Standard Disclaimer: The show, Brimstone, and all characters in it, including Ezekiel Stone and the Devil, belong to Fox and not us. Ares belongs to The Producers of Xena and Hercules. We have just borrowed them for a while and will put them back when we're done. Honest! We are poor as ragged churchmice and what's left belongs to the Universal Unconscious. Sue at your own risk. We're so broke we can't even pay attention.
The Meeting by LadyRhian and LadySerez LadyRhian@aol.com and LadySerez@aol.com
"Screw you, asshole!" Ares shouted. "I got paid better when I worked for Zeus!!"
"Now there's an idea." The Devil smirked at the infuriated War God. Satan was always willing to take a "hands-on" approach when dealing with his underlings. Miriam stared narrowly at the display of male plumage. Then she shoved a stack of papers into each man's hands. "Agenda for the meeting." Shove. "Agenda for souls." Shove. "Regulations as to who gets who." Shove. "And, finally, the yearly report."
Satan smiled like a grin full of knives and shoved the War God up against the wall with his body. "You had your chance three thousand years ago. Leave with the rest of those pansies who called themselves gods or stick around and hope something better came along." He pushed again, slamming the putative War God against the plaster. "You can remember the old days any way you want, but that was then, this is now, and you have a job to do." Satan stroked his free hand down Ares' chest. "Now be a good little boy and run along and do it." He stepped back suddenly, letting the other barely divine being nearly sink to his knees as the pressure was released.
Miriam sighed again. "Boss, time to go. Or do you want the Lord of the Dead to steal your chair again? Remember the last time?" Satan smiled at Miriam and disappeared. "You shouldn't have said that to him." Miriam picked through the papers she held in her hand. "He's Evil, and you're War. Evil beats War every single time. Now, hurry along. I have to herd my secretaries up there, and make sure they don't have paint cans." "Do you have equipment that works?" "Madam!" "Well, do you?" "I'll handle this!" One of the secretaries stepped up to the Angel and grabbed him for a long, hot smooch. The Angel resisted for about a minute before getting into it. The secretary felt him up and let out a startled oath. "Hellfire! You're hung like horses!" The Angel blushed. "Only a few of us." "Why not all of you?" Still blushing, the Angel confessed. "We're for the good little girls... or big girls..." "Betcha you're better than Eblis! And he is *hung*!" A grin from Margot. "What do I have to do to be *your* good little girl?" Smirks all around. "How about spending some time with us big, bad girls?" One of the secretaries said with a lewd grin. "At least we'd appreciate it. And know what to do with it!" "You betcha we do!" Another secretary said. All of the women not bound and gagged cheered. "Let's play a game," one of the secretaries said, holding out a red ribbon. She moved behind the Angel and bound its hands quite securely behind it's back. She kissed him again, rubbing her thigh against the Angel's crotch. He resisted, but for only a few moments this time. Soon, a bulge appeared in the thin white fabric. "Ooo...what a good boy." Margot leaned down and kissed him again. And that's when Michael the Archangel, or Michael the Pompous Ass as the secretaries liked to call him, burst through the door. "You, you, you tempters of Good! Adversaries of God!" One secretary turned to another. "Isn't what he said better suited to the Big Salami?" The other secretaries cheered and turned to deal with Michael. The other Angel tried to straighten up at his appearance, but Margot had him right where she wanted him and wasn't about to let him go. "Oh, give me a break. You never let us have any fun! Why save ones like him for the good girls when us bad girls can enjoy him so much better." They advanced on the Pompous Ass, and he promptly turned tail and ran. He burst through the doors to where the meeting was being held. "My Lord! My Lord! They're at it *AGAIN!* Do something!" Death looked up from where she was filing her nails. "What, perchance, would you like us to do with those ladies? Without them even you would have to conscend to do paperwork." She shifted into a man. "And I would never dream of denying *my* secretary a chance at some fun." Sex laughed. "And they do deserve a break once in a while." She stretched languidly and got up from her chair. "I might go and observe. After all, without me, none of you would even exist." "Right. And what about *me*, Sex? Even you need Time to complete the act." Time slouched down in his seat. He looked a great deal like Brad Dourif in Blade. She passed by Ares and winked at him, her clothes wafting delicate perfumes and musk. She remembered a great deal about Ares' affair with Aphrodite, goddess of love, and wondered if he were up for a return bout. Shiva laughed. As the Dancer, he danced the world in and out of existence, and it showed in his voice. "Frankly, my dear, let them have their fun. They have so little of it in Hell, don't they, Lucifer?" Sex turned to Time and smiled at him. "Perhaps, later, then?" Time lit up. "Sure... any time, Horny." Shiva exploded in laughter. The other Avatars could hear him hitting the chairs as he rolled. "Aren't you going to *DO* something!?!?!" Michael the Pompous Ass screamed. Everyone looked at him. Then looked at each other. "Well..." Death said. "Heaven does need a little livening up every now and then. I'm tired of hearing "From Above all Blessings flow" every time I call." "While those ladies put on the latest audiotapes of Mao screaming...which I must admit is quite interesting. It reminds me of that singing cats tape...you know it?" Death said. Satan sat there and glowered. Those damned secretaries... literally. He couldn't take them anywhere! Perhaps he'd send the whole lot to service the incubi when he got back. No, they'd enjoy it too much. Instead of showing his anger, he smirked at God. "Afraid of losing some of your help? Maybe they'd enjoy it better working down below with me." He smirked at the Father Creator, who was looking at Michael with a stern expression. "You cannot handle a few secretaries?" God thundered, deafening every immortal in the chamber for a few brief seconds. "Michael, I am ashamed of you!" "He's a coward, that's why." Shiva whispered to the Devil. God pointed a hand at the door to the chamber. "Go now, and deal with them on your own. And do not bother me unless it is important." Screams could be heard outside. Time pushed open the door only to see a horde of naked Heaven secretaries running by. With a surprised Miriam following. She rapidly walked into the room, leaned over and whispered something in the Devil's ear. He groaned and started gripping the table again. "Ladies and gentlemen, the Mother of us all... and the Triple Ladies." Miriam announced. "This is more fun than I've had in a long time," Ares said, leaning back and grinning. He fondled his sword. "I think I want to meet those secretaries." The black-leather wearing Nature goddess walked in, a lit cigarette clenched between her lips. The other woman shifted from young girl to mature woman to aged crone every few minutes. They took their seats, and branches started growing out of the wooden chair Mother Nature sat in. Wood was the best compromise for her. Satan hadn't wanted to contemplate what had happened the last time they sat her in a leather-covered chair. "Oh yeah. Didn't it implode?" Time said. Sex had vanished somewhere. Satan shook his head. "It gave birth... continuously." he reminded Time. Sitting there in a room full of small baby cows had been bad, but none of them were potty trained. The Triple Goddess sat in a plain, hard-backed chair, and it transformed into a throne as she sat, covered with stuffed velvet cushions and decorated with precious stones. "That's a neat trick," Ares observed. He leaned down and picked up Shiva's overturned chair. The God of War grimaced as his hands met skulls that *moved* like they were alive. "Wonder what's going on with those ladies?" Time mused. "They're having a lot more fun than we are," Shiva muttered, playing with his skull necklace. "Wish Kali was here." Back in the newly redecorated offices of Heaven, the Angel was now wearing only a few strategically placed ribbons and a confused smile. "Ready?" Margot grinned at him. He could've sworn he saw a small yellow feather at the edge of her mouth. All of the secretaries were busy touching his smooth, soft skin and silky hair. "Okay, ladies! Who wants to be first?" Sex popped up, grinning. "Ladies, ladies, I congratulate you on your persistance. Now, tell me. Are the incubi as good as I hear they are?" Alicia nodded. "Good, but very stupid." "Me!" The words were said so quickly that they all merged into one. All except for Margot, who had flipped up her skirt and taken action while the others talked. Alicia turned her head and sighed exasperatedly. "Damnit, Margot. I wanted a *picture*!" She waved a camera. Sex sniffed the air. "My special perfume! How well it covers the smell of this... stale celibacy in the air." As she talked, a blaze came into her eyes, a special shine of sexual hunger as she watched Margot ride the Angel. She leaned back against the wall and watched shifting her hips every now and again and wishing Ares was there. Even as she thought it, a smile came to her lips. Starting an orgy in Heaven. Wouldn't the Almighty be annoyed? Wouldn't it be amusing? Heaven be damned. She could live with the results of her indiscretions. They *needed* her. She let the pulse of her perfume, pheremones and sexual musk combined in a heady mix, flood out from her body and into the room, then out the door and into the rest of Heaven. She'd pay for this, but it would be worth it. Ares, at that moment, was trying to stay awake. "Ladies," God nodded cordially to Mother Nature and the Triple Goddess. "Good, now we are all... Where did Sex go?" "Probably off to see the sights," Satan sneered. "Not that there's much to see. How many happy smiling faces can you look at before they all become the same?" God frowned at Satan. He turned to look at Michael, who was still cowering by the door. "Find her." "True. It's sickening." Death snarled. "I hate this. I hate coming to Heaven. Why can't we do Hell once in a while? Oh, that's right, I forget. Our mighty leader doesn't want to see what he've wrought." His/her eyes flashed. "Don't you *dare*. I'm Death, and even Gods die..." Ares nodded his head. Quietly, "Right on, D." The Triple Goddess laughed suddenly, her voice rising and falling as she shifted through her forms. "It seems Sex is up to her old tricks again. Oh my! Pheremones and lust. I fear you might lose several staff before the day is over, oh almighty one." There was a slightly mocking tone to her voice. When she had been in charge, none of this would have been a problem. Time looked at the ladies, and decided silence was better than getting sliced in the gut. Death was still glaring at God. God was glaring back, but knew he couldn't touch Death. God had had enough. "Silence!" he roared. He pointed to Ares. "You, find Sex." He leveled a finger at the Triple Goddess. "You, undo what she has wrought." The Goddess made a mocking little moué of her mouth, but kept quiet. Satan leaned over to Ares. "Keep her busy, if you can. He'll forget about her eventually." Ares winked. "Depend upon me, O Lord." He got up, winked at Death, the Triple Goddess and Nature. Then he made his escape. God glared impartially at the room. "Now," he boomed, his voice rattling around the room like thunder. "We shall begin. First order of business. Status reports." Everyone groaned. If this whole meeting business wasn't bad enough, God had to run it like a CEO. It was demeaning. Feet twitched. Fingers tapped. No way in Hell were they going to volunteer. God's gaze zeroed in on Death. "Your report?" he said with a cold smile. Back with the secretaries, the Angel was on his third secretary. Margot, with a satified smirk on her lips, was looking through the desks of Heaven's secretaries. "Ooh, look! Chocolate!" She read the package. "No fat, no calories... completely guilt free?! Hell, these idiots go overboard!" She sampled a bit and her eyes went wide. She plopped down into the chair behind her, a dreamy smile on her lips. She looked at the bar and slipped it into a pocket of her dress and actively searched for more. "Swiss chocolate, no less!" Alicia howled. Those waiting their turns leapt on the horde Margot had found. "Status report? You want *fucking* status report?" Death smiled a cold smile. "Oh, where should I start? This year has been a horrible one for your darling religion. The Serbs are killing Muslims. Again. The Protestants are making faces at the Catholics, and vice versa. Oh, and that bombing at that market. SoHo. That tornado in Oklahoma. The Hindus are going at it with the Christians. The Indonesians are going crazy and killing Chinese. And oh, Saddam just added more people to his death toll. But then, Lucifier would know about that." Death flicked the paper at God. "Enjoy." God, stonefaced, took the paper and glanced at it. Satan laughed and leaned forward over the table. "This year has been a good one for me," he said with a grin. "Arrivals are up like never before. What with man's inhumanity to their fellow man, I'm expecting a bumper year. And all reports show that growth will only continue as the millennium approaches. Violent crimes and rapes are up, especially in third world countries, and murder is at an all time high. You can see the statistics for yourself." Satan shoved his paper at God. If he enjoyed acting the CEO so much, let him choke on it. Sex's hands slid up and down her dress over her thighs. She watched the Angel and the secretary from Hell avidly. Her erect nipples were visible through the material of her dress, and she paused to cup one of her breasts and fondle herself. She sniffed the air and smiled. She'd know that combination of scents anywhere. Ares was coming to see her. She slid along the wall and out the door, neatly bumping into him as he strode along. "Well, well," she said with a smile. "Looking for me?" A hand reached around and pushed her hand away. "Let me do that," a male voice purred. Sex's hands slid down Ares' belly, brushing the bulge at his groin. "Ooh!" she cooed. "Is that your scabbard? Or are you just happy to see me?" "You betcha, sweetling." Ares started fondling Sex's breasts. Sex raised her lips to his for a long, hot kiss, toying with the fastenings on Ares' pants. She slid one hand down between the leather and his body, feeling the soft, springy hair around his shaft and the velvet-covered steel of his hardening cock. Ares stirred. "You always could get me harder faster than a cheetah after prey..." He leaned his head down and started licking Sex's throat, then down, to the breasts. Her other hand slid upwards to his chest, opening his leather vest with a flick of her fingers, she traced the ridges of his prominent muscles and toyed with his nipples. He could feel her hand closing around his shaft, fingers rubbing against the sensitive lower ridge in a slow stroking motion that made the bulge in his leather pants grow with amazing swiftness. He heard her soft laughter. "While you, my lord of War, leave me more than eager for the hunt to begin." "Then...let the hunt begin," he said throatily. His hands roamed across the beautiful acreage being presented to his eyes. Her free hand plucked at the fastenings to his pants, loosening the prison in which his burgeoning erection was trapped. She stroked him again, the bright flame of desire burning in her eyes. She could feel his hands reaching into her bodice, his thumbs hard and rough against her pebbled nipples, lifting them free of their shrouding fabric to taste them for himself. She gasped as his beard brushed against the sensitive flesh, and then the wet heat of his mouth replaced that sensation with another. She threw her head back, and groaned as his hot mouth moved upwards to devour the pale column of her throat. She could feel his steel-hard cock pressing against her thighs through the thin, silky material of her dress. She closed her moist thighs around his cock, trapping it between the cloth and her body, then released it as he pulled up her skirts. "Hiding any surprises in there, Sex?" drawled Ares. The scent of her body, of her incredibly potent pheremones, were all around them, mingled with the musk and leather scent of his own. His mouth had come down again to taste her other breast, and he moved back and forth between them. The mingled sensations of his hot, rough tongue, wet mouth and crinkly beard made her clutch at his broad, muscular shoulders. "Why don't you come in and find out?" she said slyly, her voice husky with passion. She arched in his arms as his mouth moved downwards once again along her belly. "Sure will... and was planning on it." Once again, she felt his shaft between her thighs, but there was no cloth in the way this time. She opened wide to recieve him, crying out loudly as he rammed his massive cock deep into her. She let out a wordless cry of satisfaction, lifting one leg and curling it around his hips, pulling him deeper into her body. His lips found hers once more, ravaging her mouth with a deep, intense kiss, and his hands splayed beneath her thighs, lifting her off the floor and pinning her between his body and the wall. "*grunt* Are you...enjoying...this, Sex?" Ares panted as he pushed. Sex fitted so easily into his hands, and the tight heat of her body was a pleasure he'd not allowed himself in... too long. She was intoxicating, like the headiest of wines. He thrust his hips forward, plunging deeper into her, his thighs flexing powerfully. Sex moaned in pleasure. "Yes," she said breathlessly. "Oh yes, please." Always willing to take her at her word, he moved his hips against hers, thrusting hard and fierce into the welcoming embrace of her body. Her arms were wrapped securely around his shoulders, her head bent down to nibble lightly on his Adam's apple. With each thrust he could feel himself plunging deeper inside her, and a pleasant burning sensation flooded up the back of his legs, centering in his groin. "Aaah, uuuh, sogoodsogood..." He thrust faster, harder, losing himself in the feel of Sex's body, his mouth devoured her pale shoulders, long neck and pink lips, leaving little bruises and love-bites on her skin. Her cries of pleasure filled the corridor, and her nails raked his back, impelling him to greater efforts as they both lost themselves in the fierce pleasure each evoked in the other. A burst of heat flooded into his cock, and he threw all his strength into four hard thrusts as he came, flooding her with his seed. An animalistic roar burst from his lips as he came, matched by her own shriek of pleasure. He managed a few more deep thrusts before he could move no more, and stayed pressed up against her, his flesh hot against hers, hearing the beating of her immortal heart and his own, both thunderously loud in his ears. Her sudden laughter was soft and musical to his ears. "You are welcome to hunt me any time, My Lord Ares," she said, running her fingers over his jaw in a gentle caress. He laughed in return, lips moving to hers to steal one last sweet kiss. "A fine hunt, was it not?" he asked. Sex smiled. "You must be the finest huntsman alive." "And you, my lady, are welcome to...hunt me as well." Ares smiled. "Shall we go and..." He licked his lips. "Shock them all?" It was then that they realized the corridor was quiet. When Ares let her down from the wall, she peeked in at the secretaries. They, and the exhausted angel, were lying around the office room, wearing sated smiles and not much else. The room looked like a major orgy had taken place in it. Sex chuckled. "I think we were too much for them." "Indeed." Ares kissed her throat. "In fact, I think I'll try to get one of them as my secretary. Someone that wouldn't twitch...at anything." Sex pulled up her bodice and fluffed her hair a bit. Aside from the scent of Ares on her dress and on her skin, the becoming flush on her cheeks, and the love-bites on her neck (which were already beginning to fade). There was no sign of the ferocious lovemaking she had just taken part in. "Oh, some of them might twitch at that," she said with a knowing grin, nudging his crotch lightly. "But I don't think Lucien is going to want to give up any of his secretaries. They are so in demand." "Yes, aren't they? Wonder why..." Ares smirked at Sex. Shiva came up in his chair. "My status report is this--I'm dancing faster than I have ever done. And that's not good. It's best I dance the world in and out 3 times. I've done it 15 times so far this year. And reality can't take any more." The Triple Goddess looked grave at this news. "I have some good news myself," she said, looking down at the report that had appeared in her hands. "More women and men than ever have come over to my camp. In a way, this benefits Mother Nature as well, since most of my followers take an interest in helping her survive. They are working to make things cleaner, greener and better for humanity as a whole." The Goddess raised the paper to her lips and blew softly. The paper flew over to God, who looked quite thunderous. "He looks pissed, doesn't he?" Death whispered to Shiva. "Oh, he does. I'll tell you this--I'm cheering for her, her, and her. When she ruled, I only had to dance once a century. Now, I'm getting worn out." Mother Nature snatched a paper out of mid-air. The paper was recycled as they all well knew. "News is both good and bad," she said. "Dumping of garbage into my oceans continues to go on, and not enough is being recycled. The Burning of the Rainforests continues without letup and more animal species die every day. However, recycling continues to grow in the industrialized world, and more humans are making an effort to save animals and other endangered species." She looked up, and her voice became a low growl. "I must warn you, as I have done many times before, that if this situation does not drastically improve, not only will I die, but all your precious humans as well. There is only so far your favored species can abuse me without making their own death assured as well." "She's right. You all know I'm the only one that's permanent," Death remarked. "Everything dies. But it's not her time as yet." His/her eyes narrowed. "You are being foolish and stupid. Like always. I'm thinking about 2000..." God looked as if he wished to dispute this statement, but Mother Nature growled, "If I die, everyone dies. And that's it." She released the paper, which became a multi-colored bird and flew over to God, perching on the table near him and returning to paper form once more. "Uh, guys? Don't you want to hear my status report?" Time waved his hand. "Oh, go ahead, Time." Lucifer waved back. *what can he tell us?* "God. I'm telling you, this time listen to Death and Nature. I am Time. And this is my report. *YOUR* time is rapidly running out." God's voice held a quiet strength. "I have promised my people dominion over the earth and sky. They will have the stars for their own." Everyone blinked. And that's when Ares came in, smelling strongly of Sex, and dragging the foresaid with him. "We got them to stop, Boss! They're all exhausted!" "You stupid, stupid... man!" The Triple Goddess said angrily. "If Mother Nature dies, the stars will be a cold comfort. Will you condemn your people to wander forever in the cold vastness? What happens when their water runs out? Their food? Being short-sighted will only condemn them to a slow death. And you be happy hearing them call your name as they die? Cursing you?" "Do you *ever* listen? I tell you, your time is running out. A God will rise in your place if you ignore the warning you have been given. A God you do not expect, a God with both good and evil in him." Time sighed. Everyone paid attention to him, and at the same time, ignored him. "I have seen it. It *will* happen....if you ignore the warnings." God glanced coldly around the room. "I will... take it under consideration," he said, his standard answer for when he wished to put things off. Sex grinned and pushed Ares into his chair, then sat in his lap, giggling like a schoolgirl. Sex enjoyed Ares' scent. It reminded her of leather stretched over warm skin, mingled animal and human, lusty and dangerous. She raised her hand to trace the V-shaped opening of his leather vest with her fingers, stroking his skin in an enticing manner. Sex smiled at God. "I am doing well. Your humans have taken well to the command to be fruitful and multiply. I expect the population of the world to double again in the next two years. And since your Pope has said that contraceptives are against your will and abortion clinics are under seige by your worshippers, it will double again in another eight." "Take it under consideration? You, you..." Time got up and walked to the wall, listening to Sex's report. "Ares...." he drawled. "How many wars are in the offering?" The Triple Goddess shook her head. "The planet will be strained to its limits. Many people can barely feed themselves now as it is." She subsided at a glance from God. Ares looked up from stroking Sex's breast. "About 14. Lessee, there's that India/Pakistan mess which is just lovely, because they're both nuclear. Kosovo. Russia is brewing for revolution, but it's not certain. So is China. Timeline for both is so damned uncertain. And there's Iran/Iraq..." Ares looked at Time. "Enough?" "More than enough. Thank you." Time conjured up a hourglass. "Do you know what this is, God? It's your hourglass. When Gods are born, they get one. When their time runs out, they...go back to their mother. However...see this?" He pointed to the hourglass. God looked up, with barely-concealed impatience. Keeping these lesser powers had been a bad idea. All they did was squawk about how he was mismanaging things, and then stole his worshippers from him with ludicrous claims about the world failing. His creation, fail? Ha! "It's running faster than it should. And that only happens when the universe does not want a God to rule anymore. She gives you until January 1, 2000. To, well, change your ways." Time looked up, and muttered, "I hate being Your messenger." Then looked at God again. "What you have done is screw up the fabric of the universe. And she won't have that. Trust me on this..*SHE* will destroy you." Ares whistled. "What a ruthless woman." Time looked at everyone. "You have *NO* idea. NO idea at all. Nature knows, but even she doesn't know it all." God shook his head and returned to his paperwork, too obviously ignoring what Time had said. A woman looked at the scene in Heaven through a crystal. Shaking her head, she glanced up. A G'ha'la looked back. "Perhaps we should... give him something to think about, hmm?" Mother Nature shook her head. "Let it be a surprise. He deserves that. Big Idiot has it coming in Spades." Time shrugged. He flickered his finger and the hourglass vanished. "He isn't going to listen to us... Shiva? Are you all right?" Shiva had started to growl. His eyes went completely black, swirling with stars. "Listen. LISTEN. This is your last warning, God of the Hosts. There will be *no* more. You were a mistake. A mistake I will recify." Ares' eyes widened. "Whoa! Who's that talking? When Shiva goes like that, he usually yells "I am become Destroyer..." that old routine. This is new." "The Universe." Time whispered. Outside, they could hear wild hooting and laughter as the secretaries redecorated the walls of Heaven with bright red ink they had found in a storeroom. Margot was drawing a picture of her Angel, who was looking very bedraggled and sexually sated. Only she was drawing him large as life as he had been earlier. Miriam walked in again, her eyes wide with apprehension. "Boss. There's something you should see. And no, it's not the secretaries. There's something... big coming. What is it?" God huffed out a breath. "Very well. Some changes are in order. I expect your recommendations within a month. Are you all satisfied now?" "Somehow, I think it's too late." Death got up from the table. "Madam, show me what you see." The Triple Goddess got up and walked outside, followed by Mother Nature. They didn't ask God's permission to leave. They simply ignored him. Even Satan got up to look, but insisted on being in the lead. Sex got up and took Ares hand, urging him to follow her wordlessly. Miriam led them right up to the Gates. "Do you see it?" She asked Death. His/her eyes narrowed, then widened. "Get back, get back! It's a g'ha'la!" A huge blot against the sky reformed into something that *looked* like a dragon..but wasn't. Tiny teeth crowded its mouth, and its flesh looked like that of a shark. It opened its mouth and screamed. It didn't roar, it screamed. The scream caused Margot to scrape the crayon she was using, the angel to fall off the desk, and Miriam to run. Its long, long neck snaked toward St. Peter, who waddled all the way to the Gates and started jerking on it. Death's mouth hung open. The first time that'd happened in over a milliemun. Time shook his head. "She wasn't kidding, was she?" Inside the room where God was sitting, God screamed as his flesh was shredded from his bones, leaving an animate skeleton. Blood fountained onto the papers in front of him and he remained clinging to life and his power by the barest amount. He concentrated, trying to enflesh himself again, but it took almost a minute before flesh reappeared on his bones. He summoned his robes from where they resided and were now liberally inundated with his own blood. He stepped to the door, looking lost and frightened as a small child. "Are you all right?" Lucien held on to Miriam. She nodded. Her legs were shredded where the dragon had scraped them. "Yes. It hurts! It hurts! It's not supposed to hurt anymore, but it does!" "It's a g'ha'la. It...has no mother. It's the only thing that can hurt the dead. It will take time for you to recover." Death turned his/her head, revealing the gash. Time brushed his hand over it, and it healed. "I can't do anything for you, Miriam. I'm sorry. It'll take some time, like Death said. I... well, I'm sure you have some very capable secretaries to take over for you in the meanwhile." "Time, or the help of the living." Mother Nature said. "I'm not sure if I qualify for that title any more. So much of me is dead now that I feel like a zombie." "Please help! Please." Alicia and the other secretaries had run outside. Margot was trying to stem the flow of blood. "She's the only one that can calm down the Big Suave when he's on the rampage. Or ease it, at least." Mother Nature touched Miriam's leg, and spiders came out at the touch of her hand, stinging the dead flesh. A blessed numbness spread from the sites of the bites, and more spiders were spinning their webs over the abraded flesh, enclosing it in a cocoon-like bandage. "Thank you. Blessed are you, O Nature, O Shakina, the Sabbath Queen." Miriam's head fell back and she slept, relieved of pain. Mother Nature staggered as she tried to get up, but eventually got to her feet. She looked Satan right in the eye. "She's a good one. Keep her." Death grabbed Nature and steadied her. "She's right. Your secretary is a good one. One of so many." "I always intended to." The Devil said. St. Peter had finally closed the Pearly Gates, but the g'ha'la's teeth reduced the gates to pulverized fragments of white in the blink of an eye. "Thank you, Mother." Alicia said quietly. She resolved to send the next environmental villian to Hitler's closet. Mother Nature smiled at her, and for a moment, she took on the appearance of a much younger woman. Then, it was gone. "That's bad, isn't it?" Ares said. "Something that can do that to the Gates... wonder what happened on Earth?" "Anyone care to take bets on wether old Father Creator will still be alive when it's finished?" the Triple Goddess asked. She closed her eyes for a moment, then shook her head. "All of his churches have been shaken and the crosses are gone." She opened her eyes and looked at Satan. "They are blaming you, of course." "Don't they always?" he said with a broad smile. "This will not be the end. She's angry. Truly angry." Time shrugged. "And she doesn't have a secretary like Miriam." The g'ha'la snaked it's long head in through the space where the gates should have been and reduced all the buildings to rubble one by one, its powerful muscles and razor-sharp spines shredding stone like it was cheap rice paper. "Anything to avoid dancing again," Shiva had come outside and was checking St. Peter over. Satisfiying himself that the Keeper was, indeed, no worse for his experience, Shiva stood up. "Wake Miriam up. Do it!" Nudging the sleeping woman with his feet, Shiva looked up again at the g'ha'la. Watching the destruction, Sex shivered and took shelter in Ares' arms. Mother Nature stooped and waved a flower under Miriam's nose. It appeared to have a salutary effect, for Miriam stiffened and her eyes flicked open. Mother Nature discarded the flower. "The Question is, should we try to save his sorry ass? He's screwed all of us over more times than we can count. If we save him, he could go back to being that same interfering asshole he always was." Miriam got up, looked around as if she wasn't sure of where she was. Then she saw the g'ha'la. Unnoticed by the other Gods, who was fiercely discussing their options, she walked over to the creature. Seeing her, it lowered its head. And then it purred. The Triple Goddess looked over at Satan. "I could take over again. But there is no place for you in my reign. I do not require an adversary or someone to frighten people into doing good." Satan laughed. "Enough people believe in me that I have no need to change my job just yet. Yes, he's an asshole, and we'd probably be better off without him. If he goes on the way he has been, he has a limited time left to him. It makes little difference one way or the other." "Look!" Sex said softly. "She's... talking to it." She pointed to Miriam and the g'ha'la. "Oh, you're a sweet little cat... aren't you?" Miriam petted the huge head, and it pushed up under her hand. "Why don't you go home? I think you've proved your point, now haven't you?" Time was watching all this, and at the same time trying to get everyone else's attention. <babytalk in Yiddish> "Oh, little sweetling, go home. Here, have some." Miriam gave the adoring g'ha'la the Swiss chocolate she'd confiscated from one of the secretaries. "It seems our decision is made for us," Mother Nature said cynically. "Finally. Maybe I should grow breasts, whattaya think?" Time remarked. Death shook his/her head. "Doesn't look good on you, Time. Trust me." Shiva pointed to the scene. "That's why I told you to wake her up. That thing is from Jewish mythology. She'll get it to go home, and then we can figure out what to do.." "Ah, <Yiddish> go home now." With a disappointed look, the g'ha'la took flight and flew away. It disappeared into the sky, and as it did so, Miriam fainted again. A light snore came from the reposing figure. The Triple Goddess smiled and raised her hand. A drift of cloud beneath Miriam raised her up and detatched from the bottom of Heaven, leaving her floating on her own private cloud. "Now that's what I call a *secretary*!" Ares chortled, clapping his hands. "I say we all go home," Mother Nature said. "We come back here in a week. It'll still be in ruins, but the lesson ought to have sunk in by then. Then, we tell Old Fathead what changes he'll be making. I'm sure each of you already has a list. Bring it." Time nodded. Shiva rubbed his feet and moaned. Death shrugged. Ares was looking through his vest. "I know I have it here some*where*! <muttering>" One by one, the powers disappeared, leaving the ruins of Heaven behind.
Contact the authors Lady Serez and Lady Rhian
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