by Max Barry

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by The Colony of Noneuropean Union Lore. . 29 reads.

Tale - "Answers"

The desert of Zama, in northern Arastead, had multiple millennia worth of history.
The city of Zahgrezam had been built at least six thousand years ago, as one of the first modern cities in the entire world. It had seen conquests from the Vinneh Empire, the Sebriutonic Empire, the Netheritehel crusades, and most recently - as in, in the last three-hundred years, from the Idontknowium crown.
Multiple very different cultures had mixed over the last thousand years in the modern-day republic of Arateszama, which lead to many different mythologies and religions converging into the strange Church of the Elemental Asemism.

After the recent attack on the enormous city of New York, one of the biggest cities in the world; by the Sirens, she had started looking for answers into the origins of... well, everything. From the Sirens, to the Archons and other gods, to even herself. The attack had lead to the paranormal becoming public knowledge, and the Foundation to lose their secrecy - at least for a while, until they control everything. Like they always do.
Her efforts had ended up directing her to the city of Zahgrezam, which was only thirty kilometers away from the southern mountain pass through the Atlas mountain range.
And south of that?
The Archon Emirate of Sumerustead.

Saturn had an idea a few months before the entire Foundation lost its secrecy: she was going to go around the world, and interrogate all the gods she could. She really wanted to know what the hell is up with the Sirens, and why they don't make any sense - even to her.

So she planned on starting by visiting the Goddess of Wisdom herself, the Lesser Lord Kusanali.

― ― ― ―

Part 1: The Archon of Nature

The scorching summer of the Arastead continent didn't perturb her at all.

She had entered into the great walls of the city of Sumeru in order to get an audience with the Dendro Archon.
The guards let her in, as she successfully lied her way into the Academia. The first thing she saw when entering the Academia was an enormous hallway with a throne in the end, and many bookshelves on both sides. The floor, made of a pristine marble and sandstone pattern, was illuminated by the natural sunlight that entered through the glass dome above it.
There were two large corridors extending both to her left and her right. People in long robes and tunicas were moving through them, as they were discussing academic topics of various complexities. A group of young students passed by while one of the kids was telling the others how much he wanted to do tomorrow's test, as he had studied for weeks and loved the topic.

She looked to the throne, which was more than three hundred meters away from the entrance, and spotted a young-looking woman clad in vibrant green clothes. She had a crown made out of wood and leaves.
Surely it wouldn't be that easy, right? Come up to the Archon and speak with her?
Then, she saw the woman stand up and look at her.

Saturn slowly walked to Kusanali, while admiring the enormous shelves that adorn the hallway. Many different peoples were studying and reading from them, as the bookshelves were accompanied by a second floor dedicated to students - so they could sit down and read in peace.
Sumeru Academia was the biggest center of knowledge in the world.

Both deities approached each other, as the guards that escorted the Dendro Archon stayed near the throne.
Her green robes had the Dendro element symbol all over them, as the green hearts of the pattern reflected light in different ways.

Kusanali looked at Saturn with distrust, a little bit annoyed.
"Why do you present yourself in my nation?"
"I need some answers," bluntly replied Saturn.
"And you want to get them right now? You waltz in here, ignoring our protocols and traditions, and ask for an audience?" asked a perplexed Kusanali.
"Y-yeah, you have protocols for that?"
"Of course! Otherwise people would just storm with their mundane inquiries!"
The Archon sighed.
"I will make an exception to you - just once - merely because of your fellow deific nature."
"That's cool, I guess," replied Saturn.
"Speaketh," commanded Kusanali.
"I want to know everything about the Sirens."
"Antiochus? Very well then, but you will have to pay a price."
"A-Antiwhat?" asked Saturn.
Kusanali laughed.
"Oh, child, you have so much to learn. Let me guide you to a place."

The two walked behind the throne, were an equally massive hall was present. This hall seemed to be for the military branch of Sumeru Academia, as several banners adorned the walls.
After getting to the end of the hallway, Kusanali pressed her hand against a wall. The wall proceeded to disappear, leading into an enormous spiral stairwell that lead downwards.
They went down and down for what seemed to be hours.

"You have worked with the Foundation, am I correct?"
"Well, if you consider 'work' to be used as a slave for a week after your creation until you break free... then, yeah?"
"Oh, you are a creation? How old are you?" asked Kusanali, not sure what answer to expect.
"Just 2 years," replied Saturn.
"You are the strangest god to have ever existed, dear Saturn."

The duo got to the bottom of the stairs, which leads to a small tunnel with a stone door.
After entering the room, Saturn was greated by a gigantic stone statue of a man. Six arms, six eyes, two of said arms holding a gigantic warhammer with a head that resembled the Foundation's logo.
No, this was not a statue. This was a corpse. The skin of this man was grey as stone and tense as steel, the six eyes opened and full of rage, and his face was featurless. She hadn't seen anything like this before.

"Wh-" tried to ask Saturn, only to get her answer.
"La Hire the Fierce," replied Kusanali. "He is buried here, as a testament of Saraswati's strength and a reminder to myself to keep getting stronger."
"La Hire...? Saraswati?"
"Saraswati was the previous Dendro Archon, as I am not even two thousand years old while he ruled over Sumerustead for almost half a million years." Kusanali looked over to the gigantic corpse, shy of 20 meters tall. "La Hire the Fierce was one of the Primeval Demons..."
"I think I've heard something about them. I think Hector is in Kallenaih?" rhetorically asked Saturn.
"Do you know about Adam?" asked Kusanali, after letting out a small sigh. She took a seat on a nearby table, prepared specifically for her to sit down and read.
"Adam? You mean Adam El Asem?"
"Indeed. Take a seat, I have knowledge to impart."
Saturn sat in front of the Archon, facing away from La Hire.

"Okay, what the hell?" rudely asked Saturn, to which the Dendro god replied with a chuckle.
"Which hell?" replied her. Saturn was even more confused now.
"Before you start talking, what relation does the very ancient past have with the Sirens?" continued asking the young god.
"Antiochus, not Sirens. They love the latter name, which only makes them stronger."
Saturn reclined on her seat.
"About two million years ago, the Maker of Stars and the Iron-Crowned; Adam El Asem, was designing the first modern humans. He made the eternal children of the sun, who could only thrive under the eternal light of Him. I am not embelishing this when I tell you that Adam was the single strongest god in the entire universe; not even the Pale Emperor or the Escapee from Above dared face him."
"Everyone feared him?"
"No, everyone respected him. Oberon, the God of the Fae, saw Adam as a role model. The Broken God and the Demiurge, eternal enemies as they are, were forced to forge peace under His rule. Both the Ambassador of Alaggada and the Scarlet King swore loyalty to Adam. Every god bowed down to him."
"Until...?" asked Saturn, predicting a turn of events was about to happen, due to the single fact that Adam El Asem is nowhere to be found today.
"Until Yaldabaoth found out about the Isle of the Skies," answered the Goddess of Wisdom.
"You mean Celestia?"
Kusanali nodded.
"Yaldabaoth broke free from His rule and ascended to the Island, where She fully ascended to the levels of Adam. This left Him with no other choice but to sacrifice His powers..."
"And how does that relate to the Sirens?"
"Well, you know how Antiochus loves driving a wedge in the diplomatic landscape of the modern world, don't you? Letting these kansen have so much power has left the world a more wounded place because of Antiochus' presence."
Saturn's eyes widened.
"How old are these things?" asked the Deer Goddess, slightly fearing the answer.
"As ageless as the mist of creation, and as timeless as the space between the foam of reality."
"So... you don't know?"
Kusanali put her arms on the table and got closer to Saturn.
"Antiochus is the root of all our problems. They influenced Adam to bring a star from the skies for His son Seth, which angered the Fae. They influenced Able El Asem to sail across the seas into Torham to 'avenge' his father, which resulted in the collapse of Apollyonia. They influenced Yaldabaoth to pursue a false power, giving her a vision. They put is in this predicament. For what? That, I am unaware of."

"Wait, you mean Yaldy got a vision? A god, getting a vision? Aren't we the ones that give visions?"
Kusanali took a moment to reply.
"Did you just call the Demiurge 'Yaldy'?"
"Answer me."
"Yes, Antiochus gave a god a vision." She sighed; sometimes it looks like Saturn is unaware of her presence as a god.
"The collapse of Adam's kingdom awoke the Pale Emperor. You might know him as the Black Moon," continued explaining the Archon as if nothing had happened.
A small tremble moved the two, which Saturn replied to by getting visibly startled.
"Don't worry, he does that from time to time."
"He...?" worringly asked Saturn, while turning to point to La Hire. "Isn't this thing... y'know, dead?"
"You can't kill a god, child. You can't eradicate Antiochus, too, because of this same rule."
Saturn shaked her head.
"Sirens aren't gods, I've killed many."
"Oh, have you?" sarcastically asked Kusanali, who continued before Saturn could formulate a response. "Siren models are killable, yes; as they are husks of their true selfs."
"Oh..." answered Saturn, as apocalyptic thoughts started entering her mind. She made the connections instantly.
"Well, thank you for your time Kusanali," said Saturn while getting up. "I already know everything I want to."

"Not so fast, child," said Kusanali before Saturn could leave. "Tell me one thing - and answer honestly: Why are you pursuing this hopeless endeavour?"

She made memory of the promise she made to Formidable, one of the few shipgirls that had treated her well. 'I will destroy every single one of them', she promised to the Dontknowiumite carrier, as she was holding her during her last moments.
"For a friend. A bunch of them, actually."
"I see, tell me the details of this."
"No," said Saturn with a fake smile as she turned around towards the door. "Private affairs."

― ― ― ―

Part 2: Lost

Using her godly powers, she had camouflaged herself with a more 'normal' appearance. Her enormous antlers were gone, as well as the deer tail that grew out of her lower back. The deeply intrinsic patterns of her eyes were transformed into mundane brown eyes. Her hair turned fully black, instead of iridescent. And finally, the halo that hovered behind her back was gone too.
She was normal - to the untrained eye.
Which let her peacefully sit on a coffee shop in the city of Johanneskont, in the Federation of Waskonte. Her journey hadn't ended up yet, as she wasn't convinced with the answer the Dendro Archon had given her.

She was quietly reading a history book on the Great War, titled 'The End To End All Wars', by a very biased Dontknowiumite author. She did not perceive these biases, however; as she was ignorant of the whole conflict.
Despite the factually incorrect impressions this book was leaving on her, Saturn was enjoying this read.
Then she noticed something.
A man just sat in front of her, and was looking at her with a smile on his face.
She was surprised, as she did not hear him approach.
"Nice antlers," said the man.
'What!?' thought Saturn, instinctively touching her head.
"How- How did you-"
"I can spot weirdos," said the man with a smile. "Anthony, by the way."
Saturn didn't know what to reply. She couldn't... say her true name to this man.
"A-Jean. Jean is my name," lied Saturn in reply.
"Nice to meet you, Jean. What are you doing in such a... normal place?"
"You... mean there's a place for people like me?"
"Oh, yeah there is. I can show you if you want."
She hesitated for a moment, before accepting.

The two of them walked for a while until they arrived at a bad part of town. Saturn didn't fear getting stolen because, well, she's a goddess; but she still was on high alert.
They approached a very rundown and old tavern that smelt of cheap beer, and she reluctantly followed Anthony inside.
The two sat at the bar counter, as Anthony ordered a beer for himself.

"You want anything to drink?"
"No, no. It's too early for that..." she said, as Anthony drank a bit. "Besides, I don't... drink."
"I see you hesitant, Jean. Is this your first time on a place like this?" asked the man, clearly curious.
"Yeah actually, I have never been in such a... place like this," said Saturn while visually identifying every individual at the tavern. The Foundation would have a field day here.
There was a large man with deep red skin and two horns on the front of his hair. This man was particularly muscular, as one of his arms was as wide as Saturn herself.
On a corner of the bar was a man that seemed to have... too many eyes; speaking with a pair of women with very strange clothing.
The bartender had three arms, one of them very insect-looking.
"So, what are you, Jean?" asked Anthony.
Saturn let out a chuckle. She wish she knew the answer to that.
"I'm, eh... just a powerful sorcerer."
"Oh? what do you specialize in?"
"Alteration. I change, uh, stuff into other stuff," she replied, being clueless about thaumaturgy.
"Interesting, and what do you seek in this city? You are clearly not from here."
"I'm looking for a Way into the Library."

Anthony reclined a bit on his stool.
"You want to access the Wanderer's Library?"
"Yes," nicely replied Saturn.
She remained silent for a few seconds. 'I want to put a stop to this madness' was the true answer, but he didn't even know her true identity.
"I want answers to some of my questions."
"Fair, I guess. So, before I can help you out with that; what are your qualities? Are you affiliated with any organization?"
Why would she lie anymore?
"Hmm... I, uh, 'worked' with the Dämmerung Foundation for a while, but I betrayed them. Didn't like their work ethics."
"Oh... a jailer..." replied Anthony, somewhat worried. "Well, it so happens to be that I work with the Serpent's Hand, so I could, uh, try to do something for you if you leak some stuff to me. Anything helps."
"'Leak' stuff to you? You mean, like, anomalies?"
Anthony nodded.
Saturn reclined on the stool as much as possible, getting closer to Anthony.
"They have multiple gods contained. DCA-2845, 4971, 002, 004, the list goes on."
His eyes widened a fair bit.
"There's also this ancient enemy they are fighting, called the Sirens - or Antiochus, I don't really know anymore-"
"I've heard about the Sirens, yes. Continue on, please."
"I worked fighting them. I... Well, I helped the kansen they have to fight; did reparations and adjustments to their riggings, and stuff like that."
"You... can tell me something about those gods? I heard there was a crisis with one of them very recently, is that true?"
"Oh, yes, totally true," she chuckled, remembering that time she drove Titanus and Ghidorah to the middle of nowhere. "An ancient god, DCA-004, woke up and started wrecking havoc this very same year. It was... It was horrible. So many lifes lost. How do you know about this?"
Anthony smirked.
"I have my sources."

"Well, that's more than I expected. There are no Ways anywhere in southern Arastead, sadly... but you could always seek audience with the Dendro Archon."
"Why? Why her specifically?"
"Because gods are Ways into the Library."
'Oh,' she thought while her eyes lit up.
"What happens?" asked an intrigued Anthony.
"No, nothing. I should get going."
Before Anthony could reply, the massive man with the red skin had approached the two. He was clearly drunk, as he put one of his gigantic hands on the back of Saturn.
"Hey, gal, wo-"
Saturn locked eyes with the man.
On a single instant, Saturn's godly sight pierced the soul of the man.
"S-sorry, I won't bother you," said the giant with clear fear and angst in his tone; as he ran out of the tavern; destroying the door in the process and screaming 'have mercy on me, almighty goddess.'

While the rest of the tavern started getting moved with the situation, Anthony opened her arms as if asking 'what was that?'
"I have to go, man."
"Ok, if you need my help just let-"
"I don't need your help," bluntly interrupted Saturn as she left following the path of the red-skinned man.

― ― ― ―

Part 3: Unfathomable even for a God

She didn't know if gods are just Ways - or entrances - into the Wanderer's Library, or if they could also access the library. This hole in her knowledge made her extremely anxious, as she mentally prepared herself for 'opening' a Way.
Saturn closed her black and white eyes, as she started thinking on accessing the Library. When she opened her eyes, she was... somewhere else.
Definitely not Waskonte.

Startled by this changed in scenery, she looked around for clues. It indeed looked like a library, although it was very strange.
Mortals can not perceive the true form of the Library, even when they're inside. They view rooms that make them react with awe, and make them feel comfort as well.
She, however, was not a mortal. Nor was she just a meager immortal.
This means she could see the extent of everything all at once. All the corners, all the hallways, all the shelves, all the... people?
Everything at once. Infinity, eternally stretching and connecting to every single other world in the entirety of existence itself. Not just her universe, but many others as well; as there were things walking through the Wanderer's Library that did not make sense whatsoever.

Mortals felt inspiration by walking into whatever their insignificant minds managed to perceive, but Saturn felt dread. An existental dread she thought she'd never experience.
This place was unimaginbly big, even for her.
A library of Babel, an allienatingly strange place that caused her phyisical and mental pain just by trying to understand it all.

Just when she began to fade away into the Library; as all gods that aren't welcome here do, a voice spoke.
It was deep like nothing she has ever heard before, and spoke with very little amount of words.

"What is that which you seek inside the halls of everything that Is?"
The voice pierced through her infinite soul, but stopped the slow fading she was experiencing. She was... saved by this voice.
"Uh..." she murmured while recovering all her senses. Her eyes locked sight on an infinitely large and far away white serpent, who was staring back at her with many different eyes with colors that didn't make sense.
"I... I want to know... About the Sirens, or Antiochus;" managed to reply.
"I understand. I can not help you, as that which you seek does not exist inside these unbounded corridors."
"What do you mean you don't have information about these little pieces of sh-!? I mean, isn't this the Wanderer's Library? The place with every bit of knowledge to have ever existed?"
"You are very correct, Daughter of the One who Walks over the Rings of Saturn."
"Don't call me by that name, please," asked Saturn trying her nicest to be friendly. She absolutely hated the progenitor deity she originates from - her 'father'.
"Very well, Saturn. The Library is not home to a single tome explaining the entity you are seeking knowledge about... However; despite not being able to perceive this 'Antiochus', This one know of someone who does."
"What do... you mean?" asked Saturn, trying to make sense of it.
"This one's dear brother, the Serpent of the Lacking Knowledges."
"You have a brother?"
"This one does. Anantashesha is His name, while this one is Nachash."
"Nice to meet you, Nachash... I guess. Where can I, uh, find your brother? I really need answers."
"If your inquiries are so urgent... This one's brother has a physical manifestation in your world of origin. Spelkagrad bay; a three-thousand kilometer long dark eel. This one wishes you luck in your adventures; and you are more than welcome into the halls of untamed knowledge."

The unfathomably large serpent disappeared from her view, and now the entire of the Wanderer's Library wasn't as offensive to her senses as before.
But now Saturn had to find this other serpent, and it was under the seas...
She hated the depths. Sailing was one of her favorite mortal passions - specially considering she is, technically, a shipgirl.
But going below the surface was the last thing she wanted to do right now.

'Oh well,' thought Saturn. 'I guess I will have to get my hands dirty now...'

She closed her eyes again, wishing she were in the capital city of Shengaivostok. And it worked! somehow.

She opened her eyes and was in front of the massive statue to General Secretary Xia Guozhi, who managed to rally a sufficient counter-offensive against the opressive regime of the Yapprani-Kadamba Empire in the year 1821, which lead to the foundation of Spelkagrad.
This was an important place in the city of Shengaivostok, and she just appeared in there; apparently - as many people were looking at her, some of them scared, some of them filming with their phones, etc.
'Wouldn't I happen to be dumb, huh?' she asked herself.
She sighed while looking around. At least the world is aware of the paranormal now, which somewhat consolates her.
Saturn materialized six hexagonal pillars around her, made out of solid metallic hydrogen - the stuff that makes up the core of the planet Saturn, locked perpetually on a single state. She made herself impercetible to the mortal eye, while she released an energy wave designed to fry any and all electronic devices on a three-hundred meter radius - an EMP.

She spent the next few days travelling towards the southern coasts of Spelkagrad, as Shengaivostok is the only city she knew from the nation and it was far away from the Spelkagradian bay.
But once she arrived there, she simply started surfing the waves. After all, she was still technically a kansen - or Kinetic Artifactual Naval-Self-regulative Effective Node, whatever that means. A shipgirl; a girl that's also a ship. It's more easy to remember, to be fair.

Saturn didn't represent any actual warship, as she was an extension of the Priority Research Initiative. The Foundation managed to understand how nations like First Ironblood or Idontknowium did it, as they were surprisingly lagging behind them, and went crazy with their own imaginary designs.
The Asem-class was inspired by the four 'Primeval Demons', of which Saturn barely knew anything. Demon Ogier had been recently embroiled on a massive battle where a Shikishimagradian battleship had died - not by her actions; Demon La Hire had fittingly gone missing - considering the fate of the real La Hire the Fierce; Demon Hector had sacrificed herself to stop a very powerful Siren entity recently - somewhat like Hector the Stalwart; and finally Demon Lancelot had openly betrayed the Foundation and had gone to the Chaos Insurgency - again... somewhat like Lancelot the Conqueror did.
Maybe not the brightest idea.

But then there was Saturn, official name DFNV SATURN. She was born in Arcana Sanctum, as the magnum opus of doctors David Aoste and Elizabeth Anzeel. They both cherished Saturn, and greatly helped her unlock her godly powers.
Until the higher ups at the Foundation came along. She wasn't sure what happened to both doctors, but the Taskforce Nine-Tailed Fox had invaded the site. There were a lot of gunshots and... her memories are blurry, as she wasn't a month old; but she managed to escape. And she almost drowned while escaping.

She had recently approached the deepest point in the entirety of the world's oceans, as she had intelligently thought that a massive eel would only have space to live in a location like the Bismarck Trench.
And she did indeed feel... something. A feeling of... forgetting something. She had forgot something important. Why is she here? And how can she of all people forget something?
Distressed, and knowing she was being actively observed, she cursed whatever force had made her forget.
And whatever this entity was answered, as a gigantic wave formed from below her. Her deeply ingrained thalassophobia started messing with her brain, as she levitated several hundreds meters from the water level to protect herself.
Off into the distance, a series of dorsal spines were moving above the water. This was it, whatever she came to do.
A primeval fear rushed over her as the sounds of a distant roar reached her ears. It sounded... infinitely distant, but also very close and personal.

'Why am I here!? What's this thing!?' asked a perturbed Saturn, who was trying her hardest to remember. She felt something trying to manducate on her soul, but failing to do so due to her nature.
Then she started feeling a headache. Her head was getting bombarded with emotions she had never felt, and memories from people she had never met. The pain was too much for her, as she screamed to the four winds, causing the waters below to solidify into pure metal hydrogen.
Her scream was met with a loud roar, this time of a very angry nature. This roar somehow compelled her to... drop to the waters below.

She plunged to the depths, as she tried to stabilize herself. Despite her nature as a shipgirl, she didn't know how to swim, much less move below water.
And on a single instant it felt like she had descended hundreds upon hundreds of meters below the surface, as all the dim sunlight had faded away. She had entered the realms of something she did not understand.
Closing her eyes and trying to teleport to another place, she realized she had forgotten how to do so. Shortly after, she'd forget she even could teleport in the first place.

A very familiar voice spoke in her head.
"Don't think. It feeds on thoughts."
It was the voice of the Escapee from Saturn; He Who Walks on the Icy Rings.
His 'father'.
'How...?" she tried to think, before realizing it would only feed whatever this thing was.

After falling down for what seemed to be centuries, she opened her eyes again. The dark and murky waters did not allow for any light to come out, and - even using her abilties - she still couldn't see anything no matter how hard she tried.
She turned around, looking for a point of reference, when she saw... a pair of green luminescent orbs.
A flash of very green light illuminated the entirety of the depths, letting her see a gigantic coiling structure that enveloped her in every direction. She looked at the green orbs during that single flash of light, and saw something that deeply frightened her: the head of an eel. Those were eyes.
A gigantic eel... In the bottom of the Spelkagradian bay...
'Oh,' she realized, after remembering why she was here.

"Why are you two such a bunch of weirdos!?" managed to telepathically formulate Saturn, to which the eel answered by getting its head dangerously close to Saturn.
A single teeth from the eel made Saturn small in comparison. Maybe messing with it wasn't the best idea...
She desperately tried to swim away to no avail, as the water was very dense. She levitated away instead.

"Why?" asked a very unhuman voice inside her mind.
"A-Anantashesha?" asked a somewhat paralyzed Saturn, as she was still remembering things she had forgotten.
The eel opened its mouth and let out a roar that deafened her.
"Young mockery of a god."
"Listen, I come with a very small question, as your brother couldn't help me at all!" replied Saturn, before realizing the absurdity of coming to an ancient and primigenial god just to ask one question.
"Why would you pester me?" The voice was growing angrier, as the eel was coiling faster than before and the open and hungry mouth was closer to her.
"Sirens! I want to know about them!"
The eel stopped.

Anantashesha recoiled back a bit, as his movements made the ocean floor tremble. The water surrounding Saturn became somewhat more visible, allowing her to perceive the immense size of the being in front. She tried to locate the end of the eel, but it was nowhere to be found. The body of the god was wide enough to swallow an entire city block, which triggered some sort of fear inside Saturn.

"Antiochus," said the voice in her head.
Saturn eagerly nodded.
"Bane of all evil. Devourer of the central bough."
"Speak more clearly! I-I can't understand what you mean!"
The eternal god of memories and legacies roared at the young god, startling Saturn.
"Escapee from Above. Destroyed Antiochus' world, now they want vengance."
"You... mean they have a reason?"
The eel let out a small rumble.
"Correct. Still need to be eradicated."
"And why haven't you lazy gods have eradicated them before? You've had millions upon millions of years!?"

The eel was about to roar at Saturn again, but the young god shouted before Anantashesha could do its thing.
"Don't roar at me!" exclaimed her, while massive energy waves capable of splitting apart continets fled out of her mouth.
Anantashesha grew silent for a moment.
"Very well. Go seek a talk with your progenitor, as He protects over you. He killed the Antiochus 'Creator.'"
"You mean... Saturn...? I am not going to talk with that murderer, at all."
"Yet you massacre Antiochus."
"Because they want me dead! And... my friends too. You've got anny idea of how much pain and suffering they've caused us?"
"Young gods and their belief that humans matter... So naive," commented the very ancient god.
"D-Don't boomer talk me!" exclaimed the Deer, obviously frightened. The God answered by rumbling, causing more waves and tremors.
"Cannot help you. Will not help you. Leave, before your memories join mine."
Saturn sighed.
'Why does nobody want to directly help me!?', mentally screamed Saturn.
"Am I really going to have to do it all myself?"

The very faint illumination faded away, returning Saturn to a state of pure darkness and fear.
She resurfaced, as she grasped for air. She didn't need to grasp for air, but she did so out of instinct.
Saturn spent a few minutes floating, thinking if her journey was truly worth it. Maybe it wasn't.
But again... she had to. No other god was willing to do it; and maybe there was a good reason. But she's too stubborn to care.

― ― ― ―

Part 4: Unwanted Reunion

She really didn't want to break into a Foundation facilty right now.
But DCA-2845 was 'contained' in Site-Numen-01. 'Numen' being the ancient Kasteran word for 'god', not very subtle - fitting for the spirit of the Dämmerung Foundation.

As much as she hated all of them, she understood the goal of this shadowy organization very well. She had seen how dangerous some anomalies can get, as she's been fighting Sirens her whole life. Although it has always puzzled her why these interlopers don't want to fight against fellow Foundation shipgirls like Irkalla, one of her few friends from inside the group - considering Saturn can simply disintegrate them, while Irkalla has a more moderate power range.

The Foundation was founded in the very late 18th Century, by a single man simply known as The Administrator. Considering the little information she has about this man, it looks like he was - or is - a god on his own right.
This 'Administrator' formed a council of ten highly capable individuals to lead the Foundation during his very frequent absences. This council, named the Byblos Council after one of the oldest cities in the world, quickly expanded to a grand total of twenty-something members; right before it was split in two to form the Ethics Committe.
The original goal of the Dämmerung Foundation was to help the Eisenblut Kaiser to conquer the neigbhouring nations, until the Administrator managed to turn the organization independent. Then, they became the 'protectors of normalcy.' Many great men and women have dedicated their whole life to the Foundation's ethos of 'Securing, Containing and Protecting.'

This included containing what could be considered his 'father,' an eldritch entity from before time itself that went by many names, most commonly known as 'the Escapee from Saturn.' This god was worshipped as one of the head deities of the very ancient Vinneh Empire, head of the festival known as Saturnalia - one of the precursors of modern-day Christmas. And he loved when humans performed ritualistic sacrifices in his name, having indirectly killed a good few million people because of this.

She didn't know where the original Saturn god was located, but she intended on finding out by visiting someone who has been a thorn on the side of the Foundation for a good while. That one being... nobody.
Nobody was an unknown entity that stalked Foundation personnel, and seemed to be aware of things nobody should. Nobody was impercetible, a completely anonymous being that nobody could perceive. No cameras or sensors would pick up nobody, as their movements were impossible to discern. When nobody stepped on an elevator, no onlookers would even perceive the doors opening.

Tracking down nobody would be a difficult task to say the least, but... she had some clues. And they all lead to the heart of the Overturean steppe, a place filled with sarkic worshipping cults and other not-very-pleasant folk. Folk that would inevitably see through her facade and into her true nature. Folk that would get very, very angry about a god that is not Yaldabaoth paying a visit.
This was also the land where DCA-610 was loosely contained, as it was a contagious disease made out of pure godly power. Yaldabaoth's curse, as it was known; a disease that spread rapidly and could connect every living organism into a singular, disgusting hivemind, while violently mutating into deformed mockeries of life.
A wrath unleashed by Yaldabaoth in her final moments, before being sealed forevermore into a sanctious crypt by Mekhane; as both gods perished in the final moments of Audapaupadopolis. But this was a whole another drama that did not interest Saturn, as she came here to speak to nobody.

After days of travelling through whatever means she could muster, she went from Spelkagrad into the Himalayian mountain range via train. Then, she picked up another train, this time dropping in the small village of Prepityan. The abandoned city of Prípyat was relatively close, and she heard there were some extremely creepy goings-on in that place. Maybe she could check, but not now.
She walked for weeks up north, as she did not know where the village of her interests was. It wasn't really a village, more like a camp where Overturean political prisoners are held as they are fed into DCA-610, in an attempt to contain this plague.
The attempts didn't go too well, but they at least tried. With innocent people, of course.

The town was nearby, as she could feel the air getting heavier and more disgusting. Thankfully she doesn't need to breathe.
A large wall loomed over the horizon, as this was the place. She didn't want to enter 610's site, it just happens to be the central database of the entire region. A place were nobody would certainly be interested in checking out.
It wasn't too difficult for her to pass through the guards, as she became impercetible with a single thought.

The database was enormous. A single building with a gigantic complex of machinery she didn't understand. Her human side marvelled over the technological display, while her godly side was impatient as she felt something watching her.
With a swift movement, she turned around and grabbed the air, making a gesture as if holding someone's throat. She felt some weight being lifted with her movements. Seems she found nobody.
"Reveal yourself," telepathically commanded Saturn to this entity as she dropped them.
A thud was heard coming from in front of her, and a large masculine figure made out of pure darkness became visible. Nobody.
"How did you even see me!? That is statistically impossible! You don't even wear any weird gear!" exclaimed the man with a hush tone.
"I will make things quick: Where is DCA-2845's site?"
"I-I'll let you know if you answer me first!" This seemed to be a rather normal man, not some deity as she had thought... Well, 'normal' within reason.
"I am a god. You can not hide from me."
"Al-alright, I'll take your word..." the man coughed, as he kneeled. The black shape in front of her seemed to be just a man with a very dark covering, possibly a suit of sorts.
"Nevada, Site-Numen-04. The Deer is there, why would you want to speak with it?"
"Because I have a promise to keep," replied Saturn without missing a beat.
The sound from the two talking alerted the guards, who had sounded the alarms. Suddenly, nobody had disappeared from her sight.
Several guards aimed and shooted at her, as the bullets passed clean through her body. Saturn, in turn, retaliated by turning the seven armed guards to hexagonal metallic hydrogen pillars, killing them in the process.
She rushed past the pillars while turning impercetible again, and made mental plans for getting to the United States of Torham.
Maybe she could visit some of her few friends over there.

While fleeing from the place, she suddenly remembered she had an ability not so long ago... Was it before visiting Anantashesha? Eitherway, she could teleport. And she had remembered how to, which made her stop.
With her eyes closed, she wished she were 'near the site where my father is,' a location she was unaware of. When she opened her eyes, she was in front of... an airbase. She sure seemed to recognize it, was it Groom Lake base?
Oh, yeah it was. The famous Area 51, known before the catastrophe of a few months ago as 'the most paranormal place in the world' by the public. Now it was just a random airbase nobody payed attention to, because there were other more paranormal happenings in the public eye. Although she was sure those happenings wouldn't last longer, as the Foundation had ways of 'returning things to normal' that not even her understood.
In a few months everyone would go back to thinking aliens are reals, and that bigfoot is just some weird ape instead of a devastatingly old foe of humanity. And that ghosts are real, too. All of those things incorrect, of course.

It was nighttime in Nevada, as it was dawn in the northern siberian plains of Overture just a few moments ago. Maybe it was the perfect time to strike.
She started heading towards the base, trying to pass as impercetible as she could. Right when she was near the front gate, she heard a bunch of fighter jets taking off. Maybe they were launching some test flights at the dead of night, as this facility surely did indeed house military testing facilities.
But the jets taking off looked exactly like the standard F-22s of the Torham Air Force. Maybe it wasn't a test, but a drill of sorts? No reason to be alarmed.
Her eyes glanced over the horizon to the opposite side of the front gate, where she picked up some strange blue hues in the skies. It was extreme amounts of radiation, what could be going on?

She frantically searched for a hangar or something similar with some sort of shaft, as her objective should be below ground. She could not pass through the base unperceived, however; as some sort of sensors picked her up.
Guards were coming, and they were heavily armed. So she quickly hid behind a hangar door. Saturn could hear the soldiers mobilizing all over the base, and they'd surely find her here. She also could sense an incalculable amount of energy coming from below her, deep inside the earth.
An explosion tore open the hangar door, as a Global Occult Coalition Striketeam, with their cyan helmets and black and cyan... uniforms? The more apt word would be 'power armor,' as they seemed prepared to take an entire squadron all by themselves - individually. They, still were no match to a god.
She dropped her impercetible facade, as she destroyed all the lights illuminating the hangar before the team could see her. This made the strike force pay extra attention, but they didn't get to see how Saturn propelled one of the unoccupied figther jets towards the squad, smashing some of them.

What was a GOC team doing in a site like this anyway? This is Foundation territory, not World Assembly land.
One of the soldiers opened fire at her, but the bullets didn't phase her at all, as she transformed the remaining squad members into metallic hydrogen pillars. In a single instant, the squad was gone.
She frantically tried to look for some kind of elevator, but her efforts were halted when she heard a very distinctive roar followed by explosions.
More jet fighters took flight from the runway, which she could see from here.
Then, a Foundation Taskforce entered the hangar... and they weren't any random old soldier, no. She had seen them before, a Taskforce comprised of nigh-unkillable, fully sapient android automatas that posses reality bending abilities due to being built from the remains of a dead god. It was Samsara, Tau-5.
'What are these guys doing here!?' asked a startled Saturn, having to interrump her search. The Taskforce members were an actual threat to her, as one of them punched her in the face. She fell to the floor, as she noticed some... warmth in her face. After bringing her hand to her nose, she discovered she was bleeding.
'Huh...' she said, while standing up.
Several of the Taskforce members started opening fire with their improved weaponry, which really hurted Saturn. She got bombarded by attacks she could not understand, while trying to dodge as many as possible.
When it all seemed like it was about to end, several stone pillars protruded from the ground. And then, the entire hangar was cut in half by a powerful beam of pure, blue radiation.
Saturn was immune to this radiation attack, as she stared towards the now-visible horizon. A giant creature with dark skin and serrated dorsal crests adorning its back. Missiles were impacting its skin to no avail, as it roared with anger. Another creature was visible, a serpent-like dragon of dark brown scales and golden-amber hair.
Both figures she recognized. Titanus and the Exuvia, a form that the Geo Archon takes.

Suddenly, a man appeared in front of her, which made her jump like a distressed deer. The man was somewhat slender, with short hair ending up on a thin and long ponytail.
"Don't fret, I am here to help you," said the man, as the amber tips of his hair glowed with golden light.
"Who- Why is an Archon helping me all of a sudden, right now!?"
"I am on my way to, uh... speak with an old friend of mine. I figured I might as well help a fellow god on her journey. Saturn is below us, right now," said the man with a very calm and soothing voice. He seemed genuinely friendly, but she was extremely confused.
"A frie- You know what, I'm not interested in the details. Thank you for this help," said the young god while spitting some blood to the floor.
"Very well. If you need help come to Liyue, I will gladly help you," said the God of Contracts and History. "Just be warned: your fight against the Sirens is, very sadly, pointless."

As the figure was about to turn around, Saturn shouted some questions.
"What the hell is going on!? What am I getting into?"

"Oh..." said the man, turning around; his amber glowing eyes making contact with Saturn's. "You are fighting against an enemy that can not be won over. Do you honestly believe that the other Superior gods haven't tried anything yet?" he stopped, as a fuel tank exploded in the distance. There was a fight going on, very likely between GOC and Foundation soldiers; while Titanus was blasting his atomic blue ray of death into the ground.
"We tried it - the Archons - a few millennia ago, before we officially became the Archons. I still remember the great losses we experienced..."
"Indeed." There was an awkward pause, as the wreckage of a tank flied in the background. "As to why I'm here... I plan on visiting a friend, the old Pyro Archon."
"You're visiting... who?"
"Inti, the Eternal Flame. Then... I'll be off to Snezhnaya with another friend, Barbatos."
Saturn looked at the destruction around them.
"Morax, why are you helping me?"
He smiled.
"The winds are changing. I can sense it; maybe there is a way of killing the Sirens, and maybe there is a way of saving humanity from Celestia." Saturn started realizing some things. "I wish you luck, young god."
"Y-Yeah, I... Same," said her, as she started running towards the enormous hole Titanus had made into the ground.

The hole directly lead to where DCA-2845 is located. Her father.

The undergound of the site was massive and made out of a material that could resist Titanus' atomic breath, but that didn't stop her from busting through the reinforced doors.
The entire facility was dead silent. Other contained anomalies had been evacuated, and not even a single guard remained. She could feel the commotion from above, as the stomping of the giant created miniature earthquakes.
She navigated through the nine concentric rings that made up the containment of 2845, until she found the final reinforced door. She could feel a great presence from the other side, as her heart started accelerating with adrenaline.

After forcing the door open, she saw a garden of sorts. There were a lot of hexagonal pillars everywhere, as they were stacked making a small hill. And at the top of the hill; there it was: a deer. Soft green fur adorned his exterior, as this deer stood proud in his place. His long neck finished on an angry human face, and the antlers were almost as big as his entire body. A series of nine spheres were orbiting at his back, connected by a series of rings and symbols that floated in the air.
This was him. Saturn; the original one and not whatever the Foundation created, whatever she was.

The gigantic stag looked at Saturn with an angry expression.
"You..." said him, with a very deep and raspy voice. "Living mockery of My Image... Yet I still Care for your Wellbeing. Why have you broken into my Dwelling?"
"A-I... I-I need some answers... That's, uh, that's all;" said a very anxious Saturn.
The Escapee stepped down the pillars, getting closer to Saturn.
"I Know why you are Here, I have been Following your steps..."
"I know I've gotten myself into some trouble, and I'm sure the Sirens will ambush me the moment I step into waters... I just wanna know what is up with them."
"I well tell You the Story, if you Listen closely," reassured the Escapee to his 'daughter.'
She nodded, as he started explaining.
"They Come from another World. They see Us as the testing grounds for their Experiments, as they are Refugees from Beyond. They Escaped after getting hit by The War..."
"W-what war?"
"The War, it is the Greatest War. Fought between beings that are Trillions upon Trillions of orders of magnitude above You and I. Your creators believe that they have found a way of stopping these Beings... But they are Wrong," added the Deer with clear disgust in his voice.
"What is this project the Foundation has?" asked Saturn, knowing the Deer has no way of knowing this.
"They talk about putting another Stake in the Palisade. That is All I can Hear, as they destroy countless timelines to Protect themselves."
"This... this is the first time I hear about this whole war," confesed the young lady, not knowing what to make of it.
"It does Not surprise me. These 'Sirens' do not wish Destruction of humanity, although they Love putting roadblocks in their Development. We are their Protectors; no matter our Opinion of Them."
"I see. And you- I mean, we can't let the Sirens do much damage to humans, right?"
The Deer let out a sigh, which she interpreted as a 'yes.'
"And why haven't you done anything in the past seventy years?"
"I have been Trapped here, as the humans have found My weakness."
"Your weakness being the sacrifice of an infant every four days!?" asked a very shocked Saturn, somehow expecting human morals out of an ancient god.
"What is wrong with that?"

She shaked her head, somehow surprised.

"I directly Fought against one of the Siren Creators a good few eons ago. Humanity wasn't around, and neither was the Great Maker of Stars, Adam El Asem."
"I've heard a lot about that guy, Adam," said Saturn. "Was he powerful?"
"Oh, the Most Powerful indeed. Stronger than every other of us combined. He could easily wrestle against the Ambassador and the Scarelt King simultaneously, and He forced the Demiurge and the Broken God to sign a metaphorical truce. But that is Not what I want to tell you right now."
"Continue on, then..." said a very interested Saturn.
"Antiochus has a Creator, but They are not a being one can Defeat. I believe the Crowned of Apollyon could Destroy the Creator, but He is in northerneastern Overture... Weakened, defeated, and powerless."
"Wait- He's still alive!?" asked her, as a series of ideas crossed her mind. "I can go and ask him directly?"
"If you so Wish, then I suppose You can," said the Deer with a somewhat annoyed tone.
"I will think about it..."
"Your Fight is useless, Child. I am not fond of telling You this, as I would admire to see You succeed."
"I know, I have been told that numerous times already," replied her with a bored tone.
"Have you spoken with the Infinite Serpent?" asked the Deer, knowing she indeed spoke with Anantashesha.
Saturn nodded, remembering the intense fear she felt when going down to the depths.
"That Coward... He is only but an Avatar of the actual being, as He and His brother are also beings beyond Our godly understanding."
"Oh... So... there are things even beyond the most powerful gods...?" asked the young goddess, as she believed to understand the scale of the situation.
"Yes. It is fruitless to seek a victory over Them; Antiochus and the Worm are beyond our levels, we can only halt them."

The enormous deer moved towards the pillars, gracefully jumping on them. He stood proud among his creation, made out of transformed humans that had been sacrificed to him over the last few years.
He looked towards Saturn, who still had some blood on her face. The liquid had solified already, coating her chin with a tint of iridescent dried blood that shined despite the lack of light.
"So, you have already given up? What have you been doing these past years? Just... chilling and not doing your duties as a god?"
The Escapee from Saturn audibly sighed.
"No... As I have revealed to you, fighting is pointless. Protecting is what We can somewhat realize."
"So you've given up." She was speaking with a clearly defying tone.
"Young god, You do not grasp the situation." He was getting somewhat annoyed. "The young ones are always unbending..."
She left out a chuckle.
"What do you mean by 'young ones'?"
"Some of the Archons are equally as stubborn as you."
"Who? I'd like to-"
"Cease. We have already spoken Enough."
She tilted her head. "What do you mean?"
"Cease your quest, Saturn. You will not find any way of destroying your enemies, no matter how deep you search," he said while staring at Saturn. "I am aware I am contradicting Myself; but I have more experience than You with Them."
"I... I understand."
"If You do, leave at Once."

She stared at the Deer for a few seconds, with despair on her mind.
"Very well..."

― ― ― ―

Part 5: Normalcy

Saturn had recently done something she thought to be impossible: a pact with the Foundation.
A member of the Byblos Council, BC-1; had personally talked with her. They both agreed upon a ceasefire and a non-binding alliance, in which Saturn would have access to all the intel the Foundation had about the Sirens, while she would help her fellow shipgirls.
She expected the Dämmerung Foundation to have nothing of relevance about the Sirens, specially after her last month and a half. But she was pleasantly surprised, as they had a wealth of knowledge she didn't even consider.
From the mundane, like the capabilities of each model and their usual deployment patterns and tactics; to the obscure, like ancient texts from hundreds of millennia ago that described a myriad of rituals related to stopping their connection to our reality.

She was reading a few of these papers in public, as she waited for someone. She was enjoying the taste of a pure black coffee due to the recommendations of a fellow shipgirl from Ironblood - even if she didn't really like pure black coffee.
Nobody was talking about the Sirens anymore. Nobody was speaking of the Titanus attack of a few weeks ago, who crossed half the Torham country to help her. She still had a lot of questions - why was Morax in Torham? Why did her father turn cryptic and bitter all of a sudden? How did the Foundation manage to cover everything up so fast? Was her fight really worth it?
Then she looked up and saw someone approaching her table. Short black hair, stylish sunglasses covering golden and blue eyes, and a triangle of light on the front of her hair. It was Georgia, a Torham battleship, and the person who she was waiting for.
The battleship took a seat.

"Yo, it's been months since I last saw you," said her. "How have you been?"
"Fine," replied Saturn with a somewhat groggy voice.
"Hey, what are you reading?" asked the young battleship with intrigue.
"Documents about the Sirens."
"In broad daylight? That's risky," replied Georgia with a laugh. "Anyways, you've traveled around the world for a bit have you?"
Saturn nodded.
"What have you seen?" enthusiatically asked the battleship, who is a fan of travelling.
"Oh, you know... I visited a dark and ancient god at the bottom of the Spelkagrad bay who almost ate me... I visited an extradimensional space that holds every bit of knowledge to have ever existed, I broke into a weird Foundation database in Siberia, and I was there talking to another god when Area 51 got assaulted by the GOC. I still don't know why the GOC was there but oh well," explained the goddess while finishing with a shrug.
"That sounds, uh... dramatic, to say the least."
"Yep, not a fun experience. What have you Eagle Union girls have been up to?"
"Usual stuff. New Jersey and Iowa have been rebuilt already, but we lost Washington and North Carolina to the Sirens at the end of Op-Siren. They were defending New York but didn't make it..."
"Yeah but don't worry, HQ is already rebuilding them. Oh and also Enty almost killed herself again fighting some Sirens, I have no idea how she survives all of that. I'm sure I'd be dead."
"Well, Enterprise is... special," explained Saturn, while finding a way of getting her point across. "She isn't lucky, she is luck. It's complicated, don't worry too much about it."
Georgia slowly nodded.
"I knew something was up with her, did you know we were the only survivors of the fleet Bloodied Spirit!? Caledonia, Empereur, Pommern and New Jersey didn't make it, but she managed to save me... somehow."
"Don't put too much thought into how she's so lucky, nobody knows," replied Saturn.
"Anyways, what can you tell me about the Sirens?"

Georgia was the lead of the Priority Research Initiative department from the nation of Torham, and they were falling behind compared to the other nations. Ironblood had absurdly powerful shipgirls like Ägir, Preußen, Grosser Kurfürst, Roon, Friedrich der Große and many more while the United States of Torham only had three - including Georgia herself, as she was inspired by a random alternate blueprint of the Iowa-class that swapped their triple 406mm rifles with dual 457mm rifles.
And Saturn had made a deal with her: 'I share information about the Sirens to you if you help me get rid of them.' Seemed like a no-brainer, to Georgia.

"I have found things about the Sirens that have caused me - a god - a very deep existential crisis."
"Don't worry, I've heard some bits and pieces about their true nature as well."
"No, you've heard things. I have seen everything."
Saturn swiftly placed her hand on Georgia's forehead, causing her to see a curated version of what Saturn had seen.

An infinite tree with an eternally long white serpent coiling at its base, as an infinite amount of knowledge gets slowly eaten by a Siren-shaped plague; a thousands of kilometers long eel that eats memories and lives on the darkest depths of the ocean, struggling to understand the scope of the Siren menace despite its infinite wisdom; the Goddess of Wisdom herself being scared of actually explaining what the Sirens are about, while the still warm corpse of La Hire the Fierce looms over her; the figure of an elegant dark turquoise deer with the face of a human standing over hexagonal pillars made out of solidifed human flesh, who is scared of the Siren menace.
All of these gods being deeply scared of a single threat, while the only real entity who could pose a defense against the Sirens is long gone - powerless, weak and captive.
Saturn tried not to convey the sense of existential dread she had been feeling these pasts weeks, but it was proving hard.

When she stopped, Georgia was paralyzed for a few seconds.
"Oh..." she let out, looking into the horizon. "We're screwed aren't we?"
Saturn nodded.
Georgia's hair was visibly on edge.
"What do we do? You're way smarter than I, surely you have a plan?" innocently asked the battleship, desesperately needing a positive answer.
"...Kind of."
"What do you mean by that!? Is it gonna work or not?"
"Oh, absolutely," lied Saturn. "I just need some pieces to fall in place... like..."
Georgia made a gesture pressuring Saturn to finish her sentence.
"Do you happen to know where doctor David Aoste is?"
The young Torham shipgirl sighed with relief.
"Yes, he got demoted a time ago but he still has power over the Observer project. Why?"
"I need that lance he's been studying. And I also need the Crown of Apollyon," bluntly requested Saturn.
"You need... the freaking symbol of power of the Apollyon dynasty!? and what lance?"

Saturn smirked with a smug expression.
"Just tell me where the man is, I'll do the rest."