Consider The Word

By Matthew Gerber


But I already told you.

Oh, you picked up on that, huh? Okay, so maybe I didn't tell you everything. Maybe I left out a few tiny details --

Oh, quit looking at me like that. Besides, you're not Dominic. Go back up and get a few pointers. His "annoyed Seraph" looks are the real thing. You want to learn just how withering six eyes glaring can be, all you have to do is... this isn't distracting you, is it?


Right. So you really want to know. You really do want to know why I'm down here.

You could just ask Dominic, you know. Yeah, sure he knows. Please. You think that between him and Laurence, they actually couldn't find me? If they were really looking hard? Doesn't really make sense when you think about it, does it?

Who else knows? Hey, let's not get into details. You had a question. Right. So I'll ask you one more time if you're sure.

Right. Okay, then. It's story time. Let's hit the place across the street there, they've got good hot dogs. Stories always go better with hot dogs, for some reason. When I've got more time, I'm gonna check that out.

What, you think I was lying to you before? Okay, okay, maybe about Dominic not knowing anything, but other than that, there's a lot of reasons I'm down here. I just didn't tell you the big secret scar -- Diet Coke!? Good Lord, man, it's a Vessel... oh, forget it, you're hopeless. Let's get a table. At least put ketchup and mustard on the hot dog. Humor me.

Okay. So, you know the prevailing theory about Vapula, right? The one about him being put together from Raphael's scattered Forces. I buy it, personally. Don't look at me like that, think about it. Think about how pathetic all the other Hellborn Princes are -- heck, half of the ones who aren't Hellborn are better candidates for a comedy troupe than a proper rebel force. Which says something about how influential Kobal is, when you think about it, but let's not go there right now.

Anyway, that's what I think about Vapula. But that isn't important. What's important, what's really important, is his kid.

You've heard that Nybbas is cracking up, right? That something's getting to him. That he's starting to break under the strain. That he's starting to let too much of our side's stuff through the mill. Well, frankly, he hasn't been. Or wasn't, at first--he is now. But it started out as me. I've taken something of a personal interest in him and his little "machine" lately.

Actually, I've had it almost since he got made; at least, since we knew about him. I dunno why, but he just caught my eye. I should say I didn't know why, actually, since I do now. We've known since shortly after he got his Word. He got to Prince status darned fast, don't you think? Yeah, me too. Hell's brightest rising star and all that. He was that way from the beginning, and it was.... weird. Just weird, somehow.

Let's grab another hot dog. The story's not over yet. And I'm telling you, try the mustard this time. Live a little. Sheesh. The other guys didn't make everything down here, you know. In fact, they didn't make anything down here. Just twisted it.

Right, yes, I'm ranting, sorry. Anyway, we figured it out. You see, I told you my theory on Vapula. Well, take it one step further, or at least one generation further. Think about it.

A demon is created. He invents the most staggeringly efficient means of information transmission the Corporeal plane has ever seen or dreamed of. Helps transform the culture of the industrialized world in less than a century. Takes us completely flatfooted. Advances the humans, for all the fact that he's a demon, about as far as anyone has in the past few millenia. That's a little questionably demonic, isn't it? Yet he gets his Word, and his Principality, in pretty much record time. Unless you count Haagenti, and I don't think he counts that much.

We're pretty sure of why, now. Nybbas was another assembly job. It was an experiment--a fantasticaly successful one, successful beyond their wildest dreams.

They think.

But I know better.

That's why I'm down here. Because, like I said, he's cracking up. And I'm why. And when he starts cracking up really good, I mean really good, one of us has got to be there. Either there to take him down, or there for him. Or just there to keep all Hell from breaking loose in general.

Because when what's left of the Voice of God starts talking louder than Nybbas can keep inside, God only knows what's going to happen. I sure don't.

So, dessert? The milkshakes aren't as good here, but they've got a great key lime pie.


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