Meanwhile, In Tampa... War Breaks Out Part 3!

“Where did you lose her?” God asked.

“Lose who?” Samson said, but he’d already guessed by the time he said it. Who else, he thought to himself, and then had to focus on the now-rising Valkyrie that had been knocked down by Fuzzy Bird’s arrival. He held up his ray gun, but the redhead was faster than he’d thought. He’d assumed she’d been stunned but it seemed she hadn’t, judging by how quickly she got up and had the spear up and was slashing it towards Fuzzy Bird. Samson head a yell and in his mind he felt her say:

You stole her from us after we’d finally found her! And in his mind he saw, as he’d surmised, Rachel, this time being lifted out of a hole in the tower on Valhalla, in the clutches of this… bird-thing.

Fuzzy Bird spun his head and saw the spear coming and even as Samson saw the spear end glow with a flash of energy, he was being lifted up and so was God, each of them clutched in one of Fuzzy Bird’s talon-paws and rising higher and faster than Samson would have thought possible. Definitely, he thought faster than anything I’ve ever been in and I’ve been in rockets and battle saucers. The battle was already tiny below them, flashed of color from spears mixed with bursts of flame where ray guns hit their marks. Horses lay on their side around the perimeter, many of them dead. Samson knew that wouldn’t especially bother the Valkyries or the horses. That was the horse’s role in life, after all, and Samson knew that the Valkyries were advanced enough to this point that they just kept cloning the horses and then imprinting their prior self’s memories on the new horse using the telepathy they were famed for; Samson was aware of all that because the military had tried it, two wars ago, in an effort to avoid the cost of retraining soldiers. But the humans had minded remembering their deaths, minded it terribly, which was when that project had been scrapped, as so many others had been scrapped by the military simply because of ethical considerations.

Speaking of which, he thought now and began looking for the man he’d brought with him. They were too high up to spot; the entire compound was just a tiny dot now and Samson tried calling up to the bird-thing.

“Hey,” he yelled. “We’ve got to go back.” He looked down again.

Fuzzy Bird kept climbing higher. It appeared not to have heard.

“HEY!” Samson tried again, a little louder. A hand reached over and touched his shoulder.

Try thinking it, God told him through Sharing, and Samson wondered again how it was that this incarnation of God had come equipped with a chip. He must have known, which only made sense, Samson supposed, but when creating an earthly human body for himself, why bother to include the chip and the nerve-wiring that went with it? Wouldn’t He have been able to communicate with all His charges anyway, even absent the chip? Or had He known, suspected, that He was going to be locked out.

“What?” God thought at him and said, aloud, too, and His hand pulled away, sharply as Samson realized that he’d been thinking those things while God had been touching him. He wondered how much had come across, but that was a stupid thing to ponder; the whole point of Sharing was that all of it came across.

All of it.

He thought for a moment and tried to decide what to say. He looked over at God, who looked stricken and confused and angry, all at once.

He was spared answering immediately because Fuzzy Bird stopped, and stopped so abruptly that it made Samson’s stomach lurch.

“How does he do that, so quickly”” Samson wondered aloud.

Then he looked around.

“Why’d we stop?”

They weren’t motionless, entirely. Fuzzy Bird’s wings were a blur as he hovered and Samson imagined he could see the strain on the animal-thing’s face as it worked and worked to hold position.

We are near the edge of the atmosphere, He felt the Bird think to him.

“You can share!” Samson said, like most people forgetting to think it out of his surprise. Even two generations in, Sharing didn’t come naturally to many, so new of an innovation it was in human communication.

Of course I can, Fuzzy Bird said, and then aloud said ***And I can talk, too.***

“We have to go back,” Samson said. He pictured the Compound, and the man, and tried to send a sense of peril, of helping this man.

***You don’t want to help him*** Fuzzy Bird said. His wings were buzzing and whirring. God was still glaring at Samson. ***You just need him***

Yes, that’s true, Samson Shared. But I want to help him because of that, and we DO need him.

“Tell me what you meant,” God said, suddenly. “About Me.”

Samson looked over at him. He couldn’t think what to say and just kept his mouth shut. All the times he and The General had talked about this, and he couldn’t for the life of him think of what they’d strategized about the moment God found out what was going on and who He really was.

Samson suddenly realized that God was reaching out to him and tried to block his thoughts.

“Don’t, Sir, please,” he said, and tried to have his voice echo with the authority of all his commands in all the past situations. If he could urge 3,000 men to charge across a field of molten lava simply for the greater glory of a petroleum company, he should be able to slow down the Hand of God.

As he watched, God pulled his hand back.

I can’t believe that worked, Samson thought, a feeling of immense pride and power flooding into him. I commanded God.

But God was looking over Samson’s shoulder, not at him, and so Samson looked over his shoulder, too, where he saw what God was looking at..

There was a hole in the air, a gaping wide hole that seemed at first to be looking into nothing, and then seemed to be glowing red. As they watched, the hole widened up, and a finger poked through. Then two. Then a whole hand, which reached out for them “We’re going to Hell,” Samson said, with a sigh of relief. “It’s the Grabber!” The troops had won!

He watched as the hand approached and thought to himself that as soon as they landed, he’d have them grab the man, too, to help get to the bottom of things about why God had ordered Rachel and this whole deal about the left hand, which was not supposed to have been on there.

But the hand got to them, and somehow bypassed Samson entirely. It grabbed God, pulling him away from Fuzzy Bird’s clawpaw, and God and the hand disappeared.

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