TC-K

Haziel stumbles west with the defeated forces of House Antero, Bellon and a regiment of Fallen Angels for days before sha shakes off har own self-pity over the loss of har precious Khondiel and realizes there are injured people around har who need the knowledge and skills of a healer. So sha begins to carry har own freight long before reaching the first major Antero city of Jelaket. As Haziel walks without the benefit of riding in har avatar or even on horseback sha learns directly in the muscles of har legs and in the soles of har feet what a large planet Barbelo truly is.

Baron Bayard Sala tells hyz serving wench Aliwe Halil to walk close to Lady Haziel and that har smallest whims are to be taken as direct commands. The two seem to quickly develop a language of their own and speak of many things that are incomprehensible to the Baron when hy happens to catch a word or two, tales of swarms and moons, of things called micros and other things called macros. And after Aliwe’s first words with har the Baron and soon everyone else notices that Haziel has begun to smile again and seems to shed all vestiges of har grief at last.

The forces of House Antero has horses, yet they use them only as beasts of burden to carry supplies, and the yeng walk beside their horses that they might stay and protect Haziel. Baron Priam Antero had fallen in battle, but King Brogan and Count Berek yet live.

None of the House of Larund walk with them save Lady Irus, for har husband Count Raddai had also fallen at the Nine Mile Wall, yet Lady Irus never shows the level of grief that afflicted Haziel with the loss of Khondiel. For Irus and har husband had freely come to aid the Brown Beards, and when sha saw Raddai consumed by the fire of the dragon har heart was salved against the pain of losing him with the pride of knowing hy fell after a most valiant stand.

At Jelaket the ranks of the stragglers begin to thin, but the rest press on across the heart of the West Lands to the Antero capital of Vaska. As they draw near the subjects of King Brogan send trains of supplies to aid their march, including many horses, for Jelaket has none, having sent nearly all of them with the forces that had come to aid Rumbek.

In Vaska when King Brogan and Count Berek have been welcomed home by the people of the city, Haziel is bid by the king to stay and rest for as long as sha would like. But Brogan laments the faithlessness of hyz daughter Keri, which had brought all of this grief down upon them.

“Or so Thaumiel would have you believe, Your Highness,” says Haziel. “Thaumiel takes pleasure in turning the things we love against us, King Brogan. In time the shame you feel over your daughter will be transformed into anger against Thaumiel. And after that, perhaps your anger will be transformed once more, but into pity. For Thaumiel is well embarked on a path toward his own dissolution and is indeed to be pitied. Great has been his fall heretofore, and greater still the depths he has yet to fall. Thaumiel might succeed in gaining direct control of all of Barbelo one day, but the one who controls the world, whatever it is, will not be of the elohim or anything like us.”

“Then what do you council for House Antero?” the King asks.

“House Antero is unfortunately in a most precarious position, for there exists no natural barrier except distance between your city of Jelaket and downfallen Elketz in Magodon. Next year Lord Kirodiel will arrive here demanding tribute. Hy will begin to build garrisons throughout your land and Demonstroke will darken your skies to protect them. Behind him will be the combined might of House Gerash and House Bellon in a newly-doubled army of Thaumiel. You have no hope of succeeding if you offer resistance. So I council that you do not resist. Pay the tribute. Aid Kirodiel in building hyz garrisons, as hy will demand.”

“And the honor of the Red Beards will never be retrieved again.”

“Yes, King Brogan, that is true. But in return, you will preserve the lives of your people and the lives of House Larund beyond yours. You will find that the Law of Thaumiel has prepared the White Beards to assail any resistance until it breaks, but after it breaks this law flounders, and when presented by no resistance at all, the death culture it fosters slips into the inactivity of confusion, which is why we were not pursued after the war. You see, the one thing Thaumiel cannot teach the people to do is to simply live. So lay down your self-respect, King Brogan, and live, that you may know a deeper victory over your foe.”

“It will be made so. And yet, Lady Haziel, there remain tokens of the shame of House Antero I can no longer bear to have in my keeping.” The King unrolls a rich black cloth on hyz table so Haziel can behold the glittering broken shards of Dragonthorn. “Take these far away from my kingdom, I beg you.”

“It will be as you say, King Brogan.” And Haziel commits the relics to the keeping of Aliwe.

After a month in the house of the king, Haziel and har dwindling group ride to Gerazan to winter over. Then together with Aliwe, Lady Irus, Baron Bayard, and a brigade of Fallen Angels, Haziel crosses the ice bridge that leads from the far west of the West Lands to the far east of the East Lands. They are almost precisely on the other side of Barbelo from Thaumiel’s capital city in the center of the Middle Lands. For all their journey they are never assailed by Demonstroke as Haziel feared they would be. Thaumiel had essentially forgotten all about Haziel.

Bereft once more of horses, the party spends the entire (albeit short) planting season on the move, so Haziel knows nothing but bitter white cold for the better part of a year. But harvest time is unusually warm, almost hot, and sha is in good spirits as they come down off from the ice to the outskirts of Belen. Here is the very source of the River Bandar, emerging from the face of a melting glacier. Every hour or so, a portion of the ice melts, releasing a boulder, sometimes the size of a house, into the vale below. But the stream is too wild to survive running it in a raft. The journey, by necessity, remains by foot, parallel to the river.

At length, Haziel’s group arrives in the city of Locotin in the center of the Black Beard lands. They have come to the end of their walking travels. Lady Irus commissions a barge and floats with Haziel down the River Bandar to the capital city of Peshast, where the people marvel to see the wife of Count Raddai returning from a battle beyond the end of the world.

The Black Beard commitment to the war had been relatively meager, due to the great distance involved, so King Garand bears no resentment toward Haziel for the defeat. And Haziel says to the King, “Of the three houses that remain opposed to Thaumiel, House Larund has the best disposition. You have flown in my avatar, King Garand, so you know Barbelo is in the shape of a ball, and the lands of House Larund are furthest from the Middle Lands. On the west you are protected by a great natural wall. On the east are two ice bridges and a friendly House. I do not think you will be subject to invasion, but for a time, I believe you might face raids from the dragon controlled by Joy. Therefore I council that you convert all the dwellings in the land of the Black Beards into houses of stone.”

“Certainly Demonstroke will be able to flatten even these,” the King objects.

Haziel replies, “What you say is true, King Garand, nothing can withstand a direct assault from the dragon, not even the fabled Nine Mile Wall was proof against it as we saw. Yet your cities as they are presently constructed are little more than so much stacked dry timber to be kindled by Demonstroke in a single strike. Why make it easy for Joy?”

“Your counsel is good, Lady Haziel. You have traveled far. I offer a wing of the castle to be a home for yourself and your Fallen Angels, if you would abide here in Peshast. Many of our people have assigned their loyalties to Chokhmah rather than Thaumiel, much as House Sala has done and here you would have much to teach and do. Your reputation as a healer is well-known.”

“I thank you deeply for your offer, King Garand, and indeed I will avail myself of it for a little while. But Peshast will not be my final home. I have summoned a woman of the b’nei elohim named Victoria to come to our aid, and I must wait here until she arrives.”

Baron Bayard is bid to stay in Peshast as well. This had been hyz home when hyz mother Queen Aurra had exiled hym in punishment for hyz taste in women and yen of low station. And the baron’s servant girl Aliwe was fully occupied, but more often than not her task was simply trying to keep Bayard’s hands away from her slender body.

Thaumiel has a dragon, certainly, but Binah has a woman who can fly. Her name is Victoria and she is a third-generation b’nei elohim. Yeshua got the idea of a flying woman from that one time when che departed from hez followers in Jerusalem and ascended into the sky. On the summit of Mount Olive che had summoned a worm-tunnel mouth, stepped into it, and had remained entirely visible to the disciples as che physically moved the bubble into the air, riding along with it. The same mechanism was used to allow Victoria to fly on Earth and also on the Earth’s moon, the only difference was that Binah handed full control of the position of the worm-tunnel mouth to her.

Haziel asked to borrow Victoria after learning of har existence during har long talks with Aliwe. And so Victoria immediately comes to Barbelo through the Sacred Pool. She drops to one knee before Yeshua and says, “Command me, Lord.” For it was written by Paulus that every knee will bow at the name of Yeshua and every tongue confess that Yeshua was Lord. The b’nei elohim consider themselves to be the greatest servants of Yeshua.

“I need you to kill an errant dragon,” Yeshua tells her, and not for an instant does Victoria blanch.

“Such a simple thing, Lord? I would love to whack a dragon for you, of course, but there is one small hitch. I can’t fly on Barbelo.”

Yeshua then orders the Ark of the Covenant to be brought out and propped just above the dark wooden decking that surrounded the Sacred Pool. Then che tells Victoria, “Touch one of the cherubim on the cover of the Ark.”

For the Ark, as the only remaining avatar of Chokhmah on Barbelo, is also a receptacle for the end point of a one-dimensional fold-space line. Chokhmah uses the physical structure of the Ark as a reference to keep the end-point of the worm-line positioned within. But after Victoria touches the lid of the Ark, that worm-line begins to track on her body like an invisible piece of string cheese she can never shake loose.

Now Victoria is the Ark, for all practical purposes. For the time being, the original Ark is just an inert piece of gold-covered wood, with no connection to the elohim at all.

Yeshua says, “The fold-line cannot act as a tunnel, that requires a continuous flow of dark energy and I’m only budgeted for the one that connects to this pond of water. But the end of the fold-line you now possess can balloon out like a pod, just big enough to contain you, and of course you can now control where that pod takes you, in the usual way.”

“Which is to say, Lord, I can now fly on Barbelo. Where shall I go?”

“Haziel is waiting for you in the King’s castle in Peshast, the capital city of the Black Beards, east from here and over the Wall of God. There sha will give you the weapon you will use to kill Demonstroke.”

Victoria bows and says, “Thank you, Lord Yeshua, for giving me this opportunity to bring glory to our divine Father.”

“Chakhmah doesn’t need glory, Victoria, he just needs the dragon dead. But I will say to you that you are entirely welcome for this opportunity to have more fun than any member of the b’nei elohim has ever enjoyed before.”

The demigod Victoria, daughter of Ariel, granddaughter of Robyn, exults as she flies in the violet sky of Barbelo. Victoria soars over the River Armak, which flows west from the place where it was joined by the river Arhena. She continues to fly along the River Arhena east, always east, as the awesome Wall of God begins to loom as a barrier before her.

Victoria looks down and sees trees with leaves of many colors, red and green, yellow and gold, such that the land looks to be perpetually in the full glory of autumn as it was known on Earth. Yet Barbelo’s trees are never bereft of leaves, for there are no seasons as there are on Earth. Instead the leaves fall from their trees individually after a span, and are replaced by another.

The source of the River Arhena is a perpetual rain that falls as a mist in the center of the Wall of God. Victoria becomes thoroughly soaked as sha flies through this heavy drizzle. A little more than halfway up the dark Wall of God, at 10,000 feet, the mist becomes a solid white sheet of falling water. This is the greatest cataract known by humans and nephilim to exist.

At 19,000 feet Victoria flies over the rim and turns horizontal once again, and alights, for the ancient agreement is that Binah can only operate her end of the fold-line within the boundaries of Haaretz. On foot, Victoria follows the chief waterway of the Black Beards, the River Bandar, east through high hills to the city of Peshast.

To the guards of the castle she says, “I am Victoria of the b’nei elohim. I was summoned here by Haziel herself, gentlemen, so please take me to her.”

Victoria is brought to Haziel in the council chamber, and as she had done in Canterwood she kneels in worship, for any one of the b’nei elohim are much more aware of the awesome difference of the elohim than most other humans were. Haziel welcomes Victoria and tells her to rise.

“My Lady,” Victoria says, “the Lord Yeshua told me you have a weapon to kill Demonstroke.”

“Aliwe, please do the honors.”

Aliwe unwraps the black cloth from around the broken pieces of Dragonthorn, the blade Kari Antero once used to command Demonstick.

Haziel says, “This is the only heirloom we possess with which we can hope to even the odds against the dragon and it is nothing more than a pile of sharp baubles.”

Victoria steps forward to gather up the diamond shards. The one still attached to the hilt could serve as a long dagger, or very short sword. She says, “I think I can fly behind the dragon and ram this into hyz brain.”

‘The covenant says she who wields Dragonthorn must be a virgin woman,” Baron Bayard declares. “Otherwise the dragon will not be mortally wounded.”

Which was the Baron’s way, of course, of saying hy was interested in Victoria and wanted to know more about her. Hy wasn’t quite sure where a b’nei elohim female fit on the spectrum between commoner and noblewoman.

“I have never known man,” Victoria declares in turn, with a wink at Haziel. She doesn’t mention the crazy lesbian sex sha once had with her aunt Chayn. Maybe that skirted the intent of the virginity requirement, but it was the elohim, after all, who made their demigod servants such utter horn dogs.

After Victoria officially joins Haziel’s group they ride down the river Bandar to the town of Vesa, where the Fallen Angels camp outside the city. The royals reserve an inn. There, after supper has finished, the conversation turns to strategy.

Victoria asks the first, most obvious question: “Where, actually, is this dragon located?”

Baron Bayard asks the innkeeper if there is a map of Barbelo at hand. When servants post it on the wall of the dining hall, Baron Bayard walks up to it and says, “Behold the Wall of God. The woman Joy is said to keep Demonstroke in an aerie high above the Valley of Ten Thousand Creeks that come together to form the Alnitar river, approximately here. You can see this is the wildest region in Haaretz. No roads issue forth thither from Nath or Hamar. Yet we must start from Fatho because it is the nearest city to the aerie.”

“Hell. In the morning I can find this aerie myself and dispatch the dragon as I have been commanded,” Victoria says.

“That will not do,” Haziel counters. “I have no doubt you can do precisely as you have described, but it’s no good if you just kill the dragon in secret. People have to see you do it. That’s what this is really about. People have to see that we are resisting Thaumiel.”

Victoria bows har head. “As you say, Lady Haziel.”

The Baron says, “Some of you might have surmised that I intend to use the Catwalk to reach Haaretz from here.”

“And what dear Baron is this Catwalk of which you speak?” Victoria asked.

“The Catwalk, Lady Victoria, is a path carved into the stone face of the wall which drops four air miles in one hundred Catwalk miles. But it is precarious beyond belief. There are places where the Catwalk is no wider than one of your feet is wide.”

“M’lord Baron, please tell me this Catwalk comes with a safety rail,” says Aliwe Halil.

“The Catwalk comes with no rail. We must take our own precautions. Oh, did I mention that one part of the Catwalk entails a rope traverse?”

“Naturally I do not fear this Catwalk,” Victoria says, “but do have caution, all of you. If anyone falls, I will not be able to stave off your death. I can carry little more than this blade which I intend to use to slay Demonstroke.”

“I do not doubt the courage of anyone in this company to continue,” Haziel says, “but it may be the case that not everyone will be mentally prepared to negotiate it, as the Baron describes it. Let everyone turn it over in their mind as we ride to the rim tomorrow, for it shall be there that whoever freely elects to end their part of our quest must remain behind while the others go on.”

An awkward silence falls as everyone contemplates how they would react when they see the Catwalk.

Haziel turns to the commanding officer of the Fallen Angels who is also present at the inn. “Tell the dolls what they’re facing tomorrow and make the same offer. I am not ordering any of them to accompany me to Haaretz. But if they elect to stay behind here in the lands of House Larund they must disband as Fallen Angels, and by that I mean they must not even form veteran societies. I will not have King Garand troubled by the presence of a regiment of foreign troops in hyz realm.”

In late spring of 1946 Robyn gives birth to her daughter Ariel Shybear. Because sha is still essentially a fugitive, it has to be a home delivery. A hospital was just right out of the question. The entire Boda, including now Inge, does what they can for har but there is no solution for Robyn’s labor pain. Between contractions sha keeps saying, “It hurts like hell.”

The story in the Jewish scriptures is that the pain of childbirth was a curse laid down on Eve by God for daring to put two competing hypotheses about the lethality of a certain fruit in the Garden of Eden to a scientific test, using Adam as a control subject. The Buron lays out a different reason that makes more sense. Humans are the only animals on Earth that walk upright. At every moment, they are faced with the threat of being disemboweled simply by standing up. So the hole in the pelvic floor has to be as small as possible to prevent that. At the same time, humans have the largest brains of any animal on Earth as a percentage of their total body mass. So the opening in the pelvis cannot be too small, or the infant would be wedged in the birth canal and die, and take the mother with it. A baby’s skull does not fully form until after birth, so it actually deforms during birth to ease the passage, but the ordeal is still very dangerous for both, and extremely painful for the mother.

But when it is all over Robyn has baby Ariel and the pain is forgotten. Since Robyn has been transformed into a nephilim, a yin, with two Z chromosomes, while Jerry remains a human male with XY chromosomes, the only possible genders Robyn’s baby could be are an XZ, either an ambi or jen, or an YZ, or a yang. Ariel turned out to be an ambi.

All nephilim have a set of two genitals. As an ambi, Ariel is similar to a jen like Yeshua genetically, but rather than having hez penis located over hez vagina, the vagina of Ariel is positioned over hez penis.

Ariel is perfectly healthy and comes with a little pad of soft black hair. Robyn found that words would always fail to fully convey the greatest possible human experience, that of bringing another life into the world. To Robyn, baby Ariel was:

Doll-like
Dainty
Ruddy
Feisty
Beautiful

Robyn loves to hold hez face close to har own and sniff hez soft baby scent, that special new person smell. Robyn can hardly believe sha is Ariel’s mother! And Jerry’s joy in Ariel is just as great as Robyn’s, even if he could never grasp the full depth of har joy in giving life to the baby. One time Haziel tried to describe this joy to Yeshua after giving birth to Del, but it really is something that must be experienced to be grasped.

Earl Roland keeps tightening his noose on the Boda, and they continue to live like rats underneath Greendome. Robyn and Jerry have a second child, but it is a yang this time, and they name hym Edgar.

Late in June 1947 a US Marine C-46 transport plane crashes on the western side of Mount Rainier, the highest peak in the Cascade Range, and when word gets around, a private pilot named Ken Arnold volunteers to aid with the search. While he is circling the mountain on June 24 he spots a cluster of nine brightly glowing meteors rushing past his plane at supersonic speed toward remote Mt. Adams in the south. Because they are pieces of a fireball in the process of breaking up, they seem to be flying in formation, so Arnold assumes they are aircraft, and he interpreted their intermittent bursts of brightness to be sunlight glinting off polished aluminum.

The pieces are of irregular shape and they are tumbling, which makes them appear to randomly hop up and down in the air stream. After his flight Ken tells a reporter that they flew like “a saucer skipping over water.” This is the first modern sighting of Unidentified Flying Objects and it sparks a national obsession with “flying saucers” that borders on mass hysteria because people insist on identifying them as spacecraft operated by aliens. Perhaps it was just more fun that way.

By July there has been many more saucer sightings. Some are ordinary mistakes but most are outright copycat hoaxes. The reporter has somehow garbled Arnold’s description. The pilot merely tried to convey that the objects moved like saucers, not that they looked like saucers. But it is too late, the erroneous quote is already in print, so everyone is “seeing” saucers.

In Greendome Jerry is working to adapt home-built macros to an air frame. Jerry’s idea is to obtain powered flight by constantly sucking in air from an intake manifold on the roof of the vehicle, making the air simply “go away” and thus creating a bubble of low pressure over the vehicle. Theoretically this would create lift, much with like a helicopter, but with an ability to stay aloft indefinitely. Jerry is, however, stumped on a final body design.

The first thing that comes to Robyn’s mind is the big national flying saucer craze. She says, “If we make it in the shape of a flying saucer, then even if people see us and report it, they won’t be believed. If they photograph us in flight, they will be accused of taking a snapshot of a hub cap.”

Jerry thinks that is a truly brilliant idea and he, with Hunky’s help, builds two flying saucers powered by the macro process. He spends a week teaching Inge, Hunky, and Dory how to use them, but Robyn is too busy with her newborn Edgar and her toddler Ariel to learn to fly.

Hunky and Dory take one saucer to visit Alaska, a trip is all pleasure and no business. So sparsely inhabited is that state that few UFO reports are forthcoming from their trip. That leaves just Jerry and Inge and the second saucer, since Robyn can’t go anywhere with her hands full. Jerry brings out his puppy-dog face, indicating to his wife that he wanted to take Inge out on the saucer, and Robyn has to make a decision.

For a year and more Robyn has been using her power of prediction to keep anyone in the Boda from being picked up by DECON. Some mornings sha’d say, “Don’t go to that house today, Earl’ll getcha.” Sha already knew Inge Hahn’s real name and what will happen if they force the Sharing, so she never pushes for it. She knows Jerry is up for a tour of the national parks in the American southwest, a decent inspection of the Grand Canyon in Arizona and the wind-carved sandstone marvels of Utah that would require at least ten days, just him and Inge alone in a saucer, and she knows they have hanky-panky on their mind, but that, bad as it is to Robyn, isn’t the worst thing that can happen. If Robyn doesn’t let them go, there’s no longer any scenario where the Boda avoids being captured by Roland. Inge is that close to doing what she always intended to do. If Robyn does let them go, she knows they will both come back, in a manner of speaking, but not anything like the way they are now, yet a path remains open for the Boda to stay free, if living under the town of Greendome could be considered free.

So Robyn wishes them a happy trip.

When things get boring between the national parks, Jerry and Inge fill in the time by having sex in a mesh hammock slung between hooks on the bulkheads of the saucer. Jerry figures Robyn, who can see the future (and therefore no hiding anything from her) is fine with it, seeing as how they hadn’t had sex for months while she carried Edgar, which is hard going for a newlywed man.

Jerry discovers, to his delight, that Inge’s heavy helping of freckles extends over her entire body. He had brought along the Purple Cable to enhance things like Hunky and Dory frequently reported, but Inge refuses to let him use it, and so her mind remains a mystery to him even if her delicious body no longer is, inside or out.

The P51 Mustang fighter plane is a bomber escort that revolutionized the strategic bombing campaign over western Europe during the war. Bomber pilots called them, affectionately, their “little friends”. Jet aircraft are coming on line now after the war, but the P51 remains in service as the most numerous fighter in the US Army Air Forces, which is still a few months away from being split off into it’s own branch of the military called the US Air Force.

Unfortunately for Jerry and Inge, they are touring a part of the country that has large empty areas of land given completely over to military operations. In short order Jerry and Inge became acquainted with a P51 over the state of New Mexico. They don’t have a chance. In the War, Mustangs shot almost 5,000 enemy aircraft out of the sky, and destroyed another 4,000 aircraft on the ground. It has six .50 caliber machine guns. Several rounds penetrate the crew canopy. One round hits Jerry in the leg. It is all he can do to get down to the ground without killing himself or Inge.

It is more of a crash than a landing, and it takes place on a ranch about thirty miles north of Roswell. This is to become the most famous “UFO incident” in history.

Inge is shaken but not injured. “I think the main macro still works,” Jerry gasps while Inge ties off his injured leg with his belt to try to stop the bleeding. “You can hover us the hell out of here.”

“I still don’t know how to fly this thing,” Inge says. She had expressed no desire to learn, and even now, with Jerry’s life on the line, she is too afraid to try. “I’ll just end up killing both of us. Besides, the airplanes will probably return and finish the job.”

But there is still one thing she is willing to do, and it is an enormous thing. Both of them eye the Purple Cable. She snaps one end into her head, and the other end to Jerry’s head, and then she begins to receive him.

Jerry’s memories and personality flood in. Inge’s self is pushed down and flooded out, but there is the beginning of a creeping return as the edges of Inge soak back into the new memories of Jerry which now stand firmly in the center of her mind.

The threshold trigger levels between brain cells are being flushed of Inge’s values and set to Jerry’s values, but this is not fully accomplished. The neurons are even being physically rerouted to reflect Jerry’s long-term memories but this too is not one hundred percent complete.

Feedback goes up the Purple Cable back to Jerry. From that instant he knows her great secret: there is no such person as Inge Hahn. She is really Becky Roland, the daughter of their enemy Earl Roland who had imprisoned Robyn and Hunky at the Clinic, burned down the temple, and made all of them fugitives. Roland was their implacable enemy, and Becky, his own daughter, is a plant. At first Jerry is horrified by this betrayal. But with Becky’s supreme sacrifice, giving up her very identity, Becky is saying to Jerry, “I am truly one of you.”

A new person is emerging who has 71% of Jerry’s brain wiring and 29% of Becky’s original wiring. At one point Becky fully surrenders her original identity, and after that a new composite person stares out at Jerry and his crippled and bleeding body.

The new Jerry, filled with amazement lets his hands roam all over his new female body with the creamy, freckled skin. So soft and smooth! He is a woman now, in body and spirit. The influence of Becky remains and has combined with a buried impulse that once led Aaron Anton to call him a natural bottom. Jerry is fully a she. And she decides to call herself Jill from that moment forward. Both Becky and Jerry have completed the Name Ritual and are fully b’nei elohim.

“They will be coming,” the injured Jerry warns Jill, but he hardly needs to speak. They are almost exactly the same person, still linked by the Purple Cable. “Leave before we’re both captured.”

“You could suffer True Death,” Jill warns him in reply. It is a concept that Jerry alone has rolled around in his mind long before this. He knows a terminal mind-capture must encapsulate the moment of death. If even one second was allowed to transpire after the recording, then the individual bifurcated. One would go on, but the other would experience being extinguished.

“I trust you will move heaven and earth to make sure that is not so,” he says. He removes the Purple Cable from his head, establishing the bifurcation, then gives his hand-macro to Jill. “Eliminate all the important parts of the saucer, the macro in the roof, and all the controls.

When she is done with all that Jill uses a screwdriver to attempt to open Jerry’s macro, which triggers the defense mechanism. The blade eats most of itself, enough to make the task of reverse engineering it impossible. She stamps the tiny remnant under her feet.

There is still a little water left over, enough for Jerry to drink until he is captured, and enough for Jill to fill two canteens. She also takes along a bag of trail mix to eat. But she is a ginger, and she knows the sun is really going to kick her ass during the hike.

It takes the rest of the day and part of the following night for Jill to walk across the desert south to the town of Roswell. From there she calls her bank, has money wired to her, and returns to Greendome by bus, which takes another three days with all the required bus transfers.

Cowboys find the wreckage in the desert while Jill is still on foot. They render what first aid they can and take Jerry to a small hospital in town. The movement of the horse-driven cart as he is carried out of there is terribly agonizing to him. The doctor saves Jerry’s leg, but he is laid up in traction and can make no move to escape.

The 509th Bomb Group retrieves the saucer from the rancher’s land and cranes it onto a couple of trucks. But it is just a pile of junk and there is nothing they can learn from it. There is no motor and no controls. It looks like a playground saucer made to entertain some children. And Jerry refuses to explain how it or he came to be there.

In the saloons, cowhands mention the “silver disk” they found and soon enough some reporters come calling. The Army press liaison tells them it is just debris from the crash of something they call project Mogul, and that Jerry Shybear was a local “Indian” who found it first, and shot himself in the leg when he thought he saw something move.

Then an Army general bitches about the leak of Mogul.

Tasked to conceal the existence of Mogul, the first thing that comes to mind was the big national flying saucer craze, exactly what occurred to Robyn’s mind. So the Air Force makes an official announcement that it had recovered the wreckage of a flying saucer. The press goes even more nuts, and the Air Force bureaucracy gradually realizes it had made a huge mistake. On July 8 they go on the radio, retract the flying saucer claim, and say naw, it is really just a weather balloon they picked up. Americans were less cynical in those days and let this go, so the military successfully covered up the cover-up.

Two years later when the existence of Project Mogul is declassified the Air Force says their original saucer statement is inoperative and that it had really been Mogul all along. Mogul is now the operative statement. Mogul had been an experiment to send balloons with microphones and tape recorders high into the sky to listen for Soviet nuclear detonations, then pick up the recordings later after the balloons had circled the globe.

So the press and the public let it drop again and the Air Force concludes they have successfully covered up the coverup of the coverup. That was the last anyone heard of it until three things happened that took away America’s virginity and put an end to the halcyon days when her leaders were looked up to and trusted implicitly.

The first was the assassination of the President in 1963, which sparked a poisonous conspiracy mindset that only seemed to be validated by later events, especially the Tet Offensive in South Vietnam in 1968, when people realized with shock that the government had lied and victory was nowhere in sight in the Vietnam War, plus the cover-ups and incredible abuses of power of the Watergate affair. Only after this vast attitude shift did people begin to read ominous things into the comedy of errors that took place at the beginning of the UFO era in 1947.

Alien bases were then imagined to exist in the four corners area of the south-western United States. An entire alphabet soup of imaginary government agencies were cooked up who were supposed to control all the top secret in formation on the alien presence, and even the information that these agencies existed was, conveniently, also supposed to be classified top secret. There were claims that projects existed to recover all downed flying saucers and claims that projects existed to overhaul and test-fly recovered flying saucers at “Area 51″ sixty miles northwest of Las Vegas. And the very lack of evidence for any of these claims was considered the best proof that a conspiracy to hide the truth existed.

Jerry Shybear is taken to a location in arid land but it isn’t Area 51 (Groom Lake), since the government did not establish that base until 1955. There is even a clinic much like the one at Hanford, but with much enhanced security. Earl Roland learns from his mistakes.

When Jill returns to Greendome she lays out the bad news first. “Jerry is either dead or in the hands of the enemy.”

Hunky and Dory grow filled with grief and press Jill for answers. She answers truthfully, but the hardest questions come from Robyn.

“I betrayed you, Robyn,” Inge admits. “We both did. Please don’t ask me to Share, you won’t like what you see.”

“So it was an affair.” Robyn had to admit to harself sha opened the door to that when sha told Jerry he owed her one homosexual fling. Har marriage to Jerry should have come first in every instance.

Jill then starts to dribble out some good news: she had allowed Jerry to take possession of her body, in the same way Chokhmah had taken possession of Haziel, or how Binah had possessed Yeshua. All of Jerry’s memories until the moment of possession are intact. “But I am not Jerry, nor am I Inge Hahn anymore. I ask you to call me only Jill from now on.”

This cheers up the b’nei elohim somewhat. Both Jerry and Inge are still present with them. Jerry is dead, but he lives on behind Jill’s eyes. And Jill herself has undergone an ad hoc version of the Name Ritual. The b’nei elohim have truly added a new member. Still, Hunky and Dory both feel something about Jill isn’t quite right.

So Jill toggles once more and lays out some bad news: “There never was any such person as Inge Hahn. My real name is Becky Roland, and I am the daughter of Earl Roland, planted by him here in the Greendome area so I could infiltrate your group.”

Robyn knew that all along. Sha lets out a slow sign. At least now it is out in the open.

“Why did you do that to us, Jill?” Dory wails, hardly able to believe it. “We loved you!”

“And I still love you,” she says, “all of you. Enough for Inge to surrender her body and soul so that Jerry might live. And I’m not finished giving. If there’s a chance Jerry’s alive, I must find him. And if he is dead, that only makes it even more important that I find him.”

Somewhere between the place where Lilith had paused and the front door of the lighthouse Haziel has slipped away. Lilith is quite alone when she knocks on the door of what had been her girlhood home. A strange, severe-looking woman with her hair tied back in a bun opens the door. “Yes, what is it?”

“Is my…is Benjamin home?”

“Who are you?”

Lilith’s father hobbles up behind the woman to see who has come calling. At first, when he sees the IDF uniform, he doesn’t recognize who it is, and he thinks he is in some sort of trouble again. But his mind merges the two decades of changes on Lilith’s face with his own memories of his daughter. Tentatively, he asks, “Lilith? Are you Lilith?”

His daughter’s face crinkles up in a way that Benjamin cannot mistake, and this time there are tears, perhaps the first tears she has shed over all that time. Lilith sobs, “Father, I’m so sorry!”

They embrace for a long time, and Lilith weeps as she has never done before in her life, for she realizes that her father has done nothing, absolutely nothing, to deserve the silent treatment that she has inflicted on him over all the intervening years. Lilith had rationalized to herself that she was punishing her father for refusing to emigrate to Palestine, but that was nothing more than a huge lie she had made herself believe all that time, and Lilith now marvels at her own capacity for self-deception.

When Benjamin and Lilith separate from their long embrace, the strange woman holds out her hand to Lilith. “I am Laura,” she introduces herself. “I am your father’s wife.”

“Life goes on,” Benjamin offers, as though he owed an explanation.

Lilith is mildly shocked by the news. “Father. We have so much catching up to do, it seems.”

“Then let us do so, beloved daughter, over a cuppa.”

The three share afternoon tea in the large common room of the lighthouse. It is the place that once held a Teletype that gave the family their orders to direct the Clarinet antenna for a strategic bombing run over occupied Europe. Benjamin tells Lilith he was old enough to retire, but operating the lighthouse is not so physically demanding, and he still enjoys making his meterological observations and publishing articles in his field to various professional journals. Also at certain hours during the day he and Laura guide tourists about the lighthouse grounds and even take them up to the top, something Benjamin forces himself to do despite a bit of arthritis in his knees.

Lilith, for her part, is necessarily vague on answering her father’s questions about how she managed to travel to Israel, since she herself didn’t know the mechanics of that. But everything else she relates, in reverse order, starting from the recent Suez War and going backwards to the birth of her adopted nation.

“And all this time, daughter, were there no gentlemen in your life? Have you never considered being married?”

Lilith comes to a dead stop there. The heroic accounts of an IDF Major in the Arab-Israeli wars are over. Her father’s innocent question dumps her directly into the pit of agonizing memories that smolder yet in the core of her soul. “How shall I proceed father? I am no stranger to the touch of man, but…let’s call it conditioning, shall we? The thought of physical love inevitably takes me back to the camps. You may draw your own conclusions, but that, I think is a mental scar far more long lasting than any of the physical ones I bear, and I know you have seen those.”

“I am so sorry, Lilith!”

“Rather it is I who must apologize to you, father. At no time did you do or say anything that merited shunning from your own daughter.”

“Once,” he tentatively said, thinking of Lilith’s mention of scars, “just once, I did see the scars on your back. Will you say anything about what happened to you?”

Lilith lowers her head for a long time, gathering the painful memories into a narrative for the first time since it happened. This is it, she thought. And I dread it so, but Haziel wants me to do this.

“One time,” she began, “near the very end, before we were liberated by the American army, the survivors — and this was a death camp so there were not very many of us – the survivors were mustered together for a roll call, or what the Germans called an appell. We all wore very thin clothing, and it was very cold, as the mornings often were in late March. The commander of the camp gave an order to flog the entire first row of prisoners simply because the exhausted and freezing women had poor posture! And I was in the first row.

“Listening to the screams of the prisoners being whipped before my turn was almost worse than the actual punishment. Almost. I vowed that I would not scream when it happened to me, and I begged God for the strength to make that vow hold true.

“I was stripped naked and held by two female guards over a table while a third laid on the lash. The agony of this punishment is indescribable. I will not even attempt to describe it. But from the first stroke I completely forgot my vow, and I did scream.”

Both Benjamin and Laura gape at her with horror.

“I lost count of how many strokes I received because I lost consciousness before it was over. I woke up in the camp hospital in only slightly less agony than during the whipping, with my entire back on fire, it felt like. It would take four days before I could get more than a few minutes of uninterrupted sleep at a time. I had lost a lot of blood and the slightest movement opened the wounds and caused me to bleed again. So I could not be moved from the hospital or walk under my own power. When the American forces drew very near, the entire camp descended into chaos. I was left behind.

“A day later I did manage to stumble out of bed for one final task. Troops of the 89th Infantry Division of the US Third Army captured Ohrdruf-Nord on April 4, 1945. Among the many thousands of dead Jews whose burnt or decomposing bodies where strewn about the camp, one female German guard also lay on the ground with her head nearly twisted off the spine. That guard was the one who had laid the lash on my back. She was my first one, father, but she was not my last one, not by a wide margin.”

Benjamin closes his eyes and howls in despair, as Laura tries to comfort him.

“And so you see, father, as I stand here in my IDF uniform, that the little girl you raised in this lighthouse is no more, replaced by a cold-blooded killer, and we do not really know each other at all, do we?”

“Please,” Benjamin begged, recovering just a bit. “I must know. Please. What happened to your mother?”

Lilith shakes her head firmly. “You’re not ready for that, father. It would kill you. I’m not ready for it yet, and I was there.”

She gets up and quietly leaves the lighthouse. Looking around for Haziel, Lilith sees instead an unclothed white human figure with no hair, no eyes or mouth. The figure draws near to Lilith, who is not afraid. She reaches a hand out slowly as though to touch the mannequin-thing. A needle springs out from the surface to pierce one of Lilith’s outstretched fingers, and she draws back her hand in pain. Then there is a rush of images, followed by the heat of the sandy stretch of the eastern Mediterranean that Lilith calls home. The white figure is gone.

Nineteen years after the creation of the State of Israel, Lilith Gervasi (having been advanced from seren to rav seren, or Major) is crucial for her nation’s success in the Six Day War. This is the third major conflict between Israel and the Arab nations that comprise the bad neighborhood of the Middle-East. Geopolitically this war would have greater ramifications than any other tussle in the Arab-Israeli conflict except on one timeline when the 1973 Yom Kippur War with its use of nuclear weapons would prove much more fateful.

The cause of the 1967 war is exactly the same as the cause of the First Suez War in 1956. President Nasser rolls the dice one more time. The Strait of Tirin is once again blocked by the heavy guns of the fortress at Sharm el-Sheikh, choking off the southern Negev town of Eilat from access to the open sea.

The biggest factor in the war is the destruction of nearly two hundred Egyptian warplanes while they are still parked on their runways. In just a quarter of an hour on the morning of June 5 many Egyptian planes which had been prepared to bomb Israel are mortally crippled by the Israeli Air Force, and powerful cluster bombs tear up the airfields where the planes were parked. Bomblets shatter the concrete of the runways down to the foundations and make them temporarily useless.

The IDF retains most their fighter planes orbiting on CAP (Combat Air Patrol) in Israeli airspace to defend from any counter-attacks in case the bombing attack fails, but some of these are dispatched to Egypt after the attack to evaluate the damage. They report that 180 Egyptian planes have been destroyed, and all the communications facilities of the Egyptian air forces are also out of operation. The operation is considered to be a spectacular success.

President Nasser tells King Hussein of Jordan nothing of the sudden loss of his entire air force. He tells the king it was the Israeli air force, rather, that has been completely destroyed. Proceeding on the basis of this misinformation the king orders his troops to cross the border and his planes to begin bombing targets in Israel. Syria and Iraq attack at precisely the same time.

Within two hours, Israeli warplanes drive back the invading forces and destroy the bulk of Syrian and Jordanian air assets with aerial dogfights and ground attacks. A grand total of four hundred Arab aircraft are destroyed in the first day of fighting, leaving only 280 operational planes, but there are very few runways left operational from which to launch them. That fact alone decides the outcome of the war in favor of Israel. The rest is just icing on the cake

On June 6th, Nasser makes another phone call to King Hussein to tell him American and British planes destroyed his entire air force on the first day. Nasser half-believes that lie himself. To admit the Israelis had somehow decapitated his entire air force would imply that mere Jews were militarily superior to Arabs, which was, of course, utterly unthinkable. So it must have been the Anglo-Americans went his muddled thinking.

On the morning of June 7th Major Lilith Gervasi receives orders to report to General David Elazar at his Northern Command, based out of Galilee, where she is given command of a full battalion. She spends the rest of that day and most of the night evaluating the readiness of her troops and briefing her staff.

On June 8th General Elazar drives to Tel Aviv to get permission from Chief of Staff Yitzhak Rabin to attack the Golan Heights, lest the Syrians be left in a position to shell settlers from there after the war draws to a close. At first the proposal is rejected, but overnight it becomes clear the Egyptian army is in a state of disintegration. Moshe Dayan, the Minister of Defense, overruled Rabin and authorized the Golan attack.

By June 9th Lilith and her battalion are in bitter hand-to-hand fighting against Syrians manning fortifications in the Golan Heights, which their enemy defends with impressive tenacity. But future President-for-life Hafez al-Assad, then the Minister of Defense in Syria, begins to fear for his own hide. He orders the Golan defenders to withdraw to reinforce his forces along the route to the capital city of Damascus, which lies only forty miles away from the front line.

As the Syrians give ground through the night, Lilith’s battalion advances, but the fighting remains fierce and exhausting. By the evening of June 10 it is all over. After only six days of hard fighting, Israel possesses three times the territory she did before the war.

No Egyptian forces of any strength remain to prevent the IDF from reaching Cairo even if they chose to do so, which they ultimately do not. Egypt’s infantry has been reduced to thousands of thirsty, barefooted stragglers walking west to cross over the Sinai Canal. As long as they keep moving west, the IDF lets them go. Israel is already burdened with 7,000 Egyptian prisoners as things stand.

The whole Sinai peninsula is annexed by Israel, which completely isolates the Gaza Strip. Sharm is abandoned by the Egyptians in the face of a strong amphibious assault. A chain of IDF fortresses designed to block any future Egyptian attack is built along the east bank of the canal. This was called the Bar-Lev Line, but it was never staffed by appropriate numbers of Israeli troops, and this foolish policy allowed Egypt to attack once again in 1973.

The ancient capital of Jerusalem falls completely into Israeli hands after nearly two thousand years. Jordanian forces are driven east across the Jordan River, leaving the entire West Bank, also called Judea and Samaria, under IDF occupation. The State of Israel now controls the lives of a million Palestinian Arabs, and this was to come with its own host of problems well into the Twenty-first Century on every timeline El Shaddai and Yeshua established.

Syria loses their territory in the strategic Golan Heights. A helicopter takes IDF soldiers to the summit of snowy Mt. Hermon to take possession of the radar facilities there. This broad and tall mountain, whose snows are the source of the Jordan River, becomes the eyes and ears of Israel.

Total Israeli losses are about 700 dead. This butcher’s bill is far smaller than had been feared on the eve of the war, but it is still a heavy burden for their families and communities to bear. Arab losses are much higher. In the Sinai alone there are 15,000 Egyptian corpses left unburied on the desert sands.

Israel, despite her relatively small population, has stabilized as the regional superpower of the Middle-East. A roughly equal number of Jews dwell in the United States, where they lived in conditions much safer than in Eretz Yisrael, but they were still of the Diaspora. They weren’t home, in the land that had been promised to Abraham, and if the Jews had learned anything over the previous three thousand years it was that seemingly favorable conditions abroad were liable to change precisely because they, as a tribe, as a people, never changed. Something buried deep inside the rest of humanity could never accept that.

The lesson had to be learned all over again just five years later.

Early in that five years Lilith develops the same bony knob at the back of her head that is the mark of the Boda in Greendome. The knob opens to become a 55-pin connector. At first Lilith is quite alarmed, but she knows it has something to do with being pierced by that white figure in Ventnor, and that Haziel must be responsible.

In the middle of the five years between wars Haziel meets Lilith and brings the Purple Cable with har. Sha plugs one end into the back of har head, and holds the other end out, requesting that Lilith do the same. At no time does Haziel force Lilith to do anything. Lilith accepts the invitation and her mind is flooded with a storm of images.

I am not the one you worship as God but I seek that one even as you do. Thaumiel stands between us and the Old One who created the elohim in this galaxy and who also created humans on Earth. This planet alone has the combination of a stable sun, a self-moderating climate, a magnetic field to shield it from cosmic rays, a large moon to dampen wobble due to precession, a large gas-giant planet to vacuum up most stray comets and asteroids, the optimum rate of spin to moderate both temperature extremes and stormy weather, an active geology to rebuild eroded lands, and a fully functioning water cycle.

Lilith sees the thick planetary accretion disk forming around Epsilon Eridani. Haziel takes her to the Hyades star cluster in Taurus, and then to the Pleiades cluster further on. There Lilith looks back to see how the Earth’s sun is snuggled in along the outskirts of what Haziel calls Collinder 285, a formerly tight star cluster which is widely scattered now, but a few core stars remain close together, and men called it the Big Dipper.

Next Haziel takes Lilith far above the plane of the Milky Way galaxy. The sun dims far below and is lost among the interstellar clouds which give shape to the spur of the Orion Arm in which it lies. Haziel points out Rho Cassiopeia, four thousand light years away from Earth, a huge supergiant star 100,000 times more luminous than the Sun. Behold Milcom, my absent eloah father.

Lilith learns there are 2 billion trillion stars in the visible universe, but only a tiny fraction of these are alive and awake. Then Haziel takes her further out and up, until she is looking at the forty galaxies of the Local Group, dominated by the Milky Way and the Andromeda Galaxy. We count ten billion large galaxies like our own, and a hundred billion lesser galaxies.

Haziel takes her even further out, and Lilith sees that the Local Group is just a satellite of the Vega Supercluster, which had one hundred fifty large galaxies and a thousand dwarf galaxies, all bound together by gravity. It is a meta-galaxy made up of galaxies, with a core thirty-five million light-years away. And it was only one of 300,000 superclusters in the universe. But the whole Vega Supercluster is moving toward the Great Attractor near the Centaurus supercluster. Meanwhile the Sculptor and Phoenix superclusters form part of a long wall of thousands of galaxy groups stretching across a billion light years of space.

Finally Haziel shows Jill the Bootes Void, 300 million light-years across with no clusters inside it at all, only a few lonely galaxies scattered within. This is the structure at the largest scale of the universe: Walls of galactic superclusters, which form the surface of large voids. The universe is built like a vast sponge.

Haziel judges that sha has shown Lilith enough for now, and departs. Two years later, war comes once again to Israel.

Egypt crosses the Suez Canal on October 6, 1973 while Israel is basically shut down for the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur. Egypt’s attack consists of 240 warplanes and two thousand pieces of artillery, followed by eight thousand troops crossing over the Suez Canal. At the same time, six hundred Syrian tanks advance across the uplands known as the Golan Heights.

Mobilization orders go out to the reservists and regulars of the Israel Defense Force while the soldiers are at home, or attending synagogue, or even living overseas. Lilith Gervasi, now an adjunct professor living in the United States, is notified by telegram and arrives in Israel Oct. 8, in uniform as a sgan aluf or Lieutenant Colonel.

Lilith reports for duty once more at General David Elazar’s Northern Command. At forty-five years of age she is a little long in the tooth as combatants went, but Lilith, who spends much of her time between Arab-Israeli wars conditioning herself for the next Arab-Israeli war, is actually in excellent physical shape.

By Oct. 10 the Israeli counterattack in the Golan reaches the line from which Syria launched their attack on the first day of the war. Defense Minister Moshe Dayan wants to halt right there, thirty miles from Damascus, to avoid drawing the Soviet Union into the war. General Elazar, by contrast, wants to advance another twenty miles into Syria to set up a strong defensive line and stabilize the northern front. Prime Minister Golda Meir, who has been assured by the US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger that Nixon had her back, sides with Elazar.

The Israeli thrust east from the Golan Heights into Syria begins on the 11th and pushes the Syrians back after fierce fighting. Early that evening, Lilith’s brigade is already six miles over the border into Syria. A few days later, the Christian commander of Syria’s forces in the Golan is executed before a firing squad in Damascus for ordering the withdrawal.

Moshe Dayan goes on television at 2200 hours and reminds the Syrians that the road from Damascus to Israel is also the road from Israel to Damascus. But the next day Iraq enters the war, with fifteen thousand Iraqi troops shoring up the Syrian front. King Hussein of Jordan resists Arab pressure, however, and refuses to move against Israel in yet another war.

In Syria, all eighty tanks of one Iraqi brigade are destroyed by Israeli tanks and planes with absolutely no losses to the Israelis. Another Iraqi tank brigade is blocked by Lilith and a demolition crew who arrived at two bridges the tanks needed to cross and slice partway through their support structures with blow torches, letting the weight of the tanks do most of the work. There are no tell-tale explosions. When the bridges collapse, fifty of the eighty tanks were stranded on a dirt “island” with fewer than ten tanks able to advance, which the IDF Air Force quickly takes off the board.

On October 16, sixty Iraqi tanks are hit on the Golan Heights and they withdraw. The Israelis hold their position just eight miles outside of Damascus and Lilith’s brigade of infantry is an important part of this strong offensive line. The IDF also halts five miles west of the road from Damascus to Amman, Jordan, ready to block any late-minute entry of Jordan into the war with a flank attack. The Soviet Union finally grows alarmed at the setbacks experienced by their Arab client states.

At that point the Israelis begin to breathe a sigh of relief, particularly when equally spectacular results are starting to come in from the southern theater of war. But the religious extreme right in Israel, with none of their own boots on the ground (as usual) prevail upon the female Prime Minister Golda Meir to withdraw all female combatants from the front lines of the conflict. In the event she refuses they threaten to take Likud out of the temporary power-sharing arrangement of her Alignment party, which would in turn drive her from office. Meir quickly caves in, and Lilith Gervasi is relieved of duty.

When she makes formal protest, General Elazar, demonstrating an extraordinarily short memory of Lilith’s legendary accomplishments for Israel over the years, barks at her, “Give me one reason why I should not carry out these orders rotating you back home?”

She bares her arm with the six tattooed numerals. But it is not enough and she is immediately demobilized.

As the 1973 Yom Kippur war rages on, President Nixon orders an airlift of military supplies to allow Israel to keep fighting. The Soviets supply their Arab client states continuously throughout the war. To keep Lilith away from the temptation to wage war against the Arabs by “unofficial” means, she is placed on an empty C-130 Hercules cargo plane on it’s way back the United States.

In the Sinai, Israel loses two hundred tanks right away, but a pair of extra tank divisions are rushed forward to halt the Egyptian advance. Eighty percent of Israel’s entire inventory of armor that is still operational is sent into the battle, but Egyptian troops using Soviet-supplied anti-tank weaponry hold the Israelis to a line five miles east of the Suez Canal. Meanwhile more Egyptian tanks and infantry massing on their side of the canal are protected from Israeli air attack by a tough shield of anti-aircraft missiles guided by radar, again courtesy of the Soviet Union.

On October 13 the Egyptians try to break through two mountain passes in the Sinai. What follows is the largest tank battle on Earth since the 1943 battle of Kursk between Germany and Russia and the second largest tank battle anywhere, ever, involving nearly two thousand tanks. During the battle a total of 264 Egyptian tanks are knocked out, to Israel’s ten. On the 14th another Egyptian attack on the Suez Canal is stopped with the destruction of 200 tanks and a thousand Egyptian soldiers killed.

The following day a third battle is fought at the meeting point between the Egyptian Second and Third Armies that serves as an administration area for both armies and headquarters for the 16th Infantry Division. Tanks fire at practically point blank range. Egypt loses 150 tanks to Israel’s eighty. Overnight an IDF parachute brigade establishes a toehold on the other side of the Canal. Two forward-deployed Egyptian anti-aircraft missile bases are taken out, allowing Israel to establish air superiority over the western bank of the Suez Canal.

A veritable conveyor belt of Soviet war supplies move by air to Egypt and Syria, while the Americans supply Israel from their own endless abundance. But when the Soviet Union sees the Arabs checked in the Golan and now in the Suez, and Nixon refuses to pressure Israel to allow the trapped Third Army to escape, Leonid Brezhnev begins airlifting Soviet troops to Cairo to supplement the Egyptians.

Passing through the strait of the Dardenelles, Soviet naval forces in the Mediterranean reach a total of 97 ships, including 23 submarines, while the US adds a third carrier battle group from Spain for a total of 60 ships. Three carriers in a theater always heralded war.

Nixon takes the US to DEFCON 3 and sends the 101st Airborne into the Sinai to counterbalance the Soviet troops, but events are moving fast and there is insufficient time to match the Soviets troop-for-troop. Nixon tells Brezhnev that sending any more troop transport planes would be crossing a red line, but Brezhnev calls his bluff.

Fighters from the USS Independence shoot down the next cargo plane hauling Soviet troops. Brezhnev replies with a nuclear-tipped torpedo round fired at the Independence. The United States didn’t even know the Soviets had nuclear torpedoes. The weapon didn’t even have to be close. The blast takes out the carrier, several support ships steaming alongside, and even damages the Soviet submarine that fired it. The Cold War has just gone hot.

Nixon orders weapons red and free on all Soviet forces in the Mediterranean, and the two sides slug it out. Both remaining US carriers are taken out, but the Soviet naval forces definitely come off much the worse.

This hardly matters at all. An exchange of ICBMs takes out the American and the Soviet capital cities, killing ten million people instantly and many more people after the fact. Then the two superpowers go back into their own corners to assess what is happening and see if the other side is willing to escalate.

A few more items on each side’s laundry list are nuked, such as the Hanford site in the US where Robyn and Hunky were once held, and the Sevastopol navy base, but Brezhnev and Nixon are both dead, and cooler heads don’t think losing more millions of lives would be worth what either side has gained by the war, which is precisely nothing.