Lords of Being
Chapter 45: Guns and Monkeys
It’s afternoon in Northern Michigan as Hellgrammite and Catalyst are waiting by the gate for the deliveries. An IKEA truck arrives, full of furniture. The driver volunteers to drive onto the base and help unload it, but Hellgrammite insists that it be unloaded at the gate.
Once the truck leaves, Hellgrammite fetches the dwarves and any other of the refugees who can help fetch and assemble.
Another truck arrives with food and supplies. Again, Hellgrammite insists that it unload at the gate. If this keeps up, we’re going to get a certain reputation.
The elves seem to have a tendency to disappear into the woods. Possibly they’re after the ghost mammoths.
Out of sight of the gate, Simon is still hanging in mid-air, watching for anything approaching the base, when his phone rings. “Mr. Glass, this is Lady Diamond. May I join you?”
“You don’t want to weigh much. I’m up in the air at the moment.”
“I’m bringing Zabeth with me. Would you consider landing?”
“One moment… I’m down now.” Lady Diamond and Zabeth appear.
“Who is this?” Zabeth hasn’t met Simon. When she was here last, the only personification of Silicon we had was Sylvester.
Lady Diamond replies, “This is also Mr. Glass.”
Zabeth considers this. “How many are you?”
Simon answers, “There are three of me on this planet at the moment. Sylvester is in Silicon Valley, and Syliva is in that building over there.”
Lady Diamond interrupts, “I must get back.” With that, she disappears.
Zabeth continues, “I hear you need reinforcements?”
Simon responds as they walk towards the main building, “Angels keep dropping off refuges and telling them they’ll be safe here. No, not here. With us. When we were in the plane, they dropped them off there until the plane was full. There are ghosts and elves and dwarves and embodiments. For example that thing that looks like an animate shopping bag. It has several bags inside it that are trying to be organs. They’re things that have never been animated and are trying it out for the first time. Nobody seems to have dropped them off. We’re not sure why they’re here. We’re feeding the refugees and providing them with a place to stay.”
They’re already in the building when Zabeth asks, “What’s the plan to deal with this?” Hellgrammite is handing out tools to the dwarves to and others to get them doing maintenance and repairs on the complex.
Mabel replies, “We’ve been too busy coping to have come up with a plan.”
“Why are they all coming here?”
Simon answers, “Maybe we have our own anomaly to account for the Unbegot. The others have been dropped off by angels. They all appear to be in some sort of crisis. They might be being attacked. Or it could just be really bad weather. Two entirely different folk have suggested that the weakening of the universe has made an opening through which the Maskim may be able to invade. I think that things seem to be accelerating. The seriousness of the issues has been getting more and more elaborate. The last two incidents involved Tyndale Hounds and warring goddesses. I just think that we should be prepared.”
“So we’re providing refuge. Is there any way to leverage the energy of these lost souls?”
“So far as I can tell they’re more in need then able to help.”
“In need of what?”
“Some of them need to be put back together. Others seem to be hungry, some physically, some metaphysically. Jonathan has been ordering food for some, Catalyst has been brewing up stuff for others.”
“You’ve got an interesting collection.”
Simon tells Zabeth that he has to get back to sentry duty, and leaves her to her own devices. She’s still trying to understand what’s happening and calls Ragnison. “What’s going on here? “
“I have no idea why there is a sudden influx of refugees. The Maskim are the fallen Dominations. At the beginning of time, there were twenty-four Dominations. Ten fell. Only seven survived the War in Heaven. “
“So they are no more? Are we sure of this?”
“They were attacked by Michael.”
“Is there anything that we can do prepare ourselves?”
“No, there’s nothing you could do if they came after you.”
“Can we get them to party and get it over with?”
“If they chose to war on Earth, there probably wouldn’t be much left.”
“What does this have to do with the blockages?”
“You must have heard the speculation that we’re under attack.”
“Yes, but why?”
“I know no more than you.”
Zabeth sighs. “The numbers say that we’re going to be really swamped if this goes down the way it’s trending.”
“You may remember Cadmus’ two pages? He was considerably better plugged in than I was. They have told us some things that they got from him. Apparently there are a lot of troop movements, so to speak, on the higher levels. On both sides. So the Maskim are not likely to have it all their own way.”
“Is there an infernal component?”
“The Maskim are infernal and are clearly being manipulated. I recommend you find what your friends are good at fighting. If some are good at physical fighting, psychic defense, etc.”
After a bit more chit-chat, Zabeth rings off, pulls out her laptop, and does some poking around on the net. She finds that the Maskim are reputed to be the seven demons who control the universe.
Hellgrammite directs the djinn make the walls thicker, windows smaller. The dwarves start digging tunnels between the buildings, as well as connecting corridors above ground.
Evening comes. Sylvia is at the gun, with Lead. He nudges her and points to the trees. “Incoming.”
Four human figures are running out of the trees, followed by a number of animal figures. The animals are moving… oddly. Sylvia points the gun in their direction. She recognizes the animals as monkeys.
In a booming voice, Sylvia calls out “Halt!” The intruders accelerate. She shoots the laser 10 meters in front of the group, which skids to a stop. Some of the monkeys run back to the forest, screaming. The rest cower by the humans.
Mabel and the dogs head towards Sylvia. Captain Barron is waking Neville.
Sylvia recognizes the lead human as Hanuman, the Courtier of Chaos that has been causing trouble for us. She turns the gun over to Lead, hits the Watch, and runs towards the intruders. As she approaches the group, she pulls out the glass flechette gun out and shoots at Hanuman’s chest. This is the gun that the Courtiers told her would take a Courtier a long time to heal from. She steps back about 10 feet, and lets time move slowly forward so she can appreciate the effect as the flechettes slowly fly forward in a glittering, deadly spray. The expression on Hanuman’s face is worth the effort.
She adjusts the watch to let time move forward at about half speed as she sees him trying to demanifest. An iridescent amoeba rises out of the body, blurs at the edges, expands and fades. This isn’t the way that most Courtiers of Chaos do it.
The group stares at the body of their fallen leader. The remaining humans are three young men with Indian features.
Sylvia yells, “I said Halt!” The effect is ruined by the fact that she’s still at half time, and sounds like Alvin, without the rest of the chipmunks.
Simon swoops down and lands with the rail gun at the ready.
Zabeth and Sylvia can see that the men are wreathed about with a certain amount of Luck. So is Hanuman, not that it helped. So are the monkeys, though not as much.
Roper and Hookie are cutting off their retreat.
In poor, barely comprehensible Hindi, Sylvia repeats “I said Halt.” She really should try it at normal speed. Simon translates.
Zabeth goes to the nearest plane hatch to cover the group with the lightning gun.
One of the young men screams in Hindi, “He will return! Press on!” He tries to run past Sylvia, towards the building. Despite time moving at half speed, Sylvia misses him as he falls to the tarmac just before she fires. It must be all that luck.
Unfortunately, he must have used it all up. Simon fires the rail gun, hitting the figure that’s scrambling to rise. It’s not likely to rise again. Simon announces in passable Hindi, “That wouldn’t be a good idea.” And brings the rail gun to bear on the rest of the group which is now visibly demoralized.
The monkeys run screaming towards the trees. Mabel sends Roper to fetch them. Hookie looks resentful at being left out of the fun.
Simon gestures with the rail gun and says, “Drop them.” in Hindi. The two remaining intruders let their weapons fall to the concrete.
Sylvia asks, “What are you doing here?” in nearly incoherent Hindi. Simon translates.
The nearer man answers, “We are here to get the chaos fragment.”
Simon and Sylvia turn to each other. He frowns. She smiles. Then they nod at each other, and Simon says, “Run, I’ll give you five.”
The two men stare at him. Then one who did not speak grabs the other by the arm and they start to run back toward the forest. As they run, they blur and fade. The effect is much like what we see when Mona leaves.
Roper trots up with his tail held high, dragging along a monkey. He’s got its head in his mouth. The creature might or might not be conscious. There’s more monkey screams coming from the forest edge.
Lead comes pounding up, points at the man that Simon shot and says, “Don’t let him die.”
Simon yells for Rosamond. Unfortunately, she hasn’t come out to see what’s going on. He calls her on his phone, and asks her to come tend a prisoner.
As Sylvia starts looting the bodies of luck, Simon hangs up and turns to Lead. “Any particular reason?”
“If he dies, there’s a possibility that he will become an intelligence leak.”
Zabeth walks up from the plane. “How so?”
“It would depend on who picks him up.”
“Can we scoop him up and keep in a jar ourselves?”
Lead shrugs. “Here comes your medic, so the question may be moot.”
“What about the other one?”
“Doesn’t look like a human to me. Was that one of your folk?”
“What happens if one of you loses a vehicle traumatically like that?”
Zabeth grins. “It’s going to take a long time for him to come back from the Courts.” She peers at Lead. “You seem to know a lot about this sort of thing.”
Lead shrugs again. “I’m Lead. I’m here to offer a certain amount of protection.”
Zabeth offers her hand and introduces herself.
While the two of them chat, Simon pulls out his phone again and calls Lady Diamond. “Are you with Ragnison? Could I be on speaker phone?”
“We just had an attack from Hanuman, three henchmen and a bunch of moneys. Hanuman won’t be bothering us for a good long time.”
Ragnison doesn’t sound sorry to hear that. “Well, that’s probably for the best. We will have words when he gets back.”
“I’ve been told that he’s on his way back to the Courts.”
“And when he gets there it will take him a while to pull himself together.”
“The separatists seem to be working separately. So this is probably not one prong of a concerted effort. But who’d want to bet on that?”
“What happened to the henchmen?”
“Two ran off into thin air, and Rosamund is dealing with the other one. We were afraid that if he died and the wrong party picked him up he might be an intelligence leak.”
“How much did they learn?”
“They tried a frontal attack. A laser blast didn’t dissuade them. Sylvia shot Hanuman with the glass flechette gun. I shot the other.”
Ragnison muses, “I’m wondering how they found you. I thought you were shielded.”
Simon turns to Lead. “Good question. Mr. Plumber?”
“There are ways and ways. Is there any chance they could have tracked you mundanely? Perhaps you can ask your prisoner, once he’s conscious.”
Lady Diamond calls gaily, “Oh, is he there too? Hello Lead.”
Lead inclines his head. “Hello, Lady Diamond.”
Simon returns to the topic at hand. “Or they might have tracked us by flight plan.”
Ragnison adds “In any event, you need to catch all the monkeys…”
Simon considers. “I wonder if the elves and genies are any good at that?”
Ragnison laughs. “You do make the most interesting phone calls.” And hangs up.
Simon calls Hellgrammite. “We had an attack by Hanuman. Are you near the elves or djinn?”
“There’s a bunch of Hanuman langurs. We need anybody who’s good at hunting.”
“OK. I’ll see what I can do here. Did we take anyone?”
“There’s a wounded human. Rosamond is working on him. Sylvia dispatched Hanuman. It will be a while until he can regroup.”
Hellgrammite hangs up, and turns to the dwarves and asks them to build him a secure place to lock someone up. Then he turns to the djinn and asks them to help him round up the monkeys from the surrounding forest. Grabbing a fistful of zip ties, he leads the djinn out of the building.
Arriving at the place where Rosamond is tending the young man Simon shot, Hellgrammite leaves some zip ties for Rosamond. Without looking up, she says, “He won’t need them anytime soon.”
He then helps Mabel zip up the monkey that Roper fetched. Zabeth points the direction the rest of the troop was last seen going. The djinn transform into balls of red fire which zoom towards the forest and dwindle to invisibility. Monkey screams come from the forest.
In a brief amount of time, the djinn return with wooden carvings of monkeys, which they hand to Hellgrammite. Nine in all. He asks, “They’re still alive, right?”
The lead djinni shrugs. “They can be.”
He points to the zip-tied monkey that Roper caught. “Can you do that to the other?”
The djinni nods. The monkey is replaced by a wood carving. Hellgrammite puts all ten in his tote bag.
Zabeth points at Hanuman’s remains and asks the djinn, “Can you could burn the body?”
“Of course. Where would you like it burned?”
Zabeth gestures. “Over there, on the cement blocks.”
“Ah. A catafalque. Of course.” Two of the djinn pick the corpse up easily and carry it to the blocks. Two others step up and the four take hands. With a “Fwoosh!” an inferno engulfs the four djinn and the corpse.
The remaining djinni asks, “Did you want the ashes?”
Late at night, blockages start piling up. More than ever before.
Lead and Sylvia are manning the gun with glass teddy bear, when they become aware of someone is standing next to them.
Last Updated: Apr 16, 2010
©2009 Barry Tannenbaum, All Rights Reserved