The Duel of the Gods
Avera surveyed his surroundings. He was a god. He was a supreme being,
chief deity of Gampona. He closed his eyes, bowed his head and took one
cleansing breath. Immersed in his role, he walked onto the stage. The
magically parted to allow him to pass.
Borrom. Borrom.” Thousands of the primitive inhabitants of Gampona had
to witness the return of their almighty deity.
moved to his mark. An air of dominance emanated from every stride. He
thought of himself as an outstanding ad-libber. This performance was
be right in his wheelhouse. In fact, the only discomfort he had to deal
was of the physical variety. The blue body paint that currently covered
inch of exposed skin had a tendency to irritate, causing him to itch.
He would not
give in to the discomfort; scratching was not godlike.
of Gampona. I, Borrom, have returned.” Raucous cheers exploded from the
gathered multitude. “I will grant you great prosperity and joy. You
provide me with the tribute I deserve. Witness my generosity.” The god
to the beautiful young woman who had accompanied him onto the stage.
resplendent in a golden dress which perfectly matched her yellow eyes.
they were colored contact lenses, just like his own, but he still found
appearance to be disconcerting. “Magana, my daughter, goddess of the
forth one who is suffering.”
assisted a hobbled native onto the stage. The middle-aged Gampian could
any weight on his right leg; a makeshift crutch provided stability.
the man from the morning briefing. This individual had been carefully
for the demonstration about to be staged.
Roland approached the nervous man, a voice resounded in his hidden
“Remember that you must give the injection near the injured knee. The
combination of adrenaline and pain killers should be sufficient for him
off stage. We will sedate him and perform the corrective surgery once
he is out
did not need to be reminded. He was a professional. The actor placed
on the man’s knee. The injection device was hidden between his index
fingers. “Be healed,” he demanded as he released the medication into
man recoiled slightly from the sting of the needle.
not panic,” announced Roland. “The touch of Borrom is very powerful.”
voice in his ear spoke once again, “Give it about a minute to start to
of Divorac,” Roland addressed the inflicted man by name. “Do you
you will be healed?”
you believe that proper tribute will always be rewarded?”
throw aside your crutch and walk freely.”
man released his wooden cane, letting it drop unceremoniously. He
placed weight on his right leg. Feeling no pain, he flashed a huge
grin. “I am
healed,” he shouted. A clamorous chorus of cheers ignited from the
extended her arm, directing the man off-stage. He raised his hands
head, shaking them victoriously as he walked in the direction he was
instructed. His limp was barely noticeable.
the healed Glampian had left and the boisterous cheering had subsided,
addressed the crowd. “That is only the tiniest glimpse of the glory I
bestow on you, my people, provided you pledge your complete faith and
ear-piece spoke once again. “Everything is set up for the next miracle.”
my children. We feast on fruit and meat.” Roland extended both hands to
and waved them in an intricate flourish of movement. Soon, a hail of
and small apple-like fruit began to fall from the sky. Shortly
great multitude of plump birds glided in from above. The grey colored
were too heavy to fly, making them easy prey for the waiting Glampians.
glanced up at the sky. Even though he knew it was there, he could not
sky-colored shuttle which had dropped the food.
Borrom… Borrom,” chanted the masses as they gathered the berries and
the cooking fires.
Sabrina Toorman had to admit the operation was going very well. At the
rate, the Glampians would be handing over all their planet’s diamonds,
and other precious resources without any resistance. This process was
to be much cheaper and easier than any previous attempts. She also had
begrudgingly, give credit to Roland. His performance had been
better than she had expected from a third-rate sit-com actor. As long
nothing went awry during the feast, Roland should be able to demand the
tribute in the morning. Captain Toorman had already sent word to
to dispatch the first fleet of transport vessels.
is Roland returning to the ship tonight?” asked one of the bridge
“I would like to get his autograph. I am a big fan of him and the show
he was on.”
attention to your duties, Ensign,” Toorman reprimanded. “When he does
the ship tonight, he will be briefed on tomorrow’s performance. You
bother him. Do I make myself clear?”
Captain returned to her surveillance of the activities on the planet,
her head ever so slightly.
bird tasted horrific. Pretending to enjoy the dry, gamey fowl strained
inch of Roland’s acting skill. As he washed down a bite with a cup of
wished the script had allowed him to perform a miracle that turned
wine or a good craft beer.
rose to address the naïve denizens of the planet one last time. The
crowd fell silent as soon as Roland raised his arms. This gig was even
than an autograph session after the debut of a new television series.
the awe and devotions of an entire planet full of groupies.
of Glampona, I will now return to my invisible castle in the sky. Fear
will return tomorrow to present even greater gifts to you. You would be
begin gathering tribute. My generosity will only increase if you show
adoration through offerings.”
Toorman’s voice sounded in his ear. “Remember to lean back a little,
want the jet pack to burn your legs.”
had learned that lesson in rehearsal. There was no need to remind him.
stretched out both his arms and tilted his head and shoulders. “Good
began to form, engulfing the Glampian god. The crowd watched in
their deity slowly levitated. A thunderous cheer erupted as he ascended
billowing clouds which had miraculously formed overhead. Once inside
provided by the artificial mist, the remotely controlled jet pack
Roland to a secret location. There he would be met by a shuttle and
Toorman’s vessel which was currently in a low orbit about the planet.
the transport wouldn’t get there too soon. It would be nice to have
time with the Magana actress.
evening, Roland was put through a rehearsal of the next day’s
Captain Toorman was a more critical and uncompromising director than
had ever dealt with on Earth. He was surprised when, after all of the
were completed, she allowed a young officer to approach him for an
Assuming all official responsibilities had concluded, Roland decided to
question which had been bothering him for some time.
are we performing this charade? I really like the work, mind you. But,
we just trade with these people? We must have technology they would
don’t keep up with politics much do you?” responded Toorman. She was
more relaxed than she had been earlier, yet she maintained an air of
and dignity. “We and the Vooma are the two main expanding empires in
I know that,” interrupted Roland, not wanting to appear totally
came very close to an all-out war against them.”
because of the treaty negotiated to prevent that war that we are unable
trade with planets like Glampona. The treaty clearly states that we and
Vooma cannot reveal ourselves, in any way, to planets that are not
aware of the
universe beyond their world.”
captain continued, “The human negotiators were amazed at how quickly
agreed to this requirement. That is until we figured out that the Vooma
just obliterating planets. They were taking advantage of an obvious
If you kill everyone on the planet, you aren’t revealing yourself. A
of negotiations solved that problem. Both we and the Vooma can only
precious goods from newly discovered primitive planets by means other
or trading. To be honest, that doesn’t leave much.”
see,” commented the actor, “there aren’t many options, are there?”
that’s why it is so important that you don’t mess this up.”
next morning, Roland returned to Borrom’s Meadow. Magana, who had
of his previous night’s advances, was by his side. The size of the
gathered had tripled from the previous day. Roland actually felt
like the time he had to perform a solo in an off-Broadway musical.
it had been way off-Broadway since it wasn’t even on Earth. He couldn’t
any mistakes. Today, the plan called for him to demand his tribute. He,
again, was greeted with utter silence and complete attention as he
address his subjects.
called the surveillance officer. “We may have a problem.”
sighed. She should have known something was going to make things
operation ever goes this smoothly. “What is it, Lieutenant?”
have just detected a Vooma ship currently in orbit. They appear to be
some sort of energy wave down to the planet.”
let’s see what’s happening. Have all available personnel at the ready.
have to do some quick improvisation.” She turned her attention back to
video being broadcast from hidden cameras located on the surface.
had only barely begun his address when he noticed that something was
crowd’s attention was slowly, but steadily, fading. A low murmur
the rear of the gathering and quickly grew in intensity as it worked
forward: the aural equivalent of a shadow falling across an open field
cloud interrupts the sunshine.
mass of people slowly parted, leaving an undisturbed path from the rear
assembly to Roland. Walking toward Roland was an exceedingly tall
standing at least seven feet in height. He seemed to float along the
large strides covering the distance almost instantly.
interloper stopped a stone’s throw from Roland. When he spoke, his
seemed to come from every direction. “That imposter is not Borrom. I am
the true god of Glampona. You must dispose of this false god and offer
tribute as recompense for your misplaced worship.”
earpiece sprang to life. Captain Toorman was speaking louder and faster
what Roland had become accustomed to hearing. “That is a Vooma
trying to sabotage our mission. They apparently have the same plan that
Do something. Discredit him.”
extended his arms, hoping for, but not achieving the silence the action
garnered earlier. He spoke, anyhow. “Surely the people of this planet
the wonders I have performed, the gifts I have bestowed. It is clearly
is the imposter. I shall simply smite him.”
voice grew even more agitated. “What are you doing? We can’t…. Okay,
forward laser cannons. Roland, stall for a few seconds.”
with one simple wave of my arms, I shall send a torrent of lightning
faux god and prove my divinity. Yes, that’s what I will do… I will do
it… And I
will do it…”
called Toorman in his ear.
screamed Roland, again making an intricate gesture with his hands.
crowd murmured and moved even further from the second of the two gods.
showed no fear, standing resolute against whatever assault Roland would
bolt of pure energy hurled down from the sky. It hit directly on
challenger. The explosion was loud and violent. Dirt, stones, and smoke
all around the gangly Glampian. When the debris cleared, the creature
unharmed. “See, this false god cannot harm me with his parlor tricks.”
a hologram,” informed Toorman. “Maybe we can somehow block their
crowd was definitely impressed with the power of the new god. Some of
starting to inch their way towards the stage. It was apparent they
meant to do
harm to the one who would pretend to be their supreme god.
continued to stall for time, hoping the crew on the ship could
goal of interrupting the holographic broadcast. “I was unable to harm
he is actually, Zobonda, the evil ruler of the lower world. He is the
of pain, the taker of children, the litterer of parks.” Roland silently
his impromptu speech choice.
crowd seemed to halt their advancement, confused looks plastered on
new Borrom spoke once more. “That imposter is nothing but an actor, a
performer. If he were truly your god, would he be frightened and
this?” The tall blue man pointed to a large crate floating down from
Roland could tell it was being maneuvered by small engines located at
corner, but to the Glampians it would appear to be controlled by some
box landed on the stage, near Roland. Unceremoniously, the front face
of the crate
fell forward and dozens upon dozens of cats emerged from the container.
was Roland’s turn to have a look of confusion pasted to his face. The
what cats normally do. They pranced around the stage, oblivious to
spoke to Roland once more. “The Vooma must have intercepted and studied
broadcasts of the sit-com you were on. One of the technicians here says
was an episode in which you suffered a severe cat allergy.”
smiled. He remembered that episode quite well. He had always thought he
have been nominated for an Emmy-Kutcher award for that performance.
I am Borrom. These creatures have no effect on me whatsoever.”
appeared to be garnering a tiny bit of support from the Glampians. They
longer advancing toward the stage. He wished that Toorman and her crew
break the holographic transmission soon. That action would put an end
confrontation. With the accuser gone, he felt confident he could regain
trust of the Glampians. They were not an overly intelligent race.
Vooma Borrom was only disconcerted for a short time. “I will prove that
creature on stage is not a Glampian god. He is not a Glampian at all.
rain of truth commence.”
light drizzle started to fall. Slowly, steadily, it increased in
Roland couldn’t help but notice a distinct odor, like turpentine.
shriek came from somewhere within the crowd. “Look, Borrom is melting.”
started to creep into Roland’s thoughts. The rain he was being pelted
laced with paint remover. The body paint which gave him the glossy blue
appearance of a Glampian was beginning to wash away. Beads of water
snaking down his arms and face, leaving a trail of human tan-colored
There was no way to maintain his ruse any longer. Any hope for survival
rested on the act of making a quick escape. The actress who had
must have arrived at the conclusion even faster than Roland; she bolted
the stage, heading to the shuttle rendezvous.
turned to make his rapid departure. The new Borrom’s voice echoed
the clearing. “See, that is no god. I am the one true Borr….”
Roland spun around to see what had muted his adversary. Where the
stood, only seconds before, there was nothing but empty ground. The
stopped, instantly and completely. The only evidence that the
ever existed was the clowder of cats lounging about the stage and
get out of there,” came the voice of Captain Toorman. “We just went
ahead and shot
down the other ship. Get to the shuttle. We are preparing to retreat
Captain’s voice was replaced with static. Roland hoped it was only a
malfunction, but he feared it was far worse than that. The actor took
off at a
full sprint toward the location designated to meet the shuttle.
he arrived, he found only a blue and tan striped Magana. Tears ran down
cheeks. She did not speak. She could only point to the heavens, toward
location where their ship should have been orbiting this world. Roland
up, already knowing what he would see. Falling from the sky were
pieces of debris, certainly the remnants of Captain Toorman’s ship. The
artificial meteor shower briefly flashed in the morning sky before each
of ship burnt up in the atmosphere. Soon the short-lived pyrotechnics
along with Roland’s hope for escape.
quiet was soon shattered by the cries of an angry mob. The Glampians
happy about having been duped. The outraged creatures circled Roland
steadily closed in. They would exact revenge on the deceptive deity.
his invisible castle in the sky, the actual Borrom, leaned back in his
and laughed. “You know, this was much more entertaining than simply
ships when they enter the solar system.”
agree,” said his overweight and blotchy daughter, Magana, the goddess
sun. “That whole duel of the gods was sort of interesting. Too bad you
put an end to the spectacle.”
know, but once the first ship destroyed the second, the whole thing was
to deteriorate. I will always protect my people. I think I will allow
ship that arrives to survive long enough to see if we can get another
you, Father. I sure hope so.”
James Rumpel is a retired high school math teacher who has greatly enjoyed spending some of his additional free time rekindling his love for science fiction and the written word. He resides in Wisconsin with his wonderful wife, Mary.
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