Author's Note: You might want to read The Written God before reading this tale.
There was certainly peace and happiness for a while; yet, as the people know, evil is unavoidable.
There was a knock at Jacob Hunt's door. The newly promoted Project Malleus captain called out to the visitor, who promptly walked in and took a standing position in front of his desk.
"Jerome, welcome to my office. Isn't it amazing?" Jacob grinned as he spread his arms out.
The man managed an impatient half-smile. "Quite, sir. If you don't mind, I'd like to give my report before we rest on our laurels."
He sighed, letting his arms fall limply. "True enough, this is cause for more diligence than celebration anyways. Now, you sent a memo that said you discovered a few new religious groups in the immediate area?"
Jerome nodded. "Yes. The closest and largest one is based in Buffalo, looks to be… about fifty members at the moment. They also appear to have some sort of anomalous artifact that they use in their rituals and rites."
Jacob thought for a second, folding his hands. "That's only forty-five minutes away at most. Do we know when and where they meet?"
The man glanced towards his wrist. "Well, they usually meet from about this time until about eight."
Hunt stood up. "Well, what are we waiting for then? Let's go."
Jerome did not move, save for a single raised eyebrow. "Sir, We haven't even told McLean about the group, let alone run our mission plan past DeMontfort. We can't just—"
"We can't just what? We can't go out and stop a probably dangerous group of heathens that are polluting the world with their filth and ideas? We have to wait for those idiot Sheep to try to recruit them into our ranks, like they've done with so many people that are utterly unclean?"
The lanky man remained still. "The proper procedures must be adhered to, sir. The law was made for a reason, and rampant vigilantism might not be the best use of your post."
Jacob chuckled. "Oh, come on Jerome, you haven't heard tales about captains acting on their own accord to slip through certain cracks in the system? This isn't vigilantism, boy, this is efficient duty. I hear the voice of God telling me this is what's right. Go on, gather Babylon Squad. We'll be in and out, within an hour or two. The higher ups will be none the wiser, and the world will be rid of another wretched paganist system."
Jerome once again refused to budge. "Jacob, that's not how I do things."
Jacob silently gave him an icy glare. "Fine," he said after several minutes of silence, "We'll call up DeMontfort for his approval."
Jerome nodded, pulled his cell phone out of his pocket, and dialed the number. It rang three times before a the Director answered.
"Director DeMontfort speaking."
"Hello, Director," spoke Jerome. "This is Jerome Allen, speaking on the behalf of Father Jacob." Hunt motioned towards his ears, which Jerome took as a sign to put the call on speakerphone.
"Ah, yes. The new captain. What'd he want to talk to me about?"
"You see, there is a newly discovered cult in the immediate area, and he wanted to get the approval to go after them immediately."
There were a few seconds of silence before DeMontfort replied. "What kind of group is this?"
Jerome put the phone down on the desk in front of him as he flipped through papers on a clipboard. "A society which believes in a god and messiah figure that comes to life when its people write about it. They also appear to outright shun all other written religious figures and texts."
A few more seconds of silence.
"Do they have special weapons or abilities at their disposal?"
"It seems highly likely, but hasn't been confirmed yet. That would require extended observation of the group, which I think could be handled more effectively by the Sheperd Corps. They may even be able to integrate members of the Cult of the Wordsmith into the religion covertly in order to observe. We have a few planted Project Malleus agents already, but I don't think we can rely on their long-term judgement and ability to blend in."
"I see," DeMontfort replied. "My opinion is that a possibly dangerous and definitely blasphemous group should be taken out as quickly and quietly as possible. Unfortunately, such a course of action wouldn't be possible if this request was submitted through all the proper channels. Even more unfortunately, I never received any sort of indication from Father Jacob about his plans of action, or even any prior information about the group. It really is such a shame, but I suppose it meet our goal at the end of the day."
Frowning from confusion, Jerome said, "I don't understand."
DeMontfort took a very slow and deep breath, then exhaled for just as long. "Why, Jerome, what I'm saying is that if I were to do it my way, I would immediately send out Jacob and his squadron to eliminate the group you described. But, much to my dismay, a blockade of policy and diplomatic relations and Sheep restrict my movements. I guess it really is too bad that you didn't inform me of such action, really, but no one could possibly get too mad at you for doing your job. Understood?"
Closing his eyes, he responded through clenched teeth, "I understand."
"Excellent. I'll see you boys later." A three toned beeping filled the office.
"Well then," said Jacob as he leaned back in his chair. "Let's get to it."
"Right away." Jerome solidly nodded and walked out of the room to gather the squad quietly.
But soon enough, a Wolf came to tear the Believers asunder.
They filed into the warehouse silently, but even so, their black tactical clothing made them distinctly noticeable among the sea of brown robes. Laughter and talking transformed into silence in the space of a few seconds. The screaming began when the agents drew their guns and began yelling and cornering them. Once they were surrounded, a nervous sea of hushed whispers replaced their yells.
The Project Malleus agents sternly surveyed the group they had trapped. It was composed of a variety of people, all wearing burlap sacks with hoods attached. A robust, regally-attired man stepped to the front and addressed the tall man already standing in the center of the formation.
“Name of the group?”
“The Faith of the Scribed, sir."
"Excellent. Now, read out their transgressions. Loudly."
"I don't think that's—"
"…Right. The Scribes believe in a messiah that comes about through their writings and scripture. The main leader professed that all other religious figures described through writing were utterly false and all who believed in such people would be eliminated by their Lord.”
Jacob Hunt growled derisively, barking, “Blasphemers, worse than the Pastafarians,” to the crowd. He leered over the hooded people in front of him. Most cults at least had nice looking vestments. This one just appeared to be wearing potato sacks. “Are the Sheep aware of this?”
“At the current moment, Project Malleus is the only branch aware of this operation, but I have men ready to send the signal to the chapterhouse at a moment's notice if you change your mind.”
“Let’s keep it quiet. I don’t want to hassle with them over assimilation negotiations. You heard what DeMontfort said. We’re going to eliminate these heathens, here and now, as our duty as agent of Project Malleus.” Thoughts of grandeur and images of Hunt as a mighty warrior smiting down sinners with his God's sword had filled his cranium, as evidenced by his triumphant grin and trembling eagerness.
Jerome shook his head. "We need to—"
"You need to follow God's will as interpreted by me. Understood?"
A very observant onlooker would have noticed Jerome's jaw clench tightly for several seconds before he tersely answered, "I understand."
The tension among the group felt suffocating. Everyone's eyes were fixed downwards and all the joy and laughter from just a few minutes earlier had utterly dissipated. There was a low murmur working its way through the crowd, mostly made up of family members consoling each other.
Roger thought back through his mind. Why, why why? Why was this happening? Where was Reggravi? Where the fuck was it? He had specifically written it for a time of peril, just in case.
A tugging at his robes interrupted his thoughts. He looked down at the boy trying to get his attention.
"What is it, Jimmy?" he whispered, struggling to keep the tension out of his voice.
"Well, Mr. Roger… Reggravi is gonna come, right? He's gonna save us all, isn't he?"
Roger attempted to give him a wide, confident smile. It ended up looking more like he was baring his teeth. "Of course. Reggravi would never betray us. Isn't that what's written?"
The boy thought for a minute, as if trying very hard to remember if this was true. He apparently decided it was because he nodded, plopped back down, and began looking around the group expectantly.
He shook himself. Snap out of it, Roger. You were the one that found it, so why are you having trouble believing in it when a kid just accepts it like that?
With these thoughts, he relaxed, but not by much. There was still the chance he was wrong.
He turned to look at the agent. "Yes?"
"Do you have a plan for if this plan backfires? They are suspected of having some sort of artifact, after all. Shouldn't we at least call for backup since we didn't report this?"
He snorted derisively. "If we waited around for all that paperwork and processing to build up, we'd never get anything done around here! Look, here are some heathens, so we're going to eliminate them. Plain and simple."
"But even DeMontfort—"
"Now, that's enough. We have a mission we are prepared to do, and we're going to do it."
"Good. Now, let me prepare."
Jacob pulled a metal cone from his bag, lifting it up to the sky as he muttered, ”I ask for guidance. I ask for strength. I ask for light. I respond with righteousness. Amen.” He brought the object back down as he told his co-worker, "Jerome, ready the rest of the men. You'll be cleaning up the stragglers after I'm done."
The man next to him saluted and began speaking into his radio. Jacob raised the object to his mouth, inhaled deeply, and shouted.
The blast of sound, probably loud in normal circumstances, was amplified to painful amounts by the near-silence and the enclosed space of the warehouse. Roger's hands shot up to the sides of his head to cover his ears. He peered over to where the attack seemed to be aimed at and was taken aback when he saw a circle in the center of the crowd, empty save for a tall hooded figure.
Could it be…
But not yet. Roger dared not to celebrate yet. Not until he was certain.
After the echoes of the sound had faded, silence filled the dank and dimly lit warehouse. Jacob frowned. A blast from the object usually managed to clear out at least a circle of people. Instead, it appeared to only have affected one of the heathens, a tall man standing in the center of the gathering. Shaking his head, Jacob once again lifted the cone, aimed it directly at the standing form, and yelled.
The figure’s hood fell to the floor, severed from the rest of his outfit by the attack, revealing a faceless head with large, bloody holes scattered across the surface. Several of the hooded figures shouted in surprised delight at the appearance of the entity, which simply stood tall and silent, the blood flowing more freely and turning darker and thicker with each passing second. These shouts turned into louder cheers and crescendoed into an uproar as all of the captive people screamed in triumph.
And then our Savior alit on the earth, shroud humbly like His followers so as to fool the Unworthy. He walked among our people in their supposed defeat, left unseen by the enemy until the hour of Salvation dawned.
“Jerome! Jerome!” Hunt strained to make his voice heard over the din. “Kill it and kill them quickly! Burn the building down if you must!”
The man on his side nodded and sprinted off as Jacob once again lifted the cone, shouting at crowd with the tall, dirty figure remaining steadfastly erect in the center. Instantly, the faceless man seemed to shift to the front of the crowd, arms and legs outstretched like a star. Each blast shredded its already rough outfit, punching red holes all across its form. Agents were now openly firing at the crowd, but the being seemed to catch each and every bullet with its own body. As this continued, the ruby color dripping from these wounds darkened and a bubbling black liquid began seeping out.
No, no! Jacob attempted to shout once more, but could muster nothing more than a rasp. Not yet! I can't be finished yet! He threw the object in his hand aside. Useless relic! God help me, God help me!
He glanced up at the scene. The muck had completely covered the man's form and extended two additional limbs as it crashed forward. The roar of the cheering people was absolutely deafening. He watched as the creature bashed his men and enveloped their corpses with its filthy slime.
A heartbeat rang though his mind.
I'm not ready yet. I have so much left to accomplish. I can't die here, not now.
He was still reaching for his pistol when the creature's front leg slammed into— no, through— his chest. The last glimpse of the mortal world Jacob Hunt experienced was utter blackness surrounded by the cacophony of defeat.
The cornered people cheered louder and louder with each blast absorbed by their Lord. It seemed to flow and sway so as to completely shield them with its body, a body so perfect that the man's assaults were unable to faze it. He grew greater and more powerful as the blows became progressively weaker and the man's voice grew hoarse. When Reggravi revealed a form to cast judgement upon Jacob, they jumped to their feet and screamed in triumph as loud as they could.
Roger looked on in awestruck wonder. I never should have doubted. I never should have thought He would let us go. After all, I wrote it. He glanced upward. Of course… this does mean that soon… well, it was about time anyways. He grinned.
He rose as the Beast bared its fangs to strike. The Faithful were strongly shielded against the creature with His magnificent form, and by His sacrifice, He was instantly reborn as our Strength. He overran the Unbelieving while keeping those with the Faith protected by His love.
The agents knew when they were outmatched. They hated admitting it, but they knew it was better to sacrifice a battle in order to win the war another day. Seven out of the original twenty members of the force managed to escape the building and flee to the nearest chapterhouse.
The dark creature watched as they left, returning to the cheering crowd inside once their vehicles had driven out of its field of vision. It crawled over to the center as the people quieted themselves in reverence. One man began reciting sacred words, joined in by another, and another, and another until the entire congregation was detailing the legend of their Lord, Reggravi.
As they neared the end of their tale, the creature's six legs shortened more and more until they were once again melded with its body. A large and luminous white flower began to sprout from the black mass, growing in size until it filled the warehouse with its petals. The people, still chanting, climbed up onto it as it rose higher and higher into the sky, clearing the path above them with a protective cage of thorns. When they had finished the saga, they started over from the beginning. This continued as the large flower soared upwards into the aether. Once they had finished the story for the second time, both they and the flower disappeared.
The Beast slain and the Unbelieving conquered, He then met with His People, who told of His chronicle. Then, sprouting the Gateway of Paradise, He raised all of the Faithful up with Him as He ascended.
"Project Malleus was never given authorization for this."
"I know, sir."
"DeMontfort himself even claims to know nothing about this operation."
Jerome gulped. "I know, sir."
"What were you thinking?"
"Captain Hunt had deemed the cult to be dangerous and was trying to preemptively eliminate it before it could do anything. As his subordinate, I was following his orders."
"That's not how we work around here, Jerome. You know that."
Harold McLean sighed. "Well, at least we can get it all sorted out now, I suppose. I guess we'll start with how it even happened in the first place. Details about the group in question?"
"They called themselves the Faith of the Scribed. They believed in a higher being that was summoned when written about. Most of their history is detailed in their holy texts," he said, holding up a midnight blue book.
"I see. Give me that, then, and I'll deal with all of your disciplinary reports later."
As the agents left his office, Harold sighed. A lot of good men were lost for no cause today. Dispelling these thoughts, he flipped open the book and began reading.
"Reggravi was born out of the writings of Roger Legrand, the first Scribe. He detailed meeting the being, and so he did. Thus, our belief began…
And in the aftermath, the survivors left and carried on, a group of seven. The Master would appear to each as an angel of their god every night, advising them in the ways of their Faith and making them into His Prophets of the Second Edition. Each would learn the ways of the Scribed through Reggravi himself and spread His word and knowledge through their writings. Thus, the new and greater wave of the Scribes shall come to order and help propagate His legacy.
The man opened his eyes and stared at the form in front of him. It was a floating angel, face obscured by blinding light and clad in pure white garments. Its glowing wings seemed to stretch and encompass the entire room, filling the space with soft, gentle luminescence.
My name is Bertrien, and I am your Protector. Let me guide you and show you the way. The being held out a single, perfect hand.
"Yes, Lord," responded Jerome as he took his hand. "I'm ready to follow."
And you will, child. But before I can take you, you must help spread my word and love to the masses.
"I shall. Give me the law and I will obey. Give me justice and I will act as your envoy."
Now, you are called the First Prophet by me. Go forth.