Clicks and Triggers

Clean-cut and ergonomically designed, the uppermost floor of the Citadel was graciously built and reserved for this one individual, made obvious through the simple details of it, from the entrance's awkward shape to the high ceiling. The four walls, the floor, and a large majority of the sparse scenery within the room were all given a silvery tone, much like the rest of the Citadel. The building was constructed as such that, with the exception of this attic and a few other select rooms, every area looked identical to every other area, so much so that it was easy to get lost in the building and wander seemingly without end from hall to hall, from room to room, and from elevator to elevator.

Like any respectable building of its type, the Citadel was used to protect the citizens who surrounded it. The building, which carved into the sky and rose above the cloudy loft, was lodged in the most densely populated region of the planet Paria, a location subject to human migration and centuries later the horrors and tied-in blisses of being forgotten by the rest of humanity. The climate was very much like that of the original Earth, and so it was an ideal nesting spot. A recent census conducted by the FFC estimated population of Paria to be that of about a billion heads. It was a fraction of what Earth's population had been like, back when it was not a dilapidated cesspool, but Paria was fittingly a much smaller world by comparison.

Crowding became an issue, so buildings were made taller, and the Citadel dared to go higher than any other building, even the government facilities, to assert its authority. The Citadel protected its citizens, but not just militarily. It protected people from the scourge of sin. It was the mightiest mega-church ever dreamed of, with countless individuals keeping it all in perfect, working order.

The attic housed a lethargic beast, about which rumors had begun to leak. He was the subject of the tabloid's interest and attracted more attention in the culture's speculatory sect than any other individual or topic of the day. A video had been shot of a shadowy figure looming at the top of the Citadel, glaring out the window– and the fastidiousness of one journalist launched a phenomena.

Yet the one who roamed in the attic did not even know he had become so famous. No, in fact, he only knew of only one other apart from God who knew of his own existence, his father, televangelist John C. Rollof, figure head and head priest of the Citadel of Christ. Jesus had gone to space, and this man represented his most outspoken followers in Paria. He was the only man who Quentin knew, and he was also his own personal god. He knew to love him, and he knew to fear him; he knew his wrath, and he knew his grace; he knew that this man established the rules, and he also knew that this man was his liberation.

This is where the ink met the parchment, on a most notable morning, one week after Quentin became an oblivious celebrity. Creamy orange rays peaked in from cracks in the shades, providing soft light to guide a stumbling creature. Quentin tip-toed to the Main Computer, the primary processor for all the activities within the Citadel. Several other computers were in the top floor as well, the floor being also a mess of wires and cables, but the plain, square computer in the center of the room was where it all came together.

Messages were sent to it and transferred to the other corresponding computers, filtering out information as necessary, maintaining appropriate energy supplies by keeping the computers on adequate power. The main power source, an energy unique to the planet Paria, found in wells beneath the crust, was drawn from underneath the Citadel and put to the most holy of uses imaginable.

With a flick of his pudgy finger, the Main Computer started up with a low rumble, and when his nail tapped at the screen, it flickered to life. This was an archaic machine, streamlined to be tossed out to space like all other garbage. The technology in the attic might have been replaced long ago, but it was concluded that when a man is surrounded by simplicity, he would decidedly develop a simple mind. A password was requested by the computer, and it was typed in:

H-A-L-F-F-O-R-M-E-D

Quentin's sole reason for existence was to maintain the energy levels of all of Paria. Aside from a few rogue, alternative suppliers, it was the Citadel that controlled the vast electrical systems in this world, either directly or in a more obscure manner. John Rollof, then, had stationed upon his shoulders the mass of not only his own ideas, but the ideas of an entire civilization. Under such pressure, a man might crack, but he knew not to, that hesitance or any faltering on his part could be catastrophic.

Two decades prior, John Rollof was merely an inspired young man with hopes of freeing Paria from the Enemy's chains. He was a commanding officer of the infantile Brigade, the military that the people of Paria had demanded at the polls. A whip was to be cracked down upon the escalating criminal spawn in this new world, and only those with ambition like that of Rollof were willing to take on such a burdensome task.

On one occasion, John Rollof had been assigned the task of eliminating a family of heretics– and worst of all, they were Atheists, too– by his superiors. After sending his troops inside the household, he gave fatal orders; he had the men open fire. Swiftly they were exterminated, and when Rollof took a whiff of the air, he smelt not only the stench of burning corpses, but also the overflowing evil putridity of a family who had not known God's love.

Some of his soldiers would testify now that John Rollof had at the time said, "We gave them no judgment greater than the one God will give them now. May He grant swift mercy upon their immortal souls." Others would claim that Rollof whispered cautiously, "Lord, forgive us for today's sins." One of the soldiers who had been there, who had recently been locked up on the charge of having dealings with the black market, fervently claimed that Rollof had been compliantly mute up until the point he saw the smallest, still-living body lying there, without even acknowledging the corpses as former human beings but instead as trash.

Quentin was but an infant lying in a terrified stupor within his crib. From his vantage point, he saw nothing but the ceiling, so he could only judge the recent happenings around him by what he heard. A knock on the door, a pound on window, the sound of a door crashing to the floor, broken glass, screams, threats, quotes of scripture, and then nothing– and Quentin was left fatherless, motherless, and without his two older siblings, who had been taking care of him.

It was when Rollof's ever-anxious eyes met with the dilated pupils of Quentin that realization shot through Rollof. He turned to face his men and say, "This child was not documented as part of the family. The information was clear and concise– he cannot be here." Quentin, however, was there, and a reexamination of their whereabouts confirmed that Rollof had made a horrendous mistake– he had given the correct orders, but they were in the wrong house.

An entire family had been vaporized for no just cause, and now an infant was on the brink of annihilation. The weapon that had been used against Quentin was a sort that mutilated cells and prevented the natural repairing of surrounding tissue and organs, and so a single blast had been capable of unleashing true carnage upon Quentin's small frame. Rollof knew that if he had been more careful, none of this would ever have occurred, so when the officer again, this time with greater hesitance, laid his eyes upon the twisting body of the wailing child, he took immediate, aching pity. "My Lord," He had murmured, "What have I done?" Rollof then scooped up Quentin and cradled him in his steady arms, before bolting out the door, in a mad rush to save Quentin's life.

Rollof rose to public fame not only for generously sparing the boy's life but also for paying for all of the steep medical expenses of his recovery. Sparks caused by the nearly fatal shot had done his eyes in, and thus he was given new eyes to look through, provided by inorganic science, not man. Because of the wrecked state of what remained of Quentin's body, almost his entire left upper torso had to be replaced with mechanics, giving him a fascinating, terrifying appearance. Despite becoming more machine than flesh after all the operations, so much so that even his face was a mess of wires, Quentin's heart had miraculously remained untouched by the beam's desolation and thus was transplanted into the individual's new frame, to be surrounded by microchips.

Although Quentin gained some moderate attention, Rollof claimed the bulk, and as the the now deformed child grew up in the recently constructed Citadel attic, he faded out of public awareness. Now there were whispers in the streets that this mysterious figure, looking out the window one week prior, was the very same spectacle who had contributed to the public's initial captivation with John Rollof.

There came a terrific knock at the door. "F-Father! I did not expect you for a-another hour!" Quentin exclaimed, as he turned to see his father's approach.

"You act as though you had seen a thief in the night," Rollof remarked, at ease as he strode forward, "But do not worry, it is only me, checking on you. Today is a very important day, you know, and I must make sure that everything is in proper order. We cannot allow ourselves to be caught unprepared for the Enemy's onslaughts."

Quentin gave a nervous nod before rushing about the room, to turn on the other computers one-by-one. "Quentin," Rollof whispered, catching him in the act of darting to another system, "You know how much I expect from you, my son... This should have all been done half an hour ago. Do I ask too much? You do realize that what I ask you to do is not for me, but for the Gospel, right? Do you stand against the Gospel? Have you succumbed to sloth? Remember: One who knows what it is right and does not do it, has sinned."

Again, Quentin gave a nod, this one more defeated. He forced himself to look at the thin relic, the man in his pure, white robe and muttered, "James 4:17. I know, Father, and I'm sorry. I won't let it happen again."

Rollof gave a kind smile and patted him on the back, whispering delicately, "No, you won't. Today is the dawn of Farceur-Con, and you know just as I do that it will lure out the insects that crawl beneath civility. I must do all that I can to draw their eyes away from fleshy pleasures and towards God. It is not an easy task– God's work never is – and I will need your help."

Quentin was beaming. He was worthy of helping his savior; he had actually been chosen by him out of all the others. "I- I'd be glad to help!" He stammered, relieved that his Father had not been more condescending towards him. "It would be a-an honor, to do this for the Lord," He thought aloud "You're too good to a wretch like me, Father." He rationalized now that it had been quite silly for him to have thought otherwise; in all the years Quentin had known Rollof, the man had never once laid a hand upon him in violence.

"More praise to you," Rollof said, "Heaven rewards those who give freely to the service He has entrusted me with. Let us then get to work, and quickly. I will lend you a hand in starting all of these machines up, at least for now. I have cleared up this time in my schedule just for you. Then I will leave for Farceur-Con. I must draw a larger audience than that blasphemous Clemond Oppei! He will have in his company vile adulterers, idolaters, homosexuals, and the dirtiest of sinners– but watch, Quentin. Watch who approach me, for they are the people God has parted from the secular Paria. Watch, Quentin, from this tower, your home for always, your personal safe haven, and be thankful for all that you have. Although undeserving, you have been given more than many down below could ever dream of. Ah, do you hear it? The computers are starting up, and they chime, for all of Paria! The sound of bells, on an audio file, the sound of a modern Hallelujah!"