I had a weird idea strike me yesterday. I've only written an intro, but tell me what you think. Since I can't get most of you to comment, I've added a Poll, but left it private so no one will know if you did or not for all those lurkers
I yawned, running my fingers through my hair. It was cold today in Vegas, and I dreaded putting on a coat, considering it would be shirt sleeve weather in a few hours. The cat that came by only to be fed yowled outside my window and I opened a can of food, dumping it in a dish as I went out. He had me well trained, only the shredded food, nothing else.
There were several people in the back of the 7-11 and something was cowering away from them. The cashier was on the phone, but dropped it when I walked in. “Captain Morgan! They’ll kill it!”
I looked at the crowd, and sighed. “Bobbie, I’m not even on duty yet.” I turned toward them, and said. “Excuse me!” No one was paying attention. “HEY!”
They froze, then moved away. There was a small figure curled up against the corner between the coolers. About two and a half feet tall, he looked like Hoggle from Labyrinth, one of Faerie kind by his look.
“I know there’s a reason for this, so is someone going to explain? Or will I just have to call a wagon to take the lot of you away?”
“He.” I interrupted. “From his dress at least.”
“All right.” The spokesman agreed with clenched teeth. He looked like a day laborer, almost as broad across the shoulders as he was tall. “He went through all of the half and half!”
I looked at the stand where the dozen or so coffee urns were. Every one of the individual sized half and half servings were scattered empty. Some of the flavored ones had also been opened, and I sighed with relief to see he had left the mocha alone.
“When did he come in, Bobbie?”
“About half an hour ago. He asked if he could have some of the half and half so I said sure, help yourself. I didn’t expect him to go through all of them!”
“So, a simple misunderstanding.” I nodded. “Come here.”
The little figure came toward me as if expecting to be kicked. “You know the deal, that hasn’t changed, right?” He nodded. “So ask Bobbie what needs to be done. Besides,” I knelt to look him in the eye. “If you can come to an agreement, Bobbie might give you a handful of them every day.”
“You think so?” The voice was deep, like listening to James Earl Jones.
“Bobbie you know how the deal works don’t you?” Bobbie, who hailed from the ghettos of Chicago looked confused. I sighed. “Faerie of his race used to do good deeds in return for milk. He’s had enough to owe you a couple days of work easy.”
“What, you mean like a panhandler offering to sweep the property?”
“Something like that. He’ll clean, wash pots, stock the shelves, all in return for what you’ve allowed him to have. As long as you‘re polite and thank him.”
“They are honest creatures. They feel they owe you something in return for the milk.”
“But why milk?”
“They like it. It’s sort of like a drug to them. It makes them feel good, but isn’t addictive or anything like that.” I looked around. “Now the rest of you have something you’re supposed to be doing, right?” My grin could only be charitably called a smile if you think a wolf’s snarl is a smile. They found other places to be.
I poured my coffee, warned Bobbie about the chocolate derived coffee creamers, and left. Lucky for me I live only a dozen blocks from the station. As I walked I watched the flights coming out a McCarren. A 757, then a 737. Next was a red dragon. Odd, I looked at my watch. The 7:30 dragon was running late today.
Definitely sounds interesting, I had to read it twice to understand what it's about (as I'm actually preparing myself psychologically to hit the sack, so my concentration isn't at its finest).
The protagonist seems to have an interesting persona, on my first read I wasn't sure if he was just seeing things, or if they were real - when someone says that the 7:30 dragon was late as if it were a normal statement, you're not really sure what to think - but that just makes it more fun to read.
Anyway, I definitely think you should continue this, if you have a good idea how to do it. :)
I don't believe it! 23 hits so far and only two votes?
Very interesting... Continue, please!
over 60 hits, and still only three votes. I give up...
Pretty darned interesting! The setting seems somewhat reminiscent of Eoin Colfer's Artemis Fowl series, except that the Faerie seem to coexist along humans much more openly. Can't imagine a dragon working as a jetliner though xD
I watched the traffic. It was not as thick as usual, of course that was because of the air traffic. A wyvern flying north to south flew past at the speed of heat, ducking to avoid a hippogryph coming east to west. I made a note to contact traffic in this area. East-west traffic was supposed to fly at 20 meters altitude, north-south at 40. That hippo was flying too damn high. The light changed and a Unicorn bugled, then raced down the street, a young boy on it’s back. Why did parents get the damn things? They only dealt with virgins after all, and once you lost that you had to get something else. A giant with a bus logo stomped by, two people in wheel chairs strapped to his arms giving an entirely new meaning to the short bus. Just another day since the Shift.
They started calling it the Shift because the original name, ‘You did what?’ has to be explained even to those of us who lived before it. You see, a bunch of writers have suggested what would happen, mainly in fantasy or Sci Fi. The idea of parallel worlds and the authors believed that we here were connected only a little, like dreaming, and what you’re dreaming is really something happening in that other world.
Now hold that thought.
Add to that the idea the one where there are things defined as legends or folklore that are endemic. You have shape changers from Werewolves to were-spiders. Vampires, giants, elves or faerie of some kind across the world. Every race and people have the equivalents. But anyone who said they saw them ended up in rubber rooms before the Shift.
At the start of the new millennia, a group of scientists around the world began working on something they called a Quantum resonance field. They believed the Earth had a specific resonance signature, something that made it a life bearing planet. If this was true, we could stop trying to find planets by looking for gravitational eddies in other star systems, light occlusion by bodies passing through the visible light listening to radio static or other suggested things. Merely set the device to that setting, and every planet capable of bearing life as we know it would pulsate.
Of course it might have military uses. Say an enemy on another planet had such a device? You reset Earth’s field so it becomes unappetizing. So all right it would be too late if we knew they were there with light lag speeds, but the military takes the long view. So it got a lot of funding in a dozen different countries. Then one of the eggheads decided they had to test it. They didn’t even know what it did yet.
For those interested, back in 1945 before the test of the first atomic bomb at the Trinity site some of the theorists suggested that when the bomb went off, the thermal pulse would ignite the atmosphere. Bang, blackened planet! But they set it off anyway.
As Terry Pratchett commented once in a book, if there was a lever that would end the world, and you marked it with a glaring sign and painted it bright red, it would get pulled before the paint dried.
So on April Fool’s day 2001, someone pulled it. One minute, everything was normal, the next we had a lot of visitors.
We found out what happened the first time after the Shift. The people on the other side of those barriers kept records. You see, at one time half a dozen different realities were running around here. All of those legends were real, angels and demons lived among us dragons did eat maidens, elves raced men at crossroads.
But we were by no means the dominant species. Elves live so long it might as well be forever, Angels delivered diktat as if they were in charge, and one of them leveled Sodom and Gomorrah because he thought they were disgusting places. Demons either made deals with humans or tormented them depending on their attitudes.
It was more interesting because a lot of people became what they had been all along. You see about one percent of the population are those who didn’t leave.
Elves, trolls, dwarves, even angels and demons were revealed as their true selves. Sure screwed up the election when people saw who got elected.
But mankind had one thing the others didn’t. That was the scientific method. Men developed what we can only define as magic, and found a way to block them from here. That was done about six or seven thousand years ago. One minute, they were here, the next they were gone. But there was a price. The Magicians who cast that spell, led by Merlin (Yes, that Merlin) sealed their own power out to keep them away. Magic also became a legend.
They’d figured out what we did back then, and just shutting off the field didn’t send them away again. It could have been bad. Six thousand years and they were still pissed at us. But we’d spent six millennia at war. A dragon didn’t have a chance against a Tomcat with missiles. Magic didn’t affect sonar, radar or infrared sensors, so we had the chance to kick their butts if they really wanted to get down to business. And magic was back in the world with a vengeance.
So we came to a modus Vivendi. They wouldn’t mess with us, we wouldn’t mess with them. Yeah, like that worked. Between demons and angels, elves and human politicians it would have been hell without some kind of law enforcement. We had magicians, and normal humans brave enough, but they needed more than that
That’s where I came in.
My thoughts were broken half a block from work. One of the neighbors of the station had built a Japanese Garden, including a little bridge. When he’d died, he’d left the land to the city, and they’d razed the building but left the garden and the bridge that went from his property to the station parking lot. I started across it then stopped.
It would be an Oni, a Japanese Ogre that oozed from below the bridge ahead of me. I stopped, looking at it levelly.
“What manner of creature disturbs me?” It snarled. From behind me I heard an answering snarl. What was it, a mated pair?
“Listen Oni-san, me you don’t want to mess with.” I told it calmly.
“Amd what do you think you are, little human?” It growled.
I reached out, and the sword was there. “You’re worst nightmare.” I replied. “Captain Morgan, Metro PD.”
It looked at the sword, then gave the deep bow of an inferior to a superior. “Pass, honorable one.”
I’d spent a decade working at the Renaissance Pleasure Faire out on the Left Coast. I’d fallen in love with the sword, the feel, the heft, the clean movement. I did my four in the Army and I had spent a year in Europe traveling to learn from sword masters afterward when it happened.
I’d been in a small inn in a German town on the Danish coast. I dreamed of walking a path I knew very well, finding a cave. I walked in, past guardians of light, to an ancient tomb. On the stone was a sword, undimmed by years. I touched it, and it sang to me, calling me. Then I woke up.
My car threw a rod, and I had to wait for it to be fixed. With nothing better to do, I went hiking. I was less than a klick from the town when I recognized that same familiar path. Not knowing why, I followed it. There was a cave, and I went in. There were figures, light refracting from cave water and crystal to form humanoid shapes. They were guards I knew, but guard for or from what I never knew. I just knew somehow I was allowed.
I went past them, and there was the tomb and the sword. I walked up to the stone, looking at the face so like my own. I hefted the sword. It was an ancient design; long, slim, unlike anything I had seen in a museum. It felt as if it were made for me, but this was an historical artifact it what muswh have been a tomb never discovered. I left it there.
I tried to show people where the cave was, but the tide had risen, and we couldn’t. So I forgot about it.
That was in 1998.
I went home, migrated to Las Vegas and joined Metro PD.
April Fool’s day I woke up and the first thing I ended up in was one hell of a firefight. A local Hispanic gang was all trolls, and their Jefe decided to take the entire barrio. I went in with twenty normal humans and faced the dozen of them, barely fazed by regular ammunition. My men were slaughtered, and they were closing on me when it happened. I threw my empty pistol down, and then I felt a weight in my hand, whipping it into Jefe’s face. His head came apart, and I was moving.
Every move was poetry I had never learned to write, songs I had never learned to sing, but they felt right.
Our backup arrived, and they carried out the five men so badly wounded none survived. They also carried out the bodies of all of the dead. Fifteen dead cops, 12 dead gang-bangers.
Only I walked out of that building untouched.
I like how creative it is, although there are typos and punctuation errors. As always, all your little touches add great depth: the regulated flying height, the unicorn (!!), the explanation of the resonance field (although I got lost somewhere through the explanation) and so on. As you intended, I'm left wondering about the sword--why he was chosen for it, and by whom. By the way, you said that they had magicians...so did activating the resonance field somehow undo the seal which also removed human powers?
As for the sword, that will be explained shortly
The parking lot was only partially full, day shift was in full swing, and I sauntered past the cars and tethered animals. “Hey, Morg!” I looked up, seeing a cobalt blue gryphon, with a smiling blonde on it’s back. “What do you think of my new ride?”
“Sophie, you know you’re supposed to park that over at the helipad.”
She dropped in, the talons clawing at the tarmac as she jumped down. “Go on, Blue-boy.” The gryphon took off, headed for the helipad as he was supposed to. “I got permission from the chief to drop here. What’s this I hear about a new assignment?”
I sighed. “Yeah, the new Deputy Chief was upset that I was in SWAT. Said it was like having a thoroughbred horse hauling a wagon.” I snorted. “Not that he asked me. He’s going for commissioner in the next election.”
“But a special unit! You should be happy?”
“Sophie, I haven’t been happy since the Shift.”
Her face fell. “I’m sorry, Morg. I forgot what happened that day.”
I shrugged. “No biggie. Everyone lost something that day.” I looked up. “Not again.”
There was a picket line outside the main doors, and I almost turned around. These weren’t the usual haters with their MONSTERS GO HOME placards. These were cops. HUMANS, NOT MONSTERS one of the signs said.
Them again. The Union had tried to make the force all human right after the Shift. The force had a bad rep sometimes and seeing things in uniform afterward hadn’t helped. One of the sweetest guys I knew suddenly turned into a troll that night and while his disposition hadn’t changed, rights advocates screamed at having a troll in charge of lock up. So they forced him out.
The days and weeks following the Shift were hell for a lot of people. Men would wake up and find themselves married to Elves or demons and vice versa. The spousal murder rate went up 25%, especially when the people already had grievances. One man beat his wife to death when he awoke and saw an angel. Seemed he’d been cheating on her, and he thought it gave her miraculous powers to detect his deceit.
Those who had changed ran for cover, but in some neighborhoods, fought back. A kid who had been bullied turned into a were-bear as the bullies were beating him, leaving seven dead. That case had been close in court; was he guilty of murder, or was it self defense?
They made enclaves for their own defense, and where they gathered mobs of rioters followed. Though any mob with half a mind didn’t follow too close. A section just east of the Strip off Tropicana was the focus of the Demons of the city and they at least gave warnings. Bodies ripped apart and hanging from light posts gave the normal people the clue pretty damn quick. The Angel enclave north of Fremont and Las Vegas Blvd near where I live wasn’t half as polite.
We’d still be in a five or six way civil war if 9-11 hadn’t happened. It’s not often you get to see a miracle on camera live.
It started with four planes being hijacked all within a few minutes. Thirty minutes after the first plane had been reported, it hit one of the World Trade Center buildings. Fifteen minutes later another hit the other.
Then it happened. The parish priest at St Patrick’s cathedral had always been a gentle man, and when he woke up after a long night, he might have thought his dreams had come true as angel wings spread. He’d found he could conceal them, but he didn’t when that second plane struck.
On the news cameras you can still see it. Two building gushing flame and smoke, then everything reversed. First one plane then another came back out of the buildings.
I wonder how many would have died if he hadn’t intervened.
A dragon that had decided to nest in the East Bronx was next. As the two fighters screamed in from Otis Air Force base she leaped into the air, ripping the wings from the first plane, even as it tried to repeat that hell dive. The fuselage was caught then dropped with casual indifference on the runway at Kennedy.
A demon now going by the name of Asmodeus flew in through the cockpit of the second plane, and turned the terrorist crew into gobbets. Then he tapped the autopilot, and let the plane climb back out of the city, leaving the towers as they stand today.
All of the bills banning non-humans from holding public office, declaring them illegal and enemy aliens fell apart much to the President‘s relief. But that didn’t stop them from passing them for anyone who hadn’t lived here their entire lives.
This picket was against them.
“Make a hole.” I shouted. They looked at me, and most backed away. I have a rep for not having a sense of humor.
“We’re not budging.” One guy with more muscles than brains stood directly in my path. “We’re not letting any more freaks join the force.”
“You’re not letting us hire them?” I asked with a gentle purr. His tone suggested that maybe…
“You’re kind don’t belong here!” He roared. The others started to move back, clearly divorcing themselves from his loud mouth. Some of them knew me, and knew he’d really ticked me off
Sophie might have stopped me, but she knew my history. She sighed as I started forward. “Move it or lose it.” I snarled.
He lowered his sign, aiming the shaft of PVC pipe at my chest. Then he thrust.
It was instinct, years of fighting with a sword. The blade was there and I cut three times. The sign shredded as the pipe spilt leaving him a foot long length in his hands.
“Nothing human has that, freak.”
“Never heard of heroes and Paladins?” I asked. “I gave an oath to protect and defend when I joined the Army, when I joined the police department. I was raised to believe an oath must be followed. The Gods choose those who serve them and I am one.” I flipped the sword. “You can even touch it. But if you try to take the blade it will kill you.”
He looked at it and backed away.
“Now I’m going to tell you how it will be. You have a right to protest, I grant that. But if you damage any property in this little spree, if you hurt anyone, or cause them to be harmed, I will use this blade to seek you out and bring you to justice. . Not the justice of law, but the justice of what is right and wrong. Nothing in this world will hide you”
“Oh now you’re threatening?” The guy just wouldn’t shut up.
“Where I come from, they call that a promise, not a threat. Now unlike you, I’m late for work. Get out of my way or take your best shot.”
He considered it, he really did. Then he stepped aside. I stalked past him into the building.
The sergeant on the desk was sighing, head in hands as a small man and his lawyer squared off with him. “Listen sir, until her bail hearing your sister is in a holding cell. End of story.”
The small man growled, face changing, lengthening. The sergeant leaped to his feet, his own muzzle lengthening, his voice dropping to a growl. “Back off kitty cat before you get ripped into shreds!”
I walked into the elevator hitting the button. Sixteen floors up, I was in the Deputy Chief’s office.
“I don’t want it.” I said for maybe the fifteenth or sixteenth time.
He sighed, his wings spreading. He looked up at me with that angelic calm. “Morgan, it’s federally mandated. Every city has to have a combined team, that is Federal law as of eight AM.”
I didn’t say what I was thinking. The problem with being chosen by a god is that some of them get upset when you use those words. “Fine. So we have to set up these gottverdamnt teams. What do they consist of?”
“One each, a Paladin, a mage, a shaman, and one of each race.”
“So what, eight?”
“Nine. The Faerie think they should be counted separately.”
“Fine. When do I meet these losers?”
“Right before the press conference. So if you will?” He motioned toward the conference room. I followed him in. The room was empty at the moment, but that would change.
Two humans came in. One was a tall woman with waist length coal black hair in a long dress. A pentagram had been tattooed on her left cheek, a seal of Solomon on the right. She held a long staff in her left hand, strong fingers clenched on the wood as if it were a lover’s hand.
“Morgan, meet Danika and Loki.”
“No relation.” The man said. He walked into the room as if he owned the place, pouring a cup of coffee. “Want some mud Danika?”
“Please.” Her voice was soft, the kind men dream about. But her eyes were hard. The learning curve for magic is steep when you’re young.
An elf came in, that light step so much a part of their race. “Brachian.“ The Deputy Chief introduced. He held up the pot, and the elf sneered walking around him.
“What, no coffee?” Callahan asked.
“It's bad for them.”
“Very, very bad.” Brachian said. His voice reminded me of Elrond from the Lord of the Rings movies.
“No. Caffeine, remember?” I replied. “We have them in the cells every night. Either it hits like cocaine, or like heroin, sometimes even like alcohol.” He set the cup down, pouring some water over a tea bag, then reached for a muffin. “The same goes for chocolate.”
A dwarf came in, introduced as Droman. He leaped up into a chair, looking around the room with slightly concealed glee. All of faerie kind not specifically tied to the two Elvish courts were represented by him.
The Dragon wasn’t going to be here, Vrumigan, a red dragon would meet us on the helipad on the roof.
“Last but not least, Andiel from the angels and-” He was turning toward the door as the last two entered. I was on my feet, glaring as they entered.
“You!” I snarled.
She smiled hesitantly, black wings spreading instinctively as if she considered flight. “Hello, Art.”
“What, you know Lilith?”
“She was almost my wife.” I bit out.
Ah, forgot to ask in my previous post...if magic was sealed off, how did the remaining ones conceal their appearances?
I particularly liked the encounter between the desk sergeant and the "kitty cat" :p Lilith as a demon's name? :lol: Hardly surprising, yet she sounds like an interesting character. What are demons/devils like in this universe? If they are still typically evil, why would Asmodeus (which always makes me think of Dev!) kill the terrorists?
Otehrwise, a very good chapter! I am really enjoying this story:)
Yes, the story looks great. The universe you created is quite interesting, though Bee's question stands - I would have understood if elves, angels, demons, etc came from that other dimension, or whatever it is (I admit I also got a bit lost in the explanation, but I think I get the basic concept), but as it seems, they were all in our world (or at least some of them were), only in human forms.
He hadn’t changed. Medium height, black hair, green eyes, still the man I had loved. I wanted to sigh.
All of us who shifted lost something that day. Art was on duty, and I had come home after transporting a prisoner to New York. We were living together and had been doing that gentle dance that sometimes leads to marriage sometimes to separation. Our schedules were off the wall so up until now, except for some exceptional lovemaking, we were just room mates. I’d showered and went to bed as myself for the last time that March 31st.
I woke in agony at about five AM. The Shift is still not completely understood. Some shifted without noticing, like the congressman who was on a morning talk show in Washington and didn’t notice that he’d grown leathery wings.
Others have reported the affect. Reporters, psychologists. None of whom have gone through it. Maybe if those idiots had asked us, they would know.
It was like childbirth from both sides. Pressure as you are pushed from the womb, and the agony of that pushing as the mother as your whole body changes. I could feel my body being molded by huge callous hands, biting back screams of agony as I felt my skin ripping. Then it was over, and I collapsed. I slept passed out in all of the effluvia of my change.
I awoke when I heard Art come in. It was after 9 in the morning, and the bed was soaked with blood and other fluids. I was terrified by what I’d gone through. I wanted to be held, to have someone tell me it would be all right. Like a child running to her parents after a nightmare. I leaped up, not noticing I covered the distance to the door in the air and flung it open.
“Lil? Are you-” He turned, then I saw shock in his eyes, then fury. His Sig Saur came up, and I yelped as a bullet smacked into the door frame. “Lil!” He screamed, and I felt a second then third bullet slam into my chest. I had been shot before; a danger every cop has to face. But it felt like a needle rather than the gut wrenching pain of the last time.
I was lucky when it happened. Since the shift Corbon; the company that designed the Glaser safety slug; had delivered big time. The average street cop these days carried KTW rounds to take down a smaller dragon. He carried Teflon bullets with iron filings for elves, iron and lead for Faerie, holy water for demons, satanic holy water for angels, silver nitrate for Were, holy water and silver for a vampyr, and regular jacketed for humans. He hadn’t been supplied with all of those special rounds. I survived his vengeance.
I spun, running to and through the window. I wasn’t thinking, I was fleeing. I felt something catch in the air, then black wings slammed down in the air, and I was falling up as they drove me higher. Behind me I heard his screams as he found the mess I had made.
“Extraterritoriality has been a problem since the Shift; criminals have been able to flee into enclaves and live free. However as of this morning, the POG Act came into effect. Under that law all regional police organizations are to form units composed of all of the races so that they can legally pursue criminals…
The press conference was a nightmare, for him and for me. Deputy Chief Callahan announced the Preternatural Operations Group, using the same hackneyed verbiage every politician uses. When he introduced me, I stepped forward, nodding. Then he asked for questions.
“What determines the requirements for membership on this team?” Someone shouted.
“All members have to be people with skills linked to law enforcement. Ms Andiel for example was until recently an Assistant DA in Reno. Droman was a SWAT team member in California before he moved to Nevada. Brachian was an FBI agent.”
“What about the succubus?” another asked. He pronounced it Suck-You-Bus.
“We pronounce the word suh-coo-bus. Emphasis on the second syllable.” I said softly. “After all, unless I like someone, I don’t suck.” That drew a laugh. “I was a member of the Federal Marshall’s office before the Shift, and am now a member of the Demonic Bureau of Investigation here in Las Vegas.”
“You left the Marshall’s office?” Someone asked, and I could feel all their attention. Like the last piece of chicken at a picnic.
“I was declared legally dead after being missing for three weeks. No one at the Marshall’s office would accept my report. In fact the Federal Prosecutor tried to have me arrested as an illegal. I was alone, tired and hungry with a State warrant ordering my arrest and extradition as an illegal. It finally took a two year court battle to even get my bank accounts open again. The DBI took me on without worrying about what I looked like.” So there, I replied.
“What about the vamps and werewolves?” Another asked. “Why aren’t they represented?”
“Negotiations are still in effect for them to join.” Callahan answered. “The Vampyr have a candidate, but obviously-” he waved at the bright spring day, “-he or she cannot join us today.” There was a general chuckle at that. “As for the Were as they prefer to be called, they are arguing about what specific group will supply the member. After all, counting all police agencies in the state, there are almost a hundred of them to choose from.”
“Captain Morgan. How does it feel to be working with Lillith Banks again?”
I saw his face flush a bit. “No comment.”
“But do you admit-”
“I said no comment.” Morgan snarled. “One more word, and you’ll wish to whatever god you worship that I did not come down there.” He looked at the stunned faces. “Are there any more questions for me? No? Then I’m out of here.” He spun on a heel and stormed off the helipad.
“What is with our fearless leader?” Andiel asked me.
I sighed. “Andiel, I would suggest not calling Art fearless leader. He doesn’t take criticism well, and being compared to a cartoon dictator will only exacerbate the situation.”
“Why is that?” She asked.
I looked at her. Wings like mine except for snow white feathers. How had she gotten so far in the DA’s office without knowing how people felt? “Andiel; Art and I were lovers. When the Shift happened he was on duty. He went into a raid where everyone but him died. Then he comes home and sees a demon.” I waved at myself. “He thought I had murdered his lover, and tried to kill me. The DNA tests agreed with that thought, and he swore to kill the monster that murdered me.”
“But…” She looked at me. “He swore to kill you for killing yourself?”
“Pretty much.” I sighed. “Andiel, how many Paladins have your group run into?”
“Not that many.” Andiel admitted. “Ever since organized religion fell, there haven’t been many who claimed the title.”
“The Paladin is a warrior of God. He fights not for personal glory, but for the glory of his God and honor. Because of that, like a magician, his words bind him. He is bound by his oaths as surely as one of you is by an agreement with a human.”
“Like your own kind in the same situation.” She said.
I laughed. “Yeah, like that.” I had not met a demon of that sort, but I understood the concept. A demon would make a deal with a human in return for his soul. “The words are important.
“Art swore by the God that is his patron. He cannot break that oath. None of his oaths can be broken. It is part of who and what he is.” I wanted to wail. “He must kill me, but cannot because I am innocent of the crime. He would be struck down by his god for such an action.
"Add to that I am not dead yet he has sworn to avenge my death. If he kills me, he must then slay himself because he is the one who killed me. He is caught in the middle. “I am alive, so he cannot kill me for murdering myself. Until I am dead, he cannot get on with his life. What can I do to fix this?”
She looked at me; did I see an angel’s pity for a demon?
Damn her! I wanted to smash something, but I restrained myself.
She had tried to call me back then, beg me to listen, but my Lil was dead, the evidence clearly said so, and no monster would take her place. I threw myself into my work, and the duties I discovered went with being a Paladin.
Paladin, a warrior of god. The problem is, organized religion collapsed not long after the Shift. The Angels looked politely confused if you asked them about god with a capital G. Some of them admitted that they had portrayed gods in different pantheons, guiding mankind in what they thought were the right paths. The upper level demons admitted the same. Whatever one of them was the God I fought for hadn’t bothered to come forward.
The conspiracy theorist got together, and published what they thought. If you take the bible, remove the ‘word of god’ or idea that God could do what he wanted because he was god, what do you have?
A lot of inconsistencies.
A god who is omniscient who didn’t know what his creations had done? Or didn’t realize that he spoke with a murderer? Take that scene in the Garden as an example. Not the apple but afterward God realizes that his perfect specimens now realize their sentience. If you remove the admonitory tone, change the wording slightly, what do you get?
‘Kids you don’t realize how nasty the world out there is. You Eve will suffer because up to now you’ve never dealt with menstrual cramps and childbirth. No handy supplies of food for the baby, so you have to feed it from your own body.
‘As for you Adam you won’t have us supplying your needs. You’ll have to find or catch food and that is hard work.’
Even the Angel with the sword. He wasn’t there to keep us out. He was there to guide us back when our will faltered.
From that point on ‘god’ went downhill. Noah being told to build a boat so only the ‘pure’ people survive. Then you condemn a third of the human race because one guy thinks it’s funny that his father got drunk and went to sleep in the nude. Then to add insult to injury, one verse gets rewritten in the 16th century so one of the other tribes is tagged as that condemned race, blessing two centuries of slavery.
Shall I go on?
It didn’t help when a bible thumping televangelist changed into a werewolf while screaming his hatred. Or a Hezbollah leader who was killed by his own men when he became a Djin.
Everyone wanted to believe the stereotypes, but Asmodeus shot them down because of his rescue of the passengers in that plane. When he was asked, he gruffly said no one messed with his people on his turf. His position as a mob boss made sense when you considered that. A robber baron who thought of New York as his own province.
It’s been worked out by theorists which were which in ther older Pantheons. If the God was authoritarian, into social skills such as animal husbandry or agriculture he was probably an angel, if a trickster or in charge of death, of magic or oddly enough, of love, he was a a demon. War they agreed was Angelic. The Demons believed in gambling, but not in organized slaughter. Only an angel or one following one could look at a battle field and say ‘the ends justify the means’.
Piece by piece our conspiracy theorists worked. The angels found us first, back when humans were still Australopithecus. We were still kinda smart animals then. The Demons became interested, and one by one all of the other races tinkered with us. After all, the life of Australopithecus was boring. Eat, drink, move, avoid predators, maybe get a little love on the side? Technology and the mind to use it was a gift from demon kind, law and society rules came from the Angels. The dwarves taught us to smelt metal, the Elves taught us music beyond what can be made by a human body.
They gave us bad things too. The demons taught us to be concentrated on what we were doing to the exclusion of all else. The Nazis followed through with that with their systematic extermination of ’undesirables‘ and every ‘ethnic cleansing’ before and since. The angels our willingness to be strong in adversity and self sacrifice which led to brave last stands, kamikazes, and suicide bombers in the modern day. The elves taught us about luck, causing people to take chances. The dwarves taught us the love of pure metal, fueling the desire for gold that stripped the new world during the age of discovery.
All of them, angel, demon, elf, and dragon had one thing in common; they can assume human form. As for Vampyr and Were, they had been human before being afflicted with their curses.
What we added to the mix was our own willingness to follow their lead. Magicians bargained with some demons to learn power. They didn’t always bargain for souls as much as we might think. They accepted earthly power, worship, and even positive press. Where an Angel would merely give because of the person’s character, the demons expected cash on the barrel head. That’s why you have so many people ‘gifted’ by powers such as mine giving nothing in return.
One thing we asked was why Hell’s Gate ended up near the Strip, Heaven’s Gate near downtown, the entry to the Seelie Court along Boulder Highway and Flamingo, the entry to the Unseelie Court in Henderson, and the Hall of the Mountain King far to the west on Sahara in the mountains. The answer was merely, ‘that’s where they have always been‘.
That last section feels a little hollow to me. Anyone agree?
Hollow in what way?
I thought it was interesting. It gave a lot more explanations about the setting and its different "species". Aside from a few spelling errors, there's nothing I could say I didn't like.
He considered that they might have been instructons on how to lead a happy life rather than admoitions.
I had a whole lot more of that, right up to Jesus destroying the fig tree, and giving a zen buddhist like answer for his actions.
I glared at the office I had been assigned. Ten years as a cop, every minute on the street or SWAT. Now I had a frigging office. Nice sized compared to most, with a glass wall so I could watch my team in action.
Team. A collection of monsters and maniacs, and her. There was a god, I knew it because he she or it gave me a sword. But he had a lousy sense of humor. Putting her on the squad, and putting me in charge of it. Cops were bustling, moving in our equipment. Federal funding meant we had brand new computers, new Lucifer 180s, the most recent import from hell.
Say what you want about the infernal realm, no one makes better computers or software. They swear by all gods demons and entities no virus or hacker can break their firewalls, and sweeping up the ashes of hackers who have tried has become something of a joke. When they called it a firewall the demons aren’t joking. They even promise that once you have imprinted them, no one can break into it, not even their own programmers.
One by one our members came in claiming desks. I gritted my teeth as Lil picked the desk that faced the office. I wanted to think her face looked a little woebegone when she looked up and saw me, then pointedly took the desk that faced away. But it was a lie; demons lie as a matter of course.
I knew she was dead. Sworn to avenge her death. I had gotten calls from a woman claiming to be her, but I had refused to even countenance the idea. My love was dead, and her murderer wore her face. I had refused to believe it, even when the court decided that the demon was her.
I had stayed away from the apartment when the court ordered State marshals arrived to take what was left or her things. I had been so furious I had smashed a lot of it when the court handed down the decision.
There had been no demands for recompense.
I closed the blinds, wishing I had solid walls, and sat at the desk. I picked up the first file. Then the second, then the third, becoming more furious with every page. By the fifth, I was wishing that idiot was in the office. “Oh for the love of-” I grabbed the phone. Thank god for speed dial.
“State Attorney General’s office.” A voice chirped.
“Put your boss on.”
“May I ask-”
“This is Arthur Morgan of POG. Put the idiot on now!”
“He’s in a meeting-”
“He talks to me now on the phone or in person as fast as I can get there, and with an angel on the squad I’ll be there before you hear the phone hang up!”
“No, I will NOT hold!” I roared, even as I heard smarmy music. I tossed the phone down, storming out into the outer room. “Where is Andiel?
“She got a call from the Heavenly Chorus, and had to go.” Droman reported.
I snarled. Lilith was trying to make herself smaller at her desk. “LIlith, I need to get to the State Attorney General’s office.” I said. “Could you please take me there?”
“I can.” She stood, two inches shorter than I, her wings spread. “You have to hold around my neck.” Then I was lifted like a child, and felt air rip as she leaped through the open window. I wrapped my arms around her neck, feeling the sword leap into my hand. Not now you idiot!
It was eight blocks, but both Angels and Demons think anything slower than the speed of sound was too damn slow. We didn’t land on the roof, she came in like a hawk, foot talons catching in the metal then she flipped back, ripping the top off the elevator housing. She hovered less than a second, then dropped down the shaft like an arrow. Slam of wings, and the elevator door was ripped open. A man screamed, falling as we shot over his head, and an oak door added itself to the damage as Lil plowed through it as well. The secretary looked up in shock, the nail file pausing. I could see the line still flashing on hold.
Lil put me down, and I walked over to the secretary. “I warned you.” Then I walked past her.
“Zip it.” I shoved the door opened. The Attorney General looked up, eyes squinting in the Klieg lights of a reporter’s camera. Before he could speak, I caught the lens, shoving the camera down.
“I don’t care about you reelection bid.” I looked at the reporter. One of those androgynous women that would have posed as an angel in the movies, like Kate Winslett in Constantine. “You, out. You can come in and hear all his whining about me afterward.”
“Lilith! Clear her and the camera out. If she gives you grief, I’ll pay for the camera and hospital bills.”
“I’ll leave, but can I just shut the camera off and leave it?” The girl was quick.
“Yeah. Beat it.” She turned, lights dying, then left the office.
I spun, glaring at Lilith. “What?”
She walked over to the camera, pointing at a flashing light. “Lights are off, but not the camera.” She tapped a button, and the light died. “Now it’s off.”
I wanted to say thank you. Part of me wanted to hug her, wanting her back in my life. But the sword leaped back into my hand. “Step outside, please.”
“Yes, Arthur.” She walked out, closing the door gently. I turned slowly, like the turret of a battleship ready to rip it’s target into fragments.
“Morgan I’ll have-” he shut up as the blade came up like a pointer.
“Sit down and shut up.”
“Sit!” He dropped like I’d pole axed him. “Now you will listen to me, you political weasel. Filing warrants and subpoenas for God and Lucifer won’t work so don’t deliver them to my office.”
“They messed with us for centuries and we have the right to demand explanations.”
“Maybe they did, but you obviously haven’t read the bible. The closest we have to a name for the biblical god is I am that I am. Everything else, all of the names of god and the Devil given including the term Devil are titles. You have to have a legitimate names to file subpoenas.
“So give up your try to ‘clean up this mess’ spiel on someone else, and find out who you intend to arrest or question before you deliver them to me. Are we clear on this?”
I glared until he nodded. I walked to the door, opening it, then slammed it, the knob ripping from the door. I sighed. “Send the bill to my office.” I snapped at the secretary, dropping the knob on the desk.
“Will we be headed back to the office?” Lilith asked.
“No. You can head back, but one trip with a monster was enough.” I went down to the elevator with a remaining door and hit the call button. She watched me for a moment, then took off up the shaft she had cleared.
That ignorant human! I wanted to scream. I leapt up the shaft, and all of Las Vegas was before me. Part of me wanted to head for Hell’s Gate; to return to my life of the last few years. But part of me rebelled. I found myself in a park, on of all things, a swing. The seat pressed against my buttocks, the chain singing a bit as I rocked back and forth. I thought of decades of my life as a human before the change. Of meeting Art, of loving him.
Then the change had happened; I had become what I was; and what I had lost in that change was more than my humanity. I had lost the man I loved, my career; my entire life. Had anyone else lost more?
I stood, looking about. Part of me; that human part, knew the place, a block south of Charleston on Maryland Parkway. Art and I had-
Damn it, he denied me, so I would deny him! Nothing we shared mattered any more. I walked toward the street.
A man stood there, and I knew immediately he was trouble. He carried one of those huge bibles the ‘truly devout’ carried. I considered the description. Were there any truly devout these days who weren’t deluded? God whomever he was had been revealed as either an Angel or Demon; he did not exist.
Of course with most of the Born Agains, reality never interfered anyway. I stood. I was going to leave before-
“Avaunt, Demon!” He screamed.
All right, now that ticked me off. He waved a cross large enough for an Arch-bishop, advancing on me with all of the strength of his faith. “Return to the hells from which you came!”
I wanted to ask him; since when was Chicago hell? I looked at him, then grinned inwardly. “You seem to think the name of God will set you free.” I purred. “But I bet your faith is a pallid shell, and I can prove it.” I motioned to the cross. “A symbol of your god. Yet if a damned creature touches it, it will burn with holy fire.” I advanced. “But if it burns with holy fire, are you pure enough it will not burn you?”
He tried to back away but I was there, snatching the upper end into my hand. He screamed, backing away, letting go. I turned my hand, the metal melting as it boiled; molten silver pouring from my fingers. The heat was not bad to me, the infernal realm was much hotter.
“Without faith the cross is merely metal, the host merely bread, the blood merely wine.” I smiled sadly, then turned my hand, the rest of the silver hissing into the concrete. “It seems you have less faith in your god than I do.” Then I leaped into the air.
I stalked the eight blocks to the office in a funk. Damn it, how was I to deal with this? The creature that claimed to be my dead love working in the same office?
Everyone was there including Lopez, the Were-Cougar assigned from Highway Patrol. Andiel stood, motioning toward my office. I shrugged, walking in.
“Captain I must report I am filing a complaint of prejudice.”
“Listen, Lilith might be a demon, but you could learn to work with her-”
She closed the door, leaning against it. “You are named as the defendant, Captain."
That stopped me cold. “I am?”
“Yes.” She stood away from the door. “When I changed, I was at home alone. My wings did not merely sprout, they exploded from my back. I spent two days not even sure what had happened to me.” She nodded at my expression. “Just like her, Captain.
“I was lucky. Being what I am no one assumed I was automatically evil. The tests and law suit Lillith took two years to force through the courts I did in days. I was proven to be myself, and allowed to resume my post.”
She looked at me for a long moment, eyes sad. “You know who she is, Captain. But you cannot admit it. Your oath binds you to slay her, then yourself. Until you admit this, you cannot go on. She understands this even if you do not.”
I collapsed into the chair, my mind running like an engine without a governor. Lilith was the woman I had loved… I wanted to scream at the God that had chosen me as his Paladin. What an irony, worthy of a Greek tragedy!
“Until you can accept her, you are prejudiced, Captain.” She continued. “You must accept her as she is, not as she was, then go on.”
Finally found the time to read the latest chapter. Still pretty good, mach. I found the bit about the demonic computers and firewalls especially funny. The scene with the State Attorney was also very entertaining. Keep it up. :)
For those who haven't read the Lady Death Series, If you change the skin color to a bronze rather than red, Purgatori is what Lilith looks like
Part of me wanted to fly to Hell’s Gate; to report to Belial and beg to be replaced. I couldn’t work with a man who thought me a monster. A man I still loved.
No, I had to report, tell him I wanted to be sent back, find a replacement.
The flight was brief. After all, at ten miles a minute where in town was too far away? I settled in on the helipad, then took the elevator down. The office was now full except for our vampire. Andiel was pouring some coffee, and held up the pot. I shook my head.
“Lilith, come in here please.” I heard his voice, and turned. He stood in the door. Part of me was glad. He’ll send me packing, I didn’t have to beg for reassignment.
I walked into the office, and he closed the door softly. “Sit please.”
I sat, wings flaring. He watched me for a few moments, then asked softly. “Can you appear as you were, please?”
I grinned, batting my eyelashes. “Why Captain, are you asking me to violate the law? ‘Any member of a non human races who uses any natural skill to pretend to be human for any purpose not fully explained to the human they are speaking to is a felony punishable by banishment to the natural realm of their people for any visitor, and by death for any native born creatures’.” I quoted.
He didn’t smile, and I felt my own grin fade. “I’m sorry, Art. Call Hell’s gate. I’ll go back-”
I felt tears well up in my eyes, running down my cheeks. “I just had to see you again-”
“I’ll ask for reassignment. You’ll never have to see me again.”
“Lil, will you shut the hell for one minute.”
I looked at him. He sighed, sitting on the desk, facing me. The sword leaped into his hand and he flicked his wrist angrily making it disappear again. “Lil, Andiel told me what happened. Perhaps you have lied to her, perhaps not. But for what I must say, I would feel more comfortable speaking to the woman I loved.” He looked as if he wanted to slit his own throat, but it came out as, ”Please?
I sighed, picturing myself as I had been. The horns gone, the wings just a memory. Once I had the picture in my mind, I opened my eyes.
The best way to describe a Greater or Lesser Demon is; More. Think of the makeover shows you see where they take the bespectacled teacher and turn her into the sultry super model. The reason the love gods/goddesses are usually attributed to Demons is because the primary art practiced by a demon is seduction.
She sat there, wearing a bikini more for propriety than anything else. Wings that at full spread would be fifteen feet across, a set of almost cute horns, and a tail that whipped when she was nervous, as now. But facially and physically she was sexuality incarnate. It was Lil, but more of her. She looked at me with that look I remembered, like a puppy expecting to be kicked. Then she closed her eyes.
It was harder than I thought. I saw the change as she became just the Lil I had fallen in love with. Her outfit became the same type of suit she’d had worn with the Marshall’s office. She opened her eyes, and she was the same as I remembered. I wanted to wrap my arms around her, but I could feel the sword’s hunger. If I got close enough, it would leap to guard again. “Oh God, Lil. I missed you.”
She smiled hesitantly. “Art. I wish I could hold you.”
I didn‘t know what to say." I pulled a chair over. “What happened, Lil? You disappeared for three weeks. If you had come back sooner, maybe I might have…” I wanted to say it, but couldn’t. If she had come back earlier, tried to contact me earlier, maybe I wouldn’t have made that damn promise.
She looked down, then up. I remembered the nickname she had gotten when it came to hostage negotiation, the tease. “The last time you saw me some guy had shot me twice in the chest, and I was running for my life.” I flushed. I was just glad they hadn’t started making the special rounds then. I nodded.
“So I flew south. Why I don‘t know.” She shook her head. “Maybe a demon homing instinct. Then I ran into a circle.”
“Magician’s circle of summoning and binding.” She said. “Some young wannabe magician had an old grimoire and when the news reports started, he decided to use it.”
She looked away. “One minute, I’m flying toward Trop, next I slammed down on a floor, trapped inside a magic circle.” She grinned. “Lucky for me the idiot had the usual wishes. He wanted wealth, and I didn’t even have my Visa card. He wanted Britney Spears as his love slave, and I told him he would be embarrassed having such an old broad with kids hanging on him. I suggested Hillary Duff instead.” She chuckled. “Then he wanted immortality. What could I do? All of my make up was still in the apartment.”
I could picture her in her ‘hostage negotiator mode’, walking through trying to back one kid off from asking for the moon while keeping him alive.
“Then he made the last mistake he would ever make. He decided to call down another demon to make me behave.” She shivered. “He got a Greater demon named Belial.”
She looked at me, and I saw horror. “Think of a gang banger trying to hold up the President. Only Lesser and Lower demons can be held by a circle. Belial allowed himself to be caught.” She shuddered. “The fool thought he had won the lottery. He started to demand, and Belial…” She bit her lip. “Belial showed what a Greater demon could do. He blew the circle apart, ripping the boy into shreds, and rescued me.”
She giggled, but there was a thread of tears in it. “Rescued! Art I’ve seen what serial killers have done, the worst that man can do. Belial created a new definition. You probably read about it if they didn’t call you in. A boy ripped into shreds, as if he’d been through a slaughterhouse.”
I did remember it, the body was found on the 4th. They hadn’t called me in, and the Magic team wasn’t even started. They had suggested that a demon had done it but no one had wanted to believe it.
“Belial is a Prince of Hell. He was the last of them who spoke with humans all those years ago, and when the Shift began, he went to spy us out. He thought I had been some little fool who went early, so he took me ‘home‘.”
I suddenly saw it, the ‘brave rescuer’ returning with the damsel in distress. “When did they figure out you were local?”
“When I panicked as we passed through Hell’s Gate.” She replied. “I went from Las Vegas to Hell. As much as the Christers think Las Vegas is on the outskirts, they have never been there.” She shuddered. “I screamed, soiled myself, and fainted.
“When I awoke I was in detention. Belial had figured out I was a native, and for the next three weeks I was interrogated.”
I stiffened, and the sword leaped to my hand. “They tortured you?”
She shook her head. “I was an enemy alien, but of their race. Think of the Nisei, still subjects of an Emperor in a land their parents had left decades earlier. They considered me like the CIA does a defector. They debriefed me, digested, did it again, then again until they had gotten everything they could.”
“What did they want?”
The first Shift six millennia ago had caught them unawares. They wanted a quick run down on history; everything we had done since then.” She grimaced. History had always been my forte, not hers. “They didn’t learn much, but what they didn’t learn from me they picked up from others. I wasn’t the only one they picked up. Two or three dozen of us were there when they let me go.”
“How many are still there?”
“None. They let us all go at the same time. I found myself at Trop and Paradise, with a thanks and welcome to return.” She sighed, leaning forward, hands rubbing her face. “So I called home, hoping to get you.”
I had the good grace to blush. “Picture it from my side, Lil. I come home, see a demon in your room, and enough blood and flesh scattered around to think that the creature had eaten anything that wasn’t there.” I collapsed into the chair across from her. “The woman I loved had been savagely mauled, and I wanted her killer dead. The DNA test was exact.
“Then some woman calls, claiming to be her, to have been changed into a demon during the night, and can she come home?” I threw up my hands. “As a kid I heard stories about demons needing permission to come in, I wasn’t going to let that… thing, back into my home.”
“I didn’t understand that then, Art. I was cold, tired, hungry and I couldn’t get anyone to understand. I called the department, and they tried to arrest me. I fled back to Hell’s Gate. Belial took me in. He had been assigned as head of the DBI, and he needed investigators to work on our side of the Gate. So he hired me, gave me an advance against my first month’s salary, and got me a place.
“But I was still an outsider, a demon talking to real humans. So once I was settled in, I hired a lawyer.”
We both chuckled. Everyone always think lawyers are closer to Hell than any other human, but Demons hated them even more than the average citizen.
“You know the rest.” She sighed. “But Art, the pictures, the dress you bought me, the jewelry… Why?”
“The law might say you were alive, but I refused to accept that.” I said. “I wasn’t going to let some monster wear that dress, wear the jewelry I had given you, look at the pictures of a happiness I no longer had. I destroyed them all…” I reached into my coat pocket.
The box was dented, dusty, the velvet worn to the backing. I had bought that a week before the Shift, and when I believed her dead I had carried it to remember what I could have had. “All of it but this.”
She took the box, opening it. Three interwoven rings of white gold, yellow gold and platinum with a single carat diamond on it, with a matching ring without a stone on it.
“Oh Art.” Her eyes shown.
“I was going to propose. I wanted something in my life good after the hell of that night. But it was taken away. First by the Shift, then by my own damn promise.”
She sighed, and closed the box, handing it back.
“I’ll try to keep the sword at bay. I’ll try to act civil toward you. All right?”
“Civil is all I can ask.” She sighed. “But if I find that God you are bound to, I tend to rip a strip of skin a mile long off him.”
I don't know who put in that last vote, but I want to kiss you!
The world is such a funny place. When I stepped into Heaven for the first time, saw, the world they live in, I felt both a stranger and at home. Humans know what heaven is supposed to be like, and they are both right and wrong.
In the years since the Shift, while what are now called the Religions Of Submission collapsed, people began to ask not only the Angels, but the Demons
as well if there was a heaven and hell. The answer was yes…
Perhaps I should explain. There is a human soul, a spirit being tied briefly to a body, which goes on to the place it belongs, but there is a catch.
You see, people have in their minds a clear distinct definition of who should go to either place. The problem is; does the person you would consign to either place agree with your characterization?
What if the person believes he is just and right in doing what he did? Does he go to hell because of his evil? Or to heaven because of his belief in the purity of his cause?
Take the inquisitions as an example. While everyone remembers the Spanish Inquisition, who remembers the Episcopal Inquisition from 1184 to the early 1230 or the Papal Inquisitions of the 1230s? You may not remember them, but one of the victims of that Inquisition was named Joan Of Arc, who was condemned and exonerated by Inquisitorial courts 25 years apart starting in 1430. The so called Albigensian heresy caused the only Crusade on European soil with a third of the population of southwestern France thrown into the holy fires.
Then the Monarchs of Spain; Ferdinand and Isabella, pressured the church into what was later called the Spanish Inquisition. It started with Alonso de Hojeda in Seville and Cordoba in 1481, and by 1492, covered eight major cities in Castile. It went on under the name of Tomás de Torquemada, and thanks to Ferdinand, even Papal dispensation didn’t mean anything. In fact, it was punishable by death to ask for it without permission of the monarch. This Inquisition, for those who have not paid attention, arrested the little known writer Miguel de Cervantes best known for the character Don Quixote.
Then there was the Portuguese Inquisition which lasted until 1821, and the Roman one that ended in 1864. Yet that did not end it. In 1908 the name of the Inquisition became "The Sacred Congregation of the Holy Office", which in 1965 further changed to The Congregation For the Doctrine of the Faith as retained to the present day.
So the same people who tortured thousands in the 15th century are still alive and well today.
Now consider Tomás de Torquemada, who supervised the torture of thousands. Do you think for a minute he felt he was in the wrong, with God on his side? Or What of Adolf Eichmann, who designed Auschwitz? A man who stated publicly that he didn’t mind leaping into the grave because six million Jews preceded him there?
Take a wild guess who ended up in heaven.
At first the Angels weren’t sure how to deal with this. Some of the most willing butchers of God arrived in their realm. Olaf Tryggvason nicknamed ‘Christ’s best hatchet man’ by those who were not Christians. Torquemada, Marx and Spengler, Zwingli, among others. They were doing God’s will obviously. So was Joseph Stalin Adolph Hitler Heinrich Himmler and Idi Amin.
They were buried in people who believed Genocide and slaughter was proper because ‘god’ approved it. People who caried over every bias into their afterlife, and actually had to be separated. Think of the old joke where the Pagan goes to heaven, and finds a section surrounded by a high wall. When he asks, the Angel escorting him shushes him and says, ‘That is where the ‘insert Religious group’ stays, and no one else belongs here according to them.
And who do you think ended up in hell?
No, everyone who ended up there believed they belonged there.
Who believes they are going to hell? People under puberty, that’s who. People who believed that bed wetting, playing with yourself, and ogling women means condemnation. Think of every child told that his actions would lead to hell, who never grew to puberty or adulthood. That’s who went to hell.
Let’s face it, humanity caused more grief than they could even begin to understand in those two realms during those millennia. Partly because they didn’t know they were causing it.
It wasn’t until several months after the Shift that Angels Demons and humans got together to try to correct this. Courts were created in both Heaven and Hell.
The Hellish ones were easy. 90 percent of the inmates didn’t even deserve a minor penance. They had not even reached the 15th century in Heaven. In Hell they were already done.
Heaven’s tribunals started within three months of the Shift, and the tribunals were determined by what was legal and proper by the modern times. Daniel Webster, who administered Torquemada trial set the record after standing in court 4,000 times to state, ‘Sir, regardless you tortured this ‘person’ who’s only crime was her religious affiliation was wrong by your definition’.
If you look at the 8 levels of hell created by the Romans and Dante, all but the first and second belong in hell, and the Demons were kind of glad to be punishing those worth punishing after tormenting those who thought they deserved it.
It would take a century before everyone was properly assigned, and the court cases would take maybe another century.
Speaking of court, starting since the Shift, we had faced cases regarding the Paladins. Not a good idea for those filing such suits.
You see, a Paladin is chosen by a god, but how can a court deal with this? Remember back in the 80s when a criminal was able to file a lawsuit because he fell through a skylight; on the grounds that there weren’t proper signs warning you?
The first case where a Paladin was sued didn’t go the way the plaintiff expected.
First, think of this; A god sanctions your actions, and the first thing a court does is demand that you swear to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but. Now picture this; a Paladin’s word is his bond. He can no more break his word than a leopard can change his spots.
Some of the Gods took this badly. How dare you demand that this person do to your satisfaction what a god already demands?
Now consider that a modern court does not worry about truth as much as appearance. The first and last serious attempt to sue ended badly. The plaintiff swore, then claimed that after stealing a purse, he had only run because he was being chased!
The Paladin stood, said only one word, ‘liar’, and a lightning bolt struck the courthouse. That bolt ignored the lightning rod, striking the building. The jolt shot down through the wiring, burning out everything above of the courtroom, then leaped from a socket, sending the plaintiff into the next life.
Since then, claiming damages worked, because every Paladin had a drawing account created by his god. Every valid charge was paid, every malicious claim got nothing.
I considered this as the Attorney General’s office called. I knew the actual damages would be taken care of, but what of the official’s ‘suffering’?
No way on this side of hell, I surmised.
Lilith seemed to be a bit happier after speaking with Captain Morgan. I hoped she’d had a chance to tell him how she felt.
“Lil?” She looked at me, and I could see the happiness in her. I wished I knew who had chosen him, I’m sure Lil felt the same. “What shall we do first?”
She handed me a file, and I opened it. While the captain was gone, I had gone through the two dozen files we’d been handed. Of them all, only five were truly in our venue. This one was simple compared to the others.
Otto Cronkite had been under arrest, even under trial as a serial killer when the Shift happened. The trial had gotten to the original hearing stage when he’d turned into a were-wolf in court.
Seven people had died when he escaped, and the death toll which had begun with nine victims, plus seven people in the court went to almost 20 before he had hidden in the Were Legation area here a few weeks ago.
This time we had a real name. I took the file to the Captain, and he came out of his office. “The first time we get to show what we can do. I’ve already called the Legation office and we’ve been given permission to enter and arrest the criminal.
“Now, first; we have the legal permission to arrest Cronkite. We also have the right to go through anyone who tries to stop us. However the Were have asked that we do not injure any that are innocent.” He looked at each of us. “This is our first mission, and I charge ye all to protect the innocent, and capture those who are guilty.”
I felt his words like a geas upon me and truthfully on all of us. His god has chosen to make us all obey; arguing that we harm only those deserving of punishment. I could sense the Dwarf trying to resist and failing. Above us on the helipad the dragon struggled then his resistance collapsed.
I found myself, nay all of us running to the elevator. We reached the helipad, and both Lilith and I leaped into flight. The Were Legation was to the East, and both of us flew as fast as we could. Behind us the Vrumugan followed with the more humanoid members riding him. Only our Vampire member wasn’t there yet.
The Were enclave begins at Charleston and Valley View, runs East to Decatur, then North to Sahara, then back West to Valley View, an area of perhaps one and a half square miles. Within that area, you can see she-wolves sitting, panting as cubs, kits, kittens and other were children played under their scrutiny. The area is not fenced; the were belief anyone stupid enough to intrude deserves what they will get. We landed near the Zia second hand store at Sahara and moved Northeast. All of us could feel our target, and we had landed to surround him. Art had gotten off at Valley View and Charleston, and the SWAT headsets we wore linked us. There was an aura about us, part of the geas. The Were saw us, then moved aside.
“Andiel, head North, north east to block his escape.” I heard.
“Everyone, my name is Arthur. Call me that or Art.” He admonished. “Lilith, head North, north west also to block.”
“Brachian and Loki, move South, south east, Droman and Danika, South, south west. Be prepared.”
“Yes, Art.” Loki replied, followed by Danika making the same call.
I mentally placed them all, we were in an elongated pentagram, only Arthur Lopez and Vrumugan had not been placed, but both Art and Lopez were placed at the fifth point, and Vrumugan was flying overhead. I cold see what he planned. If Cronkite broke south, he would face demonic and Angelic powers. Either of us could trap him with no problems. If he broke toward Loki he would face a God’s powers entrapping him, and facing a mage and Elf was not much better.
Whereas facing a Paladin and a were gave him a chance to escape.
I could understand the concept. Art was a Paladin. Facing an enemy at one remove, escaping from him; was an insult. The enemy could break any other way, and lose because nothing could defeat such power. But to attack toward Art implied a chance of some sort. A Paladin and a were. No creature would take the hard way if an easier way existed.
I looked around, at the tension of the Were around me. Faces watched me, recognizing that I was not of their kind, but at the same time, recognizing I was not someone to mess with.
I could feel the others, one of the gifts the God had given me. Lopez was a suppressed ball of fury to my left, glaring at anyone who dared to look at us funny.
I could feel Cronkite too, a dark stain on the town. We paced forward, and suddenly I heard a howl. Usually this would be dangerous. A Were calling others. In a movie, this is where the frisson of fear runs up your back as it is answered from all around, and you know you’re dead.
Not this time. The Legation could feel me there, knew I would not intrude without purpose. Knew as well that any who stood by my enemy would suffer his fate.
The house was almost bland. Of course, architecture didn’t change during the Shift. We turned in the walk and as we approached the door exploded outward as Cronkite charged. The man had shifted, and I faced a creature the size of a dire wolf.
The sword was there and I spun like a top, the flat of the sword slapping the four foot tall creature away. Lopez leaped, a golden mountain lion finishing the leap to sink his teeth into Cronkite’s shoulder. I turned, and saw Danika make a motion as she ran toward us. There was a clunk, and the wolf leaped as if clothes lined, falling on his back.
Andiel arrived, and there was a flash as bright as an arc light from her hand. It hit the wolf, and it screamed. I pulled out my cuffs with the silver lining, locking them over his forelegs.
“Wait!” Lilith flew in, catching Andiel’s hand. “Art, he’s possessed!”
“What?” I looked at her.
“Can’t you smell it?” She insisted.
Loki joined us, drawing out a small token, He held it out, and it glowed. “She’s right.”
“So what does that mean?”
“He’s got an insanity plea built in.” Lilith said sarcastically. She knelt, and stretched the fingers of her left hand. “Well if it must be done…”
Her hand shot out, sinking into the wolf’s chest, then came back out, a green squirming blob in her fist.
“Imp.” She sniffed. “It’s been in there for years from the smell of it. Do we need it for evidence?”
“No.” I said.
She looked at the thing, which was now trying to make itself smaller. There was a flash and a puff of brimstone smoke, and it vanished.
The wolf began to change, and soon there was a naked man there. “Otto Cronkite, you are under arrest.”
for those who were confused or upset by the original of this last section, all I can say is it was drunk and I was dark out.
I watched the sun go down, shaking my head at the rules. Over 10,000 years since we first began, and we still pandered to their beliefs.
It is mankind’s deepest darkest secret. As much as we wished to blame the Angels and Demons for all of our woes, both the Were and the Nightkind are man’s creation.
We were weapons of war back in time. First one side created the Were as shock troops. After all, what would destroy the morale of an enemy more than seeing the front ranks change from human to animal, yet still attack with all the intelligence of the men they had been. Like any good arms race the enemy picked up the same idea.
Mages of all races of men used what they had at hand, so there were snakes and cats, wolves and bears, spiders and so on.
Unlike them, however, we of the Nightkind were created not as shock troops but as assassins and guerrillas. Until the modern era; the last century or so, night battles were a rarity. In the dark you struck at whatever moved, not seeing if the one you fought was an enemy or not. The story of Gideon in the Bible comes to mind, where 300 slipped unnoticed into a camp and defeated an army.
I read a book named Clear and Present Danger written by the great author Tom Clancy. In it, one character belonged to the 7th Light Infantry, and he quoted the motto of that division; Ninja! We rule the Night!
For ten millennia we did rule the night. We needed no supply lines, no rear areas, no weapons. We fed from our enemies and could raise them as revenants to attack their own. We made the night something an enemy feared.
Think; if the night is your enemy, what do you fear most? As the Crusaders discovered facing the Hashashim, you fear the dagger in the dark.
Unlike the Were, we were not copied, Political divisions caused more of us. A king would drive the people of a province into rebellion, and those of our kind who were from the region would join their people rather than the throne. We also turned more of us at need. I myself was turned during the Mongol invasion of Europe of 1253. A Russian Vampyr made me to protect my own Polonian people.
I helped drive back that horrid thrust of the 13th century. I traveled the world between the 13th century and now, and have seen wonders and horrors. For as horrible as we painted Demons, humans have more willingness to do evil than any of the others.
While it wasn’t a universally decided move, most of us stopped fighting wars around the 16th century. Guns had become cheap enough that they could be issued to thousands, and I am not talking about the lousy one third of an inch bullets the average modern rifle fires. I’m speaking of an ounce or more ball of lead between 9/16ths of an inch and three quarters of an inch in diameter. Oh we would hang near battlefields, give gentle deaths to the wounded, that kind of thing. I wasn’t there for it, I had gone to the New World after Vitus Bering.
We Vampyr were not without our own weaknesses. Those who created us knew that we were a blade that could turn in their hands, so safeguards were put in place. Some of those weaknesses mentioned in loving detail in the stories of our kind are very real. They made us prey to symbols of faith in the hands of the truly faithful, so a symbol of a deeply believed faith could push us aside, water blessed by a priest of a faith could burn us, and a stake through the heart would kill us.
Sunlight would burn us like acid, and so we avoided it. We cannot pass on our condition unless we give our blood to a human, so biting a woman to make her die on the third day means she is dead, whereas if I were to drip less than a shot glass of my blood into her mouth without biting her, she would arise as one of us in three nights. The idea that we die and come back as undead probably comes from there. For a 72 hour period, you are in a suspended state like hibernation until the Vampyr blood has converted your tissue.
Not something we do often; as too many vampire movies have shown, that causes our number to expand exponentially, which causes hysteria, which cause vampire hunters to come to call. You awake hungry, and if there is not a mentor you binge, drinking until you cannot move. A lot of the new ones die when that happens.
But most of what the movies taught was untrue. I am not dead, I merely live longer and need blood to replenish my body’s needs. I am not cursed any more than a left handed man is. I have a reflection in a mirror. I can eat food laced with garlic. I didn’t sign notes with my name written backwards. I cannot change into a bat, wolf or mist, though I can see how making an observer think I had would heighten our mystique.
I am not obsessed with whether my socks match, strewn seeds, or numerical puzzles. We do not become more horrid as time went on like Nosferatu, nor do we need permission to enter a home. I do not sleep in a coffin, because a bed is much more comfortable.
There is some that is true. I am faster and stronger than a man twice my size. I can draw my victim in with just a thought, and erase the memory of my actions, though I do not have the ability to call them later from their beds.
I can eat, in fact the idea that I can go to a buffet and eat every scrap of food from the tables without gaining an ounce of weight amuses me; and if I do I need but a pint or two of blood a day to survive. On bad days maybe five pints. As for blood borne disease we are immune, the differences in our metabolisms defeated every form of disease. AIDS is just four letters to us.
When I used to grab one of the Mongol invaders to convert I tried to assure they would end that way; dead amidst the dozen or so they attacked and drained. Some did survive to escape. I met one just four centuries ago. I gave him a gift, the properly made sword of the same design as he had been carrying when I bled him and he’d forgiven me. We still correspond. His pet peeve until recently was the Communists put in charge of Mongolia by the Russians.
We do not breed true, unless both parents are Vampyr. If a Vampyr seduces a human, we have our own worst enemy, the Dhamphir. Half human, half Vampyr. They lead an odd life, because they hate sunlight though it will not burn them, can live on blood, though less than I might need, and when we are hunted, they are in the forefront.
There was a motion picture named My Best Friend is a Vampire, and I enjoyed one specific scene. The Vampire Hunters have caught a boy who is merely the friend of the vampire. The vampire overturns all of the arguments because the methods for killing a vampire would kill anyone.
As much as you might hate us, think of this; In the late 19th century, blood was being typed so people could get transfusions, and survive horrible injuries. By the first world war they were able to type it efficiently enough that thousands of injured soldiers lived and the first blood banks were created then. By the second world war they knew enough that hundreds of thousands on both sides were able to live. Who do you think did that? We suggested it, though the Death of three boys and Pope Innocent VII was because of a garbled belief that a human could use our own method of ingesting it. But we pressed for such methods because of one unforgettable fact.
You see, we tried to feed on other lives, animals. But there is a vital spark we need from the blood. Think of it as a trace element like a vitamin. We can survive for a long time without feeding upon blood, or blood from animals, but when the need becomes great enough, the one suffering from it’s lack would go into a frenzy of feeding. We needed human blood, and we needed it in quantity. Of course the worst of it was that for those of us older than 80, we remember the warm red flood down our throats, the sweet taste of fresh blood that tasted different from the diet of our victim. These days it is like being raised on cordon bleu cuisine and now you’re living on frozen TV dinners.
There is even a cottage industry of sorts because of different flavors. Diabetics, who are usually unable to donate give blood that is sweet and sublime. Think of the richest candy you have every tasted. Drug users and alcoholics give blood with the trace elements of their specific addictions as part of it. While injecting a full dose of heroin into me is merely an unpleasant experience, drinking the blood of an addict with it’s massive jolt of endorphins affects us the same as that shot effects a normal human.
We did have problems with that when blood banks became common. We could not get drunk or high until then. A number of us died indulging in such new sensations. But those of us who survived learned.
We have always been a race apart. We created our own council to govern us, and passed our own laws because humans would not be able to enforce theirs on us. If you have read Lynsey Sands Argeneau series you know them already; do not bite humans except in emergencies, breeding is limited; we allow only replacement children, so each couple is only allowed a pair of children, though twins are allowed. With us it is not zero population growth, but almost, since there are only 5,000 of us world wide even today.
Those who violate our laws are removed if they refuse to repent and obey. We even use a method like hers to punish them. If you have seen the movie underworld, you would rrecognize it. We tired them to stakes, then open a skylight that let the sun in and left them from dawn to dusk. We do not turn to ash when this happens, but think of this; it would be the same as if I took a human and dumped them into a bath of aqua regia, only not as quick. You would be reduced to molecules if I did that to you whereas a vampyr would be reduced to a screaming bundle of bone and tissue when the executioners returned to lop the head off and end your misery.
As the sun set I left my flat to go to meet our team. I checked and they were at a bar named Different Faces. Before the Shift it had some cutesy name, Krave I think. Now it was where people of all of the races are welcome.
The place was almost empty. Maybe the Dragon chugging beer out of a 55 gallon barrel caused that. I stepped into the bar, and heard someone roar in anger.
“Lilith, can you lighten up?” A young man with red hair signaled, and a waiter tried to pull the dart board from the wall. He was having trouble because a dart had sunk completely through the board into the wall. Finally a demon walked over, caught the edges of the dart board and ripped it off the wall along with a chunk of the concrete. She sighed, and pointed at the quiet man sitting drinking single shots of Irish whiskey.
“You’re up, Andiel!” The demon shouted. An angel was beside a table near the line, and she flung a dart behind her as she slowly drained a mug of beer. The dart changed directions in flight, smacking into the center of the board.
“No fair!” Someone shouted, then ducked as plastic cups, most of them empty inundated him.
edited two sections. First, changed scene where we meet the Elf, because as Bee Hoon commented, having him about to drink coffee is like having someone allergic to strawberries drinking a strawberry smoothie.
Second, expanded Asher's explanation about the Vampyr race, giving more insight to their culture and laws.
For all those who have read it already, thank you for your forebearance. For those who have not read it, enjoy. For those who have not commented, shame on you.
I don't believe it; I did some editing and bumped it when I did, and get more than half again as many replies.
Humans created the term 'bad hair day'. They don't even begin to understand it.
Dealing with a Vampyr is a bad hair day for a Were. I could smell him when he arrived, and for any Were that is a bad hair day. I am sure Asher has told so much about us.
Back during the time since the schism, we, the Were and Vampyr, were the terrors of the night and battle to humans.
We were designed for battle; animals with a human mind capable of terrorizing the ranks of an army. Every form of predatory animal was used in our creation from the Tarantula to the polar bear, and facing us armed only with copper bronze or steel blades took courage.
Yet with the schism we became legend. Our commanders saw no need to fight the human wars. We bowed out of their wars, and they repaid us by making us nonexistent.
Most of what you know of my race is myth. Ifr you have seen the movie made from the Twilight book Eclipse, you will remember the werewolves as wolves larger than the dire wolves of the Pleistocene era, weighing in at 240 pounds. But were are limited by their own mass; I weigh 180 pounds, just under 90 kilos, and my cougar form is that weight. But don't let that fool you; a 90 pound doberman pinscher is able to take down a man my size.
We also do not have an intermediate form. I can not turn into a cat-man, only into a cat or man. We are affected by silver as portrayed, an attempt by our original masters to make us more governable. We also do not breed true across species bounds. If a female werewolf were to bear my child, the child would be wolf, not cougar.
The moon had no more affect on us than it would on you. I can change at will and am not forced to change. The primary difference between us and normal humans is our reproductive cycle is linked to our animal. Were-spiders actually lay eggs, and all of us are glad they do not breed as normal humans do or there would be a few million more of them every year. My own wife is on the cycle of a southwestern cougar which means when she is pregnant the cubs are born 91 days later and she would have three years before she is ready to breed again.
For centuries we hunted the woods, eating the animals that lived there. But men came, and we had to hide.
The alliance between the Were and Vampyr began then. Those who have seen the third Underworld movie, Rise of the Lycans understands what happened. The Vampyr needed someone to watch over them when they slept during the day, and we... we needed someone to protect our litters and pups during the night. It was not a slave/master relationship, and we did not have sexual relations with them.
Round about 1916, that ended. The Vampyr had done enough planning among humans to create the idea of the blood bank. We parted with barely a sigh.
But still, our servitude rankled the elders of my race. There were older Vampyr who still looked down on us. We tend to get irritated because they are so urbane; so upper crust they should make pie shells out of them. Whereas we are considered brutish animals. As a member of the local police, it didn't bother me that much. I had my own life to lead.
Asher looked at the crowd. “I do not drink...wine.” As expected the old chestnut from the first Dracula movie drew a groan. “Barkeep, I hope you have Newcastle on tap.”
“We do, sir.”
“Then a pint of that, please.”
I started to turn as a young woman with bright red hair came up into the bar. She moved, and I shouted, “Gun!”
Even before the Shift I was born to fly. When I was six my parents bought me a kite, and every windy day I was outside flying it. I had dreams where I could change places, and I flew instead of the kite, my arms spread, glorying in the sheer thrill.
A lot of the Dragons, Angels and Demons were pilots since aircraft were invented; we are all natural fliers, and even without our true forms, we still had that inate ability. We are never happier than when we're in the air, and the faster the better. Now they believe a lot of the pioneers of aviation were also of our breeds; Da Vinci, Lillienthal, the Montgolfier brothers, the Wright Brothers, even Daedelus.
And let's not forget the women, Hanna Reitsch, Marie Marvingt, Amelia Earhart, and the entire 586th Fighter Regiment during WWII which included two aces; Lydia Litvyak and Yekaterina Budanova, all women right down to every support person.
If you don't believe me, look at the warriors and test pilots of history. They are either hard drinking people, or teetotals, skirt chasers or holy joes, with only two things in common, fast cars and even faster planes. Someone in the press noticed the numbers of each breed that were either older pilots and aces, and present pilots, and retired Major General Chuck Yaeger was awakened from a sound sleep at five AM. They were all disappointed that he had not changed. After all, making the first supersonic flight with two broken ribs, and needing his fellow test pilot and flight engineer Jack Ridley to jury-rig a lever to close the canopy sounds Draconian to me.
I was a Marine pilot, flying Blackhawks at first during the Gulf War, but I was way too aggressive for that. Not many pilots got a Silver Star because when his chopper was shot down, he grabbed the Marymount M60 off his craft and went hunting for the son of a bitch who shot him down. I got him too. I think I'm one of the only combat pilots in history who got a reprimand and a medal for the same action.
They transferred me into SuperCobras because the damned Navy Secretary and Navy never acquired the Apache Naval variant. It's all good though. The mechanics and brass hated me because I would bring my birds back with damage not only from enemy fire but FOD as well. But I never had to buy a drink if the ground pounders knew I had flown cover for them.
I got RIFed during the Clinton Administration. When the president and his clique decided to 'build the Peace', they did it by ripping off the Military budget without reducing it.That's why the modern miltary is so small, and the reserves and National Guard are so big; enough people to fight a major war, but at the same time, only a small core being paid fulltime. Defense on the cheap I call it. When I was offered a commission, but only if I went reserve, my answer to my squadron commander Charles 'Bulldog' Carlyse was not only obscene, but physiologically impossible.
So I was separated whether I liked it or not. There was an opening in the Las Vegas Air Support Unit, and I jumped at the chance. A number of helicopter pilots are Dragons instead of Demons or Angels; I think it's because we're airborne predators. Remember the saying they have? That you can't escape the Eye in the Sky? I had a pursuit once when the thieves changed vehicles four times, yet I never lost them for a second. I just knew which car they were in. When it's a Dragon at the stick, you have no chance to get away.
Have you ever had a dream where you feel like you're trapped? Like maybe in a coffin? I was off when the Shift happened, both good and bad, because I was home in bed. For some reason, unlike the were, Dragons do't just change into a man-sized lizard. In Dragon form I am over fifty feet long with a forty foot wingspan. One minute, I'm in my studio apartment, dead to the world, the next one wing had grown right through the wall into the apartment behind mine, my neck and head had ripped through the wall of not only my apartment but the opposite wall of the next apartment where my head was, and my tail and legs had ripped through the next two apartments from the foot of my bed.
I don't know who was more pissed, the tenants who had to relocate, the manager who had to fight it out with the insurance company who wanted to label it an act of god, or me because I was thrashing around trying to get free. The only good thing about when it happened was my apartment was on the third and top floor.
As you remember, that night was a nightmare for just about everyone. I''m still trying to get free when a Metro squad car screeched in, and two officers are firing into me with their sidearms and shotgun. Luckily Dragons are pretty much invulnerable to anything smaller than a high powered rifle, but getting shot stings big time. When they tapped out, as they were reloading, I shouted at them like you see in the movies when cops draw down on other cops, and the targeted individual screams he's a cop. Fat lot of good it did; the sons of bitches just kept unloading on me.
So I stooped like a hawk, landed on their car, purely by accident mind, and smashed their guns. One was screaming for backup when his partner changed into a lion, and leaped onto my neck. To me it was like having your newly acquired kitten decide your neck is it's worst enemy, and only my self restraint kept her alive as I peeled her off. That kept me alive; because she had ridden with her partner for five years, and she'd never even hinted at her own dual nature.
We had a screaming match they heard four blocks away, because when a dragon gets pissed, he doesn't talk softly. Think of the cartoons when a character blows a bugle in someone's ear and both eardrums leap out the other side of their head. I might have been forced off the force that next week like so many others if some crazy guy hadn't changed at the same time, and decided that if he was a Dragon, he should have a hoard.
One quick warning. Never ask a Dragon about his hoard, or mention gold to them. And definitely don't ask them how Virgins taste. The only one who will hurt you worse is a Troll if you comment about Billygoats, mainly because they can hurt you instead of killing you. We don't get hung up on collecting precious metals to sleep on, or whether we like virgins for din-din. Jut a word to the wise.
Anyway, among the frantic calls for help was one where a Dragon had smashed into the Excalibur, and was ripping open the cage where the day's receipts were collected. I grabbed the two cops in front of me, and flew across town with the human officer still bleating about not only dragons but people turning into lions as well. I landed outside, told the assembled cops to get SWAT back up with hunting rifles, and plowed into the casino.
The fight didn't last long; he was a teenage kid a third my size as a dragon, with no training at all in fighting. Think of a kid slap fighting while they keep their heads back to protect their face. I took him down in about five minutes, though they had to rebuild the front of the building. They needed a flatbed trailer with chain come-alongs every five feet to cart him off. A few weeks later, one of the first Mages to discover her powers offered to return the prisoner to human form. I tipped my tankard, er, barrel at Danika. She returned the salute.
The fight was live on the news, from both the ground and the air. When the Casino reopened, they'd hired a pair, one boy, and a girl to do an aerial fight show every night, along with a young wannabe actress who played a virgin about a week before we protested the stereotyping. We finally agreed to allow it as 'a mythological representation', which ended with both the Dragon now in human form, and the girl taking a bow.
Hollywood didn't wait very long to follow suit. Casting had already been done for movies like Van Helsing and The Lord of the Rings, but If you watch Constatine, every one of those extras who played demons in the face off before the climactic scene were real demons who pretended to allow themselves to be doused with 'holy' water, causing their demonic faces to be revealed. Peter Jackson, who directed the Lord of the Rings trilogy used real Trolls, real Goblins, real Elves, and real Dwarves when he started making the Hobbit Trilogy. There was even a big name actor who specializes in being the villain as Smaug.
We're the only shapechangers required to go in human form most of the time. Think about it, could I get a table at a restaurant as a Dragon? Besides, a big body has big appetites. That was part of the reason I was a Dragon tonight; the Deputy Sheriff was buying the dinner and drinks, and after a full cow and all the beer I had drunk, I was feeling mellow.
He'd bitch. Big deal. I voted for the other guy.
I love Guiness. I was trying a barrel of their new Black Lager when Lopez shouted. If it had been a group of civilians, it would have been bad. Everyone would have looked at Lopez with 'what the hell?' thoughts as the gunman, or in this case gun-woman started blasting. Even with a bunch of regular cops it would have ended with dead and wounded on our side.
But the Squad was made up of a lot of people who had been in combat before, or those with preternatural reflexes. Both Andiel and Lilith were moving to intercept her, but our skipper ended the argument. Oh he isn't really fast, or super strong or anything like that. He just turned, his right hand flicked as if he were throwing away some litter, and his sword leaped across the intervening distance, slamming down the barrel of some huge pistol, splitting it like the legend of Robin Hood's famous shot. The point stopped less than an inch from her face.
Before she could drop it the angel and demon were just there, grabbing her by the arms. She fought back, and I was surprised. Either of them can stop a car in it's tracks, sixty to zero in oh my god whiplash time. But she was flailing around, making them lift and move as she struggled. As she did she was screaming in some language I had never heard.
Art walked over, and replied in the same language. It's a little known fact that Paladins get what might be called an automatic translator from their gods. Like Elizabeth Moon's Paksennarion, it used to be that Paladins roamed around the world righting wrongs. How can you take sides in an argument without knowing what the people are saying?
Then Art stiffened, turning to look at Asher. “What does she mean, 'father'?”
Asher looked embarrassed. “I did not know she was still alive.” He admitted.
“You and I will discuss that in the morning. You,” he turned back to the woman, “just bought yourself a night in the cells.”
“Captain, Sunlight hurts me.” Asher reminded him.
“You're right. I am not used to working with most of the races represented. I am sorry. That means we had better take care of it tonight.” He looked at the team around him. “Loki, Danika, which of you is better with a truth spell?”
“I am, Captain.“ Danika replied softly.
“Then come with me-”
“With us.” Lilith replied. “I don't trust this one as far as I can throw her.” Ardiel nodded.
“Fine. With us. The rest of you, I know you're all having fun, but the open bar just closed.” There was a groan from a lot of throats at that. “I only allowed it to go so long because the Deputy Sheriff was buying, and I expect to catch flak about that thanks to a couple of you.” He speared me with a minatory look. “How many is that, Vrumagan?”
I looked at the half empty barrel. “Three?”
He looked at the bartender. “Try six. You are not driving home.”
“Skipper, I'm hurt.”
“You're not flying either.”
Damn. I stared sipping to make it last as they left.
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