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PHOENIX The Rise and Wrath of Abigail BEgich

Based on Actual Events

Prequel to The Remnant Reborn By Rebel Knight


As rock and roll blared from Abigail C. Begich’s bedroom, she dressed for a certain occasion. She pulled her black uniform trousers up over her pale legs and wiggled her bottom to fit in their seat. After she buttoned the pants, she picked up a black tunic lying across her bed. The short woman’s legs extended completely as she strode across the bedroom to her full-length mirror. She marched rather than strode. She had been trained well. Abigail wrapped the uniform jacket around her and fastened it tightly at her throat. She smiled slightly at the jagged “SS” emblems on her lapels. Then she picked up a cap, the typical Nazi SS cap, and placed it upon her blond head. “Brilliant,” she said. She blinked and frowned. She looked down and groaned. She’d forgotten to put her boots on. Her feet were bare. Abigail went back over to her bed and sat down. All the while, Marilyn Manson’s remake of “Sweet Dreams” played from her massive radio that sat on her dresser. After she laced up her black steel-toed combat boots, Abigail glanced at her watch. She was never late. Never. She wondered if she could make it to the QuickStop for a Mountain Dew. She was on a tight schedule and at this time of night, she’d have to be wary of muggers and rapists in Allentown, Pennsylvania. Oh well, she thought, I’m fuckin’ thirsty.

Abigail made sure she had everything she needed for the occasion before turning off her beloved rock music. Once done, she headed out into the night, her mother yelling at her from the porch to be back before midnight. Abi just rolled her eyes and flipped a middle finger over her shoulder. It began to drizzle, but that was alright because the young woman had known better than to expect the fates to spare her such misery. She was wearing a black leather trench coat, belt tied tightly around her waist. Abi was a cruelly beautiful woman. At 22 years-old, she had hazel eyes that altered color depending on the light, and her mood. Her flesh was mostly a smooth pale tone. She had full lips that were usually displaying a vicious scowl. She was only 5’4”, but packed a mean punch. Abi had been first in the state’s High School weight lifting championship, and had only gained strength and power once she’d enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps. But she was out now. She had been out of the corps for a couple years, but not lost a bit of strength. Her true strength, however, lay beyond what eyes could see. Her true strength was within. Her true strength was her spirit. She’d been walking for ten minutes and the rain was smearing her black mascara. She cursed the water around her. That only seemed to make the light rain come down harder. She scowled fiercely as she held herself, digging her nails into her biceps. Then the QuickStop lights came into view and she let out a sigh of relief. “Gawd damn it, finally. Gawd damn this mother fucking rain…” Unfortunately, her journey to the corner shop would not be without incident. “Hey girl, it’s gettin’ kinda late, ain’t it?” The bully had barely gotten the words out before Abi stopped and turned to face him and declared, “And you’re kinda country for these parts, aren’t you? You obviously have no earthly idea who I am so I am going to give you the opportunity to get the fuck outta my face before something awful happens to you and your friend.” There were two of them.

The two men looked at each other. A car drove past them, splashing Abi with most of what had been a puddle. The two men laughed at her. Abi’s cheek twitched. “Sexy accent.” The first man was brown-haired and had a beard. “A feisty one, ain’t ya?” the second guy commented. Abi almost chuckled. “You have no idea.” She let her arms relax by her side. “Where are you from?” asked the second guy. He was almost as short as Abi. He had black hair and wore a brown leather jacket. “None of your fucking business, asshole.” The black-haired man guessed, “Sounds like New York.” The first man said, “Come on, let’s get her.” They expected her to run, give them some fun. She did not. She moved toward them with purposeful strides. The second man thought twice and backed away but the first kept coming at her. “Dude, her hat,” said the second guy stated. “I think she’s military!” But it was too late for his friend. Abi was in range. As the man decided to just go for it, Abi easily deflected his reaching right hand and brought her steel toe up into his groin. His eyes bulged as he collapsed onto the sidewalk. Abi took the time to check the time. “I’d love you kill you both, but I have somewhere to be.” She turned on her heel and marched briskly away.

The thug who was still standing got brave. He charged her. Due to the level of downpour, Abi didn’t hear him coming. She was tackled to the pavement and busted her bottom lip. Abi blacked out… The Phoenix took over. She elbowed the man in the face several times until it was bloody. Then Phoenix wormed beneath him until she was on her back and clutched him by the trachea. Her gloved fingernails pierced his throat and blood seeped down the gasping man’s neck. With the strength of ten men, Phoenix hurled him off of her and he landed right next to his friend. She then stood up and began looking around. There must be a sharp weapon around there somewhere. When she looked back, the two men were hauling ass across the street, nearly getting hit by a Taxi cab. Abi returned. She knew something had happened, but was not sure what. She only knew that the bullies had gone, so she was glad. At least this time there wasn’t a body count. She turned and headed for the QuickStop. She checked her watch again. It was 10:44. She snarled, viciously. If it had not been raining, she would’ve noticed saliva sputter from the corners of her mouth. But it was washed away. She bypassed the QuickStop and went down an alley. It was at this point, she began cracking her knuckles and noticed blood on her leather gloves. She stopped and blinked, partly out of confusion and partly out of worry for the individuals she hurt. She figured that they’d live, otherwise there’d be more blood, and shrugged it off. Abi let the rain wash away the blood from her gloves and continued down the alley. She arrived at an old apartment complex at 11:03. She ran up the stairs to the roof. When she pushed the door to the roof open, she was breathing hard, and being eyeballed by nearly a dozen annoyed or concerned people. “Sawrry I’m late,” she said. “Almost got mugged…or something.” “Come on,” said the leader. “It’s about to begin…”

The leader was wearing a black cloak and hood. The others were adorned in similarly dark apparel and everyone was kneeling around a pentagram. Abi walked over and sat beside the leader. She was his right-hand member. They were a Satanic cult, albeit one that had no idea what they were doing. Only the leader had any inkling of the power they were trying to invoke. Most of the others were just there for the thrill of doing something creepy on a roof at night in the rain. Abi glanced at her watch. It was 11:05. “We still got some time,” said the cult leader. His name was Azazel. It wasn’t originally. He simply thought it would be cool if he changed his name to something evil-sounding. “Tell us about your near-mugging…or something.” Abi sighed and shrugged. “I don’t even know what they wanted. They just attacked me. I kicked one in the nuts and then walked away…” A woman in the circle said, “You go girl! Fuckin’ vagina power!” Everyone looked at her like she was insane. For these people, that’s saying something. “Anyway,” Abi continued, “the other dude tackled me and I guess I beat his ass. Don’t really remember. Must’ve been my inner badass.” Azazel smirked. “You are truly remarkable. You are the only one of us who has ever been able to harness the true, pure power of the demonic realm.” Abi didn’t believe that was what happened. “Yeah, if you say so, dude. All I know is they bounced fast.” Vagina Power chick said, “They probably couldn’t handle your extremely awesome accent.” Azazel let out a breath of exasperation. “Linda, we all have something to bring to this discussion, but I think from now on, the thing you should bring is silence.”

Abi laughed. “You totally stole that from Red Dwarf.” The group laughed. “Oh shit,” said another member. “It’s 11:10! Get ready!” Getting ready meant kneeling in a circle around the evil symbol and bowing their heads. Azazel took a curved blade from a sheath under his cloak. He produced also a baby rabbit. “Whoa!” Abi exclaimed, standing up. “Hell no, mother fucker! We are not killing a bunny; I don’t care if we’re tryin’ to raise Satan himself!” Everyone knew Abi’s passion for animals. Azazel just figured she’d go along with it for the sake of the ritual. She was expected to receive much power after all. “Come on, Abi,” said Linda. “We don’t have time for this. What’s one little rabbit?” Tears began to stream down Abi’s face and mingle with the light rain. She pointed emphatically. “You did not tell me about this, dude! You said we’d be cuttin’ ourselves!” Azazel said, “Abi, shut up! We’ve got like fifteen seconds to do this! If you’re not with us, go away. We won’t hold it against you.” Abi tried one more time to be reasonable. “Put…the mother fucking rabbit…down…now.” Though frightened by Abi, Azazel brought the knife closer to the animal. “Ok, if you don’t stop, I’m gonna demote you –” “Aaaaaaah!!!” Abi’s scream startled everyone, even Azazel.

She launched herself at him. He rolled backwards, still holding both the rabbit and the blade. He knew if he didn’t get out of her way, he was as good as dead. He had not seen Phoenix rear her ferocious head often, but when she did, he knew to run. Unfortunately, there wasn’t anywhere to run. He scrambled to his feet but the rain, combined with the fact that he was wearing a satin robe, caused him to stumble and fall on his face. Abi leaped onto his back and yanked the animal from his grasp. Then, instead of beating him senseless, she got up and cradled the creature in her arms, away from the group. Azazel stood up, embarrassed, and brushed himself off, which looked ridiculous in the rain. “You’re being ridiculous, Abi.” Abi, now herself, wiped her red eyes as she pet the rabbit. “No. No, I’m not. You can do whatever you want, but I’m not gonna let you hurt this innocent animal.” “Fine,” said Azazel. He grabbed Linda by the hair. “Hey!” she screamed. Abi didn’t look as Azazel stabbed Linda repeatedly in the stomach and let her fall onto the symbol. Blood and rain mingled in the pentagram at 11:11 PM on November 11th, 2011.

CHAPTER TWO - Trespass


“Azazel, this is Abi,” Scott introduced her to his best friend. Scott Tucker was Azazel’s best friend and a mutual friend of both he and Abigail. So when Azazel asked him to find him a woman to date, Scott got right on it. The meeting was set up in a coffee shop in Allentown. It was noon and Azazel was waiting for them at a table, nervously bouncing his foot. He was wearing a grey hoodie and a pair of Van sneakers. Abi looked Azazel up and down and then gave Scott a derisive glower. “Seriously? His name’s Azazel?” “Oh, sorry,” Azazel said, “where’s my manners?” He stood up to shake her hand. “It’s ‘where are my manners,’ man.” She shook his hand firmly. She could feel the sweat on his palms. Scott nudged her with his elbow. “Don’t be a grammar Nazi, Abi.” She glared. He smirked knowingly. “No, my real name’s Alex,” said her insufferable date. “My friends call me Azazel. It’s a thing. You can call me whatever you want.” Abi nodded curtly and dropped her backpack by the table. “Very well.” Alex sat down and Abi noticed he hadn’t pulled her chair out for her. Chivalry was not something she was used to. She’d only been with one chivalric man and had long-since given up hope of seeing him again, or meeting anyone like him. She sat down and cocked her head at Alex, her visage like that of a statue. Scott began backing away inch by inch. “I’m gonna…go…look for some coffee.” He turned around and left the café. Abi sighed audibly. She tried to smile but it ended up looking forced and bored. Alex picked up on it.

“Hey, you don’t have to be here. I mean…” She interrupted, “It’s not you, Alex. I, uh, have been through a lot…and bringing another person into my life right now, even as a friend…it’s complicated. It’s painful.” “What accent is that? New York?” Abi ignored his lack of appreciation or even acknowledgment of her confession. “Yeah,” she said as she begged her eyes to find something else to occupy her mind. “Staten Island.” Alex took a sip of his coffee. “Do you drink coffee?” Abi looked him in the eyes. “Only after I’ve killed someone.” After a brief and anxious laugh, Alex took another sip from his coffee, this one lasting much longer than the previous. Abi glared him down. Then she looked away again. “So tell me about yourself,” Alex said. “Scott told me you were in the Marines.” “This is accurate.” Alex bit his bottom lip and creased his brow in confusion. “You go overseas?” Abi was still staring out a window. “I did. That is as much as you’re going to get from me on that topic.” She leveled a steely gaze at him. “Now change it.” Taken aback, Alex nodded and cleared his throat. “Ok.” He pretended to examine a coffee menu. “Um, how about religion?” “What about it?” She leaned back in her chair. “Well, are you religious?”

“Used to be. Next subject.” Alex rubbed his nose with his thumb and chuckled. “Wow, you’re gonna play this all mysterious and shit, aren’t you?” Abi snickered and removed her glasses. “Yeah, well, if you’d been through the shit I’d been through, you’d be guarded too.” She began wiping her glasses on her black T-shirt. “You can talk to me, you know,” said Alex. “No,” she replied, returning her glare to him. “I don’t know.” She put her glasses back on. Alex said, “You’re very beautiful. You should let your hair down. Are you a natural blonde?” “I am. And I do. I just put it up today ‘cause I have an interview to go to later today.” “Ah,” Alex said. “So you’re unemployed.” “Not for long.” She ushered a waitress over. “Planning on murdering someone?” Alex whispered with a smile. Abi’s head snapped around and her glare intensified. Her cheek twitched. “Why do you ask?” “You said you didn’t drink coffee except after you’ve murdered someone.” “I’m ordering hot cocoa, dude.” “Ah. Sorry.” Once Abi ordered the drink, she eyed Alex for a few seconds before saying, “I’ve never killed anyone who didn’t deserve it. I’m not a murderer.”

“Uh, I was joking, Abi.” Alex scratched his neck and glanced around nervously. “And I thought you were too… about drinking coffee after you kill someone.” Abi smiled, but made sure he knew it was fake. Her eyes were stone cold. “I was.” Her hot cocoa arrived. She thanked the waitress and took a sip. Alex inquired, “What’s the job?” “Hmm?” She blinked and set the hot cocoa down. “The interview? Abi nodded. “Oh. Right. Uh…security. Heard of Darkwater?” Alex shrugged. “Vaguely. But not really.” “Well,” said Abi, “it’s not with them, but a company like them. They do security, defense contracting, private investigating, consulting, stuff like that.” Slowly nodding, Alex then stood up. “I’ll be right back. I gotta use the bathroom.” He glanced back only once as he made his way through the café and into the restroom at the back. Abi was not stupid. She knew something was up. She had thrown the name Darkwater out there intentionally. She wanted to know who was listening, who was interested in her, and who this man worked for. She was about to stand up when she felt a strong hand press down on her shoulder. A man leaned down and whispered something in her ear. His hot breath made her sweat almost as much as growing fear did. Abi nodded slightly and remained in her seat. When she looked behind her, the unknown man was gone. She wiped her eyes, desperate to remove all traces of fear before Alex returned.

But she was shaking, and she was sweating. And those visible signs of terror could be picked up by anyone, even Alex. “Come on, girl,” she muttered under her breath. “Get a hold of yourself.” The jukebox in the corner of the shop began playing “Hallelujah” by Jeff Buckley as Alex returned from the restroom. She wished the world was different. She wished everything would move slow enough for her to think clearly, not leaving her vision a blur. Abi closed her eyes and exhaled. The fear left her. When she opened her eyes, she saw her target. Alex sat down across from her and smiled charmingly. “Anyway, we were talking about you…” “I want to talk about you,” Abi said. She smiled and this time made damn sure he believed it. Her smile was infectious and he looked down, smiling as well. “Alright. My mom and dad both died when I was 8. I grew up with my grandparents in California. I guess you could say I was privileged. With the money I was supposed to use for college, I moved here. Not sure why. I just felt like it was something I had to do. Anyway, I’ve been living here for about four years and I love it. I work as a librarian downtown.” “Interesting,” she said with another smile. “How interesting. Hey, you wanna get outta here? I can’t stand this fuckin’ music.” “Me neither,” Alex answered with a chuckle. Over the next several months, Abi dated Alex. She got involved with his work at the library and he barely knew anything about her work with the security firm. She manipulated his life to suit her desires and needs. Six months after they’d met, Alex invited her to join his “group of political activists and religious free-thinkers.” They actually turned

out to be Satanists and radical left-wing crazies. She joined knowing full well what they were. There were originally only five of them. Scott had known nothing of their activities, until he bumped into them doing a ritual. At first glance, it seemed like some people sitting around singing. But when he interrupted them, he quickly and abruptly discovered the truth. Scott knocked on the door of Alex’s bedroom. “Dude,” he called out, “you said we were gonna meet for pizza.” He opened the door. “What in the hell are you guys singing –?” Five people were holding hands and sitting Indian style in a circle. They were not singing, but chanting. What convinced Scott that they were doing more than singing was the fact that any item in the room weighing less than a pound was levitating. When Alex and the others turned to look at Scott, the items fell. “Shit,” Alex groused. “Jesus Christ!” Scott shouted in alarm. He rapidly back-pedaled out of the bedroom. To everyone’s surprise, Abi leaped to her feet and howled in an unearthly tone, “Do not utter that name!” She began walking toward Scott. “What the fuck is going on?” one of the occultists asked Alex. “I don’t know!” Alex admitted. As Scott turned to run down the hallway, Abi seized him by the shoulder and slammed his back against the wall across from the open door. She pinned Scott there and snarled fiercely. Scott yelled, “Abi! Stop, please!”

“I am NOT Abigail!” She did not have a Staten Island accent at this point. Grinning wickedly, one side of her mouth twitched as she squeezed her friend’s throat and lifted him a foot off the floor. Everyone except Alex fled. He grabbed Abi and shook her. “Snap out of it! Abi, stop! It’s Scott, your fucking friend! Our friend!” Abi dropped Scott and blinked. She flinched from Alex’s hands touching her and scampered down the hall, getting into a defensive posture she’d been trained. Scott rubbed his throat and gasped, eyeing her carefully. Alex held his hands up to show that he was not a threat. “Are you alright, Abi?” Alex asked. Abi didn’t move. She kept her eyes locked on Alex’s eyes. Scott supported himself against the wall. “Abi,” he wheezed, “I thought the Phoenix was gone, or at least…” he coughed. “…at least caged, under control.” Alex lowered his hands and turned to Scott. “You…wait…what? What the fuck are you talking about? What’s the Phoenix? Who’s…? What the hell is going on?” “I’m sawrry,” said Abigail, her accent back. “I’m fine now. I’m sawrry. You’re safe now.” Alex exclaimed, “For how long? God damn it! You’re fucking insane!” Scott turned to Alex. “What do you expect, you idiot? I didn’t know you were into this devil-worship shit! That shit is not good, especially for people like her!” “We’re done,” said Alex to Abi. “Stay the fuck away from me.”

Abi said, “Alex, you want to raise demons, gawd damn it! Well, here ya go!” She opened her arms to indicate her as she stepped toward the two men. “You ain’t gonna get closer to Lucifer than me, baby!” She laughed insanely and gave Alex a murderous scowl. Alex clenched his fists and stepped back. “Fine! You can stay in the group, but you and I – we’re done. Alright? Can you deal with that or am I gonna wake up without a penis one day?” “Maybe if I’d fucked you,” Abi said, crossing her arms defiantly over her chest. “But you weren’t worth it.” She turned on her heel and marched away. Alex was going to say something unwise but Scott clapped his hand over his mouth and shook his head. “That’s not a good idea, bro.”

November 11th, 2011

The cold rain pelted Abigail C. Begich as she made her way home. She began to regret staying out so late. She had to work tomorrow and she didn’t even get what she was after. She glanced at her cellphone to find it was almost midnight. Still she saw no demons, no spirits, no ghosts, no supernatural entities or events of any kind. Abi was clearly disappointed. She wanted chaos. She wanted destruction. She wanted darkness. She wanted death, so long as innocent animals didn’t get hurt.

When she got inside and removed her gloves, she realized that her fingernails were a bit too long and too sharp. They were definitely more like claws. She went into the bathroom and examined them more closely in the light. A horrifying thought ran through her mind and she quickly picked up and looked at the tips of her leather gloves. “Fuck,” she groused. Her nails had pierced the gloves, which served to explain the blood. There would not have been any blood if her claws had not extended from the gloves. Abi tried to remember the confrontation with the two would-be muggers, or whatever they were. She considered they may have been rapists, but doubted the Phoenix would have allowed them to live if they were. The Phoenix protected Abigail, or at least that was how Abi saw it. If anyone tried to hurt or violate Abi violently, the Phoenix would take over and things get bad. After washing up, Abi went into her bedroom. It was a little before midnight when she collapsed onto her back in bed, almost missing the eyes that watched her from the dark closet. She inhaled sharply and went for the 9mm Beretta holstered beneath her bed. When she checked the closet, it was empty. “Great,” she grumbled, “now I’m gettin’ paranoid…” She sat back down on the bed and laid the pistol down on her pillow. Abi just sat there staring at the closet door until a minute after midnight. Then she finally went to sleep, pistol in hand hanging off the bed.

Allentown, Pennsylvania appeared exactly the same to demons and angels as it did to humans. The only difference was that their view of it was less practical and more metaphorical. The buildings were rundown and in some cases on fire. The air was visible polluted with smog, poison and spirits. The human beings and other physical aspects

of creation that moved about did so in slow motion because spirits move faster than light. This gave demons a clear advantage over people. The Begich residence was consumed in both fire and black smoke. Despite this, four holy guardian angels stood at each corner of the suburban property. Their appearance was of golden fire. Their swords, shields and spears were enflamed with Holy Spirit and engraved with meaningful and powerful symbols, runes, and ancient letters. Their eyes were cerulean blue and their hair was long. They each had two white wings, but unlike the myths about angels, there were no halos. All four angels appeared as men in their 30s. Their fiery armor bore a resemblance to chainmail and plates used by medieval knights. The three dark spirits that approached them were something else entirely. Demons were not the same as fallen angels. Fallen angels are angels that have fallen, and are purely spiritual entities. Demons are what used to be giants and monsters that have died and now haunt the world, straddling both the spiritual and physical realms. As such, no two demons look the same. The leader of the three resembled a young man in most ways, but had stalks coming out of his back. The stalks used to be wings before they’d been shredded. Blood dripped from what was left of his wings. His long matted hair was jet black and his slick, oily flesh was grey. He had no nose or eyebrows. Broken and rusted chains dangled from the lead demon’s wrists and neck. The armor worn by the demons was dark and barbaric, in many cases formed from the residual displaced energy acquired by conquered spirits. In a blinding flash of white light, a fifth angel appeared in front of the front gate. He was much more regally dressed than the other celestial messengers. His hair was longer and he had a trimmed beard and mustache. His eyes were bright white. The angel addressed the demon: “Asmodeus! Have you forgotten the law? No house protected by guardians may fall under your jurisdiction! Turn back now or invite destruction!”

Asmodeus stopped in his tracks and growled. “The law cannot be forgotten, for we are constantly reminded of our folly and sins, Prince Raphael. Do the Lord and his legions scoff and laugh at me now? Is this trespass my folly or is there a betrayal in the ways of light? For I am confident in my proclamation, Prince Raphael, that this is the house of one of those who have called upon the presence and services of myself and my kind.” Raphael nodded once. “There is no betrayal. There is no trespass. You may have all of those who have called upon your name, but the Lord has forbidden anything evil to happen to this one. Go! Choose for yourself from ten other heathen! They surely deserve what they have sought. Yet this woman is off limits, Asmodeus.” The demon took a step forward in anger. “Off limits? Dear uncle, have you lost your way? It is past the hour and past the day. It is due for a new age and a new law. You yourself bound me in the river in Egypt, yet the rebellion there has released me! And I was summoned to this place! I cannot be refused, Prince Raphael. If you try to refuse what is rightfully mine, I will take human form and ravage the land and make the prophecy we now see here take form in the physical dimension! Stand aside!” Raphael drew his sword of fire. “One word more and you shall not see any dimension – physical or spiritual – for a length of time twice as long as your imprisonment in the Nile!” Asmodeus drew a shorter, jagged sword. “Curse your law, uncle!” Lightning cracked where they stood.

Abigail woke up with a start, eyes wide. Sweat stuck her bangs to her forehead. She leveled her handgun and got to her feet shakily. Making it over to the window, she peered outside. She was dismayed at the thunderstorm that

was taking place. She turned to check the clock on her nightstand. It was 1:14 AM. She let her head drop and moaned before returning to bed. I have to get up at six, Abi thought, I can’t be late. More lightning crashed outside. She groaned angrily and stomped back over to the window. When she looked outside again, she saw that lightning was striking in the same general area repeatedly. “Oh fuck,” she said, cocking the Beretta. Abi huddled in the corner where she could keep an eye on both the window and the door. She had a feeling the storm had something to do with her participation in the ritual earlier. Mad at herself, Abi scowled. “So much for getting some gawd damn sleep…” She woke up at 6:25 AM for no apparent reason. Later she would remember hearing a voice – maybe it was a literal voice, or maybe it was one in her head; she wasn’t certain – but it woke her up at just the right time because if she’d slept any later, she would have been late for work. Abi drove her black 1980 Pontiac Trans AM to a three-story building in the business end of town. The company was called DinoCorps, but Abi wasn’t sure why. The company provided several security aspects and services for a multitude of Pennsylvanian businesses, but was branching out to other states. It was no secret that the CEO of DinoCorps had aspirations of reaching the same level of notoriety as Darkwater. Once she parked in the nearby lot, Abi nearly ran to her the morning meeting. It was 7:29 AM. She thanked God she wasn’t late. She found it a tad odd that she then overheard a child down at the other end of the hall say “You’re welcome.” She didn’t wonder why a child was in the building until later. Much later.

Abi sat down at the conference table as her manager was commencing the meeting. She mostly ignored most of it, as she customarily did, until the boss addressed her. “Begich, you and Danson are going to be at the Golf Course. The mayor is going to be doing some golfing and would like additional security. He told Burton why, but not me.” Burton was the name of the CEO. Danson smiled at Abi. She frowned at Danson, but nodded to the manager. Abi couldn’t stand Erik Danson. He had a crush on her and made it obvious. He was a jock, something Abi abhorred. He liked to stand close when he spoke to people, and to make it worse, he had a body odor that could make someone vomit. When she questioned him about his personal hygiene, he had told Abi that he liked to go natural. She had, in turn, informed him that he naturally stinks and should check out some natural deodorant. He had just laughed it off, thinking she was joking. “Do we have to take a company car?” asked Abigail. “Yes,” was the manager’s response. “You’re going to be meeting the mayor of Allentown. How’s it gonna look if you pull up in a Trans AM?” Abi shrugged, face straight. “Awesome?”


“Abi,” Erik Danson said nervously from the passenger seat of her Trans AM. “Could you possibly fucking slow down a little bit, like a couple hundred miles an hour?” “Nightmare” by Avenged Sevenfold was booming from the aftermarket speakers as Abi aggressively piloted the Pontiac through traffic on State Route 1002. The T-tops were down and though her dark blond hair was held in a bun, the wind played havoc with several strands, causing them to wave about her face. She ignored the hair in her eyes as she peered coldly through custom prescription wire-rim sunglasses. Abi also ignored her co-worker. She’d disobeyed a direct order from her superiors and took her POV, or Privately Owned Vehicle. She wasn’t completely sure why she did it. She only knew that she didn’t like people giving her orders that didn’t make any sense, and in her way of thinking, there was no logical reason why she shouldn’t be able to drive her car to the golf course. After all, the parking lot for the golf course was well enough away from the location Abi was told she could find the mayor of Allentown. So she’d informed her boss she’d take the company car and even signed the vehicle out of the underground garage. But that car never saw the light of day. One thing was bothering Abigail about this task to guard the politician. DinoCorps was a local business and the mayor was publically opposed to local businesses. He was a Democrat who didn’t actually understand that businesses create jobs and make economies grow. He’d been brainwashed early on that all companies, big and small, were bad because Republicans liked them. Abi was neither Republican nor Democrat. She wasn’t much for politics, but practically loved the idea of an empire, a state that controls every aspect of society, big and small, and seeks to expand

without moral imperative. She wasn’t even sure why she thought the mayor’s request was odd. Her job, as far as she was concerned, was to serve the government. Under most normal circumstances, she wouldn’t have cared enough to consider the man’s political ideology at all. “There must be something wrong with me,” Abi muttered, half joking. Erik leaned closer. “What?” The music was still blasting. Abi rolled her eyes and shook her head. “Nevermind.” “Not your what? Oh my God! You just ran a red light, Abigail!” Continuing in her dual task of ignoring her co-worker and driving offensively, Abi tapped the brakes just enough to be able to pull to the right behind an 18-wheeler. She did this because she knew that the minivan to the left would not drive any faster with all those kids in the back shouting at their poor driver’s seat-bound father. But Abi wasn’t planning on staying in the right lane behind the big rig. She passed on the right, peeling rubber up a right-turn-only lane past the truck. Once in front of the truck, she accelerated, much to Erik Danson’s utter horror, and nearly clipped a slowing sedan before swerving violently into the left lane. “I am never riding with you again,” he said. Abi’s Trans AM, which she called Rogue Angel, pulled into the golf course’s parking lot. She shifted it into Park and turned the car off before looking over at Danson. Danson exhaled, which was audible since A7X was no longer playing. “Grow a pair,” Abi snapped.

She then hopped out of the car without opening the door, thanks to the removed T-roof. Danson chose to utilize the door. “Abi, if management finds out you took your car after they said not to, you’re gonna be in a lot of trouble.” Erik Danson was annoying in several ways. Yes, Abi considered his personality to be, at best, barely tolerable, but what she loathed more than anything about him was lack of sense of adventure. Of course, she knew this was more her issue than his. Abi’s life had been one adventure after another, and it was rarely fun. But she had learned to go with it. She had learned to be vicious to the world to counteract the vicious world that seemed to want her without a moment’s rest. They walked up a path from the lot till they came to the course’s lodge. The two black-suited security agents asked around for the mayor, but only one person had even known the mayor was there that day. “Yeah, he told me you’d be here,” said the man holding a drinks tray. Abi and Erik looked at each other. Abi asked, “What are you talking about? How are you the only person working here who knows what’s going on?” The drinks man said, “I don’t know. It’s kinda weird, I admit, that he’d come to me personally like that...” He told the DinoCorps employees where to find the mayor on the green. Abi and Erik kept their gait professional as they moved toward the mayor’s position. He was swinging a club and surrounded by security at a decent distance. Abi waited politely for him to finish his swing before clearing her throat. The mayor’s caddy tapped his shoulder and gestured to the two newcomers. The mayor turned and looked. A smirk crawled across his face. This made Abi uncomfortable. “Come on over here, guys,” the mayor said. “I’m Mayor Ed Palanski.” He extended his hand for Abi first.

She shook his hand firmly. “Hello, Sir. I am Abigail Begich. This is Erik Danson. We were briefed on your need for another couple of bodyguards, but our bosses didn’t tell us why. It looks to me that you’ve got everything taken care of.” She nodded to the six bodyguards he already had. Abi had a very bad feeling. She could sense something amiss. After Mayor Palanski should Erik’s hand, his smile only grew. “Ah yes, well, as they say, appearances can be deceiving…” Ed Palanski’s appearance was very much not deceiving. He was a balding fat man with a short graying beard. His eyes were like ice and his smile made Abi want to leave his presence as soon as possible. Erik, of course, was completely oblivious to all of this. “Let me get straight to the point,” the mayor said. “I wanted to meet you here not because I need two more security personnel, but because I need you to do something for me…” He paused, his smile slowly fading. “Your services are once again required by the Federal government, Miss Begich.” Abi almost lost it. “Sir, I made it clear to the FBI that I was not going to do anything else for them. That was two years ago. Nothing’s changed.” Palanski took Abi aside, away from his cadre and Danson, who was really confused now. Abi didn’t like the mayor’s hand on her, moving her away from the others, but she acted like it didn’t bother her. She was feeling something she had not known since 2009 – fear. “Abigail,” Mayor Palanski said, “I am only a messenger. Things are happening. These things cannot be stopped. But you can help your country by taking this one last job, to help facilitate the changes that need to happen.” Abi was quite certain she was going to decline whatever the operation was, but out of curiosity, she asked, “What do they want me to do, Sir?”

“That’s what I’m talkin’ about!” declared the mayor victoriously as they crossed a small road. Abi sighed. He was assuming she would take the job. She hated when people did that. Her theory was that “assuming makes an ass out of you and then I gotta kick your ass.” She was also slightly worried about where they were walking. “The Feds want you to do a little…clean-up?” “I think we’re beyond euphemisms, Mayor. The Feds want me to whack someone.” “Ah yes,” Palanski replied. He produced a piece of paper. “Here are the targets…” “Whoa,” exclaimed Abi. She stopped near a stream. “They don’t use hard copies for this, Sir. What is going on?” Palanski explained, “There are quite a lot of targets, Abigail. Almost a dozen. If these people aren’t taken out… well, the Feds’ think-tank believes they will cause the collapse of the nation’s security grid.” He handed her the paper and continued walking. Abi swallowed hard as she read the list of names. “I know some of these… Oh my God…” Mayor Palanski stopped a few yards away and turned, his creepy smile returned. He squinted at Abi with his hands in the pockets of his grey slacks. He said, “Abigail, this is your destiny. Those people, you don’t really know them…” It would have been a good idea for him to stop talking, but he didn’t. “I mean, not really…” Abi was clenching the paper very tightly, staring through it.

Palanski continued, “You barely knew most of those people. They were just…misguided children. But if you do not kill them, they will become the bane of our existence.” Abi read one name in a hushed, emotional tone: “Elijah McDonnell.” “The Feds said you might refuse to kill him due to your, uh, past relationship.” The mayor walked away, to the edge of West Tilghman Street. A few cars passed. Her eyes rose slowly and locked on the man. She walked toward him, slowly at first, and then her pace became shaky and quick. Palanski turned around, expecting something other than what he got. Abi’s fist felt like a brick. He staggered backwards into the street, covering his bloodied nose with both hands. “You bitch!” he roared. “I could have your job. I could have your life!” Abi went into the road after him and seized him by his stupid checkered tie. “Be nice,” Phoenix said. “The rules are different now.” Palanski laughed at her through his wound. “You’re right about that, Abigail.” Abi was back and noticed that several cars had stopped and one driver was honking his horn. She looked around. If she killed him, she was good as dead. The government would just send another agent to do what they wanted her to do. Abi let Phoenix growl at him and then stepped back off the road. He followed, waving to the passersby to go on about their business. Cradling his nose, the mayor told Abi, “The Federal government is more powerful than ever. They have weapons you cannot possibly imagine…” Abi rolled her eyes. “I’m sure I could imagine some pretty crazy shit. So what exactly is to stop me from refusing this mission, huh?”

“Me,” said a much-too-familiar voice from behind. Abigail turned around to face her mirror image. Actually, the woman Abi was looking at resembled her in every way bodily. There were only slight differences, such as a scar over her right eye, a U.S. Army dress blue uniform, and short hair dyed black. Abi knew what she was. “It’s gonna take more than a clone of me to persuade me to kill people I used to know,” Abi said. Palanski nodded. “I know.” Abi looked over her shoulder, wondering why the mayor seemed so smug. She noticed something moving in the trees across the street behind him, in Trexler Memorial Park. “That’s not fair,” said Abigail, fear now evident in her eyes and stammering voice. “That’s…really not fair.” A 12-foot giant was standing in the shadows. Abi couldn’t see it clearly, but knew it was there, and it was dangerous. The giant was clothed in burlap and was barefoot, but she knew even she couldn’t best something so large and powerful. When the giant peeked at her from behind a tree, she better saw its characteristics. It had curly red hair, pale flesh, double rows of fangs, and most notably, one eye. “Cyclops,” Abi wheezed with a shudder. “That’s right,” said Mayor Palanski, grinning through his broken and bloody face. “Let me make this real clear for you, girl. If you do not do what we want, Catherine here will do it for you…and Argos here will not only kill you, but your family as well. So make your choice. He’s kinda hungry…” Abi glared at the mayor, and then at the beast several meters behind him. She turned and glowered hatefully at her doppelganger, who just smirked confidently back. “Fine,” said Abi, turning back to Mayor Palanski. “I will do the job under one condition.”

Palanski groaned. “I’m not sure how the big boys in DC are going to take your ‘condition’, but if it’s reasonable, I will pass it along to them.” “You leave Eli – Elijah McDonnell alone. I’ll kill all his old friends and ex-girlfriends but not him.” “I will pass the message up the chain of command,” replied Palanski, and then he sneered, “Now get the fuck out of my sight, Phoenix.” CHAPTER FOUR

Hollywood Spy

Laurie Dobbs waited tables in Manhattan, New York at a busy diner. She’d just moved from North Carolina a few months ago and the big city life, she discovered, was not for her. It wasn’t that she didn’t like the hustle and bustle. It was the people in power that she couldn’t stand. Before she settled in Manhattan, she had toured the entire state. Her favorite place was Broadway, when there was a production playing. Her least favorite place to be was Wall Street, where there was corruption 24/7. Laurie wasn’t a very political person. She lived life like most people her age, just looking for the next bit of fun. But when she accidentally bumped into the governor of New York on the street, she couldn’t help but feel overwhelmed by a sense of fear and trepidation. She knew something was wrong with him, but couldn’t quite figure out what. The feeling never left her. She waited tables in Manhattan and never stopped thinking about his piercing and cold eyes. Though she only got a brief glance due to his ever-present bodyguards, his face was burned into her memory. Likely, the governor would not remember Laurie. She was quite beautiful, though she was pierced, tattooed and dyed in the way that politicians naturally despise. He’d considered Laurie no more than a street urchin and quickly put the incident out of mind.

It was the first week of November, 2011 and Laurie was getting off work late. She hated getting off work late, not because she hated working late, but because it was dark and scary in the alleys of the big city. Despite the city lights, shadows haunted the crevices and side-streets of Manhattan. She much preferred her all-nighter shift at Waffle House in Wilmington, North Carolina. But she couldn’t get a transfer to a Waffle House in New York, so she took the first job that presented itself after her extensive application process. Halfway home, Laurie decided to take a shortcut down an alley to get to her apartment quicker. It would have done too, if two muggers weren’t blocking her path. Now, normally at this point, one might go ahead and jump to the conclusion, what a dumb and stereotypical young victim. However, she would not be the victim. “Christopher, what the hell are you doing?” Laurie asked in an accent that was Pennsylvanian with slight southern overtones. The tall, blond curly haired would-be mugger lowered his knife. “Laurie? What the hell? What are you doing out here?” “I told you I was coming home late. What the fuck is this anyway? I told you not to rob people so fucking close to my job. I don’t want to see anyone I know on the god damn news.” Christopher sighed. His friend just turned and walked away. “I’m sorry,” he said, “but if we keep doing it up north, we’re gonna get caught. We have to branch out –” “Listen to me, god damn it! You are not the mob, ok? You’re a small-time thief who happens to know a dude in the IRA, alright? You can be smart about it without having to almost kill me!” She pushed past him. When she exited the alley, Christopher apologized for his stupidity after concealing the weapon in his jacket. They walked silently for a couple blocks and then the governor rode past in the back of his black Lincoln.

Laurie swallowed but didn’t react otherwise. The governor stared out his window, ignoring her. Because he didn’t recognize her, he didn’t stop. If he had, the three black thugs would not have stormed the couple from multiple directions and hauled them into an unused shop. Waiting inside were two more thugs. They beat Laurie to the ground. Christopher tried to fight them, but only got two good punches in before they knocked him on his back, winded. He laughed at himself – in the panic, he’d forgotten he had a weapon on him. The dark, muddied windows blocked out any possibility that someone would see the situation. However, since the city was New York, it was unlikely anyone would’ve stopped even if they had seen the situation. Laurie managed to kick one man in the ankle. He stumbled and as Laurie tried to get up, another man smacked her down again. “Laurie!” Christopher shouted. He desperately went for his knife. An attack with a baseball bat knocked him out. Laurie managed to pull out a small canister of mace. She sprayed one assailant, got to her knees, sprayed another, and bolted for the door. Two more men intercepted her and grabbed her by the arms. She spit in their face.

November 14th, 2011

Abigail was sitting in her bedroom, staring at the floor. Slowly, mechanically, she reached up removed her eyeglasses without blinking. After a moment, she looked at the clock on her dresser. It was almost noon. She’d called into work today. She had some preparation to do. She tried hard not to think of it. The last time she had taken a life seemed like a lifetime ago.

Standing in her pajamas, Abi walked to the mirror on her dresser and stared at the person staring back. She felt like she didn’t know herself anymore. She felt conflicted, shattered. To bring metaphor into reality, Abi hurled her fist at the glass. Expectedly, it shattered and she didn’t feel any better. She looked down at her bloodied hand and shook her head. “I do this for you, mother,” she whispered at the broken mirror. “To protect you from the resistance to change and order. I must do what I must do. It is my part in this world, to take breath away from those who waste it. I will bring hell to the world, and then bring the world to its knees.” Twenty minutes later, Abi was walking out the front door of her home for what would be the last time. She turned back and looked as her mother and father both came to the door. “Where are you going?” her mother asked. Her father wondered, “Why do you have that bag? Are you going to do more government work, Abi?” Abi’s mother became worried and clutched her husband. “Abi, please…” Abi shook her head and lied, “I will be back soon.” She turned and walked to her car. After placing her black USMC duffle bag in the trunk, she went to the driver’s side and pulled open the door. She cast one more emotional glance back at her mother and father before she sat down in the driver’s seat, started the engine, and drove away without hesitation.


A man with a white beard sat opposite of Abigail as she was reading a book in Barnes & Noble. She failed to recognize his affiliation due to the colorful button-down shirt and faded blue jeans. She figured him for a tourist or a creepy old man with a bad fashion sense. She didn’t expect to be right about both counts. “Hello, Miss Begich,” said the man, pretending to read a magazine at the table. Without looking up from the magazine, he continued, “My name is George Orson. Would you like to see my GI ID?” Abi sighed with a growl and began to lower her book. George cleared his throat and glared over the rim of his magazine at her. She pretended to continue reading. “You a Marine or what? I told the Corps I’m done with them and I expected to be left alone.” George smiled in a slightly arrogant way. “I ain’t Corps, Miss Begich.” He reached into his breast pocket and produced an ID. He slid it across the table. Abi leaned forward and looked at it. Her face was without expression. “And what can I do for you, Special Agent Orson, if that’s your real name?” “Meet me tomorrow at the book shop across the street tomorrow, around noon. The owner is one of ours, don’t worry.” The next day, Abi did as ordered. She was there twenty minutes early, scoping the place out. George was right. The guy behind the counter seemed shifty, especially once Abi entered. The man never let her out of his sight. Five minutes late, the bell over the door signaled George’s arrival. He nodded for Abi to move to the back of the shop. She did and he followed. “The FBI has been investigating that cult you’re a part of,” George said as he pretended to browse a shelf. Abi ignored her instinct to run. “What of it? Freedom of religion, right?”

George chuckled and nodded. His pretense even went as far as to bend down and moan from back pain as he examined a book on the bottom shelf. Then he rose again, all the while being scrutinized by the woman. Abi noticed he was wearing the same worn out jeans from the day before, and his shirt was similar, but not the same. I guess, thought Abi, the Federal government really is making cutbacks. “All we’d like you to do,” said George, “is monitor them. They’re not actually doing anything we don’t like. However, we believe they will one day intend to commit murder.” Abi had just a couple of problems with this man’s story. “Ok, one - murder is not the FBI’s jurisdiction and two – you can’t charge anyone with a crime if they haven’t committed it yet. This isn’t Minority Report, dude.” George turned slowly to face Abi for the first time since he arrived. He looked eerily into her eyes. “That won’t be the case for too much longer, Miss Begich.” After a moment of silence, he said, “I’m from DC, do you understand that?” Abi smiled and nodded. “I do. You’re FBI. Department of Justice. That’s where they’re based.” He shook his head at her misunderstanding. “Ever minor city has an FBI department, Miss Begich. If this was not important, they wouldn’t have sent me. They would’ve just called some of the boys up stationed here in Allentown. Got me, young lady?” “Don’t call me that,” Abi said sternly, sending chills up and down the Special Agent’s spine. “Very well,” said the old man. “This cult is more important to the Federal government than you realize. All we’re asking you to do is watch them and once in a while, let us know what they’re up to. We’ve got their places bugged but we need more. We need to be able to catch them…before they sacrifice someone in one of their rituals.” Abi said, “You do know I participate in their rituals, right?”

“Of course.” “Ok. Well, they seem to believe I’m possessed by some demon or something. I don’t think that’s true, but I don’t really care what they think. All I’m interested in is getting what I want. And it seems like the Devil is the only one providing for his followers.” George chuckled. “Yes. Yes, it does.” Abi was taken aback by this. She didn’t expect such a comment from an FBI agent. She narrowed her eyes at him and folded her arms over her chest. “I want something from you too,” she told him. George turned to look at some books. “Oh yeah? What’s that?” Abi replied, “Well, I’ve been doing the government’s bidding for years. I’ve been trying to do Lucifer’s bidding for a couple months now. I know what the government is capable of, so I want money, and to never have to worry about getting a speeding ticket.” George shook his head and smiled before handing the girl a business card. “That’s my name and number. If a cop stops you, hand him that. As for the money…well, that’s not really for me to decide, darlin’, but I’ll find out for you.” “Fine.” He turned to leave and then stopped and turned back to Abigail. “Oh,” he said, raising a finger. “One more thing.” He looked Abi dead in her eyes. “Elijah McDonnell.” Abi inhaled deeply, the flesh around her eyes constricting and her nostrils flaring. “What about him?”

“Well, we know what happened between you and we think it would make a lot of sense, and be in everyone’s best interest, if you disassociated yourself from him. He’s got his place in the world and you’re not meant to be there with him, you understand me?” Abi’s jaw was set. “Get my money.” George bowed slightly and left the book shop, leaving Abi to simply stand there, staring at nothing as a tear rolled down her cheek.

November 14th, 2011

Abigail did not embark on her killing spree immediately or half-cocked. She drove east to the next city over, Bethlehem. She had one thing against Bethlehem: its name. She didn’t like being reminded of Christ at all anymore, ever since Elijah left her. Still, it could be worse. It could have been raining. She parked in at a Waffle House and examined the list in her hand, the car heater keeping her warm. It was quite cold outside, being Pennsylvania and winter. Her first target, she decided, was going to be the geographically closest person she did not know. Abi wanted to start with someone she didn’t know to get herself warmed up to the idea of killing again. She’d only killed three people before, on two separate occasions, and each face haunted her. She figured a sniper shot to the back would prevent the first victim from haunting her. Then she had a better idea. “I’ll hire a mugger to do it,” she mumbled, smiling at her ingenuity. “Then I’ll off the mugger.”

Unexpectedly, her cellphone rang. She jumped. When she answered it, she was not thrilled to hear her old FBI handler’s voice. “I’ve got news, Miss Begich,” said George Orson. Abi screamed, “Shut up! Listen to me, gawd damn it!” Her Staten Island accent came out even more when she was emotional. “If you don’t, I ain’t doin’ anything for you again! So fuckin’ listen! First of all, I want another handler! Second of all, don’t you ever call my cellphone again – ” The Special Agent interrupted her, “I’m not being traced.” “I don’t fucking care, gawd damn it! You get me a cell – no, the new agent get me a new phone, ok? I don’t wanna ever have to talk to you again, not after our last encounter! Secondly – ” “You already said second –” “Shut the fuck up!” Pedestrians and Waffle House customers were beginning to take an interest in Abi’s conversation. She stopped yelling, but her intensity was still felt over the phone. “Listen to me,” she told George. “I’m gonna need another car. This girl’s good, but I’m gonna be driving all over the country, since you decided not to let me use a fucking plane. So you get me another car. Not you, fuck! The next handler! I want him to get me another car, ok? It’s gotta be a V8 and 1980 or older. And fucking American!” “Are you done?” George asked. Abi exhaled and swallowed, which caused her some mild pain in her throat. “For now. What’s the news?”

“Shit, I forgot – Oh, right. The new list…Uh, there’s more than eleven. There are actually fifteen or sixteen, but you don’t have to do Elijah McDonnell. Um, I’ll send the updated list to your phone – ” “Oh hell no,” Abi retorted. “You get…” She exhaled again. “The new handler needs to bring me a new phone. He needs to bring me a new car. He needs to bring me the list.” As she was saying this, she balled up the old hit list and tossed it onto the passenger side floor of the Trans AM. “I do not want to see you. Ok? I do not want to ever hear from you again. Am I making myself clear, Special Agent George Orson?” “Uh, yeah,” said George. “One more thing. Laurie Dobbs is in the hospital.” Abi was silent for a few seconds. “Ok? And?” “Well, we just figured we’d let you know so you didn’t have to hire anyone to kill her.” “How the fuck did you know I was going to do that?” “We have a think-tank, Miss Abigail. Some of the members are psychologists. We have a pretty clear idea of how you think.” Abi leaned forward in her car and said emphatically into the cellphone as she held it in front of her face, “Let me give you a pretty clear idea, Mister Orson. If I see you ever again, I’ll shoot you in the balls.” “I believe you,” said George Orson. “Goodbye, young lady.” Abi didn’t move for all of five seconds. By now half a dozen people were laughing and pointing at her. She just stared out the windshield before suddenly screaming at the top of her lungs and breaking flip-phone in half. She threw it on the passenger side floor and pushed open the driver’s door. People were still laughing. She smirked and Abi saw red.

As she marched toward the nearest person, a taller black man in his late 20s, Abi stretched her arms like she’d been trained to do before exercise in the military. Her deranged smile grew and quivered. “What the fuck?” the man said, taking a couple uneasy steps back. He raised his hands in front of him. “Chill, girl. I was just – ” A right cross to the ribs, followed by a left hook to the side of the head put the man on the pavement. The half a dozen onlookers let out a surprised gasp. Most of them fled. Only two men remained. They thought together they would best the ex-Marine. The two young men flanked Abi on both sides. Her head moved sharply as she eyed one and then the other. They made the classic mistake of not attacking simultaneously. This gave Abi a split second to react correctly. She ducked the right guy’s sloppy punch and avoided the left’s grasping hands. Abi came up facing them and kicked one in the knee, breaking it, and then chopped the other in the throat. As the first man howled in pain on the ground, the second one gagged while Abi seized him by the hair and repeatedly beat his face in with her fist. With each punch, she said, “Don’t – fucking – fuck – with – me – you – piece – of – SHIT!” His nose broken and mouth busted, the man collapsed into a heap. Abi rolled her eyes, slightly annoyed that no one had put up a fight of which she was worthy. A primer painted 1978 Chevy Camaro z28 rumbled into the parking lot behind her. When she turned and saw it, her only disappointment was that it didn’t have a removable t-roof. The man who exited the vehicle was a nearly bald man in his 50s. He looked pretty fit for a man his age. Abi thought he reminded her of Bruce Willis. When he took off his shades, she nearly forgot that the police would probably be there soon. He looked exactly like Bruce Willis. “I’m not him,” he said. He even sounded like him.

Abi grinned and walked around the car toward Rogue Angel. She guessed correctly, “A clone.” “I’m Special Agent Morgan. You can call me Morgan.” Abi removed her duffle bag from the trunk of the Trans AM and walked over to the Camaro as Morgan went around to the passenger side. Abi said, “I assume you’re gonna try to stay outta sight.” Morgan opened the passenger door. “Just drop me off in Jersey City, Abigail.” As he got into the car, Abi hurriedly put her duffle bag in the backseat and then got into the driver’s seat. She shut the door, revved the engine, and slammed the Camaro into gear. The classic American automobile peeled out of the parking lot just as the police were entering. “Shit!” Abi groused. “I left the other list in my car!” Morgan sighed, and then said calmly, “That might be a problem.” “What do I do?” Two blue and white patrol cars had entered the Waffle House parking lot. One parked near the Trans AM while the other pursued the speeding Camaro. Morgan answered, “Keep driving. Everything will be fine. One of ours will confiscate the car and make sure the cops don’t talk.” Abi nodded, almost confidently. “Gotcha. Stupid Crown Vic. They’ll never catch us in that.” As soon as she said that, a 2012 Dodge Charger Hemi passed the Camaro going in the opposite direction on the same road, Bethlehem Spur Route. Abi chose to stop talking. With one hand on the wheel, Abi sped in and out of traffic

heading north. She wanted to at least pass the hospital and get on highway 22 before the Charger caught up with them. But she was relaxed because she loved driving fast, loved high speed pursuits. She was rarely stressed when driving at high speeds. She was, however, concerned about the manner in which the police would attempt to bring her into custody. “If they stop us,” Abi said to Morgan, “just pretend like you’re Bruce Willis, ok?” Morgan peered into the right side mirror. “I don’t usually have to do a lot of pretending, dear.” “Right. You’re not an actor.” “Actually, I am, and much better than those second-rate actors you see in the movies. Think about it: would the government really waste good acting talent on propaganda and entertainment when they could use us for more important things, like spying and shit?” Abi nodded, slowly starting to comprehend just how complex the Federal government was. “Ah,” she said. “So you are like Bruce Willis.” “No,” Morgan said. “I can act. The Charger’s here.” Abi exclaimed, “Damn it! Shoot his fuckin’ tires out or something!” Morgan looked over at her as if she’d said the most ridiculous thing he’d ever heard. “You have been watching too many movies. We don’t want to leave an unnecessary body count unless we have to, Abigail.” “Oh fine,” she said. “It’s called Operation: Masquerade.” “What is?” Abi asked, before speeding onto highway 22.

Morgan said, “The acting thing. Making spies the best actors in the world.” “Oh. Ok. Thanks for that, I suppose.” The Dodge Charger tried to perform a P.I.T. maneuver on the Camaro when the highway was mostly clear of motorists. This pissed of Abigail. “Don’t you dare, mother fucker!” Morgan smirked and reached forward to mess with the radio. “This Is Gonna Hurt” by Sixx: A.M. came over the speakers. “Hey, hey!” Abi said. “Hell is what you make-make! Rise against your faith-faith! Nothin’s gonna keep me down, even if it’s killing you, because you know it’s true!” The Chevy Camaro swerved in between several cars before ending up passing a bus on the right hand shoulder. The Charger kept up for now. Abi floored the accelerator and jerked the wheel to the left. This actually shocked Morgan. There was only barely enough space between the front of the bus and the car in front of it. The Camaro pulled in between the bus and the car as the Charger came up alongside them. As soon as the left lane was clear, Abi pulled the z28 over into that lane and stomped the gas. Morgan’s eyes went wide as he was pressed into his seat. He was glad he put his seatbelt on. “Listen up, listen up! There’s a devil in the church! Got a bullet in the chamber and this is gonna hurt!” Abi sung along to the music. The cop chose to speed past the cars in the right lane and then move over in front of them. Seeing the police car, many motorists slowed or pulled over, making way for Abi’s Camaro. Although this gave Abi the chance to speed up, the same was true for the cop. He came up alongside her car and sideswiped the right hand side.

“You say it’s all a crisis! You say it’s all a blur!” she shouted the lyrics. Abi was both angry and gleeful as she smashed the Camaro into the Charger’s left flank. “The only thing you brought is psychological warfare!” “Shut up and drive!” Morgan yelled, turning off the music. “Sorry,” she said. “I didn’t know my singing voice bothered you.” Morgan stated, “It’s not your singing that bothers me.” “It’s my driving, isn’t it?” “In a word, yes.” Abi pouted. “Why does everyone hate my driving?” she grumbled. “It might have something to do with,” Morgan suggested sardonically, “the fact that you’re insane.” Abi nodded. “Fair enough.” After a few more daring maneuvers, Abi managed to evade the Charger by getting off the highway suddenly and disappearing in someone’s suburban backyard. The police continued their search. Morgan turned on a CB radio that was mounted beneath the FM radio. “We can listen to the police channel on this,” he informed Abi. Abi informed him, “That would have been useful when we were being chased.” “I apologize,” the Bruce Willis-lookalike said softly, “but I was too busy hoping I’d updated my will before I came on this operation…”


“You’re back already?” asked Abi’s mother. Unfortunately, Abi had not returned yet. The woman she was speaking to was Catherine, Abi’s clone. Catherine was clad in roughly the same outfit that Abi had worn when she left eight hours earlier. Her father came up behind his wife. “What’s happened to you, Abigail?” he asked suspiciously. Mrs. Begich nodded slowly. “You seem…different.”

Catherine tried to smile warmly, but it appeared cold instead. “I’m fine. It was easy. All I had to do was run an errand. Now I am back.” She pushed her way past the Begiches and stomped into what was to be her bedroom. After closing the door, she groaned. Catherine knew she was going to hate this operation. That’s all it was to her, just another mission. Suddenly, she stood up straight and put her hand to her right ear. “God damn it,” she cursed. She didn’t have Abi’s Staten Island accent. “Don’t surprise me like that…yes, I am alone...Yeah, yeah, I know; use the accent all the time to get used to it…” She sighed and then said in the appropriate tone, “Is this better?” Catherine casually strolled around the room, taking in the sights. “Yes, sir. It’s just as you said…I know the game; I’m not to engage anyone except in self-defense….Nah, just some Satanic literature and military paraphernalia. Nothing out of the ordinary, for her anyway…” Catherine then got annoyed at what was being said over the small communications device installed deep within her ear. “What? Number One? I told you I wanted that job! Calm down?” She growled before whispering, “Number One is perfectly able at…” She was silent for a few seconds. Then she sighed and sat down in a chair in front of a computer desk. “Fine…I understand, sir. Soldier Zero, out.” After snarling at the computer, Catherine decided to hack into Abi’s accounts. She already had all the facts about Abigail, but she wanted to get a better feel for the woman’s heart and emotions. Plus, Catherine loved to snoop. As soon as she had logged into Windows, the song “SpaceLord” by Monster Magnet began to play. “At least she has good taste in music,” smirked Catherine. She stood up and removed her jacket, bobbing her head to the music. She tossed the jacket down on the bed and began to move her body rhythmically. She danced her way over to the computer again and turned up the volume.

It was while she was dancing, Catherine began to think something was going wrong with her mind when she saw a white light appear in the corner. She stopped dancing when she realized the light was real and wasn’t going away anytime soon. She moved closer, mouth agape in wonder. It was a beautiful sight indeed. She’d never seen anything so celestial. Suddenly the closet door burst open behind her. She spun around, her hands balled in fists in front of her. There was nothing there but utter darkness. Catherine breathed out once. Then the lights in the bedroom dimmed, flickered, and went out altogether. She swallowed, but didn’t move. Her eyes instantly adjusted to the dark and she saw nothing unusual. The light in the corner was gone. She moved slowly and silently for the bedroom door. She got the distinct feeling that there was someone behind her. So the super-soldier spun around with a left cross and in the next second found she was flying toward the closet. The figure she would have hit appeared darker than the night, a silhouette of utter black, even to her own advanced eyesight. Collapsing in the closet, Catherine lost consciousness for only a couple seconds. When she awoke, she found the lights on, the music’s volume on the computer had been lowered slightly, and there was nothing unusual, good or bad, in the bedroom. She got an idea. “We are on the same side.” “We are not,” was the instant reply. There was a man in the room she had not noticed before. She quickly got to her feet out of the closet and glared at him, her fists ready for combat. “How’d you get in here?” she asked viciously. The man wore a black suit with a white tie and had long black hair and a goatee. He simply stood there with his pale hands folded in front of him, eyeing Catherine without feeling. What’s more, he did not answer Catherine’s question, which really pissed her off. “My parents are right outside,” she tried.

“You are adept at lying, Catherine, however, I am angel of the Lord and such deception is beneath me. My name is Raphael.” Catherine groaned and lowered her hands. “Great, my first experience with an angel and it’s like this. What do you want…sir?” She knew to at least try to be respectful. “This house and the woman known as Abigail Catherine Begich are under the protection of the Lord and his legions. However, the forces of darkness, including the demon she summoned, Asmodeus, wish to do her harm, as you do. I have been ordered here to inform you that your attempts will be thwarted. You have been warned.” Catherine cleared her throat. “Ok, um…what are you talkin’ about? I’ve only been ordered to take her place here. I’m not going to try to hurt her or her family. So your little…light show and scary closet door tricks are pointless, alright?” “I did not open the door, nor did I shove you into it. That was Asmodeus. He has been granted spiritual access to this house, but not physical. He may not take physical form here. He does not care about your ‘side’. He enjoys spreading madness, particularly between the angels.” Raphael’s next statement seemed a tad rushed. “The demon has knowledge of the future and seeks to remove all obstacles between him and Abigail Begich.” Then he screamed, in what seemed, for an angel, agony. Raphael’s form began to contort as Asmodeus took over the archangel from the inside. Once done, the evil spirit’s new physical form had a grotesquely missing nose and slimy, rotting grey flesh. Suddenly, two grey wings sprouted from his back and one of them knocked the computer off the desk. The computer crashed on the floor and the music stopped abruptly. “Your kind,” Asmodeus said in a deep voice with a middle-easterner’s accent, “is weak and foolish.” He walked slowly toward Catherine.

Catherine was genuinely afraid. She got on one knee. “I will do whatever you command, just please don’t hurt me.” Asmodeus rolled his eyes and groaned in irritation. “See? This is what I mean. You grovel, for what? Your life? Do you know what I was before I died and became a demon? A powerful giant. But as a demon, I am far more powerful. You are not human. You are a mere copy, a mere imitation of a mortal. You are as weak and pathetic as they come. However…” Asmodeus reached down and took Catherine’s hair in his clawed hands. He hauled her back up to her feet. “You have one thing I need, being an imitation. You have something in you that should not be there. Do you know what I am talking about, little girl?” Quivering, Catherine nodded. “I do, my lord. My command is telling me to terminate all contact with you and to take my cyanide pill. But…I will serve you instead.” “Good.” He released her. “This form is temporary. When Raphael returns to his true self, he will be angry with me and lash me in the spirit world. So I will not be there any longer.” Having said that, Asmodeus departed from Raphael’s body and entered into Catherine’s. She gasped and fell to the floor, writhing and spitting. Now himself again, Raphael quickly leapt into action. He drew a flaming sword from an invisible scabbard and swiped at the air above Catherine. Unfortunately, he was in human form, which meant he was much slower than Asmodeus, who had already gotten inside the woman. Once he realized that there was nothing he could do without an exorcism, Raphael vanished in a bright white light. Asmodeus, completely in control of Catherine’s mind, stood up and cracked her neck. “This is gonna be fuckin’ wicked…”

Abigail was driving the primer-painted Camaro east on Interstate 78. “This,” she queried with shock and anger as she glowered at the cellphone Morgan had given her, “is the new list? It’s got more names? And Eli’s still fucking on it! What the fuck, man?” From the passenger seat, Morgan said, “I’m just the messenger. I think there’s a certain cliché about that…” “Ok, let me get this straight, dude,” she said, only partially watching the road ahead. It was dark and they were fifteen minutes from entering Newark, New Jersey. “I now have to go to fucking Florida and South Carolina and North Carolina…the state where Eli lives.” “It appears,” said Morgan, “that Eli has been contacting people online and he has at least one person in almost every state ready to join his cause at a moment’s notice.” Abi handed the cellphone back to Morgan. “Look, when I saw that I had to go to Mexico and Canada, I figured what the hell - I need a vacation. Shit, it might be interesting. But now you got me going back the state of my exboyfriend. He will fucking know if I’m there. Don’t you remember last time I went to Carolina? And I was only driving through. I can’t fucking hide from him there. Get someone else to do Black, whoever she is. Get your precious Soldier Zero.” “No,” said Morgan. “You know the deal: do it or die. I’m sorry, but I’m just –” “The messenger,” the driver said with a mischievous grin. “Well, guess what, pal? I’ve got a message for you to give to your bosses.” She hit the brakes and Morgan, who was the only one in the car not wearing a seatbelt, flung forward and bashed his nose on the dashboard. Abi pointed her Beretta handgun at his temple as he bled and moaned. “I ain’t takin’ you to Jersey City,” Abi said. “Now get the fuck outta my car before I blow your god damn head off.”

Morgan held his nose and turned to look Abi in the eye. “Oh, you crazy bitch. How do you think we got you your beloved muscle car so fast?” Spot lights were on the Camaro before she could reply. She peered up into the lights through the windshield. Morgan carefully took the pistol from her. “Shit,” Abi breathed, glaring daggers at the man. “Now,” said Morgan, “onto Jersey City.” He turned the pistol around and handed it back to her. Abi just laughed and took the gun before moving the car forward again. She wondered why she didn’t hear helicopter rotors. The reason why she didn’t hear helicopter rotors was because the flying machines that used the spot lights were not helicopters. Two disc-shaped aircraft with U.S. Air Force decals followed the Camaro from hundreds of meters in the night air. Once their intimidating lights were no longer needed, the aircraft designed to look like UFOs were made invisible by onboard cloaking devices. When Abi asked about them, Morgan told her only, “If you think the U.S. government would not create more advanced technology than the public would use, you’re not as intelligent as you look.”

Summer of 2011 It was hot and the thunderstorm that plagued southeastern North Carolina was totally unexpected. It came from the north. Some conspiracy theorists attributed the downpour to HAARP or the onslaught of chem-trails that morning. It actually had nothing to do with science.

Elijah Patrick McDonnell was speeding down highway 17 in his rundown 1986 Pontiac Firebird. The car’s color could be debated on all day and all night. At a distance, it looked black, maybe dark grey. Upon closer inspection, however, it appeared midnight blue, with specks of dark purple flaking around the edges. The 2.8 liter engine grumbled in response to Eli’s lead foot. Eli was on his cellphone. “She’s here, god damn it! I know it, dude! I’m going to Wal-Mart ‘cause if she decides to look for me, she’ll start there…” However, she was not looking for Eli. Abigail was in town, but she was only passing through. In fact, she’d been at Wal-Mart minutes before he arrived and they completely missed each other. She drove her rental car, a silver Dodge Charger, south on 17 and neither one of them knew they passed each other. Feeling her presence strongly, and knowing that the storm was her sign, Eli feverishly hunted for Abi at the supercenter in Leland. Meanwhile, Abi was on her way to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. But she could feel Eli as well, and she knew that her ex-boyfriend would know that the storm directly above her meant that she was there. So she pulled over and cried. She already knew she wouldn’t see him. She couldn’t, not after what happened between them years ago. After sobbing, Abi pulled herself together, checked the rear-view, and pulled off the slippery grass and onto the slightly-lessslippery blacktop. She didn’t see the semi in the rear-view. Lightning crashed and thunder boomed. The truck rear-ended the Charger and all Abi could hear was the screeching of tires and the smashing of glass and the twisting of metal. The sedan spun 180 degrees on the road and sat facing the semi. Breathing hard, Abi wondered why she wasn’t dead, and why the semi was able to stop so quickly. Stepping out of the car, Abi’s first instinct was to check on the truck driver. She didn’t notice that there was absolutely no damage to his front-end. Once she saw that he was fine, she went to check the damage of the rental car.

There was none. “Oh my Gawd!” She fell to her knees in amazement and fear, her hands going to her mouth. “What’s happening?” A thought came to her: Go home. Before the truck driver could say anything to her Abi hopped into the Charger and turned around. She had to force herself to drive calmly and not to speed. When she came to a turn-around point, she executed and 180 and headed back the way she had come. Hours after the storm had passed, strangely going back north instead of traveling further south, Eli drove south to go to the small house at which he was residing, having been homeless for a time. He noticed large tire marks on the road. He didn’t think anything of it.

November 14th, 2011

“Jersey City,” said Abi, waking up her passenger, “as ordered.” Groggy, Morgan came to and yawned. “Don’t think of it as an order, Agent Begich.” “Get out,” she said, keeping her eyes on the dark road ahead, “and don’t call me that ever again.” Morgan left the cellphone on the passenger seat as he stepped out of the Camaro. “Are you sure you don’t want to rest for the night?”

Abi stated, “Close the door.” Morgan closed the door with a chuckle and watched as she drove away. “Next time I see her, she’s going to be dead.” Abi drove, thanking God that the Special Agent clone was out of the vehicle. The rest of Abi’s trip was relatively uneventful. She went through the Holland Tunnel, remembering the first time she ever left New York. She had been only twelve when the mafia told her father, “Either join a family, or die.” Her father had been a member of a high-ranking Italian mafia family. However, once he and his wife had Abigail, their eldest daughter, he decided he wanted to keep the mafia at a distance. The gangsters tolerated this for twelve years until two families went to war on Staten Island. One family had lost their leader, a god father who considered Mr. Begich like a son. This was the only reason the peace remained between the families and Mr. Begich. Once the god father had passed and his nephew took over the family, the nephew made the ultimatum. When Begich kindly informed the new leader that he was not interested in joining a family, the response was a drive-by shooting the next morning. The day after that, the Begiches left New York and moved to Pennsylvania.

That night, Abigail was standing over the hospital bed of Laurie Dobbs, a syringe in her hand. She looked at the stranger with cold eyes. Despite the silent and still countenance, a million thoughts were running through Abi’s mind. She inched closer to Laurie and swallowed when she thought her target was waking. But she wasn’t. Laurie was in a coma. All Abi had to do was finish what the thugs started. Abi told herself it was for her country. She raised the needle slowly, hesitantly. A tear rolled down her cheek. She tilted her head as she examined the woman’s injuries. However, it was when she touched Laurie’s arm that she experienced real anguish.

“What can I getcha?” Laurie asked Eli. She held up a notepad and pen. She wore an apron. She was a waitress. Eli smiled warmly at the girl. She had dark hair, held in a bun. She had bright, excited eyes, full of life. He liked her. He flirted with her. From the jukebox, “Hallelujah” by Jeff Buckley played. “We’ll have bacon,” he said with a smirk. Laurie smiled back continuously. “One plate?” “Yeah, that should do,” said Eli. “I might share some with my girlfriend.” Laurie glanced at a blond woman and Abi could feel her envy. Abi could also feel the blond woman’s envy. Abi didn’t know how she could feel the blond woman’s envy - unless Laurie was an empath. “You better share some with her,” said Laurie with a playful smile. The blond woman smiled back and poked Eli. “Yeah, you better.” “It’ll be ready in five minutes,” Laurie told them with a friendly smile before turning around. Abi’s bawling was heard from the next room. She looked and saw that she’d stuck the syringe in the tube that would take the overdose of morphine straight into Laurie Dobbs. Abi forced herself to stop her crying and wiped her tears. She took the syringe and threw it away after the thing was empty. When she turned to leave, a security guard was blocking the door. “What are you doing in here, ma’am?”


“We’ll take it from here,” said FBI Special Agent Eugene Monsanto. “This is a Federal matter.” Abigail Begich was led from a New York precinct by the young black agent. She tried to rub from her wrists the pain caused by the handcuffs that had recently been removed. Special Agent Monsanto had short dreadlocks and was quite large, standing at six feet tall and not at all thin. He also wore glasses and unlike most agents in the field, civilian attire consisting of a large navy blue T-shirt, black hoodie, and baggy jeans.

It had been three days since Abigail had been taken into custody by NYPD. Now, however, all of her paperwork had vanished and there was no court date set. All records of her arrest was gone, thanks to the Federal government. Parked on the curb was a beige 2007 Mercury Grand Marquis. Eugene Monsanto opened the passenger door for Abi. She had barely registered his existence since he introduced himself to her half an hour ago inside the precinct. When she didn’t even look at him as she got into the car, Eugene only smirked and closed the door. He’d heard a lot about Abi, and assumed everything was normal. When he sat down in the driver’s seat, he discovered otherwise. Now that she’d gotten her weapons and artifacts back from the police department, she was pointing her 9mm Beretta sidearm at him. She kept it low by her stomach so that no one else could see it through the Mercury’s darkly tinted windows. Her eyes were staring straight ahead. The man didn’t make a move. “What’s up?” he asked, keeping his sweating palms around the steering wheel. Abi was silent for a moment before answering, “I don’t know. Something. Something is very wrong. I killed someone. I’ve killed before, but…it wasn’t me. It was Phoenix. I mean, it was me, but I blacked out…” She turned and looked at Eugene, her eyes red with angst. “I don’t know how I can live with myself. But I don’t think I’d feel bad if I killed you and disappeared.” “Ok, well first of all,” said Eugene, “this car is being tracked. Also, it’s mine, not the government’s. Second, you can’t escape us. We’ll always find you. You know that. Third, and most importantly, according to management, your stupid fucking clone is on the loose.” This got Abi’s attention. She snapped her head around. “What? She was supposed to be at my house! What happened?”

Eugene said, “Apparently, a demon possessed her. I don’t know the details. That’s all I’m allowed to tell you. Your orders are to get your car from impound and drive to DC. Justice and Homeland wanna brief you in full before you go finish your mission. It’s up to you the order in which you liquidate the assets on the list, but management recommends you take out Gambahl next, since that agent’s in DC…” Abi groaned. “Katherine Foster Gambahl is an agent?” Eugene nodded. Abi sighed and dropped her pistol on her lap. She rubbed her eyes with the tips of her fingers and shook her head in despair. How was she going to take out an agent? Another important question came to mind. “Why,” Abi asked, “do they want her dead?” Eugene glanced around and then started the car. As he pulled away from the police station, he responded, “She’s been snooping around Justice’s records, asking too many questions, and plus used to date Elijah McDonnell and that’s reason enough for them anyway.” Abi snarled, taking hold of her gun tightly. “DoJ don’t need no fuckin’ reason to off anybody. I’ve got her address in the phone, but is there anything else I need to know about her?” “She’s been in contact, on and off, with McDonnell.” “That’s a problem.” Eugene nodded. “Our A.I. can simulate her email responses and McDonnell doesn’t have her phone number anymore…” Abi recognized doubt in Eugene’s voice. “But?”

“McDonnell once drove from North Carolina to DC to find her after he lost contact with her back in ’07. He’s not completely unpredictable…until it’s someone he loves. We think he won’t catch on to the A.I., but the elite’s brainiacs think he might go to DC for another reason in the near future…and he might look for her while he’s there.” “Wait, hold on,” Abi said. “Eli’s going to DC?” “Maybe.” “And you want me to kill one of his exes there?” “Pretty much.” “Well, you’re fucking crazy. If he ever finds out you had any of his friends assassinated, he’s going to go berserk.” Eugene sighed, making a slow right turn onto a one-way street between several Taxi cabs. “He’ll be taken care of if it comes to that.” Abi reached over and decked Special Agent Monsanto in the side of the head. He jerked to the left and the car followed. After riding the left curb of the one-way street for a couple seconds, the Mercury crashed into the back of a parked SUV. “Shit, girl!” Eugene had neglected to put on his seatbelt, and as a result, his face was bleeding. “What the fuck did you do that for?” Abi, who had worn a seatbelt, removed hers and put the barrel of her handgun against Eugene’s temple. She stated calmly, “I agreed to take this job under the condition that Eli himself not be touched. Now, the way I see it, you could easily off me and have my clone, or another agent, do this job, but you want plausible deniability. You want to be

able to say that I am insane and went on a rampage on all of my ex-boyfriend’s other exes. Well, you’re forgetting just one thing, dude: I’m very good at what I do.” A pedestrian on the sidewalk was trying to help Eugene by opening the driver’s side door. When the door didn’t open, the man decided to run around the other side of the car to Abi’s door. By then, a couple more bystanders had chosen to assist the unfortunate couple as well. Eugene groaned. “Get out of my car. My handler will contact you shortly. Crazy bitch.” He tried to wipe his bloody nose. Abi grinned and pushed open the car door, nearly hitting Christopher Douglas O’Neal with it. “Excuse me,” she said in a snide tone. Then she just walked away, stuffing her pistol in the back of her pants. Surprised, Christopher could only watch her walk away. “Well, that’s rude.”

August, 2007 A silver 2003 Ford Taurus SE rolled, extremely slowly due to the dense traffic, northwest past the Department of Justice building on Pennsylvania Avenue. Elijah McDonnell glanced back and forth between the terrible traffic ahead and the DoJ building, hoping that he could gather the courage to walk in, or attempt to. In the passenger seat was Charlotte Klabo. She was a cute short girl with short, boyish hair. She was a friend and co-worker of Eli. Charlotte knew the reason Eli had come to DC, to find the girl he lost contact with weeks earlier. But she’d come simply to get away from work and the sight-seeing.

The entire time Eli was in DC, he tried to call his then-girlfriend, Katherine Foster Gambahl, who went by Foster. But she never answered. Being a natural worrier, Eli assumed the worst: either she was on some secret operation for the government or she was dead or missing. The truth was much more nefarious than that. From a high window of the Department of Justice building, Foster watched the silver Taurus drive past. It had done so at least a dozen times already, due in part to the bad traffic, as well as to Eli’s hope that he’d catch a glimpse of Foster near or in the building. He never did. She knew it was Eli because she worked for a fraud division of the DoJ and had access to neat GPS tracking technology. Her desktop computer indicated the geographical location of every call made to her cellphone. Eli had been privy to such information by Foster, as well as numerous other classified facts, which was why her direct supervisor ordered that she cease contact with Eli immediately. Foster was relieved that her boss had found out about them. She wasn’t used to being in love. The 34-year-old woman had only experienced it once before, but she pushed him away because she feared commitment. Now, she didn’t have to. The government had done it for her. Her supervisor ordered that she delete Eli’s cellphone number. He would allow her to continue the email contact as long as their conversations remained plutonic and they did not mention classified information. Foster agreed to this, and because of this agreement, she could only watch in sorrow from her office window as Eli drove past. She looked down at the ringing phone in her hand. She would not answer. She cared about her career, she cared about Eli, so in her mind, what she was doing was the right thing, to protect both he and herself from the feared emotional pain. Back on the avenue, Eli had decided to park near the Smithsonian Institute and go sight-seeing with Charlotte. He tried calling the Department of Justice, but got no answer. When he’d asked the agents standing in front of the building if they knew a female agent named Katherine Foster Gambahl, they lied, and told him no. So Eli gave up. He stopped calling her cellphone, leaving countless voicemails, and he pretended like he’d forgotten about her.

The next day, Eli visited the Pentagon and was pulled over by Pentagon police for doing a U-turn. After giving Eli the ticket, the police officer said, “Alright, you have a goodnight and try to stay outta trouble. You don’t to be on another list.”

November 18th, 2011

Abi was sitting in a McDonald’s staring at the food she’d barely touched. Two bites had been taken from her burger. She wasn’t hungry. She’d only tried to eat because she didn’t want to die of starvation. It had been a few days since she murdered Laurie Dobbs and she wasn’t feeling very happy about it. Her cellphone had ringed continuously since the day she left Eugene on the side of the street in Manhattan, New York. Now she was back in Pennsylvania, in the big city of Philadelphia, and still ignoring the phone calls. The government tried texting her too. She read those, but didn’t reply. Apparently, yet another agent was to meet her at a small mom-and-pop restaurant in Wilmington, Delaware. Abi ignored it and her mind never left the feelings and sights she experienced when she touched her first target. Abi felt like she recognized the blond woman who was sitting next to Eli in the memory of the Waffle House, but she couldn’t quite place her. She was confident that she never met her, or Laurie, when she knew Eli, however. Katherine Foster Gambahl was another story. Abi met Foster one time in 2007. She put the memories of Laurie and Foster out of her mind. She knew that if she dwelt on the past, specifically on the people she had actually met, she wouldn’t be able to do her job.

With an expression of detachment, Abi stood up and left the McDonald’s. She got into her Camaro and drove away. She didn’t get far out of the parking lot before someone ran into the back of her car with theirs, causing the rock music coming out of the speakers to stutter. She had recently changed to a local radio station that had just begun playing the Danish band Volbeat’s famous single, “A Warrior’s Call.” When she glanced in her rear-view angrily, Abi could see a blacked out 2010 Dodge Ram pickup. She knew that her battered muscle car wouldn’t be able to withstand the larger vehicle’s onslaught. Abi was traveling on South Broad Street heading south when she whipped the car around at the intersection of Carpenter Street and gunned the engine. The truck took a bit longer to do the same maneuver, giving Abi a slight head start. Unfortunately, the Dodge was holding a Hemi engine and the Camaro only had 300 horsepower. By the time Abi was speeding past McDonald’s again, the Ram was on her ass. She decided to do something random and hopefully, unpredictable. She swerved left, between traffic, and jumped the concrete median. The undercarriage of the Chevy scraped the median and Abi veered between two oncoming vehicles. Whoever was driving the tinted Dodge did not do the same thing. They remained in the passing lane of the north-bound side and when the driver encountered an obstacle in the form of a car, he or she honked once. The first vehicle moved aside but the second one didn’t and the Dodge Ram simply nudged the rear of the ’86 Toyota Camry until the driver of said car moved aside. Abi had to make a choice now. She knew that Christian Street was coming up, but her utter disdain for the mere word played an important part in her decision making process. Plus, she figured her assailant would assume she was going to turn on Christian Street. Abi pulled her car onto the sidewalk in an attempt to make her pursuer believe she was about to take a left. But it didn’t work. The primer-colored ’78 Camaro ran a red light and barely missed the back-end of a new model Nissan Altima as it drove through the intersection. The pickup truck chasing Abi did not miss it. The truck smashed into the right-front quarter of the sedan and kept going, the front-end only lightly damaged.

Abi remained in the far lane of the south-bound side of the road. The Dodge Ram finally moved over to the oncoming side of the road as well, only when the concrete median was no longer in the way. Abi noticed this. “Cowardly bitch,” she sneered, scowling at the truck via her right-side mirror. Four automobiles were heading in their direction, their drivers slamming their horns as they tried to move aside or come to a screeching halt in the middle of the road. When Abi came to the next intersection, she laughed. The name of the intersecting street was called Catharine. That was when the Hemi-powered Dodge bashed into the right-rear of the Camaro with such force that it sent Abi’s muscle car skidding sideways into the front of a slow-moving mideighties Chevy Caprice. After the pickup truck came to a gradual stop in the middle of the intersection of Catharine and S Broad, the driver exited and arrogantly swaggered over to the totaled Camaro. Dazed and bleeding profusely from her left shoulder, face, and head, Abigail winced in pain as she turned to see through squinted eyes her attacker coming toward her. Aware that she was trapped for the moment, Abi released her seatbelt and drew her pistol. When she looked again, the opponent was gone. Abi swallowed and looked around her, sharp pains shooting up and down her arm and neck. As if to mock her, “Bullet in My Hand” by Redlight King came over the radio. The car was completely off. Before she could be too shocked, however, two booted feet landed on the hood of her car. As her sight finally cleared up, Abi could discern, even through the badly cracked windshield, that it was a woman, whoever it was. Abi tried to lift her pistol with her right arm, but cried out in agony and then dropped the gun. She whimpered. “You’re not gonna get away with this,” she sobbed, reaching forward slowly. A fist with brass knuckles punched through the shattered glass. The woman took hold of Abi’s hair. Abi reached up and burnt the inside of her wrist with the car lighter. Then she dropped it on the floor and scrambled for the passenger door.

“Son of a bitch,” the woman outside howled. “You are going to pay dearly for that!” Having fallen onto the hot cement, Abi gazed up onto the hood of the Camaro to see Catherine glowering down at her. Abi wasn’t surprised at all. Clambering unsteadily to her feet, Abi managed an anguished smile. “Oh, come on, Cat.” She put her fists up pathetically. “I ain’t down yet. Let’s…” She nearly fell over, steadied herself on the car, and then put her fists up again. “Let’s go, bitch.” Catherine hopped off the hood of the car just as several cop cars arrived. Abi thought she’d be alright and lowered her hands. But the cops didn’t move to help Abi. They just stood there, hands on their hips and arms crossed, blocking traffic, watching what was to become the spectacle of the year for Philadelphia. Out of breath, Abi gasped, “Seriously?” She leaned forward, her hands on her knees. Smirking, Catherine said, “See, these are some of the most corrupt cops in the country. All I had to do was make sure some of my friends met them first…” Abi nodded before shaking her head. “What are you talkin’ about? Are you possessed?” “Duh,” Catherine laughed, moving closer to Abi. “Ever heard of Asmodeus?” Abi had. It was the demon she and her friends had attempted to release on November 11 th. She didn’t think it actually happened though. Suddenly she understood a lot more. “The government works with demons,” she gasped, edging down the side of the car away from Catherine. “That’s why they let Azazel murder Linda. That’s why they had me spy on his cult.” Catherine was still smiling devilishly when she lunged at Abi, grabbing her hair and the front of her shirt. “That’s right, mother fucker.” She hurled her at a group of onlookers.

The pedestrians gasped and backed away quickly. Catherine’s gait toward Abi was sultry and confident. Abi’s condition was near death. “After I get rid of you,” Catherine leered, “I’m gonna take your place…I’m gonna kill all your friends, family, and the targets on your precious list…” She reached down and seized Abi by the throat. “And then I’m gonna go find Eli and –” That was the last statement Catherine made for a very long time. With a battle scream that sounded similar to that of a bird of prey, Phoenix threw a left punch with a broken arm that landed square on her clone’s jaw. The demonic woman stumbled back and to her left. Phoenix was on her feet before Catherine’s eyes were upon her. But when Catherine did look into Abi’s eyes, gazing past the fist that was again coming toward her, she saw something that even Asmodeus feared. Abi was no longer there; there was only the Phoenix. The second blow broke Catherine’s nose. Blood spurt and she staggered again, throwing up her hands in defense. But nothing she did was good enough to stop the maddened woman. My time with you has been most enlightening. Farewell. Phoenix clutched Catherine by the throat and body-slammed her onto the road. Asmodeus left the mind of Abi’s doppelganger only seconds before Phoenix battered her into unconsciousness. Abigail Begich almost quite literally beat the hell out of herself. Standing over Catherine’s bloody and bruised body, Phoenix turned and screamed at the police and the bystanders. They all backed away. The police drew their weapons. But Phoenix returned control to Abi. Despite the fact that Abi could only recall flashes of the recent conflict, she didn’t miss a beat. “Where are you?” Abi shrieked into the wind. “I know you’re still here, Asmodeus! Where the fuck are you?”

Nobody moved. The ambulance and fire department finally arrived. Abi sighed, regretting the fight with Catherine; she was in a lot more pain that she had been in before. Remaining upright only by pride and strength in will, Abi ambled over to the destroyed Camaro, recovered her 9mm Beretta from the passenger floor, went around to get her duffel bag from the trunk, and then stumbled over to Catherine’s pickup. She glared at the cops and pedestrians after she threw her duffle bag in the back. “You better get your shit together, everyone! This world is about to be plunged into the worst chaos and darkness ever seen by mankind! You better fucking choose a side, ‘cause there is no more middle ground! No more shades of grey! It’s do or die, wrong or right, dark or light!” Stepping up into the truck, Abigail had to force herself not to cry. She felt like she’d chosen the wrong side. However, the good thing about life is it’s never too late to change sides. Unfortunately, Abi still had a long way to go before she would make that choice.

Having driven to Washington, DC, Abigail ditched the pickup and went for a walk through the National Mall. She received a phone call from FBI asset Eugene Monsanto’s handler, who identified himself as such. “I don’t know what to say,” said Special Agent Calvin Ponzi. Abi doubted that was his real name. “You’re remarkable,” he told her over the phone. “NSA’s debriefing the Phili PD. We’re still tryin’ to figure out why they didn’t intervene in your little adventure.” “I’m running on adrenaline,” said Abi, “so listen carefully. I will not repeat myself. I will do what you want me to do. I will liquidate the assets on the list. But you need to keep that crazy woman away from my family. You need to

keep Elijah McDonnell out of this. If you do not, Agent Ponzi, I will destroy the FBI, NSA, and CIA, and any other government agency involved with this. Do you understand?” Ponzi sighed with exasperation. “Oh, Miss Begich. This goes beyond the Federal government. Everything that is happening is part of a larger plan. The FBI and NSA are just following orders. We’re just pieces of a huge puzzle. Come on, you should know that.” “Just do your gawd damn job,” Abi snarled. “Do it, you understand? Do you fuckin’ understand me? If you can’t protect one family and one man, you are one sad intelligence and security organization.” Ponzi chuckled. “Our job isn’t to protect people, Miss Begich. We aren’t the Secret Service. And even if we were, we don’t protect nobodies like Elijah McDonnell and your parents, with all due respect.” Abi groaned as she got onto a tour bus. “Yeah, yeah, well at least stop sending psycho clones to live with them, awlright?” An old lady on the bus looked at Abi like she was insane. Abi ignored her. She sat down at the back of the trolley. Ponzi said, “Fine. The Philadelphia police have taken Soldier Zero into custody. The FBI will take her from them today. You won’t have to ever see her again.” “Ok,” Abi affirmed. “I’m gonna get a hotel. I need a break. I need to fix my fractured arms, thanks to your fucking psycho.” Abi received more quizzical looks. She cocked her head to the side and widened her eyes. “What?” she snapped. “Mind your own business before I snap your fucking necks.” “Pardon?” Ponzi said, “I assume you’re talking to a civilian.” “Several of them.”

The bus riders turned away. “Be careful, Miss Begich,” said Ponzi. “I will send a medic to help with your injuries.” “Fine,” Abi breathed in annoyance. “I’m sure you’ll be able to locate me with my cellphone…” “Of course,” Ponzi chuckled. “As long as you keep it on.” Half an hour later, Abi checked into the Channel Inn off Water Street SW. She was almost surprised to find a couple waiting in her room. She glanced tiredly down at the key, and then at the number on the open door. “Uh, am I at the wrong room?” she asked unenthusiastically. The man shook his head. “I thought I’d come down and see you personally.” Abi inhaled deeply and forced a smile. “Agent Ponzi.” “Special Agent Ponzi actually.” “I’m sorry, I always forget to add how ‘special’ you guys are…” She let the door close behind her. The other woman in the room giggled lightly. The special agent cast the woman a glance of disapproval. Abi smiled thinly. Calvin Ponzi, 28, had short blond hair and wore a white, long-sleeved button-down shirt. His general appearance was neat, except for some almost imperceptible stubble around his jowl. The female asset, who looked to be in her mid-thirties, was obviously only linked to the Federal government, but not a party member. She wore a black knee-length skirt and a light blue silk shirt. There was a small medical bag on the table near the bed. What gave Abi the impression that this was the female’s first operation was her complete lack of professionalism. Despite her initial giggle, the woman appeared utterly nervous and scared. Once the woman had examined Abi’s wounds at a distance, her

eyes wandered the room, but didn’t seek the usual things trained assets or agents looked for: alternate escape routes, possible weaknesses in the room, potential weapons, or unusual events and items; she was just looking around aimlessly out of anxiety and uncertainty. “Where’s my manners?” asked Ponzi with an arrogant smile. He gestured to the woman. “This is Nomi Gambahl. She’s a nurse.” An evil, lopsided smile spread across his face. This took Abi aback. She blinked and glared at Ponzi. Then she smiled apologetically at Nomi. “Hello. I guess we should get started.” She set down her heavy duffel bag and unfastened her hip holster containing her Beretta. Then she sat down on the side of the bed and waited for Nomi as she went through her small bag for devices. Abigail mouthed to Calvin Ponzi, Are you fucking kidding me? Ponzi just smirked and shrugged. Not my call, he mouthed back. You – Abi pointed at him – and I – Abi pointed at herself – are gonna dance. For the first time since he met her, Ponzi was frightened of Abi. Nomi turned around with some supplies. She told Abi to lie down and then examined her fractured arms, broken nose, and gashed left temple. “How are you still walking around?” asked Nomi with shock. “You must be in incredible pain.” “You have no idea,” Abi grunted, swallowing her reaction to the pain as Nomi touched her wounds. Ponzi turned and walked to the balcony of the second floor hotel room. Abi watched him walk away. She found him slightly more tolerable than the other agents and assets she encountered during her mission. But she still despised him for what he’d done, bringing a relative of a target to heal the wounds of a future enemy. That gave Abi an idea.

“Gambahl,” Abi mused. “That name sounds so familiar. Do you have a sister?” Ponzi spun around silently. He frantically shook his head and waved his hands in front of her, signaling for her to shut up. Looking past Nomi, Abi grinned slightly at him before looking back up to her medic as she replied. “Um, yeah. How do you know Foster? Do you work with her?” “Yes,” Abi lied with a smile. “Yes, I do.” Ponzi rolled his eyes and turned away again. After a while, Abi felt woozy and when she tried to see what Nomi was doing, she found that she couldn’t. Her vision was blurring and ten seconds later, Abi was unconscious. When she woke up, she looked over to the clock sitting on the table. Only half an hour had passed. She looked over and saw Ponzi sitting in a chair by the door. “What are you up to?” groaned Abi. She tried to sit up but failed. She was glad the pain was gone. “Oh nothing,” Ponzi said. “You’re healed. Completely. You’re welcome.” Abi groaned yet again. “Gawd damn government cryptic bullshit. What did you do to me?” She noticed then that the Special Agent was holding her pistol in his lap. Ponzi said, “Nomi healed you, Miss Begich. That’s her thing. Well…let’s just say we used a combination of technology and faith to make you better.” “Great,” said Abi as she pushed herself to a sitting position and leaned her back against the headrest of the bed. “You had the Christian sister of one of my targets heal me?” “Not quite,” Ponzi stated. “Yes, she’s a Christian healer, but it turns out it wasn’t going to work on you…at least, not without some assistance. I’m gonna keep you in the dark about that because it’s need to know and, frankly, makes for an excellent plot twist in case you ever decide to write a book about all this.”

Abi actually laughed. “Wow. I gotta tell ya, I can’t see that happening.” Ponzi stood up and tossed Abi’s Beretta onto the chair. He turned to leave, but then rotated back and smiled at Abi. “You know…sometimes people need a little…motivation to get things done. I think you’ll find that true, Miss Begich.” Then he departed. Abi shook her head while she rolled her eyes. She sighed and pulled herself off the bed and went through her duffel bag. She pulled out some new apparel and headed for the bathroom. She found Nomi Gambahl dead on the floor. Dropping her clothes, Abi gaped. “Why?” she whispered to herself. Abi checked the woman’s vitals. She shook her head and fell onto her butt with her back against the open door of the bathroom. Frustrated, Abi rammed the back of her skull against the door. After a moment of guilt and sorrow, Abi inspected the corpse. There was one bullet hole in the back of the head. She’d been executed. I better do this job, thought Abi. Otherwise, she thought, I’ll end up like this.


The funeral was beautiful. Abigail watched from a distance as the Gambahl relatives and close friends sobbed and prayed in the Rock Creek cemetery. Abi was perturbed to once again hear the song “Hallelujah,� but knew not from where the music was coming. She turned away from the sad scene and rested her back against a Cherry Blossom tree. Though she never cared for death unless it happened to someone close, she chose to wear all black that morning, symbolizing her guilt and appreciation for the event. But that alone did not convince her to abort the operation against the Gambahl family. Her face veiled, she turned and gazed once again at the gathering of grieving relatives from the cover of the Cherry Blossom tree. Unfortunately, despite her training, Abigail had not taken into account that the family was connected with the security services of Washington, DC. Abi could easily avoid detection by the local police, but an off-duty Secret Service agent did catch a glimpse of her.

The man was a friend of the family and had arrived late. He was several meters away, striding quickly for the mass, when he caught sight of the ex-Marine and became suspicious. He stopped and moved sideways to hide behind a tree. After observing the suspicious woman’s bearing and behavior, he concluded that she was either currently employed by the Federal government or had been in the past. He then noticed the grip of a pistol haphazardly concealed in her black slacks. The late arrival decided right then and there to take care of her silently and swiftly. He headed back the way he’d come and tried to sneak up on Abi from behind. He failed. When he was a few feet away from Abi, she spun around and drew her Beretta. A noise suppressor had been put on the end of it. The man halted in his tracks. If she shot him, no one would hear it at this distance. He held his hands in front of him. “Shit.” “What’s your department?” Abi whispered. “Secret Service,” he answered. Abi asked for his name. He told her it was Wayne. “I’m DHS. You’re not going to be able to make it to the funeral,” Abi told Wayne. “It’s sad, but it can’t be helped. You had car trouble. Go make sure that happens.” Grateful that his life was going to be spared, the agent backed away slowly and cast one rueful glance toward the funeral before turning and running for his car. Abi turned back to the funeral and inhaled deeply. She knew she wasn’t the stealthiest of people, but she was becoming increasingly aggravated by the fact that a cop or federal agent was always nearly taking her by surprise or ruining her mission. A few minutes later, the funeral was over and everyone headed for their vehicles; all except for the late Nomi’s sister, Katherine Foster, and their father. Surprisingly, even their bodyguards departed the cemetery. Mr. Gambahl and his daughter knelt at the open grave. They alone would shovel in the soil.

Abi had not expected this. She expected Foster to leave, with everyone else; not for the woman to make special arrangements to do manual labor over her deceased sister. “Fuck,” groaned Abi. “Another gawd damn complication.” She glared up at the blue sky. “You ain’t gonna give up, are you?” Once everyone except the gray-haired father and his daughter had gone, Abi moved from behind the Cherry Blossom tree and strolled across the green park. She was still holding her silenced handgun. Though she was perfectly silent, Mr. Gambahl stood up unexpectedly and pulled a small pea-shooter of a pistol and fired at Abigail. He missed and she squeezed the trigger once. She didn’t miss. His head snapped back violently as Foster screamed in horror and blood splattered her overly made-up face and black suit and skirt. Her father collapsed backward into the open grave. Abi turned her Beretta on Foster. Terror and shock temporarily took over Foster as she stared at Abigail. She tried to speak but could not. There was no emotion at all in Abi’s visage, but she did hesitate. This hesitation gave Foster the time to get over her fear and she lunged at Abi, who was only a few meters away. Abi tried to get off another shot, holding the gun with both hands, but Foster pushed the gun up and the round went into the sky. Then Foster kneed Abi in the stomach and shoved her back. Before Abi could recover and target Foster again, Foster had drawn her Glock 21 and dove for cover behind a large tombstone. “Who are you?” screamed Foster. “What in the hell are you doing? Why are you doing this to me?” Abi backed away until she came to a tree and slinked behind it. She answered, “I’m sorry, Foster. My name is Abi. I’m a contract killer for the Federal government. I’m sorry,” she apologized again. “No you’re not!” Foster retorted. “You bastards are heartless!” Tears streamed down her blood-spattered face, ruining her make-up. “What did I do to deserve all this?”

Abi leaned her back against the tree and closed her eyes with a sigh. “You’ve been asking too many questions, apparently.” Foster was confused. “What? No I haven’t.” She tried to think, tried to remember any questions she might have asked that would bring about such attention. “I don’t,” she stammered, “I don’t…I can’t remember asking any questions about anything, Abi! I just do my job and…and that’s it!” Abi wasn’t surprised Foster couldn’t remember any questions. The government would have erased any memory of such questions. But she’d met Foster once before, and knew from that experience that although Foster was a nervous, fearful woman, she had morals, and would not allow herself to keep quiet about corruption or deception. “Foster,” Abi said, lowering her pistol by her side as she rested against the tree. “Foster, listen to me. Ok? Do you remember me? Do you remember meeting me? In North Carolina?” Shaking her head frantically, Foster replied, “No. No, I don’t. I mean, you look familiar, but I don’t remember meeting you.” Again, Abi was not surprised. The government would have likely removed this memory as well. Abi was only perplexed as to the reason why they didn’t remove her memory of the encounter. “Alright, never mind that,” Abi said. “My handlers told me you’d leave the cemetery alone and drive home. They said your dad would be in another vehicle. I’m sorry.” “What?” Foster yelled. She reached around the tombstone and fired twice. Two bullets hit the tree that Abigail was hiding behind. “Jesus!” she exclaimed. “You bitch!” Foster said, “You killed my father and my sister! I am going to make you pay, damn it!” “I did not kill your sister!” Abi said. She didn’t expect Foster to believe her, and she didn’t blame her.

Foster screamed, “Liar!” She opened fire again. This time Abigail did as well. Three rounds chipped away at the cement block that protected Foster. The agent of the Justice Department leaned her back against the tombstone and sobbed. She prayed to God that her bodyguards, or someone, would show up and help her. Her grip on her sidearm was shaky and the sweat of her hands nearly caused Foster to drop the gun more than once. Abi called, “I am not going to fail in my mission…but I promise you, I will take care of those who have set me on this course.” Foster was again confused. She hollered back, “What are you talking about?” “I mean,” Abi said, “I’m going to hit all of those responsible for all of this. I know they lied to me. I know they knew you’d be here with your father. For some reason, I think, they wanted me to kill your father too. But if I don’t do this, they’re going to kill my family, and I need them to believe I have no idea what they’re doing.” “What?” Foster said again. “You don’t make any fucking sense, woman! I don’t care about your stupid mission, ok? You killed my family! Just because your family’s life is at stake, that doesn’t give you the right to murder people!” Foster heard a branch break and looked up to see Abi standing over her. Foster inhaled deeply, looking up the suppressing barrel of a 9 millimeter Beretta. In a second, Foster remembered everything. She remembered meeting Abi in North Carolina and she remembered what it was she was questioning her co-workers about. She remembered Elijah McDonnell and knew that Abi was one of his ex-girlfriends, as Foster was. And she knew the diabolical reason why Abigail was going to kill her. Foster dropped her handgun. “God bless you, sister.” Abi pulled the trigger. Blood and brain matter sprayed the tombstone. Foster’s limp body toppled over and onto the recently enclosed grave. Abi watched the red mist evaporate into the air before her cold blue eyes caught sight of

the blood dripping down the words etched into the stone. She leaned closer and read the blood-red name: Joan A. Begich. Abi collapsed to her knees as she saw the blood drip into the words below the name, making Jesus Christ’s letters red: Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown of life. She dropped her weapon, her limbs went limp, and Abi’s mouth fell agape. With tear-stricken eyes she gazed down at Katherine Foster Gambahl’s corpse…

The spirit world was wrought with war surrounding Abigail Begich, though she could not feel it. Two guardian angels, clad in legendary knight’s breastplates and flowing cloaks, brandished golden flaming swords as they stood on either side of her, blocking fiery arrows shot at the woman from unclean spirits, including the archduke Asmodeus himself. With Asmodeus was seven other demons, each very different in spiritual appearance, each more horrible and ugly than the last. And of course, the physical world was moving so slowly that in comparison, Abigail’s tears were suspended in mid-air as she wept. Other spirits were halfway out of their graves in the cemetery. They howled and cried, reaching out for Abigail and the battle raging around her. Asmodeus swaggered over to Abi and as one of the guardian angels swung his blade, Asmodeus dodged it with lightning speed, and then seized the angel by the throat. He laughed maniacally and hurled the angel across the graveyard. The angel flew through a tombstone and a tree as if they weren’t there. His companion had been cut by the archduke’s jagged sword. The holy being’s shoulder was ripped, white light escaping from him.

“Brother!” the wounded angel cried out as he swung his powerful sword at Asmodeus. The demon blocked the attack and was about to strike again, but the first guardian took flight with his wings and soared back over to assist his companion with great speed. However, the archduke’s seven companions all assailed the angel at once, driving him away from Asmodeus. The demon Asmodeus grinned as he turned back to the younger brother. “Your spirit has been given unto me, cousin,” Asmodeus declared haughtily. “Your precious human is dead. Failure is your new oath, my beloved cousin.” Again the angel tried to assault Asmodeus, but Asmodeus was a much stronger being than the guardian, and with one swipe of his hand, sent the angel flailing. The angel’s white wings twitched as he became angry and thrust his sword forward. Asmodeus dodged to the side and sliced his black blade through the angel’s left side. More white light broke through the messenger’s body. He convulsed and relinquished his sword of fire and it fell to the dead grass. The flames extinguished. “No!” The older guardian angel bellowed, launching every demon off him. The guardian met Asmodeus with clashing fire. Lightning struck nearby. Asmodeus parried and dodged every attack easily. Abigail’s first tear hit the ground. Asmodeus kicked the guardian in his chest. The angel staggered back and planted himself beside his brother, who was violently quaking and uncontrollably flapping his wings. But he went nowhere. He looked over to his fellow angel and with one last ounce of strength, remained serene and peaceful and silent and still for one second. He only smiled with the celestial warmth and love of Heaven. Then he exploded in the brightest white light any human would have ever seen, had they ever seen it.

“The rules,” Asmodeus announced proudly, “have changed, dear cousin! This…is our world now! This…is our time!” The heavenly angel could only watch in grief and sorrow as seven more unclean spirits arrived with lightning strikes surrounding him. He recognized all of them as some of the most powerful spirits who ever haunted mankind, the Nephilim. Notably, he recognized three high-ranking fallen angels among them, princes of the realm. Only archangels could thwart such beings that chose to revolt against God centuries ago. But the guardian angel did not budge, did not move away from his charge. He knelt beside the distraught human female and touched her shoulder. Asmodeus only chortled wickedly as fourteen spirits converged upon Abigail and her guardian.

Abi stopped crying because she felt something on her shoulder. When she looked, there was nothing. She blinked, gulped, and stood up. Then she collected her pistol and began to run. She didn’t want to be there when the police showed up. While running, Abigail wondered about the warm feeling she’d felt on her right shoulder. It was a strange sensation. Despite her intense self-loathing, she was comforted briefly. She couldn’t spend much time reflecting because as soon as she got to New Hampshire Avenue, a black Cadillac Escalade pulled up and the back door opened. Her first thought was Secret Service, but remembered they didn’t use Escalades. This was something important. She holstered the pistol she’d drawn upon instinct and then moved for the SUV. When she took a cautious look inside, she saw an 80-year-old white man. He was frowning, but motioned for her to get in. After Abi got into the SUV and it began rolling, the man said, “You’ve experienced something terrible, so take a break. Go to Virginia. Take a couple of weeks. Then get back to work. Agent Gambahl had bought two Dodge

Chargers. We will plant the necessary evidence to make it look like all this was a gangland thing gone bad…or worse. Do you comprehend, Agent Begich?” Her body was motionless. Her eyes stared ahead. Her mind was stunned, both from recent events and the words coming out of this man’s mouth. Abi did not answer. In fact, Abi remained silent for half an hour as they drove around the outside of the city. The Escalade came to a halt at a dead-end road that had long-since been given over to crime. The old man identified himself finally. “You can call me Bilderberg, Abi. I run, unofficially, every security and intelligence agency in America. I am a member of the think-tank the other agents mentioned.” At long last, Abi turned, slowly, and looked deep into Bilderberg’s dark eyes. “You’re my boss? You’re the one doing all this? You’re my puppet-master?” “If that’s how you want to see it, then yes.” “You lied about Foster. About Agent Gambahl. Didn’t you?” Her eyes did not waver from his. Bilderberg’s glassy stare remained equally as steady. “We did. You do not need to know the details of the operation, Abi. You only need to do what we tell you. Do you comprehend?” Abi continued staring. “I do.” “Good. Up the road, take a right, you’ll find a house. Outside are two Chargers. Take one. Keys are in the ignitions. If you go into the house, the police will be able to link you to the crimes. So don’t do it. Do you comprehend?” “I do.”

“Great,” said Bilderberg. He finally looked away. Abi did not. Bilderberg then said, “Only Mrs. Gambahl remains of the family. But she has cancer. She will be out of the picture soon enough.” Abi asked, “Why are you doing this? Why let Azazel murder a woman? Why use demons when you can’t control them?” Bilderberg laughed, turned to Abi, and scoffed, “Hun, we aren’t using the demons. They’re using us.” Abi blinked, alarmed at what she’d heard. Then she asked, “What about Monsanto and Ponzi and Morgan? Why did you send them? Why did you have to kill Nomi Gambahl?” Bilderberg said, “Foster hinted to Nomi what she knew, before we took care of their memories, of course. But we couldn’t risk them telling anyone else. So we hired you. As for the agents, I wanted to gauge your personality. George gave me conflicting information. Then Morgan told me you were too unpredictable, despite the fact we predicted your request for a classic car. The others…well, I sent them because I needed an unbiased account. George knew you from before and Morgan knew a lot of what George knew. They were good friends. Morgan was also afraid of you somewhat. Monsanto and Ponzi didn’t know who you were before the day they met you. Unfortunately, your recklessness has become a bit of a problem, Abi.” “I can’t help it the cops choose my crimes to respond to in a timely manner.” “Yes,” said Bilderberg. “We control the police departments, but we can’t control every single individual officer. Sometimes they do the right thing, their duty. It’s been quite annoying, I must admit.” “I’ll be sneakier,” Abi said. “More subtle. Just don’t lie to me anymore. I can’t do my job if you keep throwing me curve balls, genius.” Bilderberg nodded. “We’re aware of this. So we’re giving you more information. We’re bringing you closer to the fold, young lady.”

Abi ignored what he called her. “I don’t want to be in your think-tank, or an agent of the Federal government. I just want to go home to my family.” “As you wish, Abi,” he said. “But keep in mind the demons. There is a war going on that we cannot see. And it’s spilling over into our world.” “How so?” “Heard of CERN?” asked Bilderberg. Abi rolled her eyes. “Yeah, I know. You fucking idiots released some multi-dimensional beings with the big Hadron Collider or whatever it’s called.” “Yes,” admitted Bilderberg. “Demons. The worst ones, apparently. The original two hundred.” This slightly baffled Abi. “I thought they were bound in the Abyss.” Bilderberg cleared his throat. “Uh, yeah. We sort of…released them. On accident.” Abi pushed the SUV back door open to get out as she mumbled, “Think-tank my ass…” As she walked away, the SUV turned around and rolled up beside her. The Escalade’s rear window rolled down. Bilderberg said, “Oh, and Abi.” “What?” she snapped. “We will have A.I.’s respond to any email from Elijah McDonnell to your targets. So you don’t have to worry about him finding out about their demise.” Abi scoffed, “Oh, he’ll find out. And when he does, he’s probably gonna kill all of us.”

Minutes later, Abigail arrived at her destination, the late Katherine Foster Gambahl’s two-story suburban home. The neighborhood was fine. It wasn’t anything spectacular, and it wasn’t a ghetto. Abi could discern from the state of the location that the residents of the neighborhood were upper middle-class. She even smiled wanly at the quaint game of catch being played by a father and son in the front yard two houses down from the Gambahl residence. Abi was not surprised that the police had not arrived to look for clues to her murder yet. She figured they were busy at the crime scene at that moment, but would be over shortly. So as she pushed open the squeaky gate to the property, she decided to make her gander in the house very quick. She was aware that she was disobeying one of the most powerful men in America, namely Bilderberg, who had the backing of the entire Department of Homeland Security, but she just knew that he was lying about something, probably a lot of things. She had to find out what Foster knew. As she strolled up the cobble pathway to the large wooden door, she gazed at the dark purple 1973 Dodge Charger SE with hidden headlights and black vinyl roof with triple opera windows. The muscle car enthusiast had to force herself to look away, but stumbled over a cat anyway. The white long-haired cat hissed and yowled before shooting across the front lawn. Abi jumped with alarm but hastily collected herself. She reached into her back pocket and pulled out a pair of white USMC dress gloves. Having put them on her hands, she opened the door and took a wary step inside. The interior of the house was much as she had expected. The foyer was small and consisted of two pairs of shoes in the left corner and a wood-handled broom leaned against the wall to the right of the door that led into the living room. Entering the living room, Abi took a look around and was not impressed. It was pretty Spartan, even for a government agent. There were no photographs. There were no mementos. There were no souvenirs. There was not even any décor. The walls were white and the floor was grey carpet. In the center of the room was a glass coffee table. There was a TV, but it wasn’t even a flat-screen. There was a sofa, and that was it. Abi could easily imagine the lonely woman

laying on the couch watching TV until she fell asleep, or perhaps sitting at the desktop computer in the corner instant messaging men, desperate to find love, but too afraid to take it to the next level. She wondered why the door had been unlocked for only a moment before a noise captured her finelydisciplined attention. Drawing a bayonet, Abi slinked toward the kitchen. She peeked around the corner but saw no one. She saw only that the drawers were opened. Someone had been there, rummaging through Foster’s goods. Abi was unsure why a sliver of anger was growing within her. She then noticed that there was another opening on the other side of the kitchen that would allow someone to make a rapid escape, and ambush her. Before she could react, a man did come up behind her and slam the butt of his pistol into the back of her head. She grunted in pain and collapsed to her knees, but wasn’t out yet. Abi spun around, trying desperately to keep the Phoenix contained, while blocking the attempted strikes of her attacker. In the flurry of punches, she recognized him as the Secret Service agent from the cemetery. Angry that he had not just went home and stayed out of her hair, Abi swung madly at his face and chest. The agent tried to back away from the psychopath, but her blade cut him twice as she wailed on him. His black dress shirt ripped open as a button popped. A thin line of blood was etched across the center of his chest. Abi never stopped attacking, pushing him further into the living room. When the agent landed a punch to her jaw, causing Abi to drop her knife, Abi blacked out and the Phoenix was all too glad to return. The woman caught his right hand as he tried to grab her. In the next second, she had a firm, clawed grip on his jugular. With one fluid motion, Phoenix lifted the much taller man into the air and slammed his back down on the coffee table, which shattered – both wood and glass – into thousands of pieces. Coughing blood, the man tried to recover and roll away from Phoenix. “Oh, no you do not,” Phoenix said in a guttural tone.

As she lifted the man up by his shirt front, he elbowed the ex-Marine in the side of her head. She growled and hurled him at a wall. He slid down the wall to his knees and forced himself to his feet. Phoenix was marching toward him without hesitation. He drew his Glock 21 and pointed it at the girl. “Stop,” he gasped painfully. Phoenix swiftly and expertly disarmed the man, decked him in the jaw once, and then front kicked him through the living room’s only front window. He rolled backwards across the grass and rested in a bloody heap in a bush. The cat walked by a meowed. Abi was staring out the window when she came to. She saw the cat and blinked. “What the hell?” she breathed. She gazed upon the maimed Secret Service agent. He was very nearly unconscious. She looked down at the agent’s sidearm in her hand. Abi stepped back as the desktop computer mysteriously started playing “Diamond Eyes” by Shinedown. She didn’t even remember the computer activating during the battle. “Gawd damn it,” Abi groused. “They know I’m here.” She had to act fast. Abi knew that if she didn’t find what she was looking for, she would be caught for nothing. At least if she had Foster’s information, she could perhaps use it against the State in the future if her puppet-masters wanted to betray her. Or at least, that was her reasoning. Three minutes later, Abi found what she believed Foster had been trying to keep secret. It was on the computer. She found a lot of classified data that Foster had taken from the Department of Justice archives and active database. Abi knew she didn’t have time to read any of it, so she downloaded it to a nearby thumb-drive and put it in her bra. Then she collected her fallen blade and walked out of the house to examine the wounded Secret Service agent.

She had an idea. Abi’s strength was not entirely supernatural or due to an increase in adrenaline. She’d taken first place at the Pennsylvania State Weight-lifting Championship her junior and senior year in High School. Her incredible muscular build had been extremely useful in both her short-lived military and fire-fighting careers. Abi fireman-carried the dazed agent over to the black 2012 Hemi Charger and put him in the driver’s seat. Now all she needed was a way to wake him up. She had another idea, and walked away. As sirens could be heard in the distance, Abi returned with a hose. A cold continuous spray of water woke him up fast. “Hey!” Abi yelled, “Dude, you need to get outta here or they’re gonna fuckin’ kill you!” “What,” he stammered, “What have you done? Ow.” Abi cleared her throat as the man tried to look around. “No time for that now,” she said. “Don’t follow me or I’ll kill you. For real.” Abi threw the man’s Glock in the back seat of the Charger and ran for the other car. She managed to escape the suburbs minutes before the police, FBI, and Secret Service showed up. She found herself praying that the rogue agent also made a clean getaway.

Kimberly Laveena Griffin was a college student in Chesapeake, Virginia. She had not heard from Elijah McDonnell or Abigail Begich in years. She was content with being a part-time model and full-time student, majoring in philosophy. Kimberly had no feelings for Elijah. She was targeted by the Federal government, not because she would provide strength to a Christian resistance faction led by the renegade Elijah, but because she was a registered Independent, and might vote for a Presidential candidate that the establishment did not approve of.

Kimberly was 20 years old. She was in a complicated relationship with a boy two years younger than her. The beautiful red-head had not always been a red-head. Though this was not something her younger boyfriend spent a lot of time concerning himself with, her past. This was something that bothered Kimberly. All he wanted to do was party and never consider the past or the future. But he was funny and sweet, albeit manipulative and secretive. So his allure kept her there, right up to the bitter end.


The sun was setting. As soon as Abigail crossed the border into Virginia, she went west and found a coffee shop with Wifi in Falls Church. She intentionally chose a location close to Langley, the CIA headquarters in McLean. She knew they’d visit her to make sure she was still on track. Meanwhile, Abi was going to take a look at the data that cost Foster her life. She removed the laptop from her black duffel bag, which she’d recovered from the Channel Inn before she departed from DC. It had been a dangerous move, but the bag contained things that she absolutely needed to stay alive. After setting up her laptop at a table and getting online, she plugged the thumb-drive in and waited for it to boot. It only took a couple seconds. When the list of names popped up on her monitor, she sighed. Of course, Abi’s target list was one of the things Foster discovered. As such, Foster’s name was not on the list, because it wasn’t until she found the list, along with the other bits of intelligence, that the government put her name on it. Abi scrolled down the list. She wanted to make sure that they were identical, aside from the late addition of the DoJ agent. They were not. The list Foster had was far more substantial. Not only did it have more names, but it also had codes near the names. Abi

quickly determined that the codes were locations and reasons for their liquidation. When the codes began to change in real time, Abi yanked out the thumb-drive. The longitude and latitude numbers had changed, which meant that the list was being controlled over the internet Abi was using. She groaned and switched off the internet before inserting the drive once more. The list did not pop up this time. “Fuck!” Abi considered the possibility that the CIA had discovered what she was doing and modified the thumb-drive before she removed it from the computer. She hoped they didn’t erase anything else. She scrolled through several folders and files, but a virus was eating them away. She quickly opened one file and read it before it too vanished. All she could read was, “Asset codename Marine Zero is to be terminated upon completion of mission.” Abi just laughed. She opened another file. It said that there was a ritual performed on November 11 th by the elite of America that brought forth several “inter-dimensional entities.” At first Abi thought it was referring to her and Azazel’s ritual, but “elite” would not be a fitting description of the cult of which she had been a member. And according to Asmodeus, he was the only demon released by Abi and Azazel’s dark ceremony. She saw the name Bilderberg before the file ceased to exist on her computer. The shop was closing. Abi could hear a helicopter in the distance. She placed both the laptop and the thumbdrive in her duffel bag and took it outside to the Charger sitting by the curb. After tossing the duffel bag in the passenger seat, she went around to the driver’s side. Before she could open the door, however, a man came out of the hotdog shop across the street and shouted at her. Get in the car.

Abi did not turn around. She got into the driver’s seat of the Charger and slammed the door shut. As she cranked the engine, she looked over to see the man draw a small pistol from behind his ketchup-stained apron. “Bloody hell!” Abigail blurted as she stomped on the gas. The rear rubber squealed and spat dirt and smoke as the old Dodge lunged forward. She yanked the steering wheel to the left to avoid the parked car in front of her. The right rear quarter of the Charger slid into the back of the sedan as Abi pulled away. The hotdog spy opened fire at the back of the speeding muscle car. He managed to shoot the left taillight out, but nothing more. The hotdog vendor spat, “Damn it!” He spoke into an earpiece, “She got away, sir. What are your orders?” After a moment of silence, he simply lowered his gun and walked back into the hotdog shop. Abi was driving at over 60 miles per hour on a road posted for 45. A Crown Victoria pulled out behind her. She just knew it was a police officer as she glared at the Ford’s headlights in her rearview mirror. She decided not to take any more chances and she pulled over in front of a sushi restaurant before the cop even activated his emergency lights. She noticed that the road up ahead adjacent the one she was currently on was called Pennsylvania Avenue. She had to laugh to herself. The officer’s blue lights came on and the Crown Vic pulled up behind her. Abi waited patiently. Three minutes passed before the police officer exited his vehicle and walked up to hers. She rolled the window down. “Hi,” she said with a thin, fake smile. Fortunately, the man’s hand was nowhere near his holstered sidearm, which meant he was not prepared for combat. Abi let out a sigh of relief. “You were going pretty fast back there,” said the uniformed peace officer. “And both of your taillights are out. Did you get into some trouble earlier? Why are you going so fast, Miss?”

Abi shrugged, trying her best “innocent” look. “I’m sorry, I don’t know, sir. I mean, I think I hit a pole on the right there, but I don’t know about the, uh, other light. I just wanna get home to my little sister in, um, Fredericksburg. She’s sick.” “Fredericksburg is that way, Miss.” The cop pointed in a direction Abi was not going. “You from Staten Island?” “Did my accent give it away?” Abi laughed nervously. She was glad to be off the subject of where she was actually going. The officer said, “Yeah. I got a couple friends and my cousin lives up there. Anyway, I’m just gonna give you a warning for the lights. Get ‘em fixed. Can I see your license and registration?” Abi had a problem now. She’d forgotten that the Charger didn’t belong to her, which was understandable considering all she’d been through, and the fact she felt at home in any classic American muscle car. All she had was her Pennsylvanian driver’s license but as soon as the officer ran it, he’d find out about her checkered past - and purely insane present. “Aww,” cooed Abigail. “We don’t have to go through all that do we?” She leaned closer. “I know I was goin’ fast, man, but my sister’s got cancer and diabetes and I have to give her her insulin. Please don’t give me a ticket. I don’t have the money for it.” The officer didn’t appear to want to give the woman a ticket. “I’m sorry, ma’am. But you were going 60 in a 45 area. I’ve already clocked it.” Abi sighed and tried her pouty face. She looked away and caught sight of a UFO hovering on the other side of the corner of a building. She groaned and turned back to the man. It was only then that she noticed the man appeared a bit brighter than he should have been at this time of night. The lamp posts were too far away to provide the right

amount of light for Abi to be able to read his badge number. Yet she could read it without squinting. She glanced in the sideview mirror, thinking maybe the cruiser’s headlights were shining on him. They weren’t. The car was actually turned slightly to the right, so that the headlights were pointing more at the restaurant than the Charger. The blue lights continued to flicker, casting eerie shadows around Abi. The ex-Marine peered back up at the brown-eyed man and shook her head. “What the fuck are you?” She saw out the corner of her eye the technologically advanced Air Force aircraft move out of sight behind the building. When she looked, the aircraft was gone, and the stream of light that had been projecting the hologram of the officer was gone too. A split second later, the police officer vanished before her eyes. Abi didn’t waste any time putting her car into gear and stomping the accelerator. The two customers sitting behind the window pane of the sushi bar gasped in astonishment at the spectacle. The woman fainted and the man started doing something on his cellphone, presumably to tweet what he’d just witnessed. When the police car’s blue lights became green and then one of the headlights winked at him, he fainted too. The cruiser chased after the Charger. Somehow, it was faster than the muscle car. “What the fuck?” screamed Abi. “You’re a fucking Ford Crown Victoria!” She laughed at the pursuing automobile. When she came to Leesburg Pike, Abi drifted the Charger up the off-ramp. The police cruiser was right behind her, drifting too. A man on a motorcycle was coming off the exit. He didn’t have time to stop and Abi didn’t even try. The front of the bike hit the front of the ’73 Dodge. The man flew off the sports bike and over the muscle car. Screaming through his helmet, he crashed headfirst through the windshield of the Crown Vic. He barely registered that there was no driver before he lost consciousness.

Driving on the wrong side of Custis Memorial Parkway, a six-lane road with railroad tracks along the median, Abigail desperately tried to avoid oncoming traffic while at the same time trying to lose the automated cruiser, which she was failing. The cruiser remained on her tail, giving no more space between them than two dozen feet. Several times, Abi was worried about being rear-ended. “Ok, think, Abi,” she said to herself, “you’re a person, it’s a machine. How do you outthink a machine?” She swerved to avoid a minivan full of people and found herself driving on the inner shoulder. “Ah. Do something unpredictable.” She laughed at the crazy idea she had. Abi glanced in her rearview. The biker was still on the Crown Vic, half inside. She inhaled deeply when she noticed the cruiser’s headlights and green bar turned off. Then the Crown Vic disappeared before her eyes in the mirror. “What the fuck? Gawd damn it! Really?” Abi yelled at the car, “I am so sick of this shit! First it’s a Smartcar, and now it’s a fuckin’ invisible Smartcar! Fine, Knight Rider, you wanna play games –!” The unseen pursuer battered the Charger’s left side. The Charger veered onto the median. There was only one thing Abi knew to do. If she was going to escape this monster, she was going to have to gain control of the vehicle. She decided to put her crazy idea into action and jerked the wheel to the right. Ahead she could see the blue and red lights of emergency vehicles. She could only hope they were real cops. Both cars were now speeding along the median at 60 miles per hour. The grass became concrete and Abi brought the Charger’s speed up to 80. Abi then pulled the Charger onto the railroad. As long as the muscle car didn’t go right, the tires would not be wrecked by the raised rail separating the pair of tracks. She quickly unfastened the duffel bag’s shoulder strap and tied it to the steering wheel to keep the car going straight. The cop car attempted to sideswipe her again. She braced, keeping the car straight and true. The classic Dodge had one thing over the modern Ford: weight. There was no way, assuming the extremely strong woman was at the wheel, the Crown Victoria was going to be able to

force the Charger to the right over the rails – at least not before the brave woman completed her work of unpredictable insanity. Abi made sure her pistol and combat knife were adequately fastened to her form before punching her knuckleduster through the sunroof. She then hauled her small, muscular body through it and onto the roof. The Crown Vic was sharply coming at the Charger again. That was when she launched herself off the black vinyl roof and landed on the roof of the Ford. The Vic smashed into the left flank of the muscle car and the right front tire caught the side rail and bent sideways, causing the Charger to veer even more sharply to the right. The Charger slid at an angle down the tracks and side rail until it rammed into the front of a lone stationary train car at more than 65 MPH. The dark purple 1973 Charger SE flipped up into the air, rolled over the small train car, and twisted in the direction of the interstate behind the Crown Victoria. Gripping the light bar atop the cruiser with fear, Abi was even more terrified when the cruiser’s antilock brakes activated suddenly. Both Abi and the biker flew forward as the Crown Victoria came to a rolling halt. Unfortunately, the Charger had not finished its journey through the night air. Abi soared beneath the shadow of an overpass, watching as the devastated muscle car was coming down upon her. She grabbed the biker in mid-flight, uncertain of what to do. She didn’t want him to die from the impact with the concrete, but she didn’t want to be crushed either. Her thoughts racing a million miles an hour, Abi decided that instant contact with the road was far more dangerous than the airborne vehicle. She rolled the barely conscious man onto her stomach a split second before her back hit the asphalt. This protected the man from being injured by the road, but not the car. As the two tumbled down the road, drivers tried to avoid them, causing wrecks and spin-outs. The Charger landed upside down and sideways on the road where Abi and the biker had been a second ago. But it kept sliding and rolling toward them. And the computer in the police car didn’t give up. The cruiser burned the rubber on its rear tires and rocketed toward them. Only the overturned, sliding Dodge stood between the unconscious victims and the homicidal police car.

That was when, amid the destruction and chaos, an unlit black 2012 Dodge Charger appeared and, roaring between the two individuals on the ground, crashed headlong into the older Charger. Both were stopped dead. Recovering from the impact, the man in the new model Charger stomped the gas and slowly began pushing the classic car until the Crown Victoria collided with it. The collision resulted in the demise of the artificially intelligent automobile. Secret Service agent Wayne Corbett emerged from the black Charger only to collapse on the debris littered blacktop.

Bilderberg was on his rotary telephone with a bank CEO. He was sitting in his expensive brown leather desk chair, his richly shoed feet propped up on his desk. He leaned back, content with what he was hearing on the phone. The old man’s office was laden with materialism and wealth. Ancient symbols and artwork adorned the walls and carpet, testaments to his true allegiance and affection. A bronze statue of a Roman centurion stood poised to the right of the large office’s arched wooden double doors. On the other side of the door was an Egyptian jackal-headed effigy of the demon Anubis, which stood over nine feet tall. On the far right side of the room was another sculpture, this one seven-foot-tall clay soldier of the Chinese Terracotta Army. To the far left was a stone gargoyle. Representations such as these were positioned all over the office of his vast estate in Washington, DC. Indeed, these monstrosities were strategically located throughout his entire property. However, the largest, life-sized idols were in his office. Bilderberg noticed that his cellphone was vibrating on his desk. “I’m gonna have to let you go, Ben. I’ve got another call.” He hung up the antique rotary phone and picked up the cellphone after glancing at the contact info. “Yeah?”

“This is Agent Mars. You’re not going to believe this. Not only did our man at the hotdog stand fail to take care of Marine Zero, but she then managed to escape the hologram, the AI, and cause a highway pile-up that resulted in the death of none other than Kimberly Griffin.” Bilderberg lowered the cellphone. His face was red with anger. He lifted the phone back to his ear. “God damn it, Mars. I thought when I told you the think-tank changed their mind about Griffin, your orders were clear. What part of ‘Don’t let Griffin die and make sure Marine Zero does’ did you not understand?” He removed his feet from his desk and leaned forward in his chair. “I’m sorry, sir.” “Look,” Bilderberg sighed. “Look, just…clean up this mess. Alright? Soldier Zero is on her way now. Once I take care of her, the only loose end left is that fucking Begich family. I want every single one of them dead; do you hear me, Agent Mars? Even the sister. I will not have another Joan Begich scenario, do you comprehend, Agent Mars?” “I do, sir,” replied the nervous agent. “Are you commencing Operation Avatar, sir?” “I’ll get back to you on that,” said Bilderberg gruffly. “Frankly, that’s above your pay grade. Take care of Marine Zero, or Phoenix, whatever you feel like calling her.” The agent cleared his throat. He was clearly afraid about what he was next going to inform his boss. “Sir?” “What?” Bilderberg answered, annoyed. “That Secret Service agent, Wayne Corbett, he’s with her.” The red-faced elderly man became even more livid. “That traitor! Kill them both, do you comprehend, Agent Mars? In fact, kill his whole family! I never again want to hear the names Begich or Corbett!”

Kody Boris was driving and Kimberly Griffin was in the passenger seat of the old Volkswagen microbus. Kimberly was supposed to be visiting her parents in Virginia Beach, but she and her younger boyfriend were on their way to help a friend move. They were late. They would have been at their friend’s house in Tyson’s Corner much earlier if Kody had not gotten them lost. “Dude, just let me drive,” Kimberly begged. “I think we’re going in the wrong direction. For some reason the GPS on my phone is not working properly.” Kody said, “I know what I’m doing. I’m just gonna take the next left up here, wherever it is.” “Just take any exit and turn around,” said Kimberly. Kody had natural blond curly hair that stopped an inch below his ears. He had blue eyes and wore a baseball cap and an oversized T-shirt. In contrast, Kimberly had long, straight red hair, which used to be blond and olive green eyes. Her apparel consisted of form-fitting dark leather. “I got this,” Kody told her. Kimberly let out an irritated groan. Then she noticed headlights coming toward them on the wrong side of the road. “What the fuck? Get over to the right side. I think I saw emergency lights. They were green though. Strange.” “No, I’m not gonna move over. It’s probably just a cop driving on the median, or a construction crew.” “At this time of night? Don’t be an idiot. Just move over.” Kody sighed. “Alright, fine.”

He put on his right turn signal and waited until there was room in the right hand lane. Then he slowly moved over. “Damn,” said Kimberly. “That car is speeding up. And I think there’s another car chasing it or something…” Kody laughed. “A high-speed pursuit on the wrong side of the road on the median and the police car doesn’t have its lights on? What is this, a mirror universe?” “Oh shit!” the couple exclaimed in unison. They had just seen the headlights of the first car spin into the air, indicating that it had flipped. The vehicle continued rotated so that it left the air above the median and went into the road ahead. Kody instinctively hit the brakes. Kimberly reached over and grabbed her boyfriend’s bicep, screaming in fear. The microbus skidded down the right hand lane and a big SUV barreled into the back of it. This propelled the VW into the center lane where it was battered by a rolling dump truck. The microbus turned onto its side and slid down the center lane. Then a 2012 Charger sped past it. The microbus came to a grinding halt in the middle of the street. Kody was dead. Kimberly was barely alive, blood streaming down her temple. She was on her right side, unable to move. She screamed up at Kody to wake up but he couldn’t hear her. Kimberly unbuckled her seatbelt and put her arm around his listless neck. “I won’t leave you,” she whispered through her tears.

August, 2009

Elijah McDonnell had been attending a two-week annual training course for the Army Reserves at FT. Lee, Virginia. He met Kimberly at a Texas Roadhouse. She was there with several family members and friends to celebrate Kody’s birthday. At the time, she and Kody were friends, nothing more. She and Elijah remained friends ever since. They never dated, though Elijah certainly would not have rejected the notion, if he had not been dead set on getting his ex-girlfriend Sonya back. Elijah had always regretted that he and Kimberly were not better friends. He always assumed that his straightforwardness about how he felt frightened her, as it did all women, he concluded. When he was going to DC in 2009 to find Foster, he emailed Kimberly and asked if she wanted him to visit her on the way. She never replied. And she had not spoken with him since. To this day, Elijah never got an answer from her, and now it seemed he never would.

Beep. Beep. Beep. November 21st, 2011 Darkness. Falling. Howling. The stench of burnt flesh. The taste of decay. Those were the only sensations provided by Abigail Begich’s five senses before she awakened from her coma. Her injuries were extensive. Nearly her entire body was encased; her right arm and left leg were raised above her hospital bed by chains. The first thing she thought of when waking, which seemed strange to her when she considered it moments later, was the motorcyclist she’d nearly killed earlier. How much earlier, she didn’t know. The second thought to cross her mind was her grandmother’s name. Again, she was uncertain why. She’d never known her

grandmother lived in Washington, DC. She’d visited her grandmother’s grave in Pennsylvania many times. She realized then, as she lay helpless on a gurney, that there was a strong probability that her parents had been lying to her about how and where her grandmother died for her entire life. When she tried to move, Abi found that was not only impossible, but a bad idea due to the intense pain that resulted. She cried out in agony and then whimpered. After the pain subsided, Abi began to try to think rationally. If she did not escape the hospital soon, the local authorities were going to question her. Worse, the Feds would flash their badges at the local authorities, casually walk in, and end her life the same way she ended Laurie’s. Abi was really started to loathe the beeping tone of the life support machine on the left side of the bed. Abi saw someone move out the corner of her eye. But she couldn’t adjust her head to see who it was, so she tried to speak. “Who’s there?” came out as “Ooths durrr?” The only response was a male groan. She repeated the slurred question. Only then did the bed-ridden man answer. “Don’t react,” the man whispered. “I’m Wayne Corbett, Secret Service.” “Fyaaaack!” Abi screamed, somewhat from pain but mostly anger. Wayne moaned, “I said don’t react.” Tears began to roll down Abi’s face. “What…happ – ep – ppened?” She was starting to get her speech back. The young dark haired man struggled to sit up on his bed. “You did some stupid shit. I did some stupid shit. Then the emergency crews showed up and did their shit.” “Stupid,” Abi spat.

“That’s what I said, I think.” Abi asked, “How long…how long have I been out?” Wayne walked up and stood in front of Abi’s bed so she could see him. “In days or weeks?” Abi clenched her eyes shut and swallowed hard. Then she gazed deeply into Wayne’s eyes. “You have to help me. My duffel bag –” “Confiscated, I would assume,” Wayne interjected. “Look, you’re in no shape to move, much less in a position to be making demands. I saved your life because you helped me. Granted you kicked my ass, but you helped me get outta Foster’s house before the cops showed up. Unfortunately, now I’m a wanted fugitive. Thanks for that by the way.” Abi said, “Foster was onto something. She had got a list of targets out of the DoJ database, among other things. This thing goes beyond us, beyond even the Justice Department, Wayne. We have to escape this place before they come for us. And they will come for us.” Wayne was about to say something, but a man entered the room. “They already have,” said Agent Mars. The assassin was in his mid-twenties, more than six feet tall, and dark haired. His hand was going for a gun that was partially concealed by his suit jacket. Wayne charged at him as he produced the Glock. Despite the anguish, Abi bared her teeth and ripped one of the chains from the ceiling. Her arm was free. Wayne and Mars struggled for the pistol in the corner, knocking over medical supplies. When the woman forced herself to a sitting position, she saw how bad her body had been ravaged by the fall. She thanked God, however, that her arm was only fractured and not broken completely. Bruises and scrapes covered most of her body. She couldn’t see them due to the big white shirt she had been clothed in, but she could feel them. Abi began working on getting her battered leg out from the sling.

Two muffled shots sounded as soon as she got free of the leg harness. Abi looked over to the corner only to see Wayne’s back. “Wayne?” she said. Wayne collapsed to reveal Agent Mars holding the Glock. He pointed it at Abi and did not hesitate to squeeze the trigger. The gun jammed. Abi snarled viciously and Phoenix took over. The young woman launched herself from the bed and tackled the much taller man. The man’s back slammed into the wall. Phoenix then grabbed his wrist and snapped it with no effort at all. Dropping the gun, he cried out and tried to shove the girl away, but she was much stronger than him, in spite of her smaller stature. Phoenix seized the agent’s throat and pulled him down so that his fear-stricken eyes met with hers. He could swear he saw fire in her eyes. The voice of the Phoenix was unlike any other. Divine and abysmal, animalistic and beautiful, the voice echoed within Agent Mars’s mind and soul: You will BURN forever and ever! Amen! Then Phoenix spun Mars around and hurled him flying backward into an X-ray screen. It shattered and he fell to the floor. It was at that moment two local police officers entered the room. Phoenix twisted around and, again, notwithstanding her apparently severe wounds, executed a spinning back kick that sent the first cop soaring back out the door. The other cop tried to get a bead on her with his sidearm, but she batted his arms aside as if they were a minor inconvenience and chopped him in the throat. As he gagged for air, Phoenix then took him by the hair and knocked his head into the doorframe. He was out cold.

Phoenix walked out, tearing at her casts. The first officer was getting to his feet when she stopped messing with her casts, went over to the man, and kicked his knee hard. It broke and he screamed as he crumpled in a fetal position the linoleum. Doctors, nurses, and a couple patients fled the scene. Phoenix let loose a shriek and a roar, encouraging them to flee faster. But her rage was not satiated. She picked up a scalpel from a nearby cart and cut the casts that were limiting her movement. Then she marched for the elevator toward the end of the hall, right before the stairs. She waited, her head cocked to one side, patiently. She didn’t blink and her hands were balled into fists, one of them clenching the scalpel. The elevator doors opened to reveal four cops pointing guns at her. A couple hours later, Abigail woke up to find herself in the driver’s seat of an ambulance. She looked around, but the feeling of blood on her hands caught her attention. Staring down in horror, Abi saw the sticky, wet fluids and nearly vomited. She tried to wipe it off but to no avail. It just stained her EMS uniform. She then wondered why she was wearing an EMS uniform. Abi frantically exited the ambulance and a bloody scalpel fell out of her lap. “What the fu—?” She didn’t finish that thought because she started puking all over the dead grass. Once finished, she examined her surroundings. It was night time, and cold. She could feel the light sprinkle of a coming rain, along with a tempest of tenderness and soreness that was detectable throughout her body. She soon discovered that she was under a bridge, hidden from sight for the moment. Abi searched the ambulance and found her duffel bag. She also found a female police officer’s uniform. “What’s going on?” Abi asked herself. She staggered around the outside of the ambulance. “I don’t…Gawd, help me… I think I’m going insane.”

Then she fell to her knees and started crying. “Gawd, help me! You want me? Huh! Fine! You got me! What do you want from me? Answer me!” Rest. Five minutes later, Abi was driving to a Comfort Inn in Alexandria, Virginia. She thought, I’ll sleep, but you better fucking talk to me when I wake up.

Abigail’s clone, the psychotic Soldier Zero, was forced onto her knees in front of Bilderberg. She struggled briefly, but a quick zap from a tazer instilled obedience. She growled up at the old man. “You may leave,” Bilderberg told the black suits that had brought her in. Catherine chuckled. “You sure that’s a good idea, boss?” “Oh yes,” Bilderberg said, giving his two men a reassuring nod. The two men left the office, shutting and locking the door behind them. Catherine narrowed her eyes at Bilderberg. She glanced around the room. “What are you doing?” Catherine asked. “I could kill your old ass without breaking a sweat. Your arrogance will be the death of you.” Shaking his head, Bilderberg sat down on his oak desk. “Not today, my dear.” Catherine heard the movement of metal on metal, and out of the corner of her eye she saw something move. When she looked over, there was only the stationary gargoyle.

Bilderberg ordered, “Take another look around, Catherine.” The nine-foot-tall Anubis statue and the Roman centurion were much closer to Catherine, but she didn’t notice that until after she’d looked at the gargoyle, which was inching toward her. Catherine scowled at Bilderberg in defiance. “Know what I hate?” asked Bilderberg. “More than anything, I despise betrayal. You are a traitor.” She retorted, “You are weak. You will die.” Bilderberg scoffed, “No, I will live forever, as a god. You will die, psycho soldier bitch.” He nodded to the Centurion. The centurion lifted his Roman short sword over Catherine’s head. Catherine smiled. “But I die free.” The Roman soldier swung his sword down. “Wait!” Bilderberg said. The demonically possessed statue stopped his blade, but not fast enough to prevent giving Catherine a shallow cut on the back of her neck. Catherine was leaning forward, gasping with tears in her eyes. “I have a better idea,” said the boss. “You were made not only to serve the State…” He gestured to the Anubis creature. “But also Satan.” The Anubis statue became inanimate once again and a black shadow departed from it and entered Catherine. “No!” Catherine screamed. Bilderberg smiled and said, “You will not die free. You will live a slave…to the demon Anubis.”

November 22nd, 2011

Abi’s nightmares were terrifying and guilt-ridden. Foster, Laurie, and Linda were ambling toward her as zombies. The fearful woman had no weapon. In fact, she was barely wearing any clothes either. When she tried to resist the undead automatons, she found her arms bound behind her back. The shadows closed in around her and darkness engulfed her vision. She could feel the pain as the zombies munched on her flesh. She could hear the guttural mutterings of the creatures as they hungrily devoured her body. She could see nothing. Waking up with a start, Abi’s hand went for the handgun on the bedside table. She held it close to her chest, which was covered only by a black sports bra. As she was sweating profusely, she finally realized that she had been dreaming, and was alone in the hotel room. Abi dropped the pistol back on the nightstand and sat in the middle of the bed, the sheets curled around her lower body as she stared absently at the wall in front of her. “I gave them a quick death,” she whispered. “I showed them mercy. Why are they haunting me?” She lowered her face into her hands and moaned. After a quick cold shower, Abi dressed herself in the police officer’s uniform she had found in the ambulance. Then she holstered her Beretta on her hip and looked at herself in the mirror above the hotel room’s television set. All she saw was shame. “I’ve got to do this,” she said, ever the rationalizing statist.

Abi gazed deeper into the eyes that stared back at her until she no longer recognized herself. A single tear rolled down her cheek. She quickly wiped it away. No fear, she thought. No weakness. She put on her prescription sunglasses. With a forced smile, Abi breathed shakily. “This is my destiny.” “Be that the case,” said the man in the corner she hadn’t noticed until he spoke, “your soul would burn either way.” Abi stumbled backwards into a corner, thrusting her sidearm at the intruder. “Who the fuck are you and how the fuck did you get in here?” Raphael cocked his head quizzically at the human female. “Resist the temptation to become angry and use that weapon; it will do nothing more than bring forth unwanted attention. Furthermore, ammunition would be wasted, as I am immortal and can only die by God’s word.” “Oh my Gawd!” yelped Abi, dropping the pistol. She was visibly shaking with fear. “You’re an angel, aren’t you?” Before he could even open his mouth to answer her question in the affirmative, she screamed, “Just leave me alone, damn it! I don’t want your silly salvation, whoever you are! I just want to do what I have to do to keep my family safe!” “Was it not you who called on the Lord last night?” Abi snapped, “Yeah, well, I’ve changed my mind. I need to eliminate Kimberly and the rest of the people on the list if I have any chance of keeping my family safe.” “Kimberly Griffin is already dead,” the angel informed her. “Furthermore, your government seeks your imminent demise as well. Serving their purpose is both foolish and counterproductive to your survival, as well as your eternal soul.”

“What? Whatever, man. I will just move on down the list.” The archangel nodded. “If that be your will, Father’s Joy. I am only here to warn you about the demon Asmodeus…” “You’re a bit late, dude,” Abi scoffed. “He tried to kill me with that clone, Catherine.” Raphael replied, “The events that have recently transpired are of great consequence and meaning, Father’s Joy. It is unfortunate that the Legion has been released, however --” Abi raised her hands, making a repetitive intermittent noise with her mouth, indicating for the archangel to stop talking. “Excuse me, hold on. Legion? How many… you know what, I do not even fuckin’ care, ok? Just leave me alone.” “Only an archangel can thwart the demon known as Asmodeus, Father’s Joy. Since he is my nephew, I have been charged since his inception with thwarting Asmodeus.” “Ok, first of all, my name is Abigail. You can call me Abi, but please stop calling me Father’s Joy. I know what my name means. Second of all, all this is very interesting, but I’ve already fought Asmodeus, and won.” She put her hands on her hips, fairly confident. Raphael answered, “No, Abigail. It was in point of fact Phoenix who struggled with Asmodeus within a human body. Soon, he will receive a body of his own. In addition, he has a multitude of demons and fallen ones who will assist him in his goal.” Abi’s hands slipped from her hips as her confidence deflated with a sigh. “Oh.” “There is a way to stop Asmodeus from utterly destroying you, however.”

Abi was momentarily excited before she realized what Raphael was referring to. “I’m beyond saving, Mr. Angel.” “Elijah McDonnell does not believe so.” Abi blinked, taken aback. “What?” Raphael repeated, “Elijah McDonnell does not believe so.” When Abi just stared at him, he continued, “Elijah has not ceased his attempts at contacting you since you began your work with the state three years ago. Also, nobody is beyond saving. Except for Ben Bernanke.” Abi glossed over the archangel’s poor attempt at human humor. “I appreciate what you’re doing. But I’m not gonna stop until everyone on the list is dead. Or until I’m dead.” “Yes,” Raphael said with an endearing smile, “you will.” Then he turned and walked out the door, closing it behind him. Abi stood there for ten seconds before looking around and exclaiming, “What? You just…walk out? No burst of light or pillar of flame or anything? What the fuck? That’s lame…” Suddenly the door exploded off the hinges into shrapnel and shredded half of Abi’s uniform top. She collapsed to the floor on the other side of the bed, on her knees with her hands clasped together as she buried her face into the carpet. “I’m sorry!” she whimpered. “That’s right, bitch,” Asmodeus said from the empty threshold. “You are…”

Excerpt from Apocrypha Pseudopicgraph The Testament of Solomon And I at once bade another demon to be led unto me; and instantly there approached me the demon Asmodeus, bound, and I asked him: "Who art thou?" But he shot on me a glance of anger and rage, and said: "And who art thou?" And I said to him: "Thus punished as thou art, answerest thou me?" But he, with rage, said to me: "But how shall I answer thee, for thou art a son of man; whereas I was born an angel's seed by a daughter of man, so that no word of our heavenly kind addressed to the earth-born can be conceited. Wherefore also my star is bright in heaven, and men call it, some the Wain, and some the dragon's child. I keep near unto this star. So ask me not many things; for thy kingdom also after a little time is to be disrupted, and thy glory is but for a season. And short will be thy tyranny over us; and then we shall again have free range over mankind, so as that they shall revere us as if we were gods, not knowing, men that they are, the names of the angels set over us." And I Solomon, on hearing this, bound him more carefully, and ordered him to be flogged with thongs of oxhide, and to tell me humbly what was his name and what his business. And he answered me thus: "I am called Asmodeus among mortals, and my business is to plot against the newly wedded, so that they may not know one another. And I sever them utterly by many calamities, and I waste away the beauty of virgin women, and estrange their hearts.� And I said to him: "Is this thy only business?" And he answered me: "I transport men into fits of madness and desire, when they have wives of their own, so that they leave them, and go off by night and day to others that belong to other men; with the result that they commit

sin, and fall into murderous deeds. I spread madness about women through the stars, and I have often committed a rash of murders.� And I adjured him by the name of the Lord Sabaôth, saying: "Fear God, Asmodeus, and tell me by what angel thou art frustrated." But he said: "By Raphael, the archangel that stands before the throne of God. But the liver and gall of a fish put me to flight, when smoked over ashes of the tamarisk." I again asked him, and said: "Hide not aught from me. For I am Solomon, son of David, King of Israel. Tell me the name of the fish which thou reverest." And he answered: "It is the Glanos by name, and is found in the rivers of Assyria; wherefore it is that I roam about in those parts." And I said to him: "Hast thou nothing else about thee, Asmodeus?" And he answered: "The power of God knoweth, which hath bound me with the indissoluble bonds of yonder one's seal, that whatever I have told thee is true. I pray thee, King Solomon, condemn me not to water." But I smiled, and said to him: "As the Lord God of my fathers liveth, I will lay iron on thee to wear. But thou shalt also make the clay for the entire construction of the Temple, treading it down with thy feet." And I ordered them to give him ten water-jars to carry water in. And the demon groaned terribly, and did the work I ordered him to do. And this I did, because that fierce demon Asmodeus knew even the future. And I Solomon glorified God, who gave wisdom to me Solomon his servant. And the liver of the fish and its gall I hung on the spike of a reed, and burned it over Asmodeus because of his being so strong, and his unbearable malice was thus frustrated. And I summoned again to stand before me Baal’zebul, the prince of demons, and I sat him down on a raised seat of honor, and said to him: "Why art thou alone, prince of the demons?"

And he said to me: "Because I alone am left of the angels of heaven that came down. For I was first angel in the first heaven being entitled Baal’zebul. And now I control all those who are bound in Tartarus. But I too have a child, and he haunts the Red Sea. And on any suitable occasion he comes up to me again, being subject to me; and reveals to me what he has done, and I support him.”

Four more individuals entered the hotel room. Abi recognized none of them, but they recognized her. They stood on both sides of Asmodeus, the archduke who gathered them. The four individuals appeared human, except for their placid body tone. Their attire consisted of ancient dark-colored armor and soiled, torn robes. Each one of them was more handsome or beautiful than any human on the earth. Asmodeus watched with a wicked grin as Abigail stood up and gawked at them. He then turned to the one to his immediate right and asked, “Lord Baal, what shall we do with this one, eh?” His face twitched vehemently as he sneered at the frightened woman. Abi was still bent over, clutching her fallen pistol with one hand as she stared up at the angels and demon. Baal’zebul answered in a deep, otherworldly voice, “We shall prepare her to raise our brethren, my friend. Her blood shall run free.” Abi suddenly became angry. “I have a better idea.” She stood up and pointed her pistol at the archduke and shot him three times, just to see what would occur. He looked down at the black holes in his chest, all within a quarter’s distance from each other where the human heart would be.

“I must admit,” Asmodeus declared with mild frustration, “that does hurt a bit.” Baal’zebul, an olive-skinned fallen angel who was the tallest in the room, with long flowing black hair and a black goatee, roared with rage at Abigail. An unseen force produced from the fallen one’s voice sent Abi soaring backwards. Her back slammed into the bathroom door and it caved in. It was at this point, as Asmodeus picked the girl up by her throat with one claw, she started to regret not asking for the angel’s name that could fight this monster. Asmodeus hissed and pulled her close to his awful and grotesque face. “It is not yet time for your sacrifice, little frail one. You brought me from my captivity in the Nile and for that I am grateful. But I know your destiny better than you do. I have been given permission to do great unspeakable things on this earth, and yet killing you is not one of them. My thwarting angel is nearby. I will take my cohorts and leave you to consider this: when will your end come?” With that, Asmodeus dropped the girl and turned to leave. Three of the four dark angels followed the demon. The fourth, Baal’zebul, stooped down in front of Abigail as she moaned in pain. “This world is ours until the judgment, Abigail. Do not contend with us. We have the Behemoth and the Leviathan on our side. My companions are Dagon, Astarte, and Chemosh. Marduk and Semyaz are old golfing buddies of mine…” Baal’zebul showed Abi a smile that expanded much higher than his fangs and jowls, greatly diminishing his handsome features and making him the most horrifying thing she’d ever seen. “Do not get in my way.” Baal’zebul stood and turned to walk away. Two black feathered wings sprouted from his back, further shredding the back of his dirty robe. When Abi was certain the intruders were not coming back any time soon, she stood up and put her gun back in the holster with an unsteady sigh. Abi sat down on the bed and swallowed her anxiety.


“Well, well, well,” Asmodeus the archdemon said as he entered Bilderberg’s office. “You seem to have done well for yourself.” Bilderberg looked uneasy. “It’s good that you’re finally using modern English instead of that ancient crap.” He was standing behind his desk when Asmodeus, Baal’zebul, and three others entered the room. When Asmodeus noticed that the woman sitting in the leather-backed chair in front of the desk was Catherine, he decided not to respond to Bilderberg’s ignorant remark. Instead, he sauntered over to the woman and nodded with a smile. “So you spared her life,” Asmodeus surmised. Baal’zebul snickered arrogantly behind Asmodeus. “Not entirely. Look again, my friend.” Asmodeus looked from Baal’zebul to Catherine and saw the black aura of Anubis around the clone. “Oh!” he said with glee. “How delightful. This just gets better and better. A darker entity than myself.” He curtsied to Anubis. “Is your new vessel to your liking, my Lord?” Catherine’s body twitched and jerked as Underlord Anubis forced her body to her feet. “This…frail…creature… is a better habitation than that mingling of flesh and magic.” Anubis indicated the jackal-headed statue that stood erect near the entrance. “Yet I would prefer a habitation…larger than five-foot-four.” Anubis released a guttural growl from Catherine’s throat. Baal’zebul nodded. “How do you think Asmodeus received his body?” Anubis glowered at the seven-foot-tall archduke. “Speak.” Ever the defiant one, Asmodeus remained silent, only indicating Bilderberg with his hollow eyes. Anubis turned to the only human in the room. “You lied to me, human. You told me that this vessel was the best you had to offer. I see Asmodeus here has his own body, which is clearly superior…to my current form!”

Bilderberg swallowed and cleared his throat. “Um, yes. See, Underlord Anubis, I did not lie to you, per se. I simply…informed you…that Catherine’s body would have to suffice for the time being, as the location that supplied Asmodeus with his body is…under investigation by local authorities, and we do not want to raise any more suspicion by taking you there –” “Let me understand something!” Anubis howled through Catherine’s female vocal cords. “Due to inconvenient circumstances that are the result of your humanity’s incompetence, you have chosen to give me this body instead of one specifically built to hold me?” “Yeah, basically,” said Bilderberg. “But you will have it, Underlord. It will simply take time…” Anubis guffawed, “Ha! Time?” He turned to Baal’zebul. “You seek your son, do you not?” “I do,” Baal’zebul confirmed. “I will help you in your endeavor if you and your angels assist me in mine.” Baal’zebul considered this for a second. He was Lucifer’s right-hand Nephilim. He could very easily get Underlord Anubis his preferred body without much fuss, and he did appreciate having more bodies on his side to assist in his quest to liberate his son from the Red Sea. “This is acceptable to me, Anubis.” Bilderberg stomped around the desk. “I gave you life!” he declared. “And now you defy me in this way? You back-stabbing son of a bitch!” Everyone was silent. Asmodeus opened his mouth to speak, but then thought better of it. Anubis turned slowly. Catherine’s blue eyes blinked as her body was piloted by the demon and she awkwardly walked toward the man. Bilderberg stood his ground, though he was full of dread and regret.

Anubis stopped inches from the taller old man and peered up into his eyes. “You…did not give me life,” Anubis stated calmly. “My life was given by my mighty father, Nimrod, whom is also called Osiris. And your accusation that I am a traitor and a murderer is accurate. My mother was not a bitch, but a human woman named Eneh. My brothers are the great ancestors of the Hun and the Magyarok. I wanted you to know this…” Anubis reached out, clutched a letter opener from the desk, and thrust it into Bilderberg’s gut. “…before I take your life.” “There you are,” Asmodeus told the old man who had collapsed into a pool of his own blood, “be glad. He did not stab you in the back, but the front.”


November 25th, 2011 The song “Light Up the Sky” by Thousand Foot Krutch blasted from the speakers of Abi’s stolen blue 2009 M3 BMW E90 as she rapidly rolled up to her home in Allentown, Pennsylvania. She would have preferred to have jacked an older American automobile, but the BMW was the closest decent vehicle that had any power in her. She recognized Scott Tucker’s white Cavalier in the driveway in front of the closed garage door. Abigail parked the BMW at the curb and stepped out, her trusty Beretta in her left hand by her thigh. She was unconcerned with keeping the pistol hidden from onlookers. She became worried because she’d just realized, as she made her way up the walkway toward the front door, that both of her parent’s vehicles were missing. She leveled her pistol in front of her with both hands, taking aim at the front door as she readied herself to kick it in. But it swung open before she made it up the steps. Abi tensed and Scott jumped back and squeaked. Abi sighed and lowered the gun. “Where the hell have you been, Abi?” Scott asked. He stepped aside, his hand on the doorknob. “Come on, get in. I think the house is under surveillance.” Abi walked in and was greeted by Erik Danson. She looked at Scott. “What’s going on? Why are you in my house? Where’s my family?” “We don’t know,” Scott told her after he closed and locked the door. “When we didn’t hear from you, we got worried. We came here to talk to your mom and dad but they were gone. I used the key you gave me…” He pulled a key out of his jeans pocket and showed her. Abi didn’t even look his way. She was looking at Erik Danson. “Why are you here?” Erik blushed, his hands stuffed into his pants pockets. “I was worried about you…”

Abi turned away and began to search the house. “We already looked everywhere,” said Scott. “Not everywhere,” said Abi. “I hope.” In her father’s bedroom, Abi went to the walk-in closet and moved aside a flap of carpet. Beneath it was a trapdoor. She smiled over her shoulder at Scott and Erik. “You didn’t go down here, did you?” “No,” admitted Scott. Abi nodded and opened the trapdoor. “Good. Follow.” Together they descended the ladder into a dark cellar. When Abi pulled the chain on a single bulb hanging from the ceiling, the shadows fled as light flickered throughout the room. The two men were taken aback by the mass of weapons and equipment. Abi tossed her pistol onto a counter and went over to a gun cabinet and retrieved her beloved shotgun. It was the one with which she’d killed one of her ex-boyfriends in self-defense. “What’s going on, Abi?” Scott repeated. “Will you please tell us?” Abi stopped admiring her shotgun and turned around. She placed it on the counter beside her and crossed her arms over her chest. “I’ve been set up and the Feds intend to kill me,” Abi said. “As if that weren’t bad enough, demons and angels are warring with each other on my plane of existence and it pisses me off. So would you please pick some guns?” She firmed her stance and glowered at them. “Unless you don’t want to help me.”

Surprisingly, it was Erik who was excited to help. “Hell yeah,” he said, heading for a cage of automatic assault rifles. Scott, however, mirrored Abi’s stance by folding his arms. “What, are we gonna go all Boondock fuckin’ Saints on these assholes or something?” Abi smirked deviously. “Uh, yeah. That’s the fuckin’ idea, Scott.” He shrugged and sighed. “Ok, I was just makin’ sure.” He picked up to examine a Glock 19. “Pick something more powerful,” said Abi. “Like a fuckin’ .357 or something. Flame-thrower; something.” Scott looked at her like she was insane. Abi ignored him and picked up her shotgun. She began loading it and Scott and Erik got busy collecting weapons. When she cocked it, the men’s hearts skipped a beat. They turned and looked wide-eyed at her. She narrowed her eyes back at them. “What?” Abi said, “Come on, we don’t have all fuckin’ day. And no fucking rope.”

A dozen old white men sat around a large and lavish living room in a cabin in the woods. They’d just finished their ritual sacrifices and ceremonial incantation to Satan and were now relaxing in their three-piece suits, togas, or golf attire. They laughed at each other’s jokes about the middle class. They plotted their next attack on the poor. They were the think-tank. They weren’t the controllers of the world, but the chief scholars, researchers, and divination experts that told the elite what was coming, in terms of their own plans as well as the actions taken by their enemies. These men had not, however, prepared for the beings that entered into their company and stood in their presence.

The doors burst open and Baal’zebul strode in with Asmodeus in tow. The fallen angel and the demon both appeared human at the time, as they were dressed in a black suit and black leather, respectively. The elderly men all turned to the two who had entered, and gawked. “Who in the hell are you?” asked the owner of the cabin, a man in a white toga. Baal’zebul laughed raucously. “I in the hell am Baal’zebul, my strangely dressed friend. However, as you can see, today I am not in hell. Do you see, Oscar Collins, who I am for your own sake?” He smiled devilishly, his fangs showing and his eyes burning like hot black coals. “Oh God yes!” Collins exclaimed. “Lord Baal’zebul…” He got on both knees. The other men looked at him strangely, as they had not seen what he’d seen. “Please,” said the Nephilim, “call me Lord Baal.” To the entire group of humans, Baal declared, “I have brought with me, which you cannot discern, twelve demons. These demons will inhabit you and you will be their slaves. If you resist us, you will be murdered.” Asmodeus cracked his neck and licked his lips as he eyed the evil men. “I would be the one who does what he has said, Sons of Adam. Oh please…resist.” He clenched open and shut his fists by his side. “Your man Bilderberg is already dead,” Baal informed the think-tank. One of the other men stood up. “We will not be bullied like this. You serve us, demons.” Baal simply stared blankly at the man. Asmodeus walked up behind Baal and whispered something in his ear. Baal nodded and casually strolled toward the man.

“Van Duyn is it?” Baal asked rhetorically. He placed a hand on the man’s slender shoulder and then gently pulled him close. “You have nearly peaked my rage, Herman Van Duyn. Before the end of this year, I will torment you to death. However, I will wait and, for now, let you live as a slave to my spirits of servitude and sin.” In that instant, as Baal was smiling kindly at the old man, Van Duyn saw, out of the corner of his eye at first, a pitch black shadow. The shadow walked, unattached to a living human, behind Baal, in full view of Van Duyn. Then Van Duyn saw eleven more demons just like that one emerge from the walls and doors of the extravagant cabin behind the Lord of devils. “No,” gasped Van Duyn. Like lightning, Baal’s smile became a lop-sided sneer. “Yes,” he said in a booming whisper that quaked Van Duyn’s heart. “Oh Yes.”

The beach was cold, but Natasha Everett was not at the beach to swim. She was there to bury a time capsule. Though she was in college, she was not doing it for school. She had a dream the night before about doing it, so she decided to do it. She bent down onto her knees and set the shoebox down before beginning to overturn the sand in front of her. Natasha, commonly known as Tasha, was a beautiful woman with long golden hair tied into a ponytail, blue eyes, and fair skin. She wasn’t very outgoing, but shy and reserved. She was 22 and never had a boyfriend. She had never even kissed a boy before. Her apparel matched her introversion in that it was not eye-catching; Tasha was wearing a grey windbreaker and jeans.

When she thought the hole was deep enough, Tasha placed the small shoebox, which was in a plastic bag to keep it preserved longer, in the hole and covered it with sand. She stood up and smiled softly before gazing out at the horizon. It was a gorgeous day, despite the intense cold. She was surprised slightly that it was not raining. She was, after all, in Washington State. When she turned around, there was a man standing there. She did not recognize him and he gave her the creeps. He had shoulder-length blond hair and wore a black trench coat that exposed his bare, hard chest and abs. Tasha gulped and bit her top lip, wondering what to do or say. She barely got out the word “Hi,” when he lunged at her. Tasha didn’t have time to run. He seized her by the hair and neck with strong hands and dragged her screaming down the shore toward the crashing waves of the Pacific Ocean.

Abigail Begich monitored the Mercedes van and Ford Econoline van down the street from her bedroom window for ten minutes before she walked out into the hall where Scott and Erik were waiting. She nodded curtly. “It’s them. One is FBI and the other is probably either CIA or Mossad.” “Mossad?” said Erik. “Why would the Israelis be here?” Abi slapped him in the face, but not hard enough to hurt him. “Get with the program, dude. They’re all the same. Are you ready?” Scott groaned. “No, but…yes.”

Abi smiled. “I love you guys.” A minute later, Abi, with a shotgun slung across her back and a handgun holstered on each hip, confidently marched out the front door of her house. Behind her were the slightly less confident men. Scott was carrying an AK-47 and Erik’s primary weapon was an M4 Carbine. He also wore an ACU flak vest. Scott thought that was a bit much. Abi activated the garage door with a remote and then tossed the remote aside. “Move your ugly car,” she told Scott. The garage door opened slowly to reveal Rogue Angel, Abi’s cherished black 1980 TransAM. Her smile was unrestrained. But when she saw the condition of the vehicle, she frowned. Then she scowled. The TransAM was not totaled, but she could distinguish quite clearly the marks and dings given to the car by Catherine and the police, who had impounded it before the Feds rescued it and gave it to Catherine to drive “home.” One of the four headlamps had been completely smashed out, there was a spider-web crack on the right top of the windshield, dents were in various places on the hood and the front quarters, and as she walked around the Angel, Abi noticed old, coagulated blood on the trunk. “What the fuck did she do?” screamed Abi. “Decapitate someone on the spoiler?” “Who?” asked Erik. Abi rolled her eyes and went to the driver’s door. “No one, just get in. Scott, take the Beamer and stay a few car lengths behind me. If something happens, you better not accidentally shoot me. I will fucking shoot you back. And if you kill me, I’m coming back to haunt your dumb ass.” Scott chuckled. “Alright.” He caught the keys tossed to him and headed for the BMW.

After placing their primary weapons in the backseat, Abi and Erik got into the TransAM and Abi started the engine. She was worried about the sound it put out when it started, but the music Catherine had been listening to caused even more of a stir in Abigail. “Really? Gawd damn Civil Twilight? Fuck this shit.” She ejected the CD and hurled it out the passenger side window, causing Erik to jerk his head back. The CD shattered against the wall of the garage. “Jesus!” Erik said, “Careful.” Abi turned on what she would call real music: GRV Music’s “Wrath Unleashed.” This gave Erik reason to look at her funny. She ignored him and revved the V8. When the organ began playing in the song, she drove the TransAM out of the garage, down the driveway, and onto the street. She turned right, heading in the opposite direction of the surveillance vans. Scott in the BMW followed at three car-lengths behind, as requested. Abi was not surprised when the two vans were following her. By the time Abi had gotten into the center of Allentown, there were two black Crown Victorias and a black Suburban SUV trailing them as well. Yet she was not worried until a black Dodge Charger pulled out in front of her and braked hard. Instinct took over and Abi sped up. Rogue Angel tore through turf and knocked over someone’s mailbox as Abi passed the Charger on the right. Erik gulped and sunk into his seat. Behind the TransAM, the BMW had passed the interceptor on the left and caught up to Abi. When the distraught Erik looked over at Abi, he became even more distraught as he saw that her hard, penetrating stare never wavered from the view in front of her. And she had not blinked for several seconds. Shocked, Erik continued to observe Abi as she made course corrections as if she was used to this sort of driving. He didn’t want to think about all that she had gone through in her recent past, or even her yesteryears.

Suddenly, Abi’s head snapped around and she glared at Erik. “You can start shooting back at any second.” This made Erik realize that the Feds had started shooting at them. The gunshots were clear to him now. He turned around in his seat and peeked over the headrest. His eyes widened. The BMW appeared to be only feet away, while the SUV seemed to be only feet behind the BMW. There was a man standing in the truck; the upper half of his body was out of a hatch in the roof as he fired an MP5 submachine gun at both sports cars. “Fucking shoot back!” Abi shouted. They were on a long road that would not have any decent turn-off points for awhile. Erik began to remove his portion of the T-roof, carefully. They were traveling at 70 MPH and people were shooting at them; if he wasn’t careful, he was dead. Erik placed the roof-half in the back of the car, grabbed his M4 Carbine and pointed it at the man with the MP5 behind them. “Shoot the driver!” Abi suggested. Erik readied his rifle and took aim at the driver. It was a woman. She was not much older than 18. He frowned. Erik didn’t want to kill a beautiful young woman who had her entire life ahead of her. When a bullet deflected off the thin steel divider that separated roof-halves, Erik squeezed the trigger and a single 5.56 round decimated the female driver’s lower jaw. Blood splattered the SUV’s shattered windshield. He quickly lowered himself back into the TransAM and tried to restore his breathing to a normal level. He did not see the SUV collide with a Crown Victoria behind them. Abi was trying hard not to start laughing. Her smile was breaking through. Erik looked slowly at her, shaking. He just watched her snigger under her breath, unable to figure out on his own what in the world she found so amusing. So he asked her, “What in the world do you find so amusing?” Abi shook her head. “I shouldn’t. Bad joke. I’m sorry, Erik. Thank you. You did good.”

Erik’s mouth fell agape. “I just killed a pretty young woman!” Tears began to stream down his face. Abi burst out laughing. “Well, she’s not so pretty anymore, is she?” “Seriously!” Erik yelled, “That’s the joke you thought was soooo funny, Abi?” “Hey,” Abi said after she ceased her chortling. “Hey. I’ve done worse things, alright, Danson? Don’t get your knickers in a twist.” “Oh my God,” sighed Erik. “Can you get away from these guys?” “Of course I can.” She was silent for a few seconds before she said, “Actually, we’re probably gonna get caught. This road is long as hell and there isn’t really anywhere to turn off for a long time.” One of the pursuing Crown Victoria’s mysteriously overheated and was forced to pull over. Only the Dodge Charger remained. “Well that was fucking lucky,” laughed Erik. “There ain’t no such thing,” said Abi. “Trust me. I know. Shoot at the Charger, Erik.” Erik Danson turned around in his seat and pointed his M4 at the Charger chasing the TransAM and the BMW. He fired a shot at the front right tire and missed. He tried again, but still missed. Erik turned back to Abi. “Can you keep her straight?” Abi responded, “Just shoot it on auto, damn it!” Erik sighed, “Fine.” He switched the selector to full auto and pointed the rifle at the Charger. “Don’t shoot Scott!” yelled Abi.

Erik ignored her and squeezed the trigger. He held it back, trying to keep the recoil from throwing the rifle out of his grasp and the car. After about a dozen rounds one of them penetrated the Charger’s right front tire. The driver tried to brake slowly but the Charger was swaying back and forth too much. The Charger slid into the grass on the right, hit a guard rail, and flipped end over end. “Yeah!” Erik celebrated, pulling himself back into his seat. “That was badass!” Abi scowled, “Shut up and put your gawd-damn seatbelt back on, you idiot. I’m goin’ to DynoCorps.” “Why? They’ll call the police as soon as they see you.” Abi looked over at Erik as she turned the car down a right hand street, heading back toward the center of town. “I need information, dude, and our bosses have it.” “Ex-bosses,” Erik corrected her. “Yeah,” she sighed. Minutes later, the TransAM and the BMW M3 pulled into the underground parking garage of the DynoCorps Corporation. When the Hispanic man in the booth tried to pick up the phone to call his boss, Abi pointed a .44 Magnum revolver at him. “Go ahead punk,” she smirked. He lowered the phone and raised the black and yellow striped bar. Abi drove through and holstered the large revolver back under her arm. Erik said, “He’s just gonna call anyway.” “I know,” said Abi. “I want them to know I’m here.”


Tasha woke up with water in her lungs. She coughed it up and it came back down on her, as she was on her back, and bound. She tried to move, but couldn’t. She could barely see. Everything was hazy. She tried to speak, but her words came out as gibberish. Feeling helpless and afraid, Tasha began to cry. Then she stopped, because a door had been open. Her sight slowly returned to normal. The young woman turned her head and winced at the pain. She could make out two individuals through her blurry vision. They were speaking with one another as if she weren’t there, until she tried to sit up again. “Remain calm,” said one of the men. As he came over to the table she was tied to, Tasha recognized him as the blond man who’d attacked her at the beach. She screamed and tried even harder to escape. The man reached down and took hold of Tasha by the throat. She was surprised by his strength. She nearly lost all of the air from her lungs and passed out within half a second, but he released her before she could. “Raphan,” said the second man, “the Lord of Flies wishes to see her. He wishes for you to bring her to him.” Tasha coughed, “No. Please. Please let me go.” The man called Raphan drew a small blade and cut the ropes that bound the woman’s arms to the side of the table. When her arms were free, she sat up and rubbed her bruised wrists. Now she could clearly see, and was astonished by the view in front of her.

Raphan appeared completely human except for the large white wings that came out of his back. He wore a long black coat and black pants. The other “man” also resembled an angel. While Raphan’s white wings were stretched out behind him, fluttering slightly, the other creature’s black wings were closed in tightly behind him, almost unseen. “Who are you people?” Tasha asked, trying to get off the table. Unfortunately, the ropes holding her ankles apart would not allow her to do so. “What have you…?” The pain Tasha felt in her loins and thighs suddenly made sense now. She fell back onto the table and sobbed uncontrollably, repeating “No” over and over again. Raphan and his companion only chuckled. Then they both left the room and locked the door. After several minutes of crying, Tasha sat up again and began to tug at the ropes around her feet. However, when the ropes did not give at all, Tasha looked around the room frantically, hoping to find something to use to cut the binds. She saw only a bucket in one corner and several filthy rags in another. She banged her fists on the metal table and screamed. “Why is this happening to me?” Tasha gasped finally. “Why me? God, help me!” Then the single light hanging from the ceiling cut off and the room became pitch black, but not before she noticed a shadow moving in the corner. Even though she saw and heard no one, she sensed an evil presence in the room with her. All she could do is lay back down and cry herself back into unconsciousness.

“You allowed three mutants to escape your facility, Major Merovingian,” accused a very angry three-star general. “How do you even begin to explain this?”

The general was flanked by a dozen aides and security personnel as they stood just inside the perimeter of their new research and development facility in Arizona, dubbed Area 52. The discussion was with the temporary commander of Area 52, a U.S. Army major. The major was flanked by his own cadre of officers and suits. “Sir,” begged Merovingian, “you can’t experiment with superhuman abilities and expect to not come out of this without a few…superhumans.” General John Pollack Chase shook his head and jabbed his stubby finger at his taller subordinate’s chest. “That is no excuse, Major! This place has only been up and running for less than a month! We should not have to explain to the press, the people, the police, or anyone else why someone with two heads is running around Phoenix!” “Sir,” Merovingian once again pleaded, “we are taking care of the situate –” He was stopped short by the sight of a woman behind the general, on the other side of the electrified and razorwired chain-link fence. His jaw dropped. She was clad in a black hoodie and long frilly skirt. When the rest of the soldiers noticed her, they drew their weapons on the woman. “Hold your fire!” declared Merovingian. General Chase glowered at the woman, becoming even angrier. He put his hand up to shield his eyes from the sun. “Who the fuck is that, Major? Is she one of yours?” Chase twisted around and thrust another fat finger up into the major’s face. “I swear by everything holy, if she is one of yours, I’m going to destroy you.” The woman spoke with a Staten Island accent. “I am nobody’s property. Open the gate. I need a body.” While General Chase laughed at her presumption, Major Merovingian asked her, “Who are you, young lady?” The small woman balled her fists in rage. “Do not call me that. Do so again at your own peril. I, you ignorant excuse for a military leader, am your god…Anubis.”

“Oh,” said General Chase sarcastically, “then by all means, if it’s just Anubis, let her in…” Anubis raised a hand and with telekinesis, broke Chase’s neck. Merovingian just gaped in wonder and fear. Anubis moved her hand slightly to her left at the major. Then, in the most deathly, horrifying voice any of the soldiers and civilian aides had ever heard, Anubis commanded, “Open the gates or I will open your chests and devour your hearts one by one.” Merovingian gulped and shuffled apprehensively toward the gate. “I think we’re gonna go with, um, option A…” A shadow concealed every part of Catherine’s face except for her white, cracked lips, which had dried from the heat of the sun. Anubis formed a crooked, demonic smile. “And you will call those who you answer to, Major Merovingian, on the eastern shore of this land mass. You will tell them I have arrived and will be given a new body. And then…this body will be given to them to do as they please.”


Hours had passed since Abigail Begich and her two male companions had taken hostage the DynoCorps chairman of the board, most of the board, and the Vice President. The corporate bosses, known to their employees as Management, were being held in a conference room on the second floor, where it would be relatively easy to see anyone entering the building. Scott peeked through the shades as he stood by one of the large windows, holding his AK-47. Erik Danson was sitting on the edge of the ovular table with his M4 in his lap, keeping an eye on the half a dozen members of Management. Abi herself was leaning beside the front door, her arms crossed over her chest with a Colt .45 Rail Gun 1911A1 in her right hand. She had several other handguns holstered in various places on her body, concealed only partially by her Nazi SS trench coat. “I still don’t understand,” said Vice President Li, a second-generation Chinaman in his late thirties. He stood up from his chair by the conference table and pushed his wide-rimmed eyeglasses up the bridge of his nose. “Why are you doing this, Miss Begich?” Abi looked up from admiring the awesome Colt handgun she was flashing and gazed lazily at the man. “Li,” she said in a low, even tone, “sit down and shut the fuck up.” Vice President Li nodded, putting his hands up, and went back to sit down in his chair. Erik, who was sitting on the table only a couple feet away, smirked and nudged the man’s shoulder with the muzzle of his carbine. “She’s been through a lot, dude,” Erik warned. “I wouldn’t mess with her.” Scott turned from the window and sauntered over to Abi. He stood close to her and asked, his voice hushed to prevent the others from overhearing, “This plan is suicide, Abi. Even if the Feds show up and take you alive, they’re probably going to torture and execute you. You know that, right?”

Abi’s eyes snapped up at him and she shook her head emphatically. “That is not gonna happen. I’m going to kill these Illuminati bastards and then I’m going to walk out of there – wherever they take me – alive and just fine. Your part of the plan is what’s got me worried.” “Why?” “You might get caught. Don’t let them catch you, Scott. I don’t know what I’d do without you.” Scott smiled down at the woman and touched her leather-clad bicep. “I’ll be fine,” he said, and then glanced at Erik and back to Abi. “We’ll both be fine.” Abi groaned. “Why’d you say that? Now I know at least one of you is probably gonna die.” Scott chuckled and turned to see Erik walking toward the window. Scott said to him, “Be careful, man. Make sure you’re out of sight.” “I thought they’d be here by now,” Erik said, turning to his left to look at Scott. As soon as he said that, a sniper’s bullet shot through the window and struck Erik’s left shoulder. If he had not turned to his left, the bullet would have torn through his heart. While Management was screaming in terror, Erik collapsed, dropping his M4. Abi and Scott rushed forward, but Abi shoved Scott to the ground, just as another bullet flew between them and pocked the drywall behind them. “Shut the fuck up!” Abi yelled to Management. “Erik, are you alright?” “I’ll fuckin’ live!” he said, writhing on the floor. “But god damn, it burns!” Abi grinned. “That it does,” she muttered, removing her Mossberg 500 from her back. She pumped it and shouted, “Find cover! Li, Chairman Strauss, get that table on it’s side!”

“Like a fort!” declared Chairman Strauss, a middle-aged graying man who never had a proper childhood. “Yeah,” Abi said, “just like a fort…” While Management was busy turning over the large heavy table, Abi and Scott were hauling Erik over to a closet. “I’ll be fine,” he insisted. “Why are you dragging me?” “You’ve been shot,” said Abi. “You’re in shock. Just sit here and if anyone wearing black walks through that door, shoot them. If anyone magically appears out of thin air…” “Yeah, I got it,” Erik said. “Shoot them.” Abi smiled and gently tapped his injured shoulder. “Good boy.” “Ow!” Erik uttered, glaring at Abi. “Sorry,” Abi snickered. She kept her body doubled over and went over to Scott, who was now peeking through another window on the far side of the room. She asked him if he could see anything and he told her that he couldn’t. Abi glanced back at Management, who were somewhat safe, hiding behind the overturned table. Turning back to Scott, Abi remarked, “Whoever’s sniping is not concerned with the hostages. They want you dead and me captured. I don’t think the police were called. I think it went straight to the Feds.” “That would mean,” Scott surmised, “that that guy in the parking booth was – or is – a Federal agent, right?” “I wouldn’t be surprised. Look, I want you to give Li his cellphone back. Tell him to call the local police. If they arrive in time, the sniper will have to back off.”

Scott gawked at Abi, his eyes wide. “Are you serious? ‘If they arrive in time’? When have they ever –?” “Just do it,” Abi said, and scurried back over to Erik. She examined his wound and found that the bullet had gone completely through. He was turning slightly pale. Abi knew only basic first-aid and emergency medical response. A through-and-through bullet wound was not completely beyond her capabilities, but she did not feel comfortable dealing with it. “Johnson,” she called one of the board members. “You used to be a doctor. Fix this dude.” Erik rolled his listless eyes. “Oh, wow, thanks Abi. I feel so loved.” Abi smiled and suddenly leaned forward and kissed him on the cheek. “Shut up and get better or I’ll kill you myself.” It was Erik’s turn to gawk at Abi as she left. Abi crawled behind the table to find Li on his cellphone with the police. She had to make it look good, so she smacked it out of his hand and punched him in the jaw. “How’d you get that, mother fucker? Huh?” the actress looked over at Scott. “You Judas.” Totally baffled, Scott glanced about him before realizing Abi was talking to him. “Wait, what? You told me –” Just as Abi tackled Scott onto his back, another bullet was shot into the room very closeby. Abi held Scott by the collar of his polo shirt. “Stay the fuck down,” she whispered. She then decked him once and hurried over to collect the phone she’d knocked from the VP’s hand. She smashed it into pieces with the heel of her combat boot and then put her Rail Gun up to Li’s face.

“Fuck up again,” she seethed with feigned anger. “Please do it. Please. I would just love to fucking blow your gawd damn brains all over Strauss here.” Strauss frowned. “Hey…” Li nodded frantically. “Yes, Miss Begich. I’m sorry, Miss Begich.” “Stop,” she snarled, putting the barrel of the pistol against the man’s temple, “calling me that. My fucking name is fucking Abigail you fucking wanker.” Scott was still on his back pretending to be unconscious when they began to hear police sirens. “Hey,” he unwittingly let out, “it worked.” Abi rolled her eyes and then crawled to the end of the over-turned table and told him, “Get over to the other side of the room. Let me know what the cops are doing; if they’re staying outside or sending a SWAT team straight up here.” Li complained, “Hey, you two aren’t fighting. You fooled me, didn’t you?” “Gawd damn,” groaned Abi, not even bothering to look at the VP, “you’re a fucking moron. Shut the fuck up or I will shoot you.” From the other side of the office, Scott peered through a crack in the curtains. “Eh, looks like they’re just forming up down there. Kinda like in Die Hard.” Abi rolled her eyes. “’Kinda like in Die Hard’,” she grumbled. “Just tell me when they start sending people up. Procedure is to make contact and if they can’t, they’re going to send SWAT to kill everyone. Even the hostages. That’s their new SOP.” “What?” Strauss said, “That’s ridiculous.”

Abi ignored him. She actually had no idea if what she was saying was true; she just wanted to scare the hostages into Stockholm Syndrome before the Feds or the cops arrived.

“This will be adequate,” Anubis said from his new body. Physically, the body was a wondrous sight to behold. His flesh was utterly white and his height was nearly ten feet. Anubis now had six fingers on each hand and six toes on each foot. Although the demon’s face appeared mostly human, behind his pale lips were double rows of shark-like fangs. In addition, his eyes were jet black with no whites. Anubis’s hair was long, straight and nearly as white as his skin tone. An Air Force private handed Anubis a black cloak and he put it on. Then Anubis exited the storage facility where the genetically modified bodies were kept cold and entered another room to find Catherine lying unconscious and alone. He smirked wickedly. “I believe I will take you with me,” he mused to himself. Then Anubis turned and walked out into the corridor where Major Merovingian was waiting. The major asked, “Is everything to your liking?” “This body is much better than my previous habitation,” Anubis said as he glowered down at the Army officer. “When will you be leaving us, my Lord?” a USMC captain asked Anubis. The demon laughed with delight and placed a six-fingered hand on the smaller captain’s shoulder. “I like this man. He reveres the dark things, as he should. I am leaving within the hour. But first, I want you to see to it that the woman known as Catherine goes with me. I do not have the ability to move faster than light or teleport when inhabiting this body, so I will require a very quick chariot!”

The captain exchanged worried, amused glances with the major. “I think we can accommodate you on this, sir,” the captain said. Anubis smiled toothily. “You, mortal, will be my slave! You will do everything I command you to do or you will die!” The Marine officer was both honored and frightened. “Um, thank you, my Lord. I will go and prepare your ‘chariot’ right now.” As the young officer was walking away, Anubis asked him, “What is your name, warrior slave?” The captain stopped, turned and replied, “My name is Henry Wrangler.” Anubis scoffed, “Ha! What an atrocious name! I see in you a spirit I recognize, the spirit of my half-brother Heru-pa-khered. So this shall be your new name. My name is Anapa, though I have many names, including Anubis, Hermes, Sirius, just to list a few. You, Heru, will be my apprentice and my servant. Now go, prepare my chariot, young man!” Merovingian was staring up at the demon when the demon finished watching the Marine walk away, and looked down. “Do you know how much paperwork I’ve got to do now?” the major asked in rhetoric and sarcasm. Anapa bent over and growled at the man. “I recognize your spirit too. I recognize your name, ‘Merovingian’. You belong to one of the families who believe they control the dominions and powers of the spirit realm for their own selfish desires. Yet you are not over us. You do not command us. You belong to us.”

Raphan and Molech hauled Tasha Everett into the dining room occupied by the demonically possessed thinktank. The two angels dropped the barely conscious woman on the floor beside the long oak finished dining table. The gluttons at the table all turned but did not say anything. Only Asmodeus, who was at the head of the table, stood and gave applause to the angels’ actions. “Well done, my friends,” Asmodeus sneered, clapping his hands. Molech growled audibly, causing the gluttonous demons to cringe. “We are not your friends,” the dark-winged Nephilim retorted. “We are your masters. You are only an archduke because you are a beloved demon of Baal’zebul. Should you again fail to remember your place among the heavenly descent…” He stepped forward and forcefully stabbed a dagger into the wooden table. “…you will be no more.” Asmodeus nodded slowly, his smile waning. “Well, that was dramatic. Let’s all just…you know…get along and…not use our voices against one another. I meant no disrespect, master. I only meant to applaud your efforts.” Raphan snorted, his wing twitching, as he strolled around the table and observed the think-tank munching continuously on human flesh. “Where is Baal anyway, Asmodeus?” “Away,” Asmodeus answered. The fallen angel stopped at the halfway point of the table. He frowned, but was not angry. “Hm. Is he with one of his women? Is he gone to haunt another soul?” “Indeed.” Raphan continued walking slowly toward Asmodeus, who began to feel a bit uneasy. “Is it one of the future Remnant?” “Perhaps,” Asmodeus responded. “He is going to the one.”

Raphan stopped in his tracks again and looked over and across the table at his colleague, who was standing at the other end with his arms folded. He then turned back to Asmodeus and came to within a foot of the demon. He whispered, “We have explicit orders regarding her. What is he doing, exactly?” Defensively, Asmodeus shrugged and scoffed, “How should I know? Maybe the same thing you did with her.” He didn’t even get to complete the pointing gesture with his bony, clawed forefinger. Raphan seized the demon by his coat collar and slammed his back down on the table, knocking a couple of forks and glasses onto the floor with a loud noise. The demon-possessed think-tank stopped eating and watched. “You fool!” Raphan howled. “Not even Baal’zebul can harm The One without serious consequences befalling him! She is not to be touched until her time –!” “Do not raise your voice at me, brother!” Asmodeus yelled, “He departed without a word to me! Who am I to question Lucifer’s first?” With a relenting growl, Raphan released the archduke and stormed back around the table to where Tasha was finally sitting up, having been fully awakened by the commotion. He grabbed her roughly by her long blond matted hair and brought her face up to Collins, who was slouching at the end of the table opposite of Asmodeus. “Do you recognize this soul?” Raphan asked angrily. Collins nodded slowly, his eyes hazy and glassy from both possession and consumption. Raphan shoved her back down onto the floor. “Good. At least I did my job right. She will be ready by year’s end.” Then he turned on his heel and briskly exited the dining room. Molech followed only after casting Asmodeus an arrogant smirk. Asmodeus slinked back into his chair with a huff.

After he was sure they were out of earshot, Asmodeus moaned, “I utterly despise Nephilim.”

“We’re gonna let them go,” Abi told Scott and Erik. “We don’t need the hostages anymore.” Erik, who had since been bandaged by Doctor Johnson, shook his head and said, “Abi, if we let them go, we have nothing to bargain with.” Scott said, “If we don’t let them go, the local cops won’t give the Feds a chance to come in here. They’ll kill us. You, me…Abi.” Erik nodded, looking at Abi. “Alright, let’s let them go then.” Abi stood up from her crouching position near the closet door that Erik was leaning against, and she turned to the men and women she had been holding against their will. While she was telling them what was going to happen, Scott spoke with Erik. “Dude, I don’t know,” Scott said, “This seems kinda crazy. I think the Feds may just shoot her in the head, especially after all the trouble she’s caused.” Erik patted Scott’s arm. “Dude, have faith in her, man. She’s the most badass chick we’ve ever known and will ever know. There’s no one like her. If anyone can outsmart the Feds, it’s her.” Suddenly, the Feds outsmarted them by swinging through the windows on black ropes and landing in the conference room. “Holy shit!” Erik screamed, dropping his pistol and throwing up his hands in surrender. This caused excruciating pain to shoot through his shoulder.

Scott also surrendered. Abi did not. Before the five jack-booted thugs’ feet had even hit the floor – even before most of the shattered glass had done so – Abi had already fired the first round from her shotgun. He went flying back out of the window. The four remaining black-armored agents, having landed, leveled their submachine guns at the woman. The only agent who would have actually managed to kill Abi found that his gun had jammed. Meanwhile, as the other three men fired their automatic weapons, Abi was kneeling behind the overturned table and pulling the slide back on her Rail Gun. She smirked at Vice President Li, who was completely out of his mind with shock and fear. “Good thing you paid that extra five hundred for the reinforced steel tables,” she said and then winked. Then Abi, with her left hand, pushed the table forward with all her strength. As she did this, Abi pointed her pistol over the edge and fired three times. Three agents collapsed dead and the man whose gun had jammed was slammed by the top of the table. He stumbled backwards, attempting to collect himself, but he slipped on the broken glass and fell backwards even more. Abi leaped over the table just as he was about to hit the ground, and she landed on him and put her handgun to his face; his face was covered by a helmet’s mask. Scott turned to Erik. “Did she just shoot three guys without looking and then…do that? In a trench coat?” Erik was just staring ahead and smiling. “I think I’m in love.” Abi leaned down over the man, whose head was hanging off the side of the building. Lights and sirens and screaming people echoed around Abi but she did not really see or hear any of it. She removed the man’s helmet and let it fall outside two stories. What she saw made her pride fail. He did not look like a man at all, but a mutated cybernetic organism that had been used by her government to track and exterminate her. The creature’s face was deformed, almost beyond recognition as anything human. Wires and

circuits and metal plates had been fixed to his skull and he even had an electronic eyeball. Despite all these frightening and horrific things, a tear ran down Abi’s cheek when she saw the look in his only human eye. He was afraid. He was more afraid of Abi than she was of him. But it was not just the fear in his eye that moved Abi. She also saw, and felt, his pain. The Federal government had gone out of its way to create something like a super-soldier, but had not went anywhere close to doing something about the pain a person would feel if he was implanted with cybernetic implants, or if his facial flesh was asymmetrical and clamped to his jaw. His mouth quivered as he tried to speak. After a few seconds, he managed to stammer, “Kill me.” Scott, Erik, Li, Johnson, and Strauss, along with the rest of the members of the board, stood and walked behind Abi. They stood over her and looked down at the mutant. When the mutant saw her put the pistol to his head, he smiled and closed his eye. *** Abi did not want to hear anyone. She let the hostages go and left the conference room. Scott and Erik followed her, trying to get her to speak to them. But she ignored them. She couldn’t hear them. She was listening to her Mp3 player, which just so happened to be playing “Human” by Civil Twilight. After a minute, the boys stopped trying to get her attention and just followed her. They’d gotten far down the hall when the conference room exploded out into the hallway. Abi did not even flinch. Scott and Erik looked back, but quickly returned their attention to the task ahead of them. Scott began texting something on his cellphone. He did not think Erik had seen him, but he had. They got into the elevator and the ice cold Abigail Begich stood at the back, staring at the door. Only a single tear ran down her cheek. Erik stood protectively in front of Abi. Scott pressed the Down button. As soon as the door

closed, Erik turned and kissed Abi on the mouth. She was surprised only slightly, but neither pushed him away nor returned the kiss. What surprised her even more was when Erik turned back around and grabbed Scott by the back of the neck and slammed his forehead into the front wall of the elevator. Abi yanked the earbuds out of her ears. “What the hell are you doing, Erik?” she screamed. “I saw him texting someone,” explained Erik as Scott’s limp form slid down the wall to the floor. “It said something about coming out of the elevator.” He reached down, collected Scott’s cellphone from his pants pocket, and handed it to Abi. She read the last text. “He texted his cousin,” she said, “in the Allentown Police Department.” “We’re tryin’ to get you caught by the Feds,” said Erik. “Not the locals. Right?” Abi shook her head in confusion. “I don’t get it. Why would he do this? He’s been like a brother to me for… years.” “I dunno, but what are we gonna do with him? We probably don’t have much time before the cops or the Feds get here.” Abi was indecisive. “I dunno. I dunno either, man. Just…leave him here. Split up. If they arrest him, it won’t matter.” She hugged Erik. “I’ll see you soon.” The elevator doors parted. Abi and Erik walked out into the hall and looked both ways. There was only silence, but just for a few seconds. Then Abi could hear the sounds of boots hitting the linoleum floor. Erik turned to Abi and sighed. “Well,” he said, “I guess this is it. The moment of truth. Good luck, Abi.” Abi said, “There’s no such thing as luck. Now get outta here.”

Scott took off down the hall and went out a fire exit. As the agitating fire alarm blared, Abi put her earbuds back in and turned the volume all the way up. She waited in front of the elevator to the side of the large DynoCorps lobby, her hands interlocked behind her head. She was pleased when a dozen FBI and NSA agents rushed around the corner and ordered her onto her knees. Although she could not hear them through Civil Twilight, she could read their lips. Obediently, Abi got onto her knees, her hands remaining behind her head, with a smile on her face.

Special Agent Calvin Ponzi was sitting at his office desk in the National Security Agency headquarters in Fort Meade, Maryland. He was not really NSA, nor FBI or CIA. Special Agent Ponzi was a liaison between the three agencies, hired directly by the Vice President of the United States. He spent only four years in U.S. Army Special Forces and then six years in the FBI before he was recruited by the Executive Branch. Ponzi spent his time delegating jurisdiction between the three security and intelligence agencies. In spite of the public belief that the Central Intelligence Agency only works overseas, their main mission is to monitor and regulate the citizens of America, which might include assassination and torture. Since more than 85% of their “employees” are actually contracted mercenaries from private corporations, there is no reason to believe that anything the CIA does or has ever done would be legal in any sense. It was Ponzi’s job to tell the CIA what they could and could not do on American soil, in order to avoid a national - or international – incident. Ponzi was signing a CIA request form to “liquidate the asset codenamed Phoenix” when the phone on his desk rang. He put down his pen and answered the phone. “Yeah?” After a pause, he said, “Ok, yeah, send him in.” Entered a man with black, slicked back hair, a goatee, and piercing green eyes. His height was just less than 5’10.” All of his apparel was black, including form-fitting leather pants, combat boots, a tight muscle shirt, and a punk leather jacket complete with jingling chains, anarchist patches, and dull, scuffed buttons.

Ponzi blinked and found himself standing up to this overtly confident man, who then sank into the leatherseated chair in front of the desk with ease and smoothness. Ponzi looked down at the hand he had extended to the man, and then cleared his throat and sat down behind his desk again. He looked at the man, who was chewing on a toothpick. Ponzi was trying to figure out what to say, and this made the rebel smirk slightly. “Let me save ye the trouble, mate,” said the Irishman. “The name’s Daren. I’m lookin’ to make a name for meself, ye understand?” Daren propped his booted feet up on the other chair in front of the desk, much to Ponzi’s astonishment. “I hear, through a good source mind ya, ye’re lookin’ to off some bint and ye wanna keep your name,” he pointed, “outta the public eye.” He placed his hands behind his head and leaned back in the chair. “So if that’s all, I guess I’ll be on my way.” “Uh,” Ponzi stuttered, “um, just hold on…” He looked down at the papers on his desk. “Um, you know who the target is?” Daren narrowed his eyes at Ponzi, but didn’t move from his comfortable position. “Of course, mate. I’ve been briefed.” “There is something you must know,” said Ponzi. “It’s about you, and it’s about the target. She may…recognize you…as someone who you’re not. Do you understand?” Daren sighed. “Not really. What, do I resemble her bloody father or something?” “Not really. Look, never mind. Just…if she starts talkin’ about you like she knows you, ignore her, and put a bullet in her head. Got it, Daren?” The Irishman got to his feet grinning. “I think I can handle it.” He leaned forward with his hands on the edge of the desk. “Ye know, I’ve never killed a woman before.”

Ponzi stood up as well and said gravely, “I wouldn’t regard her as your average woman.” He leveled a hard gaze at Daren. “That might prove to be the end of you. Your infamy would be short-lived.” Daren backed away from the desk, each step more suave than the last. “Better to die on your feet than live on your knees.” He spun around and opened the door to leave. “Daren,” Ponzi called. The hired killer stopped and barely turned his head. “I’ve read your file,” Ponzi resumed. “Your kills are very…imaginative; very thorough too.” “Indeed they are, mate.” “I would hate for you to second-guess yourself on this operation,” said Ponzi. “I would hate for you to fail and label yourself an enemy of the state.” Daren turned slightly and looked over his shoulder at Ponzi. “Trust me, Cal. You’d hate it more, lad…” With a smirk and a wink, Daren turned, walked out of the room and shut the door behind him. CHAPTER 11

November 28th, 2011 Baal’zebul was in his spirit form, watching a young dark-haired beauty sleep. He was standing in the corner. If she had awakened, she would have only had the fleeting view of a shadow. But she did not wake. She remained beneath her blankets, dreaming. Baal’zebul was angry. He had managed to conjure enough fear from her in months and years past to establish a presence in her home and in her life, but found it remarkably difficult to gain access to her mind.

He’d even been able to physically attack her on occasion. But he wanted her soul. The Lord of the Flies wanted this girl’s soul more than any other. So he took the form of a fly and rested on her cheek as she slept. But being even this close to her did not satiate his desire for her, and he was barely able to contain his form. So he again took the form of a shadow and made a decision: he was going to take her with him to the Abyss and imprison her there until the End of Days. This did not go over very well with her protectors. Unlike most Christians, this girl had more than one guardian angel. She had one hundred of them. They stood around her in the spirit realm, they stood at each corner of her bedroom, they stood at each corner of her home, they stood at each window and door and mirror, and they stood at each corner and entrance of her property. However, these guardians did not have the authority or the power to thwart the Nephilim, so they called upon the only holy ones who did. Before he knew what was happening, Baal’zebul was flying at lightning speed across the beautiful woman’s property. He landed in the grass and stood up, groaning in frustration. “Who has the power and authority to question ME?” the dark angel demanded obstinately. When he heard the familiar sound of a screaming missile coming toward him, he looked up with a start. Just as he thought, Baal’zebul saw something fiery coming down from heaven at a great velocity. Another “shooting star” appeared overhead as well. He snarled, knowing exactly what was about to occur. He took a couple of apprehensive steps back as two more falling stars took form in the spiritual heavens above. Lightning struck four times around him. The archangel over the spirits and diseases of mankind, Prince Raphael, landed first, at a crouch, directly in front of Baal’zebul. His knee and sandaled foot crunched the snow-covered ground beneath him. To the Nephilim’s left fell Prince Ak’Razu’el, one of the holy archangels who takes vengeance for the world and for the luminaries. This angel had shoulder-length brown hair, a fierce, scowling visage, bright sky blue eyes, and grey-blue steel wings. Before the

other two archangels even landed, he lashed Baal’zebul across the face with an iron rod, sending the Nephilim stumbling sideways. The third archangel to drop from the dark clouds above was the one over Tartarus, even above Baal’zebul; his name was Prince Uriel. He was a Cherub with blazing tongues of fire for wings. His orange hair was also like fire, swaying as if being blown by wind. He also had four faces, one on each side of his head. Each of his eight eyes was shining white. The countenance that was directed at the fallen one was that of a man. He lifted his blazing sword of flames from the scabbard on his belt. Much to Baal’zebul’s shock and terror Prince Michael also joined them. He was a foot taller than the other archangels. He looked exactly human, with the largest wingspan of any angel there. Like the other archangels, he wore knight’s armor and drew his flaming sword. Michael was the first to speak: “Lord of the Flies.” His voice was beautiful and the very definition of celestial, even to the point of causing Baal’zebul to become wrought with despair upon his knees in the midst of the angels. “You were not one of the two hundred Watchers who fell. No. You chose to leave your place of high standing much later, even after knowing what the punishment was. You defied your Father for no other purpose than to rule the earth and sky along with your brother Lucifer. And now you are here, seeking to take the soul of one of the Elect.” All four archangels opened their mouth at once: “YET YOU WILL NOT HAVE IT!” Their combined power sent Baal’zebul soaring again. He tumbled along the ground through fences and trees, not touching one of them, but passing through them as if they were illusions of substance. By the time Baal’zebul rolled to a halt a hundred miles away from his previous location, the archangels were there. They moved faster that lightning.

Baal’zebul clambered to his feet and frantically looked around at those he once called friends and brothers. “I was the first ruler of the first heaven,” he gasped breathlessly. He gestured emphatically as he said, “This…was my realm!” Ak’Razu’el stomped over to Baal’zebul and clutched him by the throat. “You are a disgrace to all things celestial!” Michael placed a hand on his fellow’s shoulder. “You know the rules, Baal’zebul: the souls of the Elect are off limits without permission given directly by the Father.” After Ak’Razu’el released him, Baal’zebul shoved him aside and screamed at Michael, “The rules have changed! We have released some of the titans and demons, but now – NOW! – I will unleash them all!” Three Nephilim fell like lightning behind Baal’zebul and the battle began. Raphael turned his sword of fire upon Raphan, who had drawn a rapier. Molech’s humanoid head suddenly transformed into the head of an ox as he drew a scimitar and bayed at Uriel. Uriel’s multifaceted head spun on his shoulders to replace his human face with the one of the ox, and he attacked Molech with his fiery sword. Ak’Razu’el tackled Marduk, who was about to shoot lightning from his bow, and together they fell onto the dead grass. The enraged archangel Ak’Razu’el began punching Marduk in the face. While he bashed open the demon’s face with his bare hands, the angel shouted to his companion Uriel. The archangel in charge of Tartarus parried a sword attack from Molech and then kicked him back. He turned to Ak’Razu’el. “Destinies be sure, wrath be stayed. Never again shall you breathe out hate!” Beneath the struggling Marduk, a whirling black portal opened and fear gripped him. “No! NO! I will return! I will return with the king of death and vengeance shall be mine!”

Ak’Razu’el began to fall into the Abyss with Marduk. He smiled and leaned down, clenching the demon’s throat as he raised his flaming sword above his head. “No, Marduk. Vengeance belongs only to the Lord.” Neither the angel nor the demon could see anything anymore but black. They were blind, feeling only the eternal fall and hearing only the howling of the Abyss. God was not there. Marduk wept, crying out for help as he fell. Ak’Razu’el pushed himself off the demon and flew upwards. But he too could not see anything. He could not feel the presence of God and he screamed in pain and sorrow; he knew he was flying upwards, as his thin metallic wings flapped brutally, but he felt like he was falling. Back in the first heaven, the spiritual dimension on Earth, Michael and Baal’zebul were just glaring at each other. They were equally matched. One used to rule the dimension in which they now stood and now ruled over the majority of demons, and the other now ruled the seventh heaven, the dimension 6 heavens above the one in which they currently fought. “You say that the rules have changed and you say that the giants and demons of old will sway the balance of power in this realm,” Prince Michael commented. “But you forget that nothing is done without the consent of the Creator.” Baal’zebul rolled his eyes, drew his long, curved sword made of shadow, and said, “Be silent with your meaningless words!” The Lord of Flies swung the sword horizontally at Michael. The archangel ducked it, spun his own sword with a twist of his wrist, and brought the blazing hot blade down toward Baal’zebul’s head. Baal’zebul blocked the attack and then leaped into the air, taking flight for a moment before landing behind Michael. But Michael was ready for that. He had spun around and swept Baal’zebul off his feet. Then he brought his powerful fist down upon the fallen angel’s

chest while he was still suspended in the air. When Baal’zebul fell onto his back, an earthquake was felt in Ontario, Canada and parts of New York.

Abigail had been in a FEMA concentration camp in Pennsylvania for a few days before she was interrogated. It was not much of an interrogation. The Darkwater contractors only asked one question: “Who do you serve?” She never gave them a satisfactory answer. At first she would say she didn’t serve anyone, but after the first day, she decided to piss them off even more by telling them the truth. “I serve the Lord God Almighty!” she would cry over and over again. The physical torture had brought out the Phoenix many times, but her restraints had always held. In case they failed, however, there were always at least five Darkwater operatives or Federal agents in the room to take care of the young woman if she got too out of control. Abi was curled up in her austere, empty cell when a man rapped on the heavy metal door. “You’ve got a visitor.” Two minutes later, Abi was dressed and sitting across from a man she never met before. He looked her up and down, visibly grimacing at her bruises and filthy inmate garb. “What?” Abi said, “Who are you and what do you want?” “Scott and Erik sent me,” said the man. “My name’s Jeremiah.” Abi blinked and leaned forward, wiping her sweaty blond bangs from her eyes. “How are they?” “They’re fine,” said Jeremiah. “Scott wanted me to tell you that he’s sorry. He thought you’d be safer in police custody.”

Abi smiled. “I know. I probably would be. But I can’t do anything useful from inside a jail cell in Allentown.” “And you can from here?” Jeremiah looked around. It was at this point Abi realized he had a ponytail. She smiled meekly and rested her elbows on the table with a sigh. “I don’t know yet. Do the boys have a plan?” “They’re workin’ on it,” said Jeremiah. “I’m also workin’ on something myself. A package. You should get it tomorrow. It will help you escape, in more ways than one.” “Music? Mp3 player? That would be fuckin’ awesome.” Jeremiah shook his head ruefully. “Sorry, dear. But I think you’ll like it.” Abi smiled and whispered, “Is it a gun?” “No,” stated Jeremiah. “Stop asking. I’m not gonna tell you.” He stood up to leave. “Going already?” asked Abi, almost fearfully. Jeremiah leaned over and put his hand on the glass. “Have faith. Everything will be ok.” Some guard barked at him to not get so close and to get his hand off the glass because he didn’t want to clean it later. Jeremiah smiled at the guard and then to Abi. Abi stood up slowly as another guard came into the room to cuff her. “Tell Scott and Erik to hurry, whatever they’re planning.” “Shut up,” the guard ordered. “Time’s up.” Jeremiah waved and nodded. “Will do. Bye-bye, Abi.”

On her march back to her cell of isolation, Abi became invigorated. She felt like what the man had said was true, every word of it. She felt like everything was going to be alright and she was going to get out of this hellish prison soon. Abi smiled inwardly and when the guard shoved her into her cell, she smiled outwardly. “What’s so funny?” he asked as he locked her door. Before he walked away, he muttered, “Creepy bitch…” Later that day, as she was on her way to the last meal of the day, Abi noticed herself being escorted in military green fatigues down the main corridor of the prison. She quickly realized it was Catherine. She left her place in the meal line and hurried over to the archway that led into the main corridor. The two guards there eyed her, hoping she’d try to get past them so their boring day would finally have some excitement. Abi stood at the doorway and called out, “Catherine!” It was only when Catherine looked over, that Abi wondered why she was trying to get the attention of the woman who had once been ordered to take her place in the world, and possibly kill Abi if she became too much of a problem. Then Abi considered the possibility that Catherine may have been the one who disappeared her family. So it was no surprise to Abi when Catherine broke free from her two guards and charged her. The two guards at the entrance barely had time to register what was going on when they saw the doppelganger running at them, much less to actually do something to stop her. One guard valiantly put his foot out, which only gave Catherine a knee with which to springboard from and land upon Abi. As the guard was cradling his broken leg on the floor, his comrade was standing back and blowing a whistle. “What the fuck?” Abi grunted after she was punched in the side of the head for the first time. Catherine grabbed Abi by the hair and tried to ram the back of her head down into the cheap and dirty cement floor. “Die, you stupid bitch! I’ll fuckin’ kill your ass! You ruined my fuckin’ life!”

Abi made a conscious effort not to allow Phoenix from taking over. She rolled Catherine off of her and then rolled to the side and got to her feet. She threw up her hands in a defensive posture. “What in the world are you talkin’ about, Catherine? We’re in the same boat here, in case you haven’t noticed.” “No shit,” said Catherine. “But if you hadn’t gone rogue, I wouldn’t be in the position I’m in now!” The prefect of the camp was walking the corridor along with his aide and the captain of the guard. The prefect stopped at the threshold of the cafeteria and watched. When the captain stepped forward to break it up, the prefect motioned for the captain to wait. Abi screamed, “Where the fuck is my family, bitch?” “They’re fucking dead!” Catherine yelled back. Abi was taken aback. She’d not expected the woman to answer so immediately. Abi took a few awkward steps back. She could barely find the words to speak. “Did…did you…?” “No,” Catherine said, keeping her fists up high. “I didn’t fucking kill them. But I saw Argos and some agents taking them away in a van, alright? So they’re probably fucking dead by now! Argos probably already fucking ate them!” Abi exhaled, trying to keep calm. She even closed her eyes and began counting. When she heard Catherine lunge for her, Abi’s eyes snapped open…but she was still Abi. She wanted to fight this bitch without her demon. Catherine threw a flurry of punches, all of which Abi blocked and dodged. Then Abi kneed Catherine in the stomach and wrapped her fingers in her short, messy blackened hair. Abi punched Catherine in the nose, breaking it. Catherine spat blood in Abi’s face and kicked the back of Abi’s knee, causing her left leg to buckle. Then Catherine

seized Abi by her jumpsuit and lifted her off the ground. But Abi also grabbed Catherine and together they went down to the floor. By now the other FEMA prisoners were cheering and throwing things; most of them knew Abi, but seeing two of her confused them, so they were placing bets on everything from which woman would win to what was actually going on in front of them. Some of the inmates bet that the prefect had them drugged and they were having a group hallucination. Someone even managed to start playing music. It happened to be a song called “America” by Deuce. Abi was dragging Catherine across the cement floor, leaving scrapes of blood behind her. She hauled her to her feet and then body-slammed Catherine onto a cafeteria table. The camp prefect laughed. Writhing and snarling in pain, Catherine rolled off the table and scratched Abi’s face. Abi’s face snapped to the side, blood drawn across her cheek. She laughed and decided not to play fair anymore. Abi swung a right cross that was so strong, Catherine’s head snapped back and she fell onto her back. By the time Catherine was stumbling to her feet, blood dripping from her mouth, Abi had picked up a chair. She brought it down across Catherine’s face. Blood splattered the table. Catherine tried to remain upright, but Abi would not have any of that. She roundhouse-kicked Catherine in the head and she stumbled sideways against the table. The crowd of inmates howled and laughed; they had gathered extremely close now and this was beginning to get on Abi’s nerves. She glowered at them and they all shut up. They all backed up slowly. She turned back to Catherine, who was nearly unconscious. Then Abi sat down in a chair beside the slumped clone. “Anyone got a fuckin’ cigarette?” Abi asked no one in particular. She hadn’t expected the camp prefect to offer one. In fact, this was the first time she had ever seen him. But Abi knew he was the camp prefect simply by the way he presented himself. She took the proffered cigarette and allowed the

prefect to light it for her with a match. Then she stuck it between her lips. As she smoked, she tried to wipe the blood from her neck. Abi was not even sure if it was her blood or not. “Finish her,” the prefect said softly, almost a whisper. The cigarette almost fell from her mouth. Abi peered up at the black-haired man and shook her head slowly. “Sorry,” she said, “I don’t take orders from people who think this is a video game.” “Finish her,” repeated the prefect, “or you both die.” Without hesitation, Abi took the cigarette out of her mouth, stood up, and put it out on his large forehead. “How about you fucking die!” As the prefect cried out in pain and grabbed at his face, Abi took a step back, lifted her bare foot, and kicked the prefect square in the chest. His feet left the floor for a couple seconds as he fell backwards and onto his back. Catherine stepped up behind Abi as the captain of the guard pointed his tazer at her. “Stand down!” the captain commanded. “Fuck you!” Abi shouted. She launched herself at the captain, who simply pulled the trigger. Abi was electrocuted into unconsciousness. But the battered Catherine was upon him. She disarmed him and swept him off his feet, and then shoved another guard over a table. She was about to try to tazer someone else but was taken down by half a dozen clubs.

Erik and Scott were sitting in a stolen grey ’77 Buick LeSabre a couple miles down the street from Raven Rock Mountain in southern Pennsylvania. The Raven Rock Mountain Complex, or as the military calls it, Site R, was the likely location where Abigail Begich had been taken, Scott and Erik assumed. In the passenger seat, Scott offered his

friend a small bag of potato chips. Erik lowered his binoculars and waved the chips away before returning to his reconnaissance. In order to avoid suspicion, the duo had parked in the lot of a civilian workplace that had recently been turned into a small diner for government workers and politicians. There weren’t many vehicles in the parking lot, and the old Buick didn’t fit with the few luxury foreign automobiles that inhabited was predominate in the area, but the men were less concerned with remaining off the radar than with acquiring accurate data regarding the location and condition of their friend. “I’m thinkin’,” Scott mumbled as Erik surveyed the dense forest and dry road around them, “that we’re gonna need more than a couple grenade launchers and AK-47’s to get into an underground military base, dude.” Erik lowered the binoculars and squinted, rubbing his eyes. “Yeah.” He turned to Scott. “But we gotta do something, man, and soon. The longer we wait, the less of chance there is of us finding Abi alive, you know what I mean?” “Yeah,” Scott said with a sigh. “But look, we’ve been sittin’ here for an hour. We should go before someone notices us. I’m sure someone already has, but hopefully they haven’t thought anything of it.” “Ah shit,” Erik said, gesturing ahead of them with a nod of his head. “Looks like they did.” A man in a black suit and die was walking toward them. He didn’t look especially threatening. He had buzzed dark hair and a fat face, but looked like he used to be fit before he let the job of Federal agent get him out of shape. He smiled thinly at Erik when he noticed him and came around to the left rear door. Erik and Scott watched as he opened the door and sat down in the back seat. He chuckled at the assault rifle lying on the floorboards.

“Hey guys,” he said cheerfully. “I’m with the U.S. government, as I’m sure you’ve figured out. You can call me Agent Orange. Haha, get it? I love it. Anyway, I’ve been ordered to come down here and have a chat with you. Ya see, we know you’re planning something and we want to discourage you.” Scott was the first to respond: “I don’t know what in the world you’re talking about, sir. We’re just here to enjoy the view and possibly get something to eat from this diner.” “Really?” Agent Orange said with an over-expression of bemusement. “Well, then I guess I came all the way out here for nothin’ then, huh? Wow, ya know, this job can really…” He shook his head, feigning exhaustion. “It can get to you.” “Looks like it did get to you,” Scott commented, casting a momentary look to the agent’s slightly oversized belly. “But we’re really just here for the bagels.” Rage boiled within Erik as he glowered at Agent Orange through the rearview mirror. It was the agent’s next statement that caused Erik to flip. The agent said, “Well, let’s just cut to the chase; you know, cut through all this bullshit. We’ve got your girl and it seems she’s a woman of faith. Women of faith, or anyone of faith for that matter, get their heads chopped off. That’s right, the camp we’ve got her in has, I believe, six guillotines. Anyway, so I’ll make you a deal: you leave here right now and I won’t call you in as a couple of gay Christian extremists looking to exact vengeance for the detainment of your beloved friend Abigail. Huh? What do you say? Deal? Or decapitation?” Erik flipped open his pocket knife, twisted around in the driver’s seat, and stabbed Agent Orange in the shoulder. This shocked even Scott. Erik plunged the blade in deeper when the man tried to remove the knife. Agent Orange cringed in pain, barely able to listen to Erik as he gave his ultimatum.

“You’ve made a very grave mistake, mister,” Erik snarled viciously. “You took our friend, and I will do anything to rescue her from your sick, depraved Satanic little disease-ridden government.” Pushing the stabbing and burning anguish aside, Agent Orange exclaimed with shock, “I’m a Federal agent!” Scott suggested to Erik, “Dude, shove him out the car so we can get outta here. We can come back later.” Erik removed the knife and turned back to face the front. Agent Orange caressed and held his wound with quivering hands. He stared frightfully at the back of Erik’s head before gathering his courage. He said, “If you come back here, you won’t make it to the guillotine.” Erik spun around and battered the agent across the skull with the butt of his pistol. Then he opened the door and got out of the sedan. He went to the back door and opened it. A couple of people had exited the diner and were watching and pointing. Scott sighed and tried to hide his face casually. Erik pulled the nearly unconscious form of the Federal agent out of the LeSabre and let him fall onto the parking lot cement. Then he got back into the driver’s seat and started the engine. Scott looked over at him. “Are you happy now, man?” Erik drove the car out of the parking lot. “Sorta. We’ll come back tomorrow night.”


Having seen the action from a distance separated mostly by forest, Daren smirked as he stood on the bank of a small pond. He turned and skipped a stone across the water before pulling from his black leather jacket a pair of shades. After putting them on, Daren made his way through the dense wood toward the fallen agent. He emerged from the shaded wood with a wicked smile as he watched several onlookers try to help the begrudging Federal agent to his feet. Agent Orange pushed the civilians away and flashed a badge on the inside of his suit jacket.

“I’m fine!” he informed them heatedly. “Fuck off!” As the agent examined his shoulder wound, Daren made his presence known by kicking some pebbles onto the parking lot. When Agent Orange turned around, Daren was hoping a small divider. Moving toward the agent, Daren said, “Don’t look like you fared well in that one, mate.” “Who in the fuck are you?” asked Agent Orange as he glanced around. “Where did you come from?” Daren pulled a cellphone from his leather pants pocket and tossed it up in front of him as he walked toward the man. He caught the phone and waved it in front of him. “I just got off the phone with Ponzi.” Fear vaguely spread across Agent Orange’s face, but he quickly regained his composer, save for his injury. “And?” Daren sighed. “And he had no knowledge of Abigail Begich’s arrest. Is there something we aren’t sharing?” He shook his head with mock disappointment. “Not sharing…bad boy. That’ll get ya time out.” Orange said, “Look, buddy. I don’t know who in the hell you think you are, but I’m a Special Agent for the FBI. I get my orders directly from the Director of the FBI, not some in-between desk jockey.” Daren pocketed his phone. “That in-between desk jockey just gave me my first job.” He stopped walking when he got a few feet away from the agent. “I personally don’t give a shite what you do or don’t do, what you do or don’t tell Ponzi. All I care about is completing my mission, yeah? So here’s what’s gonna happen: when Abigail Begich escapes this camp of yours, and she will, you will not pursue her. You will keep your agents and the local police well away from the bitch. And then I will kill her and those two pricks she calls mates. Right?”

Agent Orange forced a laugh through the throbbing pain in his shoulder. “Yeah? Well, I’ve got a better idea.” He drew his black Doublestar Combat 1911 handgun from a holster on his right hip, which was difficult due to his shoulder wound. Even before the agent had finished his grunting remark, Daren was moving toward him. Agent Orange was uttering, “How about I kill you and bury you in the woods?” Daren caught his rival’s wrist, pushed the gun up and away, and pushed his thumb through the blood-soaked hole in Orange’s shoulder. With one swift and powerful movement, Daren forced the agent onto his knees and disarmed him. Daren stared at Orange lazily before kicking him onto his back and shooting him in the knee. Agent Orange screamed and writhed on the pavement. When he looked up and around through his shades, Daren noticed that there was nobody around. He figured they must have gotten scared and buggered off. Daren looked down at the gun in his hand and nodded with approval. “Nice,” he muttered. To Orange, Daren said, “I know it’s gonna be hard for you to understand me right now, what with all the angst and blood loss, but you should…” Daren went over and put his boot on the man’s destroyed knee. “You should probably fuckin’ listen…” Agent Orange seethed in pain and anger as he glowered up at Daren, who just grinned and nodded. Daren said, “I know you don’t know who I am yet, but I feel like one day you will, and you’ll curse your soul for crossing me.” Daren scratched his jowl and took another look around before continuing, “But you need to go back to your superiors and tell them that Abigail’s mine. Once she’s gone, you can do what you like. But I’ve been paid half in advance for a job I intend to finish…so I can get the rest. Do ye bloody hear me, ya god damn idiot?” Orange nodded rapidly. “Yes, yes.” Drool ran down his chin.

Daren turned and began to walk away. As he did so, he sighed, “Bloody amazing.” Then he stuffed the 1911 into his waistband behind him and disappeared into the woods.

November 29th, 2011 Baal’zebul, Raphan, and Molech returned to physical form in upstate New York, having barely made it across the wet border of Canada and America with their spirits intact. They knew that the archangels had only ceased their pursuit of them in order to help rescue their comrade from Tartarus. Both Baal’zebul and Prince Uriel were equal princes over the Abyss known as Tartarus, but Uriel alone had the authority to remove from it any soul he wished. Besides this, Baal’zebul was not much for going into a dimension of Gehenna, more commonly known as Hell. The Nephilim stumbled and ambled through a dry cold forest, bracing themselves occasionally against trees. They were almost through the woods to civilization; Raphan stooped over and picked up a heavy tree limb that had fallen from one of the surrounding trees. Baal’zebul turned to say something and Raphan whacked him across the temple. The tree limb, which was rotted halfway through, crunched in two over the solid angel’s skull. “What is the meaning of this?” bellowed Baal’zebul, drawing his sword in order to defend himself. “You,” accused Raphan, “have jeopardized everything we have waited so long to bring about, Lord of Flies.” He chucked the severed limb onto the ground and breathed heavily. “All for what? Tell me, King of the Demons, Master of Darkness. Tell us both, brother, for you have surely put targets on our backs.” Baal’zebul scoffed, “I do not need to answer to you, Lord Raphan. Your reign extended over Egypt, parts of Babylon, and you were a god of the Canaanites, along with Molech here! This is not your business, is it?” Raphan drew his sword. “My armor is heavy, brother! But my sword is heavier! Give me a reason for your betrayal or my sword will be made heavier by your blood!”

“Was it not the Messiah himself who attested to the division of my house being the cause of our downfall, brother? I fully admit to my lusts and desires, to my flaws and my dark and selfish impulses! You are not without blemish, Raphan.” Raphan sighed and sheathed his blade. “You have made a fool of us, Baal’zebul. You have brought Marduk to his death and you have given the archangels reason to be angry with us.” “Marduk will rise again, brother,” Baal’zebul assured him. “Of this we are all certain. And with him will come armies upon armies of darkness. This prophecy is soon to be reckoned. Do you doubt it? Do you doubt our power and our will?” “I do not doubt our power, or our will,” answered the blond angel. “I also do not doubt the power or will of the Almighty Father.” “We were prevented from arriving sooner,” Molech grumbled, “by a Legion of guardians, Baal’zebul. Six and one thousand angels fought us with the authority granted to them by the Begotten One. This before now was not so. It is true that the rules of have changed, but have they changed in our favor?” Baal’zebul put his sword away. “You must take heed, brothers. Our fates are sealed. We are doomed to eternal darkness and agony in the fire. Yet we will not go alone. We will take with us the multitude of the peoples. We will deceive the world into believing the most basic lies, which our great prince first told Eve, and has been spreading throughout the world ever since. We will take from our Creator his progeny, both in life and death. We will destroy the Elect, both spirit and body. Or we will die trying.” Raphan asked, “When is the appointed time for the release of the remainder of the Titans and Nephilim?” “Soon,” said Baal’zebul. “When the lawmakers of this nation make it lawful for monsters to be born of women, you shall know that all of the nightmarish devils and wicked lords of war have been loosed upon the Earth.”

When Abigail’s package arrived, she was expecting something she could weaponize: a nail file, a nail, a crowbar. What she actually got was a book. At first she was angry at Jeremiah, but after she randomly opened it to Acts 12:6, she understood, and smiled at the Scripture from the relative comfort of her cell. She placed the Bible under her cot, which the camp prefect had finally afforded her, before getting up to the sound of an alarm. It was Outside Time, which was, again – like the comfort of her room – a relative term. Because outside of the prison complex was an underground city beneath a mountain called Raven Rock. Light was produced only in patches by various electrically powered lanterns, lamps, and solar panels. Abi and the other inmates were unaware how they were powered, but Abi assumed the underground FEMA camp, in addition to the military-run city around it, had some sort of large generator. There was no vegetation. There was no color, only subdued hues such as black, brown, and grey. There was no noise, except for the occasional bark of military orders or a group of camp detainees getting riled up over a game of basketball or football. There was no freedom, for everyone in the underground city was either employed by the Federal government or under the Feds’ boot. On the rock ground outside of the prison building, Abi went straight for the electrified chain link fence to watch the blacksmith work across the brick street. She had no idea why he was forging medieval weaponry, but she really, really wanted to find out. She also really, really wanted one of his weapons. There was something unique about them. Each weapon he created from molten steel was different, but always bore his mark on the blade near the handle or hilt. He made everything from knives to swords to huge battle axes. It was on this day she had the audacity to speak to him. Abi yelled across the street, “Hey, sir! Who are those swords and shit for?”

The opulent Arabic man turned and pulled at his black beard. After a moment, he answered, “None of your business, little girl. Stay away from that fence before you get hurt.” “I was just askin’, shit,” Abi mumbled. A few meters behind her, a soldier shouted for her to come watch the basketball game. She groaned but complied. As she strolled for the bleachers that bordered the length of the roughly patched cement court, Abi gazed up at where the sky would have been if they were above ground. She frowned at the blackness, illuminated slightly only by a few nearby panels of light. She sat next to Catherine. “I think a rescue is about to happen,” Abi told her quietly. Catherine cast a brief look of cynicism in Abi’s direction. “Yeah? Tell ‘em to bring my fuckin’ Civil Twilight CD.” “Would you stop being so negative?” “I was created solely to kill, namely you.” “Good point,” Abi conceded. “But still, you have free will. You can leave here with me.” Catherine sighed. “Why do you think there is going to be a rescue? How on Earth would anyone even know where to fuckin’ look for us? We’re under a damn mountain.” “I dunno, I just think my friends are gonna come for me. You should come with me.” “Newsflash,” said Catherine. “I don’t care who comes to rescue you; if any rescue is attempted, I’m getting outta here too.” “We may need your help.”

“Anything to get outta here.” “After,” Abi said, “I mean after we get outta here.” Catherine laughed derisively. “I think you’re overestimating my social skills. When I get outta here, I’m gone. Besides, how the fuck could I help you?” Abi glowered at Catherine angrily. “Don’t be that way. You’re my clone. You could pretend to be me. And you have insider knowledge about the people who hired you to take my place and-or kill me.” Catherine turned and snarled at Abi. “Get one thing straight: I am not your fucking friend, ok? I am not here to be your gawd damn lapdog.” “See,” Abi snickered, “you’re already doin’ my accent.” “I will kill you,” Catherine stated, turning back to the game she was not interested in, “if you keep bothering me. I am not going to help you after I escape.” “Then how are you gonna escape?” Abi asked. “Huh? Do you really fuckin’ think you can escape without my help, or my friends’ help on the outside? You need us. I’m just asking for you to return the favor.” A guttural growl resonated from the clone’s throat. “Fine. Damn it. Shit. Whatever. Just leave me alone until it happens.” Abi stood up. “Fair enough.”

2007 “So,” Elijah McDonnell said, “why are you so lonely?”

Tasha Everett breathed a shallow breath from her seat on the other side of the coffee table. The two friends were sitting across each other in a book store, each with a stack of books that neither intended to read while the other was present. The woman had long, straight blond hair. She wore no makeup and was, at the time, the only woman Elijah had ever known who was in no way vain. She was also very selfless and rational. Tasha was clothed in a dark red buttoned up blouse and black slacks. There was nothing outrageous or flamboyant about her. Tasha was one of the most humble people Elijah had ever known. She was one of his very special friends, whom he loved and wished to always protect. A few seconds had passed as Tasha thought about his question. “It’s not that I believe I require a man in my life to be happy or fulfilled. It’s just…” She paused, considering. Then she shrugged. “I dunno, really, I just am. I have friends, so I know it’s not a lack of friends. But I do want a boyfriend. I just don’t want to rush it, you know?” Elijah’s face was expressionless. “Sounds to me like you think either there is something about you guys don’t like, or you don’t have time for a boyfriend right now.” At this point in time, Elijah was a borderline empathic sociopath; he could vaguely sense other people’s emotions, but they didn’t tend to bother him. Sometimes he could block them. However, here, was trying to understand his friend’s motives for remaining single, while at the same time seeking a mate. Tasha shook her head slowly. “I don’t think so…” “Let me put it this way,” Elijah said, leaning forward and placing his elbows on the table. “You’ve never had a boyfriend and you’re in your early twenties. You’re in college and a bunch of guys like you and have asked you out. You reject them. But you’re feeling lonely. There is really only one thing that could be: fear. You’re afraid of either choosing the wrong guy or worried about your own self-image or something like that.” Elijah took a sip of his

Mountain Dew. He continued, “But you are desperately trying to find the right one. So it’s like you want a boyfriend, but you’re afraid he won’t love you or something.” Tasha nodded once. “Perhaps. I’ve had some…experiences when I was little. Nothing major. I just…don’t want to make any mistakes that would have lasting effects on my life, you know?” “Oh, I know,” Elijah said with a smile. “So why won’t you date me?” he asked Tasha, leaning back and crossing his arms, keeping up his smile. Tasha looked down at her drink. “I’m sorry, but I don’t have feelings for you like that. Besides, your issues are right out there on your sleeve.” She looked into his eyes and smiled. “And I thank you for your honesty.” Elijah snickered under his breath. “Yeah, well, with women honesty and decency hasn’t seemed to pay off. It seems my honesty is the one thing that drives them away.” “I think you try too hard,” Tasha said. “Just let it happen.” “Oh, now you’re giving me relationship advice?” He had meant it as a joke. She didn’t take it that way. Tasha stared at him blankly as he smiled until his smile faded. “I’m sorry,” he said. Tasha glanced at her watch. “I got class in half an hour.” She stood up and began collecting her things. “Tasha,” Elijah said as he stood up too. “I’m sorry,” he repeated. She gave him one of her warm, beautiful smiles. “It’s ok. You’re right. I’m good, really. But I really do have to get going.”

After a hug, Tasha left the book store in downtown Seattle, Washington. Elijah stood on the sidewalk and watched her walk to the bus stop. She turned and waved. A city bus rolled up and came to a halt. Elijah waved back and turned away…

2011 A shrill scream of terror and pain echoed through the halls of a secret hospital in Virginia. The voice belonged to one Tasha Everett. She was struggling within the bonds of her bed. The white walls around her were clean and sterile, like everything else in the room. Tasha liked cleanliness, but the pure walls made her recall memories she rather did not resurface. She continued to cry out and struggle against the straps. She noticed another woman in the room with her, but quickly decided that she did not care. She cared only about escape. Tasha watched in horror as two men entered the room holding trays of medical instruments. Her eyes widened and she tried to lean forward. “What are you—?” She noticed the large hump that had only days ago been a flat stomach. “Oh my God!” “No,” said one of the “doctors” as he raised a scalpel. “He has absolutely nothing to do with this.” Behold. The blond atheist was uncertain why the word “Behold” had entered her mind. She was not certain what exactly she was meant to behold until she remembered that there was another woman in the bed to her left. Tasha slowly lay back down on her back and began to gradually turn her head to the left, her breath sharp as panic began to overtake her. Behold and know that I am the Lord.

The woman in the bed three feet to her left was lying on her side, facing Tasha. The secularist was instantly converted as she immediately recognized Kimberly Griffin, a friend of both Tasha and Elijah McDonnell.

November 30th, 2011 “In order to prepare for the arrival of our brothers and sisters of darkness,” announced Baal’zebul to a group of humans, demons, and angels gathered before him in an undisclosed sanctuary for interdimensional entities on the east coast of the United States of America, “I must leave this country and go to Europe. Each Nephilim here will go to a separate country and do the following: form a government in Belgium, the Australian political façade known as the Labor Party must change their mind in regards to homosexual legislation, and the Prime Minister of Thailand must become ill for a brief time and be hospitalized. These things must be done by the fourth of December.” “Why?” Collins asked. “Why by the fourth?” Baal’zebul’s right eye and right wing twitched simultaneously as he glared at Collins. “You do not need to know. Do not question me again, demon.” “Yes, sir,” bowed Collins. “Asmodeus,” Baal’zebul turned to the archduke. “I have a special mission for you. I want you to go to Egypt…” Baal’zebul caught the minion’s nervous look over the prince’s shoulder. Baal’zebul turned to see Anubis in his new, darkly shrouded form, now called Anapa. Heru, his demonically possessed human slave, was standing slightly behind him. Anapa said, “I am a god of Egypt, am I not? Shall it not be I, Lord of Flies, who goes to Egypt for this undertaking?”

Baal’zebul grinned. “It shall be, my demon friend.” Anapa and Heru joined the congregation as the Nephilim prince spoke. “You shall be the one to form the new Egyptian government, which shall be dominated by our Muslim Brothers. And as yet another slight against all things of Light,” Baal’zebul said as he raised his hands in mock glorification, “the new political façade to be formed by our Muslim Brothers shall be called The Freedom and Justice Party!” Everyone laughed and applauded their leader’s genius and wit. “One more thing,” the prince of demons said to the throng as they became hushed, “I need someone to keep the public distracted, so I am accepting volunteers to go and make Tiger Woods win a tournament. He has not won anything in over two years and it’s pathetic.” *** When Darkwater operatives escorted Erik and Scott into the Raven Rock prison compound, Abi swiftly brought the palm of her hand up to her face. She was eating her last meal of the day in the cafeteria. Catherine was seated across from her. When Catherine saw the men and then Abi’s face-palm, she burst out laughing. “Ok, so now we go with one of my escape plans, right?” Catherine said, unable to fully bridle her amusement. Abi balled her fists under the table. “Shut up,” she seethed. Scott and Erik were nonchalant as they sat on either side of Abi. Erik smiled with a busted lip. “Hey, babe.” Abi scowled at him, grinding her jaw in anger and disappointment. “You idiots,” she growled. “What happened?”

On Abi’s right, Scott said, “They just picked us up. We were holed up in a cheap hotel and when we woke up, we were being shipped here in a van. Erik here tried to be a heroic moron and got his face wailed on.” Erik shrugged and gestured dismissively to his wounded mouth. “Pfft, this ain’t nothin’. You should see the other guy.” Scott leaned close to Abi and told her, “The other guy was an eight-foot-giant with six fingers and fangs the size of knives. He busted his own lip when we were removed from the van and he threw a punch and slipped in a puddle. Then the giant mother fucker started hitting him about the face and…” He indicated his torso with his hands. “…this area.” Abi and Catherine both laughed. Catherine told Erik, “You romantic idiot.” Abi’s smile turned into a scowl. Erik looked away in shame. Scott just stared at Abi. “What?” Catherine said, “It’s obvious the dude is in love with you.” Later that night, before Lights Out, Abi went to Scott and Erik’s shared cell and told Scott to leave. He did and Erik sat uncomfortably on his bottom bunk, keeping his eyes down. Abi sat next to him. “I’m sorry, Erik,” she said. He looked at her. “For what?” Abi said, “I always suspected you liked me but…I just never felt that way about you. To be honest, I could barely tolerate you most of the time.”

Erik chuckled nervously, keeping up his tough-guy image. “It’s alright, Abi. I mean, I can live with it. I’m good.” He gave her a slight smile. “Really, it’s all good.” Abi looked him in the eyes and nodded slowly. “Alright.” She stood up, ready to leave. “What’s gonna happen to us, Abi?” asked Erik. “I don’t wanna die…not like this.” “I don’t know, man. But I know we’re gonna get outta here, ok? Tomorrow I want you to see something.” After Abi left, Scott returned and asked Erik what that was about. Erik just told him not to worry about it. The next morning, the lights came on at 6 AM sharp. The prisoners gathered outside their cells. Today, Abi was moved from Solitary to General Population. She would be put in Catherine’s cell. They both promised the prefect that they’d behave themselves and not kill each other. Later that morning, after breakfast, Abi took Catherine, Erik, and Scott to the camp’s library, which was in one of the two large wings of the building. The group sat down at one of the tables and Abi opened her Bible. “Who among you,” she asked her friends, “has any doubt that God exists?” Nobody said anything. Abi nodded with approval and glanced down at the pages in front of her before looking at each one of her fellow inmates. She said, “The only way to come out of this with our souls is to give ourselves to Christ. I have been putting it off for…a very long time. I have my reasons, my excuses, but none of them are really good enough. The four of us no longer have any excuse to not believe. We have seen demons…” “Been possessed by them,” Catherine interjected shamefully. Abi continued with an understanding smile. “We have seen angels, and every time we get close to any truth the government’s boot comes down on us. We are alive only for the grace of God. I have chosen to give myself to Christ,

and I vow to do all I can to fight the devil and his evil plans for this country, and this world.” She looked around at the others, waiting expectantly. Erik spoke up first. “I wasn’t much for religion. Didn’t really think it affected me. But now I see…no matter what I do, I’m brought back to this: sitting around a table with people talking about the Bible. This is about the dozenth time it’s happened in two years. So I’m ready. Besides, it pisses off the badguys and I never get sick of doing that.” Scott pointed at Erik and remarked, “He stabbed a Federal agent.” “I’m in,” said Catherine. “My DNA was modified when I was ‘created’ to be the permanent habitat for demons. And I don’t like losing my freedom, to the government or to Satan. I’ll fight; I’ll fight to the end. And I choose to ally myself with Christ, who’s gonna win anyway.” Abi was listening to Catherine speak, but still intrigued by Erik’s stabbing of a Federal agent. She shook her head and looked at Scott. He slouched in his chair. Scott was the least spiritual of the group. His mother and father had been stanch Catholics, a cult that could make any rational person go mad. He never saw the logic or the reason behind any of his parents’ beliefs, and chose to relegate himself to the secular system. He even agreed, mostly, with Abigail’s Nazi ideology and her reverence for the State. Even then, as he sat there in a prison under a mountain after being apprehended by a demonic giant, he denied the existence of anything beyond the physical realm. “I’m sorry, but…” He paused and shrugged. “I don’t think I can. I mean, I understand…why you guys are doing it. But for me, there’s no reason to. I still don’t believe God exists and I still think…I dunno, I’m sorry, I just can’t claim to be a Christian when I don’t believe it. I’m sorry.” Abi sighed. “You were there several times when I blacked out and went into my dark Phoenix mode, attacking people and shit. You were at some of the Satanic rituals, Scott. You introduced me to Alex.”

Again he shrugged. “Doesn’t mean I believe in all that stuff.” When he saw Abi’s hurt expression, he tried to explain. “I mean, I think there is something mentally wrong with you, and I don’t mean that in a bad way. It’s in your head, this Phoenix thing. It’s just multiple personalities or something. It’s not a spiritual thing.” “I used to think that too,” said Abi. “But I’ve seen and been through shit…you would not even believe.” “Well, I haven’t seen or been through it, so no, I won’t believe it.” “So I’m a liar?” Abi asked rhetorically. She closed the Bible as she became more hurt. “No, I think you believe what you’re saying. I just don’t think demons and angels have anything to do with it. You have a disorder, Abi.” He looked pointedly at her. “That’s all it is. The rage is just…a mental disorder.” Erik and Catherine exchanged worried glances. This was the first time either one of them had seen Abi like this. She was not angry, just extremely hurt, to the point of tears. She was holding it together though, keeping her reddened eyes locked on Scott’s, without blinking. Erik felt like he wanted to hit Scott, but didn’t. “I’m sorry, Abi,” Scott said, crossing his arms over his chest and keeping his gaze averted. “I really am.” Abi was silent for a moment. She looked around the table and then her eyes fell upon the book in front of her. She picked it up and held it between her and Scott. “What about this?” she asked. “Jeremiah said this was a gift. Were you not involved with this?” Erik and Scott looked at her suddenly, both confused. “Question,” said Erik. “Please do not hit me. But who is Jeremiah?” It took five whole minutes for them to realize that Scott and Erik did not send Jeremiah to the prison with a message for Abi.

“Maybe he was an angel,” Scott jeered. At first Abi thought he was being serious and she actually considered this possibility. Then when she saw the slight smirk on his face, she nearly bolted to her feet and smacked him across the table. But she didn’t. “Leave,” she instructed him. “You no longer have a place here.” This angered Scott. He leaned forward, pointing and motioning emphatically as he said, “Don’t you dare take that tone with me, Abigail. I came here, I fought, I nearly died…all for you, for your stupid vendetta against Big Brother. I shot people and watched this man stab one guy, all for you. So don’t you dare tell me I don’t have a place here, in this damn concentration camp. I would not even be here if it weren’t for your ass! And you fucking know it, bitch!” It was at this point, having heard the name Scott used, Erik did hit him. He stood up and began whacking him in the side of the head with his large fists. Scott fell out of his seat and Erik nearly fell on top of him. Two guards hurried over and pulled them off the floor and kept them apart. “Who started it?” asked a big black man with a deep haunting voice. The other guard said, “Doesn’t matter. We’ll throw them both into the Hole, Nebuz.” The big guard called Nebuz smirked. “Yeah, that sounds like a plan.” Catherine looked to Abi, wondering if she was going to try to intervene. But Abi didn’t. She just sat there staring at the table in front of her, as if she were mesmerized. Little did they know, she was being shown a vision. After Scott and Erik were hauled off, Abi leaned forward, and Catherine, on the other side of the table did so as well. Abi whispered, “Erik is going to betray us.” Catherine’s eyes went wide. “Lover boy? Why?”

“Because he loves me. Look, when I tell you to, you need to stop him, and you need to make sure he stays when we break out, alright?” “You want Erik to stay here? Why? I’m confused, what the fuck is he gonna do that’s so bad?” Abi said, “He’s going to try to make a deal with the prefect to get me released, but the deal is to keep you, him, and Scott. But God doesn’t want that. He wants Scott out of here and Erik to stay.” “How in the hell do you know that?” Catherine asked in a strained, hushed tone. “I had a vision,” said Abi quickly. “Just trust me, ok?” Catherine asked, “When is he supposed to go Judas on us?” “I’m not sure, but it’s when an important visitor comes. That’s when he goes to the visitor and the prefect and tries to make the deal. So when I tell you, you gotta stop him. Knock him out or something.” “Me?” Catherine groaned, “Why me? He’s your fuckin’ friend.” Abi whispered, “I’ll be busy, preparing for the escape…with Scott. Just listen to me, ok?” “Fine,” said Catherine. “You know if I die, I become a demon right?” “Yeah.” “If you fuck me over, or get me killed or whatever, I’m coming back to haunt your ass.” Abi wiped her tear-stricken face and smiled weakly. She extended her hand over the table. Abi said, “I won’t…” When Catherine shook Abi’s hand, Abi got another vision. “What was that?” Catherine asked, suspicious, as she lowered her hand.

Abi lied, “Nothing, sorry. Just…nothing.” Catherine narrowed her eyes at her mirror image and nodded slowly. She knew she was lying but didn’t press the issue. When she suggested that they study before their hour was up, Abi gladly agreed and reopened the Bible.

*** December 5th, 2011 More demons and angels had been gathered together in another secret underground locale in Belgium. Among them were humans, nearly all of which were possessed or influenced by dark spirits. The two dozen Nephilim, demon princes, and politicians sat around a large oval table in a darkened room without windows. Only torches of fire cast slight illumination. Eerie shadows flickered along the walls, but most of those shadows were spirits known as Shadow Demons. At the head of this table, of course, was Lord Baal’zebul. “We have made remarkable progress,” proclaimed the black-haired angel, his black wings opening and closing behind him. “However, our time table is very precarious. If we do not have riots in Moscow, the Greeks under austerity, and a homosexual socialist as the leader of this country by tomorrow, our plans will be set back.” Several seats down the table, an ugly fat man with a mustache in his mid-fifties cleared his throat and fixed his glasses anxiously. This was the first time he had ever had the opportunity to speak with one of the rulers of the planet. He stood up to honor the fallen angel. “Lord Baal,” stammered the Belgian politician.

“Baal’zebul, you imbecile,” the worldly lord growled. The politician lowered his gaze. “Uh, yes, sir. My apologies, my Lord. Lord Baal’zebul, we have ended our negotiations after a very long period, a record-setting 541 days, and we have sworn in - um, I mean will swear in - as Prime Minster, Elio di Rupo. He is, my Lord, an openly homosexual socialist.” “Excellent,” said the snarky angel. As the Belgian sat down, Baal’zebul turned to a Greek. “And what of the austerity measures? Will they be approved?” “Even if the every Greek man, woman, and child rises up to hurl eggs at Parliament,” stated former Prime Minister George Pompandreou, “the austerity budget will prevail, my Lord.” Baal’zebul grinned toothily. “Good. By February there shall be full-scale riots and much death and mayhem.” Rod, an ancient Russian pagan “god”, informed his prince, “The Russian election results will ensure much chaos and violence, Lord Baal’zebul.” The fallen angel known as Rod also had black wings, though spotted with grey and brown. He wore a tan cloak and had a dark beard. Baal’zebul clapped and stood up. He was excited and pleased with how well his plans seemed to be progressing. “Excellent,” Baal’zebul commented. “Everyone here is doing their part to ensure the total domination of God’s image.” Asmodeus reminded him, “The release of the remaining Titans, my Lord?” “Ah yes,” Baal’zebul said, continuing to stand. “As most of you know, we will release the rest of the Titans and demons on the first of the coming year. The demons will inhabit bodies made for them and the Titans will come forth with great wrath, and destruction will be their path. The angels, my brethren – not the Celestials,” he reassured Rod and

the others, “but our fallen brethren – those who accompany the demons and Titans will lead them and bring them to the Elect all over the world. Spirits will cause the Elect to stumble and become ill. Giants will crush others underfoot. False messiahs will take form and lead the world astray, and if it be possible, even the Elect would believe them.” The towering Anapa, who English-speaking humans called Anubis, stood, sickle in hand. He looked like Death, with his pale white face and flowing black cloak. “Lord Baal’zebul, what is being done concerning the one inhabited by the Phoenix?” “She is no longer a problem,” claimed Baal’zebul. “She is in a prison under the Earth. If she escapes, there is an elite assassin ready to murder her as soon as she does.” ***

The leaders of the intelligence and security agencies of America also gathered that day in Quantico, Virginia. Calvin Ponzi was late. He parked his off-green Prius in the only available parking space at the curb before quickly walking up the path toward the Quantico Joint Task Anti-Terrorism Planning Committee building. It was cold and he did not want to spend too much time outside, so he rushed, hands stuffed deep into his tan trench coat pockets. He came to the entrance and scanned his badge. The glass door unlocked and he pulled it open and hurried inside out of the cold, just as the sun was going down. He nodded to the guard behind the counter. “Nippy out today,” he said with a shiver. The brown-shirted guard said, “Yeah, I’m glad I sit here in the heat all day, Cal.” The two shared a laugh and Calvin Ponzi continued down the hall. He came to a door on the left and pushed it open. The conference was already in progress. Everyone was seated around a curved, semi-circular table. At the front of the room was a projector screen. Some convoluted chart was being projected onto it. As he stepped inside, everyone

turned to look at the inter-agency liaison. It was a peculiar thing for the one man who directs every agency to be late to his own meeting. Ponzi smiled meekly and nodded to the man who had taken over the meeting ten minutes ago. George Orson nodded back and lowered his laser pointer before moving for a seat himself. Ponzi took over. “My apologies for being late,” Ponzi said as he took the proffered laser pointer from Orson. “Uh, I had to pick up my daughter from school. Her mother’s sick.” Everyone looked at him as if they did not care. He knew they didn’t. He cleared his throat, his eyes roaming the room to take in the two dozen faces of intimidating individuals. He recognized the FBI Director, which he had a beef with and needed to speak with later off the record. He recognized the CIA Director, the NSA Director, one of the TSA administrators, and several others. Ponzi turned and looked at the chart behind him. Then he began his briefing… Twenty minutes later, as everyone was filing out of the office, Ponzi went to Orson. “You’re a big player here,” he said. Orson stared at him for a moment. “What are you getting at, Cal?” The elderly man placed his hands on his waist, eyeing Ponzi suspiciously. Ponzi indicated the FBI, NSA, and CIA directors with his head as they were leaving. “I think they’re doing something behind my back. And you know I have the backing of the Executive Branch. Abigail Begich is supposed to be dead and these guys had her thrown into prison.” Orson sighed. He placed a friendly hand on top of Ponzi’s shoulder. “I’m sorry, brother. But this isn’t my business anymore. I’m going to be meeting with the think-tank tomorrow. I don’t know what they want, but it’s something bigger than Miss Begich. Look, if you have a problem with the agencies, go to the President, or the VP.”

“The President has no power. He won’t do anything. And go to the VP about the CIA and FBI? Even if the VP wanted to do something about it, the CIA would probably just have me offed. They don’t like outsiders comin’ in and taking over.” “You used to be CIA,” Orson reminded him. “For a like a minute,” said Ponzi. “Besides, what if they still have plans for this girl?” Orson crossed his arms and cocked his head to the side. “But the VP told you to get rid of her?” Ponzi nodded. “Yeah. He told me in person. He made it clear, George, that she’s too powerful, especially now that she’s got God on her side, and he wants her gone.” “Maybe they’re protecting her but they don’t realize it,” Orson suggested with a long shrug. “Maybe there’s some paperwork foul-up.” Ponzi shook his head. “Daren called and told me he told an FBI agent in person that she was supposed to be dead. He seemed really, really pissed off because he can’t get to her and if he can’t get to her…” Orson finished along with his friend, “He doesn’t get paid.” “Exactly,” said Ponzi. “And I have a feeling that we don’t want him as an enemy.” Orson nodded. “He’s equal to Miss Begich in power and will, but less likely to take the power of Christ to defeat us.” “So what am I supposed to do with Phoenix? I mean, she’s volatile. And she’s protected, by DHS and God.” “Hmm.” Orson rubbed his chin thoughtfully. “The Nephilim have stopped targeting her. They’re working on getting their friends free from Hades. Here’s what I think…” The old man took a step closer to Ponzi and lowered his

voice. “Get that infamous asshole Daren and wipe his memory. Keep him though, ‘cause you’ll probably need him in the future. Then just forget about her. Forget about Abigail Begich.” “Are you insane?” Ponzi blurted. “Once she escapes, she’s gonna come after all of us. She’s gonna kill us all.” “I doubt it,” said Orson. “She may kill you, but not all of us. Look, man, stop being paranoid. You’re wellprotected and if she does come after us, the drones can take care of her.” This seemed to satisfy Ponzi. After the two friends exchanged farewells, they parted ways, with Ponzi heading out to his Prius. He found Daren leaning against it. “Your car is shit,” said Daren, arms folded over his chest. “Why do you drive this thing?” Ponzi waved Daren off his car and unlocked the driver’s door. “It’s economical.” Daren scoffed, “Ye’re a bloody imbecile, mate. Anyway, I want me money. And I’m not goin’ anywhere in this thing. I don’t even really consider it a car.” “I can’t give you your money until you complete the operation, Daren,” said Ponzi as he opened the door and got into the Prius. But he didn’t get his left leg into the vehicle entirely before Daren slammed the door shut on him. Ponzi cried out, mostly out of shock. He tried to push the door open, but Daren was three times stronger than Ponzi. “Cal,” Daren said, glancing around at the nearly vacant road. “If ye don’t give me my fuckin’ money, I’m gonna fuckin’ kill ya.” Ponzi peered up through the partially open door, his eyes wrought with fear. “Fine. Get in,” he whimpered.

“I already told ya, mother fucker,” said Daren, releasing the door from his strength, “I’m not going anywhere in this thing. I’ll be tailin’ ya.” Ponzi watched Daren walk away. He locked his door and started the car. When Daren was walking past a black SUV, Ponzi knocked the Prius into Reverse and backed out of the parking spot. Then he slammed the transmission into Drive and stomped on the gas. Daren heard the high-revving hum of the hybrid engine and spun around to see Ponzi buzzing away at what he supposed was the top speed for the lame vehicle. He grinned. “I was hoping ye’d do that,” he muttered. Daren walked past the SUV and got into the automobile that was to the right of it. A second later, the powerful V8 motor rumbled to life. A flat black 1970 Mercury Cougar Eliminator swung out backwards onto the street. Ponzi’s red, worrisome eyes cast a glance up to his rearview mirror to see a mean-looking muscle car’s tires burn rubber as it lurched toward him. Smoke billowed behind the Cougar, giving it an even more sinister appearance. Ponzi tried to keep his eyes on the road ahead of him as he drove west on Potomac Avenue. Seconds later, he looked in his rearview mirror again, and the Eliminator was already upon him. The rear tires of the Mercury were still burning out by the time Daren caught up to him. So in order to hopefully lose the tail, Ponzi took a sharp left onto Broadway Street. This put a little bit of space between the hybrid and the purebred race car, but not much. Daren braked hard and the muscle car fishtailed as she drifted onto Broadway, nearly clipping the front-end of a honking Taxi. But Daren righted the Cougar Eliminator well and continued his pursuit. Once again, within seconds, he was upon the much slower Prius. He could almost smell the fear that Ponzi exuded. “Come on!” Daren yowled, “Put up more of a fight! I’m gettin’ bored!”

Ponzi turned the Prius left and rolled across the street and between two parked cars, entering a parking lot. Daren knew he wouldn’t make it between the two parked cars, so he waited until there was more room and followed the Toyota off the road. The Prius hummed over a small patch of grass and onto some more asphalt, which happened to be where a few vans were parked. He took a sharp right turn just as Daren’s Cougar also sped onto the lot. The Cougar’s tires squeaked as Daren twisted the wheel to the right, causing the car to bounce and slide in the rough direction of Ponzi. “Yes, I’m being chased,” Ponzi said over his cellphone to Quantico police as he pulled back onto the road, “by a crazy person in a black…something. I don’t know what kind of car it is. It looks old…I don’t fucking know! I’m not a car guy! I drive a Prius for Christ’s sake! All I know is its fast and scary!” He dropped the phone when the Mercury bumped him from behind. The man barely had enough time to hit his brakes to attempt to avoid colliding with a wide-load Army truck that was emerging onto the blacktop. Ponzi’s Prius skidded to the right onto the narrow street that the truck had come from. Daren’s Cougar, however, slid and screamed down Broadway until it crashed into the left rear of the Army truck. The left front quarter of the muscle car crumpled as metal whined in resistance. But Daren was alright. He exited the car as the Army truck stopped. Ponzi saw him coming and stepped on the accelerator. Daren took off running after him, but a nearby Predator Drone shot him with a tranquilizer dart and he went tumbling forward up Martin Street. When Ponzi returned, he found Daren unconscious in the middle of the street. After showing his government ID to the Quantico police officers who had just arrived, he and the cops picked Daren up, cuffed him, and threw him in the back of a squad car. “Take him to this address,” said Ponzi as he wrote the address down on a piece of paper and handed it to the officer in charge.

As Ponzi watched Daren’s ride drive away, he smirked and thought to himself, Once we wipe your memory, Daren, you ungrateful dog, you will never again be a problem for us.


December 7th, 2011 Three new people arrived at the FEMA concentration camp beneath Raven Rock Mountain. Abigail found it odd that the Powers That Be would deem these individuals worth transporting from across the nation, or indeed world. She, Erik, and Catherine were discussing their Bible Studies in the cafeteria when the three new prisoners entered. Abi was unsure why she noticed them, but she felt like they were important in some way, before she even saw them. As they entered, she studied them. They all looked familiar. Being escorted by two guards was an evil-looking middle-aged man with gray hair. Only the roots remained their natural color of black. He wore a Jewish cap, or kippah. It was Catherine who brought forth the man’s identity. “That’s an Israeli president – Mosh Kotsav,” Catherine said. Abi nodded slowly. “I knew I’d seen him before. How do you know him?” She turned back to Catherine. The clone gave her a look that said How do you think? “I was supposed to assassinate him, or so my superiors led me to believe.” “Why is he here?” asked Abi. “Shouldn’t an ex-Israeli president be in Israel?”

Catherine quickly swallowed the food to answer, “Officially, he is. But I guess the elite want him here. Ask him.” The second man was a man Abi had never seen before, but felt like she should have. He had dark hair and looked to be in his fifties. His posture suggested he was also a politician, but obviously American. His prison uniform didn’t fit him like a three-piece suit would have. “Who’s that?” Abi asked Catherine. Erik knew this one, so he answered before Catherine had a chance. “That’s that governor of Illinois. You know, the one who was charged with corruption?” Abi chided, “I never really paid attention to American politics. They’re all corrupt. What’s his name?” “Rod,” said Erik. “Rod something. Braga-something.” Catherine said after another spoonful, “Rod Bragajevich. Strangely enough, he was Soldier Two’s target…” “What?” Abi asked, astonished. “These guys are assholes, corrupt assholes. Why would the elite want them dead?” Catherine shrugged, downing the rest of her plate. Erik tried to take her singular meat stick and she swatted his hand with her spoon. The third man was in his mid-sixties. Like the former governor of Illinois, he was Caucasian and looked out of place in a prison. He had a long face and bucked misaligned teeth. His dark hair was balding on top and graying on the temples and he had beady dark eyes. When Catherine saw this man, her mouth fell agape. “He’s not supposed to be here,” she whispered to the others.

Abi looked from the inmate to Catherine. “Who is it?” Catherine said, “Former Administrator of the FAA.” Abi and Erik were silent for a few seconds, waiting for Catherine to stop staring at the man and continue. When she didn’t, Abi cleared her throat. “His name’s Rudolph Babbett,” Catherine said. “He’s one of the elite, one of theirs. Why would they send him here?” “Why would they send any of those people here?” Erik wondered aloud. “I mean, they’re all politicians, famous people. We’re all just normal terrorists, according to our government.” “I don’t know,” said the clone, offering Erik her meat stick. “Seems a bit weird.” Erik beamed and took the fake, genetically modified meat. “Thanks.” Abi said, “We should talk to them.” The trio turned to see the three newcomers enter the line. When one of the guards swiped Mosh Kotsav’s cap off his head, he glowered at the man angrily, but thought better of it and remained silent in the meal line. Another guard began giggling and trampling the hat underfoot. Still the Jew did not budge. Once the guards realized that they were not going to get a rise out of him, they left the cafeteria feeling dejected. Catherine watched the former president’s disgrace with mild contentment. “What did he do?” Abigail asked Catherine. “Why is he here?” Catherine turned her eyes on Abi’s and stated, “Rape.”

Abi’s shock and disgust would have to wait, as she saw another familiar face among the crowd in the cafeteria line. “Hey!” she exclaimed. “That’s Jeremiah!” Before Erik or Catherine could stop her, Abi was walking toward the meal line with much purpose in her step. She pushed her way through the throng of inmates until she reached the long-haired Jeremiah. Then she took hold of the much larger man’s bicep and with the strength of a bodybuilding champion, tugged him out of line and to a vacant table in a corner. They remained standing. “What the fuck dude?” she said, glaring up at him. “Who the fuck are you? Why are you even here?” Jeremiah set down his empty plastic meal tray and locked his eyes on Abi’s. He thought for a moment about his lie - Scott and Erik had sent him - and Abi knew that was the thought going through his mind. She put her hand on her hips and waited several seconds for a response that pleased her. So Jeremiah decided to give her the truth. “Forgive me, my Lady,” he said, which through Abi off, especially as he curtsied. “But I have been sent by God the Father on behalf of Elijah McDonnell. I am your guardian angel, and I have been given permission to take human form to keep you alive. You must wait here for three and one half more weeks. Then you will be removed from this place to battle the most unclean and sinful souls of the Abyss. Should I fail to keep you alive, the entire world will fall into chaos by the end of the first month of next year. This, my Lady, is your destiny.” Abi was just staring at him, her mouth partially open, and her eyes wide. When he was done speaking, she blinked and then shrugged. “Alright. So the goop actually tastes pretty good ‘cause they put MSG in it, but the meat’s GMO and pretty much tastes like shit, which sucks ‘cause I love Slim Jims; and it looks like a Slim Jim, but really doesn’t taste like it.” Jeremiah looked confused. “Um, thank you…for that…bit of information, my Lady.”

“Please don’t call me that,” Abi said. “The name’s fuckin’ Abi and if you don’t wanna call me that, you can call me Dark Phoenix.” Jeremiah nodded. “Very well, Fuckin’abi.” Abigail stood there and stared at the angel in human form. “Is that a joke? Are you makin’ some sort of lame angel joke?” Nodding, Jeremiah smiled. “Is it humorous?” Abi snickered and nodded. “Sorta.” *** Above every mountain there is a spiritual war occurring that the human race cannot even begin to fathom. When somebody hears strange sounds in the sky, when somebody claims to have seen a UFO, when people see falling stars and meteors that appear to disappear before hitting the ground, they are witnessing, largely unwittingly, the war of angels. Above Raven Rock Mountain in Pennsylvania, the battle between good and evil had begun to overflow into the physical realm. The angels fought one another, and the fallen ones, also known as the Nephilim, led the demons - who had once been giants, monsters, and Titans – in this habitually invisible clash. The reason for the titanic conflict over Raven Rock was to save or condemn the souls of those beneath, especially Abigail Begich. The first and second heavens, the spiritual worlds on Earth and in the air respectively, were both chaotic with soul-wrenching violence. This supernatural war took the form, in the physical world, of storms, earthquakes, and other natural weather phenomenon. Unlike mankind, much of the warfare in the spiritual dimension was done by Word as opposed to action.

The archangels Prince Uriel and Prince Raphael were the leaders of the Celestial angels, while the evil archangels Baal’zebul and Molech commanded the demons and Nephilim. When a holy angel landed a blow, whether with sword or Word, the targeted enemy was driven deep into the Abyss beneath the mountain. However, if a fallen angel’s attack was successful, either by sword or magical incantation, the opposing angel would either be corrupted or cast into one of two places: the Lake of Fire in Gehenna or the Eternal Abyss of Tartarus. The spiritual flames were meant to purify the angel so that it could return to the Lord of Creation’s service. But if the spiritual wound was too deep, the angel would change his alignment to evil, and thus had to be sent to the Abyss where one would forever fall and never escape until the final stage of the war. Like most of the spiritual Earth in the first heaven, the grass and trees around the mountain were brown with decay. The mountaintop itself was void of grass altogether. The sandals and boots of the warring spirits had long since kicked free the green to reveal only dry soil. The dark and gloomy clouds in the second heaven blocked most Celestial light from reaching the first heaven on the ground. The only light afforded to the first dimension of the spirit world was the illumination of flashing swords of fire. Yet when darkness prevailed, it sought more destroying of souls, and this transpired ever so vehemently when Baal’zebul’s brother and third-in-charge over all the demons brought fifty legions of demons with him to battle the holy angels above Raven Rock Mountain. This worthless Nephilim’s name was Belial. The angel had no wings, for they had been torn from him involuntarily long ago. He wore a dark purple robe and carried a three foot long golden scepter with a ruby at the top, encircled by diamonds. Belial had a yellowish body and a black beard. He charged forward and up the mountain with his 300,000 Shadow Demons and other dark spirits. He laughed maniacally as he let out a loud battle cry, which was echoed by his older brother Baal’zebul when he saw him. The demons swarmed the angels and Belial stopped to converse with the Lord of Flies. “Greetings, Elder,” Belial said with a small scowl. “I see you have found trouble again.”

“Trouble has found me, Belial,” Baal’zebul said. “Do not lecture me on trouble, young brother. You have done more than I over the last several hundred years to make the Elect miserable, which I have thoroughly enjoyed.” Belial groaned. He didn’t particularly like Baal’zebul, and he wanted to get into the fray as soon as spiritually possible. Before leaving, he said, “You have much catching up to do, brother.” Belial roared loudly, causing the earth beneath to tremble slightly, as he stomped toward Raphael. The archangel deflected Belial’s attack and punched him in the side of the head. “Be elsewhere, one without worth!” declared the Celestial angel. “Your presence here is an utter disgrace and brings disgust to the Almighty God!” Belial blocked Raphael’s sword strike with his scepter and then kicked him in the stomach. “If this I did not know, I would be but a fool! Ha!” The fallen angel’s horizontal attack at Raphael’s head failed as the archangel ducked it and grabbed Belial by the shoulder. He hurled him across the top of the mountain to Uriel, who had just dispatched two Shadow Demons with his brightly glowing red sword. He caught Belial on the end of his sword and concurrently stomped the dirt with his right foot. Burning slowly, Belial screamed in agony and terror as Uriel swung his sword, which still held the leader of demons on the end, downward until Belial disappeared beneath the earth like a ghost. Prince Uriel yanked the flaming sword out of the ground and stamped his sandaled foot again, closing the invisible portal to Tartarus. Another angel arrived on the horizon, literally. Bright and colorful lights shone through the dismal clouds until the radiance formed into what appeared to be a human woman, but she was not mortal by any stretch of the imagination. She was a beautiful goddess of a woman with flowing, glistening brown hair that came to the small of her bare back. Her attire was a loose white robe that never seemed to exclude modesty from her humble character.

And when she danced, the demons fell to their knees and wept. All of the angels but the most hard, Baal’zebul, stopped their determinant vengeance and wondered at her as she swayed. Music from nowhere was resonating over the mountain and into the second heaven. The music was like the sound of many finely tuned stringed instruments and epic horns signaling the coming of a monarch. Her sky blue eyes never closed as she danced, though she never looked directly at anyone. Baal’zebul glowered angrily at her and his own minions. “What are you…? What are you doing! GET UP!” He tried to haul Molech to his feet, but Molech remained on one knee, his head lowered as he cried, struck by her elegance and grace. Baal’zebul tried not to watch her, for he knew exactly who and what she was. He knew that if he kept his eyes on her for more than a moment, he was entranced. He cast the woman a hate-filled glower before moving across the mountaintop toward Raphael. “Make this stop!” he shouted. Raphael looked to Baal’zebul. “You make it stop.” At this, Baal’zebul let out a fierce growl of fury as he spun around to face the gorgeous and effervescent angel. But she was a lot closer than he’d thought. He’d turned and found himself staring straight into her eyes, only three feet away. And she was no longer dancing. Baal’zebul swallowed as fear ebbed into his consciousness. When she spoke, her voice made him quiver at the knees. When she spoke, her voice was not heard, but in the back of his mind. Cease Your Resistance

Baal’zebul collapsed to his knees and cried at her uncovered feet. “Oh, holy Aurora! How I miss thee sight! How I yearn to yet again be in the comfort of your wings, which I am not even allowed to see! Your wings, which cannot be seen in the first heaven, for they would utterly blind even the strongest of angels! How I cry for my brethren! We have sinned against the Father, our Father, and you alone know my misery, for you alone are with me always. Aurora, glorious and beautiful Aurora, I beg unto you forgiveness! This tempest rages within me and I cannot seem to break free! Aurora, wonderful Queen of Heaven…” Baal’zebul looked up into Aurora’s sky blue eyes. “Destroy…my… soul.”


PHOENIX: The Rise and Wrath of Abigail Begich  
PHOENIX: The Rise and Wrath of Abigail Begich  

Abigail Begich was medically discharged from the U.S. Marine Corps for being "mentally unstable." Though she did kill two fellow Marines in...