This Science Fiction short story is a lead-up to the book titled, Onyalum Wars. The book is part of the Science Fiction Onyalum Series written by NB VanYoos.
Does it ever get easier? The question ran through Hammot’s mind without answer. Would it get easier? In some ways he hoped it would so he could put aside his guilt and face the challenges without doubt. As a Creator, he was conditioned to filling the universal void with life and prosperity but now he was involved in its destruction.
In the beginning, it had all seemed like such a great idea. He had grown bored with creating and yearned for the excitement inherent in the war games. He wanted to experience how his counterpart, the Onyalum, thrived on destruction and chaos.
Was chaos bad? Was death bad? Everything recycled, so what was the point of saving them? The war games only made the inevitable happen more quickly.
If it was destroyed, you made more. If they were killed, more would be born to take their place. Hammot had come to believe life was a disease within the Universe—a plague spreading throughout creation, consuming or destroying everything in its path. Once it took root, you couldn’t pull it out or control it. Hammot knew of other Creators who had tried, but ultimately, they failed as their creations evolved beyond their reach.
Hammot was one of the oldest Creators in existence and understood how age soured you on the wonders and excitement of creating new worlds and civilizations. He had created billions during his lifetime, and all had turned away from him, spurning his love and leadership when he needed them most. What had life given him? Nothing!
And now? Now he led a beastly army of barely intelligent warriors consumed by their greed and avarice. They only wanted to consume and bask in the sinful pleasures of the flesh. They worshiped him, but only to attain that which they desired. He was a means to an end, not the reason for their existence. He learned to ignore their perverse pleasures as he focused on the games at hand. He gave them what they wanted because they gave him what he needed, a reason to exist.
“My Lord, shall we deploy?”
Hammot ignored General Grund’s pleadings. Ever since the man became possessed by the Onyalum, Esral, he had quickly moved up in rank and position. Hammot despised the Onyalum even as he used them in the war games. He’d spent an eternity trying to weed them out of his creations, and now they were an integral part of his campaign. Without their intelligence, his armies would have been vanquished long ago. Their brutish strength but underdeveloped brains made them fierce in hand to hand combat and useless in anything else. This was a battle of wits, and his creations had none. Only the Onyalum provided the missing ingredient for his army’s success.
Hammot loved making General Grund angry with the god he was indebted to. They had forged a deal long ago, and both had kept up their end of the bargain, so far. Hammot wondered what the Onyalum would do if he backed out of the agreement? Would the creature march to the competitors and offer up all the intelligence about Hammot’s army? Probably. Onyalum loyalty went only as far as their desires. Take away what motivated them, and they would gladly turn on you. Perverse torture was what motivated General Grund.
He raised his hand, palm up, to indicate patience. The General grimaced through his beastly features and turned back to the large display of his fleet awaiting orders not forthcoming. Hammot smiled mischievously. He loved these rare moments when everything rested on his decision. But would it get easier? Did it really matter? Did he care enough about anything to justify his guilt? They were just pieces in a great cosmic game. Pawns in the ultimately match of power and intelligence.
But what of the innocents? What role did they play in the war games. Victims! That was their fate, to live a pitiful life and find it extinguished by nothing more than a simple command. Was it fair? Was it right? Who decided such things anyway? A Creator? Why not? They created the life around them, was not that life forfeit upon their whims? Did they deserve anything less than that? To satisfy a Creator’s desires was the ultimate sacrifice to their god. They should rejoice in the opportunity to serve in whatever capacity their Creator saw fit.
It didn’t wash, and he understood this. That was why the guilt would never go away, why the decisions got harder and not easier. Innocence was precious and he should have been sworn to protect it at all costs. Instead, he disregarded it as nothing more than a nuisance in his conscience, a thing that made his war games harder to play. He should feel shame for the actions he and his fellow competitors engaged in. Shame for abandoning his creations to play toy soldiers on a cosmic scale. He felt shame.
He got out of his seat to stand beside General Grund. “Why is this move necessary, General?”
The General was perturbed by the god’s presence as he responded through gritted teeth. “We have discussed this already, my Lord, and you understand why this is necessary.”
“Humor me, General.” Hammot replied, relishing the uncomfortable position the Onyalum found himself in.
General Grund stood straight, knowing when to give in. “We have consumed all valuable resources and lost all strategic advantages when the Trilliu were destroyed on Santion.” He stopped hoping his explanation was sufficient. It was not. “If we don’t do this, it may breed rebels that could help the enemy retake important assets.”
Assets. The word held such a powerful meaning in the war games, but meant so little in the cosmic scheme of life. The Universe hadn’t created the gods to make toys out of the heavens. They were supposed to fill the void with life that would flourish forever. Now, that life was reduced to assets.
“Thank you, General.” Hammot retook his seat and stared blankly at the display. So many vessels, so many weapons, it was enough to destroy half the galaxy. But that wouldn’t win the match, only make it harder. The decision was not getting any easier or his guilt any less. Shame was the crown he wore on his head, and it dug deep into his consciousness, spoiling the core of his existence. Was this the end of a Creator? Brought down by his own inadequacies?
He made up his mind. “You may deploy, General.”
The tiny light on the display moving meticulously towards the planet was a global death sentence. Nothing would survive except maybe a few insects, but they were too small for the enemy to recruit.