High Noon – chpt 16.
Massacre Rocks – Utah –
Electricity crackled blue-white high over head, the light flickering through the sidhe made tent.
Inanna sat up, her hand reaching out to the man beside her, "Enki... they're here."
"Mmm?" he groaned but sat up scratching his head, "Already?" he looked at her frowning, "Where does the night go?"
Smiling tightly she kissed him and slid into the shift that went on under the armor, then handed the man his shorts just as Marduk slid into the tent.
"They're here... it's his igigi, the wards exposed them just as we'd hoped. The sidhe are shooting them down. Anunnaki's igigi are in position for when the demons arrive. They're on the move too, flanked on either side by feral beasts." He tossed the t-shirt onto the pallet while Enki tied his shoes.
"What about the humans? The psychICS and psychO's that would follow him?" he asked.
"He underestimates their strength so he's keeping them at the rear as a last resort."
Enki nodded, "Good, you know what to have ours do."
Marduk nodded, "They're ready."
"Any news about Ereshkegal?" Inanna asked tightening the last lace of her armor.
Marduk shook his head, "Though some of Anunnaki's troops did report seeing flashes of brilliant white at the base of the foothills."
"So we can assume he coerced her into making a hot enough fire to re-forge the bronze he has..." she looked between the men, "You will both need to be very careful, stay away from whatever he's made that into."
"Have some sidhe accompany you to free her. Marduk and I will circle around... he will command from behind rather than lead... he is after all his father's son. Once she's free if we're not there yet, you'll have to keep him busy... if what he said is true about the other universes..."
"And we know it is with at least ONE of them," Marduk interjected.
Enki nodded, "Then we must, if we can, fix it before everything destabilizes."
"IF the sidhe with Ajax are successful," Marduk nodded.
"For all our sakes we'd better pray they are."
"Are we ready?"
With a quick series of glances and nods, slow smiles spread through each of them as they did a final pat down then stepped out into the pre-dawn darkness where they were met by the human and demon 'generals'.
Enki grabbed his woman and kissed her tenderly, "Be careful."
"Be reckless," she grinned returning the kiss, then reached for her son, "And you as well," she clutched him tight then kissed him with love.
"And you," he returned.
Another quick nod and she was gone, moving through the veil, bypassing battalions of sidhe shooting darts and tiny arrows at a swirling mass of blackish gray overhead that flashed and cast pieces of its whole to the ground yet seemed never to diminish, My god the sheer numbers! she marveled but continued forward.
With Ina gone to her task Enki turned to Marduk, "Fill them in..." then nodded at Gader'el and held up his newly made sword, "I need to speak with the smith for a moment."
The King nodded as the leaders of each wave and movement gathered round for confirmation while Enki and Gader'el moved behind one of the tents. "Is something wrong with the sword my lord?" he asked.
Ereshkegal held her ground, such as it was, as his left most mouth pressed against the side of her head and his center mouth spoke and the right one licked the rows of glistening fangs.
"Either you will take me as your king or you will die thousands of deaths with never a chance of release..." he warned as his talons grazed across her breasts leaving bright red welts in their wake.
"You will NEVER rule the underworld!" she hissed.
"You misunderstand... you were my brother's wife... now by right you will be mine," he turned away from the pillar to which he had her bound and gazed out onto the great plain.
"Neither I nor the underworld will exist if you destroy the universe Nergal... then there will be nothing for you," she challenged.
"I will exist! And from me a new universe shall be born!" he wheeled around, frowns turning down all three of his mouths, the demons and beasts are on the move... they will encircle Enki's camp, tear the sidhe and the humans to pieces then my second wave of igigi will feed on the demons and gallas who would not join me... and when Enki and Marduk come to face me I will have THEIR woman as well as mine.
"You're delusional... Enki will NOT come, nor will the King..." she challenged as he stood before her, his concentration obviously elsewhere even as he stripped the shift from her, leaving her naked in chains.
"Not so my queen..." he leaned forward pressing their bodies together, his talon, as it drew down the side of her face leaving a fine line of blood behind. One of his tongues came out drawing the red into his mouth as his wings spread and with a single cruel thrust, tore into her with his central penis.
He covered her scream with his mouth and drank it in, savoring the flavor of her pain and as her voice grew hoarse with the burning cold of his seed gnashing at her insides like a million tiny fanged jaws, he then nourished himself by lapping up her tears as they ran down her face. For every squirming attempt to get away he thrust again and again until the pain forced her to go somewhere else, leaving her body behind for him to use as was his desire.
Son of a bitch... Inanna cursed inside, her attention fixed on the marauder's back and the handled lance of bronze he had secured in his scabbard. I won't be able to get it away from him until he pulls it out to use it... She moved to the side still safe behind the veil and winced at the blood running down her sister-goddess's legs as the marauder did his best to break her.
The sidhe beside her motioned to the sacrilege, his face twisted with disgust and his spear in hand, ready to attack the invading god-ling. Ina shook her head and chewed her lip as tears clung to her eyes, Yeah... I remember... "When he's done his guard will be down, then we'll move. You free her and I'll keep him busy." She directed.
The sidhe looked up into her face, her expression was unreadable. The only indication that she felt anything was the moisture clinging to the hollows below her eyes. In that moment the faerie warrior understood what his brother, the one she called Mustard Seed felt.
The Cavern of The Dragon –
Even under the weight of the warrior sitting astride his shoulders he could feel the excitement of his small pack members and trembled as well. He missed his master and the big pack mates but he loved helping. Like pulling the sledge when they were cleaning the 'home' it was hard but it felt good and warm and he felt powerful.
The warriors around him spoke their water sound, making him thirsty with their voices. His tongue was dry and yet somehow still dripping, he didn't understand but that was okay. He could wait. They pointed, they spoke more loudly. The Alpha bitch's favorite slid from his back and even though he didn't know their words, not like he knew his masters', he somehow knew what they were saying just the same.
He raised his nose to the air, tasted it... then found what they were looking for. It was in the ground... he followed the earthy tingling in the back of his snout and when he found the place where it was thickest, he began to dig.
The Battlefield –
"The demons and beasts are coming... it's like something out of the Lord of the Rings man... well okay maybe not so much and not so big... and nobody's on horseback," he frowned, "Well okay so maybe it's not at all like Lord of the Rings but... There's a LOT of troops out there! Including animals... I mean we're talking about everything from wild cats to dogs and wolves, to raccoons..." Shep breathed.
Tom shook his head and smiled, "My uncle... the closet geek..." he glanced up, looking around toward the oncoming creatures, "Raccoons... ornery bastards... no better than giant rats if you ask me..." Tom hissed.
"Don't say that to Dean... though I'm sure there's plenty of rats among them too," he looked backwards to the fellow hunters, each of them armed with a variety of weapons including pressurized tanks strapped to their backs and super soakers in easy reach, "Everybody ready?" he asked then reminded them, "Remember... let Anunnaki's people do their job we just need to keep 'em corralled..." he glanced at Tom, "You ready youngun?"
He leaned down with his knife poised over the fire starter, "Ready... how far out are they?"
"Light it up," Cernunnos ordered a split second before Shep could.
"Damn they move fast!" Shep shook his head as a white-ish flash raced along a deep trough that ran several hundred meters across the battlefield. He did a double take as not only Tom's end lit up but on the far side a sister flame raced toward its other half.
Squeals, snarls, yelps and some animal screams later the igigi vessels were turned away by the strength of their instincts in direct opposition to the will of those who controlled them. Many of them would not live to see another day such would be the madness the igigi would drive them to, but some would.
In the gray of pre-dawn, below the swirling mass of Nergals' dark gray troops, phalanx after phalanx of silver, gold and other colored igigi; those still loyal to the King of the Anunna descended upon the terrified animal hosts, rows of gliding troops broke from the main assault force cannibalizing the enemy but leaving many of the beasts alive to flee.
Those of Anunnaki's people that continued onward closed ranks and moved unerringly toward the next wave of Nergal's troops marching across the desert plain. They flew toward the hundreds of hosts, each possessed by a demon either loyal to the enemy or too frightened to stand against him, and were eager for the rapturous gluttony to begin.
Of the demons loyal to the marauder, many of them didn't seem to have considered that the rightful king of the gods and his troops would have anticipated such an attack. They continued to move forward like lemmings, but among the tightly packed ranks there were those whose loyalty was uncertain. Their presence was marked, even temporarily by billows of black demon dust that could be seen ascending into the sky, attempting to escape their servitude only to be quickly devoured by Anunnaki's own as they fled.
In spite of the magnesium fire barrier many of the demons pressed onward, pushing the sidhe, human, and demon troops loyal to the kings backwards toward the stony edifice of Massacre Rocks.
A dozen yards from the rocks the generals as if of one mind shouted, "Weapons up! Fire at will!"
The line of hunters and demons spread out, fanning left and right, shoulder to shoulder as store bought pump action water canons were raised, pumped, and fired. Streams of holy water burned the demons as they were closed in by a living wall of resistance. And still they pushed forward driving the hunters, and allies back with numbers greater than anticipated.
Through the upcoming hours the line would be won and lost a dozen times until finally, with the sun fully over the horizon the troops of the rightful kings had been pressed back as far as they could go. Their numbers were small in comparison and with their initial defensive fire quickly burning itself out, the demons that encroached and their hosts, through sheer numbers and force of will, without the kings to lead them, seemed to hasten to retreat.
"Don't you hesitate boy!" Shep snarled at his nephew as a trio of demons closed on them with their palms outstretched and their eyes blazing black.
"HAND TO HAND!" the generals called.
Tom moved quickly, a short sword in each hand, the blades wickedly curved and flint-sharp as he turned quickly slicing up, down and through, his blades clashing with Shep's as they met in the middle amidst a dozen severed limbs.
The demons inside the hosts stopped and scoffed for a split second before the smoking and smoldering began.
Orange fire raced up the flesh, devouring the hosts in a nearly living frenzy. The bodies fell writhing and thrashing to the ground as whatever the metal was imbued with ate through not just the hosts but the demons inside them as well.
All along the battle front, scores of hosts that were confronted with hunters who'd been armed at Bobby's fell to the same fate, and no matter the screams that rent the air, Tommy and Shep marveled as they just seemed to continue to come, wave after wave.
Igigi easily identified as Anunnaki's swooped and darted, alternately scooping handfuls of demons out of the hosts then in their ascent snatching mouthfuls of the dark gray ones.
From across the battle field shards of white light pierced the eyes of the King's generals. It was the signal they'd been waiting for.
"RETREAT! Warriors of the KINGS... RETREAT!" the shout went up from each of the generals.
A heartbeat later everyone not engaged in battle turned and ran toward the rocks. Those who were engaged did their level best to dispatch their contestants and also fled the field.
Behind them a deafening roar of victory shook the earth and vibrated the air. Demons, whatever feral beasts remained and igigi swirled, chased and gloated in their victory as whatever humans, hunters and demon generals that could, retreated to the safety of the rocks.
With either of them circling around the plain from opposite directions, and at the distance of a couple miles away, it didn't seem that great a happening.
Two armies clashing beneath a patch of dark gray sky intermittently woven with strands of brightness seemed so small. As if of the same mind, in the privacy of their own thoughts, each deity wondered that so enormous a thing as the fate of an entire universe could possibly be decided on such a small field.
All it takes is a prick from one pin point to pop the bubble, it just doesn't seem right that it should all be so delicate, he looked across the plain, through space, through the bodies that lay dead or dying, whether pawn of the enemy or fallen ally and knew only one thing, he is all that matters. Every life, every death...without him, none of it matters. His eyes scanned the landscape again and though they were too far away from each other for visual contact. Each of them knew exactly where the other was. There is no choice... I must succeed... if I don't, he won't, and it'll all be gone. I guess it really IS "Do or do not... there is no try".
Even from this angle and from this distance the flash of light that was the signal they'd been waiting for, found them.
Together they watched their allies retreat to take shelter in the rocks. Together they drew breath. And together they began to speak words unheard since before the dawn of man.
She swung her sword, its blade angled perfectly for a killing blow to the base of his neck.
The marauder turned, the lance from his scabbard withdrawn, every one of his eyes fixed on her, his mouths each turned down.
He blocked and thrust.
She parried, her blade slicing up, catching the lance.
"Where is your mate bitch?!" he hissed.
Ina laughed blocking his charge and shrugged, "If I know Enki he's probably in the Southern Cross chasing tight twats and mini skirts," she dashed forward, her sword coming from up high, then swinging in a lower arc that was meant to be eviscerating.
"A holy place?" he sneered.
"Vacation spot... it's called a time share..." she blocked, and blocked and retreated and blocked. "There's some really... neat stuff in this little part of the universe..." she blocked and retreated then thrust forward again, "You might enjoy some of it, if y'know... you'd change your mind about destroying it."
His central face wavered in its certainty as did the ones on the left and right concurrently.
She pressed forward, swinging high, then low, then up, and back down again around the other side before she thrust, "You should've stayed in the universe he made for you and yours Nergal. You could've been happy if you'd allowed yourself to be."
"THIS was meant to be mine!" he hissed.
"Uhm no... this was meant for my son... not you," she allowed him to drive her back toward the open plain, his back toward the stony foothills.
"LIAR! HE STOLE MY LEGACY!" he screamed charging forward, his lance swinging in tight controlled arcs, jabbing in tight controlled thrusts and slicing in tight controlled sweeps.
"No. THAT honor belongs to your father," she countered for every move he made, keeping his attention fixed on her and away from sidhe who hastily unbound her sister goddess from the stones and guided her to safety. "Your father wasn't happy being the second son of An and Ki..." she allowed him to press her back, "He could have been King of his own world if only he hadn't tried to take what was never meant for him."
"LYING BITCH!" He drove her back, his lance hand swinging in wide figure eights that sliced the air between them.
"Your line was never able to own its own shame or bear its own blame... Enlil blamed Enki for his oh so very many shortcomings... he sought to steal what was not his to take... the universe belonged to the FIRST son!"
Searing heat slashed her upper arm as the point of the lance tore through her recently made flesh. With a turn of his hands the pommel of the device came crashing into her temple, knocking her to the ground. Her sword came up to block the bronze rod as a line of silver shimmered then disappeared, swallowing with it her sidhe guide and the Goddess of the underworld.
A bitter smile twisted her lips as she thrust her blade upward and rolled back, quickly gaining her feet in a low crouch, inviting her nephew in law to come if he dared.
On the grounds where the allies had camped the previous night, the marauder's demon troops ransacked the sidhe made tents, plundering the belongings that had been left behind from treasures to weapons and anything in between. They laughed and celebrated their easy victory over the King's warriors, drinking and eating the spoils of their conquest in spite of the warnings from their own leaders that it had all been too easy.
After eating or drinking and by the handfuls, the lesser troops lay down to sleep and no matter how their leaders shook or kicked or beat them to rise they would not awaken.
"Take a squad into the rocks and HUNT THEM DOWN!" one of the leaders ordered of a lesser who'd heeded her word.
The leader watched them move toward the rocks and never reach them. Instead a faint, dark purple web of light shimmered all around them.
"NOOOOOOO!" she charged to the border only to find herself repelled with equal force. Fury twisted her features, disbelief left her snarling and clawing at the trap that held her and her forces. Rage made her nearly blind as the gallas and followers of the Kings stepped out from the rocks and stood on the opposite side of the barrier led by Marax and Pine'me.
"Ardat Lili..." Pine'me smiled at the furious handmaiden of Lamashtu, "Where is your mistress? There is an old friend nearby who would LOVE to see her."
"Pine'me," she sneered, "you think she would really bother with such a triviality as this?" she waved her hand indicating the battlefield and the fallen, both dead and sleeping. "What is this?" she asked pushing against the barrier, "some parlor trick meant to entertain your impotent kings?"
"Actually I think they're having a meeting with your demoness' supporters," Marax waved his hand, "Or they're killing them... I get their intentions confused sometimes... either way," he glanced up to the sky, "this really... well... it's not really something they need to trouble themselves about," he winced apologetically motioning toward the heavily culled numbers of gray igigi. Through them the swarm of gold, silver, copper and bronze kindred glided lazily awaiting their cue, their smooth countenances smiling in anticipation of the rewards to come, "You, and the rest of your compatriots here? You're a buffet."
The handmaiden's face crumpled as with a nod from Marax the igigi dove through the barrier for their long awaited feast.
"You can't just stand there and watch as these people, these HOSTS are..." she screeched drawing her sword in an attempt to fend off the creatures.
"On the contrary... as servants loyal to the Kings it is our duty to watch, and to make sure that our allies don't miss a single morsel... we wouldn't want any of them to leave hungry, they might think us poor hosts," Pine'me smiled.
All around the border of the barrier the demons present unfolded from their human hosts and watched in their original forms as traitors, conspirators, and every one of the contained faithless fell.
Meters apart after having circled miles they turned as one, each with the perfect vantage to watch the Goddess of battle and the marauder toy with each other. They knew he was waiting for them to show, and they knew that when they did he would stop his play, return to his natural size and do his level best to dispatch the woman as viciously as possible in front of her mate in an effort to weaken him. Timing would in the end prove to be everything.
"She's toying with him."
"And he with her."
They nodded and turned to ascend the narrow path to where the sidhe, Ajax and Gader'el waited.
"Light the fire Gader'el," Marduk nodded as a white hot flame leaped into existence.
"You got it?" Enki asked of Mustardseed who slid off Ajax's back holding up a gray leathery oval, "Perfect." He smiled taking the egg from the sidhe warrior, "You do your kin proud... now... back to the veil... keep your eyes on my love..." he ordered then motioned to the rest of the assembled sidhe, "the rest of you will guard the egg until it hatches."
Ajax danced in place at the sight of the alpha then seemed to sigh before nudging him for recognition. Enki grinned crouching and gently scratched the top of the pup's head, "Good boy Ajax," then received a hearty slurp for his affection.
With a knowing smile Mustardseed bowed low in appreciation of the king's praise and motioned to the dog.
"Take him with you," Enki nodded rising, then met eyes with Marduk and handed the egg to his son, "Make it live."
The King of the Gods nodded taking the egg. His eyes filled with copper light as the words from the tablet of destinies meant for Gods slid from his lips. Orange-pink light pulsed through him, down through his fingertips to disappear into the leathery gray item until slowly the light took hold and it started to glow with its own life force. On the outside, the shell turned white and warm. Within its heart, against the backdrop of the smith's white flame and its own life energy, a black serpentine shadow began to slowly move, stretching itself awake in the safety of its own little universe.
Enki and Marduk smiled, each man nodding before they met eyes with the smith who stood enthralled, mystified and rightfully awed before he lowered himself to a single knee and respectfully bowed his head.
"Do it." Enki ordered.
With a bow to the one who came before him, the one who'd given him everything, Marduk knelt before the white fire and fearlessly set the egg in its heart.
"Now we wait?" he asked his father.
"Now we wait," Enki nodded then glanced at the smith, "Gader'el what progress have you made?"
"The deed is done my king, and your instructions followed."
"Thank you my old friend," Dean dropped a firm respectful hand on the weapons master's shoulder.
"What would you ask of me now?" he asked looking up.
"I would ask that you be wherever you are most needed to safeguard as many lives as possible..." he glanced at Marduk who nodded his concurrence, "Of whatever lives cannot be saved... make weapons strike true and fast... any death, enemy or ally should be quick and without suffering. Make it so."
From one to the other Gader'el bowed and rose, "My kings," to do their will.
Smiling tightly Enki nodded to his son, "Now... let's go help your mother."
Tom slid through a break in the rocks that opened into a large comfortable cavern where over a hundred people were either sitting, lying or otherwise propped in whatever pose gave them the most meditative concentration.
The stone walled room was eerily quiet and yet, to his faint surprise he realized that all the participants were breathing in sync, filling the chamber with life essence.
He walked softly to a middle aged woman in shimmering green silk, sitting on a mat in lotus position, her face relaxed and open.
As he approached she opened her eyes and met his, "Xiang Min, how's it going over here?" he asked kneeling before her.
She nodded sedately and favored him with a kind smile, "Well enough. Many of those upon whom he forced control are already returning to their lives with little or no ill effects," she shook her head, "Others will not be so lucky."
"What's the plan with them?" he asked having left it up to the Master to guide those psychics who wouldn't be evacuated, to combating the marauders' forces.
"If they allow it, they will be left to wander the gardens of their own minds," she explained.
Tom nodded his understanding, "Try to bring them whatever peace is possible," he sighed and pursed his lips, "If everything goes well... this will be over soon."
"All will go as it should," she smiled then closed her eyes again to return to her task.
From your mouth to God's ear lady. Tom wove his way through the assembled psychics and returned to his post outside the cavern entrance.
"I wish to hell I knew how it was going over there," he sighed to Shep, his gaze searching the area near the foothills where he knew them to be.
"Yeah well, there's nowhere I'd rather be than right beside those boys..."
"But we have to have faith..." Bobby breathed tightly and joined them. "if we show up unexpectedly there's no telling how that THING could turn it to his advantage... maybe even hurt the boys." His eyes flitted over the landscape almost nervously while he swallowed hard a couple of times.
"Enki has always known this day would come... the first time Nergal challenged him, just before his banishment, he vowed he would return," Cernunnos joined them.
"Bobby you look like you just swallowed an uncooked moose dick," Tom craned his head around looking at the older man, his statement taking everyone by surprise. A glance at their faces and he explained, "An old episode of fear factor right before the guy blew half his chunks all over the place... or maybe it was something off discovery channel... that guy who eats rotted zebra? I don't remember... but I remember the look and that there was a raw moose dick involved..." he bent placing his hand on the older hunters' shoulder even as he leaned forward with his hands on his knees, "What's wrong with you?"
But the hunter shook his head and forced himself to rights, "Nothing... really Tom... I'm uh..." he clapped the younger man on the shoulder and smiled shakily.
Anunnaki sidled up to the group dusting off his hands and leaned easily against the rocks watching his igigi finish off the remainders of the marauders followers. "I'm afraid there are many hundreds that fled before my kin could get to them."
Forcing himself to recover quickly, Bobby smirked at the copper colored god, "All your people got happy tummies?"
"They are satisfied," he smiled back, his gaze sweeping the battlefield, "We should get some pyres made."
Motion in the foothills caught his attention and he knew the time had come. With all three of his faces grinning Nergal grew to his natural size and with a beat of his wings sent Ina careening backwards into a boulder beside the pillar against which he'd held her sister prisoner. He raised his hand, taloned spirals of sinew unfurled toward the goddess in an attempt to bind her.
Her wrist flicked bringing her sword up to sever the tendrils before they could lash her to the rock.
The marauder didn't want to admit he was impressed as she rolled away, slicing through each unwinding spool with glittering flashes of movement. The motion of shadow caught his attention once more and a spark of inspiration struck. This time as he raised his hand again, he turned unleashing the flood of poisonous tendrils directly at the approaching deities.
"Get DOWN!" Enki tackled his son to the ground as silver shimmered in the air on the path between them and the marauder unleashing a furious Imdugud and Kitsune, both of them in their natural forms and either of them fearsome enough to make most demons tremble.
Nearing the dusty earth Imdugud let fly with swarms of locust that eagerly flew to the displaced god-ling and began to feast wherever they lighted.
"Kitsune! STORM!" The Assyrian called.
The Japanese demi-god stopped in her tracks and cracked a sinister fanged smile at her dog-faced counterpart before leaping to one of the boulders, one arm reaching toward the heavens and the other toward Nergal as lightning crackled all around and through her, finally directed clockwise around the intruder as he tried to stir himself apart to retreat into the ground. The static generated by Kitsune's storm would not allow him to destabilize and escape so as the locust continued to feed on his most tender parts he roared to rumble the ground.
As Enki and Marduk reached the plain the father drew his sword its gleaming ruby blade lashing whip-like toward the troublesome invader who flailed under assault of both the pestilence and its cage of electricity.
In the instant he moved, Inanna and the other guardians saw it coming a blink too late as he turned bringing his lance to bear and catapulting it toward the first of the kings.
Catching sight of the motion Enki turned away from the instrument, its needle like point sliding almost painlessly through the layers of his clothes and then his skin beneath and to his horror, continuing on toward his son.
"NO!" he screamed.
From the periphery of his vision a blur of red and a blur of black flashed side by side taking the lance out of its trajectory, unfortunately not before the tip could tear a swatch from the chest of the son as well.
Ina breathed a visible sigh of relief as Ajax and Kitsune landed side by side, the lance clamped firmly in both sets of jaws.
"Heh... the Fox and the Hound..." she chuffed both grateful and surprised.
Motion drew her attention as Imdugud pressed forward against the intruder who ground his rage between three sets of venom spewing serpentine fang filled jaws. Locust crunched and gnashed between and through those teeth while others continued to peel away the layers of the creature's stony flesh.
On his leftmost face a trail of the perpetually hungry insects made their way into the cavern that was one of his eye sockets, their mandibles slicing into the tender flesh of the orb itself.
He pawed at the creatures and raised his hand to Imdugud, binding him in sinew as Enki's blade sluiced through the space between them, wrapping around the base of Nergal's wings. Smoke rose into the air from the beast as Enki pulled severing the enormous appendages at the back joint.
Nergal fell to his knees screaming and the air shook.
Ina raced forward, her sword brandished and sliced through the bindings around the Assyrian.
Enki and Marduk approached, the father with his sword in hand, the son with a short sword of bronze freshly forged of the portion of the tablets the marauder had lost. Behind them the woman stood with the lance in one hand and her own blade in the other speckled and smeared in sweat and blood both her own and his.
I will not win. The thought was so fast it never even consciously registered.
The bolts of his breastplate shot out, a half dozen to the left and a half dozen to the right aiming directly for each of the gods. The men raised their blades, slashing and slicing through the questing tendrils dropping them to the ground as dust while Ina moved around the area.
At each of six strategic points, while Marduk spoke the words that would open the gateway between worlds, she used the lance to inscribe into the earth the sacred first words that would contain the powers unleashed here.
Enki drew back his sword and let fly, the tip slammed into the creature's chest seconds before the reddish gleam wrapped of its own accord around his wrists, then twined up his arms and over his shoulders. His eyes blazed and his mouths howled rage and pain as another volley of bolts shot out.
A yip cursed the night, and a howling bellow of agony followed it as another of the deadly projectiles slammed through Imdugud's hand and into one of his eye sockets.
"Alright y'know what? I've had enough out of you!" Enki snarled and flicked his wrist sending another coil of sword around his nephew's throat and pulling until each of his eyes that were left were bulging and all of his mouths were gaping for air.
"Open the way!" he ordered of his son as a voice he knew far too well screamed pure rage from behind him.
Nuh... not again... his belly flipped and twisted as the warrior goddess tore through air, her sword high in one hand and the lance in the other, both ready to strike. Behind her on the ground on his knees Marduk wavered, his lips moving even as blood sprayed like a fountain from a hole through his chest. It was easy to see what had happened. While incanting the doorway between worlds open, Nergal had shot the second set of bolts.
One of them remained coiled around his son's arm, its end sliced cleanly through; another had bound around his neck and lay severed over his shoulders. But after the upswing that cut that one, the third had shot right through both his and Kitsune's bodies, in a way nailing them together.
"Oh you son of a BITCH!" he roared shaking the very foundation beneath them as he leaped into the air, the incredibly responsive blade of his sword tightening around the creature's neck as he did so even as another deadly bolt made its way toward him, this one caught in mid-flight by a throwing knife from Imdugud and severed before it reached its mark.
Behind them, on the mountain path an explosion tore at the rock face as a swirling mass of orange and black ascended into the sky like particles of firelight. It turned slowly at first, getting its bearings.
The Assyrian watched the enraged parents descend, he did his duty, watching the woman's blade and the lance penetrate, the lance slid effortlessly through the creature's torso, piercing the breastplate, its breastbone and its heart before exiting the spine. The blade came from the creature's upper left, also descending, crossing paths with the lance to pierce the heart from a different direction.
And as Enki himself planted his feet on the abdomen of the twelve foot monstrosity and pulled; great floes of blood ran down its neck as its head was severed cleanly to roll on the ground, its sockets and openings filled with locusts.
"I learned that one from Sammy," he panted leaping down from the creature's body and sheathing his sword as he dashed to the younger man.
"Oh god ohgodohgod... heal him... Heal HIM!" Ina slid behind the young man, her hands trembling as she met eyes with Imdugud who nodded once he had a firm hold on Kitsune.
Already Enki was speaking his words, his eyes watered as he watched her hold their boy from behind, her lips at his ear, tears streaking her face while she pressed her hand to his chest just above where the hole would be, "Breathe for me baby come on, breathe with me..." and when she could feel that he was, she asked "You ready?"
He nodded, Kitsune nodded and Imdugud nodded. Enki entwined his fingers with hers as she pulled the half inch thick cord through their bodies and tossed it to the ground with one hand then placed her other over the hole, pressing Enki's in between, each of them pained by the screams that tore from the two before they lost consciousness.
Above them the orange and black light seemed to hover, moving over each of the sacred words carved into the ground. It spun and grew larger and brighter, a ring of fire in the night's sky spinning faster and faster as the newborn dragon first chased, then finally managing to catch it, ate its tail completing the circle.
Even as Enki's and Ina's energy flowed into the two gravely wounded beings, the first king motioned to the young creator then spoke and sent it on its way to repair whatever damage had been done to the universes.
The creature burned brighter and brighter, then began to shrink into a blinding point of light before it seemed to simply hover and finally explode an infinite number of pinpoints bursting through layers of realms, and universes, its energy sent to strengthen and re-balance the barriers between worlds.
Imdugud watched the display obviously impressed as he rose to his feet cradling the Japanese demi-god in his arms, "I'll take her to the camp and advise Cernunnos to get things ready for him."
Weeping openly, Ina held the young King close and rocked him, her words pleading as she stroked the blood, sweat and hair from his face, "Please sweetie please... just breathe... just breathe please... c'mon you can do it..."
Enki leaned forward and unbuttoned the boys' shirt then tore through the hole in the 't' beneath. His relief was obvious at the sight of the faint pink scarring over the young man's chest. Gently he pressed one hand to the spot and wrapped the other around his neck, "You just LOVE scaring the crap out of me don't cha boy? First that Jake kid shanks you in the back... now this... not to mention everything in between! Jeez man you gotta stop this stuff!" he implored.
Slowly his breathing deepened and his eyes slid briefly open. He tapped lightly on the elder man's forearm, "You first..." he admonished then settled back into arms he knew would always protect him and keep him safe.
"How're you feelin' Sammy?" Tom sat on the edge of the pallet as the young man arose with the morning sun.
"Pretty much fine... bit of a near death hangover...I guess you could call it," he looked around sipping some water. "How's everyone else? How's Kitsune?"
Tom nodded, "She's fine... they healed her up just fine."
"She around?" Sam asked.
Tom nodded and smiled knowingly, "She's not far away... just helping get rid of the bodies."
"How many casualties were there?"
"About thirty sidhe and a hundred and seventy two hosts," he told the young man.
"Oh god..." Sam breathed then swallowed hard and tried to fight the tears that wanted to come.
"The demons that followed him..." Dean sighed entering the tent and glancing at Tom, "Shep and Gader'el have been looking for you."
Tom nodded and stood before his old friend, "Is it really you Dean? Or are you still Enki? Am I ever gonna have you boys back the way you're supposed to be?"
"Can you really look at what we've been through in the last couple weeks and think that any of us is ever gonna be the same again Tom?" he asked.
Reluctantly the fellow hunter nodded, "Got a point... but fact is I don't give a rats ass about any of this... it's over and it's done with... I just want my boys back, I want everything back the way it's supposed t'be and that includes YOU TWO!" he half stormed.
"We're the same Sam and Dean Winchester you've known for twenty two years Tom, same guys you and Shep used to take fishing," Sam smiled pulling a fresh t-shirt on, "I'm the same kid who made you help me make a nest for a gimp bunny after I refused to put a hook through a minnows back cause it was cruel..." he joined the two men at the tent entrance dropping a hand onto Tom's shoulder and glad for the relief in his eyes as he turned and hugged the youngest Winchester with everything he had.
"I was scared they wouldn't leave you be," he tried to explain, one hand cupping each of their faces.
Dean leaned forward pressing his temple to Tom's, "Nothing to worry about." He nodded to Sam, "The sidhe are going to take us through the veil back to Bobby's... pretty much everyone else already left early this morning, after they were sure Nergal's corpse wasn't gonna get up and dance some interdimensional jig or something."
"Don't tell me I missed the show?" Sam smirked as they head out into the bright daylight.
"You were better off sleeping."
Sam couldn't believe his eyes, all around the plain, all traces of the previous night's activities had been erased. The sidhe, humans, gallas, and demons, all those who were loyal to the rightful Kings had done their part not just to save and protect the universe they knew, but those to whom they owed their very existence.
"Guess we're gonna hafta be a lot more choosy about who we exorcise," Dean muttered looking up with Sam toward the sky and the few gray igigi who'd come searching for remnants.
"You boys can still see 'em?" Shep asked as the boys joined them at a table where sidhe were serving a light breakfast before the return to Bobby's.
"Yep," Dean nodded.
"Yep," Bobby, Shep, and Tom answered together.
"And you will forevermore," Anunnaki assured them.
"Oooh and there's some darts that Gader'el made that'll kill 'em if they get too close," Cernunnos added reaching down with a shank of some animal to give to Ajax. "Or too annoying."
"Well there's bound to be some clean up necessary," Dean muttered then shook his head as Bobby shot him a questioning look.
He grinned as a firm gentle hand twined into the back of his hair and tilted his head backwards while the other hand slid up his neck to his jaw line and her lips greeted his, "Good morning."
"Mmmorning..." he sighed scooting over to make room for her beside him on the bench. "Is there any..." he started to ask as a sidhe female raced atop the table, between their plates and filled his cup with coffee then bowed low.
"Thanks," he grinned taking in the happy faces around him and wondering at just how lucky they'd all been last night.
"The honor is mine my lord," she nodded with a faint bow before filling Sam's cup with the same exchange and also with Laura's before making her rounds to the rest of those who'd stayed behind.
"Oooh I have something for you," Imdugud dug through his host's satchel and pulled out a small onyx token, one for Sam and Dean and the other for Laura, "Look if Lamashtu's smart, after what happened here she'll back off the hunt for Sam," he started.
"Or it might make her all the more het up to get her hands on him," Laura nodded, kissed the top of the statuette and placed it in her bag.
"Right... it could go either way... but fact is..." he turned to Sam, "You're gonna have to face her and take her down and when you do, you know damned well where my loyalties lie," he bowed deeply.
"That and you'd just really love to tear the bitch a new one." Dean smirked.
"Well yeah, there's definitely that."
"What're you gonna do now?" Sam asked.
The Assyrian shrugged, "I don't know... maybe do some traveling, bring on a few plagues, a little drought... the swarm is always hungry..." he leaned back, his hands up and open, "Hey... it's what I was created for."
Smiling he straightened up then bowed before them, "Well for that and to serve my kings. Should you need me you have only to call."
"Thank you Imdugud, for everything... ooh how's the eye doing?" Dean asked just as the veil opened for him.
"It itches a bit, I suspect once it's grown back it'll be fine. Take care of each other," he admonished shaking the hands they all offered before slipping from Bobby's yard, leaving Gader'el the last demon to say his good-bye.
As the day wore on the weapons smith taught them each the secret of the igigi killing darts until the sun began to set, burning brilliant reddish orange in the twilight sky.
Laura and Tom worked in the kitchen with Mustard seed and a few of Bobby's regular residential sidhe making a near mountain of food that would easily have fed a full dozen hunters as well as most of the demon hosts that had been sheltering here only a couple days before.
"Hey Laura!" Dean called from the back yard.
"Yeeeeeeees?" she returned from the kitchen.
"Come out here I need you. Tom you too."
"S'up?" she asked wiping her hands free of zucchini pancake batter and looking around at the guys, all of whom seemed to be looking at her strangely.
"What's going on?" Tom asked emerging down the back steps and into the group too.
"We were just having a little discussion here..." Dean indicated the group of them, "About Inanna and Enki... and whether they were consorts or actually married. I say they were married. Sam says nuh uh..." he started, then took her hand and guided him to her lap.
"And I do say also that she was his wife," Gader'el added, "regardless of ceremony, or lack thereof, their souls are bound together for all eternity..." he looked around smiling wryly, "And if you'll forgive me... I WAS there when Enki announced her to be his wife."
"Alright, so he called her his wife what kind of proof did he have though? What'd they have matching tattoo's or something?" Bobby asked.
"They did. Tattoos pre-date jewelry," Laura nodded then added, "She also wore a pendant he carved for her out of onyx," she smiled though her eyes were far away, "It was a lion's head, and on the back was the ring of life... a carving of Tiamat," she looked at the faces of the people she loved gathered around them, "but it's not about ceremony or about jewelry not really... it's about two people, two souls bound to each other, the ring, like Tiamat's ororborous is just a symbol of an eternal bond... as we all know."
She turned and caressed his face, "Speaking of binding," she smiled, "Cernunnos told me what you did, that you refused to allow him to replace the torc..."
One hand slid into his pocket as he nodded, "That's right. There's only one man for you to be bound to."
In his hand he held two rings of the same gleaming ruby and silver colored tungsten carbide his sword was made of, "If you'll allow it."
A/N - Please accept my greatest thanks for coming along on this journey through this little warverse... I hope you've enjoyed the stories as they've come... some more than others certainly. I'm kinda on tenterhooks here wondering what y'all might be thinking about how this one ended.
There is still work to be done on The Longest Weekend... as many of you know...
But other than that, I'm just glad the universe is safe... for the time being...
And I'm very very grateful to all of you who've stuck with everything to get to this point. Thank You!
Now please... for better or for worse as the saying goes... I'd love to hear what you thought of this... but please keep criticism constructive.