Shiron 30th of Rainmonth
April walked down the aisle in the small chapel. She was dressed in a beautiful white gown of lace and silk, a flower garland in her hair, and beaming a huge smile and her big green eyes lit up in happiness. Colin was waiting for her, dressed in his full dress black and silver uniform, looking dashing and handsome; Gavin was filled with pride as he stood in the audience with his other girls. He would miss April, but he was glad she had found happiness. It was hard to believe that he had found her five years ago in that strip club, and stolen her away (literally). Years of love, kindness and a bit of magic had brought out the beauty that was in her, and gotten rid of the horrible past she had labored with. It looked like he would lose Jennifer soon too, but he couldn’t imagine her ending up with any one better than his friend Riley.
Michelle wiped away a tear as she watched her friend walk by. She looked over at Gavin and smiled as she remembered. He had stolen them, literally kidnaped them all, once. But she loved him, even now after the magical spell that had forced her to love him had faded away. One day she would be walking down that aisle, to join him, she decided. Although, she thought with a grin, she might have to wait for a while longer. She was patient, she would have him yet, once Sarah and her other competition left to live their own lives.
The other girls stood as well, some wiping away tears, others beaming with pride as their friend, their sister, married the young man they now knew to be Gavin’s nephew. They thought their own thoughts, some of envy, some of sadness, and all wondering what the future would bring.
Venice Beach, Wednesday 11 PM
Chad dozed on the recliner in front of the television, a half empty beer can sitting on the end table next to him. He was tired; it had been a busy couple of days, planting evidence and notes, getting the lone witness in Morro Bay placed in a mental hospital, and a hundred other details. But he was satisfied now, and even more importantly, so was the beautiful and vengeful goddess he served. He could finally rest, thank goodness, and get back to more normal activities tomorrow.
His comfortable dozing ended abruptly as he felt a line of cold hard steel against his throat, and heard a soft, throaty voice whisper in his ear.
“Wake up; it's time to talk now, little man,” Paula whispered, while Grim held the sharp combat knife against the man’s throat. “Don’t move until I tell you, do you understand? I want you to open your eyes and blink twice if you do.”
Chad opened his eyes, and already could feel sweat trickling down his back. “How had this happened? Wes was supposed to be in Scotland, along with his girls,” he thought, fighting back panic.
“I should introduce myself. You see, Emily is a very good friend of mine, and you told Andrea where she lived. That crazy bitch took my friend Cindy. I want to know where!” Paula said in an angry whisper.
“I don’t know, she wouldn’t tell me,” He said, trying to buy some time. He couldn’t tell them anything, his goddess would be angered. He must fight them, and if possible, take them out so she could talk to these enemies.
“Well, I guess we will find out the hard way,” Paula whispered. Stepping back, she cast a spell, and green light glowed about the helpless man. Grim stepped back, and watched as Paula took control of the man, enslaving his will, hypnotizing him, then charming him and then gradually as she took on the appearance of Andrea in Chad’s mind, dominating him. After a few minutes, Chad was completely convinced his goddess was there with him, and it was time for him to report.
Shiron 11th of Greenmonth
Cheryl looked carefully over the statue in the hall. Next to her, Sarah and Michelle watched and waited. A pair of nursing sisters stood by, and filled them in on the details.
“Her name is Mara and she was one of our order until she got captured by the Kitherans during the war and given over to Gregor,” the senior sister said, a pretty woman dressed in gold and green known as Sister Rose. “Well, when we got to her and brought her back to life, all she could do is scream. We don’t know what he did to her, but eventually the only kindness we could do for her is place her back in this state.”
The three Earth women looked at the statue of hard granite. In life, the woman would have been beautiful, but the anguished expression on her face, and the clear message of suffering that emanated from her, made her compelling and disturbing. Cheryl ached for her, while Sarah and Michelle looked on, their mouths in tight frowns of anger and horror.
Sarah looked around. There were nine more statues just like her. Some clearly in anguish, others in placid expressions that showed only emptiness. But if they were going to bring Vivian and Cindy back when they got home, they would have to learn to cure these women too.
“What do you think Cheryl? You think you can do it?” Sarah asked, her voice tight.
“Yes, I think so. It won’t be easy, but yes, maybe I can. We should try at least.” Cheryl replied. She sounded relaxed, but Michelle could here the undercurrent of anxiety. She could see that Sarah heard it too, and Michelle looked over at Sarah. They both shrugged, and hoped for the best.
“Michelle, can you bring her to life now?”
“Ok, you’re the boss,” Michelle said. Concentrating, she began her spell.
A blue light surrounded the statue, and as the Earth women and Shironin Nursing Sisters watched, the glow settled into the body. The figure gradually lost its stony texture, and then, like a polaroid developing in the light, changed in color from gray to pink flesh over several minutes. Eventually, the woman gasped, and then began to scream once more.
It was a horrible, piercing, anguished scream, and Michelle shuddered. Upon hearing it, Sarah stepped forward, and paralyzed the girl with a quick spell, before placing her into a deep dreamless sleep.
They spent hours on the girl. Michelle gently stroked and caressed the woman, while Sarah and Cheryl cast spell after spell. Eventually, the two girls went into a trance, and while Cheryl entered her mind, Sarah provided support to help Cheryl. Horrific pain was causing the screams, and the girl had been left with the image of something stabbing into her heart when she was originally transformed. The image had remained there, as no one had detected it all this time. She was hopelessly insane at this point, but at least the pain could be removed.
The two girls snapped out of the trance. “My god, the fucking bastard!” cursed Sarah. “No wonder she is screaming.”
Cheryl shook her head, and wiped away tears from her face. “Well, at least we can end the pain, and end it for the others too.”
“And then what?” Michelle asked, “Are they even with us any more?”
“Well, not really, but at least they can be recovered eventually. Right, sisters?” Cheryl looked over at Sister Rose, who was clearly impressed.
“Yes, we can clear their minds, which will take them back to childhood, but at least we can teach them how to be human again that way,” She replied thoughtfully.
“Umm, that doesn’t exactly sound that great,” replied Michelle, horrified.
“It’s still better than a eternity of agony,” Cheryl replied, fighting back emotion. "Or, being kept as a granite statue..." Sarah nodded, tears still running down her face as well.
Michelle looked around the room, and then she nodded in acceptance.
Over the next few days, the three Earth girls were very busy.
Los Angeles 3 AM Thursday
Chad was asleep again, blissfully unaware of how much he had told them.
“I should kill that rat bastard,” Paula muttered.
“No, we need him alive. Killing him would cause too many questions to be asked. Your spells are enough. He just thinks he spent the night with his goddess,” Grim replied. He looked over at the sleeping man. Strangely, he felt pity for the man. He knew that this basically decent man would never have caused the problems he had been in his right mind. Andrea had done this to him, and to all she enslaved. Although Grim understood how Paula felt.
“Well, at least we know where to go next. We pick up the business manager,” Paula said, her mouth tight with anger.
Grim reached over and hugged her. After a moment, he whispered to her, “It's time to go, darling.”
Paula nodded, and they slipped out the way they came in, without a sound.
The Scottish Highlands 2 PM Thursday
Andrea walked around the stone megalith. She was tired and frustrated. No matter how she tried, she couldn’t remember how this gate worked. It had been too long, and too much had happened to her. She just couldn’t remember. Gavin could be back any moment, or in several days. Worse, she didn’t know how long he would be in subjective time in Shiron. It could be hours, days, weeks or even years.
Well, she needed a spy. There was a little cottage down the road, and she had noticed an old man sitting out front when she drove by. He would have to do.
Shiron 29th of Greenmonth
Riley and Jennifer walked into the large library, hand in hand. Gavin looked up from his tomes and scrolls and smiled at them. Jennifer looked even more radiantly beautiful then ever, and his friend looked about as pleased as he had ever been. “Well, at least I finally got to see him captured by a woman,” Gavin chuckled to himself.
“So friend, how goes the research? I heard about how Cheryl and the other two did with their healing techniques. The Nursing Sisters and Prince Hans are very pleased with them.”
“Of course they did great,” Jennifer said teasingly, “Sarah and Cheryl can do anything. They even saved his ass once.”
“Oh, really?” Riley said with a grin, “You will just have to tell me sometime.”
Gavin laughed at the ribbing he was given. But in truth, he was very proud of Cheryl, Sarah and Michelle. They had learned much while they were here, and had recently brought the victims of Gregor and Andrea out of their pain and back to the world. Not completely healed, but at least no longer suffering constant terror.
“To answer your question,” Gavin replied, “the research goes well. I think I found a way to keep Andrea from taking out the defenses my girls have. And I think I found a way to improve those defenses, too.”
“Really?” Jennifer asked, delighted.
Riley looked over at her, then at his friend. “Excellent work Gavin, although truthfully I knew you would find a way.”
“We will just have to see,” Gavin replied.
“Jennifer, how are your studies going?”
She looked embarrassed for a moment, and blushed. “Well I have learned a couple of things, but Brandi, Vanessa, Beth and Kim are doing really well. They are as good as Paula now, and I think they are better now than Kristi was.” Jennifer thought for a moment, “I wish she had gotten to come; she would have never left here again.”
“She would have fit right in,” Gavin replied. He remembered his beautiful Kristi, she had been the first to adapt to magic and to embrace it. For an Earth girl, she had real talent, and she would have shown here. If only that bastard Jones hadn’t killed her. Well, he paid for that, eternal oblivion at Gavin’s hands and the clutches of the Gods after that.
Jennifer asked the question that she and Gavin were both thinking. “Is Paula ok back home?”
“Yes, I am sure of it. Grim will not let anything happen to her. He is the best agent the Scouts ever had, and besides, she is pretty good too.” Gavin replied. Hoping he was right.
Shiron 5th of Summermonth
Sarah lay in bed next to the sleeping Gavin. It was her turn to be with him, and since Jennifer and April had found new lives, her turns were becoming more frequent. She smiled at that. She knew it had only been a couple of days at home, but here it had been months already and she missed her children. She needed him more than ever on this world.
But what she had learned here amazed her. An entire world, where magic was normal and technology was integrated into it. She had already learned several new spells, and knew she would know more before it was time to leave. One day she might just have to turn that ex-husband of hers into a newt, just to make a point. “Bet he would give me the kids full time then,” she chuckled.
She looked over at her lover. The man she shared with the others. At times, she wished he was just hers. She knew the other girls loved him too, especially Michelle, and she knew that Gavin loved them all. But she felt in her heart, that he loved her and Michelle the most. He was torn, she knew, and he wasn’t ready to chose. One day she feared and hoped he would. Just liked she feared she would have to choose.
Shiron 8th of Summermonth
“Ok Beth, it’s your turn,” called out the stern matronly sorceress. “Let us see if that counterspell works.”
Beth, dressed in a form fitting silk jumpsuit, looked over at her friends. Kim grinned at her, while Brandi winked and Vanessa looked on, relieved it wasn’t her turn. It was combat drill time, and it was always rough. Beth looked over at unmoving Sarah, whose spell hadn’t been adequate today. Sarah glistened in the sunlight, a clear statue of crystal, a look of embarrassment chiseled on her face. The deputy matron was just casting a spell to restore her so that she could get a good chewing out for being distracted, followed by a serious lecture. Michelle stood mutely nearby, looking even more embarrassed in her crystalline state.
Beth hated combat practice. Although it looked like they sure needed it.
Beverly Hills 7 AM Thursday
“You sure this is it?” Grim asked.
“Yes, this is the address,” Paula replied, a little testily. Sleep had been a little short the last couple of days.
“Ok, but shouldn’t tax lawyers do a lot better in Beverly Hills than they do elsewhere?” he replied, looking around the lobby of the expensive apartment building. “I mean this is nice and all, but shouldn’t he have a mansion too?”
“Well, he was recently divorced; apparently the wife sold the mansion and moved back East.” Paula replied. “Now let's go get him before he leaves for work.”
“Yes ma’m,” Grim replied, amused a little by Paula’s irritability. She had a point though; it was time to get on with the interrogation.
They took the elevator up to the top floor, and stepped out on the 20th floor lobby. “Well, at least he has a view. But don’t you have earthquakes out here?” Grim asked.
“On occasion,” she said dryly. “We try not to think about that.”
Grim looked at her, and she shrugged, grinning a little for the first time. He was satisfied, she had finally lightened up a little. It was important to be relaxed before a confrontation.
They reached the door, and not even pausing, Paula cast a spell and the door swung open. Grim swept into the room, catching Jim as he was he was standing in the kitchen pouring coffee, a shocked look on his face.
Grim, a tranquilizer dart gun in his hand, fired quickly and hit the lawyer right in the chest. Jim looked down, then up, a shocked expression on his face, and then he fell to the floor unconscious.
“Well, that was easy enough. Now the hard part.” Grim said evenly.
Paula walked in right behind, and as Grim searched the apartment to make sure no one else was around, she laid out the man on the couch and began preparing spells. It promised to be a busy morning.
Shiron 20th of Summermonth
Kim hid a grin as Sarah stormed around the room, cussing. Another day of combat practice, and although she, Brandi and Sarah had done well, Michelle had missed the practice because she was busy helping April who was now expecting a child, Beth kept getting distracted and Vanessa screwed up a couple of times.
“Damn it, this is serious shit. They have got to be ready for that bitch!” Sarah yelled.
Kim walked over to her and took her by the shoulders. “Sarah, they know, and so do I. They are doing the best they can. Calm down, ok?”
Sarah looked at Kim and after a minute hugged her friend. Kim was right, she needed to calm down.
“I’m sorry. You're right, it’s just that I don’t want anything to happen to them again...”
“Sarah, they know how important it is, they remember.” Kim said softly, holding her friend. “It will be all right, you will see.”
Kim thought about the last few days. Day after day of combat practice, spell practice, research, training and more training. Sarah was trying to forget about her kids by burying herself in work, while Beth and Vanessa were terrified that Andrea would get to them again, and were trying too hard now.
“Well Sarah, I think Michelle had the right idea today. You need to take a break, and so do the rest of us. You are pushing to hard, and the stress and fatigue is getting to you, along with everyone else in training.”
Cheryl walked in at that moment, looking tired. “We brought another one back today. The worst one yet. Her mind was empty, just like a newborn baby's. Sister Rose said it would be easier just to physically regress the girl back to being a baby and raise her from infancy at this point.”
“Which one did it? Andrea or Gregor?” Kim asked, while Sarah sat down wearily.
“Gregor did this one. We start on Andrea’s victims tomorrow. But we have some new ideas. We'll need your help for that, Sarah. Are you up to it?”
Kim looked at Sarah, and then at Cheryl. “Neither of you are ready yet. We need a break for at least a couple of days. You won’t be any good until then.”
The two women disagreed and the discussion went on for several minutes before finally they gave in.
Sister Rose was relieved when Kim went to her. She agreed completely. The girls were pushing too hard. They needed a rest. Looking at Kim, she chided “you make sure Gavin takes one, too.”
Shiron 21st of Summermonth
The summer solstice festival was in high gear, and the girls and Gavin were having a good time. Riley and Jennifer were relieved when they saw Beth, Vanessa and Sarah smile for the first time in days and Cheryl was actually able to laugh. Kim and Michelle looked relieved as well, they were worried about their friends, and about Gavin, who was looking tired.
Riley walked over to his friend. “Gavin, you guys need to have some fun. You need rest, all of you do. We have three more months to go. If you let yourself or the girls burn out now, where will you be when it's time to meet Andrea?”
“All right, your point is taken. I will spend some time with each one, and they are then to take two weeks and just relax. I will too, I promise.”
“Good enough. By the way, Jennifer told me she thinks you should start with Vanessa, she is the most exhausted.”
“I am going to miss Jennifer, you bastard. You better know how lucky you are.”
“Believe me, I do.” Riley smiled as they looked on as Jennifer got Brandi to tell some jokes.
Los Angeles Thursday 9 AM
Paula looked over at Grim, who nodded. Two hours of intense questioning and they had a lot more now. It was time to leave. And the lawyer was going with them.
Grim watched Paula, she was almost shaking with fatigue, and he was feeling a bit tired himself. They had a lot though. They now knew were Andrea lived, where her escort service was as well as where her lingerie store was located. Vivian and Cindy were certainly being kept at one of those places. But most importantly, they knew that Andrea was in Britain, and wouldn’t be back for at least another day.
Paula touched the sleeping lawyer with a little plastic doll, and watched as he transformed over the course of several minutes into a mannequin. One more spell, and he shrank down to doll size.
“Lets go, we need to rest; especially you. We will move again this afternoon,” Grim said.
Paula sagged, and he held her up, waiting until she nodded her head in agreement.
Western Ireland Friday 2 AM
Andrea walked down the little Irish country road away from the megalith and the gate it contained. The local tourist ranger who was in charge of the site would make an ideal spy for her. And he had been very attractive as well, she might just have to come back for him later, she decided.
She needed to walk for now. She wanted time to think and to plan, and she wouldn’t be able to get on a plane for a few hours yet anyway. A short flight to Dublin, then another to London, then the Concorde to New York and another plane to Los Angeles. Many hours of travel remained, and truthfully, she decided, she was getting really sick of it.
But she wanted to be at that wedding on Saturday in San Francisco. She was sure Gavin would be there if he was back on Earth by then. If not, well, she would just do some more collecting and then return home. He would be sure to come as soon as he could. She would be ready for him.
For now, she needed someone to watch the New Mexico Anastazi gate. Pulling out her cell phone, she got on the phone to Jim. The phone rang and rang, and she kept getting his answering machine. She stopped in her tracks. A strange feeling that something was wrong tickled the back of her mind. She tried all of his numbers, and no answer at any of them.
“Something is definitely wrong.” she muttered. Could it be that Gavin never really left and tricked her?
She pulled out a crystal ball and looked, spending nearly an hour at it. No, he was definitely not on the planet. She walked back to the megalith. It would make a good location for casting some more intensive spells. Andrea thought about it. “If Gavin is gone, maybe someone else is here,” she whispered to herself.
Western Ireland 5 AM
Hours of spell casting later she was finally certain of the scrying. There was someone else here, and they were in Los Angeles. Someone with sufficient magical power not to be identifiable except for the fact that they were not able to be focused on. She knew just the item that would do that, and it would shield anyone with them. She herself had one, and had debated getting rid of it soon to help her husband find her when the time was right. “Well someone is there, and that must be why I can’t find Jim.”
She got on the phone, calling first Katherine to warn her, then Chad. When he told her how much he enjoyed the previous night with her, she knew. She decided not to disillusion him, he remained tractable primarily because he was certain of her omnipotence.
She had to get home, and right away. She had Chad arrange for another of her slaves to get to New Mexico to cover the other gate, and began running for the nearest town where she could catch a flight. “Things have changed, and not for the better,” she muttered as she jogged.