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Tek arose out of the sand of the nearly endless desert that is the furthest boundary of form for Valhalla and Olympus. The exact location, paradoxically, was near one edge of the infinite ethereal plane. Such concerns of physics and geography were barely of concern to the gods. In a way he was created by the transistor and conceived in a million targeting computers. That made the silica and metals from which he was born ironically appropriate.

Mankind's newest war god would later speak of how he rose majestically from a virgin bed of silica and rare earths. Actually the young god staggered for a few paces, knelt with one pale hand pressed to the ground for a long time, then instinctively shaped some of the ethereal matter into a low wall and leaned against it as he rose on unsteady feet. Even as he stood, his shape flowed and ebbed. Like all new gods, Tek was weak, devoid of any real measure of strength or even self-awareness.

It is the faith of their believers that powers men's gods. Tek's faithful were few and unaware that they had given rise to yet another war god. In this case it was their blind faith in the technology of armaments that had summoned him forth. But few believed in the power of technology to win a war. He received a surge of strength when the U.S. Congress funded the development of an Atomic Weapon. But this was barely enough to make the godling aware of his own existence. Years may have passed, perhaps decades, but Tek was not yet capable of sensing clearly the passage of time.

For a long time it was just enough for Tek to exist. The novelty of it all, the sensations, the flow of mana across this ethereal plane into which he had been summoned, were new and exciting. His form reflected the new god's confusion and wonder. It flowed from that of one type of humankind to another, now tank commander, now an engineer designing a better fighter plane, now a marine equipped to land on a hostile shore. Sometimes the form wasn't human at all. Such things didn't matter to a god. He spent a quite pleasant period as a tank clattering about the shapelessness encountering only those obstacles he himself imagined into existence.

Then there was a war.

"Damn," radarman third class Elliott Bromley muttered as he detected the blips that represented a flight of Japanese dive bombers approaching from northwest of Midway Island. "Sir, hostiles at bearing 295, forty miles and closing. Maybe Kates."

"Alert the CAP and scramble another flight," he heard the captain of the Hornet order before the intercom closed.

Not a single one of the unescorted dive bombers made it through the reinforced fighter cover. Every one of the five thousand men on the two carriers knew what had brought them to safety. The pilots had been brave, but the technology that gave them the warning had made the difference. The new god gained a lot of believers that day—though they didn't know who they now worshipped.

Driven by a war fought around the world, his priests labored under a stadium to build a truly worthy sacrifice to the newly born god of war, a god that was born of the technology of war, not of the heroism it still occasionally inspired, nor by the myth of the glory of victory. Believers in the government filled the coffers of the universities and laboratories that were this god's temples. But the demands of a new god are great and the people s faith was weak. Somewhere Tek recalled fanatics called Wobblies smashing his machines in a fitful time before he had even been aware. The pain, when he had been so weak, had nearly destroyed him.

Unsure and nearly powerless the godling moved to defend himself and his faithful and then watched as his technology and the power of those who served it, and him, spread. But such growth is slow, for people change their gods slowly. The papers spoke of heroism and courage, not competence and calculation. The generals stood oblivious to enemy fire or wore pearl-handled revolvers in a vain attempt to bring back the ways of the old gods. The sergeants fought him too, and were more effective, teaching the men to be brave, not dependent on the miracles the new god offered. But the new god got his revenge there, inspiring a man who knew no better to create new sergeants, technical experts who were beyond the sway of the soldiers who had made war their own until now.

It is a funny thing, being a god, at least the kind that man summons from places he doesn't know exist. You have the potential for immense power, but know nothing until your followers believe in it. It was a year before Tek could leave the ethereal plane covered in a dusty blanket of sand and germanium where he had been born. By this time Mars and Thor had noticed something disturbing the ether, but Tek's weakness and insubstantiality protected him. Still, the gods are notoriously jealous. But all of the old gods men had summoned were too involved in this new war to pay more than an instant's attention to the distantly discordant note in the music of the spheres his new presence caused. Thor did react by inspiring his Teutonic faithful to greater frenzies of ceremony and to swear yet more resounding oaths. Mars, hard pressed to defend the island that sheltered the last of his forces, was too concerned to react at all. Tek sensed their challenge, carefully calculated his minimal chances of success in a direct confrontation, and remained silent.

By the end of the second year Tek could take on the form of his most ardent followers. He even adopted the "glasses" they all seemed to wear as part of his war god's regalia. The lab coat and pocket full of pencils would hardly have impressed his sword-wielding predecessors. After inspiring the greatest minds of humanity to listen unconsciously to him, Tek was able to give them guidance. Their efforts moved quickly. Though the new god was not really sure what he was inspiring, he was sure it would bring the faithful victory and make him the predominant god of war from then on.

By the time the coven of science worshippers and technicians had completed the device, Tek had learned how to travel in any form. Sensing that his glory was near, the godling became the crewman of the bomber that would test the device. Using what strength he could, and the distraction of the death throes of Thor's followers in Berlin, he ensured that any of the seven and half million glitches possible did not interfere with the test.

When the device was released from the B-29 high over the desert, Tek wanted to see first hand the results of his follower's labors. He transferred his awareness to a coyote who had been living well off the construction crew's garbage. It was resting in the shade only a few miles from the point of impact.

When the atom bomb landed, Tek discovered another new sensation, pain. Followed quickly by death. The experience horrified him, and he exulted in it. In that instant he became a true god of war, and realized how powerful the other, earlier gods must be. In the next few millionths of a second Tek calculated that someday he would need to become the only god of war and opened four files to study the problem. In the meantime, Tek knew he had to be cautious. His faithful were few and the fate of those who spread a radical new belief was most often martyrdom. His followers were not the type to whom this would appeal and so the god of scientific, calculating war concentrated on giving them the tools to gain control of the generals, and especially the sergeants.

Elsewhere the old gods felt the shudder, but were unable to pull away from the worldwide drama long enough to react. It was almost fifteen years before Tek would again attempt to act, and despite his careful calculations he allowed himself to be swayed by the faith, rather than the skill, of those who invoked him to aid them in their war.

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