Guardian Angel-10 End Game, part 1 of 3

Ethan awoke to the sound of arguing.  Lucky he was not awake to hear Colonel deMartin’s first words, which were enough to turn anyone’s ears red.  Lars of the quick draw and Manomar of the long knife disarmed the man, so at least there was no chance for him to start shooting people out of fear or panic.  Still, he sounded far from calm, and Alexander and Ali Pasha tried their best to explain the inexplicable and somehow bring the man back to his reasonable senses.  Jill, meanwhile, hovered over Ethan and when he opened his eyes, she kissed him several times and let a tear fall.

“I was so afraid for you.  Lars got knocked on his back and he did not actually touch the unit.  I was afraid you were not strong enough yet to hold it,” she said.  She helped him sit up.

“I’m not,” he admitted and shook his head.  “But I couldn’t leave you to face being hung, tortured, burned at the stake, shot by a firing squad and fried by some Neanderthal ray guns without me.”  She kissed him again as he hoped she would, and then she helped him to his feet while he listened to what was going on.

“So, what you are telling me is this is some completely different world, not only not on the map, but not even in the universe.”  Colonel deMartin at least sounded rational.

“We are in a universe,” Lars said.  “It is just not your universe, and not mine either by the looks of things.”  Ethan followed that cue and looked around, but he saw only stunted trees and bushes trying to grow in an impossibly dead and dry environment.  The grass looked all scraggly and he saw no sign of birds or animals at all.

“Paradise?” he asked Jill, with a frown.

“No,” she answered.  “A different place altogether.  Twenty-second century in your terms, maybe twenty-third.”

“A world you have been to,” he guessed.

“I had to take us somewhere to maybe get rid of the trace.”  Jill nodded and started to let go, but grabbed on again as Ethan began to fall.  Alexander came over to help and on Jill’s instructions, he repacked the laptop, which she had shut down.  He also, carefully put the transitional unit in the briefcase.  Lars and Manomar came back from their little scouting expedition and reported no signs of life.

“We must go west, and quickly,” Jill said.  “We are too close to the ruins across the Hudson.  Heavy radiation area.”  She added that last word for Ethan’s ears only, not that the others would have understood.

“Come, my friend.”  Ali Pasha helped deMartin to his feet, and they started to walk as quickly as Ethan’s feet and deMartin’s mind could handle.  As the day wore on, the flora that surrounded them improved until it appeared almost normal.  Then Lars and Colonel deMartin both found the remains of bricks and burned wood in several places.

“This area used to be all towns and villages, about a hundred and fifty years ago,” Jill said.  “The scientists who came here after the bomb was dropped on New Rome used to say they were walking on graves.”

“Bomb on New York?”  Ethan asked, catching up with what she said earlier about radiation.  Jill nodded.   “It went off just above the Hudson.”  She explained as they walked.  Ali Pasha and Peter Alexander began to walk very carefully.  They were put off by the idea of walking on graves.

“More than the colonel’s world, and more than Ali Pasha’s world, this world truly evolved down to five great empires that covered the globe.  The Persians conquered Greece, or they were handed Greece after Phillip of Macedon and his son Alexander were both murdered.  I thought of here when you suggested that the other day.”

Ethan nodded.

“The Persians might have gone on to take the whole world at that point if the Greeks cooperated, but the wars of subjection, actually subduing the Greeks, is not called the two-hundred-years war for nothing, and what this did was allow Rome and Carthage the time they needed to grow strong.”

Ethan nodded again.  He followed her thus far, but he could not yet talk and walk at the same time, so he held his tongue.

“Carthage and Rome joined in a Pax Romana, as it was called, and stood together against the Persian threat.  While in the East, in India, the Mauryan Empire got seriously started under a man named Asoka.  That was near the same time, between two and three hundred years before Christ, and in China, the Ch’in took over under the First Emperor, and never relinquished power.”

“Holy Romans?”  Alexander asked, but Jill shook her head.

“By the time I came here, the whole globe was covered with one or another of those empires, but they were ahead of all of your worlds, even yours, Ethan.  With Persia in the middle to act as the ultimate merchants, things like Gunpowder, paper and printing spread fast.  Trouble came to this continent when the Roman Colonies, thirteen originally, coincidentally, vied for their independence.  It was something about taxation without representation.  The revolution did not last long.  It ended when the Romans dropped the first bomb on their own people in New York, or rather, New Rome.”

Jill turned to Ethan.  “This all happened about when your America was suffering through a Civil War.”  Ethan understood about how long ago that was, and he was a bit concerned that the radiation was still strong enough to be a danger.  Jill picked up the story then for everyone.

“Since then, since the New World got fully settled and there were no more frontiers for the excess populations.  The Empires lived in a shaky peace, constantly realigning in new, alternate alliances, and constantly nibbling at each other’s borders.  When I was last here, Carthage and the Chin were the outsiders aligned against Rome, Persia and the Mauryan in the middle, and it looked like the true World War might finally happen.”

“I do not understand.”  Colonel deMartin interrupted.  “How many bombs did they drop on that city and why should it affect the countryside to this distance and after all this time?”

“Exactly.”  Lars had been wondering much the same thing, but he hardly knew how to frame the question.  “How many bombs?”

“Just one bomb,” Jill said.

Elect II—4 Venus de Jekyll and Hyde, part 2 of 3

Emily made the women march in formation.  Jessica and Emily marched out front.  Amina and Mindy brought up the rear with Heinrich behind them all.  A number of students saw them, but since they were all still in uniform and walking with a history professor, they thought it was some ROTC or history thing and raised no alarm.

Emily stopped them before they reached the street.  There were houses across the way where a number of faculty and grad students lived.  Granger’s house was one lot in from Harbor road.  She and Jessica went up to the curb across the street, just the two of them, and spotted several men in gas masks on their side of the street watching the perimeter.  There was also a line of men outside Granger’s door, but Emily did not want to think about that.  They snuck back to the group.  Brinkman was there with several of the juniors and seniors from the upper class, and they were all armed.  Emily immediately made a speech.

ac-rotc-1“Don’t cross the street no matter what, and don’t go near Granger’s house.  You will just get sucked into the web and we might not be able to get you out.  This has to be military, covert.  There are men around the perimeter wearing gas masks.  They are heavily armed.  Silence and surprise are your best weapons.  Bring them back here, especially the gas masks.”

Brinkman signaled the men, divided them two by two and sent them out.  Emily called Lisa and explained the situation.  “And for God’s sake, keep Ashish and the other men back from the house.  It looks strong enough so even being a woman might not help.”  Then they waited.

“Heinrich?”  Emily asked.

“He went with Brinkman.  They had an odd number.” Jessica answered.

Emily nodded, and they waited some more.

Maria and Melissa came up to where they were standing, within sight of the house, but back from the street behind some bushes and trees.  “Melissa calculated the straight path from the gym to Granger’s house, thinking to catch you on the way.”

“Good thinking.  We don’t know how bad it might be over there.”

A shot was fired some distance down the road.

“Do you have the vials?”  Emily finished her thought.

“Hey, hey!”  Jessica got their attention.  They saw a man in what looked like a radiation suit come to the door.  He looked around the line and went back in.

“Right here.”  Melissa held out a leather bag.  There were two vials strapped to the inside.

ab-granger-1Maria pointed to each as she talked.  “The pinkish one is probably not a cure, but at a guess it might tone her down enough to save her life.  If not, the red one should produce the Hilde effect.”

“What’s the Hilde effect?”  Hilde asked.

“Not you, Hilde.  Professor Jack Hilde.  He invented the endocrine formula that Granger has abused.  He died in a ball of flame from overdosing.”

“Spontaneous internal combustion,” Maria explained.

“Good thing that wasn’t you.” Greta nudged her friend.

Emily tied the leather bag to her belt and spoke to the girls that were leaning in to look.  “Assignments,” she said, and outlined what she expected them to do to the best of their abilities.  “No guns.  If you are fired on, get out of there.  The police will have the whole area cordoned off.  We can lay siege if we have to and starve them out.  Jessica, you and I go inside.  No one else.”

When Brinkman and his men slowly straggled back, they had nine gas masks and eight prisoners.  They left the dead one, minus his mask, but brought the man Heinrich had only wounded with one of his knives.

“Greta.”  Emily made a quick decision.  “Take my phone.  Get in touch with Lisa and tell her you need a gas mask when she gets here.  Then wave to us from here when the circle of police is complete.”

“Oh, but—.”

“Soldier.”  Lieutenant Brinkman spoke harshly.

“Yes, ma’am.”  Greta took her position.

ab-granger-3“Brinkman,” Emily spoke up so the prisoners could hear.  “If any of these men try to escape before the police can take custody, shoot to kill.”

“Don’t have to take their heads off this time?”  One of the seniors looked at her and smiled.  He fought the zombies last year.

“Not this time,” Heinrich spoke in answer.  “But you can if you want to.”

Emily said nothing.  When her girls had their masks all in place, they rushed to their positions.  Melissa and Maria started down one side of the house.  They used their staffs to break the windows as they went.  Amina and Mindy started down the other side.  Mindy used Greta’s spear.  Amina used her staff and was ready when a man in a radiation suit stuck his head out the upper floor window she just busted.  Amina thrust up with her staff and caught the man in the neck.  The man was pushed back into the house and did not stick his head out again.

Natasha, Hilde and Diane guarded the men who were in line to be sure they made no hostile move.  Emily calculated that trying to force them to back up might have provoked them.  It was enough to be sure they did not interfere as Emily and Jessica cut ahead and burst into the house.

Emily was in front and leapt to the guard on the far side.  Two men were dressed in radiation suits, but like space suits with an independent oxygen supply.  Both had machine guns, but when Emily shoved the one’s gun into his belly, his finger inadvertently squeezed the trigger.  His fellow guard got gunned down.

Emily kneed the man and ripped his protective headgear right off.  The man tried to fight back, but ab-granger-2Emily’s fist soon stopped him.  “Jessica.”  Emily shouted through her gas mask.  “Go back out.  It is too strong in here.”

Jessica was carefully watching the dozen or so men inside the house.  They were naked and enjoying being so close to the sex goddess.  “Out!”  Emily commanded, “And get the troops away from this house.”  Jessica went when she saw Emily put on the man’s headgear with oxygen attached.  When Emily saw that Jessica got out and got the door closed without letting in a flood of men, she slowly opened the sliding doors.

There were any number of men around the room in various degrees of death and unconsciousness.  No man was built for that level of unending stimulation.  There was also a woman on the floor rolling around, making sounds of ecstatic pleasure.  There were bills everywhere, hundreds and thousands of dollars.  Emily guessed the woman was collecting the fees until she became overwhelmed herself.  Emily felt whatever it was in the air.  Her breasts began to throb, and she was becoming wet and ready for unending sexual pleasure while her mind turned to thoughts of orgasms.  She knew this had to be quick.

The only piece of furniture in the room was a bed, and Granger was tied to it, spread eagle and unmoving.  Emily touched the pink liquid and looked again at the dead and dying around the room.  She looked at Granger, but there was no recognition in Granger’s eyes—eyes that never blinked.  She risked touching the woman, but found no pulse.  If the woman was still alive, it was not likely enough to save.    She pulled out the red vial and forced it down the woman’s throat.  She stood back to watch.

ac-hilde-endNothing happened for a few seconds which felt like an eternity.  Then the fire sprang up in the woman’s belly.  It slowly spread up and down the woman’s body while Emily leapt out the broken window.  She staggered away.  She told herself it was an act of mercy.  Even if Granger could have been saved, the woman would have had to remember being raped over and over.

Lisa caught her at the edge of the street.  “It’s all right.  I’ve got you.”

“I think Granger was already dead,” Emily said as she whipped off her mask and coughed.  “Even so I would not fetch her remains until the morning.  The house needs to air out and the pheromones need to dissipate.”

Lisa looked at the house.  “Maybe the house will burn down.”

“That would be a mercy,” a woman said.  Emily looked up from where she was on her knees.  It was Sara who spoke, and she had the shepherd’s crook Heinrich picked out for her.  Emily smiled before she spotted someone else.  It was Courtney Chase, Channel 5, Eyewitness News followed by her ever faithful cameraman.

“How did you get through the police line?” Emily asked.

“Power of the press.”  Lisa looked back toward the police line and it was not a kind look on her face.  Courtney continued.  “Joe.  Get the camera from that angle.  Joe?”  The camera fell to the ground and Joe stumbled across the road like a man in a trance.  “Joe!”

ac-news-2“Does he have a last name?” Sara asked.

Courtney shrugged.  “Joe the camera guy.  Say, where is he going?”

“Bad drugs,” Emily said, and Lisa grabbed the reporter’s hand to keep her from stumbling off in the same direction.

“Maybe you could work the camera,” Sara suggested with a smile.

Courtney looked at the camera and again at Joe.  “I have no idea how that gizmo works.”

“I hope it didn’t break when he dropped it,” Emily said in a not totally insincere voice.