The Heaven Beasts
I was distracted, as fathers
sometimes are while running errands.
Suddenly there it was in there in a stranger's eyes, the eyes of a Fire
Angel where human eyes had been just a moment before. Fire Angels are very effective killers from
another place and this one was coming at me in the guise of a man gone stark
raving mad. I dodged the first blow by
In retrospect I'm sorry to say I reacted, reacted purely on instinct, using a touch-far aspect to knock the man/Angel thing against the wall until I could get my hands on it. Detonating a nuclear bomb would have attracted less attention. There was no hiding this level of aspect, my hand was exposed to anything with the right kind of eyes.
Having revealed me, it left the man, as that kind of creature is prone to do, sliding through adjacent nether realms leaving me in this Time/Space to make excuses. The man, suddenly himself again, was trying to understand why I was holding him so roughly but more he was trying to understand why he had so intently wanted to kill me.
"Listen friend take a look around," I whispered. "Notice that the people staring at us seem to believe that you are homicidal maniac trying to kill me. Now I don't believe that you really want that and I certainly don't want to be hurt so I suggest that you just let go of my throat and we'll talk. There, is that better?" I made it better inside him and continued whispering. "My name is Jack and this kind of thing sometimes happens where I come from. I don't hold you responsible so let's pretend that we are old friends who do this kind of thing all the time."
"Jack!" He was genuinely relieved.
"Craig! How are you? Boy, you had me going. When did you get in town?" And so on till we parted as friends.
Later in the car, in the silence I looked around for signs. Thank God the kids were with Maxine, my mate and their mom. It had to be somewhere, maybe somewhere near. "Here kitty, kitty, kitty . . ." I slid the van into gear and eased into traffic making it home without further incident.
Always quick to sense distraction, the kids refused to go to bed until suspended allowance and grounding were threatened with further reparations. When mom seconded the motion things got quiet. I walked the hallway and looked at them sleeping. Kids are like light bulbs, when they're on, they're on all the way. They go to sleep and snap, they're out just like that. Same with my wife.
Satisfied they were all soundly asleep I reached deep and pulled up attributes I had not used in forty-seven years. Drawing recklessly from my nexus I lay an entire array of security aspects in strategic positions all around the house and few in the not so obvious contiguous places. As we approached the balancing point of the night I did the dance that changes things, working up a healthy sweat. Having achieved a fully heightened aspect I cooled things down just a bit. I softly slipped up the kitchen and prepared a cup of Yerba Mate. Taking my time I pulled down one of my favorite tomes and secured my favorite throw pillow beside the living room fireplace.
I fed and stoked the dormant salamander hidden in the coals. I watched her dance seductively for a while. Assured that she was happy I opened a secure pathway through the fireplace into the adjacent places. By secured I mean there was sufficient aspect around the pathway to hold a full blown Zergat several orders of magnitude bigger than a Fire Angel. I have some small talent for such things. Here kitty, kitty, kitty.
The flickering eyes of a Fire Angel regarded me from the tongues of flame.
"Looking for someone?" I asked. It slithered around the confines of the pathway looking for a flaw. "Hey, you. I'm talking to you!" That got its attention.
"I have come from far-r-r-r," it hissed.
"I’ll grant you have. From the crest scales of your true-form I would say you're a female of the Tarpel clan. I fought beside several of your ancestors. Yahleem, Emtaw . . ."
"Speak not the Names."
"This is my nest; I will speak as I wish. Why are you here?"
"I come seeking a certain one."
"Me?" I asked. No answer. "That was a very nasty little thing you did at the mall today. I have half a notion to bind you and exact a payment."
She was indignant, "You are an amusing. . .” I slipped both my hands through the aspect envelope, sealed it and snagged her before she could finish the sentence. She was a slippery piece of work, lots of cruel serrated teeth on the business end and a few poisonous barbs along the spine. Fire Angels have a real knack for writhing, you have to grab them just behind the ears and hang on.
I had her. "And now my petite friend, while binding you was not my original intent, it remains an option that I can enforce in a trice. Be nice!" She didn’t like that but had no real choice in the matter. She stopped thrashing, but remained tense in every muscle. I released her to growl and hiss in the fire. After a bit she seemed to regain some of her pride and composure. Her eyes burned.
"Let's try this again, in a more civilized fashion." I pulled a hand crafted tureen from the table and filled it with one of my special concoctions, kept on hand for such occasions. I slipped it through the aspect envelope into the pathway without even a ripple. "Would you care for a small refreshment?"
In time she relented the regal indignation routine and sampled the brew. Intelligence gradually returned to her eyes. "I have come to find one, one such as you," she hissed.
"Be advised, I can see far into your parna and can know your heart. I need to know if you are recon for someone else."
"No, the fools have long since given up looking for you. None would believe me." She spoke true.
"Do you lead others?"
"I do not lead or follow."
"How flattering, you're quoting me. I want to know if there's a threat coming."
"Are you always so direct?"
"You know the stories, you tell me."
"I seek you, no others come."
"Why are you here and why were you stupid enough to attack me outright?" I poured more brew.
"I had to know it was you. I was right."
"What if it hadn't been me?"
"Then a non would have died."
"These people are not nons and I will take it personal if you bring harm to any of them. Do you understand?" It coiled and hissed in indignation. The envelop held. I ate a shortbread cookie or two and finished reading my page. Without looking up I asked, "Again I ask, why are you here?"
"The legends have it that you walked the final pathway to the real Death." You could hear the capital ‘D’. "I knew such wisdom to be absurd, you would never allow yourself to be destroyed. They were wrong, but I could not find you by divination or study. You covered your spore very well."
"You must be very talented to have tracked me to this place." I offered more brew but she refused, politely.
"You are the best, no one can track you. It was not tracking so much as asking the question, where is the best place to disappear? There are numerous such places scattered on the outer fringes and I have walked many of them."
"And so you have found me. I grant that you are persistent. I closed the book and held her glare, why are you here?"
"I have come . . ." Her parna said that she was having difficulty speaking about this. "I have come because I . . . admire you." Her parna said love.
"Do you have a name?"
Mora took on the analogous form of a cat with crimson tipped sable fur. She quickly became a fixture of the household. She ate cat food with gusto, the more expensive the better, but refused to purr. She even connected with my wife, Maxine, who has never had a soft spot for animals. Many things fascinated her but Mora just couldn't get over the children. Offspring are extremely rare back home and not always gladly received. She spent hours just watching them.
One dark moonless night in October she was lounging beside the fire while I did the dance that holds things together. It was a very invigorating workout.
"Chen . . ."
I cut her off, "Do not speak that name here. The very sound could cause damage."
"OK. Jack," she hissed with pleasure, "I have walked in this place all this time and I still do not grasp why you came here."
"I like kids. I wanted to raise a few."
She sneezed, her idea of the way a cat might snicker, "This is surely not your mission, a destroyer
"I am no destroyer despite the lore speakers. I am a Grey . . ."
"Of considerable aspect. None of which you even use in this far distant place."
"I am and have been many things in many times, all of them by my own choosing. At this time I choose to be as you see me. A Dad."
"Just one question."
"Yes, one question. Why?"
"I am vain."
"Non sequitor, you are willing to die defending these children things. Those are not the actions of a selfish creature."
"Maybe I'm just stupid."
"You have been called many things, in many tongues, but the adjective stupid was never used in connection with your name to my knowledge. What is a creature of your power doing here and now?"
"I'm on vacation."
"Perhaps this is pointless." She stretched and turned to leave.
"I believe that there is a future. Children are and always have been a commitment to the future."
"Lore has it that you were always a dreamer. But why here? You age here."
"There will be ways of dealing with that later."
"Will the children have aspect?"
"Strictly speaking that is you third question."
Her eyes brightened. "The power has taken root, hasn't it? Rare, in fact impossible."
"Till now." There was a long silence.
Something changed in her parna, a smell I couldn't name. She rolled over and gazed at the fire well past the balance of the night. I finished my dance.
The entire incident occupied fifteen seconds, at most.
We were camping in the state park off I-10. We had spent a lovely day canoeing on the lake and were back at the tent. I had sent the boys to the car and Sarah and Maxine were in the tent with me.
Without warning or provocation a pit bull from Hell appeared at the threshold. It lunged into the tent and I used the touch-far to push it away. The ignorant brute swerved toward Sarah. Mora appeared out of thin air in the path of the raging beast. The cat form Mora had taken on was seized by the left front leg and snapped up into the air.
I jumped to protect Maxine and Sarah. In my altered state I watched as the parna of my daughter took a quantum spike. She moved in a way that humans cannot move placing herself between her mom and the beast. She watched as the dog grabbed Mora. Her scream ruptured space and time.
What she didn’t see was Mora shifting into her native form. The transformation was too fast for the uninitiated. Suddenly this mad dog had a mouth full of black fire that seared its tongue and was headed for its heart. It fell writhing on the floor and slinging its head. Shrieking in agony, it fled the shreds of the tent.
Sarah was bent forward, with her hands on her knees, panting. "Dad, is mom hurt? Why is she acting funny?"
"You were protecting her and did a nasty thing with time. That kind of thing usually stuns people in the vicinity. I doubt she will remember any of this unless we tell her. My daughter looked blanched but her parna said she would be fine. "Sarah, she’ll be OK in a few minutes.
"I don’t ever want to do anything like that again."
"Take your mom back to the car and see if you can come up with a story that will make this OK for her and the boys."
"Mora saved us didn’t she?"
"Yes. Yes, she did."
Sarah looked more thoughtful than I could remember. "I love her Dad. Is she OK?"
"More than OK, she’s still pursuing the bastard."
"Dad she was hurt. I saw it"
"Critters like her can be very tuff. Take mom to the car."
"Are we critters like her?"
"In more ways than you can imagine, babe. We’ll talk about it tonight, when we have some peace and quiet."
Sarah turned without further question and put her arm around her dazed mother. They headed off in the direction of the car.
With considerable effort I reeled the Fire Angel in. Still crackling with excess energy Mora curled around my leg. "Little Tarpel I think perhaps you enjoyed that just a little too much."
"I so rarely enjoy myself this much. Jack, you are aware that the dog thing is not entirely dead, please allow me to continue in my entertainment."
"Perhaps another time."
"You were caught with your guard down." Mora appeared to be enjoying the prospect of my negligence.
"Not unlike our first meeting."
"You knew I was watching?"
Mora considered for a long time, then spoke, “Your child thing, Sarah, now understands doesn’t she? And what will she do?"
"I guess she’ll have to learn the dance that changes things."
"It will be a pleasure watching her learn. I confess a passing fondness for her."
"I am quite certain she feels the same toward you."
"I would do anything for these children." Still in the form of a Fire Angel she slithered off toward the car.
It was a rainy, dark night in February seven years after Mora had found me. I had just gotten comfortable on my favorite throw pillow beside the living room fireplace.
"I must go back." Mora hissed from the top of the bookshelf. She had been very cranky of late and would not say why.
"I would prefer you stay." I raised aspect all around as a precaution.
She was morphing back into her original form. I was angry and growing confused. Everything had been going so well. "Why is that none of the clan Tarpel are ever at rest?"
"I have come to a . . . decision. Jack, I love you. At first it was a kind of hero worship spawned in me by the lore speakers. That is why I came to find you; I simply could not imagine you dead." Her parna was rippling, a thing I had never seen before. "Then I met your children met Sarah. I have come to know a love that our kind never knows. They are so beautiful, so rare. They are Heaven beasts." Something was building in her, something nasty.
"Mora, what's wrong?"
"I have to go back"
"Mora! Stop what you're doing."
"I can't Jack. This has to happen."
"What, what has to happen?"
"I am going to go back and block the pathway to this place."
"No, I forbid . . ."
"Forbid or don’t, in a very short time I will not be able to contain this resonance. I must be in the neck of the pathway when . . . When it happens."
"Don't do this Mora."
"Jack the others will find the way here, I did."
"We'll stop them, we'll fight . . "
"And still they will come. This is the only way. Open the pathway for me, I am indisposed and getting more so by the moment."
"Mora. I can't let you do this."
"You can't stop me, now open the path . . .eeeeeeee" She was glowing. I pulled a pathway out through the fireplace and she was gone. I will never know if she heard me say goodbye.
Sarah is away in college now and doing well. Of all the kids she misses Mora the most. The boys are getting bigger and developing some very interesting shades and colors in their parna. Maxine still loves me.
I checked the pathway home and it is blocked by an Erebos Convolution, a resonate matrix of lethal chaotic aspects, crude but effective. I miss her and light a candle in her honor every night.
I'm not sure that even I can find a way to pass through that kind of mess in one piece. Guess I'll have to be a little creative when I’m ready to go back. But for now my family is secure in this little off the path place where children can grow and prosper and come to know love.