June, 1192. Mothership Epsilon.
Byron opened his eyes and, with blurry vision, surveyed the metal ceiling of heaven. That is where he was. A blinding flash of light and a removal into the sky? That was surely a sign that he had departed his mortal body. But why? Why did the Lord take him away when he was so clearly still needed? The Crusade would fall apart without him. Richard undoubtedly would think him assassinated- Byron had been in his prime. A mysterious death caused by God himself would not be accepted.
He was on his back, on a cold, metal surface. He was in some sort of circular room, with one door way in and out. He coughed, his lungs gasping for air they had been deprived, and his vision cleared.
There were little green men standing over him. Actually, they crouching, and were removing his armor bit by bit. They were disgusting things, with gigantic void-like eyes and fat heads. Perhaps another man would be afraid, but Byron had facing many horrors in his days as a knight. This would not be the worst. Perhaps this would be a holy cause. Demons had infested heaven he must purge them.
Did they think him dead?
Well, they would be in for a shock.
He suddenly lurched, grasping one of the green devils by the throat. The thing’s skin was oddly dry and rough, and its neck was skinny, easily grasped in Byron’s large hand. He squeezed with force and crushed the thing’s trachea. The thing made a high-pitched whining noise, which Byron assumed was how devils choked, and went limp. He rose to his feet, shoving the small creatures back, and tossed the little demon to the ground.
The things shrieked and jumped, chilling, inhuman noises and motions.
Byron backed up, moving to the wall. “Come then!” Byron challenged them. “Fight me! I am not so easily bested!” Three of the things obliged, rushing forwards, while the others ran off. The first that got within striking distance Byron punted, his foot connecting directly with the demon’s gigantic face. There was a snapping sound as it’s fragile bones were crushed beneath his boot, and it flopped to the ground. The second reached him and leaped up at him, moving impressively quick. It clawed at his face with suction cupped fingers that left Byron completely unharmed. He grabbed it around its thin body and threw it to the ground, before bringing his boot down on its neck. The thing’s throat exploded in a burst of green fluid that gave Byron a rush as the thrill of battle enveloped him. The third leapt onto his back, but he plucked it off without a care and threw it with force into the metal wall. There was a loud snapping sound as the monster’s back collided with the wall, and it limply fell to the ground in a heap.
Byron turned to devilish reinforcements filling into the room, baring maces that sparkled with energy. Instruments of the unholy. Byron grinned. Now things would get interesting. He reached for his sword, but found his scabbard empty- honor had demanded that if they fought him unarmed, he must do so as well. He was surprised he hadn’t noticed its missing weight. Perhaps this fight wouldn’t be ending in his favor.
When Byron awoke, he immediately tried to shoot upright. That action was regrettable for two reasons. One, his head ached something fierce as he did so, and two, he was strapped to some kind of table. He was in only his loose cloth underclothes that one would wear underneath armor, and straps made of some strange black material ran across his chest and knees; this same material held his wrists and ankles to the table. He struggled for a few moments, before cursing. This was not how a knight was to be treated in captivity! How was this honorable at all?! But he supposed it gave the demons too much credit to assume they would treat him with honor.
He looked up and was puzzled with what he saw. Some kind of perverted surgeon’s instruments? In fact, he didn’t even known what he was looking at. A look around showed things along the wall blinking and flashing, things that didn’t even look like, well, anything to Byron. If this was heaven, he feared what hell must be like. The walls were sterile silver and everything was Spartan, no question giving to comfort.
Two demons entered his vision. These were different than the ones he’d faced before. Their outfits were more finely adorned.
Byron said nothing to them and simply glared as they approached. They didn’t seem to notice.
They stood over him, speaking. Their speech was composed of chittering noises back and forth with some squeaks and snarls through in. That confirmed Byron’s suspicions. Heaven had been invaded by demons- perhaps even conquered. Why had they been fighting a war that was supposed to be in Heaven’s glory if these things lived here? All the men who died fighting for the Crusade… did they have face these creatures as well? What did the Lord not take action when devils had fumbled into his kingdom?
The two creatures ceased their unholy discussion, and moved about the room. One moved to a collection of the flashing colorful square and began to press them, noises emitted upon their activation. Above Byron, the surgical instruments began to whir and move on their own, lowering towards him.
“What is this?” Byron whispered. “Why have I been cursed to this place?”
One of the instruments lowered further than the rest, a narrow, needle-like thing with some kind of tubular pipe at the end no wider than a pin head. It began to drop towards his face at a terrifying slow rate.
“Our Father who art in heaven,” Byron began, taking a deep breath. A knight of England feared nothing, not even death itself and certainly not whatever this was.
“Hallowed be thy name,”
The tube aimed for Byron’s eye.
“Thy kingdom come,
Thy will be done,”
It lowered closer, only inches away now,
“On earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,”
Its point disappeared from his vision as it dropped towards his inner eye,
“And forgive us our trespasses,”
He grunted and grit his teeth as the thing penetrated the flesh of the medical angle of his eye, pushing the eyeball aside, causing his vision to distort. It didn’t hurt, but was incredibly uncomfortable and wholly unnatural.
“As we forgive those who trespass against us,”
The tube continued to disappear into his eye socket alarmingly and he determined that the rod must be several centimeters or so in. Perhaps even inches.
“And lead us not into temptation,”
The rod froze and there was a whirring noise as it did… something to his brain. He was no surgeon. He wasn’t even entirely certain what was back there, or what a brain even looked like. Actually, that wasn’t true. He’d seen spilled brain just the other week.
“But deliver us from evil.”
The thing retracted much quicker from his eye socket than it had entered, making a thoroughly disgusting wet noise as it withdrew.
The demon pressed one of the square again, and Byron head was racked with pain before he snapped into unconsciousness.
Byron’s world spun as he woke up. He was moving down the hall on a chair that had no legs. That alone was enough to confuse him but, on top of that, it seemed to float above the ground.
“The procedure was a success.” Byron glanced to the side, his head lolling. It was as if he had no fine control.
The speaker in question was a devil, level with Byron since he was sitting down.
“The subject appears to have completely accepted the components.” The demon chittered in its throaty, inhuman voice.
“It appears to be awake as well.” Byron let his head loll to the other side and was now staring at a new speaker, also one of the little green things.
“Do you think it understands us yet?”
“We have no way of knowing. But perhaps once it does we can receive the information we so desire.”
Byron blinked, finally grasping what was going on. He understood the devils. Whatever they’d done to them, it allowed his mind to make sense of what they were saying. He heard the noises come from their mouths and yet, while it sounded like gibberish, it made sense all at once. The sounds took meaning on inside his head somehow. What kind of unholy power was this?
“It is rather ugly looking.” One of the devils said, observing Byron’s slack face. Their procedure appeared to have left him dull for the moment, otherwise he would’ve reached out and snapped that foolish monster’s neck.
“They all are. Some are lumpier than others but all are quite clumsy.”
“Did you hear what this one did? It killed five workers when they were decontaminating it.”
“Fascinating. I am eager to begin studying it.” The other snarled. The pair of creatures stopped. They’d entered a new room, Byron having been oblivious to the changing scenery. This room was bare, like he’d come to realize most of Heaven was. It was only occupied by four coffin-like chambers that were standing upright and podium with lots of bright squares on it.
“Contacting Epsilon Security control.”
A voice suddenly chittered from the podium, and it spoke, confirming that they heard the devil. How they did so, Byron assumed, was some kind of dark magic.
The same devil spoke again, presumably to the entity known as ‘security control,’ “Initiating a Cryo-sequence. Stand-by.”
The demon pressed a few squares and suddenly one of the coffins hissed open. The chair slowly moved Byron over to the door and, without any one touching him, he was lifted in, and made so his back was facing the coffin’s theoretical bottom. He was unable to do much more than stare and think dumbly as its lid closed.
The coffin suddenly got very cold.
It was then that Byron decided he was not in Heaven. For, if he was already dead, it miffed him as to how they were killing him a second time.
The world went black.