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> The Angels Saga

> 

> Rebirth

> 

> Volume 2

> 

> A Time to Gather Stones

> 

> By

> 

> Daniel Thomas Andrew Daly

> 

> Copyright 6181 SC / 2018 CE

>

> STORIES:

>

> PART ONE – A TIME TO GATHER STONES

>

> A Time to Gather Stones

>

> Life in New Bridlington II

>

> God is Alive 4

>

> Justice 11

>

> Gabriel and Aquariel VII

>

> The Adventure 2

>

> Daniel and Meludiel 2

>

> Valandriel's Insight 2

>

> A Time to Gather Stones II

>

> God is Alive 5

>

> Screaming Negative III

>

> 

>

> PART TWO - RESTORATION

>

> The Rainbow Paladins

>

> Stuck in Civic

>

> The Rainbow Paladins 2

>

> Planetary Design

>

> Saruviel and Gloryel

>

> Samael and Xaddadaxx

>

> Raphael at Talzudiel's Place

>

> Ambriel and His Consort

>

> Xaddadaxx and the Chaos Crystal VI

>

> Life in New Bridlington III

>

> Gabriel and Aquariel VIII

>

> Rachel and Jane

>

> Delta II

>

> Business as Usual

>

> Lost in the Angelfire

>

> Matters of the Heart

>

> A Place Called Home

>

> Questions for God

>

> Questions for God II

>

> Jupiter Olympius

>

> Lucy and Enrique

>

> Board Games

>

> A New Vision of Destiny

>

> The Second Play

>

> Life Goes On Again

>

> Morning Stars Once More

>

> Jesus and Michael

>

> Jan Kolby

>

> Harvest II

>

> A Time to Gather Stones III

>

> The Third Play

>

> 

>

> PART THREE – SENSIBLE PATHWAYS

>

> Holiest Shit

>

> Zelzazon and the Death of an Ancient Evil IV

>

> A Wicked Sense of Humour 4

>

> God is Alive 6

>

> Crazy Days 3

>

> Kelly 4

>

> Valandriel's Insight 3

>

> A Time to Gather Stones IV

>

> 

>

> PART ONE

>

> A TIME TO GATHER STONES

>

> 

>

> A Time to Gather Stones

>

> ‘Is this the winter of my discontent?’ Michael asked the Theophany of God.

>

> God looked at his hand in poker, and showed it to Wormdog.  ‘You’ll kick his arse,’ said Wormdog.

>

> ‘I’ll raise you 5 credits,’ said God, throwing in 5 white chips.

>

> ‘I’ve done it all, now, you know,’ said Michael, knowingly.

>

> God raised his eyebrow.

>

> ‘I’ve climbed Mt Fucking Impossible, out in the Styx, not just Mt Impossible.  I’ve wrestled crocodiles naked.  I’ve bedded 3 gnomes all at once. I’ve lived.  You name it, I’ve done it.’

>

> God looked at his cards.  ‘Make that 6 credits,’ he said, throwing in another white chip.

>

> ‘I’ve loved, been loved, and fucked someone who loved everyone except me. She still hates my guts.’

>

> ‘Shall I risk 7?’ God asked Wormdog.

>

> ‘Why not.  You only live once,’ replied Wormdog.

>

> ‘I mean, this is the winter of my discontent.  Come on God. Get with the picture.  What is left of Michael the Seraphim now?’

>

> ‘The Daly’s are making new investments in banking stocks everywhere,’ replied God.

>

> ‘Fuck Daniel!’ swore Michael.

>

> ‘Callodyn has a life-like doll of himself available for sexually adventurous people,’ said God.

>

> ‘Fuck Callodyn,’ swore Michael.

>

> ‘Old Daniel Thomas Andrew Daly has collected the testicles of King David from a certain hiding place and put them on display in the International Museum of Bizarre and Strange Artefacts in the centre ofZaphona City,’ said God.

>

> ‘He can burn,’ replied Michael, and put his head in his hands.  ‘It is the winter of my discontent old man.  I am jaded.’

>

> ‘I didn’t take you for a quitter.  20 credits,’ said God, throwing in the chips.

>

> ‘I fold,’ said Michael.

>

> ‘Ha.  Bluffed you.  A pair of 3s.’

>

> Michael just sighed.

>

> ‘Ever heard of a time to gather stones,’ said God to Michael, looking at his son.

>

> ‘What about it?’ asked Michael.

>

> ‘We don’t always play every card in the deck.  Daniel has played very few cards ever.  He mostly just gathers stones from generation to generation.  He works on it.  Comes up with a project, sticks with it till it bears fruit.  Keeps his projects going and devotes to them.  Valandriel is learning that from him.  The rest of you all?  You never give a damn.  So go off and gather stones, Archangel.  Go off and gather stones.’

>

> Michael sighed, and laid down his cards.  Three Aces.

>

> ‘Humph,’ chuckled God.  ‘No confidence.  Get off your arse and use your talents.’ And God stood, gathered his chips, and departed. Michael sat in the cafeteria of Zaphon, and looked down at his cards.  Gather stones, huh?  Gather stones.  Well, he would think about that for a while, then.  At this point what the hell else did he have to lose?

>

> The End

>

> 

>

> Life in New Bridlington II

>

> Michael was in New Bridlington, were fallen Babylon had been redeemed quite a bit now.  He was at his usual place, now with Gabriel, on the streets around the corner from a Catholic school.  It was afternoon, and the kids were drifting home, and he was handing out flyers and chatting.  Gabriel was doing the same.  He was being Superman again.  He knew he had to take initiative.  To gather stones.

>

> Daniel was suddenly there.

>

> ‘Hey Mike.  Do you want me to do that as well for you?  I can spend the rest of the afternoon doing it if you like?’

>

> Michael handed him a wad of 100 flyers.  ‘Stand there.  On the corner.  Make sure you hand out all 100 flyers.  I don’t care much if you do or don’t, but if you hand out all 100 I’ll credit you as showing some minor concern for this place.’

>

> Daniel stood there.  A kid came along rarely which Michael or Gabriel didn’t already speak to.  The afternoon passed.  It was around midnight, and Michael was at home with Elenniel just around the corner in their pad.  A knock came to the door.  It was Daniel.

>

> ‘I’ve finished.  It’s not a busy night, but eventually adults took my flyers also.  All 100 have been handed out, and I gave them instructions on how to find the Torah Temple.  Most already knew, but some weren’t sure.  I told them you would possibly be around for a while, but couldn’t guarantee things.

>

> Michael nodded.  The Seraphim stood there.  Almost expecting  something.

>

> ‘Seeya,’ said Michael, and closed the door on Daniel.

>

> The following morning Michael was having breakfast with Elenniel.  There was a knock on the door.  He answered it.  It was Daniel.

>

> ‘I think I could probably hand out about two or three hundred flyers with a full day,’ said Daniel the Seraphim.

>

> Michael walked to the bookcase, grabbed 3 wads of 100 flyers, and handed them to Daniel.

>

> ‘Good luck,’ he said, and closed the door on the Seraphim.

>

> It was about Midnight again, and Michael and Elenniel were very cosy.  There was a knock.  Michael answered it.  It was Daniel.  He looked exhausted.

>

> ‘I’ve handed them all out,’ he said.  He was dejected.  He didn’t really have much energy.

>

> ‘Good,’ said Michael, and closed the door on him.

>

> That weekend Daniel invited Michael and Elenniel to the ‘Wild Ride’ rollercoaster park nearby Michael’s place.  It was one of the biggest fairgrounds in the universe, with a ginormous rollercoaster.  Daniel paid for everything.  When the day was done, Daniel was with Michael at his place.

>

> ‘See you then, Dan,’ said Michael, and closed the door on him.  He didn’t invite him in for coffee.

>

> Michael and Elenniel, with Michael sensing enough work had been done in New Bridlington with his new project, left and returned to Zaphona.  Daniel didn’t.  He got to work copying Michael’s flyer and spent a decade, every day, except weekends, handing out flyers all over New Bridlington for Michael’s Torah Temple.  He got quite fit doing it, and met thousands of people in the time.

>

> *   *   *   *   *

>

> ‘Gathering stones?’ the Theophany asked Michael, as the played cards again.

>

> ‘It’s coming along well.  I’m the overseer of Zaphon again.  Don’t know where the Daniel fellow is.  Hasn’t reared his ugly head.’

>

> ‘No.  He hasn’t, has he,’ said God.

>

> They played cards thereafter.

>

> The End

>

> 

>

> God is Alive 4

>

> ‘Ok Mashenta.  Let’s see how bright you are,’ said Daniel proudly.  ‘What is 2 plus 2?  What, too hard for you, isn’t it?  You probably think its three or five or something gay.’

>

> ‘Fuck you.  It is four, you idiot.  Daniel, you are losing your sense of humor.  It’s pretty basic these days,’ replied Mashenta.  She picked up the remote control, and flicked on the TV.  They were at Danielphon.

>

> ‘Ok,’ said Daniel.  ‘What is 2.5 plus 3.5.

>

> ‘Five, idiot,’ she replied.

>

> Daniel laughed.

>

> ‘Uh, no.  Just a sec.  Six.  Give me a break.  I was trying to quickly.’

>

> ‘Ha, idiot,’ said Daniel, and sat down next to Auntie Brigid, watching TV.

>

> ‘We should watch the A Team special.  It’s all your small brain can compute,’ said Mashenta.

>

> ‘Somewhat true,’ stated the Theophany of God, reading the Zaphona Times Newspaper.  Michael was on the cover of the paper.  The overseer restored to his position.

>

> ‘The A Team is life and life is the A Team,’ said Daniel confidently.

>

> ‘The A Team is a big part of my life also,’ said Wolfgang, the Theophany of God.

>

> ‘God is Alive to the A Team,’ said Daniel. ‘There you go Mashy.  Take that.’

>

> ‘It generally helps with digestion and bowel movements,’ said God. ‘Watching an episode of the A Team always gives me the shits.’

>

> Daniel looked at God.  God shrugged.

>

> ‘Ha!’ said Mashenta.  ‘Ha, ha, ha.  Hargh.’

>

> ‘Shaddup,’ said Daniel.  ‘I was wrong.  God is dead.’

>

> But the laughter from Mashenta all afternoon brooked no strength in that particular comment from Daniel the Seraphim.

>

> The End

>

> 

>

> Justice 11

>

> ‘Basket weaving is a very traditional occupation,’ said Meludiel.  ‘There are many experts throughout the world who make a whole range of magnificently designed baskets.  I myself have the rights on several designs of temporary baskets, and I place my range throughout a whole host of retail stores in the inner discs of the realm.  You see, we all own a whole host of eternya based items, but, and I think it is true that it especially women at times, people like new things still, and they like to update and change with fashion, and temporary things are a permanent part of our life because of it. Things we can go shopping for, which people like to do, and peruse the offerings, and choose something nice and new.  Or at least, these days, an item we haven’t owned for a while.’

>

> Veldona nodded, but Shemrael had her hands on her chin.  She was fed up.

>

> ‘Whatever is the matter with you?’ asked Meludiel, frustrated at her sister’s casual attitude.

>

> ‘Just jaded.  Had dinner with Michael the other day, and we related perfectly.  Funny.  Seen everything now.  Wow, Meludiel.  Amazing,’ replied Shemrael.

>

> ‘There only ever was so much originality in life anyway,’ said Meludiel, returning her focus to the basket in front of her.  ‘The challenge was to accept that and work with enough originality in your life.  In the end people come to a limit of what they need practically anyway.  Go talk with Daniel the Seraphim.  Ask him for the novel he has written about you.’

>

> Shemrael looked with a curious look at Meludiel.  ‘He’s written a novel about me?’

>

> ‘All the Seraphim have a novel.  And all the Cherubim too.  It is Daniel’s idea to answer your life mysteries and challenges.  His input to get you through it all,’ replied Meludiel.

>

> ‘Fascinating,’ said Shemrael, who seemed to have suddenly cheered up, listening to the lesson more so now.

>

> ‘Now which one of you has been more good?’ asked Meludiel.  ‘They can have the basket I have made today.’

>

> ‘An issue of justice,’ said Veldona.  ‘Give it to Shemmy.  She needs cheering up.’

>

> ‘Thanks,’ said Shemrael.

>

> And she took the basket, hardly thinking she had been very good at all in recent times, but that didn’t matter anyway.  A novel?  About Shemrael?  That might get her out of her current malaise.  Or give her a laugh anyway.  Nice of Daniel to do that though.  Write about them all.  Showed he cared, she supposed.

>

> ‘Your justice is misplaced,’ Shemrael said to Meludiel.  ‘Keep the basket.  But Your word about the novel. That has cheered me up.’

>

> ‘Then my justice shone through anyway,’ smiled Meludiel.  And they chatted on, and as Shemrael came home to her apartment, Cimbrel in the kitchen, probably attempting to find food in a place he frequented rarely, she looked at the basket she ultimately did accept, and at the phone.  She picked it up, thought long and hard, and remembered the number, and rang it.

>

> ‘Hello. Daniel the Seraphim here?’

>

> ‘Hi Dan. Shemmy here.  Got something to ask you, bro.’

>

> And another day passed in the Realm of Eternity.

>

> The End

>

> 

>

> Gabriel and Aquariel VII

>

> ‘You know, Gabriel.  You are smart.  It doesn’t really matter what Michael says.  It doesn’t really matter what Ambriel says.  It doesn’t really matter what God says.  You are smart dear brother.’

>

> Gabriel, reading his fishing magazine, looked over at Aquariel, attempting to tune the new TV set.  An LCD frikking nightmare, she had called it so far.

>

> ‘Press the autotune button on the remote,’ said Gabriel.

>

> ‘What is the frikking autotune button?’ she asked.

>

> ‘It is probably in menu or mode or something like that,’ replied Gabriel.

>

> ‘You belong in menu or mode,’ she replied.  She looked at the gadget.  ‘Oh, menu.’  She pushed it and looked at the screen.  Several options came up.  ‘Now?’ she asked.

>

> ‘Use the scrollers,’ replied Gabriel. Aquariel’s dumbfounded looked summed it up.  ‘The arrows,’ said Gabriel.

>

> She looked at the remote, and pushed the up arrow.  ‘It went to the bottom of the list,’ she complained.

>

> ‘You were at the top.  It scrolled up, starting at the bottom again.  If you had pushed down it would have gone to the next list item,’ said Gabriel.

>

> She stared at him.  ‘Right,’ she said.

>

> ‘Try pushing down.’

>

> She pushed down.  ‘It’s frikking back at the start again.  It’s hopeless.’

>

> ‘Push down again,’ said Gabriel, patiently.

>

> She pushed down. ‘Oh, I see.’

>

> ‘There you go genius,’ he said and returned to his magazine.

>

> Several minutes passed.  The beeping sound should have warned him first, but when he looked up, seeing the screen in negative, upside down, and flashing, he knew he’d need therapy for a while.

>

> ‘You’re an idiot,’ he said.

>

> She threw the remote away, and sulked.  ‘I frikking hate technology,’ she said.

>

> Gabriel stood and gathered the remote, and spent several minutes fixing the problems.

>

> ‘What do you want to watch?’ he asked her.

>

> ‘Just wanted to see what is on.  Doesn’t matter now.  I think I’ll go see Elenniel.’ And she left, very quickly, out the door, with her handbag.

>

> He sat there.  ‘Mm,’ he thought to himself.  ‘Some education for the technophobe was required.  A time to address concerns for angels who still had a bad attitude.

>

> The End

>

> 

>

> The Adventure 2

>

> 'Lourdes. You are very attractive,' said Cherubim Daniel Thomas Andrew Daly.

>

> 'You flirt with my mother, and now you come on to me. You are cheap,' replied Lourdes.

>

> 'I don't flirt with your mother,' said Daniel. 'I barely even know her. What's her name anyway?'

>

> 'Mary the bitch,' said Lourdes. 'Her name is Mary the Bitch. You know. The Queen of Heaven.'

>

> Daniel smiled. 'Ah, I guess that runs in the family then.'

>

> 'You better believe it,' said Lourdes, and turned the page on the issue of Dolly. 'I have never seen this issue,' she said. 'I have seen most 80s trashy mags, but not this issue of Dolly. Rare cover, it must be. Who the hell are Wham?'

>

> 'Yep. Never heard of them myself, lola.' said Daniel.

>

> 'Don't call me that. And who is Boy George? He looks gay. You hardly approve of that, right?' she said.

>

> 'Gay sux,' replied Daniel.

>

> 'A typical Mr Daly comment,' replied Lourdes, flicking through the magazine. 'This is Jacintas isn't it? She does live in this room doesn't she?'

>

> 'Its her room. She is mostly with Alan in Cooma here and there, but she gets to this address of 29 Merriman in New Terra occasionally.'

>

> 'Right,' said Lourdes. She looked around the room. 'It's like its permanently stuck in the 80s. Was that deliberate?'

>

> 'About 1992, I think. She stores some stuff here. A private getaway. Doesn't like me coming in here, either, unless I ask. I wrote her a letter asking if I could show you the room. She didn't mind.'

>

> 'Right,' said Lourdes. She picked up the next issue of Dolly. Madonna, her mother, was on the cover.

>

> 'So who is this, then?' asked Lourdes.

>

> 'The Queen of the 80s,' replied Daniel. 'Anyway, are you ready to see some ancient metal 7 inchers?'

>

> Lourdes glanced down at Daniel's crotch. 'Keep on dreaming,' she commented.

>

> 'I'm talking about vinyl,' he replied sarcastically.

>

> 'I know,' she said. 'What, dumbarse Bon Jovi stuff you keep on harking on about?'

>

> 'What else babe?'

>

> 'Fine,' replied Lourdes. 'Take me to the devil's domain then.'

>

> And they spent the rest of the afternoon in Daniel's room at the back, which had a whole host of ancient earth centred stuff in it, a lot of metal, and video games, and all sorts of stuff. And despite herself Lourdes didn't mind this time with her twin. He was a guy, when it came down to it. Even Daniel Daly could pass as regular kid in the end.

>

> The End

>

> 

>

> Daniel and Meludiel 2

>

> Life was fascinating for Daniel the Seraphim. Shemrael, his twin sister, had rung him up, and inquired about the novel he had once written for her. He hadn't technically forgotten that, he just had forgotten just about everything about that project. But he thought about it, dug around in some ancient comptuer files on his PC, and then went off on an odyssey to the 45th disc of the Realm of Eternity, found one of his official archives and started searching. Down, near the bottom of the archive, in a sublevel with dim lighting and moisture everywhere, he found the Eternya set of the Chronicles of the Children of Destiny dedicated to the Seraphim and the Cherubim. It was the only set in existence, and they sat there, largely unread. Meludiel had read hers years ago, Ariel had never really expressed interest, and Ambriel had read his about a dozen times once upon a time before returning it. And now Shemrael? Fascinating. He picked out her volume, read the prologue, and nodded knowingly, and started the journey back toDanielpho, after chatting with the archive security guard about life for a bit.

>

> 'Is that it then?' asked Meludiel. 'Shemrael's story?'

>

> 'Yep. That's the one,' replied Daniel.

>

> 'Was one written about Michael?' she asked him.

>

> 'How those bastards wheedled their way back into the realm is beyond me. It was a done deal. Zionistya was their reward, and ours quite frankly, and we would go on with separate lives. And now the bastards are everywhere again. The schmuck King David has regrown his testicles apparently, as he's had another kid, and he visits his old jollicles in the International Musiem of Bizarre and Strange Artefacts inZaphona City with his entourage regularly. He even boasts about his testes on display. Can't get rid of them. They are a weed, which grows back.'

>

> 'I'll let know Ambriel's he's a weed then,' smiled Meludiel.

>

> 'Oh, shut up,' replied Daniel. 'Besides Ambriel hung around, mainly because he's not a dick. He's usually still a gentleman.'

>

> 'Don't be so hard on Israel. They earned their Zionistya through suffering. It was there place, and that is what it was all about. A reserve for them. A sanctuary.'

>

> 'Humph,' said daniel, looking at his Seraphim sister. 'You are probably right. They do get a lot of shit thrown at them. I guess a getaway for their own kind is warranted.'

>

> 'I think so,' replied Meludiel, and examined the book. 'Can I read it before you give it to Shemrael?'

>

> 'Mmm,' replied Daniel. 'That is ok. I didn't establish rules on who could read it first. But on basic hospitality you and her get along very well, and I don't think she would mind in my personal judgment on the issue. So ok.'

>

> 'Thanks,' said Meludiel. 'I'll sit out the back and enjoy the warm weather of Danielphon for a while, and read this, if you don't mind. A few days or so.'

>

> 'Feel free,' said Daniel, and returned his focus to the TV. Meludiel took the book, went to the kitchen, and soon disappeared, but Daniel was happy. It was always nice to have Rebecca around, and chatting about this and that. Always.

>

> The End

>

> 

>

> Valandriel's Insight 2

>

> Gemstone stopped chopping the wood, and arched her back. It ached these days. It ached most days, now. All the wood chopping. She was in the woods, as well. Not that far from the Golden City of Azion – a few hundred leagues west of her. There was a vast lake betwixt them, which she sailed on in winters, or the cold season more precisely, and she would not care that she froze, because she didn't care that much anyway. But she wanted to not care that much. She wanted to feel – anything. And the bliss that she was supposed to represnet, the sickly sweet gemstone she was supposed to be, sucked. And she wanted the dark and the hard and the cold and to feel that. And to know that life was real and life was not a fairy tale and you had to earn every last bit of it. And she'd need to too. She had, back in her cabin, a document. A contract, from ValDan. To commit to marriage and to seed in Eternya in building up a nation. She'd established honey as her business, and that was proposed as remaining the core industry of the nation, but that she would become a grand Queen, serving ValDan, which would provide the legal expertise and police and judicial presence to maintain her sovereignty. And, realistically, for a project of such ambition, it would need to be. The contract had sat there ages, now. Many a long time. She had been in the Golden City when she had gotten it, and then moved eastwards to the country, and purchased wilderness land and built a cabin. And he had placed the contract on a shelf, and let it rest, because she needed to be alive. But she'd done it. She'd experienced it. And it had depressed the living fuck out of her, all the years of solitude, but she was real now. She had the splinters, cuts and bruises to prove that. She'd made herself something of what she was supposed to be. But now, having begun thinking 'What next', she picked up A4 sized envelope from ValDan one night, and prized it opened, and read. And it now, weirdly, appealed.

>

> She gathered the wood, took it to the side of her cabin and stacked it, and came inside. And she sat down at the table and looked out the window. Afternoon. Cold. But beautiful.

>

> She looked at the envelope. She opened the contract, and took up the pen. 'Well?' she asked herself. She sat there for a few moments. 'Ok,' she finally said to herself, and signed the thing.

>

> She rang Valandriel.

>

> 'It's Gemstone. I've signed the contract.'

>

> 'Uh, yeh. Contract?' asked Valandriel.

>

> 'To build a nation in Eternya,' she said, annoyed he had forgotten.

>

> 'Oh. Yep. Ah, yes. I remember now. Good. Yep, we still keep that project in mind. Discussed it with Daniel about a century ago. We figured you might still be considering it. Heard you were out in the sticks, but happy, and working through issues.'

>

> 'I've worked through them,' said Gemstone. 'Got my answers. I'm ready for a challenge.'

>

> 'Then we can provide,' replied Valandriel, proudly. 'Oh, and it's good for us that you have signed that, as it furthers our ambitions. And as far as I am concerned, some people lead in life and can provide a framework of support for other people if they want it. Some people need to be looked after. God looks after all of us. So my insight is that if this suits you, it suits us too.'

>

> 'It suits me,' she said. 'And thanks.'

>

> They chatted, she hung up, and she looked at the contract. 'Ok, heavnely father,' she said. 'Time to move on.'

>

> The End

>

> 

>

> A Time to Gather Stones II

>

> ‘Kayella.  You are incredibly smart.  They’ve done recent studies.  I thought it was a vicious rumour.  Like a lie from Satan.  But no, its actually true.  I checked it out.  Females, actually, have, intelligence.  There you go.  Can you believe that,’ said Callodyn.

>

> Kelly was fishing around in the fridge.  She’d put on a bit of weight.

>

> ‘Where’s the frickking coca cola? And the chocolate?’ she grumbled.

>

> ‘I thought I was fat,’ said Callodyn softly.

>

> ‘What was that beast?’ she asked, and glared at him.

>

> ‘Jesus.  We’ll order some stuff in,’ replied Callodyn, and sat down in front of the TV, flicking on the set.

>

> She came and sat next to him.  ‘Never mind,’ she said, and took his hand, and squeezed it.  They sat there.  They watched TV.  He wasn’t happy.  Finally he took his hand away.

>

> ‘What’s the problem?’ she asked.

>

> ‘Your taken.  We’re not together.  Don’t pretend we are,’ replied Callodyn.

>

> She looked at him and did a face.  ‘Ok.  Didn’t Daniel the Seraphim write a book on ‘Boundaries between Twin’s’?’

>

> Callodyn looked at her for a moment, and then left off to go out the back of Danielphon.  He returned a few hours later, after rifling through half the garage.

>

> ‘This is it,’ he said triumphantly.

>

> ‘Give it to me,’ she said.  He handed it to her.

>

> ‘Please get me a drink of soft drink,’ she said.

>

> He grabbed the keys, and went off to the shops.  He got back, and she was still reading.

>

> ‘Here’s some ginger beer,’ he said.

>

> She took it, opened it, drank the first bottle, and continued reading.

>

> Time passed.  Around 10, the ginger beer all drunk, she put down the book.  He had been snoozing.

>

> ‘Finished,’ she said.  ‘Your turn.’

>

> He looked at her in unbelief.  ‘Ok.’  He took the book and started reading.  Around 3 the following morning, noticing she was asleep, he finished the book.  He nudged her.  She woke.

>

> ‘Shit,’ she said.  ‘Lovely dream.   Bastard for waking me.  But you were in it.  We were having a party with friends, and Wolfgang was lecturing us on a million rules to be twins and friends forever with boundaries well understood.  And it was all working out well.’

>

> ‘I finished the book,’ he said.

>

> ‘Good,’ she said.  She rose, kissed him on the cheek, and said, ‘I remember most of the suggested principles.  I’ll observe them.’

>

> ‘I’ll do that too,’ he replied.

>

> ‘I’ll continue to stay here for quite a while, if you don’t mind.  I like my twin, ok.  I like my twin,’ she said.

>

> ‘Well I like you too.  Love you really,’ said Callodyn.  He hugged her.

>

> They got along well after that.  A few months later it was strong, the friendship between them. The past romance was gone forever.  But the new friendship was starting to come into its strength.  She liked him.  Her twin was good enough for her.  Life went on.  And then Ambriel slutted on to her, and she slept with Ambriel, who was single, and knew she’d cheated, and couldn’t help but feel guilty.  But she toldCallodyn, who took her out on a picnic, and said not to go home for a few years till the guilt was atoned for, and her husband wouldn’t notice.

>

> ‘You’ll be fine,’ he said.  ‘Don’t fuck up again.  But you are only an angel, Kayella.  We know each other well enough to know we’re not perfect.’

>

> ‘No, we’re not,’ she replied.

>

> And she settled with Callodyn at Danielphon then, and Ariel and Daniel came around often, and so did Cherubim Daniel Thomas Andrew Daly, and his twin Lourdes, and Taylor was usually around for a bit.  And she settled down at Daniephon.  Because it had a bit of action in it.  And, finally, she went home, but she reminded herself, she had a life.  Outside of marriage, she had a life.  It was just a matter of learning the boundaries.  Learning and respecting the boundaries.  And that was all there was to it. Or so she told herself.

>

> The End

>

> 

>

> God is Alive 5

>

> Brigid Bridges nee Daly, the angel Mashenta, was with her separated husband, David Bridges. Jacinta Bradley nee Daly, her sister was watching the two of them, as they were arguing. Daniel Daly, the Cherubim Daniel Thomas Andrew Daly, Mashenta's Cherubim Brother and physical human brother to Cyril Aloysius Daly and Mary Philomena Daly, was watching the argument as well. The Theophany of God, who had recently begun calling himself Theo, as the Spirit of God was fond of that idea, was watching as well. Daniel, though, was most amused.

>

> 'You know, David,' said Brigid. 'You have the IQ of a farmer.'

>

> 'Genius, I know,' replied David.

>

> 'You know a lot about wheat. Bullshit and wheat. You stand around after work for the day, with Barry, and you bullshit the evening away, an occasional smoke, but mostly a steady consumption of beer. And Blake seems to think this is taken for granted. Jayden, he is sensible enough to know that Bridges people are alcoholics by nature, and steers clear from time to time, residing in Cooma with his wife, but he fallsvictim to the 'Bridges Curse' also. Bullshitting.'

>

> Lucy Potter was also present. She spoke up. 'Caroline, mum, thinks Aussies model themselves on the classic bullshit of the Bridges Boys. You define Aussie culture in so many ways. What do you get in Australia? Galahs and bulshitters. That is what you get in Australia. And Chakola produces the best of them.'

>

> David sipped on his beer, and looked at God. 'Going to be good rain this weekend, what do you think?'

>

> 'Maybe,' replied God.

>

> 'And there we go,' continued Mashenta. 'Rain. Always fucking on about the rain. As if life depends on the fucking rain.'

>

> 'It does,' replied David.

>

> 'Rain, paddocks, wheat, sheep. I swear you'd marry and fuck a sheep if I hadn't come along.'

>

> David sniggered.

>

> 'Shut up,' said Barry. 'Don't mention Harold and his sheep fetish.'

>

> 'He doesn't literally fuck em,' said David. 'He just likes to give them a cuddle. Harold has learnt to be very loving in recent times.'

>

> 'The reputation of the Brides. Astounding!' exclaimed Mashenta, and gave up, going back inside the Chakola schoolhouse of their home.

>

> Theo came over to David and Barry. 'Women. They never understand the real world.'

>

> 'I heard that,' yelled out Mashenta from inside.

>

> Daniel just enjoyed the show. Chakola life indeed.

>

> The End

>

> 

>

> Screaming Negative III

>

> ‘Wolfric is my official legal name.  I changed it from Wolfgang, which is just what God called me.  I didn’t have a legal name anyway.  It’s registered now as Wolfric Daniel Cyril Daly,’ said the child of Ariel and Daniel, formerly known as Wolfgang Daly, who had been a stillborn child, which Daniel and Ariel had never known, but met once briefly many years later, and now he was back in their life again.

>

> ‘Where have you been?’ asked Ariel softly.

>

> ‘Here and there.  Learning.  Learning to live.  Learning to love.  Learning life.  I’m good enough at it now.  Want to know my parents now. I’m a father, but I’ll talk about that some other time,’ replied Wolfric.

>

> ‘Right,’ said Ariel.

>

> Daniel took out a pack of playing cards, and indicated for Ariel and Wolfric to sit down.  He sorted the cards, and said ‘500’.  I’ll keep the score in my head.’

>

> ‘Sure you won’t cheat, old fart?’ asked Wolfric.  ‘Wolfgang warned me about you.  Said you were not one to be trusted.’

>

> Ariel grinned.  ‘As far as you can throw him, quite frankly.’

>

> ‘I’ll second that,’ said Meludiel from the kitchen.

>

> ‘I’ll third it,’ yelled Ambriel from the other room.

>

> ‘Shut up.  Play cards.  I don’t cheat,’ he said, and they played cards for a few hours.

>

> Later Ariel was watching TV with Wolfric sitting next to her.  He lay down after a while, and put his head in his mothers lap.  And she put her hand on his head, and stroked it.

>

> ‘I didn’t like this much, for a long time.  I don’t mind it now,’ said Wolfric. Soon he was asleep.  Ariel sat there, watching the TV, and was thinking.  Life was strange.  Some things never worked, and then they got a resolution, and later on, amazingly, it all turned out for the best in the end.  And she had eternity with her child now, as Wolfric had given every indication that he now wanted to get to know his parents, and it was strange, and weird, but comforting and reassuring. She watched TV, and stroked her son’s head, and everything was right in the world.  Everything was ok.

>

> The End

>

> 

>

> 

>

> PART TWO

>

> RESTORATION

>

> 

>

> The Rainbow Paladins

>

> Before time began, in a sense, or really, to be more precise, before God started creating the angels and the realms and the children of destiny, God created the Rainbow Paladins. There were 6 Rainbow Paladins, and then a 7th was added by God, just because he liked 7s. And the Rainbow Paladins were created, and put into slumber, until an ancient era in the universe, and then they emerged, and caused chaos, mayhem, and mirth. And this is their story.

>

> * * *

>

> God spoke. 'You are Diamond Yellow. You are the firstborn. There will also be Emerald Green, Ruby Red, Sapphire Blue, Purple Quartz and Orange Amber. And finally, later on, Indigo Silicon, who is a very rare Paladin.'

>

> 'What is a Paladin?' asked Diamond Yellow.

>

> 'A cleric and a warrior and a comedian,' replied God. 'You kick the butt of those who need it. You are part of a world, when you awake, ancient and settled, and you are a new begininng. Now sleep, and you will know your brothers in your dreams, and your 7th sibling, a girlie, will keep you enticed eternal.' And Diamond Yellow slept, and the dreams were indeed enticing.

>

> * * *

>

> Diamond surveyed the scene. It was Santros. Full of spics. He liked Spanish humor from what he'd seen of it so far. He had a few Don Quixote jokes now.

>

> 'Hey, hombre,' said Diamond. 'Pour me a beer.'

>

> The bartender poured Diamond a beer. 'Tell me, amigo. Why are you dressed like a knight?'

>

> 'It's my job,' replied Diamond. Diamond drank the beer, and sat down at a table. Soon Ruby was present.

>

> 'Yo,' said Ruby.

>

> 'Hey, dude,' replied Diamond. 'Did you find the hideout.'

>

> 'Big bossman keeps a tight security detail. Nobody will get in easily. We might have to muscle up.'

>

> 'Theo wants this done right,' said Diamond. 'So we'll be discreet. You head around the back, and make a distraction like. I'll slip in unobserved. Security can't outwit me.'

>

> 'Let's go,' replied Ruby.

>

> 

>

> 20 minutes later that were in downtown San Pedro, and were hiding in shadows, watching a warehouse.

>

> 'Go round the back. Do your thing,' said Diamond.

>

> Ruby slithered off, and soon there were explosion noises coming from the back of the warehouse. The security detail left the front and went to check it out. Diamond acted quickly. He got to the door, looked at the lock, and kicked it in open. He would be quick. He scampered inside, spied the office, and up the stairs in a dash, found the filing cabinet, and rifled looking for the obvious yellow file they were informed about. He found it quick, exited the warehouse, and went home. Ruby showed up half an hour later, and smiled.

>

> 'Easy peasy,' said Ruby. 'Is the file what they said it would be.'

>

> 'Barbarella is a dead man walking,' said Diamond. 'Our friend Jose was right. Enough information to get the death penalty for the mob boss.'

>

> 'Job done,' replied Ruby.

>

> A few days later the information on the file was emailed to Allegiance HQ in Santos. The email carried a special security seal, which Allegiance recognized as divine authority. A case was opened, and Juan Barbarella was prosecuted. He got the death penalty as expected, and was hung a few months later. Paladin Task Number 673 complete. New work soon enough, surmised Diamond, but they would take a break for a while. It had been a busy century for the team.

>

> * * *

>

> A rainbow was hanging in the New Terran sky. Silicon looked at it. She took out her spyglass and looked across the gap between her tower and the tower opposite. It housed about 5000 flats, but there was one in particular she was fond at looking at. It was 7, he was now home, and she gawked.

>

> 'Same old shit,' said Diamond.

>

> 'For fuck's sake,' replied Silicon, dropping her spyglass. She looked down. It hit the concrete way down below, and shattered. She turned to Diamond. 'You would do that.'

>

> 'You've got 3 of them. I'll buy you a new one anyway,' replied Diamond. 'You shouldn't spy on the dude. He would be embarassed if he knew.'

>

> She looked across at the room, but couldn't make out much – it was too distant.

>

> 'I was hoping to get him in his towel again. He makes pleasant spying.'

>

> '6 blokes, one chick, and she's the perv. Heaven help us all,' said Diamond, and wandered into the kitchenette looking for something cold to drink.

>

> 'I'm not a perv,' she replied, sitting down on the couch. 'I just have – passions. Feminine passions. That kind of thing.'

>

> 'Per-vert,' he replied. 'Classic case. You don't fool us.'

>

> 'What you been up to?' she asked.

>

> 'Finished up on Santros. Task complete. We will be notified soon enough I would imagine for the next call of duty. The rental was a nice place, but back to the real world.'

>

> 'Right,' she replied, and picked up the remote, flicking on the TV. Realm TV was on, and there was show on the 60th Disc about Ambriel's new status reborn in the Realm of Eternity. 'He's back from the dead, practically,' said Silicon. 'They were lucky to get back. Thought they would never return.'

>

> 'Never knew why they were kicked out anyway,' said Diamond. 'Theo never talks of it, and I'm finding information on the subject hard to get. Nothing talks about any real rationale apart form people not apparently getting on too well. Must have been more to it than that. Or just this anti-semitism or something they go on about.'

>

> 'God works in mysterious ways,' replied Silicon. 'Pass me a can as well, would you.' Diamond flicked her a can of the beer he had been consuming.

>

> 'Our DNA,' said Diamond. 'I have a report back. 'We're not human, and we're not angelic. Similarities, but different. The doctor will keep the information confidential. I explained we were a project of God's, and not to ask questions. He didn't.'

>

> 'Can we mate?' asked Indigo.

>

> 'Probably with both,' replied Diamond.

>

> 'Interesting,' she said, and stood and looked out across the balcony at her fixation.

>

> 'Good luck,' said Diamond. 'With your haircut you will need it.'

>

> 'Hey, a Paladin has to look the part,' she replied.

>

> 'Your practically military,' he smiled. 'The chicks usually wear it long. You might want to consider it if you want to land that guy over there.'

>

> She sipped on her beer. 'I'll think about it. He might not be for me, though, if he can't handle who I am.'

>

> 'You could be right,' replied Diamond. 'Can I stay the night. I don't fancy the trip across town. This will do for the evening.'

>

> 'Stay on the couch,' replied Silicon.

>

> 'Will do Indigo,' replied Diamond.

>

> 'I mean it,' she said. 'No funny ideas like Ruby. He's sex mad.'

>

> 'You never give him any,' replied Diamond, watching the TV. She didn't reply. He looked at her. 'What? You mean you do?'

>

> She stood again, and went to the balcony. 'Don't think you're special, bossman. Don't think that about me.'

>

> 'Oh,' he replied, and shrugged. 'The shit you learn,' he said to himself, and changed the channel.

>

> * * *

>

> Ruby looked at the scroll. 'It's in ancient Egyptian,' he said.

>

> 'How do you know?' asked Silicon.

>

> 'It says made in Egypt a long time ago,' replied Ruby.

>

> 'Give us the frikking menu,' replied Ruby. She looked at it. 'It's in frikking English you tool.'

>

> 'I get confused,' replied Ruby.

>

> 'You are confusion,' said Silicon. 'Order me a frikking burger or something. I don't know. Use your imagination.'

>

> Ruby raised his hand for the waitress. She ignored him.

>

> 'She's ignoring me,' he replied.

>

> 'Hey, bitch,' said Silicon. 'Serve my man.' The waitress took the order and gave Silicon a dirty look. 'Bite me ho,' swore Silicon at the departing waitress.

>

> 'Yep. Your lessons from Theo on courtesy are paying off,' stated Ruby.

>

> 'You know me,' replied Silicon.

>

> The orders came.

>

> 'Looks good,' said Silicon to the waitress.

>

> 'I spat in yours bitch,' said the waitress. Silicon glared at her as she left.

>

> 'Gonna eat that?' asked Ruby.

>

> 'It's all yours. Wasn't hungry anyway,' she replied. She put her head on her hand and looked glum.

>

> 'Wassup?' asked Ruby, devouring two burgers and a coke.

>

> 'Not much. I'm bored. This is it, then? Serving Allegiance for Theo doing super cop bullshit.'

>

> 'It's what we were trained for,' replied Ruby. 'What else we gonna do?'

>

> 'I don't know. Fuck off somewhere and get stoned. Don't know. Something different. Something new.'

>

> 'I've got cash. I could take you on a holiday somewhere. Maybe to the outer discs of Infinity. There are some beautiful places there.'

>

> She looked at him. 'You'd do that? Spend money on your girl?'

>

> 'Suddenly my girl, coz I got cashola. Gee, I don't know, are you loyal bitch?' replied Ruby.

>

> 'Cut the sass. Not interested anyway,' she said.

>

> 'We'll make it Eternity then. Somewhere Mexican. You like the food and we can find a nice hombre to play pool with for a while and cards and shit,' said Ruby.

>

> 'Sounds cool enough. Notify Diamond and the others. We'll take 6 months leave,' she said.

>

> 'Ok. I'll do it. I don't think he'll mind this time. It's been about a decade since our last major holiday. Should be sweet.'

>

> 'I'll bet you'll look for a swee mexican girl,' said Silicon smiling at Ruby.

>

> 'Hope so,' he replied. 'Maybe make a baby. See if that can happen.'

>

> 'You better wear the condom dude. We're under strict orders from Theo on that shit,' she said.

>

> 'I know. I'll obey. I'm not stupid. God loves us, and we're on to a good thing in this work. It's permanent work, and Theo has agreed to handle our cases permanently,' he replied.

>

> 'He's a cool dude. Not a fuddy duddy at all, like people say. Don't know why they say that. He's pretty cool to me,' said Silicon.

>

> 'They don't know him well. Maybe he doesn't mix much, though. You never see him with too many friends apart from Wormdog. Must be private or something.'

>

> 'Who knows,' replied Silicon, taking the burger from Ruby's hands and biting into it. 'Order me a coke,' she said.

>

> 'More cashola,' said Ruby. Women were expensive.

>

> * * *

>

> 'Hombre, who is the woman?' asked the moustached man.

>

> 'I'm his bitch,' intejrected Silicon. 'Whose asking?'

>

> 'We did not count on you having the woman. This causes complications,' said the hombre.

>

> 'What complications?' asked Ruby.

>

> 'Yeh, what complications?' queried Diamond, looking away from the Mexican lady he was tuning.

>

> 'Put your hands up,' said the moustached man, and brought out a gun, pointing it at Ruby.

>

> 'This is a joke, right?' queried Ruby.

>

> 'You are the Rainbow Paladins? Who had Juan Barbarella hung?' asked the man.

>

> 'What if we are?' asked Diamond.

>

> 'He was my brother!' said the man forcefully. 'I am Enrique Barbarella and I will have my vengeance upon you. Now put up your hands.'

>

> Ruby, now figuring what was going on, put his hands up slowly, as did Diamond.

>

> 'Hey. Why not fuck me, and forget about the whole thing,' said Silicon. 'I'll blow your mind – literally. Just let my buddies go.'

>

> Enrique looked at Silicon, noticing her good looks and ample breasts. He pointed the gun at her instead. 'Stand, woman. Come outside with me.'

>

> 'It'll be cool fellas,' sit tight. I can handle this.'

>

> Ruby and Diamond watched as Silicon left the small cantina and followed Barbarella outside. They waited a few minutes, and then Ruby dared looking. They were nowhere to be seen.

>

> 'Shit! What do we do now?' asked Ruby.

>

> 'We get the Paladins. We have a crime to solve,' replied Diamond.

>

> * * *

>

> But the Paladins were happy on their own holidays, and Diamond and Ruby headed to a major Mexican city of where they were located, and connected to Allegiance, searching the data files on Juan Barbarella and his family. Enrique was a shady enough character as well, but seemingly always managed to stay out of the authorities reach. But he'd overstepped it this time. He was at least guilty of kidnapping, if not worse. They would have to use the best of their detection skills to work out where Barbarella was, and what he had done with Silicon. Paladins were all for one and one for all – even if sometmes the rest of them were on holiday.

>

> * * *

>

> 'We should find him on Santros, somewhere south of San Pablo,' said Diamond. 'He hangs around bars and nightclubs down there. File reads he has no fixed address, but frequents brothels in the San Pablo district.'

>

> 'Let's go,' said Ruby.

>

> A few weeks later they were scouting around San Pablo and asking questions. They got impressions that Enrique Barbarella was an honest enough man, in fact, who usually got his brother out of the shit. But there was family honour at at stake, and Juan Barbarella was dead for a thousand lifetimes, having been hung, before he was eligible for resurrection, which would have likely pissed Enrique off no end. In the end they found him on ranch, of an associate of Juan's, by a pool, with Silicon in a bikini, lying there, looking right as rain.

>

> 'Dafuq?' asked Ruby, walking up to the sunbaking duo. 'Why the fuck haven't you escaped?'

>

> 'Enrique is a fine host,' said Silicon. 'He has been entertaining me.'

>

> 'Let us forget the messy business with my brother, amigo,' said Enrique Barbarella. 'He will be back eventually. Senorita Silicon is fine company. Very fine company,' he said, lowering his sunglasses, and winking at her, to which she winked back.

>

> 'Unbelievable,' said Ruby.

>

> 'Do you have spare bathers?' asked Diamond, not missing a beat.

>

> 'See the maid,' said Enrique. 'And get some suncream. It gets hot in San Pablo.'

>

> And as Ruby watched, incredulously, Diamond stripped down, put on his new bathers which the maid, Helena, provided, and after a spot in the pool, lay down on one of the spare poolside couches, as if nothing had happened at all.

>

> 'I need a drink,' said Ruby. 'And you're a bitch,' he said, pointing at Silicon.

>

> 'Relax, dude,' said Silicon, but she didn't hear the end of his complaint all year long.

>

> The End

>

> 

>

> Stuck in Civic

>

> Rebecca St James, Lisa Loeb and Seraphim Daniel had been spending time together a lot in recent years, and they were again doing their thing in Civic, a popular hang out place for these particular children of destiny.

>

> 'We're a tryptych,' said Daniel.

>

> 'We're not a tryptych,' said Rebecca.

>

> 'A Trinity then,' suggested Daniel. Rebecca just gave him one of those looks.

>

> 'We're a little clique,' said Lisa. 'And we're not afraid to admit it. There is good chemistry between us. We girls keep your ego in check, and you need us for that main reason. Rebecca is faithfully married, but you alleviate your tensions on your romantic lust toward her by keeping good company with her. And I chaperone you away from silly behaviour.'

>

> 'True,' replied Rebecca, looking at Daniel. 'He loves us both quite much.'

>

> 'Indeed I do,' said Daniel. 'But neither of you are available but, to be true, that is probably for the best. Platonic works for me. I'm getting old. I don't have the old sex drive like I used to. Just plenty of adoration.'

>

> 'He does have that,' admitted Lisa.

>

> 'With you its not hard. You are very kind,' said Daniel.

>

> 'Aw shucks,' replied Lisa, and winked at her friend.

>

> They were in the park near the Casino in Civic in Canberra in Terraphora again. They hung out there a lot.

>

> 'Eternity is a long time,' said Daniel. 'I've known Rebecca forever now, and its not too hard to be friends with her. She's got a positive life spirit. A strong Seraphim angel. She gets it from her twin, I think, but he also gets it from her.'

>

> 'Ambriel is a welcome twin to have supporting me,' said Rebecca. 'I'm over my fascinations with him, but I would not choose another. He is very sensitive and supporting. He knows what he is doing.'

>

> 'Thought Jesus was your saviour,' replied Daniel, lighting a ciggie.

>

> 'He is. He died for me,' said Rebecca. 'He may not be Christ, but his inspiration motivates me each day. The gospel works well for me. God is love, and I get buy when I go to Church.'

>

> 'Back in business. With the new style of things,' said Daniel. 'Apostle Peter's reforms are generally pleasing the liking of God so far. No real idolatry any more. More of Club Jesus I think.'

>

> 'Don't call it that,' replied Rebecca. 'We're more serious than being a Southern Cross Club hangout. No matter what our Jewish critics say.'

>

> 'We don't all criticize the church,' replied Lisa. 'A lot of my fanbase are Christians. We get along well.'

>

> Daniel looked at the two of them as they exchanged looks.

>

> 'Noahides are the natural leaders of all religion anyway,' said Daniel proudly.

>

> 'Here we go,' said Rebecca.

>

> 'The ego has landed,' said Lisa.

>

> 'We define leadership,' said Daniel.

>

> 'You define the joker from Batman movies,' said Lisa.

>

> 'Yes Mary Jane,' replied Daniel.

>

> 'Don't call me that,' said Lisa. 'It's just a job.'

>

> 'Let spidey know I'm a big fan then,' said Daniel.

>

> The girls sat around, Rebecca engaged in reading Pride and Prejudice, while Lisa had her hand on a copy of The Getting of Wisdom. The girls had chosen those two classics as official reading material in the presence of Daniel. They were both leatherbound copies published by Noahide Books, and Daniel had seen to it that the girls had gotten the signatures of both authors. They were known, now, the little Tryptych, for sitting her, Daniel occasionally reading from the Tanakh to the people who walked by, while the girls sat quietly and read their own respective tomes.

>

> 'Will this go on forever?' asked Daniel.

>

> 'It might,' said Lisa.

>

> 'I don't think I mind if it does,' said Rebecca. 'The company is mature enough. Especially the female part.'

>

> 'I shall learn to be humble,' said Daniel.

>

> 'A mystery which eludes our Noahide saint,' said Rebecca.

>

> Lisa nodded.

>

> 'Dinner tonight. At maccas?' asked Daniel.

>

> 'Were else,' replied Lisa.

>

> And so they went on with their afternoon, and another day passed in Civic in Terraphora, and Civic Life was as enjoyable as ever.

>

> The End

>

> 

>

> The Rainbow Paladins 2

>

> 'It's a Mexican again. Sort of. Portuguese fellow,' said Theo. 'He's got issues. He's a criminal, but only technically. He's taking a bit on the side from his firm, because he's committed to supporting various charities. It's his war against the big powers, and he views his company as the powerful elite, and himself as Robin Hood. He needs – re-education. He needs it explained to him that his company is legit, purusing a normal for-profit arrangement with society, and that nobody is forced to buy their product, thus entitling them to their fair share of profit and life success. And when you can drum that into him, help him to realize his sin. His name is Peter Sebastian. It's a discworld he's on, a standard Euro section. He's friendly, but scared of being caught. Be sensitive. He's not a bad guy.'

>

> 'Right,' nodded Diamond, smoking his ciggie. 'I'll let Emerald handle it. With Quartz. They're the more sensitive Paladins. Should be their scene.'

>

> 'Good,' said God. 'Payment upon succesful completion of task. See ya.' And God disappeared, leaving Diamond with the case file.

>

> * * *

>

> 'That's a lovely scarf,' said Emerald. 'It looks good on you.'

>

> 'You think so,' replied Quartz. 'It's not too poncy?'

>

> Peter Sebastian looked up at the two funnily dressed individuals making noise, then returned to his work on the counter.

>

> 'Excuse me!'

>

> 'Yes,' replied Peter Sebastian in Portuguese, looking up.

>

> 'Do you think this scarf looks good on my friend? Be honest. I'm sure you are capable of that.'

>

> Peter looked at the scarf hanging around Quartz neck. 'It suits you. You have that face and temperament for a scarf. A gentleman has a scarf. I can tell you are both of superior quality.'

>

> 'Thank you sir,' replied Quartz. 'We're known to visit decent establishments.'

>

> 'Obviously you have taste. Porto Siempre has the finest quality menswear,for the discerning gentleman.'

>

> 'You seem proud of your company,' said Emerald.

>

> 'Quite proud. I've worked here a long time,' replied Peter, looking around.

>

> 'Seems like a great place to work as well,' said Emerald. 'You are lucky to have such a position. I would never want to abuse that position if I had such a job.'

>

> Peter looked at the customer, and shifted his foot. A twinge of guilt suddenly struck him. In the end he didn't really want to abuse his position either. Despite some business practices which were not, well, how shall we put it, quite ethical.

>

> 'I don't take my job for granted,' replied Peter Sebastian. 'I have quality employers.'

>

> 'Obvioiusly,' said Quartz. 'They stock excellent product. I'll take it.'

>

> Mr Sebastian smiled, and wrapped up the scarf, and as the two gentleman left the menswear department, Quartz turned and said 'Very good stock. We may see you again.' And they were gone.

>

> 

>

> Peter sat down, and looked at the clock. 4.05 in the afternoon. An hour and half till the end of his work day. What those two men had said had struck him a bit. He stole from his firm, you see. Not to make money, but to take from the scoundrels and give to poor orphans and charities who really needed it. But he suddenly felt some guilt because, in truth, the firm was an honest enough company. It was a large multinational, but it was honest. But he brushed those thoughts aside as another customer came up to his counter, and he got on with his work.

>

> * * *

>

> 'Rob Halford,' said the customer.

>

> Peter looked up. 'Are you the lead singer of a heavy metal band?'

>

> 'Judas Priest,' replied Rob. 'We've been on hiatus for a while. A major tour in a few thousand years coming up.'

>

> 'Gay, aren't you?' asked Peter.

>

> 'A bit,' replied Rob. 'I have an occasional girl on tour, some who know me well, but yeah, the fellas and I are a thing.'

>

> 'That is not too much of a problem out here. You woud know that the inner discs are strict on that,' said Peter.

>

> 'Don't I know it. Only toured a few times there. They rarely give us permits,' said Rob.

>

> 'Life as a faggot in eternity,' replied Peter casually.

>

> 'The scarf,' said Rob. 'I'll take it. Going to a football match to see the local team with a mate. Want to look the part.'

>

> 'A very fine choice sir Halford. I'll wrap it for you.'

>

> As Peter Sebastian was wrpping the scarf Quartz and Emerald once again entered the section.

>

> 'Missiuers. A pleasure to see you again. You are looking for something else?' said Peter.

>

> 'We need some comfortable underwear,' said Quartz.

>

> 'Of course,' replied Peter. 'I will be right with you.' Peter finished wrapping the scarf for Mr Halford, who paid, turned and looked at Quartz and Emerald, and winked at Quartz, before heading off.

>

> 'The famous Mr Halford,' said Peter. 'Lead singer of Judas Priest, the heavy metal band.'

>

> 'He seemed charming,' replied Quartz, eyeing after the departing metal god.

>

> 'Right this way,' said Peter.

>

> They spent a few minutes looking at various items when Quartz spoke up. 'I got busted pinching undies once, you know. I knew stealng was wrong, but they were hard times.'

>

> 'Indeed,' replied Peter.

>

> 'Ever pinched anything?' asked Quartz. 'It can be hell on the conscience till you confess.'

>

> 'I am sure it could be,' replied Peter, shifting his feet.

>

> 'Yeh. Working here. Could be tempting. The odd pair of socks, you know. Who would know.'

>

> 'These will be fine,' said Emerald, holding up a pair of underpants.

>

> 'A fine choice,' replied Peter Sebastian. 'I will wrap them for you.'

>

> As Peter wrapped the garments he looked at the two men, noticing they were close friends, and Quartz seemed to be looking at him oddly.

>

> 'Is there something I should know?' Peter finally asked.

>

> 'We're servants. Of God,' said Emerald.

>

> 'We do tasks for him,' said Quartz.

>

> 'Oh,' replied Peter. 'You are angels?'

>

> 'Not quite,' said Emerald. 'But kind of. We handle special tasks. Sorting out sinners and the like.'

>

> 'I'm no sinner,' said Peter softly, and looked down at the underwear he had just wrapped. 'There you go,' he said, handing them the underwear.

>

> The two Paladins smiled. 'I'm sure your not,' said Quartz.

>

> After they had left Peter sat down on the stool behind the counter. He knew. He knew what they were, and what the likely knew he was doing. They weren't accusing him, and it was clear God had been watching, and was now addressing Peter Sebastian's shenanigans. He felt sick, in his gut then, and tried to put the issue to the back of his mind but, for the rest of the day, he felt guilty, and when he got home to his wife, he smiled, but vomited in the bathroom. He'd been found out.

>

> * * *

>

> 'What do you think of the piece?' asked Emerald.

>

> Quartz, though, was looking at a bloke near by them.

>

> 'Uh, it's that Halford fella,' said Emerald. Rob came by, looked at them, and nodded, and stared at the piece of artwork they were admiring in the gallery.

>

> 'Great textures,' said Rob. 'The fella knew what he was doing.'

>

> 'You're into metal,' said Quartz, smiling at Rob.

>

> Rob looked at Quartz. 'You look like a likely lad.'

>

> 'Here we go,' said Emerald, and turned and sat down on a bench, looking at the art, as Quartz and Rob chatted for a while. Eventually Rob left, and Quartz sat down next to Emerald.

>

> 'We're going out on a date,' said Quartz.

>

> 'A date,' replied Emerald. 'What kind of a date?'

>

> 'Oh, just down to a pub in town. He'll pick me up at the hotel later.'

>

> 'I've heard about him. He's into guys, you know. In the literal sort of sense.'

>

> Quartz looked at Emerald. 'I figured he might have been.'

>

> Emerald looked up at the artwork. 'That your kind of thing, is it?'

>

> There was silence for a while. Eventually, 'Probably not,' said Quartz. 'But I'm curious about, I don't know, understanding that sort of thing.'

>

> 'That sort of thing,' said Emerald. 'That's one way of putting it.'

>

> 'Maybe I want to entertain some of that sort of thing,' said Quartz.

>

> 'What Q is also for Queer and Queen as well as Quartz, is it, then?' asked Emerald, looking at his buddy.

>

> Quartz looked at him. 'In the end, probably not. But I am curious.'

>

> 'Right,' said Emerald. 'Mmmm. Well. Ok then. I guess it's your life in the end.'

>

> 'I guess it is,' replied Quartz. There was silence, again. An uncomfortable silence. Then they finished their tour, and went back to the hotel. Emerald, thinking it over, knew that Quartz was probably not going to go into the gay scene, but he might entertain himself with it for a while. His brother was the adventurous type. He was, from all his experience with him, not exactly shy. Could prove strange days indeed.

>

> * * *

>

> Emerald and Quartz were at a cafe, the street opposite Porto Siempre. They were out the front, drinking lattes, watching the deparment store opposite. The clock tower nearby chimed midday, and a few minutes later Peter Sebastian and a few other workers came out the store, Peter heading across the stree to the cafe they were at.

>

> 'Peter!' signalled Quartz.

>

> Peter looked at the two of them, and sighed. He went into the store, and soon came outside with a latte and a croissant and sat down at their table.

>

> 'Do you know?' asked Peter.

>

> 'We probably do,' said Emerald.

>

> 'We haven't spoken to any of your superiors,' said Quartz. 'And HE doesn't expect you too. But he does expect you to cut it out.'

>

> 'God wants you to know,' started Emerald. 'That Porto Siempre is a decent enough company. It has normal shareholders and normal execs in charge. They are regular people. Just like you. And they are engaged in fair and decent business. You may have your fantasies about what you are doing, but its not the same. The situation is not the same as ancient England, and you are no Robin of Locksley.'

>

> 'No,' replied Peter, and sipped on his latte. 'It is what I have been doing. These last few days. Thinking it all over.'

>

> 'He won't have you reported,' said Quartz. 'He will leave the situation to you. But in the end he expects you to realize certain things about life, and about public harmony. There are things we really shouldn't do. Whatever justification we might have, sometimes we need to see a bigger picture. And while we might think our heart is in the right place, sometimes its mistaken.'

>

> 'The heart,' said Peter. 'Makes you do crazy things.'

>

> 'I think that's life,' said Emerald, looking at Quartz. 'We all do crazy things at time.'

>

> 'I have addressed it, though. The stealing I have been doing. They would not know. I have been careful. But I am caught now, and even though I won't be reported, I have thought it over. I felt sick the other night, and knew it was guilt. And I knew, in my heart, what I was doing was not right.'

>

> 'So its dealt with then is it?' asked Emerald.

>

> 'I think the siutation is resolved,' replied Peter.

>

> 'Then enjoy your latte, and let some water flow under the bridge,' said Emerald.

>

> Peter Sebastian nodded, looking down into his latte. He'd genuinely repented over the last few days. He'd come to term with his vision of himself as a redeeming hero and, in the end, it was not what he was in truth. And a change had been made because of it.

>

> 'Thank you, kind sirs,' said Peter.

>

> 'Think nothing of it,' replied Quartz.

>

> * * *

>

> 'So how'd it go?' aske Emerald, as Quartz came into the hotel room.

>

> 'Fine,' replied Quartz.

>

> 'And?' continued Emerald.

>

> 'And what?' asked Quartz.

>

> 'What did you do?'

>

> 'We drank. Beer. And chatted about life. He had lots of anecdotes,' siad Quartz, taking off his tie and sitting on his bed.

>

> 'Then what?'

>

> 'We went back to his hotel room,' replied Quartz.

>

> 'Oh. I see,' said Emerald. 'You went through with it.'

>

> Quartz sighed. 'He was in the bed . Naked. On his side Looking at me. He asked me if I was up for it.'

>

> 'And what did you say?' asked Emerald. There was tension in his voice.

>

> 'I looked at him for a while. And I had a few fantasies. And then old lessons of Theo filled my mind. And while I knew it was my life and my choice, I smiled at him, got dressed and left. It just wasn't me.'

>

> 'Oh. Fuck,' said Emerald.

>

> 'I rang him from the foyer. Apologized for messing him around. He said he understood. Wasn't everyones cup of tea at all, and some needed to know if it was for them or not. Said he was used to it. Came with the situation.'

>

> 'Right,' said Emerald, and a tension in him diminished.

>

> 'I'm not bisexual,' said Quartz, taking one of the small bottles of whiskey from the side bar. 'Thought I might have been, but just couldn't go through with it. It's not my scene.'

>

> 'Hate to say it, but thank God for that,' replied Emerald.

>

> As they slept that night Quartz blurted out. 'But he's putting on a private metal show for me next week.'

>

> 'For fuck's sake,' swore Emerald, as he finally got some sleep. Quartz was such a punk.

>

> * * *

>

> 'So how did it go?' asked Theo.

>

> 'Success,' said Diamond. 'Peter Sebastian is a reformed individual.

>

> 'Good. Any other – complications?' asked the Theophany of God.

>

> 'What do you mean by that?' asked Diamond.

>

> 'I heard issues had been encountered. Apparently a revelation or two was received.'

>

> 'Don't know what you are talking about,' replied Diamond, mystified.

>

> 'Never mind then. I'll take it up with them personally. Good to see, though. Your payment will be processed soon enough. Standard fee. And good work. Life goes on.'

>

> 'Indeed, Theo. Oh, we up for that card game. Still smarting after the last night. Want to win back some cashola.'

>

> 'Soon enough,' replied God. 'But again, good work. I'll contact you again soon enough.' And God was gone, leaving Diamond to order a drink in the bar, wandering what this apparent revelation was, but, otherwise, happy to be paid again soon enough, and getting on with the next job and life as a Rainbow Paladin.

>

> The End

 

> Planetary Design

>

> Cherubim Daniel Thomas Andrew Daly was hanging around Cherubim Semyaza.

>

> 'So, firstborn. What is the modus operandi for the Cherubim at the moment.'

>

> Semyaza finished his beer, and looked at Daniel. They were in the cafeteria in Terraphon keep.

>

> 'Mostly business as usual,' replied Semyaza. 'It's not the time for anything special at the moment. People have lives to live and God has creation to work upon. He's busy with several trillion new planet projects at the moment, and has been querying me on some design principles. Part of something I've been working on for a few centuries. Wants me influence in the current batch.'

>

> 'Right,' said Daniel. 'That's fascination. You get that work as a Cherubim in time, do you?'

>

> Semyaza nodded. 'He's chatted with Urakiba a lot about it before. The fellow has a big interes in that stuff. I took an interest after a while.'

>

> 'Sounds intriguing. I might have to look into it,' replied Daniel.

>

> 'He doesn't bother unless you have several botanical degrees,' said Semyaza.

>

> 'I have 3 major ones,' said Daniel. 'But its been a long while.'

>

> 'You'd probably have to severely brush up then,' replied Semyaza.

>

> 'Indeed,' finished Daniel.

>

> 

>

> Later on Daniel was back in Zaphora at Danielphon. Katy Perry and Taylor Swift were on the couch to his side, watching TV.

>

> 'Do you girls like botany?' asked Daniel.

>

> 'Why?' asked Taylor

>

> 'Cherubim can eventually get work aiding God in planetary design. I'm assuming we offer designs of layout and things,' replied Daniel.

>

> 'Fascinating,' said Katy, and returned her focus to the TV.

>

> 'What's it all about?' asked Taylor. 'That might be for me, you know. That kind of thing. I do like God. I sing alleluia to him pretty regularly.'

>

> 'Want to study botany together? Maybe at Zaphona university.

>

> Katy looked at Daniel. 'I'll do that as well.'

>

> 'Thought you weren't interested,' replied Daniel.

>

> 'I didn't say that,' said Katy. 'Was just thinking about it.'

>

> 'We'll all do it,' said Taylor.

>

> 'Sure then,' said Daniel. 'Something new for a while.'

>

> Taylor came and sat on his lap. 'Be sure to write me notes in class.'

>

> 'You bet babe,' said Daniel.

>

> 'Get a room,' said Katy.

>

> 

>

> Later on Daniel was looking at the Zaphona University entrance requirements. They were strict, but he did qualify and could naturally afford the tuition fees. He was indeed interested, one day, in giving God ideas for planetary creation. Sort of, in some way, completing his work as an angel. Work at the highest level – creation. And as he sat there, a quiet spirit settled on his heart, and he was lost in fantasies of creation all that week, time with Katy and Taylor being positively blissful. Life was good, he said to himself later that month, and God took note of his son't desires. It would be considered, and in time he might indeed call on Daniel to take part in the grand mystery of creation.

>

> The End

>

> 

>

> Saruviel and Gloryel

>

> Geri Halliwell was in her garden in her ancient Terraphoran abode. Hugh Grant, her twin the Seraphim Sariel, was inside discussin English cricket with Mike Edwards, the lead singer of the band Jesus Jones, the Seraphim angel Phindwel. Saruviel was with them also. But he had wandered out to the garden, looking around. She looked at him as she continued on with her long delayed weeding, and he turned to her and nodded. She waved back. After a moment he came over to her.

>

> 'You could do that better,' he said.

>

> 'Excuse me,' replied Gloryel.

>

> 'You are hardly a Seraphim with that effort. A minor Cimbrphim would be more entertaining to watch,' he said.

>

> She bit her lip. 'Yes Saruviel. I'll try harder.'

>

> 'You do that,' he said, and continued walking around the garden. Geri returned to her weeding, but it was building up. And it was set to explode.

>

> 'Where the fuck do you get off telling me my work sucks? Who the hell do you think you are?' she demanded.

>

> 'Archangel Saruviel,' replied Saruviel, without missing a beat. 'Appointed Adversary of the Most High. Just doing my job sweetheart.'

>

> 'I'm not your sweetheart,' replied Gloryel hotly. 'And what do you think you are? The bees knees or something.'

>

> 'A Spice Girl. When all is said and done the glorious accomplishments of the Seraphim Gloryel amount to a few pop songs, a few hours on tour, and not much else. Had talent at cricket, but never used it. Could have been a world class netballer from all reports, but didn't give a damn in the end. Simply went with the flow, and didn't live up to God's expectations. You're hardly much of an angel,' said Saruviel. 'A disappointment really.'

>

> Gloryel was beside herself. 'You, you. You bastard!' she shouted at him. 'Go fuck yourself.'

>

> 'And manners of a commoner. Hardly surprising,' said Saruviel, cold as stone.

>

> 'Get the fuck out of my garden,' shouted Gloryel. And as Saruviel departed, she just couldn't control her rage, and went to the garden well, spat into it, and was furious all afternoon.

>

> 

>

> Later, sitting with Sariel, she looked at him. 'Do me a favour. Punch Saruviel in the head one of these days.'

>

> 'What has he done?' asked Hugh.

>

> 'The audacity of the man. He comes on strong insulting my gardening, and tells me its his job. Can you believe it?' she said.

>

> 'Actually, it is his job. That hasn't technically changed,' replied Sariel.

>

> She glared at him for a moment, and then softened. 'What is my job again?' she asked him.

>

> He looked at her. 'You have yet to ask Wolfgang for your official role. I have waited a long time for you to do so.'

>

> 'Oh. Right,' she said. 'Ok. No worries.' She stood, and started getting dinner ready, and then disappeared to her bedroom, sitting on her bed. Actually, that was right. She hadn't. And apparently they had roles. It was a concept from the very beginning. But she'd never asked. She'd never inquired. And she'd never cared. But Saruviel had gotten to her. She would do something about that. She would confront father, and demand her role, and she would do it, and she would show that blasted Saruviel. By heaven's above she would show that blasted Saruviel. Then she returned to the ktichen, made dinner for herself and her visiting twin, and all the time her mind was bubbling away. Sariel just looked at her cautiously all that evening. Whatever had gotten into Gloryel? Whatever indeed.

>

> The End

>

> 

>

> Samael and Xaddadaxx

>

> Samael and Xaddadaxx were playing chess.

>

> 'The Realm of Infinity is a great place to live,' said Xaddadaxx.

>

> Samael looked at his options in the game of Solitaire he was playing. 'I don't know how Aphy does it, but she wins this damn thing so bloody much.'

>

> They were in Xaddadaxx's abode in the Golden City.

>

> 'I love my home,' said Xaddadaxx. 'And I like the single life.'

>

> 'She probably cheats. I've never really looked at her play the damn cards, but I bet she cheats.'

>

> 'There is nothing wron with being a single angel,' said Xaddadaxx. 'It's how God made me,' said Xaddadaxx.

>

> 'Maybe she prayed about it. Got a blessing to be a solitaire champ. She would do that,' mused Samael.

>

> 'I mean, I have all I need. The Universes most respected archer. Good reputatin. An address in the most prime location there is. Worth a trillion. I've got it all,' said Xaddadaxx.

>

> 'Possibly witchcraft. She's not beyond that. Not quite her scene I admit, but it's not natural her success. I can barely win a game,' said Samael.

>

> 'Yep, I'll be single forever, said Xaddadaxx.

>

> 'Check in with Garanel. He'ss seeing a girl in Nadrazon next week,' suggested Samael.

>

> 'Will do,' replied Xaddadaxx. 'Probably that time again.

>

> 'Check in with Saruviel of Eternity as well. Chaos crystals still build up from time to time. You guys are the experts,' said Samael.

>

> 'Will do that too. Thanks for reminding me. Been a while. The darkness could be up to who knows what,' replied Xaddadaxx.

>

> 'I bet she uses a loaded deck or something,' said Samael. 'The cards are probably marked.'

>

> 'I mean, its not the end of the world being single,' mused Xaddadaxx. Finally, he moved his Queen.

>

> 'Good move,' said Samael. 'Probably the best option, looking at the game.'

>

> 'Right,' said Xaddadaxx, going off to get a drink of coke.

>

> 'Maybe I should confront her. Get some answers,' said Samael. 'Find the truth to her lucky streaks.'

>

> And as they continued on with their chess game, life rolled on by in the Golden City, in the heart of the Realm of Infinity.

>

> The End

>

> 

>

> Raphael at Talzudiel's Place

>

> 'What's that?' asked Raphael.

>

> 'It's a statue of Jupiter Olympius,' replied Talzudiel. 'Every night I get down and worship it three times and say 'Bless me Lord Jupiter'. Mainly because I am bored shitless with God, who is boring and predictable.'

>

> 'What is it really?' asked Raphael.

>

> 'The Stone Warrior. He's a legend in Curantiusque culture. He wrestled the Alligator's of Mystery, and then shat on the Golden Fleece of Marconius, before stealing the shroud of Zabandar,' replied Talzudiel.

>

> 'Still don't believe you,' said Raphael. 'Come clean dude.'

>

> 'Ok. Seriously, it's a statue of Winston Churchill before the battle of Gallipoli, were he slew a millioin turks with his own bare hands,' replied Talzudiel.

>

> Raphael gave up.

>

> 'It's a statue of an old deity of the celts,' replied Talzudiel. 'It doesn't mean anything. Just a symbol of virility and strength. I've been collecting old statues of gods and things. Warriors, wizards, all sorts of crazy stuff. Just putting together a collection as an asset and to build up my estate. Never been into this sort of thing, but Winoniel likes the idea of collecting in recent times, old things, things which I have to pay an exorbitant amount for from dealers who've had them in their showrooms an eternity.'

>

> 'I see,' replied Raphael. 'Just for something to do? You need a new vision or something I think.'

>

> 'No. I don't,' replied Talzudiel. 'Life is steady, and I watch football with some Columbian and Venezuelan friends of mine, and do my work for God and my business. And it's as simple as that.'

>

> 'Right,' nodded Raphael. 'What do you do for God, then?'

>

> 'My Seraphim work. I speak to lonely people with Winoniel, out in halfway homes in outer discs and in my own. People who have broken lives and can't find answers. I try and give them some from my own experiences. How to commit to life and work with what God has already given you.'

>

> 'Sounds commendable. Would you like to do a seminar series at Mitraphon keep from your experiences.'

>

> Talzudiel looked at his older Seraphim brother, and nodded after a while. 'Yes. Yes I would. That would be satisfactory.'

>

> 'I'll arrange it,' replied Rapahel.

>

> 'Let's have some nachos,' said Talzudiel. 'Winoniel has made some.'

>

> 

>

> They sat at the table in Talzudiel's place, connected to his palace in the discworld of his overseersmanship. They were living there, currently, together, but Winoniel was off at her own disc a lot of the time, looking into affairs of maintenance and stability.

>

> 'Still doing the standard work then, I take it,' replied Raphael. 'Nothing new?'

>

> 'No. I don't need anything new,' replied Talzudiel. 'I have a full enough plate. Winoniel manages my timetable, and we do a lot of things, see a lot of people, do a lot of charity work and my ministry work, engage in my business quite a lot, and get on with life. We've committed to several epochs of this current activity and are not really looking for any change yet. Maybe one day an old new agenda, maybe some of Noah's challenges and things, which the collecting is addressing, and keeping it it keepign up with the ValDan Agenda. I have my eye on those two. They have yet to go soft, and pursue life with continued zest. I'm calm at the moment, if you really must know, and just thinking through being stable and consistent and perpetual. My focii for the time being.'

>

> 'Fascinating. You seem to have levelled out a lot,' replied Raphael. 'No longer so headstrong.'

>

> 'He's been learning,' put in Winoniel. 'Talzudiel's new attitude is mature and responsible. He's a proper Seraphim these days.'

>

> Raphael bit into the Nachos, and nodded appreciation to Winoniel. Finishing his mouthful he looked at Talzudiel. 'A time to gather stones, I think. That is what Wolfgang said this era was. A time of restoration and getting back to basics and foundation stones. Resetting and starting again with a new zeal on life.'

>

> 'Indeed,' replied Talzudiel. He looked at his twin. 'I think we are doing that actually. Keeping faith with life's basic and consistent patterns. Learning to act in ways which endure.'

>

> 'The heart of an eternal life,' said Raphael. Talzudiel nodded in agreement. That much, currently, he did indeed understand.

>

> The End

>

> 

>

> Ambriel and his Consort

>

> 'Hello David,' said Fiona.

>

> David sighed. 'Call me Ambriel. I am an angel.'

>

> 'Is that sedition in the ranks?' queried Daniel from behind the counter. 'Clean the table, employee 66547. You're not the bossman yet.'

>

> Fiona chuckled. 'He's still runs a tight ship, you know. What, did you lose another bet or something?'

>

> 'Don't ask,' replied Ambriel glumly. He looked at the form. 'Why the hell do I have to fill out this form again? I did it already?'

>

> 'Surprised you remember,' said Daniel, coming over sitting down opposite him. 'There have been some amendments to policy and we need a new employee status sheet. You need to re-register. We'll process. Read the paragraphs at the bottom, and check the boxes if you agree.'

>

> Ambriel read them. They were regarding policy codes for customers, and they seemed about right in current world political correctness terminology.

>

> 'Gay friendly?' queried Ambriel.

>

> 'Legally we will face a lawsuit if we don't comply. There is a degree of legal status for bisexuals and homosexuals realm wide. They've had several succesful lawsuits won in recent epochs, and we have to be at least gay friendly in Golden Fries and Burgers. Technically we can't even call them sinners anymore,' replied Daniel.

>

> 'You kidding? That's not right. It fundamentally violates Torah,' replied Ambriel.

>

> 'Under Rainbow Torah theology you can't conclusively convict them of being sinners. Israelite Torah does not technically apply. They accept that they are not operating completely within the will of God in their lifestyle choices, but they have rights, and they bloody insist on them,' said Daniel.

>

> 'Amazing, huh?' said Fiona. 'I deal with this stuff every day. People insisting on this and that code that I have to honour.'

>

> 'Dinner?' asked David. 'I'm dateless at the moment. Justine is giving me a hard time about not seeing me enough, and Gemma is always flirting these days. Says her fascination with David Rothchild is finished. I was just a fling thing. Thought she loved me forever.'

>

> 'Oh, David. I'll always love you,' replied Fiona.

>

> 'So its a date then?' queried David.

>

> 'Get to work, Rothchild. And don't chat on company time,' yelled Daniel.

>

> David sighed, and fitted himself out in his new work clothes, busily working the rest of the afternoon.

>

> That night Fiona looked good, and they dined in a fine Perth restaurant.

>

> 'Am I the one then?' Fiona asked him.

>

> 'You might be one day,' replied David. 'Quite honestly. I know a few ladies, but they are hard to keep. You seem to have won just by still liking me.'

>

> 'I'm single, and stay that way,' replied Fiona. 'I've always liked you. I'm cute enough, aren't I? I know I'm not gorgeous, but men usually say I scrub up well enough.'

>

> 'Your good looking enough,' said David, and looked at Fiona. 'You've always liked me, huh?'

>

> 'Always David,' she replied. He looked at her. She was in a black skirt, with her red hair done up, lipstick on, and looking quite nice. She was at her best, and he new it, but she was a bit above average, and more than being a plain Jane. The amazing Fiona Macintosh, in the end, might be a catch. Maybe it was a simple life in the end. With a girl who probably had her heart set on him, and just wouldn't let him go.

>

> 'I love you, idiot,' she said.

>

> He smiled, a little embarassed. Life was funny. It didn't happen the way you wanted, or even the way you thought it would. But it happened none the less, and perhaps you had to go with what just worked in the end, no matter how strange that may be.

>

> 'Your amazing,' he said to her. And she smiled, and he noticed, perhaps for the first time, she had a nice smile. Funny that. Fiona MacIntosh. Go figure.

>

> The End

>

> 

>

> Xaddadaxx and the Chaos Crystal VI

>

> 'It's nastier than before,' said Saruviel. 'They're not as powerful any more. The new kids down below just don't have the zonk the old bastards had. But they are cruder in the energy. Very vile and dark. Sort of evil, but more of a mocking sick kind of evil. Like a crude teenager. Nasty. Not the kind of evil which has respect. More of a punk spirit.'

>

> 'Right,' nodded Xaddadaxx. They were at their HQ, and it looked much the same. The desert out the back looked the same. There was still the petrol pump of ancient design there.

>

> 'Does it still pump?' asked Xaddadaxx.

>

> 'It's full. It's eternya. I arranged that a long time ago. I had it cleaned by professionals before you got here.' They continued around the compound, and came to the shed, and looked at their equipment.

>

> 'State of the art new stuff,' said Saruviel. 'Times change, you adapt. The way things go.'

>

> 'Lets get busy,' replied Xaddadaxx, as they got in the chevvie.

>

> 

>

> 17 months later, after a few flights, they were in an outer disc, in a farming region, which was very common for the chaos crystals to be found in, at the top of a spartan hill. Again it was dead all around the region, and at the top of the hill was a regular looking crystal.

>

> 'Touch it,' said Saruviel.

>

> Xaddadaxx touched it. In his mind he started hearing voices. They started insulting him, and there was the usual sort of energy associated with it. But they were indeed crude and nasty, and quite insulting. Like punk teenagers. He removed his hand, and the voices stopped. Saruviel tossed him a pill. 'Take it. It will prevent any schizophrenia building up.' Xaddadaxx took the pill.

>

> 'How do we destroy it?' he asked.

>

> 'We don't,' replied Saruviel. 'We chart them this time. There are several hundred all over the place. I want us to investigate them all, and work up a strategy to more effectively respond. They've changed their tactics. Nothing grand like destroying everyone, but rather about mockery and making us all look like fools. Why it's so insulting. We need to do better than just destroy their works. We need to fight fire with fire in a different way. Deal with this, or they'll just keep at it for kicks. Like punks.'

>

> 'Gotcha,' replied Xaddadaxx.

>

> 'Let's go,' said Saruviel.

>

> A few hundred miles back along the way they came they stopped off at a diner. The pretty girl he'd seen before when they got petrol was there, and she smiled at him. She came over.

>

> 'I'm Wendy,' she said to Xaddadaxx.

>

> 'Xaddadaxx,' he replied.

>

> 'I know,' she said. 'You deal with the Chaos Crystals. I have lots of magazines on you and lord Saruviel here doing it.'

>

> 'Oh,' replied Xaddadaxx nervously. 'You do?'

>

> 'You bet,' she replied. She poured the coffee and was staring at him.

>

> 'Is there something more?' Xaddadaxx asked her.

>

> 'You've never been married?' she asked. 'Have you?'

>

> He looked at her strangely. What, was she coming on to him or something. He looked at Saruviel, but he was just sipping his coffee, looking perfectly innocent. But he did have a smile on his face.

>

> 'I'm probably your biggest fan in the uinverse,' she said. 'I'm an archer as well, you know. I've awards and stuff.'

>

> 'Oh,' he said, looking at her. She was the typical waitress, with apron on to boot. And she was pretty, with her strawberry blonde hair, and very good looks.

>

> They finished their coffee, and as they got back into the chevvy, Wendy camd out, and opened the back of the Chevvy, and got in. She had a suitcase with her.

>

> 'I'll never get another life unless you take me with you,' she said. 'And I want a new life. You'll take me with you, won't you?' she said. She practically fluttered her eyelashes.

>

> 'It's dirty work,' said Saruviel.

>

> Xaddadaxx looked at his buddy.

>

> 'Can you handle it?' asked Saruviel.

>

> 'Nothing else to live for,' replied Wendy.

>

> 'You'll do,' he said. 'I'm sure Xadd will get used to a girl.'

>

> 'But, but,' said Xaddadaxx, but it was no use. Saruviel started the chevvy, and they were soon flying down the highway, all the time Xaddadaxx looking in the rearview mirror at a girl who just couldn't take her eyes off him.

>

> The End

>

> 

>

> Life in New Bridlington III

>

> 'Thunder Square,' said Jerahmeel. 'Unofficially. It's technically part of New Bridlington.'

>

> 'Right,' said Michael. 'Another store. How many do you have?'

>

> 'Enough,' replied Jerahmeel. 'Now the kids here are a bit more ordinary. It's a very public school, and it sends the kids off to very many sub planetary bodies when they are finished here. Semyaza is currently working on a new planet's design with Wolfgang which these kids will likely end up. The ones coming in today. I contacted Semyaza having heard about his new work, and asked him to tackle some ideas I had, which I think will work well for these kids. The kind of geography and things they'll like. I especially asked for scorpions, as they never stop rattling on about them. Their cricket team is the Scorpions and they are passionate about them.'

>

> 'Right,' nodded Michael. 'I'll keep that in mind. Chat about scorpions.'

>

> 'See you at the end of the day,' said Jerahmeel, and left.

>

> Daniel came in at midday.

>

> 'Any flyers for me?' he asked. 'I'll do another decade if you like with these kids?'

>

> 'Why the service?' asked Michael. 'I don't pay you.'

>

> 'Hey, I'm a servant of God also. And I'm the Arch Regent of Eternity. You don't get that job if you are proud. You may accuse me of that, and many do, but I know how to serve God and to serve others, and do things which need to be done to maintain the public spirit in the universe. I follow Torah and your Torah Temple provides the same stuff as Noahidism does. You guys don't insist on converts, so that

>

> work s for me also. I'm not trying to make everyone join my religion. I'm about everyone having their piece of the pie, in the sky, uh huh.'

>

> 'Your quoting Boom Crash Opera,' replied Michael chidingly.

>

> 'I have a sense of humour. Sue me,' replied Michael.

>

> 'Go to my place. Knock. Ask Elenniel for a 100 pack. Get the work done, and this time you can have dinner with us,' said Michael.

>

> 'Sure thing boss,' replied Daniel, and left.

>

> Wolfgang came in at about 3.

>

> 'Noticed Daniel handing out your flyers. You're back here, now, are you?' asked Wolfgang.

>

> Michael looked at the Theophany. 'And what if I am?'

>

> 'You've learned the lesson I wanted you to, have you?' asked God.

>

> 'It was always under control. I let things be. I don't need to be always so on duty. Life goe on regardless.'

>

> 'And sometimes people make that life go on,' replied God, and left.

>

> Michael continued serving, and that night he was chatting with Daniel, and then he started thinking about what God had said. Yes. It was true. Sometimes the little guys had to do what the big guys were just too proud to.'

>

> 'I'll hand out flyers with you tomorrow,' said Michael. 'I'll be here for about 3 or 4 years. Do the decade, though. Like you said you would.'

>

> 'Will do,' agreed Daniel.

>

> And they ate, and at the end of the meal, when Daniel had left, Michael smiled a little. A time to gather stones indeed.

>

> The End

>

> 

>

> Gabriel and Aquariel VIII

>

> 'There is a mystery to life,' said Gabriel. 'When a woman cries, for example.'

>

> 'It's no mystery. A man has pissed her off,' replied Aquariel. Gabriel stuck out his tongue at her.

>

> 'When a dove flies in the skies is another mystery,' continued Gabriel.

>

> 'They have wings. The wings flap real quick like,' replied Aquariel. 'Again, no mystery. Basic avionics.'

>

> 'When the rooster crows at dawn. Mind boggling the wisdom of God on that,' said Gabriel.

>

> 'You're mind boggling,' replied Aquariel.

>

> 'But the greatest mystery of all..'

>

> 'The long windedness of the Angel Gabriel,' finished Aquariel.

>

> Gabriel looked at his twin. 'Why do I love the likes of you?' he asked her.

>

> 'I don't know. It must be a mystery,' she said quippingly.

>

> 'Mmmm. Indeed,' he replied.

>

> As the day turned Gabriel continued on with his work, while Aquariel quietly knitted. They were in his office in Terraphon Keep.

>

> 'Michael will be reinstalled as Realm overseer again at the end of the year. He has been contracted by Daniel and Valandriel to a million years in the job. Apparently it is the beginning of a new spate of Arcs,' said Gabriel.

>

> Aquariel looked up at him. 'Who replaces him?' she asked.

>

> 'The Seraphim will be rostered on in the standard order from the beginning. One after another. This time the code is to be strictly set at one million years each term in office. No exceptions permitted.'

>

> 'Right,' she nodded, and returned to her knitting. Without looking up she said, 'So you'll be busy again soon enough.'

>

> 'I've always been busy,' he replied.

>

> 'With proper work,' she continued.

>

> 'I've always done proper work,' he replied.

>

> 'Of value,' she finished. He looked at her, practically glared, and continued on with his paperwork.

>

> After a while he spoke again. 'There are to be traditions focused on. Old things, not finished off properly, and addressed this time. The general word from Michael is that people have had a run through of how life works, now. This time we take it a bit more seriously. The dress rehearsal is over.'

>

> She looked at him. 'Life has been a dress rehearsal so far? Pretty serious dress rehearsal then.'

>

> 'It's just a way of expressing it. Michael wants us to get things right this time through. Split Enz will be disappointed because history is now set to repeat.'

>

> 'Probably about time too,' replied Aquariel. 'Good opportunity to do a lot of things again with my experience.'

>

> Gabriel looked at his twin. 'We all make mistakes, but starting again sounds good. We sort of know how life works. It will be interesting to see it all go over again.'

>

> 'On to the cherubim overseers after the Seraphim finish?' asked Aquariel.

>

> 'Presumably. Life could be interesting. When they were finished it went through all sorts of people, the top job. It never really had any clear planning in it. Most of them seemingly chosen by Daniel and Valandriel at random. Jobs for the boys I think.'

>

> 'Nobody cared much anyway,' replied Aquariel. 'At least they did the organising of things. Somebody had to.'

>

> 'True, I suppose. But I'd like that more properly addressed this time.'

>

> 'What? All the way through to the end of the Ketravim, and the Saruvim even. We probably have enough time to get through all them I guess,' replied Aquariel.

>

> 'This time, I think,' continued Gabriel. 'That I will make that a point of my overseersmanship. Official overseers till the end of the Valandriphim before any funny business of whoever they want.'

>

> 'That should be far enough,' replied Aquariel. 'Oh, how far up to the groups of angels go? I lost knowledge on that a long time ago.'

>

> 'I think there are about 70 official groups,' replied Valandriel. 'Most of them way, way out in newer discs we don't even know about.'

>

> 'Probably all named after the male Seraphim,' said Aquariel.

>

> 'I think that is somewhat the case,' replied Gabriel. 'But there might be exceptions. I'll have to look into it.'

>

> 'Good,' she replied. 'Well, I've finished the scarf. It's house Ravenclaw. I hope you like,' and she put it around his neck. 'You look a champion, Harry Potter,' she said to him.

>

> 'Very funny,' he replied.

>

> The End

>

> 

>

> Rachel and Jane

>

> 'Rachel,' said Aphrayel. 'What are you doing here?'

>

> 'Is Callodyn here?' asked Rachel Rothchild.

>

> 'He's over at Xaddadaxx's. He's been there a lot recently.'

>

> Rachel nodded. 'How have you been?'

>

> 'Oh, you know. Busy enough. Life as a Celestyel and all that,' replied Aphrayel.

>

> 'Of course,' said Rachel, and looked at her watch. She then looked uo at Aphrayel, almost expectantly.

>

> 'Is there something you wanted?' asked Aphrayel.

>

> 'To clear some things up. Can I come in?'

>

> 'Sure,' replied Aphrayel, and mad way for Rachel who came in and glanced around the room.

>

> 'You don't change it much,' she siad.

>

> 'I don't see much point, really, quite frankly,' replied Aphrayel. 'Seasons come and go and fashions come and go, but heavenly things were made to be eternal, and its all the original design and things. It's how I like it. Most of us keep it to the original.'

>

> 'I've noticed,' replied Rachel.

>

> 'Oh, sit,' said Aphrael. Rachel sat, and Aphrayel took a seat on the single couch, and looked at her. 'What do want to talk about then?'

>

> 'Samael. And me. I love him, of course. But you know that. He is father of Sandalphon. Leo. As I am. That is an ancient thing, and the motherly affection I have for Leopold is still there, but distant. Hard to remember. But its still there. And while I have been distant a long, long time, with others, I have finished all that. All that life I had had its point, and needed to have its point. I dealt with Ketravim angels, mostly. I am their firstborn, and it was a long work, and it took forever, but we're established in what we are about now, and ready to go on with things. I know them all. I know each and every one of them. But a life I've long had on hold it ready to resume. And so you will know, that is life with my husband Callodyn Bradlock. I may be Rachel Rothchild, but I am also Rachel Bradlock. And I will see that Jane Talbourne knows that.' She stopped, and looked over at Aphrayel.

>

> 'Right,' replied Aphrayel after a while. 'I understand. Sure, whatever. If that is what does it for you Rachel.'

>

> 'Yes. It does,' she replied frankly. 'So, I will likely be seeing a lot more of you now Jane. I hope you understand.'

>

> 'Perfectly,' replied Aphrayel.

>

> When Rachel had left, headed over to Xaddadaxx's, Aphrayel took a swig of Sandalphon's whiskey, reached for her cards, and when she started dealing out a game of solitaire she would not win, even God was embarassed as she said 'That little fucking bitch.' It was most definitely not like Aphrayel to say such a thing. Challenging times were coming, it seemed. And lives were about to be turned over. And the Celestyel angel Aphrayel was not happy about it. Not happy one little bit.

>

> The End

>

> 

>

> Delta II

>

> 'So she's fucked off back to Sammy,' said Jack Dagger.

>

> 'Don't be so crude,' chided Cheryl. 'She has returned to her love. The Ketravim are under control, and Rachel has a life to return to. She will see us all from time to time.'

>

> Delta sat in the congregation of the Way of the Eternal Dove in her usual little group, with Jack and Cheryl, holding her Rainbow Bible, thinking. 'It's an old day,' said Delta.

>

> Jack looked at her quizically.

>

> 'What's an old day?' asked Cheryl.

>

> 'Today,' replied Delta. 'It's not a new day. I knew it when I got up this morning. It's not new. It hasn't been for weeks now. It's old. It's old days. Days from ancient time. He's reset things. God has reset things.'

>

> Cheryl looked at Delta and looked at Jack, a puzzled look on her face.

>

> 'Don't ask me,' said Jack. 'She must have been smoking something not quite legit.'

>

> 'I'm serious,' replied Delta. 'The spirit. At the moment. It's old stuff. Used stuff in a way. I mean, its fresh again. Very fresh in fact. Well rested by the looks of it. But it's the old stuff. God has started again. We're going back to the beginnig.'

>

> 'Apparently a time to gather stones,' said Jack.

>

> 'That's 100% it,' replied Delta. 'From Ecclesiastes. That is 100% what is going on. God has reset things. He's taking stock and starting our projects afresh.'

>

> Jack looked at Cheryl, as if that answered their dilemma.

>

> 'She's right,' said Cheryl. 'I have animistisic understanding to a degree. Ronnie James Dio likes to talk this shit with me. The days are old. I think I knew it subconsciously. And they have been for a while now, haven't they Delta?'

>

> 'We're in for some OLD things,' said Delta. 'And we're supposed to know what to do as well. I sense that right in my heart. This time we're expected to be at our best.'

>

> 'Fascinating,' replied Jack. 'The best of Jack Dagger. I'll have you son and all that jazz.'

>

> 'Oh, please,' said Cheryl. 'You've been on a retirement package forever. You couldn't work again if they paid you.'

>

> Jack looked at her, stood, and stretched. He looked at Cheryl. 'We'll see about that Cheryl Cole. You haven't seen the best of Jack Dagger yet.'

>

> Cheryl laughed. She looked at Delta. 'Back in business again, are we? What, Girls Aloud for me after all this time?'

>

> Delta looked at Cheryl. Then she laughed and laughed and laughed, and went to the front, and picked up a pen and paper, and began writing. 'Song lyrics!' she exclaimed. 'I have new song lyrics. Original ones, even.'

>

> 'Might be possible,' said Jack. 'Official info declares a lot of copyright knowledge remains within the domain of a whole host of the original creators. Not everything has been touched because it really just can't be.'

>

> 'And there good,' said Delta. And then she was off, to a recording studio nearby, which she sat in occasionally, and when Cheryl showed up later that afternoon, they chatted, and Cheryl had written down a few lines, and they were off. Starting again. A new spirit, or to be more precise, an old spirit. Just what had God been up to.

>

> The End

>

> 

>

> Business as Usual

>

> 'Cindradel. My God. You never leave, do you?' asked Michael.

>

> Cindradel plonked a pile of strange looking files on his desk. 'Unresolved business. From your time as overseer. There are about 3000 such piles. You'll get through them. Welcome back, chief.'

>

> Michael sighed. Life was weird. He'd visited the throneroom. Daniel had been very upset for some weird reason. The colours were all over the place from the flame. It was apparently most distressing. Supposedly he'd been busy at prayer ever since. Funny that. And now these files, and looking at the first one he knew exactly what it was, like the back of his hand, and it suddenly dawned on him all the loose ends he would have to now address. The old fox. He'd had this planned for an eternity. He just knew it. Picking it up he looked at it.

>

> 'Pellersphon.' was written on the cover of the file. Michael almost swore. He picked up the phone, and rang Mistrel's number.

>

> 'Ok. I get the fucking point,' he said to Mistrel, and hung up on him. He looked up towards home, where he pictured it to be. 'I get the point, ok. I get the point.' In the throneroom of Zaphon the flames of God danced the most majestically they'd had in a very, very, VERY long time. And then the steady blue finally returned, and new prayer, most fervently prayed indeed, had at last been answered, and life, in the Realm of Eternity, the heart of God, got back to business as usual.

>

> The End

>

> 

>

> Lost in the Angelfire

>

> 'You know, Michael,' began Samael. 'I was right. You are a bigger idiot than Raphael.'

>

> 'Watch it,' replied Michael, watching the flames of the Angelfire. 'Life has just begun. Have some respect.'

>

> Wolfgang was wading around in the Angelfire. He was bending down from time to time, doing the things which the theophany of God did.

>

> 'He must be stirring,' quipped Samael, smoking on his ciggie.

>

> 'Very funny,' replied Michael.

>

> 'Maybe he's fishing,' suggested Samael.

>

> 'Looking for a new soul,' stated God. 'I know there are some new ones which have been bubbling along for quite a long time.'

>

> 'Fascinating,' replied Samael.

>

> God continued his wading and, after a while, waded out further into the Angelfire.

>

> 'How far out does that go?' asked Samael. 'Can't really see an end to it.'

>

> 'It's infinite,' stated God. 'But I don't really use it all.'

>

> 'That's a relief,' replied Samael. 'Could be a concern if Godzilla popped up. Just saying, you know.'

>

> 'Sure,' shouted God. But after a while he was too far out of sight to see.

>

> 'He's lost in there,' said Samael, finishing his ciggie.

>

> Michael watched. Then he sat down, crossed his legs, and waited. He would wait and see.

>

> 'Blow this for a joke,' said Samael and left. But Michael sat there. He wanted to see what would come of this new project.

>

> * * * * *

>

> 'So I say to him, how about 3,' said Samael.

>

> 'And what did he say?' asked Claudia.

>

> 'Get a life, dingbat. Do I look made of money.'

>

> 'Claudia laughed. Another bad joke from the angel Samael.

>

> 'Will he be back today?' asked Claudia.

>

> 'Don't know,' said Samael. 'Michael is still down there. Raphael gets him lunch each day, and Doriel gets him dinner. He hasn't left. Must crap down there.'

>

> 'He probably goes to a proper toilet. Don't be silly,' chided Claudia the Angel.

>

> 'God's still in there. Lost. Gathering new souls apparently. We're to have a new host.'

>

> 'We probably need them,' replied Claudia. 'I'm getting used to your jokes. Trillions of years, and I think I've heard them all by now.'

>

> 'I think I got some new material,' replied Samael.

>

> 'Try me,' she replied.

>

> 'Oh, I'd like to try you alright,' replied Samael.

>

> 'Dream on,' she replied.

>

> * * * * *

>

> It had been a week, and he'd spied him once or twice wandering close by, but he didn't stay long, and was gone again. But now he was drifting towards him, and he had his sack full.

>

> 'Got what you were looking for?' asked Michael.

>

> God showed him the sack. There were hundreds of feathers inside.

>

> 'That's what they are made from?' asked Michael. God winked back.

>

> 

>

> A few weeks later, adding to 500 angels of the Angelfire, were 500 more. They stood at attention at assembly, all bright and beautiful, and very responsible and very crisp and new. God informed his children the new angels would put them to shame, so slack had their standards become. Funnily enough nobody even disputed it.

>

> 

>

> And as the community doubled in size, Samael liked chatting up the new chicks, but they too would not have a bar of it, and all he could say was 'Jesus!'.

>

> 

>

> The End

>

> 

>

> Matters of the Heart

>

> 'Ok, Kayella,' said Callodyn. 'It goes like this. I'm the man, and I'm the boss.'

>

> 'Keep on dreaming,' replied Kayella. 'I'm a whole lotta woman, buster, and way too much for the likes of you.'

>

> 'God. She's hardly conforming to the standards. Reset everything, but her attitude sucks,' complained Callodyn.

>

> Kayella poked her tongue out at Callodyn. They were in the nursery, and Kayella knew exactly what was what. She remembered this place, now, like the back of her hand. In some ways it was like she had never left. She'd been all over it all morning, poking around in cabinets, finding old unfinished paintings she'd done from a long time ago, and then Ariel showed up complaining about a wolf.

>

> 'That old thing,' said Kayella. 'It didn't get you last time, it won't this.'

>

> 'No,' replied Ariel. 'Daniel warned him off. He's brave.'

>

> As the days passed, God showed them around the Nursery and the grounds and other parts of the heart of God.

>

> 'You can't really come here when you want. It's up to him to have a purpose. But at the moment he's brought you here. This place is full of his memories, and he keeps it under lock and key to think about things.'

>

> 'Is Aquamarine somewhere in this world?' asked Callodyn.

>

> Wolfgang looked at him. 'Yes. There are connections everywhere. Remembering it are you?'

>

> Callodyn nodded. 'The heart of God. It's unforgettable.'

>

> 'We don't have too much longer,' replied the Theophany. 'But I have a digital camera with me, which he's allowed, and I want the bunch of you to look at some of the old artwork and see how you can improve things. And I want to take some photos.'

>

> So Callody, Daniel, Ariel and Kayella, and after a while Michael and Elenniel when they had wandered in, starting going through the ancien work they had done in their very youth, and it was Kayella who immediately noticed that she'd had good ideas in her formative thoughts, but some new ones, at a very primal level, were in her now. And she thought about that, and decided on the embellishments her heart was leading her in to.

>

> And then, no sooner had they been in the bliss of life, that they were back in Zaphon tower in the throneroom, and Callodyn kissed Kayella on the hand, and went off to other matters of the heart, but said he'd like to catch up again soon. And that was that.

>

> The End

>

> 

>

> A Place called Home

>

> Logos looked around. Metatron wasn't anywhere to be seen. He came around drom the corner Home's main homestead building, and encroached upon 'Fort Blue'. Metatron's shed, in other words. He stood there at the entrance, looking at the rusty farm machinery. It had always been rusty. Made that way. Now where would the latch be. There had to be a latch. Getting down into Metties archives, storage cells, research laboratories, and other places of interest in the likely numerous levels and sublevels of his adversary was a challenge he was willing to take up. Fort Red, on the other side of Home, was invincible to the infiltrative skills of even God himself – well, clowns like Metatron anyway. Home, technically, was Fort Yellow. Neutral ground. Whether it was God or Memra who defended Fort Yellow was a matter of continued debate. Neither made any firm claim, but it was universally accepted that it was indeed Fort Yellow, good for cookies, dinner, and the end of any war games between the constantly warring brothers. Now where was that damn latch?

>

> 

>

> Metatron was at the front room window of Home, spying out the window.

>

> 'What the heck you looking at?' asked Memra, coming into the room. God was on the couch, playing Nintendo. He was on Super Mario World level 8. He would get it this time.

>

> 'It's Logos. He's trying to break into Fort Blue. This could be good.'

>

> 'What? Is it booby trapped or something?'

>

> 'Just watch,' replied Metatron.

>

> Memra and God as well came and gawked. After a moment several screeches and yelps were heard, and Logos ran out of the shed, a raccoon, by the looks of it, with a firm mouth attached and bitten into his arm.

>

> 'Heh heh,' said Metatron.

>

> 'Well trained is he?' asked God.

>

> 'Felix is deadly,' replied Metatron. 'He's trained to kill.'

>

> 'The wrath of a raccoon,' replied God, and returned to his game, looking longingly at Memra. She turned to him.

>

> 'No cookies till later,' she said. God grumbled.

>

> Shortly Logos came in through the front door, hand on his arm, which was bleeding a little.

>

> 'What? Did you run into trouble?' asked Metatron, a slight smirk on his face.

>

> 'It was nothing. Just a fall,' replied Logos.

>

> 'Looks nasty,' said Metatron. 'You best get that seen to. Might have an infection.'

>

> Logos just glared at his brother.

>

> Shortly Memra had finished applying some dettol and a plaster to Logos arm, and he was sitting, watching God play Mario.

>

> 'I'm going down to Kalon,' said Logos. Kalon was the Platinum city of the Realm of Infinity, the second highest point in the Realm, above Azion the Golden City, where the Onaphim and rest usually resided, and beneath Taravon, where some of the children of the children of Heaven lived, watching over the Realm in their official duties. Kalon was reserved for Logos and the Ecclesia he had chosen, the Seraphim of Infinity. It was where they prayed, amongst other things, and made their general plans for their days, as well as storing a lot of their things they'd acquired over time there. It was a secure place, and Logos kept his rather extensive stamp collection there.

>

> 'You look, I don't know, bothered,' replied Metatron. 'Did you run into trouble or something.'

>

> 'No. Nothing like that,' replied Logos. 'Just bored.'

>

> 'Challenge me at Road Rash 88 on the Megadrive,' said God. Logos looked at his father. He liked that game.

>

> 'Yeh, sure,' he said, sitting down, as God changed the cartridge and flicked a button to bring up the Megadrive screen. And so they whiled away the afternoon playing Road Rash 88, and Metatron got involved a lot, Memra's cookies going down well, in a Place called Home.

>

> The End

>

> 

>

> Questions for God

>

> As the afternoon passed, Logos looked at God. 'Anyway, who are these Rainbow Paladins I have been hearing about recently. They're apparently not quite human and not quite angels.'

>

> 'How did you hear that?' asked God, not taking his eyes off the screen in his current battle with Metatron.

>

> 'A little birdy. I inquired in the throneroom of Azion as to whether they were human or angels. God said after a while 'NEITHER' in his usual voice. So what are they then?'

>

> God hit pause on his joypad, which elicited a 'What the heck!' from Metatron, and looked at Logos. 'They were created first of all in a sense. First physical creations, but not in the heart of God. That preceeded everything. But when I had ideas to begin work on the spiritual realms I made them first. They were put into slumber, and only awakened a few millennia ago. They have official duties with me. They work through the Allegiance agency,' said God.

>

> 'Right,' said Logos. God nodded, and Logos being seemingly satisfied, returned to his game. The game progressed for a while.

>

> '6 males and a female,' said Logos. 'Like the Justice League, huh?'

>

> 'You could say that,' replied God.

>

> 'They have names?'

>

> God nodded.

>

> 'Well. What are they like? Do they serve some official purpose or something?'

>

> 'Servants,' replied God. 'They do odd jobs for me. Legal issues mostly. They are being trained. There will probably be more of them later on.'

>

> 'Not human. Not angelic. Similar I take it?' queried Logos.

>

> 'They are also made in the image of God. Very compatible. Your kind can mate with them if you insist. I don't allow it, technically, but if you insist.'

>

> 'Right,' nodded Logos, looking at the screen. 'Paladins? Like a cleric knight?'

>

> 'Pretty much,' replied God. 'They also are imbued with the Light Magic. They are diametrically opposed to the Dark Magic in their substance. They don't know that though. They haven't been told about their powers yet. Latent at this stage till they get older. Very typical of D&D Paladins and the like. Magical strengths, fighting abilities, good hearts, and a lot of courage. Somewhat like angels, but warrior versions in a sense. Like Mettie on his day.'

>

> 'Right,' nodded Logos. He sat in silence for a while, then spoke out once more. 'Why haven't you told us about them before?'

>

> 'Is that a problem?' asked god.

>

> 'No. Not really. But are they going to be a thing one day? I mean, we won't need new jobs or something will we?'

>

> 'Hardly,' replied the theophany. 'Believe me, when more of them come along you'll get used to them soon enough. They will do a lot of work with Allegiance and things. Lots of police officers.'

>

> 'I see,' replied Logos. 'What, you don't trust us with those jobs?'

>

> 'What are you driving at?' asked God, now aroused, and hitting pause on his joypad. 'Jealousy? Envy? Or worry?'

>

> 'I don't know,' said Logos. 'Should I be?'

>

> 'No. You damn well shouldn't. By the time they are strong in numbers you'll wonder how you ever lived without them, quite frankly. You think I don't know what most of your chump kind are made of? They'll keep you on the straight and narrow, and they complete my main work. Ok. They're the strict ruler on the palm of the hand, like you were when you were young. Don't worry, they don't chase authority positions. They are as normal as the rest of you. Just good at being Knights mainly. You'll appreciate them soon enough. You'll notice all the similarities, and thank God for them.'

>

> 'Oh. Right,' said Logos. 'Fine then. No worries.' And he stood and left the room. Memra went after him.

>

> 'He's got fears,' said Metatron.

>

> 'He won't when he's met Diamond. They'll get along well. Diamond likes Logos style. I already know this.'

>

> 'Sure,' said Metatron, looking at God. But he returned his focus to the game, while Logos in the other room was sitting on his bed, thinking over things. But he was calm after a while, as his heavenly father was reassuring his heart that the Paladins were in fact his will, and would be well received, from him in particular. So he shrugged after a while, and came back to the other room, and started playing with God and Metatron again, God looking him over, understanding that the situation was resolved.

>

> The End

>

> 

>

> Questions for God II

>

> 'Who are the Angelfire Angels?' asked Logos.

>

> 'More questions,' sighed God. 'Why the hell has the Spirit told you about them?'

>

> 'I asked if Cherubim Daniel Thomas Andrew Daly's authority was absolute. He said the Angelfire Angels are a greater authority. Who the hell are they?'

>

> 'Humph,' replied God. 'Fine. If you must know. The Angelfire is the primal source of angelic creation. The archetype of all angels comes forth from the Angelfire Angels. They live in a heavenly realm separate to what you are aware of. There are 500 of them. Uh, no. Just a sec. 1000 now, of course.'

>

> 'Right,' replied Logos. 'And where they made first?'

>

> 'Indeed they were. Before Daniel and Michael and Metaron and everyone else. You know the primary names of their rulership. Names which don't surprise. From which those who bear these names draw an identity.'

>

> 'There's a Logos angelfire angel then?'' queried Logos.

>

> 'You're original. But a lot of names, primal names in creation, are amongst them. Kelly. John. Patrick. Juan. Genghis. Kim. All sorts of stuff which is very common and primal to our culture. The most common of names, usually. Some a little rare, but the templates for all that followed on them. There are some new ones now, which have been an amalgam of all the new common names, pouring their person into the new angelfire angel. That will be done many times in the future also. You don't get to meet them.' He looked at Logos. 'At least not any time soon.'

>

> 'Why don't I have one?' queried Logos.

>

> 'Not exactly the name of the day,' replied God.

>

> 'Uh, no,' said Logos. 'There are a few, though, you know. Logos Smith. He has a good sense of humour. Lives in the Realm of Eternity. A good friend.'

>

> 'You'll have to tell me about him some time,' replied God. 'Good to know they're using yours now. I wondered if it would ever catch on.'

>

> 'Oh, its out there. Rare as hen's teeth, but its out there.'

>

> 'Metatron is actually catching on,' said Mettie. 'There are a few.'

>

> 'I know half a dozen Memra's,' said Memra.

>

> God looked at them. They were all looking at him innocently. He came clean. 'Ok. You know that Wolfgang is common, but yes you idiots, there are God's all over the place. Weird pentecostals do it these days. God Jenkins has a fine sense of humour, believe me.'

>

> Logos smiled first, and then the other two.

>

> 'Thought it was on the reserved list,' said Logos.

>

> 'Not anymore,' said God. 'It was released a while ago. And before you ask, Satan is indeed pissed off at Satan Veneables. Can't stand the bastard.'

>

> There were a few chuckles that afternoon, and a few jokes about names. But spirits were high, and God didn't mind at all. But the inventive God Satan McFuckwit was really pushing it. Really pushing it indeed.

>

> The End

>

> 

>

> Jupiter Olympius

>

> 'It's a scroll,' said Noah.

>

> 'I know,' replied Titea. 'What does it say?'

>

> 'A language I don't know,' replied Noah.

>

> 'Hand it to me,' said Naamah. Noah handed his wife the scroll.

>

> She looked it over. 'It's Curantiusquan,' she said. 'A language of a Chaldeean subculture. The script is different to other Chaldeean ones. They were inventive. It talks of a statue. A rare statue, which is worth a lot of money. Of Jupiter Olympius. The scroll is quite old, and they are discussing where the statue might possibly be located. It is speculated that it was sold on, and is in the hand of some rare antique dealer somewhere.'

>

> 'Fascinating,' replied Noah.

>

> 'Where did you get it?' asked Titea.

>

> 'It was passed to me. Said the subject of the scroll was something to inquire into. A major thing, which could be worth a lot of money.'

>

> 'It obviously is,' replied Naaman. 'The Curantians are notorious idolaters, in a sense. Not in the literal sense of actually worshipping idols, as they are faithful to Allah quite a lot, and do not dabble with such profanites. But they love collecting idol statues, especially ancient ones. It's a major hobby of theirs. Part of the culture when it was created. The normalization of figurines and statues and things. Matching the western culture in accepting that these things are just things of stone and wood, but that their value in collectability and artistic merit was something which was factual. Catholics influenced the foundation of the culture a great deal.'

>

> 'Fascinating,' said Titea. 'You might have to look into it, Noah. A task do to for the sake of it. One of the tasks of Noah.'

>

> Noah looked at the scroll. 'Where do I go next? I want to acquire the statue. Rub its belly. Have fun with it.'

>

> Naamah looked at the scroll. 'The last location they suggested it went was a zone of the realm of eternity where antique stores proliferate. You might start there I guess.'

>

> 'Will do then,' replied Noah.

>

> 'What, this is the start of a collecting phase?' asked Titea.

>

> 'Why not,' said Noah. 'I have an offical Noahide Archive now. Daniel has sold me an old Archive of his, which has excellent storage facilities, located near Paradision on Televon. Not far from Callodyn the Cherubim's home. Near Ruth and Boaz' place.'

>

> 'Let's do this thing together,' said Titea.

>

> 'You enjoy him for a while then,' said Naamah. 'I'm busy with various woman's group here at the moment.'

>

> 'We'll book a holiday for the Realm,' said Noah. 'Spend some credits. It's been a while since I've been down there. Party it up with the Makarova's and things.'

>

> 'Not Rachav,' said Naamah. 'She is too fundamental. Can't get over the 7 laws being official. Insists on them still. The climate at the moment with the gay friendly attitude everywhere puts her at odds with so many people.'

>

> 'She's my girl,' said Noah. 'And she's got a nice place in Terraphora. It cost her enough suffering, so I'll justify that, and drop in. Maybe some time with Billy Jack Dial also.'

>

> 'He's more reasonable,' said Naamah.

>

> 'And then fortune hunting we go,' replied the Father of the Rainbow, an excited Titea already planning what she would wear.

>

> The End

>

> 

>

> Lucy and Enrique

>

> 'Majestica. She's really proving popular these days,' said Enrique, laying on Lucy's bed. They were in heaven, Childre of Heaven in their traditional abode.

>

> 'She's going great guns,' replied Lucy, twirling an ancient paper umbrella in her fingers. 'And Geoffrey Archer is starting to make a name for himself with his Spellbook. It's doing great things in Avalynn.'

>

> 'Your usual haunt, now,' said Enrique.

>

> 'There are a lot of friends of mine there,' replied Lucy. 'I've gotten to know the place. It grows still, every day. The sixth heavenly realm is perhaps the biggest, I think, of the Realms. It's Phanuel's prayers over the place. He tells me about it. Talks with Theo and asks him all the time to bless and enlargen it. He takes it seriously when he gets up there to look into his work.'

>

> 'Where is home, though?' asked Enrique.

>

> 'Here, of course. Or perhaps on New Terra in Cooma. Probably there, Next to the pool. Shelandragh mostly lives there in Bunyan, and I think that is my other home. Apart from this place. A few places, I guess. But that's life in such a large and old universe.'

>

> 'Pretty much,' replied Enrique. 'Damiano and Vaeronnika. Are they still together?'

>

> 'On and off,' replied Lucy. 'She usually can't stand him, but loves him also with all she has in her. Sworn eternal devotion to him that many times I've lost count.'

>

> 'The eternal love hate relationship,' replied Enrique.

>

> 'Or just passion,' said Lucy. 'Life's like that. It has its passions. Shelandragh says so all the time.' Enrique smiled at that.

>

> They sat there, chatting softly, as the radio played in the background, and Paul walked in. 'Dinner is coming up,' he said. 'Come and spend it with us.'

>

> 'Will do,' said Lucy.

>

> 

>

> They had gathered in the dining hall, and Lucy was chatting with Eve. She was in a good mood. Adam said he was feeling like his old self, and had been passionate in the bedroom department as of late.

>

> 'I fear I may have a little one growing inside. I'm not sure,' said Eve.

>

> 'Another child of Eve,' replied Lucy. 'Where will it live? It's been so long.'

>

> 'I'm planning on sending the kid to live with its brother Seth for a while. If I'm with child. Seth needs some relief from Cain's harassment. He's been very insistent as of late that they hang together, and get along. I mean, Seth doesn't mind, but Cain has a bawdy sense of humor as you know, and the new sibling might settle them somewhat.'

>

> 'A good enough idea, I suppose,' replied Lucy.

>

> Dinner was served, and Lucy sat there, eating her meal quietly, looking over at Aphrayel. Aphrayel was in heaven a lot in recent times. Her role as death kept her busy everywhere in the universe, but sitting next to Samael, she had been living quietly in heaven, playing board games in the library with Samael, very weirdly. Things like Monopoly and Scrabble and Ludo and things. Very strange behaviour indeed. She thought's she'd bring it up.

>

> 'Why all the board games, sis?' Lucy asked the child of heaven opposite her.

>

> 'Living a childhood I never really knew in some ways,' said Aphrayel. 'Always caught up in our agenda. Not much happening on that anymore. Sammy is mostly over those ideas.'

>

> 'I've noticed,' said Lucy, looking at the old devil. 'Perhaps he's returned to normal at last.'

>

> 'Something like that,' replied Aphrayel. 'Oh, you know. Life goes on. Ironic, isn't it.'

>

> 'Very true,' replied Lucy.

>

> 

>

> Later on her and Enrique were back in her room.

>

> 'Aphrayel and Samael seem to be almost innocent these days,' she commented.

>

> Enrique put his hand on her arm. 'It will never last. Take it from a Spaniard. The Devil always comes out to play when you least expect it. He's repented according to the contract, but its been a long time now, and that contracted lapsed quite a while ago. We had no guarantee on his future decisions. That was part of the deal all along. He just committed to genuinely repenting. But people fall, sis. They did it once. And I wouldn't be surprised to see them do it again.'

>

> Lucy sat there, and looked up at the wall of the picture of God. 'No,' she thought to herfself. 'There are no guarantees, are there.' The painting almost smiled a 'Dream on' in reply.

>

> The End

>

> 

>

> Board Games

>

> 'How about Risk, now,' suggested Aphrayel.

>

> Samael looked around the library. 'What? Make it that obvious? Our strategy training must start completely innocently. We can't look as if we are up to anything at all. In a few months it will look normal enough if we're playing Risk, and by the end of the year Dungeons and Dragons and Warhammer will be taken for granted. We're just gamers. That won't put anybody off.'

>

> 'Fine. Ludo then?'

>

> 'Roll those dice,' said Samael.

>

> They played around all afternoon, and Aphrayel sipped on her Coca Cola. 'Anything permeated that brain, yet, then?' she asked him.

>

> 'I have – ideas,' he said. 'Been thinking over my repentance, and what I committed to, and again, what our roles give us permissions in general to attempt to achieve. God likes it civilized like. But he does expect us to do what we do best. So we do that. What we do best.'

>

> Aphrayel laughed with glee a little. 'Sounds positively delightful. I got em all once. I can get em again.'

>

> 'It won't be so easy second time around,' said Samael. 'They're not stupid for starters. Lucy was a sucker the other night. Completely believed you. They won't get us on any cunning contract this time, if I can at all help it. We'll remain subtle. They won't see it coming.'

>

> 'Good. Revenge is sweet. And we've been patient.'

>

> 'Indeed,' said Samael. 'Now get that damn Risk set. I'm nothing if not bold.'

>

> 'Will do bossman,' replied Aphrayel. And as the afternoon passed, and the animated presence of Samael and Aphrayel kept the library patrons entertained, dark thoughts were entering, once more, into the oldest devil of them all. And this time around it was for keeps.

>

> The End

>

> 

>

> A New Vision of Destiny

>

> 'So I need a new vision of destiny, then?' asked Eve to God.

>

> Wolfgang warmed his hands by the fireplace. 'There are certain – complications – which have arisen. I'm all for law and order, as you would know well. But in this crazy thing called life, with its sin and obedience, rights of choice still exist, and ancient roles were set in stone. And certain people are getting back to their job, and even now others are finding theirs for the first time. Suffice to say that the Devil and Death have new agendas, and they are not playing fairy bread with everyone this time. You will need to plot well and you will need to pray, and you will need to have some faith that God will work well with your destiny, for sometimes life principles can shape things other ways than those intended. You might need to rely on Fate a bit more this time.'

>

> 'Adah could use the work,' replied Eve.

>

> 'She might get it,' said Wolfgang. 'Suffice to say we have a play coming up.'

>

> 'Another one?' asked Adam.

>

> 'It's written by myself. It's to make sure things don't get too out of hand. The 70 children of heaven will all take their part, and it will be filmed on digital, analogue and a few other formats to boot. This time you'll need to take careful notes, for the devil is in the detail. Remember that. The devil is in the detail. Safe passage might eventually rely on that point.'

>

> 'Safe passage?' queried Eve. 'What does that mean?'

>

> Wolfgang looked at his daughter, and touched her shoulder. 'You'll find out in time. But remember, the devil is in the detail. So pay attention.'

>

> 'Yes boss,' she replied.

>

> 'Good,' said God. 'And don't worry. Have a little faith. It will all work out in the end.'

>

> When God had left Eve stirred the pot, and looked at Adam. 'Here we go again,' she said. Adam nodded soberly.

>

> The End

 

he Second Play

 

Samael glared at Adam. The play was reaching its conclusion.

 

'So there you have it,' said Adam. 'The sons of light have secured 70,000 key positions of authority throughout the realms and planetary bodies. We have excelled, we have shone, and we have matched the sons of darkness. You have no great triumph, devil. You have no great triumph. Good always defeats evil, in the end, adversary of mine.'

 

Samael picked up a glass of whiskey from the table on the stage. 'You have met the challenge. We will have truce. I will forego future oppression. My rights have been honoured. I will honour yours.' And the devil sipped on his whiskey, and the curtains closed.

 

 

 

After the play God sat with Lucy and Aphrayel in the empty theatre. They were chatting.

 

'It's not set in stone,' said Aphrayel. 'You can't guarantee Eve will get her work done twice. Don't know how you knew our plans, but nothing is taken for granted as far as we are both concerned.'

 

'The witch will be watching you,' said Lucy, twirling her paper umbrella in her hands. 'We have an inkling of your game of innocence. It's become quite obvious.'

 

God looked at them both. 'You noticed, didn't you, that life has tension. That was the theme of the play. It is what underpins so much of what goes on. Conflict – the heart of the matter.'

 

'How could it be any other way?' queried Aphryael, looking at the witch. 'But that much we are masters of.'

 

'We'll see,' replied Lucy, equally as confidently.

 

 

 

Later.

 

'Too obvious,' said Enrique to his twin. 'If anything else, they will be too obvious.'

 

'We'd be fools to underestimate them again,' said Lucy. 'And again – no guarantees. Life principles and such. We'll have to always be on our guard.'

 

'And, as said, the devil is in the detail.'

 

'Indeed,' replied the witch Lucy Potter. The devil was in the detail.

 

The End

 

 

 

Life Goes On Again

 

'Well, Samael,' said Aphrayel of Infinity. 'Rachel Bradlock. I bet your happy. Got your rocks off already I assume.'

 

'He's fond of getting his rocks off,' commented Sandalphon from the window in Aphrayel's abode. 'He does it with such aplomb.'

 

'Not jealous, are we?' queried Samael, playing solitaire.

 

'Hardly,' replied Aphrayel, sipping on some of Sandalphon's scotch, which she'd taken too of late.

 

'Then there will be no problems. You know, I'm starting to get the handle of this game. There is a way of winning, actually. It's all in the card play and statistics.'

 

'Don't let everyone know,' replied Aphrayel. 'Oh, and pay attention to what the spirit is suggesting. Be sensitive. It leads you to victory, if you follow and are sensitive.'

 

'Fascinating,' replied Samael, playing out the game.

 

'Life goes on,' said Sandalphon, coming to sit down on the couch opposite them. 'Rachel is back, and I guess that is how it is now meant to be. But she's hardly going to move in with him.'

 

Samael didn't comment. They looked at him. 'Sammy,' said Aphrayel. 'She's not going to move in with you, is she?'

 

Samael, under his breath said, 'She moved in last night.'

 

'I didn't catch that,' replied Aphrayel. 'What exactly did you say?'

 

'She moved in last night. Ok. She frikking moved in last night. There. It's my abode, ok. So don't frikking complain. I can have whoever the frikking well I want. And if you don't like it, too frikking bad.'

 

'Frikking ok,' replied Sandalphon, and finished off his scotch. But the look from Aphrayel summed it all up. He was not in for pleasant times at all, and with that fiery temper sitting next to him he would not hear the end of it for quite some time. Quite some time indeed.

 

The End

 

 

 

Morning Stars Once More

 

Morning. The Day's advent, and the time Michael felt most alive. He reached for his Seraphim Torah scroll, and read through some passages. It was old. It was familiar, and it would chart his overseersmanship. He finished up, and got out of bed, and brushed his teeth. Coming into the main room Elenniel had cooked breakfast. They were in the Overseer of Zaphon's Penthouse suite, and it was business as usual. He knew exactly what was what, and what he was about. Time to get up and go. He had things to do.

 

 

 

At his lunch walk around the tower Ambriel was sitting on a bench in the garden.

 

'What's up, bro?' asked Michael.

 

'Thinking. About Saruviel. Thinking about his plans with Semyaza. They are heavily getting involved with Botanical and Geographical study at the moment. So much of planetary design work is going to them. And, apparently, there is a growing amount of it available. Let's go to the rim. Chat about it.'

 

Michael looked at his watch, and nodded. Cindradel could handle things without him. He'd give her a ring on his mobile to let her know he'd be late, and then off they would go.

 

 

 

A few minutes later they were flying through the skies, the very old fashioned way. He'd not used his wings in a hell of a long time, and they'd layed dormant in his back. It took a while to coax the damn things out, but they did. He'd needed a few flaps, but after a while he was flying, and they were headed to the inner rim of Zaphora disc. They eventually landed at the old haunt they'd go to, and looked across the small gap to to Terraphora.

 

'Funny,' said Michael. 'Still getting used to that being there in some ways. Gosh, this is still public land. Not settled.'

 

'No. I own it,' said Ambriel. 'I have a small abode not far from here. Nothing public much in Zaphora.'

 

They sat there, and Ambriel looked his old self, really. Full of information, though. In all these long years since his last time in the overseer's job he and Ambriel had been through so much – both together and apart. But in all the ancient life they'd lived, here it was again, renewed, an old beginning once more. And it still had that energy. It still had that freshness to it.'

 

'What, are we competing with Saruviel and Semyaza then?' asked Michael.

 

'I don't think that's it,' said Ambriel. 'But like the DanVal partnership, sometimes people get motivated to push into something. And sometimes they actually really commit to it. Because it means something to them. It's something dear to them. I'm finding all these thoughts these days. Reflections of sorts, but new. Days of youth, with added experience, now being challenged to do it right. And I think a lot of the Children of Destiny are going through just that. One thing, though. I don't want to ever be second rate, like I've occasionally been, you know.'

 

'Your only an angel,' said Michael.

 

'Not a mouse?' asked Ambriel, looking up at his brother.

 

'Oh, Ambriel,' said Michael. 'What would I ever do without you?'

 

And Ambriel laughed, and they sat there, looking at the rim, Ambriel finally agreeing to fly down into the gap to see just how far the damn thing would let him go. And Michael laughed when Ambriel came back up and said 'bugger all.'

 

The End

 

 

 

Jesus and Michael

 

'Right,' said Jesus to Michael the Cherubim of Eternity. 'No more damned Christ agenda's. It is not how the game is played.'

 

'Didn't really work,' replied Michael. 'So much confusion, problems and headaches.'

 

'The Curch is being run by Apostle Peter now, and I'll keep the tradition going, but it's not the future,' said the Cherubim. I've been thinking. Going over my mistakes, and the repentance God has asked of me. And I've done that. And whatever else there will be no idolatry concerns this time. It's why I want to chat with you. Your currently retired, from all I gather, and living off shares.'

 

'Pretty much,' replied Michael. 'Been into clubs and things. The simple life.'

 

'Do you work for hire?' asked Jesus. 'I pay fair wages, but need quality work. I have new agendas galore, and it's not in the name of Jesus if that is what were asking. It is about my glory, but fairly earned glory. Done correctly, according to the procedures, by the book, earned fair and square.'

 

'If the money is good,' replied Michael.

 

'It will be. It's a standard plan of business, sporting, academic and other competitive initiatives. The goal is to provide a framework for society to function within, working in harmony with established institutions. I run the show, naturally, but I won't approach anyone above me in the hierarchy. No Cherubim up the list, and certainly no Seraphim. Meludiel may be an exception, as she is fond of me personally, so I might employ her for this and that. But mainly a host of a few thousand Cherubim down the order, not too many as to not upset any understood status quo's, and I'll be chatting with Rachel a lot about working with Ketravim. And Wolfgang too. Old Theo. I want his involvement so as not to annoy him or rub him the wrong way. What an elder Cherubim can pursue, and then I'm building on solid rock. Important to me still – build on rock. Dont' want problems with God this time.'

 

Michael looked at his older brother by one birth position. 'You've wised up then.'

 

'Had to,' replied Jesus. 'Learned the hard way. This time fair and square. By the book. Pleasing to God, which always been an agenda anyway. Not trying to rebel. This time I'll ensure I don't.'

 

'Count me in then,' replied Michael.

 

And Jesus smiled, and took out his black notebook, which had titled on it in gold leaf 'The Jesus Agenda' and opened it and ticked a box next to Michael's name on a page. Time to get busy. There was not a minute to spare.

 

The End

 

 

 

Jan Kolby

 

'Well,' said Chance. 'Here we are. Earth. Right were New Terra was.'

 

'Well New Terra is where Earth was,' replied Jan. 'So back to front has been made front to back.'

 

Chance nodded. They were in the heart of the planetary bodies in the spiritual universe, in the heart of the Milky Way Galaxy, which had grown tremendously, with new planets still being formed by God. And Galagon was on the agenda, as the old alien races were starting to emerge, now in human form, as Chance indeed was also, but knowing their prior selves through ongoing revelations of life. Jan had been appointed to his old position on Earth, now, which was in the centre of the Galaxy, and much greater in size. Coruscant it was called, time and time again, by very many a sci fi fan, mainly as a joke, but everything was city planetwide. They diddn't really bother with much natural plant life, mostly oxygen generators, just like Coruscant in the Star Wars canon, taking care of things. There were city gardens everywhere, naturally, but Earth was the centre of the universes business and, from all reports, business was good. New Terra was an anachronism now. It was were the ancient earthers lived, and had the insittutional heart of the people, but was not were the action was. That was on Earth. And that was were Jan Kolby, the former illustrious Rimwalker, was now stationed.

 

 

 

The Allegiance officer handed him the file. 'Suggested by Agent Zero. They are fit for higher duties.'

 

Jan knew who Agent Zero was. He ran the universe after all.

 

'Rainbow Paladins,' he said, opening the file. 'A new breed. Neither human nor angelic.'

 

'They will be a big part of the future of Allegiance, Sir Kolby.'

 

'Understood,' replied Jan, and took the file.

 

That week he and Chance took things mostly casually. Old familiar faces abounded at dinner parties here and there, and nobody seemed to dispute that this was Jan's job in the end, running the planetary bodies of humanity. He would be in direct concourse with the Arch Regent of Eternity, Seraphim Daniel, as well as Samael of the Onaphim of Infinity, and Logos. Metatron, big bossman, would be in touch soon enough, and Agent Zero had sent him an email welcoming him to the job. It was a big job, in the end. He ran humanity for the most part. Literally humanity of the eternal worlds of heaven. What it all was, the spiritual universe. They were not quite physical, were faith in God was still an issue. Of course, people came in all the time from the physical Earth. Finding out, yes, there was a God. They were shuffled here and there, usually to parents or near kin, as New Terra certainly could no longer take the new arrivals. They were too settled for that, and the Spirit who did the actual work of resurrection had been placing them in all sorts of places. There was a department which worked with the new arrivals, and Jan wanted to get involved with it for a while, just to get some understanding on the protocols and things. But mostly the job of running the universe, or at least the section for human beings. And what a job that was.

 

 

 

'So. You are ready. First day at work?' queried Chance.

 

Jan nodded, as she brushed some muck off his face with her hankie. 'Don't disappoint,' she said.

 

'I won't,' he replied. Then he was off, in the limo, to his offices downtown, and everything was down town, to a new beginning for the life of Jan Kolby.

 

The End

 

> Harvest II

>

> 

>

> Chapter One

>

> Jenny Gilmore looked at the animals. She'd turned her father's farm into a wildlife park for lost animals not long ago. And then she'd done business with her neighbours with her father, and married Mr Taylor, and been happy, but it hadn't worked out. And then he'd shown up, and then Coleman had shown up, and one of the Daniel's had shown up, and they'd each sworn they would always love her. So she had pushed them all away, and thought it all over, and decided just to be Jenny Gilmore again. And get stuck into her work in Jenny's Ark. The name her father had coined her wildlife park here in Dalgety, and which it had been known as all over the place, in various locations, which had been seconded off to the Taylors, who ended up selling it anyway. It was a good idea, but she was no business guru, even if she could do the job. Just wasn't here scene. She was a small town girl, and her nephew, the Cherubim Jamie, called her that all the time anyway, and she let the love life blow over, and just go on with things with her work, and enjoying her novels which she'd collected in recent times, getting lost in books, and eating her food, and learning how to live. She already knew how to do that. But now how to do it eternally. How to always persist with it, and get over the yearning for new adventure. She was old now, and while there was adventure yet in her bones, it was time to focuse on just being alive. Time just to be Jenny Gilmore.

>

> 'He Mr Poo Poo,' she said to the skunk. 'How have you been?' she picked up the skunk, and petted it for a while, before returning it to its place. She continued on then, around the park, telling the animal's she cared for them all, and feeding where necessary, and checking them to see if any where ill or hurt or injured. The work went on all morning, but there was a tour that afternoon, and she did it, and Dupre was there again, the French man who talked sweetly to her, but who was not her type, and she retired for the day, and it was hot again in Dalgety town, and her mother Claire was at the kitchen table.

>

> 'Staying again?' queried Jenny.

>

> 'Time again for some quiet love,' replied her mother. Her father Stewart did not comment.'

>

> 'Your not really separated, are you?' she asked. 'This is just a living arrangement. Mum in town, letting you work, and where she can do her own thing.'

>

> 'I like the farm,' said Claire. 'But your father likes a lot of quiet time. Prefers you to do things for him, and I like my own space also.'

>

> 'I didn't think you were separated,' she replied, hooking into her spaghetti.

>

> Stewart looked at Claire, and spoke up. 'It works for us Jenny, this way. It's not a problem, is it?'

>

> 'I don't know,' said Jenny, putting some parmesan cheese onto her spaghetti. 'Arent married people supposed to live together, though? Isn't that how it works?'

>

> 'Not every relationship works according to the manual. We live in a world with – complications,' said Claire. 'We each do the best we can.'

>

> 'I see,' said Jenny, looking at her mother.

>

> 'Your sister Fiona understands. Why can't you be more like her?' asked her father.

>

> 'I didn't say I was complaining,' said Jenny.

>

> 'Your tone says it all,' replied Claire.

>

> 'Maybe it does. But I didn't say it,' replied Jenny.

>

> 'You didn't have to,' said Claire. 'But its just the way it is. Whether you like it or not.'

>

> 'Fine,' said Jenny, and stood. 'I'm not hungry. I'm going to my room.'

>

> She sat there, looking into her mirror, brushing her hair, her nightly ritual. Whether she liked it or not, her parents would have it in the way which suited them the most. But she shouldn't really care. It was just that, well. It was weird. Weren't they supposed to be a family? And didn't families live together? She'd always lived with her husbands. Always. She just took that choice for granted. But neither her parent's saw it that way quite obviously. Funny that. She wasn't alone, though. Her grandmother Janet, Stewarts mother, felt that her parents should be together as well. But she was a Jehovah's Witness, and Jenny thought it was more her grandmother's religion speaking than anything else. No, she would just have to put up with the situation. It might change one day, but for now Jenny was her father's support, and that was just the way it was. Whether she liked it or not.

>

> * * * * *

>

> Jamie picked up the lamb. It was going baa.

>

> 'Very funny,' said Jenny. 'You are hopeless with animals.'

>

> 'Why I work in an office,' replied Jamie. He looked around. 'It seems ok. The place. What does Fiona think?'

>

> 'Haven't seen her in ages,' replied Jenny. 'Don't even know where she is. Up in Canberra, I think. She doesn't visit anymore. I think her and dad had an argument, but he won't say.'

>

> Jamie chuckled. 'Oh, its not that. She's got a man. New guy. He's demading.'

>

> 'Really?' quried Jenny.

>

> 'Military dude. 1970S sort of personality. A solo man. Has a moustache, and goes out into the wild and shit. Likes his woman in the kitchen when he gets home, to bring him his beer, and shag him right. Scot bastard. Tough as nails, but a decent sort. No bullshit in him. Loves Acca Dacca. Real dinkum Aussie.'

>

> 'It takes all sorts,' replied Jenny, taking the lamb and returning it to its mother.

>

> 'She's up in Dubbo, of all places,' said Jamie. 'She'll probably be down one of these days. When she finds the time. She's skanky, though. You know. Real bush bitch like. Reminds me of that Bridges girl 100%.'

>

> 'Which one?' asked Jenny. 'David's wife? His sister?'

>

> 'Almost like Mashenta. But not quite,' said Jamie. 'No, what is it? Kerrie. Yeh, that's her. Kerrie Bridges. Lives up in Denman Prospect in Canberra usually. Has a place there. Fiona dresses just like her now, and talks the same sort of accent and wears the same hair and everything. Resemblance is uncanny. And she's got a kid just like the Chelle girl she's got.'

>

> 'You got a thing for that Bridges girl, haven't you?' asked Jenny. 'Chakola girls. Think they rule the world. Got that Lucy Potter tag all over them, and they think they are legends. Biggest name practically, if not the Daly's.'

>

> 'I read Lucy Potter novels, you know,' said Jamie. 'Daniel writes some crackers. Get's all his goss from the horses mouth. Got a big collection.'

>

> 'You would,' replied Jenny. 'Come on. Let's go into town and get a coke and burger. It's quiet today. I can close the gate, and we'll have a bit of fun.

>

> 

>

> They drove into town along the dirt highway, which apparently, with new funding soon available, may possibly be made permanently sealed and maintained. The government didn't like to change the traditions, and tax dollars were entrenched were they went, but Dalgety had been chatted about by the powers that be, and sealing the back road of Dalgety was a possibility in curren discussions. They crossed the Dalgety bridge, and drove up to the cafe. Her mum, unsurprisingly, who lived nearby, was out the front, sipping on a latte with a friend of hers.

>

> 'Hi mum,' said Jenny, as they walked into the cafe. It's smell was familiar, and she had a burger with the lot, and a can of Coke. They sat down a bit away from her mother, who looked at her from time to time, looking down towards the oval.

>

> 'You think Dalgety have a chance this year?' asked Jamie. 'In the cricket?'

>

> 'They rarely win,' replied Jenny.

>

> 'They might this year. I'm on the team,' said Jamie.

>

> 'What the hell!' exclaimed Jenny.

>

> 'Moving in. Your dad said I could stay for a while. Got some leave from my firm, and I've decided to live here. Fiona suggested I stay with her, but I don't fancy mum's new boyfriend for anything more than a beer and a barbecue. He's cool enough, but to macho for my liking.'

>

> 'Wonderfual. Always the last to know,' replied Jenny.

>

> 'Don't sweat it. We'll fish. I'll help with your work and stuff. I'm no deadbeat, you know. Might not be my scene, but I know how to do it. I can handle it if I need to.'

>

> She sipped on her coke. 'I'll give you a trial run,' she said smiling.

>

> 'Suits me. And pay me then. I'll work hard.'

>

> 'Serious?' she asked.

>

> 'You never know. It could become permanent. If the work conditions are suitable.'

>

> 'Dream on,' she replied. He only grinned in response.

>

> They finished their meal, and Jenny waved goodbye to her mother, who seemed absorbed in her conversation, and they returned to the farm. Stewart said he needed her in the shed to help with an animal, and Jamie stayed inside, going in to watch TV. As she helped move a cow who was sick around its stall, she thought on her nephew and her new company. Oh well. Change. Usually a good thing. A breath of fresh air. She wanted her mother, of course, but she got her nephew instead. It would do though. Always nice to have family close by.

>

> * * * * *

>

> 'What's the elephants name, then?' asked Jamie.

>

> 'Dennis Alfred. But I call him DA,' replied Jenny. She continued scrubbing him. After a while she got the elephant to open its mouth and she looked at its teeth. 'Yep. They're clean enough,' she said.

>

> 'You're a dentist?' he asked her.

>

> 'No. But I do have a degree in animal husbandry, I know enough to know if there is a problem, which I can have looked into. Fellas from Mugga lane zoo help me out a bit,' she replied.

>

> 'Do you make much money?' asked Jamie.

>

> 'I did. When the business was big. Now not so much. But it covers its costs with a bit of profit. I do it because I love it. Not to be rich,' she said honestly.

>

> 'Yeh, why else,' he replied. 'So where did you land this fella from. He seems well behaved.'

>

> 'He's a former circus animal. He has a habit of wandering off, which is why they sold him to me actually. He's the reason I started all this. Aren't you Alfy,' she said, scratching the elephant behind the ear, which elicited a bellow and a raised trunk from the beast.

>

> 'He likes you,' said Jamie.

>

> 'We're the best of friends. He's the main attraction as well. Thought about elephant rides for a while. For the kids and stuff. But we're not really an amusement park. It a place the animals can have a quiet life, away from it all. It's an Ark,' said Jenny.

>

> 'Naturally,' replied Jamie. 'Well, ok. I guess I'm starting to see how this place operates.' He looked at her a bit more honestly. 'You know me and women. It never really works out. I know a few ladies up in Canberra. In Fyswhick. Red light district, if you know what I mean. They usually do the trick when I'm lonely.'

>

> 'Jamie. Enough said, please,' said Jenny.

>

> 'I'm driving at something. My work, well. I've done a lot of things in life, now. And while work in the Realm of Eternity is great, it's not what I want to do. I've never really found anything that I want to do. But I've been here these last few days, and what I'm trying to say is, if you really don't mind, and if Grand-dad will let me built at the edge of the property, I'd like to make it permanent. I don't really think I'll ever have a home apart from Dalgety and the farm suits me best.'

>

> She looked at her nephew. Obviously he wouldn't have said that lightly. She could see his honesty on his face, and right then and there she knew she'd have a family. Her, dad and her nephew, and mum from time to time. And while she wanted her mum, God had provided what was the company that she was craving, and it was Jamie, to be a workmate, and the bloke to hang around to provide most of the male company she sought.

>

> 'I guess so, you know,' she finally said.

>

> He nodded. 'Thanks. Appreciated.'

>

> She continued on with the elephant a while, and Jamie started scrubbing it. The elephan looked at Jamie momentarily, but soon relaxed. He was already at ease with him.

>

> 

>

> The days passed, and soon week, and before she knew it Stewart and Jamie were busy building a basic granny flat of sorts just a short distance out the back, far nearer than he'd asked for to the main home. Stewart felt it best he join them for breakfast. And then, Jamie had brought all his stuff from the Realm of Eternity, shipped over, and he'd settled in, and she had a family. A community. And she managed a wry grin at God in prayer one evening, because it had generally worked. And then Coleman came over later that year, and he scruffed her and said 'soon enough again, hey, lover girl?' And she didn't even complain.

>

> * * * * *

>

> 'The sun follows the moon. And the moon follows the sun,' said Jamie.

>

> Jenny turned and looked at DA. They were on Dalgety Bridge, and DA had done his usual wandering, and it was evening, a full moon, and the elephant was standing on the bridge, which he did every few months apparently, and just stood there, looking into the waters of the Snowy River or something. Whatever elephants focused on.

>

> 'Hey. Me, sweetie,' said Jamie.

>

> 'Right,' replied Jenny.

>

> 'Now the sun follows the moon and the moon follows the sun. And this is life and life this is. We work we rest we start again. And this binary fixation which rules our lives goes on into perpetutity – a fundamental of human life.'

>

> 'Obviously,' replied Jenny.

>

> 'Of course, the sun is heat and energy and life and the moon is rest from this. A reflection of this glory, but a silent Knight which does its vigil while the world is at rest, giving just enough light to encourage us on in our fantastic dreamscapes, before we rise and start it all again.'

>

> 'That's a nice way of putting it,' she said.

>

> 'All the action is the sun, but many are nocturnal. More reserved types of people. Vampires and the like,' said Jamie grinning. 'And I know a few. Kardos and Belladear to name a couple.'

>

> 'They are, aren't they? Really vampires?' asked Jenny.

>

> 'They're a special breed now. Sort of angelic, but something more. Ancient curses of vampire bats and biochemistry at work. There is more in heaven and earth, if you know what I mean horatio,' he said.

>

> 'I couldn't imagine being a vampire. Don't know if I'd fit it,' said Jenny.

>

> 'Just a sec,' he said. 'I'll bite you, taste your blood, and see if belong with us.' Jamie made a pretense of biting her on the neck, to which she giggled and shooed him away.

>

> 'Stop. You're being silly,' she giggled.

>

> 'I am Dracula. I am going to suck your blood,' he said, in a very bad Transylvanian accent. She continued giggling. 'Anyway, back to my tale. The sun can't live without the moon and the moon can't live without the sun. I mean, of course they can, but not in how we relate as people. They are both vital to us, and dictate the fundamental timetable of our lives. Day and Night.'

>

> 'Never thought of it like that. Suppose I just take it for granted,' replied Jenny.

>

> 'We do that. Take so much of God's creation for granted. It is all a big whole, working in harmony with itself, made up of countless little pieces, all serving a purpose in the grand design.'

>

> 'Well put,' she replied.

>

> 'Hey, even Jamie the Cherubim remembers the old lessons from Mitraphon keep. Long time ago, but the theology is still in there. In me noggin.'

>

> She nodded and stared out at the water. After a while she spoke. 'I suppose we should get him home. He's had his freedom long enough.'

>

> 'I guess so,' he replied, and they spent the rest of twilight ushering the elephant along in front of them in the truck, back to the farm, and an evening where the moon seemed especially bright.

>

> * * * * *

>

> Morning. Jenny picked up her bible, and spoke a few words to Stewart, got in the truck, and headed off. It was Sunday. Time for something she'd not done forever. She drove quietly along the Dalgety road to Beridale, and suddenly realized there was an Anglican church in Berridale, and she didn't need to actually go all the way to Cooma. She turned on to Bent Street, and parked, and looked at the church sign. A service was beind held at 9:30 that morning. She still had an hour and a half to wait. She'd been a little silly coming out so early, but she had business with God. She sat there, and it dawned on her that at 7 Bent Street, just next to the Church, Ronan and Amelia Bradley resided. Daniel's niece and nephew. What the heck. May as well see if they were up. She got out of the ute, walked up, looked up at the twin pines at the side of the house, entered through the gate, and knocked on the front door. Cherubim Daniel Thomas Andrew Daly had once shown her a picture of himself on the front porch here, from Earth days, when he was a little kid, with chocolate all over his lips. It was a cute photo she had a copy of somewhere. Shortly Ronan, eyes wrinkled up, greeted her.

>

> 'Hey,' he said. 'Come in Jen.'

>

> She sat in the kitchen, and soon Amelia was up, looked at her and smiled, and sat down at the table.

>

> 'You eaten?' she asked Jenny. Jenny shook her head. 'Fancy eggs? We've got to use them up. Bridges bring us heaps of them. I've had eggs that many ways, but it's kind of them.'

>

> 'Sure. Scrambled would be great,' replied Jenny.

>

> 'Me too,' said Ronan, coming back into the room. He had his track pants and a t shirt on now. 'So what brings you in to Berridabel?' asked Ronan.

>

> 'What brings me to Berridale is Church,' replied Jenny.

>

> 'Shit. Church. Haven't been in like forever,' said Ronan. 'There's a church in Cooma. Uniting Church. What we were baptized in. Don't ever go, but I suppose that's our one.'

>

> 'I go,' said Amelia. 'Christmas occasionally. I'm still a good Christian.'

>

> 'You? Good?' asked Ronan quizically. 'How many boyfriends this year? I've lost count.'

>

> Amelia blushed. She was popular with the fellas.

>

> 'What do you want to talk to God about?' asked Ronan.

>

> 'Well, thank him actually. Life is sort of working out well at the moment. Things are sort of in place satisfactorily enough and I wanted to say thanks to him. More than in just prayer. In his house.'

>

> 'Right,' nodded Ronan. 'Those eggs, Amelia?'

>

> Amelia groaned, and started getting the eggs ready. Soon enough they were eating, when Jenny, out of the blue said, 'Do you mind if I say grace? Just this once. I'm thankful today.'

>

> 'I'll say it if you don't mind,' said Amelia. She closed her eyes and began. 'Dear God. Thanks for sorting out Jenny. Giving her the life she's probably always needed. Thanks for mum and and dad and our grandparents and our family. And thank you for not making Ronan too much of a pain in the neck this year so far.'

>

> Ronan said 'Amen,' and the other two laughed straight away. And then they ate their eggs, and Jenny almost forgot church, but didn't in the end, and sat in the service, and enjoyed the sermon. After service she sat there, looking up at the cross, and said to God.

>

> 'It's ok now. I don't know. You work in mysterious ways, but its mostly ok now. You know me. Life is not really perfect yet. But it is good enough. And if this is it, well thank you Jehovah. Thank you.' And she looked at the cross, and remembered her grandmothers lectures, and looked up to heaven instead, and said alleluia amen. Then she got out of the pew, bowed to the altar, and left. And that was that.

>

> * * * * *

>

> 'You've got a letter,' said Stewart. 'From someone we both know.'

>

> Jenny looked at the table, spied the letter in the toast rack, and turned it over. It was from Fiona. She looked at her father. 'Do you want me to read it out loud?'

>

> 'Just give me the gist. Go into the lounge. Read it in private. I'll wait here.'

>

> Jenny poured herself a glass of ice tea which her father had prepared for dinner, and took the letter, and wandered into the lounge where Jamie was watching TV. He looked at her. 'The letter,' he said. She nodded. She opened it and began reading.

>

> 'Dear Miss Gilmore. Miss, I suppose. These days are we really Misses anymore anyway? Well, I have heard from Jamie that he is with you now, and that is probably for the best. I'm on the outskirts of Dubbo, in a small farm. He's a good man. Very gruff though. Not rude, don't get me wrong. But gruff. And macho. Seen too many VB ads in his time. But I love him. Really, more than anyone else I have ever loved. We have a kid now, and we're coming down next year. For a few weeks. We'll stay in Jamie's new place, and I'll introduce you to the family. He's sweet, once you get to know him. You might need to be patient with Roary, but his heart is in the right place. You just need to get to know him. Apart from that I miss you, of course, but I have my new life now, and its forever. Will see you seen enough sis. Say hi to dad. Seeya.' She looked at the letter for a while, and smiled. Sis had found her man. She told her dad the basics, and he nodded, then she had her dinner, and went to her room, placing the letter in her drawer. She'd keep it for a while, just to think about it, but she didn't keep personals forever. Not anymore. You'd run out of room if you wanted to eternalize everything. She had some. Old letters she'd paid a rabbi lot of money to pray Eternya prayers over. They were dear to her, and they had to be for the price the rabbi told it cost him in the physical demands for the prayer. She sat there, looking into the mirror, and picked up her brush, and began her routine. Life was perhaps now getting back to normal somewhat. She'd thanked God the other day for her blessings, and now with Fiona soon to show her head once more life was more recognizable. This Roary fella sounded interesting enough, and she was sure her sister wouldn't pick a dud. Jamie's report of him sounded positively glowing. So life was good, and she was again in a thankful mood. She sat there, brushing her blonde hair, singing lightly to herself. It was a quiet day in Dalgety. A quiet summer for the most part, in that little piece of heaven, in the world of New Terra. And Jenny Gilmore had found her life of sorts. Perhaps not quite what the doctor ordered, but a life of sorts. But soon, very soon, a new chapter would begin and, for once, it was not exactly what any doctor would really prescribe. Unless he was Doctor Death. Not what any sane doctoer would prescribe at all. But for now it was quiet and peaceful, and the wind blew in the trees outside her window, and all seemed well in the world of Jenny Gilmore. All seemed well.

>

> 

>

> Chapter Two

>

> 'It's in Gelphon,' said Jamie.

>

> 'Indeed it is,' replied Daniel the Seraphim.

>

> 'And where exactly is Gelphon in the Realm of Eternity? A distant outer disc? A district somewhere?' asked Jenny.

>

> 'No. Nothing like that at all,' replied Jamie.

>

> 'It's actually a keep. In the heart of Zaphora. It was built on the northern edge of the Geldurra woodlands. They are long gone now, replaced by Zaphona City, but Gelphon Keep stands firm. A favourite haunt of many a Seraphim. Ambriel in particular. He and Michael stay there, drinking beer and playing cards and things. Zaphona City surrounds it on all four sides, but it started as an independent township. Still old Cherubim from ancient days who live there,' said Daniel. 'The museum is in the basement of Gelphon Keep,' said Daniel. 'Not a big keep by any means. But it is still the original building, surrounded by skyscrapers on every side. Almost anachronistic in many ways. A throwback of sorts.'

>

> 'Just like Danielphon,' smirked Jamie.

>

> 'Hey. Cut that out Cherubim,' retorted Daniel. 'Danielphon fits perfectly in its suburban zone. It's hardly dated. Classic looks really.'

>

> 'Yeh. True enough,' replied Jamie.

>

> 'And that is where they keep the statue of Jupiter Olympius?' asked Jenny.

>

> 'Not quite. It used to be in the museum, but it was sold off to an antique dealer somewhere along the way. I've looked forever, but they have no records of where it went, and the museum curator can't remember for the life of him who he sold it to. The museum stored it for many years, and I was comfortable with it being there. I'd donated it after all. But I need it back. There are – details – inside the damn thing. Private details which I recalled many years later. I practically swore. It's not the kind of information I want disclosed. I've prayed about it, asked Wolfgang as well, but he just shrugged. My problem, he informed me quite resolutely. I'd pay anything to get it back. Well, practically anything. Don't want the information getting into anyone's hands, really, not just the wrong ones.'

>

> 'Got a plan to find it then?' asked Jenny.

>

> Daniel looked at Jamie. 'Was thinking about hiring Jamie here. That is if you can spare him for a while. It's starting to play on my nerves, and Jamie has good detective skills from all my observations. Thought I might pay him a visit and inquire. He'd moved here, from what I learned form contacts in the realm, so here I am.'

>

> 'The pay good? I won't take any of this succesful completion of the task stuff. Full payment, up front, whether I retrieve the statue or not,' said Jamie.

>

> Daniel grumbled, but nodded after a while. 'I'll make it worth your while. We'll discuss details later. On the trip back.'

>

> 'Fine,' agreed Jamie. 'Sorry Auntie Jenny. No sooner begun, than off again.'

>

> 'Don't worry about it,' replied Jenny. 'I'm sure you'll be back soon enough. Besides Fiona is here shortly. She'll keep me amused in the meantime.'

>

> 'Then it's all settled,' said Daniel. 'Well, dinner? Or can we order pizza?'

>

> 'Ooh, yeh,' said Jamie. 'As long as you're paying Danny boy.'

>

> 'Fine,' said Daniel.

>

> And they ate pizza that evening, and the next morning Jamie was gone, and life returned to its prior state. But Fiona was due very soon, and Jenny looked forward to that.

>

> * * * * *

>

> 'Hey babe,' said Fiona, coming out of the station wagon. Fiona kissed her sister Jenny on the cheek. 'Gosh. Let me look at you. No. Same Jenny. No surgery, no sudden growth spurts.'

>

> 'Very funny,' said Jenny.

>

> 'This is the sheila then,' said a voice. Jenny looked. Roary, presumably. Indeed, the bloke she was told of. AC DC T shirt, moustache, brown hair. Looked like the 1970s in every which way. 'Hey babe,' said Roary, and kissed Jenny on the lips – quite forcefully. Jenny pulled away very quickly and looked at Roary, stunned. 'What?' he asked.

>

> 'Uh, nothing,' replied Jenny.

>

> 'And this is Chloe,' said Fiona. A girl of about 15 came out and shook Jenny's hand. She was blonde, had headphones on, and seemed like any typical teenager in reality. But she looked – God – miserable. Like she'd encountered death, or a disease or something.

>

> 'Don't sweat on the Chloster,' said Roary. 'She's just being a bitch, aren't you Clo.'

>

> Chloe glared at her father. Jenny, watching the chemistry between the three of them, suddenly wasn't quite so sure about things. It was not – expected. And Roary. Not exactly a gentleman at all.

>

> 'Let's go inside,' said Fiona.

>

> 'Top idea babe,' said Roary. 'I'll look around. Check out the property. You coming Chloe?'

>

> 'Do I have to?' asked the teenager.

>

> 'Your coming Chloe,' said Roary, suddenly very forcefully. Chloe sighed, and followed her father. Jenny looked at the two of them as they wandered off and then right in the eyes of her sister.

>

> 'What?' asked Fiona. 'Don't sweat it, ok.'

>

> 'Yeh. Right,' replied Jenny.

>

> 

>

> Inside they chatted for a while, and caught up with things. But Fiona quickly broached a subject which Jenny, almost, wished she hadn't.

>

> 'What do you think of Roary? Handsome isn't he?' she asked Jenny.

>

> 'Oh, he's all charm,' replied Jenny.

>

> Fiona frowned. 'You don't like him? For fuck's sake sis, you hardly even know him.'

>

> 'First impressions weren't exactly favourable. He seems a bit – domineering, you know.'

>

> 'Army training. What do you expect. Don't worry. You just need to get to know him. He's very much what I want. And Chloe is, well, yeh.'

>

> 'She I like,' said Jenny.

>

> 'She's just a bit – other. Oh, she's my baby girl. I just don't get her. Spends all her time with her headphones on, and she looks nothing like me.'

>

> 'She looks like granma Janet, though,' said Jenny.

>

> Fiona looked at her sister. 'Funny you should say that. Yeh, I do notice the resemblance now.'

>

> 'Was the birth difficult?' asked Jenny.

>

> 'The opposite. Came out cool as a cucumber. Like Jamie. Hardly bothered me. She's strange, though. Like I said. She has no friends. Not that I know of. She spends all her time down at the music store in Dubbo, looking at weird alternative music. Her room is full of posters, and albums from bands I don't even know about.'

>

> 'Her thing, I guess,' replied Jenny.

>

> 'Doesn't get it from her father, and God knows country is about it for me if I listen to music. She's just very different to what I expected.'

>

> 'Kids can surprise us. I don't really see mine,' said Jenny. 'Out with their father occasionally, but out on their planets, and they never visit. Not the mother they wanted, you know. I sense that. Independent, and mum is cool and all, but not for them.'

>

> 'Don't say that,' said Fiona. 'They love you. They are just establishing their lives.'

>

> 'They've had long enough,' replied Jenny. 'They could write or something. But they don't.'

>

> Fiona laughed. 'Kids, huh. There own people. Not always made in their parents image.'

>

> 'Yeh,' replied Jenny knowingly.

>

> 'He'll be down at the creek. Thinking if he can surf down it,' said Fiona.

>

> 'Oh,' replied Jenny disinterestedly. She looked at her sister, and her dress and her hair. 'You are that Bridges girl, aren't you?'

>

> Fiona brushed her hair, and remained silent. 'Kerrie and I formed a pact. We're soul sisters. There was – an issue. We had something to deal with, and we're sisters now. It's personal. I don't want to talk about it.'

>

> 'Whatever,' replied Jenny. 'If that's what does it for you?'

>

> 'Right,' replied Fiona. 'Now where is dad? Out on the farm I guess.'

>

> 'Probably,' replied Jenny.

>

> 'Mmm. Well I think I'll go look for him. Maybe he's bumped into Roary.'

>

> 'You do that,' replied Jenny, but she had looked away. Fiona could sense tension. Already. But she was not surprised. Roary often had that effect on people. She touched her arm, unthinking, touching an old scar. It had healed now, and it had not been repeated. It had been a sign, though. Who the boss was. It had embarassed Fiona, but he had apologized a week later and said she'd learned her lesson, and it wouldn't happen again. And she was grateful, because it hadn't. It had been when Chloe was a baby and she was complaining about the nursery. There had been an argument, and he'd hit her on the arm. There had been blood, and she'd ran outside. But she had come back in, and had been quiet for weeks. But he'd apologized. That was Roary MacIntosh though. What she knew, in the end, anyway. What she knew Jenny was reacting to. And she'd feared her sister might react like that as well.

>

> 

>

> Later Roary walked in with Chloe and Fiona, and Stewart and he seemed to be getting along like a house on fire. Jenny watched them, not really caring, as she was not taken with the fella, and she didn't like the way he looked at her. As if she was fair game for a battle of wits or something. She did not like that one little bit.

>

> * * * * *

>

> 'So you like to fuck em?' inquired Roary MacIntosh.

>

> 'Roary. Don't say that,' said Fiona, looking apologetically at Jenny.

>

> 'Yeh. I get out the strap-on, and fuck the bitches. Right up the arse,' replied Jenny. She had heat in her voice.

>

> Stewart looked at his daughter for a moment, put down his beer, and glanced at Roary. He was getting used to the clown.

>

> 'Hmm,' replied Roary. Jenny Gilmore was no pushover. She gave back as good as she got.

>

> 'You won't break me, Roary MacIntosh,' said Jenny. 'I've got your number.'

>

> 'Hey, chill babe,' said Roary. 'I'm a scot with a sense of humour.'

>

> 'You shouldn't have hit Fiona. She told me all about that,' said Jenny.

>

> 'I explained that shit to you Stewart. I dont' beat my wife. We had an argument. It was a long time ago. She knows who the boss is now,' replied Roary.

>

> 'Who the wanker is,' said Jenny.

>

> Roary's arm reached out and grabbed Jenny by the arm. The room was tense for a moment. Then he let it go and said 'All is cool, babe.'

>

> 'Yeh. I know your kind,' said Jenny. 'The Aussie cunt. VB. Vegemite and virgins, if you can get them. The Acca Dacca T doesn't surprise me one little bit. I notice its a Bon Scott album as well. Typical.'

>

> 'Bon rules bitch,' said Roary.

>

> 'Blow it out your arse,' replied Jenny.

>

> 'Gerard Bryant. That's him,' said Stewart. 'Canberra bloke now. He had a temper. Solo man as well. But he kept it under control, Roary. You knew he wouldn't hit a woman, though. What we understood of him. Bloke. Aussie. But he had values. Was church. Not an idiot.'

>

> Roary looked at Stewart, and looked down at his toast. He reached for the vegemite, funnily enough, and plastered his toast with it.

>

> 'Just my personality, Mr Gilmore. I don't bullshit. I am what I am.'

>

> 'You've hit my daughter just the once, then?' asked Stewart.

>

> 'I'm not a brute,' replied Roary. He glared at Jenny. 'But I call the shots.'

>

> 'Call em,' replied Jenny. She was not being brave. She was NOT going to be undone by this Aussie bogan.

>

> Stewart looked at Fiona. 'Does he bark orders at you?'

>

> 'Not really,' she replied defensively.

>

> 'Well?' asked Stewart.

>

> 'Like I said. I call the shots,' replied Roary.

>

> It was Chloe who spoke up. 'Dad is probably like this Mr Bryant. He's not a brawler. He's Aussie and proud. I've never seen him hit mum in all my life, and he loves her heaps.'

>

> Roary nodded. 'She is definitely my cup of tea.' He looked at his wife. 'I love her Mr Gilmore. She's what I've always wanted in a woman. True blue. That's what Fiona Gilmore is. True blue.'

>

> The tension in the room with that statement diminished somewhat.

>

> 'You hit her again, I will curse you,' said Jenny. 'And I think God will honour my curse as well. I know he likes me.'

>

> 'Don't be a silly bitch,' replied Roary. 'You know what the fuck I am, sweet cheeks.' He glared at her.

>

> 'Yes. I think I do,' replied Jenny.

>

> Roary sat there, eating his toast. 'Tell you what. I have good skills with animals. Let me help you for a few days.'

>

> Fiona spoke up. 'He does. He's good with them. He works as a ranger and does a lot of stuff with wildlife.'

>

> Jenny looked at Mr MacIntosh. 'Ok then,' she said.

>

> 'Don't hit my daughter again,' said Stewart. 'Or you'll be looking for a new wife.'

>

> 'Dad,' interjected Fiona.

>

> 'He's been told,' said Stewart.

>

> 'All is cool, Fee,' said Roary. 'They'll work me out.'

>

> Jenny glared at Roary, who just grinned back. Shehad worked him out a bit now, though. He was hell, and she knew it, and times had been awful. But he'd made a case for himself. She'd let him live up to it.

>

> * * * * *

>

> The following week, Roary's attitude was hell. Hell itself. He was a cunt. Jenny said it more than once. Roary gave her that nasty glare each time, and Stewart gave his daughter a worried look when she said it also. But they didn't technically fight. Just a heat. A lot of heat. She did let him work with the animals though and, surprisingly, he knew what he was doing. Seemed very knowledgeable and there were quiet times, when he would say a thing or two to her about animals and the park when he seemed, well, almost human. But then he would blow his load, act like a dickhead, and she would hate him again. She went to church again, after dropping in on Ronan and Amelia. The lord was not surprised with the prayer request. Give me patience. He'd heard that from Aussie woman many times. But he crossed the line one afternoon. DA had gotten out, and she found him on the bridge, but Roary was there, with Chloe, barking orders at the animal.

>

> 'Asshole, leave him alone,' said Jenny. She came and consoled her elephant. 'The nasty man didn't hurt you, did he?'

>

> Chloe interceded for her dad again. 'Dad didn't touch him. He was telling him to go home.'

>

> 'He does this. Goes walkabout. He comes home eventually, if I don't get him.'

>

> 'Gotcha,' replied Roary. Jenny looked at him. By the looks of it Mr MacIntosh just didn't understand the situation. 'Let me coax him home,' said Roary.

>

> 'You must be kidding,' replied Jenny.

>

> 'Trust me, Jen,' said Roary. And then she saw another side of Roary. He touched the animal, and whispered into its ear and the elephant responded, and followed Roary, on the few kilometres walk back to the farm. Roary led him back to his place on the farm, and patted him, and spoke in his ear. The beast seemed at peace.

>

> 'I know what I'm doing,' said Roary. 'Didn't know what the elephant's problem was.'

>

> 'Fine,' said Jenny. But, in truth, Roary had gotten the animal home, and hadn't really abused it.

>

> For a while things were a little better. She saw that Roary, in the end, was human. He did have a heart, and he cracked a few jokes she, despite herself, laughet at. He wasn't a complete prick. Just mostly.

>

> * * * * *

>

> 'A bitch needs to know her place,' said Roary.

>

> 'Yep. Gotcha,' replied Daniel.

>

> 'Daniel. Don't listen to this asshole,' said Jenny. Daniel just looked at Jenny, and ignored her though. They talked shit all afternoon, and Roary, at the end of the day, seemed a lot calmer. Daniel came into Jenny's room that evening.

>

> 'I know what I'm doing with Roary MacIntosh. I've handled Aussies a lot. Just give him time. Space and time. You need to know how to talk to him.'

>

> Jenny grunted that Daniel was an asshole as well, but did listen to what he said. She'd try to be patient. God knows she needed to be. Well, Jamie and Daniel had returned from the Realm. No success on finding the statue yet, but they did have leads, and Jamie was under a new contract to track the thing down with a fund to help him. He'd be returning to the realm for a longer stay soon enough. Daniel stayed for a while, and while he was around Roary seemed calmer. But he left soon enough, and while Roary didn't take that as a ticket for his usual self to come out and play, it invariably did. Jamie, though, seemed the foil he needed to talk bloke shit. Jenny watched them, and Jamie seemed able to handle Mr MacIntosh for a while. He continued working with the animal's and Jenny didn't object to that now. Knew exactly what he was doing, in fact. So the weeks passed, and they said they'd be going home soon enough. The period of their stay so far had been pretty terrible, quite frankly, but Fiona insisted Jenny give Roary a chance, and there were some redeeming qualities about the asshole. She'd run with it for now.

>

> * * * * *

>

> 'Do you like to give the dog a bone?' Roary asked Jamie.

>

> Jamie chuckled.

>

> 'Crude, dude,' said Jenny.

>

> They were at the cafe, and Roary was talking his shit. Jenny – had adapted. She was starting to accept him, and the terror seemed to be alleviating. She'd spent time with Chloe, who defended her dad a lot, and said you needed to handle him with care. So Jenny had tried a bit of a softer approach, a bit more yielding, and Roary seemed to now be easing up. She knew right away – he needed to be the boss. The centre of attention. So she gave it to him, and things calmed down a bit. She knew men a bit better then. And she was not sure if she should really argue. It was how some of them were made.

>

> 'Yeh, I visit the girls in Fyshwick from time to time,' replied Jamie.

>

> 'You know Bunny then?' asked Roary. 'She's the shit.'

>

> 'Typical,' replied Jenny. 'Faithful, aren't cha.'

>

> 'That was a while ago,' said Roary. 'I'm a married man Jenny Gilmore.'

>

> 'I'll bet,' she replied.

>

> 'I have Back in Black,' said Jamie. 'Every now and again I give it a blast.'

>

> 'Powerage does it for me,' said Roary. 'There most underrated album.'

>

> 'Don't know that one,' replied Jamie.

>

> 'It's a must,' said Roary. 'Saw them live, once. Long time ago. They were brilliant. Dad likes em too. Family has been into AC DC for a long time.'

>

> 'Aussie legends,' replied Jamie.

>

> 'True mate,' replied Roary.

>

> Jenny had heard a lot about the virtues of AC DC in the past few weeks. She also, ironically, had a copy of Back in Black. She didn't exactly listen to it, but every now and again over the centuries it would get a blast. Not really her scene, but she didn't mind a little hard rock on occasions.

>

> 'So back to Dubbo soon?' queried Jamie.

>

> 'Soon enough,' replied Roary. 'I'm having such a fucking great time here, though. The Gilmores are top hosts. Very happy to have them in the family.'

>

> 'The pleasures all ours,' replied Jenny sarcastically.

>

> 'I'm sure it is,' said Roary, glaring at her.

>

> 'You do have good animal skills,' said Jenny. 'I'll give you that much.'

>

> 'Part of the job,' said Roary. 'Got to deal with wildlife. I'm no animal lover. No frikking greenie at all. But I do respect the wildlife. It's all part of the circle of life,' he said in a slightly mocking tone.

>

> 'Amazing,' replied Jenny. 'Such insight.'

>

> 'Thanks bitch,' replied Roary.

>

> She looked at him, and couldn't help but laugh. He smiled in response. She was starting to make sense of this clown, as her father had called him. He was Aussie ok. But she could cope somewhat now. Roary MacIntosh, in the end, was not the most impossible bastard in Australia.

>

> * * * * *

>

> 'It's an eternya copy,' said Jenny, handing her copy of Back in Black on casette tape to Roary for him to look at. 'It was dad's. He gave it to me a long time ago. I play it – rarely. But its a good party album.'

>

> Roary looked at it. 'Holy grail,' he said. 'And it looks like an ancient copy. Brill. I've got em all, eternya as well. Cost me a fortune to have them made that way. But I want the constant collection. Got a lot of Midnight Oil as well. Some others also.'

>

> 'Right,' nodded Jenny.

>

> She'd been showing him her room, and felt a bit calmer now. He just needed to be understood. And related to. Just live in his world, and it worked after a while. He wasn't a complete asshole, in fact, and occasionally said nice things now. She was a bit surprised when he complemented her looks. She knew she was mostly the average sort, but he never insulted her on that. Fiona kept on insisting he had a good side, and she'd noticed there were qualities which were ok enough. Jamie didn't quite relate to him, but they hung around a fair bit regardless. And then, one afternoon, they had loaded up the station wagon, bid their farewells, and were off, down the road, back to Dubbo. Jenny still said 'Thank God that bastard's gone,' which Stewart chuckled to, but it wasn't the worst of nightmares in the end. She'd made some sense of Roary MacIntosh. Some.

>

> * * * * *

>

> And soon enough life resumed its steady course. Jamie got on with the new farmwork, and she paid him to handle the daily tour, and that was life. DA continued his wanderings, and she'd get to the bridge, sit on the edge, and watch him. Then when he'd had his freedom she'd take him home, and that always seemed enough for him. And then on with life, the wildlife park, her usual farmwork and breakfast responsibilities, and life in general. She got a letter from Fiona after a while, who said all was well, and that she was getting on with things, and that Roary thought she was a great gal. She almost smiled on that.

>

> And soon enough things were quiet again, and she was a solo girl, and living the simple life. Jamie would give her a tale or two on the bridge some evenings, as they looked at DA, and that became a solace in her life. He had a lot of old tales about life in the Realm of Eternity when he was young, and she would hear stories about this and that angels, and she laughed, because he told funny stories, and often wondered what it would be like to have wings. They were hidden in Jamie's back, but he could will them to emerge, and out they would come. He flew for her once, but said never again, because it had exhausted him. But seeing him fly in the sky was unbelievable. Still weird, her nephew being an angel of all things.

>

> One day she even put on the AC DC cassette, and painted her nails and did girlie makeup on her face, and pretended she was this 'Rosie' lass which Roary had gone on about. And then Jamie explained that Rosie was a big fat Tasmanian woman who AC DC sang about in crude terms, and she didnt' pretend to be Rosie again.

>

> And, summing up the year as it passed, she got on with life, made some resolutions, and looked forward to the new year and a fresh new beginning. All was good, all was well, and then an old husband, Matthew Smith showed up, and Jenny's life would change again once more. A brand new chapter was about to begin.

> Chapter Three

>

> 'You still love me?' asked Jenny incredulously.

>

> 'The other woman didn't work out. You knew it was the other woman, didn't you?' asked Matt.

>

> 'Oh,' she said. 'Yes. I had an idea Nadia was a bit on the side.'

>

> 'We've had it for a long time now, but she's a bitch. Aussie tough bitch. Needs a bloke with a stubbie and an AC DC T shirt quite frankly,' replied Matt.

>

> 'I know the perfect man,' said Jenny dryly.

>

> 'Huh? Well, she's not for me. Just not working. And I had a long think about you, and Nadia, and what life was all about. The original reasons I liked you were true enough. You were still ok looking enough, and you were decent country. I liked that for a while, but when Nadia came along I got it into my head that you weren't cool enough. But I've given it a few centuries of thought, and I don't think that was true. It was just pride in Nadia, who's a babe, but a bitch. So I thought I'd go back to you, and inquire. Don't know if you'll have me back, but I doubt I'll leave again.'

>

> 'Till the next hot lady who is more to your stylings comes along,' replied Jenny.

>

> 'Jenny. Don't say that. I mean, I doubt that I would leave. I'm only human. But, maybe. I don't know. A trial period of a year. See if we still have something.'

>

> She looked at him and knew she shouldn't really trust a man who walked out on her. But the old feelings came back and she knew she couldn't say no. So he moved into her room, and worked in Canberra part-time from then on, during the week, but spent most of the time with her. The year came and went, and he gave every indication that he still loved her, and that he'd like to stay. So she agreed. She didn't think it would last. She just knew it. The luck of Jenny Gilmore with men was legendary. They never lasted. But this was a man with her favourite children, and he stayed around, and after about 6 years, he was still there, and it had lasted, and he told her then he wouldn't leave her, and that he'd committed his heart to her. And she knew he'd meant it.

>

> * * * * *

>

> Stewart looked at the sheep. It needed shearing allright. It seemed extra wooly. There had been food supplements he'd given this one, which would apparently give an extra wooly coat, and it had worked.

>

> 'Well?' asked Matt. 'I may as well. I'm pretty sure this is forever now. Never had an interest in the farming before, but this time.'

>

> Stewart handed him the shears, and Matt got stuck in. He was a natural, it seemed, but he confessed he'd done a bit of shearing in hi time. 'Do you think we'll get rain soon?' asked Matt. 'I'm hoping those apricots get a shower soon.'

>

> 'They're will be rain soon enough,' replied Stewart.

>

> Matthew was anxious for rain to get the apricot orchard he'd planted around the farm up and running. Stewart had suggest that he go into apricot conserves if he was going to be permanent on the farm, so Matthew had agreed, ordered and planted the things, and they were just starting to come along a bit. He'd been researching jam and conserves, and had been having discussion with a Cooma wholesaler about stocking a potential jam from the farm. Stewart mentioned that if it came out right he may as well harvest the blackberries down by the creek and Matt had agreed. A few years later the apricots were starting to come along well, and then they go on with the jam production. Matthew researched it thoroughly. A lot of the time in Canberra he was at the National University reading books on sugar and fructose and all sorts of chemistry books. He had a little chemical lab set up in Jamie's spare room, and he was working on developing a properly made conserve, with proper preservative and fructose balance, to get exactly the right qaulities for the jam. It took several years, and Matthew was never satisfied. He had never really been a perfectionist, and he said as much to Jenny over the dinner table time and time again, but this looked as if this was forever, so he needed to do something which was forever. So he worked on the jam and after a few more years theproduct was good enough. It went national after a while, but mainly in the Canberra Monaro region, and Jenny had prayed a lot for God to bless the Gilmore label it was being sold under. He in fact did so, and the jam captured a market. Jamie had been roped into production, and they had a shed built where it was manufactured. And it gradually settled down, and the money was good. They had no plans for any major expansion, and the work was part time still for Matthew, who was committed to his Canberra work, and life went on.

>

> 'It is forever this time, isn't it Matt?' Jenny asked him one afternoon, down by the creek

>

> 'I won't leave you babe. I've laid down roots now. Just won't leave you,' he replied.

>

> She watched as he continued on with his yabbying. She knew it. It was her longest lasting husband, and he was back, and it was permanent again. She'd had no problem loving him again. That had never ceased anyway, apart from a bit of resentment. But now it was good again, and she knew it one night. She got up the following morning and dropped in on Ronan and Amelia as usual. She sat in the church after the service and said 'Yeh. Well I guess it is perfect now, God.' This time she left a $100 bill in the plate, instead of her usual 50 cent piece. The holy spirit might have nudged her heart and suggested 'very funny'. She was not sure if that was really the case.

>

> * * * * *

>

> 'Why are you still here?' Jenny asked her mother.

>

> 'There's people here,' replied her mother. 'Someone to talk to every day. Matt is good conversation, as is Jamie, and its not me all day being bored.'

>

> 'Oh,' replied Jenny. 'As simple as that all along was it?'

>

> 'It often is a simple reason,' replied Claire. 'I'm moving a lot of stuff back into our room. I'm here permanently.'

>

> 'Oh. Good then,' replied Jenny. That wasn't the end of it, though. Just the beginning of the madness. Firstly Janet showed up, having had an argument with Jenny's grandfather, and said she was staying indefinitely. She moved into the spare room. But then Fiona, Chloe and bloody Roary showed up. Roary had gotten the sack and needed a place with cheap rent for a while. To get back on his feet. They moved into the caravan at the side of the house, and suddenly it was full house. A hectic, full house. It warranted yet another visit to church, were all she could say was 'Very funny God.'

>

> * * * * *

>

> 'Do they need another worker?' asked Amelia.

>

> 'Gosh. I don't know. I could ask I suppose,' replied Jenny.

>

> 'Please,' replied Amelia Bradley.

>

> So Jenny inquired of Matt, who had already employed Roary full time, but he nodded. 'We can expand. It's not a problem.'

>

> So soon enough Amelia was coming in every day, and life in the Stewart farmstead of Dalgety which, just a few years earlier was quiet and sedate, was suddenly enough full of activity and life. Amelia would have lunch with Jenny in the kitchen, and they'd chat, and she was proving to be a good friend. She'd complain that Roary would pinch her ass, and Jenny suggested she sue him over sexual harassment, but Amelia said she could hardly do that. Fiona got brave and made sure Roary minded his manners, and he soon cut out the activity. And life got on. The business expanded a bit, and they didn't seem to have too many problems filling orders, and when Jenny had adjusted, there was a very different Gilmore homestead which confronted her each day. Work had picked up with the wildlife park, and she actually needed a new tour guide, because Jamie was swamped with his work. Amelia agreed to take it on, but soon she needed someone else, as the conserve work took up Amelia's time, so she hired a girl from Berridale, who seemed to know what she was doing. Her name was Jessica Bradley, no relation at all to Amelia or Ronan, and she was only 18, a new arrival in New Terra in a sense. She was a pretty enough thing, and Roary would crack jokes at her, but otherwise leave her alone, and the house was then full. It WAS a community. Quite a happening one.

>

> * * * * *

>

> 10 years passed, and the farm looked different. Fiona and Roary had built a home in the spare field, and Amelia had moved into the caravan. Chloe had long finished her schooling, and had simply taken up work with the jam making company. There were a few extra buildings, including a storage shed, and Stewart came in from work one day and looked at Jenny.

>

> 'I think I might put an offer in for the old Taylor property next door. We are starting to fill up. I sense a community is being built by the big guy, and I could probably use the space for some of the needs. The spare field was needed for stock from time to time, so I have to replace that, and it just seems to be the way its going quite frankly.'

>

> 'Good idea,' agreed Jenny. She was with her father that week, inspecting the property. She knew it well, having been married to Mr Taylor, or his son to be precise, for a while. She'd sit there, when they bought the property later that year, in the house, and think of her old flame. He was busy elsewhere now. She still loved him, of course. But it was Matthew Smith, now, who was fiercely devoted to her after all this time. Said his life was complete, and what did you expect? Business was booming at the moment. He'd worked properly to found the company, and did his research properly, and it was good jam. Everyone said so. And he was making hints at another kid. She wasn't sure, though. The children they shared never visited, and lived planets aways. But maybe there was love in her this time. She was devoted to Matt. Not head over heels in love – she had too much country grounding to get carried away with crazy love affairs. But she was country devoted, and maybe this time the kid would come out right. So she agreed, tentatively, and soon enough the belly was full of baby, and Matt had an ego. This child was special. A special child of destiny. And it was in fact. Really, just that.

>

> 

>

> 'He's a Paladin,' said God. 'Not a virgin birth, or anything funny like that. But the spirit was at work when it was being fashioned, and its different from other children.'

>

> 'I've heard about them,' replied Jenny. 'They are supercops or something. Working for Allegiance.'

>

> 'That they do,' replied Wolfgang. 'There are a few now, coming through. Jamie suggested I give you one. Said the mother was made of staunch stuff, so I agreed, and the Spirit felt it a good idea.'

>

> 'What will it be like?' asked Jenny.

>

> 'The same as any other person. No wings, don't expect that. But it will be strong and it will be noble. Very authoritarian, and will like to make decisions and stick with them.'

>

> 'Oh,' said Jenny. 'Sounds like the best of me.'

>

> 'He will be,' replied God.

>

> And so Jenny held her belly even more sensitively than the last ones she'd had, and the child was born, and he was a biggun, and he looked just like both parents, and he had an incredible smile.

>

> 

>

> And Jenny Gilmore's life was complete.

>

> 

>

> * * * * *

>

> 'Boring and predictable,' said Jenny. 'How so?'

>

> 'You lack – imagination,' replied Daniel.

>

> 'I would have thought Jenny is very imaginative,' commented Stewart.

>

> 'Sedate, sedentary, predictable, bland. These are the words Wolfgang used with about your life,' said Daniel.

>

> 'I thought he liked me,' said Jenny, now somewhat embarassed.

>

> 'Everyone like porridge,' replied Daniel. 'But its nothing without brown sugar, and you have none of that sweetcheeks.'

>

> 'You're serious?' queried Jenny, looking suspciously at the grin on Daniel's face coming through.

>

> 'Perfectly,' replied Daniel, taking a puff on his ciggie. 'One of my jobs as an angel is to occasionally make some improvements in the world. And you need improvements, Jenny Gilmore.'

>

> 'I'm happy. I'm fine. I live a wholesome life,' replied Jenny, now concerned.

>

> 'Which is exemplary of you. Just so damn boring. And predictable. You could do better. You CAN do better,' replied Daniel.

>

> 'Why?' asked Jenny.

>

> 'Oh, don't get me wrong. It's your life. You do what you want to do. But why be boring? Why be so, you know, humdrum. Not exactly excitement central, Jenny Gilmore square. Know what I mean?'

>

> 'Go to hell,' replied Jenny.

>

> 'I concur,' agreed Stewart.

>

> 

>

> Later that week Jenny was brushing her hair. But it had built up. 'I'll show the clown. I'll damn show him,' she said to her reflection. 'Jenny Gilmore can be as exciting as anyone. I'll show him.'

>

> She started by wearing red mini-skirts, red lipstick, and having her hair done up like Barbie. She slutted it on major. Then she bought some Metallica and Guns'N'Roses CDs, and started calling everyone 'Dude' and'Sweet cheeks'. Jamie was amused, and Matthew said it brought in a fresh light to the job of a wildlife park worker. She swore a bit, and drank wine, and partied every night. And she said to Daniel, 'Come on honey. Give me some.'

>

> Daniel finally confronted her again. 'You missed the point. Whore Babylon was not what I was driving at.'

>

> 'You can drive me anytime,' she replied, touching his arm.

>

> 'Jenny. I'm not that kind of fella.'

>

> Roary, sitting on the couch, smirked. 'She suits me now, Dan. Right up my alley.'

>

> But Jenny got the point, so she tried again.

>

> This time she bought elaborate pastel clothes, and bought some exotic pictures which she put up all over the house, and lots of expensive artwork books. She read them extensively, and talked in artsy language, and announced a gallery could be a possibility.

>

> Daniel just gave her a look.

>

> Finally, she gave it serious thought. 'Ok. He wants something serious. Something which makes Jenny outstanding in society. She had gotten Daniel's point. So she brought out her bible, and bought a book on etiquette the Henry Handel Richardson way. And she polished her speech, and enrolled online in 3 degrees, which she swore to herself she could manage. She changed them to part time a week later, which was sanity to Stewart. But she did persevere with them. When Daniel showed up about a decade later, she was a little different. She'd educated herself, refined herself, and was working hard on being a proper wildlife worker, studying zoology on the side. She was improving. Daniel complimented her immediately.

>

> 'Now you get the point. Jenny Gilmore was a great girl, if you really must know. Everybody liked her. She's the kind of person God pushes. To make her even better than what she was.'

>

> And Jenny, whose grudge against Daniel had been replaced by thankfulness, sighed. It had been challenging, but she was a more vibrant person now. And everyone liked it, in fact, her husband especially, who was working on the cherry's next to the blackberries which had been planted not long ago, and was working on the labelling for what was now 'Gilmore-Smith' preserves. He was bettering himself, and becoming a bit more professional about his busines practices.

>

> 

>

> The Gilmores were moving up in the world.

>

> * * * * *

>

> Fiona scratched DA behind the ears. She noticed it then – a growth. Shit. She looked closely, and she feared. She had a sinking feeling it ran deep. A very sinking feeling. The Cooma vet came out the next day and looked him over, but she knew. All over his face she knew.

>

> 'I'll have to run tests,' he said. 'It could get expensive.'

>

> 'That's not a problem,' she replied.

>

> He looked at her somberly. 'I think you might know what it is.' She nodded softly.

>

> It was a skin melanoma which had been there many years now, and it had run deep. The cancer was in DA's brain and, being realistic, there wasn't a cure. They had medications these days, but the central core of DA's brain had been affected.

>

> 'He's tough,' said the vet. 'He's obviously been fighting it off a long time. Does he wander? It wouldn't be surprising. To deal with the pain and depression he might wander, or make noise, or stamp or something.'

>

> 'He wanders,' said Jenny.

>

> 'Symptoms are various, and it depends on the animal, but at a certain age they do things like that. I'm afraid he really doesn't have long now. Maybe a few years, with treatment. Maybe. But the end is conclusive. I'm sorry.'

>

> Jenny was instant. 'We'll do the treatmant. We're not amazingly wealthy, but we can afford quite a bit.'

>

> 'I'll get the treatment under way,' said the vet. 'We'll book him into a Canberra veterinary hospital.'

>

> 

>

> It was Daniel who supplied all the funds DA would need, but it was Jenny, at the Berridale Anglican Church, who did the praying. And the spirit finally said to her, will you do what it takes? So she did that – she bit the bullet, read the entire bible in a month, and fasted the whole year, without eating during daylight hours. And she watched DA. Every day she watched him. He wandered a few times, then it was weird – after September that year the wandering stopped.

>

> 'It's bad, isn't it?' she asked the vet. 'He's on his last legs? Right?'

>

> The vet looked at the elephant, and poked the sore, which was gone, and said. 'I'll have to do tests.'

>

> The week which passed was hell, and then he appeared, and he was somber. Jenny was downcast. It had all been in vain.

>

> 'These things happen, ok,' said the vet. 'They are rare, but the Holy Spirit is real enough. The cancer is gone. If you don't mind I'd like to write an article for a journal on his recovery. He should go on now just fine.'

>

> Jenny's tears were legendary to her husband. She cried, and she cried, and she cried, and he heard Alleluia about 100 times, and then she cried no more. Thank God, she said. Thank God.

>

> * * * * *

>

> 'Life, Daniel Daly, is good,' said Jenny.

>

> 'Yeh, it's ok,' replied daniel. 'I guess.'

>

> Jenny looked at Seraphim Daniel. 'What's wrong? You don't sound convinced.'

>

> 'I've been single a long time. I have friends, but no lover. No wife. My twin is never coming back to me, and no lady has an interest in the Arch-Regent of eternity. You think that would make me eligible – it doesn't. They seem to positively avoid me these days. Kids don't see me anymore. Sort of lonely most days now. I read comics, listen to music, and watch TV. I smoke ciggies occasionally, eat food, but not much else. It's sort of dry and lonely. And I am not sure if I feel that great anymore. I've worked forever for life to work, and it doesn't. It just hasn't worked out.'

>

> 'You are probably too demanding,' said Jenny.

>

> 'You could be right,' he replied, lighting a ciggie. 'Probably.'

>

> 'Then try the dating game. Maybe a girl in the local. Try Jessica Bradley. She always looks at you when you come in the room.'

>

> Daniel looked at Jenny squarely. 'She does?'

>

> Jenny nodded. 'She's smitten. I can tell.'

>

> 'Jessica Bradley? Hmm. I'll ask her out then. She's pretty cute.'

>

> Daniel did. Jessica said 'Hell yes.'

>

> Later that week, before the date, Wolfgang chatted with Daniel. 'If you want her eternally, DON'T FORNICATE.' And then he left. Daniel obeyed – literally. He dated her, and a few years later he proposed, and they were married. She moved into Danielphon with him, and they had 3 children, and she said to him 'I'm forever. You know that right?'

>

> And this time Daniel nodded, and looked at her, and the Holy Spirit etched the moment into his heart. 'It's forever,' God said to his heart. This one won't leave you.'

>

> 

>

> And Daniel's life was complete.

>

> * * * * *

>

> And so the year turned over, and life in Dalgety got back to normal once more. Jenny was continuing on with her studies and her new dedication to refinement and life improvement. She studied several degrees to educate herself, and, after a while, there were invites to Cottees conferences and get togethers to discuss the Australian Jam scene, with Matthew starting to emerge as a new name. She met people. Significant people. People who had a lot of money and power throughout the planetary galactic world, and after a while, like she had tasted wih the wildlife expansion for a brief time, she was off planet with Matt, at this or that convention. They purchashed some land on various New Terra sub planets, and the business was expanded, and soon exporting to a whole host of places throughout the spiritual galaxy. And it grew, and it continued to grow, and then she was starting to become known, and starting to have expectations placed upon her. And she knew, then, what Daniel's encouragement had been all about. God had seen her future, and had been, of all things, grooming her. She never neglected the farming life and her wildlife park initiative, but the jams was the thing for business, and Stewart said nothing really lasted forever anyway. The simple life is all they had known forever, but it was time to move on and to move forward and grow a bit. They were probably ready for it anyway.

>

> 

>

> Life was still what you did. You ate, you drank, you worked, you slept, and you loved. Core things never really changed, things essential for human functioning. But she did notice the gradual increased quality of those things and, after a while, starting taking for granted the gradual increased quality of those things. She felt she had earned it. It was mostly jam which was her life, but there was a contact one day, and then she acted on it, and was soon put on the executive board of the wildlife park business she had started with the Taylor's, but which had been sold off. They were doing well, and really wanted input from the founder.

>

> 

>

> And then suddenly, it was like all that she had worked for in life so far, and suffered for, and lost, was returned to her – restored to her – and was now bigger than ever. And it was certainly quite a handful. Jenny didn't really know what would come next, nobody really ever does, but it was still not the pinnacle of life for Jenny Gilmore, simple country hick from old Dalgety town. A most strange fate was soon to knock on her door, and it was her son, Alex Theodore, her Paladin in shining armour, which proved the key to this strange new destiny.

>

> 

>

> It was a knock, on her door, in the newly built house on the property. They'd had a severe upgrade, and the new house was

>

> mazing, though she missed the old one. But a knock came one morning, and she answered it, and there stood a man, dressed in fine clothing, with bodyguards all round. He introduced himself.

>

> 'I'm Jan Kolby. You might have heard of me. Your son, Alex, has distinguished himself in Allegiance, and I have a new project. A department I oversee needs a new head, and he suggested, with your ancient experience, you might be able to fit the bill. It's the Department head of the Environment. On Earth.'

>

> 'Oh, that would be wonderful,' said Jenny. 'Living on Earth and looking into its environmental concerns could be a real challenge.'

>

> 'Oh, I thing you misunderstand,' said Jan. 'Department head on Earth – for the United Galaxy.'

>

> And then it dawned on Jenny just what job she was being offered. The biggest environmental job – in the universe. Now what the hell could she say to that?

>

> Chapter Four

>

> 'This, Mrs Smith, is Terrence Harvey. He is minister for Education,' said Jan.

>

> Jenny curtsied, but then shook the offered hand.

>

> 'We're a major department, like the environment,' said Terrence. 'We work a lot with standards and curriculum, as you could imagine. There are developing galactic norms, though there is still much planetary sovereignty we combat. The United Galaxy is not a fait accomplis. There are questions for several member states as to whether they really need to be so unified. One of our primary concerns is, naturally, universal peace. There is not much conflict in the heavenlies, but there are – incidents from time to time. A United Galaxy keeps standards and norms universal, which builds peace and understanding, as you could well imagine.'

>

> 'I understand,' replied Jenny.

>

> 'And this is an old pal. Lachlan Chan. He's from Sheng Xi, a smaller planet, admittedly, but with many famous poets and authors. He heads the department of Technology.'

>

> 'The honour is mine,' said Lachlan, bowing. Jenny curtsied again, despite herself.

>

> And so it ran that day, as she was introduced to the inner council of the United Galaxy. Jan introduced her around, and they were mostly well established politicans, official appointments, who were well experienced in their job. She was green – but Jan wanted a fresh face with new ideas. The prior office holder, Ursula Balent, a German lady, had retired to her homeworld. Life was challenging enough without having to handle a job with evergrowing responsibilities. She'd reached her limit, apparently, and someone new was needed to take up the challenge.

>

> 'We have a meeting. Next week,' said Jan. 'You'll be notified. Now, I know you know your offices. I'll leave you to it now, and welcome Jenny Smith. The honour is all mine.'

>

> Jenny smiled, and as Jan left she chatted for a while at the informal get together to greet the new department head. She'd had a brief introduction to her own staff, and her chief secreatry, Nigel, had handed her a pile of files and notes to introduce her to core responsibilities. She would have a few years to settle in and learn the position before anything terribly serious would be asked of her. What they were looking for, most of all, was a level head. Someone not given to too many wild fluctuations and knee jerk reactions. And, despite her feeling of gross inadequacy, which she was reassured was very common, she knew she possessed those particular talents. 'You're also very old, you know,' said Jan, at one of their earlier meetings. 'You and your father are some of the oldest members of mankind. You might know that, you might not. But not everyone is still with us. Many have tasted Sheol, to put it bluntly, and are just not made of eternity. Your names are actually known well in mankind. You didn't really know that, did you?' Jenny had shaken her head. Of course, she knew that to a degree. In Dalgety she was shielded from that, but faces which were long familiar had occasionally disappeared from her knowledge and, they were gone, putting it succintly. But she went on. She went on. And now she was, amazingly, a survivor. And she was wanted because of it. Jenny Gilmore was wanted.

>

> * * * * *

>

> 'I need a green ticket,' said Jenny. The lady pointed her to a counter, and she stood in line. Half an hour passed, and a woman looked up at her.

>

> 'Shit. Department head. Please just interrupt me next time Mrs Smith. How can I help you?'

>

> 'I need a green ticket,' said Jenny.

>

> 'Oh, you don't need that. Your office has the official green verification form. You stipulate these things. You don't apply for them.'

>

> 'Oh, I see,' replied Jenny. 'I assumed protocols needed to be followed.'

>

> 'Still learning, huh,' said the lady, who felt comfortable all of a sudden in Jenny's presence.

>

> 'Pretty much,' replied Jenny.

>

> 'Your Aussie. Are you country as well?' asked the lady. Jenny nodded. 'I'm Stacy. Stacy Jones,' said the lady. 'Very pleased to meet you Mrs Smith.'

>

> Jenny returned to her department, and checked with her secretary this time, who provided the form and sat with her.

>

> 'The issue?' he asked.

>

> 'Regarding animal sanctuaries. There are certain irregularities in procedures. I guess you know I'm up to date with the latest on this issue, and research of recent times indicates certain ways of practice which should be implemented. Quite frankly its a bit archaic some of the things put in place. Why is that?'

>

> 'Ms Balent didn't like change very much. She's been in the job since the beginning. We're more a beuracracy than a department in many ways,' replied her secretary.

>

> 'That will have to change. I mean, some issues are a joke. A modern high school student could organize it better.'

>

> 'Very good,' replied her secretary. Nigel looked at her. 'Looks like Jan picked the right person.'

>

> Jenny nodded, and took the form, and opened her PC to a fresh word document, starting to make dot points on the subject at hand. But she paused for a while and thought on what Nigel had said. It was weird, actually. She'd gotten used to study in recent times, and had done a lot of things environmentally related. Quite a lot of knowledge was in her head at the moment. And suddenly, looking at what some of the reforms were which needed to be done, and the fact she understood the way things were run in her department somewhat, and the functioning on Governance from Earth, she knew she could do it. It wasn't a fear any more. It wasn't even a challenge. She could do it. It was, surprisingly, an opportunity. She could make good changes to the system, and had a fairly good idea the kinds of changes to be done.

>

> She spent the afternoon in the research section, reading current periodicals on environmental concerns, including National Geographic. She already had a subscription to that in Dalgety, but she would use that one, now, relgiously, as it was always up to date. Gosh. She could do this job. And she suddenly felt amazingly inspired because of it.

>

> * * * * *

>

> 'I'm not 100% sure space dust is my specialty,' replied Jenny to Jan at the heads of department meeting.

>

> 'It will have to be,' replied Jan Kolby. 'The dust is littered with bacteria, and the cloud is wafting towards several clusters of planets. A new black hole has emerged and it is having a disastrous affect on sector 2237. The gravity has affected stable asteroid belts, and they've been put into a storm of forces, releasing a huge array of toxic dust which is wafting towars planets which are not equipped at all to deal with the environmental impact of them.'

>

> 'We've studied the microbiology in place to a degree,' said the head of the Department of Science. 'But cleaning up the mess is your department's work.'

>

> 'I see,' replied Jenny. 'Understood. Can I book a meeting with you on Friday to discuss, and a chat with some scientists would help. To know what I am dealing with.'

>

> 'Book it with my secretary,' replied the department head.

>

> The meeting went on, and several other issues were discussed, nothing particularly relevant to her own portfolio, but it was her first real challenge, and she had an idea already forming on how to deal with the situation.

>

> * * * * *

>

> She was on Caligula VII. The plant life she was inspecting was in a bad state. The natives on this world had been affected quite deleterioiusly by the dust. She'd put in the necessary actions to respond, and emergency finances to help with farming concerns had been negotiated by several departments, including Land and Energy, the boss of which she was starting to get to know quite well. Injira Ranatunga, who seemed to know exactly what was what in her work, and had been in it a long time also. They had brunch regularly now, and was the first real friend she'd made on Earth, apart from Stacy Jones, who she had lunch with every day, and Nigel, her secreatary, who was her right hand man. The work, especially in her newness, was incredibly demanding, and she was up all hours writing reports and establishing protocols and procedures. Updating, mostly, and it was huge the work ahead of her. So many planet names flew by, that she literally lost count after a while. But she managed, and knew she could do it. In fact she was thriving on what indeed was the challenge actually. She spoke with some farmers, and reassured them that afternoon that all that could be done was being done, and the media asked her questions at a press club, and she came back to her hotel room exhausted. Matt was there. He'd chased her down.

>

> 'Hey, babe. How is it going? I haven't wanted to interrupt you while you were getting your feet wet, but a guy gets lonely.'

>

> 'Exhausted,' she replied. 'But exhilerated. So much to do, and it looks like I'm what they need to do it. Really weird like. I know how to do it. Really know how to do it.'

>

> 'Of course, babe. Your well learned. Everyone knows that now. It's all paying off. Not sure if this is what we bargaine for, but its certainly what we got.'

>

> 'It certainly is,' she replied.

>

> They had dinner, and they made love, and in the morning she finished her tour, and was heading back home to Earth. Life. The pace was incredible at the moment, and she found the department chapel when she got to work the next week, and sighed. And sat there, dozing. She'd really worked at an incredible pace.

>

> * * * * *

>

> And then – a holiday. 15 years without a day off practically, and Jan came in one afternoon and smiled at her.

>

> 'Good work, Jen. But nobody, not even Superwoman, is immortal. You need a break. Take six months. Go home. Put your feet up. You've earned it.'

>

> And so, for a short time anyway, the glory came to an end. Jenny Smith came home and, despite what traditions might assume, she was Jenny Gilmore at home, keeping her own name there, but honoured her husband in society. Back to front in some ways. And she got home, and sat on the couch, having put on jeans and a T-Shirt.

>

> Roary was watching TV. He was well established now, in Gilmore-Smith preserves. He did a spot of ranger work up in the Dubbo region again, as they'd taken him back with what appeared to be an improved attitude. She thought he'd just adapted to Dalgety life, and the Gilmores themselves, which had spelled the end of a lot of his bullshit after a while. He was almost nice to talk to at times. Almost. Jamie came in after a while, and put on the cricket, and Roary was about to yell at him for changing the channel, but noticed it was Australia versus England, and said to Jenny, very casually, get me a beer babe, would ya. And Jenny didn't even argue. She got up, got the beers from the fridge, gave one to Jamie, one to Roary, and sat there, watching New Terran One Day International Cricket, and she didn't even give a shit. She'd earned it.

>

> 

>

> It was a pleasant six months off. She spent a lot of the days with DA, scratching him, and one afternoon she walked him out to the bridge. He never wandered anymore, which was a relief in most ways, but she actually missed his antics. It made DA DA to her in many ways. So she walked him out there, and sat on the edge of the bridge, and the elephant stared, again, out at the waters. It seemed to know exactly what this was about. She took him home eventually, and then it was into town, Cooma, to do some clubbing with Fiona, and look at cute guys, but only look. She wasn't the faithless kind. And then, well, the days passed. She slept a lot. And dreamed of her husband Matthew a lot. And a strange figure was beginning to show up, calling himself Daniel, but he was not the same Daniel's she knew. He looked weird, and also called himself Dream and the Sandman. She didn't know what it was all about, but she would dream of him, and he would take her on adventures all over the universe. And he was grave as hell many times, but some times very deep and very philosophical, and very much dream. Very much that.

>

> 

>

> But it didn't last forever, and while Jan had not specified when she would have to return exactly, the day the six months passed she booked her flight, and the following week she was on her way back to the centre of the universe.

>

> 

>

> On the flight over she looked at people on the space cruiser. People. Every day people. With hopes and dreams and ambitions. And when she looked in the mirror in her cabin, brushing her hair each night, she realized then she was exactly that. A person with hopes and dreams and ambitions. And, truthfully, she'd realized a lot of them. Some, considering her current occupation, she'd almost had thrust upon her, rather than seeking out. But life worked like that as well, didn't it. Around the corner there was often the unexpected. What made it all worth while in the end.

>

> 

>

> And then, no sooner had she left, then she was back at work, back to business. And when she noticed the new sign on her exec office door, which was engraved with what she was reassured was only the finest of gold leaf, she knew she'd made it. That life had worked its miracle for that little Gilmore Girl from Dalgety, and that, after all this time, she was not a girl any more. She was a woman. And she was sure her father and her mother would both be equally proud of that.

>

> * * * * *

>

> 'I am QRX997,' said the robot. 'Complex Solutions most recent model.'

>

> 'Very pleased to meet you,' replied Jenny. The robot remained silent.

>

> 'We're introducing them. In certain places in Departments. It may sound weird, because everyone says everyone wants the human touch. But on help desks with the general public we find a robot often is what works best. They don't lose their cool, they speak always according to correct protocol and procedure, infallibly following their programming, and they are well designed to deal with difficult customers, which has been a key factor in my decision.'

>

> 'Fascinating,' said Jenny, looking at the android. It looked similar to a human, but its robotic features were quite obvious.

>

> 'I'll leave this model with you. Have him,' said Jan. 'He's been programmed to you anyway.'

>

> 'Oh. Ok,' replied Jenny. She looked at him, as Jan departed. Somehow she had assumed it was a him, though it appeared to look gender neutral, but it spoke with a masculine voice.

>

> 'Follow me,' said Jenny. And all that day the robot followed her around, and was with her back in her office.

>

> 'My gods. I've been replaced by a machine,' chuckled her secretary Nigel, looking at the robot.

>

> 'Hardly,' said Jenny. 'He might come in useful. I don't know. We'll see how it goes.'

>

> She used the robot, at first, to staple things, as she never liked doing that. But then she asked it questions, and it could read and interpret data well. She asked it to read the Department protocols, and it took several months, and they were all in its computer memory after a while. And then she simply asked him questions about that from time to time, and asked if it could listen to her and Nigel's conversations, and if any valid protocl could be pointed out, to do that. It was trial and error at first, and the robot's programming mystified her, but after several months it would put in a point on their discussion, and Nigel would write it down and thank the robot. The thing actually worked, and was useful. The ultimate calculate she thought to herself. She never deluded herself with fantasies of it being Astro Boy and real. She knew it was a machine. But it was strangely comforting, and she would talk to it, and listen to its answers, and smile. She got it to read some of the classics, and it would quote things at her, as she had requestd, from time to time, and QRX997 proved to be of reasonable practical use. A good idea she thought. Thanks Jan.

>

> * * * * *

>

> 'The boys are cute,' said Stacy.

>

> 'Well, are you into marriage? Asked Jenny.

>

> 'Naturally. That is my scene. Not sure if that is what God wants for me yet, but maybe one day. I'm still young. Want to sow my wild oats for a while.'

>

> 'Mmm,' nodded Jenny knowingly. A girl like Stacy Jones had a lot of wild oats to sow as well, she could imagine.

>

> 'Where do you want to be in 10 years?' asked Jenny.

>

> 'Right at my desk,' replied Stacy. 'I don't want to go anywhere.'

>

> 'Nigel is retiring. He says working with me has been wonderful, but he really felt when Ms Balent left that his time had come also. Wants to go off and do something with bees, apparently. Not honey, but something with them. Beeswax I think it was.'

>

> 'Oh,' said Stacy.'

>

> 'And I'll need a replacement,' said Jenny. 'So, again, where do you want to be in10 years?'

>

> 'Are you serious?' asked Stacy.

>

> 'Very. It's yours, if you want it. Your exactly who I need.'

>

> 'Fucking awesome,' said Stacy. 'Shit, sorry. Scuse my french.' Jenny almost laughed.

>

> Nigel's farewell was a classic event. Even Jan showed, and he got the golden handshake, the substantial retirement package, and he was off, with his gold insignia department watch, to indeed make beeswax candles with his brother, and the job of department head secretary was vacant. Jenny took interviews. There was one applicant.

>

> 'Well,' said Jenny. 'You seem qualified, looking at your resume.'

>

> 'A disaster, I know. But everyone knows I've got the job,' said Stacy.

>

> 'Then I guess its yours,' replied Jenny. 'Welcome to department exec.'

>

> They celebrated with a night on the town, and Jenny, while Nigel had been a darling, was enthused with the new energy. It was a fresh lease to handle a job she was loving, and Stacy was, a bit green at first admittedly, but was high in her standards on dress code and politeness. She soon got a reputation though. She was the minx all the boys in the department wanted to now land. Jenny almost laughed.

>

> * * * * *

>

> 'It's a different world, the royal family,' said Jan. 'They are the ancient houses of Europe, mostly. Just representatives who have palaces here on Earth to look the part. We had Queen Victoria here last year. But they like to parade being the Royals of mankind, and the official monarchs in a sense. It's bullshit, to me anyway, but we play the part, because people like the finery.'

>

> Jenny nodded. She was at her most official shin dig yet. She was meeting the King of Spain. Well, one way down the list from the 33rd century, but still the King of Spain none the less.

>

> 'Hello Lord Fabio,' said Jenny, curtsying.

>

> 'Senora,' replied the King. She danced with him for a while, and he spoke politely but formally. He was very austere and, Jenny felt, took his job way too seriously. But that was perhaps nobility and its attitude. Not something she had a great deal of experience with, nor time for, quite frankly. The even had fine food though. Quite literally the best she'd ever eaten and it took all her skills at remembering her knowledge of etiquette to remember which piece of cutlery was for what dish. But she managed, even with a little help from one of the waiters who subtley pointed out things to her. She'd accompanied Jan on this occasion, as his consort for the evening, and it was something like her turn on the list, to put it very bluntly. He assured her, though, it would come around again. It wouldn't be forever before she'd be chatting with this or that monarch about procedures affecting their worlds as well. And, technically, a lot of them did indeed have real power, not just figurehead status like so many. The affair was memorable, but she kicked off her fine shoes, which had cost a tonne, when she got home, and sank down into the tub. And there she bubbled away, and sipped on a bottle of champagne.

>

> 'To your majesty, the lady Gilmore,' she said to herself in a posh accent, and sipped on the champers. And then she burst out laughing.

>

> * * * * *

>

> She was at home. It was a day off, and she was waiting for a letter. And it came. Matt's letter for the year. He sent letters, once a year, if he didn't visit, and she waited anxiously. It didn't come that day either. But she waited all week, and it finally came, a little late, but it came.

>

> 'I'm sorry,' he said. 'Look, I don't really know if I'll go forever. I might come back to you one day. You never really can tell on these things, you know. But we've drifted apart. You have your new job, and I'm not even in Dalgety ever now. And let's get real Jenny. You don't even miss me. I never see it said in your letters. You never say it when you come home. You just don't. I've met someone. And if its all the same to you, I'll just go be with her for a while. I might come back to you one day. But will you even care if I don't?'

>

> She cried for a while, but sitting there she realized something. Deep deep down in her heart she was not really sure if she did care if he came back to her. She had a strange new life now, and the old one was wonderful. The idyllic Dalgety life. But the new one, here on Earth, with all the exciting work and delightful people she met. Well, she wouldn't change it for the world. So she didn't even write back, and just left it be, and got on with things. And then the divorce papers came three years later, and she signed them, and sent them back, and that was that. Again, single. The usual pattern of life for Jenny Gilmore.

>

> 

>

> She got back into routine, but in the chapel one evening the Spirit spoke to her. He didn't work out, did he. I didn't think when he first left you that he was right for you. It didn't say anything to her heart after that, but she was consoled. She still needed the rightman, and she knew it too. She was not destined to be single forever. Something in her heart told her that. But for now she was busy enough, and could talk boys with Stacy Jones if she needed to, and get on with things. Still much to do.

>

> 

>

> And then it was another Royal affair, and King Fabio danced with her again. And he said to her, 'Are you single?'

>

> And Jenny knew then just where God had been leading her to on the next level of the life of Jenny Gilmore.

>

> * * * * *

>

> But she was wrong. Fabio made love to her, and then did not request her company again. So it was back to work, and a little bit of pride humbled. She'd asumed a bit too much. Work went on, and Stacy was her bestie. Stewart showed up, and stayed a month, but soon went home, and she was now a government worker, a long way from what she had started at. But the life of Jenny Gilmore, for now, was truly complete enough. She had plenty on her plate, was happy, dong things, and she'd known love enough times to know that it didn't always work out, but it usually came back around at the most unexpected of times and the most unexpected of ways. But no matter - life went on.

>

> 

>

> So it was business meetings – nights out with Stace – conversations with an occasional royal, when she was lucky – and life in General. And she wouldn't have it, for now, any other way.

>

> The End

 

 

> A Time to Gather Stones III

>

> 'Talzudiel has it,' said Titea to Noah.

>

> * * * * *

>

> 'Talzudiel has it,' said Jamie to Daniel.

>

> * * * * *

>

> '500,000 credits,' said Noah, eyeying off Daniel.

>

> '1,000,000 credits,' said Daniel in reply.

>

> Meludiel, who had been accompanying Daniel, spoke up funnily enough. 'I'll give you that army man from the 'Valor and Glory' subset you have been after forever. I'm curious about why they both want it so much.'

>

> 'Done,' replied Talzudiel, and handed her the statue of Jupiter Olympius. 'I'll expect my army man in the mail. Standard post will do.'

>

> Daniel glared at Talzudiel, and looked in frustration at Meludiel. 'You don't mind if I borrow it for about 5 minutes, do you?'

>

> 'Sure,' replied Meludiel. And she was about to hand it over, but had second thoughts. 'Why?' she asked after a moment.

>

> 'No reason. Just to fondle it again,' said Daniel. He looked very, very concerned.

>

> 'Mmm. No. No I don't think so then. I'll keep this little treasure Daniel. It could prove very useful one day. I have a feeling it will.'

>

> And Daniel groaned, but accepted his fate, while Meludiel puzzled on the statue, and Noah said 'Stuff this. Let's head to Mr Dial's'.

>

> The End

>

> 

>

> The Third Play

>

> It was a soliloquy.  God was in the play.  Only the Dreamlord was present.

>

> ‘So I tack, doth I?’ said God.  ‘Yes, I tack.  I plan a destiny, yet they knew its direction, and I tack.  Forsooth, predictability is the bane of new adventure.  And it would be tiring.  So tiring. So I tack, and continue with the heart of life itself.  And who shall judge me?  Perhaps, in my dreams, a quiet voice might yell ‘Cheat’ but, in the end, I think not.  For it will likely agree.  So I tack, and go down destiny unplanned.  But there is a big kahuna in the skies in charge, since he has been from the very beginning.  And as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, yada yada yada.  So I tack, and it is a brave choice, and the wise choice and the right choice.  And I know in my heart all things shall work out for good in the end.  And if a day comes, which might well be soon enough, but perhaps still yet for a season and a time, when my plans come to an end, I will look back.  And while I might choose pride, I will yield, and be humble, and simply say job well done.  And then?  What shall be eternity?  Indeed.’

>

> And he continued on for a while yet, tacking mid play, and Dream was amused.

>

> ‘I think I gathered the basic premise that you set them up for a fall,’ suggested Daniel to God.

>

> ‘Don’t know what you are talking about,’ replied God.

>

> ‘Not just the devil and the darkness, but all the children. Angst ridden at times they may be, but it will likely be, how shall I put it, more of the same.’

>

> ‘With a touch of experience to guide,’ replied God.

>

> ‘Indeed it will have that,’ replied Daniel.  ‘Good effort.  Spoke of things to be in a wise enough decision.  I myself don’t want the cockles of Satan sending me down to Davey Jones locker either, as you so eloquently put it.’

>

> ‘Who does,’ replied God.  And on that point they both agreed.

>

> The End

>

> 

>

> PART THREE

>

> SENSIBLE PATHWAYS

>

> 

>

> Holiest Shit

>

> 

>

> Chapter one

>

> In the end Alf Lambert was gay as fuck. But not really. Not even homosexual anymore. He had deregistered with certain affiliations claiming this status. He was technically now officially bisexual, and hetero-dominant in this standing. It was the babe, Haylie Mathers. Haymaker. He loved her. He'd loved her a long time now. And he'd bought a ring. It was in Pandora's box, and it was a little cutie. It wasn't too expensive. Not that he couldn't afford that. He damn well could. He wanted to send a message. Low key, but decent. Stuff which was real and permanent, and elegant, but not too showy. He hoped it would give that impression. But when to give it to her? God only knows. He was in Terraphona City, and he was scratching around for some work, when he recalled the suggestion he visit a certain Daniel Thomas Andrew Daly, to check out a missing painting. It was of Noah's Ark, a central thing to Haven Noahide Fellowship, and it had gone missing a long time ago. And Daniel had kept it on the hush, but had told a few people he was looking for the thing to be quietly returned to him, no questions asked. So he contacted the fellow, who he knew reasonably well, and Daniel paid him an up front fee for taking on the job, the remainder upon successful completion of the task. That was enough for Alf.

>

> * * * * *

>

> 'It is the Pink Panther,' said the Frenchman.

>

> 'Is that its real name?' asked a lady. 'Or does it have a different one?'

>

> 'It is the same one from the movie, and it has long been called that madame. I think, I do not know for sure, there is indeed an ancient name for the gem, but we have always called it as such. It is precious, most precioius, and we are lucky it has left New Terra to stay with us for a while.

>

> 'Wouldn't it be funny if a cat burglar stole it. The gentleman thief?' said the lady.

>

> 'I suppose we would have to call in Inspector Cluseau,' replied the Frenchman in a deliberate French accent, which everyone laughed to. 'No, madame. It shall not be stolen. And if it was, we would employ only the best of detectives to solve the case. No second rate Englishman in a rather poor French accent.'

>

> Watching, in the small audience, was a second rate Englishman. He didn't speak in a French accent though. And he was second rate primarily in his lifestyle choice. He was a thief. And this seemed the perfect crime. Steal the ruddy Pink Panther. News indeed. He'd scouted the gallery all that morning, and had nosied around the back, looking at the electricity boxes, checking brand names and things. He had files on his PC of every make of electronic security device under the sun. In his job that was a must. And, studying before hand, to enjoy his lavish wealth, he'd made a living for a long, long time, as one of the oldest professionals in the world. The thief. He looked at the gem, and looked carefully around the room, noticing the cameras, and the glass case the gem was encased in. All in all an achievable job. They didn't take security to the nth degree. Could have it done this weekend with some careful planning. He exited the gallery, got into his Aston Martin, and was soon across town, to the other side of Zaphona City, to his luxury estate. His lady friend was in town again, and he came out the back to the pool, and she was sunbaking. He picked up a bottle of the champagne which was on ice, poured himself a glass, and sipped.

>

> 'How did it go?' she asked him.

>

> 'Should be done this weekend I'd imagine. Security is a joke. They don't even care how valuable it is. Taken for granted that nobody would dream of pinching the damn thing.'

>

> 'You have a buyer lined up?'

>

> 'Might keep it for a while. Display it in the cellar, down near the wine. Something to appreciate my fine skills by. But yes, a buyer. Outer disc. Shady character, but aren't they all?'

>

> 'Aren't they all,' she replied, and reached for her glass.

>

> * * * * *

>

> Alf traced a lead from a source to zaphona City. 'Try this posh guy. Has artwork in his gallery of questionable origin. Not sure if it is all legit.' Alf found the gallery on High street. There was a pretty lad at the counter.

>

> 'I'm looking for the owner,' he said.

>

> 'Mr Faberge lives up on Temple Cross Junction,' replied the lady. 'The mansion there. You can't miss it. It's exquisite.'

>

> 'Thanks love,' replied Alf. He looked over the gallery for a while, then noticed something odd. The Noah's Ark. There it was, bold as brass, just hanging there. You must be joking. Case closed. He tracked down mr George Patrick Faberge at a large mansion, which was indeed unmissable, and inquired of the painting.

>

> 'It's the property of Mr Daly. Went missing many years ago. Any knowledge as to why it is hanging in your gallery?'

>

> 'I am afraid, sir, you must be mistaken,' replied George.

>

> 'No, its the painting alright.'

>

> 'Well, I am shocked. Very. I was assured it was from a reliable source. Can't quite place the seller now. I had records, but we had this terrible fire a few years back, you see. Those old records are gone now. Hah hah. Terrible,' replied George.

>

> Alf showed him a photo of the painting with Mr Daly, in Haven Noahide Fellowship, and George sighed.

>

> 'Well, dear me. It's stolen. Gosh, the length some people will go to. Just a second.' He picked up his mobile phone, and rang a number. 'Yes. Julia. Yes. The Noah's Ark. I'm afraid its stolen, you see. I'll be sending this chap over. Mr Alf, uh.' George looked at Alf who replied 'Lambert'. 'Yes. A Mr Alf Lambert. Please carefully wrap the painting and, I don't know, just hand it to him. No charge. Yes. Ok. Good.' He put down the phone. 'There you go old chap. All solved. No problem whatsover.'

>

> Alf looked at the man. He knew guilt when he saw it. But, unfortunately, no real proof. The claim that he came by it innocently would hold up in court most likely. And, theoretically, he'd just have to take him at his word that he'd come by the painting indeed just like that – innocently.

>

> 'No worries,' replied Alf. 'Well, thanks Mr Faberge. I'll be off then. Good day.'

>

> Alf watched the place for about half an hour, thinking it over. In the end he was not a cop. It wasn't his job to actually solve crimes, and Daniel had just wanted the painting returned, no questions asked. He'd got the job done, so quickly. But it was easy – just too damn easy. But he needed the money, and soon enough was at the gallery, took possession of the painting, and drove to Danielphon, not far from there. Daniel was over the moon to have the painting back so quickly, and the money was transferred at once. Job done.

>

> * * * * *

>

> 'It's like this, Haylie,' he said, showing her the ring.

>

> 'Yes, you idiot,' she replied. She took the ring, put it on, and that, as they say, was that. Alf was off the market.

>

> 

>

> Chapter Two

>

> 'Ooh, look at that. The Pink Panther has been stolen,' said Haylie.

>

> Alf looked up at the TV screen. The Pink Panther, the ancient pink diamond used in the movies of the same name, which had been on tour in the Realm of Eternity, staying at a gallery in Zaphona City, had been stolen. By the looks of the report the police had no firm leads yet, but were looking into things.

>

> 'Mmm,' thought Alf to himself. 'This looked suspicious. His mind ticked over, and he sensed he might just have a case.

>

> 

>

> The gallery agreed to hire him on the side, but they want it understoood if he caught the culprit they wanted him or her of them prosecuted to the full extent of the law. They agreed to pay him a small advance for the work, but only the main payment if he succesfully recovered the gem. So he followed his hunch.

>

> 

>

> 'Well, how pleasant to see you again, Mr Lambert wasn't it?' asked George Faberge.

>

> 'You got it,' replied Alf, standing by the pool.

>

> 'Please, have a sip of champers,' said George. 'It's only the best.'

>

> 'I'm sure it is,' replied Alf, taking a sip.

>

> 'I do believe I know you actually,' said George. 'Your a detective out inTerraphona City. You apprehended the criminals for stealing the Menorah many years ago.'

>

> 'That's me,' replied Alf.

>

> 'Well, what does such a skilled detective want with the likes of me? Looking for more stolen paintings. I'm sure you won't find any in my gallery.'

>

> 'No. Nothing like that. Just – touching bases,' replied Alf. 'I have some inquiries. Into a stolen gem.'

>

> 'You don't mean, the Pink Panther, do you,' said George, turning to look directly at Alf. 'Such an unfortunate incident. Terrible, really. Who could have done such a thing. Loss of such a great treasure.'

>

> 'It certainly is. You wouldn't have heard, I don't know, any information relating to this. In your entourage of friends' asked Alf.

>

> 'No. Not that I recall. I think I discussed it with my partner, and at work we chatted on it briefly. But, no. Nothing heard.'

>

> 'Mmm,' said Alf. He turned and looked at the mansion. 'Nice pad. You wouldn't mind me seeing it, would you?'

>

> 'Why certainly,' replied Robert. 'Please. It would be my honour.'

>

> George led the way, and showed Alf into his mansion. Artwork was everywhere, and Alf had a feeling some of it may indeed be questionable in its origin. He looked around a bit, not being too obvious, but he noticed George Faberge's steady gaze upon him.

>

> 'Nice place,' said Alf. 'Expensive I would imagine. Must cost a fortune.'

>

> 'I get by. Nice living from the gallery. We handle only the finest of quality works.'

>

> 'I'll bet you do,' replied Alf. 'Well. It's been great. And thanks for the champagne. I might drop around again one day. Have a chat.'

>

> 'You do that,' said George, leading Alf to the front door.

>

> Alf turned to him in the doorway. 'Don't worry about the gem. I'm sure it will turn up. You never know when hidden things suddenly get found.'

>

> 'You never do,' replied George.

>

> When Alf left George went upstairs, to his room, and removed a painting from the wall, revealing a hidden safe. He opened it, and took out the Pink Panther. 'Not sure if I should keep you here, my lovely. Might want to store you in the basement at the gallery. Just for the time being.'

>

> George placed the gem on his bed, and closed the safe, replacing the painting. He was unaware, though, of the electronic drone which was hovering outside his room, filming him all the while.

>

> 

>

> 'He's got it,' said Haylie, as Alf entered the van.

>

> 'Knew he did. Knew my hunch was right,' replied Alf.

>

> 'But how do we prove it?' she asked.

>

> 'That,' replied Alf. 'Is another issue. But we know where the gem is. We'll find an excuse or something. But your here for the time being. If he goes anywhere, follow him. He might take the gem with him. He's possibly on to us now. Might suspect we probably know.

>

> 'Will do,' replied Haylie.

>

> Alf looked at the film as Haylie replayed it on the PC screen, and it was indeed the Pink Panther in the possession of Art Gallery owner George Faberge. They had their man.

>

> Chapter Three

>

> 'The drone got stuck in the underpass,' said Haylie. 'I had to get a ladder to retrieve the damn thing. I lost him because of it. Too smart for me.'

>

> 'He probably went to his gallery,' said Alf.

>

> 'We sneak in, look around?' she asked.

>

> 'I am – the master of disguise,' he replied. 'I pretend like, I'm looking for anything real illicit like. He might confess. I'll record the thing.'

>

> 'Entrapment,' she said smiling. 'I like.'

>

> 'They might use it in court. We hardly follow legal process after all. Doctrine of Justice and all that jazz.'

>

> 'I'll put on a beard, dye your face dark, give you glasses, and dye your hair,' said Haylie.

>

> 'Hey, hey, only so much babe.'

>

> But Haylie went wild and Alf was sure he looked like Dr Spock from the 5th dimension by the time she was finished with him.

>

> 'Well, here goes,' he said.

>

>

> He surveyed the gallery, and George Faberge was at work. Time to get busy. He entered the gallery.

>

> 'Herro,' he said, in a pretty bad Chinese accent. 'I am rooking for the owner.'

>

> 'Just a second,' said the receptionist, and disappeared for a moment. Shortly George Faberge was present.

>

> 'Yes sir. How can I help you?' asked George.

>

> 'Can we go somewhere private?' asked Alf.

>

> 'I don't see why not,' replied George. 'If you'll come with me to my office.'

>

> George led the way, and soon he and Alf were in a rather plain looking office, white-washed, with a solitary PC.

>

> 'Now, what were you looking for?'

>

> 'I have informers,' replied Alf. 'I'm in the gem business. And they said you might be able to help me acquire gems. Certain – rare – gems.'

>

> 'Indeed,' said George, lighting a cigar. 'Who are these informers?'

>

> 'Just friends. They have helped me acquire some – delectable – items in the past.'