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Brothers & Sisters – Chapter Twenty-Three: Lilith’s Check Mate

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

Chapter Twenty-Three

Lilith’s Check Mate

 

 

April 14th, 2003

7:54 a.m.

 

            Max was lost in a dream, looking for something that had become lost. He couldn’t remember what it was, or even what it looked like, but he kept looking anyway. He was looking around the whole house and finally came to the front door. He touched the handle and was surprised to find it warm; the knob was usually so cold. He opened the door and found that now the door opened into a wild-west town. It wasn’t a real wild-west town; it actually looked like the Spanish plains.

 

            He felt something in his hands and fell to his knees to examine them. They were twins, perfectly weighted for his hands. They were a pair of Samuel Colt’s patented peacemakers, forty-five caliber double action revolvers. He knew them, he knew these pistols because they were his pistols. They were made of silver, but had tarnished badly over the last hundred years since the death of the last one who owned them.

 

            “Someone who just got the job might want to clean those up.” He heard the gray man say. “Would impress the new bosses.”

 

            “Someone who wanted to impress the new bosses wouldn’t have been given the job.” Max found himself saying.

 


            He woke up on those words, as he had since he was seven and the dream had come the first time. It was always the same, he was looking for something and found the pistols. The guns were never what he was looking for, but they were always what he found. The face of the person who suggested he might want to clean the pistols was often different, but they always said the same words. He always replied the same way, but he’d never known why. He’d never told anyone about the dream, it wasn’t something for them.

 

            He looked around the room and knew something was wrong, but he couldn’t put his finger on it. He felt like he was being watched, but he couldn’t tell why, since he was alone. The room was filled with a gray diffused light, with no dark corners or places to hide. He sat up in his bed and took in a deep breath of air through his nose. Ah yes, it was that this wasn’t his room. His room was filled with crap, from ceiling to floor.

 

He stood slowly and walked to the bathroom. A moment later the sound of the shower came and his clothes were tossed out the door.

 

 

April 14th, 2003

8:21 a.m.

 

            “Have you looked out at the city?” Max asked.

 

            “No.” The Weirdo said. “Why? Has it suddenly been built on a foundation of blues and country mixed to form a new sort of louder music?”

 

            “No.” Max said. “It’s um, what?”

 

            “Never mind.” The Weirdo muttered, “What is it?”

 

            “Come look.”

 

            The Weirdo, Max and Kestrel walked outside where Jack and Tommy were already standing. Jack stood with his hands over his eyes to shield them from the glare of the sun. The city had changed in the hours between sunset and sunrise. Or maybe it had been slowly changing and they had only just noticed now that it had.

 

            The once tall and proud towers which had previously stuck arrogantly into the sky were gone, and had been replaced. They had been replaced with tall, disfigured spires, which were a multitude of furious and changing colors. Some had floors which hung over empty space and others which seemed to be glowing from an inner light. There were shapes floating and moving. One tower was pulsing and another undulated around. They were hard to look at and didn’t seem to follow any particular version of physics.

 

            “So that’s what he meant by non-Euclidean shapes.” Kestrel said.

 

            “Pardon?” Max asked.

 

            “When ever some one had gone over into the world of the old ones, or they had a vision or whatever Lovecraft would say there were all these non-Euclidean shapes. I always had trouble picturing what was actually meant by that. I don’t think I’ll ever have that problem.”

 

            “They turned our city in Esherville.” Tommy said.

 

            “I see that.” The Weirdo almost growled. “They have been busy little beavers.”

 

            “They don’t even make sense.” Kestrel said.

 

            “What do you mean?” The Weirdo asked.

 

            “Well they… what do you mean what do I mean?” She demanded.

 

            “If we start this we’re going to be here all day.” The Weirdo said.

 

            “You start.” She said slowly.

 

            “I don’t see what you mean by they don’t make sense.”

 

            “There is a building moving like a tentacle.” Tommy said.

 

            “Yes.” The Weirdo said. “Makes perfect sense, keeps the others in line.”

 

            “Yes,” Tommy agreed, “but how about the one there, where it looks like there are about ten stories of missing building.”

 

            “Which one?” The Weirdo asked.

 

            “Big gold and white tower that looks like it’s bleeding.” Jack said.

 

            “I’m sorry.” The Weirdo said, “It’s got all its floors.”

 

            “You don’t see a gap?” Jack asked.

 

            “No.” The Weirdo said.

 

            There was a pause and then Max thought of something. It was possible that The Weirdo saw these buildings differently. He looked at the older man who was beginning to get a little annoyed at the confusion that was surrounding him.

 

            “Just one quick question.” Max asked.

 

            “Yes?”

 

            “When you look at say that tower there, does it feel like your eyes are trying to cross and that maybe you’ve got glasses with two drastically different prescriptions, neither of which are yours?”

 

            “No.”

 

            “Ah.” Max said. “Then I see the problem.”   

 

            “What?” The Weirdo asked.

 

            “Well that’s how it looks to the rest of us.” Tommy said. “I think maybe you have a predisposition to see these things clearly. I don’t know weather to be envious or pitying.”

 

            “It’s not as pretty as it could be.” The Weirdo said.

 

            “Not pretty this way either.” Tommy said.

 

            “I don’t feel like my eyes are trying to tear themselves out though.”

 

            “Yes.” Tommy said. “But I can’t tell if that’s really as reassuring as you might initially think. If I can see one tenth of what you’re seeing, and I know what I’m seeing, I might not want to see the rest.”

 

            “No.” The Weirdo said. “You don’t.”

 

            “What do we do about it?” Kestrel asked, sipping at the mug of coffee in her hand.

 

            “We do what we planned to do.” The Weirdo said.

 

            “Ah.” She said. “Delightful.”

 

            “Ain’t it just?” The Weirdo said turning.

 

 

April 14th, 2003

8:39 a.m.

 

            Lilith stood at the door to her balcony, the wind blowing across her naked body. She had been sitting in the bath, which for some reason had been perched at the edge of the railless balcony. She wasn’t quite sure about all the changes that the new recruits had made, but she had been assured that all was going well. She looked out at the new spires of New York City, as they had become. They were some foul and disgusting shapes in the new city, but they would have to be tolerated, at least for a while.

 

            There were still those things running up and down the buildings. She could never quite work out what they were, possibly bugs or maybe not. They looked both huge and very small. She hadn’t seen any of them close up, so she couldn’t tell what they were. The wind blew and reminded her of her nudity, her flesh tightening around the muscle and hair follicles forming goose bumps across her naked body. She ran a hand over her breasts and found they had hardened and firmed as well. She stood proud for a moment, reveling in showing the city her naked body, and then reached for the robe.

 

            “Lilith?” A voice said behind her.

 

            She turned to see the delegation of the beautiful. They were tall, pale, perfect, beautiful and deadly. Their colors looked faded like a photograph left out in the sun too long. Their long arms and legs moved with a calm restlessness. The one who had spoken stood at the lead of the group. He was the tallest and most beautiful of them. His eyes were long thin pale slits, his ears long and pointed things. He wore a pale gold brown corduroy jacket and pants, with a pale cream turtleneck under the jacket.

 

            “Yes Jerkanasal.” She said, trying not to sigh.

 

            He had to catch a breath when he beheld her face, or perhaps he had just pretended to. He looked like something that the younger girls fawned over in their Japanese cartoons. He looked like there might be a dozen stories written about him having a relationship with one of his male lieutenants, written by sad lonely women. He walked towards her and his hands came up slowly as if to embrace her. He stopped short of doing so and simply stood with his hands at chest level.

 

            “We are prepared.” He said. “The Knight still has not shown himself though. With out the Knight, can there be the Destroyer?”

 

            “I think we’ve already had them.” She said. “It’s all been arranged and taken care of. All we need is to wait for noon and perform the final rite.”

 

            “We shall be prepared then.” He said.

 

            “I know.” She said. “We need to begin the rite about an hour before. It is long and complex.”

 

            “I know the rite.” He said.

 

            “Then go prepare for it.”

 

            “Yes M’lady.” He bowed curiously and as he walked away the group all turned to follow.

 

            She hadn’t much liked them, they were part of the group that had arrived recently. They were all beautiful, one after another. They had all been attractive, all been wonderous to behold, and had all set her teeth on edge. She couldn’t quite describe what it was, unless she sensed a kind of contempt about them. An assumption that even though she was the most beautiful woman in the world, the ugliest of them was still more beauteous. They were probably gay too. She thought it typical for faggots to think they were more beautiful than her.

 

            She had wanted their help though, and needed it. Eve and that thing in the cloak had brought them here to help. The ritual as described in the old book was difficult and it had to be culminated precisely at noon. She had been reading and re-reading and had begun to think that so long as the blood was offered at the right moment, the rest might be skipped at least in part. She didn’t want to risk it though, which is why she needed them. They would perform a mirror of the rite and if anything went wrong they would finish it.

 

            “Do you trust them?” Eve asked coming from the side of the open-air bathroom. She had hidden behind a dressing screen and had watched the creatures had left.

 

            “No.” Lilith said.

 

            “But they will do the job?”

 

            “Yes.” Lilith said. “They will.”

 

            “What if there is resistance?”

 

            “The Weirdo vanished.” She said. “What kind of resistance could be offered?”

 

            “His sudden return would not be completely out of character.”

 

            “Then what? He’s the Knight, he’s supposed to return. Even if he opposes us, he can only help.” Lilith asked. “Besides he has no army, a few Olympians are on his side and what of it? Most of them are here with us.”

 

            “Almost all of them, all of them are here with us.” Eve said.

 

            “So even if he appears, the worst he can do is be what we want him to be. He will arrive, and the Destroyer will revel himself and The Weirdo will smite him down and take his place at my side.”

 

            “We must begin soon then.”

 

            “I know.” Lilith said.

 

 

April 14th, 2003

10:00 a.m.

 

            There was no sun, just a thick gray blanket of clouds. They seemed to cover the world entire, enveloping it in a thick cotton like covering. The sea was so clam as to seem like a flat piece of glass. The Weirdo looked and thought that the entire world was like the pond behind the cottage. That the entire world had somehow been put on hold, or that it had gone past it’s time. He thought rather the world had been placed ahead of its time, and was just waiting for them to catch up. If the world had been left behind he’d have heard the Langoliers by now. He wished he could see just one ant, a spider, a fly, anything. He was tired of this dead world, with its navy blue grass. He looked out at the gray clouds and couldn’t actually find the place where the sea ended and the sky began. He turned from the window and looked in to the room.

 

            The Weirdo began looking blankly at the big map of the city in the dinning room, which had become the war room over the last few weeks. He wasn’t really looking at it for any reason; it was just something to stair at and make people think he was concentrating. He knew the plan, he had just explained it to everyone, but he couldn’t make it stick in his head. He would try and remember it and it would slide away. It kept sticking its head up and vanishing again.

 

            It wasn’t going to work was his thought. They were going to be slaughtered like sheep. Lilith had somehow gotten wind and prepared and had some ultimate weapon ready to kill them all. He knew that these were defeatist things to think, but he couldn’t help it. Somehow, with all that they had gone through to gather this force, it seemed like they would be blown away by what ever had replaced the towers of the city. They would run, or be swept under a mighty claw, and he would go with them.

 

            A door opened behind him and a heavy-footed soldier stepped in. He heard the chink of metal touching metal as the person closed the door behind him. There was the thump of a heavy pair of boots as the figure approached. The armor of the solider rubbed against it self and made soft scrapping sounds. He had given everyone their orders, why would some one come bother him now?

 

            “What now?” The Weirdo asked over his shoulder.

 

            “My riders need to know where to attack.” Cydrill’s voice said.

 

            The Weirdo turned and saw Cydrill Blackheart, dressed in the ancient armor of a noble nature lord of Assitania. The armor was a great deal more colorful than he had expected. There were great bright orange leather covers over the red steel pieces, the colors melting together like a dying leaf still on the branch. There were still patches of green to be seen, amongst the orange red and gold colors, which were predominate.

 

            The Weirdo felt confused, as if seeing things in the colorful realms of his dreams. He felt his mind lurch like a frightened child, and he seemed unable to take this autumn vision in.

 

            “What?” The Weirdo asked.

 

            “I want to help.” Cydrill said. “Let me help.”

 

            The Weirdo still looked confused, tired and confused. He had been up for far too long, Cydrill could tell that. He wasn’t really up to this, he needed to have a nap. Cydrill could tell that what he really needed was a long and extended sleep.

 

            “You said there were no more heroes.” The Weirdo said.

 

            “Maybe because people are a little too concerned with their own security. No one wants to risk their position and safety. They prefer security to freedom.”

 

            He thought he saw The Weirdo swipe savagely at his eyes and Cydrill felt his heart break. He had always thought of The Weirdo as an immovable mountain, and there was that momentary movement. It was a tiny thing, but he knew what it was. The Weirdo looked away and took in a deep breath, and pointed at the map.

 

            “Here.” The Weirdo said, and Cydrill noticed the exhausted tremble in the young man’s hand.

 

            “Okay.” Cydrill said. “When you give the signal.”

 

            “One thing.” The Weirdo said before Cydrill turned to go.

 

            “Yes?”

 

            “Those who are willing to give up their freedom in exchange for security deserve neither freedom nor security. The other part that wasn’t mentioned is that they shall have none either.”

 

            “I think I knew that all along.” Cydrill said, holding the gold and ruddy colored helmet in his hand. “I think it was wrong to make you think we’d gone.”

 

            “That’s alright.” The Weirdo said.

 

            “When did you last sleep?”

 

            “I don’t know.” The Weirdo said. “A while ago.”

 

            “You look tired.”

 

            “I know.” He said nodding. “But I’ll be okay.”

 

            Bagheera ran into the room, with Fancy fast on his heels. He leapt up onto the table and the kitten leapt up after him. The papers were scattered to the floor and the two cats stopped when they realized they were being watched.

 

            “I’ll get them ready.” Cydrill said.

 

            “Okay.” The Weirdo said looking at the two cats. “Another hour and we attack.”

 

            He felt so tired, so exhausted, so bereft of strength. He hadn’t slept in a long time that had been true. He was now feeling all the stress and exhaustion wash over him at one moment. He had allowed himself to feel his shoulders for the first time in days and the pain had nearly incapacitated him. He had to close his eyes and make the feeling go away again. He concentrated the pain away until there was nothing left. He had to keep himself going, because of the promise. He had to make sure the world was saved. He didn’t know how, but he had to.

 

            He looked at the kitten and rubbed her head, and looked at the sword on the table. Excalibur shone with it own inner light, and it seemed to glow on the table. It seemed to accuse him, to say he wasn’t worthy of the blade. He thought about the forces that were gathered in his basement, and would soon explode from his lawn. He was going to fail them and they would all be disappointed. He picked Bagheera up and held him close to his chest, the tears dancing on his eyes. He fought them back, for just a moment.

 

            He looked out the window at the maddened city they were to attack. He could just see the place where the statue of liberty had once stood. They had destroyed the tallest buildings in the city, and then they had blown up the Lady Liberty. They knocked her down and destroyed her. He couldn’t even see the edge of her lamp now as she had been dragged away. They had some massive monster taking her apart.

 

            He felt a sudden wave of anger ride up him like a geyser. It was religion that knocked down the towers, it was religion that had destroyed the Lady Liberty, and it was religion that had destroyed his city. He felt his head pound and his heart expand in his growing rage. Those people who worshiped had killed everyone and destroyed everything. They claimed to be doing this for some greater good but they caused nothing but pain and agony.

 

            He set the cat down and looked at the sword, and now he was the accuser. He looked at the window where the pedestal that had held the statue had stood and he felt his rage twisting around him like some sort of macabre armor. Nothing would get in past that anger. He didn’t reach, just held his hand out as he walked. The sword leapt up from the table and the belt wrapped around his waist. He extended his arms and the coat slung it self over them. He did pick up his hat and tugged it on his head, because hats never listen to anyone.

 

            He reached his hand under the coat and produced his colt and checked it, he then produced another and checked it as well. His feet made no sound as he moved and yet everyone managed to notice that he had walked past. Tommy watched as The Weirdo strode past and got up from his chair, grabbing his coat and hat. Jack was already dressed in his armor as the two of them walked past and he fell in behind them. Max watched as they went past and picked up his jacket, they picked up Kestrel and Cassimano as they went.

 

            Michael Darrian saw the group coming and as they went by he nodded to Kaala and Angel as he followed in behind them. Kaala looked at Angel and without a word followed them. Angel thought about it a moment and began after them. Judy and Sheila stood near the door, waiting for the group. The Weirdo didn’t even have to touch the door, rather the house knew what he wanted and simply swung it open for him. Judy and Sheila walked on either side of Tommy when they exited the house together. Keyrran and Alice stood waiting for them as they exited the house. Cydrill, Piedmont and Azgana stood with them.

 

            “You know it’s only about ten after ten?” Tommy asked.

 

            “Yes.”

 

            “The time frame?”

 

            “Fuck the time frame.” He said, “The time frame was prophesized and I’m bloody sick of prophets. We do it now. The explosives are ready?”

 

            “Yes.” Tommy said.

 

            The Weirdo turned to his group of operatives and tapped his anger down a little. They were all here, and he was glad of that. He didn’t really have time to be happy though, his eyes fixed on the empty pedestal. There was a small bit of green copper at the bottom of where the statue had stood, and that renewed his rage.

 

            “We enter the city, after Odin and the others have gone in.” The Weirdo said to them. “Our target is the Empire State Building, we’ll have enough to do there so just let our forces do their job.”

 

            “Ten four rubber ducky.” The Other said as she came around the group.

 

            “Sweetie.” He wanted to tell her she couldn’t come, but he couldn’t come up with any reasonable reason why not. There were probably things some involving her getting hurt, but he couldn’t think of one he could make stick. “You ride with me, get in the car.”

 

            “We’re ready then lad.” The old man said.

 

            “Thanks Karl.” The Weirdo said and took the old man’s hand. He placed a pen shaped device into it the old man’s hand and nodded. “You lead.”

 

            “Ten four, what ho!” He said holding it up.

 

            “There are things out there that have not been dreamed of.” The Weirdo said.

 

            “When you’ve been drinking as long as I have, you’ve either seen it or it can no longer hold any fear for you.” The old man said, “Fear not, I never do. Ha ha!”

 

 

April 14th, 2003

10:12 a.m.

 

            The white horse charged away, just behind the man in the yellow suit. That man had moved so fast that he had torn up the pavement on the bridge where he had run. The giant strong man, the little man with the lungs and the man with the rifle had also gone with horses, which again was odd. The Weirdo still couldn’t tell where all these damn horses had come from.

 

            The bridge had begun to change half way across, becoming black and jagged around the edges. It was slowly creeping along like a sense of cold that was frosting the ground. The black had crawled across the surface and change the bridge. It had grown long spires and fancy scrawl work. It was beginning to look like the sort of thing a person might make for the evil city in a fantasy drawing. The Horse didn’t want to continue, but what could be done? After being cut in half once there was little the horse had to fear.

 

            “Well?” The guard at the other end of the bridge asked when the party came across. “You’re not The Weirdo.”

 

            “No.” The Old man said. “We are the advance attack party.”

 

            “Then you are to be killed.” She said drawing her pistol.

 

            He looked affronted, not by the fact that she was going to shoot him, but that she hadn’t even bothered to take his name. Did she have no sense of decency? Didn’t she know who he was? Didn’t they teach these damn kids anything any more? His hand went to his saber and her head was gone before the gun cleared leather.

 

            “They have no manners.” The old man declared. “We’ll have to kill them all. Come on lads, just like when we killed the Turks.”

 

            “He your brother or uncle or something?” Tommy asked The Weirdo.

 

            “Quiet you.”

 

            “Yes sir.” Tommy said.

 

            “Send Odin.”

 

            “Right.”

 

            The forces of Odin exploded up from the front lawn, doing approximately forty two thousand dollars of damage to the lawn. The column of soldiers didn’t just rush forth from the giant hole, crawl up and run across the bridge; oh no that would be too easy. They exploded form this hole, Odin at the head of the pack, and they flew through the air. They by passed the bridge completely by simply sailing through the air across the river and descending onto the city like the devil’s own paratroopers. The mad berserkers came down, axes over their heads and began to attack the first thing that came in swinging distance.

 

            “Now ours.” Alice said and Keyrran leapt into the air.

 

            He blew a whistle and the sound was an eerie high-pitched sound. There was a moment when they looked around wondering what that had accomplished and then they saw. They were like the sort of things one might see in their worst nightmare. If H. P. Lovecraft had seen them, he certainly would have screamed and run, but he was scared of fish anyway. If you combine an anglerfish with a giant squid and mix in some of a sperm whale and a shark, you would have one god-awful mess and put that thing in the deepest darkest ocean imaginable. After a few millions years that things would have had a family, and they would have grown to an amazing size. Generations of evolution hadn’t really helped the problem with aesthetics, but it had cleared up a few of the more obvious motion problems. They climbed up into the city and looked the unholy version of a Godzilla family outing.

 

            “Are those nameless ones?” Max asked.

 

            “They have a name.” She said. “That name is Kraken.”

 

            “We have a fucking army.” Kestrel said. “We’ve got the fucking Kraken on our side.”

 

            “And they are kicking ass.” Max said.

 

            It began to snow at that moment. The Weirdo looked up at the falling snow and remembered there was time for just one more snow fall this season. It had a slightly lavender tint, but that was understandable. If the clear rain had become somewhat purple, then the snow would become a lighter shade.

 

            “So we should go.” The Weirdo said raising a pen shaped device to his lips. “Big Daddy you reading me.”

 

            “That’s a big ten four Rubber Duck.” Odin’s voice boomed over the speaker.

 

            “We coming over the bridge then.”   

 

            “We’ll keep the way clear for ya, Big Daddy on the side, I’m clear.”

 

            “He seems to have taken to that like a duck to water.” Jack commented.

 

            “That he has.” The Weirdo said.

 

            “Shall we go then?”

 

            “I think we shall.” The Weirdo said.

 

 

April 14th, 2003

10:22 a.m.

 

            The drive had been amazingly uneventful, frighteningly so. The road was completely clear for their trip towards the great building. They could look down the cross streets and see the battle raging up and down every street they could see. Buildings were crashing down somewhere in the city and great plumes of dust rose up from them. The Weirdo’s eyes happened to look to his left and he had to pull over. He watched as one of the four-dimensional towers began to tumble over and take another building with it.

 

            He watched as the massive towers crashed down to the ground and the massive cloud of smoke came across the streets. He closed the door and closed his eyes, just before the cloud enveloped them. It all came rushing back as the cloud of dust enveloped him like a memory. He heard the screams, the calls, that woman who had simply fallen down to pray. He had been there, was trying to reach the Trade Center in time, and then the first tower just wasn’t there any more. The massive plume of smoke and dust had come towards him and he turned around. She had fallen to her knees and was imploring to Jesus as the cloud came. He yanked his coat up over his head and fell upon her. He nearly tackled her and the rush of debris came, flushing over them like a wave of water. Something had struck his back that to his dying day he swore was a bike tire.

 

            He felt the wind rush past him and he remembered that day again, the woman screaming after he had thrown them both to the ground, the bike tire bouncing off his shoulder. He felt the wind die down and he opened his eyes a little. It was the same, the air was filled with beige colored dust. It was a choking cloud, you couldn’t avoid breathing in the air no matter what, yet he managed to breath. He looked at Jack on his bike and that shook him. Jack had a helmet on that nearly sealed him away from the outside world. Yet Jack was standing still, also looking at the place where the cloud of dust had come up. The Weirdo knew what he was thinking, that if they had come just five minutes earlier. He had to break Jack out of this, he knew that, it was the only way to go on. He raised the pen shaped device to his mouth.

 

            “You gonna have a flashback or go to the job Sodbuster?” The Weirdo asked.

 

            “Just watching the display.” Jack said. “Let’s go.”   

 

            They drove out of the dust cloud as the wake of their vehicles left eddies and trails behind them. The dust followed them, looking as if it were trying to draw them back into the cloud. The dust wanted to bring them back, to hold them, to make them get lost in the memories of past failures. They weren’t going to be drawn into the failures of the past though, they were off to explore all new failures.

 

            “Is that what it was like?” Kestrel asked.

 

            “Yes.” Max said, a tear trickling down his check.

 

            “Buck up soldier.” The Weirdo said. “Lots to do today.”

 

            “Yes sir.” Max said.

 

            “What happened?” The Other asked.

 

            “Something very bad.” The Weirdo said, “And now they want to make it happen again.”

            “Oh.” She said.

 

            Besides that single run in with the past, the trip to the Empire State Building was uneventful. It was not however lacking in disturbing images, as each building was either unimaginably altered or a horrific parody of itself. There were buildings that had blood pouring out of each open window as if there was a flood of the stuff on each floor. The flow made a small stream, which the group had to slow down to actually ford. The street wasn’t flooding per say, but it was gathering a lot of the gore.

 

            Kestrel began to simply look at her hands, and then at her feet and her hands again. She looked up, at the back of The Weirdo’s headrest and wondered about him. His head kept moving and she realized he was looking at everything. He was watching and cataloguing everything that there was to be seen. She wondered what that did to him, since it was obvious he couldn’t stop. Max’s head was tucked down and he was in the front seat but The Weirdo was looking alertly at everything he could take in.

 

            Kestrel barely wanted to but looked to her right and was horrified to find The Other staring out the window as well. Her head moved like a cats when the animal had seen some small bit of movement at the other end of the yard. The alert and tiny movements of the head mixed with the understanding that there was glass between her and it.

 

            Kestrel looked from one of them to another and thought that there could be no way that they weren’t related. The little grill didn’t want to look, but there was no way she couldn’t look. It was there to be seen, and thus must be viewed. It had to be viewed otherwise what was the point? If for no other reason it had to be viewed so that a thorough account could be made of these crimes. The Other had to watch and The Weirdo had to watch, it was how they had both been made. They were both walking recorders, and they had to record.

 

 

April 14th, 2003

10:25 a.m.

 

            It might not be perfectly true to say that Cydrill Blackheart was enjoying himself. War and battle are not fun things, no matter what some novelist say. It would however be true to say that he felt alive, more alive than he had in a long time. The mighty blade with it’s wrapping of colorful leather around the hilt sang as it cut through armor and flesh.

 

            They had ridden in from the west, their horses floating in the air. The wind steeds were massive horses that looked like large clysdales, and as a clysdale is a fairly large horse to begin with, you have to think about that for a moment. Their massive fur covered hooves never touched the ground though, they stamped and charged as little as and inch and some times many feet over the air.

 

            There were not enough of them to form one of the mighty steed cyclones of old that would have been a sight. The mighty hooves all forming a massive tornado of running horses, like a storm.  There would have to have been a thousand or more, and they were only a few dozen.

 

            He had managed enough before his sister had left though, and now they were in battle again. These had always been the most loyal of his soldiers, but he had seen at least two of them fall already. He didn’t let it bother him though he was only to distract the enemy. He felt certain that The Weirdo couldn’t defeat the enemy, but that wasn’t the point. The point was that he was going to give them the best chance they could get.

 

 

April 14th, 2003

10:25 a.m.

 

            The empire state building had not remained untouched, nor was it unrecognizable. It was, to use a particular word, eldritch. The Weirdo got out of the car and looked at Tommy as he got out of the other car. There were things watching them, things with lidless eyes and soul eating mouths. The Weirdo took his sunglasses off as he walked towards Tommy, his eyes on the two watchers as he moved. They might have been able to scare the ordinary person, but his mind had conjured up worse things while he was conscious, never mind his dreams.

 

            “Do you have the device to detonate the explosives?” The Weirdo asked, speaking slowly and stressing words, making it sound like he was using some sort of code.

 

            “Um,” Tommy looked at him quizzically, “Yes?”

 

            “Good.” The Weirdo said nodding his head in an exaggerated fashion. “Then why don’t you detonate them?”

 

            “Oooookaaaay.” Tommy said and pressed the small button on the remote.

 

            The explosions took out huge pieces of the streets that crossed with those that touched the building. The building itself was never near an explosion, but it would be impossible to drive a car onto the streets that were already at the location of the building. Tommy tossed the device to one side.

 

            “Why talk like we weren’t really blowing something up?” Tommy asked.

 

            “Who would believe we were telling the truth with that tone?” The Weirdo asked.

 

            “Fair enough.” Tommy said.

 

            “What are we expecting?” Jack asked.

 

            “Trouble.” The Weirdo said. “All sorts.”

 

            “We’re ready for trouble.” Kestrel said.

 

            “I hope so.” The Weirdo said.

 

            “So do I.” Darrian said.

 

            “What about these two?” Kaala asked, pointing at the things that were being used as guards.

 

            “You mind?” Cassimano asked. “I’ve got an idea.”

 

            “No.” The Weirdo said, go right ahead.

 

            “Thank you, come along Kestrel.”

 

            Kestrel looked at him and he smiled and made a come hither motion with his finger. She shrugged and followed and he began to tell her his plan. She looked at him as he explained and then at the two indescribable things with the soul eating mouths. She nodded as he talked, gesticulating with his hands.

 

 

April 14th, 2003

10:26 a.m.

 

            Thor stood over a dying man, his hammer swinging around his head. He was calling out for help as he struck the fair and fell soldiers who came to collect on the man he stood over. The idea that the soldiers of Valhalla cannot die is a false one. They can and do die. Their souls going out like a candle in the night. When enough damage is done, the soul dies and they vanish, leaving a paper like shell behind.

 

            Thor was standing over such a wounded warrior, defending him until the medics could come. He swung his hammer out at each beautiful face, which came with a mouthful of teeth, to devour the man. He looked back and saw the color of the soldier fading. He then saw the light go out, help had not come in time. He knelt down and looked at the papery remains of the soldier. He had been named James, and he had brought Odin his first Doc Savage book. Thor touched the hand very gently, but his hand shook and the shell turned to dust.

 

            Thor screamed, and redoubled his efforts.

 

 

April 14th, 2003

10:26 a.m.

 

            “Hi.” Cassimano said, smiling as brightly as a man selling brushes to a colony of hippies.

 

            They said nothing, but rearguard him with insect like eyes.

 

            “I’ve come for the bounty on this wookie.”

 

            “Wookie?” One of them said in a voice that suggested that talking is not what it had been designed for.

 

            “Yes.” Cassimano said, his smile still bright. “The mighty Chewbacca.”

 

            “Wookie?” The other guard asked.

 

            “Chewbacca.”

 

            “Bounty?” The first one asked.

 

            “You’re not as hard to confuse as I thought you were going to be.” Cassimano said, looking a little doubtfully.

 

            “Wookie.” The first one said again.

 

            “Oh for Cthulu’s sake.” Cassimano said and shot him through what he assumed to be the head.

 

            Kestrel drew her pistol out quickly and fired as well. She needn’t have been so quick really, as he didn’t seem to notice until the round shattered his skull and spray what served for brains on the wall. She looked at the two dead things and then at Cassimano. He shrugged and holstered his pistol.

 

            He pushed the door open and the two of them entered, expecting the rest of the group to be right behind them. It was at that moment, when the two of them entered the lobby, that they knew a mistake had been made. There were about fifty of them, maybe more, maybe less. They were all aiming automatic weapons in their direction, and Cassimano knew it wasn’t going to be as easy as all that.

 

            “Sweet Nancy Reagan!” Cassimano said and shoved Kestrel down to the floor, flinging himself the other way.

 

            The machine guns began to fire and Kestrel crouched behind a part of a newsstand, which began to disintegrate in a few moments. It was fortunate that the rest of the group hadn’t quite made it to the doors before the festivities began, or they would have been shot to pieces.

 

            The Weirdo fell away from the door as it exploded in glass and lead, leaning against the wall. The shooting had only lasted a second, maybe two, but it seemed to go on longer. The Weirdo drew out his colt automatic and looked at Max and Tommy.

 

            “You wearing vests?” He asked.

 

            “Yes.” Max said.

 

            “Yes.” Tommy said.

 

            “Then let’s just walk in.” The Weirdo said. “We’ll just stop the bullets.”

 

            “Weirdo.” Jack said. “What if they shoot at your legs?”

 

            “They won’t.” The Weirdo said, loud enough for even the people in the lobby to hear, “You want to kill a man, you’ve got to aim for the heart Ramón.”

 

            Tommy looked at him. When The Weirdo spoke again he was back to his normal register.

 

            “Besides I know a trick.”

 

            “I hope so.” Max said. “Good trick is it?”

 

            “Great trick.” He turned and looked behind him. “Mike, you lead the next wave once we’re in there.”

 

            “Sure.” Darrian said. “No problem.”

 

            The four of them began to walk through the now shattered doors. The Weirdo tucked his hat down so they couldn’t see his eyes as he walked in. As they walked, Kaala remembered what Odin had said about him. There was a hero like the ones of legend, a mythic figure. He and his three main compadres walked through the door like brazen soldiers who knew that no weapon forged of man could harm them.

 

            “Kill them.” A voice said from the group of gun holders and a few pistols and one rifle were fired. They all had aimed for the chest, which is really the best thing to do with a handgun. Pistols don’t have the best accuracy rating, and thus you aim for the biggest part of your target. The bullets were each caught by layers of artificial cloth and a piece of titanium.

 

            Max made a gasping noise and actually fell down, The Weirdo had to reach a hand out to grab at the wall. His hand found purchase on a small ledge of wall that seemed to stick out for purely aesthetic reasons. Tommy had fallen against Jack who barely seemed to notice. Max got up and looked at The Weirdo who still held the wall. A tear had broken free from The Weirdo’s left eye and was trailing down his face.

 

            “It hurt.” Max said. “I thought we were gonna stop the bullets like they did in the Matrix man.”

 

            “Nope.” The Weirdo said, looking at the smug faces on the shooters.

 

            “Where is the trick?” Max asked.

 

            “The trick.” The Weirdo whispered in pain. “Is not minding that it hurts.”

 

            His hand came up and Tommy pulled two Thompson sub machine guns from under his coat. Jack’s hand brought up two small machine guns and they all began to fire at once. The other side had not been ready for this, depending on the pain to have distracted them for longer. Then, Max saw something that nearly sent him into an epileptic fit. The Weirdo reached under his coat and produced a second colt automatic. Holding one in each hand, he began to fire into the crowd. There was a lot of smoke when the shooting stopped, and The Weirdo stood with both guns in their empty position, the sliders back. He used his thumbs to press release catches and the clips slid with perfect and deliberate slowness from the guns. He put the right gun into his left armpit and slid a fresh clip into the gun in his left hand. He then shoved the left gun under his right arm and reloaded the right gun. Having reloaded the two guns he hit another switch and the two sliders snapped back into place.

 

            “Um.” Max said, looking at the two pistols and the twin machine guns in each man’s hands.

 

            “Maximilian.” The Weirdo said. “Some day you’re going to learn that no matter what your preferences are, you’re going to break them someday.”

 

            “Really?” Max asked.

 

            “You made a nice mess.” Michael Darrian said as he came into the lobby.

 

            “Here comes the next wave.” Cassimano said as he came from behind his hiding place.

 

            “I wish we were private contractors.” Kestrel said as she stood next to him.

 

            “Why?” Cassimano asked.

 

            She shrugged as her left hand took hold of the S&W 500 and her right hand slid around the smaller pistol she thought of as a secondary weapon. She drew the two of them out as boots clamored down stairs.

 

            “We could then at least tell people the money was good.” She said.

 

            The Weirdo looked around at the group and noticed what to him was a worrisome thing. There were seven of them in the lobby, with the rest of them just hanging outside like a bunch of Wendy’s. He wondered for a moment it he was meant to be Kambie and found himself certainly hoping he was. He looked at Tommy and thought that he would probably live too, him and Max. Even if he had to be Yule Brener, Tommy could still manage to be Steve McQueen. He then looked at Jack and Kestrel. If Max was Katsushiro and Tommy was Shichiroji, then he might be Kambie. The problem was, even in the American version, everyone else died.

 

            He was relived when Athena and Nike came into the lobby with Judy and Sheila at their heels. Elise came a moment later with Kaala and Angel behind her. All of their guns were smoking very slightly as they entered. Elise carried no gun, of course, but her knife did seem to glow slightly in her hand.

 

            “They tried to make trouble out there.” Athena said.

 

            The footfalls kept coming and The Weirdo wasn’t too much more enthused to see that now there were thirteen of them. He then realized that he had forgotten to count himself and checked that there were indeed fourteen of them. The Gray man stepped in with Aphrodite and Eoster and the number went up again to seventeen and what the hell kind of magic number was seventeen? He looked around and noticed that Lucifer was nowhere to be seen. He wondered if the fallen angel was busy out there fighting, or would he ever see him again. The boots kept coming.

 

            “I’m trying to think of something appropriate.” Cassimano said. “Shakespeare doesn’t seem to fit. Tolstoy falls behind too.”

 

            “I would prefer the words of one Benjamin Grimm.” The Weirdo said, the feet falls nearly at the lobby. In a moment, but Cassimano had to ask as he raised his pistol.

 

            “And what did this Grimm say?” Cassimano asked.

 

            “It’s clobberin’ time!” The Weirdo said and began to charge towards the footfalls.

 

            The cacophony that ensued was magnificent, and worthy of recognition. The tile and stone that made up the lobby was as near perfect an acoustic reflector as one could hope for. The guns blazing made such a racket that even the battle outside was forced to halt, ever so momentarily for the sound. When it was over there were not as many dead bodies as one might think. This was because the pounding feet hadn’t really belonged to that many people. There were actually less than twenty of them for our side to shoot at. When it was over there were twelve beautiful corpses laying on the ground, their perfect bodies shattered by high speed pieces of metal which had torn through the flesh and organs.

 

 

April 14th, 2003

10:36 a.m.

 

            Thor felt the axe in his back more as a force than an object. It stuck him and cut through his spine and ribs but all he’d felt was the strike. He thought for a moment that he had simply been hit by a club, but then he realized he couldn’t breath and be couldn’t feel anything below his shoulder blades. He fell to the ground, his hammer tumbling to the ground. It hit the ground with a thud, breaking the concrete where it struck. He felt his lungs fill with blood and couldn’t help but trying to cough some of it up. He couldn’t actually get enough power in his lungs to cough though.

 

            A foot pushed against him as the elfin creature who had cleft him yanked her axe from his back. She threw her blue haired head back, her massive blue eyes shinning in the light. She felt sexy, her thin white silk shift sticking with sweat to her other wise naked body. She knew that both men and women would desire her and it made her feel giggly inside. She threw her arms back and brought the axe down. Thor’s head was cut from his body his killer took a moment to look extraordinarily sexy. She stood over the body and put her dainty foot on his back to make for a pose she knew men would love to draw pictures of. She then lifted the axe which should have been to heavy for her, and continued to fight.

 

           

April 14th, 2003

10:37 a.m.

 

            “Well?” Kestrel asked.

 

            “I was expecting more of a struggle.” The Weirdo said.

 

            “Bet they’re all up stairs.” Tommy said. “Getting ready.”

 

            “It’s at high noon isn’t it?” Max asked.

 

            “I think it is.” The Weirdo said.

 

            There was a moment, for just a moment, where it looked like The Weirdo had no idea what to do next. He looked at the group and nodded at them. His eyes glanced over each of them trying to figure where each one would work best. He stood still for a second, and then he blinked. It was the blink that did it really, that announced that there was now a plan.

 

            “Okay.” He said. “Here’s what we’re gonna do.”

 

            He swallowed and then looked at the door where The Other had walked in. He didn’t want her to be part of this, but was powerless to stop her. He sat down on the floor as she came closer to him. Her eyes were determined, but she was scared and he could see it.

 

            “What’s the plan?” The Other asked.

 

            “Tommy, Jack and I will go up in the elevator. Ah, we’ll ah.” He stopped for a moment and looked around at them. “I don’t know.”

 

            “We’ll confront Lilith.” Tommy said.

 

            “And we’ll stop the ritual.” Athena said.

 

            “And we’ll help.” Alice said from the broken door way.

 

            Keyrran and Lucifer stood behind her, dressed for battle. For Keyrran this meant that his armor had been polished and for Lucifer it meant black leather on black leather. Alice was still dressed in the tight black jeans and shirt, but something had changed. She was more regal, more majestic, somehow more powerful now. Her golden hair streamed behind her and a righteous gleam was in her eye. She approached the Olympian members of the party and her voice was soft, almost humble.

 

            “Alice.” Athena said, her voice gasping.

 

            “Will you bow to a new queen?” Alice asked Athena and Nike.

 

            “I think we’d have to.” Nike said, kneeling.

 

            “You are the ruler now.” Athena said.

 

            “Thank you, mother.” Alice said, her eyes turning towards Aphrodite who tilted her head and fell to one knee. The gray man also knelt to her, which surprised The Weirdo for reasons that will become obvious in a moment.

 

            “I will follow your lead Weirdo.” She said.

 

            “Good.” He said. “I’ve never bowed to anyone and I don’t intend to start now.”

 

            “I know.” She said, glancing at The Gray Man.

 

            The Weirdo walked towards the elevator and pressed the button. The doors didn’t immediately open and they all had to wait for a moment until it came to the floor level. The doors opened and the empty elevator awaited them. The Weirdo looked at the box, and thought what a stupid thing it was to get into that thing. They would be vulnerable, fish in a barrel, sitting ducks.

 

            He touched Elise’s hand and they looked at each other. She leaned close to him and gave him a small kiss. He stepped over the thresh hold and stood in the box, holding the doors open with his hand. Jack walked into the thing and Tommy stepped in after him. Judy grabbed at Tommy’s hand and yanked him towards her. She kissed him hard for a moment and then let him go.

 

            “Don’t get hurt.” She said, a tear descending from her eye. “You come back to me.”

 

            “I will.” He said as the doors closed.

 

            The three of them were alone then, and The Weirdo pressed the button for the top floor.

 

            “You know what the worst part is?” Jack asked.

 

            “What is that Jack?”

 

            “I have the song ‘Let It Be’ stuck in my head.”

 

            “Let It Be?” Tommy asked

 

            “I’m going to die muttering whisper words of wisdom, let it be.” Jack said

 

            “We’re not gonna die muttering Beatles lyrics.” The Weirdo said.

 

            “No?”

 

            “By that time you’ll have moved onto a band that was worth talking about. Like Stepenwolf or Motorhead.”

 

            “You know you just made enemies of all the Beatles fans in the world don’t you?” Tommy asked.

 

            “The only Beatles fans left in the world are already trying to kill me.”

 

            “Good point,” Tommy nodded. “Over rated, that’s what I say.”

 

            “Ace of Spades, now there’s a song to go down swinging to.” The Weirdo said.

 

            “This has got to be the world’s slowest elevator.” Tommy said.

 

            “Yes it is.” The Weirdo agreed.

 

            “Do you remember the first time you heard about White Eagle?” Jack asked.

 

            “I met him once.” Tommy said. “During that ever so brief stint I had as a cop.”

 

            “He was cool.” The Weirdo said.

 

            “Yes he was.” Tommy said. “Of course then he turned out to be a closet Nazi, but everyone forgave him that.”

 

            “Yeah.” The Weirdo said. “Hurt the whole trade that did.”

 

            “Made me want to start all this. Not the Nazi bit, but the hero bit.” Jack said. “I saw him in a newspaper or something and I realized that here I was with all this power and not doing anything with it.”

 

            “Odd how things seem so important when you’re young. Just a bit of adventure,” The Weirdo said. “And at this end it’s a totally different story. No wonder we have to have a new wave of costumed heroes every few years, they keep getting killed off.”

 

            “You going all Magnificent Seven on us here?”

 

            “Only three of them made it in that film.” The Weirdo said.

 

            “Which one us is Yul Brynner?” Jack asked.

 

            “And who get to be Steve McQueen?” Tommy wondered.

 

            “I really don’t want to do this.” The Weirdo said.

 

            “Cast ourselves in the Magnificent Seven?” Jack asked.

 

            “Get to the top of this elevator shaft.” The Weirdo said.

 

            “Because you already cast us.” Tommy said. “And you made Kestrel Steve McQueen.”

 

            “Have I?”

 

            “We’re going to die, aren’t we?” Tommy asked.

 

            “I don’t know.” The Weirdo said. “That is why I am reluctant. If I knew for sure either way I’d feel better.”

 

            “You think you’re Yul Brynner?” Jack asked.

 

            “Kambie.” The Weirdo said. “I always go for the original.”

 

            “It’s Kambie’s old friend who survives with him.” Tommy said.

 

            “Only one of them” Jack said.

 

            “Then you can be the kid.” Tommy said.

 

            “We have a kid already.”

 

            “Ricichi?” Tommy asked.

 

            “I would be happy enough to be Sanjiro.” Jack said.

 

            “Ah, but wouldn’t we all?” The Weirdo asked as a digital tone rung and the doors opened.

 

 

April 14th, 2003

10:39 a.m.

 

            “I know we have to go up there.” Kestrel said looking at the stairs before them. “And it’s not that I think there are too many stairs mind.”

 

            “Scared?” Max asked.

 

            “No.” She said. “I just feel the greatest reluctance.”

 

            “I don’t want to go up there.” Cassimano said.

 

            Kestrel turned and looked at D’var, his eyes looking up at the stairs. There was no fear in his eyes, simply the same reluctance she was feeling. She looked at Max who did look ever so scared, just a bit around the edges. He looked at her and back at the group behind them. He had no idea how the two of them managed to be elected as ad-hoc leaders. Alice was just accepting graciously the queenship of the gods, yet she was looking to the two of them for leadership.

 

            “What do we do then?” Kaala asked.

 

            “You go up.” The Other said.

 

            “Yeah?” Max asked. “It’s, ah, it’s gonna be really bad up there though.”

 

            “Yes?” The tiny cleric asked, nodding her head slowly.

 

            “And it might not have to be.” He said. “I mean if we don’t go annoy them, maybe it’ll be okay?”

 

            “Are you a Wendy?” The Other asked.

 

            “What?”

 

            “A Wendy!” The Other said, placing her hands on her diminutive hips “You’re all a bunch of Wendy’s! The Weirdo didn’t want to go up in that elevator, but he did anyway. Tommy and Jack knew they were going to be killed at the top and yet they went. Are you going to just sit here and let them all die for nothing?”

 

            “She’s right.” Angel said starting up the stairs, she looked down at her feet and could help but notice how the old marble of the stairs had worn away over time. This wasn’t even the same building as it had been before and yet it had time worn marbles stairs.

 

            Aphrodite began to walk up after her and Kestrel and Max went up after that. The rest of them began to follow, leaving the Gray man and The Other at the bottom of the stairs. She looked at him, her little arms crossed and he looked at her.

 

            “Are you staying here?” She asked.

 

            “Me?” He asked, “Certainly not, I’ve got to go cause some havoc. I wanted to know something before we went any further though.”

 

            “What?” She asked.

 

            “Do you know who your mother is?” The question struck the little girl as so odd that she had to lean back and look at him for a moment.

 

            “Why?”

 

            “I’m curious.” He said.

 

            “I think I know who I’d like her to be.” She said.

 

            “Ah.” He said. “And is she who she’s supposed to be?”

 

            “She’s not who she used to be.” She said. “If you get what I mean.”

 

            “Yes.” He said. “I think I do.”

 

            “There used to be magic didn’t there?” she asked.

 

            “What?” He asked, thrown by the suddenness of the question.

 

            “There was magic in the world once, right?”

 

            “Once upon a time.” He said. “Rumor has it that a certain group forced the magic away, cast it from the world.”

 

            “Could that be stopped?” She asked.

 

            “Pardon?”

 

            “Could a person who can travel through time stop the magic from being cast out if they did the right thing at the right time?”

 

            “Maybe.” He conceded.

 

            “So maybe someone could make it that the magic never left?”

 

            “Could do.” He said nodding.

 

“Okay.” She said. “You gonna go cause trouble now?”

 

            “Oh yes.” He said.

 

 

April 14th, 2003

10:40 a.m.

 

            The top floor of the building had transformed as much as the rest of the rest of the building had. It was now one massive open-air throne room. The walls had been removed and only a series of Grecian columns held the roof aloft. There was a long stone stairway that lead up to the roof where no doubt the sacrifices were to be made.

 

            The Weirdo knew they were in trouble when they walked out of the elevator and saw the gods arranged around the floor. They had been waiting for them, and watched carefully as they stepped from the box, the doors slid closed behind them. The gods had arranged themselves into two groups, with a lane between the two.

 

            “Ah you’ve come.” Lilith’s voice was calm and somewhat happy, but with an edge of panic.

 

            This was her big day though, so maybe it was just her nerves. She knew that The Weirdo was here to stop her tough, and that one of them was going to be dead before the sun set. She was a little sad about that because she had believed the two of them could have made a dynamic team together. That thing hanging on her heart felt heavy again. She would be saddened by his death, but thought Max might be an appropriate substitute.

 

            The Weirdo wasn’t terribly surprised to find her sitting on an old Egyptian throne, nor to find her stark naked. What had surprised him a bit was how she was sitting. Her back was strait, her knees locked together as were her ankles. Her hands rested on the arms of the stone seat and her fingers gripped at the corners. She looked as if she might leap out of the chair at any moment, and would like to. She also looked like a statue carved out of the sandstone of the Egyptian desert. Except she had been carved from alabaster, and her eyes still swirled from one color to another. A golden bracelet, with gems glittered from her right ankle, but she was other wise unadorned. It would have been a pleasing sight to him once, but now it just looked desperate.

 

            “Yes.” The Weirdo said walking slowly towards her. “We came.”  

 

            “Were is our little girl?” She asked.

 

            “How do you know she’s ours?” He asked.

 

            “I can feel her growing inside me.” She said. “I know it’s her inside of me.”

 

            “Might not be.” The Weirdo said.

 

            “Oh I think it is.” She said.

 

            “Besides the world’s going to end before we get a chance to find out.”

 

            “No.” She said shaking her head ever so slowly.

 

            “No?” The Weirdo asked.

 

            “The world is going to be remade. We rounded up all those who might decent and we’re going to remake the world entire.”

 

            “All those people?” The Weirdo asked.

 

            “Yes.”

 

            “Everyone but you.” He said.

 

            “It had to be done.” She said, still unmoving, yet he could tell she was aroused

 

            There were signs if you could read them. Her lips had grown redder and fuller. Her cheeks were full of a bright blush and her breasts had grown while they had been talking. Her nipples were nearly fully erect, and a warm glow was nearly shimmering off her body. She looked ready to accept another sample of his seed, just in case the last one hadn’t taken root. She also looked terrified though, maybe it was the terror that had aroused her.

 

            It took a lot of effort for The Weirdo not to turn to Jack and Tommy and ask for an hour or two. He did manage, though he could tell the cards had been stacked against him. She was amazing to look at, and there was a strong desire writhing in his belly. He took in a deep breath though and steeled himself.

 

            “Yet we’re here.” The Weirdo said. “Opposing.”

 

            “No.” She said smiling, and his knees nearly went. “No, you’re here to help.”

 

            “No.” Tommy said, shaking his head. “We’re here to stop you.”

 

            “No.” She said laying the full view of her lovely smile on him. Her eyes fluttered into a gray green which was the exact shade of Amy’s eyes when she had been alive.

 

            “Yes.” Tommy said, after a moment.

 

            “The knight and his two assistants come to fight the Destroyer when he comes.”

 

            “Bullshit.” Jack said.

 

            “Yet here you are, and he will come soon.” She said. “The Weirdo will fight him and the two of you will assist.”

 

             “Unless of course we came here to distract you.” The Weirdo said. “While forces start to attack.”

 

            “There are no forces left to fight.” She said.

 

            “What about those out there?” He asked, pointing out at the battle below them.

 

            “Merely the war of Armageddon which must take place for the Destroyer to come.” She said. “They were brought here by the old ones who wanted to have a battle.”

 

            “I brought them.” The Weirdo said. “Maybe you should have considered that there was more than one power in the universe. Maybe some one else got us here.”

 

            There was the sound of hands touching sword hilts and fingers gripping staves just that much tighter. The Weirdo looked around at the assorted deities and nearly said boo just to see if they’d jump. He looked at them as his head turned, and several of them actually backed up a little.

 

            “Lilith.” Peach said walking from a slit in the floor.

 

            It looked like a conjurers trick as first, until The Weirdo realized that this was a stairwell, one that had no handrails. She was dressed in the way one might dress a goddess in a movie about the Greeks. It was a white silk tunic that while it covered it also reveled a great deal. One could tell for example that besides the golden belt and the white silk tunic she was going without clothing. Peach stopped when she saw the three of them and then looked at the naked vision on the chair. It seemed to The Weirdo that it took some effort for Lilith to stand up. She was able to walk with ease once she stood but it looked like the chair wanted to hold her.

 

            “Yes Peach?” Lilith asked walking towards her.

 

            “Something is happening.” Peach said.

 

            “What?” Lilith asked, looking back at the chair, as if it were calling to her.

 

            “I don’t know.” Peach said. “I think we’re under attack.  The power to the rest of the building has been shut off and there might be gun fire on some of the lower levels.”

 

            “Find out.” Lilith said, and turned suddenly.

 

            She walked back to the stone chair with great determination and sat down on the cold slab, which served as a seat. She looked like she’d like to sit on the chair differently, but her knees drew together and snapped her thighs shut. Her ankles actually banged together so hard they could hear the sound and she winced from the pain. Her hands snapped themselves down into the same place they had been a moment ago and much as she might want to slouch, her back straitened. She looked pained and slightly frightened by this.

 

            “Sounds like a problem.” The Weirdo said.

 

            “No.” She shook her head, trying to appear confident. “Of course not.”

 

            “You’re not under attack?”

 

            “No.” She said. “Nothing is going to stand in the way of our plan.”

 

            “No?” The Weirdo asked, and he heard something approaching from behind.

 

            “No.” She said.

 

            “You seem pretty sure on that chair.” He spun around, a pistol in his hand.

 

            The barrel of the forty-five came to a halt one inch away from Anubis’s long pointed noise. The wet nose sniffed for a moment and The Weirdo pushed it the extra inch forward so that it pressed against the dog man’s nose.

 

            “Back up dog boy.” The Weirdo’s voice came in a purring sort of hiss. “You don’t want to fuck with me.”

 

            “Maybe I do.” The dog headed god said.

 

            “Last mistake,” The Weirdo said and pulled the trigger.

 

            There was a lot of blood when the bullet tore through the dog head of the god. Brain matter flew and the body flopped over, the rest of them stood shocked, staring at the body. Anubis had simply been killed by a single forty-five hard ball round. The Weirdo turned and looked at Lilith.

 

            “As I said.” He continued. “You seem pretty confident sitting in that chair. Why don’t we go down stairs and see if anyone’s fighting?”

 

            “I don’t need to.” She said. “If there actually was fighting, some one would come tell me. Even if there are fighters here, what can they do?”

 

            “Shoot you.” Tommy said.

 

            “No.” She said shaking her head again. “You’re so delusional Thomas.”

 

           

April 14th, 2003

10:47 a.m.

 

            The Gray man tossed the fire axe away and leaned back against the wall. He looked at the circuit breakers, which didn’t spark or sputter at all. They had a moment ago, but not now, now they simply sat there. He had begun by switching the boards down, but then he thought that they might turn them back on. He saw the bright red fire axe and picked it up and began swinging. The power grid had managed to shock him a few times but if something like a little electricity was going to kill him it would have done so a long time ago.

 

            He swung and smashed the board to fragments of its former self. There had been a few big sparks, but for the most part it had gone by without much fanfare. It was times like these that he wished he was in a movie, where there would have been large spark showers and explosions. There hadn’t been though, just a lot of smashing and breaking metal pieces. The floor was littered with bits of hacked metal and plastic switches. They could repair the board, but not easily. It would be easier to buy a new board from a manufacturing company in Detroit or something. They would assemble the whole thing on the factory floor and deliver it all in one piece to the building.

 

            He pushed against the wall to stand under his own strength and left the axe where it was. There was a feeling in his chest, and he hoped it wasn’t his ticker throwing a rod. He stood still for a moment and he realized that no, that was pride actually. He had knocked out their phones and lights all at one go. That would cause considerable trouble for those above, and hopefully not too much trouble for his compatriots. Of course there were a lot more of the enemy than there were of them, so probably they enemy was shooting at itself in the sudden dark.

 

That was a hope anyway.

 

He then began to think about what The Other had said about magic. He knew all about the moment that they had cast it out didn’t he? Hadn’t he been shown the place and time? Could one man make it so that Magic had never left? Could it be done? He thought it might be possible, if coupled with a massive thermilogical event. He suck it hands in his pocket and thought for a moment about it. There might be a way, if he did his bit at the same time The Weirdo did his bit. He might actually be able to make sure that the world had never lost it’s magic.

 

The Weirdo had mentioned it as well, and now so had The Other. If it was true that he might be able to have an impact, then he should. He had failed the world once, maybe now he could actually help put things back the way they should be.

 

 

April 14th, 2003

11:00 a.m.

 

            Kestrel had been expecting a gunfight, what she hadn’t expected was in fighting. The lights had gone out sure, but she was becoming convinced that there were two groups shooting at each other and not at them. She sat next to Max and Cassimano, their backs against a desk, waiting for bullets to sail past them. They didn’t, the shooting was going on between two other sides of the room. It was like they were on the spectator’s edge of a battle.

 

            “Do you suppose they both think they’re firing at us?” Max asked.

 

            “I wonder if there isn’t some sort of rift in the group.” Kestrel said.

 

            “One way to find out.” Cassimano said.

 

            “Oh yes?”

 

            “Yeah.” He said.

 

            Athena and Darrian ran towards the desk, looking at the two groups firing at each other. Nike snuck, as best she could which wasn’t really necessary. Elise, Judy and Sheila didn’t even crouch as they nonchalantly walked into the room and sat down with the rest of the group. Aphrodite and Eoster had gone a different route up, and were not in attendance at this unofficial meeting.

 

            “What are they doing?” Elise asked. “I mean has an inner group war broken out?”

 

            “I think they each think they’re shooting at us.” Cassimano said.

 

            “Do you?” Max asked.

 

            “Yeah.”

 

            “How do we figure who’s right?” Elise asked.

 

            “Like this.” Cassimano then stood up and began shouting. “Uh, hello?”

            “What the fuck are you doing?” Max asked franticly.

 

            “I say, hello!” Cassimano said and the guns stopped shooting. “Are you actually shooting at each other or do you each think your shooting at us? Because we’re over here.”

 

            He managed to collapse to the floor before the bullets actually tore him to shreds, but only just. In short, they made it clear that there was no inter group rift. They weren’t fighting amongst themselves, they just didn’t know where our heroes’ were. Of course the big problem here was that Cassimano had just given away a sizable tactical advantage, and thus was an idiot.

 

“D’var?” Max yelled over the shattering wood around his head.

 

“Yes Max?” D’var shouted as pieces of the wood spun between them.

 

“You’re an idiot D’var.”

 

“Yes Max.” Cassimano said.

 

“I think you know what you need to do to redeem yourself.”

 

            “Yes Max.” Cassimano said nodding.

 

            “I’ll help.” Sheila said.

 

            “Take the left, I’ll go right.” Cassimano said pointing.

 

            “I’ll go too.” Judy said.

 

            “So will I.” Keyrran demanded.

 

            “Go then.” Max said.

 

            The three immortals and whatever it is that Keyrran is leapt over the tables. Keyrran actually spun in the air, never touching the table, and threw his lance through an over turned desk before drawing his sword. Judy went behind Keyrran, covering the middle as Sheila and Cassimano charged down the two sides. They need not have been immortal for this charge actually, as their would be killers were too shocked to do anything. The site of four people leaping over the side and coming charging them was sufficient to shock them into a momentary paralysis.

 

            They were gunned down where they crouched, the shooting over in a matter of seconds. Max stood up slowly and looked around at the blood-spattered walls. He looked at Cassimano who was tightening the beam on his pistol and looking for survivors. He saw one, a young looking girl who had been shot through a lung. A stream of blood was trickling from her mouth, and her eyes looked wild. He aimed the pistol down and squeezed the trigger. There was a puff of smoke from the place where the bolt burned the girl’s head open. As he walked away the internal pressure from the heating of the brain cause the head to pop like an overfilled water balloon. The blood splashed on the wall behind Cassimano’s retreating back.

 

            “We should be with The Weirdo.” Alice said, looking up at the ceiling.

 

            “You want to try and get up to the top floor?” Keyrran asked.

 

            “I don’t know.” Alice said.

 

            “There’s going to be a ritual.” Athena said. “There is always a ritual.”

 

            “So maybe we should stop it.” Max said.

 

            “Lilith is the high priestess.” Kestrel said.

 

            “There’s a back up group.” Aphrodite said walking into the room with them. Eoster was behind her, yet the Gray man was still not to be seen.

 

            “Beg pardon?” Max asked turning.

 

            “Another group is already setting up for their ritual.” Eoster said. “They’re going to play in tandem.”

 

            “A back up ritual.” Darrian said. “In case we happened to show up.”

 

            “I think so.” Eoster said. “There is another problem of course.”

 

            “Oh?” Max asked sitting on what was left of the desk that they had hidden behind. “Do tell.”

 

            “The rest of them are here.” Eoster said

 

            Max’s blood turned to ice and his stomach knotted itself into a small ball about the size of a super bounce ball. He felt that if some one where to tear his stomach out, they could bounce it just like one of those hard rubber super balls. He had a feeling, maybe it was grandma that he knew exactly what she was talking about.

 

            “Rest of who?” he asked anyway.

 

            “All those Gods who didn’t come with us.” Eoster said.

 

            “Shit monkeys.” Max muttered.

 

            “Where?” Kestrel asked.

 

            “Some are at the back up ritual, some are in the throne room with Lilith and The Weirdo.”

 

            “Oh goodie.” Kestrel said.

 

            “What do we do?” Max asked her.

 

            “Don’t you know?” Athena asked.

 

            “I’m just the kid around here.” He said, looking nervously at her.

 

            A lock of his hair drifted down into his face and he looked to her like a beautiful child. She wanted to hold him to her breast and console him, and then kiss his pouting lips. It was a momentary thing, the way he looked, but it stuck in her mind. She thought him somewhat beautiful and found parts of her fluttering.

 

            “Athena, Nike, Aph, Eoster, Keyrran, Kaala, Angel and Alice will interrupt the back up group.” Kestrel said. “Max, you Judy, Sheila, Cassimano and Darrian will come with me.”

 

            “And me?” Elise asked.

 

            “Oh you come with us of course.” Kestrel said. “I’d like to see him squirm between the two of you.”

 

            “That could be taken many different ways.” Elise said.

 

            “Yes.” Kestrel said grinning. “I know.”

 

            “I should go with you.” Athena said. “Most the gods will be at the main ritual.”

 

            “I’m going were Athena goes.” Nike said.

 

            “Any problems with that?’ There were no problems, she looked around them and checked her revolver. “Then I suggest we get moving.”

 

 

April 14th, 2003

11:03 a.m.

 

            “The problem is, you don’t know what you’re about to do.” The Weirdo said, and indicated the gathered Gods. “I’m not even sure that these fools fully understand the ramifications.”       

 

            “Ramifications?” Lilith asked, “Of saving the world?”

 

            “But you’re not going to save it, your working to destroy it.” He said, trying to remain calm.

 

            “No.” She said.

 

            “Why don’t we just give this up?” Tommy asked silently in The Weirdo’s mind. “Lets just shoot her and go watch cartoons.”

 

            “I’ve got a soft spot.” The Weirdo’s silent reply came. “Besides, if we start shooting can we get out of here?”

 

            “Maybe.” Tommy said aloud.

 

            “Doubt it.” The Weirdo said back.

 

“I must begin the ritual.” She said standing suddenly.

 

“No.” He said raising his hand and pointing the gun at her.

 

“Look around you.” She said, waving a hand around the room. “You’re surrounded by gods, not acolytes, not servants, the gods themselves are here with us.”

 

“Then why haven’t they attacked?” He asked.

 

“Because I told them not to.” She said. “I am hosting this event and as such I have certain rules.”

 

“And no one gets to kill your boy friend?” Jack asked.

 

“The father of my child should live.” She said, her voice growing angry. “You should be glad that you’ve been afforded an opportunity to live. I’ve let the two of you survive because of your connection to him.”

 

            “And my wife?” Jack asked. “And my children?”

 

            “They haven’t the same connection.” She said simply.

 

            Jack raised the machine gun in his hand to his shoulder and aimed it at her. The Weirdo’s hand extended and pushed gently as the gun began to fire. The bullets zipped away from her, missing her completely. Jack looked at The Weirdo who shook his head gently.

 

            “Not yet.” He said.  “Now I’ve afforded you the opportunity not to die by Jack’s hand.”

 

            “So you have.” She said. “Love for me or love for the child?”

 

            “Interesting question.” He said. “Don’t have a very good answer for that.”

 

            “No.” She said.

 

            There was a clatter of machine gun fire and the sound of feet. A moment later, Kestrel came running up the stairs, emerging from the floor. Athena was at her heels and the two of them aimed their guns around the room as the rest of that team came up the stairs. Cassimano and Sheila were the last two to emerge from the slit in the floor and they all stopped near the stair well. They looked like a sort of hedgehog made of gun barrels.

 

            “Hi guys.” The Weirdo said.

 

            “Come to join in to this foolishness have you?” Jack asked.

 

            “I don’t have time for this.” Lilith said. “I have to begin the ritual.”

 

            “Isn’t that a shame?” Elise said walking forward.

 

            “The Lady Death.” Lilith said sitting in the chair, her body assuming the rigid position. “I thought we’d killed you. I was told you’d been dealt with.”

 

            “Not quite.” Elise said.

 

            “Odd, I thought you had killed yourself.” She then looked at The Weirdo. “You went to the underworld to find her?”

 

            “I was passing through, I happened across her.”

 

            The rest of the group was moving towards The Weirdo, in an attempt to make one small center from which to fire. The Weirdo’s left hand clenched so tight that the sound of his tendons twanging was quite loud and unmistakable. They all looked at Lilith as she spoke, and they could feel a sort of spell coming over them. Max’s guns dropped from his hands and he placed his hands on his head.

 

            Kestrel fell suddenly to her knees, the bones banging hard into the stone floor causing her to yelp. Tommy’s arms began to cramp, and he dropped his guns as well, his body beginning to convulse as he crumpled to the ground. The Weirdo felt his head buzz and looked behind him, everyone had fallen down to the floor. Darrian was holding his stomach and looked like he had consumed a live scorpion who was now trying to fight it’s way out.

 

            The pain then struck him, and it was amazing. His hands occasionally throbbed with arthritis and the tinnitus in his ear gave him pain on occasion. His hands suddenly couldn’t move for pain, and he could hear nothing for the painful screeching in his ear. He felt his legs stop and found he was collapsing. He landed on the ground and his head felt like it was being split open from the inside.

 

            “The physical pain is just the first part.” Lilith said. “You can come out now dears.”

 

            There were ten of them, ten young women. Each of them was dressed in a white tunic, a gold cord wrapping around the waist. Three of them had blank stares on their faces, the other seven looked like they were waiting in giddy anticipation.

 

            “These three young ladies can activate your pain or pleasure centers.” Lilith explained. “The other seven have a harder job.”

 

            “Lilith,” The Weirdo’s voice came out in a ragged gasp.

 

            “Hurts, doesn’t it?” She asked crouching down and touching his face.

 

            It was a gentle touch, but it felt like she was scraping a piece of sand paper over his cheek. His eyes looked up at her and he tried to move. It hurt, everything hurt, more than it ever had. He had survived walking through two deserts though so he knew how to handle pain. His right hand splayed out on the stone floor, and utilizing his great well of strength, began to push himself up. What he would do when he got up, he didn’t know. It was taking everything he had to push himself up, but he wasn’t going to give up.

 

            “No.” She said standing. “We won’t have that.”

 

            She looked at the other girls and nodded to them. The physical pain had been bad, what the other seven did was worse. Darrian’s voice came up like a sort of howl and went on like a teakettle when the water boiled. The Weirdo fell back down and felt himself curling into a ball.

 

            “No!” Kestrel’s voice called out. “No, God no!”

 

            “Let me explain what’s happening.” Lilith said. “You are now subject to the pain of your victims my sweet gray Weirdo. Every person you failed to save, you can now feel their pain.”

 

            His eyes closed, the blood rushing in one ear and the tinnitus in the other he barely heard her. The faces were back, they were swirling and he was feeling what they had felt. Every person he had failed to save, each and every one of them. It was all the petty recriminations that had plagued him for so long, only a thousand times worse. He felt what each and every one of them had felt. He could feel what Kestrel had felt when Loki raped her, what Shannon felt when he shot her. The swirling pain was enormous, as was the mental anguish that was being thrown out at them. Every emotion, every helpless note was in his head. Every thought that they had was attacking his mind.

 

            “I don’t know why I’m even bothering to teach you this lesson.” Lilith said, as if she were somehow the one being put out. “Do you know how much trouble all this was? Organizing where the beautiful women around the world were so we could implant our servants minds into those perfect bodies? Wasn’t easy you know, very hard in fact. And what about the clones? Do you think making Loki was easy? We had to do a lot of bad things to make that money. We pretty much supplies heroin to North America though out the nineties, and spent all that money on this one project.”

 

            “Fuck.” The Weirdo’s voice came ragged.

 

Though he suddenly knew something, though he couldn’t say how. Lilith had only been brought into the group a few years ago, she hadn’t been responsible for anything. She hadn’t really been the boss here, but a puppet figure. She was someone everyone could rally around. He felt something in her. It was something weighting on her heart. He wondered if Lilith was trying to break through something they were doing, crying out for help.

 

            “I don’t like doing this.” She said. “But you’ve forced me. I’ve got another group around the back up ritual, no doubt you’ve sent people to interrupt that too.”

 

            The Weirdo was shaking, fighting for consciousness. He wondered what the effect of this attack could have on Eoster’s baby. He thought it would be better now to kill both mother and child if they had to go through this. He said something that proved what sort of state his mind was in and that he might be giving up.

 

            “Just kill us then, if you’re going to.”

© 2014 Autumn Knight Productions

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May 17, 2014 - Posted by | Fiction | , , ,

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