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Brothers & Sisters – Chapter Fourteen: The Joust

Note: The point isn’t really for you guys to read a chapter everyday. That would be crazy, these chapters are about 30 pages long. This is just an info-dump situation, collect them all and read at your leisure.

This is basically an un-edited version of this book. There will be typos. There will be your/you’re errors, because I’m dyslexic as hell. Why am I posting it? I’ve more or less come to the conclusion that some major things needed to change, so I’m changing them. However, I like the old version and I already gave you Twins In Death in the old form, so have this one too. It doesn’t matter, the books are being re-written, so enjoy.

Brothers & Sisters
A Tale of The Weirdo
By Brett N. Lashuay

Chapter Fourteen

The Joust

 

April 7th, 2003

2:21 p.m.

 

            The Weirdo had pointed Tanteroy in the right direction, climbing he had something to do. Tanteroy had made it to The Weirdo’s house and was as we speak, explaining the idea.

 

            “It may not even work.”  Tanteroy said.

 

            “You think this place could be an opening thought?” Cydrill asked.

 

            “I do.”

 

            “How long would it take?” Kestrel asked.

 

            “Three, maybe four days to organize a fighting force of any size.” Tanteroy said.

 

            “If this portal even works.” Cassimano said. “I know you want to find out what happened to your dad Tant, but come on, he’s dead. We should concentrate on what Chandelroth is doing. I mean if he’s here, then he’s going to come either to us, which is unlikely or go to the other side of the equation.”

 


            “Who is he?” Kestrel asked.

 

            “He was the Grand Ventar of the followers of Gentoka.” Cydrill said. “A group of priests of which Peidmont was once a bishop of. Ventar is, what a Cardinal?”

 

            “Close enough.” Peidmont said. “Chandelroth raised a revolt and killed the Kent, that’s a sort of Pope. I joined with him and we raised an army of believers, who helped end the world. Chandelroth was the Destroyer, and Tamarock was the warrior who was meant to stop him.”

 

            “This Tamarock is dead then?” Max asked.

 

            “Must be.” Sheila said. “He would never have allowed Chandelroth to get away if he had his strength.”

 

            “Your sure it’s Chandelroth?” Cassimano asked. “Couldn’t just be a guy who looked like him?”

 

            “I’m sure.” Tanteroy said.

 

            “How bad are we talking?” Kestrel asked.

 

            “Chandelroth had the secrets of raising demons, and welcoming in The Old Ones.” Peidmont said, managing to pronounce the capital letters in Old Ones.

 

            “That’s bad.” Max said.

 

            “Really bad.” Peidmont confirmed.

           

 

April 7th, 2003

2:31 p.m.

 

            There is a misconception about New Year’s Day. It is, by the original date April the first. The date was changed in roman times and gave rise to the idea of April fools day. It’s not really important how we gained the fools day, what is important is that a particular Pope one day adopted a new Calendar in which three days in November were lost and then there was that whole extra day every four years thing. The point to all this is that oddly, if you do the math, this day was actually the traditional New Years day. And with all the jiggery pokery of Day light Savings time and such it was actually Noon, no matter what the clocks said. Who you gonna believe, me or your lying eyes?

 

            And as such…

 

Upon the new years day

 

            At the hour of noon

 

            Ghosts stood around a grove.

 

            Waiting for a hero.

 

            Waiting for the one.

 

They looked into the grove of wood.

 

            A stone stood in the wood.

 

            The sword with in it stood.

 

            An open patch of leaves let the sun shine directly down on the blade. The stone was gray, flat gray; it was also cold as it held the blade of the sword.

 

The Sword.

 

Its hilt glittered in the relative darkness, flecking off the gold and the red ruby. It’s blade seemed to have it’s own gleam, a gleam which no darkness could ever remove. It seamed to glow with an inner fire, which was waiting to be released.

 

Only one could draw the sword from the stone, and that one had not yet come. The sword rested quietly in the stone to all others but the one who could draw it. To the one who could draw it, the sword cried for him to claim it. To pull it from this cold half scabbard and wield it again. It begged to be claimed, to have an owner again. It disliked being in the stone, it cried out for the owner to come for it.

 

The Weirdo approached slowly, looking at the small patch of light, which managed to shine right down on the blade. He then looked upon the hilt of the sword, and could feel it whining like a dog. It hated the stone, and wished to be free, to be what it was. Minga’s massive head came around his leg and sniffed the stone. It was a cold, gray stone.

 

The Unicorn looked with trepidation as The Weirdo extended his hand. His fingers touched the perfect hilt of the sword and ran over the pommel. The ruby glowed an angry red as the light shone into it and was reflected with more power than it went in with. He turned his hand over to grab the hilt, so that he could draw the sword as if from a scabbard. He looked from the Unicorn to the great gray tiger and gave a gently pull. The blade came away from the stone easily, smoothly. He held it aloft, like artists often depict moments like this. The suns light glittered off the blade and caressed his face. The Weirdo then spake thusly, saying unto his two companions.

 

“How the fuck did I get mixed up with this shit?”

 

“It’s in your blood.” The Unicorn said.

 

The Weirdo looked to Minga, but the coopery eyes were ineffable. She just seemed to shrug her mighty shoulders. The Weirdo noticed now seeing the two of them next to each other, that the Unicorn was quite small and Minga was quite large. The Unicorn and Minga’s shoulders were only a few inches apart from each other. There might not even have been a hands difference between them. Of course that also brings up the troubling question of do you measure a Unicorn with hands? They’re not horses, so probably not. You definitely wouldn’t want to measure a tiger with hands. Rather a long tape measure would probably be more preferred for keepings one’s hands attached after all.

 

“We must go.” The Unicorn said.

 

They emerged from the woods to find a man on horse back in armor, in fact it was a piece of fourteen century plate armor, complete with all the little bits and buckles. The Horse was draped in what probably wasn’t a converted tablecloth but looked like one. In truth the cloth was probably purpose made, but it made the poor horse look like some one started making a tea cozy and got ambitious. The Man in his black armor rode towards the trio and lowered his lance at The Weirdo. He then flipped up the bevor on his helmet.

 

“Ho there.” The man said. “Who be you?”

 

“Ho there?” The Weirdo asked. “Look, I don’t mind the Middle English but make it plausible please.”

 

“I say again sir, who be you?”
           

“I be The Weirdo, who yo ass be honkey?”

 

“I am Sir Charles of West Hampton.” The Man said. “Are you a knighted person?”

 

“Come again?” The Weirdo asked.

 

“Are you of the landed and gentry class or do you belong to the subjected surfs?”

           

“You’re so down I don’t even understand what the fuck you’re saying.” The Weirdo said.

 

            “Insolent fool.” The knight said. “There can be only one knight in this land to fight the destroyer when he emerges. I challenge you for the honor.”

 

            “Did you understand any of that?” The Weirdo asked Minga.

 

            “He’s challenging you to a fight.” The Unicorn said. “I think he wishes to joust.”

 

            “Oh.” The Weirdo said, looking at the night with stage comprehension for the first time. “Okay, I understand. You wanna fight.”

 

            “We will commit combat sir, not a pub brawl.”

 

            “Are you trying for Cockney or Australian? Only you started your accent in Manchester and you’ve kind of run half way across the country and now seem to be leaving the continent.”

 

            “We shall have combat now for that insult.” The Knight turned and rode his horse away.

 

            “Have combat?” The Weirdo asked.  “What is this tea? Oh. He’s leaving.”

 

            “He’s going to charge us.” The Unicorn said.

 

            “He’s running away, oh, he’s turning around.”

 

            “You must mount me.” The Unicorn said. “Then we can fight.”

 

            “You’re legs are little sticks.” The Weirdo said. “They’d all break under the weight.”

 

            “He’s about to charge.” The Unicorn said.

 

            “What do you say Minga?” The Weirdo asked.

 

            The massive cat mewed a response and seemed to nod her head. The Weirdo sheathed the sword and then stroked the massive cats head.

 

            “Okay then.” The Weirdo mounted the massive gray tiger and the two of them were off.

 

            The Knight aimed his lance at The Weirdo, who was holding to Minga by some of the loose skin about her neck. He had no lance, but he had something better. The Weirdo waited for the knight to come closer, and watched the tip of the lance. Focusing on the lance, he ignored all else as they charged forth. When in range The Weirdo reached out and took hold of the lance. He slid off the back of the massive cat, as she swiped out a paw to take the horse’s legs out from under it. The crash landing that ensued was quite spectacular to watch, pity no one was around.  The horse’s legs swiped out from under it, it landed badly, with legs and head going in five different directions. Minga fell upon the animal and quickly finished it. The Weirdo stabbed the lance into the ground, and it was then that he noticed the knight was wearing tournament armor. The armor had a large brace and holding piece into which the lance was attached. The knight had to move his body to aim. He flew into the air, and then the lance snapped and gravity took hold of him.

 

            The Weirdo drew the sword from its sheath and approached the knight. He yanked the helmet from the knight’s head and noticed how young he was. It struck him, that this was just a child who had been told to do a very stupid thing. He couldn’t have been more than seventeen, but he’d been ready to kill. The Weirdo swung back the sword and cut the knight’s head from his body. The young head landed on the ground, and the sliced neck spouted a stream of blood before falling over into the blue grass.

 

            “You fought well.” The Unicorn said,

 

            “I didn’t want to.” The Weirdo said.

 

            “But you did.” The Unicorn said. “You defeated another knight in combat thus legitimizing your own chivalric rights.”

 

            “I killed a sixteen year old kid who was probably mentally retarded.” The Weirdo said. “There is no nobility in death, just the mortal reality.”

 

            “So what do we do now then?” The Unicorn asked. “Bury him?”

 

            “The crows will eat him.” The Weirdo said.

 

            “No crows.” The Unicorn countered.

 

“Fuck him.” The Weirdo said turning away. “My plan involves kicking some righteous ass.”

 

           

April 7th, 2003

3:01 p.m.

           

            In the dinning room, a war cabinet was worrying. They were looking at the maps of the city, and a lot of clear overhead slides. They had drawn diagrams on the slides and moved them around the maps. They had drawn on the maps; they had tried all manner of things to work out a strategy. The problem was all their strategies came to the same conclusion.

 

“It’ll never work.” Kestrel said.

 

            “How can you say that?” Jack asked. “Just because every scenario we attempt to work out turns out with us being killed and our heads winding up on pikes?”

 

            “Expect for the one where we get burned to death by napalm.” Darrian said. “That one was different.”

 

            “Yes but I don’t think we can actually call in an air strike.” Jack said

 

            “We just have to be mentally prepared to die.” Cassimano said.

 

            “Are you ready to die?” Kestrel asked.

 

            “Be the one thing he hasn’t tried.” Tanteroy said.

 

            “We could always run and hide and pretend to be looking for an army.” Cassimano said, glaring up at Tanteroy.

 

            “Don’t make me stop this car you two.” Kestrel said looking at the map again.

 

            “The problem,” Max said. “Is that there just doesn’t seem to be anywhere that six can hold off a thousand.”

 

            “If there aren’t more of them.” Jack said.

 

            “You’re such a comfort when I’m down.” Max said.

 

            “There could be more too.” Angel said. “The council was running experiments on demon raising. Well, having them run.”

 

            “Oh goodie.” Max said.

 

            “Then those were banshees or something.” Kestrel said.

 

            “Probably not even or something,” Angel said.

 

            “So we’re fucked.” Judy said,

 

            “Now that is just the wrong attitude to take.” The Weirdo said as he strode into the room. He tossed the sheathed Excalibur onto the tabletop and stepped up onto the table. “I say we can win this thing, and I know how we can win it. No matter the odds we shall win”

 

            “You have a plan?” Max asked, looking up at him

 

            “I do.” The Weirdo said. “We shall win through a faithlessness that accepts no god.”

 

            “Oh yes?” Kestrel asked biting a cracker. “And that’s how we win?”

 

            “Damn skippy!” The Weirdo said.

 

            “You want to explain that?” Darrian asked.

 

            “We have no allegiance. There fore we believe in no one god. We don’t follow, we don’t go to anybody on bended knee. We are the silent voice in the maelstrom of noise. You ever notice how a cat will find the one person who’s allergic to cats and pick them as a special friend. They do that because the allergic person is the one not fawning over the kitty. There for all the gods are going to come to outside because we’ve made it clear we don’t want them. Since we never bothered the gods, they will reward us.”

 

            “That’s your theory is it?” Jack asked.

 

            “It is indeed.” The Weirdo said.

 

            “You’re plan is crap mate.” Jack said.

 

            “Possibly.” The Weirdo said. “Do you have a better one?”

 

            “Got me there.”

            “Here’s the plan.” The Weirdo said. “Cydrill, Peidmont and Tanteroy, you guys go get an army. If you can’t get one by the time of the fight, get yourselves back. Everyone else, go practice shooting and fighting.”

 

            “That’s you plan?” Max asked.

 

            “Yep.”

 

            “Not a terribly firm plot.” Kestrel said.

 

            “So?”

 

            “Well one might say you’re mad.” She said.

 

            “People have said that before.” The Weirdo said.

 

            “We were right then too.” Jack said.

 

            “Ah, but this time being mad is an integral part of the plan. We shall win because we are mad. Besides, what choice do we have? The fight was going to come to us weather we were ready or not. We’re probably fucked either way but we can say we tried. It’s either fight or roll over and expose our belly, and as these are humans, they’ll kill us for being weak.”

 

            “Well I’m sold.” Cassimano said.

 

            “Good.” The Weirdo said.

 

 

April 7th, 2003

4:21 p.m.

 

            Tommy dug, and she watched him dig. He sank the shovel into the earth and threw the dirt onto the pile he was building. He sank the shovel in and felt a thud; he dragged the shovel and felt the uniform board that would be the top of the box. Relief washed over his face, and he cleared away the ropes, which would allow him to pull the box up. It was a military box, painted the olive green of the United States army. He reached down to pull up the second box, and nearly cried with joy. He opened the second box first and pumped his fist into the air.

 

            “Yes!” He said. “Monkeys of St Croix!”

            “It’s there then?”

 

            “They’re both here.” He said opening the other box. “I knew we’d need these again one day.”

 

            “Should we get back now?”

 

            “No.” He said. “They’ve been in these crates for, must be forty years at least. They need to be cleaned and checked out. No, we’ll go were we can do that.”

 

            “Shouldn’t we get back?”

 

            “The Weirdo can handle it until we get there.”

 

            He looked up at her worried face as he climbed out of the hole. She wanted to go save The Weirdo now he could see that. She was worried, and maybe a little scared. He would have to reassure her, but now wasn’t the moment for that.

            “Don’t worry.” Tommy said, touching her chin. “I’d know if they were in big trouble.”

           

 

April 8th, 2003

9:22 p.m.

 

            The Gray man leaned against the concrete, which formed the barrier against one wall of the balcony, preventing him from falling. He looked over the edge, and felt nothing. He hadn’t felt much of anything in, must be twenty years now. He could sometimes summon up the feelings, but not often, and not long. He felt like he had died on that blue field, when Tommy had been gunned down and Jack beheaded. After that, there hadn’t been much point in fighting any more. They had lost on that day, which was still two days away. Well a day and a half now, time was flying. Time was racing, with all the inpatients of a pre adolescent, towards the time when it could drive a car and wear make up.

 

He scratched the gray fleck of beard, which was growing, around his face. He was at least glad of that. When he had wanted, for a brief period to grow a beard, a real beard grew. He hadn’t embarrassed himself by only having a few strands. His beard had once been thick and luxurious, like his hair, it had also been annoying. The beard hadn’t lasted long, even if it was a decent beard. The beard had been gray, like the new hair that had grown in his head. He had often heard of people being shocked so badly that their hair turned white. He had never quite believed it, how could the color be leached out of their hair? No, what had happened to him was that the shock had hit him, and from that day on the color had left him.

 

            The hair that grew after that terrible day had all been gray. He hadn’t been able to come up with a decent reason why the color should have faded from his eyes to the pale gray he now had. He thought that their should be a reason, but he was damned if he knew what it was. He rubbed the bridge of his nose; relishing the feeling of relief it gave him for that moment.

 

            He hadn’t heard the goddess of spring approach, but he smelt the fresh flowers. He smelt the clean spring air that always surrounded her, that smell of spring. There were things growing, and there were animals coming out of hiding. If you listened, you could almost hear bird song in her breathing. He looked at her and wondered if perhaps he had made a mistake and scored the wrong goddess.

 

            “Where’s Aph?” Eoster asked.

 

            “Not sure.” The Gray man said. “Out, about.”

 

            “I’m not having any luck.” She said.

 

            “Have you tried being forceful?” He asked.

 

            “Forceful?”

 

            “Yeah.”

 

            “I’m not sure what you mean.”

 

            “Well let me give you an example. Who are you going to see next?”

 

            “Zeus.” She said, with a heavy sigh. “Almost the last one on my list. He’s such a creep, always sexual innuendo with him, you know?”

 

            “Yeah.”

 

            “Creeps me out.” She said.

 

            “Well you just become forceful with him.”

 

            “I’m still not sure I know what you mean.” She said.

 

            “He doesn’t pay attention, kick ‘im in the nuts.” He smiled at her and on impulse placed a hand on her shoulder. “He gives you more trouble, kick ‘im in the nuts again. Jump up and down, wear stiletto heels.”

 

            His hand slid down her arm and came to rest of her hip; she shifted closer to him, her breasts brushing against his chest. He felt something flutter beneath his heart.

 

            “You sure that’s not just a way for you to get to see me in heels?” She leaned in to him.

 

            “Parish the thought.” He said sitting even closer. “If you wore them around here, you’d be taller than me.”

 

            She wanted to say that they wouldn’t want that, but she didn’t. Instead she leaned her head in and kissed him. He reciprocated and this continued for some time, with a lot of tongue thrashing and holding each other tight. After what seemed only a stolen moment but was actually nearly a minuet, he pulled away.

 

            “What?” She asked.

 

            “We’ve never… not with out Aph anyway.”

 

            “But we have plenty of times.” She said.

 

            “That’s true.” He said.

 

            “She’ll have to deal with it.” She said. “If she’s going to encourage this sort of thing, it’s going to go on.”

 

            “Right.” He said, and they continued.

 

            Now what’s interesting is that many people thought that the gray man was, for some reason, infertile. The idea that his power had apparently gone made people think that his spermizota could no longer manage the three-inch swim to a woman’s uterus. In fact, the idea that his power was gone was bunk. The power, as it existed in him, was genetic. If he had once been a great runner, but ruined his knee, there was no reason his child shouldn’t be able to run. The idea that he had been broken was not a truly accurate one at any rate. There were, in truth, a lot of inaccurate ideas about him really.

 

            Another inaccurate idea was that the Goddess Eoster could control her body and tell it not to drop and egg or not to let it be fertilized. This was also complete and udder cheese water, a whole gallon of it. When her body convulsed for the third and most powerful time, the orgasm she felt had been powerful enough to dislodge two of her vertebrae, an egg was not a problem.

 

            The fully functioning and genetically empowered sperm met up with the single precious egg about two minuets after the copulation had been technically completed. They hadn’t been able to separate though, because his muscle control was a little dodgy at the moment. She was also having a bit of motor function difficulty, so they lay unmoving. Sweat dried on her back as air drifted over her, he fought to stay conscious. His eyes were unfocused and bleary.

 

            “I’m going to shower.” She said softly into his ear.

 

            “Okay.” He managed, as things started to go black for him.

 

            She left him, and heard him snoring as she walked to the shower. She turned the taps on and stood in the torrent of water, simply rinsing the heated sweat off her body. She leaned against the wall, holding her trembling leg, and heard a voice. It was as clear as if someone had spoken to her, but it was in her head.

 

            “You be careful now, you be with chile.” She raised her head and looked around, then understanding where the voice came from. “You be with a chile I wants protected see? You best be careful now.”

 

            “Okay.” She said, pressing her hands against her flat stomach.

 

            There was no feeling yet, but it would come. When it began to be an actual life, when cellular structure and biology had their say, then the spirit would begin. It would be nearly a fully-grown child before anything like the seed of a soul would develop, but that too would come. She couldn’t fell it yet, but she knew it would come.

 

            She looked at the bedroom and ran her hand across the flat stomach. She wouldn’t tell him, not just yet. If he knew, he would try and fawn over her, and she didn’t want that. They all had a job to do, and that included her. If he were concerned about her condition he would try to stop her, even if he just sat there. She would know he wouldn’t want her to go on the dangerous things, so she would save the news.

 

            Besides, he was Aphrodite’s man, no matter how you sliced it. She might have played with them, and made love to him a dozen times or more, but he wasn’t hers. He belonged to Aph, and she didn’t want to jeopardize that. She looked at the flat stomach, and wondered how long it would take. Would it be the requisite nine months or not? Would it be less than nine months, or did Gods grow faster? She didn’t know, she should ask some of the others who had been through this. She knew of several human women who had given birth to the children of one god or another, but she couldn’t think of a goddess who had given birth to a human’s baby.

 

            It didn’t matter because she held part of him inside her. She was carrying a precious gift, and it wouldn’t matter if it had any power or not. She almost thought that she wouldn’t care if it was the size of her thumb, but she didn’t. A goddess particularly knows the folly of saying you wouldn’t mind about something.

 

           

April 9th, 2003

3:01 a.m.

 

            The Weirdo looked at the map, but it meant nothing to him. He had looked at the maps and the transparencies and the figures. He had moved bits of plastic that were to represent each of them, but it hadn’t done any good. He had only succeeded in going through every imaginable scenario, and found the same outcome. He wondered if they would spare The Other if they were defeated. Would they run her down, would they use her for their purposes? He had no idea, and that worried him.

 

            It would be untrue to say he was scared, but he was worried. He had no idea what he was going to do, and had little time to plan. He looked at the maps on the table, which he had beat into meaninglessness. Having viewed them for so long he had taken all meaning from them, and was left with just paper. He looked at Bagheera who sat on the end of the table and looked at him.

 

            “Am I going about this the wrong way?” He asked.

 

            “Mew?” Bagheera asked.

 

            “Well, could it be that there is a way to win that’s not on this table? Why am I fooling with this shit anyway? We don’t have evenly matched armies, nowhere near. An application of force can’t possibly win this, we’ve got to do it with our brains.”

 

            He sat back in the chair and looked at Excalibur as it shone on the table. There was the answer, the old ways. If he could manage to stick to the old rules just long enough, then they could have a chance. He would have to know exactly when to hit the old rules with a modern adaptation though. There were ways he might be able to do something.

 

 

April 9th, 2003

4:21 a.m.

 

            Athena stood in the shower, her mind still reeling, and her legs still shaking. She had no idea that it could be like this, that there could be such feeling. She had wasted so many years being a virgin, and denying herself these feelings. She thought about D’var’s body, the lithe lines and powerful legs. She held herself close as the water washed the sweat away from her body. She could feel the water strip away layer after layer. With every passing minuet what little feelings of guilt there had been were washed away.

 

            She knew that she was going to have to talk to her father, sooner or later. He would want to know why she had broken her word about never standing against him. She wasn’t sure that she had stood against him yet; she had just lain with a man. She had never had any knowledge of the delights sex could provide, and her mind was still reeling from it.

 

            She wondered if she would produce the heir who was meant to throw down her father. She ran her fingers across the round swell of her stomach; she thought she would know if she had conceived. She stood and wondered if she should go talk to one of the other Olympians before talking to her father. She could only think of one person besides him that she wanted to talk to actually, but she was going to have to talk to her father. She knew that he was going to be cruel, but she would have to go anyway.

 

 

April 9th, 2003

10:30 a.m.

 

            At the top of Olympus, a massive temple had been built there long ago. It was still maintained by the power of the still powerful Zeus. He had managed to remain powerful, even after the Roman’s abandoned him and went to the church of the living god. He had understood though, and shifted his power. They still followed him, in so many things. So many of their ideas about gods and of power, were him. He had managed to stay in their minds, stay powerful, by adapting. He hadn’t just hidden away in his palace like Odin, or faded into the night like so many of the rest of them. He had stayed, just behind the scenes.

 

            It was to the mighty palace that Eoster arrived at, as always intimidated by the splendor. The palatial temple was a magnificent testament to the continued success to the Olympians. They had stayed, while others had faded away, their only representation a few decorations at Christmas. The Olympians had remained, and their home was the testament to that.

 

            Zeus was as he always had been, muscular and attractive. His blond hair was swept back from his head and his smile actually gleamed. He had a large goblet of wine in one hand and an open hand to accept hers. He still wore the white robes, which were now more an example of savvy marketing than anything else.

 

            “My dear.” He said taking her hand. “That dress really doesn’t suit you. It would look much better on the floor, why don’t we do something about that?”

 

            “I’m here on business.” She said. “I don’t have time for games.”

 

            “Well I’ll leave the collar out of it this time and we can just commence to a quick shagging.”

 

            “I don’t have time.” She began.

 

            “You have time.” He said resting his free hand on one of her breasts. “Bitches like you always have time.”

 

            She looked at his massive hand, resting on her breast, and burned with anger. She had never liked him, not really. In the past, in order to try and get some graces, she had acquiesced because it was easier than fighting. She didn’t want his drunken breath on her this time, didn’t want his childish pawing, she did what Gray said she should do.

 

            Her foot swung up with enough violence to fell a mighty tree, Zeus’s hand released the goblet when she connected. His eyes grew very wide and he made a squeaking sound, trying to take in breath. Then she kicked again, and once more for good measure.

 

            Zeus’s legs gave out on him and he fell to the ground, holding his wounded pride. She knelt down, picking up the spilled goblet and took a fist full of his hair. She pulled his head back and brought the goblet across his face. The edge of the cup was actually somewhat sharp, if traveling at speed. It cut across his check and nose, missing his eye and slashing into his fore head. She then brought the cut down across the back of his head. The bowl of the goblet cracked, as did his resolve. She kicked him over and put one foot against his chest.

 

            “Do I have your full attention?” She asked, holding the cracked part of the goblet under his nose.

 

            “Uhng.” He managed.

 

            “Good.” She said. “Now you listen to me you little shit. I need your help here, you know what’s about to happen. You can help or I can come back here with help.”

 

            “What do you want?” Zeus managed, as he gasped for air.

 

            “We need an army, we need a map to Tartarus, and we need political assistance.”

 

            “Politics?” He asked, trying to calm the screaming pain.

 

            “You’ve got to do what’s right, not what’s easy. You collaborating with those who would end the world isn’t helping anyone. We need a strong voice against the end of the world, and you could be that voice.”

 

            “Okay.” He said, trying to hear her over the birdies flying around his head. “I’ll get you the maps and an army.”

 

            “Get the maps now.” She said standing up, dropping the goblet. “I don’t want to wait.”

 

            “Sure, sure.” He said

 

            “Now.” She said. “Or I’ll dance a fandango on your crotch.”

 

            He got up, ever so slowly, and sort of walked to a box on a table. He withdrew the maps, and looked at them. He then looked at her and extended his right hand, full as it was with rolled maps. His left hand was still holding, half shielding his wounded pride.

 

            “Thank you.” She said, snatching the maps from him.

 

            She unrolled the scrolls of lambskin and looked at them for a while before rolling them back up again. She slipped the silk ribbon back over them, her hands quivering ever so slightly. She didn’t think he’d seen it as he was otherwise occupied. She placed her hands on her hips and turned slowly to him, her eyes narrowing.

 

            “You are going to help us build an army, yes?”

 

            “Sure, sure.” He said, wincing a little as he tired to stand.

 

            “And you’re going to back us in whatever endeavors we require?”

 

            “Um.”

 

            “We can simply replace you.” She said. “All we need to do is convince Athena to conceive a son and your out.”

 

            “I’ll do what I can.” He said.

 

            “You’d better.” She said. “Or I’ll cut your balls off and throw them into the sea, you get me?”

 

            “Yeah.” He said. “No problem.”

 

            “There better not be.” She said, delivering one last petty kick to his crotch.

           

 

April 9th, 2003

10:21 a.m.

 

            “And I think I love him.” Athena said.

 

            “Do you really?” Chronos asked. “Or are you simply feeling emotions that don’t necessarily fit?”

 

            “I don’t get you.” She said.

 

            “Sex sometimes can make you think you feel an emotional attachment to some one, when you don’t. We discussed this before, when you first put your toe in the sexual ocean.”

 

            “I never did anything.”

 

“Just because you never allowed your love to touch you doesn’t mean you never did anything.” The Old God said. “When you bring another person to orgasm, that’s still making love to them. You can’t say it doesn’t count because you wouldn’t let them do anything to you. You’re having sexual feelings for the first time, exploring the world of sex. You may think that something exists between you and this Cassimano that doesn’t.”

 

            “I’m fairly certain I know my own heart grandfather.” She said.

           

“It’s not you’re heart that’s doing the thinking though.”

 

“Grandfather.” The young goddess blushed.

 

“You know, I remember the day you tied your hair up.” Chronos said.

 

“My hair?” She touched the golden locks, now drifting down her back. “Oh, I just got tired of looking like some kind of militant.”

           

            “You tied it up the day Nike left.” Chronos said.

           

            “I didn’t want her to go.” Athena said.

           

            “No, you didn’t.”

 

            “I loved her you know.”

 

            “I do know.”

 

            “Well…” Athena wanted to argue, but she wasn’t sure what she was arguing anymore.

 

            “She left, and you tied your hair back that very day.” He said. “And you resolved to go alone. Now you’ve met a man, and because my sister put an idea in your head, you became convinced he was the one. So you’ve let your hair down.”

 

            “I know what I’m doing.” She said.

 

            “Do you?”

 

            “Don’t I?”

 

            “No,” He said, “Not yet. But you’ll learn.”

 

            There was a moment of silence between the two gods. Athena looked down at her

 

            “Do you ever see her?” Athena asked.

 

            “Oh yes.” Chronos said. “She comes to talk to me on a regular basis.”

 

            “How is she?”

 

            “She’s fine.”

 

            “Dose she ever mention me?”

 

            “She asks after you on occasion.”

 

            “Oh, have you seen her lately?”

 

            “Not in a little while.” The ancient god said.

 

            “Oh.”

 

            “So you’re sure about this young man?”

 

            “I’m pretty sure.”

            “If you are sure dear.” He said sitting back in his chair. “I wouldn’t want you to be hurt by something you haven’t fully grasped.”

 

            “I’ll be fine.” She said. “I just wonder though.”

 

            “What about the prophecy though?” The old god asked, glancing up for a second at his granddaughters face. He saw what he needed to and then looked back down at his tea. He sipped the tea and waited for an answer, which he thought would be a lie. He had seen the truth on her face, and he thought she was going to say something else.

 

            “Maybe it’s time for Father to step down.” She said. “Maybe it’s time a child came to replace him.”

 

            He looked up at her, and was so shocked he had to set his teacup down. He thought that he might drop the cup if he didn’t set it down. He looked at the face, the golden hair framing it. He hadn’t seen her wearing her hair down for so long, he wondered if anyone had. Everything had changed, the entire gosh darn world had changed. Cassimano must have really rocked her world. There had been a fundamental shift in her allegiance, and she wouldn’t be able to put those blinders back on.

 

            “Well.” He said. “How can we help D’var and his friends?”

 

            “I’m not sure yet.” She said. “Father has the keys to the fields, and he’s got too much invested in the other side. I’ll see what can be accomplished on our own. We’ll have to. They’re going to fight tomorrow, and I don’t know if I can effectively help them win.”

 

            “I have plans.” The ancient god said. “But you’ve got to help them get to a certain point before I can spring.”

 

            “I’ll make sure.” She set her own cup down and stood up. “I should go.”

 

            “You do that.”

 

            “Are we going to loose Grandpa?”

 

            “I don’t know.” He said, looking out at the distance. “Maybe, in times like this even the gods must trust to chance.”

 

            “Shit.” She said, kissing him on the forehead. “I must go.”

 

 

April 9th, 2003

12:05 p.m.

 

            “Tomorrow at this time, we could be dead.” The Weirdo said.

 

            “Yes.” Jack said. “It’s possible.”

 

            The two men were sitting in a reading room, once used for cigar and port. There hadn’t ever been cigars and rarely was their ever port in The Weirdo’s tenure. The Weirdo was sitting in one of the brocade chairs, and Jack was in one next to him. Jack was flipping through a book about the history of weapons. It was just a coffee table book and thus had large beautiful pictures and little content.

 

            “I have a plan.”

 

            “You do?”

 

            “I told you about the joust I had.”

 

            “Yes.”

 

            “We could try to do that again.”

 

            “Oh?”

 

            “We ask them for their champion, and we send them ours. A knight against a knight, single combat, all scores final. It’s possible that we could escape a full scale battle that way.”

 

            “Who do you send into this fight?”

 

            “I thought you might want to play the part of Lancelot.”

 

            “Are you fucking crazy?” Jack asked, looking away from the book.

 

            “I think we both know the answer to that.” The Weirdo looked directly out at the infinite universe before him.

 

            Jack looked at The Weirdo, who turned his head to look at him. Jack knew that The Weirdo wasn’t actually looking at him, rather at his left ear. He wasn’t going to focus on anything and was managing to just look in Jack’s direction.

 

            “You’re serious.”

            “I am indeed, you’re the only knight in armor.”

 

            “And my mighty charger is to be?”

 

            “You have a four hundred million horse power motor cycle.”

 

            “I do.” He said. “What if they pretend to go for it until I win and then they come for us?”

 

            “You carry a lance a sword and a forty five.” The Weirdo said. “We fight the best we can.”

            “What if I can’t joust?”

 

            “We loose, and we attack with machine guns.”

 

            “We break the rules?”

 

            “We get away.”

 

            “I’ll do it.” Jack said.

 

            “Thank you.” The Weirdo said. “You don’t want to know what my back up plan was.”

 

            “Yes I do.” Jack said.

 

            “We escape under the cover of darkness and emigrate to Peru, taking the name Lord Byron. We pretend to be the famous dope smoking poof or a social philosopher slowly building a reputation for drinking and changing clothes a lot. Then, when they’ve taken over the entire world, and crushed all resistance we spring by producing and releasing a new breath mint laced with LSD. We claim it opens your consciousness while it freshens your breath.”

 

            “All of us pretend to be Lord Byron?”

 

            “Yes.”

 

            “All twelve plus of us?”

 

            “Yes.”

 

            “At once?”

 

            “Yes

 

            “This was your back up plan?”

 

            “Yes.”

 

            “I can see why you were so keen for the other plan.”

 

            “Yeah, the back up was rubbish.”

 

            “So if I’m Lancelot and you’re Arthur, dose that make Tommy Merlin?’

 

            “Could be.”

 

            “Arthur lost when Merlin went missing you know. Merlin was trapped in a tree and Arthur died.”

 

            “Yeah I know,” The Weirdo said, “But Lance also had it off with Gwen, and as you never had any infidelities, I hope we can change some other things.”

 

            “That’s true.” Jack said. “I never cheated on Marla.”

 

            “Must be love.”

 

            “Must be.”

 

 

April 9th, 2003

2:21 p.m.

 

            The Other sat watching Chronos fitting a spring into a clock, carefully placing it into the clock. He set the final cog into place and began the clock ticking. There was a swirl of mist around the clock as it began its long life span. The Other picked the small clock up and looked at the nameplate.

 

            “Alex.” She said reading. “Alice?”

 

            “Something wrong with Alice?” Chronos asked.

 

            “I just thought you know something cooler sounding.”

 

            “Alice is plenty cool.” He said.

 

            “Do they even know yet?”

 

            “She knows, or suspects, he doesn’t know.”

 

            “Will he?”

 

            “When the boy is born, he’ll know.”

 

            “He’ll be born won’t he?”

 

            “Oh yes.” Chronos said. “He’ll be born.”

 

            The Other looked at the great clock, the massive structure, and watched the broken sweep hand as it spun around in its tight little circle. She looked at the old man and then at the clock. She wanted to ask the old man something, but she didn’t know quite how to go about it. She had wondered how to broach the subject, and decided on the direct method.

 

            “Grandpa Chronos?”

 

            “Yes dear?”

 

            “Do you know who my mother is?”

 

            “Yes.”

 

            “Will you tell me?”

 

            “Should I?”

 

            “I want to know.”

 

            “Well I know you want to know.” He said. “But such information could be harmful, could make a paradox. If you did something about it, it could rent the space time continuum.”

 

            “No.” She said. “If telling me something like that could create a paradox, simply my being here has created a greater one. So the damage is already done, you might as well tell me.”

 

            “Is it important to you?”

 

            “Yes.” She said. “I know so much, but not who my mother is.”

 

            “Okay.” He said.

 

            And he told her, exactly who her mother was.

 

            “But.” The child said. “No that can’t be.”

 

            “It is.”

 

            “How?”

 

            “That’s for me to know, and for you to find out.”

 

            “But, she’s…”

 

            “You’ll just have to wait it out sweetie.”

 

            “Oh.” She said.

 

            “You’ll see it’ll all come out in the end.”

 

            “I hope so.” She said.

 

 

April 9th, 2003

10:21 p.m.

 

            Lilith watched as the last of their creations walked out of the gym. He was more powerfully built than any of the previous specimens used. They had used the semen samples she had collected to make this final and powerful clone. If this one didn’t work, then it there simply wouldn’t be enough time or resource to make another.

 

            He was covered in sweat, and nothing else, as he emerged from the gym. He looked at her as he walked towards the shower, and he moved towards her. He kissed her deeply and pushed her against a wall, parting her robe.

 

            “No.” She said. “We aren’t going to do that Mordred.”

 

            “Fine then.” He said stepping away from her. “I can find plenty of bitches that wanna fuck.”

 

There was an arrogance in his voice, coarseness in his speech. He didn’t have the smoothed out edges, the sharpened wit. He was just a strong arrogant fool. She wanted to explain to him that when his father heard him talk like that he’d slap him. He could fight though, and he had the power to win. He snapped his fingers and three young women followed him into the shower.

 

            She watched them go and watched as the door swung slowly closed, the pneumatic pump hissing as the door closed. She wouldn’t have bet on them winning yesterday, but now they could. She had wished that there was a little more time to hone this last clone, but maybe there was something useful to this arrogant little pissant. Maybe the arrogance would help him win, she questioned herself about the likely hood of this. It wouldn’t matter; they had enough forces to win.

 

            She left the gymnasium and went back to the empire state building, and had a meeting with her new council. Diana and Peach were sitting with Eve at the table. Together they were her advisors now. She hadn’t been sure about adding the two leaders, but Eve had insisted. Lilith sat with them and one after another member of the newly formed sisterhood came to report to them. It wasn’t until the Assitanian came that Lilith became interested.

 

            Chandelroth had been a great man once, and was now cursed with obscurity. He had managed to escape the destruction of his own world and was now ready to bring destructive forces to this world. She didn’t want the world destroyed of course, but just to create enough havoc for The Weirdo to accept his role and throw down the Destroyer when he came. At least that was what she thought she wanted, something seemed wrong about it to her.

 

            Chandelroth wore ancient clothes, layers disintegrating upon each other. The curling faded yellow hair that covered his head was clean, and the clothes themselves were clean, but so old that they were falling a part. They had the look of clothes, which had once been of great stature, and he was loathed to be parted from them.

 

            “My lady.” Chandelroth said approaching. “All is ready, we need simply to perform the ritual.”

 

            “When can we do that?”

 

            “Tomorrow night, and the day after.” He said. “It must be done in that time frame or we will be too late.”

 

            “And they will come?”

 

            “The old ones want nothing more than to enter this world.” He said. “It’s like an alcoholic entering an unguarded brewery.”

 

            “I hope so.” Lilith said. “And we can send it back?”

 

            “That will present certain difficulties, but yes.”

 

            Had she known he was lying, it’s questionable she would have cared. It was questionable if that thing that she felt on her heart would let her care. In fact once the gates were open a little his intensions were to open them fully and allow everything to come through. He wanted nothing more than to gain the power of the fallen one and take up his position amongst them. He was going to help them in their ultimate goal, but of course no one else knew this.

 

 

April 9th, 2003

9:21 p.m.

 

            “Hey munchkin.” The Weirdo said standing over The Other.

 

            “Hi Weirdo.” She said leaning her tiny body against his shins.

 

            “Guess what?”

 

            “What?” She asked.

 

            “It’s time for bed.” He said reaching down and lifting her up.

 

            “Bed?” She demanded.

 

            “I’m afraid so.” He said holding her over his head. “You’ve stayed up far too late the last few nights and it’ll make your sleep difficult if you do it too much.”

 

            “You do it.” She argued.

 

            “Ah, but I’m an adult.” He said. “It’s too late for me to have any hope of sleeping properly, you’ve got to learn when your young or you never get the hang of it.”

 

            “That’s so sad.” She said.

 

            “Nah, it’s okay.”

 

            “It’s tragic.” She said, her voice dropping a register and becoming serious. “To think that you never know rest. That there might be no respite for you from this world.”

 

            “I can handle it though.” He said. “And it’s not so sad, it means that life is like a dream. Everything has that sheen of unreality to me.”

 

            “No it doesn’t.” She said, sounding like an adult now. She couldn’t stop the tears welling up in her eyes. “You see reality as it really is, there is no dream for you. You’re world is a nightmare, and there is never any salvation for you. If there is no dream then where does hope come from? If you can never wake from the evil dream which grips your heart, how can you save yourself?”

 

            “Don’t worry about it kiddo.” He said. “Hope is not necessary. I only need my will.”

 

            “I like you.” The tiny cleric said, her register still low. “I worry you’re going to destroy yourself.”

 

            “You just get ready for bed, and stop worrying about it.” He said.

 

            He took her too her room and waited for her to change before entering her room to tuck her into bed. She expressed a fear that his world was full of fear before accepting that she had to go to sleep. He tucked her in and walked out of the room, wondering about what she had said.

 

            Had she even said it really? Her voice, and indeed her entire manner, had changed when she began to talk about the nightmare world she thought he existed in. He wasn’t sure about that, he didn’t have nightmares when he slept, so how could he live one awake? Surely if he was living a nightmare his dreams would be worse. The last dream he could remember didn’t even make sense, just a random string of momentary thoughts.

 

            He looked at her as she fell sleep, her eyes fluttering under her lids a few minuets later. He watched her eyes flickering back and forth, wondering if she was faking it. He continued to watch, and came to the conclusion she wasn’t. She had fallen asleep and was dreaming. He hoped she was dreaming about nice things, fluffy clouds and unicorns. He hoped she enjoyed her sleep, and that bad dreams never came near her. He touched her head and stroked her bright hair, which glowed even in the dark of the room.

 

             He wasn’t sure if she was really his, she might be. She was supposed to be from four years in the future, but then Loki had claimed to be from twenty years in the future. They could tell a kid anything, even one as undoubtedly powerful as this one. He stood and walked to her little desk, painted white with pink hearts on it. There was another picture on the table, and it particularly gave him pause. He was a picture of him, holding her on one arm. They were both smiling in a way people only smiled through rose-colored glasses. What gave him pause was the statement she had written, and framed in a drawing like a piece of rolled parchment. It looked almost like the sort of narrators note one might see in a comic book. It was a simple statement, and didn’t take up a lot of room. It was writing in a legible imitation of gothic script, made easier to read.

 

            He set the paper down and looked back at the tiny girl, so full of power and hope. He looked back at the paper and walked quietly out of the room. He thought about the picture and the words she had written on the page, letting them wrinkle through his mind. They would make a place for themselves, and sleep quietly. They were nice things, so he figured he would never hear from them again. The reassuring things never make it back to his consciousness.

 

           

April 10th, 2003

12:21 a.m.

 

            “We’re most likely fucked, you know that don’t you?” Max asked.

 

“Possibly.” Kestrel said, running the cleaning brush through the barrel of her automatic. “But we must trust that there is a plan.”

 

            “A plan.” He said. “They have a plan?”

 

            “I hope so.” She said. “Other wise we are defiantly fucked.”

 

            “Nice to see you’re so reassuring.”

 

            “Is the file ready?”

 

            “Almost.” He said. “A few more dots to connect, and then we can present a version that has some reasonable chance of being coherent.”

 

            “Okay.” She said. “You still have that vest?”

 

            “Yes.” He said.

 

            “You gonna wear it tomorrow?”

 

            “Any reason I shouldn’t?”

 

            “If you don’t want it.” She began.

 

            “There are others down in the hole.” He said. “Piles of Kevlar or titanium plates covered in Kevlar, lots of options.”

 

            “Might not hurt to get one.” She said.

 

            “We should go get one now before we forget then.”

 

 

April 10th, 2003

1:15 a.m.

 

            Tommy gently set the brush down onto the cloth and looked at the bottle of oil. Cleaning of this sort was such a delicate process, and he had to keep his mind about him. He stretched his neck and heard a pair of pops, feeling the tendons loosen suddenly. It was a little painful, but a welcome pain. He was tired, and his eyes were beginning to droop, but he had to finish. He couldn’t leave this job half finished; the cleaning would have to be finished. He picked the brush back up and dipped it into the oil.

 

 

April 10th, 2003

1:42 a.m.

 

            Michael Darrian knelt at the altar of St. Patrick’s cathedral, praying to a god he wasn’t sure he believed in any more. Prayer hadn’t been able to cure him, and denial of blood had nearly killed him. His God had been silent for so very long, and heaven’s representatives on earth were engaged in the worst kind of profanities. He had been concerned for some time, before this latest episode broke out. He had begun to think that the God who sacrificed his son to the sins of man was not the God of the Church. He had worried that some how the devil had become the object of worship, that the God of Christ and Christ himself had been pushed aside for a promise of power and a threat of damnation. He knelt and tried to find the voice of god that had once been there, when he was so very young.

 

            When he had been a child, long before the infection, he could hear the voice of God. The voice of God had told him that murder was wrong, that greed was wrong, that there was no excuse for these things. That voice didn’t allow for regime change or pre-emptive strikes. It didn’t allow for trickle down, or eventual rewards. It said that killing was wrong; that greed was wrong, that creating more pain in the world was wrong.

 

            As he grew up, and his heart had been captured by the grandeur of the church, that voice died away. It had fallen silent to the glory of gold and the promise that the sinners would burn. The sinners were going to burn and the righteous would watch. He sometimes thought about why the voice that promised only love and peace grew more silent as he went through his indoctrination to the heart of the church.

 

            Then the killings began, and the Protestants and the Catholics slaughtered each other, and he began to wonder if the devil hadn’t gotten into their hearts. He watched as the puritans murdered each other, particularly their women. How could a god of love even begin to approve of a method like compressing?

 

            He remembered seeing a compressing, he had only seen it the once. The fifteen-year-old girl had been accused of witchcraft when she accused the settlement priest of rape. He had admitted to the crime but claimed she had enticed him by her sexual dalliances. His argument had been that as a man he was pure and chaste but that the sinful curves of her young firm body had driven him mad. He claimed he’d had no choice but to rape her, blackening an eye and breaking her wrist in the process. What had been worse was that these good and chaste and holy people sided with him. If she had been a chaste and good woman she wouldn’t have enticed him by having breasts at such a young age. It had been deemed her fault for being so very pretty and having a woman’s body at such a young age. As this was apparently the third time she had refused to stop having breasts, they had no option but to make an example out of her.

 

            He watched as the screaming young woman had been tied to the ground with a door placed over her.  He had watched as they placed the heavy stones on the board that they had strapped to her chest. The weight had become so great that while it didn’t crush her to death, she couldn’t breath any more. She was simply unable to lift her chest because of the weight.

 

            Yet the man in the black cloth, with his white collar, explained that this would save her soul. He proclaimed how her sinful sexual lustfulness had brought them to this. Then she asked for more weight, she asked to be killed with what breath she had left.

 

            The priest declared that she would have to wait for God’s judgment of her, and Michael Darrian could stand it no longer. His hand struck out, and tore into the priest’s stomach. He reached under the rib cage and found the beating heart with amazing ease. He then tore it out of the man’s body and showed it to the assembled crowd. He explained in a loud voice that God’s judgment had come.

 

            He lifted the board off the young girl and cut her free, and then turned his attention to the good god fearing people of that settlement. They had gone from England, to Denmark, to practice this form of religion. They had left Denmark because they were so xenophobic that they were afraid of their children speaking Dutch. They came across the ocean to the new world, to practice this religion of theirs. This practice of murdering for an evil and pernicious god. Their might be more like them, but he was going to make sure that this group would make no more sacrifices to their dark god.

 

            He killed them all, every man woman and child in the group. He had little care for those who tried to reason with him, claiming they didn’t believe her to be a witch. If they disapproved, they could have done something. Only cowards claim that they were held back by social restraints, was his opinion. If they weren’t objecting, they were giving their tacit approval by his thoughts. They were watching the slow torture and murder of a beautiful young woman, whose crime it had been to develop to quickly and too attractively. He slaughtered them all and when he had killed them all, he took their eyes out. He placed them, one by one, in a long row before the young girl. He noticed that she hadn’t moved, and went to check her, and found she had died. He took her body away, and buried her deep in the woods. He set the town ablaze, and left a stone marker explaining what happened. When a second group of pilgrims came to Plymoth, they would find the terror that the vampire had left. They wondered to each other if this was what happened to Roanoke, and cried bitter tears over the scene.

 

            Unfortunately Darrian’s little joke, the eyes all in a row, went unappreciated. Forest animals absconded with the delicious eyeballs before anyone came to see what had happened. It was a pity in his mind because he thought it particularly clever. He had always assumed that they had missed the eyes or something like that, since it had never appeared in the history of the Mayflower massacre as it has been called through history.

 

            He looked up at the image of a man crucified on the cross. He couldn’t believe in this image any longer either. He had read so much about the crucifixion in the last fifty years that he was convinced that the one thing it couldn’t have looked like was this image. He stood up and played with his rosary, counting the beads and pretending to have performed the prayers that each bead was meant to represent. He hadn’t actually done the prayers in nearly a century now, but he could still remember them.

 

            He found, thinking about it, that he could also remember the Stations of the Cross perfectly. Thinking about it, he could remember the entire Latin mass. He could come up with the entire Easter sermon that Father Jean Bertide would perform every year. It was the same service, same sermon, nearly word for word. He was sure the old priest wasn’t doing it on purpose, but he did it. It was odd that he should be able to remember the words of a priest now a hundred and fifty years in his grave, but he could. He could even remember how the old man would lift his head and squint at him, making sure he was sitting in the back, at the same place every year. It was as if he had a script and it told him after the part where Judas kissed Jesus it said that he was supposed to look up and make sure Michael came. Darrian of course would raise his hand, making sure he’d done his part of the little play.

 

            It was odd that he would think about old father Bertide now, so long after. He hadn’t been to France for such a long time, and yet he remembered the old man. When the old priest died, he left the church and town. That might have been the last time he sat through a service actually, the last service the old man gave. When he had been talking about immortality of the soul and dropped dead right after saying “Even if the flesh should fall the spirit remains.”

 

            He couldn’t help but think only a particularly evil God would be so pleased with himself for thinking of such a thing as to do such a thing. He had prayed, he had even gone to confessional, but he hadn’t sat through a service. Somehow it all seemed pointless, who could worship some one who apparently killed for a practical joke?

 

            He left the church, still as undecided as when he’d walked in. He looked up at the rose pattern stained glass window. The large circle, which he could never really see as a rose. He knew the explanation, but it was just a circle to him. He walked away from the big oak doors and back into the city, to prepare for tomorrow.

 

           

April 10th, 2003

10:38 a.m.

 

            He hadn’t been able to sleep; he’d been watching the clock, trying to decide when the best moment to go downstairs would be. He didn’t want to appear too eager that would look bad. He’d decided to remain cloistered in his room until the last moment. He wished he’d been able to sleep, that he hadn’t had this odd excitement running through him. He wasn’t excited with anticipation, more like dread. He hadn’t been able to sleep though; it had kept him up all night.

 

            The Weirdo looked at himself in the mirror, and wondered what he was doing. Here he was, about to probably go and die in a park, and yet he was worried about his appearance? He’d always hated this sort of behavior, and here he was emulating it. Only the social decedents of the British could act this way. In Japan if a man wanted to commit suicide because his military career was in the dumps, he cut his belly open. One other man would cut his head off to avoid any extra pain for the man, but that was it. If a westerner wanted to commit suicide he’d take his entire battalion with him, to have a glorious death. The Weirdo didn’t want a glorious death. He wanted a glorious life.

 

            He looked at himself in his light gray shirt and the dark gray pants. He wasn’t going to change, because anything he might do at this point would smack of conscious thought. He would simply accept that he had worn a gray shirt and pants to this march. He slid into his gray trench coat and checked his hair in the mirror, and then slid his gray hat on.

 

            He came downstairs and saw that everyone else had gotten dressed before him, and they were waiting. Jack was already dressed in the blue armor, holding his helmet under his arm. They all looked up at him as he came down the stairs, and he worried about those looks.

 

            “I am not going to commit suicide.” He said. “I am not in my finest suit, these are fightin’ colors.”

 

            “I didn’t say anything.” Max, who was conspicuously dressed in all black, said.

 

            “Me neither.” Jack said.

 

            “I just wanted to make sure we knew that.” He said. “I do not intend to loose today.”

 

            “We don’t have an army.” Cassimano said, as he walked into the room.

 

            “Oh?”

 

            “Cydrill and Peidmont and still trying, but when I left them they hadn’t gotten the door opened yet. I felt my services might be needed here.”

 

            “Shit.” The Weirdo said. “Aw well. We shall just have to do it on our own.”

 

            “On our own?” Angel asked.

 

            “Well, yes.” The Weirdo said.

 

            “May I point out that there are only ten of us?”

 

            “You may.” The Weirdo said.

 

            “Even three of the immortals that we were counting on are gone.”

 

            “Yes.” The Weirdo said. “But that’s life.”

 

            “That’s life?” Angel demanded.

 

            “You don’t have to come.” The Weirdo said. “No ones demanding you come along, you can stay here. No ones going to think any less of you if you stay here.”

 

            “Yes you will.” She said. “You won’t say anything but you’ll think less.”

 

            “No.” The Weirdo said. “I mean it.”

 

            “But I might.” Kaala said.

 

            “What?” Angel asked, shocked.

 

            “We’re gonna expect them to protect us and not do anything ourselves?” Kaala asked. “We want to be free of The Power we’re gonna have to fight for it. Those who are not willing to fight for liberty deserve none, that’s what Jefferson said.”

 

            “Did he?” Kestrel asked.

 

            “Sounds like the sort of thing he’d say.” Max said.

 

            “So we’ve got to help them fight.” Kaala announced. “And I’m going with them.”

 

            “Okay.” Angel said, her head drooping. “Christ on a cracker I need a smoke.”

 

            “Why don’t you go have one ten?” Jack suggested. “We’ve still got a few minuets before we need to leave.”

 

            Angel looked around and nodded, she then began to walk from the room, pulling a pack of clove cigarettes from her pocket and pulling one out. She walked out of the house and lit the small brown stick of paper and leaves, inhaling deeply. She walked from the house and towards the fountain, trying to gather up her courage. She sat down on the lip and looked at the fence, which ran around the grounds.

 

            “Could I have one of those?” Lucifer asked.

 

            “Oh gods.” She said jumping. “You scared the crap out of me.”

 

            “Sorry.” He said. “I was just wondering if…”

 

            “Yeah, yeah.” She said, proffering the pack towards him.

 

            He took one and raised it to his lips, the end already glowing. She wondered how he could light the clove cigarette without a lighter and nearly hit herself for such a silly question. He inhaled with what looked like delight, as if the world was coming clear for him. She knew the feeling; she had been trying to quit smoking for a year now. The cloves weren’t really a substitute for the real cigarettes; they provided all the problems but none of the pleasures. She had head that cloves were actually worse for you than smoking tobacco cigarettes even. She could derive a little life form them though, and Kaala would still kiss her if she smoked them. Kaala hated her smoking at all but was proving patient to her attempt to quit.

 

            “That’s very good.” Lucifer said.

 

            “Is it?”

 

            “Yes indeed.” Lucifer said

 

            “I was told all these stories about you as a child you know.”

 

            “Were you?” He asked.

 

            “Yeah, that you stole good souls, that you were prideful, that you wanted to control the universe.”

 

            “Funny how they would come to that conclusion.” He said.

 

            “You’re not what I imagined.”

 

            “No?”

 

            “No.” She said. “I mean I have to separate you from Satan and all the other names they give don’t I?”

 

            “Yes.” He affirmed.

 

            “Well I mean, you don’t seem prideful, you don’t seem bad.”

 

            “You’ve got to think about who told you these things.”

 

            “Yeah.” She said. “I guess so.”

 

            “You left the Baptist after all.”

 

            “Well they don’t like gays much.”

 

            “That’s not why you left though.”

 

            “No.” She said. “A lot of their stories don’t work together. When you put them all together, the connections don’t work. It’s like they expect you to swallow this lie over here and this other lie over here and you’re not supposed to ask inconvenient questions like why are there two stories here or anything really.”

 

            “So you left?”

 

            “I left.”

 

            “And now who do you worship?”

 

            “I know who my gods are.” She said. “I learned that your worship is your own business.”

 

            “Good.” He said standing. “They look ready to go, you should join them.”

 

            “Yeah.” She said. “Kaala wouldn’t forgive me if I didn’t go.”

 

            “You should keep hold of her.” He said. “She’s a good woman, some one you could grow old with.”

 

            “Oh yeah?” Angel asked.

 

            “She also happens to really love you.” He said. “In fact I would say she loves you as much as you love her, and if that doesn’t scare you, then nothing will.”

 

            He vanished, like a cloud of smoke suddenly caught in a high wind. He was there, and then he blew away and was gone. She looked at the others and walked towards them. She touched the small pistol that was stuck into the waistband of her jeans behind her. She had learned how to shoot, but wasn’t as good as Kaala was. They were going to be using the semi-automatic machine guns that Kestrel had showed them how to use, but if it got close she wanted to know where the pistol was.

 

            She hadn’t thought about staying with Kaala for the rest of her life, but she also didn’t think that Kaala loved her. Kaala said she did, but Angel was never sure to trust her. She had never believed anyone loved her, but he had said she did. Angel loved Kaala so much that the idea of her ever leaving made her cry in the night. She would have to get up out of bed and leave their bedroom for fear of waking Kaala up when the sure conviction that someday Kaala would tire of her struck her. She looked at the beautiful young red head, so serious now. She shouldn’t be serious, happy looked better on her. A smile, and a wave were her strong points. She could shoot a rifle very well, but she shouldn’t have to. Kaala was too beautiful for that, too beautiful for anything but worship. Angel had worried about that for a while, that her vision of the Goddess had become Kaala after a very short time. She could no longer picture her without seeing Kaala. She wondered if it was the same for her.

 

 

April 10th, 2003

11:15 a.m.

 

            The sun was bright, not particularly warm but bright. The Weirdo had pulled out his old Blues Brothers sunglasses and put them on due to the glare of the light. He slipped them on and looked at Kaala and Angel’s position and then at the place where he had to guess Judy and Sheila were. He hadn’t seen them hiding so he had no idea where she actually was. Cassimano was standing next to him as they watched Jack and Max screwing together the lance that they had made. It would most likely be good for only one or two passes, but then wooden ones were the same. A little known fact about this sort of charge is that the series of lances a knight needed wasn’t just something for the games. They would have to be given new lances forever stab into the opposite army, just like in a game joust.

 

            The Lance was made of steel pipes and had a world war one bayonet welded onto the end to serve as the blade. It was something that looked like it had been made in a basement by two guys trying to make something in just a few hours. They had done a good job though, as far as it went. It didn’t need to be very pretty, it needed to last for a few seconds.

 

            The Weirdo looked at Cassimano, who was dressed to the nines. He wore an Armani suit, which went with the eye patch he had. He played with the cufflinks on his shirt, which were a small shield shape. The heraldic image was of a black dragon standing rampant on a red field with radiating lines coming from behind it. The Weirdo looked at Coast Runner and noticed the same emblem on the pommel and set in to the hand guard of the weapon.

 

            “That a family crest or something?” The Weirdo asked.

 

            “Hmm?” D’var asked. “Oh the cufflinks. The royal standard of Ambernox I’ll have you know. Every Grand Duke since Jackan the first has used this coat of arms. Funny how I always kept them because I knew that I’d find an Ambernox sleeve again. Of course here they call them French cut shirt but I know better. Much good it has done us since it seems the world didn’t survive to get to my time.”

 

            “Must have.” The Weirdo said. “Other wise your being here creates a paradox, and since we cannot allow a paradox we must assume your world still exists.”

 

            “I see.” He said.

 

            “Simple.” The Weirdo said. “You left before the world was completely destroyed and Tanteroy said they world was wasted but still there. Five thousand years is a long time, a lot could heal in that time.”

 

            “Maybe.” Cassimano said. “I never learned history, until I became a part of it that is. Of course by then it was too late to learn anything useful.”

 

            “So there you go.” The Weirdo said.

 

            “You worried we’re not gonna make it?” Cassimano asked.

 

            “Actually D’var I’m not.”

 

            “Really?”

 

            “Really.”

 

            “Why not?”

 

            “Because I promised Kaala I wasn’t going to let the world end. I have never broken a promise yet.”

 

            “Not one?”

 

            “Not one.”

 

            “Damn.” Cassimano said, and after a moment he added. “Can I ask you something?”

 

            “Sure.”           

 

            “Why do you do this?”

 

            “What do you mean?”

 

            “This whole heroing thing. I mean I was a bored royal who got off on the thrills that adventuring brought, but you’re not like that. You don’t get off on it; you do it because it has to be done. You’re not getting any reward, you just keep giving.”

 

            “I promised Kaala is my current reason.”

 

            “Past reasons?”

 

            “Revenge, a lot of revenge.” He said. “I could say things like some one had to do it or other such noble sounding phrases, but it’s always been a revenge thing, one way or another.”

 

            “And now it’s because you promised Kaala.”

 

            “Good a reason as any.” The Weirdo said.

 

            “I suppose.”

 

            “How long do we have to wait?” Kestrel asked.

 

            “Till they get here.” The Weirdo said.

 

            “Then I’m gonna go sit down with Mike then on that bench.” She said.

 

            “Okay.” The Weirdo said.

 

 

April 10th, 2003

12:10 p.m.

 

            They came riding horses, in their ceremonial robes, looking for all the world like a re-enactment group. The Weirdo watched them, as the bright sun shone it’s light. He looked at the sun and thought, for just a moment, that the sun wasn’t actually there any more. That was the suns position eight minuets ago, the sun had moved on by now.

 

            He watched the horses as they lined up, rank on rank, and noted that many of them had lances. Jack’s lance was laying in the grass, almost completely obscured even to them. Their lances were held up, the steel spearheads affixed to the tops glittering. They had been polished and now they shone in the afternoon’s light, the light that had left the sun eight minuets ago.

 

            Three horses walked towards the small group and he noted the way the breastplate armor changed the way the silk cloaks hung to their bodies. Lilith wasn’t wearing armor, and she had abandoned color. She was wearing a white cape, under which she wore the same leather bodice she had worn so many times before. Eve rode with her and a man in red rode with them. His armor, cloak, and horses clothes were all red. The saddle he rode on was red, and The Weirdo groaned internally when he looked at the visage as the man raised the bevor of his helmet.

 

            “Mordred.” The Weirdo muttered as the trio stopped near him.

 

            “Hello father.” The newest clone said.

 

            “This one really is Mordred.” Lilith said, almost happily. “We combined a bunch of your sperm and an egg of mine and what was left of the other Loki’s and this last clone, sort of emergency supply.”

 

            “We demand combat by champion.” Cassimano said suddenly.

 

            “Oh?” Lilith asked.

 

            “Yes.” Cassimano said, “Our champion versus yours.”

 

            “Who will you select as a champion?” She asked.

 

            “Jack.” The Weirdo said as Jack walked towards them. “He’s been knighted by the queen and everything.”

 

            “Has he?” Lilith asked.

 

            “Yes.” Jack said. “And I had tea with the Queen Mother, God rest her sainted soul.”

 

            “Impressive.” Lilith said, looking at Jack and then The Weirdo. “Alright.”

 

            “Alright?”

 

            “Mordred will be our champion, I assume this will be a joust?”

 

            “Followed by me if time permits.” The Weirdo said.

 

            “Do you need lances?”

 

            “There will only be time for one lance.” The Weirdo said.

 

            “You’re so sure?”

 

            “You bet your amazingly perfect ass.” The Weirdo said.

 

            She smiled at him and nudged the horse to turn around, but it took a long time for her to stop looking at him. When she turned away, he felt himself sag ever so slightly. He then looked at Excalibur at Jack’s side. He had given the Englishman the sword, because he could think of no better blade to give him

 

            “How dose one joust exactly?” Jack asked.

 

            “You’re asking now?” The Weirdo asked.

 

            “I hadn’t considered it before.” Jack said.

 

            “Haven’t you seen movies? Read books?”

 

            “Well yes, but that’s not much of an example is it?”

 

            “Just aim for his horse, it’ll be the best bet. You get him off his horse and you should have the advantage.”

 

            “I certainly hope so.” Jack said.

 

            “Me too.” The Weirdo said.

 

            Mordred rode away from the group of horses, and Jack started his bike. The sun reflected brightly off the bike’s chrome and he began to drive, lance couched under his right arm. The two went to opposite sides of the field, to neutral corners as it were, and they waited there for a moment. Each of them signaled the other by raising the lance and lowering it into position on their arms. Jack noticed that Mordred’s lance was about twice the length of his, which was a problem. It didn’t matter; he could have to deal with that. His armor was made from a space ship that had survived everything else that had been thrown at it; a lance should be no problem.

 

            He revved the bike and Mordred spurred his horse. The horse reared, Jack’s bike reared, and they charged at each other. The incongruity of the image was wonderful to behold. The bike on one side, it’s ride in the best armor technology can by; and the horse on the other, it’s rider in the ancient armor of a king. The two rode towards each other like the future heading toward a legend of the past. The Weirdo was so taken by the image of Jack on his motorcycle on the left and Mordred on the horse to his right that later he would commission a painting of the event.

 

            The two charged towards each other, and a flaw in Mordred’s training was apparent for a full tenth of a second. He hadn’t trained to joust a man riding a racing motorcycle, so his lance was too high. The tip bounced of Jack’s right shoulder, and Jack’s lance went right into Mordred’s horse. The entire sixteen inches of the bayonet vanished into the horse before the ribs bounced some of the force back. Jack’s grip on the lance was so strong that his bike flew out from under him and the flying horse landed onto of him. The pipes that made the lance snapped under the weight of the horse, but Jack didn’t. He was pushing the horse off him as Mordred came in with the first blow.

 

            Oddly, Mordred used a mace instead of a sword, the tip catching Jack’s helmet across the back of the skull. The hit didn’t hurt but Jack felt the chin strap snap from the blow. The second blow sent his helmet flying, and Jack looked up at the man with The Weirdo’s face raised his mace to finish him.

 

            “Loki!” Kestrel’s voice rang out.

           

“I’m not Loki sweetheart.” Mordred said, turning towards her.

           

“No, but you’ll do.” She raised the five hundred magnum revolver and pulled the trigger.

 

            She had sort of hoped the weapon would blow a head clean off. Though it might have had something to do with the padding on his head and the chain mail, but the head didn’t fly clean off. A good portion of it became unrecognizable and Jack claimed that the image of blood exploding out of the chain mail while all the bits stayed in was one he would think of every time he used a siv for the rest of his life.

 

            The body fell over, while Kestrel pumped three more rounds into it. She then walked towards Jack, who was managing to get himself out from under the fallen horse. She looked at him and fired the last round into the chest of the clone, then calmly opened the chamber and spilled the spent shells over him.

 

            “So much more appropriate than flower petals.” She said pulling a speed loader from her pocket and sliding the bullets into place.

 

            “Do you feel better now?” Jack asked as he stood up.

            “Do you know something? I do.” She said. “They always say revenge isn’t the way, that it won’t solve anything, that you won’t feel any better. Obviously they have never tried it because it’s fucking fantastic. I feel like the weight of the world has just slipped off my shoulders.”

 

            “We will collect him.” Lilith said, as her horse approached. “And then we will ride you down.”

 

            “You may go to your side.” Peach said as her horse stopped next to them.

 

            “What?” Kestrel asked. “We played your stupid lets pretend it’s the twelfth century game, what the hell?”

 

            “You cheated.” Lilith said as other horsewomen rode and began to move Mordred’s corpse onto a stretcher. “You intervened between a battle of honor between men.”

 

            “Oh let me kill her.” Kestrel said aiming the magnum.

 

            The sudden drawing of swords made her think twice about it. She looked at Jack who was already picking his bike up. She probably couldn’t get all of them so she tired prudence. She slid the gun away and the swords relaxed.

 

            “Go to him then.” Lilith said. “You and he can die together.”

 

            They walked back to The Weirdo as the horses rode back and formed up ranks to ride them down. It was then that The Weirdo noticed how flat the ground was, that he was standing in the middle of a perfect horse range. He had heard what had happened, in hadn’t happened that far away.

 

            “They’re going to ride us down.” Jack said.

 

            “They were going to anyway.” The Weirdo said. “When you downed his horse they began to form ranks, spears were distributed. Kestrel just gave them the appearance of propriety, they’ll be able to murder us where we stand and sleep at night.”

 

            “Sorry.” Kestrel said.

 

            “For what?”

           

“Giving them the appearance of legality.”

           

“Why should I care?” The Weirdo asked. “I die, the reasons are all the same to me.”

 

            “Still sorry.”

 

            “Don’t worry about it.” The Weirdo said, and raised the pen device to his lips. “Wait for them to charge and then fire at will.”

 

            “Copy Rubber duck.” A voice said.

 

            “They’re going to kill us.” Max said. “No way they can pick them all off in time.”

 

            “I think you may be right.” The Weirdo said, stroking Minga’s head. “I hope The Other is watching cartoons or something.”

 

            “What the hell is that behind them?” Jack asked,

 

            “Ice Giants.” The Weirdo said. “Oh and she brought her pet wolf Fenris, how nice. And there is another one of those things that chased me and Rutherford, well the world is certainly conspiring against me.”

 

 

The Wastelands

 

            “If we are to have anything, we must assist those who would be our helpers.” Lucifer said. “We cannot simply wait for the world to give us justice, we must take the first step towards it, and hope it makes a step towards us.”

 

            “Some of us are not soldiers.” One said.

 

            “But many of us are.” Another said. “Those who are not can wait behind and help ferry those who are injured from the battle field.”

 

           

Asgaurd

 

            He was huge, a white bearded giant, with only one eye. There was a place for another eye, but it was missing. A black patch was over the missing eye’s place, and wine had spilled onto his clothes. Odin was laughing as Eoster tried to make her plea for help. He hasn’t exactly been renowned for his sympathy, particularly for women. He hasn’t been known for his cruelty either, but he’s from a different time. Odin’s idea of cruelty and your idea of cruelty are most likely two different things. As it was he was laughing as the goddess tied to demand help from him.

 

            “They’re going to destroy the world.” She said. “And these people are the only one’s who can stop them.”

 

            “Sure, certainly.” Odin said.

 

            “Damn it, listen to me.” Eoster stamped her left foot, as she demanded, not unlike a truculent eight-year-old child who wanted to be taken to the ice cream parlor. She held her hands in tiny fists at her side and felt tears of frustration welling up when she heard a female voice that was even smaller than hers.

 

            “You made a deal.” The Other said, walking across the stone floor of Asgaurd. “You swore to The Weirdo you would help him if he had a great need, now he had such a need.”

 

            The laughing stopped suddenly, Freki and Geri looked up from their post at his feet. Gerd and Freyr stopped their conversation and looked at the tiny girl. Frigg sat back in her chair and watched. Odin stood up and looked down at the little girl, who felt very little.

 

            “You said The Weirdo?” Odin’s might voice asked.

 

            “Yes.” The Other said, feeling even smaller under the glare of the mighty gods single eye.

 

            “Who are you?”

 

            “The Other.” She said. “I’m sort of his daughter.”

 

            “I indeed have an agreement with him, and he said he would only call under one circumstance.” Odin said. “And now we shall honor that agreement.”

 

            He walked past the goddess and the little cleric and towards the hall of Valhalla, where the Einherjar sat around their benches. They had been assembled, more or less, for this purpose. Sometimes they say there are less than a thousand warriors; sometimes they say there are nearly a million. There were more than a thousand, but less than a million at least it seemed like that as The Other stuck her head around the knee of the giant God who looked at the warriors.

 

The Other then heard the most amazing bellowing voice, the sort of voice that a god should have. When she had pictured her idea of Gods, this giant was the sort of figure she had in mind. His was the sort of voice her imagination had come up with. It was the sort of voice that a god should have, it was deep booming, and commanding.

 

            “Get up you fucking cunts, it’s time for the last mother fucking round up! Put that fucking beer down Leif and grab you’re goddamn sword, you drunk twat! I’m gonna go get my horse and if any of you panty wearing fucktards aren’t ready I’m gonna stick my foot so far up your ass you’ll have to get a fucking dental surgeon to look into getting my fucking boot out! Move it, you pansy ass faggot shipways! Damn!”

 

            He strode away from the hall and looked at The Other who was staring in amazement. She had never heard anyone, not even The Weirdo, talk like that. It was the most swearing she had ever heard in a single paragraph. He stopped, looking at the way she just stared in slack jawed amazement. It was one of those things that amaze children, and it would take some doing to dislodge Odin as the person she most admired in the universe.

 

            “What?” He asked, when he noticed her gaping stare.

 

            “That was amazing.” She said her face filled with admiration.

 

            His face softened and he smiled, like a grandfather. His right eye didn’t so much blaze like the sun, as it twinkled like a star. He stuck his thumbs into his belt and laughed a little watching the greatest warriors that had ever lived running around like scarred recruits after the first call of their first Sergeant. He looked down at her and his eye twinkled like a glacier in the sun.

 

            “Yeah, their really moving too aren’t they?” He said listening to the scuffling of boots and chairs. A few tankards were being quickly drained and slammed down on tables. A few plates were being discarded as their meals were quickly finished or carried away.

 

            “I’ve never heard anyone swear like that before.” She said.

 

            “Well.” Odin said, not sure what to say next. “Nice to know I can still impress people. Would you like to ride with me?”

 

            “Darn skippy.” She said.

 

 

April 10th, 2003

12:18 p.m.

 

            “Well this is bollocks.” Jack said. “It’s just gone eighteen after twelve and I’m about to be run down by knights in armor and then ice giants and then, after that, god knows what else.”

 

            “Yeah.” The Weirdo said.

 

            “I’m going to die.” Jack said.

 

            “It would appear so.” Darrian said,

 

            “You could just fly away.” The Weirdo said.

 

            “They’d find me.” He shrugged. “Best to be here with you fine people.”

 

            “Their going to kill us aren’t they?” Kestrel asked.

 

            “I’m afraid so.” Max said.

 

            “I’ll think of something.” The Weirdo said.

 

            “Will you?” She asked.

 

            “Probably.” He said.

 

            “Will it require being on the other side of this air tight hatchway?” Jack asked

 

            “Most likely.”

 

            “Could we possibly get them all?” Cassimano asked.

            “Doubt it.” Max said. “There’s so damn many.”

 

            “Well, it’s been nice Weirdo.” Jack said extending his hand.

 

            “Real nice Jack.” The Weirdo said.

 

            “We must remember to win next time, just to see what it’s like.”

 

            “Yeah, next time.”

 

            The horses got into their charging lines, as our group stretched them selves into one thin line. The sharpened spearheads glittered in the distance and The Weirdo had a notion that they wouldn’t stop until each of them had stabbed at least one of them. Their bodies would be torn to pieces and those pieces would be torn to pieces. It would be a masterstroke of his famous luck if he could end up the night not being cannibalized by at least a few members of this army.

 

            “We really tried though, didn’t we?” Kestrel asked, drawing the forty-four.

 

            “Yes we did.” Max said, resting his left hand in her right and drawing out his berretta.

 

            “Shame really.” The Weirdo said working the slide on his forty-five. “If anybody had come this wouldn’t all be in vain.”

 

            Jack checked his pistol in silence, having said all he had to say.

 

            “And gentlemen still a-bed in England shall think them selves accursed that they were not here and hold their manhood cheap.” Cassimano said, just to have something to say.

 

            “Lucky bastards.” The Weirdo said.

 

            “What?”

 

            “I wish I was in bed right now, holding my manhood cheaply. Be a lot more fun than being in this field right now I can tell you that.”

 

            It was inevitable that they would laugh; it’s ease to get a laugh at times like this. When you’re under an enormous amount of stress, you laugh easily, and they did. Each of them thinking that if it weren’t so dire they might have hit him for that joke.

 

            Then the horses began, and time seemed to slow. The Weirdo counted his heart beats as the first wave of horses began to charge towards them. They could hear the clatter of the hooves, and The Weirdo knew it was all happening real time. He still couldn’t shake the feeling that it was all slowing, that he could pick his target for whom to shoot at his leisure.

 

            The sound of the hooves seemed to die away the closer they came. A single note, played on a group of violins, or perhaps a woman singing, replaced it. It was one of those long drawn out notes that you can’t tell if it’s really there or have you begun to hear things. The long note was being backed up by other sound and the music came to a moment where all sound stopped, and everything waited…

 

 

© 2014 Autumn Knight Productions

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May 8, 2014 - Posted by | Fiction | , , ,

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