Twilight Patrol #7: Builders of the New Babel


The shadow of the tower rolled all the way to the horizon, and was spreading its darkness over the rest of the world.

Another monstrous threat to civilization!  Hadn’t he just disposed of one?  And the one before that.  And the one before that.  The ravenous flies.  The disintegrating blight.  The apocalyptic dragon.  The cities of annihilation.  The malignant pact.  It was starting to get monotonous, all this monstrousness.  But that seemed to be the way this universe was constructed.  The monstrous insurmountable problems would never end.

In a sense, Wootin was partly responsible for this new abomination.  He and Hollister Congrieve had caused the collapse of the powerful medical science sect known as the Pact.  And the Pact held the Mysteriarchs of the Abyss in check.  Freed of the torments and suppressions of the Pact, the Mysteriarchs of the Abyss had devoted their considerable energies to producing this… this… thing

Wootin understood the forces that were at work here, and what had happened to this part of the world while he was off in the Far East.  Wootin wasn’t what you’d call a believer, but he knew his Bible and he recognized the structure for what it was.  An old story about the price of perfection and measures needed to attain it.  Everyone knew how the story was going to end.  The builders were getting closer and closer to having a perfect picture of what was really going on—someone’s idea of Heaven or Olympus or whatever label you want to place on having all the answers—and the unfolding revelations were already proving to be too much to handle.  It was confounding their tongues.

 The biblical implications increased Wootin’s sense of dread.  A very old story, indeed, and Wootin wished he could run away from it.  But the thing was so tall, so immensely vast, there was no away to run to.

How could he possibly mount a fight against this thing he had helped to bring about?  He had bombs, a few bombs, and some sticks of dynamite.  Maybe he could blast the tower at some precious, critical juncture—a keystone pivot point—that would bring the whole thing tumbling down.  Perhaps this colossal, absurd, impossibly huge structure might yield if someone simply dared to oppose it.  It was a vain wish.  A nightmare of hopelessness masquerading as hope.     

Out of the tunnel. The Queen’s triplane whipped into a paroxysm of uncontrolled gyrations. The air around the trestle flared with infernal rage. She surged ahead, blasting away at the train, spewing crimson around her. She had gone on the attack, loosing bombs. But the winds were too strong, and the trestle presented a narrow target. The bombs skittered close to the lurching trestle, but continued falling, down through the countless distances below, disappearing into the surrounding cloud carpet. 

She swooped, strafing the exterior of the trundling coaches.
What had happened? What had set her off? What had she seen in the darkness? What had she seen in the blinding light?

We need to talk.  We desperately need to talk.

You probably think I’m going to kill you.  It is the most obvious motive for all the time and attention I’ve spent in trying to track you down, in forcing this confrontation you have so strenuously avoided all of these years.  How many years—how many long years?  I think I could kill you, if I wanted to.  I have you at a disadvantage, I think.  But I don’t know for certain.  I’m looking for answers only you can provide.  Perhaps those answers might come immediately to me if I killed you—according to old traditions—according to the old legends.  I would rather talk, simply talk.  We have so much to talk about.

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