Delve into the end of chapter 4 of Revival of Fire to learn the origins of the gods. Tying Earth to my series was both easily done and a fun twist. I’m sure if you’ve read the first two books this will be an interesting little spin.
Prosectero’s thoughts drifted through the labyrinth of his mind, dredging up memories ages past. He found himself recalling a day that still struck fear into him, when he had been called Daniel, before he had adopted a new name. He lay, strapped to a table in his home with one side of a thin wire of copper taped to his temple and the other end hanging from a rubber hook fixed to a nearby contraption, surrounded by many unfamiliar faces, and two that he felt far too fondly of. He was fourteen.
His father glided about the table monotonously, his emotions vanished as he checked straps, mechanical equipment, and ancient artifacts. His mother stood within the gaggle of fascinated men and women, stoic, her piercing eyes stabbing into his soul. He cried out in confusion and terror, but he might as well have been a mute, so unaffected was the crowd and his very own parents by his begging and sobbing.
Arranged around him were many machines and things alien to him that he didn’t understand. He knew his parents were scientists, constantly pressing the boundaries of physics and making groundbreaking discoveries. His curiosity and their fanaticism led him to learn much, but still he couldn’t make out the purpose of this experiment, or why he was the subject.
Just above the table was an oval of copper pipe that loosely followed the edges of the table. Thick copper wires extended out from the pipe and toward the middle just a few inches. The terrified boy knew that copper was used as a conductor of electricity, but also knew the destructive power of that force. His imagination ran wild with the horrendous idea that he’d be blasted to pieces or cooked under an onslaught of lightning.
The hum of the electric lights fixed to the walls and dangling above the table softened, just as the light pouring from them did. His father’s face came into view, the skin greasy and heavily creased. His lips moved beneath his thick mustache. “If something goes wrong, Daniel, it is better that it happens to you rather than to me. I can fix you afterward if need be. I can do so much good for this world, and for myself. I have value. I am important. You’re a smart boy. You understand.”
With that, his father’s looming face floated off and the lights were snuffed, the lightning bolt shaped wires within faintly aglow with an angry orange. The murmurs within the crowd died away and Daniel even quieted as well as he could for fear that breaking the silence would turn the darkness into a monster that would devour him. Above his whispered moans and sniffles there came a clicking noise. It reminded him of the sound a burner emitted as it ignited, only it continued to crack many times. Suddenly, it caught, and the world exploded.
Lightning arced across the gap between the copper wires above the table, sheathing Daniel in a coffin of electricity. He screamed and writhed but to no avail. His vision was stained by the immaculate light and he had to turn his head to save his sight, which slowly returned as the afterimage of crackling blue began to fade.
A jagged stone to his right caught the electricity on one edge and runes in a foreign language exploded into life all across its face. They grew brighter until the very stone began to vibrate. The hook suspending the other end of the copper wire fixed to his temple began to slowly spin. Daniel strained his head as much as the straps would allow to catch glimpses of his father in the flashing light twisting a wooden handle on the other end of the contraption. A final spin and the wire was free. Daniel followed the descending wire with stricken eyes and time slowed, nearly grinding to a halt.
He bit down on the wad of cloth in between his teeth with such strength that the fabric felt as though it was tearing. The wire fell still closer to the odd stone which seemed to levitate from the table to accept the embrace of the wire. He tried to prepare himself for the blast of pain that would come, steeling his mind and body. Nothing he did could have readied him.
Electricity shot through him with paralyzing agony and horror. His body was no longer his, usurped so by the power that flooded his flesh, organs, and bones. His thoughts were eradicated, and he could only exist in the simplest of terms. He forgot that he took up space in the world, or that he breathed and had a mind. He forgot all that he had once known. He was devoured by nothingness, and knew he existed only because he felt. And what he felt was hell.
Suddenly, a voice broke over the din and through the wall of pain. Still lightning rampaged his body, but his mind was soothed by the cooing voice, which spoke no human words, or any words at all for that matter. Still, it was a language, archaic and hiding many secretes, that Daniel heard and understood.
He was reaching out at that very moment with his spirit. And what he touched was the life force of Earth.
Then, he died.
It was some weeks later that he was revived. The force that had spoken to him shook him from his slumber of death, and he drew in breath once more.
Absolute darkness reigned within his coffin, a supernatural cold mixing with the horror he felt to cause him to shiver and tremble violently. His hands struck the wood of his coffin and he screamed out, his voice sounding so small, reaching no further than the wooden shell of his tomb. Tears streamed from his face as he fought to gain understanding. Why had his parents left him in this terrible place? Where was he, and how was he to get out? What had happened to him?
His final memories flooded back into him as a vein of power caressed him, like that of a stray willow branch blowing softly along the wind. He immediately stifled his fear and his cries, organized the amazing power that flowed into him, and channeled it outward from his hands. A blast of light illuminated the inside of the coffin like the lightning that had stolen his life. It tore through the lid of the coffin and blasted dirt.
The cave-in should have left him immobile where he would have suffocated beneath its tremendous weight and died all over again. Instead, he had called upon his power to protect himself, and then again shaped it into strength that allowed him to clamber up from the depths. After several long minutes, his hand broke the surface and streams of light poured in. He pushed up from the earth and was standing atop the uneven surface, staring out across rolling rows of tombstones and sepulchers.
Across the tall wrought iron fence that wrapped this graveyard, sprawled New York City. Daniel glided from the land of the dead, dirt spilling from his suit. His mind remained numb as he traveled and he quickly found himself standing before the doors to his large home. He entered slowly, the locks keeping the door shut opening at his touch of the handle. Ferdinand, their butler, came strolling up to the door in a worried haste at the sound of the door closing, and stopped dead, his mouth slack when he saw Daniel.
The boy paid the butler no mind and continued on. He found his father in the parlor with a glass of brandy in his hand and a cigar in his mouth, conversing with another scholarly gentleman dressed in a suit and unbuttoned pea coat whom he recognized as Joseph, an inventor of scientific equipment, with the same items in his hands. Joseph had been there to watch Daniel die.
“Ferdinand,” called his father, the word muffled through the head of his cigar, “who was that wh—” He turned his head after his draw and the smoke lifting from between his lips did so lazily, almost stunned in place as he was. “Daniel?” he breathed, his glass of brandy slipping from his hand. Joseph had the sense to numbly place his items on the table between the two lounge chairs he and Daniel’s father sat in.
Before Daniel’s father could rise, his mother appeared behind him, calling his name. He spun around as she grasped his shoulders and saw Ferdinand standing far down the hall around a corner, barely able to glimpse him. “It worked, Isaac. Look! He’s changed. I can feel it! We can do the very same operation on ourselves. And you, Joseph.”
“Marian, get all the others on the telephone. Send telegrams if you have to. Contact them immediately! They must be here tomorrow.”
Throughout the ordeal, Daniel was prodded and inspected as though he were merely some curious new device created by Joseph. He responded to their questions numbly. They showed him little affection. He had become a successful experiment to them. He was not a son any longer. He was a prize to flaunt, to learn from, to achieve greater success. He would be their final achievement, however.
The next evening, the same people who had watched him die were assembled yet again. Scientists of New York who gained very little notoriety in the public as they toiled away at things even they barely understood in private. Now, they’d become rulers of men, or so they thought.
Once the machines had been calibrated, Isaac brought the first subject out of the crowd and to the table that Daniel had been killed upon. Splotches of his very own blood stained the wooden slab a deep red in several places. Isaac checked over all the equipment once more, the crowd nodding approvingly at the setup as though it was a perfect replica of that last time. He then moved to the lever that would open a connection between a store of electrical energy and the copper tubing above the table.
Daniel moved through space and was suddenly standing at Isaac’s side. “Father,” he said, making the tall man start, “when this was done to me, there wasn’t enough power. Keep it on for longer. He won’t need to wait weeks to come back with the secrets of the Earth.”
Irritated at his son’s interruption, he snapped, “I’m not changing the process. I cannot alter a thing without knowing exactly how it will affect the outcome. Shut your mouth and stay back, boy. This is my greatest achievement.”
With that, Isaac threw the switch, and lightning erupted in the center of the room. Daniel was not shocked or infuriated by the answer his father had given him. Instead, he grasped the lines of power he had stored and fed the electrical current, increasing its power twofold without anyone being any the wiser. What they didn’t know was that the amount of power that had flooded then killed him was the limit any single person could withstand and survive. Isaac had made Daniel the strongest being on this planet, and that could not be taken from him. Despite the gift, he couldn’t shake the fear or the hatred, and especially not the pain that his parents had bestowed upon him.
They deserved to be punished.
Soon, there was only Isaac left who had yet to be killed atop the table. He lay down on the table then instructed Daniel on how to properly prepare both the experiment and the subject. The copper tubes and the rune-laden piece of earth all smoked from use. Daniel used his unnatural strength to tighten straps to painful levels, eliciting hisses and scornful glares from his father. He endured them stoically, looking deep into Isaac’s eyes.
“Goodbye, father,” he said as he walked to the lever on the wall. He spun and stared at Isaac, the latter straining his head to hold his son’s gaze. He breathed deeply, both excited and fearful. “You won’t be coming back. None of you will be.” Isaac opened his mouth to protest, his face twisted in anger, and the lever slammed down with a thought from Daniel.
Once his father’s corpse was moved atop the pile of the others, he left the underground laboratory and entered his house. In the parlor stood Ferdinand, watching a handful of children as they toiled with small toys and games, each of them younger than him by at least a handful of years. “Leave, Ferdinand. You can take all the money from my parents’ safe upstairs, and you can go. The lock combination is eleven, zero, seven, ninety-one.” Ferdinand’s eyes glazed over as though he was staring off into nothing, and he nodded before spinning and stomping upstairs.
“Everyone else, follow me,” he announced to the children. They left their items as though they’d suddenly ceased to exist and shambled after Daniel. One at a time, he performed the same experiment on these children, successfully. After weeks, they awakened and he had a family again. Together, they could unlock more secrets of the Earth and those of the other planets, and the entire cosmos itself.