TCE

Mystery

Sibiel, the farmer from Odargas who smuggled Khondiel to Salem, is fingered by the three farm hands hy hired when they are threatened with torture. The Eyes of Thaumiel elect not to kill Sibiel, for it would seem a waste of good muscle power. Zadkiel’s army is short-handed. Sibiel is issued army livery and pressed into service as a waterbearer in Zadkiel’s camp. Having little else to do for entertainment, often the Gerash soldiers trip hym, laughing together with their buddies as Sibiel trudges back again and again to refill hyz pot.

One night Sibiel wanders off to the edge of the camp where a hooded shape tackles hym and drags hym into a small ravine. It is Kandiel! Sha orders hym to switch their clothes. Hy wants to stay and help rescue Haziel, but after some stern words from Princess Khondiel, together with ample thanks for what he has already done for har, Sibiel fades off into the night under a black robe.

Khondiel adjusts Sibiel’s second-hand armor and helmet, which is almost worse than no protection at all. Sha pads out har ample curves and puts on false facial hair to offset the soft feminine features that belies har status as commander of the foremost army on Barbelo. Then sha drifts into the camp fetching water for the yeng and searching for Haziel in the area where Sibiel told har sha was being held captive.

Haziel is held within the wooden cage that has been her home for far too long now. The cage is moved off the wagon tied to a tree by the Gordian Knot and relocated to the center of the camp, guarded by two yeng. Tonight it is covered with a canvas to keep Zadkiel’s yeng from leering at the nude young Haziel instead of watching out for Khondiel as they were ordered to do.

Har Sibiel uniform works well. Khondiel can swagger with the best of them. The guards permit har to enter with a ladle of rancid water. Sha appears between the canvas and the cage. For light Khondiel wears a green flexible band of intricate make, a gift from Haziel. In the center it possesses a brilliant white light that allows Khondiel to move on the darkest nights, and there is none like it anywhere on Barbelo. The canvas covering Haziel’s cage is thick enough that no light escapes to betray the princess.

“Khondiel!” Haziel husks, filled with joy when sha sees the face of har disciple. Then sha seems to be filled with consternation. “Nice beard.”

“Hush! Take my headband.”

Haziel whispers, “That was my gift to you, Khondiel, and I never ask for my gifts to be returned.”

Khondiel says in reply , “You will have to make an exception this time,” and sha passes it to Haziel between the interlaced bars.

Haziel says, “Do you want me to use it to escape?”

Khondiel replies, with a smirk, “Please don’t do anything stupid, Haziel. Better yet, don’t do anything at all!”

Haziel immediately gets the joke and smiles. “Point taken.”

Khondiel offers the water, such as it is. Sha says, “This headband is the only thing I have that says ‘Khondiel was here’ without mistake. Zadkiel will come in here later and gloat over you like evil warlords always seem to do. At that time I want you to let hym see you have my headband. That’s my message to hym, and it is a very simple one: That I can come or go at will, which, as you well know by now, I can.”

“It will rattle hym good,” Haziel agrees.

Khondiel says, “The more yeng hy has guarding you, the less yeng he’ll have on the field of battle tomorrow.”

Haziel smiles at the princess. It is well planned. “I knew you had a scheme for getting me out of here, Khondiel.” And they share the most heartfelt kiss of their lives, knowing it could very well be the last one. Then Khondiel leaves, promising to return with an army to get Haziel free.

At sunrise Zadkiel sees that hyz plan has worked. Hy has flushed Khondiel out of the city. But Thaumiel has been proven absolutely right about Khondiel’s network of local favors, culiminating in this: Accompanying Khondiel and the Fallen Angels is King Melchizedek of Salem and all of hyz men under arms.

Haziel is visible in the center of the camp, held naked and shivering within the wooden cage with a heavy guard around har representing a fair fraction of Zadkiel’s available men.

“And that is his own fatal flaw,” Khondiel tells har brother the king, who is mounted on hyz own horse beside har. “My ruse has worked perfectly. Haziel has now become Zadkiel’s greatest weakness, a precious jewel tying down a third of hyz yeng just as our attack begins.”

So their armies began to clash fiercely, and with the disparity in numbers the battle gradually begins to go against Zadkiel. Princess Khondiel fights har way to the top of the hill behind Zadkiel’s army where the wagon is tied up all by itself now. Zadkiel spots what Khondiel is trying to do in the fog of battle and moves to cut har off, lest sha solve the Gordian Knot and become the beneficiary of the prophecy, destined to rule all Barbelo.

They both dismount and launch into an extended face-to-face sword duel. The tip of Zadkiel’s blade slashes Khondiel’s bare abdomen as hy attains first blood. Khondiel feigns shock at the pain and injury and pretends to slow down. Zadkiel, seeing that, let his guard down for just a fraction of a second, but it is enough. Seeing har slim opening, Khondiel lets loose a ferocious kick to his face and Zadkiel is laid out cold.

Khondiel is sorely tempted to finish hym off right there, but har eyes settle on the forgotten wagon on the hilltop and sha runs to it instead. Sha tries to untie the Gordian knot that secures the wagon to a mighty tree, but like many that came before har sha makes no headway. Meanwhile Thaumiel’s cavalry is rapidly closing in on har.

Finally, with no time to lose, Khondiel just cuts the knot with har sword. The wagon begins to roll downhill and sha jumps inside, hanging on for dear life. Har war cry grips the attention of the troops guarding Haziel, and they gape at the horror approaching them. All of the yeng flee as Khondiel’s desperate gamble plays out.

Khondiel ducks inside the wagon and braces harself as the wagon collides with the cage at breakneck speed, shattering both the cage and the wagon to splinters. Somehow both yen survive the collision. Khondiel is more bruised and beaten than sha has ever been before but Haziel is free.

King Melchizedek and the Fallen Angels continue the rout and pursue the scattered remnants of Thaumiel’s army into the forest. But the king knows this defeated army represents only a fraction of the strength that House Gerash can bring to bear on hym, and its relatively small size is itself a gesture of contempt on the part of Thaumiel for the abilities of Salem to defend itself. Melchizedek knows the next time there will be be less contempt, and a far greater host. But for now hy shrugs. That is a worry for another day.

When Zadkiel regains consciousness hy takes in hyz utter humiliation from hyz vantage on the hilltop. Cursing, hy flees the field alone on hyz horse. For the rest of hyz life, which consists of little more than hyz long ride back to Thaumiel, hy contemplates how to explain the defeat to hyz lord.

Khondiel says, “No more adventures for a while, Haziel. I’ve cracked a rib, for starters.”

Haziel accepts a blanket and throws it around har naked form. Being deprived of clothing for so long had caused har much suffering. Barbelo was largely an ice world after all. Sha says, “Thank you, Khondiel! But why did you throw away everything you’ve worked for since you met me and first questioned who you were, just to save my life?”

For har part Khondiel is almost at a loss for words. “What do you mean ‘why’? Didn’t you find that cage a little drafty?”

Haziel holds up the end of the wagon’s rope. “I’m talking about the Gordian Knot. I’ll admit, cutting it was probably not what your forefather’s oracle had in mind, maybe, but now you are destined to rule all of Barbelo. Fate! The unreformed Khondiel must return now.”

Khondiel replies, “Must she? You say Thaumiel was behind all this, but do you think Thaumiel will have hyz way forever? What if the oracle really means the spirit of the new Khondiel will take over Barbelo?” Har eyes brim with moisture,and har voice breaks. “The Khondiel who changed on that unforgettable day when sha first met you.”

Haziel is shocked at first, then sha smiles as understanding fully dawns. “The new Khondiel? If people everywhere became willing to do for each other what you did for me today, then love won today, Khondiel! It may take many more centuries to play out, on two worlds, but I really think you turned the corner here today. Once and for all . . . love won!”

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Domestic Enemies Containment, Observation, and Neutralization, or DECON.

DECON was created in 1942 to administer the internment of Japanese-American citizens in the western United States. Later, with the invasion of Sicily, Italian-Americans came under DECON’s surveillance, but they were not officially detained, thus revealing the essentially racist nature of the program.

German Wehrmacht prisoners of war, however, were shipped to the United States and detained in DECON camps. And when Nazi agents attempted to commit sabotage inside the borders of the United States they were also placed in the custody of DECON for “questioning” after which they were summarily shot. As a result of these interrogations, DECON thought it prudent to develop dossiers on every US citizen of German descent.

Three times in 1944 DECON agents interrogate Dory and Jerry about Kim and Hunky. Two of these interviews are in an individual setting and one interrogation occurs when they are playing in Jerry’s backyard tree house.

During the second one-on-one interrogation Jerry and Dory almost break when the DECON agents lie about the prognosis of Kim and Hunky and claim they are very nearly dead. But soon after that they both get new and recently written letters and the DECON agents are revealed to be liars.

In the letters Kim reveals (in Relbimian of course) that both she and Hunky are being unfairly treated by Doctor Trochmann and his team at the clinic, so she orders Jerry and Dory to say nothing about the white dome with needles hidden under the Temple sanctuary. Since Relbimian is a language the Boda created from scratch from their earlier days together it was almost as secure as a one time pad and there is little chance DECON would decipher it unless one or more of them break.

During the final interrogation of Dory and Jerry a DECON agent invades their tree house and brings along another agent who is an expert at reading body language. The idea is to look for any signs of collusion between Jerry and Dory.

The interview turns sour very quickly. After a few minutes of their intransigence one of the DECON fellows says he thinks recent high school graduates were a little too old to be playing in a tree fort. And to drive home his point he unveils an army draft notice with the name of Jerry Shybear on it.

“I can make this go away, son, if you tell me how Kimberly and Sofia might have gotten sick. Otherwise you’ll have to show up at the draft board tomorrow morning.”

“Honestly, sir, I’ve told you everything I know.”

“Dory, will you help the gentleman out?” the other agent says. “War is hell. You might not ever see him ever again after tomorrow.”

Dory has nothing to say. Orders are orders. So the first DECON guy shrugs and places the draft notice in Jerry’s hand. “Suit yourself, son. Go kill some Japs.” Then both agents leave the tree house in a huff. They would have tried a bit harder if they hadn’t thought pushing the kids was really like drilling a dry hole. But orders are orders for them as well.

Jerry’s father had been happy to go kill Germans in France in the Great War, but Jerry himself didn’t want to kill Japs or anyone else for that matter. He was willing to take his chances with the draft lottery the same as the next fellow, but apparently DECON can pull strings behind the scenes and rig the game. Jerry just wants to stay home and wait for something to break so he can see Kim and Hunky again. There is only one thing he can do but he is embarrassed to ask Dory for help so Jerry suggests a game of Cartel instead.

“And by Cartel I mean strip Cartel of course.” That raises the stakes a notch from losing little colored pieces of paper.

The dice fly high, and round and round the board they go. Soon Jerry buys up 42nd Street, Broadway, and Park Avenue, and all he needs is Wall Street for a Cartel. Dory scoops up the Appian Way, the Burma Road, and Easy Street, and all she needs is the Yellow Brick Road for her Cartel. But all along Dory is puzzled that Jerry wants to play a stupid game when he has just been drafted into the military. She doesn’t seem to have her heart in it. After a while Dory also gets a half-Cartel going with Mulholland Drive and Sunset Boulevard, but she also buys Bourbon Street and Main Street on a whim, and soon she is short on cash.

As the game continues they both get serious Cartels going but Jerry has some lucky rolls and avoids landing on any of Dory’s properties, while Dory keeps landing on Jerry’s stuff and starts to have a serious cash flow problem. She auctions off her belt and nylons for a little breathing space. After that Dory starts landing on Jerry’s Cartels over and over again and she is methodically stripped of most of her cash. She starts showing more and more skin to stay in the game. Soon Jerry owns Dory’s dark yellow dress with white polka dots, and when she lands on Jerry’s properties again he gets her knit rayon undies and bra.

But Dory rallies a little bit near the end. The properties associated with her knee socks and little black Mary Jane shoes, which Jerry doesn’t want, are enough to complete a second Cartel, creating a kind of death row on her side of the board. Soon Jerry is shirtless, and after another round Dory demands his pants. But Jerry simply puts on Dory’s bra and dress, and when he is sufficiently covered, he drops trou and hands them over.

“A man shalt not wear that which pertaineth to a woman,” Dory preaches to him. “For all who do so are an abomination to the Lord!”

But Jerry isn’t having any of that. When he lands on the second part of Dory’s Death Row with no more cash, Dory demands his underwear, which he duly hands over. The game is over, but he totally is fine with that, because under the cover of Dory’s yellow dress he slips into her panties and nylons and together with her bra he has everything he was looking for. He bids the girl adieu and leaves the tree fort with only his own sneakers covering his feet. Using mostly back alleys, he goes directly to the nearby house of the only homosexual he knows, Aaron Anton, and knocks.

Aaron is quite a specimen of male beauty and he is a little famous in his own way. He has posed in various styles of Jockey underwear for an illustrated catalog. When Aaron answers the door and sees Jerry standing there he is shocked for a minute, then to Jerry’s disappointment he says, “No, no, Jerry, you’re doing it all wrong. Come in, I’ll show you what I mean.”

In the bedroom Aaron methodically removes all of Dory’s clothes that Jerry had won in Cartel and drops them on the floor. He says, “You know what we’re both here for, right? So what’s all of this girl shit, Jerry? That’s right, lose the nylons, then get your ass into bed.”

Aaron notices that Jerry is shivering from fear. So he changes his plan a little bit because fucking a scared little squirrel isn’t his idea of a good time.

So the first part of the ordeal is getting Jerry flushed out with an enema, and then lubed up. Aaron is really generous with that bottle. And when he is penetrated by Aaron there is severe pain, despite the young man’s attempt to break him in gently. But growing from deep under the pain is a profoundly transcendental ecstasy. Jerry doesn’t even realize he is getting direct stimulation of his prostate. He can almost understand why Aaron does what he does. Sweating from the pain, Jerry writhes on the bed until Aaron boils over inside him.

“First time, huh? You’re a natural bottom, Jerry.”

To Aaron’s disappointment, however, Jerry is unable to reciprocate in the same way. The body hair, the muscles, it just doesn’t click. When Aaron was inside him Jerry remembered it felt like he wanted to drop a deuce and that just wasn’t sexy at all. So Aaron shrugs and has Jerry lay on his back to pleasure him orally. Jerry lets his back arch, legs stiffen, eyes roll, and mouth lie wide open as he feels a release better and strangely different than anything he has ever done for himself.

This is Jerry’s first sex with anyone. He had no idea it would be like that. As he lies there in his sore bliss he is willing to let Kim go her own way so he could spend his entire life with Aaron Anton and he says as much. But Aaron just pats Jerry’s ass with affection, lights a cigarette, and says with a decadent purr, “Not much chance of that, boyo. I don’t care about who I fuck, I only care about who else I fuck.”

So Jerry scoops up Dory’s clothes, thanks Aaron for the little visit, gets dressed, and leaves. The next day he shows up at the draft board and when he strips for his medical examination they see him standing there wearing Dory’s pink panties and bra.

“You want to tell me about it, son?” the doctor drawls. He is a local physician drafted to staff the entrance station.

Jerry looks down at himself, then catches the doctor’s eye. “I guess I’m a, waddya callitt, homosexual.”

The Army NCO in charge of the processing station has heard this sort of thing before. The slackers always think it’s an easy way out of getting drafted. He says, “Okay, son, then who’s your boyfriend?”

“Aaron Anton.”

“That checks out,” the sergeant says. “We had that Aaron Anton guy in here last month. Queer as a football bat.”

“Everyone in town knows that Aaron Anton is queer as a football bat,” the doctor says. He turns to Jerry. “Tell us something only his fuck buddy would know.”

“He’s got a funny birthmark,” Jerry replies. “His whole dick is red, like it’s got a rash.”

“You could have seen that in the gym class locker room.”

Jerry shakes his head, and the sergeant helps him out here. “There’s an age difference. Anton was out of high school before Shybear here ever became a freshman.”

So the doctor stamps Jerry’s paperwork 4F, which means he can stay home. “Get yourself some help son,” he says, with a trace of disgust. Before 1973 homosexuality was considered a pathology by the medical community, perhaps a bit like schizophrenia.

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The prophet Zadkiel comes before Thaumiel Incarnate in the person of Israel and abases himself on all fours. Hy brings bad tidings of hyz defeat in the Battle of Salem and the escape of Lady Haziel. Although he phrases things in a way that he practiced on the long journey from Salem, Zadkiel fully expects to be decapitated at any moment, and the only thing that surprises hym is how long hy can still see and hear and feel things after hyz head is separated from hyz body.

Israel is unhappy about the defeat, to be sure, but hy remains sanguine overall. Hy has held back a greater part of the armed forces of family Gerash in reserve, and hy knows also that King Melchizedek and especially hyz sister are formidable opponents, so the initial setback is not unexpected. Israel makes no move except to post the Eyes of Thaumiel to the east, north, and south of Salem. Hy garrisons the road leading to the city in diverse places. Only the actual island upon which Salem sits and the way west over water lies open, but this leads ultimately to a Gerash stronghold in the ice already continuously well-garrisoned and provisioned from an earlier age. Israel bides hyz time and waits for Haziel to make har move.

The Fallen Angels Azarael and Jael make their way through the ice tunnels of that very stronghold by stealth. So far they have only been discovered by three soldiers, one alone by accident, and also by another two who formed a roaming pair of sentries. The bodies of the three yeng are stuffed far down side tunnels where they quite probably might never be discovered.

The yen find the location of the largest cave in the ice, indeed the main storeroom of grain. Not even Chokhmah herself knows the exact position of that space, which indeed is the purpose of sending Khondiel’s best lieutenants on the mission. According to Haziel’s specific instructions, Azarael leaves Khondiel’s headband, a gift from Haziel, inside a container near the center of the chamber in such a way that it would not likely be discovered and moved, even if the storeroom was being actively drawn down, which it obviously was not.

After that Azarael and Jael retreat down side tunnels far from the central cave, for they have also received instructions to remain at a safe distance until such a time as they detect a (as Haziel put it, using extreme understatement) “disturbance”. The two yen are not sent as suicide raiders. They would never starve amid a bounty of Gerash stores. But it was always cold. Fortunately, they had a good remedy for that that never got tiresome. In the cosy little rat’s nest they make for themselves Jael slips nude between fur blankets and purrs to Azarael, “Come here!”

King Melchizedek with the aid of Khondiel and har Fallen Angels prevailed in the Battle of Salem, but the king knows time is not hyz ally. It cannot not be hidden (and indeed Israel wants it to be widely known) that the full might of House Gerash is now drawn up against Salem. The road to the east is blocked, the vale of the River Dashok and the shores of the Rammon Sea north and south are occupied, and only Aramel Island, where Salem lies, remains free due to the vigilance of the Fallen Angels.

Melchizedek considers abdicating the throne, but no one believes the High Lord Patriarch Kirodiel Gerash would seat Princess Khondiel on the throne to succeed him, and a successor more to the liking of Kirodiel is unthinkable to everyone who now dwells in Salem. So the king commands Haziel, Khondiel, the Fallen Angels, and all who would go with them to embark on a quest long in preparation.

They are to sail from Salem across the sea until they reach the far shore in the uttermost west of the Middle Lands. Thence they are to ascend the foothills and mountains that lead ever up to the great ice barrier where many provisions are laid up against the day of a second world flood. But in the caves and tunnels of the ice fierce battle is assured, for the stores are defended by the vigilance of the Patriarch’s forces from any that would raid them, no matter from east or west.

If they prevail in the battle for the caves of ice, then continuing west for many more leagues the ice ends, and descending once more the travelers would come to the West Lands and the fastnesses of the seafaring Family Bellon. For the Brown Beards are no friends of the Gerash patriarch, and their king has often boasted hy would welcome any refugees from the Middle Land. So steadfast is this emnity on the part of House Bellon that Haziel is willing to commit the other three families to the council before she even speaks to the Bellon king.

Haziel thanks King Melchizedek for his lifetime of faithfulness and service to Chokhmah on two worlds, and takes har leave of him, knowing full well they will never meet again. “We part,” says sha, “and I have a debt I can never repay, for I have made far more and greater demands on you than you have made requests of me.”

Hy replies, “There has been a spring in this city. It has lasted far longer and tasted far sweeter than we dared to dream. If winter is now to come at last to Salem, let it be that such a spring might be known in the West and East lands as well. Go in peace, Lady Haziel!”

The final parting between Khondiel and har brother is bitter, for they are of that rare class of siblings who not only shared the obligatory familial love, but who actually shared a great mutual fondness all through childhood and into adulthood as well. With Khondiel goes all of the Fallen Angels, and hundreds of others of both nephilim genders who had made their homes in Salem when the teachings of Haziel struck a chord in their hearts.

The avatar of Chokhmah descends from the sky and makes landfall outside of the city for the final time. Lady Haziel climbs inside together with Princess Khondiel. Within the avatar there is room enough for several persons, and Chokhmah has prepared her avatar to support life high above Barbelo where there is no air. The avatar lifts into the heavens in a great arc intending to make made landfall again in the far west of the East Lands, which is home to the Gold Beards.

Soon after the avatar leaves, and the ships carrying the rest of the exiles move out of the harbor and west over the horizon, the entire island of Aramel is discovered to be unguarded. In short order Aramel is taken by the Gerash Army. Outside of the city walls, Salem is beset on all sides.

Khondiel has flown within the avatar many times before, so the terror of the flight no longer holds any sway over har, if ever it did. For a few minutes at the top of the arc, Haziel and Khondiel are wonderfully free of the forces that pressed them into their seat during the ascent, forces which will become present once again when the avatar begins to descend to Barbelo. For that brief time at the top the yen find much amusement bouncing off of the walls and each other.

And Khondiel asks Haziel, “What is the source of the fires that lift us into the skies over the world? Your avatar never seems to require replenishment of its fuel as a campfire would.”

“The fires that propel us come from within my own body,” Haziel explains. “No flatulence jokes please. They are the fires of a living sun, channeled through a fattened fold-space link in the same way people are able to pass from Earth to Barbelo and back again.”

“Forgive me if I sound like a little doll on the eternal ‘what’ chain but what is the source of that fold-space link?”

“It is something elohim are born with,” Haziel says. “Perhaps in the same way you were born with a voice. There are six fold-space lines going out from me. One line links me to my father Milcom. The second one links me to my mother Thaumiel. The third one links me to this flying avatar. The fourth line links me to a humanoid avatar I no longer use and is presently dormant on Earth. The fifth line links me to this body. The sixth line links me to the headband I once gave you, which you in turn gave to your spies, so that I may know where they are at any time.”

“Azarael and Jael! I wonder where they are now.”

“They have reached the central repository of food and left the headband there. I know this because it hasn’t been in motion for more than a day. If they had been captured or killed, the headband would be in the hands of the garrison commander and would be moving about.”

“Unless the commander has taken the headband and stored it in his office somewhere.”

“Yes, I considered that. The end effect will be essentially the same.”

“You said these lines are natural things that you are born with, like a voice. What happens if Thaumiel decides not to listen to your voice?”

“Neither Thaumiel nor Milcom can refuse to listen, for absolutely nothing in reality can break the lines between us short of my own death, my death as a sun mark you, not my death as a nephil. But having listened, they can refuse to answer, much as Milcom has decided to do. And they can refuse to pass on my speech to other elohim up their fold-lines, as both of them have decided to do.”

“So that means Thaumiel cannot disable this avatar on a whim.”

“No he cannot,” Haziel says. “Think of my link with this avatar and my body as like a hatch on a ship with two ropes passing through it. He can never close the hatch as long as the ropes are still there.”

“Ah yes, but perhaps if Thaumiel physically destroys this avatar and your body then those two ropes, at least, will no longer block the closing of the hatch.”

“You are absolutely correct, Khondiel. A wormhole that stretches from a living star to a very distant place requires the existence of some physical object as an anchor. Consider, for example, this vessel. Barbelo itself is rotating, and revolving around the sun that is Thaumiel, and that sun is moving relative to Sol. From instant to instant, all those movements are communicated back to me down the fold-link, which is the only way I can keep the end-point inside this vessel. But if Thaumiel were to destroy this avatar, there would be no longer be a shape for me to grasp.”

“But what about the passage that you once summoned to take my brother to Earth?” Khondiel asked.

“Ah yes, now that is an entirely different case,” Haziel said. “That kind of fold-door requires the active cooperation of two Elohim to maintain. It is nothing more than the birth-link between my self and Thaumiel. But we have an ancient bargain. Thaumiel keeps his end of the fold-door open at his mountain in the heart of his city, and I keep my end open at another mountain on Earth. Some day, perhaps many years from now, there will be another such passage created to fulfill yet another bargain.”

The avatar lands at the city of Saharad. Haziel and Khondiel emerge from the avatar of Chokhmah in the full sight of many witnesses, and afterward they are taken before the Matriarch of House Sala to take counsel.

Princess Khondiel speaks to Queen Aurra Sala of her victory at Salem, and of her spies in the city of Thaumiel who report that Israel contemplates immanent war against all of Barbelo.

After Khondiel speaks, Haziel tells the queen, “Israel’s strategy is to pick off each family off one at a time using his full strength to overawe each in turn. By the time the remaining families take thought to form an alliance against him it will be far too late!”

Queen Aurra replies, “Lady Haziel, Princess Khondiel, I propose to convene a council of all the Houses arrayed against Family Gerash to consider your words, and also to discuss other important matters. Such a council has never been convened in the long history of the world.”

Haziel says, “That is a sound proposal, Your Highness. I deem the Queen’s council should take place in Rumbek, the capital city of the House of Bellon.”

Queen Aurra replies, “Barbelo is a very large world. It will be difficult to persuade the nobles of four Families to travel to Rumbek, sticking their neck out after an arduous journey to a place where the axe of the White Beards is assured to fall first.”

Haziel answers, “I will carry all the participants who are willing to travel to Rumbek aboard the avatar of Chokhmah, which can bring them thither in a very short span of time. It has brought myself and Princess Khodiel hither before the rest of our people have traveled much west of Salem by ship.”

To this the Queen agrees. Then after Khondiel and Haziel converse much more with Queen Aurra Sala and Haziel heals many of the incurably infirm in the city they return to the western shore of the Ramman Sea to await the sailing ships. From time to time the avatar of Chokhmah takes to the sky to fly over the small fleet and point in the direction where Haziel and Khondiel have set up their seaside camp.

A number of days later the ships arrive, and the people carried aboard have debarked along with all their stores. As they journey overland and toil up slopes of broken ice and rock the avatar of Chokhmah takes Khondiel and Haziel to Peshast, the chief city of the Black Beards in the far east of the Eastern Lands. There they meet King Gerand Larund.

Haziel relays to hym Queen Aurra Sala’s call for a general council of all the Houses of Barbelo less House Gerash, and offers to transport the King to Rumbek, as well as any others he wishes to attend with hym, using the same avatar she used to arrive in his own kingdom. To these counsels the King joyfully agrees. Again, in gratitude, Haziel heals many of the sick in Peshast, then the avatar whisks Haziel and Khondiel back to the head of their forces marching west.

On the final trip by avatar Haziel and Khondiel must part. The Princess insists on this. For they have reached the ice at last, and hard fighting in dark caves and tunnels lie just ahead.

Haziel journeys alone to the land of the Red Beards, to their capital city of Vaska. There she confers with King Brogan Antero. To hym Haziel relays the same information sha has already told King Gerand concerning the queen’s proposed counsel, and sha makes the same offer. King Brogan finds it impossible to refuse, especially when she effects many miracles of healing before the eyes of the King.

That leaves only the Brown Beards of House Bellon. Haziel does not avail herself of the avatar of Chokhmah again to speak to hym. Rather she plans to come before the king himself after marching overland with Khondiel, the Fallen Angels, and the other disciples. There in the Bellon city of Rumbek, or so sha hoped, the four Families would come together to draw up their plans against Thaumiel. If House Bellon refuses to participate, it would not be such a difficult thing to fly the other three sovereigns and their courtiers to another place.

As King Melchizedek had foreseen, the storehouses in the ice caves are strongly defended, and Khondiel’s force cannot remain hidden for long as they attempt to fight their way through. All the tunnels lead like the spokes of a wheel to the central chamber, and there the garrison commander draws back the bulk of his troops to make a stand. Hy knows he has interior lines of communications. Should Khondiel and har forces emerge from this tunnel or that, hy would be able to shift his soldiers at will to meet the threat. It is impossible that Khondiel could attack the central space simultaneously from more than a handful of tunnels, on account of the layout of the ice stores.

As the Gerash soldiers lie in wait in the chamber, it begins to rain. Everyone looks up. A distant thunder grows louder. The icy ceiling of the chamber high above them is melting. It glows red, then orange, then yellow, and finally explodes.

Unmelted blocks of ice as large as houses come crashing down upon the yeng. The ones who perish by being crushed are far more fortunate then the ones who somehow escape. For the avatar of Chokhmah drills into the chamber with all engines skewed, some pointing up, some pointing down, others turning from side to side, and all the motors are spouting fierce fusion fire from the heart of Sol.

The water the yeng are standing in begins to boil, and they scream with agony such as none of them have ever known. They continue to cook even as the water is turned to steam. Ultimately the water is gone and they are crisped by the raw flame. None survive, and even their ashes are scattered. Then the avatar of Chokhmah rises once again through what was the ceiling of the chamber and into the sky once more through a vast hole it had cut perhaps a thousand feet deep into the ice.

Khondiel and her leading lieutenants stand at the ragged end of several tunnels and try to force their minds to encompass the chaos of the scene below. Far across the chamber at another tunnel stands Azarael and Jael, quite safe. The applause of the two yen echoes across the suddenly silent space.

800px-hanford_n_reactor_adjusted

With 960 square miles of territory the Hanford site is large enough to require “town” names to identify places within it. The Manhattan Project has chosen to use mostly women’s names. So there are places like Ruth, Edna, and Susie, which are nothing more than railroad junctions, really. The clinic is only a mile north of Helen, which is really just a large electrical substation and a cluster of warehouses.

Kim and Hunky are steered away from the Mulberry trees along the river by the electric fence and gravel pits connected by a maze of unpaved roads that make up the relative highlands of Nancy. There is a single rail line crossing the area from southwest to northeast.

The girls veer off the gradually ascending scrub-brush plain into a newly dug mile-long trench intended to hold contaminated water from the Q West reactor. This is a mistake, and Kim starts to get antsy. After they walk about halfway down the huge ditch, which is only wide enough to hold perhaps four cars side-by-side, a pair of headlights appears ahead and turns to line up on them directly.

Kim and Hunky throw themselves flush against the gritty trench walls. They could feel the cool moistness of the face of newly-exposed gravel, and smell the flinty odor of…flint. The tiny rocks are somewhere between sand and small pebbles in size, and they are held together loosely by a sheen of underground moisture.

Hunky thought about climbing, but she discovered it would be useless to try because she saw the gravel face is unstable. In some places clods of dirt and gravel are actually overhanging, easily knocked down by the brush of a hand. In other places a single scrape would unleash a miniature slide of loose gravel, the tiny rocks piling around their feet. But that right there gave Hunky an idea. She began scraping the walls of the trench and deliberately pulling the gravel down over herself.

A third light mounted on the windshield and hand-operated by the driver is sweeping methodically up and down the slopes of the gravel pit as the vehicle slowly advances.

Hunky pulls Kim close to her until they are close enough to kiss. They both scrape at the walls until enough gravel has collapsed to leave only their heads and one arm free, each.

“Don’t ask me how I know this will work,” Hunky said, “But it will. Put your mouth against mine, Kim. My body will supply the air you need to breathe.”

Then, as the MP’s white jeep approaches very close Kim and Hunky engage in a kiss. Hunky completes their self-burial, hoping the soldier is too intent studying the sides of the trench to glance at the little ongoing rockslide ahead. Since the newly-dug trench is pretty unstable anyway there are many such piles of gravel along the walls.

Kim calms herself as much as possible, and breathes what Hunky gives her. Hunky, in turn, breathes what Kim gives her. It wasn’t anything sexy, but it did seem to work. Like Kim’s ability to see the future there is no immediate explanation for how it worked or even how Hunky knew it would work.

After a few minutes of being buried alive Kim and Hunky push back through the gravel and tentatively take a breath. They dare no loud gasping, because the jeep is still very near, moving away maddeningly slow. But the red glow of tail-lights means that it has indeed passed by. In fact the driver did not even give the brand-new little landslides a second look, he was checking the nooks between the landslides where he figured someone could hide. Kim and Sophie patiently and quietly recover. The crisis of the first security sweep has passed.

After the guard’s jeep leaves them far behind Kim and Hunky continue on their way east along the dry floor of the future waste-water sump. Their ordeal has not gotten them very dirty. The gravel they had buried themselves in was a lot like wet sand at the beach, only with bigger grains.

After about fifteen minutes of walking they stand where the jeep had been when they had first seen its lights. Railroad tracks were there. A white sign said “Bettie” in stenciled letters. Kim and Hunky decided to walk along the tracks, and though they didn’t know it, the tracks are a good choice, because they would cross no trip wires, and there was no road paralleling the track, paved or not.

Two miles to the south across a sagebrush plain many yellow lights illuminate Hanford’s main cluster of tritium production reactors. They are preparing the Fat Boy bomb that would be used on Japan on August 9, 1945.

At about 3:00 AM the girls reach the halfway point across the wide, flat tongue of land they are crossing formed by a northerly bend of the Columbia River. They reach a major rail junction identified on a sign as Ginger as well as a cluster of paved roads. In the distance to the southeast a few approaching vehicles can be seen by their headlights so Kim and Hunky hide behind some rolling stock on a Ginger side track.

They choose a low brown Union Pacific gondola car to climb into. With many other identical railroad cars sitting around it was a good place for them to hide as long as they laid down out of sight.

“Even if we do manage to contrive an escape somehow,” Hunky quietly says, “they will never stop looking for us. So you are going to have to change your name just like I did from Sofie to Hunky.”

“You’re right,” Kim admits. “So from now on call me Robyn. With a ‘y’. But I’ll never risk going to a judge to make it official.”

Exactly right there, in that empty railroad car when Kimberly Zinter changed her name to just Robyn, the order of the B’nei Elohim was born.

After a long moment, Robyn says to Hunky, “Dory isn’t like you, Hunky. I know you know that.”

Hunky crawls back in the gondola car to get as far away from Robyn as she can. “None of your business, Robyn.”

Robyn says, “She will never tell you so, because she cares about you more than she cares about herself. And that’s exactly why I love her.”

“That’s exactly why I love her too,” Hunky says.

“Okay, Hunky. So what I’m asking here is, never let her have to decide to throw away a lifetime of happiness for herself just to make you happy. Alright? She doesn’t deserve that.”

Hunky says nothing, but just nods her head.

Out in the night the army police are setting up a tripod. Television has been nearly perfected, but World War II intervened just before the technology could be rolled out to the public. Soon after the war TV would replace radio as the main source of family home entertainment. In the hands of the army, television permitted a kind of night vision. A bulky television camera could be modified to respond to heat rather than light, and when the image was displayed on a CRT, warm bodies would stand out in the night.

Once the camera was mounted on the tripod the soldiers stared at the green screen and began slowly sweeping the horizon all around Ginger. The dark boxes of many railroad cars crept across the screen. There was a pair of infrared sources out there in one car, but the cold steel walls shielded them well.
It was 3:30 AM. The second sweep by the military police was over and they bundled up their primitive night-scope and drove away.

Kimberly Zinter had crawled into a rail car with Sofie Krause to hide from the Army but both of the girls were forever dead. Only Robyn and Hunky crawl out and go on.

They decide to stick with the train tracks and continue northeast. If anyone came again, with any luck they could hide in another one of the scattered rail cars. In a mile they reach a place where the tracks, a paved road, and a gravel road all come together. Now the gravel one ran parallel to the tracks on their right, making the girls feel a little exposed.

A half-mile after that a paved road took its place alongside. They both could see a hint of the coming dawn in the eastern skies. Robyn senses the available choices are becoming fewer and fewer.

The rail curves sharply north, then northwest for a quarter of a mile, then north again for about fifty feet before coming to a dead end. Here was an old forgotten boxcar, forlorn in the dim gray light of 5 o’clock in the morning. Now Robyn senses clearly that there were only two paths open to them. They can hide in the boxcar and wait to be picked up, or they can hoof it across the sand.

They see a line of white cliffs about two miles to the east and guess that was the far bank of the river. They begin to grow hideously exposed and the light is getting slowly but steadily brighter. There is little else to do but to make for the water again and hope to find somewhere to hide.

They strike off due east. In eight hundred feet they cross a row of fence posts and trip over a single wire. The army cops have them on their lighted map again.

Five minutes after tripping the outer picket they cross a wide paved road on the brink of a gentle slope down to the river. They hear sirens. Blue flashing lights are visible to the north and south. Almost the entire Hanford police force is closing in like the jaws of a steel trap. Robyn and Hunky run downhill toward the river, kicking up sand.

They meet that old electric fence again, and drop to worm themselves under the bottom wire. They hear dogs but once they get to the other side of the fence they figure they wouldn’t have to worry about them.

When they girls get their first good look at the river current they both know they are in luck. Here it was not too fast and not too slow. Robyn senses they have completely run out of other options. So Robyn carves out for herself a new option by simply wading straight out into the water, and Hunky follows her. A grin breaks out on the faces of both girls. They are pleasantly surprised. It being the late summer, the water has baked in the sun behind a dam twenty miles upstream, and behind another dam before that. So it wasn’t too cold. More like old bath water.

At this particular stretch the great river slows and silt piles up to form several islands. Seven miles per hour. It wasn’t the dangerous speed of the whitewater at the rapids upstream, but it also wasn’t still water backed up behind a dam, which would force them to swim for it. There was even a wide zone shallow enough to permit Robyn and Hunky to touch their feet on the bottom now and again. But their bobbing heads are very visible in the brightening dawn.

There is a hard splash in the water a fraction of a second before they hear the sharp report of a rifle.

Up until that point it has been almost a game for Robyn and Hunky. It never occurred to them at all that they would be the target of shooters. Quickly they both dive under the water and repeat the same breathing trick that worked so well at the gravel pit.

When they come back up again they hope they are beyond rifle range. But the southern group of MPs are getting out of their jeeps to look at the river with rifles in hand, and the girls are coming up on them fast. So they submerge once more.

One of the itchy trigger fingers on the bank thinks he sees something and fires a round. The sound of his shot sparks a barrage of blind fire by the other men. Robyn and Hunky pass through a gauntlet of instantly forming white bubble-lines as dozens of bullets lace the water.

After they surface again well downstream it is followed by almost two hours of drifting along with their eyes darting and scanning the shore before the river carries them past a roadless marsh and they can begin to relax.

At the first community downriver from the Hanford site Robyn and Hunky crawl out of the water and shiver for an hour, dangerously near hypothermia as they dry out in the bright morning sun on the right bank of the Columbia River, just below the first few houses on the northern edge of the brand new town of Richland.

Still soggy, their shoes squish as they slog their way through back yards and side streets and emerge on a thoroughfare named George Washington Way. In the bottom of one of Hunky’s shoes is a damp twenty-dollar bill from her mother, sent by mail on her birthday and it is all the money any of them have. But it is enough to get some food and a bus ticket home.

After passing through the rubble that is the food cache of House Gerash in the midst of the ice barrier, the refugees from Salem march down to the shore of the Eastern Sea of the West Lands and gaze at the dark and distant profile of the Isle of Sealiah. Haziel and Khondiel are brought by ship to the city of Rumbek, where they present themselves before King Arman Bellon, the Patriarch of the Brown Beards. The King asks first of all why the famed Lady Haziel is in exile from the Middle Land whence she comes.

Haziel replies, “Because I brought the truth to family Gerash. But they hated the truth, since it was like a bright light, and the truth threatened to reveal the dark things they do in secret.”

And King Arman asks har, “What is truth?”

Haziel says in reply, “We know truth when our mind conforms with the way things are.”

King Arman asks, “What do you ask of me, Lady Haziel? Shall I protect the purity of your truth?”

Haziel replies “If what I teach is so very fragile that I must seek aid to shield it from contamination, then what I have cannot be the truth. The warriors of Thaumiel fight to convert others to their truth and wage holy war against other truths. They fight because what they call ‘truth’ is too weak to sell itself to all who seek the truth with sincerity. Since they are certain they already possess the truth, they refuse to investigate reality and delight in self-deception.”

King Arman asks, “Then what, dear Lady Haziel, is your truth? What is the ultimate truth?”

“Only this,” she reveals. “The noblest activity is unending love.”

And Haziel accompanies her words with a mighty sign of her authority, for at that moment the avatar of Chokhmah flies over the Bellon capital city at great speed, but the people see only a streak of light in the sky, and a terrifying noise like thunder breaks many windows in Rumbek. Then King Arman welcomes Haziel and all har companions to his land, and a place is found for each of them on the Island of Sealiah. They become his protected subjects.

Haziel, Khondiel, and the Fallen Angels all take residence in the north of Sealiah. Then Khondiel begins to teach their new friends and neighbors among the Brown Beards, individually and in small groups, the doctrines of Chokhmah. But Talishi herself refuses to teach anyone, lest the king thinks he has taken a troublemaker into his land.

Privately Talishi speaks to the king of Queen Aurra’s proposal for a council of the four Houses, and of her commitment to transport the nobles of those families to Rumbek to gather together. To this King Brogan agrees, and a date is set to convene the council. Haziel travels to the various capitals to convey this date of meeting.

In Salem where the siege has grown very strait, King Melchizedek hears rumors that the people are finally resorting to cannibalism and he decides that nothing House Gerash could impose as a penalty on the city could possibly be worse than that. So he walks out of the gate of the city unarmed, with hands held open and high, only to be dropped by many arrows. His people on the ramparts of the city witness the unhappy death of their beloved king, but really they are mourning the passing of their former way of life.

Then the army of Mastema marches into the city unhindered. Kirodiel Gerash appoints a new king over the city, one who lays a heavy tax on the people in penalty of their rebellion. For it is the Law of Mastema that in every five-day week the people could keep the fruit of their labor from three of the four workdays. And the increase of one day is to go to the maintenance of the Army of Mastema and the Eyes of Mastema, as well as his temple priests.

But upon the people of Salem is laid a second yoke, for the fruit of the labor of yet another workday is to go the upkeep of the new forces that garrisoned the city. Thus the people can only keep half of what they earned.

The Eyes of Mastema multiply in Salem like flies, and there appears hundreds of checkpoints throughout the city. Many people, even children, are put to torment for the smallest transgression, yet none are permitted to depart to other cities in the Middle Land. So matters would remain until that whole generation of Salemites had passed away, according to the decree of Lord Kirodiel, but ever after men who spoke with the accent of Salem would bear a stigma among the White Beards.

Haziel deems that both har affairs and those of Israel have been wound up for the time being. Through har direct link with Thaumiel sha invites Israel to fly to har redoubt at Mt. Anshar and says it will be the most worthwhile thing hy had done in a long time. Thaumiel still has not modified his avatar to support a passenger, so hy has to resort to the indignity of flying in the avatar of Chokhmah, but hy makes sure the pickup point was well out of sight.

When Israel arrived at the house of Haziel sha shows hym around, not so much to impress hym, but to assure hym they are alone. “We are the only living souls in this whole land,” sha says, sweeping har hands at the panoramic view of the active volcano and the tortured rock that lay at its base, continually modified by the world-glacier.

“This whole land is still part of my planet,” Israel replies, “and you are here only by invitation. Do not think you own Anshar by any means, Chokhmah.”

Haziel pours both of them a beer brewed in Akkadia and comes immediately to har point. “For too long we have been at odds, Thamiel. Now it is time to speak of love. Certainly Milcom must be impatient for you to advance his harem scheme.”

“So you will accept seduction.”

“I will, under certain conditions. I imagine you have a few of your own. But first, bring your beer and I will show you something.”

Haziel walks to another room of the house and Israel follows har. This room is set up to resemble an operating room or a torture chamber more than anything sexy. There is a bed, to be sure, but there are also tubes for an IV drip and machines that even Israel, with his full access to the lore of El, could not identify. “What is all this?” hy demands.

Haziel replies, “You and I have a serious problem in that we are no longer merely living suns, but composite beings, both sun and nephil, and we have no way of setting our world-dweller bodies aside for lovemaking as we would, say, our clothing. From what I gather, Thaumiel, and correct me if I’m wrong, when elohim make love, it’s a drawn-out process, and something that grabs all of one’s attention. Did you consider what might happen to your Israel-body once you entered into sexual union with me?”

Israel shakes his head, confessing that hy has not.

Haziel says, “I’m not done with my Haziel-body yet, and I assume you still want to possess that body as well. So this apparatus will keep both of us fed intravenously, filter our blood, monitor our life while we’re up there having fun on the higher plane. Do you see?”

“I see that you are serious about doing this, but what are your conditions?”

“My daughter will have her own fold-door link from Earth to Barbelo. You control your end of my link. I want my daughter to control both ends of hers.”

“That’s not acceptable, Chokhmah. With that power she could send agents anywhere in my city or the Middle Lands.”

“Then grant her a piece of land far from the Middle Lands where the fold-door would be constrained.

“Very well. In the East Land there is a small nameless territory that lies between the Great Sea and the Wall of God. Do you know of it?” Haziel nodded. “By rights it should belong to House Larund, but the great cliff makes it inaccessible to them. There are a few Sala colonists there, but for the most part the land is empty. This land I will give to your future daughter to reach from Earth and move about in at will.”

Haziel says, “That is acceptable, and I have no other demands.”

Israel replies, “Good, because there is a thing I want as well. I comes in the form of a promise rather than something you can do for me now. It has not escaped my notice that what you are really doing is laying the groundwork for the planet dwellers to someday leave this world, as well as leave the other world, and invade the realm of the gods. This, says Milcom, must not be.”

“Humans and nephilim are not dummies,” she replies. “Even were we to strictly forbid it, we could not enforce it, and in a far distant time they will find a way to leave the world they are living in. The sooner Milcom comes to terms with that inevitable truth, the easier it will be for him to come to terms with the planet-dwellers. Tell him I said exactly that.”

“Milcom already knows all this, so what we require from you is that humans must never travel more distant from the sun than four times the distance of Earth from the sun.”

“I see, so basically you would put them on a shorter version of the same leash that you have put on me. And what of the nephilim here?”

“They will do as I command, once I have put all of Barbelo under the rule of House Gerash.”

“You must see that to put humans on your four AU leash I must put the entire Earth under a single command before they obtain the status of spacefarers.”

“Then you know exactly what you need to do.”

“I will make you a counter-offer. In that future time, nephilim will have the right to settle any planet or other body with a sun-centric semi-major axis of four AU or greater. If they don’t like living side-by-side with humans of Earth, that will be something they will need to thrash out between themselves. Take it or leave it, Thaumiel.”

“I will take it.”

And so Haziel prepares harself and Israel for what would be essentially a long-term coma as far as their planet-dweller bodies went, with an artery leading to a filter to remove waste from their blood, and a vein supplied by another machine that would keep them hydrated and nourished. In the event their passion as stars bled over somewhat to the animal side, as Haziel suspected it might, sha and Israel slipped into bed together nude. It is curious facet of sex that you don’t particularly even have to like one’s partner to engage in it.

Haziel has access to the lore of all the elohim on a purely read-only basis, and she has studied every one of the thousands of documented cases where an incommunicado “harem” like the one operated by Milcom and now Thaumiel was uncovered. In nearly every case, a star locked in the harem created an avatar and flew through real-space to a star outside of the harem and communicated directly with that eloah. But this obvious escape hatch has been battened down tight by Chokhmah’s agreement with Thaumiel.

Haziel learned the death penalty is not meted out in every situation. Even now, if Thaumiel were to confess his crime to El and act as an informant against Milcom, only Milcom and the other elohim in his network who refused to come clean would be punished. But breakthroughs using this method are rare. The informant would not be put to death by the greater community of stars, but he would still be giving up any future opportunity to reproduce. Only the most serious falling out between co-conspirators rose to the level of making that worthwhile.

In one case studied most intently by Chokhmah, an eloah in a harem did something to instigate such a falling out between co-conspirators.

As it turns out, elohim who are still female can do something roughly equivalent to masturbation. She can cause all the living nuclear material in her stellar core to contract into a tight sphere while leaving the non-living material behind in a thick shell. This voluntary separation and following involuntary re-integration feels very similar to a single wave of the stellar orgasm. The difference is that the real thing associated with reproduction involves eight to twelve contractions, is not voluntary at all once it begins, and even the non-living nuclear material of a star is drawn together with the living matter in the compression phase. Still, it is sufficiently satisfying that some female eloah have sworn to remain celibate and for millions of years have relied entirely on getting their own rocks off.

As soon as she learned such a thing as stellar masturbation existed Chokhmah tried it for herself and found it so exquisitely pleasurable, so unbelievably available, that she became essentially addicted to doing it. Chokhmah is so continuously immersed in a pseudo-orgasmic state that she has even learned to compartmentalize things so that she as Haziel can remain more-or-less functional as a nephilim yin.

This captive eloah that Chokhmah once read about also was a masturbation addict, and she was in the middle of a pseudo-orgasm when one of her harem-masters raped her. The result was very interesting. Instead of transmitting a generative ripple into space to quicken a wild sun years later, the non-living nuclear matter in the body of the mother was quickened immediately. Even more interesting was that both fold-space lines from the newborn sun fastened on the mother, rather than fastening one apiece on both parents.

And so that line of captive suns terminated as far as potential sex partners went. There was no path leading back to the other harem-masters, no way for them to have sex with the offspring of the newborn sun. Somebody wasn’t getting paid. And that led to the whole thing unraveling.

Chokhmah didn’t think it would be that simple in her case, but still, she was near the peak of one of her pseudo-orgasms, and her body flooded with a maximum of non-living nuclear matter, when Thaumiel injected some of himself into her across their link.

The ecstasy goes right off the rails. Chokhmah cannot even think for days and weeks, only ride a timeless wave of physical joy that is no comparison better than the ridiculous little thing she had been doing for herself before. And it was better than this for males? Lucky Thaumiel, if that was true, because Chokhmah can just barely grasp that she has gone absolutely mindless with how good it is for her. Her precaution to keep her Haziel body alive was well-founded.

During the span of almost infinite bliss a new eloah quickens inside Sol that Chokhmah, as soon as she can gather her wits about her again, names Binah. And the sex terminates after only the one contraction because there is no more non-living nuclear material inside Sol to act as a substrate.

Israel, lying next to her in bed, begins to shudder with signs of distress. Thaumiel is about to suffer the stellar version of a severe case of blue balls. Haziel unplugs herself from the machinery and crawls out of bed.

As in the documented case she read about, both of Binah’s fold lines terminate on Chokhmah herself (or rather himself, Chokhmah realized, since the act of lovemaking results in a gender change). Chokhmah passed one of Binah’s fold-lines through her link to Thaumiel and terminated it in the land he promised her, there to be moved about as Binah willed. This was done before Thaumiel could revive, making it fait accompli.

But a new thing happened that Chokhmah had read about nowhere. The other fold-line between mother and newborn daughter ballooned out into a pocket universe that existed outside of space and time. Just the amount of dark matter that would keep a fold-line open a pencil’s thickness is sufficient to create a ball as big as the Earth’s moon. Chokhmah guessed it was the close physical proximity of himself and Binah that allowed this to be.

And another new thing happened that opened up a whole panorama of possibilities for dealing with Thaumiel. Because the little private universe he shared with Binah was outside of space and time, fold-lines could be budded off the pocket universe and terminate anywhere in the solar system, anywhen.

Haziel saw that Israel’s body entered into another fit, but still remained unconscious. He was going to be extremely angry when he was fully awake, so angry that all the nations of Barbelo would probably be next the target of his wrath. Milcom especially was going to be fit to be tied, because Binah would never be his conquest in love. There was no fold-space path connecting him to her.

Haziel decided to fly back to Sealiah at once, then send the avatar back here for Israel to use if he chose. She’d heard of humans doing this sort of thing as well. One night stand, the fellow ends up being a dead fuck. Wakes up and the lady is already gone.