ONE: SEPTEMBER 19, 1981
Greater Vancouver had been washed out to sea in the Second Great Flood, that
of late November 1980.
So had much of the Fraser Valley. What was now called New Vancouver had once
been a small town called Hope. The Fraser River emptied itself here, just as
it had on the southern border of Old Vancouver before the Deluge. The Liberation
Brigade's celebratory reunion, which was being filmed for everyone with a television
on the reunited planet to see, was taking place in the gardens of old Hope's
now reconverted city hall. It too was called Hope, though 'Haven' had been added
to give it a better ring.
Outside it Wilderwitch, the only name she acknowledged with any regularity,
was sitting on a stone bench away from the gathering crowd, of whom an ever
increasingly many were uninvited. Even in the wondrous new reality of a whole-again
Earth, celebrity retained its magnetic field and the surviving members of the
supranormal Liberation Brigade, the Witch being one of the most comparatively
ordinary, were well up there in the pantheon of Panharmonium.
Looking like the fit, albeit very baby-belly-heavy, off-white, gypsy-type she
was, she had been counting down the days, weeks and months ever since she became
pregnant and was now counting down the hours. Figured it’d still take
a few more of them before she could start kicking back. Fifty-three might seem
a bit old to be pregnant but it helped when you were a witch. Helped even more
when you were a supranormal witch. Besides, kicking back was one of the things
she did really well.
Spotting her sitting alone, Athena Zeross, age 7, decked out in her finest
frills, blues and yellows for the most part, detached herself from a group of
similarly attired children, and came rushing up to her. Blonde, though not quite
as much so as her mother, whose hair was akin to Christmas tree tinsel, Tina
was the youngest of three hybrid daughters of the new Master of Weir, Melina
born Sarpedon, 60, Mel-Illuminatus as the Witch still sometimes thought of her.
Before Mel‘s promotion, as it were, -- mostly due to a dearth of challengers
in the wake of an anything except a dearth of death amongst her potential rivals
for the title --, she was the High Illuminary of the Weirdom of Cabalarkon.
She was also, even before that, a one-time Althean witch-healer and a degree-granted,
medically certified physician; had only reluctantly traded in her caduceus for
the Master’s Mace. Her howsoever heroic, indubitably tragic and definitely
late husband Harry, Aristotle, Ringleader, Tina’s Greco-Cretan father,
also a Dr Zeross, was one of the main reasons there was a Panharmonium. Not
to mention the remnants of a Liberation Brigade left to publish their memoirs
and reap their rewards.
Not far behind Tina was her middle sister, Helen, whose thirteenth birthday
was coming up on the approaching Autumnal Equinox. Although some of Mel’s
apprentice Illuminaries were in the vicinity, Helen and their eldest sister,
Persephone, 16, who was probably indoors, attending their mother, were Tina’s
designated shadows for the day.
Were most days but today was special. Once the ceremonies started, their mother,
a full-blooded, white-as-light Utopian woman, -- in contrast to full-blooded
Utopian men, who were black as midnight on a starless night --, would be in
Mastery mode. And before that there were all the announcements and formal greetings
to be made and endured.
Obadiah Melvin Power, the patriarch of the once strictly Outer Earth based,
Illuminated Faith of Xuthros Hor, was the nominal host for Hope Haven’s
dedication and the festivities to follow. Since he was the father of her unborn
child, as well as the father of her first and to date only other child, albeit
thirty-five years ago, the Witch would have to be on her feet for most of the
formal fluff as well.
Too bad she didn’t have a designated baby-belly supporter the same as
Tina had sisterly shadows. Maybe what Tina had in that shoebox she was carrying
would jumpstart the smile muscles.
“Look what slimy Auntie Fish caught for us, fat Auntie Wildie,”
enthused the youngster, all but thrusting the box in her face.
While not much of a supranormal compared to some of the others, a few of whose
abilities approached godlike, Wilderwitch did have an affinity for animals;
could communicate with them on a empathetic level, as she sometimes described
that aspect of her abilities, and indeed, should she be sufficiently persuasive,
even get them to do what she wanted them to do. Consequently, she already knew
what was in the box. “My hair look that bad, Tina?”
“What’s your hair got to do with anything?”
“When I forget to comb it out people call it a rat’s nest. And
you’ve brought me a rat to nest in it.”
The Witch was right about that last. Her dark hair was so thick and long a
lot more than a rat could hang out in it. She’d gone to the sweat house
this morning, though, and in addition to having herself scrubbed nearly raw,
made sure it was thoroughly washed and brushed down as straight as it ever got.
As a result she was fairly confident nothing besides herself and her unborn
baby were living in or about her body.
“It isn’t a rat,” Tina protested, opening the shoebox. Inside
it was a rat-like creature but, Tina was correct, strictly speaking it wasn’t
a rat. “It’s a tee-tee.”
Wilderwitch deigned to peer into the box. The rodent was no more native to
the former Outer Earth than mermen and mermaids, Simian Sapiens, sentient Saurs,
Lemurian frogwomen or anthropomorphic ant-men, though Myrmidons did figure in
ancient mythologies, as of course did mermen and mermaids. Like all of the above
it could talk, if you pulled its tail, and what it talked about was usually
some story or another it traded for its life; hence the term tee-tee tales.
“So it is. Did you pull its tail?”
“Sure we did and it told us some stupid story about you getting almost
killed by one of the Mother Murder Medusa’s Quadrang Nucleoids, Flying
Doltaur, it called her, in Subcranial Temporis. But that isn’t what happened
at all. Daddy killed Mother Murder on the Moon, right?”
“Sometimes tee-tees just make things up, Tina. But every tee-tee’s
got two tales to tell, so maybe its other one’s better.”
“Read it for me then.”
Virtually every creature on both sides of the Cathonic Zone, when there was
a Cathonic Zone, or Dome, separating the Inner from the Outer Earth, had individual
markings. Tee-tees were no different in that respect, but their differences
were more easily discernible than most animals. Besides the fact they could
talk, and that each had a unique tale it could recount vocally, their most notable
distinctions were their tails. Not only were they colourful, as if made up of
dozens of multicoloured beads or nodes, they could be read as if Celtic knot-writing
or the Incan equivalent, Quipo or Quippu.
“I’m not very good at that, Tina. You know Jordan Tethys, the Legendarian,
the fellow who almost got boiled alive while your masterly Mama Mel was giving
you birth on Shenon? He’s over there, at the beer pavilion, and he’s
real good at reading tee-tee tails.”
“He’s creepy. He bites off their tails and sticks them onto his
head. Besides, he always stinks of beer.”
“That he does. But tee-tee tails grow back, with a different tale to
tell, and who knows, maybe he’ll let you keep it.”
“And maybe he’ll teach me how to read its new tail. Good idea,
fat Auntie Wildie. Let’s go get gay, Paree.”
“I wish you’d stop saying that, Tinny,” said Helen, whose
nickname was indeed Paree, -- after Paris, among other things the lover of Helen
of Troy in Homer’s Iliad. “That was daddy’s joke.”
“So? Someone around here has to keep having fun. Come on.”
As Tina ran off toward the beer pavilion, yelling for her little friends in
their pretty party dresses to join her, Helen, who had opted, instead of a dress,
for a traditional, Utopian-style neckerchief, cream-coloured jacket, crewneck
and pantsuit, the same as the young Illuminaries, paused before following her.
She felt the need, which she never would have done prior to the start of Panharmonium
and the end of almost everything else, to apologize for her baby sister’s
“I’m sorry, Witch. You know how silly Tinny gets when she’s
“Better silly than severe, Paree. You’re overdue-stopping being
such a miserable little Helen-Hellion. You should feel proud wearing one of
your daddy’s rings.”
“They’re Percy’s now.”
“Not all of them, I see.”
“It’s for protection. Anyone comes at me, up they go. Or out they
go. Or down they go. Way up, way out, way down. Too bad they don’t work
for you, eh?”
“Oh, I don’t know. I’ve lots of other things that do.”
And so she did: rings and bangles and glowing things off of which she could
materialize whatever she kept in her between-space bottomless bag; among them
her metallic marigold, as she called the stunted eye-stave Mel gave her months
ago when she was only the High Illuminary.
What she should have said, she reconsidered as Helen went to catch up to Tina,
was ‘too bad they worked so well for your father’. She could also
have said something like ‘at least we’re both still here’.
But today was no more a day for showing off than it was for nastiness. Today
was a day for celebrating survival.
And celebrating those like Mel’s much younger husband, Harry Zeross,
her predecessor as Master of Weir, Saladin Devason, her twin brother, Demios
Sarpedon, his wife, Saladin’s year younger sister, Morgianna, the White
Witch or Morrigan. For celebrating Morg’s dead daughters, both of them,
Tsishah Twilight and the Zerbranid, Andy, Andrea, Andaemyn. For celebrating
those whose actions allowed there to be such a celebration in the first place.
As for those whose actions caused the near Armageddon everyone left had survived,
their day was coming. She just hoped she’d be there to contribute to the
devils’ absolute extermination.
Those she hadn’t already, that is.
On Christmas Day 1955, twelve year old Aristotle “Harry” Zeross,
codenamed Kid Ringo, later to become Ringleader, used his teleportive Gypsium
Rings to take himself and ten other supranormals to a tiny atoll in the Aleutian
Chain of Islands in the North Pacific known as Damnation Isle.
Those he took with him were the six still-active members of KOC, the King's
Own Crimefighters: Cerebrus David Ryne, Wildman Dervish Furie, Old Man Power,
Radiant Rider and her adopted siblings, the Elemental Twins, Airealist and Sea
Goddess. Took them along with their oft-times comrades in supra-doings: the
Untouchable Diver, Blind Sundown, Raven’s Head and Wilderwitch herself.
He left them there, in the Aleutians, to do what they had to in order to deal,
finally, with Saul Ryne, Cerebrus’s twin brother, the dangerously erratic
supra best known as the Magnificent Psycho.
They went at each other so comprehensively their bodies were never found.
For those who knew about the 17-year Secret War of Supranormals, who knew about
supranormals or supras period, the prevailing theory at the time was their remains
had been washed away when a tsunami rolled over the islet. Kid Ringo returned
to the Alliance of Man's get-together then going on in Old Vancouver. He was
administered amnaesthetics, -- memory-redacting drugs long used by the Antediluvian
Sisterhood of Flowery Anthea, to which the Witch also belonged --, and promptly
forgot he was the last of the supranormals.
On New Years Day 1956, Loxus Abraham Ryne, the born-with-the-century father
of David-Cerebrus and Saul-Psycho, among others, resigned as chairman of New
Century Enterprises. Already far richer than Croesus ever was, he intended to
devote more time to the philanthropic Alliance of Man, as the Human League was
known in those days, its burgeoning Academies of Man, and the panhumanist cause
Alfredo Sentalli, then not quite thirty, took Ryne's place at NCE and turned
it into the most profitable multinational corporation in the world. In late
April 1960, Harry Zeross and Belificent D'Angelo, Radiant Rider’s decade
younger sister, married in Toronto Ontario. Bel was promptly kidnapped and executed
by a group calling itself the Worldwide Order with the Right to Life and Death.
In response to WORLD's threat, the Great Man, Loxus Ryne, immediately formed
the Alliance of Man for the Extermination of Resisting International Criminal
Associations. AMERICA became the vanguard of the anti-terrorist movement of
the Sixties and early Seventies. It turned out to be extremely successful. Terrorism
was reduced or, in some places, eliminated entirely, at least for the time being.
WORLD lasted until 1970. Before it went down, its leadership, a largely artificial
man called Steltsar and a mysteriously faceless woman, a rogue witch known only
as Strife, learned the real reason behind AMERICA's success. The Alliance of
Man employed supranormals, specifically the King Crimefighters, their four friends,
and Magnifico, as Saul-Psycho had begun calling himself.
Their deaths had been a ruse. Instead, apparently with the energetic elder
Ryne's full knowledge, they had gone into deep cover. Bel's murder and Harry's
subsequent disappearance in 1960 brought them out of retirement. After the destruction
of WORLD they resurfaced, though still not as declared supras. Even in 1970
that wouldn't have been acceptable.
Obadiah Melvin Power, then as now a giant of a man with a great grey beard,
replaced Ryne Senior as the patriarch of the Illuminated Faith of Xuthros Hor.
David Ryne took over from his father as chairman of the Alliance, which he renamed
the Human League after the onset of Panharmonium. Saul Ryne assumed his father's
role as President of the worldwide Academies of Man.
Thus freed from all other duties, the Great Man redirected his formidable energies
toward attaining his lifelong goal, namely to set up a meaningful United Nations
in order to oversee the transition to a new, enlightened, war-free New World,
-- the precursor to today's Panharmonium.
Yehudi Cohen, aka the Untouchable Diver, became the Israeli Ambassador to the
UN in New York. John Sundown, a blind Cheyenne elder, became the inspirational
and very influential spokesperson for the betterment of aboriginal societies
throughout the globe. He travelled with his sable-black mare, Raven, and was
a frequent guest at universities and on television talk shows. Gloriella D'Angelo
Dark, as radiant as ever, resuscitated her career, fifteen years in hiatus,
as an occasional actress, model and titular chair of Radiant Rainbows Fashion
Despite the publicity thus gained, she maintained her role as the devoted wife
to the brilliant but crippled, British-born astrophysicist, Dr Immanuel Dark,
and mother to their famous, often infamous daughter, Estrella, who eventually
married Magnifico. Well into her late forties Gloriel remained one of the most
beautiful women in the world. Often cited as the ideal woman, most folks considered
her living proof a devout Roman Catholic could be all things to all people.
Except, admittedly, one or two fanatical feminists.
Four of the eleven continued to shun the spotlight. Two, Wilderwitch and Dervish
Furie, stayed entirely out of sight; the other two, Aires, Airealist, and Thalassa,
Sea Goddess, D'Angelo, went to work for Alfredo Sentalli on Centauri Island,
off the coast of Maui, Hawaii. The twins didn't age, -- despite being born in
late 1920, without witch-glamours they continued to look like they were in their
early twenties. That was hardly all of it, though.
It wasn't until the events of late November 1980 that the reasons they were
so seldom seen became evident. They, like Furie and the Witch, spent next to
none of their time on the Outer Earth. In fact, until they were finally reconciled
prior to going to the Moon aboard the Liberty, the twins spent most of their
lives on the Inner Earth, the domain of all devils, and a lot of other things,
trying to track down and dispose of Furie and the Witch.
In 1977 something was detected on the Moon. Aliens? A revitalized WORLD? Witches
gone technologically savvy? Utopians rediscovering how everything kept on working
in their Weirdom and then applying said rediscoveries in a renewed effort to
destroy the Moloch Sedon and his hundreds of possessive devils. No one knew
for sure but one thing was certain. Whatever was up there was bombarding the
planet with thought-altering mind-beams.
The effects were quickly apparent. Governments began to topple, at first by
revolutions, remarkably none of which were overly long nor bloody since police
the world over kept embracing revolutionaries, then by democratically being
voted out of power. Whole armies started laying down their arms and refusing
to fight. In the void developed a new and never before seen spirit of global
The Soviet Union was the first to voluntarily dismantle its biological, chemical
and nuclear weapons development and deployment programs but public outcry in
the States forced the Democratic President to begin doing likewise. The birthrate,
especially in the Third World, dropped precipitously in three years but, correspondingly,
the standard of living rose dramatically. Fossil fuels were rejected as untenable,
as were nuclear power plants.
Tremendous strides were made, some close to overnight, at replacing them with
renewable, non-polluting energy sources such as the windmills and obelisks capped
with firestones threatening to make the globe resemble a spiny sea urchin. Lumber
and mining companies started switching to agriculture in the theory that anything
the planet needed could be grown in a sustainable fashion.
Unemployment skyrocketed initially. Inflation and interest rates plummeted.
Banks and leading lending institutions were going out of business on a monthly
then weekly basis. There should have been rioting everywhere, and there was,
but the authorities did nothing. Sooth said many of them joined those already
marching in the streets. Riots turned to peaceful protests to love-ins. The
planet was in the grip of a collective form of mass hysteria, -- or, as it turned
out, mass sanity.
A year after detection, the United Nations formed the Space Council and chose
Loxus Ryne, then 78-years old, to head it. With his propensity for anagrams
the Great Man renamed it the Society for the Prevention of Alien Control of
Earth. With the cooperation of all the surviving governments on the planet,
SPACE funded, built, and sent into Moon-orbit the United Nations of Earth Spaceship
About a week later, on November the Thirtieth 1980, New Century Enterprises
launched a multiply manned spacecraft of its own from Centauri Island. The Cosmic
Express, as it was known, made an unexpected detour somewhere. A few minutes
later it reappeared, intact except for one cosmicar. Blasting through the atmosphere
it ignited its Gypsium propellant and rocketed towards the stars. Wilderwitch
knew it was still out there, still on its way to wherever, but it was what it
left behind in its wake, the greatest cataclysm Planet Earth had experienced
in nearly six millennia, that mattered the most. And the last for all too extraordinarily
By the tenth of December, the Earth was whole again; had an eighth continent
and a couple of billion less people. The Hidden Continent of Sedon's Head was
no longer hidden. With the dissolution of the Cathonic Dome, dimensions were
rent and the North Pacific returned to being largely a landform. The ocean had
to go somewhere and it did. Millenarian fatalists who had bought property in
Nevada and Arizona in anticipation of just such an event come the Year 2000
had their waterfront vacation sites twenty years early.
The crowd announced the arrival of Blind Sundown and Raven’s Head with
the usual, all too obligatory nowadays, oohing and aahing. Looking up the Witch
was tempted to join them. One thing about the two creatures of the cosmos was
they knew how to make an entrance.
For a change it was a clear day, still warm as well. Summer was hanging on,
though here in what most folks still called British Columbia, even if there
was no British Columbian government anymore, nor a Canadian one for that matter,
it was more commonly referred to as Indian Summer. All too appropriately given
who, and what, they were.
The solitary cloud more like racing in than wafting in from the southeast,
too low to the trees to be an actual cloud, was a dead giveaway. Lest there
be any doubt about it, it lit up and was almost as immediately vapourized, revealing
a truly spectacular sight. High above them, seemingly suspended on nothing except
his much more impressive, even miraculous, mount, a native North American raised
his Solar Spear, its spearhead flaring like a miniature sun, in a salute for
all to see. He was riding, well, Raven’s Head had earned her name.
Mostly a horse with a raven-black coat that, upon closer inspection, was more
feathers than fur, she had indeed a raven’s bird-head. Had as well the
very much telescoping horn of a unicorn, or monoceros, extending out of her
raven’s bird-forehead. As for how she flew, the talarial wings of Mercury
fluttered furiously off both sides of her four fetlock ankles. As for how they
kept something of her size aloft, -- Raven wasn’t just a big bird, she
was a big mare, a nightmare to more than a few very much deserving some --,
categorizing her as a creature of the cosmos covered that.
Raven’s rider was not Radiant Rider. That was Gloriella D’Angelo
Dark, who was around Hope Haven somewhere and to whom the Witch, even if she
was gypsy rather than Italian, bore a vague familial resemblance. It was John
His eyeholes were covered in a beadwork blindfold. His headdress, what he called
his ‘issiwan’, was a de-skulled but still be-furred buffalo’s
head with its horns turned upwards. His star-cloak was also made of buffalo,
its hide rather than its head. It being not quite autumn he had it turned fur-side
outwards, the better to reflect heat instead of retain it.
Over his otherwise bare chest he wore a washboard vest. Although made primarily
of beads, like his blindfold, it featured dozens of animal teeth and claws strung
together. His pants and moccasins were as leathern as the Witch’s only
Radiant Rainbows’ designed robe and shawl, -- she’d had to hire
someone to stitch her clothes together since Gloriel’s Fashion Emporium
refused to work with animal skins or by-products. No war paint though, she was
happy to report.
‘Come along, my fine foetal friend. Time for me to get off our shared
butt-end and start with the matters not a whit shit. But, hey, maybe we still
have enough time to get lucky. Even with you belly-baking in the baby-burden-oven,
it’s best never to miss an opportunity to go for a Raven-ride.’
For Wilderwitch, riding Raven’s Head was not the biggest highlight of
that day, that dream, that nightmare, the end of the Panharmonium. Neither was
the lowlight what Johnny did to the Male Entity not so long after she and Raven
came back to Earth, -- though it was one explanation for the explosion that
got her giving birth again, for the second time in her life.
By the time Hellion Helen brought her fellow prisoners, the Zerosses’
Utopian mother, Mel-Illuminatus, and Tina’s accurately identified slimy
Aunt Fish, via her father’s rings through between-space to her side, the
Witch was screaming bloody murder.
”Where’s my baby?” she kept repeating, screeching all the
louder every time.
“She’s still scum-coming, Witch,” kept responding Fisherwoman,
Scylla Nereid, Lady Achigan, Wilderwitch’s nine years’ older sister
in more than just Flowery Anthea.
“Not her, Fucking Fish-face,” the Witch spat anew, giving birth
yet again. “Fucking him!”
“Fucking Hell,” muttered Mel-Illuminatus, realizing what had happened.
There’d been two after all. And the firstborn, a boy and already missing,
was Satan Incarnate.
Top of Page
TWO: TANTALAR 9, 5980
THE WEIRDOM OF CABALARKON
Antiseptic stench, like smelling salts, awakened her.
Wilderwitch felt herself lying on her back, in a bed and wearing nothing but
a linen smock of some sort. A hospital it was then. She did a mental inventory.
No bottomless bag, no agates, no studs, nothing off of which she could materialize
anything. Nothing internal either. Someone who knew witches had done a thorough
job on her. She felt violated. Worse, she felt as vulnerable as she ever did.
At least she still had the requisite two arms and two legs, ribs too. God, she
Opening her eyes she beheld a truly terrifying sight. The Demon glaring down
at her was large and powerfully built, bare and barrel?chested, red?skinned,
with obvious horns, a forked goatee, a droopy moustache. Bald on the top, he
had a pair of almost penile-looking mutton-chops, a long, black ponytail and
pointed ears. Half of his right forearm was missing.
"Yes," said the humanoid horror, "I believe you'll do just fine!"
Demon, hell! That’s a fucking devil! Epiphany came the moment she spotted
only two eyes. Except one of them was in the centre of his forehead. Simultaneously
came identification. ‘God and the Devil both,’ she muttered inaudibly.
Unless she just imagined herself muttering it.
Gratefully she let pain pass and delirium render her insensate again. Should
have asked what day it was. Would have been answered, if the demons’ king
and the devils’ father-creator answered inanities, the 6th of Tantalar,
5980 Year of the Dome.
On the 30th of November 1980, the Cosmic Express was launched from Centauri
Island, a mostly manmade Hawaiian Island off the coast of Maui dominated by
three not exactly towering, but nonetheless distinct, not to mention extinct,
volcanoes that once formed the tips of separate islets. Mere seconds after lift-off
it was intercepted by the self-proclaimed Worldwide Order with the Right to
Life and Death's Kamikaze Craft and blasted into a black space. Pinpricks of
light, in their dozens, approached the vessel.
What were they, stars, faeries, angels? None of the above. Not strictly speaking,
though they had aspects of all three. They were above, however, in the Night’s
Sky, the Sedon Sphere, -- above somewhere, an Otherworld, possibly even the
Otherworld of the Celts and just about every other indigenous peoples the world
over. Weren’t, that is to say, below, in the Underworld, where their unkind
kind is usually thought to dwell. Nor were they gods. Not anymore. What they
were once, and were still, were devils.
Everything about the Express, including its very existence, was hush-hush.
Other than in the highest corporate and national echelons of the Whole Earth,
it might be said absolutely nothing was known about it. Yet even in those rarefied
strata virtually nothing was known about its secondary fuel system, nor its
major component, Gypsium. The Godstuff was teleportive. Seeing what was coming
at him, the Cosmicommander activated it. Activating its Gypsium fuel fractured
the Express, sent its constituent vessels, the hub-craft and six cosmicars,
rocketing off between-space almost anywhere except this nowhere.
None of its crewmembers died, at least not immediately. All of them were, however,
possessed by until then cathonitized devils. At least one Cosmicar, designated
Cosmicar Four, shot out of the nowhere that was the everywhere in there, shot
out comparatively not far from where it went in, Centauri Island, Outer Earth
version. Empty of cosmicompanions, but not quite empty of anything else, it
landed in the Aleutians, on a deserted, ice-rimed atoll marked on maps, even
on Japanese maps, albeit in Japanese, Damnation Isle.
Twenty-five years earlier it had been the site of the then final act of what
was known in those, for the year 1955, selfsame rarefied strata as the Secret
War of Supranormals. There the last six active members of the King's Own Crimefighters,
plus four of their oft-times comrades in supra-doings, took on their greatest
enemy, Saul Ryne. Codenamed the Magnificent Psycho, the twin brother of KOC's
leader, Cerebrus David Ryne, blew his mind. The six Crimefighters, their four
comrades and Saul-Psycho were never seen again. Not on the Outer Earth; not
before December 1980 anyhow.
Were not seen alive on the Inner Earth again either. Statues of them were;
at least apparent statues of them were, in Centurium, replicated Versailles,
the central cavern of the Subterranean Realm of Temporis. It lay beneath Sedon's
Cranium, in the northern hemisphere of the Hidden Continent of Sedon's Head,
as this Otherworld was known to its vastly divergent sentient lifeforms; a large
majority of whom, perhaps surprisingly, were human.
These apparent statues, which stood in one place or another within Centurium
for almost a quarter century, were more than just physical representations of
the eleven supras otherwise obliterated that Christmas Day. They were their
actual bodies hardened, and thereby preserved, by Solidium, what was also called
Stopstone. Which was a good thing for all concerned because, for some unknown
reason, the crewmembers of Cosmicar Four were no longer inside it when it crashed
on Damnation Isle. And the one thing decathonitized devils needed to avoid being
immediately recathonitized were sentient shells to possess.
That was the whole point of WORLD's Kamikaze Craft intercepting the Cosmic
Express and blasting it into Cathonia, the Sedon Sphere that had separated the
Inner and Outer Earth since the Great Flood of Genesis in 4000 BC. The Master
Deva masterminds behind WORLD wanted to free their devic siblings, cousins and
fourth generational devic offspring from the Cathonic Zone. In other words it
was a jailbreak.
Outer Earth Hindus might take offense at devas being characterized as devils.
After all devas to them were gods whereas azuras were devils. Then again Zoroastrians
considered devas devils and azuras gods or under-gods to their Great God, the
Wise Lord, ‘Ahura Mazda’. However, as Wilderwitch, if she was conscious,
would be aware since she was born and sort of brought up in this Otherworld,
the Head's devils could care less what anyone called them. They were as happy
with Fallen Angels as anything else. Did not particularly quarrel with being
classified as the devazur race either. Helped to explain a few things, sooth
The first generation of devazurkind was a solitary individual, the Moloch Sedon,
who was resolutely male. The second generation consisted of his parthenogenetically-procreated
children, the Six Great Gods and Goddesses, the three Thrygragos Brothers, one
of whom was dead, and three Trigregos Sisters, all of whom were as long gone
as they were indistinguishable from each other. Their offspring were labelled
Master Devas and, until earlier in this century, the offspring of Master Devas
were strictly azuras. Azuras were only Spirit Beings, like Master Devas had
been for most of their multiple millennia of existence. Azuras, though, were
so next-to-useless they could not even dominate those they possessed. Which
was something full devils usually could do without any difficulty.
What happened earlier this century was two highborn Mithradite Master Devas
somehow or other managed to possess, unless it was the other way around, the
time-tumbling Male and Female Entities, Heliosophos and Trans-Time Trigon’s
miraculous three-thing, the Mnemosyne Machine. These were the ever-recurring
beings most responsible for creating Dark Sedon in the first place. Through
them the lucky Master Devas, whose names were Tantal and Methandra Thanatos,
begot ten new devas. Until the following Friday, Lazam as it was delineated
on Sedon's Head, the Thanatoids’ Night and Day, their Four Elements and
Four Elements were the only solid, fourth generational devils ever born.
One Fourth Generation Deva, Antaeor Thanatos, aka Demon Land, attached himself
to the cosmicompanions-empty Cosmicar Four and, indispensably for the other
five with him, Mithradite Master Devas all, had a very useful attribute. Demon
Land found a way to recall from Temporis, densify and thereupon possess, one
after another, the bodies of ten of the eleven supras lost here a quarter century
earlier. Which was about when the good things stopped happening for the six
devils and started happening for the long lost supras.
The main trouble for the devils was the supranormals' minds, or spirits, had
somehow survived separation from their bodies. Had survived in what they had
come to think of by then as a Limbo-like state of, at best, semi-consciousness.
It was centred right there on Damnation Island and, once reunited with their
bodies, they proved almost indomitable.
A moderately minor trouble was the sudden appearance of a non-Mithradite. The
nearly never-cathonitized Master Deva, one Vayu Maelstrom, Devil Wind, had come
outside through the Nagasaki Gap from the Inner Earth to the Outer Earth at
the behest of his father, Thrygragos Byron, he whose age it was upon Sedon's
Head, and his grandfather, the Demon as well as Devil King Himself. And Devil
Wind proved next to unbeatable.
Battles galore were fought that first day after Limbo on Damnation Isle. Be
it because of the Outer Earth's air or because, being mostly decathonitized,
they simply could not withstand the formidable abilities of the supranormals,
the devils, even Devil Wind and Demon Land, were vanquished by twilight. Not
that, just as the supras had not done a quarter century before, they left corpses
Individually these supras had names, most had codenames and one had just a
codename. That one was Wilderwitch. Three had D'Angelo surnames, -- although
only the Terrible Twins, Aires and Thalassa, codenamed Airealist and Sea Goddess,
were definitely related. The third one was Gloriella D'Angelo by then Dark,
Gloriel, Glory of the Angels, Radiant Rider, Rainbow, she whose father found
Air and Sea on the day she was born in Rome and whose parents adopted them later
on in '33. The fourth female was the lone non-visibly-human among them, the
raven-doe who somewhat unimaginatively answered to the name of Raven's Head
and whose equally unimaginative codename was Raven.
In addition to their leader, Cerebrus David Ryne, -- Cerebrus being his codename
--, the rest were men. Like Air and Sea, who were identical twins, Gentleman
Jervis Murray, Yehudi Cohen and John Sundown, respectively codenamed Wildman
Dervish Furie, the Untouchable Diver and Blind Sundown, were Summoning Children.
Which indicated they were conceived towards the tail-end of 1920’s simultaneous
The tenth one was Obadiah Melvin Power, codename Old Man Power or simply OMP.
No one, not even OMP, knew how old he was but, other than Raven, who may have
been even older, every one of them wondered if the near-giant was their father.
One of them did know whose father he definitely was, however, -- her daughter’s.
Which was something else the oversized greybeard still did not realize.
Given names, married names, surnames, codenames, made up or legitimate, were
one thing. After almost twenty-five years of their minds being stuck in Limbo
whilst their bodies were encased in Stopstone-Solidium overcoats beneath Sedon’s
Cranium, calling themselves the King’s Own Crimefighters, especially since
four of them did not belong to KOC in 1955, seemed an out-thing. They needed
a group denomination to better reflect their dramatically altered situation.
Thanks to Cerebrus they got one. Denomination was damnation, as in the Damnation
A collective name was nowhere near all they got over the course of the next
Budding, top and bottom; bleeding, menstruation; puberty. Different order?
Bloodshed, big hair, bottoming out? Life-loving Ants started early, 13, 14,
15. Not as early as love-loving, Lovely Lady Afrites, surely. Wilderwitch started
early. As early as eventual gal-pal Sorciere, Johnny’s childhood bride?
Surely not. Certainly had no kid of her own till she was 18. Or was she already
19 when the birth-pangs set in? On the cusp of it anyhow. She didn’t know
the precise date of her own birth, only that it was around the Winter Solstice.
Around now, in other words. Assuming it was still December, which she couldn’t
be absolutely sure of either.
She’d had lots of lovers both before and after the birth of her daughter.
Not so much so since Limbo, though. Count none. Except Jerry, who hardly counted
at all. He was incapable of having children. Which saved on the birth control.
First was the Osiraq Taurson. Then came, and came they did, in no particular
order, that wicked Wiccan Fucking Warlock, that pseudo-supra-saviour Jesus Fucking
Conquering Christ asshole, Jervis Murray, him so gentlemanly and un-reproductive,
a different him, the oversized fucking faerie. All of them stank. Musk was a
nicer word. All of them stank individually.
This one stank more so than most. She opened her eyes. He was black as midnight,
albeit perhaps not quite as black as most pureblood Utopian males. Also had
a beard, which marked him as a hybrid. Although neither had changed much, she
recognized him less by the musk as by the thrust. Recognizing who he was suggested
where she was, besides a hospital bed. It was the Weirdom of Cabalarkon. Was
he still its Master?
“Good God, Sal, you look like hell.”
“Fuck you, Witch.”
“Appears I’m leaving that up to you.”
It was now, she’d have learned, has she asked, Sedonda, Sunday, the 7th
of Tantalar 5980 YD.
On Friday the 5th of December the Damnation Brigade went down to nine members.
Despite a quarter century in Limbo, the travails of Damnation Isle, the long
trip from there to Vancouver, where D-Brig had begun setting up their new lives
the previous Monday, and all that had happened since their arrival there, Thalassa
D’Angelo, Sea Goddess, was still in the early months of pregnancy. Was
fed up, wanted peace, no strife, no tribulation, wanted to concentrate on having
her baby, Cerebrus’s baby.
So, alone, she boarded an airplane. Her destination was Los Angeles. They didn’t
know if she made it or what had become of her afterwards. Nor did they know
that by the time she flew off D-Brig only had eight members. What they did know,
those that knew much of anything, was that, as of that night, Vayu Maelstrom,
Devil Wind, was back on the scene.
He was whirl-winding overtop their newly purchased ranch house on the banks
of the Fraser River in Vancouver’s remarkably still somewhat rural Southlands
area. Wasn’t alone either. Had three other devils with him. Allowing for
his three eyes, Maelstrom was the only one who looked even remotely normal,
Sure, he had blue skin and, when his lower body wasn’t a whirlwind, he
wore only a fur garment covering his loins. Sure, his skull was mostly shaven
and his long topknot glowed with the intensity of Brainrock, what Outer Earthlings
had been calling Gypsium since 1948. Still, if he suppressed his third eye and
altered his skin colouration he could pass for human. So could the lone woman
among them, -- except Sedona Spellbinder was composed entirely of smoke.
About the only consistent thing about the third one, Chimaera Glimmenmare,
was a mace, his Brainrock talisman or power focus. Otherwise he was changing
by the minute: an air-strutting centaur, a be-winged Angelyc, a Simian Sapient,
an ebonite demon, a preying mantis, the variations were endless. The fourth
was just a huge, hovering head, completely hairless and with no body in sight;
no head in sight some of the time either.
This was Great Byron, their Thrygragos of a father. Maelstrom, Glimmenmare,
and Spellbinder were his Primary Nucleoids, which made them his chief enforcers.
They were also his second born litter of three, -- Master Devas, who were as
immortal as their fathers and solitary grandfather, were always born in litters
of three because their three mothers, the likely, on some planet faraway from
the Earth, still existent, three-in-one Trigregos Sisters, always gave birth
at the same time.
Together the four of them could form the Byronic Nucleus. Which they did. Which
was how D-Brig’s remaining members ended up on Sedon’s Head. Which
was where, below it actually, they reacquired their ninth member. This ninth,
OMP, had already found his own way there. Only he wasn’t OMP anymore.
Well, he was and he wasn’t. Was also, put better, Akbar, Akbarartha, the
titular Kronokronos Supreme of Temporis. Which was a subterranean realm; subcranial,
to be just as precise.
Temporis was a devic protectorate, that of Dand Tariqartha. OMP-Akbar was the
Dand’s half-son, hence Akbarartha. It had at least a thousand caverns,
hence the Thousand Caverns of Tariqartha. The Byronic Nucleus dropped the rest
of them off above it the night of the 5th. Within it, the next day, the 6th
of Tantalar Year of the Dome 5980, as they quickly learned to count time beneath
the Sedon Sphere, they, reunited, ended up fighting, and sort of winning, the
War of the Apocalyptics.
Weren’t nine of them left by the end of it, though.
The Witch opened her eyes.
The Utopian glaring down at her was haggard but still handsome. Perhaps six?five
and two hundred forty pounds, his beard and moustache poked out from around
the surgical mask he was wearing. Otherwise he was dressed modestly, an operating
room smock draped over an Arab or Egyptian style haik. Although turbans, often
wrapped such that only slits were left for their eyes, were the most common
headgear for men in the Weirdom, he had arranged part of the haik, a simple,
oblong piece of unbleached cloth, to form a hood over top of his head.
Besides the Master’s Mace, a kind of sceptre, which he held in his right
hand, his one concession to Masterly vanity was his personal chain of office.
Depending from his neck, it was a necklace of ruby?red bloodstones upon which
was attached a golden triangle with a single eye staring out of it. The hardly
just ceremonial mace was a stubby eye-stave, the multipurpose weapon of choice
amongst the Weirdom’s Trinondev Warrior Elite. It consisted of a 3-foot
long, unadorned shaft with a smooth, leathern pod, an eyeorb or prison pod,
atop it instead of a spiked, metallic-looking Brainrock head like Chimera Glimmenmare,
Byron’s Stallion, had.
It was old, possibly pre-Earth-old. It also served as a Speaking Stick because,
supposedly, no one could lie under the influence of its open orb. No not-always-illusionary
gargoyle manifested out of its top, however. Trinondevs, the Witch recalled
from visits to the Weirdom pre-Limbo, liked their gargoyles; took great pride
in making them as frightening and ferocious as they could. They especially liked
to show them off atop their eye-staves, their consequential labarums, during
parades. In fact, seldom having much else to do, they loved nothing better than
to parade about Cabalarkon City showing off how high and mighty they’d
risen. The Master clearly felt he was show enough.
“You look even worse clothed, Sal.”
“So you remember last night. I was worried about that. Nothing I can
do about it now, though. Nothing I can do about this either. Leg’s got
to go, Witch. Cut it off!”
Which was when, desperation retaining consciousness, the Witch unleashed her
fearsome soul-self. Ordinarily when it was outside her she sunk into a trance.
Didn’t have that luxury today. Sent it directly into the Master of Weir,
jolting him, Saladin Devason, off his feet. Even though she was strapped to
the operating table, an intravenous drug-drip attached to her left arm, her
Doltaur-damaged right leg exposed for amputation from the hip down, the orderlies
moved to pin her shoulders back while a male Utopian surgeon raised high her
own cut-anything blade.
Her soul-self came out of the Master. It was visible, monstrous to banshee-behold.
Although always intangible, it was a match in terms terrifying to anything even
the most twisted of Trinondev could imagine in terms gargoyle. The sounds it
emitted were just as illusionary, as were the lights going out in the operating
theatre. Didn’t mean those in the room thought they hadn’t gone
out, however. Her soul-self went into the surgeon. It was freezing cold. He
dropped the blade, shivering too hard to retain his grip.
Someone else barged through the swinging doors into the theatre. That someone
was carrying what might be mistaken for a stunted eye-stave of her own; albeit
one with non-gargoyle manifestations. While it had much the same capacities,
it wasn’t just an eye-stave. Had a short pole with an orb atop it, yes,
but it was decorated with twin snakes entwined along its shaft and had a pair
of highly stylized wings spreading off it around the orb atop it.
It was a caduceus, the traditional symbol of the medical profession. In olden
days heralds often held something similar when they went about their duties.
In fact, she recalled, seemingly the very person now noisily bursting into the
operating room once told her the word itself came from the Doric Greek ‘karykion’,
meaning a herald’s staff. She was no herald, though. At least she hadn’t
been pre-Limbo. Might be one now of course. She was, however, a doctor; had
been the last time the Witch saw her anyhow.
Could it really be her, still so comparatively young? Might she be her daughter?
No, she looked older than the maximum of 25 any daughter she could have had
could be. So it had to be her. Pureblood Utopians, the Witch had almost forgotten,
didn’t age at the same rate normal men and women did; normal supranormals,
with the exception of the Elemental Twins, Aires and Thalassa, did either. Then
again Utopians were not strictly human. They were extraterrestrials; rather,
their ancestors were when they first came from the stars to the then Whole Earth
some six thousand years ago in pursuit of the Sedonshem.
Like all pureblood Utopian women she was white-as-light. And she was pureblood,
not a hybrid like the Master. Even if she wasn’t whom she appeared to
be, the Witch could tell that because she was not so much expressionless as
her look of concern seemed chiselled onto her face. Ambulant alabaster, that
was how the Diver used to describe her, Melina Sarpedon.
“High Illuminary now, Witch. Sorry it took so long to get here. I just
heard from Gloriel you were here.”
“Where’ve you been?”
“Being kidnapped, thanks for asking. I only just got released and sent
back. You others, get out. I’m her attending physician as of right this
Saladin was on his feet again. Unlike Utopian women, Utopian men could register
expressions instantaneously. His wasn’t concern, though. It was either
anger or outrage; more likely, knowing him, the latter. “It’s too
late for her, High Illuminary. The leg has to go.”
“I’ll be the judge of that, Master. I am a doctor, remember. Have
been for something like 30 years.”
“So you are, Dr Zeross. No one better for the job either. Allow me a
word or two before I let you get to it. The Witch’s knife’s sharper
than any of ours, by the way.”
Sort of winning came with a hefty price tag.
Which was why at least one of their number hardly knew anything anymore; if
he knew even that much. In what amounted to a cruel case of poetic justice,
since he was the one who got the seven others still with him in Vancouver on
the night of the 5th to join up with Bodiless Byron and his Nucleoids, that
one was their leader.
At least Cerebrus David Ryne was still alive, albeit just, but Air, Aires D’Angelo,
Airealist, might not be. He’d vanished in Temporis minutes if not hours
before the usurper, Lakshmi of Lemuria, who had only turned 18 the day before,
arrogated the title of Kronokronos Supreme from OMP-Akbar and ejected them upstairs:
to Sisert, the Silent Sands of Cathune, Sedon’s Cranium. That was where
Ringleader, Harry Zeross, now 37 or close enough to it that it didn’t
make much difference, found them just as the sun was going down.
Harry had accidentally observed the Witch and Akbar in action against a devil,
one Freespirit Nihila by her own naming, down below in the Faerie Garden of
Temporis. He still had the same teleportive Gypsium rings he had when he abandoned
them on Damnation Isle in ’55. These he used to transport the now again
only eight members of D-Brig to the Weirdom of Cabalarkon.
Harry couldn’t tarry. Harry was in a hurry. He had a task to perform
for the Master of Weir, Saladin Devason. That task was the recovery of the Trigregos
Talismans, one of which, the Crimson Corona, the Witch had brought with her
from the Outer Earth. She’d lost it, though, in the Faerie Garden. Lost
it to the selfsame, self-named Lazaremist Master Deva, she who also claimed
to have once been Harmonia, the Unity of Balance.
Not so. Harry had taken care of her, whomever this Nihila was in reality. He
was the one who lost it. But he knew whom he had lost it to and that was why
he was in such a hurry. The bastard he’d lost it to was Vetala’s
Soldier. He had a name, Dmetri Diomad, and a title, Cosmicaptain of Cosmicar
Four. Was a bastard too, Dem’s Dim, the never acknowledged son of Demonites,
Harry’s dozen years dead, 12-years older brother, and Roxanne nee Heliopolis
Kinesis, a Summoning Child slightly longer dead.
This Diomad, Vetala’s Soldier, had somehow managed to obtain all three
talismans, the two besides the Crimson Corona being the Amateramirror and the
Susasword. He’d therefore played and evidently won the Trigregos Gambit.
Wasn’t endgame yet, though. Harry could still get them back, what the
Utopians of Weir called the three Sacred Objects. Not that they were anywhere
near sacred to devils. Were in fact proven effective against devils. Which of
course was why the Master had sent Harry in search of them in the first place.
Utopians of Weir existed to destroy devils, the Moloch Sedon foremost, but
also the two still extant Great Gods, Thrygragos Byron and Thrygragos Lazareme,
their spawn and the spawn, or offspring, of the third Great God, Thrygragos
Varuna Mithras, who at least had the common courtesy to be fifteen hundred dead
and, much more importantly, staying dead. Which was quite an accomplishment
for an immortal. Utopians had come to the then Whole Earth for that express
purpose, to destroy devils and the ever-spreading evil they carried with them
like a kind of universal contagion.
Come to the Earth ten years before the Genesea, the Great Flood of Genesis,
and had stayed here ever since, unable to go anywhere else primarily because
little of their originally extraterrestrial science and technology worked the
way it was supposed to work anymore. Oh yes, also unable to go anywhere because
the suddenly Inner Earth, where they were stranded, was now covered, over under
sideways down, by Cathonia, the Cathonic Dome or Zone.
They were thereby isolated in what amounted to another dimension, an Otherworld,
from whence there was no escape. Not in number and not on their millennial ships,
which were stuck beneath the Dome with them. Besides, why would they go anywhere
if it meant leaving the devils behind alive and, as the Inner Earth’s
deities, which many of them had also been on the Outer Earth until around 2000
years ago, dutifully, even fanatically worshipped?
The thing of it was, Vetala wasn’t just the devic Queen of the Dead.
She was the also vampiric Queen of Hadd, where Dead Things walked, animated
by Haddazur spirit beings. It was in Hadd, old Iraxas, a south-central region
of Sedon’s Head, the Hidden Continent being the size of Africa, that the
Corporate State of Greater Godbad, a veritable subcontinent in the Head’s
south-westernmost corner, Sedon’s Mouth, Lower Jaw and Goatee, was currently
waging a war between the Living and the Dead. And, gee, Harry, Ringleader, Rings,
their old pal and ever-so-childish mascot, the Ringo Kid, could sure use some
supra-duper help fighting the good fight against the bad blight.
When Rings brought them hither, to Sedon’s Devic Eye Land as Cabalarkon
was sometimes referred to since the Headword was indeed shaped like a three-eyed
devil’s head, from the left side perspective, Gloriel had been barely
moving, the Witch barely conscious and Cerebrus barely alive. The other five,
though, OMP-Akbar, Dervish Furie, the Diver, Sundown and Raven’s Head,
were not so much raring as willing to go.
So it was, where once there were eleven supras left, not counting Ringleader,
now there were only the three in Cabalarkon.
Wilderwitch was back in the same private hospital room where she’d been
before being carted off to have her leg amputated. She wriggled her toes. All
ten of them wriggled back.
“Thanks, Mel,” she said to the only other person in the room with
The High Illuminary of Weir, Melina born Sarpedon become Zeross, snapped awake,
-- she’d obviously dozed off in her chair. “Huh?”
“I said thanks.” The Witch could see dawn breaking through the
window behind where Melina propped her chair, and herself. It was, to say the
least, very illuminating. “Mind telling me what day it is?”
“The morning of Demetray, Tuesday, the 9th of Tantalar, YD 5980. And
you’re welcome. Mind if I ask you something?”
“Why aren’t you and Gloriel any older?”
“That could take all day.”
“Go ahead. You aren’t going anywhere.”
“Thanks again. Mind if I ask you something first?” Melina nodded.
Was, for the Witch, a wonderment her head didn’t fall off. Another thing
she’d all but forgotten besides how slowly they aged was just how literally
statuesque full-blooded Utopian women were. “Dr Zeross, as in Dr Harry
“Yeah, and he’s one too, a doctor. We’ve three kids.”
“Better than being a grave robber.”
“Don’t worry, Mel. It’s me, still all of barely 28, if that,
to boot. Not that, like you just said, I’ll be doing much in the way of
booting for awhile. I’m not possessed either. At least I’m not possessed
by a Sangazur and, this being the Weirdom of Cabalarkon, I can’t be possessed
by a devil, can I?”
“Not unless her name’s Pyrame Silverstar.”
“Or the Moloch Sedon.”
“Sedon’s resolutely male. He stays out of women. Put better, he
doesn’t possess them, if you get the distinction.”
“Afraid I already have!”
The Weirdom of Cabalarkon began its existence in the Year Ten PD, pre-Dome.
Earlier that same year, some 4000 years before the Christian era supposedly
began, Utopian millennial ships finally traced the Sedonshem to the Whole Earth.
The only solid devils way back when, a decade shy of six thousand years ago,
were the Moloch Sedon, whose essence had composed the Sedonshem just as it now
did the Sed-Sphere, Cathonia, were he and the Thrygragos Brothers.
These last were the Headworld’s three Great Gods: Unmoving Byron, already
bodiless and as of a few days ago once again a star in the Night’s Sky;
Lazareme the Libertine, who’d been mostly asleep on Tympani, the Isle
of the Undying One, in the middle of the Aural Sea, Sedon’s Ear, for approaching
half a millennium; and Varuna Mithras, who was fifteen hundred years dead and
to date had exhibited no signs of recovering.
At the time the other devils, then numbering many more than the five hundred
Illuminaries claimed survived the Great Flood and made it to the Head, were
possessive spirit beings. Which made it very difficult for the Utopians’
Trinondev Elite, the Warriors of Weir, who were neither all male nor bored-to-tears,
gargoyle-manifesting near-sycophants in those bygone millennia, to track down
and either capture them in their prison-pod-eyeorbs or find another way to nullify
The millennial ships had not fluked upon the Earth. They were led to this
planet by none other than the Male Entity himself, Heliosophos, Helios called
Sophos the Wise. For him it was a much later lifetime than the one he spent
on the Inner Earth in the first half of this century and as always, if just
as inexplicably as Heliosophos recurring again and again, lifetime after lifetime,
whenever and wherever, he was accompanied by Trans-Time Trigon, a tri-peaked
land formation imbued with Brainrock.
Also as always, with Helios and Trigon came the latter’s innards, the
Mnemosyne Machine. Of the three, Machine-Memory had to be by far the most miraculous.
Which was why Miracle Memory was the most common name of her human persona.
Ironically, given her male counterpart’s abiding passion, lifetime after
lifetime, whenever and wherever, was to eradicate the entire devazur race, she
could only become human if a Master Deva, one of their Great Gods and Great
Goddess parents or, as she’d proven in one of their earliest lifetimes
together, the devazurs’ All-Father, Dark Sedon himself, humanized her.
In the five years pre-Flood he spent on the Whole Earth before being killed
again, for the umpteenth time, and consequently tumbling back into the time
stream for another howsoever many lifetimes, the Male Entity had no luck finding
Sedon and his firstborn sons. He did, however, quickly locate the tub of Cathonic
Fluid containing yet another undying one, the Utopian geneticist Cabalarkon
who, rightly or wrongly, Sedon regarded as his father. It was buried right here,
where Helios and his Utopian followers of that distant era subsequently began
construction on the Weirdom of Cabalarkon.
Still was, the tub and Cabalarkon himself, though nowadays it lay in a separate
crypt, a tomb-room incorporated within the Catacombs of the Sleepers. Next door,
in a crypt and tub of his own, now lay Cerebrus David Ryne. Above the catacombs
was the huge central square or plaza of Cabalarkon, the city proper. Massive,
cyclopean stonework structures, interspersed with spiralling obelisks, most
of which had pyramid-like caps on them, surrounded the square.
The caps are firestones, Persephone Zeross was telling silver-haired Gloriella
D’Angelo Dark as they strolled around, the former showing the latter the
sites of the city. They’re made out of some unknown combination of metallic
or crystalline substances, or both. They semi-glowed, like embers in a dying
fire, in the near-winter sunshine.
That building’s the old palace. Folks still call it the Masters’
Palace even though the Master, Saladin, lives in Skyrise, that really, really
ugly, Outer Earth looking skyscraper looming up over there, behind the really,
really pretty old stuff. Lots of officers and higher-ups in the temporarily
currently, since the early Fifties, all-male Trinondev Elite live in the old
palace along with their wives and families. A significantly large percentage
of the officers, their wives and their children living therein are clones. Kind
of neat, eh?
Even though it’s more museum than anything else, a repository for all
sorts of originally extraterrestrial doodads and gewgaws that don’t work
anymore, we call that there the Grand Cathedral. Utopians don’t not have
deities so it’s not dedicated to any God, gods or goddesses. Certainly
isn’t dedicated to any devil either, like the terrible Thanatoids of Lathakra
who kidnapped me and my mom and my sisters and forced daddy to go to the Moon
in order to get back the rest of their kids.
However, those three towers are highly suggestive of Trans-Time Trigon’s
three hollowed-out spires, so it was undoubtedly built to honour the time-tumbling
Dual Entities; one a man and one a woman, as you might expect. Gloriel may have
encountered them pre-Limbo, in her youth or teens, since their eleventh lifetime
ended in 5950.
A third incredibly antique, yet pristinely preserved edifice bordering on
the square’s over there. That’d be the Citadel of the Thinkers.
Many of Mama Mel’s Illuminaries and some of the scientocrats of Weir work
there. Think of it as the Weirdom’s university and you won’t be
far off the mark, Percy put to her. As for all obelisks, well, no one knows
for sure, let alone how, but, due in some measure to the firestones atop them,
they provide the power that ran the Weirdom today and had run it for multi-millennia.
Named after a famous figure in Greco-Cretan Mythology, one who was also kidnapped,
albeit by a God of the Dead rather than a God of Death, one whom Romans called
Proserpine, Persephone was a hybrid, half Utopian, half human. Having been born
16 years ago this month her youth, more so than anything else, probably accounted
for the fact she was so little the worse for wear after her ordeal on the Frozen
Isle of Lathakra.
It was there, off the east coast of the Head’s immense Cattail Peninsula,
Sedon’s ponytail, where Percy, her mother Melina and two younger sisters,
Helen and Athena, spent an entirely unscheduled weekend away from the Weirdom
as the very much unwilling guests of the Parents Thanatos. As it turned out,
Tantal and Methandra were two of the Master Deva masterminds behind the Cosmic-Express-caused
breakout from the Cathonic Zone on the 30th of Maruta. As such, howsoever indirectly,
they were as responsible as anyone for the fact she, Gloriel, Radiant Rider,
was able to go for a stroll.
Like all those who came back, -- except for Saul-Psycho who hadn’t come
all back and then apparently not for long --, she had not aged despite losing
twenty-five years in Limbo. That meant, at a physical age of only 22, Gloriel
wasn’t much older than Percy. She looked and felt rough, though; much
less lively than her guide. Still, as weak and obviously burnt out as she was,
she was on her feet again. Glad of it as well.
Would, mere moments later, be radiantly riding again. Would be glad of that,
too. Provided she could stay away from more of those damnable but for some reason,
not already damned to Hell, devils who damn near killed her and the Witch, as
good as killed Cerebrus and may have, for all she knew, killed the others wherever
Percy’s father took them on the 6th.
A rainbow on a clear day, sunny but cold, arced upwards, away from the square.
Went not all that far from it, only as far as the Master’s imposing, stunningly
modern-looking, as in Outer Earth modern, metal and glass Skyrise. Whereupon
it went straight through the window into a private room in the ICU-section of
Skyrise’s lower floors.
Therein Wilderwitch was resting and Melina, who was too exhausted to rest,
was conducting yet another examination of her patient. It resolved itself into
her, the once again rainbow-haired Radiant Rider, wearing only the white modesty
gown she conjured when she was using her supra-talents.
Sounding like a little girl who couldn’t contain her excitement, but who
could resist a sudden urge to go to the bathroom, Mel’s youngest, Tina
Zeross, perhaps, Gloriel made the announcement the two witches, the Althean
and the Anthean, had been hoping to hear: “They’re back!”
Then, before either Mel or the Witch could respond with the inevitable ‘who?’,
she caught herself. Now she sounded crushed, defensive.
“I mean some of them are back.”
The two who weren’t were Ringleader and the Diver.
Top of Page
THREE: TANTALAR 14, 5980
Wilderwitch must have given him something, one of her myriad potions from out
of her bottomless bag, in order to deaden his death-throes and thus grant him
a painless passage to an endlessly unconscious sleep. Only the next thing he
knew that day, what he still thought of as the 6th of December 1980, he found
himself immersed in some sort of semi-viscous substance.
Buggered up as usual, didn’t you, Witch!
Breathing should not have been possible but he was somehow getting air. He,
Cerebrus David Ryne, was calm and, although he could not move, he could see
through the stuff. A big, bearded black man holding some sort of stubby mace-
or sceptre-like object was dripping blood into his mirror-walled coffin, if
that was what it was. He was speaking into his mind.
"I am Saladin, Master of Weir. You are in the Catacombs of the Sleepers,
beneath the great central plaza of the Weirdom of Cabalarkon. The liquid you
are lying within is known as Cathonic Fluid. It will keep you alive until my
scientocrats find a way to rebuild then rewire your headplate into your skull.
First, though, assuming we can rebuild it, your brain tissue has to regenerate
sufficiently for us to have any chance at a successful rewiring operation.
"Happily you are not alone down here. There are literally hundreds of
others in the immediate vicinity of your sepulchre, many thousands more lying
in the Slopes of the Sleepers that forms a virtually impenetrable wall around
the inland periphery of my realm. All suffer from Imminent Death and, to be
frank, virtually no one will ever recover.
"You may be more fortunate. Like me, you are what we call a deviant.
You have powers, the full extent of which I shall determine in due course. From
time to time I will visit you, to see how you are doing. You may wish to do
me some favours. I have many enemies but, within the Weirdom, I am next to God
"Next to the Devil Himself rather, -- but only for the nonce!"
In New York City on Monday, December 8, 1980 some deservedly kept nameless,
rapidly homicidal publicity hound killed John Lennon, arguably the most popular
of the former Beatles, -- the Beatles at one time being by far the most popular
pop group in the world, either part of it. On the same day, Mithrada the 8th
of Tantalar, 5980 Year of the Dome, the Living won a decisive victory over the
Dead on Dustmound, in Hadd, old Iraxas.
Demios Sarpedon did not so much miss it as he was in no shape to participate
The reason for that was Melina now Zeross's exiled-for-30-years, black-as-midnight
twin brother, along with his wife, Morgianna born Nauroz, raised Somata, the
Headworld’s most celebrated Utopians not living in Cabalarkon, had been
through a lot of late, on both sides of the Dome. Mithrada-Monday’s final
battle only culminated on Dustmound, though. It raged all over Hadd for hours
and hours, as it had done for days and days before that. Sraddha Isle was only
one battle zone but there, within the Sraddhite Monastery, with the Living spilling
blood inside and outside the ancient edifice, was where he lay.
As much as he might have wished otherwise, he had no choice except to stay
there, in a chamber well-guarded by Godbadian marines armed with splatter packs.
Could do little except toss and turn on his cot, fighting off the drugs Godbadian
medics gave him to rest. Had to fight off the drugs in case he’d soon
have to fight off Dead Thing bursting into it and taking a fancy to his head.
Or, possibly after lopping it off, his body. Godbadian drugs were good. Recipes
came from the Outer Earth, didn’t they? Or, yawn, not!
He wasn’t even awake when word came to the monastery the battle for Dustmound
was won; that the latest War between the Living and the Dead was as good as
over. Neither was Andaemyn, his and Morgianna’s zebra-skinned, 27-year
old daughter. Truth was he was in much better condition than Andy, who’d
barely survived an unconscionable assault upon her person by Morg's year older
brother, Andy's maternal uncle, Saladin Devason, on Sedonda, Sunday, the day
before the final battle on Dustmound.
Had to be admitted, as he’d only been informed that morning, Demetray-Tuesday,
the 9th of Tantalar, they were both in infinitely better shape than Mama Morg.
Hard not to be. She was dead. Far worse in some respects, he was told by Thartarre,
the one-armed, shaven-headed High Priest of Sraddha, his friend and hers, she’d
turned traitor and was fighting alongside the forces of the Dead at the end.
The High Priest also told him she was slain by Blind Sundown, who was not his
friend, nor hers, obviously, as she was attempting to kill Wildman Dervish Furie.
Some gratitude that. Sedonda-Sunday, the day before Mithrada-Monday’s
victory, Furie was all that stood between Andy and Saladin finishing her off.
‘Flip a coin, Sal’, Demios could just hear the Wildman, who was
his friend and should have still been hers as well, say. ‘One side’s
cracked ribs, a broken leg or arm or neck; other side’s a permanent disability,
lifelong wheelchair at the minimum. Either way Zebra Girl there’s going
to an infirmary, not a mortuary.’
Give him credit, taciturn but politic fellow that he was, Thartarre did try
to put a positive spin to the grim news of his wife’s last seconds. At
least, he was pleased to report, Morg hadn’t gone to her own private morgue
only to get up and fight anew. Instead, she managed to wrap herself in a shroud-like
chrysalis of her Night-Mare-gargoyle-eye-stave’s making. She may have
been fighting with the Dead but she didn’t want to fight as one. The woman
did have some pride left after all. And it was still there to collect, should
he be so inclined.
Sometime after Melina left her the morning of the 9th, the anaesthesia finally
kicked in big time and Wilderwitch was as out of it as she’d been since
Harry deposited her in the Weirdom. When next she was aware of her surroundings,
she immediately sensed she wasn’t in the private ICU room anymore.
She was about to open her eyes when she heard voices. Keeping her soul-self
invisible she let it come out of her long enough to see who was speaking. The
only one in the room with her was Saladin Devason. He wasn’t talking to
himself, however. It just seemed that way.
“Look at that leg. Only thing this Witch will do fine is dying.”
“I said she’ll do just fine, son. I didn’t
say she couldn’t do with refinement.”
Wisely she recalled her soul-self and chose to go back to sleep. She’d
find out the date later.
The Sraddhite monastery, the main headquarters for the forces of the Living,
was a cyclopean structure akin to a Mesopotamian, Tower of Babel ziggurat. It
was built early in the Head's history on one of many Islands dotting Lake Sedona.
Whatever its original name was, it was renamed Sraddha Isle roughly four centuries
ago. Which was about the same time it became a bastion of the Living amidst
the 360-degrees, lake-surrounding Land of the Dead.
Because of both its strategic and symbolic value, Nergal Vetala, the Vampire
Queen of the Dead, made Sraddha Isle, not just its monastery, one of her primary
targets. Sent not just her Dead Things and their allies, for the most part afterlife
revenants dropped by huge, mutated, fully alive and minimally sentient vultures
collectively known as the Cloud of Hadd, against it either. Sent her soldier,
Trigregos Incarnate by then, against it as well. Which was a good percentage
of the reason Demios was confined to a cot when the final battle for Dustmound
Victory as far as those who actually needed to breathe were concerned only
partially accomplished, Sraddha Isle remained the occupational forces’
HQ. Most of the bigwigs there were from Hadd’s territorially immense neighbour
to the west, the Subcontinent of Godbad. In spite of it being homeland for Great
Byron and his tribe of Byronics, the Sarpedons, including his white-as-light
twin sister Melina from long before she married Aristotle Zeross, were members
of Alpha Centauri's inner circle.
And Alpha Centauri, the Fatman, through his Centauri Enterprises, effectively
controlled Godbad. Which was why, the Fatman being for the most part a straight-shooter,
it was officially known as the Corporate State of Greater Godbad. As such, because
of their comradeship with the Fatman, Demios was well-known and well-respected
by Godbad's military higher-ups.
Although it took him a couple of days to get mobile, he had no problem convincing
Godbadian General Quentin Anvil to transport him to where Morgianna fell. Didn’t
even have to use the coercive capacity of an open eyeorb atop his eye-stave.
Which definitely was pre-Earth, may have even been pre New Weirsystem, it was
that old. Probably wouldn’t have anyhow. He didn’t approve of mind-bending
as a matter of principle.
Sooth said he was something of an iconoclast when it came to eye-staves and
eyeorbs. Unlike Morg, whose favourite gargoyle was a ghostly white mare’s
head, a Night Mare’s head she termed it, he didn’t approve of the
essentially harmless practise of manifesting gargoyles atop them. Said it was
pointless, a waste of brain power. Which, brain power, was not only what charged
them – eye-staves and their orbs worked best in cities; in fact they quickly
ran out of steam outside of populated regions – it was what made eye-staves
and eyeorbs do what they did.
Which was quite a lot, all things considered. The Utopians of old Weirsystem
really were geniuses. Too bad their descendants here on the Earth, especially
those living in the Weirdom of Cabalarkon, were mostly congenital idiots.
If pressed, though, he’d admit the reality of the situation was a tad
different. No matter how solid a Trinondev could make them, he disapproved of
the practise because his despised brother-in-law approved of it. Nonetheless,
the proof was in the proverbial suet pudding, wasn’t it? Fat lot of good
manifesting gargoyles did the sad sack excuse for a squadron of Weir’s
Warrior Elite the ordinarily quite capable clone, Golgotha Nauroz, led against
the Dead. Their casualty rates were among the highest any band of the Living
suffered in Hadd.
Much better to have used the protective, force-shield-like thought bubbles
they could project to hurl explosives and other incendiary devices at Haddazur-animated
Zombies than to manifest gargoyles. About all gargoyles were good for was making
the Ambulatory Dead fall down, dead already, laughing; those that had mouths
left such that they could laugh.
He had yet to see a Dead Thing Walking that wasn’t scarier than any silly
Since around the turn of the 56th Century of the Dome Hadd had been covered
by thick, sun-blocking, yet remarkably rain-free clouds. That it never rained
in Hadd, while the largely impassable Diluvian Mountain Range that formed its
northern boundary was the wettest area of the Whole Earth, was of course devil-doing.
Using Outer Earth technology the Godbadian Air Force salted the non-vulturous
Cloud of Hadd, thereby causing a torrential downpour that swamped the Land of
Dustmound was a repository for inanimate corpses, native Iraches for the most
part, ironically ones who once worshipped Nergal Vetala as their Life Goddess.
These bodies therefore amounted to the Vampire Queen's reserve squads. Most
Dead Things could not abide falling rain or running water. It was so bad fresh
water actually dissolved the vulnerable ones. Hit by the deluge these reserves
were decaying, liquefying, at an unheard of rate. Dustmound itself was in the
process of collapsing when Morg was killed. As a result the ground was so unstable
no effort had been made to retrieve her remains at the time.
After over four decades together Demios, who had earned the codename Blackguard
while acting as her protective shadow in their years prior to marriage, felt
obliged to get hold of Morg’s chrysalis-caked corpse before, now that
it was drying up again, a Haddazur-occupied abomination broke through her cocoon,
took it over and thereafter turned her into a Haddit zombie. After all wasn’t
that why, to prevent it happening, she’d used her last gasp, mental might
to wrap herself up in the first place?
Would, if she had been taken over, be an indignity to have to kill her more
thoroughly, as it were, the next time they met. He, or whoever encountered her
shambling corpse, would first have to mutilate it, de-arm and de-leg it in order
to stop it from moving, then immolate or otherwise make an ash of its meaty
detachments to stop them being stitched together and Haddazur-animated again.
The Godbadians provided him with an armoured, all-terrain vehicle and a driver.
They were joined by a couple of Thartarre’s Sraddhites, warrior monks
fully equipped with splatter packs containing incendiary devices brought from
the Outer Earth by brother-in-law Aristotle Zeross, Ringleader, Mel’s
much younger, wholly human husband, the week before. Once they arrived on what
had been Dustmound they discovered, in place of his wife's body, a statue of
her, one far too big and heavy to hoist into the back of their ATV.
It had to be a twisted joke. On the Outer Earth, prior to becoming the Ants’
superior circa ’53, the Master’s year younger sister had been codenamed
the White Witch. Even though, as a hybrid, her face did wrinkle and crinkle,
albeit very slightly, she was often described as a walking statue. Whoever had
replaced her cocooned corpse with a genuine statue must have known that. Whole
thing smacked of faerie tricksterism and Demios knew a couple of sick-humoured
tricksters capable of pulling off just such an elaborate stunt.
They were Young Life and Young Death, Hush Mannering and Auguste Moirnoir.
The former often visited the Fatman, Alpha Centauri, at Centauri Enterprises’
headquarters in Aka Godbad City, while the latter actually lived in the Sraddhite
Monastery. Before being devil-cursed, covered in faeriedust and morphed into
perpetual seven year olds, they believed they were Pandora Mannering and Augustus
Nauroz, Sal and Morg’s parents.
Regardless of who made it and how it got there, Demios vowed that before he
died he would erect it in the central plaza of Cabalarkon City, the very heart
of the Weirdom. Trouble was erecting this maddeningly mysterious, even mocking
statue of his wife there probably couldn't happen until he had overthrown Saladin
and become the Master himself. Still, with ever-expanding Godbad's help, he
figured it wouldn't take much more than a year to achieve his lifelong goal.
Why shouldn't the Corporate State of Greater Godbad, which in large measure
was responsible for the conquest of Hadd and which was also the most Outer Earth
modern civilization on the entire Headworld, add the Weirdom of Cabalarkon,
the Head's most ancient one save, perhaps, for that of Corona City on Apple
Isle, to its list of satellite states?
Looking around he spotted a well-kept woman of indeterminate age, maybe somewhere
in her thirties or early forties, on the largest hump of ground in the nearby
area; what, because it was just a pimple of its former self, the Sraddhites
dubbed Diminished Dustmound. She was dressed like a widow: hooded, veiled, and
all in black. Was bending over, intent on sifting through the dirt seemingly
looking for something of value.
It wasn’t raining but, due primarily to the non-shambling, even graceful
way she moved they figured she couldn’t be a Haddazur-animated zombie.
Nor, since it was broad daylight with nary a cloud in the sky, could she be
a vampire. While she did have chalky, ghost-white skin, that didn’t mean
much. There were lots of men and women on the Head without much in the way of
skin pigmentation; his late wife for one.
Even from this distance they could see it crinkled and wrinkled so she was
no Utopian pureblood. Her clothing and the fact she had jet black hair, so long
it stuck out underneath her hood and veil and all but covered her upper chest,
indicated she was not one of the multinational Warrior Priestesses of Sraddha
either. They wore brown robes and, man or woman, invariably shaved their skulls.
That she was dressed as if in mourning might mean she lost a mate, friend or
lover in the final battle for Dustmound and, ultimately, all of Hadd. That her
complexion was so pale, and her hair so dark, they further agreed she was probably
one of the far-ranging, seafaring Pani merchant folk who hailed from Krachla,
at the southern tip of the Penile Peninsula, of which Hadd was its shaft. That
she was here at all suggested she had come in on a witch's stepping stone
There were plenty of Witch Sisterhoods on the Inner Earth. Most stemmed from
the life-loving, so-called Superior Sisterhood of Flowery Anthea, which was
named after the wife of Xuthros Hor, the Biblical Noah, and as such claimed
to be antediluvian. So did the Hellions, only they claimed to be much older
than the Ants and pointed to the fact they worshipped the chthonic, as in earthborn,
Mother Goddess, as proof. Which, while it did make them anti-devil, devils being
skyborn or Cathonic, unfortunately tended to make them pro-demon, unsavoury
sorts that most demons were.
Then there were the Athenan War Witches. Even though she didn’t carry
any visible weaponry, that’s where they figured this mysterious woman’s
allegiance lay. Athenans were named after the Olympian Goddess of War and Wisdom.
Athene was probably a devil. Of course for all he knew, not having made a study,
like sister Melina had, as to which onetime worshipful goddesses were or were
not devils, she may just as easily have been a complete myth.
Athenans claimed to be as life-loving as Ants and Alts, Althean witch-healers
also like Mel, but, boy, were they murder on the Ambulatory Dead. And the Undead,
most specifically vampires. Battling bats, as they termed it, was their specialty.
In their youth both Scylla Nereid, Fisherwoman, who’d been in Hadd fighting
at his side, and Sorciere, John Sundown’s decades gone wife, were trained
primarily as Athenans.
Morg had lots of connections to the War Witch Sisterhood as well; had had,
make that. So did Andy. But no one had more of a connection to them than Tsishah
Twilight, Morgianna’s, albeit not by him, first and only born besides
Andy. Tsishah was the Athenan Mother Superior. Was also the retiring Anthean
Aortic of Shenon, Witch Isle. No contradiction there apparently, because War
Witches only made war, in the killing sense, on those already not-alive.
Still, Tsishah was never without weaponry. So maybe he’d have Andy break
the news of Morg’s demise to her. Then again maybe he better do it himself.
Andy, who swore she was a Hellion, not an Athenan, and therefore very much more
inclined to fight than flee, like father like daughter in that respect, was
in no shape to defend herself. Might not even live long enough to leave Hadd
alive. And he certainly wasn’t going to allow her to walk out of Hadd
any other way.
There were of course other kinds of Dead Things on the Head besides ones animated
by Haddazurs. Be that as it may, he had no reason to have any similar resolve
with respect to this Black Widow, as he was already thinking of her. He was
curious what she was looking for, however. Obviously just as curious, and a
whole lot more agile than he was, one of the bolder Godbadian servicemen patrolling
what was left of Dustmound went up and spoke to her.
When he came back he said she had broken a mirror and was trying to find its
pieces so she didn’t have any more bad luck. They’d talked for a
few minutes and since she seemed friendly enough he offered to help. She declined;
said it kept her busy, that she had all eternity. Thereafter, since over the
course of the next few days she was often seen again, Diminished Dustmound became
known as Haunted Dustmound.
Should have called it Demon Mound!
Although he had no idea how long it was between periods of wakefulness, Cerebrus
did manage to fight off unconsciousness once in a while.
Usually he opened his eyes and, once he adjusted them for the lightless conditions
of his situation, focused on himself, reflected as he was in the mirrored underside
of his stone coffin. Thereupon he would stretch out the tentacles of his mind
in an effort to connect with that of the others, become frustrated and promptly
go back to sleep.
Sometimes he managed to make an at least tentative contact with the familiar
mentalities of his six fellow members of the Damnation Brigade now living within
the Weirdom: Gloriel, Furie, Wilderwitch, OMP-Akbar, Johnny and even Raven,
absolutely inhuman, if perhaps not so much so inhumane, as she was. As yet,
though, he could not communicate with any of them telepathically. Not even the
Witch, who was by far the most psychically sensitive.
The experience was unsettling, too much like Limbo. Except he could both see,
in the mirrored lid, and sense his body, -- something he did not have and therefore
something he could not do in the quarter century his mind or spirit was lost
in the Grey. There was another difference. In Limbo he had company. Often Thalassa
was there; sometimes one of the others, the Diver or OMP predominantly. They
could talk. But here there was no one.
He railed silently against his loneliness, his impotence. He had a body and,
Goddamn it!, that should make him stronger than he was in Limbo. Then again,
on Damnation Island back in '55, his headplate had not been damaged. Clearly
the Cathonic Fluid abetted what mental might he still retained. The combination
was all that was keeping his brain functioning, albeit at such a low level;
all that was preserving his life.
One day he awoke determined to get out. But how? Kid Ringo, Ringleader, wherever
he was, assuming he wasn’t dead and buried or otherwise disposed of by
now, could teleport via his Gypsium rings. Upper level witches like Wilderwitch,
the White Witch, Fisherwoman and Sorciere got around the Weird or the Grey,
or whatever they were calling between-space these days, on witch-stones. His
paternal cousin, the now 27-years dead Jesus Mandam, aka the Conqueror, King
Conqueror or Conquering Christ, could also teleport.
Cerebrus did not have access to rings, witch-stones or howsoever Jesse got
about inter-spatially. Wilderwitch, though, had a soul-self. He had seen it,
a frightening sight if ever there was one, and he knew from firsthand experience
a few of the supranormals he’d come across during the Secret War of same,
the roughly ten years he was able to participate in it as a supra and not as
a drooling, bed-wetting near-vegetable, could externalize their ectoplasms,
as it were. Externalize more than that, too, some of them.
His godfather, Sedon St Synne, whom he’d learned that first few days
out of Limbo back in Vancouver was still somehow alive, wasn’t one of
the latter but he was one of the former. He called what he could do Wayfaring
in the Wild Weird. Perhaps he, Cyborg Cerebrus, could learn to become a Wayfarer
in the Wacky Weirdom. First, though, he had to concentrate on sending his consciousness,
his spirit as he conceived of it, outside the stone sepulchre where his body
was stuck. Which he eventually did. Which was when he met the Ghost of Cabalarkon,
the one-eyed, undying Utopian born in the far-off planetary system of the first
"Lot of us around, Cabby? Spooks, I mean?" Cerebrus inquired familiarly
after the ghost, who said he could call him Cabby if he wanted, introduced himself.
"Not as many as you might think considering where we are. It's not that
Sleepers don't want to come out and play. Or even just have a look around. It's
more like they can't. You see, Sleepers can be revived with blood. A couple
of drops and they'll sit up, take notice and even talk to you. A pint or so
and they'll step out of their sepulchres and walk around for a while. But if
people don't come to see us, don't drip blood in our vats, we just stay under.
“Our situation is somewhat analogous to why folks leave flowers on their
loved ones' graves. They figure if they don't show they still care their loved
one's spirit will become moribund; have a more difficult time resurrecting.
Neglect atrophies us. In my case, the Master often visits me. In the case of
most of these others, no one visits them."
"So they're more dead than sleeping."
“More, yes. But not dead. Many of those within these catacombs would
revitalize if you sacrificed a baby. Some would get out and run a marathon if
you cut open your arteries and drained your life's blood into their coffin.
But you'd be dead and they wouldn't be running around for long. They'd need
more and more blood. And, if they didn't get it, they'd die the Immediate Death,
not persist in a semi-permanent state of Imminent Ditto."
"So you, we, are vampires."
"Not really. Without immersing ourselves in Cathonic Fluid, we would certainly
die. If we got out and tried to subsist on blood, we wouldn't last very long
either. Our appetite would be insatiable. No, much better to stay in our tubs
and wait for Utopian scientocrats to find the key to immortality. Or the cure
for our particular disease or physical affliction.
"And that last has happened, although not in Saladin’s time as Master.
His predecessor, Kyprian Somata, who was also his great grandmother, was an
Anthean, their Mother Superior as it happens, but she was also a patron of both
Science and the Arts. She, her Illuminaries, Ants and scientocrats actually
did come up with cures once in a while; vaccines for example were discovered
in the early years of her reign last century.
"This Master, though, is a troubled man. I believe he wants what's best
for the Weirdom but he’s cursed by his own heritage. Masters of Cabalarkon,
which is the original and only true Weirdom left on the Whole Earth, should
not be sons of devils. They should especially not be Pyrame Silverstar's son
because that might make him an incarnation of the Moloch Sedon, the Demon King;
the devic All-Father who regards me, somewhat inaccurately, as his father.
"This Pyrame, whom her fellow devils address as the Pauper Priestess because
she has neither a talisman to call her own nor a protectorate to call her home,
is an amazingly yet, as far as I’m concerned, inexplicably unique individual.
For reasons beyond me and indeed beyond our Illuminaries, only she can bear
mortal sedons, small case. However, since she’s been gone thirty-odd years,
Saladin may well be the last Sedon on the Head, -- although again there’s
undoubtedly at least one other left beyond the Sedon Sphere. Otherwise, so the
Moloch Himself informs me, the Dome would collapse and either the Headworld
or lands surrounding the North Pacific Ocean on the Outer Earth would be overwhelmed
in the resultant Second Great Flood."
The Moloch informs you?
Oh yes. In fact every year around this time, the Winter Solstice, he
pops by for a visit. Hey, who knows, maybe he'll even say hello to you;
emphasis on the Hell.
Something to look forward to then. How"ll I recognize him?"
“Not a problem. Sed isn’t the most imaginative of deities and,
make no mistake about it, he is a deity in here, the top dog of the top gods.
You’re an Outer Earth Christian, aren’t you?”
“I’m not overly religious. Neither were my parents. My mother disappeared
when I was only nine or ten but my father was, and probably still is, the patriarch
of the Illuminated Faith of Xuthros Hor. That’s the Biblical Noah, by
“Noah or my father?”
“Noah. He once dribbled some blood into my tub. You were saying?”
“Um, right. Christian? Yes. At least I was baptized and brought up a
“Then he’ll come to you as you’d know him best. He’ll
come to you as Satan.”
The morning of Sedonda, the 14th of Tantalar 5980, General Quentin Anvil authorized
a Godbadian helicopter crew to retrieve the hefty statue of Morgianna Sarpedon
that someone had left on Diminished Dustmound.
Demios Sarpedon was still feeling poorly a week after his encounter with Vetala's
Soldier on Sraddha Isle. Even with the lift supplied by his impossibly old eye-stave,
he was still moving slowly as well. Nonetheless, he insisted upon being there
in order to ensure all went well.
As the statue was being winched onto the carrier copter, he again spotted the
Black Widow, as he and the Godbadians thought of the night-shrouded madwoman
who had been as good as haunting Diminished Dustmound for most of that same
week. Supposedly she was trying to piece together a mirror broken during the
decisive battle for Hadd.
Why would anyone carry a mirror into battle? Could it be the Amateramirror,
one of the Three Sacred Objects he, his wife, both her daughters, Ringleader
and many another had been trying to find for decades now? Had to be. Masters
of call-me-Cabby’s Weirdom brandished a replica of it on important occasions
but Vetala’s Soldier, Trigregos Incarnate, had been wielding the long
lost original on Sraddha Isle a week ago. It, the original, was gone now. By
all accounts OMP, Kronokronos Akbarartha now, had destroyed it the next day.
So was Vetala’s Soldier, again reportedly due to his ill-advisedly tangling
with the amazingly alive and apparently unaged membership of the newly christened
Damnation Brigade. He, a lifeless, eyeless husk of prematurely decrepit humanity
at the end, was buried beneath Dustmound as it collapsed in on itself. There
was, however, as Thartarre was hardly the only one to report, a tinge or tingle
of something else about the whole episode. Like everyone he’d queried
on it, though, Thartarre’s memories of what that was exactly were muddled
Demios decided he’d have to limp over, using his eye-stave to provide
some degree of support as well as levitation, and have few words with her. He
wanted ask her about the connection, if there was one, between the mirror whose
remnant shards she was single-mindedly sifting around in the dirt looking for
and the Amateramirror. Might even use the coercive capabilities of his eyeorb
to ensure her soothsaying.
First, though, he had to supervise the carrier copter lifting the, to his mind,
even more singular statue representing Morgianna aboard it. As he was doing
so, he spotted someone speaking with the Black Widow out of the corner of his
eye. The man, if man it was, manlike shape anyhow, was dressed similarly to
her, entirely in black. Only it, his clothes, if clothes they were, it really
was hard to see from this distance, distracted as he was, had dozens of spotlight
sparkles glinting off what Demios took to be his all-covering hood and cloak.
Where had he come from, who was he and why did he inspire such an eerie impression
of the night’s sky? When he looked again both had vanished.
"You'll be Gomorrah," the
The Black Widow, arrayed as she was in her own self-generated murk of darkness,
regarded him in an absentia sort of way. "I was. Partly. But, believe you
me, even if you don’t believe in me per se, that was a very, very long
“I believe you’re Gomorrah, then.”
“Then believe I’ve been called many things in my days and many
more nights, both before and since. Believe, further, you are trifling with
Mother Earth’s truest servant, her most loyal daughter. Believe, finally.
I am warning you off.”
“I’d rather warm you up.”
The Black Widow raised her veil. He was starting to intrigue her. “You
look vaguely familiar. Should I know you?"
"Down here I'm sometimes known as the Judge."