Zenon shrugged the strap of his gun over his shoulder, shifting the weight until it was comfortable. A thrill of excitement shot to the pit of his stomach. They had been waiting for this for so long, and now it was finally here. He strode out of the room, knowing Shien was right behind him without even looking.
Out in the corridor, their booted heels rang on the stone floor. Before they even entered the room where Gairu and his Holy Demon Army waited, Zenon could hear their mumblings, their impatience at the delay that had been forced on them. He smirked to himself, tamping down his disgust at these 'made' gods. They would get to play soon enough, though he seriously doubted their chances against the Sanzo party.
Shien was a quiet presence behind him as he stopped just inside the door and waited for the demons to notice him. The room quieted almost instantly, and every eye was trained on him.
"It's your show."
"Dispatch the first diversion," Homura had instructed. "Then we will begin."
Before there can be a beginning, there must first be an ending, Shien thought. And we shall be the harbingers of that ending, the architects of that beginning. From our bitterness will arise a perfection untainted by the hatred we have had forced upon us. We will wipe the slate clean and start anew.
But was it so wrong for him to feel trepidation at such an action?
The god said nothing at Homura’s order, merely turned when he heard the whisper of Zenon’s gun against his jacket, smelt the breeze of his passing, felt the vibration of his boots upon the floor. There was no need for him to open his eyes when the aura of his surroundings was bright enough to pierce the darkness of his eyelids, when every movement and whisper of breath was like lightning and thunder to his flesh and ears. Within the confines of his robes he felt the pressure of his whip-handles against his ribs, and had no need to touch them for reassurance. He already knew they would serve him well in the up-coming confrontation.
As Zenon marched through the halls, the military staccato of his boots and the presence of his tainted godly aura guided Shien like a moth after a moving flame. He had always been so – he had always been the one to serve, and not the other way around – using the light of others to conduct his movements. Homura now, and Zenon when it was useful, but once it had been the innocent radiance of a child-god, a luminosity tainted by doubt and fear and the kind of self-loathing that ate at one’s soul until there was nothing left but darkness.
Would you approve of this, Nataku? Shien asked in the silence of his mind – but knew that even if he had been there to ask the heretical god himself, the boy would not answer. In five hundred years he had not answered, even within the confines of the bodhisattva’s compounds where he was safe from Li Touten and the Jade Emperor. Nataku would never answer again, for he had withdrawn too far into himself to recognize the world he could no longer face.
In the new world of Homura’s creation – created by all three of them – there would not be the prejudice that had stained the purportedly flawless Heaven. In the new world, everything would start afresh, everything would be clean and innocent in its youth.
Perhaps Nataku would not approve. But then, Nataku would never know this new world, much less his own.
“It’s your show,” Zenon said, and Shien cracked open an eye, peering at the physical features of these ersatz deities; they would be little distraction to the Sanzo-ikkou. This god had no doubts as to the skills of the warriors coming to greet them, and these creatures were pitiable in their ambitious greed. Perhaps that was what Homura had been hoping for when he stormed Konran Tower – bodies to put between them and the Sanzo party while the sutras were activated. There was only a short time period in which this would work, as he had told them.
“There must be no mistakes,” he said quietly, almost a whisper in the silence.
The gods appeared, and Gairu looked up from where he sat. The chair was not as impressive as the throne he had once rested upon, but it would do; what mattered was the power that had been vested in him by serving instead of being served. He would do anything for power – and his efforts had brought him quite a bit.
“There will be no mistakes,” he replied, mildly stung by the words of the dark-haired god. He had never bothered to learn the names of the two that stood before him, but he recognized them as his superiors none-the-less. They served Lord Homura, as he did, but they were not the ones being sent out to deal with a tiny group of Buddhist travelers – he was. How four men would need fifty warriors to be properly subdued was beyond him, but Gairu knew better than to question these orders. Perhaps, once those four were dead, it would prove his competence, and Lord Homura would allow him back his place at the top of Konran Tower. The War God hadn’t, after all, said anything about further actions after the slaughter of the Sanzo priest and his companions.
Neither responded to his retort, so he stood and faced his followers, the men whom he had gathered when the Minus Wave turned the majority of the demons in the land into mindless carnivores. He instructed them quickly, and they all nodded with the terse understanding of men long used to serving as soldiers. With the efficiency wrung from many months of harsh training, they filed from the room, and he followed them without looking back.
Gairu and his brothers-in-arms were gods now, the same as the two behind him. He would prove his place among the deities, and then none would dare insult his abilities again.