Disclaimers: It is all mine.
Warnings: There is violence, rape, angst, and just about anything else needed to make a good story. If it offends you please don't read it.
Thanks: To my love for suffering all of those 'So what should I do now?' questions. And for beta reading a story that isn't her normal choice for a relaxing read.
If you read me please feed me. firstname.lastname@example.org
Her senses were flooded with the horrible memory again, only this time it came with a vengeance. She could smell the stale cigarette smoke on his breath and feel his weight on top of her, his hips grinding between her legs and the pain erupting from her center. She would never forget the pain but mostly she remembered the feeling of her soul imploding. A loud noise jerked her out of her past nightmare and into her present one. She realized that this new demon had a knife pointed at her and was yelling something about her purse. She numbly let the strap drop from her shoulder and extended the bag to him. Her surroundings started to penetrate the fog in her head and she berated herself for putting her in this position. What is the first rule?! Never get caught in an isolated area. Yet here she was standing on the sidewalk, after dark, on a small side street with no traffic to speak of. She realized this man must have followed her waiting for the opportune moment to strike.
Her mugger reached out for the purse but at the last moment had his arm stopped mid-motion. Then it was painfully twisted at an odd angle and made a sound like a snapping wishbone. The man screamed and grabbed the appendage looking up at the tall figure that had appeared out of the shadows. She saw a billow of black fabric and the man screamed again, but the noise was abruptly cut off and she heard a sickening thud as his body hit the side of the building to her right.
The form in front of her turned around and she was taken aback at how pale the person was. Looking up into the milky white face she came in contact with the greenest eyes she had ever seen. They seemed to have a glow that radiated from within instead of reflecting the light around them.
"Are you ok Matty?" the stranger asked.
"What...oh, um...yeah I think so," she said stumbling over her words. Then she realized this person that she didn't know had just called her by name. "How do you know my name?" she asked suspiciously.
The stranger extended a muscled forearm and hand pointing to Matty's chest, "Your name tag." Matty mentally slapped herself for forgetting the piece of plastic attached to her waitress uniform. "It's nice to meet you by the way, my name is Sam." Matty shook hands with her rescuer noticing that Sam took great care with the contact as if he were interacting with a breakable object.
"I'm in your debt Sam, you saved me from much more than having to get a new drivers license," Matty said flashing a smile she didn't really feel. She noticed, looking at the rest of this person, that everything about him was androgynous. He/She was tall, over six feet, which made Matty feel Lilliputian, standing only five foot three herself. A small ponytail of red hair tapered down a relatively thick neck leading to broad shoulders that only hinted at the power that lay beneath.
Sam stepped closer and laid his other hand atop Matty's smaller one that he already held. "You look exhausted, why don't I walk you home."
"I wouldn't want to be a bother, you really don't have to."
"Trust me," said Sam moving to stand beside the woman, draping an arm across her shoulder protectively. "You would be saving me from boredom for at least fifteen minutes."
For a reason that Matty couldn't comprehend she felt safe with this person. She felt enveloped in an embrace that soothed her nerves and calmed her spirit. The pair walked on in silence for some time before Matty realized that Sam was leading the way to her apartment. She ground her movement to a halt and wrenched herself free of the hold on her shoulders. The small woman backed herself up to the brick building next to her and pulled her jacket tighter around her body.
Sam sensed the fear coming off of the woman and decided that maybe it was time to come clean. "Do not be afraid, I mean you no harm."
"Who the hell are you?" she asked in a trembling voice.
"I'm here to help you, and the child you carry."
Matty wrapped her arms protectively around her stomach. "How do you know about that...No one knows about my baby, no one?"
"There is one who knows," said Sam gesturing skyward," and He has sent me to help and protect you. He has heard your prayers Matty, and has sent an answer through me."
"You're crazy! What are you saying, you're an angel?"
"Well, for lack of a better term, yes. We creations have been known by many names but angel has seemed to be the one most liked by His chosen."
"His chosen?" Matty's head was spinning and she was becoming frustrated and more scared by the minute.
"Yes, humans, they are his most favorite creations."
Matty began inching her way along the wall to escape, "No, this is crazy, you're just some weirdo with a great imagination." She felt her fight or flight response begin to kick in, unfortunately for Matty, her reaction was more of the freeze and faint. Her anxiety from the past few months along with her exhaustion and fear got the best of her and when she started to fall Sam caught her before she hit the ground. The angel brushed a stray lock of hair away from Matty's face and whispered, "He has plans for you little mother, great plans."
When Matty awoke she had no idea how much time had passed but after she got over the initial shock of waking up in a strange place she realized that she was warm and comfortable. Looking around she saw that she was reclining in an overstuffed couch in what looked to be a library. The walls were covered with shelves lined with books that had old, dusty covers and slightly damaged spines. In the center of the room, directly across from her, was a large wooden desk with a high backed chair behind it and to her right was a fireplace that emitted a warm glow and smelled faintly of smoke. Hearing a noise behind her Matty jumped from the couch and whirled to face...an old lady, in a nun's habit.
"Oh my child, I didn't mean to startle you, I thought you were still resting."
"How did I get here? Where am I? And who are you?' Matty asked in a rush.
The nun noticed that Matty's breathing was rapid and she knew her first order of business was going to be to calm the woman down. "Relax my dear, you are safe. I promise no one will hurt you here. My name is Mother Elizabeth and this," she said gesturing to the room," is my office. Samuel brought you here for safe keeping until all could be explained."
"Samuel? You mean Sam, the guy who thinks he's an angel?"
"Well, I prefer to call him by his given name but he insists that in this day and age the shortened version works better." Mother Elizabeth proceeded into the room, circling the couch, and perching herself in the chair behind her desk, "Please, have a seat," she said motioning towards the couch. "Now, how much did Samuel explain about your situation?"
"Situation? What about it? We never got passed the part where he thinks he's an angel." Matty flopped back onto the couch in frustration. She had had enough of the riddles and wanted some answers. Just then a bright light appeared to the nun's right and the person they were discussing seemed to materialize out of thin air. Matty thought she was watching a Star Trek episode.
"Well speak of the devil," said Mother Elizabeth with a smirk.
Sam sighed heavily, "You know that does get old after the first twenty years or so." The mother laughed while she looked over at Matty to find her slack jawed sitting across from them.
Looking up to Sam she scolded him, "You didn't tell her a thing did you? Samuel, how many times do I have to tell you that you have to be delicate with people. If you send them into shock first thing they are no good for listening."
"I'm sorry Reverend Mother," said Sam turning and removing his coat. Unfortunately he exposed his very large wings in the process and Matty gasped. Without turning around he could see the look of chastisement on the Mother's face, "Sorry Reverend Mother."
The nun made a disapproving noise and then directed her attention to the shocked woman. "I can tell we have a lot of explaining to do."
"That's an understatement!" Matty looked at Sam with a combination of shock and wonder, "You're really...an..."
"Yes I am," Said the angel smiling warmly.
"And I'm not dreaming?"
"No my dear, I can assure you of that," said Mother Elizabeth.
Matty didn't know what to say. She had always gone to church but she prided herself on being a level headed person. Now she was sitting here in the presence of what, for all intents and purposes, was an angel, a heavenly being. "Want do you want with me?"
"I told you I was sent to help you," Sam said walking to the other side of the couch and taking a seat.
"We have been charged with keeping you and your baby safe Matty," Mother Elizabeth volunteered.
"Safe from what?"
Sam reached out and took the small woman's hand, "Your child is very special. He or She will usher in a new era of faith and bring peace to many souls, a peace that is gravely needed."
Matty's heart sank knowing that they had to have the wrong person. Surely her child wasn't the one they were looking for, a child conceived of violence didn't sound like the sort of child that could bring peace. "You have the wrong person, I'm sorry." Matty rose to leave but Samuel wouldn't let go of her hand.
"Every child is capable of great things, no matter how they were created," Sam said guiding the woman back down to the couch cushion. "Make no mistake, you are the one we seek, and when your child is born it will be the bringer of great things."
"Then if my baby is so great why do we need protection?"
At this point the Reverend Mother took over the conversation, "Just as there is great good in this world there is also great evil. That evil's purpose is only destruction and corruption. We must work to make sure that your child does not fall prey to these influences. That is why Samuel brought you here. We would like you to stay with us and the others that live here in order to ensure your wellbeing. Here we can guarantee that your baby will grow to be a good person capable of great acts and meet his or her full potential."
Matty was beginning to trust these two but her skepticism was showing plainly on her face. Even if she were to stay here she would need a lot more reassurance or perhaps a friendly face that she was familiar with. Then again once Matty took a moment to review her situation she really had nowhere else to go. After the rape, she could barely bring herself to think the word; her life seemed to be slowly spiraling downward. She became horribly depressed afterward and dropped out of school, which caused her to lose her job in the library and her home in the dorm. Right now she was sleeping in a motel at night and working at the diner during the day. Her family were all gone after her mother and father had been taken in a car accident when she was twelve and the she lost her brother to cancer a couple of years ago. She was three months pregnant and homeless and had no idea how she was going to raise a child on her own let alone afford one. Babies needed food and a warm place to sleep and there was no way that Matty could work and afford daycare for the child.
The holy duo gave the woman time to think and process all of this new information. They were fully aware of her financial trouble and that she had no true home to speak of. Truth was they knew a lot more than that. Matty was the subject of much worry throughout the past few months and they had been having her followed closely to ensure that nothing befell her before they could make contact.
"I really have no choice but something tells me that you two already know that," said Matty standing. "I don't know if I'm going to stay but I would like to reserve my judgment until I've at least seen the place and gotten more of the story."
"Excellent!" said Mother Elizabeth, and she stood from her chair to walk around the desk. "We will take you for a tour and introduce you to a few of the residents. Come, come," She said waving Matty forward, "we have much to see."
As the tour began the Mother told Matty how the building used to be an old convent and that after the Catholic Church closed it down it was bought and donated to the cause. The first room they came upon was the commissary. It housed dozens of tables, each with at least one or two people sitting at them. One corner of the room had been set up with some comfy chairs and couches all directed toward a large TV that was now set on some type of talk show. There were also a couple of ping-pong tables and a foosball game for recreation along with a table full of snacks like fruit and raw vegetables.
"We serve three meals a day in here and as you can see there are always snacks available if you get hungry in between," Mother Elizabeth pointed out. One of the people at the far end of the room looked up and waived at the sound of her voice. She returned the gesture along with a loving smile.
Back out in the hall they continued on past some rooms that were equipped with dozens of work out machines and a couple that just had exercise mats from wall to wall. One of the latter had a group of people inside practicing martial arts.
They came to a dead end and Mother Elizabeth pointed to their right down another hallway. "Those are the living quarters but we can show you them later."
Sam had walked on past them to the left and stopped at a door which he knocked on a couple of times. Matty could here raised voices coming from with in the room that abruptly stopped and then the door was wrenched open. She couldn't see who was on the other side but a few seconds later Sam turned and motioned for the women to enter. This room looked the same as Mother Elizabeth's only not nearly as organized. Parchments and books were strewn everywhere covering every available surface. The lone seat in the room was a worn wingback chair that also held volumes of writings. Behind a large desk sat a very short man, so short in fact that the only part of him that was visible was the top of his head and his eyes. From what Matty could see of him he had thick bushy eyebrows and every hair on his head was white. She looked past Samuel to the rest of the room and was surprised at who she saw as a memory from about four months ago flooded her vision.
She stood on the side of the road cursing repeatedly at her rotten luck. She was stuck on a small road with a flat tire and no other motorists in sight. To make things worse her jack had been stolen out of the trunk of her car the previous night making it impossible for her to change the tire. She was effectively stranded and in about ten minutes was going to be late for work. Walking being her only recourse she began the five mile trek to the library hoping beyond hope that her cell phone would pick up some sort of signal so she could call a tow. After a while she heard the rumble of an engine and turned to waive the driver down for help. The car stopped next to her partway off the road and the driver rolled down the passenger side window. Matty bent down to thank her Good Samaritan and was greeted by a dazzling smile.
"I saw your car a bout a mile back, I'm taking a shot in the dark here but I think you could use a ride," quipped the woman from the other side of the car.
Matty laughed sarcastically, "You would not only be right but you would also be the most wonderful person in the world for giving me one."
The woman seemed to consider this for a moment and then smiled again, "Well then, I guess it's a good thing I'm feeling wonderful today, hop on in."
The stranded woman opened the car door and lowered herself into the seat. She then turned and offered her hand, "My names Matty by the way."
The driver accepted her hand, "Nice to meet you, I'm..."
"Olly!" exclaimed the diminutive woman and she rushed forward to enfold her friend in a hug. She felt large arms wrap around her and a light kiss placed on the top of her head.
"Hey little one, it's nice to see you again," said the tall woman. What Matty didn't see was the look of anguish on the other woman's face or the daggers that her eyes shot at Samuel. I can't do this! Olly thought to herself as wave after wave of guilt crashed down upon her. She pushed Matty to arm's length and gave her the best smile she could muster. "You look good, how've you been feeling?"
"Fine now that I've seen you." The smile on her face lit up the room and further twisted the knife into Olly's gut. "Where have you been, I've missed you."
The tall woman looked to the other faces in the room hoping that one of them would save her from this particular conversation. Mother Elizabeth was the first to act, "Olly, I still need your help in my office and unfortunately the matter won't wait any longer." Her tortured soul silently thanked the Mother for intervening.
"I have to go now little one but I will find you when I'm done and we can get all caught up."
"That would be great," said Matty giving the other woman a parting hug before she exited the room.
Once in the hallway and with the door shut Olly leaned against the wall and dropped her head into her hands. "I can't do this Reverend Mother. I can't lie to her like this. I'm so ashamed I can barely stand to look her in the eye."
The older woman stepped forward and put her hand on top of Olly's bowed head. "May the Almighty grant you fortitude to do what is right and true, and the strength to live with your decision. What happened to that young woman was out of your control and part of a much bigger picture then the one you belong in. It was supposed to happen this way; it is her destiny as well as yours." The Mother caressed her head and raised her face to look her in the eye. "We all do what we must for the good of all people, not just the ones we care about."
The distraught woman leaned into the motherly embrace and took a deep cleansing breath. She knew she would never forgive herself for not acting on Matty's behalf but she would make damn sure it never happened again. She pushed off the wall and scrubbed her face with her hands to erase any tear streaks. Stealing her shoulders with her new found resolve, Olly new her purpose and knew that she would continue her job come hell or high water.
"Matty my dear, it is so nice to finally meet you. Olly has told us so much about you. I feel as if I know you already." The vertically challenged man walked out from behind his desk and shook the woman's hand. "My name is Arthur Longwood. I guess I'm sort of the de-facto leader of our ragtag group."
Matty decided that she liked this man. He reminded her of a miniature Santa Claus. "It's nice to meet you too Mr. Longwood."
"Oh please, call me Arthur; we have no need for formalities here. How do you like our humble abode?"
"Well I haven't seen all of it but what I've been taken through so far is very homey. However, I have yet to see where I'm staying."
The little man's face lit up complete with dimples and a nose wrinkle. "So you've decided to stay then?" Matty nodded her head yes and smiled back as the man's good mood began to rub off on her. "Splendid, absolutely wonderful!" Arthur motioned for her to sit down in the chair and shuffled his way back around the desk. Samuel, having been way ahead of him, had already cleared the chair of any parchments so the woman could sit down. "Now my dear, you must have some questions for me."
"Actually I do sir," Matty shifted in the chair to make herself more comfortable. She prepared herself for the answers to her questions, "How much danger are myself and my baby in?"
"Oh my, you get right to the point don't you dear?"
Samuel knelt down next to the chair and put a hand on the high back, "Here the threat is minimal. Here, with these people, you are both safe, this location is unknown to even those who live here. You won't have to leave this sanctuary, every need you have will be provided for and you can have your baby in comfort."
"It's much more ideal then the alternative my dear. I won't lie to you, there are evil forces at work here," said Arthur steepeling his fingers. "They want you and your child and they will use any means necessary to accomplish their task. Out there you are defenseless, but in here we can protect you both. Olly herself will personally be in charge of your safety, and with your care."
At the mention of the tall woman's name Matty relaxed a little. She and Olly had become fast friends a few months ago after her...ordeal. Olly had dropped her off at work that afternoon saying she would pick Matty up after she got off and help her with her car. She had told her that the time she was at work would give her a chance to get a jack that would work on her car. When she left work that night she was attacked on her way to the parking lot. After the hideous deed was done and the man was in the process of leaving Olly had stumbled across them searching for Matty. As she lay there in shock the battered woman registered a struggle and in short order the man was lying unconscious. Afterward she woke up in a hospital room with Olly asleep in the chair beside her bed. Her savior had suffered a cut to her face, probably by the same knife that the bastard used to subdue Matty. The woman, to this day, bore a scar that ran from her eyebrow to her chin along the left side of her face.
Over the next few weeks the tall woman had hovered over her and helped her recover. This allowed them time to form a quick but strong bond of friendship. Matty trusted Olly with all her being and after seeing her with these people decided that it might be in her best interest to stay.
"I guess I should get moved into my room then," she said to Arthur.
Olly found Matty unpacking her small collection of belongings in her new room. She stood at the door and took a moment to watch her. Secretly she had been following the small woman for years at the behest of Arthur and Mother Elizabeth. It became her responsibility to keep tabs on the woman without interfering. Within that time she had grown fond of Matty's way of interacting with people. She had an energy about her that put others at ease and made them feel light of burden. Her fondness grew and grew until one day Olly realized that she was in love with her charge. She had vowed, however, to never act upon her feelings, for there was no way she was worthy of one so good and kind. This woman was the peace bringer's mother after all.
Olly gave two short raps on the door to let Matty know that she was there. "Is there anything else that I can get you?"
"Oh Olly, I was wondering where you had gotten to." Matty smiled brightly and the sun that shown through the window made her light auburn hair glow like a halo about her head.
Beautiful! Olly thought as she entered the room. "I was finishing up some work for the Reverend Mother. Did all of your things from the motel make it over ok?"
"Mmmhmm, everything's here, not that there was that much stuff to begin with," Matty sat down on the bed and patted the space next to her. "Have a seat so we can catch up."
Olly entered the room and crossed the floor to join her friend. As soon as she sat down Matty hauled off and backhanded the woman in the shoulder. "I've missed you, where have you been for the last two weeks? I mean, we were together almost every day and then you just disappeared. You didn't leave me a note or call or anything," she said with a hint of irritation in her voice.
"I had some work that I had to take care of. Mainly I was getting ready for you," said Olly rubbing the offended spot. "You pack quite a punch for pip-squeak."
"That's what you get for making me worry. Now since you know the effect of my wrath you will think about leaving me a note next time you decide to take off." Matty gave the woman a small hug to take the sting out of her words.
Olly returned the hug wrapping her arms around the smaller woman. It felt so good to be able to hold the young woman again. The two weeks that they had been apart had torn at her soul. If it wasn't for the Mother Elizabeth keeping her busy she may have paced a hole in the floor of her room. "How are you and the baby doing?"
"We're fine, you know I can take care of myself. What about you?" Olly didn't look well at all to her. Matty remembered her when they first met, all tall and muscular. Her eyes were the most beautiful shade of blue, like the Caribbean Sea. Now, the woman was too skinny and pale and her eyes had grown stormy, darkening almost to the color of denim.
Olly inhaled deeply, breathing in the scent of the woman in her arms, "I'm fine little one, just fine."
God how she had missed her, the smell of her and the feel of her skin. After her rape Matty would wake up with horrible nightmares. She would call Olly and ask her to meet her somewhere for coffee or tea, anything that would keep her from going back to sleep until her shift started at the diner. Finally, one day Olly just offered to have Matty stay with her in here motel room. It wasn't the best of establishments but it was safer than the shelter and at least this way she could keep an eye on her easier. Thankfully Mother Elizabeth and Arthur never found out about it or she probably would have been in considerable trouble. She was only supposed to make contact long enough to secure her safety and then keep her distance.
After the display in Arthur's office she was taken aside and received an earful from the little man. It wasn't anything that she hadn't heard a thousand times before. He always said the same thing, how she had to do what was asked of her to the letter, no more, no less. Olly had argued with him on many occasions about this, usually using the 'free will' argument. It had only worked the first few times until he pointed out to her that her history and place in this picture afforded her no such luxury.
After Matty began staying with her the small woman's dreams continued on unabated. Olly would hold her frightened friend until the fear subsided and Matty went back to sleep. Sadly the tall woman never slept along with her companion because of her own nightmares. Instead she chose to watch over the other woman and try to sooth away any bad dreams before they could interrupt her slumber. When Olly was called upon by the Reverend Mother to leave on a mission she had prepaid the room leaving instructions with the manager to contact her if there was anything else needed to make Matty's stay more comfortable. The manager was a long time supporter of the cause and said that he would take good care of the mother to be.
The two sat for a while, Olly in thought, until she finally looked down to find the smaller woman asleep on her shoulder. She shifted carefully and gently lowered the other woman to the bed. Brushing a lock of hair from the woman's face she said a short prayer that her sleep would be restful.
The dream began like it always did with the smell of stale cigarette smoke and the red-hot pain between her legs. She could feel him on top of her like every time before, but this time when she opened her eyes to look there was no one there. Then a form started to materialize that contorted into the shape of a hideous creature. Its skin was a dark red color and had the texture of wet cement. Its eyes were pupil-less and totally black and it had teeth like razors that cut into her as it tried to kiss her neck. The thing pounded into her over and over again ripping her from the inside out making her sob in pain. She tried to scream but found her throat constricted by a large hand with claws that shredded the skin on the back of her neck. She closed her eyes and struggled with all her might only to open them again and find the scene changed. She had gone from the ground in the parking lot to being chained against a wall in a very dark room. What light was available to her was from a couple of candles standing nearby. In the dimness she could just make out another person across the room. This person was chained in a similar fashion; only they dangled freely having lost the ability to stand on their own. They had deep bruises and gashes that covered most of their body and if the stains on the floor around them were any indication, had also lost a lot of blood. The person lifted their head and in the flickering candle light Matty was horrified to see that it was Olly. "I'm sorry," her friend said and then her head dropped again.
The next instant the dream morphed again and Matty found herself lying on the floor of a large room. Her body screamed with pain as she tried to move, knowing that she needed to escape. She could hear chanting all around her but above that was a sound that emitted pure anguish. She craned her neck to see what was going on and saw Olly with a group of men standing around her. They all had some kind of talisman in their hands and were pointing them at the woman. A stream of blue light was erupting from each object and converging on Olly hitting her in the chest. The noise was coming from her friend as her body contorted, arching from the ground as if being pulled upward from the waist.
The chanting stopped and Olly's body hit the ground with a thud that made Matty flinch and look away. That is until she felt a hands wind it's way through her hair and jerk her head back up. The seemingly lifeless body of her friend moved slightly and her head lolled to face the terrified woman. Matty could feel bile rise in her throat when she saw that Olly's eyes had been burnt from their sockets leaving only smoldering holes. Matty screamed her friends name but received no response. "This is what she receives for loving you," said a deep gravely voice.
Olly was sitting in the middle of one of the work out rooms in meditation. She was confused by the sense of fear and dread that washed over her while she sat. Her eyes flew open at the sound of Matty screaming her name as it resounded through her mind. Jumping to her bare feet she broke into a full out run towards the other woman's room. Olly had left her there to nap not three hour prior and intended on stopping by in time to wake her for dinner. Now she rounded the corner to the living quarters almost losing her footing on the tile floor. Down the hall the door to Matty's room flew open as the woman dashed out into the middle of the hallway and skidded to a halt. She then spotted the other woman and ran straight for her. Olly realized that if they hit at this speed it would probably injure one or both of them. The look of fear on Matty's face left no question to the fact that she wasn't going to be the one to slow down. Olly put the brakes on just as the small woman launched herself in her arms causing both of them to head for the floor. The tall woman exhaled and steeled herself for the impact to come while she entertained the thought of Matty taking up football. The impact knocked the air out of Olly's lungs and she laid there patiently waiting for it to return.
The trembling woman in her arms clung to her for dear life as she sobbed into her t-shirt. When Olly was finally able to speak she made small shushing noises into Matty's ear. Olly could tell it had been another nightmare but for some reason she sensed that this one had been different. None of her other dreams had ever sent her running from the bed like this. With brute strength Olly lifted the frightened woman and stood, carrying her back to her room. The few onlookers that had gathered wore faces of sympathy. There wasn't a resident among their group that hadn't been plagued by dreams at one point or another.
It took Olly at least fifteen minutes to calm the woman down enough to break free from her death grip and then another ten to get her to a point where she could understand what she was saying. "It was horrible," Matty sobbed, "Started like normal...then it was so hideous...then you..." She buried her face in Olly's chest again and continued to cry.
"Shhhh little one, it's all over now, it was just a dream..."
"No!" Matty said forcefully snapping her head up. "This was no dream, it was real. I could smell and taste and feel everything."
If Olly was going to blow off the nightmare before the look in Matty's eyes changed her mind. That wasn't irrational fear from a dream she saw there, it was fear learned from a traumatic experience, something real and solid. "Ok, calm down, and tell me what happened."
Matty shook her head, "I can't, not to you...you were..." The small woman seemed to notice her position for the first time and slowly slid off of Olly's lap to stand on the floor. The seated woman noticed the change in demeanor and felt a piece of herself whither.
She knows, dear God she knows and now she's afraid of me. Olly grew nervous that her presence was hurting the other woman further. The tall woman rose to leave when there was a knock on the door. There was Mother Elizabeth and Arthur both standing in the doorway with concerned looks on their faces.
"We heard you had a horrible dream Matty," said the Mother, "are you alright." When Matty didn't answer she looked to Olly.
The tall woman just gave the Mother a look that made her heart ache and turned slowly out the door. She padded down the hall in her bare feet limping slightly with shoulders that had fallen so far the older woman thought her knuckles might brush the ground. Arthur looked to the Reverend Mother with a raised eyebrow.
"There's only one way to find out," she said and went to sit next to Matty, who still had yet to say a word. After a while of prodding and reassuring her, the duo was able to coax the story out of the frightened woman. Mother Elizabeth was horrified at the description of events while Arthur listened intently to the details.
"Is there anything else you remember?" asked the diminutive man.
"Isn't that enough?" cried Matty. The Mother shot him a look that told him now was not the time and he conceded his side of the potential conversation.
"It's ok child," said the older woman caressing the back of Matty's hand.
"But its not. I just know this wasn't a dream. It's going to happen and I have no idea how to stop it."
"Let's say you're right. Even then we still have some time to stop this. You said that you weren't pregnant in the dream so that means that we still have the rest of that time to figure out what's going on and prevent this horrible event." Mother Elizabeth hugged the girl to her stroking her hair softly.
Matty let the words penetrate her mind and realized that the Mother had a point. There was still time, time to make sure that Olly would be ok, time for her to get both of them out of this situation.
"There now, you look a little better. How do you feel?"
"Better," said Matty with a small smile.
"Excellent. Now I think that dinner is being served and if I'm not mistaken, you should be hungry by now. Why don't you go on down to the commissary and have your supper while I go talk with Olly." The Mother stood from the bed and walked toward the door of the room.
"I should go talk with her..."
Mother Elizabeth turned and raised her hand to stop the girl. "You let me handle miss tall and brooding. I'm sure she will be in shortly to join you." And with that the Mother exited out into the hallway taking Arthur with her.
"The visions have already started, she is ahead of schedule," said the small man cleaning his glasses. "Perhaps the child will come early."
"This birth could not take place soon enough," said the Mother crossing herself as she walked.
The older woman found Olly in the locker room freshly showered after her workout. She was half dressed with a pair of jeans on and towel drying her hair. The Mother took a moment to look at the woman she treated like a daughter. She noticed how thin she had gotten in the last few months, which only served to highlight the scars that played across the expanse of her back. Most of them were whip marks from lashes she received in her master's service. It was a criss cross web of scars that surrounded one large scar shaped like an upside down cross.
Mother Elizabeth was tired of watching her waste away and decided to see if she could get her out of her funk. "Trying to wash the guilt away?"
Olly stopped all movement and left the towel hanging over her head. "There is no soap strong enough to do that."
"Only because you refuse to let it go."
Olly sighed and draped the towel over her shoulders, "Is Matty ok?"
The Mother entered the room further and sat down on the bench next to the other woman. "She is now. That nightmare she had was enough to scare Lucifer himself."
The half naked woman winced a little as she sat down on the other end of the bench. "It was about me wasn't it?" she asked depressingly.
"Yes, but not in the way you think." The older woman slid down the bench and put a comforting hand on Olly's knee. "She dreamt of what she thinks will be your death."
Olly's head shot up from where it had been bowed, "So she doesn't know?"
"Not unless you have told her, no." Relief spread across the younger woman's face, "But you must tell her, you know that."
"No! I'm the only one she has left and I won't crush her by exposing that betrayal."
"So instead you let it eat at you slowly, killing you from the inside out. What good are you to her in this state?"
"If that is what it takes to keep her happy. And the minute I am not longer good to her I will leave," said Olly standing and putting her back to the other woman.
The Mother noticed a bruise forming on her back and shook her head. "You've hurt yourself again."
"It is a bruise. It will heal," she said not turning around.
"Who said I was talking about your back."
A couple of days later Matty sat at one of the tables in the mess hall. She found out that Mother Elizabeth was the only one that called it the commissary room. She pushed the food around on her plate not feeling very hungry while she tried for the umpteenth time not to think about her dream. Olly had been sort of distant since that day but Matty couldn't blame her. When she thought about it she probably scared the other woman to death tackling her in the hallway like that.
The young mother to be was so engrossed in her thought that she didn't notice someone standing near the table until he put his plate down. "Anyone sitting here?"
Matty looked to the door to see if Olly was going to show but a couple of hours had already passed and she knew the other woman would be in the weight room about this time. "No, it doesn't look like it," she said down heartedly.
"Cool," he said with a smile and dropped down into the chair across from her. "My name's Joseph."
"Matty," she said giving him a weak smile, "nice to meet you."
"You look a little down. I know you don't know me but I'm known around here for having a good listening ear."
"Thank you, but I don't think I should be getting anyone else involved in my problems." She set her fork down on her plate and sat back in her chair.
"What do you mean involved?" asked Joseph unfolding his napkin and draping it across his leg.
While Matty pondered that question and Joseph took the chance to laden his sandwich with mayonnaise she took a moment to study him. She guessed that he was about her age, twenty-three, and he had long brown hair. His skin was milky white and looked as smooth as silk. Along with his high cheekbones and his beautiful brown eyes he was handsome without being overly masculine. She decided that he was too pretty to be a member of the opposite sex.
"From what I've been told, knowing me can be a little dangerous," she said hesitantly.
Really? Are you an assassin of some kind or do you have a dreaded, incurable disease?"
Matty laughed slightly, "No...but it's complicated and I haven't been able to find out much information about my purpose here."
"Well that's pretty simple," he said taking a bite of his sandwich.
"Oh really? You don't even know who I am let alone why I'm here."
"I know who you are." Matty hit him with a raised eyebrow as he popped the top on his can of soda. "You're the peace bringer's mother."
She was shocked, "How do you know that?"
The man set his drink down after taking a swig and leaned into the table. "Haven't you noticed how everyone looks at you? We all know who you are, we've been waiting for you." He took another bite of his sandwich while she digested the new information. After he swallowed he continued on, "This whole placed was designed because of you. All of these people are here to make sure that your baby makes it into the world safely."
"I take it no one has explained this to you yet?"
"No, but please enlighten me," she said getting annoyed.
"These people," he said gesturing around the room to the other occupants, "are your army. They have trained for years for the fight ahead. They all swore an oath to fight on the side of good, to fight for you. Some are human and others are angels that are sent to help. The angels pretty much come and go as they please so they really don't live here. Most of the people are clergy or devout in one religion or the other, mainly Christianity. Then there are the others like me, the tainted ones."
"What do you mean tainted?" asked Matty trying to process all of this information.
"We're the ones that do the dirty work." Pushing his sandwich aside Joseph leaned back in his chair to relate the story. "In life some people commit sins that are unforgivable and win you a one way ticket to hell. Since our souls are already forfeit, we offer ourselves up to help the good side. Sometimes they are forced into a situation where the ends justify the means. Since they don't want to lose eternity in heaven by doing some of these things, that's where we come in."
"You're bartering your way into heaven?" asked Matty.
"Pretty much," said Joseph with a shrug. "It's all about working for the greater good and being weighed and measured at the time of judgment. We choose to help by committing the necessary sins needed to further the cause." Joseph took another swig of his drink.
"That's horrible! How can these people...how can God make you do that?"
"They don't, that's the point. We try to make up for the wrong things we've done by helping in any way we can."
This was a darker side of God that Matty wasn't sure she wanted to know about. She thought about all of the mortal sins that you can't repent from. "So what type of wrong things are we talking about here?"
"The normal stuff, incest, betrayal, adultery, murder, suicide. We don't deal with the rapists though, the other side seems to always get to them before we have a chance." Joseph saw a look of worry form on the woman's face. "You don't have to worry though. Like I said, we all took an oath, and if any of us were to break it in any way Olly and mother Elizabeth would be on us like white on rice."
"So they're like your warden or something?"
The man laughed, "The mother maybe, but Olly? No definitely not." The look in Matty's eyes told him that she didn't have a clue about what he was referring to. "Olly's one of us. She used to work for the other side up until about ten years ago. She still wears the brand from her initiation."
Matty thought she heard the world come crashing down around her. There was no way, she trusted Olly completely, she couldn't be wrong about her. That woman was good and kind and didn't have a mean bone in her body. "If this is a joke..."
"Do I look like I'm joking?" he asked seriously, pulling up the sleeves of his shirt to show deep scars on both of his wrists. "Olly works harder than all of us considering where she came from. She hasn't told you any of this?"
"No," Matty said shakily as tears formed in her eyes. She stood from the table and walked toward the exit. Her mind was spinning and she didn't hear anything the young man said after that.
Joseph chased her for a short time but he realized nothing he said was getting through. The woman had made it to her room and was packing her clothes when he realized he needed help to calm her down. He took off searching for Olly as Matty began searching for an exit.
All the pregnant woman could think about was the fact that she was in a house full of murderers and dangerous people. But it sounded to her like the most dangerous of all was the one person she had trusted in entirely. The one person she thought she could count on to never lie to her. She finally found an exit and hit the street running going through all of the places in her mind she knew to find one she could hide in.
Olly was receiving confession when she heard her name screamed through the sanctuary. She rushed out of the booth with apologies to the priest and came face to face with a panting Joseph. "Matty's gone...run away," he said sucking in lungfuls of air.
"What? What happened?"
"We were...eating. She asked about our group...I'm sorry Olly...I thought she knew about you and us." He hung his head in front of her and she knew what had happened. Her fist clenched at her side. The young man saw it and drew back automatically.
Olly noticed this and immediately opened her hand. "I'm not mad at you Joseph," she said as calmly as possible. "It's my fault this happened. We need to find her and do it fast. Go get the team ready and meet me in the loading dock." The young man took off like a rocket as Olly ran towards her room for some of her gear.
She new it would only be a matter of time before Matty found out what she was. But she thought that she would have a chance to tell her herself, to explain things right. Now she no longer had that false sense of luxury.
In short order there were ten other people beside herself standing in the loading area ready to go. They loaded up into four different trucks and fanned out over the city to look for the woman. They searched everywhere, restaurants, churches, bars, anyplace that was open, anyplace that the young woman could seek shelter. Meeting in the central part of the city they stopped to regroup just as it was getting dark.
"Somebody give me something!" Olly barked.
"Nothing," said Clark, one of her best men, "We've tried everywhere within a twenty block radius and came up with nada."
"We even checked the train stations and the city library that's over five miles away," came a voice from the back.
Olly froze in place and cursed herself for being so stupid. "Damn!"
"She's at the university library. We've got to hurry, they probably know she's unprotected by now." The tall woman berated herself all the way there. She remembered finding Matty there several times hidden among the stacks of books when things had become too much for her. The library was where the woman felt safe and protected, Matty had told her.
The caravan of trucks sped along as fast as traffic would allow until they finally reached the campus. Once they hit campus property Olly's breathing became strained and grew more and more ragged until a sharp pain hit her in the back bringing her to all fours on the van floor. Rachel, their scout, noticed a small amount of smoke coming off of her friend's back where her scar lay underneath and they all smelled a hint of burning flesh.
"They're here!" She yelled to the other team members through her headset and the team began to ready weapons and body armor.
The well-trained group slowly swept through the library evacuating people as they went under the guise of a police maneuver. The building was massive with four stories and plenty of places for a threat to hide. On Olly's order two members of her group had gone in plane clothed and checked all of Matty's usual hiding spots. Coming up with nothing she started a sweep of the building beginning with the fourth floor and working their way down. There were teams on all the exits just in case the woman tried to leave or someone tried to take her by force.
Olly's group was making their way down the basement steps when she was hit with another pain in her back, then the lights went out.
"Olly? You ok?" asked Clark seeing her double over before everything went dark.
There was a low growl and then everyone saw the woman's eyes begin to glow in the dark. "Just peachy thanks," she said in a voice lower that her normal alto.
The flood lights in the place refused to turn on so the team put on thier night vision goggles so they could keep moving. The only member of the team that didn't need them was Olly. They continued down the stairs and fanned out among the rows of bookcases. One of the newer team members jumped when a little girl entered his sight line. He motioned for her to come towards him as he lowered the barrel of his rifle. She ran in his direction only to morph into a small creature with pointed teeth. Those teeth sunk into the man's throat and he was only able to cry out for a second before all sound was cut off. The rest of the team heard the noise and came running.
Rachel knocked an arrow and let it fly. The golden tip pierced the demon through the throat and impaled it onto a nearby bookcase. Their comrade was a bloody mess but he still had a pulse. Slowly moving on after leaving someone to watch the fallen man they tracked where the demon had come from.
The next two came scampering over the top of one of the book cases and one launched itself at Olly while the other jumped onto Clark's back. The seasoned soldier almost calmly reached for his sidearm and pressed it under the chin of the beast. He pulled the trigger just before the demon took bite out of his shoulder as Olly snatched her little terror right out of the air. With a growl she smashed the rotting skull of the creature against the cement floor. Clark dry heaved as he was covered with maggots and beetles that scurried in all directions. Olly tuned to him with her glowing eyes and a raised eyebrow.
"I'll never get used to that," he said brushing as many of the insects off as he could.
A low rumble started in the floor and then all of the bookcases exploded towards the outside walls of the room. The group went back to back waiting for him to show himself. Lit torches rose from cracks in the floor as a large circle began to turn and lower itself into the earth.
Olly heard the torches crackle and signaled for everyone to remove the night vision gear. All of the torches flared at once and bathed room in bright light. When the torches died down there was a lone figure standing in the center of the circle dressed in a well-tailored Armani suite. He was tall with black hair and eyes that matched his clothing.
"Apollyon, it's been too long, how has life been treating you?" he asked with a mocking chuckle.
Olly's skin crawled and she felt another sharp pain from her brand. It had been years since she had seen her old master and was not to thrilled about the encounter now. If he was involved then the game had been stepped up quite a bit. "Judas, I'm sorry to say you look well," she said with a slight incline of her head.
"Well, I do try to present my best face you know." Olly saw his features change quickly to his demonic form and then back again. He snapped his fingers and two other demons dragged an unconscious Matty into the middle of the floor. They unceremoniously dumped her and Olly held her breath until she saw the woman's chest rise and fall steadily. The tall woman then felt her former master's consciousness caress her mind. He had always been fond of reading other's thoughts. "Now, now, Apollyon, I thought you knew me better than that. What fun would it be if I were to kill the girl right off. Besides, she is of no consequence to us; we only want the child she carries.
Olly shifted uneasily from one foot to the other as Judas bent down and placed his hand on Matty's slightly swollen belly. Taking advantage of his momentary distraction, she nodded to her team giving them the ok to fire on her command. The demon rouse back to his full height and began to circle Olly as she stood barely holding herself in check. He finally drew up in front of her and reached out with one long finger slowly trailing his nail down her scar to open it back up again. She ignored the pain and instead of lowering her eyes in his presence, she looked straight into his gaze and never faltered. She knew that he would see this as the greatest form of disrespect, challenging his authority and self-proclaimed power. His anger rose quickly and he lashed out, striking her across the face with the back of his hand.
"You dare look me in the eye!" he raged. "You are a low level demon and a despicable one at that."
A gasp came from behind Judas and he turned to find Matty awake and horrified. "How nice of you to join us my dear," he said as he turned back in her direction. Olly took advantage of his tactical error and kicked him in the small of his back sending him sprawling. That one move sent more than one event in motion simultaneously.
Two members of the team rushed forward to protect Matty while sending bullets and arrows into the flesh of Judas' minions. The master demon howled in rage and rounded on Olly trading blows with her. She was able to block all of them save one that landed on her already bruised rib, breaking it along with two others. She grunted as the air left her lungs and dropped to her knee. He took this as a sign of weakness and didn't notice as she pulled the blade from the top of her boot. As he moved in on her to finish the job she plunged the knife into his thigh. Her hand became sticky with the black tar that served as his blood and Judas let out a roar of anger and pain.
He reached down and grabbed her by the throat raising her off the ground as she struggled to free herself. Her eyes flashed and a growl erupted from the cords in her throat. "You may as well let it out," he said laughing. "You are too weak to defeat me but the least you could do is afford me a modacome of pleasure." Olly felt the darkness build and could hold it back no longer.
Matty watched from behind two soldiers as Olly's eyes turned fully black like inky marbles. She launched both of her fists into the body of the demon and sent him flying. His body hit the far wall at the same time that Olly hit the floor in a crouch. Her head jerked up in Matty's direction as she ordered the two people guarding her to get her out of the building. As she was being dragged away, Matty say Judas launch himself across the room at her friend. Olly twisted at the last second and drove the demon into the floor with all her strength causing the cement floor to buckle under them.
The demon recovered quickly and landed a few choice blows that drove Olly backwards. Then Matty looked on in aghast horror as Judas gave a small command and a long sword materialized in his hand. He attacked her with quick slashes as Olli tried valiantly to defend herself. The strokes were coming too rapidly though and the pregnant woman could see bloody marks developing on her friend's skin as her body armor was torn through. Judas closed in on her and kicked out with one well-polished dress shoe making contact with Olly's chest and sending her to the ground dazed.
"It's blocked!" someone yelled from the front of the team. Matty turned and saw that one of the large bookcases had landed directly in front of their exit and was wedged up against the door. She then heard a loud roar and turned to find Olly standing again. The sound that came out of the woman's throat was in no way human. It sounded like something was being ripped from her gut right up through her throat.
Judas growled back at her and they ran at each other full tilt. It was like watching two locomotives steaming toward a massive collision. Olly just ducked out of range of the sword and leaned low into the impact. She wrapped her arms around Judas body and lifted him clear of the ground continuing her momentum forward. Then with what looked to Matty to be no effort at all she threw the demon across the room and he landed on top of two of the minions he'd brought with him. His grip on the sword faltered and everyone in the room could hear the clanging sound of metal on stone as the blade fell to the floor.
Olly stalked over to the heap of bodies and reached down grabbing Judas by his tie. One of the other smaller demons had freed itself and as she leaned over, it took the opportunity offered and hit her on the back of the head with one of the torches. Sparks flew everywhere and Olly's body fell limply on top of Judas. The two minions grabbed a hold of her arms and brought her upright while their master picked himself up off the ground. He walked over and retrieved his sword then proceeded to twirl it menacingly as he advanced on Olly.
Matty scream, "Somebody help her!" Then Judas cocked back his sword arm and impaled the blade through Olly's chest with a mighty thrust.
"The Morning Star sends his regards," he snarled and yanked the blade free.
Matty began to run to her friend as Clark grabbed her from behind. He was starting to protest but stopped and quickly bore her to the ground covering her body with his own. Olly's body came flying from the far side of the room and sailed over everyone's heads landing against their barrier to the outside. The bookcase splintered into pieces on impact and the team took their chance to exit. The two soldiers at the front of the group reached down on their way through the door and grabbed Olly by either side of her tactical vest.
Matty couldn't tell how they were able to get out of the building with no lights but in short order they were all back in the trucks and speeding home. Olly was in the back surrounded by Rachel and Clark as they desperately tried to keep her alive. The injured woman's eyes popped open and revealed that they had returned to their original clear blue. Then Clark pressed down on the wound in her chest and with a grunt of pain they morphed to black and then back to the denim color she had become accustomed to. Clark startled her out of her reverie when he grabbed her hand and placed in on the bloody compress.
"Trade places with me. Keep the pressure on that wound!" Matty scrambled around to Olly's head and knelt there leaning all of her upper body weight on the compress. Looking down between her arms she could see her friend's eyes trying to focus.
"Olly look at me!" she commanded. The wounded woman's eyes trailed left then right before they finally settled on her face. "You keep your eyes on me. I want to see those pretty blues."
"Matty..." Olly rasped with a cough that left a trail of blood down the side of her mouth.
The pregnant woman looked up to find Rachel and Clark still working to stop the flow of blood. There were too many wounds and not enough hands. She couldn't fathom why Olly still had any blood left in her body to bleed. Her friend was going to die, Matty realized, right in front of her. There are so many questions, she thought to herself, so many things I want to say.
"Can you do anything else? We're going to lose her," she yelled desperately to Rachel.
"We are. We're getting her back to the convent, back to Samuel," answered the other woman.
Matty looked down again and noticed that Olly's eyes were closed. She motioned for Rachel to take her place at the compress and bent low over the wounded woman's face. "Olly!" she yelled and the woman's eyes shot open trying hard to focus on Matty.
"Little one...my fault...I'm sorry..."
"Shhh, don't talk, we're almost there."
Shortly the van screeched to halt and the team burst forth from the back carrying Olly's limp body between them. The doors to the loading area were standing open and Matty could see Mother Elizabeth waiting anxiously inside. No sooner did they lower Olly to the floor than the Mother let out a scream that sounded vaguely like Samuels name. The bright flash temporarily blinded everyone in the room and then died down revealing the angel standing amongst them. It only took him a second to assess the situation before he was bending down and drawing Olly into his arms.
"This I do only once," he said leveling a look at Mother Elizabeth. His wings slowly closed around the unconscious woman and a white light was emitted from within the makeshift cocoon. A moment later the light diminished and Samuel opened his wings and slowly placed Olly back down on the floor. "The rest is up to you," he said with another flash and he was gone.
"But I don't understand, he healed her," said Matty rounding on Mother Elizabeth.
"He healed her mortal wound dear, and broke the rules doing it I might add. Angels are forbidden to help dem..." the Mother stopped short and looked to Clark.
"She knows, she saw her change," he said simply and walked to opposite wall of the infirmary.
After the angel's disappearance they brought Olli in and began tending to the remaining wounds. Her life may have been saved but she was still going to have months of recovery time ahead of her. When the final examination was all said and done she had three broken ribs, a handful of cuts that required stitches, a dislocated shoulder and a concussion. Mother Elizabeth hovered over the injured woman slowly cleaning all of the wounds. Although she was being gentle and Olli was still unconscious, Matty thought she saw the Mother flinch every time she touched the prone woman. Matty stood a little ways away from the table giving Mother Elizabeth a chance to, well, mother.
"You can come closer, she won't bite," said the Mother flatly.
"I know," said Matty taking one of Olli's hands, "I was afraid I would be in the way.
Mother Elizabeth reached up and pulled back one of Olli's eyelids to reveal inky blackness. "I'm afraid that won't change until she's conscious and can get herself under control." There was silence between the two women for some time while the Mother finished cleaning Olli up. When the older woman could remain quiet no longer, "Why did you run? Why did you put everyone in jeopardy by going out there?"
Matty immediately went on the defensive, "Why? Because she lied to me, you lied to me, no one bothered to let me know the whole story. It seems that I'm the only one that lives here that has no clue as to what's going on."
"It's for your own protection..."
"My protection! That's bullshit and you know it!" Everyone else turned around to stare at the two arguing women. "Why didn't you tell me what was really going on here?"
"I did, I told you that we were up against evil, that they would be hunting for you."
"Yes, but you didn't tell me that the people who are supposed to be protecting me are murderers and demons!" screamed Matty.
Mother Elizabeth threw the rag she was holding into a pan of bloody compresses and bandages. "And who are you to judge them? They have been forgiven by a higher power than you and that is all you need to know. Take a look around Matty, weather you like it or not, we are your family now. We are the only thing that stands between you and this," she said pointing to Olli's mangled body.
The young woman looked around the room and saw the exhaustion and pain on the faces there. It donned on her for the first time since this whole fiasco began that she was now responsible for these people. Wherever she went, they would follow, even if that meant walking straight to their death. She had made a mistake. She let out a breath she didn't know she was holding.
"You have a responsibility now," said the Mother placing her hand over Matty's free one. "It may not be one you asked for but it is one you have. Almost everyone knows how that feels but none more than the group you are amongst now."
"I still can't understand why she didn't tell me," said Matty lowering her head.
"What would you have done if she did?"
Matty thought for a moment as everyone went back to what they were doing, the fight evidently over. The woman realized that the hurt she was feeling wasn't as justified as she had first thought. With the state she had been in for the past few months she knew exactly what she would have done had Olli told her everything then. She would have acted without rationality toward her friend, a friend that lay before her due to her mistake.
"I'm sorry that we didn't tell you what was going on," said the Mother. "I see now that that was a mistake, but it wasn't Olli's. She is a soldier and she does what she's told. I'm sorry that we kept you in the dark, however I'm sure you can understand why we thought it was necessary."
The Mother went back to tending to her patient as she gave Matty time to process everything. The young woman stood there looking younger than the day she met her. She was lost in a very big world and the only lifeline that she had was the woman lying on the table in front of her.
"How did she end up this way, a demon I mean?"
"She was born like this. Her mother was human and her father was a mid-level demon that her mother worshipped." Mother Elizabeth went back to cleaning and Matty waited patiently for her to continue. "The greatest misfortune was that her human side gave her a conscience. She is neither pure evil nor is she fully good, the epitome of a gray area so to speak. When she grew old enough her mother gave her to Judas as a gift. It was supposed to raise her master's status within the levels which was standard practice at the time."
Mother Elizabeth kept working as she talked, threading a needle and beginning to stitch up the first cut. "When Samuel and I found her she was in his dungeons, but so were we. We had been caught in a battle and he was going to trade us for God only knows what. She had been his slave for years at that point but there was something that I saw in her eyes in that dark, dank place." The Mother moved from one cut to the other leaving very small stitches in her wake. "Our people had no idea where we were and Samuel and I knew that there was no way for them to rescue us. She defied her master that day and helped us escape. I don't know why and when good things like that happen I don't question them. She and Samuel fought their way out through a tunnel that few knew about and we escaped back here. After that Olli had no where to go. If she would return to Judas it would have meant certain death and I didn't want that on my conscience. Against Samuel's warnings I took her in and we worked together trying to overcome her darker side."
The Mother worked with the fluidity of someone that had done this many times before. Matty guessed that she worked as the doctor in many of these cases. Just then the door to the infirmary flew open and Joseph came running in skidding to a halt next to Matty.
"Is she ok?" he panted.
"Yes Joseph, she will be fine," said Mother Elizabeth.
He then turned to Matty and asked, "How are you? They didn't hurt you did they?"
"No, they never had the chance to do anything to me," answered Matty with a small smile.
The young man heaved a sigh of relief and a moment later brought over a couple of chairs for himself and Matty. After they both sat he turned to her, "I'm sorry about what I said, I thought you knew. If I had known that Olli hadn't talked to you yet I would have kept my mouth shut..."
Matty interrupted him, "It's ok Joe, it's not your fault."
"Really?" She nodded yes and he let out another huge sigh. "Could you make sure and tell Olli that when she wakes up? I don't think she's going to blame me but just in case."
"I'll do that," smiled Matty.
Joseph looked at the Mother then, "Do you know when she'll wake up?"
"Who could sleep with all the noise you guys are making," came Olli's gravely voice. The woman didn't bother to open her eyes as she listened to their conversation.
"Hey," said Matty scooting closer to the head of the bed.
"Are you alright little one?" Olli asked, squeezing the other woman's hand.
"I should be asking you that question, but yeah." Olli opened her eyes and Matty gave a sharp intake of breath. The other woman snapped her eyes shut again with a scowl.
"I'm sorry; I thought I had it under control."
Matty reached up and squeezed her shoulder, "No, I'm sorry; it's just going to take some getting used to."
Olli took a few breaths and when she opened her eyes again they were back to their normal denim blue. Mother Elizabeth kept working on the woman's cuts as Matty filled in the details of how they made it back to the compound and why Olli was still alive. After she mentioned Samuel's part in Olli's recovery the Mother cautioned the injured woman, "The debt has been paid Olli, please be careful around him from now on." Olli nodded her understanding.
"So Olli, when are we going to plan our counter attack?" asked Joseph slightly nervous.
The woman didn't respond immediately. At first she laid there looking at the ceiling then she turned her head to gaze at Matty. She saw only fear and worry in those eyes and felt the slightest pressure on her hand that the woman still held. "We all need some time to heal," she said softly, "Let everyone know there won't be a counter attack. We don't need to go looking for trouble."
The young man let out his held breath and took off running again to let everyone know. Matty watched him leave and then she turned to Olli, "So why do you have to be careful around Samuel?"
"He's an angel, I'm a demon, it's about as simple as that. Anything that I do that he deems unworthy would give him the right to challenge me. He's only held off this long because of the debt he owed."
Mother Elizabeth listened to the two women talk as she finished up the last few stitches. She had known that Olli fell in love with Matty while she was assigned to follow her. Now she realized that the smaller woman also held affection for the soldier, even if she didn't know it herself. The mother mentally shook her head at the circumstances.
"Matty dear, can you run down to Olli's room and get her a change of clothes please?" asked the older woman.
"Sure, but there's a problem, I don't know where her room is."
"That's ok, Rachel is right outside the door, she'll show you where you need to go." Matty gave her friends hand a final squeeze and exited the room. The mother turned to Olli and laid a hand on her chest, "It's time to pop your shoulder back in."
"Thank you for sending her away," said the woman nodding. She lifted her head off the pillow slightly and saw Clark and another large member of their team named Rio walking toward her; she whimpered in anticipation of the pain.
Rachel walked down the hallway next to the pregnant woman and noticed how exhausted she looked. Matty had dark circles under eyes and she didn't seem able to fully pick up her feet when she walked. "I'm Rachel by the way," said the scout.
"Huh? Oh, I'm sorry," said Matty extending her hand, "Matty, nice to properly meet you." She took a moment to look at the woman and noticed that she was shorter than her own five foot three inch frame. She had a slim but muscular build and Matty had no doubt that she could hold her own in a fight. Her hair was a dark chocolate brown that matched the creamy mocha color of her skin nicely. What stood out were her green eyes the color of jade and her eyelashes that looked like they were long enough to caress you if you got close enough. Rachel blushed a little under the scrutiny but returned a little of her own.
"Olli's room is right this way," the shorter woman said gesturing down the hallway. The two walked on in companionable silence until Rachel stopped short and turned to Matty causing the other woman to backtrack to where she stood.
"I need to ask you something," said the dark skinned woman.
"Ok, go ahead," said Matty cautiously.
"Why the library?"
"When you ran, why did you go to the library? When Olli finally figured it out she practically slapped herself in the head. Why hide there?"
Matty thought it was an odd question to ask compared to all of the other things she could have asked due to what they had just been through. "Everyone has a place where they feel the safest. The library is that place for me."
"That's what I thought," said Rachel and she turned to the door behind her opening it and standing back for Matty to look inside. It was a huge room lined with probably hundreds of shelves. They were all floor to ceiling and they were all covered with books.
Matty stepped further into the room where she could see a long table set up in the center of the floor with a few reading laps on top of it. There were four ladders that ran the length of the book cases on a wheeled rack allowing you too climb to the very top of all the shelves. Matty guessed that they were probably fifteen feet high and the room was big enough to fit one floor of the campus library in.
"This is our library. There are probably a lot of books in here that you can't find anywhere else. Most are biblical material and a lot of reference, but," said Rachel pointing to the right side of the room, "Those are the classics."
They walked over to the shelves and Matty could see titles from Jane Austin, Shakespeare, Edgar Allen Poe, and many other classic authors. She pulled out one of the Poe books and noticed that it was a first edition. "Oh my God, how did you guys amass this type of collection?"
"You'd have to ask Arthur that, he's in charge of this place. But he says that pretty much anything you want to know about the world is in here." Rachel moved up behind Matty and put a hand on her shoulder. "Next time you need to feel safe, remember that that safe place is a lot closer than you think."
Matty laughed a little, "I will do that, thank you."
"Now, lets get you to Olli's room before the Mother comes looking for those clothes herself."
A short while later they were standing at the door to Olli's room. Matty opened the door to find a very neat and orderly place, which didn't surprise her. What did though was the fact that the only thing adorning the room as decoration was a picture of her. Matty remembered the day that it had been taken. She was in a particularly bad mood that day and feeling depressed. Olli suggested that they go for a picnic and brought her camera along.
Olli had to talk Matty into letting her take her picture. Since the attack she found nothing beautiful anymore, least of all herself. It took some convincing but Olli had finally said the magic words that talked her into it, 'If I could I would have you as my own and you would never go a day without me reminding you how gorgeous you are'. That picture she took that day was now sitting in what looked to be a place of honor. At the bottom of the picture sat a candle that Matty had given her as a thank you and a note she had written on a napkin from the diner.
"I can't believe she kept this," Matty said aloud to herself. With a shake of her head she made short work of collecting the clothes she had been sent for and was on her way.
Over the next few months Olli rested and Matty kept her company through her recuperation. Through that time the two women grew more and more fond of each other. Matty found herself wanting to spend more time with Olli and the other woman was the first thing on her mind when she woke in the morning.
For Olli, the time only served to strengthen her love for the small woman. It was blessed torture being so close to her and yet unable to share her feelings. Matty took great care with Olli for the first leg of her recovery. She helped her bathe and dress and made sure that she took the medication Mother Elizabeth had given her. Olli worried about her the whole time claiming that there was no way she was getting enough rest for her and the baby.
Truth was that Matty was feeling better everyday now that she was well into her second trimester. The morning sickness had stopped and she began to have the pregnancy glow that everyone talked about. She had a slight roundness to her as well that Olli claimed was too cute. She was also developing friendships with some of the other occupants of the compound. Rachel had turned out to be her favorite because although she didn't have as deep a love, she shared her affection for books.
A few skirmishes took place between their people and Judas' resulting in a few casualties. She had many a heated discussion with Olli convincing her that she wasn't yet well enough to fight. Most of the time the battles were small as if neither side wanted to launch a full attack. Matty asked Olli why, one day, what everyone was waiting for and the only response she got was a look to her belly. She needed no other explanation.
When Olli was well enough to start drilling again Matty would spend the majority of her time in the library. She devoured all of the information she could and participated in some very interesting discussions with Arthur on many different subjects. Olli on the other hand pushed herself hard trying to get back her strength. She was fueled by the knowledge that she would need to be in top form in order to protect Matty in the upcoming war.
She would drill for hours working through the pain and exhaustion causing her to lose control on her darker half. Many a time she found herself turning when she felt her emotions get out of control. Not only did her eyes change but so did her voice, her teeth, and sometimes she could swear even her skin. She took to meditating more often which put a limit on the amount of time she could spend with Matty. It took all of her control to keep her demon half subdued and after talking with Mother Elizabeth they concluded that it was probably stress.
Olli's thoughts faithfully strayed to Matty on and minute by minute basis and made it even more difficult for her to concentrate. She would remember the feel of her hands as they rubbed her aching shoulder. She would revel in the memory of how Matty's skin felt pressed against her when she leaned on her for support. Olli would stop herself before she relived the times that Matty helped her bathe, which didn't last long due to Olli's inability to handle being touched everywhere by the woman. Instead of thinking about all of that, she exercised.
Olli slowly regained her status within the troops as they realized not only that she had recuperated but she was stronger and faster that before. She was holding a hand to hand combat class one afternoon when a scout came bursting through the door looking for her.
"The Mother wants you, Rachel returned with news."
Rachel had recently been sent on a recon scout mission to gather information on the enemy's forces. Olli didn't think that she would have returned so quickly but then again the small woman was the best they had. She made her way to Mother Elizabeth's office and opened the door to find the Mother, Arthur, Rachel, Clark, and Samuel all waiting for her.
"Olli, I think we have a big problem," Rachel said.
"Hello to you too and what type of problem?" asked Olli closing the door behind her.
"Alliances have been made and now Balial is joining his forces with Judas. Evidently they see us as a bigger threat than anticipated," said Samuel.
"How many are we talking about?" she asked Rachel.
"Based on what I found out it's at least five hordes."
Olli did quick math in her head, five hundred demons per horde, "That's twenty five hundred strong, including Judas group?"
"No," said Arthur nervously, "That's only Balial's forces, add them to Judas' and we're facing over six thousand troops."
"We're going to need help if have any prayer of defeating them," said Clark estimating their forces.
"How many do we have in total from all the factions?" Olli asked him.
Clark cleared his throat, "About eight hundred."
Olli's mind raced trying to figure out who they could turn to. "How many is He sending?" she asked Samuel.
"His decision has not yet been reveled."
"Who else is still neutral?"
"So far just the Berserkers and Werserkers," said Mother Elizabeth, "They've been forbidden to fight by the Norns. The only one left besides them is the banished Queen."
Olli looked to Samuel, "She may be persuaded into action," he said to her, "given the right motivation."
"No," said Arthur throwing up his hands, "Of all the people to ask for help..."
"She is the only one we have left," said Olli forcefully interrupting him. She turned to Clark and Rachel, "We'll leave for the mountains in the morning. Get a small team together for a briefing in two hours." She then turned to Samuel as they exited, "What shall I do for proof, she won't believe me just on my word."
"You will take Matty with you so she may see for herself. Once it is proven to her she will not harm her, but until then you will have to protect her from the others."
"Understood," Olli said and the angel was gone with a flash of light.
"There has to be another way!" exclaimed the Mother.
Olli didn't answer her as she exited the room to make preparations for the trip.
She found Matty in the library as usual and told her she would need to leave tomorrow. The woman didn't quite understand why she had to go until Olli explained to her that she was needed as proof in order for them to get help from someone.
"We're going deep in to the Carpathian mountains so we'll need to suite you up with gear. You'll need some body armor too to give you some added protection."
"Who are we going to see there?"
"I don't really have time to explain right now but tomorrow when we're loading up I promise to tell you everything. I'm going to send Rachel for you in a little while to help you get everything you need." Olli gave Matty a short kiss on the top of her head and she was gone. After that she didn't see the woman again until they were all loading up to leave.
The rest of the team was working on loading the massive amount of equipment they were taking with them when Matty was escorted into the hanger by Rachel. Of course Clark and Rio were there but the shorter woman had to introduce her to the four other people present. There were three brothers that were triplets named Shadrack, Mishack, and Abednego. Matty found out quickly that they preferred to be called by their nick names Shad, Misha, and Abe. They were all tall with blond hair and pale skin. The only things that you could tell them apart by were their eyes. Shad's were brown, Misha's were blue, and Abe's were green. The last member of the group was India, so named after the country she was born in. Her brown skin was in stark contrast to the brother's pale white afforded them by their Russian lineage. Matty couldn't help but think they looked like a rag tag group of pirates then a well oiled military machine.
The team loaded all of their supplies onto the transport truck that would take them to the airport. Case after case disappeared into the vehicle as Matty began to wonder how many guns they held.
She turned to Rachel and asked, "How many guns are in each of those cases?"
"Oh those aren't guns," said the compact woman as she slung a large sack onto her back. "Those are silver stakes. Those," she said pointing to the cases not yet loaded, "are the guns."
Each of the two cases looked as if they weighed two hundred pounds a peace. Matty asked, "How many guns are in there?"
"Only one," said Rio easily lifting a case and carrying it over to the truck.
"The kind of fire power we need don't use bullets," said Rachel walking past her again with another bag.
Matty was confused and didn't seem to be getting a straight answer from anyone. She turned around to look for Olli and she found her hovered over a map talking to Clark. Matty walked towards them quietly trying to listen in on their conversation.
"We'll have only one entrance to cover because it's the only way out of the main cave. The other exits are miles away and chances are if we need to use them we won't make it..." Olli was interrupted by Clark clearing his throat when he noticed the pregnant woman standing there.
"Don't stop on my account," said Matty crossing her arms, "Please continue."
Olli handed the map to Clark with a nod of her head and the man made a hasty retreat. Then she turned to face the inevitable conflict. She knew that Matty was tired of being kept in the dark and Olli couldn't put it off any longer.
"I think you were at the part where we don't come back alive..."
"Matty please, just..."
"Please what? Please stay out of the way like a good little girl until we need you," said the woman as her anger slowly grew.
"No, I was going to say please have a seat so I can tell you what's going on." Olli directed her over to a couple of folding chairs in the corner of the room. "I'm sorry for not keeping you up to date on what's going on. Just know that anything I do, I do for a reason and I usually have your safety and best interest at heart."
Matty was not mollified by the speech and she let it show. Getting answers from anyone around her was like pulling teeth. She decided to try the direct approach, "Who are we going to see?"
Olli had her mouth open about to speak when the question flew at her and she answered without even thinking about it. "The Queen of the Vampires."
"What?" Matty screamed and made Olli flinch.
"Let me explain..."
"You'd better explain. Up until two seconds ago I didn't even believe in vampires let alone that they have a queen."
Olli rubbed her face with both hands trying to think of a way to tell Matty everything without it being turned into a big production. When she looked up a gain the woman was sitting there quite impatiently. "We need help if we're going to win this fight and there are only a few groups that are still neutral. The largest is the Queen's coven, there are so many of them they even outnumber us. If we can convince the Queen to pledge her alliance it will bring us that much closer to victory."
"But vampires? And based on all of the cases of silver stakes being loaded into the trucks you aren't anticipating a warm welcome or a good response." Matty was on her feet now forcing Olli to look up at her to maintain eye contact. "You didn't think that maybe, just maybe I might like to know about all this before we leave."
"Yes, and that's why I'm telling you now instead of when we're on the plane or standing outside the mouth of the cave."
"Well how considerate of you. I would think that the proper time would have been yesterday when you came to me to let me know we were leaving. We need you as proof, you said," said Matty mocking Olli from earlier. "More like you need me as bait."
Olli could feel her anger rising, "I would never do that to you," she said a little more forcefully then she intended. Matty however took it as retaliation and this only resulted in fanning the flame of her anger higher. "The only reason I'm bringing you," said Olli continuing, "is because the Queen needs proof that I have you with me before she'll even consider..."
"That's sounds an awful lot like bait to me!"
"Would you shut up and listen to me!" Olli growled, raising her voice for the first time in the argument. She slowly picked her head up from where she had let it drop and it was met by a slap that truly surprised the woman.
"Don't you growl at me!"
Olli immediately stood and came toe to toe with the smaller woman. The rest of the people in the room froze and Rachel and Clark began to edge closer to the two to intervene.
To Matty's credit she had surprised herself and immediately regretted her actions. She took a step back as the woman she considered her friend let out a very long, very low growl. She reacted in shock and a little fear as Olli's eyes began to cloud over and became black. While Matty had seen it happen before, it had never been directed at her, and she looked around the room for a way to escape.
Olli felt the hold on her irritation begin to slip as she felt her eyes changing. She began taking deep breaths as she felt her two comrades moving towards her. She realized that they were there more for Matty's safety then to back her up. This realization snuffed her anger out instantly and she closed her eyes willing them to turn back to normal. It didn't matter how many times she proved that she had changed, people were still wary of her. She had to admit though that lately she was losing control quicker and with the slightest provocation. This by far was the worst display and she despaired knowing who it had happened with. She waived Clark and Rachel off and opened her eyes again.
All Matty saw there was heartache and any inkling of fear she may have felt vanished when Olli spoke. 'Please little one' was all she said and Matty stepped forward wrapping her arms around the taller woman. "I'm sorry Olli, I didn't mean..."
"Shhhh," was all Olli said as she encircled her shoulders and rested her chin on top of the shorter woman's head. "You are right; I should have explained everything to you from the beginning."
When the two separated Matty could see and red area beginning to form on Olli's cheek. She caressed it lightly before Olli turned to call for the map again. The rest of the room let out a collective breath when they were sure all was well and returned to their work. The map was once again laid out on the table and Olli called for the team to gather around while she motioned for Matty to join them.
"The main entrance is or focal point, it will be our entrance and exit. Rio, Abe and Shad will stay behind to watch our backs and keep our exit open. Clark, Rachel, Misha, and India will be with me. We will be in the belly of her lair people. If she doesn't agree to help us we will have to fight our way out. Everyone knows their first objective," it was a statement but the teams heads nodded regardless. "If we end up fighting our way out, the team at the cave mouth will fight toward us clearing a path for our way out. Everything clear?"
The team gave affirmatives all around and turned back to the work at hand. Olli grabbed Rachel before she could leave. "I want her outfitted with ears." Rachel nodded and trotted towards a large locker against one wall.
"Ears?" Matty asked.
"A communications headset, that way you can hear everything that we say and stay in contact with us at all times."
Thirty minutes later Matty was sitting next o Rachel on the transport truck with her duffle of body armor on the floor at her feet. She was thankful when she found out that the armor she had been fitted with didn't need to be worn until right before they entered the cave. All together it must have weighed twenty pounds which Matty was proud of herself for being able to manage. That is until Rachel told her how much her gear weighed. At fifty pounds she carried the lightest of the group in order for her to maintain her best asset, speed. She also carried a bow and two full quivers of arrows that had been tipped in silver for the occasion.
The rest of the team except for Ollie carried at least a hundred pounds worth of weapons and ammunition. That amount was doubled for Clark and Rio who carried what they called the BFG. Matty didn't even bother asking what it stood for due to the testosterone filled guffaws the men gave off when talking about it. Olli was the only member of the team that didn't carry any weapons but she did wear body armor. Matty remembered asking Rachel why that was and the woman had told her that Olli was her own weapon.
Matty looked to the object of her thoughts and received a wink in return. She had to admit that Olli looked striking in her black battle gear. It was perfectly fitted to her body to allow maximum range of movement and in turn managed to reveal every curve of her body. It also revealed how much muscle the woman had put on in the last few months. She had powerful broad shoulders that tapered to equally muscular arms. Her stomach was flat and had the beginnings of a six pack. Matty caught herself at the appraisal of her breasts and found something else very interesting to look at on the floor.
Olli lightly shook Matty awake and told her it was time to get suited up. They were just outside of the cave and the air was crisp and smelled of pine. The sun was bright offering warmth as Matty suited up into her protective gear. Everyone donned their head gear and Olli called for a com check. The group began to sound off as Matty busied herself with putting on her gloves and when she was finished she was met with eight faces staring at her.
Olli laughed and turned her attention to everyone else, "Pay attention and watch each other's backs." Olli then proceeded to the cave mouth with Matty next to her. "When we enter I want you to stay directly behind me. If you get separated there's a gun in the back of my pants. You grab that ad fire at anything that doesn't look familiar until one of us gets to you ok?"
Matty nodded her understanding and fell back behind her friend placing her hand inside Olli's utility belt to feel the butt of the gun. She wrapped her hand around it and kept pace with the larger woman. As the cave began to darken everyone put on their night vision and Matty was happy Olli had given her a set. Even though everything had an eerie green glow to it, it was better then not being able to see at all. She was fascinated though with how Olli's eyes glowed in the dark until she saw three more pair like it up ahead of them.
Olli raised a fist signaling for everyone to stop and told everyone to hold fire until she gave the command. Matty could feel sweat dripping down her back and she shivered a little. Olli reached back and pulled her hand out of her belt giving it a little squeeze. The pregnant woman was quickly surrounded by the rest of the team as a dark figure emerged from behind a huge boulder.
Matty gasped as she laid eyes on the largest dog she had ever seen. It walked up to Olli and began to circle her, growling low. "I've come to request an audience with the Queen," said Olli never taking her eyes off the animal. Matty heard Clark speak in her ear to the others.
"I didn't know the werewolves had returned to her command."
"I don't think anyone did," said Rio in response.
The werewolf then morphed into a very tall, very naked man that looked as if he had been chiseled out of a piece of marble. "And who are you to request such a thing?"
Olli stood up directly in front of him, "Someone who can kick your ass."
The man laughed in a low baritone, "It's good to see you again Olli," and he pulled the woman forward into a hug. After a moment he held her at arms length, "You look good my friend, your new life must agree with you."
The other team members looked at one another and shrugged. Evidently they knew about as much as she did about Olli and the people Olli knew.
The two other werewolves emerged from behind the rocks already morphed into human form and just as naked as the first.
"When did the pack return to her protection?" Olli asked the man sizing the other two up.
"Not long ago, I'm sure I don't have to tell you how bad it's getting out there." The foursome walked back to the group and Olli made quick introductions. "I suppose it is my turn," said the man, "My name is Victor and these two gentlemen are Remi and Paolo. Both men nodded in their direction and Matty got a wink from one of them. "What brings you here Olli?"
"I've come seeking assistance from her majesty."
"Why would she want to talk to you Halfling," spat Remi in a slight Slavic accent.
"That would be better discussed with her and not some underling fur ball," said Olli with a growl in her throat. Remi returned the guttural geuster and his eyes flashed.
Victor laughed low, "You haven't changed that much my friend. Come, I will take you to her, but I warn you she is in a mischievous mood today."
Everyone followed the trio further into the cave with Matty taking up her previous position at Olli's back. The deeper they went into the cave the more afraid Matty got. It seemed to never end, one chamber after the other, with a maze of corridors and tunnels. They finally emerged into a large chamber that was filled with torch light and the team removed their night vision. When they came upon a large door at the far end Victor turned to speak to the group.
"Past these doors I can offer you no protection. Be on your guard."
Matty hadn't noticed the bass beat thrumming in her chest until now and when the huge door was pulled to it increased to deafening proportions. The opening let loose a blast of hot air that smelled of sweat and sex and the music drummed on almost hypnotically. The room was cavernous and looked as if the floor were covered in bodies. They had entered the room at the top of a flight of stairs that afforded them full view of what was going on. The music prevented anything else from being heard but Matty's imagination could easily supply the dialogue.
The room looked to be sectioned off with small walkways around the groups of people. Every section held a different scene of a mixture between S and M, and vampires drinking blood. There were other vampires perched on the outside of the display watching in pleasurable fascination at the various forms of torture and ecstasy.
The team was taken aback by their surroundings and Matty could hear mutterings over the comm system. The only one who didn't seem fazed by it was Olli, who calmly walked down the steps and out into the crowd. Matty followed her with wonder in her eyes. She had never seen anything like this before and although she was slightly repulsed by some of it, the other stuff had her intrigued. As they followed the path through the room she saw men and women in various stages of bondage and saw some others using instruments of torture with deft precision.
Matty was bumped into by a very tall raven haired woman in dominatrix garb. The woman was leading a man by a collar and leash and stopped to eye Matty up and down. The red head felt like she was being sized up for something she wasn't entirely sure she would enjoy. The leering woman began to advance on her and then she felt Olli at her back. Her friend snaked an arm around her shoulder and a crossed the top of her chest leaning down to whisper in her ear.
"Trust me," said Olli only loud enough for Matty to hear and then she bent lower to kiss the smaller woman on her neck. Matty felt the other woman's tongue snake out and taste her skin and the red head moaned softly to her own surprise. The raven haired woman inclined her head to Olli with a smirk and continued on. After she passed them Olli backed up and left Matty missing the heat of her body.
Victor slapped the tall woman on the back, "You haven't lost your touch my friend," he bellowed. Olli smirked much like the raven haired woman and winked at Matty as if she were in on the joke. The small red head suddenly wished that the other woman was serious and that perhaps they had been somewhere private to continue.
Rachel came up along side the pregnant woman and put a hand on her shoulder, "Are you ok?"
Matty took a deep breath and looked at her friend, "Yeah, I'm fine," she said with a slight blush to her cheeks.
The farther they walked into the crowd of people the more Matty noticed they were being watched. Halfway through the great room the music abruptly stopped and the team found themselves surrounded by vampires and werewolves, both eyeing them curiously. A very well dressed man stepped into the isle in front of them and addressed Victor.
"You sully this sanctuary with their presence Victor. Have you gone mad with hunger again?"
"No your grace, they have politely requested an audience with the Queen."
"Well, well, and who might they be?" the man asked folding his hands in front of him.
"Your Queen knew me as a slave of Judas, but I..." Olli was interrupted when the man gave off a primal hiss and rushed to stand inches from her.
"You dare speak that name in here," he yelled and the crowd around them started to move in. The teams guard went up automatically and the sound of weapons being cocked put a momentary pause in the forward movement of the threat.
It was a single spoken word from the very front of the hall but it range in everyone's ears as if it had been shouted. The creatures all froze where they were and looked toward the direction of the voice. There stood a very large and ornate throne decorated in what looked to be expensive jewels and gold. Upon it sat the most regal woman Matty had ever seen.
"I take it that's her," India muttered into the headset.
Olli put a hand up to call for silence from the group. It was then understood that she was to do all of the talking and that the rest of them were just there for show.
"Why have my festivities been interrupted Ivan?" came the voice again.
"Your majesty," said the man dropping to a knee, "please forgive me but they have requested to speak with you. This one," he said pointing to Olli, "says that she is HIS property." Ivan emitted a snarl with those last words and bowed his head.
A long silence passed until the Queen raised her hand and motioned them forward. "Let them pass, they shall afford me some amusement."
As the team made their way forward Matty began to make out the finer features of the Vampire Queen. She had luxurious brown locks that hung almost to her waist and her face looked like it had been cut out of a flawless piece of ivory. To say she was beautiful would have been an understatement. Her eyes flashed with the intensity of fire and her full lips were shaded blood red. Her body was gorgeous enough to put any supermodel to shame and she wore an outfit that barely covered the pertinent parts of her anatomy. She sat at the top of a cascade of marble steps with her legs crossed and barefoot.
When they reached the foot of the stairs Olli left Matty with the team and proceeded up the steps to the foot of the throne. She pressed both her palms against the marble and bowed low to the floor. She then leaned forward and lightly kissed the top of one bare foot then settle back on her heels. The Queen watched all of this with a slightly raised eyebrow and a look of vague curiosity. Olli then stood and backed her way down the stairs never raising her eyes from the floor.
When the Queen spoke Matty noticed that she had a hint of a Romanian accent to her voice. "You pay homage and show humility as does one who has had it bred into them. Tell me," she said, her voice dripping like honey, "Exactly what is your station in His house?"
Without looking up Olli answered, "I have held many positions under his control and I am glad to say I hold none now."
The Queen leveled a gaze at Olli and shifted her position, uncrossing her legs. "Interesting," she said slowly standing. The vampire had sensuality rolling off of her in waves as she descended the steps to stand in front of Olli. The Queen was shorter than the other woman so Olli automatically dropped to one knee maintaining a shorter height. The Queen nodded approvingly, "You have been trained well, this pleases me." She walked slowly around Olli, "So are you a present from some low level creature hoping to rise above his status? Because I must say, I may have to consider the offer."
Matty bristled slightly and Rachel put a hand on her shoulder. The pregnant woman couldn't believe what she was hearing let alone that Olli was letting this display take place.
"My apologies highness," said Olli finally raising her head but not making eye contact. "I belong to no one and therefore am no one's gift to give. My betrayal of Judas freed me and led me to serve in a different capacity."
There was a blur of motion and then Ivan was standing in front of the kneeling woman. He drew his hand back to strike Olli but was stopped by the Queen. "But she lies majesty."
"Tch tch, Ivan. Even after a thousand years you are still unable to smell a Halfling." She released his hand and turned to look at Olli. "It is good to see you again Apollyon."
A murmur swept through the crowd until the Queen put her hand up for silence. "I barely recognized you in that," she leered, "form." The Queen advanced on Olli putting a finger under her chin, prompting her to rise. She then ran that finger down Olli's neck and over her collarbone as she circled her again. "If you are not here as a bribe and you allude to having another master, then did you come to just bask in my presence?"
Matty watched as the Queen traced that same finger over Olli's shoulders and down her other arm while she was talking. She then leaned in and took a deep breath of Olli's scent, savoring it with closed eyes.
"While that is one of the benefits of my being here today I regret that it is not my purpose. I've come to make you an offer. One that you will hopefully find will be worth your while."
The vampire went silent and her sight fixed on a point far in the distance. A few seconds later sweat started to bead on Olli's skin and her breathing came in shallow gasps. She heard the Queen in her head, Why do you not show your true self? You were magnificent once and can be again. Olli could feel the hold on her demon side slipping and she knew she was being toyed with. The problem was that she also knew there was no way to win this game and loathed the idea of exposing herself in front of her team and especially Matty. She felt her eyes begin to turn as the inner struggle raged and snapped her eyes shut. "Please your highness," she begged softly to the vampire.
Matty had been checking her anger up to that point but the desperation in Olli's voice cut her to the bone. Topping that off with the Queen blatant disregard towards her friend and without warning she spoke. "I would stop if I were you." The Queen disengaged from Olli and in a flash rounded on the small woman coming to within inches of her body. A silent alarm rose and soon there were a handful of weapons and fangs pointed in their general direction. If Matty's senses had been about her, her bladder probably would have released.
"How dare you challenge me," the Queen hissed, "Who do you think you are?"
"I," Matty said leveling a look at the vampire, "am the mother of the Peace Bringer."
The Queen tossed her head back in a laugh but then her demeanor suddenly changed and she snapped an arm out grabbing Matty by the throat. The small woman was lifted almost completely off her feet and she could sense the Queen prodding her mind for the truth.
Olli was fighting through the fog left behind by the Queens invasion when she turned to see her grab Matty by the neck. A bellow of rage erupted from her throat as she launched forward tackling the Queen. The force of the impact sent Matty sprawling and she soon found herself surrounded by armored backs. A vampire leapt at the circle of humans and India threw a silver stake piercing it through the heart. At that point the rest of them attacked and the small group was swarmed by vampires and werewolves.
After the two landed the Queen threw Olli into a mass of vampires and watched as they slowly drove her to the ground. Matty was horrified as she saw Olli sinking lower and a vampire jumped on top of the woman finishing the job. Just as Olli's head disappeared her attention was drawn elsewhere as a clawed hand came to within inches of her armored chest. She realized she had nothing to defend herself with and then Misha lashed out with a booted foot sending the werewolf sprawling.
Rachel turned and lifted Matty to her feet as the team slowly maneuvered for higher ground. They made their way up to the top of the stairs and crowded around the throne. They overturned a few tables to provide cover and started reloading weapons. Clark dropped the pack he was carrying and India opened it up to reveal a half a dozen clips of decent sized silver stakes. She then unstrapped two pieces of her armor and connected them. It didn't form a big gun but when she fired it and launched a stake through the heart of two vampires Matty was impressed.
"We have to help Olli," Matty yelled to Rachel.
"Olli is the least of out worries right now," she yelled back pulling a crossbow from one of her quivers and expanding the tension rods.
Matty looked in the direction that Olli had disappeared hoping to see her emerge. She saw no sign of her friend and her hope was beginning to wane. The sound of another loud guttural howl pierced the sound of battle and vampires and werewolves scattered from the spot Matty was watching. Olli rose up from a pile of bodies and snatched a vampire off her back where it had latched on with fang and nail.
The pregnant woman blinked a few times trying to process what she saw. There was nothing of the woman Olli left, the only thing that stood in her place was a demon. Most of her body armor had been ripped free leaving her clad in only her cargo pants and tank top. The lack of cover did nothing to hide the fact that her skin had changed to the color of dried clay. Her eyes were fully black now and her teeth had extended to create multiple sets of fangs.
Olli could feel the dark energy course through her body and reveled in the feeling of power. She reached behind her and dispatched the vampire clinging there. Grabbing the top of its head she twisted and broke its neck almost to the point of decapitation. Turning, she caught two werewolves out of the air as they launched themselves at her and slammed them together. The bone crushing noise that the maneuver emitted could be heard several feet away. Olli then dropped into a crouch and gave off another roar as she took off running directly into the next wave of fighters. She started to literally pull the vampires apart limb from limb causing herself and everyone around her to be bathed in blood.
The team turned with everyone else to watch the raging Halfling. She held a werewolf aloft and poised to throw it into three others that were running in her direction. Olli's eyes met those of the woman she loved and all she saw there was fear. The warrior visibly flinched and hesitated causing the oncoming group to tackle her to the ground.
The Queen did not miss the change in the Halfling's demeanor nor did she miss the fact that the small stubborn woman was the cause of it. It was true that the upcoming battle would prove to be interesting and it had been a while since she had something to engage her. She would also have the added enjoyment of watching Olli fight, and she did so enjoy that.
"Lillith," screamed Olli wincing at the sound of her voice that had dropped two octaves. It was even deeper than she remembered it being.
The Queen focused her attention on the Halfling as she held up a hand to put a stop to the games. Humans, vampires, and werewolves alike all halted the fighting waiting for what would happen next. "You use my given name. On whose authority do you utter something so forbidden?"
"Samuel's," said Olli panting, "Please...we need your help...we didn't come to make trouble."
"Samuel sent you?" The Queen knew that for this creature to come here on her own was bold enough but to invoke the name of a holy presence was a different matter.
"Balial is involved...if we lose; Judas will be after you next." Olli grunted as she struggled to get free from the werewolves that attacked her.
"That toad Judas has long passed his time to be squashed. Will your victory mean his humiliation?"
"Yes your highness...total and complete."
The Queens face brightened at this and a beautiful smile graced her features. "Well then, it seems that if I agree then I will be killing two birds with one stone, as it were. This could prove to alleviate the boredom that has built over the last few decades." She cocked her head in contemplation. "I accept your offer. You and your team have safe passage from my home," she said waving her hand. Olli was released and dumped without ceremony to the floor. "We shall meet again on the battlefield Apollyon. I do so look forward to it," she said leering and then turned to Matty. "As for you, my humblest apologies. If I had known from the beginning I would have received you properly. It is unfortunate that you were soiled, it will not happen again." With that the Queen inclined her head to Matty and exited through a hidden door behind her.
Matty rushed toward Olli and the Halfling's head snapped up in her direction. She got to within a few feet of her friend when Victor moved to stop her. "My lady, it is dangerous to approach her now. Let the blood lust ebb first before you get too close."
"Olli would never hurt me," she stated with resolve, "let me by."
He stood his ground as the woman moved forward again taking her into his arms as she called out for Clark to help her. "I'm sorry, but Apollyon is not herself right now, you must give her time."
"But she's hurt! She needs help."
Clark came up beside the small woman and took a hold of both her arms, "Victor is right Matty, she's still dangerous. Give her time to get her self under control before you see her."
Matty stopped struggling and looked at Olli. She was covered from head to toe in gore and blood and had yet to get up from where she was dropped on the floor. Matty stood there waiting as she watched the Halfling get her breathing under control. She could tell that even though Olli's skin had returned to normal, her eyes were still dark and she still had a couple sets of fangs. The bloody woman rose from the floor and slowly made her way to the opposite wall where a small fountain flowed from a crack in the cave wall. Matty waited until Victor and Clark let her through and she followed.
Olli sat down heavily on the side of the makeshift fountain and ran her hand under the water watching as the runoff turned crimson. She could sense Matty walking up to her but didn't turn in her direction, "Are you hurt little one?"
"No, I have to admit though that I was scared there for a moment." If it were possible for Olli's shoulder to slump anymore, Matty thought she saw it happen. The pregnant woman sat down in front of the bloody Halfling and dipped her hand into the water. With the other she lifted Olli's face and began to wipe the blood from it. "I know that you think I was afraid of you but you're wrong, I was afraid for you."
Olli's eyes opened at that admonition and this time she noticed that Matty didn't react in any way. In fact, the only thing she could see in her friend's eyes now was concern and...love? No, she must be mistaken; it was her weariness distorting things that weren't really there.
"We need to get you cleaned up before we leave. Let me see if I can find a cloth or something so we can wipe all of this grime off of you." At that statement the small red head rose and walked a short distance away to seek Rachel's help.
Olli watched her go and as she walked away the Halfling could feel her heart go with her. She knew that her love for Matty was strong before but with the statement the woman had just made, that love grew beyond what Olli thought possible. "I am lost," she murmured to herself.
Matty returned shortly with a scrap of cloth and soaked it in the fountain. "Lay down", she said guiding Olli to the cool surface," it will make it easier on me". The woman did as she was told resting her head on Matty's thigh. She felt the soft caress of the cloth first on her face and neck, then on her arms. "You have a couple of places that will need stitches I think," Matty said as she cleaned. Olli nodded and slowly sat up turning to face the other woman.
Clark had waited as long as possible before coming over to them. He didn't want to interrupt the moment but they had another problem to deal with. He knew that if he treated their leader any different than before it would be a great dishonor to her and to himself. "I'm sorry for interrupting but I need to speak with you."
"Is everyone else ok?" said Olli," I think we'll need to leave soon."
"That's what I need to talk to you about. The rest of the team is fine, just a bunch of minor injuries but nothing serious. The problem is our exit. The unit we left at the entrance was ambushed when the fight started and as always they followed orders. Halfway down the tunnel there was a cave in", he put his palm out to silence Olli before she asked", everyone is fine. Shad suffered a broken arm but they were on the exterior side and still have access to the vehicles."
"So what is the problem?" asked the Halfling standing.
"There is a wall of rock between us and the outside and we have been cut off."
Olli winced as she popped her neck back into place, "So we have to take the tunnels out. You're sure everyone is in a condition to make the trek?"
"Yes, the only one that I'm worried about is you Miss Matty", he said looking to her swollen belly. "It is a long walk and not over flat terrain."
"I can make it, anything to get me out of this God forsaken place," said Matty.
"I'll talk with Victor about the best route to take, perhaps he will guide us. Let everyone else know what's going on and tell them to leave anything expendable behind. No one needs any extra weight for this journey." Clark nodded and turned on his heel. "You're sure you're ok?" she asked Matty and the woman nodded. "Once we get into the tunnels you will let me know if you get tired", it wasn't a request.
Olli started to go and Matty grabbed her by the arm. "I was so worried," she said wrapping her arms around the Halfling.
"It's all over now," said the tall woman embracing the smaller woman tightly", we'll be home in no time."
"Olli, as soon as we get a chance I need to talk to you, alone." Matty felt her nod a yes and then the woman broke off the embrace to seek out the werewolf.
As she watched the Halfling walk away, Matty reaffirmed her new realization. When she saw Apollyon go down in that fight, she had lost all control. The only thing she could think of was that she needed to help her. If the others hadn't been there, she knew that she would have endangered herself and even her baby to help. Then when the Halfling reappeared, her heart wept with relief and she felt a surge of love hit her. Matty had, in the middle of a brutal fight, watching the person she cared for most in the world savagely rip apart anything that dared to move in front of her, fallen in love. Now that she thought about it she had always loved Olli, but everything taking place in her life hadn't left room for her brain to catch up to her heart. She thought of all the interactions between herself and the other woman and realized that she felt the same. When Matty had began cleaning Olli's face she had looked deep into her eyes. Even in her demon form, with their inkiness, her eyes had shown a deep love that Matty berated herself for not seeing there before. After they got out of this cave Matty was determined that she was going to let Olli know about her feelings.
They were stopped now for a break after they had been walking for about two hours. Matty gratefully sat down on the cool surface of the tunnel floor and took long swallows from a bottle of water someone had handed her. She was tired, hot and confused; Olli had kept her distance this whole time and Matty didn't understand why. Rachel had walked with her making small talk to pass the time as she tried to be polite to the woman while in the mean time talk to Olli. She saw the woman leaning against the side of the tunnel taking deep breaths and lowly humming to herself. What is going on?
Matty resolved to find out and with much effort stood up from the floor and walked over to Olli. "Am I getting the silent treatment for a reason?"
Apollyon opened her eyes, "You should be resting little one, we will have to move on soon".
"You don't say a word to me for two hours and now all you have to do is scold me? What is going on with you?"
A large sigh escaped the other woman and she answered, "I am just tired that's all".
"No Olli, I know what you're like when you're tired and this is something different". She sat down next to the woman and took her hand in both of her own. "Please tell me what's going on."
Apollyon never could refuse her anything, "I'm having trouble being here, in the tunnels".
"Is it because you haven't changed back all the way?" Matty asked caressing the back of the hand she held.
"No, I've been working on that to keep my mind off of other things," she took another deep breath," like how small this tunnel is getting." Matty barely held back a laugh as she buried her head in Olli's shoulder. The taller woman became annoyed, "and what is so funny?"
After a few seconds, Matty got herself under control. "I just find it funny that the same woman I've seen fight a demon, take down up to five opponents at the same time, and shred a coven of vampires literally to pieces, is claustrophobic."
"It's not an irrational fear," said Olli in a low voice. Matty stopped laughing at the shadow that took up residence on Olli's face.
"Something happened to you to make you this way didn't it?"
"Yes but my past is not a subject I'm willing to talk about right now."
Matty sobered quickly and realized that Olli really wasn't having an easy time of their journey. She had to think of something to keep her mind off the place they were in. Her mischievous side reared its ugly head and she told Olli to help her up. Once standing she leaned up into Olli's ear and whispered, "You know I've learned something on this little trip of ours."
"Oh and what's that," Olli returned sullenly.
There was a pause as Matty wrapped her arms around Olli's neck. "That I love you", was all she said. Matty pulled back and looked into the dark eyes of her Halfling. She slowly pulled Olli down to her until their lips met and she reveled in the softness. It was a short kiss and after she let the connection break she turned to walk away and leave the other woman wondering what had just happened. Olli however never gave her the chance and she grabbed her arm and turned her back around. The Halfling gripped her other arm and lifted her partway off the ground as their lips met again. This time Olli was the one in charge and she claimed the other woman seeming to devour her body and soul. Matty's response was to melt into her and relinquish herself to her new desire.
A clearing throat interrupted them and the two women turned to find Rachel standing there with her hands on her hips. "Although I'm glad that you two finally got down to it we need to get moving again. The sooner we get out of here the sooner you two can...well you know the rest," she said smiling.
Apollyon reached down and lifted Matty into her arms. "You, little one, will walk no further," she said but Matty began to object. "Besides, I need you to keep my mind off of my little problem."
The pregnant woman cocked her head in thought", I think I can manage that. Let's get a move on James; I hear a hot bath calling my name."
Olli took her turn to whisper in Matty's ear, "is there room for two in that bath?" The Halfling was answered with a deep blush that covered the other woman's face and advanced toward her neck.
"What are they so doe eyed over?" Clark asked Rachel as they walked.
"They finally figured it out, well that is they finally admitted it to each other anyway."
"Well, we both know it was the little one that made the first move. Apollyon has bravery that is endless in all matters accept those of the heart." Rachel gave him a surprised look. "What? I'm not totally oblivious to everything that happens around me."
Matty nuzzled a little further into Olli's neck and rested her head against a broad shoulder. There were so many things that they needed to talk about but for right now she was content to just rest in her love's arms.
"Having a good time?" asked Olli in a low voice.
"Mmmhmmm," murmured the pregnant woman wiggling her feet. "This is perfect. I get to be held by the woman I love and I don't have to walk anymore."
Olli chuckled and Matty could feel the rumble in her chest. "I'm so glad to be of service."
Matty was confused as she looked at Apollyon now, noticing that her demon features still had yet to disappear. "Do you think they will ever turn back?" she asked running a finger under one of Olli's eyes.
The Halflings face went somber and she looked down at the woman in her arms. "I'm not sure if they ever will. Something happened back there and I don't know if I can reverse it." Apollyon sighed heavily, "Does that bother you?"
Matty thought for a moment and considered this possibility. Truthfully, the fangs and other features excited a part of Matty deep down that she hadn't even known was there. Now that she did know she was willing to explore that part of her, particularly with Olli. "No, I don't think it does. How about you?"
"It's a part of me. Granted I don't show it to many people but you are the only person that really matters. If you can deal with it I'm sure that I can."
"It's kind of exciting," whispered Matty almost too low for Olli to hear.
"Really?" she said raising an eyebrow, "What other things do you find exciting little one?"
"Hopefully I will get a chance to show you. With how much I trust you, the possibilities could be endless," Matty admitted laying a light kiss on the Halfling's cheek.
The tall woman's demeanor changed slightly and Matty could see her draw into herself. She seemed to be remembering something and it wasn't very pleasant. "There are some things we need to discuss little one."
"Ok, like what?" The pregnant woman asked seriously feeling the conversation take on a new direction.
"There are some things you don't know about me. Things that I'm not proud of but I feel I need to tell you just the same. Before we take this any further I need to tell you just in case it's not something you are willing to accept." Olli looked Matty deep in the eyes, "I've waited far too long to show you how I feel and I don't want anything I've done to mess it up."
Matty brought a hand up and caressed the scared cheek of her love, "I accept you for who you are my Halfling, good and bad. Just as you accept me the way I am."
Olli stopped walking and bent her head kissing Matty ever so softly. "That's easy to do little one, you're perfect."
Matty broke eye contact and she could feel the tears start to well up. "Even though I've been tainted?"
Apollyon knew that there was a lot riding on her answer. The feelings of the woman she loved for one but also any confidence that Matty was ever going to have in their future relationship. "There is nothing about you that is less than. I know all about tainted things and trust me, you don't even come close. And if anyone says different they won't be talking anymore after I'm done with them."
Matty smiled and turned to look as she heard Rachel call from up ahead. "Looks like we're at the end of our little journey," said Olli gently putting Matty back on her feet. "Let's get you home and cleaned up. You look like you could use a good sleep."
"Look whose talking miss 'I'll take on the whole coven all by myself'. Besides, you need a bath," she said sniffing lightly at Olli's shirt, "you smell." With that, she turned and walked away leaving the Halfling to shake her head and smile.
Oh well, what else was there to do but follow her? Somehow, little one, I will make myself worthy of you, even if it means my death.
Matty was sitting in the library researching again and trying to keep her mind off Olli. Knowing that there was a huge chance that the other woman wouldn't be coming back, made her mind wander to all of the wonderful moments they had spent together over the last month. They had woken up in each other's arms almost every morning and went to sleep at night the same way. Olli courted her like some kind of princess and Matty had to admit that at times, it was overwhelming but she loved the attention she was getting. The pregnant woman's thoughts strayed again to her Halfling while regret and a little irritation surfaced. Matty had tried almost everyday after their first kiss to convince Olli to take it a step further. At first, the other woman said that she didn't want to make Matty feel uncomfortable because of the rape. The small woman was still having nightmares and all of them began the same with her reliving the incident. The halfling was afraid that anything too serious would make her memories even more real and cause her distress.
Matty was able to convince her that this wouldn't be the case after a couple of very smoldering encounters that left Olli just as frustrated as she was. After that, the other woman gently refused because there was a lot that Matty didn't know about her past. She said that before they went any further they needed to talk about something. Well that day never came thanks to an intercepted message from Balial to Judas. When Arthur translated the document, they found out that the demonic forces they were set to engage in battle had decided to strike earlier than anticipated.
Originally, it was thought that they were going to wait until the baby was born and then wage a war to which the victor would go the child. With this new information, it seemed that they planned on kidnapping Matty and waiting the last few months for the child to be born while she was under their control. Olli had almost gone berserk when she heard what they planned to do and shortly after that, she decided to launch an attack of her own. Convincing everyone that it was a good plan to be the aggressor in this situation wasn't hard. Everyone had been itching for a fight and waiting for the other side to strike first was creating massive stress.
Now it was only three hours past their departure and Matty knew based on the battle plan that they should be attacking right about now. She had kissed Olli goodbye and watched her walk away with a promise to return to her. Matty knew that for the halfling to promise such a thing meant that she was confident in their victory. One thing that Olli never did was break her promises.
Matty looked down and tried to read the same passage she had been reading for thirty minutes now. The small fire she had built in the fireplace began to crackle and large sparks started to fly out onto the hearth. She got up from her chair but before she could get to the flames to bank them there was a large explosion that caused the woman to duck behind the desk. When she thought the coast was clear she peered over the desktop to survey the damage.
She came face to face with the only demon she had ever met, Judas. "Don't scream," he said gesturing to her and the woman felt her vocal cords freeze in place. She swallowed in vain to clear them as she knelt there in fear wondering how he found her. "I'm not going to hurt you; it would be unwise on my part." He walked further into the room and sat down on one of the wingback chairs. Judas propped himself in the chair with one leg draped over the arm. "I really didn't think it would be this easy", he said steep ling his fingers. "I thought for sure I had taught Apollyon better than that. I mean to leave you alone here by yourself, defenseless against...well anything really." He smiled wickedly and with a motion of his hand Matty could feel her body react walking her towards him and then kneeling at the base of the chair. He reached out and began petting her head as if he would a small dog. "I think I shall keep you after the child is born. You are at least pleasing to the eye, and I already know you would be adequate enough to pleasure me. After my minion had gotten done with you he had to crawl his way back to me. Apollyon unfortunately injured him beyond repair but he did get a chance to tell me most of the details." Judas caressed her cheek, "I'm looking forward to conquering you, evidently you're a fighter. I'm sure your Halfling," he spat out the name, "was immensely aroused watching him consume you." He motioned again and Matty felt her mind take control of her body once more.
She couldn't have heard him correctly. "You're a liar Judas."
"Oh they're not lies my dear, your child is a halfling just like the creature you want to turn into your lover. Make no mistake; you are bringing a demon into this world. And your so-called savior stood by and let that most glorious act take place while she looked on, in rapture no doubt." Matty backed away from the chair shaking her head in disbelief.
A bright light exploded in the room and Judas jumped to his feet. He didn't have a chance to stand on them for long before Samuel threw him across the room and into the far wall. The angel stepped in front of the pregnant woman blocking Matty from the demon's retaliation. It never came; as Judas seemed to cock his head and listen to something then he looked right into Matty's eyes and began laughing.
"Your precious halfling has made a grave mistake. It is only a matter of time before she and her little army are wiped out." The demon rose and straitened his perfectly tailored suit. "My work here is complete so I will be bidding you both adieu." With that, he was gone as flames leapt up around him extinguishing with a hiss.
Samuel turned to a stunned Matty and took her by the shoulders. "Are you ok?" he asked guiding her to the chair.
"Is it true Sam? Is my baby a demon?" Tears began to well in Matty's eyes when the angel didn't answer. The look on his face told her that the demon wasn't lying. "And what he said about Olli?"
"I'm sorry Matty, I..."
"Please no! Please tell me it isn't true...she would never do anything like that. She loves me."
Samuel held the woman as she cried feeling the sobs wrack the small body in his arms. "I wish I could."
Matty pulled back sharply, "Why? Why did she do it?" she asked with more than a hint of anger in her voice.
"Because it is her nature, she is a demon." The angel waved his hand and a small cloud appeared out of thin air. Through the middle of the accumulation, Matty could see Olli in the thick of battle. She was covered head to toe in gore that only thickened with every enemy she slaughtered. "You can see as plain as I that she is enjoying herself. She thrives on murder and evil deeds. Deeds that would make even the worst of any human cringe."
Matty felt her anger rise. She was angry at the betrayal and the lies but most of all herself for falling for it. She rose from her chair and stormed out of the library headed for the hall that held all of the living quarters.
There were only about a handful of them left. They had gone in full force with about five thousand troops including the vampires and werewolves. Now all that remained was maybe two hundred, if the injured lived through the night. It had been a massacre like none anyone had ever seen. The survivors slowly made their way to the infirmary to begin patching themselves up. The remaining vampires and werewolves were with them having not the strength or the ability to return to the caves they called their home. Lilith had followed through on her agreement and proved to be a valuable ally; however, in the end it hadn't been enough. The armies of Balial and Judas were in too great a number for their small force to even dent let alone defeat.
Olli slowly walked down the hallway, head down toward the ground, until she was stopped by a hand on her chest. She looked up to see Matty standing there with a bag in one hand and tear streaks running down her face. "Little..." Her statement was halted by a hard slap to the face. It rocked Olli back on her heels and she felt Rachel place a hand on her back to steady her.
"Don't you say one word to me Apollyon!" Matty felt the name leave her mouth with a lingering, bitter aftertaste. "How could you? You just stood there and watched!"
Olli felt her heart shatter as her face paled. The halfling knew immediately what the woman was accusing her of and in no way was she going to deny it was the truth. She opened her mouth to say anything but Matty let loose with a fist and this time, the surprise of the action left no hand to steady the tall woman. She took the blow and crumpled to a knee in front of the woman she betrayed. Everyone watching the display saw the fight leave Olli as she knelt there like a beaten dog.
"I thought you were my savior. This white knight, come to rescue me from my horrible life. I trusted you and lo...loved you." Matty said with a hitch in her voice. "Now I know the truth. You're just a demon in human skin." The bag that the woman had been carrying was thrown to the floor in front of Olli. "You like to watch so much, here are your things, you can watch from outside of this building. I don't ever want to see or hear from you again."
Apollyon had suffered physical wounds that had caused enough pain to cripple her, but nothing compared to the agony she was feeling right now. Every word that Matty assaulted her with sliced through her heart and into her soul to be embedded there for eternity. What made it even worse is that she knew she deserved this, and much worse, for what she had done.
A small crowd had gathered and Mother Elizabeth was among them. She had tried to calm the enraged woman down but Matty silenced her quickly. Olli remained where she was watching the blood from her wounds pool around her on the floor. She tried to get up but her strength had been sucked from her very core. Mother Elizabeth moved to help her.
"You all know who I am," said Matty in a raised voice. "This thing," she pointed at Olli, "is no longer welcome here. She is a traitor and after the five minutes I give her to leave this place, she is banned."
"My child," said the Mother, "please show some compassion".
"No." Olli's voice was so low that it almost went unheard. "Just help me out please." Clark and Rachel, her ever-present back up, reached down and each grabbed an arm. Mother Elizabeth picked up the bag and they four made their way slowly to the door. The halfling's wounds seemed to cause her even more pain than before and she could tell that despite their own wounds her two friends were being as gentle as possible.
"Give her time," Rachel said, "whatever it is, you two can work it out after she calms down".
"I don't think so," Olli whispered. They arrived at the outside door to the compound and the tall woman stood on her own as it was opened. Taking the bag from Mother Elizabeth, she placed a chased kiss on the older woman's cheek. "Thank you for trying to make me worthy." Then she turned to her two friends, "You two know what you have to do. Keep her safe no matter how hard she tries to convince you not to." The two nodded their heads and Olli turned, limping out into the daylight. She couldn't remember another time in her life when she hated the sun more.
Matty sat at the long table in the library accompanied by Arthur, Mother Elizabeth, Rachel, Clark and the vampire Queen. They were finishing the debriefing on what went on during the attack. Evidently, the plan had worked perfectly until they discovered that not only were Judas' and Balial's forces present, but so were the fighters of two other lower level demons that were hoping to gain favor through allegiance. Apollyon and the others had been severely out numbered and had never really had any chance of victory. What made things even worse was the whole thing was a mistake. The message that they had intercepted was translated incorrectly and their enemy was never planning to attack early.
The other side had gotten smart and was now using a code to write any messages in. This had gone unnoticed to any of the members of the group and they had paid for their mistake dearly. In turn, Matty told them about her visit from Judas earlier that day. Since he had found where they were all hiding, they were now discussing where they would relocate.
"This was the most covert holding that we have", said Clark. "Staying in any of the other compounds would make it even easier for him to get to Matty."
"There must be some place that we can go. We can't just leave these people her to be slaughtered one day when Judas gets bored. Our only recourse is to go into hiding." With that, last comment Rachel sat back in her chair with her arms crossed.
Matty took her turn with an idea, "What about returning to the caves with the vampires?" This got the attention of the Queen who up until now had worn a look of boredom. "If her majesty gives her permission I know that we can set up in one of the many unused chambers we passed while we were in the tunnels. It would be easy to defend in an attack and it's secluded."
The group was mulling over the idea when Lillith cleared her throat slightly. "Why should I consent to welcoming you in my home Chosen? What could I possibly receive in turn for that favor besides being plagued by those cockroaches?"
Matty thought for a moment. "Weather you like it or not you're in the middle of this. Do you think that Judas is going to forget you were there? The minute you set foot on that battlefield he considered you an enemy." She leaned forward and deepened her voice, "You no longer have the luxury of being neutral Lillith. So make your decision now of whose side you're going to be on and go there."
The group waited in silence. No one ever dared call the Queen by her name unless given express permission to do so. Clark moved smoothly in his seat readying to intercede if the Queen were to attack.
"I have shown you great patience until now Chosen. Only those worthy are allowed to use my name. You may be correct in your assessment, but weather or not I end up on the side of good or the side of evil makes no difference to me. I have lived long enough to know that the balance of power must shift from time to time to allow growth. As for your conduct, consider this your first and only warning." Lillith sat back in her chair and shot a look that only promised pain to Matty.
The pregnant woman took a deep breath, "You can warn me all you want your majesty but that doesn't negate the truth. You are in the middle of this war and you and I both know that the demons we are up against have the power to bring about your demise along with the rest of your precious followers." Matty got up and walked over to the regal woman, "Contrary to what you believe, you don't scare me. Not much really does anymore; couple that with the fact that after this baby is born I really don't have much to live for. So you can see how I could give a shit about what you think you're entitled to."
In a flash, the Queen was on her feet and had her hand wrapped around Matty's throat from behind. She then held up a hand towards the small group effectively rooting them to the spot they sat. "Infidel! Do you realize to whom you are speaking? I could bleed you dry before you are able to utter another word." She bent low and spoke into Matty's ear, "and I can make sure it's painful". Lillith could sense the other woman's fear and could smell the blood racing through her veins. It was intoxicating but there was also something else there that she hadn't smelled before in their last encounter. An underlying current of something that even the Queen of the vampires didn't want to mess with. She could tell that the young woman hadn't tapped that part of herself, but when she did, Lillith wanted to make sure that she was on not only her side but also nowhere near the area.
The room seemed to take a collective breath as Matty was released. "You show great bravery Chosen. Much more than that sniveling worm Judas. I acquiesce to your request and for the time being offer my allegiance." The Queen moved back to her seat and lowered herself gracefully into place. Matty coughed a couple of times and cleared the fear from her voice before continuing.
"Well, now that that's settled, we need to start evacuating as soon as possible. Lil..." the woman caught a slight movement from the Queen, "Her highness will go ahead of us at nightfall to choose a spot that will keep us out of the way of her group. Anyone that is still able bodied will start loading up everything we have left. Once we've arrived we'll fortify the cave as much as possible, assuming that we will have to defend it in an attack."
Heads nodded around the table and with a curt ending Matty sent everyone about their duties. Mother Elizabeth took a moment to linger and walked over to check Matty's neck for any injury. "Are you going to tell me what happened?"
"You saw it; I don't think I need to give you an account."
Now that they were alone the Mother sat in the chair next to the pregnant woman to have a talk. "I mean what happened with Olly."
"I just became enlightened to a little fact she was concealing from me. She lied and I took care of it, end of story." The young woman's eyes began to sparkle with unshed tears.
"What was it that you found out?"
"She knew what I was talking about and didn't even bother to deny it therefore I know it's the truth. It warrants no more discussion, what's done is done and we need to move on from here." Matty stood up and without another word exited the room leaving Mother Elizabeth in silence.
Olli sat in her usual booth and listened to the gossip that flowed through the bar. She was desolate and had been so for quite some time. Her days consisted of drinking and sleeping and her nights were full of violence. She rarely ate anything, and every day she could feel the hold that her demon side had on her strengthen. She knew it was only a matter of time before all of the heartache would stop and she would become accustomed to a new pain. The only time that she was able to get the thought of the woman she loved out of her mind was when she was fighting. Therefore, every night she would let her demonic side take control when she fought for the entertainment of others.
It wasn't anything new; demons had been fighting for sport for eons. When she was with Judas he would enter her into competitions where she was forced to battle to the death. She had pleaded with him repeatedly not to take her to these gambling events. Nevertheless, every time he would beat her into submission and throw her in the cage for his enjoyment. He loved watching Apollyon fight, and considered it even more entertaining if she began the battle injured. He said that it made the competition interesting and he tended to make more money that way.
Now, however, he was nowhere to be found. Every night she would climb into the cage willingly trying to block everything from her mind. Each time she fought, she prayed to God that he would see to her death and put her out of her misery. She also prayed that Matty would move on and forget she ever existed. Fight after fight she prevailed and became the favorite for many regulars. They profited greatly from others underestimating her and betting against her victory. At first, she refused to kill, but after she lost more and more of herself, she figured that any dead demon was a good demon.
She lifted the glass to her lips again letting the liquor slowly burn its way down her throat. She had failed at every task presented her save one; destroying. Her mistake destroyed her friends in battle. She destroyed all of the effort that Mother Elizabeth had put into saving her soul. She destroyed her friends' belief in her but most of all she had destroyed the woman she loved. And so she lived and fought under the name, which fit her, Apollyon, the Destroyer.
Matty was lying comfortably in bed holding her baby listening to her breathe. It had been a long hard labor and she was going to need a lot of recovery time. It was all worth it though when she looked upon the face of her baby girl. When the woman closed her eyes, she swore she could feel the glory of the sun radiate from her daughter. That's why she decided to name her Ilona meaning bright and joyous sunshine. She had actually gotten the idea from Lillith of all people. The vampire had told her the old Hungarian name one evening over dinner laughing at the irony of a child named after the sun living among vampires. She will probably be surprised to find out it stuck Matty mused.
"What do you think Ilona? You think Aunt Lillith will like your name?" The tired woman leaned her head back onto her pillow and thought about the last couple of months. Their small group had settled in surprisingly well together and so far, they remained safe. Based on the information that they were getting from the outside Judas was still ignorant to their whereabouts. As soon as they were able, they began stock pilling weapons and readying for the time of Ilona's birth. Now they had to be ever more vigilant so they could protect the treasure everyone was after.
Matty sighed and her thoughts began to stray to Olly. As much as she hated to admit it, she missed the other woman badly. Truthfully, she thought that Olli would have tracked her down and tried to come back by now. Matty regretted some of the things she has said that day but she still couldn't get past her anger. Knowing that the woman she loved had stood by and watched her being raped was just as bad as if Olli had done it herself. She shut her mind down refusing to think about something so unpleasant when she had something so wonderful to focus on right in front of her.
Mother Elizabeth came in shortly and put the baby in her bassinet for a nap. She then sat down, chatted with Matty about the day's events, and told her about anything she may have missed. In the middle of their conversation, Lillith stopped by to check on the new arrival. The Mother left them to their conversation to tend to some other matter with Arthur.
"So how are you doing?" asked the vampire perching herself on the end of the bed.
"Sore, but ok. Mostly I'm just exhausted and I feel like I could sleep for the rest of my life."
Lillith laughed, "Well you no longer have that luxury little mother. So what did you settle on for a name?"
"Ilona," said Matty smiling, "I do need to thank you for the idea."
"Hmmm, do you think that is a wise choice? I mean, what will people say when they find out that the peace bringer was named by a vampire." The Queens words held a hint of teasing that took any sting out of them.
"Well, I'd like to think that you've become my friend in, all be it, this short amount of time. That way I can tell Ilona that she was named by a friend of the family."
Lillith let out a full laugh and bent to hug the young woman. "For some reason I am enchanted by you Chosen. I can understand why He selected you to carry the hope of the known world."
"So I was selected huh?"
"Of course you were, don't be silly. By now you should know that almost everything happens for a reason. Very few things in this world are left up to chance, call it micromanaging," the vampire said with a chuckle.
"Well I don't think that He meant for me to be raped in order for the peace bringer to be born," said Matty with disdain in her voice.
"Of course He did. It's in the prophecy. From great sacrifice and evil doings shall a force greater than hope be born. Samuel knew what was going to happen, he knows everything about what is supposed to take place. He told me that he used Apollyon to follow you so they would know the opportune moment to bring you into the fold. Too soon and the child wouldn't have been conceived, too late and Judas would have gotten to you first."
"Samuel told you this?"
"Yes. From what he said, he had to incapacitate the Halfling until it was time for her to intervene. I never understood why you banished her the way you did. Her love for you was stronger than any I have ever seen. Even on the way to battle she was thinking of you and told Samuel to return to the compound to watch over you."
Matty sat silently berating herself. She had chosen to believe what Sam had said other than trust her love. She never even gave Olli a chance to tell her side of the story. Then Matty realized that even if the woman had offered up an excuse she would have disregarded it on the spot. "How well do you know Samuel?"
"He is just like any other divine being. Trust me; I know from experience that even though things are created in His image, they are still capable of jealousy, hatred, and betrayal." The Queen walked over to the basinet and peered into the blankets at Ilona.
"I've made a large mistake."
"Oh?" said Lillith turning back around, "and what was that?"
"I trusted an angel." Matty's heart filled with regret as she thought of all the hurtful things she had said to Olli.
"You cast her out based on something that flying rat said didn't you?" Matty nodded her head and then dropped it into her hands coating them in tears. Lillith walked back over to the bed and laid a hand on the woman's shoulder. "We have all made that mistake at one time or another. Then there are those of us that have made it more than once."
"Yes and my mistake cost me the woman I love."
The Queen lifted Matty's head and wiped the tears gently from her cheeks. "There a very few things that are unfixable and fortunately this is not one of them. We will find her and then you can convince her to come home."
"I have no idea where to even start looking. We left her in a completely different country with nowhere to go."
"Lillith lifted a hand to silence the woman. "That's where I come in. You don't live through the whole of eternity without learning a few things and making a few contacts. I'll get started and let you know when I've found her."
Matty smiled weakly, "Thank you your highness".
The queen turned and walked out of the room calling back, "Call me Lillith".
Matty waited for a while so she would calm down before calling for Samuel. The precursor bright light flashed and then the woman was no longer alone in the room. Matty flashed the angel an infuriated look. "You lied to me; you, of all people. Why did you do this to me?"
"Not all of my reasons are comprehendible by mere humans. Rest assured I had them none the less," said Sam crossing his arms and wings in turn.
"Don't tell me that God told you to do it. The God I believe in wouldn't come between two people that love each other."
"You know nothing of God. You don't even know why you're here. You have no clue as to what this child means to those of us that have been around since the Creation."
"That may be true but I do know one thing. You are selfish and petty just like a human, divine being my ass!"
Just then, there was another bright flash in the room that eclipsed the one emitted by Samuel. Two other angels appeared and flanked him on either side.
"You have meddled one too many times Samuel. He wants a word with you," said a tall brunet angel with a melodic alto voice. One of the new angels and Sam disappeared at that statement and the one that had spoken turned his attention to Matty. "I beg your pardon Revered one, we should have intervened before now. You will no longer have to deal with Samuel. I am Remiel, here to be of any assistance you require."
"How can you expect me to trust you?" asked Matty with more than a little irritation in her voice.
"I don't. However, I hope that after some time passes you could learn. I will leave you now unless there is something you require of me," he said bowing slightly.
Matty thought fast and before he could disappear, she asked him, "Can you find Olly for me?"
Remiel smiled softly, "No I'm sorry, but have faith in Lillith. She will track down your Halfling", then he flashed away.
Matty growled in frustration to the room. She had a lot of damage control to perform and very little energy and patience to do it with.
As time pasted Lillith gave daily updates on her search for the elusive Halfling. Days turned into weeks and weeks into months. For some reason Olli had managed to slip under the demonic radar and had seemed to vanish off the face of the earth. Almost a year had pasted before they got a solid lead on her whereabouts.
"So tell me what you were able to find out," said Lillith to one of her minions.
"I've found her your majesty. She is fighting in the cage under the name of Destroyer. She was almost unrecognizable based on the description that you gave. She has changed a great deal but I did a little inquiring around and was able to make a definite match." The manservant knelt at the feet of his Queen awaiting any further instructions.
The Queen smiled broadly, "Very good William, come to me later this evening and I will reward you handsomely".
"Where shall I await you're company my liege?"
"I think you deserve a night in my bed for your obedience." A broad smile spread across the man's face as he exited the room as she turned her attention to something else.
Lillith exited the large room and headed for the refugee hall to find Matty. The small woman had increasingly grown more and more hopeless as time progressed and the Queen knew she would want to leave as soon as possible. If what the young vampire said was true, Lillith looked forward to seeing Apollyon fight at least once more before the fiery redhead tamed her. She found the woman and only uttered three simple words before they were on their way the next evening, "We found her".
Lillith used her considerable influence to get them in the door of the club and down into the gambling area. Matty hadn't really appreciated the depth of the vampire's influence until now. In this environment, she was little less than a Goddess and these demons treated her with reverence and respect.
"Remind me to have you make all of my reservations from now on", said Matty jokingly.
"You would be surprised where I can get a table." The Queen passed in front of the woman with a smirk on her lips.
The duo weaved there way through the crowd to the edge of the cage and Matty looked in. Past the chain link wall was a pit that dropped off into the floor of the large room. All around the edge of the cage demons and other various creatures were packed in as close as they could get. Right now, there was a werewolf and a demon locked in combat and from the looks of it, the demon was winning. It was hideous and was probably five times the size of the wolf. There was a huge horn protruding from it's forehead that had pieces of torn flesh dangling from it.
With one last onslaught of strikes to its body, the werewolf fell lifelessly to the floor of the pit. A loud grinding sound was heard and a door opened in the wall to permit a couple of minion demons through to remove the body of the defeated. A mighty roar left the throat of the victor and the announcer began setting up the next fight for patrons to place bets.
Lillith leaned over and spoke into Matty's ear. "She's next, and based on the amount of money flying around this place it should be a good fight."
Matty felt a little sick to her stomach from the smell of blood that permeated the place and the thought of Olli facing that demon didn't help either. "I don't think I can watch this."
"Pity, she really is a fabulous fighter. I used to watch her when Judas would fight her against all takers. She could take on three or four opponents at a time and still stand victorious. He made a lot of money off of her at this place."
"I thought she was his slave. I didn't know she was a pit fighter." Matty shook her head realizing that she knew almost nothing of Olli's past.
"There are many types of slaves in this world Chosen." The Queens attention was drawn to the opposite side of the pit where another door ground open and revealed a shadowed figure waiting on the other side. "There she is."
The announcer started calling off the stats of both fighters. "The challenger hails from the seventh level and battles in the name of his master Uriel. I present to you Agromnius!" A cheer went up from the crowd and the speaker gestured for quiet. "And the Champion; hailing previously from the dominion of Judas. Now fighting under the flag of the Peace Bringer; The Destroyer!"
The roar that answered the announcer's last words was deafening. Matty could feel her chest vibrate along with the walls at the pounding being given to the seats and floor as Apollyon entered the pit. The woman could barely recognize her friend. Not only was she in full demon form but she had looked to have grown a tail as well as a small set of horns that protruded from the top of her forehead. She no longer moved like a human either, instead she moved like a large caged cat.
Apollyon entered the pit slowly and never looked away from her opponent. The announcer explained that there were to be no weapons in this fight and the victor would be the last one left alive. Agromnius turned to where his master sat and saluted him in true Roman gladiator fashion. Matty saw what was left of her friend cross herself and kiss her fist.
"Now this is the Apollyon I know. The first time I saw her fight she was incredible. She was young then and inexperienced but she fought with heart. Just when you'd think she was finished she would rally back and defeat her opponent." The Queen spoke with admiration in her voice, "I made a lot of money off that little hellion".
The announcer gave the signal to begin and from somewhere a loud barrage of music started up. It was a heavy metal song that Matty was only slightly familiar with. The crowd roared again as the fighters began to circle each other. The young mother glanced over to Lillith and found her placing a bet. The vampire just shrugged at her appalled look and collected her voucher from the attendant.
Matty directed her attention to the pit once more and focused on the fight. The two warriors danced around each other for a few moments trading light blows to test each other's reflexes. The large horned demon made the first move and lunged for Apollyon trying to wrap his mammoth arms around her. She leapt over him easily and as she passed him in the air, landed a huge blow to his right temple.
The crowd cheered as Apollyon landed lightly on her feet, tail swishing behind her. The behemoth charged again and this time she ducked under his arms to bring her shoulder in contact with his midsection. Matty saw her powerful legs flex and the demon was flipped over to land on his back with a huge thud. Apollyon took the offensive then and pounced on the hulk, but Agromnius was faster than he looked and swatted her out of the air. She flew across the pit and smacked against the cage directly in front of where Matty was standing. Matty was expecting her to fall to the ground but the fighter grabbed onto the chain link placing her feet under her. Apollyon was now perched sideways on the wall of the pit using the cage to hold herself in place.
Matty couldn't help herself and she reached out to touch the woman she loved through the metal. The Queen's hand grabbed her wrist just before she made contact. "Now is not the time. Not unless you want to break her concentration and send her to her death."
The fighter leapt from her crouched position and soared toward her opponent. This time when he moved to bring her down, she flipped in mid air and landed on his back. She wrapped her arm around his thick neck and tightened her hold. He tried to pry her off but her hold was solid and in short order he began to slow down from the loss of oxygen. The spectators began to boo as he dropped to one knee and Apollyon looked to the crowd. Her eyes swept the edge of the cage and everyone there started to cheer for her to prolong the competition.
Just before her eyes made it to Matty's side of the pit, she let him go and pushed him into the dirt floor. He tried to get to his knees but his motor skills were still lacking. Apollyon walked to his side and kicked him solidly in the ribs and everyone cheered as they heard the resounding crack. She moved to kick him again but this time her opponent caught her foot and twisted her leg at the knee. This served to bring her down on her other knee next to him and he struck out with a closed fist hitting her at the base of her skull. She was propelled forward and stopped herself just before her face impacted the ground. Her tail lashed out and swiped him across the face hooking him in the eye. He let her go to grab at his face and let out a scream of pain. Apollyon rolled away and hopped to her feet crouching down to strike again when she looked over Agromnius' shoulder, right into Matty's eyes.
Matty's heart stopped and it seemed like time stood still as she saw recognition in those inky depths. The warrior dropped her guard for an instant but that's all it took. Her beastly opponent rushed forward and grabbed her around the waist crushing her body to him. Apollyon never took her eyes off Matty as he began to squeeze using the strength in his massive arms to crush her.
"Fight back," whispered Matty. She didn't know how but she could tell that Apollyon had heard her. The fighter brought both of her arms up to either side of the demon's head and twisted it violently. The crowd went silent as all movement in the pit stopped. Agromnius dropped to his knees where he stood and his arms fell to his sides releasing his captive. Apollyon stood in front of him, all the fight having rushed from her along with her opponent's last breath from his body. She reached down grabbing his upper body under the arms and almost lovingly guided him to the ground. She then ran her hand over his eyes closing the still open lids.
A bellow was heard from somewhere in the crowd and Matty watched as a rouge demon climbed the side of the cage and dropped into the pit. It ran straight toward Apollyon with a large blade in its hand and the victor did not move to defend herself or get out of the way. Matty could tell that she wanted it all to end; she could sense shame and guilt coming off her in waves. "No", she said softly and then screamed it again as she grabbed a hold of the metal on the fence, rattling it slightly.
The young mother squeezed her eyes shut not wanting to see the blow that would kill the woman she loved. Mentally she sent out a message to her Olli, begging her to come back. Begging her to come home and they would fix everything together. I love you!
She heard the impact of the strike but instead of the sickening sound a blade makes when it meets flesh it was the sound of something hitting the ground. Matty opened her eyes to find the rouge lying at the feet of her champion and the blade lying next to the pit wall. There no longer stood Apollyon the Destroyer, in her place was Olli, the woman she loved. Her demon exterior had returned to human form.
Olli staggered a little as she began walking toward Matty. When she reached the pit wall she jumped and grabbed a hold of the cage. Scaling her way to the top she dropped down over to the other side right next to where Matty was standing. The shorter woman stepped up in front of her feeling the heat radiant from her body. Matty found herself wanting to get closer to that heat as she looked up into clear blue eyes. Olli didn't say a word when she reached out with one arm and drew the other woman to her roughly.
Her other hand wound it's way into Matty's hair as the warrior leaned down and claimed her mouth. It was a kiss that devoured Matty whole and seemed to last for hours. She felt Olli take possession of her as she opened her mouth to the feeling of the woman's tongue on her lips. She felt the fighter's muscles hard against her body, crushing her further into a heady abyss. Matty lost all track of anything else going on around them and went limp into the arms of her love.
Olli finally pulled away panting along with Matty as soon as the other woman remembered to breathe. She looked into the petite woman's eyes, "I love you too little one", she said in a husky tone.
Lillith poked Matty in the arm to get her attention, "In case you're not familiar with it yet, this is battle lust. It would be best to take her back to the hotel...right now." Then she looked into Olli's eyes and amended her observation, "You'll be lucky to make it that far if you leave now".
Matty began to protest but the Queen disappeared into the crowd with a wave of her hand as a goodbye. The red head then looked back at Olli, taking in her more than disheveled appearance. The warrior was sporting a number of new scars; some of them still pink, as well as fresh injuries that were only a day or two old. "What have you done to yourself...?"Matty began as she reached up to caress Olli's cheek.
The Halfling drew her face away with a pained grimace, "Don't, the Queen is right, I'm sorry for my previous actions but right now I only possess a thin veil of control".
"You know, I wonder sometimes what you would be like without it, the control I mean."
Olli turned and started to walk away, "Thankfully you'll never find out."
"Wait," said Matty grabbing the Halfling's shoulder.
Olli froze in place and steeled herself against the wave of lust that threatened to overcome her at the touch. "Why are you here?" she ground out.
"We need your help", Matty answered reasoning that it wasn't a lie even though it wasn't the exact reason.
Olli rounded on the smaller woman breaking the physical contact. "My help? It looks as though you have done well for yourself in my absence. What aid could I possibly be to the mother of the Peace Bringer?" The warrior's anger was beginning to rise again. All of the hurt that she had been harboring came to the forefront.
"Olli, please, come home with us." Matty could see the hurt plainly in the eyes of her Halfling and couldn't bear the fact that she had helped put it there.
"Home?" the warrior laughed. "The home I knew was destroyed the moment you banished me from your heart. I no longer have..." Olli couldn't finish, she had said too much already. With a growl, her demonic side took over and all trace of Olli was gone. "I am the Peace Bringer's servant, I shall do as you ask."
"No Olli, not like this. I know I said things that..." began Matty with pleading in her voice.
"My lady, by your word I am only a thing, do not ask something of me you know I can not give."
The trip back to the caves was quiet save the little conversation that went on between Lillith and Matty. The Halfling would only speak when spoken to and the gruff answers afforded the duo prevented further conversation. The vampire queen knew that Olli's soul was broken; she had seen it many times through the millennia of her life. She also knew that the only one who could help her was Matty. The queen just hoped that the Chosen knew it as well.
Their arrival was met by excitement as people began to recognize who was with their leader and her vampire friend. To say that moral had suffered with the loss of the warrior was an understatement. Matty had done her best to put things back together but no matter how strong the group became, they were never quite as powerful as they had been when Olli was with them. Clark and Rachel were the first to get up enough courage to approach their long lost friend.
Clark walked up to the group as they entered the main refugee area and clapped Olli on the shoulder causing the Halfling to freeze. Noticing this, the soldier removed his hand, "Have you been gone so long that a friendly gesture is not welcomed by an old friend?"
Matty saw the warrior crack a smile for the first time since they had found her. "When you find this friend you'll be sure to let me know won't you old man," said the Halfling.
Clark's laughter echoed off the cave wall as he drew her into a hug complete with a clap on the back hard enough bruise. "It has been too long," he said before letting her go.
After he released his hold, she turned to Rachel and received a worried look. "Apollyon," said the scout. Olli let out a breath and as she did, her human form came to the forefront. As Matty watched Rachel step forward and caress the cheek of her love, all doubts that these two had history vanished. Olli leaned into the touch and took a deep breath. Matty and Rachel's friendship had been, at best, strained since she had banished the warrior. The scout never undermined her authority or disobeyed an order, but Matty knew she harbored ill will because of what happened with Apollyon.
"Mama, mama," cried Ilona as she toddled over to the group. The child froze where she stood when she laid eyes on the newcomer. She knew this person although she had never met her. She dreamed that she chased away the bad things that tried to hurt her and her mama. Ilona walked up to the woman and Apollyon knelt down to her. The toddler lifted her arms above her head and then threw them around the Halfling's neck when the woman bent down. "Olli goodÓ, said the child as her hug was returned.
Apollyon's resolve shattered and a small whimper escaped her throat as she began to cry. The warrior sunk to her knees in front of the toddler as the child laid a hand on the top of her head. Awarmth spread through Olli's body and then blackness claimed her.
To be continued...Return to the Academy