Part 9 "Strange is all I know/Moments in bliss cannot turn/See me now, always." - Enchantments Haiku
Gabriel bobbed his head in tune with the words of Annie Lennox, spinning at the refrain to place the now clean Egyptian statue on a shelf. He rubbed the tip of the Ibis' beak to give it a little shine. The bronze statue had arrived less than an hour before in an antique wooden shipping box, wrapped in straw and what he assumed was Egyptian cotton. There was even an antique archiological dig and survey label on both the box and statue. The wax applied label was what he had to clean off before setting it on display.
His cheeky smile faded a bit at the inscription on the adomen of the figure. The head of an Ibus and the body of a man, he knew the figure of Thothe but the name in the cartoush was different. He picked up the heavy object and ran his finger over the hyroglyphs.
Startled, Gabriel nearly dropped the statue. "What?" He looked up, eyes wide and innocent looking at Sara. When he caught sight of her, his face changed into a sly grin. "Hey, detective, come back for more?"
"Why don't you speak to Jake about that, he and you seem to be on a more intimate basis." Sara walked closer to him, ignoring the shelf of sparkling and shiny deities in favor of the one he held. "You mind?"
Raising an eyebrow, Gabrield glanced at her hands the back at the statue. "Oh, sure, just be careful. It's new." His lopsided grin returned as he handed over the statue and assumed a relaxed posture rubbing at his neck. "Well, not new, per say, as it is over eight thousand years old."
"You don't say." Her eyes glanced over the figure. The figure was kneeling and a scroll over the bent legs; a reed pen in one hand writing on the scroll. The cartouche was formed in the abs. She traced the letters. "Tahuti, Egyptian god of knowledge. Predynastic, much older than just eight thousand years."
"Well, that, I didn't know, but I probably have more than you on it." Curling a finger, he walked past her through the shelves of artifacts.
She followed him into a small room off the back. Inside was a large computer desk covered in print outs, postit notes, and monitors. A large Ankh spun on the central monitor. It was in front of this one Gabriel dragged a rolling desk chair. He ran a hand over the front of the desk and a keyboard popped up from a hidden panel on the desktop.
The screen phased white then gold before settling on a picture of a papyrus scroll, the symbols flowing across the screen up and down from right to left. He grinned at her over his shoulder and pointed at the monitor. "The sequence repeats over and over. The symbols read from top to bottom, scrolling right to left. Tell me what it says and I will tell you anything you want."
Giving him a once over, she bent over to use the desk and his chair back for support. She dropped the idol in his lap then turned to the screen. "Oh mighty Ra, sun disk, giver of life, we beseech your presence. Grant us this most humble of requests for your lowest, yet most exhaulted of servants. We offer these items in sacrifice to your name that it may gain your notice and endow us with your favor. Our minds and hearts are always open to your insight and wisdom, our bodies and those of ours are yours. These guys were making ass kissing into an art."
Gabriel sighed. "Please continue, just... Continue! I have to know all it says."
"Why is this so important?" When he didn't respond, she glanced over at his pale face. "What is it, Gabriel?"
"It is the last document produced by that cult I told you about. These people were big on recording things for posperity. The last document of theirs ever found was discovered thirty years ago in a hollowed out cavern in the Nile Delta. It was so badly damaged only a few words could be transcribed before it turned to dust." His smile grew in blinding intinsity with his enthusiasm.
"What they believe is that the document was a copy of the original because it wasn't found in a canopic jar. A jar that holds the remains of the dead. This papyrus was found in the jar with a heart. It was stained with heart's blood, the one they found thirty years ago wasn't!"
Her eye brows raised in question. "What is so special about the heart and its blood?"
"The ancients cults of Egypt believed the heart was the center of all the body's knowledge and the keeper of the soul or Ka. When the kings were embalmed, the heart was removed and placed in canopic jar. They believed that Anubis weighted the heart against the feather of life to determine if they were worthy of eternity with Ra. See, the thing is, this practice didn't occur until like the third dynasty, a full eight centuries after this cult suddenly died out! So these people were way a head of their time in customs."
"Wow." Sara smirked at his dreamy sigh. "Hey, boy wonder, emphasis on boy, keep that kinda thing to yourself. Right now I need some information."
"Just read the damn text!" He growled at her, cheeks tinging red in both anger and embarrassment.
"Fine, then you cough up all you know." Looking back at the screen, she concentraited on the symbols to find her place. "More ass kissing, a plea for help against an unknown enemy from the west, a people labeled as servants of Seker. It is asking why..." She froze, the world around her covered in green grasses, at her feet laid the body of man she knew. Someone very close to her. Staring up at Ra, she screamed in rage. Suddenly the war gauntlet fell from her wrist into the reeds and a sharp pain exploded in her chest. Looking down, she noted that her blood ran freely from an arrow protruding from her chest.
"Asking why what?"
Gabriel's voice intruded on the vision and she was back looking at the screen. Clearing her throat, Sara once more started to read. Her voice came out low and rough, cracking with emotion. "They are asking why their goddess abandoned her duty to them. Why Ra called back his daughter into his embrace at the moment of their greatest need. They were offering up the virgins of their cult to his appeasement, making them try on the goddess' war gauntlet. Each of them that tried was struck dead by blinding visions of the goddess embowling them."
Rubbing her eyes, she cleared her throat again. "They ask why a warrior of their enemies was allowed to wear the gauntlet unharmed before her own people killed her in fear that she was controled by the cult. The gauntlet was recovered and buried with the scroll, an offering for their goddess to return and save what is left of her people. It goes on to ask that Ra allow his daughter to return and if not save them, to avenge their passing."
Sudden anger welled up inside her and she slapped the monitor hard enough to crack it. "Fools! They didn't stop to ask what they did to be abandoned, just that I owed them a debt." The eye on the WitchBlade glowed red with her anger.
"Okay, that confirms that theory." Gabriel backed away from her slowly, hands up in submission. "Sara?"
"What?" She blinked at him as if seeing him for the first time.
"You were going all scarey goddess there for a minute. Take a deep cleansing breath and then we can get down to business." He gestured for her to follow him in breathing. After an eye roll, she took a few deep breaths to appease him. "Good, now is there anymore to the scroll?"
"Nothing passed the groveling for a new protector." She glanced at the now dead monitor and offered him an apologetic grin. "Sorry about that."
"Don't worry about it, I needed a new one and the insurance was about to run out on it anyways." Gabriel ran a hand over the crack. "Looks like lightening struck it to me." He turned to her with a smirk.
"Wait a minute, you aren't using me to lie about how it was damaged just so you can get a new one."
"Hey, who said anything about lying. Anyways, you owe me one, Detective, so think of it as just paying a debt." At his last words, he backed away. "Which is the wrong thing to say because you are still pissed at the people of Kheb, even though they have been dead for thousands of years."
"I'll help you file the report, sign off on it as an electrical surge, and get you the damned monitor. Now spill, what do you know of these people?" Standing up, she straightened out her back.
"These people, as you put it, worshiped a past blade wielder as their goddess. Her lover Shu and she were the children of Amun and Ra, the creator god and the sun disk, respectively. It is commonly believed they were both in fact born of Ra himself." Holding up a hand, he gestured for her to keep quiet. "Incest was best back then. Brothers and sisters married only in royal families to keep the blood lines pure."
"Great, this Tefnut, did she and her brother have any kids?"
"Two, Nut and Gehb. Nut was the goddess of the sky and Gheb was the god of earth. They in turn had four children. What else did you want to know?" He sat back in his chair to get comfortable.
"What do you know of Tahuti?"
"Tahuti, the ancient original name of Thoth, the Egyptian god of knowledge. Divine mediator and scholar. When Ra and Tefnut disagreed on something, she went into self exhile and only Tahuti could bring her back. His parent is also believed to be Ra. No mother, much like Tefnut, Shu, and Amun." He sat up. "Speaking of Amun, he was believed to have been born of the heart of PTah, another creator god. But that is important because PTah had three other sons, two from two different women and one adopted. All are said to be concieved of his greatness."
"Isaac Sullivan, that son of a bitch!" Sara pulled out the paper from her pocket and handed it over to Gabriel. "Does that say what I think it does?"
Taking the paper, Gabriel turned it over several times, checking the sketching from different angles. "No, that doesn't say Amun, it is deveriation. It is the name of his consort, Amuanet. Amuanet contains both male and female aspects, a fully functioning hermaphrodite. She needed no man to create life, she was the symbol of a tutelary deity, the protector, of all Pharoehs at the time of their accension. But people changed it to Mut, a pure female goddess because they felt that any acceptance of a mutation was against Ra. They had to be perfect."
"Even back then, eh?"
"Hate and bigotry has always existed." Handing the note paper back to her, he looked at her face. "Where did you get this? It looks like a pendant of some kind, a naming cartouche if I'm not mistaken."
Rolling his eyes, he breathed deeply. "A naming Cartouche is that which holds the symbols of a Pharoeh or God's name. To use it to hold the name of anyone not considered a god would qualify one for death because it basically deified them. A person wearing that pendant would be considered an incarnation of that god themself, an avatar if you will."
"You mean like the metatron speaks for god?"
"You know about angels," he asked surprise.
She tried to send him a whithering look but turned away after a moment. "I watched Dogma."
"Bad movie, Ben and Matt shoulda stayed home. And no, the Metatron speaks for god, but is not a personification of the God." Standing up, he turned around and grabbed an open book off the shelf behind him. Spinning back, he handed it to Pez. "Unlike other cultures that eventually bled into Judism and all its children, Egyptian mythos takes a spin that Buddhism and Hinduism now have a corner of the market on. They believed their god or gods would come to Earth in a form of their own choosing, an avatar, that was them.
"In fact, the name for their Pharoeh actually means God King. People would be born with certain birth marks or during celestial events that made the locals believe it was their god or goddess coming among them. Some gods were with them constantly and in many forms or bodies. For example, Tefnut was believed to inhabit both a lioness and an Egyptian desert cat of which all house cats are decended from.
"Nothing was sacred to these beings, unlike Greek and Roman myths. They inhabited that which was theirs; temples, springs, oasises very much like you or I inhabit a car or an apartment." He pointed at the paper in her hand. "That pendant says the wearer is Amuanet in earthly form. The same is said for anyone or anything else that has a similar pendant."
"Are you telling me that me and that damn cat are the same person?" Pez slammed shut the book of myths. Handing it back to him she turned to go.
"Wait! What are you talking about. Tell me and I promise to interpret it for you, please?" He offered his best kid smile.
"All right, just this once. If you tell anyone, I could get in a lot of trouble for revealing case details." She sat back against the desk and crossed her arms.
"Go on, I'm listening."
"Okay, Dr. Crane." Snorting, she relaxed a little. "Isaac Sullivan is the perp that has been killing hookers, pimps, and gays brutally lately. Or at least that is what we were lead to believe. It seems old daddy dearest, the former fertility doctor, Peter D'Angelo, created Isaac and then enjoyed him so much that he cloned him several times. Only they weren't like the original, they were psychotic and went on a killing spree using people and each other as an alibi until I found out that there was more than one of them.
"Three nights ago, Jake had sex with the real Isaac Sullivan and has been acting strange ever since. Apparently Dr. D'Angelo didn't just create Isaac and his copies, he put Jake together like a patch work quilt of DNA specially for his little bi-colored eyed brood. Because there were several Isaacs, there had to be several Jakes for them to have as manufactured whores.
"Yesterday, after I killed the clones, Jake recieved a package with a pendant. The one who's symbols you have been looking at. Last night Isaac personally brought a damned cat for Jake and called it and me by the same name."
"Let me guess, Tefnut."
"Correct." She scowled as Gabriel laughed. "Anyways, he kept refering to people by these weird names, which I am now assuming to be Egyptian gods. He called Ian Seker, and Irons Apep. Before he left he told me to trust you, Tahuti, and then ordered me to watch over Jake. Now what can you tell me?"
Sobering up, Gabriel twirled his chair for a bit from side to side. "Okay, you said Jake was acting weird, as in how?"
"Really horny, you should know."
Gabriel's face pinked. "Uh yeah, okay. I would watch Jake for the next say oh nine months then. If he really was tailor made for Isaac, then we have some serious issues going on. From what you told me, I am guessing here, but it sounds a lot like the religion of the cult I told you about.
"There were eleven gods and goddess in their pantheon. Chief and supreme being Ra, the father of all life. Next was PTah, father creator and chief steward of Ra. Some say he worked for Ra, others say he worked independantly, and yet another group say he was a minion of Apep. Who knows? Anyway, Ptah created Amun who created Shu as mate to Tefnut, and she was created by Ra in his need to have children. Ra had another child, Tahuti, or as the greeks named him, Thoth. He was the wise and all knowing and extremely handsom god everyone trusted."
Sara scoffed at him.
"So we have PTah creating a child to continue his greatness, Amun. Amun is a creator god, personified as either the blue-green of grass or black Nile silt."
"Isaac's eyes were blue and black."
"There's your Amun." He shaped his hand like a gun and mock-shot Pez. "Which brings me to Amuanet, consort and mate to Amun. Here is where things get tricky. Amuanet is a fully functioning Hermaphrodite. And if your partner's actions are anything to go on, in about nine months, a little bi-collored eyed baby is going to be calling you Auntie. If this Dr. D'Angelo is represenative of PTah, then I'd say it's a pretty safe bet my hypothesis is correct.
"Also, keep your eye out for anything else the good doctor may have created. If Isaac is following the rules of the cult, you have a lot to worry about. There are three others out there still, and one is the worst of them all. Seker and Apep may have their own agenda, but you know to avoid them. We don't know who he named Ra, Shu, or the last one, Sakhmet. Sakhmet is Tefnut's sister, another child of Ra and identical in animal forms, lionesses. Which means you may have a rival for the WitchBlade out there. One who may not share your love of justice or humanity."
Picking up the book again, he opened it to another page. The picture inside was that of a lion headed woman holding an Ankh and a crescent shaped blade. "Sakhmet is both an amoral and loving deity. She is intensly loyal to her father and that is all that keeps her in line."
"How bad can this person be? I mean I've seen some hard shit, but what exactly is it that gave her the dark rep?"
"Sakhmet grew enraged by the people's lack of faith in her father. They turned from him and plotted against him. Ra released her upon them." He turned the page and showed her the picture of the lion headed goddess drenched in blood and holding the heads of several dead men by their hair. Reading directly from the book he quoted to her. "And Sakhmet was sent out among man to bring death to those who conspire against our lord Ra, her father. She tasted of their blood and became lusty of its flavor. Their blood fed her rage and increased her appetite for it. So strong was this need that she brought destruction to the Earth, and nearly wiped man from it.
"No god could stop her, so great her power. Man thought himself lost and begged Ra's forgiveness for fear of his very existance. But their pleas were invain, for Ra could no longer control his Sakhmet. When all believed to be lost, it was Thoth who brought to Ra a plan. And so it was that Ra colored barley beer as blood for Sakhmet and made her drunk. Confusion set in after she had consumed a great amount and she soon forgot her quest of destruction. Thus man was spared."
Closing the book, he held it out to her. "I'd say genocide is a good reason to watch out for whoever she might be. Of course, that was the encyclopedia version, the actual version is quite graphic. It goes into detail about how she liked to cut off their hard dicks and sucked the blood from it like a wine skin."
"Sounds like she would be fun at a party."
"Yeah, a whole barrel of laughs." Sighing, he tried to think of something else to tell her. "Ra is a benevolent deity, he doesn't usually interfer with the lives of us mortals, he has a bigger game to play. He is always at war with Apep and Seker. Be on the look out for someone who you might know from a distant memory that Irons has an extreme dislike of.
"Shu is also an unknown quantity. He is a child of Amun, either by creation or by design. Either way, Shu is a big part of your love life. Little is known of Shu, but one thing for sure is his lifting of Nut to seperate her from her brother, thus seperating the earth and sky to create the stars. Watch for anyone who makes you feel like he could move heaven and Earth by his will alone.
"Finally, Sakhmet. She is the dangerous one. No one knows exactly how she was created or why. It is known she is a child of Ra, be that from his adopting her, or his creating her, I'm not sure. She is a goddess of war, so look for a military back ground. She is also a goddess of pestilence and healing, so she also might be a doctor or virul researcher. Either way, she is probably the one you have to fear the most. Not only can she destroy the world, but she can probably do it wielding your gauntlet."
That last bit of news rocked Sara. She unconsciously touched the WitchBlade.
"Remember I told you it was of great power, that it needs to be on the right wrist. Well, another thing I gotta tell you is, the WitchBlade chooses its wielder. If it finds you lacking even just a little, it will fall from your wrist and you will die. Remember, the WitchBlade punishes those who aren't supposed to wear it."
"Fine, I'll make sure I am worthy of it. Tell me more about this cult, I have a feeling it might be more than a little important." She adjusted her seat, her butt falling asleep from lack of movement.
"Nothing much to tell. A group of people along the Nile valley worshiped eleven deities and feared two others. The WitchBlade probably brought them all together as it seemed to be the center of their very existance. Tefnut was their protector, her consort shared in this duty. There is no proof the other gods outside their children existed, so we don't know much about them. It is believed they might have at one time or another." His eyes lit up when an idea occured to him. Scooting his rolling chair back to the desk, he used another monitor.
Images flashed across it until he came upon the Ankh symbol again. "Ah, here we go. I knew I had a program on this. Another rare, but what seems to be prophetic, theory has that all thirteen are really talismen holders. Each are passed from one to another through the generations, seeking out their allies in favor of destroying their enemies."
He called up an image of circular medallion with a setting sun made of solid bronze. "This is the symbol of Amun or Isaac. Probably a necklace, this talisment would enable the wielder with the powers of creation of gods either through circumstance or by siring them."
The image changed to a Snake eating its tail. "The Orobous, a symbol of eternal life, also a symbol of cannibalism and destruction. It is the taslimen of Apep. It is probably made of silver, striped with gold on the Snake's back. This is a bracelet, a complete circle that is clasped by closing the snake's mouth on its tail. It imbibes long life to the wielder and a need to always be incontrol. This person will be paranoid to a fault."
Sara snorted, tilted her head a little in acknowledgement. "Sounds just like Irons."
A new image flashed into existance. A hawk headed man with red eyes stared out from the ancient freeze on the screen. "The god of death, Seker or this Ian, was believed evil mostly because his purpose could be justified both sinister and good. His ability to kill anything made him feared by all. The talismen is a silver gauntlet similar in shape to that of the WitchBlade. His only power is that of death, he can know no other existance."
The image flashed to that of a gold sun. "Ra, supreme deity. His will is never truly known, all love and fear him equally. This benevolent deity will never directly interfere unless it involves his children. He has others do his bidding for him. His talismen is a gold disk clutched in the legs of a Scarab. It is an ancient egyptian collar complete with woven rays spreading out from the disk. He won't harm you, but if you fail him, he won't protect you either."
Sara stopped Gabriel's readings with a hand on his shoulder. "Where did you get this?"
Gabriel looked up at her, his eyes flashing green, his hair turned from the shaggy curls into egyptian braids. His image reverted back to that she had known for such a short time. "I did a little research. Most of this is a from my personal database about artifacts that might come up and be worth great amounts of money. From the research I did on the Blade for you a few days ago I figured it would do me better to have an entire database on anything I might encounter in the future."
"You're a smart kid." The double image returned when he stuck out his lips in defiance. "Okay, young man, still too young for me."
"I'll accept that. Only because you are a vicious old crone." He laughed as she cuffed upside the head. "Okay, where was I?"
His fingers flew over the keys bringing up a new image. A bronze cobra appeared on the screen. "Amuanet, your partner, his pendant is the talisman. Until activated, the talisman will appear to be a flat piece of bronze with his name on it. When it is activated, the bronze will form an arm band, a hooded cobra."
Looking up at her again, he gave her a chagrined smile. "I forgot to tell you. Until the talismens are activated, they will lay in a dormant state. Usually a flat piece of metal with the name of their wielder on it. The WitchBlade is the only one that is constantly searching thus constantly active."
"That's great!" She smiled at the good news. Maybe this wouldn't be as hard as she thought. "Do you think I can find the other talismens and destroy them before they are activated."
Gabriel shook his head. "No, they have to be active before you can locate them. And they can only be destroyed in fair combat with another wielder. This puts only you at risk, where as the other talismens can be destroyed, only the wielder of the WitchBlade will ever die. The Blade is eternal."
"Sounds like fun. Its no wonder people are trying to get their hands on it." She looked at the gauntlet and could have sworn it blinked at her.
"Back to the list. Amuanet's abilities are similar to yours. Apparently, since Amuanet is a protector goddess, it makes Jake your ideal partner. Of course, in his current condition, you will be needed to protect him. He is slightly clairvoyant; which basically means he will be able to see into the future, gain sudden insights to things, and do an impression of Hailey Joel Osmet with his 'I see dead people'. However, there is a warning. Don't turn your back on him, he isn't all that he appears to be and it might cost you in the long run."
The image changed despite Pez's stern glare. A pair of Lions came up. "Shu and Tefnut. You and and your consort. His talismen will be a silver ring with the head of a roaring lion holding a diamond in its mouth. He is a leader of his people, probably a small band. He won't remain faithful though, and you may have to replace him several times. The ring is yours, but the wielder isn't. Don't become too attached, it destroyed Tefnut when her cheating consort was killed by his jealous lover. She refused to fight for her people and the blade left her vulnerable."
Sara nodded at him, something inside her agreeing to what he had said but resenting it. This time she knew the WitchBlade had responded because it glowed violently on her wrist. She twisted it a little and watched the screen again.
The image of an Ibus holding a papyrus reed in its foot appeared. "Tahuti, god of knowledge, I guess that is me. The talismen is a clasp for a head band. That sucks ass! There isn't even a suit of armor, no special abilities, it just says it grants me quick wisdom. Fat lotta good that is gonna do me if sir broods alot returns."
"Tahuti wasn't a warrior, he was a peace maker and a scribe. You aren't supposed to have a weapon." She ruffled his hair in amusement.
"Bite me!" He quickly drew up another image. A mummified man with only his hands free holding a crook and flail. "At least I'm not the only one. Apparently this talismen was already destroyed. The symbol of PTah was a cloth pen, something used to hold a robe closed. It was a crook and flail. The talismen imbibed the wielder with creative abilities. Looks like Apep has been at work." He tapped the controls bringing up a document stamped with 'official'. "Seems Dr. D'Angelo used to wear this on his collar until he was fired by Kenneth Irons. The talismen was crushed by Irons in a fit of rage according to the insurance report."
"How much you wanna bet he found out about the Doctor's side projects and didn't like it one bit?"
"I wouldn't take you up on that one." Gabriel brought up two more symbols, a brown man and a woman covered in stars. "Gehb and Nut. The sybling lovers. Major squicky material here, apparently they really love each other in more than a way any syblings should. Their talismens are a silver star broche and a clay tablet on a leather string. Nothing special here as Ra stripped them of their abilities in punishment. Gee, I wonder why."
"What about Sakhmet?" She felt a tingle up her spine at his hesitation. "Go on, Gabriel, bring it up."
"I told you, there was little to know about her." He brought up the ankh symbol. "Her symbols are both the Ankh and the crook. With the first she grants eternal life, the other is used to strike down and smite her enemies. She wears two talismens to balance out her dual nature. It is said that Ra forced the Ankh upon her to temper her destructive nature without killing her. Thus he tied her to showing mercy. Wanna guess which of these talismen is lanquishing dormant in a high security wing of the New York metropolitan muesum of modern art?"
Gabriel pressed a few keys and the picture of an ancient egyptian exhibit in the muesum came into view. The display case magnified until the contents were plainly visible. "Surprise surprise, the crook of Sakhmet is missing. However the Ankh of divine wisdom and mercy is still very much intact. Find Sakhmet and kill her! It will destroy the crook talismen as it is the sorce of her power and prevent her from ever rising again. Give the Ankh to a wielder who can heal people and it will be forever used only for good. Give it to a wielder that will destroy people and it will bring about a slow death for all it touches."
He twisted his chair a little to look up at her. "The last time all these talismen were brought together was almost nine thousand years ago. They had a purpose back then, a meaning beyond what we think about today. People are vastly different today in the areas that counts to these mystical objects. That difference is what is pissing off the WitchBlade."
Sara switched her stare from the screen to Gabriel. "What are you talking about? People are still the same way they were. Nothing has changed, they are still killing people without a care or thought to others."
"Yes, but that doesn't matter to the WitchBlade and you know it. One death here and there doesn't bother it. People used to respect objects of fate, knew that they didn't wield them to mold the world into their favor, but used it to change themselves and through them, the world. Now they seek to control everything, even the WitchBlade itself." His eyes were suddenly brilliant, deep green. "Irons has control of three talismen, destroyed one, neutralized another, and seeks the remaining eight."
"I know, he wants to use me."
"No! He seeks to control the WitchBlade. You are only potential, as of yet unrealized." He stood up, braids falling around his face. "You have the potential to be a blade wielder." Walking towards her, his eyes studied her critically, his face neutral. Gabriel tilted his head a little, braids swaying from the movement. "I am not sure you are worthy."
Raising her hand cautiously, she backed up a step. "Hold on there, Gabriel. What are you going on about?"
"Each past incarnation has failed the WitchBlade. No matter how much potential, all have betrayed and then been betrayed by it. Like dominoes, each one after another never learning from the other." Faster than she could react, his hand lashed out and snagged her wrist. His grip tightened until she winced. "You are not worthy, it will kill you again."
"What the hell are you talking about?" Sara tried to wrench her arm free, but only managed to cause herself more pain from the twisting. "Let me go, Gabriel, don't make me hurt you!"
"You only hurt yourself. Potential left unfulfilled harms no one." He used her arm to pull her close. Nothing stood between them as shadows decended about them. His hair glowed in light from the old oil lamps filling the tent. "You will love, and you will lose it. Each time he lives, you are helpless. You are unworthy of the WitchBlade."
"That isn't right. This isn't real." She gestured about with her free hand but didn't back away from where their bodies were flush together. He remained strong and held her in place eye to eye.
"It was once." His left hand came up from his side and stroked her cheek. His soft caress caused tears to stink Sara's eyes. "You once chose me over him."
"Who is he?"
"He will betray you, again. He will do it and when he does, you will lose him again. The choice of what happens after that is up to you." His voice heavy with emotion, Gabriel released her wrist and the illusion fell away. Despite that they were no longer in the darkened tent, his eyes remained green. "Never follow your heart, Tefnut. Trust your instincts, to hell with the rest."
"I am not Tefnut."
"You were upon a time." Stepping back, he carressed her face once more then pulled away. "You have been known by many names, yet have remained the same no matter what age."
"Who are you?"
"The same person I have always been. We are born into each moment anew yet with ourself still intact." Gabriel sat in his chair, his body deflating and eyes bleeding off into light brown. "We are all connected that way."
"Okay, this is way too weird, even for me. I'll keep an eye out for those other talisments and people acting strangely. Find out whatever else you can on the WitchBlade and its origins."
"I don't think we will find out where it came from, but I will keep researching for you." Watching her nod and turn to go, he sighed. "Hey, Sara."
"Sorry about that."
"Don't worry about it." She waved him off and moved for the door.
"Oh, and one more thing before I forget."
Pez glanced over her shoulder. "Yeah?"
"That cult. Whatever happened to them, a lot of it is supposedly because Tefnut abandoned the WitchBlade's purpose. In the chaos that followed her death, nearly a hundred years of wars covered the region. Out of the ashes, however, rose the first king of what would become the longest reigning empire we have ever known."
Staring at him, she tried to make out what he said. A little bit tugged at her thinking, but it didn't seem to come clear. "I understand what you are saying, but I think I am missing the point."
Smiling, Gabriel steepled his fingers. "Perhaps you should look within, young Skywalker." His joke fizzled out at her glare. "Fine." Giving a derissive sniff, he let his hands rest at his sides. "May be the chaos created by her death was the WitchBlade's intentions all along. It isn't good or evil, Sara, it doesn't believe in either. The WitchBlade is a force of nature, it creates, it destroys, no one knows why, and I don't really care. The point is in the end, it always gets what it wants, no matter the means. Besides, what better way to kick start a cause than creating a few martyrs?"
"But I thought the WitchBlade protected the Wielder."
"It does, only so long as the Wielder's protection coincides with its goals. Remember, you are expendable, it can always find another wielder any time it wants."
Her dead pan expression made him laugh. "That's real comforting, Gabriel. Whatever your next business venture, stay away from greeting cards." With a toss up of her collar, she was out of the room.
Gabriel smirked at her exit. Standing up, he casually dusted off his pants. His body ached and was in need of a good walking around. He decided to check out statue's worth in Japan. Turning around, he looked for the statue on the desk. It was no where to be found, in its stead, however, was a hair band and clasp shapped like an Ibus clutching a reed pen and scroll.
Shaking his head, he picked it up and looked at it. The leather band was beaded and laced with gold and silver filler. Holding his hair up and back, he put the band in place then let if fall over while he strapped on the clasp. Turning to go back into shop, he passed by a mirror. Unnoticed by him, his reflection was bare but for a white cotton waist wrap, arm bands, and collar.
Part 10 "Intrinsic value/Series endevers to be/Sing me now our song." - Precious Memories Haiku
Groaning, Jake slowly opened his eyes. His body hurt in places he didn't even know existed. After a moment of cataloging the various aches and pains, he located that which had caused him to awaken. A strange burning near the area of his bladder throbbed in tune with his heart.
Running a hand over his eyes to remove the buildup, he growled in anger. "That fucker!" Slowly, he began to sit up in a laid back position. He knew from previous experience that sitting up straight would do no good for the pain.
Pez knelt down by his side. Her hand was already on his forehead testing his temperature. "How are your vitals?"
"Aside from the itchy burning sensation in my ass, fine. You'd think I would have learned by now. Anonymous sex with several strangers only causes temporary satisfaction and STDs." Jake shook his head to clear it.
"What..." Pez's face took on an increduous expression. "You mean this has happened before?"
He nodded while rubbing at his eyes with the hand not supporting his body. "Every six months like clock work for the past thirteen years."
"How, you're only twenty-five..."
"Whatever. The point is that you were..."
"A slut," he offered with a hyper, perky voice.
"That's not what I was going to say."
Jake stood up with a jerk to avoid her. "Look, Pez, I have been doing this since I was thirteen, half my life. It's no big deal. Besides," he added with a leer, "it made me very popular with the football team."
"You mean they raped you?"
"It isn't rape when you are the one on your back begging to be fucked because it is the only way to stop the... You know what, it wasn't rape, now just get off it! I'm gay, not stupid."
Standing, Pez, watched her partner stalk into her kitchen in anger. "No, Jake, I won't 'Get off it' as you say. We are going to talk this out. Something is seriously wrong here and I think you know at least a little about it."
"So what! It's not like that will solve anything. I will just visit the doc tomorrow, get the three day pill, and in a week this will all be cleared up." He ran a hand through his flat hair in an attempt to spike it up. His efforts only made the matted hair frizz from static shock. "Fuckin great! Do you have any coffee," he asked turning back to where Pez stood in the living room.
"Not in the apartment. I don't think you need any in your condition, anyways."
"My condition?" Jake laughed. "It's just something minor, probably herpies or the clap. It has been only three days, I can still take the early pill and get it cured up."
"This is something more complicated than VD, Jake. Didn't your mom and dad ever warn you about using protection?" At his snort she sighed. "Right, forgot this is your parents we are talking about here. Okay, let me lay down a few facts and then you can decide what to do from there. Considering your job and life might be on the line, your original plan might not be far off."
The corner of his mouth twitched. "You're kinda scaring me, Pez."
"Good, you should be." She gestured for him to move into her dining area. "Have a seat, Jake, this is going to get worse."
"Nah, I think I prefer to stand."
"Fine, but I got the only key to the deadbolts, no running from this one." She walked into the kitchen to the sliding glassed door cooler and pulled out a carton of orange juice from several of them. "For starters, you haven't been asleep for one day. It has been an entire week since you passed out on my floor."
"That's not possible. I would know about that!" He moved towards her, taking the offered carton. Not bothering to get a glass, he opened the cap and started sucking out the juice through the neck. When the carton had collapesed from being forcibly depressurized, he pulled back and burped. "Thanks."
Her raised eyebrow was all the responce he got.
"Sorry, I'll get you more later." His cheeky grin was the only sign he wasn't completely wasted. From head to toe his skin was mottled and pale. "Guess I didn't know how thirsty I was."
"Guess not. Now listen closely as I will only say this once." She took the carton from him and tossed it into the recyling can next to the sink. "There are thirteen talismans of great power. They give their wielders abilities that are told of in legends and fables. No one knows where they come from or what they were created for."
"That's great, Pez, a real children's story."
"Would you shut up and listen to me?" She waited until he looked away in anger. "Thank you. Now, these Talismans are wielded only by special people, people who are determined by the talismans themselves. One of these talismans is the WitchBlade." Sara held up her arm to show him the glowing red eye of the blade. "It chose me to do its bidding, don't ask me how or why, I don't know."
She reached out and gripped his bare arm. Clenching the bicep, she made him look down at it. "This arm band is yours. It signifies you as Isaac's mate."
"Great, tell me something I don't know."
"D'Angelo also had one. His allowed him to be years, possibly centuries ahead in his work. He created you to be more than a patchwork bride. You are also the mother of his grand children."
"Whoa! What the hell have you been smoking?"
"Jake, you are pregnant! That little twinge in your gut isn't just an unpleasant reminder of unprotected sex, it’s a little person in the making." Her grip tightened on his arm until he winced. "You have no idea the hell I have been through the past week getting things ready. Lying to cover our asses, making sure you really were pregnant, and then taking a moment to accept the insanity of it all hasn’t been a picnic, let me tell ya. I've been kinda busy, so you will have to forgive me for being a little abrupt!"
Jake looked at the floor to avoid her. Biting his tongue, he held off the scathing remarks that fought to get free. After several false starts, he finally looked her clear in the eyes. "You are insane."
He shot past her for the door, body shaking from anger. There had to be a place in this world that held at least a little sanity. Jake was making dash across the living room for the stairs when Pez grabbed him from behind. Her arms clenched around his shoulders holding him place. "Let me go, you psychotic bitch!"
"Listen to yourself, Jake. You sound like one of those bad B-movies."
"And you sound like a mad scientist!"
"You'd know all about that, now wouldn't you."
Sara’s snarl echoed in his ear. Shrugging off her embrace, Jake spun around to attack, hands up. “Listen to me, Pez! I am not pregnant, I am not going to be a mother of anything, I am a man, I have a dick, I am not, not pregnant!” By the time he had finished, Jake was screaming. His breath was coming in hitches as black dots swirled on the edges of his vision.
“Calm down.” Pez deliberately kept her voice anger filled. He didn’t seem to react well to calm tones. After a moment more, she shook him again. “You aren’t going to get away so you might as well give in, Jake. Face it, you don’t have any other choice.”
“I always have a choice, Pez!” He surged forward in her arms trying to break her hold. Grimacing, he dropped backwards into her from a pain shooting up from his abdomen. By now he was gasping for air between the cramps.
“Easy, Jake. Just settle down, I’ve got ya.” She gently eased him to the floor mindful of his pain.
Tears stung his eyes when they sat down. “This is ridiculous, I can’t be.” He shook his head to shake the idea free. “I can’t be, Pez, I’m a guy. Do you know how crazy it sounds?”
“You said yourself that D’Angelo made you. With the help of the talisman, he was able to do things only heard of in bad science fiction. You and I are probably only a few those who know the full extent of his creative madness.” She barked a sharp laugh. “Here I thought my life couldn’t possibly get any weirder.”
“Join the club.”
“Sorry, already the president and a founding member.”
They sat together for another hour, she holding him. Her right hand slowly stroked his hair in time with the pulsing of the WitchBlade. Unseen by her, tears slid down his face. The first sign of his crying she got was his heavy breathing through a stuffed up nose. Pez pressed her lips to his ear while pulling him closer.
“What is going to happen now?”
Sighing, she looked down. “You have one of three options.” Sara took a calming breath before continuing. “One, we get the morning after pill for you. Find a way to abort this before it becomes too late term to be healthy for you.” When he placed a hand over his stomach, she continued on in a rush. “Two, you visit Irons and see what he can do to help. No doubt he already knows of your condition as he was involved in your creation.”
Jake shook his head in denial, tensing up with anger and fear.
“Then there is option three. You can continue on with this pregnancy, hiding it from Dante and the others and pray it doesn’t interfere with work.”
“Lets do that one, I like number three.”
“Hold on a minute, Jake, there are some things you should know first. The last option is probably the most dangerous and one you might not want to even consider.”
Jake turned his head to look at her over his shoulder. “What now?”
“You have to see D’Angelo.”
“No!” Jake shook his head and started to stand. “You can’t ask that of me, Pez. You know what I think of that monster!”
“Well I don’t see as you have a choice. He created you, he knows what will happen.” She saw her words were having no effect. Standing, she made him face her. “For god’s sake, Jake, this could kill you! Dr. D’Angelo is the only one who knows what to expect.”
“I’m not letting that freak get his meat hooks into my kid, Pez, end of story!”
“Then if you wish to keep the kid your only other option is Irons. Frankly I would rather take my chances with Mengele and so would you if you know what is good for you! Irons has his own agenda and if he thinks you would voluntarily submit to his control nothing would stop him from doing as he pleases with you and your kid.”
“If he is so bad, why do you still associate with him.” His eyes held only accusation.
“Because, unlike you, I don’t have a choice. We all have our demons and devils with which we must make our deals, Jake. Irons just happens to be my own personal Satan, or Apep as the case may be.”
Jake smiled at her. “You gotta weird since of humor, Pez.”
“Hey, nobody ever accused me of being normal.”
He suddenly turned pensive, his face looking on in askance. “Will you help me?”
“It seems I have no choice. Everybody and his brother are placing your well being in my hands.” She snorted at his laugh. “Apparently I am this great protector lioness or something and they feel it is my duty to see after you.”
“You are crazy, Pez, this just goes to prove it.”
“Look who’s the pot calling the kettle black.” She smacked his shoulder. “Come on, I’ll fix you a special breakfast.” She started towards the kitchen and was half way there before she realized he wasn’t following. Turning back, she took in his face and body language. “Don’t worry, Jake, we’ll find a way through this. I promise you, I’ll be right here for you.”
“You mean it?”
“Yeah, I haven’t lied to you yet. So come on, I’ll tell you more about what I have been doing while you chow down.” She grinned at him. “Wait until you see what you have to eat, you are going to love this.”
Jake held back again. “Why do I get the feeling you are lying to me now?”
Part 11 "They whisper in dark/Shadows and light surround me/Hidden flames in youth." - Bad Memories Haiku
Jake laid back on the couch, and large hand tracing circles around his belly button. The feel and motion evoked a muscle memory that caused tears to stink his eyes. "I've done this before."
Pez looked up from the newspaper startled. "Hmmm?"
"Sat back tracing my stomach wondering what was going on in there. I mean a part of me knew what was happening, before, and now too. I don't wanna believe it. This is all too incredible, too fucked up to believe." Shrugging, he ran a hand through his now clean spikes. "This isn't the first time this has happened now that I think about it."
"Jake, I don't know what to say. I mean, do you wanna talk about it? I can't force you to, but it might help out to know now." Pez popped a piece of bacon in her mouth to chew while staring at him questioningly.
He looked at her plate of bacon longingly, sighing when she pulled it out of his reach. Adjusting his feet on the coffee table, Jake looked at them. "There isn't much to tell. I was over at my boyfriend's of seven months..." His eyes raised to hers in amusement. "Yes, I had a boyfriend. I was seventeen, I was horny, he was available. I don't think he was gay, just bi, cause he had both pics of women and men on his walls. He took great pleasure in jacking off for an audience. Guy had a dick this long..."
Pez cleared her throat when Jake held up his hands gesturing well over a foot long. "Back to the facts, Jake."
"Oh, kay, sure." Jake let his hands fall back to his side to play with the belt on the open robe he wore. "Anyways, Jack and I were going out for over a month before I had gone into heat. That was a fun time for him and me. I think I wore him out, which is no mean feat for a teenage boy. So he knew about what would happen and be ready for it the next time. Well he did and we were.
"A week went by with him and me always grinning at each other stupidly. He would leer at me, I'd shake my head, then he would make a comment about blue balls. It was a Friday, in the middle of English Lit. when it suddenly hit. The teacher said she had never heard Byron so thoroughly enjoyed. Though the 'oh gods' were not necessary for the listener to get the full appreciation for his work."
"Right out of 'When Harry met Sally' style." Jake grinned at her, color tinging his cheeks. "I got a few phone numbers from both the girls and guys. Needless to say I didn't make it from there, and I had Lit first period. I found Jack on the field with the rest of his Gym class and road him like prized stallion all the way back to his parent's house. We nearly wrecked three times."
"I bet. It was hard enough driving with someone's hand..." Clearing her throat, Pez gestured for him to go on.
"Right. So Jack and I were at it all Friday, only stopping long enough for him to get food and use the bathroom. Saturday morning at four A.M. he was passed out cold on the floor and I was still horny as a goat with three dicks as he would say." He shook his head in remembrance. Somethings still held too many emotions to be safe. "I got up to use the restroom and had just come out hair still dripping from the shower when I was grabbed up in large arms. At seventeen I was still a squirt, muscular, but still a midget. You gotta remember, I didn't hit puberty until I was thirteen."
"Right, that would explain why you didn't start cycling until then."
"In Heat, Pez. I don't bleed if I don't have sex during this time like women. So, I was in heat."
Holding up a hand, she rolled her eyes. "Fine, just continue. Who's big arms were these?"
"Zac, Jack's older brother. That wasn't his real name though. It was ninety-two, Pez, Saved by the Bell was still all the rage. He shortened it from..." He trailed off as it came to him.
His silence went on for so long Sara started to grow worried. "Jake?"
"It was him, Pez. It was Issac. All this damn time, I can't believe it." Jake shook his head in anger. "Jack Sullivan was my boyfriend, his older brother Issac was away college most of the time we were going out. It was just that one weekend. He grabbed me from behind and whispered 'what's your fantasy, Jakie, hmmm? A tall stranger in a dark place, taking you up against a wall? Does the thought you have no control turn you on? The thrill of the forbidden make you hot?' I elbowed him in chest and turned around to knee him, I wasn't going to be made fun of by this complete ass hole.
"The grip he had on my shoulders when I faced him made it impossible to focus long enough to control my leg. The nerve pinch always did hurt. So I did the only thing I could, I called out for Jack. Issac let my shoulders go to clamp a hand over my mouth and pick me up. He pressed me into the wall like he was going to fuck me there next to his parent's door. I was trying to bite his hand and that is how Jack found us.
"Issac asked him why he wasn't sharing his toys. Jack smiled and then pulled his brother off me. They started pushing on each other and Issac made the first move. I shoulda been grossed out but I was too horny to care that Issac and his half brother were making out. I was the meat in a Sullivan sandwhich that weekend. The following Monday Issac was back at college and I was passed out on Zac's bed for three days. Dr. D'Angelo awoke me with a suringe full of some stimulant and I started visiting him for the next month.
"I spent that month mostly sick, like I had the flu. They told the school I caught mono and I was given the time off and the school work so I wouldn't get behind. After thirty days, mommy dearest took me to see D'Angelo for an appointment. He had all this weird eqipment in the room and I was placed on the table. I recognized the styrips, I had been using them since I first went into heat. After I undressed and climbed into position, he gave me a shot and I was knocked out. When I came to, my ass hurt and they were wheeling the machine out of the room. They being my parents.
"D'Angelo smiled at me and said I had done good, but it wasn't yet time. I had more than met his expectations. That day I went home and mom said it would be the last time I saw Dr. D'Angelo. She and dad had been talking about what to do about my reputation and school. I was being sent away to college the following semester because I had such a good academic career. I graduated mid semester my junior year, was rushed off to Maui for a week before I started at Yale. I spent two years there before earning my degree. I would have gone on to become a lawyer if..."
Jake realized his company and stopped speaking. His voice harsh, he glared down at his lap. "I can't tell you because I swore an oath. Not that it matters much now that I got knocked up again. But I have to remain in the department, Pez, it is important."
"Okay, I will help you, but you gotta tell me something first." She waited until he looked her in the eyes. "This oath you swore, was it to some ancient cult or something like that crap?"
"Hell no! I would get in serious trouble for telling you even that I took the oath, as in legal trouble, Pez, if you know what I mean." He laughed outloud. "If I am made by the targets, I get the next boat or bullet, depends on how much my bosses are quick to act." It was obsured, but even admitting this much could get him kicked off the case or even worse.
Sara watched him for reactions. His face twitched from hidden emotions every few moments. This man who was her partner was more than he pretended to be. One thing was certain, he wasn't a cop. "Are you even in law enforcement?"
"Oh yeah. Don't worry about that, Pez, I know the ends of the laws, to the letter. I even got a degree at home from my two years at Yale. I hated that place, so many stuck up ass holes, especially the others who had money. I was there on a scholarship program and they made sure that I knew it at every chance. Fucking snobs!" He growled in anger. It wasn't fair, he had earned every passing grade he got while most of the rich kids bought theirs.
"Hey, partner, wanna talk about it? We got the time, Dante isn't expecting us until four. Night shift from now on." Her voice took on a hushed tone indifference to his contemplation. Pez made sure he was still lost in thought before standing up from the chair. She had been sitting across from him until that moment, making sure he wouldn't do anything to harm himself. Now she was sure he would handle it.
Picking up the plate, she moved towards the kitchen. One of the better moments of the past week had seen to her getting a small amount of time to herself. Now would show that even that rare moment would be more precious in its existance.
She couldn't explain why, but it seemed to her that it was now her responcibility too. The child would be hers as much at it would be Jake's. It shouldn't feel that way. Most people didn't feel her problem until they commited a crime and then it was only another hassel. In a way, this felt like it would be a welcome relief to that.
It was a baby. Her eyes wide, she stared down at her own belly. Would she have her own one day? It hadn't occured until the past week, that perhaps she might night have one of her own. And if she decided to have one, who would be the father? Would he be here for her and the kid or was she going to be like Jake and be a single parent?
No, that wasn't right, she would be here for Jake. She would be his... sister. The over bearing, protective sister. Of course the kid would be her partner in crime against Jake. An image of a little Jake in biker leathers and a helmet to match her own struck her suddenly. She couldn't stop the loud bubbles of laughter that had her bent over in an instant.
Jake sat up straight in alarm. He soon fell back from the cramping of his gut and cried out a little.
Pez was at his side in an instant putting a hand over his stomach in concern. "Just sit back and relax, the cramping will stop soon. You're just adjusting to the presence of the baby. It will take time to develope the muscles where you can sit up and carry the baby without pain."
"Yeah, and lots of painful squeezes of my inner organs before I remember I can't do what I once could. Just how big is this little monster already?" Jake slid his hand down the hair covered skin of his abdomen resting at the place he knew was the baby inside him. "I can feel something here, on the inside. I feel full. It hurts."
"The baby, sack and all shouldn't be more than the size of a pencil eraser."
"Well this little moster is at least the size of a golf ball." He looked into her concerned gaze and froze. "What?"
"That isn't right, Jake. It shouldn't be that big yet. The baby is only a week old." She stood and offered her hand to help him stand too. "We gotta find out about this, Jake. That means either D'Angelo or Irons. If he somehow excellerated the growth of the fetus, there is a real possibility that carrying this baby to term could mean you won't survive."
"If the growth is accellerated, then I should also be able to handle the growth. He wouldn't create me only to reproduce then die..."
"You said yourself that your creation was only to have his grand child. Nothing about raising it and he didn't really seem to care about your health unless it concerned his grand child." Pez tugged on Jake's arm when he started to let go. "Get ready, Jake, we are going to go pay one of the two a visit. Who we see is up to you."
"I don't want to. I don't like D'Angelo and I never met Irons. The guy sounds like a creep, Pez." He offered a plaintive look for her, begging her not to make him do this.
"Too bad. We are going. Don't make me decide, Jake, it will end up pissing both of us off." She let go of his hand and turned back to the kitchen. "Now go get ready, I'll do the dishes." Not waiting for a responce, she moved quickly away from him.
Jake stood there staring at her for a minute more before reluctantly heading into her bed room to put his clothes on. He decided to put on something usual just to feel slightly normal. The tight undershirt wouldn't roll down all the way over his belly and he growled. It wasn't until he tore it off and checked the tag he noticed it was Pez's shirt. He shrugged figuring she would know he stretched it on accident.
He thought she really needed to get new clothes. It was no wonder they thought she was a lesbian. Speaking of which, she still hadn't said anything. "Pez, do you like girls or guys?"
"Not now, Jake!"
"Come on, I told you!" He slid on his dress shirt and started to button it up.
"Forget it, Jake!"
"Come on, don't be a prude, Pez. I won't think any less of you." His pants came up slowly as he had to avoid the sore area in his balance. Buttoning them he turned towards the door way. "You can trust me with your secrets."
"I already did. The witchblade, remember? So come on." She entered the room moving past him to the bed. Bending over at the night stand, she picked up a snap to hold her hair back. "We are taking your car, the bike won't hold us both and I don't see why we should waste gas with me following you. Besides, I can keep a closer eye on you if I am in the same vehicle."
"Gee, thanks, I feel so special now." Scowling, he stormed back into the living room towards the banister. "Get the keys, I want to see this Irons and get it over with."
"Is D'Angelo really that bad?" Pez passed him and headed down the steps.
"All right, but I reserve the right to say I told you so when you meet the bastard that is Irons." She turned the key in the lock and pushed the door open. "If you come to your senses early enough, we still have time to swing by Rahway and see Grand Daddy D."
"Shut up, Pez."