“I will continue alone,” declared Expert Nielhaus. He eyed his companions distrustfully. “Do you understand?”
“Yes, expert,” replied Sub-expert Xion.
“Overseer?” Nielhaus prodded.
“The Mother will be informed,” Overseer Mantravadi said. “If you do not return, your position will be filled.”“I will return, and when I do, humanity shall leap into the next stage of evolution.”
Kicking off the sea floor with his webbed feet, Nielhaus began his descent into the trench. He lit his way with a fusion flare. His body felt compressed beneath the inexorable force of the water, yet down he went, and still further down, into depths never before witnessed by man. Here, the water was bitterly cold, having never seen a ray of light.Nielhaus exalted in the ancient surroundings. He was in an ancient temple of Gaia, approaching the very Gates of Hades. The deep ponderings of earth and evolution lay hidden here.
He reached the bottom. The coils of a great serpent interwove with one another. Shining his light to study the monster, he saw another opening beneath it, leading still deeper into the earth. The creature stirred, sending currents through the water. The head rose. It was the size of a battle-sub. The dark eyes glimmered in the sun-forsaken water.
“I have come to open the door to Death,” Nielhaus proclaimed.
The serpent spoke into his mind. Who are you, that you come to open the door?
“I am Man. I have risen out of the ooze of the earth. I once stood on two legs and ruled the land with a fist of iron. But I am true Man, and I rebelled against those who held the earth under their sway. They had forgotten Gaia, who gave them breath. I assassinated presidents and burned capitals. With bombs I leveled cities and sank coasts into the ocean. I threw off the shackles that bound me to my old body. By science I created a new world among the waters that gave me birth. I am striving still to regain the Paradise that false man stole from us with their dogma and timidity. I am freed from morality and the limits of reason. I come to the door to open it, so that even Death might be open to us, that Man might come and go as he pleases.”
This is your authority?
Then you are one with me.
“Open the door to death.”
As you command, Man of my Image.
Nielhaus waited with glorious anticipation. Boldness and insatiable ambition had driven him—driven Mankind—to this moment, and now even the Gates of Death would be opened unto him….
The serpent struck. Its teeth tore Nielhaus into shreds, and his blood stained the deep, dark waters.