TC2O

TC2O-MERCURY

ROBYN
Tell me why we are doing this again, Lil?

For weeks a pair of landers spin gracefully around a common barycenter, held together by a thick cable two thousand feet long. The sun is a bloated spinning blur growing ever hotter and brighter, but Lilith hunkers down out of the line of sight as the ferocious questing sunbeam scours the inside of her lander like a searchlight. The irony that she is hiding from the emanations of her own body as a living sun is not lost on her.

The heat rejection system in the two highly-reflective landers, based on the macro, is good, but not perfect. Early on the descent arc from Venus, Lilith and Robyn remove all of their clothing for the flight and they find sufficient shade, but they are still quite toasty-warm. And now as the mission draws near to its climax, a lesser light grows out there, the pinkish-grey half disk that is the planet Mercury. Yet only here, at the very end, does Robyn in the other lander ask why.

But Lilith finds the question funny enough to elicit a laugh.

LILITH
Isn’t it a bit late in the game to ask that? Alright, Robyn I’ll play along. We’re doing this because the loss of two probes in a row has taught us that it’s dangerous to do an orbital insertion burn at Mercury. And now that we’ve done what we’re doing, Robyn, you can see now what Thaumiel is really trying to pull here, isnt that right?

Yes, now that Lilith mentions it, Robyn can indeed see what Thaumiel is doing here, and Lilith does too, since ultimately Robyn’s precognition is derived from Chokhmah and Binah.

Just to verify they are both on the same page, Robyn speaks to Lilith of the hundreds of sun-powered steerable laser emplacements that now dot the north polar region of Mercury. Laser beams are impossible to see from the side in the vacuum of space, of course (bad science fiction movies like the Galaxy’s Fall trilogy notwithstanding), so avoiding them is going to be purely a matter of luck.

They speak to each other using a two-way video cable strung along the bundle connecting Lilith’s lander to the other one carrying Robyn.

Aside from the pink tinge, most of Mercury is cratered and looks remarkably like Earth’s moon. But nine percent of the surface of Mercury is featureless, smooth, and gray. This is the area already covered by solar panels which convert the fierce sunlight falling on the planet into electric power. And that power in turn drives the lasers.

It is not humans or nephilim who are turning Mercury into a vast powerhouse, but automated refineries crawling eternally toward the west in two groups strung along the day-night terminator, each one accompanied by an army of Bots running at a brisk jog. The combination of Mercury’s slow 59-day rotation and 88-day revolution results in a zenith-to-zenith synodic Mercury day of 176 Earth days, and that means each group has to average between four and five miles per hour to remain in the twilight zone between day and night. This amounts to a light trot at the equator, or a slow walk near the poles.

And there in the twilight zone they have to stay, because neither Refinery nor Bot can store electricity. They generate power from the enormous heat difference between the rising (or setting) sun and the eternal shadow on the opposing side. Part of this power drives the treads of the Refineries (and the legs of the Bots) to cross the land, maintaining their relative angle with the sun, and what remains they use to do other work.

One group of Refineries is called the Sunset Chasers, because they run with the westering sun ever in their face. The land they cross is still hot after three months of searing daylight. Mercury never ceases to smelt its own surface rocks, so there are small but ancient pools of liquid lead, cadmium, bismuth, tin, selenium, lithium, and zinc so buttery-soft a Bot can cut it with a knife.

And that is essentially what they do, ranging far from their mother Refinery to gather raw materials and bring them in to be processed into stacks of sorted ingots and even brand new working baby Bots. Sometimes, when a Refinery has grown large enough, it splits neatly in two.

But precisely how the Refineries accomplish all that not even Thaumiel knows, because he mindlessly assembles the first one from detailed procedures developed by other elohim long ago before he had his nephilim agents take it to Mercury.

LILITH
We had an agreement. I let Thaumiel have a colony at Jupiter but he was supposed to stay out past four AUs. This is a deal-breaker.

ROBYN
That might explain the lasers. Harder to collect evidence that he’s being naughty.

Precisely on the other side of Mercury from the Sunset Chasers the Dawn Racers follow, running with the sun ever at their back. They face a land which had endured three months of the utter cold of Mercury’s night. From the raw materials left on the side of the road by the Sunset Chasers, the Dawn Racers manufacture photo-voltaic panels and have their Bots place them nearby and link them up to the growing network.

Half of a Sunset Chasers new baby Bots are left behind to sleep through the night until a Dawn Racer comes along to adopt it. And when the Refineries grow heavy enough from all the Bots bringing ore to them, they simply divide in two like an amoeba and divided their retinue of worker Bots between them. In a sense, the machines are alive.

This whole operation runs with little intervention by the nephilim Thaumiel had sent to Mercury. They need only to clear obstructions from the path of the Refineries.

Lilith suspects the lasers have an additional role.

LILITH
A few dozen of those beams could be focused on a single target on Earth, a city perhaps, and wreak utter devastation, with absolutely no way to stop it.

And now Robyn also sees another thing, or rather she doesn’t see something. Robyn doesn’t see Lilith walking around alive after this mission.

ROBYN
This is a one-way trip for you!

LILITH
Oh, I knew that going in. It’s pretty much by design, or the necessity to balance weight. Your lander has the mirror and mine has the upper stage and the torps.

ROBYN
And there’s no alternative to dying?

LILITH
Not really, no. You must return to Venus with a Bot, and I must stay to find out what Thaumiel is doing to kill me and Yeshua. And you see that now as well, do you not?

ROBYN
Yes I do, but dammit, Lil! The shit is about to hit the fan and you won’t be around!

LILITH
You’ll have Del.

ROBYN
True enough.

LILITH
I’ve already died once before, when I was Haziel. It’s nothing to worry about, literally, for human or nephilim or eloah.

Mercury is close enough now that the stable images coming from the counter-rotating cameras are beginning to provide useful detail. Robyn and Lilith have to work fast, because if the pair of landers do not separate soon they would both spin down and smack right onto the face of the planet.

When Robyn finds a candidate situation she piped it to Lilith the cable, along with the latitude and longitude of the scene so it can be fed to fire-control. Lilith isn’t on the mission just to keep Robyn company, she is the one who is going to take the shot.

Robyn lays out her proposed scenario to Lilith on a screen. She uses a black cursor to point out features on Mercury while she speaks, and the display is duplicated in Lilith’s lander.

ROBYN
There are six Refineries currently approaching a gap in this escarpment almost simultaneously, but the gap is only one lane wide.

LILITH
Where are the Bots?

ROBYN
They are too small to see right now. At any rate, if you hit this first Refinery here, just when it gets to the gap, there’s going to be a dead hulk in the way when the second one gets there. And these other four will just add to the traffic jam.

LILITH
Okay, how does that help us?

ROBYN
Don’t you see it, Lil? These are Sunset Chasers. If they don’t keep moving, night gets the jump on them. The Refineries are complete morons, but they know what to do if they can’t proceed. They’ll ring up all the Bots on the wireless and tell them to go to sleep. And next they will ring up the nephilim, tell them to get off their fat bums, and come out here to clear the motorway.

Lilith smiled at Robyn’s use of Britishisms.

LILITH
So we’ll have several days to take our pick of some Bots before the ground is cool enough for the nephilim to send a work crew. And we’ve still got fifty-six minutes before we have to split up. Damn, you’re good, Robyn. I don’t care what Jill says about you.

Lilith feeds the ground coordinates into her fire control panel and estimates how long her torpedo should take to reach impact for maximum effect. The weapon is smart enough to understand her orders to hit the westernmost of the six large objects, the lead refinery, which appears as a moving white square blur on video. Homing is passive and visual.

After she fires the torpedo she switches to torpedo cam, which is uploaded to her by laser rather than microwave to avoid alerting Mercury with any possible radio back-lobes. And since she shot the torpedo directly at Mercury, there is no visible exhaust flare to announce it is incoming.

The view of the planet grows larger and larger until Robyn’s chosen ridge line is visible. After that, the panorama tightens rapidly until it is hard for them to follow what is happening. Suddenly the signal goes dead.

Lilith switches to her original telescopic view. They both see a gray dust cloud settling rapidly in the near-vacuum, a circular debris field, and only five Refineries. But now Lilith and Robyn are close enough to finally see the Bots as little sunlit specks running around the scene like pissed-off ants.

ROBYN
Great shot, Lil!

The first major task is completed, and there is still eighteen minutes until the moment of separation.

Here is the reason for the two ships swinging on a tether: Thaumiel’s people don’t waste power slicing the sky with early warning radar, but after two reconnaissance attempts with robotic probes they are known to passively search for the bright flares of incoming ships on terminal cruise. If the nephilim discover Robyn and Lilith’s presence here they would quickly steer several of those lethal laser beams their way. So the mission employs an unorthodox, acrobatic approach scheme which uses absolutely no glowing macro drive, ion drive, or chemical rockets at all. But it depends on exquisite timing. They are approaching the planet deadcenter. No human being has reaction time fast enough to cut the line at the proper moment. In the final minute Robyn arms the system and lets the micro make the slice. The landers let go of the tether in the same millisecond and the women are weightless after two months at two-fifths gee.

As the landers rapidly fly apart, temporarily incommunicado, Robyn knows everything is rolling out exactly as she had foreseen. But Robyn still grimaces when she skimms only three thousand feet above one of Mercury’s higher mountaintops. Then she is flying up and out again, captured by Mercury’s gravity into a long looping ellipse.

Lilith’s lander is flying on a virtual mirror image of Robyn’s path, altered only by lumps in Mercury’s crust which introduced a minuscule variation in their orbit. This error is actually good, it adds a safety margin when they meet again.

High above the side of Mercury currently facing the sun Robyn catches sight of Lilith’s lander again, a bright star which quickly grows and streaked right by, perhaps only a mile away from her at the point of closest approach. She locks on to her with laser communications, and Lil in turn locks onto Robyn. It would be two days up to the top of the ellipse, and two days back down, before they could land and try to grab some Bots.

With any luck, they would beat the nephilim repair team sent to clear the path for the five remaining Sunset Chasers. Those Refineries would become Dawn Racers after the long night of Mercury. Robyn figures it all averages out in the long run. No doubt Dawn Racers occasionally run into trouble as well, go dormant through the long day, and became in turn Sunset Chasers.

At the bottom of the loop on the four day mark, when Robyn and Lilith skim just over Mercury’s highlands again, they light off their macro engines to make planetfall. So there are two big bright flares telling anyone on Mercury who happened to be watching the skies that two interlopers have arrived. Fortunately the danger is minimized by the low altitude where they initiated the burn, which limits the sight horizon for any surveillance.

That part goes well, and presently there are two Astrodyne landers parked in the dark on the gradually cooling night-time surface of Mercury. A pale cyan glow can be seen overhead, stretching off to infinity. They light up the whole area with floods, and see a pipe elevated on pylons which terminates in the mountain pass. The floodlights make the cyan glow emanating from the pipe difficult to see, but Lilith obtains the spectrum of the glow and note it is pure ionized carbon gas, a puzzle to be figured out later.

Lilith and Robyn are already suited up, and they have already recycled most of their cabin air with a pump, so it is only a few minutes after landing before they complete their checklists, pop their respective hatches, and step down the ladders of their respective ships to the ground.

There is little need to get acclimated to Mercury’s tug. They had spent the last two months rotating at the same gravity as the planet, by design, and the recent four day interval in free fall did not seriously reverse that conditioning. But Robyn, knowing Lilith would never leave Mercury, started crying as soon as her feet touched the ground. Unable to remove her helmet to wipe her tears, this makes it difficult to look for Bots.

By luck, Lilith spots one sleeping Bot near enough to her lander that it reflects the floodlights. It is a beautiful little human-shaped thing, nearly four feet tall, with silvery skin. She picks it up tentatively. It doesn’t wake up, and there is no sun power for it to use in any event. It is made from exotic and light metals like lithium and beryllium, and would have weighed as much as a small child on Earth, but in the lower gravity of Mercury it is even easier to lift. She secures it to the cargo apron of Robyn’s lander.

So they already have one Bot in the bag. This encourages them to go looking for more. They only need the one, but perhaps they can use some spare parts.

There are no more Bots near the landing zone so they have to comb the ground by foot, using the lights on their suits. This is a surprisingly time-consuming task, like a snorkeler looking for a fin which has fallen off somewhere within a mere five feet of murky water. By the time Robyn stumbles onto her first Bot, Lilith had bagged another one of her own. She decides three is enough.

Robyn’s crying has become sobbing by that point. Lilith could see it by the way Robyn was shaking.

Instead of talking to her by radio, which can be picked up by their enemies, Lilith walks right up to Robyn and touches her faceplate directly to Robyn’s faceplate, just like a kiss, so she can speak and they can hear by the direct conduction of sound with no chance of being overheard by any of the nephilim.

LILITH
Do pull yourself together, Robyn. You’ll be riding their lasers halfway back to Venus and that won’t come off very well at all if you keep blubbering.

Robyn calms down at Lilith’s words, and even cracked a smile.

ROBYN
Watch for blowing rocks.

LILITH
Good girl! Take care.

Lilith shakes her head with a grin and pats Robyn’s faceplate with a gloved hand. Then she picks her way gingerly over the dark rocky landscape to a point that would be safe from the exhaust of Robyn’s ascent and any debris it might kick up.

There is no way for Robyn to hide the bright light of her hot engine exhaust during the launch, and the higher she rises the more area of Mercury there is where somebody might see her. It is the time of maximum peril. She deploys her ship’s mirrored light-sail, which unfurls like an inverted silver umbrella, complete with a metallic network of bracing to hold its shape.

Robyn’s burn is nearing completion when she hears a loud bang, accompanied by a sudden return to zero gravity. She realizes they must have melted her nozzle and main motor. She looks at a monitor showing the condition of her lander’s ass end. Under a searing red light, black scorch marks quickly grew over the painted deck plates and conduits until they reach the camera, then the image goes blank.

Robyn tilts her ship slightly to keep the ongoing assault of coherent light from crawling right up the inner core of the lander stack to the main tanks, which would melt the mid-body plumbing and ignite the propellant mix. By doing this she gives Mercury’s lasers nothing but mirror to chew on. On her instruments she notes a small but steady acceleration just from the laser light alone. Fine, with that acceleration from radiation pressure she might still get to Venus, even though her burn was not yet complete, but it would take some tricky sailing.

Her enemies must have been perturbed that Robyn didn’t blow up after a few seconds and disappear from radar, so they pour it on, adding more and more lasers to the attack. And every time they do, Robyn does some figuring and tilts the ship’s sail a little bit more to fine-tune the ascent. When she finally has enough velocity to intersect Venus she thinks she has won.

But her enemies recalculated her flight path and realized her glide path is still on course to reach Venus. So they began randomly adding a laser from here and there from across the north polar region of Mercury. Robyn’s velocity cup is overflowing. She has to keep tipping that cup first one way, then another, reflecting the light from side to side, but always keeping her projected course touching the edge of Venus.

It is all well within her limited capabilities as a pilot, but the transit would be about two months. If she was a garden-variety human being, eventually she would need to sleep, and over time Asmodeus’ nephilim would simply grind her down and they would prevail. But Robyn has undergone the Change, her brain was entirely replaced by nanotechnology, so a lack of sleep wasn’t an issue.

After a week the attack ends, leaving Robyn to drift free on her glide path directly at the limb of Venus, which she fine-tuned with solar radiation using her light sail. The boys at Mercury even stop pinging Robyn with their fire control radar and lose her track. They no longer care about her. Perhaps Lilith is still alive and had done something back there. Robyn hopes that was true.

As for herself, Robyn uses her Plug to keep the Swarm updated with her memories, in case she doen’t survive the re-entry and landing. But as things stand, her precognition says she would do well.

Space is big, ships are slow, so space travel is boring. From time to time Robyn would whine to herself, “Are we there yet?”

As the passage from Mercury draws to a close Venus is half lit, a perfectly white cueball growing visibly as Robyn watches. She would not be entering orbit around Venus before she landed. It was going to be a straight shot to the surface of Venus with no stops, not even to the new space station Astrodyne had parked in orbit.

Robyn had taken to calling her lander the Aphrodite. She came in butt first. Reentry was quiet at first, but as the daylight terminator was crossed, plunging Aphrodite into night, the view outside the window becomes lit with phosphor oranges and red that had probably been there for quite some time but were not visible in the bright sunlight.

A high squeal started to be heard, but Robyn can’t quite pin down when it had begun. The squeal becomes a dim roar, the aft mirror burns completely away, and the glow fades. She watches as the view outside goes completely to black.

There is no sea on Venus to provide a standard “sea level” but when Aphrodite descends to thirty-one miles altitude above the standard reference geodesic, which is an average of all Venus elevations, the dark clouds part. This presents to Robyn a panoramic view of hell.

She can see every feature of the terrain, but it is as though she is looking at a photographic negative of a raw world, all in reds. Robyn’s destination wis Maxwell Montes far in the north, on the Venusian “continent” called Ishtar Terra. It is a brighter red than the surrounding landscape, because it is lit with glowing lava from active volcanism. Aphrodite comes in from the southeast over an area Bell Regio, where the B’nei Elohim have a tentative settlement. That’s where Robyn’s help would come from.

The micro takes Robyn’s lander unerringly to a flat-topped secondary cone of Mt. Maxwell. It is relatively dark down there but she can still see where the computer is trying to bring her. When airspeed drops to a safe level the parachutes deploy. But she need to hurry down because the high-concentration sulphuric acid rain is already making the parachutes smoke.

Nighttime temperatures in this inferno is exactly the same as the daytime temperatures, close to nine hundred degrees Farenheit. The sky above is not quite black, but dimly lit up like a vague, faraway red overcast as it reflects the oven glow of the surface. The ground below seems to periodically roil like a mirage from the heat. The only sort of air conditioning that could possibly work on Venus relies on macros making a constant stream of air into dark matter, expanding and cooling as it goes, the ultimate cold sink.

Landing is anything but smooth, more like a controlled crash. Boulders strewn around the site make for a jerky, violent end to the flight. Poor Aphrodite would be abandoned on the hellish plateau after Robyn’s people pick her up and transfer her Bots to their own lander. And that lander would be abandoned in turn after bringing them all back to Bell Regio. There would be quite of scrapyard of melting, corroding human junk dotting the surface before Venus gets anywhere near being terraformed.

Accidents happen all the time on Mercury and for the most part no intervention by the nephilim is necessary. Sunset Chasers that failed to keep up with the setting sun go dormant and became Dawn Racers six months later, and vice versa. If a refinery falls into disrepair it is no big loss since the machines reproduce themselves. But a traffic jam at a choke point does require nephil attention.

What is unusual about this particular traffic jam is that it occurs precisely at the terminal end of one of two dozen ion cannons radiating out over the surface of Mercury from the north pole, and even more unusual was that the cannon in question is the currently active one. A pair of technicians are scheduled to investigate the scene when the ground had sufficiently cooled.

Nadab and Danyel ride a tram out to the end of the cannon on a rail slung under the tube. During their ride they witness the bright flare of Robyn’s lander as she makes good her escape and Nadab calls it in. His superiors weigh whether to recall the technicians and send armed nephilim out there instead, but in the end they decide to let the technicians continue to the site to make their inspection, and add instructions for them to check for any damage to the tube itself which might have been made by intruders.

When their little pressurized capsule reaches the end of the rail, Danyel cycle the air back into storage and lead the way outside in his pressure suit to begin the inspection of the mouth of the tube. They are careful not to intrude their head or limbs into the carbon ion beam, which would have immediately ripped their suit. They find no damage and report that fact to the control room, then proceed down the ladder mounted on the pylon to reach the dark surface of the planet.

Before he even touches the ground, Nadab is sliced in half across his midsection by Lilith wielding the Golden Gift. She then touches the end of the black beam to the base of the antenna on Danyel’s pack to disable his radio transmitter. Raising a finger, she gestures for Danyel to climb back up the ladder once more. Shocked by the sudden death of his companion and fearing for his own life, Danyel moves deliberately to make sure the intruder does not suspect hy is going to make a break for it and use the tram to get away from her.

Lilith seats herself in the tram where Nadab has been seated, then motions for Danyel to follow after her. After more sign language, Danyel gathers that Lilith wants him to close the exterior hatch and pressurize the little capsule so they can speak. As he does so she retracts the macro effect of the Golden Gift so it wouldn’t consume the air faster than it could be supplied.

When the capsule is fully pressurized Danyel removes his helmet to show it is safe to do so.

DANYEL
Why did you kill poor Nadab like that?

Lilith removed her own helmet so Danyel could see he as dealing with a human woman.

LILITH
Because you’re trespassing.

And Danyel has no reply to that. Every nephil in the Sol System is fully aware of the Four AU Rule. No Centauri settlements are allowed on any body with a heliocentric orbit whose semi-major axis is not greater than four times the distance of the Earth from the Sun.

LILITH
What is this tube?

Lilith points upward with the inert ingot that is the Golden Gift.

DANYEL
It’s a very, very long ion cannon.

LILITH
I already know the payload is carbon, but why is it so long?

DANYEL
Because it has to develop a speed of thirty miles a second.

The picture is becoming more clear to Lilith. That was the speed of Mercury itself as it went around the sun.

LILITH
Is this the only tube there is?

DANYEL
There are twenty-three more just like it, radiating out from the very north pole of the planet. But this is the only one that is operating right now.

Lilith sees it now.

LILITH
Let me guess. Each tube operates for about a week, then shuts down and the one next door starts to operate, again for a week.

DANYEL
Correct.

LILITH
What is your name and what do you do?

DANYEL
I am Danyel. I help maintain all this hardware.

LILITH
Very well, Danyel, and I am sure you are a good technician, but now it is time for you to become a good actor. Whether you live or die will depend on how well you do. You will tell your boss that you need to return to base and have someone drive a crane out here to right the fallen Refinery that’s blocking the way. That part will be easy because it’s entirely true. The hard part will be to avoid mentioning that Nadab is dead and that I have taken his place.

DANYEL
That’s not much of a choice. When they find out I have helped an intruder they will kill me anyway.

LILITH
You may be right, Danyel, so allow me to amend my statement to, whether you live or die right now will depend on how well you do. And when they have allowed you to return in the tram, you will stop in a place where I will find nobody waiting for us. Then, and only then, I will permit you to go unharmed.

Lilith does not feel an overwhelming sense of remorse for killing Nadab and threatening Danyel. After all, they are doing much more than merely trespassing, they were helping to kill her. The carbon beam emerging from the tube overhead is moving at precisely the speed and direction it would require to cancel out Mercury’s rotation and speed of revolution around the sun. When the carbon left the pipe, it was motionless with respect to Sol. Gravity then begins to pull the gas directly down to the sun. The nephilim are injecting carbon into the stellar body that was shared by Chokhmah and Bat-El. But why?

A quick survey of the Lore of the El soon provides a possible answer. There is a process inside all stars called the carbon cycle:

Carbon-12 fuses with a proton to form Nitrogen-13.
One of the protons emits a positron to form Carbon-13.
A proton capture produces Nitrogen-14.
Another proton capture produces Oxygen-15.
An energetic alpha particle is emitted to return to Carbon-12.

The cycle makes the star a little bit hotter, and the carbon which is consumed is completely replaced. The carbon acts as a catalyst, much like the way man-made chemicals containing chlorine are slowly depleting the ozone layer over the Earth. So what Thaumiel is having the nephilim he planted on Mercury do (Lilith refused to entertain the idea that nephilim like Nadab or Danyel really know what they were doing) is stoke the stellar fires of Sol with an irreversible process.

Thaumiel cannot get the sun to go nova. Mercury would be vaporized long before that. But the delicate nuclear reactions which are manifested as the life of a living star depend on a stable temperature. Raising the baseline through the carbon cycle would kill the existing Elohim occupying Sol, both El Shaddai and Bat-El, and prepare the star for the quickening of a newborn. The same thing happened naturally in the case of certain relatively quiet flare stars like nearby Lalande 21185, stable enough to allow an eloah to quicken, but killing the newborn living sun on roughly the same scale as one human lifetime.

After he is released just as Lilith had promised, Danyel realizes that although he was probably a dead nephil for allowing Lilith to enter the complex centered around the north pole of Mercury, the commanding officer of the installation would probably make it a much slower death if he fails to report Lilith’s presence as soon as he is free. So Danyel calls it in as his least worst option.

The Cherub Thausael has been appointed personally by Asmodeus to command the operation on Mercury, and he is the only one fully appraised of its purpose. Before he can move, he needs to know who the intruder was. Subordinates begin searching the displays of hundreds of security cameras looking for movement. For the time being any thought of reprisal against the technician who made the contact is an item far down on Thausael’s list of priorities. Besides, the technician wasn’t even an ish, he had never faced the death combat. No one really expected him to lay down his life to thwart an intruder, even if it is sometimes expedient to let the technicians think so.

In short order Thausael has his image and Lilith’s face is presented to him in a freeze-frame.

THAUSAEL
Ah, Nithael, do you know who that woman is?

Nithael, the ophan who was Thausel’s chief of staff, recognizes her as well.

NITHAEL
Our visitor seems to be Lilith Gervasi, sir. The human incarnation of Chokhmah, even as Asmodeus is the nephilim incarnation of Thaumiel.

Thausael nods his head.

THAUSAEL
I have a terrible dilemma, Nithael. Did you know that one time this same woman stormed into the throne room on Palato and killed all the Eyes blocking the way between her and our Lord, yet he did nothing? Or that he had nephilim tortured to death who spoke of her in a tone of contempt? She is, after all, his own daughter.

NITHAEL
I heard of that incident on Palato, sir, and it makes me wonder what the Lord Asmodeus would say right now, with Lilith walking around on Mercury freely. I do not envy your position.

THAUSAEL
Have our security forces attempt to surround her, Nithael, but advise them their macros will not work against her. They are not authorized to kill her in any event, by macro or any other weapon. They are authorized only to try to stun her and restrain her.

Lilith knows she is being shadowed by squads of nephilim here and there, lurking behind corners and moving in such a way as to try to steer her away from the place where all the ion cannons come together at a single point. No snipers try to take a shot, which tells her they have orders to take her alive, something she is prepared to make singularly difficult for them to do.

Lilith does not marvel at the seeming coincidence that Robyn’s situation that allowed them to steal some Bots had occurred precisely at the end of the one ion cannon out of twenty-four that was currently operating on Mercury, allowing her investigation to proceed this far. The current track in reality, which Lilith called Timeline Paydirt, has been chosen precisely because it was the one where Thaumiel’s murder plot is finally laid bare. And Lilith has now fully unraveled it. There remains only the task of setting the killing operation back for a short time, a temporary reprieve that would give her as Chokhmah and Yeshua as Binah the space to carry out a more permanent victory.

And so, with the armed forces under Ophan Nithael finally closing their noose around her, Lilith stares down into the heart of the operation, a vast and intricate mechanism at the core of the twenty-four ion accelerators, built under the surface of Mercury precisely on the north pole.

NITHAEL
Lady Lilith Gervasi, lay down your weapons and surrender. You have nowhere to go. We honor you as an eloah and the offspring of the Lord Thaumiel, but you will not be permitted to harm our operation here.

In response, Lilith says nothing, but armed a macro grenade and throws it down into the pit. Immediately, dozens of shots are taken by the nephilim security forces, and some of these hit the grenade. The detonator is disabled, and the grenade bounces down into the machinery harmlessly, failing to explode.

After that, the nephilim surrounding her draw a bit nearer, and point their weapons directly at her, but Lilith still suspects they are not authorized to fire. That leads directly to her final gambit, which is to take her last macro grenade and leap into the pit herself, balling up into a fetal position to allow her own body to serve as a human shield to protect the grenade. This time the weapon does detonate, and it is far from harmless. Lilith buys some time for herself as Chokhmah as well as for Yeshua as Binah.

But as Robyn had foreseen, so ends the human life of Lilith Gervasi, concentration camp survivor, Nazi hunter, IDF officer, born in 1928 in the UK, dying forty-nine years later on Mercury, the second and final human incarnation of the living sun Chohkmah.

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