Shiron 21st of Harvestmonth
It was a calm, clear night, with the twin moons shining down with almost as much light as a half moon would on Earth, and not a cloud blocked the view of the stars blazing across the sky. The Trailing Lance Constellation was in line directly over the pyramid, and the air was still.
April, still visibly pregnant, and Colin, along with his cousin Gabrielle and her father Prince Hans watched as Gavin, Riley, Sarah, Beth, Michelle, Cheryl, Kim, Brandi and Vanessa stepped through the gate one by one.
“I will miss them,” Prince Hans said as Vanessa stepped through the gate and it closed behind her.
“Do you really think they can bring my mother back alive?” Gabrielle asked sadly.
April looked over at the gorgeous woman standing next to her father, her face lit up by torchlight. She could see the worry and sadness in the young woman’s eyes. April looked over at Colin, who looked equally sad.
“They can do it. He can do anything.” April pronounced, hoping she was right.
Scottish Highlands Predawn Friday Morning
Gavin stepped through the gate and immediately knew something was wrong. A heavy almost crippling feeling of emotion nearly smashed him to the ground, and he looked back and realized that the gate was not letting anyone else through yet. In front of him, he could see six men of Grim’s frozen in a variety of positions, some in mid-stride.
Then he heard a disembodied voice and realized that the Auditors where there.
“We have something to discuss with you Half Elf before we allow your associates to join you.” faint voices said in the air around him. Several shadows floated about the megalith, and he could feel their crushing weight on him.
Gavin waited, forcing himself to remain calm in spite of the physical desire to run and hide, “Yes, I am listening,” he forced through gritted teeth.
“Your wife is becoming a problem here. She would upset the balance and make herself known to the natives of this world soon if she is not stopped. Will you stop her, Half Elf?”
Visions of Andrea and what she had been doing since she arrived flooded through his brain. It was if a movie was forced into his memory in less than a second. Gavin struggled to deal with the massive load of information and to not faint. Sinking to his knees, he struggled to force himself to remain conscious.
Andrea had been a bad girl. She had used magic carelessly, and already investigations in California by the native police agencies were leading to strange conclusions. She was trying to deal with it, but she was being sloppy, and the primary American national policing agency was beginning to draw some troubling (especially to them) conclusions about strange incidents. Just as alarming, the far out press publications, the scandal rags, were starting to print stories about strange fires and explosions, missing women and men, and other oddities. The stories had no clear pattern yet, but if the more responsible and creditable press ever started looking, a connection might be made. Overall, at the current rate she was bound to create conditions that would allow the general native population to discover the existence of real magic.
Technology worlds weren’t allowed to have magic; it screwed up their development. The Auditors could not allow that.
“You have in the past behaved carefully here. Your risks have been allowed as you have done well in preventing discovery, not only of yourself, but also of your last enemy. We have decided that you will handle this, for now. But if she creates another dangerous incident, we will act.”
Gavin nodded, afraid to speak. They would destroy her, strip away her soul and cast it out to the place between dimensions, an eternity of isolation. Truly hell.
“We do not do this for altruism. We have determined that you have a chance of ending her meddling here without further disruption to the rules. If we act, we will have to shred and then knit back together reality. We do not like to take that risk. There are too many possibilities of permanent damage. So you have your chance. Be successful, or we will do it for you.”
Suddenly they were gone, and the oppressive weight of them lifted from him mind. Gavin staggered to the edge of the megalith and watched as the six men who were frozen in time pause suddenly became animate again. The gate opened again, and Riley and the girls walked out.
Riley looked pale and drawn, as did the girls. The girls all looked at him with wide eyes and then looked around for the shadows.
“We saw them Gavin, they aren’t kidding are they?” Riley asked. He was a trifle shaken by this, but relieved that he had only caught a portion of their immense psychic weight. How his friend had been able to handle it simply amazed him.
“No they aren’t. They shared what she has been doing. And if you can accuse those emotionless beings of having any feelings, they could almost be described as pissed off. We will have to take care, move fast and be thorough.”
“A piece of cake my friend, don’t we always have to do that?” Riley said, hoping his usual good cheer would help his friend recover his equilibrium.
Gavin managed a weak grin, “yeah, I guess we always do.”
Bakersfield 11 PM Local Time (still Thursday in California)
Grim sat on the couch, smoking a cigar and letting himself rest after the hectic day. He looked at the little statuettes in front of him. Vivian, Jim and two girls he didn’t know looked back in plastic, and the little windup chrome doll that was Cindy. Paula was asleep in the other room, exhausted after days of constant movement and all of the spells she had been casting.
Andrea was going to be coming soon, he was sure. It would take her at least a day to find them, but she would be coming. She was always a pretty determined person, and now it seemed she was maniacally obsessed. The beautiful woman he knew from home, mind destroyed by Gregor, was a monster.
The phone rang, and it was Gavin. Grim smiled, the plan was still working, and even more importantly, the cavalry was here. They talked for two hours, and occasionally Grim could hear the noises of travel in the background. They filled each other in, and Grim was shocked to the core when Gavin told him about the Auditors and their ultimatum.
“Tonight isn’t going to help with that, Gavin,” Grim said as he filled his friend in.
“They must already know Grim. By the way, call me Wes here.”
“You’re the boss Colonel. Yes, I guess they would.”
“Let Paula rest for a few hours, then meet us in San Francisco. We should be there in about 12 hours.”
“She will be coming there, I know it. She will try for Emily or her daughter if she can. Just out of spite.”
Grim thought about that. It made sense. “Ok, we will meet you there. We will arrange a base.”
“Don’t worry about that, I have one I hadn’t gotten around to filling the girls in about yet.”
After getting the address, Grim hung up. Calling his business manager in London, he arranged for aircraft to transport Wes, Riley and the girls to San Francisco, and another plane to meet him and Paula in the morning for a flight to Bakersfield. It promised to be another long day.
Grim staggered off to bed. He wasn’t as young as he used to be, and he needed a few hours sleep himself.
Beverly Hills Midnight
Andrea carefully posed the last of her girls and smiled. She felt a little more relaxed now. Catherine had been left behind as a mannequin, and after the events of the night, Andrea was in no mood to restore her. “I won’t be needing any escorts for a while,” she muttered to herself. She needed to relax, and posing the girls and transforming them into more living toys seemed like just the thing.
Already, in the front yard, stone statues graced the lawn by the driveway. They weren’t terribly attractive statues, except for Timmy, but the two bouncers, the cook, and his assistants, along with the butler and Timmy did look reasonably impressive as they posed on the lawn, their screams silenced as they had been transformed into dark gray granite.
It had not been a good day. She had come home to find that both of Gavin’s girls had been rescued. Worse, all of the staff here had been neutralized and the woman she had left in charge transformed into a mannequin. Andrea couldn’t find either her lingerie store manager or, more importantly, her business manager and that had to mean that Grim had them. Only Chad and her computer geek were left, and they remained useful. She had ordered Chad to come here, and they would leave for San Francisco late tomorrow morning.
She had a wedding to go to, and no woman should go to a wedding without an escort.
Casting another spell, she transformed a petite little Hispanic girl to match the others. The rush of power she felt and the perfect timeless beauty of her victims always turned her on when she finished changing them.
All thirteen women glistened now in the lights of the room. Nude, they all stood posed in a variety of positions. Their eyes stared blankly into space, arms and legs in various postures. They would look fine in store windows for years to come.
Minutes later Chad walked into the house, and Andrea took him right there in the hallway, unable to wait any longer for the sexual release she needed.
Somewhere over the Atlantic 9 AM local time
A crowded Gulfstream corporate jet flew over the Atlantic, winging its way to a refueling stop in Newfoundland.
Wes and Riley, dressed in business suits, sat in the back of the plane, talking quietly. Michelle was quietly fixing something for everyone to eat in the small galley, while Brandi was on the phone, talking to her agent, explaining her lack of contact with a good story about a sick mother in Texas. The other girls, Sarah, Cheryl, Beth, Kim, and Vanessa, sat in the lounge, working on their plan to restore Cindy and Vivian.
The girls were all dressed in their silk jumpsuits now, which had been retailored before leaving Shiron into something more fitting for Earth. Over their jumpsuits, which were as form fitting as lingerie, they wore regular business suits and dresses, and they carried their wands and other needed items in their purses. Each had a shiny gold ring with a 10 carat blue topaz gem set in it, and a beautiful gold, mithril (which looks like shinier platinum) and platinum necklaces with gold amulets with a 15 carat blue topaz gem set in the middle.
Riley and Gavin finished their discussion, and Riley went over to entertain the girls for a while. Brandi joined them as well, and they all laughed as Brandi and Riley kept them entertained with jokes, to distract them from the upcoming confrontation.
Wes sat quietly in his seat and looked out the window, thinking.
He was relieved that Paula and Grim were safe, and had managed to disrupt Andrea's plans. The pressure on her was going to force more mistakes now. After talking to the lawyer and publicist in LA, he had learned that the police officials were still confused about the fire, but moderately sure now it was a corporate hit gone wrong. While this was still troublesome, as far as attracting unwanted attention by the authorities, it was better than the truth. The authorities really wanted to talk to him and Beth, and appointments would have to be kept with them next week unless he wanted to just forget about it and skip the country.
Sarah watched Wes brood, and after a bit, decided he had brooded long enough. She quietly got up, and as the rest of the group continued their round of stories and jokes, she went over to him and sat down.
“Hi” she said, a mischievous smile on her face. He looked so sad, he needed her, she decided.
Wes was lost in thought, and when he failed to respond, she reached over and kissed him, long and hard.
“Oh, sorry,” She said, smiling, “I needed your attention.”
Wes smiled; he did need to relax a bit. It promised to be a long day. Kissing her back, they sat together until Michelle came out with soup and sandwiches.
San Francisco Noon Friday
Grim walked over to Wes and shook his hand, then embraced Riley. Meanwhile Paula and the other girls exchanged hugs. They all stood on the ramp of the small general aviation airport an hour north from San Francisco, just outside the plane.
“We have a van and pickup truck waiting. It should be able to handle everything.” Paula replied when their greetings were done.
“I can’t tell you how proud I am Paula, and thanks Grim,” Wes said. The other girls nodded as well.
Paula noticed how different the women looked. They were even fitter than before, and outfitted with impressive jewelry and a lot of confidence. She was impressed.
Michelle smiled as she watched Paula’s reaction to them. They had changed. But then it had been six months to them, while only three days to Paula. “I guess all of that training paid off,” She thought to herself.
She grinned again as she caught the way Paula and Grim were looking at each other, and she saw that Wes saw it too and was hiding his amusement. “Well, looks like the detective has caught a spy, and vice versa,” she chuckled to herself.
San Francisco 4 PM Friday
Cheryl, Sarah, Vanessa, Kim and Michelle sat in the corners of a pentagram in the center of a large room in the new house down on North Beach. In the center of the pentagram, the dolls that were Cindy, Vivian and they had learned since, of Holli and Misty, stood posed and still.
They were ready to bring them back. Wes had insisted on Vivian first, as she had been captured first, and so they would begin with her.
Paula and Grim were downtown, along with Riley, scouting out the wedding location. Wes was sure that Andrea would be there tomorrow. Wes was watching television, catching the news, while Beth was web surfing, catching up on events since they had left. She was particularly interested in anything that hinted at them or evidence of more of Andrea's mischief.
Kim grinned a moment, thinking how Cheryl and Sarah had shooed him away earlier, insisting that he was breaking their concentration. She knew he was trying his best to keep from coming back in here until they were ready for him. But it was probably driving him crazy.
Kim returned her concentration and the girls worked together on their spell. Suddenly, the little dolls glowed, and the girls stood up and stepped back as the dolls expanded in size and returned to life size. The first step was completed.
They gently moved Cindy and the other two statues, and then with Vivian the only one in the pentagram, they started another spell. Gradually, a warm orange glow surrounded the plasticized girl. Her skin began to lose the sheen under the lights, and became warmer. Her eyes began to focus, and then suddenly, she took a deep breath and was alive again.
Vivian stood, waiting for her goddess to give her a command. She was surrounded by five women, and in a strange place. She was a little confused, but she knew her goddess would be along soon.
A gentle voice, so very pretty, asked her to lie down on the floor, and it seemed so reasonable, so she did.
Cheryl looked over at the other four girls. “She is still enslaved, but the pain is gone, thank goodness.”
Michelle and Kim grabbed Vivian’s feet, while Sarah and Vanessa each grabbed a hand. Satisfied, Cheryl placed her hands on Vivian’s head and the final spell began.
She imagined Vivian’s mind as a gigantic rope tied into knots. Cutting the knots would destroy the integrity of the rope, so that was out. What was needed was finding the key knot in the center of the mess that would allow the entire rope to be untangled bit by bit. Cheryl pictured herself crouching inside the knots, filtering inside, following the tangled strands until finally she found what she was looking for. She imagined Sarah holding one end and Michelle the other, while she directed the unraveling. Carefully, each knot was undone, and the three women made careful progress.
Vivian stared at the ceiling, completely confused. Strange memories where returning to her. It was as if someone had opened a door, and the empty room that was her mind was filling with things again. Like a spigot was filling up a bucket with water. She fell asleep, awash in a wonderful feeling of well-being and warmth, and as she slept, her mind was carefully restored. It took three hours, but at the end, Vivian was herself again. And she remembered her last conscious thoughts from before.
She jerked upright, a look of terror on her face. “No, don’t let her get me. I have to warn Vanessa!” and as she opened her eyes, she looked right in the eyes of Cheryl and for the first time, recognized her friend.
“Vivian, its ok now. You are safe again. It’s all right,” Cheryl said, kissing her forehead. Sarah and Vanessa sat down in the corner, relief vivid on their faces.
Michelle ran to get Wes, and they returned in a rush. Wes walked over and picked up Vivian up, and squeezed her tightly, kissing her and stroking her hair.
“It’s all right, you’re back with us now. You are safe again, darling.”
The girls, looking a little tired, smiled.
San Francisco 6 PM
Andrea appeared with a muted pop of air, holding Chad’s hand, in the center of a magic circle in empty room in her house in Chinatown. She had bought this one last year, having after a short visit, fallen in love with the city. It had reminded her in some ways of home, with the hills, the nearby immense trees and the large bay leading to the magnificent Pacific Ocean. She led the dazed FBI agent out of the room and told him to sit down while she went to the kitchen.
She was hungry but finally rested, having slept for nearly fifteen hours after her travels and prodigious spell casting the last few days. Tomorrow was the wedding, and she looked forward to it. Wes was back on Earth, and in Britain. The pathetic old man she had enslaved in Scotland had called her this afternoon, and she had confirmed it with some careful scrying. She wasn’t sure exactly were Wes was at the moment, as his blocks against location where stronger than ever, but she figured he would probably be at the wedding tomorrow along with several of his toys. She had finally located Grim though, and he was here.
She would eat, and then she and her slave would find Grim and teach him to stay out of domestic quarrels.