Lisbeth

Forty Nine

“Well that sucked.”

“I imagine it did.”

Lisbeth looked over at Typhon. He was sitting at a white table, that appeared to be from a cheep patio set. Except the two chairs we both of different styles. The table had an extravagant lacy tablecloth, the kind you weren’t actually suppose to put anything on. The table was set with a large assortment of different cookies, and a fancy silver tea set.

“Are you mocking me?” Lisbeth finished pulling herself out of the gateway she had open. She had to crawl for two reason, the first being it wasn’t big enough. The second was she didn’t have the strength to walk.

“I wouldn’t dream of it.”

“Yes you would.”

“Yes I would” Typhon acknowledged

“How long was gone for.” Lisbeth didn’t bother trying to get into the chair that had been left for her. Instead remaining on the grass.

“No idea.”

“You still understand how time works, and is measured.”

“Doesn’t mean I know how long you have been gone.”

“How long have I been gone relative to you?”

“Just over six months.”

“Fuck me.”

“I don’t swing that way.”

“Yes you do.”

“Well I don’t this century.” Typhon flashed Lisbeth one of his perfect smiles. Or it would have been perfect if he had human teeth. Since they were currently too sharp to be called human, his smile had a bit of a disturbing effect.

“Fair enough. Is Bill back yet?”

“No, and he won’t be. Nicely done Lisbeth.”

“I didn’t kill him, so why won’t he be?”

“Because finding the universe you fell out of is a pain in the ass. Much easier to just find a new one, maybe seed some planets if it gets boring. If he was going to come back he certainly would have beaten you back. So yeah, he’s a nonissue.”

“How did I make it back anyways?”

“You cheated.” Typhon waited for Lisbeth to ask the obvious question. When she instead simply propped herself up on one elbow, and raised an eyebrow at him, he decided to continue. “When our mistress made you a natural law she gave you the power to open portals just about anywhere. Getting cast out might have meant you stopped being a law, but the connection was still there. It acted as a tether.”

Lisbeth frowned. “I didn’t know it worked like that.”

“It doesn’t, she helped you.”

“Why?”

“I guess she wanted you to finish what you started.”

“Without me things probably started getting slightly less predictable. Wouldn’t she prefer that?”

“Maybe she wanted to see the two lovers reunited. And they didn’t, things oddly enough are following the original plan to the letter. Atreus, and your Mr. Lansky are surprisingly dedicated individuals, capable of following a plan laid out by someone who for all intents, and purposes ceased to exist.”

“Think they be happy to see me returned?”

“Probably, Atreus was all upset you missed your birthday.”

“I feel like I missed several hundred.”

“From your perspective you probably did.”

“I didn’t miss the lovers comment. How is she?”

“Your sweet little telepath? She’s doing fine, even figured out the trick to magic all on her own. She claimed your pocket, and books for her own once it became clear you weren’t coming back.”

“Good.”

“I did have to have a little chat with here about sharing.”

“Typhon” Lisbeth let that out as something of a hiss, more of a warning sound.

“Just a talk. But you will be interested to see the kinds of things she gets up to these days.”

“Tease.”

“You know it.” Typhon gave one of his all too toothy grins. “You feeling ok?”

Lisbeth’s body had given up, on the awake front. After hearing certain bits of news she started drifting off. It was mostly beyond her will, although she could have put it off if she really tried. Not that she saw much point in that, a nice long nap might be just what she needed.

Rest of course wasn’t exactly restful for her naturally. This night proved to be no exception to that. They were aware of her almost as soon as she started dreaming. When she was young they didn’t have the connections to know she existed. Now however she had met most of them.

She could almost feel them converging on her mind, like thousands of buzzards who had found a dead rabbit. They ran into each other before they reached her. Their progress was halted as they stopped to confer with each other. It didn’t take much time at all, or possibly it took days for them to come to a decision.

A number left, simply floating away. The vast majority stayed where they were, watching, waiting. One continued forward, slower than when he had first approached. She recognized him easily of course, they wouldn’t be foolish enough to send someone she didn’t know as better than an acquaintance.

When he reached her dream he gave a very polite knock on the outside, that she had shaped to be a large wooden door. The interior of her dream Lisbeth had turned into one of those old taverns. Something that could be found in an adventuring novel.

The wooden floor creaked with ever step, the tables were filled with drinking shadows. All of the patrons were shadows really, the only people she had bothered giving bodies was the waitress and the bartender. The bartender was stereotypical as well, a balding man large in stature wearing rough brown clothes, that seemed to blend in with the bar itself. The waitress however did not fit into the setting.

She was a pretty thing with a buxom chest and an outfit that one would expect from a much less reputable type of establishment. Lisbeth took her time looking at her creation, as she took her time letting the dream walker into her dream. She really had been alone for far to long. Something that she desperately needed to fix, but right now she apparently had business to deal with.

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Forty eight

What is this?
Where am I?
Why is there nothing here?
I’m falling apart.
I have to hold myself together.
I have to find where I came from.
Nothing here.
No landmarks.
No differentiation.
No sounds.
No light.
Nothing here.
Didn’t I take Bill with me?
Not here.
What is here?
Nothing.
What is this?
What am I?
I’m falling apart.
Have to hold myself together.
Am I dead?
What is death?
What is?

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Forty Seven

The opening round was all for show. Closer to formalities than actual fighting. Lisbeth grew her wings, massive things made of creamy white feathers. Bill covered himself in some kind of light absorbing armor. Then they promptly tore each other to shreds. Lisbeth started with a ball of plasma, moving at near relativistic speeds. Bill moments later, or at least to their perspective, responded by starting a fission reaction in Lisbeth’s chest cavity.

Formalities, physical bodies, and obvious targets out of the way, they started for real.

Target codename: Bill
Classification: Greater immortal
Capable of killing a natural law: Yes
Capable of killing him: Theoretically possible
Advantages over Bill: Gateway generation
Best possible tactics: Increase processing speed, increase size, outperform in power generation, try to make fight about brute strength

Start expansion phase
Area covered has increased by 437%
Bill has started expansion phase
Area covered has increased by 536%
Bill has begun frontal assault
Weapon choice: Planar rifts
Status: Effective
Counter attack options: Planar rifts, reality rewrite
Status: Ineffective
Best corse of action: Defensive, increase expansion, increase processing speed
Warning: Low power
Optimal option: Open gateway into heart of star and drain for power
Warning: Miscalculation, sun has gone supernova
Option: Redirect blast at Bill
Success: 38% total area lost, Bill lost 45% total area
Option: Recalculate energy draw from stars
Option: Open new gateways into stars
Success: 14 gateways open and giving power
Status: Processing speed is estimated to have reached Bill’s
Option: Being counter attack
Status: Bill has lost 38% mass, is recovering
Status: Bill has manipulated a black hole
Option: Slingshot maneuver
Status: Unknown anomaly detected
Status: Unknown anomaly growing
Status: Anomaly appears to be degrading reality
Status: Bill attempting to force us into anomaly
Status: Relocated
Status: Bill has latched on to central body
Option: Relocate to extremities
Status: Central body destroyed
Option: Blowup energy generators currently within Bill’s sphere of influence
Status: Effective
Status: Bill has a 24% larger territory
Status: Energy generation minimal
Option: Open gateways
Status: Gateways failed
Status: Bill has manipulated the anomaly
Option: Attempt slingshot maneuver
Status: Slingshot failed
Status: Falling into event horizon
Chance of surviving anomaly: Unknown
Status: Outrunning event horizon
Status: Bill has latched on and is attempting to throw me into anomaly
Option: Escape Bill, planar detonations
Status: Planar detonations failed
Status: Falling
Option: Drag Bill down too
Status: Successful
Status: Not like this

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Forty Six

Since she apparently had an apology to make, and the only advice she had been given was to beg for forgiveness, Lisbeth had to come up with her own plan. It was oddly close to Sinclair’s advice once she was done.

The plan should have been simple, requiring a few quick trips to set things up. The real problem was simple didn’t mean easy, sure the setup was easy, but that wasn’t the nerve-wracking part. No that came next, actually talking to Nerissa. By the time Lisbeth worked up the nerve to talk to her, Nerissa had already gone to her Monday classes.

By the time Nerissa did return Lisbeth had passed through, nervousness, apprehension, worry, fear, and looped right back around to nervousness. She had managed to work herself into something of a state when she recognized Nerissa’s pattern entering the building. Sensing people with magic was easy enough, actually recognizing a person was more difficult.

This however was Nerissa, and Lisbeth had taken care to remember exactly what she would appear as to magic. The advanced warning gave her enough time to fix her hair. Not that there was much she could do with it, but it was the motions that mattered to her nerves. She also considered changing again, but realized that that would just be stalling.

She knocked on Nerissa’s door five minutes after Nerissa had retuned. To give her enough time to put things down.

“Nerissa, can we talk?” Please hear me out.

“Yes we can.”

Nerissa backed away from the door to allow Lisbeth entrance. Lisbeth for her part entered, closed the door behind herself and opened a gateway on the wall beside them. The other side of the gateway was dark.

“What’s through there?”

“Context.” I want you to see the world I see.

“That’s cryptic.”

“There’s also a great view that I wouldn’t want to spoil. You’ll like this I promise.”

Nerissa motioned for Lisbeth to lead the way with one hand. Lisbeth did so, doing her best to hide that her hands were shaking, she really did hope Nerissa liked the view. Nerissa followed and looked a little confused, as she looked out.

“It’s beautiful” It was, the dark sky will with stars that seemed brighter, and clearer than any she had seen before.

“Turn around.”

Nerissa did so and gasped. She was looking at the earth, a large mostly blue ball. It looked about the size of what the moon appeared to be, floating there in a dark void. The moon could actually be seen, only partially peeking out from behind the earth.

I hope you like the view, it would be hard to find a better one.

“I like it, that’s amazing.”

Good, I was worried I would have to track down a solar flair, and I don’t think I’m up to being too close to one of those.

“How?”

I’m a gatekeeper, opening holes is what I do best. I can even choose where I want those holes to lead.

“You really can go anywhere can’t you?”

No, I do have range limits, but I’ve never had to push them.

“Why did you bring me here.”

Because I want to show you pretty things.

“Be serious.”

I am, I want to show you beautiful things, I want to see you smile, I want to see you laugh. Most importantly I don’t want you upset with me.

“You let people die for your own profit.” There was a certain amount of sting to Nerissa’s words, but it was tempered by the wonder still in her voice.

I also wanted you to see the world I see. It is both massive and so very small, it is populated by billions of people.

“It’s ok because it’s populated by billions of people?” Less wonder, more sting.

Of course not, but I wasn’t raised seeing the people, I was raised seeing the world. It’s alive, it breathes, it changes, it adapts, it does it’s best to survive.

“Is there a point to this.”

I was raised to be able to do what I’m doing now. I haven’t been surrounded by very good people, and they tainted my perspectives. I could try to change that, and in a way I already have, but it’s too late.

“Too late?”

“I’m sorry, but I will do my best to reduce casualties.”

“You still haven’t said what’s going to happen.”

“I do so hate to interrupt, but I’m going to have to interrupt this touching moment. You and I need to talk Lisbeth.”

The two girls spun around to look at the newcomer. It was Bill, in all his childish charm. Lisbeth moved to stand between him and Nerissa. It was a purely symbolic gesture, magic rendering it useless. However it was a metaphorical line in the sand.

“Bill, you should have called ahead, as you can see I’m quite busy.”

“Yes sorry about that Lisbeth, but this was urgent. You really shouldn’t have done that. There are consequences for this kind of thing.”

“Yes I know, but what’s done is done, you would have to be a god to undo this. And we both know they don’t care.”

“Lisbeth, what are you two talking about?”
“Sorry Nerissa, but you need to head home. Bill here is going to try to kill me again.”

“She’s right, I am.”

Lisbeth opened another gate under Nerissa’s feet. She fell through with a startled screech. Lisbeth meanwhile prepared herself, this was going to get messy.

“Thank you for letting her go.”

“I wouldn’t dream of fighting you with a handicap. It wouldn’t be fun. You even went to all the trouble of setting up this perfect stage.”

“I didn’t do it for you, now I’m going to have to track down a solar flair or something.”

Lisbeth puled power into the architecture laced through her body. Allowing herself to become more than she was, more than she had been. She felt her clothes burning off in response to the heat her body was generating.

“It’s weird.”

“What?”

“I was worried about fighting you before. But now, I find I’m more worried about trying to apologize to Nerissa again.”

“If you live that long, shall we get started?”

“Yes, lets.”

They got started.

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Forty Five

Apologies are hard. There are all sorts of considerations that go into a good apology, and Lisbeth didn’t know what they were. Apologies, or at least big ones, that needed planning in advance, weren’t things that she had ever tried to deal with. Asking for advice was proving a fruitless task as well.

Typhon, for all of his supposed knowledge, started rambling about a world shattering fight he got into with one of his partners. When asked about the relevance that story had for her, he made his position clear.

“None at all. But don’t think you’re getting off easy with this one.” He then refused any more advice.

Mr. Lansky was worse. “You know I’m asexual right? I have literally never had to deal with a romantic partner.”

“I thought asexual just meant you weren’t interested in sex?”

“Yeah, but relationships are even more messy, never wanted to deal with those.” So yeah, he was useless in the relationship department.

Of course Atreus took the cake, or he did after laughing at her for a couple of minutes. “Before coming here I spent twenty years in a forest with a bunch of drugged up child soldier. I’m not sure I’ve ever had sex that didn’t involve cocaine. Besides why don’t you ask Atreus, he at least went to college?”

She would have tried the recruits, but even the newest ones had apparently heard whatever stories were floating around about here. Therefore they seemed terrified of her. Lisbeth still didn’t know why, but suspected Atreus had something to do with it. Mostly because every time she asked him he got all evasive.

Usual teachers having proved useless, and Lisbeth not quite willing to ask a god for relationship advise. Even if said god approved of said relationship. Since she wasn’t quite willing to just find the best way she decided to branch out to different sources. She would have considered Shelby, but Shelby had the weekend off, and was apparently doing what Lisbeth wished she was doing. The twins were a bad idea. This meant that she really only had one viable choice on who to ask.


 

“Hey Lisbeth good to see you. I’ve been worried.” Sinclair looked tired. He had deep bags under his eyes, and his suit was wrinkled. His hair was mussed up, and he had a slight odor of someone who hadn’t been home in a while.

“You look terrible.” Lisbeth didn’t quite mean it to come out as harshly as it did, but she wasn’t on the top of her game. Still very preoccupied with other thoughts.

“Work has been hell, pure hell.”

Lisbeth frowned slightly, Sinclair’s organization shouldn’t be dealing with the attack fallout. “I would have figured the community would be keeping quiet?” They were, mostly.

“They are, mostly. But the spying thing was big, we’ve even had some protests around the worlds because of it. Meanwhile the community is all nice and quiet, and already prepared with their own encrypted email service, that we can’t crack. They knew and all my superiors want answers.” Lisbeth smiled apologetically, but didn’t offer any words. “Meanwhile since I’m the member of the agency to have most recently worked with the immortal agency, and with my distinguished record. Thanks for that by the way. I have also been named the liaison between our bureau and the immortal agency. Meaning I get called to all of the meetings for the angel attacks.”

“Sorry?”

“No you’re not.”

“No I’m not. So what has the response been so far?”

“Our response as a nation, or our response as a species?” From the tone of Sinclair’s voice it was clear that those questions would have very different answers to them.

“Our nation.”

“Brilliant really, we’ve already restocked our orbital weapons platforms. We can have a significant task force at any city in under fifteen minutes. All major cites already have significant task forces stationed in them. The council is even placing Templars with them.”

“Sound great, how about as a species.”

“Embarrassing. We’ve already started selling off orbital strikes, and if countries don’t want to pay now they can pay when the angels attack. For a fifty percent markup of course. Yes we are advertising our prices. Templars are only being placed in the most developed and comfortable nations. The only good thing are rumors about a combined Templar task force the council is training.”

“It’s true.”

“Really?”

“Yeah, they even took the suggestion I had. Teaching all the Templars everything, not just the bits that their religion preaches.”

“So they might actually be able to beat the angels before we lose the city next time?”

“Possibly.”

“I suppose I’ll have to take that.” Sinclair leaned forward and rested his head on the table, with a dramatic sigh. “So, you didn’t call because you wanted to talk shop.”

“Not really.”

“Too tired for games.”

“I need advice.”

“I can do advice.” Sinclair looked up suddenly invigorated, with the prospect of something he could work with.

“I think Nerissa is pissed at me.”

“You think?”

“Possibly just very upset, and Meyer said she seemed betrayed.”

“Damn it, no.”

“No?”

“I’m not giving you advice about your love life, get some female friends for that. I was hoping you had a stalker or got drunk and slept with the football team.”

“How is that better?”

“I can shoot a stalker, I can blackmail the football team. I can’t help with your love life.”

“I can shoot my own stalkers thank you very much. And what makes you think I would do something so irresponsible as sleeping with the entire football team. I have a girlfriend.”

“Who is feeling betrayed.”

“Damn it, give me something, anything.” There was a slight crack in Lisbeth voice, betraying that she wasn’t just being her usual playful self.

“Fine, this is what I tried in college and it didn’t work for me, but you might as well try.” Lisbeth leaned forward. “Find a good spot, get on your knees, and beg.”

Lisbeth threw a sugar cube at Sinclair. He didn’t dodge.

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Forty Four

“Why do you have a small army of guys throwing fireballs in your courtyard?”

“We’re going to need troops to fight the one responsible for the angles of course.”

“So you are planing on fighting the angels?”

“Well yeah, it will make great PR.”

“Why haven’t your troops been at the other attacks?”

“Well we can’t help out yet, we need the council to finish mobilizing properly, that’s when the real battles will start. Then we show up, save the Templars, kick angel ass, and prove we are equal to the entire council.”

“How long have you been planning this?” A tone of disbelief was worming it’s way into Nerissa’s voice.

“Couple of years now.”

“You’ve known the angel attacks would happen for a couple of years, and you didn’t tell anyone for political gain?”

“Well yes, I guess.”

“What the hell is wrong with you?”

“What do you mean?”

“People have died Lisbeth, millions of people are dead already.”

“There are like eighteen billion people Nerissa, and they die all the time.”

“Of natural causes, causes we are working to fix. If you had just told people this was going to happen something could have been done to save people. You’re troops out there could have been saving people.”

“but, uh.” Lisbeth kind of froze, she didn’t quite know what to say to her increasingly upset girlfriend. “I’m sorry.”

Nerissa look down at Lisbeth who was looking a combination of upset and confused, when it struck her. “You have no idea why I’m upset do you?”

“Not really.”

“It’s time for me to go home.”

“What?”

“Send me home Lisbeth.”

Lisbeth nodded, and opened a gateway directly to Nerissa’s room. Nerissa walked through the gateway and didn’t look back as it slid shut behind her. Lisbeth for her part stared into the space the gateway.

“I fucked that up, didn’t I?”

“Yes you did Lisbeth.”

Mr. Lansky walked around the corner, where he had been standing trying to be un-intrusive.

“One to ten, how bad.”

“Since your Nerissa appears to be a normal, well adapted, empathetic college student. You being indirectly responsible for the death of millions might be a deal breaker for her.”

“I was afraid you might say that.”

“As long as she doesn’t find out you are directly responsible for the death of millions, you might still have a chance.”

“Not helping.”

“Sorry, it’s just kind of funny to see you fail at a social interaction with a single person.”

“What do you mean by that?”

“Me and Atreus figured you out.”

“Bullshit.”

“You simulate important conversation with people in advance, in our dreams.”

“That sounds paranoid.”

“You weren’t very good at it when you recruited Atreus, took you a couple of tries to get it right. But when you got to me you were better at it.”

“Seriously paranoid.”

“Doing it with large groups of people doesn’t work for you because you can’t simulate their interactions with each other, that’s why you had so much trouble in high school.”

“Do you have a point here?”

“It’s just odd to see you messing up, it also implies an odd sense of ethical contrasts between your love life and the rest of the world.”

“Are you saying I should analyze my girlfriends reactions and choose the best course of action to keep her?”

“Heck no, that would end so fucking badly.”

“What are you saying?”

“That me and Atreus don’t care so much how you manipulated us into joining, because now that we are in it’s better for us. If you do the same with your girlfriend however, well that just won’t end well.”

“I know, which is why she is currently pissed at me.”

“She isn’t pissed at you.”

“She isn’t?”

“Hurt, and feeling betrayed, but not pissed.”

“That’s worse isn’t it?”

“Yes.”

“What are you doing spying on my conversations anyways?”

“I was looking for Atreus, but the castle lead me to you.”

“Fucking castle.”

“You do know who most likely controls it’s chaos right?”

“Of course I do, fucking castle.”

“Braver woman than me.”

“Thank you.”

“While I have you Lisbeth, we should talk about the drone production.”

Lisbeth opened the gate to where the drones were produced. This portion of the castle was in the cellar, it had low ceilings, and dim lighting. The wooden floorboards hadn’t been arranged with any skill, as the creaked under almost every step. The floor was covered in a thick layer of dust that billowed up in clouds at the slightest draft. All in all it wasn’t a nice place to be. So Lisbeth found it to be rather appropriate for what was made and stored in this room that stretched as far as the eye could see in the dim light.

Row after row of naked men stood there. Each one identical in features, hairless, slightly tan, defined muscles. They didn’t have their wings, those would only form when they were activated, and remain until all of their energy is spent. From activation till destruction the drones would follow whatever orders they had been given upon activation. Cognitive capacity was minimal, reducing how complex the orders could be. Once the gate was shut behind them Lisbeth turned to look at Mr. Lansky.

“Well were are we, on your schedule?”

“We’re done, all twelve thousand units are ready for deployment at any time.”

“Three years of work, and you’re done? Nice.”

“It would have gone faster if you had helped.”

“I had things to do.”

“I had countries to run.”

“Lets agree to disagree.”

“Fine, but it’s your turn now. I need a program to make our fall guy.”

“About that.”

“You did finish it right, Lisbeth?”

“Yes I finished it, looks like a great big serpent and everything.”

“But?”

“I’m conflicted about our endgame.”

“I’m under the impression you’ve been working on this plan for the last nine years, and you want to change the endgame?”

“I don’t really have a stake in how it ends, so it doesn’t matter to me.”

“I do.”

“It won’t change for you, just me.”

“Fine what are you planing now?”

“Well I was going to add more of a human element.”

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Pink Fog

When someone is shot in the head with a sufficiently powerful sniper rifle a phenomenon known as pink mist is observed. This happens when the bullet causes blood and brain tissue to vaporize and cause a misting effect, the misting will of course be pink. A similar effect can be gain with a sufficiently powerful explosion and close proximity. However more of the body will be tuned into pink mist.


Meyer Lansky was bored, justifiably with reason. People were boring, almost unbearably so. This party for instance as filled with boring people. Some would find this gathering very interesting, not just because of the open bar and good music, but because of who the people in the room were. This room was filled with undeniable corruption, the worst this world had to offer. There were the criminals, who undoubtably thought themselves better than the petty thieves. In a way they were, some of them as far as the world was concerned were downright respectable. Then there was the clergy, not the members who were actually good at their jobs, or even devout. No these were the members that would never rise above their current positions, so to get the luxury they thought they deserved they associated with criminals. The smallest group in the room were the parasites, those who had found this little confluence of power and money and sought to make some of it theirs. Meyer Lansky was a parasite.

He might have been a parasite but he was an established one, not one that anyone was actively trying to dislodge. No he was one they would seek out, to acquire his services. They were doing it now, just by inviting him to this party, an attempt to keep him happy. None of this would happen without Meyer Lansky and his fellow parasites. The money tainted with blood would never find itself clean again, but it could appear to be clean, it could appear to be legitimate. That’s what he did, he cleaned up the mess.

“God, this party is boring.”

Meyer looked at the girl who had wander up beside him, he didn’t recognize her. He had thought he at least knew the faces of everyone who attended these parties, but apparently not. The girl looked… young, something about her made her age hard to place. Her short hair was matched by her short stature, it was also currently dyed blue. She was wearing too much makeup, not atrociously so, just like she didn’t quite have experience applying the appropriate levels quite yet. Placing her age was difficult, she was either about to hit puberty, or had just been through it and failed to get a developed feminine form.

“It’s not a good idea to invoke the gods for something so petty as being bored.”

“I didn’t invoke the gods, I invoked my god. And she doesn’t mind. Besides if I have to keep listening to the mayors daughter pretend to know who I am and tell me gossip about which girls are skanks, I might commit murder.”

“You know your god won’t mind?”

“Are you going to latch onto that, and skip the murder comment?”

“I wouldn’t hold it against you.”

The girl laughed, it was a sweet sound. Oddly it didn’t sound like she laughed often, if that made any sense. She held out her hand.

“I’m Lisbeth, it’s nice to meet someone with a sense of humor around here.”

“Meyer Lansky.” He took her hand in a firm handshake. He also noticed that she neglected to give a family name, making figuring out who she was difficult. “I’m afraid I have no idea who you are.”

“I know, I’m crashing the party. No one does.”

“How did you get in then?”

“Blackmailed the doorman.”

“I was under the impression the security was supplied by the mob.”

“Oddly enough, that makes it easier.”

“So, what possessed you to crash a party such as this?”

“I’m looking to hire an accountant, your name came up. So I figured I just had to meet you.”

“I have an office, and a secretary. And a publicly listed phone number. You could have just made an appointment.” If this girl was telling the truth, then she could have arranged to an invite to this party without the blackmail. But she had been lying about that. She hadn’t lied yet.

“But I didn’t.”

“Which is why I would rather not do business with you. I made it this far being careful, and you don’t seem to be.”

“Fair enough, but aren’t you bored?”

“I though you were the bored one?”

“At this party, yes. But you are bored with your life.”

“How could you possibly know that?”

“Come work for me and I will give you money and power far beyond your dreams. Even with your impressive ego. You’re too good for these people Mr. Lansky.” Still not lying.

“I can’t just quit on my clients, to follow a pipe dream, girl.” But it was a very tempting pipe dream, and this girl honestly believed that she could do it.

“Not a problem, I’ll just kill your clients. So you won’t have to quit.” Not a lie.

“You intend to kill the mayor, the heads of three mob families, and half the clergy in the country. Just to hire me?”

“Yes”

Pink Fog


BREAKING NEWS

Earlier this evening at 9:02 pm a bomb went off in a downtown hotel. The hotel was currently hosting and investors party that had several well known public figures in attendance. This includes the mayor and his family. At this time there a no known survivors of the blast. Police are still looking for leads, and a complete guest list.

Reports indicate that the blast was so violent that very few bodies were recovered in tact. This is leading to rampant speculation because there was very little damage done to the building. Forensic scientist are currently looking for any possible leads on what kind of device might have been used.

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Forty Three

“Holy Shit.”

“What?”

“I thought we were going to your house.”

“We are, this is where I live.”

“This is a castle.”

“It’s not as big as it looks, that’s just the space warping and looping.”

“Ignoring the implications of that statement, are you saying it doesn’t stretch into the horizon?”

“Of course it does, the horizon just isn’t as big here as it is back on earth, any of them.”

“This place is insane.”

“Of course it is, it contains the farthest Throne.”

“The farthest what?”

“A throne is the true sign of godhood, it’s what differentiates between the strongest of the immortals and actual gods.”

“How do they work?”

“No idea, I’m not even entirely certain the full range of benefits they give, as far as I can tell they make it easier to do things on a larger scale, and over a larger area.”

“Where does a Throne come from?”

“Naturally occurring apparently, this is about to get a little complicated. OK, the core realities are were the governing rules are the strongest. The general principles of the universe. Once you leave the core realities there are the bits of reality hanging on to the sides of it. These realities aren’t quite perfect, the rules don’t quite hold true this inserts a certain amount of chaos into these outlier realities. The farther away you get from the core the more chaos there is. However discernible patterns can emerge from chaos, one of those patterns is a Throne. The farther away from the core the Throne is the greater it is, however they are only present in a certain band. Like the goldilocks zone for planets.”

“So your god is the strongest one then?”

“Yes and no. No god could beat her in a fight, especially here. But mitigating factors even the field. Namely, she is so far away from everything interesting, including the core realities, her influence even boosted by the throne is minimal. That is partially why I exist.”

“How many Thrones are there?”

“Less than twenty, it’s hard to give an exact number since while uncommon it is subject to change. Also it’s possible they haven’t all be found yet. Historically speaking this Throne is the most recently discovered one, and that happened only in the last hundred years or so.”

“So you’re a god’s proxy?”

“Not quite, I was given a single order and told to fulfill it to the best of my ability, Typhon has given me some help in that direction. He also gave me a necessary education.”

“Why are you smiling when you say his name?”

“Because I might actually like him, if you ever meet him don’t tell him that.”

“Why not?”

“I still like to give him shit about the whole kidnaping me thing.”

“That is kind of messed up.”

“Yeah, but I’m messed up enough to secretly forgive him for it, and not tell him I have.”

“I think that might be called Stockholm syndrome.”

“It is. Except for the love part, he’s way to old for me. You on the other hand are just about right.”

Lisbeth put her arm around Nerissa in something of an awkward side hug, as she steered her down another corridor. That corridor was short and ended with the door to Lisbeth’s room. Nerissa had the usual reaction to seeing the door for the firs time. With all of it’s detailed appendages, and moving eyes, carved lovingly into its surface.

“Lisbeth, are you evil?”

“I don’t think I am, but I might not be the best judge of that. Why do you ask?”

“Because that door is evil, and watching me.”

“It’s just the door to my room.”

“That’s the kind of door a super villain would have to their evil lair.”

“Oh, you’d you like to see my lair? I’ll show you my rope collection and my bed.”

“Did you brig me her just to have sex?”

“That and a bath. The only thing that makes the dorm showers bearable is they frequently have you in them.”

“That’s sweet.”

“Do you want to go in?”

“Not overwhelmingly, I think the eyes are following me. It’s kind of creeping me out.”

“They don’t move, it’s just an optical illusion.”

“Are you sure?”

“No.”


“Ok I see your point, dorm showers suck.”

Nerissa was floating in the larger pool in Lisbeth’s bathroom, the water was of course perfect. Lisbeth was lounging under one of the fountains allowing the water to cascade over her body. There was enough steam in the air to slightly obscure vision. Lisbeth was  feeling drowsy, and nodding off. But she didn’t want to fall asleep, that would involve leaving Nerissa. After the afternoon they had, that wouldn’t be acceptable. In response to Nerissa’s statement, Lisbeth mumbled something that vaguely sounded like agreement.

“What’s going to happen to the world?”

“It goes boom, everyone dies.”

“I’m being serious.”

Lisbeth opened her eyes and propped herself up on one elbow. “So am I, it’s going to blow up one day, and everyone will die.”

“That’s terrible.”

“Doesn’t matter much, that is such a long way off that it doesn’t matter to much. By the time it happens everyone we know will be dead, their children will be dead, their children’s, children’s, children will be dead.”

“Are you talking about the sun exploding?”

“If the universe lasts that long, then yes.”

“How could the universe not last as long as the sun?”

“Someone might blow it up, it happens.”

“What possible motivation would someone have to blow up the universe?”

“From what I hear it usually happens by accident.”

“If we are here then how could someone blow up the universe by accident?”

“This isn’t the only universe out there, not even close. More universes have born and died than stars in our sky.”

“Really?”

“Yeah, do you want to see them?”

“You can just show me different universes?”

“Of course not, we’d have to travel to them. I know how in theory, actually doing it is difficult, but with another couple of decades I should be able to manage it without too many problems.”

“Just a couple decades?”

“Going to live forever remember? It might feel like a long time, but in the long run it’s only a couple of decades.”

“You would do that, devote the next couple of decades to finding a way to do it in safety, just to show me other universes.”

“It’s not selfless, I don’t think we would be able to come back. So I would be able to keep you at my side forever.”

“You keep saying forever, do you really understand what it means?”

“Probably not, but it sounds nice, and I don’t think I want to do it alone.”

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Forty Two

“Afterlife?”

“No such thing, everyone only lives once, but I am impressed to took you a week to ask that question.”

“I’ve had things on my mind, so what about a soul?”

“What about it?”

“Does it exist?”

“As someone who spent a year as a ghost, no such thing as a soul. Unless you define the soul as energy in the body, in which case it does exist.”

“You spent a year as a ghost?”

“Yeah, shape sifting fuck up remember.”

“How does messing up shape shifting end with you as a ghost?”

“I messed up really badly.”

“Sorry.”

Nerissa had figured out that while Lisbeth was willing to talk about screwing up, she wasn’t happy about it. From the little she got from Lisbeth’s head it was because she was trying to scare Nerissa, into not trying it. To be fair ending up as a ghost wasn’t nearly as bad as what Nerissa had imagined happened all things considered. But she was willing to concede that trying magic on herself wasn’t the best place to start. Now if only she could just cast a damn spell, or something. Lisbeth had said it took a special trick, but couldn’t really explain what the trick was. When asked how she learned the trick she said it had been implanted in her brain, and that she wasn’t confident enough in her abilities to do the same for Nerissa. Nerissa for her part was growing frustrated with it all. She had some knowledge but no context for it to make any sense. It was like knowing how a car engine worked without knowing what a car engine looked like. Lisbeth seemed to be getting tired of the questions about how to just get started, and would inevitably try to change the subject.

“Why do you always suggest we have sex whenever you want to change the subject?”

“Is that a no?”

“We’re in public, surrounded by people, and you have class soon.”

“I can make sure they won’t see or hear us.”

“I need that trick.”

“It’s simple enough.”

“But seriously answer the question.”

“Up until recently I haven’t considered much difference between dreams and physical. You taught me that was very wrong. So now I have a hot girlfriend and lost time to make up for.”

“You’re eighteen, how much time could you possibly need to make up for? You are eighteen right?”

“Yes, and you do realize I spent a year shagging the twins in my dreams right? I could have tried the real thing, but didn’t.”

“Are you sure you could have? I mean dreams are one thing, but in the real world that would be incest.”

“Charis recently discovered just how awesome incest can be.”

“Seriously?”

“Oh yeah.”

“I’m not sure how I would feel if you had gotten tag teamed when you were, how old were you when you were with them anyways?”

“Fourteen.”

“I have issues with that now.”

“Relax, they’re the same age as me. Probably one of the less creepy relationships I had.”

“Less creepy?”

“There are also the dead priests.”

“Dead?”

“Friend had them killed first chance he got. Still not sure how.”

“I thought you were a priestess.”

“They didn’t know that, I have to take this.”  Lisbeth’s phone had started playing a song. Nerissa wondered who warranted the ringtone of ‘All hail the Queen’. “Hi Bill what can I do for you today? Well I was planing on trying to convince my girlfriend to have mind-blowing sex with me, but that conversation got derailed. So I guess I’m free. Ok I’ll see you in an hour.” Lisbeth hung up, and looked at her phone for a moment before storing it in her pocket. “So I just got invited to a tea party with a serpent, I have to go.”

“Don’t you actually have class today? In like twenty minutes.”

“I suppose I do have time for a quicky before I leave.”

“Do you think about anything other than sex?”

“World domination.”

Nerissa smacked Lisbeth on the ass. “Have fun at you’re tea party, it’s not like I can convince you that classes are important.”

“I really love you.”


“You look very happy Lisbeth.”

“Totally had a quicky before coming over, it’s great you should try it some time.” Lisbeth paused, just for a moment. “Oh wait, I’m sorry you can’t.”

“How could you possibly know about that.”

“Wait for it.”

“Typhon told you didn’t he?”

“To be fair your story is the kind of thing they tell around campfires. I mean some people fall for inanimate objects, like those dolls, but you. You just had to go big didn’t you.”

“What could a child such as you possibly know.”

“Nothing I’m a young idiot, doesn’t mean I can’t make fun of you for your choices.”

“I’m hardly alone in my choices.”

“I’m sure there are literally dozens of you. Actually considering the number of immortals that might be a high number.”

“We’re not here to talk about my choices Lisbeth.”

“No I guess we aren’t Bill. So what do you want me for.”

“I think I’m suppose to kill you.”

“No two ways about it, you’re suppose to kill me, I’ve been expecting an attack all week.”

“Do you know why I haven’t killed you?”

“It would be a pointless action. You’re suppose to kill anyone who divulges certain aspects about the nature of holy magic, I did so. Shooting the messenger is useless it the message is already delivered.”

“Is that why you claimed to be able to survive the telling of secrets? Because killing you would be a pointless gesture?”

“Of course not, I said it because I would survive.”

In that moment she was dead. Her body stripped down to it’s base elements. It didn’t take long at all for her to recover, that far broken down, combined with her expecting the attack, it didn’t take long at all.

“Damn girl, you’re a Law.”

“Bingo.”

“I guess this confirms that you have the backing of a god.”

“Do you think I would be stupid enough to try this shit if I didn’t?”

“Probably not, you know I can still kill you right? I mean it would be difficult, but I can do it.”

“I know, but you fulfilled your duty and killed me. Wouldn’t it be more interesting to see what I do next as opposed to trying again?”

“Will you make it interesting?”

“It’s about to get all sorts of convoluted Bill.”

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Forty One

It hadn’t been that easy of course, Nerissa had more questions. Eventually Lisbeth managed to point out that all of the answers were in the books, that she was giving Nerissa unrestricted access to. This allowed the questions to end and Lisbeth to get down to the fun stuff. Even after the very late night Nerissa got up bright an early, looking far too energetic. She really had been serious about keeping her grades up the night before, and was therefore going to classes, since they were back on apparently. This once again left Lisbeth with little to do, she really should have taken more classes. Shelby, and Krista also had classes, Amy was with her elf of unknown sex. She wasn’t quite willing to resort to magic to find out, that would be cheating, but dream walking had proved inconclusive. Hinrich was also being studious, and was still trying to befriend Charis, it wasn’t working out well. Devon had completely struck out with her her because she only had eyes for Lance. The twins were doing whatever it was when they weren’t with her. All of this meant that she once again found herself alone under a tree reading. She didn’t stay alone for very long however.

“You’re blocking my light Sinclair.”

“Sorry Lisbeth, may I sit.”

“Go for it.” He did

“So Bill filled us in on the fourth attack.”

“Figured he would.”

“Did you know immortals have cites?”

“Yes, the weaker ones tend to gather together in them, just outside our reality.”

“Apparently six angels attacked one of the smaller ones.”

“I know.”

“A lot of immortals died. Hundreds.”

“I know.”

What the hell are we fighting that can kill an immortal, but can still be killed by us?”

“Do you want to know a secret?”

“Will you survive the telling?”

“Yes.”

“Then yes I do.”

“Any mortal can kill an immortal, you just need to know the trick to it.”

“You going to share the trick?”

“No, I’m just saying that it’s a lie that only immortals can kill other immortals.”

“The angels are mortal then?”

“No comment.”

“Damn.”

“Did you know Bill has a lover?”

“What?”

“Never mind, not important right now.”

“What is important right now?”

“Well, there is this spying thing in the news, it was sponsored by the council and most of the worlds governments were involved.”

“Pain in the ass that it got leaked, any idea who did it?”

“I don’t know who, but it was going to happen eventually.”

“I know, still a pain. How much is it going to change things?”

“Not much Sinclair, it’s all going to be business as usual for you. The public is going to be pissed, but it won’t be in your direction.”

“Good for me. What does it have to do with the angels?”

“Why does it have to have anything to do with them?”

“Because you brought it up.”

“I have more going on in my life than angels. The spying is big business for me.”

“I believe that, but I believe that the angels are the most important part. You’re caught in a spiral, and I need to get you out.”

“You keep wanting to save me Sinclair, but you really can’t. Eventually you’re just going to have to accept that.”

“Fuck no.”

“Fine, look one more secret. You don’t need new weapons, mortals already have the right weapons. They just need to be used together and in great number.”

“Guns proved pretty fucking worthless Lisbeth.”

“I’m not talking about guns.”

“What, Templars?”

“There aren’t nearly enough Templars, they haven’t trained together, and they’re all too specialized.”

“No member of the council will ever agree to that.”

“Someone is going to have to convince them, the mortals need more pieces on the field that aren’t pawns.”

“People aren’t chess pieces Lisbeth.”

“I know, I’m sorry, I won’t say that again.”

“The immortals were attacked, will they help?”

“Maybe, but they became immortal for a reason.”

“What does that mean?”

“Immortals survive long enough to be immortals because they are cowards.”

“So they aren’t likely to help us? Even after getting attacked.”

“A lot of them won’t, believe it or not, most of the ones that give a damn are the weaker ones. Who aren’t necessarily good at fighting. Also, they just don’t have the numbers.”

“Bill gives a damn, he’s strong.”

“He is literally the strongest one that gives a damn Sinclair, and it’s not the kind of damn you think it is.”

“So don’t count on him to save our collective asses.”

“Yes.”

“What about the gods?”

“What about them?”

“Will they step in to save us?”

“I’m not counting on it.”

Sinclair thought about that for a little while. At least he appeared to, staring off into space for a while, not talking. Lisbeth went back to her book, letting him digest. These books were enchanted to allow for a basic understanding that was buried in the subconscious after one read, but actually understanding what was said in them was a different matter. It required actual study. Sinclair stood up after twenty minutes or so, and asked a dangerous question.

“The gods can save us, but won’t, the churches can take action to protect us but won’t. Why do we worship them again?”

“Because the gods gave the churches magic, and said they wanted followers or they would take that magic away, and the churches said follow us and we’ll smite your enemies, because they didn’t want their magic taken away.”

“Will it? Be taken away I mean?”

“No Sinclair, it will not. Not if they curse their gods name, not if their god ceases to be.”

“Well fuck.”

“When you report back tell Bill to call me, I really would like that cup of tea.”

Sinclair left recognizing her statement as the dismissal it was. Lisbeth watched him go, he looked tired. His shoulders were slumped and his back bent. It was the back of a man who had the weight of the world on his shoulders. She did feel bad, he really did need to stop worrying about her, not that he could.

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