The Devil's Pact
edited by Master Ken
Copyright 2013, 2014
Chapter Thirty-Six: The God-King
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Saturday, September 28th, 2013 – Mark Glassner
I watched in stunned horror as the US soldiers opened fire on the Tacoma Police blockading the street in front of the courthouse. The soldiers had just roped out of a pair of hovering Black Hawk helicopters, attacking the police blockading the stretch of Tacoma Avenue in front of the Courthouse. As the soldiers spread out, I shouted orders into the microphone; my voice boomed out of the speakers placed around the square.
The soldiers ignored my commands.
A chill spread through me. They ignored my commands. I could see the black of their auras wreathed in the faintest red. They were Thralls under the protection of the Zimmah ritual, bound to some other Warlock. They were immune to my powers. Exactly the same way we made our family and sluts immune to anyone else's orders.
Fuck! This was very bad!
There was a whirring sound, like a motor revving up, then a terrific roar and a gout of flame erupted from the side of one of the hovering Black Hawks. The mini-gun fired; I watched in horror as its bullets ripped through the police blockade. A second whirring sound built, and the other helicopter opened fire on the opposite police blockade. Golden tracers streaked down, raining death on the Tacoma police officers.
“Sir, let's go!” 51 shouted, grabbing my arm and pulling me towards the courthouse.
The crowd in front of the courthouse screamed in panic and ran for cover. My bodyguards formed a protective circle around me, dragging me back into the courthouse. They pulled Violet and Desiree into their circle of protection and herded us through the courthouse. I struggled to think but panic froze my thoughts. Soldiers bound to my enemy were attacking me. I was not prepared for this.
Holy shit! I was not prepared for this!
“Where are we going?” I asked, finally gathering some of my wits.
“The back of the Courthouse, on Yakima Avenue,” 51 answered. How did she sound so calm? “We parked the limo and our patrol cars back there, remember?”
“Right,” I nodded. We raced through the courthouse and I struggled to think despite the adrenaline that pounded through my veins. We were under attack by US Soldiers. We were not prepared for this. They could be coming for Mary, I realized; my eyes opened with horror.
They could be coming for Mary.
“51, Fallen Eagle!”
51 glanced at me, nodded, and pulled out her Nextel. They were similar to radios, but worked over the cell phone network. All of our bodyguards had one. “51 to all units, Fallen Eagle. I repeat, Fallen Eagle.”
Fallen Eagle. The code phrase for the worst case scenario—the hammer is falling and we need to get the hell out of Dodge.
Ever since the Nuns attacked us three months ago, I had been preparing for another attempt. The bodyguards had their instructions to get everyone they could to safety. In Kansas I had a bolthole prepared; a place where we could regroup and figure out how to face this new threat.
“47, copy Fallen Eagle.” 47 was with Mary back at the house; she would get my wife to safety.
Squad D reported in with Shannon and George in Chicago. Squads E and F, guarding our planes, also responded. Now we just had to move quickly and we might just be able to escape and figure out how to deal with this new, overwhelming force. We rounded a corner, and I could see the limo idling outside, the passenger door open and Leah waiting nervously, looking up at the sky.
“Hurry!” Leah shouted as we burst outside, beckoning urgently with her arm.
The moment we stepped outside sounds crashed into us. I could hear sirens coming in from every direction. 51 wore a police radio patched into Tacoma PD's network, and I could hear the frantic calls for help from police officers completely outmatched by the soldiers. The roar of helicopters and gunshots echoed through the streets. Shadows passed overhead; I glanced up to see more Black Hawks escorted by smaller helicopters, black against the blue sky.
Holy shit! Did someone take control of the entire fucking army? Holy fucking shit!
I practically threw myself into the limo, followed by a crying Violet and a wild-eyed Desiree, her big tits flopping about as she dived in. Violet clung to me as 51 jumped in. Leah ran around, hopping into the driver seat. With an AR-15 clutched in her hand, 09 jumped into the passenger seat, while 32, also armed with an AR-15 piled in back with us.
*What's going on, Mark?* Mary's thought practically shouted in my mind.
*Soldiers attacked the rally,* I sent back, trying to keep my terror out of my sending. *I'm okay; we're in the limo and driving off. The soldiers are Thralls, protected with the Zimmah spell!*
*Oh my god!*
The limo peeled out, following two of our bodyguard's cop cars. Two more followed. They took the left at 9th Street, heading up to the top of the hill and away from the firefight at the courthouse. Relief washed through me as I stared through the rear window. I could see the soldiers at the intersection of 9th and Tacoma Ave, occupying the ruins of the police blockade. None followed us.
I sighed in relief. It looked like we were clear.
“Umm, that feels nice, Mom,” I moaned as she lapped at my pussy.
I was feeling better after the bout of morning sickness I had. Mom had shown up and we started playing with the fruit Mark had left for me before he went to the gun-buyback rally in Tacoma. I would have gone with him but I had a rough morning. I rubbed my stomach, excited to be pregnant, and hating all the little inconveniences it brought on.
After spending most of the morning vomiting, I decided to skip the rally and take a nap. I woke up refreshed and famished when Mom came in to check up on me. Then we started having so much fun eating strawberries and pussy-cream, and I ate an entire peeled banana out of Mom's cunt. We made a mess, but that's why we had a washing machine.
Mom's tongue felt amazing on my pussy and I was getting closer and closer to an orgasm, when I heard footsteps racing up the stairs. I sat up on my elbows, looking at the bedroom door, frowning. What was going on out there? Mom stopped licking at my pussy, and sat up as the door burst open and 47 raced towards me, her light-brown hair streaming behind her.
“Mam, we need to go right now!” the second-in-command of our bodyguard shouted. “Fallen Eagle!”
My mind went blank with panic. She grabbed my arm and roughly pulled me to my feet. Two more bodyguards were right behind her and one grabbed my mother. She said Fallen Eagle; that was the code used if something really, really bad has happened. Fear clutched at my stomach as 47 tried to pull me out of the room. Oh God, only Mark or I could give that command.
“We need to go, mam!” 47 insisted.
“My locket!” I cried. Fallen Eagle meant that we were abandoning our home. We might never get to come back. I couldn't leave without my locket; Mark gave it to me the day we met. Next to the wedding ring on my finger, it was the most important thing I owned. I ran to my dresser and opened my jewelry box, pulling out the silver heart with the pink rose sculpted on the front. I quickly pulled it over my head to let it dangle between my breasts along with my protection amulet. Then I let 47 drag me out of the room.
I concentrated, using our new communication spell, and sent my panicked thoughts to Mark, *What's going on, Mark?* Mark's reply sent ice flooding through my veins; a Warlock attacked Mark with soldiers bound by the Zimmah ritual. My heart hammered in fear. What could we do against Thralls that we couldn't use our powers on? And he said soldiers. God, that's like the SWAT attack last June on steroids!
We raced out of the house, and the street bustled with activity. Some of the bodyguards were watching vigilantly, AR-15s in their hands, while the rest were herding our family and servants out of their houses and piling them into the fleet of black SUVs we owned. One of the SUVs was waiting in the driveway, and I jumped in along with my mom. Lillian, Xiu, and Korina piled into our SUV and the rest of our sluts piled into a second vehicle.
In just a few minutes, everyone who lived in the neighborhood – our sluts, our families, and our important servants – were loaded into SUVs and we were off. The plan was to drive north, to Boeing Field in Seattle. Our Gulfstream was too well known. Any enemy attacking us was sure to try and seize it or stop us from reaching it. Julius Prescott III, a billionaire we knew, owned a freight airline known as Air-Cargo, and we arranged for a hangar of his at Boeing Field to be set aside to house a 747 airplane. Hopefully, our enemy did not know about this plane.
In five minutes, we were clear of our neighborhood, driving north at breakneck speed. I could hear all sorts of chatter on 47's police radio and on the Nextel. “What's going on?” I asked 47.
“A Police Tactical alert has just been issued,” 47 answered. “There are reports of US soldiers setting up roadblocks around Tacoma, and a convoy of Strykers is rolling up 512 towards South Hill. They're running cars off the road, mam.”
“Strykers? Those are armored tanks, right?” I asked in fear.
“Armored personnel carriers, mam,” 47 corrected. “Not as heavily armored as a tank, but just as dangerous. Squad E has abandoned the Gulfstream. They saw several Black Hawks flying towards Thun Field.”
Please let them not know about our other plane, I begged silently. Please!
“My Lord Fitzsimmons, we've taken the courthouse,” Colonel Abbey said.
He was sitting right next to me, but the only reason I could hear him over the roar of the helicopter's rotor was through the chopper's internal intercom. We were in the Command Information Center, or CIC, Black Hawk, hovering high over Tacoma. I was wearing an uncomfortable helmet with headphones over my ears that blocked most of the Black Hawk's rotor noise. Colonel Abbey was the G3, or operations officer, for I Corp and was coordinating the occupation of Tacoma.
“Do you have Mark?” I demanded.
I could almost taste my victory. Mark Glassner would soon be mine along with his wife, Mary. I would make her my concubine, force Mark to watch as his lovely wife became my whore. It was what he deserved for stealing my beautiful Desiree. I looked down at Tacoma, as we flew above it in the Black Hawk. The Army Rangers that had fast-roped into Tacoma were surrounding the courthouse as the Stryker Brigade barreled down the freeway to secure the city.
The main part of Tacoma was built on a peninsula that jutted out into Puget Sound. There were about a dozen roads that crossed the Nalley Valley that separated the peninsula from the mainland. If those streets were blockaded, the city would be cut in half and trap anyone on the peninsula, including Mark if he managed to escape the courthouse.
“My Lord, Chalk 2 reports a limo heading west on 9th Street with a police escort,” Colonel Abbey reported after a minute. If I remembered the briefing correctly, a chalk was a group of rangers deployed out of the same helicopter. Chalk 2 was tasked with taking the intersection of 9th Street and Tacoma Avenue.
“Damn it,” I snarled. “I want that limo stopped and everyone inside captured.”
“Absolutely, my Lord,” Colonel Abbey replied. “Bandit 1 and Bandit 3, do you have eyes on a limo heading west from the courthouse?” I couldn't hear the reply; I was only listening to the helicopter's internal comms, not the battle comms. Colonel Abbey nodded. “Disable the vehicle and provide support. Raider 3, head west and drop your chalk on that vehicle.”
Bandits were the Little Birds, small, agile helicopters armed with mini-guns that were quite deadly in urban operations. Raiders were the Black Hawks carrying a chalk of Rangers. Mark wouldn't stand a chance, I thought with a smile.
The limo bounced around on Tacoma's streets. The city had lost the war against potholes years ago, and the streets grew worse and worse every year. Leah must be doing nearly sixty as we raced away from the courthouse, and we were being thrown about in the back.
“Hold on!” Leah shouted, braking hard, and then the limo made a sharp turn onto Sprague Avenue and we were racing south.
Violet still clung to me, sobbing into my chest. “Shh, it'll be alright,” I told her, stroking her brown hair. Though I wish I could believe that.
I heard the roar of a helicopter and I started looking up at the sky in fear. Violet buried her face into my chest at the sound. “Shit, it's in front of us!” Leah shouted.
I bent down to look out the front of the limo and saw streaks of yellow raining down from the sky. Tracers, I realized, as the lead cop car seemed to explode in sparks, and careened off to the side of the road. The second cop car tried to swerve; a torrent of bullets shredded its trunk. The tracers marched quickly towards us; it sounded like heavy rain as the bullets struck the limo's armor. The windshield splintered. Desiree was engulfed by blue light as her amulet deflected a bullet. The limo swerved suddenly to the left. There was the sound of metal crunching and I was flung forward, my seatbelt digging into my chest and waist.
What the fuck just happened? My mind was fuzzy and I groaned in pain. “We need to move,” someone shouted.
“Leah's shot!” another person shouted.
“Shit!” Someone was shaking me. “Sir, we need to move!”
A Black woman's face hovered in front of me, urgently speaking to me. It took me a moment to realize it was 51 and I blinked, looking around. There were dents and holes in the roof of my armored limo. In the front seat I saw Leah slumped over the steering wheel, blood staining her back. The bodyguard in the passenger seat was struggling to open the passenger door. 51 pulled out her folding knife and quickly cut my jammed seatbelt.
“Leah,” I shouted, climbing across the limo and grabbing her. I concentrated on her being healed, and whispered, “Tsariy,” and red light engulfed her body. She convulsed. When the scarlet light faded, she sat upright, perfectly healed. Around her neck, the bronze amulet smoked, the protection spell overwhelmed by the helicopter's mini-guns.
“We need to go, sir!” 51 shouted, grabbing me and pulling me out of the limo.
We had crashed into a traffic light, the metal pole bent and fallen across the top of the limo. The hood was torn to pieces and white smoke curled serpentine up into the air from the engine block. Metal scars and pockmarks littered the body of the limo where the armor had withstood the mini-gun's fire. I looked for our escorts and saw the twisted remains of the four cars. The helicopter's guns had shredded them into mangled mockeries of a car.
Two bodyguards were crawling out of the mangled mockeries – their amulets must have saved their lives – but the other four must be lying dead or dying in the wreckage of their cars. I started to run for the nearest one when 51 grabbed me and pointed up at the sky. Two small helicopters, both of which had large mini-guns slung on their sides by the landing skids, were banking around, and beyond them a Black Hawk was swooping towards us.
“Leah, Violet, and Desiree, scatter!” I shouted. “They're after me, you might get away!”
09 led, running with her AR-15 out, heading down an alley between two buildings. I followed, 51 and 32 on either side with 18 and 27, the two survivors from the escorts, bringing up the rear. The downdraft from the Black Hawk slammed into us and kicked up stinging dust as it banked overhead. I saw the rope drop out the side of the helicopter; the soldiers began deploying.
“Shit!” 51 shouted. “Back, back!”
We turned and saw one of the small helicopters hovering at the mouth of the alley, cutting us off. There was a fence and someone's yard to the right and I jumped, grabbing the top and easily hauling myself over. I was never more thankful for getting the Gift from Tiffany than right now. It gave me increased physical strength and stamina, and I was going to need every advantage I had to survive this.
51 followed me over the fence. Gunfire rang out and 32 was halfway over when a bullet bounced off her shielding. She made it over as the fence splintered from the gunfire. I could hear the remaining bodyguards returning fire in the alleyway, buying us time.
“Keep running!” 51 shouted.
I ran across the yard, glancing over my shoulder to see that damned helicopter dogging our steps. The pilot must be radioing our position. I reached the opposite fence, jumping up and quickly scrambling over. As I lowered myself on the other side, I froze. 32 had stopped, and was kneeling in the middle of the yard, aiming her AR-15 at the small helicopter. She started carefully firing at it, rounds striking the windshield of the helicopter. It pivoted smoothly, lining up its guns at 32.
“Run!” I shouted as 51 scrambled over the fence. “Run, 32!”
She ignored me. The only time the bodyguards could ignore my orders was to protect my life. Fire spat from the helicopter, clods of dirt exploded around 32. She kept calmly firing. Blue energy sprang up around her as the rounds struck her protective charms. For a second I thought she was going to be fine, then the spell was overwhelmed and the bullets ripped through her body.
One of her rounds must have hit something important, because the helicopter started pitching to the side. I could see the pilot inside struggling with the yoke. The copter drifted closer and closer to a tree. Branches flew as the blades dipped in, and then there was a woody thunk and a loud, splintering sound. The rotor blades disintegrated, throwing debris everywhere. The chopper spun in the air and slammed into a shed with a satisfying crunch of metal.
I started to climb back over; if I reached 32 before she died I could heal her. “She's dead, sir,” 51 said as she grabbed my arm. “You're not. Do not let her death be in vain.”
I cursed, and let go of the fence. We were out on a side-street and we could hear booted feet approaching. We cut diagonally across the street, racing for a small, brown house with a mossy roof. There were several cracking pops from behind us; suddenly everything around me went blue. My amulet just stopped a round, I realized. Adrenaline was screaming through my veins. There were more gunshots; I could hear bullets whizzing past and blue erupted around me a second time, a third time.
“Shit, the car!” I shouted, pointing at the beat up, gray Plymouth with red primer staining the hood. “The amulets won't take much more gunfire!”
I slid down behind the Plymouth as gunfire pounded against the car; glass shattered and metal pinged with every bullet strike. My heart was hammering. I risked a glance around the car and saw the soldiers at the corner. Several were firing at us while others dashed across the street. Fire and maneuver, I think it was called. 51 shot back with her 9mm service pistol and the soldiers hit the dirt and returned fire, and 51's amulet deflected two rounds.
I didn't see an escape. There was no cover for twenty or more feet and there were just too many soldiers. *Mary, I love you,* I sent. *I don't think I'm getting out of this one.*
*No! I can't lose you, Mark!*
I swallowed. There was only one hope. Tiffany said Monks were fighters, that their powers were combat oriented. I was as physically strong as a man could be, with quick reflexes. If I charged them, maybe somehow I could defeat them. I hoped that the amulet might sustain a few more shots. I readied myself, took a deep breath, and burst out from the car and ran as fast as I possibly could, as fast as any Olympic sprinter. The distance between me and the soldiers disappeared rapidly.
The soldiers were startled by my sudden charge, but their training took over and they opened fire. The world turned blue about me as the amulet deflected another shot, and then I was on the first soldier. He rose, bracing himself as I slammed into him. He fell back hard, and I nearly lost my balance and fell with him. A second soldier leapt at me; we grappled.
I was stronger than the soldier, more agile, but I lacked any training. I didn't know how to fight. The soldier did. I pushed him off of me and took a clumsy swing at his face. He easily grabbed my arm, did something with his hip, and I was flipping over him and falling on my back. I grunted, the wind knocked out of my lungs. The soldier pulled out his knife, and before I could react, it was pressed against my throat.
*I'm captured, Mare,* Mark sent me, *keep going. The Nextels are going to be compromised now. Keep going, be safe! I love you.*
No, no, no! This couldn't be happening. *I'll save you, somehow!* I thought back. *We're racing to the airport. Just hang in there. I love you!*
“47,” I said, trying to keep my voice from cracking. “Mark is captured. The Nextels are probably compromised.”
“I understand, mam,” 47 replied. Her hand shook as she picked up her Nextel. “47 to all units, communications no longer secure. I repeat, communications not secure.”
Then she tossed her Nextel out the window.
Mark was captured. My mom wrapped her arms around me, holding me to her and suddenly all my emotions were pouring out of me as I sobbed into her breast. She stroked my hair and rocked me gently, just like she did when I was a child.
“Oh, Mom, what am I going to do?” I cried.
“I don't know,” she whispered. “We will figure it out.”
In thirty minutes we reached Boeing field; I sobbed the entire way. We passed through the security gates and raced to the hanger. Our flight crew was waiting. Once we bought this plane, we moved our pilots, Joslyn and Lydia, here just in case.
Lydia was waiting outside for us. “Miss,” she greeted, her face pale with fright. Like all our close employees, Joslyn and Lydia were bound to Mark with the Zimmah ritual. “What is going on?”
I opened my mouth to answer, but more tears leaked out of my eyes and I couldn't bring myself to say what happened. Mark was captured. What was I going to do? I just climbed on board and sat down in First Class, pressing my face to the cold window.
*I love you, Mark,* I thought to him. *Stay strong! I will find a way to save you.* I just wished I believed myself.
*Love you,* Mark sent back and I could feel his fear.
Everyone else was boarding. Mark's mom Sandy squeezed my shoulder before she found a seat next to Betty, her girlfriend. My Dad and Mom sat next to each other. Mom was still naked from our lovemaking. Hell, I was too. There hadn’t been time to get dressed. All I had on was my wedding ring, my locket, and my protective amulet.
“It'll be all right,” Missy, my younger sister, promised. She grabbed my hand, squeezed it, then leaned over and kissed me on the forehead. Then she sat down next to her boyfriend Damien.
Mark's sister Antsy and her girlfriend Via were the last of our family to board. Only Shannon and her fiancee were missing. But they were in Chicago attending a conference for George’s job. The sluts boarded next and Lillian sat next to me and hugged me.
“It will be okay, Mistress,” she whispered. I wished I could believe her.
We waited for Squad E. They managed to get clear of Thun Field ahead of those soldiers and arrived fifteen minutes after we did, piling into the plane. Lydia closed and sealed the door, then sat down in the cockpit. We started taxiing to the runway. The engines revved and roared louder and louder as the pilots throttled up for takeoff. Then I was shoved back into my seat, and my stomach sank as the plane raced down the runway and leaped into the air.
*We're in the air, Mark,* I sent to him. *Your mom and Antsy are with me.*
*Good!* I could feel the relief in his thought. He was worried about me. I wanted to cry again. Why should he be worried? I wasn't the one captured by our enemy. The plane banked, turning to take us to Kansas and the decommissioned missile silo that was our emergency bunker.
I felt relief wash through me. Mary and my family were safe; that was one less thing to worry about.
I lay facedown on the street, a soldier's boot pressed into the back of my neck, the cold barrel of his M16 touching my cheek. My hands were zip-tied behind my back, a disgusting rag was shoved into my mouth and tied in place by a strip of cloth wrapped around my head. 51 lay next to me; the butt of a rifle had slammed into her face, opening a gash across her eyebrow.
“Up!” a soldier shouted and the one standing on my neck released me and hauled me to my feet.
Several tan Humvees rolled up. I saw 27 in the backseat of one of the Humvees and Desiree sat next to her. But I didn't see Violet or Leah. Maybe they got away? Unless they were dead. I pushed that thought away as they forced me into the second Humvee. 51 was pushed in after me, her body leaning up against me. There was a dazed look in her eyes.
The Humvee drove off, heading back down to the courthouse. We passed columns of big, bulky armored vehicles bristling with weapons. Strykers, I think they were called, carrying infantry. More soldiers were guarding intersections; one would be manning a .50 cal machine gun while two more stood by holding M16s. Then we passed the wreckage of the firefight in front of the courthouse. Some of the soldiers were clearing away the shot up police cruisers, while others carried bodies to a waiting truck. And it wasn't only dead police officers they carried, but civilians attending the gun-buyback that had gotten caught in the crossfire.
More civilians were sitting on their hands in the square before the Courthouse, watched over by dozens of soldiers. Some of the crowd looked scared, others were bewildered. They couldn't believe that US Soldiers would attack them. That didn't happen in America. That happened off overseas in some despotic country like Syria or North Korea. Not here. Not in America. A few had defiant looks on their faces, staring angrily at the Soldiers. Off to the side, the media were guarded by more soldiers, but they were being allowed to continue reporting. I could see all the cameras pointing at our convoy of Humvees, ready to broadcast my humiliation to the world.
And probably my execution, I thought bleakly.
The Humvees stopped in front of the courthouse, the door opened, and a soldier hauled me out. I saw his face. He was young, maybe eighteen, his eyes bright blue. There was a hard cast to his youthful features, his grip iron on my arm as he pushed me forward. I stood up straight as the eyes of the captured civilians fell on me. Shock and horror filled the faces of those that believed I was a God, then despair filled their eyes.
Guilt filled me. I had let them down. I wasn't strong enough to protect them. But what could I do against an army? My greatest power was nullified by the Zimmah ritual. How could a Warlock put so many under his power? Every soldier I saw had their black aura fringed with a trace of red, the sign that they were bound by the spell. What could I do? What could Mary do? Despair crashed through my soul.
How was I getting out of this?
As we approached the courthouse the doors opened and a short, fat man in an expensive Italian suit, charcoal gray, stepped out. He was balding, his hair gray, and a look of triumph filled his eyes. I recognized him, Brandon Fitzsimmons. How the hell had Brandon bound anyone with the Zimmah spell? His mother was dead. A male Warlock needed his mother to perform the spell.
Brandon wasn't alone. Flanking him were two women, scantily clad, that could almost be Mary's long lost sisters. They were twins, with auburn hair and green eyes, and Mary's heart-shaped face.
“Kneel before your God!” the soldier leading me barked and kicked me in the back of the knee. My leg folded out from under me and I fell painfully to my knees.
Brandon stepped up to the microphone. “I am Brandon Fitzsimmons!” his voice boomed through the speakers. “I have defeated the false God, Mark Glassner!” He paused, his words echoing through the air. “I am your God and King! Worship me! Obey me!”
I could hear the crowd behind me change as his commands sank in. I glanced behind me to see all the fear, the despair, the anger, melt away and awe replace it. They all had black auras and I could just make out a fringe of red. It was even worse than I could have imagined. He somehow was binding people to him without using the spell, just by speaking. I was immune to his powers; one of the benefits of the Gift.
*Mary, the Warlock is Brandon Fitzsimmons. Do not listen to anything he says. You cannot afford to fall under his power. His words bind people with the Zimmah spell.*
I let Brandon's speech roll over me as Mary's reply came back, *What am I going to do, Mark? I need you. I feel like I'm falling apart.*
*You have to be strong, Mare,* I told her.
*You're the only hope we have. I need you. I love you. I know you can be strong! I believe in you!* I had to. She was the only hope I had. And only if Brandon didn't immediately execute me.
*Why are you comforting me? I'm the one who's safe. I should be comforting you.* I could sense that she was calming down. *I will find a way to save you, Mark. I promise!*
Brandon was standing in front of me, I realized, and I defiantly stared up at him. “You're immune to my powers, I see,” Brandon grimaced, then glanced at Desiree. “And my wife, too.”
“I'm not your wife anymore,” Desiree snarled. “I dumped you for someone better.”
Brandon smacked her with the back of his hand. “Quiet, woman. I'll deal with you soon enough.” He turned to one of the soldiers, “Where's his wife?”
“My Lord, two women escaped in the confusion, we are hunting them down,” the soldier reported. “I do not think either is Mary. Both appeared to be brunettes.”
“Dammit,” Brandon hissed. “Did you secure that Gulfstream of his at least?”
“Yes, My Lord,” an older soldier reported. He had eagles on his uniform so I think that made him a Colonel.
Brandon smiled, “Good, they're trapped in the state. Our troops are heading for the passes?” The soldier nodded. He must mean the passes over the Cascade Mountains to Eastern Washington. “What about his house? Did you find anyone there?”
“Empty, my Lord,” the Colonel reported. “We missed everyone. The entire neighborhood was packed up.”
“Fuck! Burn the neighborhood,” Brandon ordered. “And that damned tent where his worshipers meet. Kill any who resist. Find where his servants went! You'll find his wife with them.”
“Yes, my Lord,” the Colonel saluted.
Brandon turned to the crowd and took a microphone from one of the auburn-haired twins. “Here is your false God!” A boo rose up from the crowd. Just an hour ago these people cheered me; I never realized just how frightening my powers were. “He is only flesh and blood! He is weak and was defeated by the merest fraction of my power. Let me show you just how weak and human he really is!” He motioned to the soldiers.
The gag was cut off and two soldiers grabbed my head, prying my lips open. I fought, struggling to get free of their grasp, to close my mouth. A third soldier drew a knife. I struggled harder. What were they doing? I fought in vain to break free, to keep that glinting knife away from me. The third soldier forced his dirty fingers into my mouth, gripping my tongue. The blade flashed and blood filled my mouth.
“Master!” Desiree cried out, barely heard over the crowd's roar.
Disbelief almost drowned out the pain. They had cut my tongue off! How could I use any of my powers without my tongue? I was thrown down onto my back; then the kicking started. Pain exploded in my back, my stomach, my legs. I curled up into a ball, trying to protect myself as booted foot after booted foot slammed into me.
I howled wordlessly in agony.
Over the pain, I heard Brandon's voice roar, “Mary Glassner! Your husband will be abused day and night until you turn yourself in. Submit to me and be my concubine, and your husband shall go free!”
I was sitting in first class alone, save for my mom and little sister. I couldn't stand everyone looking at me so I ordered them back to coach. Mom and Missy ignored me, sitting with me and holding my hands. Back in coach, they were watching the news. I was the only one that couldn't watch it, the only one who couldn't watch to see what was happening to my husband. Everyone on the plane but me was bound by the Zimmah ritual. I was the only one susceptible to Brandon's power, and I could not afford to get bound to him.
I needed to be strong, for Mark, for our family. We were all dead if Mark died. My life was tied to his, our loved ones' lives tied to ours. It all rested on my shoulders, and I felt like I was about to be crushed beneath the weight. How could I bear all this responsibility? I was only nineteen, barely an adult. My shoulders were just too slim to support this weight!
I thought of Mark, his boyish grin and deep-blue eyes. Mark needs me to be strong, to save him. I couldn't afford to wallow in self-pity. I pushed at the despair, forcing it back. We were all lost if I fell apart. There had to be a way out of this. Just stay calm and think, Mary.
But I couldn't!
My mind kept drifting back to Mark. I would struggle, trying to focus, and an image of Mark being hit would fill my mind. Of Mark placed before a firing squad, shot dead. Of Mark getting hung. I would force the images away, and even worse ones would slip into my mind.
Dad walked up from coach, his presence dragging me out of my morbid thoughts. He looked haggard as he gazed at me. He swallowed, then opened his mouth, like he wanted to say something, but he hesitated. His long, red hair, streaked with gray, fell loosely about his shoulders, not pulled back into his usual ponytail. My stomach sank. “What, Dad?” I wearily asked.
“Mark's on TV,” Dad said. “They're beating him.”
“What else?” I asked, sensing Dad was holding back on me.
“You can't go back,” Dad firmly told me.
“I know,” I said sadly.
“This Brandon, he says Mark will be beaten day and night until you surrender yourself to him and be his concubine.”
I felt hysteria bubbling up inside me, almost bursting out in a laugh. Of course; he wants to do to me what we did to Desiree. Mark humiliated Brandon that day, took his wife in front of him. He wants revenge.
*Mark, I am going to save you!* I sent, mustering all my confidence and determination.
*I'm fine. Do not turn yourself in. I can take it.* I could feel his pain; I wanted to cry, but I had done enough of that.
*I won't. I'm going to save you, somehow. Be strong, Mark!* I looked at Dad, and ordered, “Get Sam.” I felt a steely resolve growing inside me; I will save Mark. We had the Book, the Magicks of the Witch of Endor. The answer must be in there, somewhere. A way to neutralize Brandon's powers or give me more power or something.
“Mr. President,” Eustace Smyth, my Chief of Staff, said, holding up the phone. “He wants to speak with you.”
I frowned, watching the TV. They were still beating the despicable Mark Glassner. For the last few months my cabinet and I had argued what to do about him. He was a dangerous man, somehow corrupting anyone that came into contact with him. My cabinet was split; some championed Mark and his sexual politics, others thought he was the most dangerous threat to the US since the war of 1812, and should be assassinated. But that was illegal. I was the President of the United States, sworn to uphold the Constitution, sworn to obey the laws. I would not, could not, approve assassinating a US Citizen.
“Who's on the phone?” I asked. The world had changed today. My new God, Brandon Fitzsimmons, had finally overthrown the false God Mark and was hunting down his wife, Mary.
“Him,” Eustace said with emphasis and I finally understood.
I snatched the phone from him. The moment Brandon had spoken during his press conference, it all became suddenly clear. Brandon was the true God and had soundly defeated the false one. No, Brandon wasn't a God, he was the God.
“This is the President, my Lord,” I respectfully said.
I found myself to be suddenly nervous as I spoke to an actual God. I've spoken to almost every Head of State on the planet, knowing every time that I was more powerful than any of them. For the first time since I was elected President of the United States, I was the lesser power.
It was humbling.
“You shall fly to Tacoma with your cabinet and surrender the Country to me,” my God ordered.
“Absolutely, my Lord,” I answered. The phone clicked as my God hung up on me.
I was going to meet my God in person. I never thought it would happen while I was alive.
The beating seemed to go on for an eternity. An eternity of pain and suffering. This must be hell, I thought with bleak amusement. I sold my soul and my punishment was to be beaten by the followers of a man I wronged.
It was poetic.
I had used my powers for my own pleasures, not caring about the lives I hurt or destroyed. Mary was right to free our slaves, and to tell me not to break up relationships just because I was horny or feeling vindictive. I needed to be responsible with my powers.
I passed out sometime during the beating. The pain brought me back to consciousness. I lay on something hard, cold; the agony slowed my mind. I fought through the fog, struggling to move, to survey my surroundings. Metal clinked, digging into my wrists and ankles; they had manacled me hand and foot, and dumped me onto the floor of a jail cell. Two soldiers stood outside the bars, M16s grasped in their hands, uncaring eyes fixed on me, like I was an insect in a collection, pinned to a piece of cork.
My mouth was parched, and I spotted a sink. I struggled to move, desperate for water. The pain was excruciating just stretching my legs, the metal of the leg irons biting into my ankles, constricting my movement. I did not know why I was still alive. I think it was the Gift; a lesser man surely could not have survived. I grit my teeth, mustered the will to fight through the pain, and pulled myself across the rough floor. The metal sink was above me, and I tried to grab the rim with my right arm, momentarily forgetting the foot of steel manacling my wrists together. Grunting, I pushed myself up onto my knees, then grasped it with both hands, pulling myself up and staring at my reflection in the polished, stainless steel mirror.
My face was a bloody ruin, swollen so badly that I couldn't recognize myself. I opened my mouth and saw the ruins of my teeth and inspected the damage: gums bleeding, shattered molars throbbing in pain, gaps where front teeth were missing. I was naked, I realized, except for the manacles biting into wrists and ankles. I didn't even remember them stripping me naked, and blacks and blues and yellows covered my body. There didn't seem to be any part of me that wasn't bruised.
I cupped cold water in my hands, the chains rattling, and slowly sipped it tenderly, trying not to brush my swollen face. The shooting pain in my broken teeth increased as the cold water poured into my lips. I closed my eyes, and forced myself to keep drinking through the pain. I drank until my stomach felt ready to burst, then I stumbled to the cot.
*We've landed in Kansas,* Mary sent me as I curled up on the hard mattress, trying to get comfortable despite the metal restraining me.
*Good. The beatings have stopped. I think I'm going to sleep.*
*I love you! Your filly is going to save you.* There was such certainty in her voice.
*I know you will.* I sent with all the confidence I could muster to her, fighting back my despair. Mary was free. As long as she was, there was still hope. *Love you.*
All I could do was sleep. I was so exhausted. I closed my eyes and started to let sweet unconsciousness take me when I realized something. I had ignored my Gift, wanting nothing to do with the Heavenly Power. I could afford to ignore the power no longer. I concentrated, thinking of the Angel Azrael, as I drifted off into unconsciousness.
Summoning the Angel of Death to my dreams.
I stepped off the 747. We were in an airport in the middle of nowhere, Kansas. It was a decommissioned airfield from the Cold War called Osage Field. It was used to service Atlas E Missile Silos before they were decommissioned. Exactly like the missile silo we bought that was only a few minutes drive from here. Our bolthole. We used George to purchase all of this, under the cover of his frequent business trips.
A burly man with an MP5 awaited us, along with several women. More burly men guarded the perimeter. The man was Duncan Barber, one of the SWAT officers that attacked us back in June. He wasn't to blame for the attack; none of the SWAT officers were to blame. They were under the Nuns' control. Three of them had died, but the other nine had lived. Mark gave them the choice to go to prison or he could fake their deaths and put them to work. They chose freedom and work. So Mark and I fixed their broken relationships – it was our fault that they were broken – and relocated them and their families out here.
“Mam,” Duncan said. His aura was black, fringed with red. Everyone at this airfield and the missile silo were bound to Mark by the Zimmah ritual. This place was just too important to let anyone know about it, unless they were bound to us.
“Is it as bad as it seems, mam?” Kathanne asked. She was Duncan's wife.
“Yes,” I sighed.
“What are you going to do, mam?” Duncan asked as he escorted me to the waiting SUV.
“I don't know,” I wearily said. Sam and I dug into her translation of the Book, looking for some way to neutralize Brandon's powers, or break the control he was exerting on people.
“Shame we don't have a Nun,” Duncan said. “Isn't Warlocks what they specialize in defeating?”
I stopped, looking at him. That was it, we needed a Nun.
“Sam, you said there was a spell that would allow a Warlock to steal a Nun's powers?” I asked, hope blossoming in my chest.
“Yes, mam. The, um, Ganubath ritual,” Sam answered. “You need to find a Nun and capture her.” A smile appeared on Sam's face, but it quickly vanished. “Where are you going to find one, though?”
I grinned at her. I knew only one place in the world that you could find a Nun. “Fuel the plane!” I snapped. “We need to leave as soon as we cast the Naba ritual.” I glanced at Sam and she swallowed.
“I'll get started right away, mam,” she answered, her face pale.
I would be scared, too. It was dangerous to summon the dead.