Low Earth Orbit Divinity
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Regardless of the term, there is a cardinal truth strived for.

It is not earned, but rather, it is a pedigree.

It infuses one's entire being, permeating substance and body.

Its manifestation denies the sublime in favor of splendor.

The Heavens are made for those who possess this holy claim.

The gods are a golden cohort.

O king, storm of majestic splendour, peerless Ninurta, possessing superior strength; who pillages the mountains all alone; deluge, indefatigable serpent hurling yourself at the rebel land; hero striding formidably into battle; lord whose powerful arm is fit to bear the mace, reaping like barley the necks of the insubordinate. Ninurta, king, son in whose strength his father rejoices; hero whose awesomeness covers the mountains like a south storm. Ninurta, who makes the good tiara, the rainbow, flash like lightning; grandly begotten by him who wears the princely beard; dragon who turns on himself; lion snarling at a snake. Ninurta, king whom Enlil has exalted above himself; hero, great battle-net flung over the foe. Ninurta, with the awesomeness of your shadow extending over the Land; releasing fury on the rebel lands, overwhelming their assemblies! Ninurta, king, son who has forced homage to his father far and wide! Inspiring great numinous power, he had taken his place on the throne, the August Dais.

A lone figure sits on its gilded throne, suspended on the edge of the horizon. Its electrum wings shimmer in the solar breeze. Before it lies an orb of flowing blue and swirling white.

The Firmament. The entirety of creation, from end to end, was within its purview. Innumerable rivers, boundless deserts, and abundant valleys filled its gaze. A boundless ocean, with islands of pure sky lazily floating over it, gives the land both boundary and profundity.

Behind the king, the aether. A million burning lights serving as a backdrop for royalty. A field of stellar jewels crowned by radiant Suen.

The Heavens and The Earth were within order.

The lord's battle-mace looked towards the mountains, the Šar-ur cried out aloud to its master: "Lord of lofty station, foremost one, who presides over all lords from the throne dais, Ninurta, whose orders are unalterable, whose allotted fates are faithfully executed; my master! Heaven copulated with the verdant Earth, Ninurta: she has born him a warrior who knows no fear — the Asag, a child who sucked the power of milk without ever staying with a wet-nurse, a foster-child, O my master — knowing no father, a murderer from the mountains, whose face knows no shame; impudent of eye, an arrogant male, rejoicing in his stature."

Dr. William Pall sat in his office, and crunched numbers. His cubicle was not too sparse and not too tidy. Here and there were handwritten equations on loose papers. False-color nebulae were plastered on the walls, a reminder of the beauty of space that was otherwise inaccessible amidst the dense spreadsheets and low-poly simulations.

Pall furrowed his eyebrows,

paused his typing,

took a sip of coffee,

and resumed inputting numbers into the formulae.

His was one of the most mundane jobs in the Foundation. You'd think a job with the title of "Astrodynamicist" would entail some excitement, but no. It entailed sitting at a computer and calculating the orbital trajectories of satellites months away from launching. Fact of the matter was that space, even in the relative stone's throw of Earth's orbit, was big and empty. In addition to the standard civilian and military and not-so-top-secret-military menagerie, he had a shortlist of potential collisions to worry about. These ranged from the relatively mundane, to the downright absurd.

It's funny. The higher ups always fretted over unintentional collisions, but here he was, having trouble with an intentional collision.

"It has sired offspring in the mountains, and spread its seeds far and wide. The plants have unanimously named it king over them; like a great wild bull, it tosses its horns amongst them. The šu, saĝkal, esi, usium, kagena, and the heroic nu stones, its warriors, constantly come raiding the cities. For them a shark's tooth has grown up in the mountains; it has stripped the trees. Before its might the gods of those cities bow towards it. My master, this same creature has erected a throne dais: it is not lying idle. Ninurta, lord, it actually decides the Land's lawsuits, just as you do. Who can compass the Asag's dread glory? Who can counteract the severity of its frown? People are terrified, fear makes the flesh creep; their eyes are fixed upon it. My master, the mountains have taken their offerings to it."

Sighing, Roger Blanco scrubbed the whiteboard, taking care to preserve the equations around the doomed diagram. He was quite possibly the most mathematically inclined interior designer on the planet. As a counterbalance, he was probably the worst artist among the lot.

With how things have been lately, "on the planet" might not be applicable for much longer.

He was an interior designer in much the opposite way a janitor was a sanitation engineer on their resume. He was actually a cross between a mechanical engineer and a… well, the other position in this metaphor might not actually exist, atleast not in the mundane world. "Geometrist" would be the best fit. He worked with non-Euclidean geometry, using special engines to make a lot of use out of a little space. He was presently designing the interior of FOS19.

"Foundation Orbital-Site 19". Made it sound all important-like, as if it were a full blown space station.

It was a cubesat. Small, cube-composed satellites, mainly used for research by universities and fledgling space programs. The innocuous design is a remnant from when the Foundation had to maintain secrecy and plausible deniability. Not that anyone remembers those days.

The satellite was to be delivered by a multistage rocket. Thankfully, this meant that an entire team was at work on the other components. Even so, that left Roger with the difficulties of cramming in:

  • The Spatial Contortion Drive itself
  • The Reaction Control System
  • The Fuel Tank for the above
  • Two robotic appendages
  • Enough spare space to accommodate a six-by-two-by-one solid-gold statue.

Roger grabbed a dry-erase marker and got back to work.

"Hero! Since you are strong, my master, they are calling for your help, saying, Ninurta, that not a single warrior counts except for you! Ninurta, it is confident that it can lay hands on the powers received by you in the abzu. Its face is deformed, its location is continually changing; day by day, the Asag adds territories to its domain. Ninurta, lord, son of Enlil. Who has so far been able to resist its assault? The besetting Asag is beyond all control, its weight is too heavy."

Director Melissa Cooper took her seat at the Mission Control Center.

"T-minus 10"

Some people have this eternal, childlike wonder when it relates to space. You can see it by the glow on their faces as they walk into work.

"T-minus 9"

Melissa envies some people.

"T-minus 8"

These launches have become routine. She briefly muses if this is a good thing or a bad thing.

"T-minus 7"

You know, in a general sense. For her it meant a lot more work. More drawn out email exchanges, more poorly lit meetings, more financial finagling to make the budget work.

"T-minus 6"

This whole process was much more cumbersome with the Veil intact. The Foundation had to piggyback off of legitimate Space Agencies, or else borrow the spaceports of former Soviet Satellite (hah) States.

"T-minus 5"

The director was just grateful she didn't have to give a speech after this was over. The Foundation PR department didn't have to justify its expenses to a tax-paying public, nor to a board of shareholders.

"T-minus 4"

As a trade-off, it did have to regularly cover up human rights abuses.

"T-minus 3"

Somewhere in the bored director's mind, she thought about the mission at hand.

"T-minus 2"

It was a retrieval. Send the probe to intercept a gold-and-silver statue of some Middle-Eastern farmer-healing-law god, and drag it down for actual containment. The thing moved erratically between Low and Middle Earth Orbit, but they finally cracked its movement pattern after years of study. At present moment, the thing was a sitting duck.

"T-minus 1"

It never occurred to her that this mission could fail.

"T-plus 0"

The steel rod is fired into the sky on a plume of flame, an arrow aimed at the heart of a warrior god.

"Rumours of its armies constantly arrive, before ever its soldiers are seen. This thing's strength is massive, no weapon has been able to overturn it. Ninurta, neither the axe nor the all-powerful spear can penetrate its flesh, no warrior like it has ever been created against you. Lord, you who reach out towards the august divine powers, splendour, jewel of the gods, you bull with the features of a wild bull, with a prominent backbone, this fellow is clever! My Ninurta, whose form Enki contemplates with favour, my lord, son of Enlil, what is to be done?"


Creeping over the ends of the Land, sailing above the azure plains, a dark monolith enters the god's view. An invader. A blight upon its domain.

An idol is the image of perfection. It traces the contours of a god's divine form, anchors its visage to the world of mortals.

This thing of rigidity does not reflect beauty. It has no mouth to feed, no eyes to oversee, no hands to craft, no voice to ordain.

The Heavens are a place of the gods, and this is an intruder.

"Hero, whatever further awaits you, do not on any account meddle with the hurricane of the mountains. Ninurta, son of Enlil, I tell you again, it is a blister whose smell is foul, like mucus which comes from the nose it is unpleasant. Lord, its words are devious, it will not obey you. My master, it has been created against you as a god. Hero, it falls on the land as a whirlwind, it scrubs it as if with saltwort. It chases the onagers before it in the mountains. Its terrifying splendour sends the dust into clouds, it causes a downpour of potsherds. In the rebel lands it is a lion striking with savage teeth. After reducing everything to nothing in the north wind, that one will batter you. It has dried up the waters in the ground. In the whirlwind storm, the people are finished, they have no solution. From an implacable enemy, great hero, lord, turn away."


Ninurta opened his mouth to speak to the mace. He aimed the lance at the mountains. The lord stretched out an arm towards the clouds. Day became a dark night. He yelled like a storm.

A panel retracts, two iron arms emerge from the pit, grasping at the wings of divinity.

A burst of 50,000 kelvin plasma destroys the false idol. Its molten slag expands itself as the onboard space distorter boils offline, non-euclidean space straightening out at 9.80665 meters per seconds-squared freefall.

Peace is restored to the heavens.

In the mountains, the day came to an end. The sun bade it farewell. Enlil's mighty lord, Ninurta, great son of the E-kur, heroic one of the father who bore him: it is good to praise you.

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