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Old 10-07-2015, 06:38 PM
RVM45 RVM45 is offline
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Chapter Twenty-Four







I had set up temporary headquarters in the shambles of what had been the village for the time being. Dunno had woven his headquarters and living quarters into an inextricable tangle on the top two stories of his tower and as a result they seemed both cramped and hopelessly cluttered to me. We’d moved as much as possible of the apparatus of state back into the old headquarters.

Ruin walked in. He was one of the other two big kahunas when I’d split—that’s what we were calling the event now. The other had taken the name “Plunder” playing on the two definitions of “Spoil”. We weren’t particularly close but he’d been working as a gate guard and he had some visitors to escort.

There were three dudes dressed in what looked for all the world like knee-length black Nehru jackets. They were another three dudes along with them—shaved headed shabnasticators with the bright orange robes and japa beads of Buddhist or Hindu monks.

“We are from Agartha,” The head Nehru said. “Our colleagues are from Shambhala. Have you any idea where and what those places are?”

“Agartha is said to be somewhere in the bowels of the Earth. Shambhala floats in the clouds somewhere in the middle of the Sahara Desert and is generally both invisible and unreachable by mortal men,” I said.

“Only if you’re a Theosophist,” one of the monks said in a voice dripping in contempt. “There is a city there but that city is a tawdry imitation of the true Shambhala.”

“I’m not really busy, but then again I am. I sit and daydream and try to draw the disparate threads together and decide what I am going to do for my next move. People’s lives and happiness are at stake. So if you have something to say, please say it—as briefly as possible and then leave quickly,” I said with a weary sigh.

“We have worked for centuries to erase all hints of these powers among mankind. The end was in sight. Then you broadcast what should have been ancient secrets to the six points of the compass. This town that you call the village and all the hidden land surrounding it shall be destroyed in six days, six hours and six minutes—starting from when the last of our party leave,” Nehru said.

“You must think awfully highly of yourself Nehru. What do you think gives you the moral authority to do something like that?” I asked.

“It is for the good of mankind,” Nehru said.

“Reconstructing a single man or mankind’s destiny for his or their ‘own good’ is far less excusable and far more heinous than reconstructing it to his harm—especially when you’re not mistaken about what is truly good for him. A man is a free moral agent and he should be left to choose his own path and follow it as far as his geas takes him without a crap-load of interference from knob-gobblers like y’all,” I told them.

One of the orange-robed dudes got so angry that he swelled up like a poisoned toad. You could see the big ropy veins throbbing on his hairless head.

“Even if you flee the village, you will be hunted down and killed with no more tolerance than we’d show a rabid dog,” he raged.

“That is as it shall be. No man dies while God still has purpose for him on this Earth. Now get your idol worshipping asses out of my office and out of my village or none of you will be alive to appreciate the events six days from today,” I told them.

They had just left when Rot and Wreck—two of my erstwhile little kahunas—escorted a rather tall and heroically built gentleman into my office. I could tell that he was no sissy boy since his very red and very straight hair hung down well past his belt.

There is something weak and effeminate about closely cropped hair on a man.

We were stretched thin. So many of my former shadow selves were being used as guards.

“My name is ‘Padraig’ and I come from Findias. I have a gift for you. This is the Claidheamh Soluis. Legends say that it once belonged to Nuada Airgetlám,” Padraig said.

He pulled a curved bladed long sword of sorts out of thin air and presented it to me hilt first—all while my bodyguards and the twin ex-kahunas almost had fits of apoplexy.

The sword looked much like my thirty-nine inch saber but its blade was a couple inches longer and the handle was long enough to admit proper two-hand use while the whole sword emitted a bright golden light.

“I is considered churlish and under-bred to resort to the Claidheamh Soluis when lesser weapons will suffice,” Padraig said. “And no, I’m not that Padraig.”

“A legendary sword from a legendary city. Is it rude to ask why?”

“No. We don’t like the high and mighty ways of either Agartha or Shambhala. We do appreciate the beautiful patterns that result from turbulence and chaos. Sadly such things are often the side effects of war and bloodshed. Keeping you alive and fighting longer won’t raise your casualty figures but it will raise the self-ordained Elders’ casualties and it should create far more interesting patterns. We’d join forces with you and fight shoulder-to-shoulder in the war lad—if we were only free to. We are largely constrained by a higher power. I give you this in outright defiance of our geas,” Padraig said.

He handed me a slim volume of kinjutsu. In fact there was but a single technique in the pamphlet sized book. It was a far different technique than any that I’d read about so far.

************** ***************** *****************************

“You could stay here in the village and meet the Elders head-on,” Morgan said. “Eventually they’d lay siege to your lands and no one could enter or leave. That would trap you and many non-combatants inside this pocket. The siege might go on for several human lifetimes. I think that they’d probably prevail eventually but win or lose you would need to devote the rest of your life to defending the borders of a besieged city.”

“But what choice do I have?” I asked.

“Evacuate the village. If you start tomorrow you’ll have five days. Take out all the people and their animals along with everything transportable that isn’t nailed down. People have had to bug out and head for the hills with far less warning,” Morgan said. “We can and will shelter and aid any refugees in Macersville.”

“What if the Elders attack Macersville?” I asked.

Morgan’s eyes grew bright and that was the first time I ever saw him smile.

“Even the Elders are not that arrogant and stupid. I only wish that they’d give us an ironclad release like that. We’d love to take part in these affairs directly,” Morgan said while vigorously backhanding one palm with the back of his other hand making a booming clap.

“What about the Cherokee?” I asked.

“It is very hard to find the Cherokee villages—even for an Adept born and raised in the enclave they share with the village. The enclave that y’all share has been preparing to split like a gigantic amoeba for centuries. It could dally for centuries more. Or we could give it a great jolt that causes it to spit off immediately. That would keep the Cherokee from being drawn into the Elder’s plan of total annihilation,” Morgan said.

I turned to David who was my ever-present secretary and assistant.

“Start planning the most expeditious way to get all of the people and as much gear as possible out of here as soon as possible but with at least hours to spare before the Elder’s deadline,” I told him.

“There is one more thing,” Morgan said. “We can make it appear that a skeleton crew of Adepts and Non-Adepts have chosen to stay behind and defend the village. If you give just the right amount of token resistance and then collapse we can trap and destroy significant numbers of Elders.”

“Why wouldn’t they just stay outside and collapse the enclave?” I asked reasonably.

“They need to check to make sure that there aren’t bolt holes and besides they have constituents who would be very pleased to take part in a massacre. Take that opportunity away from them and they’d become wet and soggy, remarkably saline and damned hard to get along with,” Morgan said. “Besides, it is difficult to impossible to collapse an enclave without access to the core inside. The core to this part of the enclave is in the village.”

“Won’t they send spawn instead of their true selves?” I asked.

“They believe that spawn are tools of inferior Adepts—folk who barely qualify as Adepts. They believe that they’re too powerful and too invulnerable to resort to such troublesome expedients as spawn,” Morgan said.

Okay. Time to plan some pretty chaos to make Padraig’s people “Oohh!” and “Ahh!”

**************** ***************** ****************************

No one was put in a tactically disadvantaged position yet by the worldwide distribution of the kinjutsu. No one had the books in their possession long enough to have truly mastered any advanced techniques. But many groups were frantically trying to get some people ready to roll.

Many of the kinjutsu damage the body. Some will age the user a decade or more with every use. I don’t know why but a disproportionate number of the hidden techniques weaken the eyes and/or tendons, ligaments and cartilage. As I’ve said before—if I have to resort to an eyesight damaging jutsu to save the world then I hope that everyone has his affairs in order.

Everyone doesn’t share my scruples though. There are altruists—a fancy name for egotistical horses’ asses—as well as the power hungry and the brainwashed who’d be more than happy to practice body destroying techniques.

************ ****************** ******************************

We sprung the trap in the village without a hitch. I’d used every spawn that I could possibly generate as well as the maximum number of spawn from many of my friends.

Eating something as cram-jammed full of outside chi as the chi drops was fraught with peril, but if one survived the experience then once he recovered he’d find that he’d have risen to a much higher level of power—even if he’d been very close to his natural limit before.

As I’ve said, once the chi level rises to whatever level—no matter what frantic and complicated maneuvers that it took to get it there—the body’s chakra tree accepts that as the new “normal” and seems able to maintain that level without undue strain and to return to that level quickly and efficiently when all or much of the chi is exhausted.

Everyone on my team and most of the folks in my group had popped one of the chi-filled gumdrops when my prescience told me that no one would OD that day.

That meant that Gerald, Ladonna, Cary, David and several others now had big kahunas that were casting kahunas—including Duncan. People who’d never manifested a single kahuna were throwing three big ones. Also all kinds of extraneous “cast a red shadow” type powers—abilities without any great utility—had grown into full-fledged usable powers.

The originals were all safely sheltered in Macersville—all except me.

I’d soaked up all sorts of jangled chi journeying through the sub luminous aether to inhabit my new body. How to describe it? In one way it was like static electricity. In another way it was like white noise with the decibel level raised to the point of bursting eardrums and even shattering concrete.

At any rate, the Adepts from Macersville needed to tap my energy reserves to collapse the village and the surrounding enclave while the Elders from Agartha and Shambhala were still inside—and working hard to prevent us.

When it was done…

All my surviving spawn returned to me. They say that nothing can ever escape from a black hole—kinda. The collapse of the enclave didn’t create a black hole—not precisely. The laws of physics didn’t limit adept abilities—not entirely.

It felt very much like I’d been gifted with a momentary vision of the inside of a black hole.

*************** ***************** ***********************************

Since my transmigration, the crash that I felt when my last big kahuna perished was not quite as severe and I recovered faster. At any rate, the crash was delayed and I should have more than ample time to get back to Macersville before the debilitating weakness hit.

I had a Cary kahuna along with a Duncan kahuna and a Gina kahuna. James and Chandra had spawn there as well.

Gina was a young woman now, very good with cats and married to Cary—to no one’s great surprise since they continually honed their jutsu one against the other. The cats fought the rats. When it was for real though, the cats and rats quickly made common cause.

I also had over fifty Nine-Tails on their big bikes riding armed escort.

We rounded a curve and there was a couple dozen of the skinhead bikers—they’d taken to calling their biker gang: “The Berserkers”—blocking the highway.

Biker to biker we had them outnumbered over two-to-one. The Nine-Tails and The Dragon’s Teeth members didn’t seem to attain full Adept status as quickly as some, but even if most of them weren’t full-fledged Adepts they should have been far better at tradecraft than the Berserkers.

Except maybe that wasn’t completely true anymore.

When we came into sight most of the Berserkers transformed into twenty foot tall and heavily muscled dudes without shirts. All of them had a single eye bigger than a basketball right in the low-center of their foreheads.

“Judas Iscariot riding a unicycle and juggling live hand grenades!” I exploded. “What next?”

Almost every transformation technique falls in the category of forbidden techniques.

The raven transformations that give me such satisfaction along with Cary’s rat towers and Gina’s pile of cats—they have their cautions and drawbacks—but they aren’t true transformations. There are true transformation jutsu though. A man can become a panther or a wolf, a gator—or a wolfman, catman or whatever hybrid shape.

There are grave risks. Someone who can’t quite complete the change can be left permanently in some sort of in between and deformed state. He can lose his human mind or the ability to change back to human. Even folks who master the jutsu are always a bit at risk every time they transform…and over time they all seem to take on some catlike or doglike or whatever features in their human form—fangs, split lips, patches of hair in odd places—stuff like that.

Transforming into something like the Cyclops ahead…any transformation that requires virtual matter to be created for the duration carries its own host of problems.

Still, while the teens and young men might have been remiss for even visiting something like the skinhead militias in the first place, they were all quickly brainwashed and literally turned into all but mindless and impersonal cats-paws for the Adepts who constituted the core elite in the gangs very quickly.

It might be a pity. It was certainly sad. There was no reason to hold back or be merciful though. Those young men might have left all the lights brightly burning when they left but they hadn’t been home for a very long time. They would never return home again. They had been spent.

Gina threw a cat that grew until it was as big as a large leopard. I hadn’t seen her do that before. Unfortunately she only had one leopord on tap.

Cary blew up five of his rats until they were the size of Basset Hounds. The Duncan big kahuna that I had with me threw three wet spawn who promptly grew to be about twelve foot tall—small compared to the twenty foot giants but still on a whole other plane of endeavor than a normal human.

Each of Duncan’s three spawn started winding up slings if you can believe that. Here was a fellow who could have called Goliath of Gath “Shorty” and he had a sling of David—a sling that used silver balls bigger than a hen’s egg.

“I been doin’ a lot of thinking since ee fought the djinn at Gatorland,” James said. “This here is a double barreled 10 gauge with rifled barrels and punkin ball silver slugs. It’s a shame that the silver doesn’t spawn that well…”

James’ kahuna threw three wet spawn—all with muzzle-loading 10 gauge double barreled shotguns instead of the harder to spawn modern shotgun that James had. He tossed each of them a small bag. Each bag had several silver balls inside. Once equipped with the unspawned silver punkin balls each spawn quickly loaded his shotgun and rushed to take up strategic positions.

Any of the Nine-Tails that could threw spawn. One of the problems with spawn use by bikers was the near impossibility to duplicate a bike. The clubs tried to maintain an inventory of usable motorcycles—off road bikes, battered but usable second hand bikes and even souped up scooters and mopeds to get spawn to where they needed to be. They weren’t packing any of the throwaway two-wheelers here though.

Each Nine-Tails drew a long lance from thin air. The originals sat their bikes and prepared to joust with the giants while the spawn produced their lances and took up supporting positions.

How do you spell relief? I spell it: “Dragon.” Not “Puff The Magic Dragon” but “Panic The Malevolent Dragon”.

“Silver will weaken them, but they aren’t going to pop at the intrusion of th tiniest quantity like those djinn that you fought,” Panic told me.

“Aim for the eye. If you can compromise the eye, you nullify their ability to manifest on this plane. I can carry and largely shield you but I can only absorb one of the giants. I can still carry you after that, but I’ll be both slower and less maneuverable and I’ll also be able to shield you less,” Panic added.

“Okay, lets attack and try to avoid you having to eat one for as long as possible,” I said.

Duncan’s silver sling bullet promptly penetrated one of the Cyclops’ eyes and it promptly vanished—not even leaving a skinhead biker behind. After that Duncan’s aim seemed to go all to Hell. It hadn’t really though. Instead he’d taken the first giant by surprise and now they had hi shields around their eyes.

“How long can they manifest?” I asked Panic.

“Fifteen minutes—maybe as much as thirty. That chi shield around their eyes cuts minutes off of that though,” Panic said.

Some of Duncan’s deflected balls drew blood and some wounds were at the right place to flow into the eye. The chi shield didn’t seem to help keep the monster’s own blood away from the eye.

Gina’s giant housecat leaped from the back of a semi-trailer and snagged a giant about halfway up his thigh. It tried hard to climb the Cyclops like a tree but the cat was ten feet from the eye when the monster snagged it in both hands. As he raised it high above is head preparing to smash it to the ground—trying hard to crush it all the while.

A rat launched himself from the cat straight at the giant’s eye. He’d been riding unobtrusively the whole while. On his way to the Cyclops’ eye he grew to the size of a Basset Hound. He manifested a mini set of claws like the custom knifemakers craft for presumably grownup people so they can slash at things and pretend they’re the comic book hero Wolverine.

The rat’s claws were more than adequate to pierce the giant’s eye. One more giant down and he popped before he could do more than knock the wind out of the great cat.

One giant Duncan rushed a Cyclops. He stepped into the interlaced hands of another giant Duncan and got a huge boost upward. He was wearing both palm spikes and shoe spikes an he was industriously climbing up the bare chest of a monster leaving bloody foot and hand prints all along the way.

Another giant stomped the Duncan still on the ground. The Cyclops’ foot stopped four or five foot from the ground. The Duncan kahuna forced the foot up and off of him. Though he was smaller and with far less mass he had found a position where he could bring his greater strength to bare.

Once he stood upright—hands above his head—he ran forward while holding the giant foot aloft. The effect was very much like stepping on a roller-skate, a banana peel or a handful of marbles for the haint.

The Duncan kahuna cast five normal sized Duncan wet spawn. Two stayed behind to help with the foot. One tried to hamstring the giant’s other leg with a huge leaf-bladed scimitar pulled from nowhere while two Duncans ran to where the giant’s head would probably end up after he took the fall.

As soon as he fell the two Duncans put his eye out and he popped.

A Cyclops tried to stomp Gina. There was a huge snarling mass of black cats that promptly ran toward every point of the compass. Each of the cat spawn threw three or four short-lived dry spawn almost every foot of the way.

“I’m over here dumbass,” Gina said from behind the giant.

As the giant bent over to try to scoop Gina up— hoping to capturing cats and all—James shot the Cyclops with both barrels of his 10 gauge while Chandra and two of her wet spawn—also armed with 10 gauges—backed James up with an improbable amount of silver .24 caliber #4 Buckshot.

The wet spawn’s black powder muzzleloaders threw slower moving pellets and the silver balls deformed more and spread wider. Anyway that you looked at it though, it amounted to a huge load of flying silver launched at a silver-vulnerable haint. The Cyclops popped.

The Nine-Tails sent about a dozen bikers at one giant and their sole goal was to hamstring the monster. There were more giants than twelve man squads of Nine-Tails bikers and they also had to look out for stomps and kicks from clients that they weren’t directly servicing.

Panic pointed me at one Cyclops’ eye. I hit it with a shaped fuel-air bomb mounted on a lance-like shaft of chi. It was kinda like those 12 gauge boom-sticks that they make for use against sharks.

As that monster exploded I managed to throw a simple oxygen bomb with no fuel into the face of another Cyclops.

I needed a moment to draw a container of kerosene and powdered silver from my bag. Panic took us up, out and away and well out of reach as I prepared an oxygen-fuel bomb lance—on for each hand this time.

We were coming out of he sun this time. I drove a lance into two different monster’s eyes this time. We went low to get away that time and I had time to throw a ball of very high-pressure white-hot oxygen against the knee of a giant that our bikers were trying hard to hamstring. That should give them the opening that they needed.

As the number of targets shrank, I tried to take them out with fuel-air bombs thrown from out of the giant’s reach. I used three bombs and only got one Cyclops. We went in close and I used my last PVC pipe filled with kerosene and silver powder. As we flew back toward my ride I threw a couple oxygen balls.

One of them caught a Cyclops right in his crotch—for what good or ill I cannot say.

I leapt off of Panic and he went back to eat one as he’d promised. Moments later all of the monsters were dead.

“Bring the bikes,” I ordered. “They can probably be put to some use.”

“We lost a dozen of our people defending you,” the Captain of the Nine-Tails said.

“You are the only original here. Without you, we would have had nothing to protect. God knows how your Macersville mages got back to Macersville. We care nothing for your village and we resent being asked to take part in your tawdry war,” he continued. “Why didn’t you simply ride your dragon home?”

“You’re right. I could have ridden Panic and avoided this whole bad trip. I don’t know what kind of aerial threats the opposition could mount though. Most of all, I didn’t know that a feeling of ‘us’ and ‘them’ had crept in. We will have an all-thing soon. If any of y’all want to cut loose we’ll work out terms,” I said.

“So we’re going to have to buy our freedom?” the captain spat.

“Not at all,” I said.

That had truly hurt.

“I’m going to see how much gold, hardware, money and what have you that we can afford to give those of you who chose to leave as parting gifts and gifts of friendship and goodwill.”




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Old 10-12-2015, 03:55 PM
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Chapter Twenty-Five







The Nine-Tails decided that they wanted to be totally independent of our organization. We’d resumed calling ourselves by the highly descriptive and colorful cognomen: “The Outfit” once more. We’d absorbed anyone with a prior claim to the handle. The Dragon’s teeth were friendlier and more polite but once the proposition was put to them they too were overjoyed to be independent.

Neither group could have come about in anything like their current incarnations without some extremely generous start-up money and some expert advice in a number of areas. Now that they were fully developed it seemed quite possible that they could survive and prosper on their own. Especially since I’d given each local club enough tax free cash to tide them over quite a few rough patches over the next decade or two.

Some of our “franchised” dojos had close ties with one or the other biker clubs. A few just wanted to be free to go off and do their own thing. We kept about eighty dojos all over the Southeast though and we looked at them as a sort of minor league farm organizations to guide and funnel promising newcomers our way. And they were often a source of guides, safe houses and extra Adepts on call for operations in their area.

Some of our newly minted Adepts decided to join the economy and do the old work thingy—but they still worked out regularly at their old dojo. I know that we had at least two Adepts who were high school wrestling coaches. That was fine by me since there was no way that I could continue to add so many new graduates to the payroll.

Then a couple years after the destruction of the village, bad things started to happen. Several of the local biker gangs were brought up on RICO charges. Senseis and assistants—in some cases even advanced students—were arrested and held incommunicado without bail, hearing or charges under one or the other provisions of the Patriot Act.

Word came back to me that sitting down for a tête-à-tête with the government might stop the harassment—maybe even get some or all of our folks released. Although the bikers were no longer under our aegis that didn’t mean that I would abandon them to the jack booted thugs if I could help. The senseis were kin.

They were mighty particular where and how we met. It had to be on neutral ground under a tent. I guess that they thought it would be hard to hide any tampering in the thin canvass walls. I had to come myself—they weren’t interested in talking to my spawn and they assured me that they could easily tell the difference. I was allowed to bring a reasonable number of assistants and they didn’t have to be originals.

*************** ***************** **************************

The government forces had erected a big OD Green headquarters tent. It wasn’t big enough for even a tiny circus but it could have housed a small revival.

Inside there were five men in expensive suits sitting on folding metal chairs behind a folding table like you see in school cafeterias or swap meets. There weren’t any chairs on our side of the table.

There was a a line of men in dark suits and dark glasses standing shoulder-to-shoulder against the tent wall behind and to either side of us.

Big deal! I had Duncan’s three big kahunas and I could have over thirty Duncans in less than a second. I had a Cary kahuna and a David kahuna. David was there so that his hyper-powerful mind could start analyzing the data ASAP and he had mastered linking to his electronic drones via mental jutsu. Cary was there mainly to give us one more channel of communication via his mental link with his rats. Neither of the men was inconsequential in a scrap in addition to their other gifts.

Ladonna sent a kahuna just because she’d stood by my side so many times that she wasn’t willing to sit this one out.

Tell the truth, I could fill the room with close to one hundred of me even without scraping the bottom of the barrel and using dry spawn. I expected some sort of trap—but damned nation…

“Lets beat around the bush a bit before we get down to serious business. Who are you people and what in the seven burning Hells do you want from me?” I demanded.

“I’m General Maxwell. You don’t need to know these other gentlemen’s names. You are going to stop training civilians and you’re going to train soldiers for use in elite strike force and hostage rescue groups,” the general said.

“General, do be careful how you address your betters. I’m not going to train any of your soldiers because they wouldn’t be suitable candidates—overlooking the fact that I dislike orders and commands,” I said.

“These men are truly special,” Maxwell insisted.

“The Outfit’s two prime axioms are that nothing of lasting value ever results from haste and that bringing pressure to bear on yourself or others is evil. I’d need a year or two to unwind and relax your hyper-vigilant ‘Hoo-Haw!’ soldiers enough to even start teaching them tradecraft,” I said.

“We don’t want hippy mystics. We just want you to jack up their senses, reaction times, strength and endurance,” General Maxwell insisted.

“If I did that I’d be placing a time bomb inside each man that would eventually destroy him. I’ll tell you what—send me thirty or forty volunteers fresh out of basic training. In three or four years you’ll have some Adepts,” I said.

“There are several conditions. Each man continues to get his military pay, time in grade and promotions on the same general schedule as if he was performing in the top one percent in his chosen MOS,” I started to delineate.

“I was in your damned army. It was the worst experience in my life—by far. I can imagine someone with little talent and less desire to become an Adept hanging on grimly simply because it was better than going back into the regular military. People like that would bollix my training, but I wouldn’t send anyone back to that Hell. I want every trainee free to walk away from the military and/or Adept training at any time. That’s the only way that I could train folks for you with a clear conscious,” I concluded.

“I don’t care about your conscious and this isn’t a request. This is an order,” General Maxwell said.

“I warned you once about talking down t your betters. This interview is over. I will tell you one thing though: if my people aren’t released immediately I will look upon it as a declaration of war. You wouldn’t like that General. Duncan here for instance, could pick up one of your Humvees and throw it like an oversized bale of hay,” I said.

“Arrest him,” the general said without the least bit of stress in his voice.

I started to do the raven transformation just to throw their aim off. While I was travelling from “here” to “there” I started to throw every spawn that I possibly could.

I’d never sensed that feeling of duality before. I was fifty or sixty ravens and I was myself. At the same time I had the bizarre teleidoscopic from scores of human eyes taking in the scene in the tent from multiple vantage points simultaneously.

Then I was back in my original with a Taser-like set of darts in my right shoulder blade. The darts were bigger though and they had taken a deep bite into my scapula. They wasted no time in getting handcuffs and leg irons on me and spraying pepper spray into my eyes.

“We just took your powers away,” the general said. “They’re gone forever. I love clipping you freaks’ wings. Are you better than me now?”

He added a handful of terms that questioned my legitimacy, sexual orientation and accused me of incest—all in such filthy gutter language that I won’t bother to justify his breath by repeating scandals that he wasted his time hypothesizing.

“Dude, it is like: I was born more of a man than you will ever be. If there were no better men than you in the world, I wouldn’t waste toilet paper. I’d just grab one of y’all’s punk asses up and wipe myself,” I said.

The general slapped me across the face a half dozen times while alternating hands. Then he drove his knee into my crotch. Long before I became an Adept or even knew that Adepts existed I’d taught myself to ignore pain.

My body fell. I couldn’t control the autonomous reflexes anymore but I could control my mind and my voice.

“General Maxwell, I curse you.

“May you hunger and find no nourishment.

“May you thirst and find no refreshment.

“May you tire and find no place to rest your weary head.

“May you sire a thousand daughters and not even a single son.

“May you be visited by kidney stones and the clap, gout, migraines, gall stones and boils the size of tennis balls and may all these curses be visited upon all your descendants and kin for seven generations,” I said.

I don’t know were that curse came from, but I’ve always known it. I hadn’t used it in over fifty years. Largely because God says to forgive but also because cursing someone takes a lot out of you. I don’t know anything that places you into a deeper slough of desponds than cursing someone with one’s spirit.

I must have given General Maxwell the crawling hee-bee gee-bees cause he had a ball gag shoved into my mouth and a heavy black hood pulled over my face.

One interesting fact was that all the spawn seemed to have vanished before they could strike down a single jack booted thug.

I have a sort of claustrophobia about having my hands bound behind me and I have a horror of being suffocated. I guess everyone does. I wasn’t going to give these sniveling shabnasticators the satisfaction of knowing how discomfited that I was. I forced myself to breathe slowly and evenly through my nose.

Finally they took me to a holding cell somewhere far under ground.

Waterboarding? Yeah that would have been something they did to let you have a break from the serious torments.

They stuck me in an isolation chamber for a very long time. Then they took me out and tried to feed me. I spit the food out as best I could.

“We could force feed you, but if you want to do the Bobby Sands thingy—so be it. We aren’t going to take it easy on you because you refuse to eat,” one of the guards said.

I had a knowing. That was something else that I’d had occasionally as far back as I could remember.

“One day I’ll wear your finger bones and those rings as a necklace,” I told him.

“We don’t need any intel from you. We simply want to break you. After you beg long and piteously enough we will stop—but only after we’ve thoroughly enjoyed ourselves,” the guard said.

“I’ll beg you right now—please castrate yourself. Do it for the good of the gene pool,” I said.

I never broke or begged but I must admit to my shame that I did scream and bellow a few times.

An Apache Indian or a samurai wouldn’t have given them that satisfaction I’m sure. They could have endured the worst with a detached smile. The fact that they exposed my lack of true courage made me hate my tormentors all the more.

There were bouts of being shocked all over my body. Then they’d stick my head into a trough full of ice water while they beat me. Then they’d hang me by my ankles and pummel the water out of my lungs. When they tired, they’d put me back into the isolation chamber with IV tubes of glucose and various nutrients to partially offset my hunger strike.

Surely, I said to myself, my body will break soon and set me free from this torment.

I searched my inner world for my chakra tree. The chi meridians were like the branches and trunk of a tree and the major chakras reinforced and helped constitute the trunk of the chakra trees. The minor chakras hung off the minor chi meridian branches like so many eccentric fruits or tiny leaflets.

No matter how I searched that part of my inner world was simply empty. I would have mourned my loss but not where these knob- gobblers could see me.

Though the Chakra tree that I’d spent decades building, strengthening and optimizing was gone I could still hear Panic somehow. He assured me that our bond was unbroken whatever the situation might be with my Adept powers.

There was something else as well.

There hadn’t been anything there years ago when I started my training so long ago in the village. I started at the beginning again and imagined the first chakra—double in my case and I hand cranked them remorselessly over and over again.

The chakras hadn’t seemed completely real the first time around but that was nothing compared to the complete absence of reality in these visualizations.

They make very free with the idea of taking away someone’s powers in some of the cartoons, movies and books—as if it was more humane to geld or blind someone than to kill them. It isn’t mercy. It is something that comes from a bottomless pit of cruelty.

There was no point in getting mad when I was so weak. I couldn’t even stand much less avenge myself like Samson bringing down the house of the Philistines.

Then the next time someone took me out of the solation chamber it was Duncan in some sort of protective clothing that resembled a cloth of gold space suit costume or prop.

“You shouldn’t have bothered Duncan. I’m not good for anything anymore. I can’t even stand without support,” I told.

“If you never regain your powers or even the strength to stand—If we have to wheel you around in a wheelchair—you are still laird and warlord. If anyone challenges your commands he can face all of us. We’re not to be taken lightly,” Duncan said.

“What’s with the gold suit?” I asked.

“They have some sort of field that cancels the chi that keeps a spawn in existence and you taught us to never go anywhere in person when you can send a spawn instead,” Duncan said.

“Do you see that guard lying on the floor over there Duncan? I want his hands and be sure to get his rings as well. Get his big toes while you’re at it. He was especially cruel and insulting to me and I promised to wear a necklace of his rings and finger bones,” I said.

Duncan pulled out one of his oversized Kunai knives and soon there was a handless and footless body lying on the floor. I noticed blood pumping out of the stumps.

“Is he alive?” I asked.

“Yes,” was all Duncan said.

“Kill him then. What if his compañeros got here in time to save him? That would be too cruel. If you cripple someone then finish him off if it is at all possible,” I said.

Duncan shrugged and slammed the guard’s head against the concrete floor hard enough to crush the man’s skull.

“He was cruel to you,” Duncan said.

“That’s true but we’re supposed to be better people than they are,” I said.



.....RVM45
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Old 10-12-2015, 04:51 PM
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This is really good. Keep up the good work and Thanks
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Old 10-13-2015, 12:01 AM
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HOLY COW!

Talk about a turn of events, cant wait for the next installment!
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Old 10-13-2015, 07:38 PM
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Chapter Twenty-Six





“I’ve never heard of anything like this happening,” the doctor said. “You’re seventy-three years old. You’ve kept your body in a high state of repair with all of your systems optimized and in perfect balance. Physically your body is like an improbably fit man in his early thirties. There is no reason that losing your power should throw your bodily systems into disarray.

“There are some cautions though. If you abuse your body now there is no chi system to put it back aright. If you’re reasonable you should have the same life expectancy as any other very healthy thirty year old—but if you abuse your system as you’ve been in the habit of doing you’ll soon be crippled and debilitated beyond remedy. Do you understand?”

“Yeah whatever,” I said.

“We will hunt down this General Maxwell and kill him for you,” Ladonna said.

“Never mind. Seeking vengeance presupposes that your enemy robbed your loved ones of something durable and valuable and when you find him you’re going to deprive him of something wonderful and lasting. Life is fleeting and it isn’t terribly desirable. The general’s life isn’t worth a gnat’s spit and he’ll soon be dead whether you kill him or leave him to God,” I said.

“But what he did to you…” Ladonna started to say.

“It is true. I wouldn’t have bargained my powers away even to save my life—so in that sense he’s inflicted a ‘fate worse than death’ on me. Even so, I cursed him. My curses are not mere wind. Let the misery that he endures in this world serve as a warm up for the torments of Hell,” I said.

“Duncan, bring me a bag of chi-drops,” I said.

“What do you think those will do? They could kill you,” Ladonna objected.

“True but they also might cure me,” I said.

Ladonna didn’t like the idea. That’s one reason that I sent Duncan to fetch the chi-fortified gumdrops instead of Ladonna. Duncan’s loyalty expressed itself in total obedience. He’d fetch me gumdrops fortified with arsenic or cyanide if I told him to. Ladonna might have resorted to trickery.

I examined one of the chi-drops. I sniffed it and examined it momentarily before I popped it into my mouth, chewed it a few times and swallowed.

Nothing.

Ordinarily popping a single chi-drop was like eating a handful of habaneros while being zapped in the mouth and esophagus with healthy jolts of static electricity combined with the sensation of having plopped a couple of dry Alka-Seltzer into one’s mouth. Even an ordinary person would have felt a massive shock to the system.

I only tasted a rather dried out and bland gumdrop.

I paused momentarily then I ate three at one time. Then I ate five in one mouthful. Finally I sat and finished the whole bag two or three at a time. They didn’t even taste good.

One doesn’t need powers to practice combat pistol shooting or swordsmanship. My mundane body needed exercise and far more rest than it ever had before. I indulged it.

I was getting about as close to zero from my life as it is possible to imagine. It wasn’t torture like I’d endured at the government’s hands. It wasn’t off into the realm of the negative but there was almost no positive in evidence either.

If I still had a purpose to my life it was to lead my family wisely and above all to prevent a similar fate from striking any of them. That presupposed that I kept myself fit and rested enough to be a good leader.

I sat in the park brooding when one of my ravens sat beside me. I shared my spam sandwich with him and a piece of my apple afterward.

Then he managed to get into my lunch sack as I sat daydreaming and grabbed one of my chi-drops. I’d taken to eating a bag every day or two. They did me no good but then they did me no harm—so why not?

Even one of my super-ravens weighed less than twenty pounds. The massive load of chi in the power food should have caused the raven to pop like a man who’d contrived to swallow a hand grenade with the pin pulled.

Gina entered the park and sat on a bench across from me. She looked like a six-foot and two hundred pound Goth. She wasn’t fat nor was she built like a female bodybuilder either. She had more the body of a strong farm girl who would astound most people by weighing forty or fifty more pounds than they would have guessed.

The black clothing and the Elvira makeup weren’t a symptom of being delusional or possessing a gloomy disposition either. Her cats were black to make it easier for them to hide in the shadows. She’d become like her cats. She had a jutsu that almost seemed to wrap shadows around her making her close to invisible when she was hiding or stalking.

“He says that his name is Alexander. He wants you to know that all your birds understand why you cannot talk to them. He says they’re still your friends and will stand by you. He also says that your feedings have gotten rather hit or miss lately but they can make out by scavenging so don’t trouble yourself,” Gina said.

Alex hopped on my right shoulder and rubbed his face, neck and shoulder against my face much like a cat.

“Can you hear the thoughts of birds Gina?” I asked.

“Not as a general rule—at least I get little but vague fragments. Alexander is broadcasting directly at me though,” Gina said.

“Gina friend. Spoil master,” Alex croaked—sounding much like a poly parrot but harsher and more hoarse—like if you blended a raspy voice like Rod Steward’s with a parrot.

“Some crows can learn a few words,” Gina said. “Apparently ravens can too. He’s been diligently beefing up his vocal apparatus and the verbal part of his brain for some time. He says that your chi-drop put him over the threshold just now,” Gina said while staring intently at my raven.

“He won’t eat enough to hurt himself? Do you want another Alex,” I said while holding the sack out to him.

“He says that he can’t utilize another right now but that you should offer him one regularly and that you should make them available to the other birds as well,” Gina said.

Another raven landed on my left shoulder.

“He says that his name is ‘Glass’ and he needs a gumdrop to catch up to Alexander’s ability to speak,” Gina said.

“Well I guess I need to go do more paperwork and make more policy decisions. That’s about all I’m good for anymore,” I said to Gina. “Thank you.”

“You haven’t forgotten have you?” Gina asked.

“No,” I replied. Gina was the third person to allude to that indirectly and none of them should have had direct knowledge of that odd aspect of reality.

She laughed.

“You look like Odin with a raven on each shoulder,” she said.

“The Norse God?”

“He’s no more a God than I am, but he’s a very old Adept. Haven’t you ever met him?”

“No. Be wary of haints and unclean spirits. That smacks of the unchancy,” I said.

*************** ******************** ******************************


Gerald and Norman walked into my office.

“There is a crazy woman killing normals and demanding to meet you in single combat,” Norman said.

“She’s standing atop a giant Western type dragon. She has long white hair hanging all the way to the ground. She’s stark naked and she says that her name is Shannon,” Gerald said.

Western style dragons resemble a flying fire breathing stegosaurus whereas Eastern style dragons like Panic resemble great flying serpents with comparatively tiny arms and legs stuck on as if they were an afterthought.

Duncan gasped and looked shaken. He actually turned ashy white and trembled like a quaking aspen.

“She’s my big sister. I thought that she’d died or at least permanently disappeared two hundred years ago. She’d be more than a match for me, my dead brother and every Outfit Adept combined. If you still had your powers you’d have an outside chance against her. The situation may be beyond hope,” Duncan said in a rush.

“Nonsense. I will go out and fight the bitch,” I said.

“That’s suicide,” Ladonna said.

“You under rate me,” I told her.

“I will be your champion if she will allow it,” Ladonna said.

“I’m stronger,” Gerald objected.

“My super speed may take her by surprise and give me an outside chance,” Norman said.

“I could defeat all of the others combined without even calling on spawn. Choose me!” Duncan shouted.

“What sort of man would send his friends to die in his place? Cowards theorize with the goal of surviving firmly in mind. I’ll try my fortunes against this witch. My life is a piddling stake. She is welcome to it if she can claim it. I never compete…

“However I will give you my weird: I will return with this woman’s head—with apologies Duncan if she’s kin,” I said.

“You are kin. She’s merely my sister from long ago—but you haven’t a prayer,” Duncan said.

“Norman, go and tell her that I’m coming to meet her directly and ask her to quit wasting noncombatants,” I said.

Saul pointed his nose at the ceiling and howled mournfully. It was much like a Bloodhounds baying on the trail—but a couple octaves lower, far louder and a mournful note braided through the melody somehow.

My ravens were cawing loudly, but theirs was a song of exultation. I stopped to feed each of them a chi-drop. I hadn’t done that in front of the others before. Their eyes bugged out at the sight of ravens eating a chi-drop that would have slain many strong Adepts.

************** ******************* ****************************

I stood before the naked witch.

“This will be your last act on Earth,” I told her. “Try to make it a worthy last battle.”

“You are a fool! You have no powers. You have no weapon. You have no mount. Yet you tell me that I’m doomed. Please explain your logic,” Shannon said before she burst into fits of hearty but cruel laughter.

“I have no divine power:
I make honesty my divine power.

“I have no magic power:
I make personality my magic power.

“I have no miracles:
I make righteous action my miracles.

“I have no strategy:
I make freedom to slay or spare my strategy.

“I have no talent:
I make ready wit my talent.

“I have no armor:
I make the benevolence and righteousness of God my armor.

“I have no Castle:
I make the immovable mind from beyond the realm of right and wrong my castle.

“I have no sword:
I make absence of mind my sword.

“I have no life or death:
For though I fall I shall awake to life everlasting,” I told her.

“But I exaggerate my lack of armament,” I added.

“This is the Sword “Claidheamh Soluis”. He was forged in the city of Findias and once carried by Nuada Airgetlám. It is said that once unsheathed in earnest that he never returns to his sheath unblooded,” I said.

The sword was mine. It took no power or magic to draw him to me from his place of repose. I drew him out of thin air into my strong left hand.

Then I summoned my dragon.

“This is my mount Panic. Now fall to your knees and tremble in terror and I might be persuaded to spare you,” I said.

Then ravens flew from every point of the compass. They were cram-jammed with chi from consuming multiple chi-drops. Somehow they became a great cape or cloak of black feathers that clad me from head to foot in a nearly impenetrable suit of black armor.

“That’s something that you don’t see every day,” I told the witch. “Truth be told it’s a surprise to me too.”

“Enough!” she roared in a voice that hurt me ears.

“You’d attract more suitors if you dressed and spoke in a more lady-like manner. If all men were brothers, would you let one of them marry your sister?” I asked her.

“I’m vastly outclassed here,” Panic said.

“Good. That makes our victory even more certain,” I reassured him.

I may never be able to give a good account of that battle. I stood atop Panic’s head. Meeting a standing client while seated was a no-go. I had no chi to do the gecko-hand thingy so Panic’s pitch-black chi bound me to his head all the way up to my knees.

The Claidheamh Soluis had a mind and will of his own—all I did was hold onto him tightly. Panic maneuvered on his own since I couldn’t guide him mentally and vocal commands were too slow. Even my black-feathered armor guided me without me consciously willing it.

We clashed over and over and over again. People on the ground said it was like watching the most violent lightening storm they’d ever seen. Shannon’s weapons were the brightest shining gold. She pulled them out of the void every time we exchanged blows and she never held the same weapon twice. One time she had a lance. The next time she might have a morning star or a long sword or a double bit axe or a scimitar.

Every time we crossed weapons great lightening bolts of pure power were released.

“Hey Spoil! If you’re the good guy, why are you cloaked in black while I’m surrounded by an aura of purest gold?”

“You’re a fool. Have you never heard that Satan appears as an Angel of Light? I reckon that applies to his henchmen and head firemen in Hell…”

“Firemen” like the railroad firemen who shovel coal to stoke a boiler. Only these firemen shovel coal and lost souls into the Lake of Fire.

Then she was cleft from crotch to collarbone and the enchanted sword’s backslash severed her dragon in twain.

Yippee-Kie-Ayy, even though I was pretty much along for the ride the whole while. Still, it was a victory that I was glad to accept under the circumstances.


*************** ******************** ****************************

I walked toward the others carrying the head of the witch.

“I told y’all what would happen but for some reason you didn’t believe me. Have more faith in me next time,” I told them.

I went up on the rooftop of the headquarters and locked the door behind me. I sat and brooded. I had power, but while the results were desirable there was very little feeling of satisfaction in being a marionette pulled hither and yon by an enchanted sword, magic raven feather armor and the vaporous black aura of a dragon.

There’s a song that Meatloaf sings:

“If the thrill is gone then it’s time to get it back.”

Yeah well, tell me how!

Nonetheless a fragment of an idea started to grow.






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Old 10-20-2015, 01:21 AM
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Chapter Twenty-Seven







“You asked to talk to me. Don’t stand there ruminating. Tell me what you want,” I said.

The number of people claiming that they had an urgent need to speak to me was rising precipitously in the weeks and months subsequent to the destruction of the village and its attached enclave.

I didn’t need any sort of power to tell that the dude in front of me was some sort of haint or kami. He was tall and wore a slouch hat pulled low but I could still see a bright glowing sapphire colored ball where most folk stash their right eye. He also had an oversized raven—bigger than any of my ravens, excluding the rocs—riding on each shoulder. A pair of jet-black three hundred pound wolves or dogs or something flanked him on each side.

Duncan was with me almost every waking moment so Saul was with me as well. The four hundred pound Hellhound and the sable wolves glowered at each other with eyes that glowed ruby red from some sort of inner light.

“Gina tells me that you want your power back,” he said.

“You don’t need to be a seer or even to talk to Gina to know that.”

“The jutsu that Padraig left you—what do you make of it?” he asked.

“It requires an enormous amount of chi. No one has been able to successfully use it for many hundreds perhaps thousands of years. It is spectacularly useless to me. I don’t have enough chi to blow my nose,” I said.

“Have you ever wondered where your powers went? Something so grandiloquent and gargantuan cannot simply vanish. Also, where do you think the astonishing amounts of chi that you eat every day is going? You are well aware that it isn’t being cast out in the draught,” he said.

I shrugged.

“Do you know of any jutsu that can’t be abused in some way? ‘Abuse’ is a value-laden term. Sometimes it is apt. Other times, lets just say that there are alternative and non-standard uses jutsu can be put to,” he said.

“Prah-blee, Prah-blee. What is your point?”

“I am Odin and this is the spear Gungnir. My spear is as powerful an enchanted weapon as the Claidheamh Soluis. I can use the power of my spear and your kinjutsu to open The Crack Between The Worlds—or an inter-dimensional portal—whatever term cranks your handle for you. I can send you to where your powers are ensnared,” He said.

Duncan, Saul and I were momentarily taken aback when the haint pulled a long spear with a thick oak shaft from thin air. His manner of holding the spear didn’t seem preparatory to launching an attack though.

“The time fast approaches. Now is the time to go to the shadow world to reclaim what was taken from you. It isn’t the only opportunity that you will ever have. It is the best one that you’ll ever see,” Odin said.

“What do I need to do?” I asked.

“Draw the Claidheamh Soluis and focus your longing,” he said.

As the air became filled with green and indigo bolts of lightening a thought occurred to me.

“How could the government bundle my powers and hide them in another dimension?” I asked.

“They can’t. They’re like a caveman with a cudgel that somehow manages to hit the right button to launch a nuclear failsafe,” Odin said.

I leaped through the rent in space-time with my thirty-nine inch saber in my right hand and the Claidheamh Soluis in my strong left hand.

I knew somehow that the threshold was only supposed to endure long enough to admit one. Alex and Glass got through on my coattails because they were small, very quick and they could fly.

Duncan and Saul followed because they had the awesome power that it took to hold the doorway open an instant longer.

I hadn’t needed names for my birds when I could touch their minds. I touched each with a mental image that contained a replica of each bird’s totality. I’d lost the power to do that along with my other powers.

I don’t know how the roc navigated trough the narrow hallways to my office. Suffice it to say that he sensed something was amiss and he did.

His name? The birds picked their names and he’d insisted on the name: “Janet.” He wasn’t transgendered or anything…

I don’t guess that he was. The ravens picked the names based on how attractive the actual sounds were to their ears—with little or no concern with context or meaning. That’s why I had a raven named: “Glass.” There was nothing transparent, fragile or glasslike about him. He simply grooved on the guttural followed by the sibilance of the double “S”. If he’d had his way, his name would be pronounced with an exaggerated hiss at the end.

At any rate, one of my rocs followed me through the portal in addition to the rest of my retinue.

The first sight that confronted me in the other world was a trio of dragons. I’m tempted to say that they were Western type dragons. Certainly they weren’t serpentine like Panic, but they lacked the stegosaurus like bodies of the Western dragons from my world.

They looked much more like the dragons you see depicted in traditional drawings and paintings—a very thick stout legged form. If you looked past the scales and size they were built much like a very long-necked Basset Hound.

They were vaguely centaur-like. These dragons had four stout legs but then they had a huge upper torso that sprouted a pair of arms with four fingered hands. A western dragon breathes fire but only in the most singular circumstances would a Western dragon or his rider try to use the flames as a weapon. Their flames resembled the methane burn-off you often see around small oilrigs.

Shadow world dragons spat out huge streams of burning napalm like an oversized flamethrower. Their streams traveled twenty five to thirty five yards and the dragons gave every indication of having many hundreds of gallons of liquid fire on tap.

“One more thing to make my happiness complete,” I said aloud.

My impenetrable armor of raven feathers covered me from head to foot. My face wasn’t physically covered but the protection must have extended to my face and eyes since I stood in the midst of the inferno and wasn’t burned or even singed.

Alexander, Glass and Janet avoided the danger by flying high above out of harm’s way. Saul lived up to his name. I can’t imagine that he literally came from Hell. That would raise any number of thorny theological questions. He did seem to positively bask in the stream of dragon fire though.

Duncan had a chi shield adequate to protect him from the dragon’s flame. Duncan threw over thirty spawn. Each one was armed with a double-edged axe. The axe was like the oversized axes you see portrayed in so many phantasy pictures and movies. A thirty-pound axe would be impossibly unwieldy for even the strongest human to use. Duncan wielded it like it was a three-pound ballpein hammer on a long handle.

Even Duncan’s axe swung with his superhuman strength might not have been up to penetrating the dragons’ armor of iridescent scales so he clad the edge of his axes with a razor sharp heavy-duty penetrating chi.

I summoned Panic.

“Fall on your bellies and tremble in terror!” I shouted at the dragons as I took my post atop Panic’s head.

We flew straight at the middle dragon. There was no need to take evasive action since neither of us was vulnerable to dragon fire. When we were close I leapt onto the back of the right hand dragon. While I used the Claidheamh Soluis to pierce his hearts Panic seized the middle dragon and flew straight up until he was high in the sky. By the time Panic returned to Earth a moment later, he had consumed the great beastie.

By the time my dragon was thoroughly fricasseed Duncan and Saul had largely reduced their dragon to possession. It is astonishing what a large gang of four-hundred-and-some-odd pound berserkers armed with superhuman strength and oversized axes and over a dozen Hellhound spawn can accomplish.

The dragons down, I took a moment to examine my surroundings. We were in the middle of a four or five hundred acre meadow covered in both red clover and bluegrass. There was a forest of very tall temperate hardwood trees surrounding the meadow.

Something was happening in the woods to my right. Birds squawked and flew into the meadow or flew straight up to get above the trees. A score of rabbits and squirrels popped out into the meadow and ran at a tangent to get back into the woods—but somewhere well away from their point of egress. I saw a couple foxes and a lynx.

Then five white-tailed deer bugged out. I was getting more than a little curious.

Then a humanoid walked out of the tree line. He was close to twenty feet tall. He had a huge rack of elk-like Antlers towering another four or five feet over his head and spread to an improbable level. He was covered with fine black hair as fine and downy as seal fur. His eyes glowed with the same cobalt blue laser intensity as Odin’ right eye.

He had a giant human with him—a man close to eight foot tall. His left eye also glowed with an unnatural light but it was more subdued and more indigo than the giant hart’s cobalt lasers.

“Spoil, you astonish me. You contrive to enter my domain. You have a dragon from the outer void and a Hellhound with you—along with a roc…

“And is that the Claidheamh Soluis? Way to go dude!” the hart addressed me.

“And who might you be?” I asked while Saul bristled and growled and Alexander and Glass drew close to my cheek on either side.

“Don’t you recognize me? I’m your cousin,” the haint said.

“Root?”

A moment later Root reverted to a human form—very intense and brooding human a good eighteen inches shorter than his companion.

“So what brings you here?” Root asked.

“My power was stolen from me. Odin told me to search for it here,” I explained.

“Odin? I thought that you were a Christian,” Root said.

“I am a Christian. I met Odin and I followed his directions to get here. That is a far cry from worshiping him. I thought that you were a human,” I said.

“I was human. It got better after a while. I can help you find your stolen powers but you will have to pick them up once more. That won’t be particularly easy. Still, you’re Kin. I have every confidence that you can do it,” Root said.

Root was my grandmother’s cousin. That made him a third cousin by my reckoning. He was distant kin. He was kin nonetheless.

************* ***************** **************************

“It is time,” the Pale Lady said.

“I had hoped that we could postpone until Spoil returned,” Morgan said.

“Things are very delicately balanced. The timelines are turbulent. We’re walking the high wire here without a net. Try to sound cruel and spiteful as you give them the word. They may hate you enough to stiffen their resolve,” the Pale Lady said to her son.

***************** ******************* *******************************

Morgan strode into The Outfit’s headquarters and started a rant.

“You people were invited here as guests. But you bring your war here to us and now your leader entertains kamisama and rips open inter-dimensional portals under our very noses. We want you people out of here within twenty-four hours and don’t come back,” Morgan told Spoil’s astonished lieutenants.

**************** ******************* ****************************

Root took us on a long walk through the forest—and what a forest it was. The trees were all deciduous hardwoods—maple, oak, elm, walnut, sycamore and hickory. Some of the boles were seven to ten feet in diameter.

There were many ferns, mosses and toadstools like you’d see in a temperate rain forest in Oregon, or Big Sur—or Oz I suppose. No flying monkeys, survivalists or flying and tripping writers like Kerouac or H S Thompson either so I guess it couldn’t have been any off those places.

When we came to a log cabin with a psychedelic van parked beside it though I began to wonder. I had only seen two Ford vans with raised ceilings and moon roof made from the top and glass from a Volkswagen Beetle. One was my “Black Beauty”. The other was my cousin Wizard’s fire truck red “Red Bird”.

Root’s companion raised an oversized fist and banged loudly on the rough hewn door.

A young fellow with long blond hair opened the door.

It was Wizard! Although he was about twenty-five years older than me, he looked like a teenager.

Root told Wizard about my predicament in a few terse sentences. I never was good at boiling all the extraneous details out of an after-action report, but Root had it down pat.

“I can help you. Listen to my story it will help you understand what you’re up against,” Wizard said.







Saturnalia

Wizard’s Story





This happened back in 1989. I’ve told you how I couldn’t find my way back to Macersville no matter how hard I looked. I’d been looking for eight years.

Macersville had been—or seemed to have been—somewhere between Harlan and Cawood Kentucky. Nonetheless I’d been over every one-lane road, loblolly and two-rut wagon path in Eastern Kentucky and Western Virginia trying to retrace my steps.

I ended up way outside my ordinary search area somewhere between Beattyville and Talega Kentucky.

I was driving down a gravel road and I saw a bunch of psychedelic signs advertising a festival and some sort of celebration off to the north along a two-rut path. You know where autos—usually trucks—pass often enough to keep the track of the wheels bare but there is an island of grass in the center.

There was the damnedest assemblage of vehicles, tents and ramshackle assortment of buildings that I ever did see.

Everything was painted psychedelic with clashing colors, paisleys, stylized flowers, ankhs and peace signs. There were three psychedelic Volkswagen vans and a Volkswagen Bug. There was an old but sound bus with some custom work and a good psychedelic paint job. There was a rust-eaten short bus that looked like first graders had gone at it with color crayons. There were several old pickups and a red 57 Chevy convertible that looked mint. It was the only vehicle on the property that hadn’t been attacked by graffiti artists.

There were several assorted canvas tents and several leaning buildings haphazardly built from boards salvaged from old tumbledown barns and outbuildings and brand new plywood and two-by-fours.

They had a row of booths reminiscent of a carnival midway. Folks were selling macramé, leatherwork, silver and turquoise Indian jewelry, hand-carved japa beads an inch and a half around along with painstakingly threaded love beads.

A teenaged girl wearing sandals, beaded buckskins and long black hair walked up to me.

“You truly smile,” she said to me.

Her eyes were a very peculiar violet color.

“My standard reply is ‘my aren’t the walls vertical.’ So few of these are though,” I said.

I bought some silver jewelry; a leather watchband and a couple buckskin shirts decorated in Indian beads and dyed porcupine quills.

“We have pronto pups. Do you know the difference between a pronto-pup and a corn dog,” The purple-eyed girl asked me in a challenging tone.

“Corn dogs are coated in a cornmeal coating. Pronto-pups are dipped in flour based coating. I really prefer pronto-pups but the only place I ever saw them for sale was at The West-Side Fall Festival,” I said.

“Are you from Evansville? I am too. I worked alongside my parents in the church’s food stand since I was a little girl. Hang around and I’ll talk to you after we close up,” she said.

“Might as well close up now. A midway with only a half a dozed rubes at three in the afternoon is like dead.”

“I know, but these people have their own crochets,” she said.

************* **************** ***********************

The fair—such as it was—closed down at 9:00 pm. I had hung around as the girl suggested. I noticed that most of the folks in the little peckerwood commune seemed to be flashing on the 60s. That was okay. I sometimes amused myself by taking a clipboard and standing on a public street asking people to sign my petition to bring back the 60s. I always put a coffee can with a sign that said “Donations”. It didn’t say the donations went to finance the 60s petition. Hell, a man who spends at least eight months of every year looking for a non-existent town needs to be able to raise a bit of cutter every now and again.

The would-be hippie chick brought several pronto pups and an obscene amount of greasy French fries and sautéed onions generously covered in ketchup along with fudge and brownies for desert.

“My name is ‘Aura’ she said.

“My name is Wizard,” I said.

She offered me some pot.

“I don’t trust it,” I told her. “That **** turns people non-violent.”

We talked. I told her how I’d been searching for the way back to Macersville for close to nine years. Aura told me that she was taking pre-med at the university in Bloomington and that she started Medical School in the fall.

We hit it off. Neither of us were the type for sex outside of marriage, but we got so far as to kiss.

“Aura, I’ve been looking for the way back to Macersville for a long time now. I would give up except that there is nothing else that I’d rather be doing. I’m free. I rarely have to hit a lick of honest work and there are few things that I enjoy as much as driving my van, meeting new people and seeing the rural countryside,” I told her.

“I know that it sounds ridiculous saying this to someone I’ve just met—but I feel that I could come to love you,” I said.

“I feel the same way. There is some sort of chemistry between us,” Aura said. “They’re putting on ‘Saturnalia’ tomorrow. They rehearse and plan all year for this one annual performance. I’m supposed to be MC and handle our ersatz spotlight.”

“What is ‘Saturnalia’?” I asked.

“Do you know the one they call ‘Little Rabbit’?” Aura asked.

“Little weaselin’ dude with a hare-lip. Carries himself like a pimp,” I postulated.

“Little Rabbit wrote a play that he calls ‘Saturnalia’. He says that once everyone has their part down perfectly that they’re going to New York. He says they’ll find a backer and that they may have to start off-Broadway but eventually the play will be a bigger hit than ‘Hair’. They can’t go in search of a backer until the play is one hundred percent perfect though. Sometimes they’ll do dress rehearsals three times in one day. They’re fanatics,” Aura said.

“But what is the play about?” I asked.

“It starts out idyllic. There are beautiful nymphs and happy non-violent satyrs. They spend their days smoking dope, drinking wine, and bathing in crystal lakes and pure running streams while having plenty of free love. Then at the end a big super-satyr shows up. He is head and shoulders taller than any of the gentle satyrs. He has a perpetual boner the size of the fat end of a Louisville Slugger and anyone that he catches—male or female—he rapes them and often he’s rough enough to kill his client. The first three hours of the play is so gentle and insipid that the violence is quite jarring,” Aura said.

“The damned play is over three hours long? Expecting someone to sit through that is rape with battery in and of itself,” I said.

Aura laughed.

“You’re not afraid to speak your mind, are you?” She said.

“Never have been,” I said. “But what is the point of such a turd-gargler of a play?”

“Little Rabbit believes that all the world’s troubles are the result of masculinity. He says that while we need biological males for reproduction that we should make every effort to effeminize boys and men every way that we can think of,” Aura explained.

“And it takes him over three hours to dramatize his thesis in an amateur night play? I think that the butter has slid off of Little Rabbit’s waffles!” I said.

“Anyway, I’ve promised to be the narrator and stage hand tomorrow. After that I’m headed back home to get ready for my first semester of medical school. Would you like to move to Bloomington so we could see each other?” Aura asked.

“I think it’s a bit late to get admitted to the university this fall, but I can probably get in the second semester starting in January. If I can’t get in for the fall, I will hang loose but I’ll definitely spend some time with you,” I said.

“What would you like to be?” Aura asked.

“A pure mathematician or a theoretical physicist,” I said.

“Well, all-righty then,” Aura said.

************ **************** ***********************

I was bored beyond all precedent when it came time for the super satyr to terrorize all the effeminate, hippy-dippy, like pretty non-violent girlish boys and very pretty girly-girls.

Thing is: the main cast had been rehearsing the same dead-ass crap for years. You might get away with that almost anywhere else in America. But this was Kain-Tuck—the dark and bloody ground. The Indians went to Kain-Tuck to hunt and to make war, but they didn’t live there.

Yes, there is Warrick County in Indiana—but the haints in Kain-Tuck are sometimes benign and are occasionally benevolent or at least neutral. The spirit of Warrick County is relentlessly megalomaniacal and malevolent. It simply hates with every shred of its being…

And yes, with the exception of Warrick County much of the Southern third of Indiana is culturally and spiritually part of Kain-Tuck.

Each and every one of the actors became what they’d been portraying.

A nymph ran by me when the gray back started his caterwauling. She slipped and tumbled into my lap. I reached up and touched one of the thumb-sized horns that she had on either side of her forehead up by her hairline.

They were real. I sniffed. She put out an odor that was part a very heavy floral sent—though produced by her own body’ sweat glands. The other portion, though it was the smaller portion by far, was the thickest strongest bunch of human sex pheromones that I’ve ever encountered.

Then here came the brute satyr after her.

She scrambled off of my lap and out of his way. I had time to draw my eight and three-eighths Smith and Wesson .44 Magnum from its shoulder holster.

“Leave the weepy young devotchka alone dude,” I said as I pointed my sights right between and below the huge spiral rams horns that he had growing from his head.

I had time to see a single Keith type semi-wadcutter flatten on the haint’s frontal skull bone and then a split-hooved foot as thick and as wide as a two thousand pound oxen’s kicked my revolver away.

Now I was ****ed. Knock my shiny nickel-plated revolver out of my hand and onto the hard stoney ground will you?

I seized the satyr around his throat with both hands and started to choke him out. He tried a couple wrestling moves on me. I imagine that he must have weighed over six hundred pounds. I lifted him clear of the ground with my left hand on his throat. My slightly weaker right hand crushed his wrist bones together and caused the satyr to scream in pain and rage.

One of the hippy cast members was a dude named Yonny. Aura had introduced us briefly—for no goop reason but to pass the time. Yonny owned the mint 57 Chevy convertible that I’d so admired.

“There is only one way to kill a super satyr. His power is in his stick shift,” Yonny shouted at me.

“What?”

“His tally whacker—rip it off!” Yonny screamed in notes far above any human vocal cords ability to scream.

I heard an old hillbilly wisecrack one day. He said that if you’d let him measure his yard the way that you measure a cat’s tail—that is, from the rectum outward—that he’d have an exceptionally long one.

Having worked in some slaughterhouses, I knew that’s where the urethra leaves the body cavity—through the same hole on the pelvis as the rectum emerges from.

I steeled myself to touch something that I’d sooner not have to touch. I used an arm drag to get me behind the satyr. Then I reached up between his legs to seize Jenkin Horne.

The damned shabnasticator was thicker than my wrist and hard to grip—but it was also very stiff and unyielding. When I grabbed it with both hands and pulled downward, since it wouldn’t yield even a little, I had quite a bit of leverage.

I could feel it starting to tear loose. Finally it gave up the ghost and pulled loose like pulling up an improbably large oak sapling by the roots.

The thing was three feet long and thicker than my wrist at its fattest. Then a moment later it was no longer than a hot dog and no thicker than my ring finger. No, fluid didn’t drain from it. It just shrank.

People were running hither and yon screaming like a bunch of morons. Girls who couldn’t take their “Moon Maid” horns off and dudes who now had cloven hooves and much larger horns vied to see who could wail louder and more ear-piercingly.

Yonny finally made himself heard over the general hubbub.

“This pocket of reality is closing. If you are trapped inside it will only be a matter of time before you succumb to this reality. To force a door open, you need the power of a satyr. There is only one way to claim a satyr’s power,” Yonny said.

“How’s that?” I asked.

“No! O Hell no!” I said after Yonny had told me.

Aura had made her way over to me. She was the only one beside me who wasn’t affected by the unchancy metamorphosis. First of all, she’d only been drining in the unchancy Manitou for a few weeks and also she hadn’t started with nymph makeup to give the transformation a beachhead.

“You’d better do as Yonny says. It isn’t cannibalism. That isn’t a human lying there, now is it? Please! I don’t want to be trapped here. I’d do it if I had the strength,” Aura said.

Have you ever eaten raw testicles? A sheep, or a goat, or a satyr’s testicle is about the size and shape of a big fat pear. There s a very tough skin with multiple blue veins all around. Peal it off and oddly enough there is a second skin identical to the first.

The tissue inside the second skin is soft and a little bit grayer than the flesh of an apricot. It smells much like a raw oyster. I imagine the taste is much the same too. I’m never going to taste an oyster to find out. You have to draw the line somewhere.

Yeah well, years ago when I hadn’t a clue how to cop steroids a magazine article had hypothesized that eating raw testicles might raise one’s testosterone level. They had to be raw because cooking would destroy testosterone.

I know all about the placebo effect. It wasn’t placebo effect that caused me to have a massive crop of acne across my back where I’d never had acne before. At the same time, I didn’t see my lifts going up all that much faster. I stopped the experiment at week five and the acne left rather quickly.

But that cracked-brain scheme had lowered my threshold of nausea for eating raw balls. Otherwise I might have hesitated too long. Whoever Tessie hates is lost.

There’s no need to describe the mechanics of unlocking that kind of ward. Without a satyr’s joystick in hand and a pair of satyr’s yarbles inside you, you couldn’t use that jutsu anyway.

I asked Yonny if he wanted to come with us, but he said that it was too late for him.

He explained how nymph/satyr/super satyr works. They’re very long lived and they’re all born female. After centuries a nymph slowly becomes a satyr—a rather effeminate and infertile satyr. There is only one stud at a time. That’s why he rapes the other males. Something about that—the pain or perhaps some hormone—keeps them from changing into a whole and complete male.

Yonny was the next farthest along and hour-by-hour he was changing.

See there were two competing versions of reality. In one Yonny had been human until the eventful night of the last Saturnalia play. But in another reality he’d been born a nymph and after many centuries was finally about to achieve the zenith that a satyr could aspire to.

I drove Aura back to Evansville and let her off at her folk’s house. We sat until dawn. What do you say after an experience like that? When dawn came and she didn’t have to worry about waking her folks she went in and I went somewhere to crash.

She left her purse in my car.

I went by bright and early the next morning and caught a middle-aged woman just stepping outside the fence.

“Are you Aura’s mother?” I asked her.

“I used to be known as ‘Aura’ but no one has called me that for many years,” she said.

I was twenty-seven years old then and Aura had told me that she was twenty-three years old.

“The Aura that I’m looking for is younger than me. Perhaps she spoke of me. My name is ‘Wizard’. We met recently down in Kentucky,” I said.

Aura looked as if she’d been punched in the gut.

“My God Wizard. I’ve often wondered where you got off to and why you never came back all these years. You haven’t aged at all have you?” Aura said.

“I dropped you off just yesterday morning,” I said. “How have you managed to age so much over night?”

“Wizard, you dropped me off at this address in August of 1968.”

“I was a child in 1968,” I said.

“Get in my purse and look at my billfold. We didn’t even have photo ID in 1968 but you’ll see that my date of birth was 1945,” she said.

“I may speak to Aura again on this side. I may not. It no longer matters.

She’d become a doctor after all. After a few years she’d given up waiting for me and married. She’d had three children and she was divorced and far too much water had flowed beneath the bridge and too many years separated us.

**************** ******************* ************************

Wizard reached into a pocket and took out what looked like a withered root.

“Do you know what this is?” Wizard asked. “This is the satyr’s yard. Draw the Claidheamh Soluis, not in earnest but to demonstrate something.”

I drew the enchanted sword while Wizard activated his weapon somehow. Wizard activated the yard somehow. Now he had a thick bludgeon over four foot long with a big ugly knob on the distal end.

“Strike the knobkerrie!” Wizard commanded.

All sorts of sparks and sound effects resulted. A dozen chops convinced me that a satyr’s joystick was a mystical weapon on par with the Claidheamh Soluis or the spear Gungnir.

“This is more than a weapon. Do you remember the line in the old John Denver song about the man who found ‘The Key To Every Door’? This, properly used, is the key to any door that you might ever desire to open. Don’t ever trust the rotten POS though. It will screw you every chance that it gets. That’s what it exists for—to screw people,” Wizard said bitterly.

“So should I use its power then?” I asked.

“That depends. Do you want a chance—not the certainty, but the possibility—to get your powers back?"






.....RVM45
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Old 10-20-2015, 06:44 PM
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I think it would be very interesting to sit by a fire and talk with you sometime. Your stories are full of unexpected twists,and are just so dammed entertaining!
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You most likely have read works by Carlos Castenada,JRR Tolkien, Hunter Thompson,and Pablo Neruda, just to name a few. Good stuff,man!
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Chapter Twenty-Eight






“This is the first ward we must pass,” Wizard said as he waved the satyr’s rod like Charlton Heston portraying Moses parting the Red Sea.

It brought to mind some verses from “The Rubaiyat”—though what in life doesn’t bring “The Rubaiyat” to mind?

“Into this Universe, and why not knowing.
“Nor whence, like Water willy-nilly flowing:
“And out of it, as Wind along the Waste,
“I know not whither, willy-nilly blowing.”

The forest on the far side of the portal Wizard had opened was completely different from the forest we’d just left. There were giant fern trees and there were fiddleheads as long as my arm. Houseflies the size of my fist flew through the air while relentlessly pursued by dragonflies with two-foot wingspans. We encountered a millipede as fat as my bicep and thirty some odd inches long.

“It’s best to avoid those if at all possible. They’re poison. It probably wouldn’t kill you, but it might make you wish that it had simply slain you,” Wizard said.

“So you’ve been here before?” I asked.

“No and I will never be here again. So to be really technical, I’m not here now—since the present is a convenient fiction that we use to discuss the terminus between two immense competing infinities,” Wizard.

“It stinks!” Duncan exclaimed in disgust.

“Your companion has had his more human mental faculties repressed at some point, hasn’t he? No, I know that you wouldn’t be party to such an act. Thing is, as we journey towards the Source of All Things, he will retrogress far more rapidly than someone like you who mainly dwells in his forebrain. Abstractions have far more force and clarity to you than the mere shifting sands of external reality—don’t they?” Wizard said.

“Why didn’t Root come with us?”

“Root’s domain is bigger than a million Earths, but in the end he must needs live up to his name,” Wizard rattled.

“EE!?!” I interjected.

“He is ‘rooted’ to his domain—not that he couldn’t defy his geas if it suited him. You’re well aware that it is generally a bad trip when one defies his fate aren’t you? In any case I’m more than adequate to our purpose. Root’s presence would cause the timelines to become even more turbulent and chaotic. He roils as much destiny as you do when he strolls through when and other-when. Two F6 Cyclones wildly braiding and rebraiding timelines and fates would be redundant—now wouldn’t they?”

A giant creature waddled into the trail in front of us. How to describe it? It looked kinda like a giant mudpuppy but far thicker and heavier built.

Its head took up about a third of its body length and mass. It had a humongous mouth with bulging jaw muscles far bigger than Duncan’s thighs. That head was as long as a Volkswagen Beetle but wider. Its head was wide enough to completely block the narrow trail. It had equilateral triangles for teeth a full three inches wide at the base. Like a shark, it had multiple rows of teeth.

It belched and the odor of rot was almost a retch gas attack in its own right.

“Bad things happen if we step off this trail. I could face the creature but that would get you a pass. Other guardians would manifest to bar your way. It’s your powers we’re pursuing,” Wizard said.

“Fall on your belly and tremble in terror!” I shouted at the heap-big amphibian. “But recover quickly and drag yourself out of my right of way.”

The creature turned its head slightly to one side to look at me a little better. Its eye was as big as a jumbo grapefruit.

“Fight me and die,” it croaked in a voice that was as abhorrent to my ears as its breath was to my sense of smell.

“Earth and Sky Last Forever…
“The Aged are Miserable…
“Do Not Fear Death.
“It is Always a Good Day to Die.”

“Fight as one already dead and none can stand against you—except outside of a fearsome odor I don’t think that you can make the nut,” I told the ugly haint.

Padraig said not to use the Claidheamh Soluis when lesser means would suffice. I didn’t want to foul the radiant enchanted blade on this obscenity. I’d moved my thirty-nine inch saber over for a right hand draw lest I need two blades. I drew my saber and threw three Kunai daggers left-handed even as I advanced. Yeah, I’d spent many years and many many hours perfecting my weak hand throwing skills. My skills weren’t AWOL just because my chi had been shanghaied. Om

Since I’d lost my powers I had added some enhancements to my Kunai. I think that the five most deadly venomous sakes live in Australia. Each of my daggers had enough venom from the three deadliest snakes to kill a squad and a half of combat infantrymen each along with the two deadliest jellyfish toxins.

Each dagger went more than deep enough to inject its payload into the face of the creature. I wasn’t sure that would be enough. The amphibian must have weighed a ton or two. I also wasn’t sure about the time frame.

As I charged the obscenity my foot slipped on the muddy and slimy ground.

It was just as well. The mudpuppy moved faster than I’d have thought possible. If I’d been in the leap I’d intended it would have caught me in its fearsome jaws. Instead I slid under the thing’s head like a runner sliding into home.

I rammed my saber deep into its soft under jaw.

“Hold,” I told my saber.

That feature had been built into the sword by my armorers. Even without any supplemental chi from me the sword clamped the salamander’s jaws closed.

Ever seen those “Wasp” knives? Stab and push a button and it injects most of the contents of a CO2 cartridge into whatever you have just stabbed. It is supposed to totally destroy a swath of tissue the size of a basketball, freeze tissue another two or three inches past the completely destroyed zone and inject multiple gas embolisms into the client’s bloodstream.

I had three of the daggers with me. Two went randomly into the underside of the creature’s jaws. I managed to place the third dagger very close to where I thought the creature’s jugular and carotid should be.

I killed it or at least incapacitated it. Then the damned thing fell on me.

My mystic armor of raven feathers ruled out it crushing me any time soon but it was claustrophobic and I was in some danger of suffocating eventually. That’s when Duncan grabbed the thing’s head and rolled it off of me and incidentally off the trail.

I watched the obscene creature’s death wallows with some satisfaction.

“I suppose that’s a very good saber shot all to Hell,” I remarked.

“I’ll fetch it,” Duncan said.

Wizard had time to say, “Don’t get off…”

While I shouted, “No!”

Those fiddlehead as big as my arm—they were poisonous stinging nettles and they stung Duncan all over his body again and again. They lashed out as hard and as fast as the lash of a blacksnake whip. Duncan gritted his teeth and shielded his eyes and took another three steps until he could grasp the hilt of my saber.

“Loose!” I commanded the sword as it was still sticking the creature’s jaws together.

I suppose that he’d have managed to extract the sword anyhow, but there was no need to prolong his exposure to the poison plants.

“Here is your sword,” Duncan said as he presented it to me hilt foremost. He collapsed immediately afterward.

“He’s going to die,” Wizard said sadly.

“Is there no remedy?” I asked.

“There is. You possess the Claidheamh Soluis. You can purify his blood but it is dangerous. Will you jeopardize your quest over concern for a weak minded servant?” Wizard asked.

I gave Wizard the hardest and coldest stare that I could manage.

“Tell me how to do it to it,” I commanded.

“Draw your sword with one hand and touch his bare skin somewhere with the other. Draw the poison out of him and into you and then neutralize it,” Wizard said.

I drew the enchanted sword in my strong left hand and laid my bare right hand on Duncan’s sweat beaded brow. My right hand felt like it ha been thrust into a pit full of fire ants even while it was being electrocuted.

Duncan opened his eyes and they widened in terror. He tried frantically to pry my hand from his head.

“Master, you mustn’t!” he pleaded.

“After all this time,” I said a little sadly. “I’m not your master damn it! I’m your friend.”

The agony worked its way up my forearm. The pain of running my arm into a meat grinder would have been mild by comparison. As the pain moved up my upper arm it intensified if that was possible.

“If you haven’t destroyed the poison by the time that it reaches your chest, you must let go. You will die if the poison invades your torso,” Wizard shouted frantically.

“I will save Duncan or die trying,” I gritted between teeth that were chipping and shattering with the violence of the cramps and tremors that possessed my body.

The poison and the pain were well into my chest when Saul walked over and bit my left forearm hard enough to pierce it down to the bone. Sure enough some of the agony was siphoned off into the Hellhound. Alexander and Glass both gripped my shoulders hard enough to pierce the skin and each of them drew off a small portion of the poison and the agony.

Janet and Panic were jockeying to contact me when the pain abruptly stopped.

“It’d done,” Wizard said.

Then something happened that horrified me more that anything that I’d ever seen happened. My sleeve and all the flesh fell off my right arm. The ligaments that held my arm bones together outlived the rest of the soft flesh only by a couple heartbeats and the bones fell to the muddy trail as well.

“Duncan, I need you to do something for me,” I said.

“Anything,” he said.

“Kill me. I don’t want to go on living like this,” I said.

“Whose enchanted sword do you carry?” Wizard asked. “Who brought the Claidheamh Soluis to Ireland?”

“Nuada Airgetlám,” I said.

“And what does his name mean? Why was he called that?” Wizard persisted.

“It means ‘Silver Arm’. He lost an arm in battle and he couldn’t become King of Ireland because in those days the King must needs be a perfect physical specimen. Then the physician Dian Cecht and the wright Creidhne created an arm of silver for him. Later Dian Cecht’s son replaced the silver arm with an arm of flesh and blood,” I answered mechanically.

“Draw the Claidheamh Soluis and ask it to lend you its power,” Wizard said.

I drew the sword from its resting place.

“If I’m to go on living I need an arm of silver like Nuada Airgetlám’s,” I said to the glowing sword.

The pain of drawing the poison was mild compared to the pain of growing an arm of purest silver starting at the humerus and deltoid and moving down at the pace of winter molasses. When I was done I held the arm up to examine it.

I’ve always had extra-wide shoulders and thick arms—at least since I became a man. I never had pretty cannon ball deltoids, long biceps, horseshoe triceps and Popeye forearms. I did now. The silver arm was as perfect as it was possible to imagine an arm being. Oddly enough my left arm, my torso—the whole rest of my body to be brief…

Well I was strong but I never had an aesthetic physique. I’d always been built for sheer double-wide brute power. Now I had a physique like one of the heroes in a Frank Frazetta painting.

“Airborne,” I congratulated the sword on the transformation it had wrought in me.

“Odin opened one door for you. The satyr’s Johnson opened the second door for you. You need to open this door yourself. Your friends may step through the portal but they won’t end up beside you. You might as well have them remain with me,” Wizard said.

Alexander and Glass dug their claws deeply into the flesh of my shoulders but Janet, Panic, Saul and Duncan obeyed my gesture to stay.

A jet-black dodecahedron the size of a desk calendar went spinning wildly while following an irregular pattern somewhat like a helix went careening close by me. It missed me the first few times but it continued to grow and it spun faster with every approach. Finally it was big enough to totally envelop me and I went tumbling wildly into yet another alternate universe.

What greeted my bloodshot eyes as my feet touched down in the strange place? There was an enormous stone idol. I suppose that it was supposed to be a Buddha. I had a third eye in the center of its forehead. It sat in a lotus position and it had a big potbelly.

Two things popped into my mind simultaneously. Have you ever heard Brother Jed preach? Some heckler invariably asks him what he thinks of Buddha and Brother Jed invariably replies that Buddha is nothing but a big potbelly. Then there is the Zen aphorism that if you meet Buddha on the road and he stands between you and satori, that you must cut him down without an iota of forbearance or hesitation.

That’s all well and good, but this huge limestone idol could have held King Kong in the palm of one great hand…

And Potbelly had started to rise.

“Dude, it is like: you are obstructing my forward progress. Move or feel my steel,” I shouted.

“Who do you think you are?” Potbelly demanded in a booming voice that sounded like the descriptions that I’d heard of giant icebergs calving into the Antarctic Ocean.

“My name is ‘Spoil O Warren’. I am a King and a Priest in my own country—but this world isn’t my true home. Saul of Tarsus said that idols are dead stone that neither sees, nor hears, nor knows. You seem to be an exception to that general dictum though,” I started.

“You’re a Christian? I seldom get a chance to crush a Christian in this side-pocket of reality,” the giant Buddha said.

“This is the Claidheamh Soluis and this sword is named ‘Salamander Slayer’. Fall to your knees and tremble in terror!” I commanded him.

The great potbellied statue of white limestone stamped furiously down upon me. When he raised his foot four and twenty blackbirds did not fly in every direction. I’d say that it was more than twice that many ravens.

“I’m over here dumbass,” I said.

As I swung the Claidheamh Soluis and it lengthened enough to sever the giant’s Achilles tendon—if a stone idol can be said to posses tendons.

“**** a brick!” Potbelly cursed.

I thought it an odd expression coming from a giant idol. The giant tried to clap his hands together to swat me like I was a mosquito. He kept them pressed together for an instant but then my greater strength forced his hands apart.

My thirty-nine inch saber wielded by my brand new silver arm didn’t seem to give up anything to the much older and more famous sword.

As he strove to smash his hands together once more, I cut off all the fingers off of one hand with the Claidheamh Soluis while Salamander Slayer cut the fingers from his other hand. Neither sword was long enough to sever a single finger without turning to beams of purest light and growing far longer that their physical length.

The stone man cursed and then swore while he hopped on his one good leg.

“It’s all fun and games until someone loses an eye isn’t it?” I taunted him. “Or in your case, eight perfectly good fingers.”

I strode upwards as though there was a set of five-foot steps leading up to the idol’s face. When I was high enough to look him in his eyes I thrust a sword of light into each eye.

Potbelly swatted me aside with one fingerless palm before I could put out his third eye. He drew in a huge moaning breath and then blew a huge fount of burning napalm at me.

Several things happened all at once. My armor of enchanted raven feathers shielded me from the blast. Since I seemed to have my powers back, I tried a wind attack but I no longer commanded wind. Panic materialized above the head of Buddha with Duncan, Saul and Janet on his back.

“You don’t have a wind nature anymore,” Panic shouted. “Something that the government did to you turned your wind nature into water nature.”

Hell’s belles and cockleshells and skeletons all in a row!

That is one good thing about wind nature. There’s always plenty of air around to turn into wind. Where in Hell was I going to draw my water from?

Ah yes, with the mind of a water dipper I draw my water from the estate that is beyond right and wrong—AKA the watery chaos.

Air can be compressed but with enough chi water can be superheated and pumped up to ten of fifteen thousand pounds per square inch.

Lao Tse said that water is one of the weakest and most pliable of materials but it is unsurpassed for attacking the hard and unyielding. It was kinda cheating to use jets of superheated steam the way I did though.

I cut the giant statue into pieces small enough to hide with high pressure blazing hot jets of water that rivaled a supercharged laser beam.

“Well this dude wasn’t all that tough,” I said.

Just then the great half of the head of Buddha righted itself and cackled with a note of senile glee and exultation.

“Didn’t anyone ever tell you not to count how many fat ladies are singing until you can see the whites of their cracked eggs?” Buddha demanded.

“Did you ever hear of the spell of parts?” He bellowed.

The statue broke into hundreds of pieces and each piece became a small replica of the original—potbelly and all. There were Buddhas the size of a GI Joe—a potbellied limestone GI Joe. Some were the size of a toddler. There were some the size of a market weight pig and some the size of a man.

For some reason they all started to grow ever more froglike. They squatted obscenely with great swollen bellies and private parts out of all proportion to the rest of their body. Then they started aiming some sort of golden rays at me out of their third eyes.

I opened my arms and sprayed huge flowing streams of water at the Stone Frog Buddhas. An instant later Panic sprayed them with his black miasma. The miasma was black because it sucked all the radiant energy out of something. Soon all the statues were covered in thick layers of ice several feet thick. Then I summoned birds from every point of the compass to do what birds do to statues. Honestly, I don’t think that the bird guano bound the Stone Frog Buddhas any better than the ice already was—but it was funny.

“I will soon melt this ice and be ready to fight once more,” Buddha shouted.

“You do that dude,” I told him. “I’m leaving and you can sit here in this tiny universe being all growly-bad and intimidating until Hell freezes over. Don’t bother me none.”





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Chapter Twenty-Nine






I came back from the shadow realm to find out that all my people had been kicked out of Macersville. The enclave where the village had been was totally destroyed. There wasn’t even a hole or featureless void in the fabric of reality to show where the enclave had once been. I couldn’t find a gate or portal to Macersville to voice my displeasure. I couldn’t find my way to the Cherokee lands to ask for asylum for my people either.

I’m reasonably sure that I could have found my way to either of the hidden worlds eventually, but I hadn’t the time to spare.

There were several thousand refugees and many of them had no ID, work history or even a proof of existence that would satisfy the state. Not only that, but they had little idea how to deport themselves in the great wide open.

Macersville had kept me well supplied with gold. The flow had been shut off rather abruptly but I’ve never been a trusting sort of person. I like to think of myself—in some contexts—as a squirrel who remembers winter—a squirrel that compulsively hoards nuts. The squirrel is also too cautious to put all his baskets around one egg—or acorn.

Locking the horse after the barn door has already been stolen serves no useful purpose.

I had an embarrassment of riches but now it wasn’t an ever-replenishing flow. Instead it was an important fixed and largely irreplaceable resource.

Ecclesiastes says:

“A feast is made for laughter, and wine maketh merry: but money answereth all things.”

Well you know where Jesus says that love of money is the root of all evil? A more accurate translation would say that love of money is the root of all sorts of evil. David didn’t lust after Bathsheba because he was a miser nor was that what motivated the men of Sodom to try to rape God’s angels.

In the same vein, money is no longer the answer to all things—not when there are tax collectors who would put the obsessive compulsive Pharisee calculating his tithe on his mint, anise and cummin to shame. And in addition to the taxman, big brother just likes to label and track folks every moment from cradle to grave—from womb to tomb.

Nonetheless, it is better to have money than not to have it—even when it is not the answer to everything. Come to think of it though—paying hackers to create fake ID along with a built in backstory is an example of money taking care of someone—as is paying someone a hefty tariff to take cash and not ask too many questions.

But we just had far too many people to hide and they were all in one place. There is a limit to how much stuff you can hide or camouflage or render obscure. Then The Powers That Be had their antennae and feelers out for people like us.

I decided that my first move would be to get the government off our asses.

*************** ********************* *****************************

We had a few people who’d gotten so good at the stealth thingy that they were all but invisible. It is harder to be undetectable by most electronic sensors but it can be done.

One night both the president and the vice-president had a late night caller. They weren’t alone. All one hundred senators, eighty-five representatives and seven supreme court justices also had late night callers.

I felt that it was important to get as many as possible at one time since one very immediate response might be to jack up security to the maximum possible. They might be able to make the president all but unreachable. I didn’t think that they could protect all the members of congress unless they meant to adopt the “Strategic Hamlet” concept and herd all the Congress critters into high security fenced-in enclosures.

I sent one of my spawns after the president. I was different since I’d lost and regained my powers. I no longer had a number of different kahunas on call nor did I throw spawn in layers or waves. I could simply throw between one hundred and a hundred and forty spawn depending on how strong I was at the moment.

They were strong—well above 6.0—and they had a number of powerful techniques at their disposal but they were all pretty much identical. Of course I could hold some back and recycle unspent chi from popped spawn just as before but the whole process felt noticeably different.

My dry spawn had about fifty percent longer life expectancies and they were proportionately more powerful and harder to destroy. The maximum number that I could deploy at one time was down fifteen or twenty percent though.

Black rats could go undetected where a man could not. I had a couple dozen rats on loan from Cary and I could sense their surroundings and thoughts as well as I could read my birds.

Once I had my route down pat I sent a flock of crows—they were marginally better for stealth than ravens since they were a bit smaller.

The crows came together and became me just out of sight of the two secret service agents standing outside the entrance to the first family’s living quarters. My hands darted out—one to each head. I downloaded scads of interesting and potentially useful data both about how government VIPs were protected, the disposition of secret service agents in the Whitehouse and miscellaneous nuggets of info about what went on behind the scenes in Washington.

I left them both unconscious in the midst of a powerful and very realistic nightmare. They’d both wake up in twelve to sixteen hours with no lingering physical effects.

What? They were just doing their job? “Just doing one’s job” is far worse justification than merely being conscientiously evil. At any rate all I did was give their very bland and colorless psyches some contrast.

The prez and the first lady shared a king-sized bed. I put her into a deep nightmare haunted sleep identical to the trance the agents were not enjoying. I didn’t download anywhere near as much data as I had from the agents. I’d get all that I needed from her husband. Also, as a fully heterosexual man many of the images I get from a woman are disturbing. And no, all of the data downloads itself in a braided and even snarled manner. You can’t pick and choose very much.

“Wake up Mister President,” I said to him.

His first thought awakening to find a man with a big Kukri knife to his throat was to scream. I’d already taken over his body and I nullified his attempt to scream. I relaxed a few muscles and let him wet and soil himself in retaliation for trying to scream.

“Do you ever watch ninja or kung fu movies? Anime? Ever read Manga or
Manwha? You don’t? Okay. That will be your first assignment when you wake up. Spend about five hundred hours diligently researching your opposition via fiction,” I said.

“Let me break it to you gently dumbass. You have over two dozen secret societies right here in the US of A with powers similar to the Manga ninja—and that’s not counting operatives from groups based overseas,” I continued.

I caught a sense of honest shock and bewilderment coming off of him. I stood behind him but I knew that his eyes were bugged out from reading his moment-to-moment sensory inputs.

I sheathed my Kukri since I had no intention of killing him—at least not today.

“I see that no one has seen fit to read you in. If I were you, I’d call in the top officers from the FBI, Homeland Security, the CIA and the military Joint Chiefs of Staff and demand an accounting—but that’s just me. My name is ‘Spoil’ and I’m the head of a group of Adepts known as ‘The Outfit’. We’re homeless at the moment and a bit vulnerable,” I said.

That might be new info to him but it wasn’t unknown to The Powers That Be—the puppeteers behind things. So there was no sense beating around the bush.

“You are going to call your running dogs off of my people—including our allied dojos and biker gangs and militias. Because if you don’t I will come calling again late some night and I won’t leave anyone in your family alive,” I said.

The terror was falling off the man in waves that could almost be seen.

“When you awake this won’t seem anywhere near this real and compelling to you, so I have to leave some lasting mark on you. Should I castrate you? Should I gouge out your eyes? Cut your fingers off?”

His heart rate was racing now. I had to reach inside his autonomous nervous system and pull him back from the brink.

“I’m not that type of fellow but you should look at some of the things that the Russian mobs do to people to make them examples—not to mention your own interrogators. This will hurt a bit but it is largely cosmetic and quite remediable by a good plastic surgeon. I’m going to take your ears. You won’t be the only one. When you see a senator or a representative with gauze around his head you’ll know that he’s had a late night visit just like you.”

I added almost as an afterthought—though of course everything about my visit was carefully calculated:

“Here are the first three of my books. I’ve signed them for you. You can order hard copies or read the others online,” I said.

Once I had his wounds sewn up and a gauze bandage around his head I put him to sleep. I tripped every alarm in the place at one time. A score of armed men rushed into the president’s bedroom and pointed firearms at me.

They gave me the bum’s rush trying to pile up on me like it was a rugby scrum. I waited till a couple hands touched me and then I turned into a column of crows flying every which way.

“I’m over here dumbasses!” I said.

Then just as they caught sight of me I did the crow trick again and this time I waited until I was well outside the Whitehouse grounds to reconstitute. Once I was solid, I immediately popped my cork.

Within a few days later we visited a number of Governors and Chief Law Enforcement Officers in several Southeastern states. Most of them were far more tractable to reason than the feds so we used less stick and far more carrot. It is eye opening to see how much benign neglect that a few million dollars in small non-sequential dollar bills will buy.

************* ******************* ************************

So who has been wondering about the single kinjutsu in the book Padraig left me?

It was a jutsu to create—if “Create” is the right word—the enclaves like the one that Macersville inhabits and the enclave that once contained the village. I was the only human in living memory with enough chi and the hubris to attempt the difficult jutsu.

How to explain? There is a limited amount of “Stuff” on hand. Science says that the combined total of matter and energy must always remain the same. However Quantum Mechanics seems to say that an electron can travel to the far ends of the universe far faster than light—very briefly—as long as it gets back before anyone or anything could possibly have missed it or noted its absence.

I don’t want to lean too hard on science though. Much of the tradecraft functions outside and even in violation of Scientific Principles.

If you want to create a universe simply borrow this one for the smallest possible instant—for one chronon if there is such a thing. Time is relative. Your borrowed universe’s time won’t be the same as time here. Your new universe can go through a big bang and all the untold eons it takes for everything to run down and fall apart…

And you can return all the borrowed “Stuff” exactly one micro-minuscule unit of time later before it could be missed—even in principle.

Remember Relativity though. Someone living in the Rho Universe would think that our universe had been borrowed from Rho for one very brief chronon.

If our universe is a huge irregular multi-dimensional soap bubble then creating another universe is akin to getting a piece of the bubble to break completely free. It is technically simple to create another universe but the power required would be astronomical—and even with the most ambitious human or even haint’s lifespan one couldn’t really do much with a whole universe if he did sculpt one.

Creating pocket enclaves that reach back to the earliest days of life on Earth and extend eons into the future—pockets that stand largely apart but never go on their separate ways…

That takes far less raw power but it also takes orders of magnitude more understanding, skill and subtlety to accomplish.

**************** ******************* ***************************

“How big can you make the enclave?” Panic asked me.

“Big enough, why?” I responded.

“I you could make it…O say the size of Indiana or Kentucky—I could exist there instead of the outer void,” Panic said.

“That would be an ungodly big land Panic,” I said. “It would want to undulate, fold-in, crumple and destroy itself.”

“Not if you bent it into something rigid—like a sphere,” Panic said.

“A sphere with the surface area of Kentucky—that would be a sphere with a diameter of about one hundred and fifteen miles and a circumference of about three hundred and sixty miles. What would I do for gravity? I can warp space so that everyone on a flat surface feels a pull straight down. I don’t know how I’d get everyone to stick to the surface of a sphere,” I said.

“If you’ll put everything inside the sphere there is a way to warp space in such a way that there seems to be a force pulling towards the outer surface of the sphere,” Panic argued and broadcast a complex multi-dimensional image into my mind.

“Damned nation! That is convoluted. Do you think that I can manage that?”

“I’m sure of it,” Panic said. “It is your destiny.”

************** ********************** ****************************

The government surprised me with their response.

They declared that it was an act of terrorism to own any of my books or the books of kinjutsu—either on paper or on a hard drive. They didn’t need a warrant to kick your door in and toss the place while looking for kinjutsu. Someone could be detained indefinitely without trial or access to an attorney for practicing jutsu, having books of tradecraft or even being under suspicion of having the books.

They attacked people all over Northern Georgia, Eastern Kentucky and Tennessee and Western Virginia who they thought just might be Adepts.

Poppy had owned a pizzeria in the village. He was a perpetually happy man who welcomed each of his customers with heartfelt hospitality. He had three teenaged daughters and a couple Great Danes. They killed Poppy and his whole family—including the dogs—executing a no-knock warrant. The sole bright spot was that Poppy and his daughters took three of the hobnails down with them.

Tom was a teenaged son of a baker. He died in a crossfire while they were attempting to arrest someone else altogether. Six senior citizens—the youngest was well over seventy—were killed in a nursing home shootout.

There were others—a couple dozen—as well as a score of outsiders killed just for being at the wrong place at the wrong time.

It was time to strike back.

************* ***************** **************************

Norman sat and guarded the trailers from hiding. Word had leaked out than a large family of Adepts were living in three trailers and a couple shanties so far up the mountain that there was no electricity or running water.

Almost a hundred black-clad government henchmen arrived in a score of black Humvees and SUVs. They took up their positions all around the trailers and buildings.

Norman was surprised when the black-clad troopers set up three belt-fed machine guns and two 60mm mortars. They never demanded surrender. Instead they all opened fire on a pre-arranged signal. They hosed the small compound with everything that they had for ninety seconds. Then there was a cease-fire while five teams converged on trailers and buildings to check for survivors.

They used grenades quite liberally both before entering the building or trailer and as a prelude to each room clearing as well. When each structure was found vacant, generous amounts of plastique was placed to turn everything to toothpicks and shredded sheet metal.

People who don’t take prisoners can’t very well complain when the opposition adopts a “No Prisoners” policy too.

Norman had been a “One Trick Pony” when he’d defected to Macersville. The senseis at his new home stressed overall development and strengthening weak areas relentlessly.

He’d been able to wobble back and forth across the sound barrier when he’d fought the bikers. Sometimes he’d wobble two or three times in a step or two. He’d only been able to throw a single rather weak spawn back then.

Now he could throw five spawn and all of them were twenty-five to thirty miles-per-hour faster—fast enough to keep them super sonic at all times. His original was sixty or seventy miles-per-hour faster and Norman’s strength, stamina and recovery had all increased both noticeably and usefully.

Norman sent four spawn to fight the storm troopers while he held a single spawn in reserve and kept himself well hidden.

Norman’s first spawn had a fair sized shoulder bag full of thermite grenades. The grenades had little to no explosive effect but they molten iron would quickly eat through the hood of the vehicles and pour into the engines underneath ruining them. He only meant to leave one survivor and he meant to do that deliberately—not as a result of happenstance.

He placed a three-gallon plastic container of gasoline cantilevered atop the thermite grenade on the first and last vehicle. He had moved twenty yards beyond the last vehicle and had taken a couple heads when the first bomb exploded.

It wasn’t easy to design a blade that could collide with targets while moving faster than sound and not bend, dull or shatter. The armorers had done a very good workmanlike job of forging Norman a pair of extra heavy-duty custom Kukris with seventeen-inch blades but the quality was degraded when he spawned.

Norman helped both by sheathing the blades in heavy-duty chi and in cutting down any wobble or torqueing force to the minimum.

When his body was moving faster than sound there was little need to add velocity to the blade by swinging it. Instead he focused on holding the blade out perpendicular to the surface he meant to chop and trying hard to keep the blade from wavering or wobbling in the cut. He simply walked past each client at over eight hundred miles-per-hour while holding his blade out.

He’d already taken three heads with that spawn before the first thermite/gasoline bomb exploded. Of course the three other spawn that hadn’t taken time off to destroy the vehicles had higher kill specs.

He couldn’t hear the blast. His chi shielded him from most of the effects of being exposed to the air at such a high velocity but his vision was a bit blurred and all that he could hear was a roaring in his ears.

Norman picked the trooper he meant to spare. Norman dropped out of hyper-speed behind the law. He seized him in a naked strangle and quickly put the man down.

Norman worked quickly but without using his super-speed. He took the man’s ears and then disinfected and bandaged them. The man wouldn’t be down for long from a choke-out and Norman applied small injections of Novocain to make the area completely numb.

He gave the trooper an IV injection that contained a modest amount of amphetamine along with a very generous dose of psilocybin piggy-backed on an even larger dose of LSD-25.

Folks came out of the woods from every direction. They quickly picked up all of the fallen heads and dropped weapons—except for the trooper Norman had spared. They left his weapons—partially disassembled—and without any ammunition.

“Tell your superiors what happens to people that waste men, women, children and pets without cause or reason,” Norman told him.

Everyone else had cleared out when Norman’s spawn took a half a dozen burn phones out of their foil wrappers. He dialed “911” on each phone and then set it gently on the ground. On the last phone he paused until the operator answered.

“There’s a slew of hobnailed storm troopers lying dead and one injured,” Norman said.

Then he set that phone on the ground with the other five and then popped his cork.

************** ********************* ****************************

The layers of protection around the president intercepted each of the packages addressed to him in the Whitehouse of course, but they’d told him about them. When the third box was delivered he insisted on examining it himself, so after much poking and prodding they brought one of the packages to him.


It was an extra big three-gallon jar with an extra big mouth. Inside there was a head of a government law floating in a vinegar and salt solution with plenty of dill seeds, onion pieces, garlic buds and other spices.

The eyelids including the eyebrows had been removed. The hair was removed. The tongue was dropped down between the jawbones.

“You say the brains were removed? Why?” the president asked.

“Either they had a use for them or it suited their purpose somehow,” a high-ranking law said.

A lower ranking law started to say something and then stifled himself.


“If you know something, speak up,” the president told him.

“They’re prepared much like pickled pigs’ feet. I never heard of anyone pickling a pig’s head—but if I were to try it I’d worry if the brains would spoil in spite of the pickling,” the younger law said.

“This came with it,” the senior law said while handing the president a note protected by the clear plastic bag enclosing it.

The president read it aloud much to the senior law’s annoyance.

“If you don’t quit killing or arresting and torturing non-Adepts, families and other noncombatants in my second phase I’m going to target your law’s families and loved ones. If you’re the only one committing atrocities people will get the idea that you’re kinder and more just than us. I can’t have that,” the president read aloud.

The message was signed “Spoil Airgetlám AKA Spoil O Warren”.

“I believe that he means it. Tell your men to step down,” the president commanded.

“You don’t run things around here,” the senior law said.

************ *************** *****************************

The junior law finished his shift and tried to act nonchalant. When he got home he told his wife to pack as little as they could get by with and not to plan on ever coming back.

He laid his badge and ID on his desk where it would be easy to find when they came looking for him. After a moment’s hesitation he laid his government issue Glock on the desk along with all of its magazines and holsters.

He donned a .45 caliber 1911A1 and a 2” Smith and Wesson .38 Special and a Walther PP .32. He felt whole and complete again for the first time in years.

He’d bought a small—one hundred and sixty-eight acre—farm in Kentucky a bit North and East of Hopkinsville. He’d used the ID of a cousin who’d died as a teen. He even had a carry permit in his cousin’s name. It wasn’t hard for a Civil Master like he’d been with huge computer skills. His hacking and computer expertise was something that he’d kept hidden from his employers and even his wife.

If the Adepts were threatening noncombatants and the Federal Agencies were threatening the president with a coup, it was time to get out while the getting was good. It was very kind of his ex-employers to shield him from facts like those He hoped that one day he could return the favor—but the odds of that happening were minuscule.






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Chapter Thirty






The secret service agent who’d resigned had the surname “Jason” though he was no longer using it since he’d went to ground.

There was a knock on the door of his farmhouse at 4:00am. When Jason peered out the peephole he was horrified to see his old section chief standing at the door.

“Open the door Jason. I know that it’s you inside,” the chief said.

Jason opened the door with a long barreled .44 Magnum in one hand. He was rather surprised to see that the chief had civilians with him—a black woman and three children. The oldest was no taller than the woman’s sternum.

“I need a favor Jason,” Chief said. “I was aware of your hidey-hole. I watched you build your exit strategy with interest—though I thought at the time that you were a bit paranoid. At any rate, I didn’t emulate you. I’m flashing on a **** storm ahead. Would you shelter my wife and children for me?”

Jason absorbed a number of surprising bits of data with a poker face.

“Come in. There’s no sense in prolonging your exposure. I would think that someone coming to ask a favor would use my first name instead of my last—but never mind. I’m not using either anymore. Call me ‘Truitt’,” Jason said.

“I want to stress, I’m not blackmailing you. I’ll keep your secret even if you refuse sanctuary for my family,” Chief said.

Jason sat a moment in silent contemplation. Chief’s generosity was a clever gambit. Jason taking in Chief’s family under duress was far less desirable than having him do it willingly. Under the circumstances it was hard to feel good about saying “No’’.

“I’m surprised that you have a black wife,” Jason said.

“Are you a racist?” Chief’s wife asked a bit sharply.

“Of course, everyone is racist—even those who try to deny it,” Jason said.

Then he paused to shout, “Rolanda, get decent and come to the front room please.”

Rolanda was noticeably darker than Chief’s wife.

“Although I believe that every interpersonal relationship must needs include largely subliminal considerations of race, I don’t bear your race any ill will. This isn’t a coincidence though—is it?”

“You aren’t the only federal agent with a hidey-hole, but my wife and children will be a much less jarring dissonance here with you,” Chief said. “I had access to your personnel file and so I wasn’t even a little surprised at your wife’s ethnicity,” Chief said.

“Of course my wife’s cousins—no, her sister and her nieces and nephews—are welcome to stay with us while she’s estranged from her husband. What is he? O yeah, he’s a broker in New York who’s heavily stressed over the downturn in the economy,” Jason said.

“You will go to Hell for lying so much,” Rolanda said to Jason.

“I make no excuses for lies and liars, but lies of necessity aren’t the same as ‘Bearing False Witness’,” Jason said. “But I am willing to stand at the Judgment Throne and answer for telling the occasional whopper. It will be far from the most grievous of offenses that I’ll be taken to task for.”

**************** ******************** *************************

Creating an enclave—a relatively small eddy or vortex in the multi-dimensional flow of existence…

What can I compare it to? It is like any other endeavor where you strain and push for a prolonged period of time with all of your might and nothing happens—then all at once—things move!

“We have an enclave once more. It is noticeably larger and will be even harder for outsiders to find and enter—but it will be about seven weeks until it is ready to access,” I told my wards.

We had to put our people somewhere. With the black BDU wearing feds nipping at every soft belly exposed it made sense to gather the folks together in one place where we could all protect them. We’d bought and consolidated about four thousand acres in the foothills of the Appalachians in Northern Georgia and we’d hunkered down to wait.

Ten days before we could have opened The Outfit’s new enclave, huge numbers of the black clad hobnails surrounded our compound. They brought tanks, armored personnel carriers along with SWAT vehicles specialized for breaching barricades.

They stood back and shelled our compound with mortar and artillery shells. Then they even called in an airstrike with slow moving aircraft armed with mini-guns and 35mm chainguns.

Why did we need over four thousand acres to house about seven thousand people? I mean this wasn’t Woodstock.

I will tell you. We needed room to put in a fair number of decoy structures and Potemkin villages to draw fire while our folks huddled in hastily built and crowded bunkers.

On the third day I went outside bearing a white flag of truce.

A black BDU wearing trooper ran a wand over me.

“He’s an original,” the trooper told the commander.

“Dude it is like: what will it take to get you to go away?” I asked him.

“Open your compound and surrender your fellow cult members into custody,” the commander said. “This can’t end any other way.”

I stood bemused for a moment.

“You have nice white teeth. They will look good on a bracelet or necklace,” I said. “Try not to get those pretty teeth broken or destroyed. I’m going back and tell everyone that you are an uncompromising turd-gargler,” I said.

“You aren’t going anywhere,” the commander said.

Just then one of the guards interrupted our gavoreet by escortind three rail-thin hollow-eyed hillbillies into the command tent. One of the hillbillies was in a wheelchair.

“We represent the Northeast Georgia Volunteers,” the man in the wheelchair said.

“Militias have been declared illegal and the Northeast Georgia Volunteers was one of the groups specifically ordered to disband. At any rate, how formidable a militia can yours be if it includes cripples and the emaciated in their ranks?” Commander scoffed.

“I was in a mining accident. My brothers both have emphysema and antibiotic resistant tuberculosis. Even a small militia needs clerks, dispatchers and someone to do occasional ‘Paul Reveres’—mostly electronically nowadays. You’d know that if you weren’t a fool. Right now we have eight hundred sharpshooters with scoped high-powered rifles surrounding y’all. My brothers and I were considered expendable if you choose to violate our flag of truce,” the brave man in the wheelchair said.

“Fornicate your flag of truce!” Commander shouted.

He had a nicer word for ‘’Fornicate”. He slapped the man in the wheelchair hard enough to cause him to spit blood.

“Arrest all of them!” Commander shouted.

I remember in one of Robert E Howard’s stories, Conan is called into court as a material witness. When Conan refuses to snitch the judge orders him thrown into gaol for contempt of court. Conan concludes his account by saying:

“Then seeing as they were all insane I drew my sword and slayed them.”

Seeing the dude in the wheelchair slapped by the commander put me in the same frame of mind as Conan. Since they were all insane—and evil—there was scant recourse but to slay them.

I threw a hundred and fifty spawn. Way on the outer fringes were three little kahunas and each one threw five spawn of his own to add to the general confusion and tumult. What a nice surprise!

“I am Spoil Airgetlám. Fall to your knees and tremble in terror!” I shouted my challenge.

I ran my fist through the commander and ripped his heart out. A moment later I had my two enchanted swords in hand. Since they were both artifacts they spawned any number of times with perfect fidelity.

I grabbed up the man in the wheelchair and extended my feathered cloak around him and his brothers.

Once I had the brothers safely inside the compound, I popped my cork to let my chi flow back to the battle.

When they realized that the truce was broken, several of my Adepts assayed their own sorties for diversions.

Fifteen Duncan spawn along with a dozen Saul spawn jumped the fence and attacked without caution, strategy or subtlety. There were about thirty albino Geralds, five Normans moving faster than sound, twenty Ladonnas throwing so many of the toy Kunai that you’d think she’d found a way to make them belt fed.

Large packs of black cats and black rats attacked troopers. James and Chandra had spawn firing high power semi-automatic weapons and then doing a shot range teleport to another firing point to fire another high firepower volley.

The purpose of that exercise was simply to get the three militiamen and me back behind the barricades. Even if we wiped out every single law they’d soon have reinforcements back on the scene. The best strategy was to pull our heads in and try to survive long enough to open our enclave and vanish. We needed to think “Tortoise” and “Porcupine”. There was little point in exhausting ourselves in flashy sorties outside.

I didn’t take into account the eight hundred Georgia Militia Sharpshooters. I don’t think there has ever been that big a concentration of snipers raining well-aimed shots at largely unprotected clients at less than three hundred yards.

It was only moments later though it must have seemed like hours to many of those involved.

The black BDU clad federal forces beat a hasty retreat.

Less than an hour later a large force of troopers wearing brown camo BDUs in a pattern that I’d never seen before arrived. They had platoons of marching infantry but they also had many tanks and ten times as many supply and support vehicles.

They stayed on the road in a column and drove right up to our gate bearing a white flag of truce.

“Bring me the top four ranking men. I’m not going outside again to parley with them,” I ordered.

The brown camouflaged man with the Brigadier General’s stars stood at attention and saluted me.

“Brigadier General Partisan Brown placing myself and my command at your service,” he said.

“Your name is ‘Partisan’? Your father was as creative with names as mine. I mean no disrespect friend, but I’m incapable of returning your salute since I’m not in uniform. Please be seated,” I said. “What’s this about?”

“I’m sure that you’re aware that the each side’s Guard was originally a force at command of the individual governors and state. We’ve been working secretly and quietly to turn the Georgia Guard into a force capable of defending Georgia from threats and coercion by Washington,” General Brown said.

“I beg your pardon,” I said. “My position and the situation require me to be skeptical. I’ll need to touch each of you and do a reading. Is that alright?”

After I’d contact read General Brown and his three subordinates I keyed my intercom.

“I need six to eight contact readers. I want them to go outside. I want each of them to read at least a dozen randomly selected troopers and check for any sign of duplicity. Be creative in your selection and eclectic. Read everyone from buck privates up to colonels,” I said.

**************** ******************** ***********************************

Most of the Guardsmen concentrated on building another outer ring around our compound. They rapidly dug in and enfiladed their tanks and gun bearing armored troop transports. They also built bunkers for their men.

Men can and have built bunkers with nothing but picks and entrenching tools. That can drag one’s beat when time is of the essence though. The Georgia Guard was ahead of the curve there though. They’d brought plenty of OD brown painted backhoes. The backhoes did most of the digging while the men squared up and crumbed the resulting ditches and shoveled the spoil into synthetic fabric bags to make sandbag walls and overhead protection.

They also set up plenty of concertina, land mines and claymore arrays set to go off in strategic volleys.

Some of the militiamen came down to help the Guard dig in while others looked for better vantage points, cut branches or whatever to better conceal their sniper posts as well as setting up a number of unobtrusive distance markers.

Since the militiamen were on their own hook many of them drove off to the nearest grocery or convenience store to lay in supplies.

*************** ********************** ***************************

Five days later the federal forces arrived with a vengeance. There must have been fifteen or sixteen black clad federal infantrymen for every brown camo clad guardsmen.

The federals had been gearing up for war for some time. They thought that their main opponents would be lightly armed civilians. They had many armored assault vehicles but the armor was light and they were armed with weapons like a single .308 minigun, a 25mm chaingun, twin .50 caliber machineguns, water cannons and a few flamethrowers. More than a few of the tracked vehicles were armed with nothing but an M-60 and a steel battering ram.

There were twenty-five federal tracked vehicles for every one of the Georgia Guard’s. The Georgia vehicles were enfiladed—buried up to the turret—and they had some tank-killing guns on many of their vehicles.

“You men are involved in unlawful insurrection against the government of the United States. You are ordered to drop your weapons and stand down,” came from a set of four giant microphone horns mounted on a black truck.

The sniper who was using a .375 Magnum wrecked one speaker after another.

“We are here at the command of our governor and we constitute the sole legal authority inside of Georgia. You are commanded to break off hostilities and leave the state of Georgia by the fastest most expeditious rout possible,” many speakers mounted both inside and outside the compound carried Brigadier Brown’s reply.

Scores of black helicopters appeared on the horizon to the North. They were in formation to make multiple strafing passes against the compound and the guardsmen. Meanwhile, since their threats weren’t working the federal troops started leaving the road on each side intending to surround their clients.

First, the first wave of tanks started getting stuck in the hastily dug and concealed tank pits while others hit a landmine and lost a tread. The snipers opened fire and cut down many infantry and anyone who tried to exit the stuck tanks.

David had built a large number of small microchip piloted rockets and now the Guardsmen had given him a large quantity of plastic explosive to play with. Each rocket targeted a helicopter and when it collided with a helicopter is set off a shaped charge with over a half-pound of plastique.

Helicopters fell from the sky like black hailstones.

The federals pulled well back from the beaten zone to rest and regroup. They paused in disarray for a day and a half when the complexion of the whole battle changed with the arrival of thousands of Regular Army complete with real heavily armored tanks.

“I don’t intend to surrender under any circumstance,” I told my lieutenants and several Georgia Guard officers. “Anyone who wants to surrender should leave immediately. The rest of you—remember the Alamo.”

************ **************** ****************************

During The War of Northern Aggression federal troops had flooded into Kentucky making a referendum on whether they should join the Confederacy impossible. Thus they sat out the war uncomfortably as a neutral state.

The there was West Virginia—the traitor state that betrayed the Confederacy—and caused many natives to feel shame for the acts of their forefathers almost two hundred years later.

The federal government had walked on the Constitution of The United States for decades. The blatant violations of tens and hundreds of thousands peoples’ rights in their pursuit of Adepts and kinjutsu—and even just plain jutsu—was more analogous to using the revered document for toilet paper…

Kentucky and West Virginia were the very first states to state in no uncertain terms that the federals would cease and desist or they intended to secede from the Union.

Of course Georgia had stepped into the breach and started a hot war without any formal declaration. Mississippi and Alabama were anxious not to be outdone by Georgia and they mobilized their guard and militia units as well.

Florida had too many Yankee immigrants to be wholesale for the secession, but neither were they against it. Florida was divided county by county and even block by block which side they supported.

Indiana was divided as well. One could draw a concave line between Terre Haute and Richmond dipping Southward. The areas to the South were Confederates mot folks up North—while they weren’t enthusiastic supporters of the federal government—were intent on preserving their present state of misery.

Tennessee folk—like Indiana folk—liked to poke fun at the Kentuckians. When Kentucky stepped into harms way though the people of Tennessee reacted as if a brother was in danger and they joined the movement.

************* ************** ***************************

Within hours of the almost instant insurrection the Regular Army had surrounded the governors’ mansions or bunkers and laid siege. The only reason that they didn’t attack in overwhelming force was political rather than tactical.

The governor in Frankfort looked at the troops surrounding his residence gloomily. He should have gotten out sooner but events had raced ahead of strategy though. Eventually they would starve him out if nothing else, but it galled a man’s pride to go down without striking a single blow.

He was beyond any reasonable hope but something stronger than hope compelled him to hang on even largely against his own will.




.....RVM45
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Cool Conclusion

Friends,

I put off writing this chapter for several days.

Then I realized that it was time to close it up and I hated to do that because I was really enjoying this. Still any more would wax repetitious.

I'm going to sharpen my pencil and edit for typos, verb agreements as well as smoothing the occasional awkward sentence...

And I'm going to publish this one and "River Bottoms" as a partial prequel on Kindle. Hopefully it will catch on and blaze brightly.

I'm not holding my breath.



Chapter Thirty-One






I don’t follow military affairs much—especially since being put in charge of other Adepts. I remember Jeff Cooper was really impressed by the M-1 Abrams tank. It was expensive and far from simple to make or maintain, but it offered enough positive advantages to make all the high tech stuff worth it in this instance.

I imagine that the M-1 Abrams was way out of date in the modern world but whether the tanks that came after it were as superior to anything else in the field as the Abrams or whether they only increased the complexity where it would give a corresponding large increase in efficacy—that I don’t know—or care much.

Anyway, mere hours away from our enclave opening up to us there came tank after tank after tank from Fort Benning along with platoon after platoon of combat infantry.

They stopped at the black clad trooper’s outer perimeter and raised a huge flag of truce.

I went out to meet with them. As I said—we were hours from being able to jump down the groundhog hole and being able top pull the hole in after us. Every minute that I could gain taking was protein for us. I went in my own original—maybe I should say “Beta” self since this body had once been a big kahuna. I took a platoon of various spawn—even spawn from my former kahunas who’d gone independent.

No sooner had I walked into the tent than a black uniformed major shot me with another pair of silver spikes.

“That doesn’t work on me anymore dumbass, but here’s something for the thought,” I said as I rammed my fist through his hard body armor, the soft body armor that he wore under that and through his torso and out through the two layers of armor in the rear.

I dropped the still beating heart on the ground behind him. The chi shield kept me from even getting any blood on my hand or arm.

Several pistols were drawn along with a couple more of the Taser-like devices.

“Everyone stand down!” A lieutenant general with three silver stars on his desert camo BDUs shouted.

“Now, as the officer in charge of Fort Benning along with both associated and unassociated reserve units, I have decided that this siege and the pogrom against those suspected of being so-called ‘Adepts’ is unconstitutional and I’m ordering you men to lay down your arms. You are under suspicion of treason and may face charges,” the three star general said.

“Dudes, if it was me—I’d rather go down fighting than lay down my arms,” I told the federals.

“Your comment is not helpful,” the general said in irritation.

“No, it may not be helpful to either your or my aims. Nonetheless it is true,” I said.

************* **************** ****************************

“May I speak to you for a moment,” the lieutenant general asked me as we prepared to go back to our compound.

The portals would be opening any moment.

“What do you need?” I asked him when we were alone.

“When this is over, I’d very much like to visit your town. I think that maybe it would be a good place to retire and raise my grandchildren,” the general said.

**************** ******************* ******************************

At the last moment a gate that hadn’t quite stabilized opened outside our barricades among the black clad federals and over eleven hundred of them entered our land.

They immediately raised a flag of truce.

“We wish to apply for political asylum,” the captain that had been selected to represent them told me.

“How do you figure?” I asked somewhat amused at her audacity.

“Isn’t this a sovereign territory? And isn’t whether or not to obey an order or to refuse it largely a matter of politics? Either choice can turn out to be the wrong one—depending on who wins,” she said.

“Surrender your weapons. I hate to say that to anyone—even y’all. You have my word that once the confusion dies down and we can get you some clothing that isn’t an incitement to riot that you will have the run of the place and that I’ll return your weapons,” I said.

************** ********************* ***********************************

Ever hear of an “Arcology”? It’s either a small city or a humongous building depending on how you define it.

I think that the original plan called for a building a mile wide, a mile thick and one hundred stories tall. Hundred story buildings are a fait accompli. There are no problems building it as wide as you’d like—so long as you have the cash on hand.

Jerry Pournelle and Larry Niven wrote a novel about an Arcology that was two miles on a side.

An Arcology is fearsomely easy to heat or cool since its surface area is so small compared to its volume. It can house apartments, condominiums, factories and schools. It can even have parks with big oak trees growing—you just have to combine several floors in a few places to allow headroom.

It saves huge amounts of fuel since everything is close to you.

No one will ever build an Arcology in the outside world because it has far too high a start-up cost.

When we entered our new enclave there was a huge Arcology built for us. It is a little over 2.25 miles on a side and one hundred and thirty-seven stories tall—not counting beaucoup levels of basements and a thirty-seven-story extension that went on for more than another mile in every direction.

God knows how a relatively blunt instrument like the enclave building jutsu built something as sophisticated as an Arcology. It almost certainly wouldn’t have come about if I hadn’t been exposed to the concept along with variations.

Lets put this into perspective. 2.25 squared gives just a wee bit more than five square miles. Five square miles multiplied by one hundred and thirty-seven stories gives just a little over six hundred square miles. Rhode Island only has one thousand square miles.

There are bank after bank of full-spectrum lights that never seem to burn out. There are a half a dozen Thorium Reactors with their bases resting on the floor of the lowest sub-basement. One of them would put out more than enough power for three or four Arcologies like ours. They come complete with blueprints and beaucoup operating and maintenance manuals. Scientists and engineers come from all over the world to study our Thorium reactors.

The top few floors are given over to a recreation of our old village. Two and a half square miles would more than suffice, but several stories were needed to accommodate the trees. Also, the village has been expanded a bit—for instance there were more than enough dorms or barracks to house the federal “Political Refugees” and the influx of students determined to learn tradecraft here.

My old room is in a dorm on one of the top floor village simulations—Just as I left it decades ago when I sealed it.

There are trees in the parks that seem to have been growing there for a hundred and fifty—maybe two hundred years or more. There are hydroponic and aereoponic gardens adequate to feed most of the American Southwest housed in our tower.

There is also an arms factory capable of arming the whole world were that ever to become necessary.

There is a second replica of the village beside the tower for people who just can’t cotton to living in a building.

Panic wanted an enclave as big as Indiana or Kentucky. I got carried away a bit. This enclave is as big as Indiana and Kentucky combined and throw in Vermont for good measure. And just like in the tower, the land is filled with huge stands of virgin hardwood timber that would have taken two or three hundred years to stabilize.

I don’t think that there are any other towers or other artifacts in our enclave but who knows?

People flock here. Many of the militia and guardsmen who stood shoulder-to-shoulder with us have relocated here. For some reason the enclave is a popular place to immigrate to among the Japanese and the Taiwanese.

And still there are large areas that probably won’t feel the tread of human feet for a generation or two—maybe three.

************ ***************** ***************************

The Montana skinheads with their sacrifices of dogs and their ki-lobotomised motorcycle storm troopers really dragged my beat. I stomped most of them out with an expedition in force.

A few of the ringleaders got away. I expect that we will have to deal with them once more as soon as they recruit and regroup.

Most Montanans aren’t skinheads or demon worshippers of course. I had enough petitions that I opened three enclaves there as well as one in Northern Idaho.

I opened any number of enclaves for allied Adept groups—but none of them were much bigger than—O, say Kentucky and with bit extra—say the size of Vermont or New Hampshire thrown in. The enclaves came with their own long-standing hardwood forests and the Northern ones somehow contrived have a much warmer climate than the outside world that they connected to. None of them had high tech artifacts either—at least, not to the best of my knowledge.

With one notable exception—well two, but we’ll get to the second momentarily.

My grandmother’s people come from the countryside near Huntingburg Indiana. My father liked to tell how he despaired of ever getting out of the river bottoms when he let his (and my grandmother’s) “river-bottom-billy” cousins talk him into going coon-hunting one night.

I outdid myself there. I threw an enclave about ten percent larger than The Outfit’s—and yes, it was chock-full of artifacts.

Interestingly enough, no one asked me for that one. I created it “Just because”. I steered plenty of sympathetic folk there afterward. It was too big and potentially power-balance threatening to leave empty waiting for whoever or whatever to come along.

************** ***************** ******************************

Morgan came to see me. He’d dropped the Snuffy Smith attire and he had a woman with him.

“What do you want Morgan? I’m not exactly filled with the milk of human kindness toward you. You kicked out my people when their asses were hanging in the breeze,” I said.

“Do you remember Wizard’s tale? I am the old man who told Wizard about Pale Ladies. This is my mother. Wizard is my father. Those particular timelines are highly convoluted.

“We had to kick your people out at that particular juncture. The moment was structured that way.

“Macersville has always existed and it always will—but nonetheless it had to be created. That falls to you. It will be a far harder thing than you have ever attempted. We know that you succeed. We do not know if you survive. We rather doubt it.”

“One more thing: you are the first owner of the Claidheamh Soluis. Someday you or your descendants will present it to Nuada Airgetlám. That silver arm of yours will be his one day as well,” Morgan said.

“You are a lying sack of whore’s spit,” I told him. “You told me that The Pale Lady was your cousin.”

“I am his cousin as well as his mother,” The Pale Lady spoke for the first time.

“Isn’t the child of your cousin also your cousin? So if two cousins marry wouldn’t the child be a cousin to his mother via his father? Wizard and I aren’t related but there are many first and second cousin marriages inn my family tree,” The Pale Lady said.

“What about Wizard? You’ve been tormenting him for decades. It isn’t right,” I spat.

“If Wizard hadn’t been to Saturnalia and claimed the Satyr’s penis and testicles how would you have gotten your powers back?” she asked.

“It is vulgar to use Latin names for body parts—unless you’re some sort of health care professional. There are ample euphemisms without dragging Latin into it,” I said although while my comment was true enough I was being querulous.

“I am a doctor with far better understanding and therapeutic modalities at my disposal than your witch doctors could ever begin to understand, but I will honor your distaste for Latin terminology,” she said.

“Wizard will rejoin me in Macersville. He still needs to sire Morgan and his many brothers and sisters in his own timeline. In fact an older Wizard awaits my return. I would have brought him with me but…” She started.

“But this moment isn’t structured that way,” I finished for her.

“Spoil, we know that you will create the enclave for us. The fact that we’re here proves that. It is also hard to imagine even you surviving such a huge outpouring of mana. But never let it be said that we tricked you into doing something. You have mastered your internal chi to the point that you could survive in your prime for centuries. Know what we’re asking you to wager,” The Pale Lady said.

************ ******************** *****************************

I had put a lot of thought into reconciling free will with predestination—at least what the Bible means when it uses the term commonly translated as “Predestination” or “Predestinate”.

In the world of man there are events that are demonstrably deterministic and yet contain far too many variables for man to compute. Presumably God could calculate even the most chaotic deterministic event. His power of calculation should be infinite.

However from man’s worm’s eye view of the subject only some relatively simple deterministic events can be calculated with dead certainty. The fact is though, the only results that men can determine with certainty are deterministic.

Some proponents of “Open Theism”—most notably Jed Smock AKA “Brother Jed” believe that not even God can foretell events that aren’t constrained at some level to necessity.

The circular logic goes around and around:

“If it can be foretold it must needs be predetermined because only predetermined events can be foretold with absolute certainty.”

What if we have free will and are free to chose in many cases but yet God—not limited by mortal limitations—can foretell the end event with perfect fidelity?

Sure it is a contradiction. There are many contradictions inherent in the concept of an Omnipotent Being.

That means that Omnipotence is LOGICALLY impossible…

But who says that God is limited to mortal Logic?

Time travel and/or tangled world lines involve the same sort of conundrums. Someone tells you:

“You will do this because you must do this. My foreknowledge compels you.”

Not necessarily. I have to decide. Your foreknowledge simply lets you predict the unpredictable.

I think that’s one very good reason that the Bible sometimes gives Prophetic warnings but forbids fortune telling on one’s own hook.

I pondered the question of whether or not to create the giant burl in space-time that was the Macersville enclave.

Since it was inevitable that I weave the enclave, why not live long and live well and create the enclave when on my deathbed. If I had chosen that course, if I were that weak and cowardly—perhaps Macersville would never have been.

I wasn’t one to want to carry on with such a weighty task facing me.


Cowards theorize with the goal of surviving firmly in mind.

I went far from the new village in case destructive energies were released.

Just as I was about to begin I found that I’d been followed.

Ladonna had followed me. Albino Gerald was with her along with Cary the rat runner and David the genius. Gina the cat girl was there. James and Chandra, Duncan the Sumo, Saul the hellhound and Norman the super-sonic came. Jae the Korean mind reader came. Even Coach Brown and Coach O’Brian—both very old men now—chose to come. Thomas the Cherokee and Panic the dragon brought up the rear.

“Friends, I’m honored but this is pretty much a suicide mission. I have no great hopes of surviving. If you all perish with me then who is left to mind the village and The Outfit?” I said solemnly.

“You have left a very well organized cadre and the lines of succession are perfectly clear. The Outfit is perfectly capable of carrying on without us,” David said.

“The amount of chi required as well as the limited data processing of the human mind are what makes this jutsu so problematic,” Ladonna said.

She took out a suede drawstring bag and extracted five of the chi-saturated gumdrops. She popped all of them into her mouth at once and gulped them down after a few chews. Then she started chewing three more.

Everyone else was snarfing large quantities of the chi drops. Duncan was throwing softball-sized paper bags full of chi drops into Panic’s open mouth.

They couldn’t survive such a reckless and imprudent act unless some way to discharge the chi came to hand before they exploded. Creating Macersville was the only possible remedy to such a huge chi overdose.

That’s why The Pale Lady and Morgan were almost certain that I’d perish. They couldn’t imagine that over twelve of my closest friends—no that’s wrong—over a dozen of my closest kin would contrive to aid me.

We survived of course or I couldn’t tell the tale. There are no words to describe what it is like to create a hyper-dimensional enclave but the manual telling the procedure is freely available to all. If you’re satisfied with an “E” Book you can download it for free.

Be warned—there isn’t one in a million who can pull it off and survive.

As a fringe benefit everyone who helped me create the Macersville enclave are now perfectly capable of creating small enclaves—say the size of South Carolina. They have been invited all over the world to do just that.

************** ********************* ***************************

“You are well over one hundred years old and you don’t look a day over twenty-four,” Ladonna said. “Have you ever reconsidered asking me for a date?”

“I once told you that would never happen while I had even a small measure of sanity or restraint left to me. Somewhere over the years and after many mind-bending experiences, I seem to have lost both,” I was forced in all honesty to say.

************* **************** *********************

For awhile there was a great many reforms in the American government. There was also a great deal of attention focused on the freshly re-revealed Adepts.

One by one the new legal protections have been amended and rationalized away over the decades.

There is no such thing as “Society”. Society is a pagan god invoked to justify attacks on individuals…

But if there was such a thing as “Society” I’d say that he was trying hard to forget and rationalize away the existence of Adepts and enclaves. That’s all to the good.

Macersville?

Once again, you can’t get there from here. I hope that someday Wizard can contrive to visit.

Maybe he can make it to my two-hundredth birthday party in a couple months.

One more thing puzzles me. Where was the city of Findias where Nuada Airgetlám’s sword came from? Is that an alias for Macersville or The Outfit’s enclave?

What about all the tales of The Tuatha de Danann and the faerie lands where people sometimes disappeared? Maybe The Tuatha de Danann were Adepts. That bit about just spending days only to find out that years or decades had passed in the outside world…

Yeah, enclaves that are very old can get kinda out of sync with the outside timestream without expert maintenance and knob twiddling.

I'm kinda saddened. I'm mayor, king or whatever you want to call it of The Outfit's enclave and I've lived several human lifetimes but somewhere I lost the happy-go-lucky underachiever who liked to wander through the village drinking cokes, sketching scenes and people and just grooving on being fit and free.

I'm still free but I am no longer unencumbered by responsibilities.

I remind myself daily that nothing of lasting value ever results from haste and letting oneself feel under pressure or driven is the root of many evils--and no good.

Its a little harder to walk that walk when you're at the top.





.....RVM45
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Old 11-18-2015, 11:58 PM
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Guntoteninfadel Guntoteninfadel is offline
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That sir was awesome...... what a freaking twisted tale!

Thank you thank you thank you
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