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“Scientists say they will attempt to create a new form of life in the laboratory…. If the plan works, the…manmade [thing] will begin feeding and dividing to create [something] unlike any known to exist…”

“Scientists to Try New Life,” Fox News, 11-22-02

Where hope lingers not.

A probing force pressed tightly against the dark side of the Ahriman Gate as demons, large and small, gargoylian and beautiful, drew swords and held them aloft. Strange, ancient machines, designed for supernatural warfare, floated behind the wicked troops inside the timeless cavity. With unified depravity unknown to men, the abysmal life forms inched the dreadful mechanisms forward. Their determination was as deep and as immutable as the well that had spawned them.

Gazing back with equal resolution was a different wall, one of righteousness—Justice, Swift, and the hosts of Heaven. The angels would not move. They could not. Not until the act of righteousness was done. They believed it would happen. Joe would do the right thing when the time came. They had to believe he would.


Sheri leaned against the elevator’s stainless steel wall, closed her deep blue eyes and hoped the subtle vibrations of the systems hum and vague quivering of the descending floor would subdue some of her fears. She was breathing harder than usual, still clutching the crucifix John Stark gave her in the Genetics room. Although miraculously she was already forgetting some of the terrifying details of the Grays, she worried that the sulfuric scent that still lingered on her skin from the laboratory was calling to them, as if a diabolical symmetry existed between the lab, the Grays, and the forces of Hell.

She adjusted her position against the elevator panel and stared at her three companions. Katherine was behind Joe, holding the back of his belt. Perhaps she planned to use him as a shield in case of serious trouble. Or maybe this was her way of keeping up if he ran. Whatever the reason, Sheri knew her clutch was about more than safety. Several times already she’d caught her staring at him in ways girls do only when they’re attracted to a man. Katherine even blushed once when she thought Sheri saw her, another telltale sign.

Closer to the door was the mysterious man named John Stark. Composed, strong, decisive. The way he carried himself reminded her of her late father. His set jaw, his square shoulders, his graying hair cut short around his serious expression. He seemed at once to be passive yet determined, as if he could survey any situation and immediately take command.

And then there was Joe, standing there like Rambo with his machine gun held firmly forward. Inside this elevator, hundreds of feet below ground, surrounded by minions of hostility and death, she was glad now more than ever to have such an overprotective marine brother.


Stark, who had ridden the elevator so many times that he knew approximately how deep they were, abruptly glanced at Joe. “We’re almost there,” he said. “Be ready.”


As the elevator made a clanking noise and thudded to a sudden halt, Sheri felt the black dregs of fear erupting inside her again.

A recording blared sharply through the intercom, and she jumped at the sound of it.

“Warning! Now entering restricted area!”

Her gaze darkened. She dread what lay ahead, her imagination telling her that creatures of the abyss, lurking outside the cab, were ready to jump through the opening to tear them apart.

The synthetic voice repeated, “Warning! Now entering restricted area!”

She focused on Joe and saw him tighten his grip on the machine gun.

Somewhere, concealed levers squeaked, and the elevator’s doors slid apart.

Now banshee whines were winding through indiscernible shadows, goblin groans fluttering upward in torment, amber glowing reflections of flaming sulfur molding like eyes glittering from nether regions, as the devilish black mouth of the subterranean gorge brought her face-to-face with the transgenic new millennium.





When the cab’s doors fully opened, fetid smells of rotting flesh and sewage spewed into the elevator with savage odor so horrific that Joe’s ability to breathe was immediately impaired. He winced and wanted to turn away. Katherine gasped behind him, “Oh…my goodness…nasty.”

Plunging a finger to his lips, Stark held his breath and motioned for the others to quickly and silently follow him into the man-made hell.

They stepped through the threshold into the bitter Dungeon, beneath foggy shades of bluish green-gray that cast eerie specters across the jagged sixty-foot ceiling.

A disturbing ambience crawled on Joe’s skin, as scabrous and plutonic as any scene he’d seen in a Stephen King novel.

Except for concrete floors and fabricated steel structures, the entire chamber looked ancient, as if Titans, thrown from the burning cores of Tartarus after fighting Zeus to a draw, had hewed the cavernous opening with the hundred-handed monsters in their quest to escape the underworld.

The main corridor, wide as a two-lane highway, felt claustrophobic nevertheless.

To the left was an operating theater. Beyond that an enclosure with barred windows housing sophisticated-looking equipment. In the other direction a series of cell-like cages cut succinctly inside the cavern’s wall. These extended southerly for approximately one hundred feet. Beyond them, a high-pitched carillon rang out, as though somebody was hammering something in harmony with a deeper monotonous throb.

Automated activity. Pandemonium’s engine.

Stark nudged Joe, tapped his finger beneath his right eye, and pointed, directing Joe’s attention to the middle of the room. As Stark’s hand glided silently through the air, emphasizing one end of the courtyard to the other, Joe barely saw through the somber haze of the expanse to what he was pointing at—rows of sliding doors attached to long lines of gigantic metal cages extending floor to ceiling. Brightly colored signs marked two rows in yellow on black—Quadrant One and Quadrant Two. The pens appeared to be constructed of immense cylindrical bars, like zoo stalls for larger animals. On either side of the streets, at approximately six feet from the floor, feeding troughs spanned the length of the exteriors.

As Joe struggled to discern what looked like tall statues standing up inside the massive enclosures, something to his right moved and emitted an eerie, guttural growl.

Twenty yards away, clutching immense titanium bars, an incomprehensible behemoth squatted inside its dusky cell. The thing studied Joe from the darkness, its amber eyes burning as hot as a werewolf’s on the night of the full moon. In spite of the dismal, muggy air, Joe had no difficulty discerning the lathering hatred of the monster’s facial demeanor. Its fangs were as hideous as long steel spikes, curled dangerously inward beneath a macabre and gaping snarl.

He shuddered. For the second time in only the last ten minutes, Joe felt they were in immediate and incalculable danger. The boogeyman was real…and it lived beneath Montero.

The beast let out a second threat, full-throated this time, so unnatural and loud that the corridor seemed to vibrate beneath its intense and menacing squall. It sounded like something between a gorilla, a human, and a pig.

An icy gasp leaked from Sheri’s trembling lips as she placed a hand over her mouth and took a step away.

Joe moved in front of her and raised the M-249.

The thing stood up. It had to be at least ten feet tall.

A moment of intense silence passed as the ruddy creature’s chest swelled in assessment of the foursome. It raised its muzzle and tested the air. The admiral’s scent was probably familiar to it, but not Joe’s or the girls’. It flexed and shook, as if feeling the exhilarating rage of animal appetite whetting its ancient palate, then stared at Joe again.


In spite of Stark’s familiarity with the creatures, he knew no power they possessed could stop the hell of the Mega-Nephilim if they got outside their containment. Signaling the others to follow, he made brief eye contact with the caged monster, then turned and headed north, toward the rendezvous point where Donald Pritchert was supposed to be waiting.

As he led the gang away, the level of fear he’d just felt surprised him. He could only imagine how spooked the three young people behind him must be. He studied the abrupt change in his self-control for the moment, until fifty yards on, with shadows spreading like ink from the murky overhead crag, his thoughts returned to the larger meaning of their mission.

Now a set of train tracks formed a casual turn onto the street they were following. Stepping over the rails, he watched as Joe jogged up beside him. Katherine, having released Joe’s belt a few seconds before, was holding Sheri’s hand now, pulling her to keep up.



In the distance, the big monster howled again, differently this time, as if calling to others. The creature’s reverberation played tricks on Joe. In every darkened corner, black-cloaked beings sprang from the ceiling and scurried over the floor after them. When he looked forward, imaginary hands clawed from the shadows, grasping at their legs to catch and hold their squirming bodies until their killers could arrive. He had never been afraid of the dark or paranoid of the unknown, but this was the first time he’d caught a glimpse of Hell, so it was natural when he nearly squeezed the machine gun’s trigger against the outline of a man standing wraithlike near a bend in the road ahead.

“That’s Pritchert,” Stark cautioned as Joe swung the weapon to fire. “He’s our ticket out of here. He has the access code we need to get outside.”

Squinting, Joe whispered between breaths, “Pritchert? Donald Pritchert?”

“You know Donald?”

“He’s the guy I was supposed to meet upstairs a couple weeks ago. I was to give him the image, the stone head my father found.”

“The Nibiruan Key?”

“From the home of the Annunaki, according to Corsivino.”

“Yes, well, that’s the title given to it by Montero’s researchers. It turned out to be the key to the ETV, anyway.”

This time it was Stark who glanced back at the Nephilim depot. The beast was quiet now. Stark appeared to be studying the area between the caged monsters and them, then continued. “Besides turning that blasted spaceship on, it seems to have actually enabled the Enigma to obtain a space-time vortex. At least that’s what the executive brass believes. As for me, I think it’s opened the gates of Hell.”

Joe remembered Corsivino discussing a dimension-machine that existed between four columns inside the ETV. He’d called it the “Enigma” and said it was able to manufacture a multidimensional gateway to Heaven or Hell. Joe wanted to ask Stark about it, but knew this was not the time or place. There would be plenty of opportunity to discuss such things once they got outside, if they got outside.

Ahead, Pritchert pranced like a bladder-bloated child in the middle of the tracks. He was holding an item about the size of a Palm Pilot, although Joe doubted that’s what it was. He motioned excitedly for the group to hurry, then turned and disappeared around a blind spot in the tracks. The group raced forward, anxious to catch him and to put as much space between themselves and the Nephilim as possible.

As they arrived at the bend in the road, they found Pritchert standing next to the access tunnel entry. He was about Joe’s size, darker hair, slimmer features, attired in nice clothes—sweater, tie, dress pants, and loafers—holding the Palm device against an illuminated panel. He was plugging it in when he glanced up, half smiled at the others, then continued what he was doing.

Joe could see the path they were following made a wide arch at this juncture and joined a second set of tracks at an uneven Y in the road ahead. One set of rails entered a cavernous area occupied by parked boxcars while the other continued into the access tunnel beneath a mammoth set of gates. He thought these looked like the Wicked Witch of the East’s legs stretched out below Dorothy’s house in the Land of Oz.

Now he could hear Pritchert begging, “C’mon baby…please,” and watched as the casually attired man typed anxiously on the handheld device. Above Pritchert, an unambiguous advisory, partially covered in spider webs, warned in three languages: NO UNAUTHORIZED PERSONNEL BEYOND THIS POINT!

Suddenly a gear snapped at both ends of the gateway and the massive assembly unlocked.

“Yes!” Pritchert said, swishing his free hand through the air like a high-school enthusiast. He unplugged the equipment and gazed uneasily at Stark.

“Problem with the code?” Stark whispered judiciously, studying Pritchert’s perspiring face. “Looked like you were having trouble.”

The hand-sized contraption Pritchert was holding could override biometric locks. It belonged to Montero Security and was used in cases of malfunction. Operation Gadfly had “borrowed” the device for the day.

“Uhm…not really,” he said.

“Then everything’s in order?”

“Yes, sir.”


Walking forward, Stark pushed the gate open far enough for the group to squeeze through. “Let’s move,” he said.

Joe placed his arm around Sheri and motioned for Katherine to join her between the men. Pritchert squeezed in next to the girls, and Joe felt him trembling. Under the circumstances, he wouldn’t interpret the man’s terror as weakness.


Five floors above, in the ETV hangar, the service elevator dipped beneath the massive weight of the grotesque creature. The being contemplated its exceptional existence, and what it would be like to command an entire legion of singularly obedient but biologically inferior Nephilim—the police force of the new global community.

The thing was not accustomed to such grandiose meditations. Usually its thoughts were…cybernetic…a mirror of those imposed on it by the stalwart entity masquerading as Apol Leon. Yet of late, Rahu’s introspection had possessed a higher destiny, an incomprehensible promise from Beyond…of orgiastic pleasures and limitless cruelty. He felt the raging desire coming closer, calling him. The attraction was both ethereal and biological—an inflamed harmony of spirit and passion, of creed and lust, and he was aroused by it.

He watched the archdemon beside him—and caught the impatience on Apol’s demeanor as he pushed the button that would take them to the Dungeon.…

And to the start of the New World Order.


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