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Instant Recap: In small groups the members of the War Council descended through secret passages into an underground complex that housed survival goods, weapons, and finally their Command Center in the bottommost chamber. Gavin was preparing his presentation with some live action displayed on one of the large screens.

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7. The Inner Circle

     No longer obstructed, Gavin’s vehicle (if such it was) flew straight across the sea and continued on above territory that the viewers recognized as Israel. In the blink of an eye it reached the West Bank and became stationary with an angled downward view of the Temple Mount, topped by the mosque called the Dome of the Rock. Against a sky brightening with dawn there could be seen a number of forms circling ominously above the Mount. They were like birds, as black as the batlike bots but much bigger. “Numenal vultures,” said Vance, loud enough for all to hear.

     “Damn!” said Eric, “it looks like the Crypto-Jews are finally ready for their endgame play.”

     In a softer voice Kamran said to his friends at the table, “Would they actually dare to attack the Muslim shrines on the Mount?”

     “That’s been their plan since day one,” said Spike: “clear the deck of the Goyish filth, and rebuild their holy temple. The only thing stopping them is the rest of the world.”

     “Including most of their allies,” added Flash. “They know it would set off an apocalyptic conflict based on hardcore political realities, let alone religious prophecies.”

     “So do you think Eric’s right?” asked Kamran. “Does this scene we’re witnessing mean that they’re preparing to strike?”

     “We don’t know anything for certain, “said Vance. “Let’s watch.”

     Gavin made some adjustments at his control keyboard, and there appeared a transparent sphere encompassing the whole plateau of the Temple Mount, and disappearing into the ground at its base ~ a numenal dome overarching the physical dome, perhaps protecting it. The viewers could now see that the black creatures circling the site also had a plasmic form around them, a flattened sphere. A current of energy was connected to the top of it, like a sprout from an onion, stretching up into the sky. The kindred gasped as they spied its source: a huge diabolic shape overshadowing the landscape, dimly visible but distinctly menacing. “The Zionborg!” said a number of voices in near unison, some awed, some angry, and some incredulous.

     The gruesome goliath pointed a finger westward, and the filament of stygian energy from the vultures was cast in that direction, like a numenal harpoon trailing its tether, flying across the Mediterranean. The viewpoint on the screen abruptly rose and followed it; there were exclamations of “Wow!” and “What a trip!”

     The black meteor hurtled across the Atlantic at hypersonic speed, and began to descend over Manhattan. The thick cluster of spires and skyscrapers came into view and quickly enlarged, like rolling up the scale on Google Earth. Those familiar with the turf could see that the ball of energy was coming down in an exclusive neighborhood in Washington Heights, a sprawl of elegant townhouses. Suddenly they went through the roof of one of them, and the viewpoint shifted around until it was nestled on a wall or a window of a well-appointed room full of people. One of them was dressed in the regalia of an Orthodox Jew; his arms were open and he seemed to be completing a chant, which drew the dark current of force into him and anchored it in the room.

     The people were seated in apparently casual array on sinfully comfortable armchairs and sofas, but the most clearly exalted position was occupied by a man in a thronelike chair. He was dressed in a business suit tailored in impeccable taste from an exotic fabric; his tiepin looked like it could ransom a king, and the rings on his hand an emperor. To the man who had been chanting he said, “Thanks for your blessing, Rebbie. It’s comforting to know that the Lord God is watching over us.”

     “My pleasure, Baron,” said the rabbi. Both men looked extremely old, but in good health and fine fettle.

     “Yow, is that who I think it is?” said Spike in a near-shout. Flash nodded, putting his finger to his lips. “Oops, sorry to get carried away,” said Spike.

     Gavin was able to dolly the viewpoint around for a better look at whoever became the center of attention in the spacious parlor. The Baron gestured to someone and said, “So, my dear, shall we dip right into the pudding?” The view panned across the seated people, who were all male, until it got to the person the Baron addressed: a woman who looked as old as he and the rabbi. There were only four women among the spectators in the Command Center; one of them was Saxon, who reacted to the sight of the woman as loudly as Spike had to the Baron: “Lilith!” she said, her voice seething with venom and rage. “I might’ve guessed that that bitch would be in a cabal like this.”

     “Certainly, my dear Sydney,” said Lilith to the Baron ~ “your wish is my command.” There was a distinct tone of irony in the remark, which elicited a mysterious chuckle from him. The view shifted slightly, and now the kindred could see that next to Lilith on the couch was another woman, this one very young. Her appearance made a powerfully ambivalent impact on them, for she had beautiful facial features, as finely carved as a statue from classical Greece or the studio of Arno Breker, and long blonde hair ~ but her skin was, as Spike exclaimed under his breath: “…as black as the Ace of Spades!”

     “Or the Deuce,” added Vance.

     Lilith drew herself up and said in a formal voice: “Baron Redshield, Rabbi Shmerson, Doctor Heinrich, esteemed gentlemen, I’m honored to introduce you to my talented young friend…” she paused for dramatic effect, then said: “Kalianna.”

     There was a murmur of greetings from all the men, their inflections varying from polite to enthusiastic. A young man seated at the Baron’s right hand said, “A lovely and intriguing name. Is it your only one?”

     “It is,” said Kalianna.

     Dr. Heinrich said with a German accent, “Would we be correct in assuming it’s not the one you were given at birth?”

     “You would,” said Kalianna, smiling at him ingenuously.

     A man with an earnest and fidgety demeanor said, “You’re a delightful young lady, and I enjoyed your performance on MTV the other night. But begging your pardon in advance, I just have to ask what may be a foolish question: are you Jewish?”

     A sudden silence fell on the room; there were some audible intakes of breath. With impeccable aplomb, Kalianna said, “Is Whoopi Goldberg Jewish?”

     The bubble of tension burst in a round of hearty laughter. When it died down the Baron said to Kalianna, “Your beauty is exceeded only by your wit, my dear. I must say that everything about you impresses me. But I know you will not be offended if I rephrase the question to your mentor.” Looking Lilith in the eye he asked, “Is she kosher?”

     “Absolutely!” said Lilith. Then she shifted her gaze to the young man next to the Baron and said: “I vow that she’s the one who’ll say ‘Hey!’ to Messiah.”

     His eyes saucered and he looked at the Baron, who was also astounded. In the Command Center Hector said, “What does it mean? What are they talking about?”

     “It’s a secret code,” said Flash, “Qabbalistic symbolism. But let’s discuss it later.”

     On the screen the rabbi looked gravely at the two women and said, “Only a few of the Elders besides myself are open to the notion that a woman may fulfill such an office in the plan of God for the triumph of his Chosen People, let alone one who may or may not have a Jewish mother.” He fixed Kalianna with a withering gaze and said, “Are you aware of the enormous, dangerous task involved, and are you prepared for the merciless judgement of God if you undertake it falsely, or fail?”

     Without a flinch or a falter, Kalianna stared him down and said in a steely voice: “Yod Heh” ~ which can be interpreted “I am.”

     The rabbi sat back with a skeptical sigh, but then said to the Baron, “The formula is complete. I am forced to reserve judgement, though I grant her not my blessing.”

     The Baron was stone-faced. He turned to the young man and said, “What do you think, Shlomo?”

     “I think the young lady’s chutzpah is very stimulating,” said Shlomo, “and I feel she deserves a fair shot at her outrageous proposition.”

     “Thank you, Baronet Redshield!” said Kalianna. “That’s all I ask, a fair chance.”

     Shlomo narrowed his eyes slyly and said, “You can call me ‘Sonny’.”

 

8. Gavin Meets His Match