The invasion of Earth has failed. Despite the massive advantage in technology and military might, the Guild was thoroughly defeated once Noriko Null gained access to the near infinite power of the Heart Of The Universe. But it’s not over yet.

She’s standing on what’s left of the Guild’s capital ship, the Dark Pyramid: just a floor floating in space with nothing else around it. Vesta and Quantum watch Noriko walk calmly towards the Scribe, the Guild’s leader: the Heart’s luminous form floats before her chest.

-Imhotep – she calls him with his Earth name.

-Kill this body if you want, Null. I have backup copies of my consciousness; I will lose part of my memories of course, but you can’t kill me. I am immortal.

-You think you’re invincible, Scribe? You think you’re a god? – she asks, grabbing him by his throat and lifting him using only one arm. And her golden eyes shine.

-You don’t know the meaning of these words. Let me show you the power of the Drylon.

The lights inside the Heart’s luminous form start pulsating more and more rapidly.

-The Guild dies today – she orders.

The Heart Of The Universe contracts once, releasing a sphere of pure light in every direction.

Even Vesta has to look away, but not before she sees what happens when the Scribe’s body is touched by the light. It doesn’t simply evaporate: it ceases to exist.

The wave continues its course, passing through the bodies of Vesta, Quantum, Leiko and Black Knight without no effect whatsoever.

 

Bridge of the Ragnarok

Kari Zel is confused. She saw the Dark Pyramid explode and a show of lights after the other, but the ship’s sensors are as clueless as her about what is happening.

All she knows is that there are nearly five thousand enemy ships surrounding the Ragnarok, and that a massive energy wave was just emitted from the debris of the Dark Pyramid.

Before she can give any order, the wave has already reached and passed the ship, proceeding without causing any harm whatsoever.

-Weird – is Torn’s comment, an understatement even by his standards.

-Where did the other ships go!? – is Kari’s question, answered by LOKI’s electronic voice:

<No enemy vessels detected>

-They can’t have escaped, not all at once…

<Sensors indicate that enemy ships have been disintegrated. All 4,987 of them>

 

Dionysus sector

It’s easy to forget that the Guild controls over two hundred worlds, since they do their best work undercover. According to divine law this area of space is still governed by Dionysus, even though he’s never governed anything a single day of his life.

Most people know the Guild only when they have to buy drugs, or pay protection money, or need to hire mercenaries: only its military personnel and the members of the Inner Circle openly claim to be part of the Guild.

Until today, when the distinction is made clear: every single member of the Guild vanishes.

For billions of people it starts with a bright light in the sky, which they initially think is just a supernova. But the energy wave it releases is relentless: nothing seems to block its path as it moves at increasingly higher speed. For most of the targets, it’s completely harmless.

But if your ship has the symbol of the Guild, the eye inside an inverted triangle, it’s the last thing you will ever see. Starships, star bases, entire fleets disappear in the blink of an eye.

Some planets are unaffected. Some report the disappearance of thousands of people, others of millions. A few planets and colonies are completely devoid of human life in mere seconds.

 

Argos, 100 light-years from Earth

It’s still night in the capital, but Alexer Syzar is awake when the wave passed through his bedroom. The Aphrodite priestess next to him screams in a panic, while Syzar is bombarded by the news: the President of the Senate of the Mortal Republic can’t be seen to be afraid, but the more information is known the more he’s terrified.

-Mortal Goddess, hallowed by your name – the Priestess says, with her hand drawing the Ø symbol over her bare breasts. She’s not calling for her goddess: this is known as Null’s Prayer.

-We still don’t know if Null was involved – he tries to calm her down.

-Ganos Lal was right, we are being punished for sinning against Null – she insists, covering herself to the best of her abilities and incessantly repeating Null’s Prayer.

Syzar reads the report again. Five thousand missing persons on Argos are one thing, but the entire Guild fleet was disintegrated. And over ninety Guild worlds are not reporting.

He doesn’t believe Null to be a goddess. But he can’t think of a way to convince anyone she’s not.

 

Nysa, 17.000 light-years from Earth

Dionysus is drunk, as usual. But the wave that passes through his body is something that wakes him up instantly; even the young woman with her head between his legs, despite being high on a dozen different drugs, lifts her head to peek out of the sheets.

-Far out – she comments, looking around.

As it’s always the case on Nysa, it’s night: an eternal eclipse to satisfy its master’s endless desires. But usually there’s a lot of noise… the music, the orgies, the stroboscopic lights. Now it’s dead silence, interrupted only by the occasional cries for help.

-What happened? Where is everybody? – are the recurring questions.

Only a few hundred degenerates survived the wave, scattered around Dionysus; the rest of the planet, thousands of people who dedicated their lives to make sure that the god never had the chance to be distracted from his pleasures, has vanished.

 

Athenian Presidential Palace, 80.000 light-years from Earth

Athena is sitting at her desk, looking at the holographic map of the Olympian Galaxy showing the extent of the wave. Next to it is a hologram of Dionysus’s bust.

What do you mean it’s gone!? – the wine god asks.

-The Guild has been eradicated. Every single mortal serving under the Scribe has been disintegrated, as well as the full extent of his technology, all over the Galaxy.

How… it must be our father, right? Nobody else has this kind of power. Unless your protégé…

-Has found and activated a Drylon weapon, yes. It’s precisely what just happened.

You knew this, didn’t you? You asked me to have the Scribe attack Null because you knew this would happen!

-That is a gratuitous accusation, Dionysus. For which, I remind you, you have no proof.

Because Null destroyed all of it. Now what am I supposed to do with my sector!?

-Govern it, I suppose.

Don’t be ridiculous, what do I know about governing? The Scribe always took care of everything!

-If you’re asking me to take care of it, I must politely decline. As tempting as it may be, we live at opposite sides of the Galaxy.

I’ll hold you responsible for this, Athena! Nobody forces Dionysus to work and gets away with it!

The wine god disconnects the call, leaving the goddess of wisdom alone with her thoughts.

She knows these are empty threats: Dionysus lacks the intellect to do her any damage. She won’t miss the Scribe: Imhotep ceased to be useful to her plans centuries ago.

But Noriko Null is becoming a problem. She set up the girl against Hermes and Eris, and she won. She arranged her fight with Selene, and she won. She sent the Scribe against her, and she won.

With the Scribe gone, her only mortal adversaries are Syzar and the Winter King; she has little doubt that Null can defeat both with ease. Which raises a puzzling dilemma.

When Null will no longer serve her plans, will it be too late to stop her?

 

Hell, Large Magellanic Cloud – 163,000 light-years from Earth

Oblivion, Lord Of All Demons, looks at the sky: he felt a ripple in the Blood that he can’t ignore.

The Olympian Galaxy looms large above him, now that Hell is no longer surrounded by clouds of fire. He can’t see the wave: at this distance, its power has diminished tremendously.

But something has changed. An ancient power has been awakened, and it’s Hell’s job to make sure it doesn’t upset the balance of the universe any further.

 

Stygian Galaxy – 3,070,000 light-years from Earth

It’s a beautiful garden where a young couple in love is having a romantic walk. Well, according to them: a bridge of skulls and bones over a gentle stream of blood and bile, surrounded by a cemetery covered in the ashes of cremated bodies, is something few people would consider romantic.

The teenage girl has green hair and eyes and wears a metal bra that shows off the tattoo of a dragon. She’s holding the arm of a man whose figure is shrouded by a black leathery cloak, which seems to weight much more than he does. His face is hidden by the shadow of his hood.

I don’t know why the f##k I bother going back to that fu##ing place. It’s a s##thole.

That’s what you keep saying every time you get in a fight with the family. But you still go back – he answers. While her voice is always seething with rage, his is barely more than a whisper.

Well not this time. You have this bi##h all to yourself, you fu##ing bastard – she says, coming closer to kiss him… but he turns his head away at the last second.

Something is wrong.

What is it? If it’s your fu##ing dog again I swear I’ll rip his…

Two billion people just died.

Aww, Hades, you’re so sweet! But you shouldn’t have, I already have enough corpses.

It wasn’t me. Or any other god… someone just activated the Heart Of The Universe.

The what? C’mon, it’s just mortals, who fu##ing cares! Can’t we just make out and forget?

I’m sorry, Persephone, but this is important. I must talk to Zeus – Hades tells her, pushing her aside to walk back to his palace.

Hey! Come back here! You’re not dragging me back to that fu##ing ce##pool of a galaxy!!!

No one asked you to come – Hades cuts her short, disappearing in puff of black smoke.

What!? You think I’m going to let you go to that galaxy of w##res on your own!?

Persephone stomps her foot on the ground, and her little temper tantrum releases an explosion that could be seen from orbit, if there were anyone else alive on the capital of the Underworld.

 

Abydos Galaxy – 11,400,000 light-years from Earth

The palace is immense, covering the entire planet. Its construction was a monumental effort: millennium after millennium, every square inch was finely decorated and polished to perfection.

Thousands of workers labor day and night to keep all marble and gold floors shining, all the statues perfectly smooth and clean, all the monuments and the pyramids and the temples as immutable as possible. They dedicate their life to make sure that, should the goddess ever decide to lay her eyes on their work, she will be pleased.

The woman with grey skin knows this, as she walks in front of countless servants of different races. Humans with pink and brown skin. Lizard people, both green and purple. Lamians that slither, Lampyrians that flutter their wings. She kneels before the throne: a scorpion man on the right, a cat woman on her left, the goddess seems bored.

-╤□►□►▲╪╤□▲‡╬►►╣╒♦▼╣₪- the Grey Lady says.

The goddess nods solemnly before answering, with her voice booming throughout the palace.

Then Ereshkigal was right. It is time for me to return to the Olympian Galaxy – Isis declares.



Ø
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