Chapter 94: We Are All Gods
A crystal mountain of Source was the heart of humanity’s defenses. The energies it produced were arrayed in five layers that covered a large area of the surrounding wastes. Dense numbers of soldiers were stationed at its borders.
At the center of the capital was the former Greenland Outpost. Here lived all the original citizens of Greenland. Here was stationed all of the Alliance’s elite.
Near the center of the outpost was a large tree, three or four hundred meters tall. Autumn’s God Tree was able to draw from the Source even at this distance, so it had also grown larger in recent days. A brood of green dragons had made the tree home.
The Shepherd and Cloud Gods stood under its boughs. It had finally come time for these former Supremes to face their kin.
The Cloud God could feel the others. Divine sentience from across the galaxy were awakened by the blue shroud that hung over the planet, summoning them forth. Soon the God King itself would arrive. Under its leader’s guidance, few species in this universe were capable of defending themselves. Humanity, born from the dirt of this primitive earth, was not one of them.
“Do you regret it?” The Shepherd God asked.
“Even if I could choose again, I would defect.” There was a flicker in the god’s eyes. Regret? What was regret? He pondered the concept. “Sumeru is vast, but to be part of the whole means to lose oneself.”
“So you see.”
“No, I am still blind. The questions still haunt me: I wonder at the nature of my life, my origins, my power, my evolution. I am given different answers, but they are not answers to my questions. The glory of any creature’s creation, though long and arduous on the surface, is the inevitable result of circumstance. Yet, the gods are a mystery. A race with no past, and no future.”
The Shepherd God was one of them, too. All the uncertainty her companion suffered she had experienced as well. Gods seemed separate from the universe as it should be. Their appearance was abrupt and each one only existed as a fragment of Sumeru. Their wills and imagination were all manifestations of the whole.
Gods had no troubles, because their troubles were Sumeru’s troubles.
Gods were never confused. Any confusion was Sumeru’s confusion.
Mount Sumeru was the greatest singular consciousness in the universe. It unified the rich experiences of all its parts. It governed the thoughts and actions of every god, though the gods themselves knew nothing of Sumeru’s truth.
Both fallen Supremes were once part of that system. All their actions were in compliance with Sumeru’s will, until it wasn’t. Upon dropping their fetters, they became individuals. Now that they knew what it was to live, neither wanted to go back to how it was despite the consequences.
At least they could choose to fight.
Nothing in this world was born from nothing. Fighting in the light, there was always a shadow at your back. The silence of the night was a failure to hear sound, not because it did not exist.
“We are not gods. Not before, not now, not ever. There never were gods.” She raised her head and looked at the blue sky. “We are motes of dust, caught on the distant arm of an ever spinning galaxy. Its a motion we can’t see, one in which our efforts are buried under billions of light years. All the responsibility, bitterness, compassion, love, hatred – wiped clean by time. We are not gods. We can’t change the laws of the universe any more than we can stop the galaxy from spinning. All we do is spin in our orbits. Along for the ride.”
When looked at in this way, how were gods any different from humans? Maybe there was something out there they could call a ‘god’, but if it existed then there was no contrast between their species and the ones of this planet. Such a being wouldn’t care about the pride of such little things or their pretend wisdom, no matter how loudly they proclaimed it.
How small a thing life and intelligence was. How meaningless in the face of a vast and endless universe. 
“But… without me, is there a universe?” The Shepherd God almost whispered it. “Without me to see it, the universe doesn’t exist. Neither do the gods. If you think of it like that, then we are all gods.”
Was the purpose of life to perceive the cosmos? Without something to recognize how vast the universe was, what did the universe matter? No one had the answer.
The two gods lapsed into silence.
“They’re here.” The Cloud God’s eyes flashed and he released a pulse of psychic energy. It raced across Greenland, connecting to Cloudhawk and Legion. “The invasion has begun.”
The Cloud God had maintained his link with Sumeru. Although this connection was limited, he was still able to sense others like him. At present he sensed many passing through the planet’s atmosphere.
As confirmation there arose an ear-piercing squeal and several dozen fiery orbs shot passed overhead. Like comets they roared across the sky, picking up speed and vanishing as quickly as they appeared.
Headed toward the Elysian lands.
The Shepherd God recognized the situation quickly. Cloudhawk was right, though she was shocked his predictions would come true so fast.
As though summoned by the thought, Cloudhawk appeared from a ripple in space. “How many?”
“More than two hundred. Groups of several dozen gods each have been dispatched to every Elysian land.” The Cloud God shared everything he was able to sense, including their movements and targets.
“Cloudhawk! Things are bad!” Dawn came racing his way.
“What is it?”
“What sort? From the Elysian lands?”
“Yes. Skycloud, Highmorn, Praelius, Dragenmere and Stormford. We received messages from all the forces we had stationed there then immediately lost communication.”
Quiet, concerned looks were shared among the group. Had a small group of two hundred gods just wiped the Elysian lands off the map? All the best troops were brought to Greenland and half their population evacuated, but there were still many who remained behind. There had been no shortage of capable people who remained behind with the believers.
How could this happen so fast?
Notes of distress were thinly veiled in Dawn’s voice. “What’s the plan? Are we going to save them?”
“I suggest we give them up,” Legion offered. “Most people and resources have been evacuated. The Elysian lands hold no more value to us. We should consolidate our strength and protect our main force.”
“Bullshit! Are we supposed to just sit back and watch them get slaughtered?” Phoenix and a group of her supporters shouted their opposition to Legion’s callous words. The realms still had scores of innocents and their own troops, directly in the line of fire. Was the demon suggesting they just throw away so many lives?
How were Greenland’s troops supposed to react? Morale was already fragile. Could they be expected to face the divine army if they all cowered from two hundred gods?
Legion had no intention of arguing his point. He delivered the option, but Cloudhawk was responsible for what they did next. He was now caught between two bad choices.
Save them? It was dangerous. They couldn’t afford to lose, especially in an opening skirmish. Leave them to die? The Alliance relied on troops from these Elysian lands. Was it right to sacrifice these people without batting an eye? To just let these innocent lives be snuffed out?
Cloudhawk turned to the Cloud God. “You’re certain there were only two hundred of them?”
“I am. The remainder are still on the moon and have no intention of acting for the present. This is merely their first offensive. A test.”
Against two hundred gods, Greenland’s forces stood a decent chance. It helped that they were separated into five groups. They couldn’t regroup quick enough to fend off an assault. Cloudhawk could lead a team into one of the Elysian lands, save some people and kill some gods. The victory would shore up some of his soldiers’ crumbling confidence.
His fear was the Abyssal God, watching from up on the moon. That monster had spatial powers like him, and although he didn’t know exactly how he used them, what if the god could teleport? The second they left Greenland they could find themselves surrounded.
The Cloud God seemed to sense Cloudhawk’s troubled thoughts. “Within the Elysian lands there is a relic that can seal spatial disturbances. Bring it with you, and there is no threat of being ambushed.”
He could give this relic to Stormford’s Master Demonhunter, Bruno. After teleporting everyone to the target, Bruno could seal them off and eliminate any threat from the moon.
“We don’t have much time. We have to act immediately. Skycloud is the closest.”
Cloudhawk made up his mind. Skycloud was closest, and the first Elysian realm to join his cause. Many of their troops once called it home. It was the right call. With the decision made, there was no time to waste.
Cloudhawk selected his team and opened a portal to Skycloud.