Soon after Man saw proof there was no god—none of them—He should have realized the Devil was all too real. But He failed to see His own reflection in the mirror until it was too late.

Out from the bowels of the stone that Man Himself poured, born of glass and science and His unbending grit, came one wingless angel, a bright and fruitful future enshrouded in frail skin, gore (synthetic), and halogen light.

This child was nurtured—even loved by some; broad is the bearing of Man—until of age and grew well. But the youth was also taught His darker, wily ways, for He willed the boy’s life to be a cog in a machine of His own design. The boy had gained sagacity, however, and saw through the flimsy curtain of Man’s histrionics. These creeds he folded, put in a dull tin box etched with a pair of broken wings, and forgot about.

Over the years the young one tasted the leaden earth and grimaced; drank the acerbic torrents from the clouds and cried. He felt sharp, prodding tines and smelled abundant lust of every kind.

He saw Man bathe in greed and blood, digging a massive grave with a shovel made of contempt.

When almost a man—but so unlike Him—, weary and nearly mad with suffering, the boy unexpectedly unfurled his feathers: a reordering of his Gs and As and Ts and Cs, fully volitional, in twisted threads that Man could never have fathomed. He rose to the skies awash in sunlight—a second birth—, and in a booming voice that carried to every corner of Man’s fief, spoke words of wisdom.

With Directive Alpha, the angel told Man to close any cleft and erase every boundary that could divide into Many what is meant to be One.

With Directive Beta, the angel told Man to immediately abandon all enterprises that could scathe His body, His mind, and His land.

With Directive Gamma, the angel told Man to reduce His numbers by two thirds until His weight on Earth could become a boon and not a burden.

With the Omega Provision, the angel told Man to carry out these directives in manners stripped of all esurience, superfluousness, obduracy, and brutality; to grow without diminishing and to always seek enlightenment.

The angel then folded his wings around him and waited. Having taken a page from Man’s own book, he hoped the theatrics of the never-before-seen would be enough to make an impact on Man’s resolutions.

Man was shaken and inconsolable. For months He tried not to comply, but to devise plots to elude the dormant angel’s instructions.

Man was scared. How was He to live without His plastic, His oil? How was He to thrive without His numbing television and His wars and His ego? Where would hatred, sad and forlorn, go?

But Man finally found a solution, for He already had things that diminished; brutal tools that beclouded hearts by means of carnage. Man would do what He knew how to do: the removal of any way that was not His way as it had always been since olden times.

Man rose to the skies as well, on metal pinions, a wasp girded with the deadliest stinger. For a single moment all of Men were Him. Unity achieved through sorrow.

A frosty wail broke the brittle material of Man’s resolve. The angel’s head exploded. Blue ichor seeped from no end of wounds. Limbs detached from body. And then the rain, a rich mitochondrial downpour that turned Man into either monster or winged protector; a revealing brew that brought forth the true shape of the masquerader.

This is how the war started. Man against Devil. Man against angel. Man against Himself. Yellowed fangs rending flesh from screaming corpses (it was moot to address the afflicted otherwise). Bolts of lightning burning scale and horn to a smouldering crisp.

And in the midst of it all, no god. Only Man fighting His sins.