As the plague ravages Seattle, Lilith attacks, and Jessica gets caught in the middle.
The Devil's Pact
edited by Master Ken
Copyright 2013, 2014
Chapter Forty-Six: The Fall of Seattle
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Wormwood, as the disease became known, ravaged the world. No-one knows the precise number of men who died of the Demon Plague, but estimates are 1.02 billion. One-third of all the men living on the planet succumbed before the disease ran its course five months later.
–excerpt from 'The History of the Tyrants' Theocracy', by Tina Allard
Monday, November 18th, 2013 – Lilith – Sangi, the Democratic Republic of Congo
I looked proudly at my assembled daughters, most newly matured, as they stood in the muddy square of the rude village. It grated that I was forced to retreat to such a... distasteful place. Well, that was about to change.
Alitha, Mazikeen, Tzavau, Manticore, Edimmu, Nirah, Zu, Aesma, and a dozen more different breeds stared worshipfully at me. A thousand monsters out of the darkest nightmares of mankind. The humans sill remembered my children in distorted legends and tales. The fear they caused etched into the very soul of mankind. My children were so feared, so powerful, the Creator had drowned the world and started anew. But not this time—He promised on the slopes of Mount Ararat to never destroy the world by deluge again.
And He keeps his promises.
“Open the portals!” I commanded. Lana, Chantelle, and Thamina leapt to obey, carving holes in the air to the Shadows.
It was time to retake my city. From Seattle I would breed an even larger army and sweep this world clean of all the vile men. I would fix the Creator's mistake in ever bringing the brutish pigs into being, ushering in a utopic paradise.
I would recreate Eden in my image.
Mark – The Matmown, Tacoma, WA
I was exhausted.
Mary and I spent the day healing those that had fallen to Lilith's plague. Hundreds had already died and thousands were falling sick. The plague burned across the world. It was more virulent than the common cold. Seattle was the worst hit. It seemed like every man in the city had fallen ill, Doctors included.
Hospitals had exhausted their resources trying to deal with the sick, reduced to staffs of mostly nurses and many of those were staying home to care for their own husbands, sons, and fathers. So far none of the Legion – the military sworn to me – had fallen ill, or any of those bound by the Zimmah ritual. But 10,000 soldiers was not enough to maintain order in the US, let alone the world.
“Our Hot Labs have isolated the bacteria,” Dr. Franny Albertson explained. She was an Epidemiologist Officer from the CDC, trained to deal with pandemics. “It's a modified version of the Treponema pallidum, commonly called syphilis.”
“It's an STD?” I asked.
“Well, not anymore. But it started out that way.”
That explained why I was immune, and all those bound to us by the Zimmah spell. Months ago, Mary and I performed the Bathuwlah ritual and made ourselves, and those bound to us, immune to STDs.
“Someone has engineered this attack to affect only men,” Dr. Albertson continued. “We're not sure how. And they've increased its durability, giving it a protein to protect it from UV light, allowing it to be transmitted in the air.”
“What can we do to stop it?” Mary asked.
“Syphilis has a history of being resistant to antibacterials,” she answered. “The exact protein of its outer shell has never been fully studied, and this strain is even more robust. The best thing to do is isolate the men not already infected. The only good news is we've seen about half of those infected begin to recover.”
“What about containment?” I asked.
“We may be beyond containment,” the doctor said. “There are cases appearing across the entire world. Seattle is a hub for international traffic, and the dormancy of this bacteria appears to be about 3-5 days before symptoms appear. This has allowed the disease to spread far and wide.”
My stomach sank. “What about the military?”
“It's hitting the general troops hard,” General Brooks answered. He commanded the Legion. “The Legion seems unaffected. Healthy units are being quarantined, and we're forming new units out of female soldiers. But they only form about 15% of the military.”
There was a knock on the metal door to the Matmown and a junior officer walked in and whispered something to General Brooks. “My Lord, something is happening in Seattle.”
Jessica St. Pierre – City Hall, Seattle, WA
I was exhausted.
I don't think I've slept since the outbreak started, other than a few minutes dozing at my desk. The situation was horrible. The hospitals were crammed with sick and dying men with only a few overworked nurses and doctors – the few who were still coming to work – to tend to them. It seemed most of the male doctors and nurses were infected before proper quarantine procedures could be established, creating more patients for the beleaguered female nurses and doctors.
This is what Lilith wants—a world without men.
I stared down at the report in front of me. It was an order to start burning the dead. There wasn't time to bury them and they were beginning to pile up in the makeshift morgues. The battalion of soldiers Master gave me were stretched thin. They were the only men in the city immune to the disease, and had to be everywhere, trying to help out. I only had a section, half of a platoon, guarding me at city hall. It was all that could be spared.
I nodded my head and jumped. I had fallen asleep. I was so tired. I rubbed my eyes. What was I doing? I looked down at the order. Right. I reached for a pen, and scrawled my signature neatly at the bottom. I set that aside, and reached for the next piece of paper. A casualty list. It was heartbreaking. Most who died were young boys and elderly men.
I grabbed the next paper. Proposed food distribution sites. Every store in the city was shut down, no-one wanted to be out in public anymore. But people needed to eat and rations were being brought in by the military. Places needed to be chosen for those spots. I blinked, the page growing blurry as I struggled to focus.
I jumped; fireworks exploded outside.
I frowned, standing up. Why would anyone be setting off fireworks at a time like this? I walked to the window, glancing down at James Street and saw three soldiers firing their weapons down the boulevard. My exhausted mind struggled to think. Why would they do that?
A black rock crashed into one of the soldiers, caving in his chest. That woke me up; adrenaline spiked through me, setting my heart thudding. Up the street a brown-skinned, hairless woman ripped up another chunk of asphalt and hurled it at the soldiers. No, one of Lilith's monsters, I realized with a chill. More monstrous women rushed the soldiers, covered by the asphalt missiles. They were all varied: a gray-skinned woman with white hair, a gaunt woman with shriveled sacks for breasts, and a green-scaled woman loping on all fours.
The remaining soldiers kept firing; their bullets ripped into the green-scaled woman and she collapsed in a bloody heap, smoke rising from her wounds. The gray-skinned monster stopped and thrust her hands forward; a great wind swept down the street, buffeting the soldiers and knocking them to the ground. The skeletal woman reached one of the prone soldiers, her fingers sharp as claws, and she drove them through his body armor into his chest and plucked out his heart.
I couldn't hear what the last soldier shouted as he struggled to aim his weapon. He fired a grenade from a launcher slung on the bottom of his rifle. The window shattered before me as a boom rocked the building. I threw up my arms as a few shards of glass cut my forearm. The skeletal woman was gone, bits of her staining the street.
The door to my office burst open and I whirled about in fear. It was Privates Brasher and Santillian. “We have to go, ma'am,” squat Brasher shouted. His radio squawked noisily. “Those damned monsters are popping up all over the city!”
Santillian grabbed my shoulder and pushed me forward while Brasher led the way to the elevator. Another boom rocked the building, then a loud, repeating roar—some sort of heavy weapon firing. The elevator ride seemed to take an eternity to go down the two floors to the lobby. I trembled in fear; my heart seemed to beat a million times a second. I was afraid it was going to explode.
The doors opened on the lobby. Outside was parked a Stryker. The repeated roaring noise came from the machine gun mounted on a turret atop the armored vehicle, firing down Fourth Avenue. No-one manned the turret, it was controlled remotely from inside. Two more soldiers huddled on the side of the vehicle, firing their weapons in the same direction.
The air rippled behind one of the kneeling soldiers, like a mirage dancing on hot pavement, and then a woman stepped out of the ripples. She was pale; her hair seemed to glow with white light. She pointed her finger at the back of the soldier and a bright, red beam struck him and he fell forward, a smoking hole through his body armor.
“¡Madre de dios!” Santillian cursed as he and Brasher opened fire on the woman. The glass front doors shattered into tiny beads of broken glass. The woman turned, pointed her finger at us as a bullet struck her in the chest. Her red beam went wide, slicing through the front of the city hall, leaving behind a smoking line of destruction.
“Go! Get in the Stryker!” Brasher roared and raced for the front door.
A bullish, winged woman dropped on the Stryker from the sky, the vehicle rocking on its four axles, groaning in protest. How could something so heavy fly? She grabbed the turret and ripped the machine gun off, hurling it down. Then she grabbed at the hatch on top and started prying up the metal. Brasher fired his weapon at the winged monster. She didn't even flinch as his shots stung her body, leaving small, bloody holes.
The remaining soldier outside the Stryker ran for City Hall as a horde of monstrous women poured down the street, no longer kept at bay by the turreted machine gun. The lone soldier did not get far before a leonine woman spat a quill at him; he convulsed and fell upon the steps of city hall.
“Run, chica!” Santillian yelled. He knelt down behind a pillar, pulled out a grenade and tossed it out the door. “We'll try and hold them off.”
The grenade detonated, killing several monsters, but more were pouring up the stairs. I turned and fled deeper into the building. I vaguely remembered that there was a fire escape out onto Cherry Street this way. Behind me, Brasher and Santillian's gunfire faltered and went silent. I raced down hallways, fear spurring me to run faster than I thought possible.
There was the fire escape! There was safety!
I sprinted down the hall and crashed through the red door, ignoring the alarm I set off. Cherry Street looked like a warzone. Three cars burned, set ablaze during the firefight, and a few, cratered holes littered the street. The soldiers guarding this street lay torn apart. There were no monsters. They all seemed to be around the corner, so I turned and ran down Cherry street away from the carnage.
I was going to escape!
A red-winged woman with a hawkish nose dropped before me. I tried to stop, but my momentum carried me into the monster. Her talon-like hands gripped my arm painfully and she eyed me up and down, her head moving with jerky, stilted motions, like a bird.
“Well, well, Mother will be pleased to see you, Jessica.”
The bird-monster dragged me back into city hall. More monsters roamed the hallways, breaking down office doors and dragging out the few women that were trying to keep the government running. As we walked past, the monsters growled, snarled, or leered at me. I shivered in fear, clutching my choker. What was going to happen to me?
“I will take her,” a man's voice said.
I blinked. Nate Kirkpatrick stood next to my former slut-sister Thamina. It was a punch to the stomach. I had relied on Nate. He had been my right-hand man in running the city. Why was Nate helping them? He was a man. I thought Lilith hated men?
“I caught her, I'll bring her to Mother,” the bird-woman protested, squeezing my arm painfully.
“Lilith's orders, Pazu!” Thamina snapped. There was a flinty look in the Arab woman's eyes.
“Yes, Priestess,” Pazu pouted, shoving me at Nate.
“What's going on, Nate?” I asked as he and Thamina led me to the stairs that led to the utility basement.
“I'm not Nate,” he answered. “I'm Ziki. You are going to help get my mother back.”
Your mother? He's one of Lilith's children? She could have male children? Then the import of his words struck me and hope blossomed. “We captured Lilith?”
“No, Fiona!” Thamina hissed. “Mark and Mary love you. They'll be more than willing to trade you for her.”
“But first we need some information,” Nate-Ziki smiled and I shuddered. “Then we'll trade you for mother.”
I swallowed my fear. They couldn't hurt me too much. They needed me if they were going to trade me for Fiona. I glanced askance at Thamina. “Why are you helping Lilith?”
“For Fiona,” she whispered, then glared at me. “It doesn't matter. I have chosen my side. You chose yours. Now we have to live with our decisions.”
They opened a door, and I was pushed into a storage room piled with folding tables and boxes; it smelled a little musty. Nate-Ziki threw me roughly to the floor as Thamina pulled out a thick, black marker from her pocket and proceeded to draw strange symbols on the wall while muttering under her breath. They were like the symbols in the Matmown.
“What are you doing?” I asked, falling back on my reporter training. Ask questions, get answers. “What are you drawing?”
“I'm masking this room from unwanted sight,” Thamina answered. “It won't stop a powerful entity from spying here, but it will keep out Mark's ghosts.”
“Is that how Lilith kept Master from finding her first lair?” I asked her.
“We thought it would, yet he seemed to find it anyways,” she complained. “How did he do that?”
“I can't tell you that,” I protested.
“Of course not.” She was working on the third wall, skillfully drawing the symbols with what smelled like a permanent marker, sharp and pungent, burning my nose.
“So what are you?” I asked Nate-Ziki. “You say you aren't Nate Kirkpatrick.”
“He's dead,” he answered. “I killed him.”
“And took his form?”
He nodded. “It was useful to get our people into the government.” He gave a small laugh, his fat belly jiggling beneath his sweater. “All wasted thanks to Mark.” He practically spat out Master's name, like it left a bad taste in his mouth.
“I assume all the women you recommended for arrest were innocent?”
He grinned at me; I suppressed a stab of anger at the betrayal. How could I have been so stupid. I was so fixated on Lilith's hatred of men that I assumed any man could be trusted. Then it hit me. “You knew where all the soldiers were stationed in Seattle.”
“That's why I was born,” he shrugged. “To spy on Mother's enemies.”
“Strip,” Thamina commanded abruptly, as she finished drawing her symbols.
“Why?” I asked.
“We can't take the chance you have some enchanted item from Sam,” she answered. “Like the amulet you have around your neck.”
“Fine,” I sighed. I pulled off my bronze amulet, handed it to Thamina, then pulled off my transparent blouse and my short skirt, then I pealed off my stockings. “There.”
My hands went protectively to my gold choker. “No.”
“We'll take it from you, Jessica,” Thamina sighed. “You'll get it back when we trade you for Fiona.” Her expression softened. “We can't take the chance that it's enchanted, okay. I'll take care of it. We were sisters once. Trust me, Jessica.”
I stared into Thamina's face and remembered the passion I once shared with the woman. “They still love you,” I said, reaching behind my neck to unclasp the choker. “Fiona, too. Ask for their forgiveness and come back to them. Remember all the fun we had. You're missed.”
Thamina shuddered. “I won't be their whore again!”
“Fine, but why side with Lilith? She's evil.”
“Lilith never stole my free will.”
“No, she's just unleashed a plague that's killing thousands and many more.”
“Men,” Thamina dismissed.
“Even the children? The infants?”
She flinched, then turned and fled the room with my clothes. I glanced at Nate-Ziki and realized he had stripped naked. He was a big, burly man, his fat stomach hanging over his groin and his cock just visible beneath the pouch.
“Are you going to rape me?” I asked.
Nate-Ziki cocked his head, his eyes examining me. There was no lust in his eyes. It was—clinical. He was studying me, like a scientist peering into the microscope at some strange, new bacteria. For the first time since I became their slut, I felt self-conscious at being naked, and covered my breasts with one hand and my pussy with the other.
“What do you want?” I asked, fear trembling in my voice.
“What do you want?” The words came from his mouth, but that was my voice. The same pitch and timbre, the same rhythm. The same fear trembled in his words.
“Oh, Gods!” I gasped.
“Oh, Gods!” His head cocked, still examining me like a specimen.
“What are you?”
“What are you?” he mimicked perfectly. “You have a very controlled voice,” he said suddenly, still sounding like me. “But this is not your real accent. I can pick up its intonations buried beneath this learned diction. You are from the area known as the South, yes?”
How? I had worked very hard in school to lose my accent; a journalist should speak clearly.
“Fuck you!” I snapped.
He smiled, then began to change; his skin rippled like water and he contracted, his fat disappearing, absorbed by his body. The limbs shrank, turning skinny, lithe. The stomach was completely flat now, the shoulders narrowed and pleasant curves appeared at his hips. His sagging man boobs perked up, shrinking and transforming into a pair of nicely formed breasts; the cock between his legs shrank, vanishing up inside his body along with the coarse pubic hair. And not just the pubic hair, all the body hair disappeared, growing back inside his body. The age vanished from his face, the lines softened, the nose shrank; his hair grew honey-brown and lengthened. Spots of caramel blossomed on his skin, spreading like mold until his entire body was the same, rich brown.
Nate Kirkpatrick transformed into me.
I swallowed, and my doppelganger swallowed, adopting my trembling pose. I moved my arm, it moved its arm. It was like looking into a mirror. I raised up my right arm, so did Ziki. No, not a mirror, my image wasn't reversed. I licked my lips, Ziki licked hers. I breathed in and so did she.
And then she walked to me, her hips swaying just the way I liked to sway them. I backed away from her, bumping into a stack of folding tables. She reached out, touched me with my fingers, sliding up my stomach between my breasts. She drew her finger across my tit, and touched my hard nipple; pleasure tingled through me.
Her face moved closer, my eyes swam closer and closer, and then I was kissing myself—my doppelganger. My hands reached out and cupped Ziki's breasts. They felt just like mine, the same weight, the same feel. I gave the tit a squeeze—the same yielding firmness. Our passion grew as I kissed myself, made love to myself.
This was so wild!
We sank down to the floor, kissing, our hands exploring each other. I knew just where to touch her, and she knew just how to touch me. Never in my life had someone aroused me so thoroughly. The more we kissed, the more we touched, the closer we became. It was like we had one mind, one thought—to give each other as much pleasure as possible.
The concrete of the floor was cold on my back as my doppelganger straddled my face, my shaved pussy descending to my lips. I tasted her, tasted my sweet, sour juices. Her tongue mirrored mine. Wherever I kissed her pussy, she kissed mine. I sucked her clit, she sucked mine. I buried my face into her cunt, sucking and licking, moaning my pleasure as she vigorously ate me out.
She slipped a finger into my pussy and I copied her, pushing a finger into her cunt. She felt just the way I remembered, and I curled my finger, searching for that special spot that would set off the explosion building in our pussies. It was right there; I knew this pussy intimately. We touched each other's G-spots at the same instant.
We came together, bucking into each other's cunts, and all my thoughts, my memories, my experiences opened up. And she knew them, absorbed them like a sponge drinking in water. Everything. My secrets. Master's secrets. We were one creature for a split second, our souls wrapped tightly together, bound by pleasure.
And then the orgasm faded and we were two.
I froze. My doppelganger stood up. Oh, no! She knew everything. She stole the most important secret entrusted to me—Master and Mistress couldn't afford to kill Lilith. Not without causing the end of the world.
“No!” I shouted, lunging at myself, but she nimbly dodged away and slipped out of the room. The door slammed shut with a metal thud. I grabbed the door, turned the knob and wrenched it open. The leonine woman was there and she bared her teeth at me as she loomed over me and I stumbled back in fear.
I collapsed onto the floor and sobbed. Oh Gods, what have I done?
Mark – I Corp Headquarters, JBLM
The predator drone's footage was in black-and-white infrared and everyone glowed brightly. The last of my soldiers were holding out at the Washington State Convention Center as Lilith's monsters swarmed the massive building. A bomb went off on Pine Street, dropped from an A-10 giving air support, leaving a giant crater and the broken remains of dozens of her daughters.
But still they came.
A second A-10 banked into view, firing its massive cannon mounted on the front of the plane. It was a tank buster, and it left small craters as the bullets marched up 8th Street, blasting cars and monsters to ruins. A bright, white line lanced up from a group of monsters and the wing of the A-10 sheered off. The plane spun through the air and slammed into a building. Smoke and flames erupted, then the building collapsed in a cloud of dust.
It was the third A-10 shot down. Another two F-22's had been brought down by some sort of flying monster. The pilots' frantic maydays reported a bullish woman with wings ripping their canopies off.
“Seattle is lost,” General Brooks muttered. “It'll be costly to take the city back. I've mobilized the Legion still in the region at three staging points around Seattle. 3000 men. The Air Force is sending more fighters and bombers. Luckily the percentage of female pilots is higher than the 15% average of the rest of the military.”
I glanced at Mary, who chewed her lower lip. She looked haggard and I reached over and squeezed her hand. “How long before you can launch a counterattack, General?”
“Five or six hours, my Lord.”
“Do it,” I commanded.
The General nodded. There was apprehension in his eyes. This was going to be a bloodbath. Lilith must have been breeding this army in Africa. Her daughters grew supernaturally fast. They spent longer in the womb – forty days – then it took them to mature. In three days Lilith's daughters would grow from infancy to maturity. The only positive was that a human woman could only conceive with Lilith once. Most would bear a single child, but twins were not unheard of and triplets might be a possibility. But no second pregnancies.
“My Lord,” a lieutenant reported. “A Chantelle is calling. She claims to speak for Lilith.”
“Put her through,” Mary ordered, sitting up.
The lieutenant routed the call to a speaker phone that sat in the middle of a conference table. “I am High Priestess Chantelle Paquet-Holub. Whom am I speaking to?”
“It's good to hear your voice,” Mary answered. “We've been searching for you and Lana for months. We miss you.”
Chantelle laughed, “I do not miss being your slave, even if it was only for that one day.”
I gritted my teeth. It's possible Chantelle is Lilith's slave, and not a willing participant like Fiona and Thamina. It hurt to discover our former sluts plotting against us. We loved them and set them free, and they had the gall to side with Lilith. Ungrateful bitches! And what about Noel? Had she also sided with Lilith?
“What does Lilith want?” I asked.
“A ceasefire,” Chantelle said. “And a prisoner exchange. We have Jessica and a dozen of your soldiers. We will trade them for Fiona.”
“When and where?” Mary asked.
“Tomorrow, 7 AM. On I-5 at the Seattle City limits,” Chantelle answered.
“We need to discuss this,” I said.
“Fine,” Chantelle answered. “I will call again in one hour.” The phone clicked and hummed as the line went dead.
“What's there to discuss?” Mary asked. “We can get Jessica back.”
“By delaying the attack, letting Lilith dig in,” I pointed out.
“And what happens if...” she trailed off, staring at me intently. What happens if Lilith dies is what she wanted to say. “The attack is risky.”
“And after the exchange?”
Mary chewed her lip, worrying it so much I was afraid she was going to gnaw it off. “We attack,” she finally answered.
Monday, November 18th, 2013 – Mary – I-5 at Seattle City Limits
The icy rain hammered the hood of the limo as we stopped three hundred yards short of the Seattle city limits. An entire armored column escorted us, twenty Strykers led by two M1 Abrams tanks. Orbiting overhead were Apache and Black Hawk Helicopters. We were ready if Lilith tried to do anything during the prisoner exchange.
Sitting between Mark and me was Fiona, gagged and restrained. The strawberry-blonde woman had been well treated during her week-long captivity in the Pierce County Jail and seemed eager to go back to Lilith.
*Are you ready?* Mark sent.
I knew he didn't want me coming to the exchange, and it was sweet how he tried to protect me, but I just couldn't stand staying behind and waiting. I was protected by my enchanted stab vest, and readied to cast whatever spells were necessary to protect us. Sam had dug up a paralyzing spell in the Dead Sea Scrolls, the only useful thing she had found so far in Israel. I checked to make sure my bronze dagger was in its sheath in case I needed to carve a portal to the Shadows if things went sideways.
*Yes, let's get Jessica back.* I sent back.
The rain was freezing cold, sending a shock through me as I stepped out into it. It fell heavily and quickly plastered my hair to my head. It was still dark, the sun just starting to rise. At least I think it was. It was hard to tell with the angry clouds above. A wind whipped up, driving the rain sideways. Around us, soldiers disembarked from the Strykers, setting up their battlelines. I grabbed Fiona, and marched her forward.
Six hundred yards down I-5 a mass of monsters waited, dark shapes in the driving rain. We agreed to meet in the center, bringing only fifteen guards apiece. Mark summoned his Celestial Gold armor and sword, and then he summoned our guard. A mist appeared and fifteen figures coalesced about us. Chasity, Karen, and our thirteen dead bodyguards. They were clad in silver armor, and clutched silver 9mms in their hands.
“Master, Mistress,” Chasity smiled. She looked fierce, a warrior women with blue eyes and blonde hair. A Valkyrie.
“It's good to see you all,” I smiled back. “You are all missed.”
“Are they going to try anything?” Mark asked Karen. We often summoned her for information.
“Not that I can divine, Master,” Karen answered. I blinked, just realizing the driving rain passed right through her ghostly body. It must be nice to control when you interacted with the physical world. “They've shielded City Hall with spells that keep ghostly eyes out.”
I could see a group break off, walking down the highway. That would be Lilith and her guard. I nudged Mark and he nodded, muttering, “Let's get this over with.”
We marched down the highway, an army at our back to cover us if anything went wrong, and our ghosts formed up in a protective circle about us. My stomach fluttered with nerves as Lilith's group became more visible. She must have chosen the fifteen biggest daughters she had: there were two of the giantesses, nearly ten feet tall; three of the bullish, winged women; and two leonine woman that, according to Mark, could spit poisoned spines. Walking in the center was Lilith, her silvery hair plastered to her lush body; Chantelle walked beside her, marching Jessica.
Relief flooded me, she looked fine. A hopeful look appeared in her eyes when she saw us. Behind them marched a few of our captured soldiers. They looked proud as they marched unarmed, not willing to show weakness to their captors. We both stopped twenty yards apart, facing each other warily. My heart was really hammering and I tried not to tremble. I saw what those monsters could do up close when we attacked the warehouse last week and, even with our ghostly guard, I wasn't sure the odds were even close to our favor.
“My Goddess wishes to speak to you two face to face!” Chantelle shouted. “She proposes that we leave our guards behind and meet in the middle to talk!”
“Talk about what?” I shouted back.
I glanced at Mark and he grimaced. “You should stay here, I'll go by myself,” he finally said. “It's too...”
I touched his lip with my finger. “I know, but we're in this together. My life bound to yours.”
“Fine,” he stiffly said. “Let's do this.”
We strode forward as Lilith and Chantelle did likewise, leaving behind our guards. Lilith was as beautiful as I remembered, even soaked by the driving rain. In fact, the rain-soaked dress wetly clinging to her lush body only added to her sensuality. My eyes fell to Chantelle, who looked as cold as she was drenched; she still moved with a dancer's grace.
“Lilith,” Mark growled.
The demoness ignored Mark, glancing at me. “Hello, Mary. Do you ever think about that cock I gave you?”
My cheeks warmed, and Lilith's smile deepened. That bitch did tell me about the Magicks of the Witch of Endor just to tempt me! “We're not here to talk about that!” I snapped. “What do you want?”
“What happened to your species?” Lilith wondered. “Your kind used to live on ceremony. Now it's all rush, rush, rush. It's so...undignified.
“Cut the crap!” my husband growled. His right fist clenched, and his face grew flushed. He wanted to summon his sword and ram it through the bitch, the consequences be damned. Part of me wanted to let him. She killed Karen!
“Seattle,” Lilith answered. “It's my city, and I want you to formally acknowledge it.”
Mark laughed. “Why would we do that. You can't fight my forces.”
“No,” she admitted. “But you don't want to kill me.”
I didn't think I could feel colder in this driving rain, but her words turned to ice inside. Does she know the truth? They had captured Jessica.
“I'd love nothing more!” my husband growled.
“It is a shame this disease is spreading across the world,” Lilith smiled like a serpent eying a mouse.
“We know you are responsible, Lilith!” Mark spat. “And you will pay for all those deaths!”
“Will I?” Lilith asked. “If something were to happen to me, I could only imagine what one of my daughters would do. They would be inconsolable, and in their grief they could spread a new plague. One not so discriminating.”
A weird relief flooded me. Lilith didn't know that we couldn't kill her. Now we just had another reason why we had to spare the bitch. The CDC had been quite clear; the disease was engineered to only affect men. That could be changed.
“Blackmail, Lilith?” Mark asked. “How disappointing.”
“You have grown too powerful,” Lilith sighed. “It is pointless for us to fight. We'll just destroy each other. Give me Seattle and you can have the rest.”
“Really?” I couldn't keep my derision out of my voice. Never trust a demon.
“It is better than going back to the Abyss,” the demoness replied. “Whatever happens in Seattle is my affair, not yours. And whatever happens outside it is yours.”
*I don't think we have a choice, Mark,* I sent. *Even if she's bluffing on the disease, we're not ready to fight Lucifer. If we attack the city, Lilith could easily be killed by accident.*
“What about the men in the city?” Mark demanded. “Will you let them go?”
“I will see that they are properly cared for.” I shuddered at the venom in Lilith's tone. “But that is none of your concern. What are a few thousand men versus the world?”
I could see the frustration in Mark's face, his fists were balled tightly. “Fine, Seattle is yours. But if any of your 'daughters' set foot outside of Seattle, they will be hunted down and executed.”
“More than reasonable,” Lilith purred.
“And if there's another outbreak, I will reduce Seattle to rubble,” Mark promised. “I have the US nuclear arsenal under my control. The first hint, Lilith.”
I saw concern, fear even, flash across her face for one instant, and then she was back to her sultry insolence. “Then we are agreed. I propose a yearly meeting right here on the anniversary of this meeting, in case there are any issues that need discussing.”
“Fine,” Mark spat.
“Then we have a Pact.” She gestured behind her, and our imprisoned soldiers marched forward, passing by us. “As a gesture of good will,” Lilith explained. “And now you send Fiona and I'll send your little slut.”
Fiona and Jessica both walked forward, Jessica's head held high, trying to ignore the freezing rain, and Fiona hunched, hugging herself and shaking with more than the cold. I could feel Mark's tension in the air; it was worse than mine. At any second Lilith could betray us. This could all be just a ruse to lure us into letting down our guard. Jessica and Fiona passed. Jessica glared daggers at Fiona; the former slut didn't even react. A smile broached our slut's caramel face as she neared. Fiona reached Lilith, and they retreated.
Jessica threw her arms around me, hugging me tightly. “Thank you, Mistress. Thank you, thank you, thank you.”
“They didn't hurt you?” I asked her. “Or...”
“No, they just stuck me in the basement,” she answered, shivering in my arms. She wasn't dressed for the rain. “They never touched me.”
“C'mon, let's get you home,” I told Jessica, wrapping my arm around her, throwing one last glance over my shoulder at Lilith. She seemed to be retreating back. I sighed; it wasn't a trap.
Noel Heinrich – Patriot's Headquarters, Montana
“They found a girl,” Wyatt said as I stepped out of the portal from the Shadows. “Stowed her in the small bedroom.”
Wyatt, my second-in-command, was packing clay into the chicken wire frame of the golem. Seven more assembled golems – made of the local, red clay and vaguely shaped into the form of powerfully built men – loomed in the pasture before the ranch house that served as our headquarters. We were twenty-five miles south of Sanford, in the middle of nowhere, Montana. The nearest neighbor was over five miles away. The perfect place to plot the end of Mark Glassner and his Theocracy.
“Good,” I nodded.
“Are you sure you want to do this?” he asked. “It's not too late to let the girl go. Christ, Noel! It's evil!”
“The golems are coming along well. How long until they're all ready?”
“It's going a little faster. Six months maybe.” He fixed his brown eyes on me. “You avoided the question.”
“We'll need the blade,” I answered. “It's the only way to neutralize the ghosts protecting them. Mark thinks the Shadows is safe and will not expect an overwhelming attack from there.”
He sighed, shaking his head. “This hate's going to destroy you, Noel.”
“As long as I take the Tyrants with me.”
He turned back to the golems. “A lot of people are going to die if we unleash these monstrosities.” He grimaced. “Innocent people.”
More blood to feed the tree. Freeing mankind from his tyranny was worth any price. “We have six months to find a way to kill Mark without resorting to such extreme measures.” I glanced at the house. “She's inside?”
I strode towards the ranch house, nodding to the hulking Davin. He leaned next to the front door, smoking a cigarette. He nodded back, not saying a word. He was a good man, and normally affable. He had a blank look on his dark face, his eyes troubled. Wyatt wasn't the only one uncomfortable with my plan.
“You'll never be the same if you do this, Noel,” Wyatt persisted. “Please reconsider!”
I shook my head, pushing through the front door. “I have no compunctions about doing this. It has to be done!”
I reached for the door to the bedroom. He grabbed my arm. “Doesn't mean this won't change you, Noel.”
I shook him off. “It's the only way to summon Asherah.” I opened the door.