, all the world would be theirs.

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