The Destroyer of the Universe woke in the Crypt of the Firstborn and reached up to push aside the sarcophagus lid. His left arm screamed as he pulled himself out, a painful reminder of the battle that took place in the final moments. The light from the entrance of the crypt filled the chamber, revealing more than a thousand other sarcophagi lining the floor. His opponent was nowhere in sight.

            Reaching past the scaly corpse that had shared his hiding place, the Destroyer gathered the items he had brought with him from the universe. He tucked the List of Ranks, essential to the second creation, into his belt. The titanium blade he had used to initiate the apocalypse stayed in his grip. His opponent may not be in sight, but the Destroyer saw no reason not to prepare against further interference.

            Cautiously, he made his way to the entrance of the crypt. The view there threatened to consume him. The pulsing light of creation washed over the courtyard outside, slowing eroding the crypt’s impressive protections. True thoughts and echoed dreams danced through the Destroyer’s mind, until the wretched heat of the blade pierced the alien images, driving him back to the task he had been handed.

            The list at his waist had been carefully crafted by the Firstborn to restore the old order. It contained the true names of everything from the past, present, and future. Every insect, every leaf, and every secret was recorded and ranked to be recreated after the end. Every name was listed, save one thousand. Those thousand were inscribed on the black Disc that now rested above the entrance to the crypt, placed there by the Destroyer during his flight from the opponent. One thousand Firstborn whose names had been woven into the fabric of the universe, trapped until its destruction. One thousand corpses in their sarcophagi hoping to steal a bit of the recreation to live again. One thousand beings, soon to be free to wander the never-light.

            The Destroyer pushed himself away from the entrance and into the courtyard beyond. The yard was strewn with corpses. The guardians of the crypt had leapt to his defense when his opponent had pursued him here. He had not lingered to assist them, and they had not asked him to stay, viciously setting upon the opponent instead.

            The Destroyer was startled by their success. Among them lay the misshapen corpse of the opponent. The Destroyer cautiously approached it, watching for any twitch of its numerous limbs. It had been one of the Secondborn, unbound by the universe. It wanted to keep its siblings out of the never-light and the realms beyond, to keep those powers for itself. The Destroyer thrust his blade into its gray mass. Satisfied with its death, he turned his attention to other matters.

            The light lapped up against the edge of the courtyard before turning up and draping over the crypt like an incandescent ceiling. The Destroyer knelt before the wall of light and unrolled the List of Ranks. Every name must be read, they had told him. Every word on the list must be uttered while the second rush of creation was underway, or the new universe may not be the same. A forest may be missing, leaving a desert behind. Forgetting the name of a beggar may shift the fortunes of an empire, bringing it to ruin far before its time. To protect his friends and his home, every word must be included.

            The words on the list glistened in the light of creation.

            As the Destroyer of the Universe spoke the first name, the list dissolved with a nerve bending screech and a cloud of blue. Knocked back, the Destroyer watched in horror as the blue haze expanded and then poured out into creation. He could feel the power slipping uncontrolled into the light with no order guiding its introduction. Behind him, a pale light sprung from the crypt.

            Stunned, the Destroyer tried to comprehend the betrayal. They had lied. The names were gone, unread. No one of his old world remained: Aete Featherfeed, Gomi the Purple, Firudo-all gone. Below the numbness, an anger began to boil. Half-blind, he stumbled back along the courtyard to the entrance of the crypt. Within, he could hear the shuffling of the corpses of the Firstborn as they were reborn by the recreation.

            Coldly, his focus turned to the Disc above the entrance. The Firstborn had asked him to the destroy the universe to free the circular black slab. Now, their names remained while everyone he cared for had been swept aside by chaos. They had chosen him, and incredibly, he had fulfilled his role without doubting them. Furious, the Destroyer would ensure they would see no benefit from it.

            The weight strained his wounded left arm, but the Disc came down with no more effort than it had going up. Lurching past the corpses, the Destroyer carried it across the courtyard. The stirring of the Firstborn was loud behind him.

            With a heave, the he delivered the Disc into the light. It was carried away by a wave of matter, protected by a power so dark that not even the nova of a new creation could scatter it. He threw the blade in after it and watched it sink below the light. Then he closed his eyes and leapt, casting his name into creation.

            In the never-light, far from creation, three voices shared their thoughts with one another.

            “This should not be,” said the first. The shapeless rainbow matter that was its body strained to catch every detail that occurred in the distant light.

            “Change is inevitable,” taunted the second, its shadowy form watching with almost as much interest.

            “You did this!” the first challenged.

            “I’m not alone. Not everyone is content with the current order,” the second answered.

            “What is, shall be,” said the third, joining them in their examination of events. The radiance of its body rained down on them both. Uncomfortable with the third’s presence, the second took shelter behind the bulk of the first.

            “This is not how it was supposed to be,” the first argued.

            The darkness of the second shimmered sadly. “Yes. Yes, that is very, very true.”

            Settling back into silence, the Elohim watched to discover what would happen next to their children.