Well folks, I am back. An awesome week in Chicago on a missions trip during which the team ambushed me to celebrate my birthday three weeks in advance. And now back to Red Rain. I will pick up with Nic probably because I can write him at 9:55 at night. Philli is just too.... too... Phillish.
Ephesus smiled proudly just as Nic had done so many times when he had
the Smyrnas at their disadvantage. "That, Doctor Nic, is a virus. A
powerful one, a little more powerful than the one you had on Mars, and
more powerful than the toy of one you recreated on this computer."
Dr. Smyrna asked his son, "And what is that for?"
Ephesus lost his smile and stared into space. "The only way to cut
yourself off from a monster and avoid getting assimilated back in."
"Well done, my little prodigy. You will learn my methods yet."
"Not your methods, Nic. I would never stoop to panocidal terrorism to accomplish the Lord's goals."
"Okay, fine. If your God objects to efficiency, so be it. Another reason I doubt him."
Smyrna butted in, "Enough. We've argued this same territory a million times before. If we must argue it again, just wait for it to come out sometime when we've all slept." Smyrna began walking toward the apartment, but Nic did not move.
"Tell me, Ephesus. You are so powerful. You control my virus. You can create chemical compounds most consider untenable." Ephesus braced himself. Nic stepped forward, almost pleading, losing his composure, "Tell me, Ephesus, why you insist on being Unaccepted, when for your brains the United would drop all charges if you'd only work for them. Tell me, why, when you wield weapons more deadly than any warrior ever, why you insist on never using them?"
The two geniuses stood in tight deadlock, staring each other down. Nic's mustache masked his broken composure, and Ephesus' placid expression defied his inner turmoil.
"You ask such simple questions sometimes, Nic, for being such a genius. To live is Christ. And though he could, with only a word, have undone all that was ever made and burnt everything that was ever alive, he didn't."
Nic grabbed Ephesus' collar, "Why must you insist on following such a failure? Even if he was incarnate God, he's a failure. All around you are hurting people bereft of any kind of joy. What did he do for them? If he had so much power, why didn't he just defeat all evil and all death and all..." Smyrna touched his shoulder from behind. Nic stopped talking and tossed the elder man's arm away, whirling around on Ephesus again, "What lame kind of god can do less than even I? I came within an arm's reach of saving the world from tyranny, and here you are with a microchip that could undo the whole bastion of injustice, and all you have to say," his voice cracked, "is, 'to live is Christ?'"
Smyrna sat on the ground behind Nic. He had lost his balance from the push. Nic stood bent over Ephesus' who was still on his chair.
Ephesus looked up into Nic's awkwardly close face and said, "Yes."