Misotheism: Part One
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It's very early in the morning, so early that Apollo and Helios have yet to decide whose turn it is to drag the sun from beyond the horizon. Most of the crew's still sleeping, save for the Engineer, who has yet to stop working on the bomb. ORIA really should have kept tabs on this one; his entire worldview crumbles, yet here he is, working overtime just for the sake of the mission.

I'd like to say I admire his devotion, but I know better. It's not like he's doing this to reconcile his faith with the new world order. At this point, he's just being spiteful. I bid him a one-sided good morning, then go on my way.

The beach's sand is coarse, rough; the kind one would expect from a place filled with rocky cliffs and promontories. Not that I care much for it. My feet are calloused from years of barefoot running up the jagged mountains and across the sun-scorched steppes of my homeland. Bet I could walk across fire with the skill of a fakir.

At least the sea is the perfect shade of blue, ignorant to the fact that tomorrow my crew will taint its waters with the blood of the innocent. Such are the ways of mercenaries.

I take in the cool breeze, the welcoming smell of salt and sand. For an instant, I am only another tourist, off to enjoy the blessings of the sea.

It's almost sad that I must spoil everyone's fun.


There are two things to consider when shooting a god.

The first one is that, regardless of what you throw at them, gods cannot die. You can stab them with a divine sword, drown them in magic rivers, strike them with ancient spells… hell, even nuking them won't work. Whatever you can think of, the Foundation and the GOC tried it… and failed. Serves them well, for all I care.

Oh, sure, you can "kill" a god if you do enough harm to its physical form, or if you drain them of their godly energies, or if you destroy all they stand for, but these are only temporary measures. It might take a few millennia, but they will return and, with enough faith and devotion from their followers, they'll soon manifest another avatar to make your bloodline's lives miserable.

Second thing you should have in mind is that shooting a person gets you in trouble with the law; shooting a god gets you in trouble with its whole pantheon. I wouldn't be surprised if this was the last time I ever set foot near the Mediterranean: Olympus casts quite a large shadow around these parts, and I'd like to postpone my date with Hades and his cohorts for as long as possible.

With all this in mind, most might ask themselves what's the point of even trying. Well, there's no right answer: trying to pull off something like this implies that you're either crazy or got nothing to lose… which pretty much fits the profile of all involved in this mission. Well, most of them.

The more I think about it, the more I realize how little I have in common with the Engineer, the Paladin and, thankfully, the Fanatic. They're all here for revenge, to satisfy whatever personal grievances they might have against the gods and the Empire. At the bottom of their hearts, they don't care if they make it out alive or not: it's all about making a point. They got nothing to lose, so they might as well go down fighting the power, killing the god… or its followers, at the very least.

Good for them, but I'm still planning on cashing in that paycheck. How ironic that Frank the Savant, that bumbling little man, seems to be the only one whose motivation's the same as mine: cold hard cash. Does that make our involvement here better or worse? Devil may care. Can't speak for Frank, but as long as I don't catch Aconitum or a thunderbolt, I'm all set.

Still, part of me wonders if I haven't gone crazy. I'm risking Zeus blasting me into Tartarus, where I can't spend my money, so my objectives might be rendered moot. Guess I'll find out tomorrow, when the deed is actually done.

Let's hope one bullet is enough.


Finding a spot from where to shoot the god of the sea proves more challenging than the actual shooting. The entire area surrounding the temple is either flat or crawling with security and tourists. Can't really be inconspicuous if I'm positioning a sniper rifle in the middle of a party. Fuck the Fanatic for choosing this place to make his mess. And fuck me for my lack of foresight; sometimes I wish my codename wasn't "the Sniper."

At last, I settle for checking in at a neaby hotel, courtesy of my sticky fingers and the Paladin's ill-hidden cash. She should know better than hoping for honor among thieves.

I like this place: It's close enough to the temple not to lose sight of my target and far enough from it to avoid detection. With everyone joining tomorrow's celebration, I'm trusting this place will be practically empty; it better be if I want to make it out alive.

I hide my gear behind a maintenance cabinet on the hotel's rooftop, so old and rusted that it's unlikely to be touched by anyone anytime soon. Tomorrow, I will return before the celebration begins, get into position… and wait for my prey to arrive.

In the meantime, however, a bit of sunbathing won't do me any harm. There's still plenty of time before I'm needed back at our hideout. Might as well enjoy the Mediterranean and its calm while it lasts.


By the time I return to base, the sun has begun sinking beyond the sea, Selene and Artemis pushing a full moon towards the twilight sky. A small electric stove cooks a meal of halal meat and hummus, around which sit my partners. Their reactions to my arrival vary: an irritated look from the Paladin, a nervous stare from the Savant, sheer indifference from the Engineer. The Fanatic, however, welcomes me with a grotesque smile and open arms. He does not bat an eye when I tell him where I'll be spending the night, his regard for secrecy almost gone. Better for me, I guess.

Though I only mean to report my position and run any last details with the crew, the Fanatic is adamant that I stay for dinner. I raise my eyebrows at the invitation, not in surprise, but in distrust. People should be above pretending to like each other, and judging by most of the crew's reaction, they share my opinion. The Fanatic, however, insists with his hoarse voice, and I'm not about to discuss with a Fifthist sorcerer-priest; it's seldom wise to upset a cultist.

I sit next to the Paladin, who, much to my amusement, has yet to realize she's missing a few Imperial credits. Better keep that to myself. She passes me a plate of food, and I dig in.

We eat as the Fanatic begins one of his rants, or sermons, whatever he wishes to call them. He talks about the great feat we are to accomplish tomorrow, about how the stars shall reward us with something far more valuable than money: unity with the Great Cosmic Starfish. He speaks wide-eyed and hopeful, like any good priest, preaching his faith to us simple unbelievers, blessing us in the name of his god.

What a bunch of horseshit.

In a certain way, I pity men like him: a member of a fringe cult, excluded even in the wake of the old gods returning, marginalized even as the anomalous became the new normal, shunned even as the Veil fell. The world may have come to accept and join together with the strange and the mystical, but his ilk still remain unwanted, banished to the outskirsts of society, anomalous or otherwise. With his beliefs mocked and his faith sidelined, it's no wonder the Fanatic's become so vengeful against the followers of other gods. I just hope he doesn't try to convert us. Reality's already shitty enough without some asshole rewriting it for a giant starfish.

The Engineer serves us seconds, and I can't help but notice that he's in a good mood. All his initial nervousness seems to have evaporated, replaced by a confident gaze and a strong grip. I'm guessing he was never anxious to begin with– impatient's more like it.

From what I've heard, ORIA was never a normalcy org like the Foundation or the UIU. They never cared for faith or religion; their objective was not maintaining the secrecy of the anomalous world; all they wanted was the safety of the Islamic world. With the advent of the Immortal Empire, that goal has been all but achieved. Why then, I initially wondered, would a man like the Engineer seek to destroy those who have not harmed his people?

I guessed the answer pretty quickly: dissatisfaction. The world has changed too much. ORIA and its fellow orgs are nothing but vestiges of a time long gone, reduced to vulgar peacekeeping for the communities they once censored with an iron fist. Little men who once held power are once again reduced to nothing, clinging desperately to their supposedly glorious past, aching for meaning in the face of change. The Engineer is among these little men; all this is just him lashing out at the world, thrashing in the agony of his emasculation.

Pathetic.

I cannot fathom something more pitiful than being mad because your org is no longer top dog. If you're gonna be angry, at least be like the Paladin: she's not mad because the GOC was downsized and reformed, she's mad because half her kin is dead… and maybe because she just realized her wallet's empty. Tough luck, big girl. I did say it was every woman for herself.


We finish our meal and set out to make final preparations. I head back to my luxurious lookout, not before taking one last look at the crew. The Engineer, the Paladin and the Savant are getting dressed as security, readying themselves to install the bomb beneath the altar.

The Savant looks surprisingly inconspicuous in his guard uniform, the ultimate everyman, which is like saying the ultimate nobody. Were it not because he's in this mission, I would pass him by without blinking an eye. Something tells me this is why the Fanatic hired him, not his psychic skills.

Who are you, Frank? I ask myself as it dawns upon me how little I know about this plain, nervous little man who embarrassed himself the first time I met him. It's curious how he's the only crewmember whose name I know, yet the only one whose background is almost entirely shrouded by mystery.

Meh, a riddle for the ages, and better that way for all I care. I turn around and start walking, not bothering to wave them goodbye before my form disappears into the night, away from the crew's inner turmoils and Frank's unknown past.

I've yet much to think as I walk along the beachline, caressed by the full moon. Deep within me, something stirs and, however much I'd prefer to focus on tomorrow's mission, I can't help but reminisce.

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