A Most Contentious Reunion
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Interlude: Ad Momentum, Pace | In Memoria, Adytum



A Most Contentious Reunion



Prague, Czech Republic
24 February, 2020

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Lovataar sipped at the liquor, content to feel its warm trickle down her throat. She sat with a bottle of ouzo at a small bistro table on a balcony overlooking a square on the old city. She was in the upper reaches of the Cloister, where her temporary apartments were located. The plan was in action and after the raid on the Foundation, the leadership had retreated to the Cloister.

“Are you well?” Lucien Dutroit asked from behind her.

“Enjoying the afternoon light before the night falls. Before the next crisis. Before the next action. A moment alone.” She turned to look at her acolyte, her child, her sometime lover – a man she had known for centuries. “How are you?”

He sat opposite her and picked up the bottle of ouzo. “I’m well, but I wish for things to move forward. Centuries of planning and I want to get my hands dirty.”

She held her glass out towards him and he poured some of the amber liquid. “That is a feeling I know well.”

“Of course, my apologies. I spoke out of turn.”

She waved away his apology and looked out at the bustling city square.

“Do you wish to be alone?” he asked.

“No, you can stay.”

She sipped at the liquor.

“What bothers you?” he asked.

“I never had children; did you know that?”

“Did you want them?”

“The culture and time I were raised in put a large onus on a woman to raise a family, especially in my role in the nobility. But all of that changed when I met Ion. Some of our enemies and even some of our people have called me Mother of the Nälkä. But I wonder, had I raised children, would I have been a good mother?”

“You have always been nurturing with myself and provided guidance over the many years since you first took me under your wing.”

“Is that what a mother is? I don’t know. I have been a leader, an abomination, a witch, a hated rival, a lover, and so many other things. But never have I created something for myself.”

She poured herself more ouzo.

“Do you regret the choice to go with the Grand Karcist all those centuries ago?”

“Is this a test of my loyalty, Lucien?” She looked askance at him.

“Of course not. I just wonder at the weight of obligation over the centuries. I have felt it, as have we all, but you are my concern.”

“That concern is misplaced. I will follow the plan, wherever it leads. Especially now.”

“Have you spoken with the Ozi̮rmok?”

“She has not,” a voice said behind them in old Adytite.

“Thank you, Lucien. You can go now,” she said.

Lucien stood and bowed to the person behind her. Lovataar turned and looked at Ion. Although still thin and leaning on the staff, Ion had put on substance since their resurrection and no longer appeared gaunt. They put one hand on her acolyte’s shoulder as he passed. “You have done good work, Kalākāran.”

“Thank you, Grand Karcist,” he said, bowing again before taking his leave.

Ion sat in the vacated chair; their robes made of silk and flesh intertwined.

“Would you like a drink?” she asked.

“What is it?”

“Ouzo, it’s Greek. It’s made from anise.”

“Greek, hmm?”

They poured themself a small amount in the spare glass, holding it to their nose and then sipping.

“I don’t know if I like it.”

She shrugged. “It’s an acquired flavor.”

Ion laughed, which caused her to look at them.

“This is not quite the welcome I expected, my love.”

She flinched at the word.

“What is the matter? Have I not returned as promised?”

“Three. Thousand. Years.”

Ion sat silent, staring into her eyes.

“Did you know it would take so long?”

Ion sipped more from the glass. “This is the first real substance I have imbibed in all that time, other than some water. Being there was not… what I expected.”

They got up and stretched, looking stronger and no longer leaning on the staff so heavily. Ion reached out for her hand, and said, “Come, show me this city. We have time.”


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As the sun began to set, the two of them walked along the streets of Prague. She had urged the Ozi̮rmok to don modern clothes, so as not to stand out in their robes of silk and flesh. Watching the Grand Karcist meander down cobblestone streets in a long coat and jeans made her smile; watching them walk alongside the unseeing mundane citizens of Prague made her wary.

But she still held the outstretched hand they had offered her on the balcony. The streets bustled with activity; despite the winter chill still in the air and the strikes her people had made against many national leaders, the people of Prague were out in force.

“These… garments are uncomfortable.”

She laughed. “Imagine being a woman and being expected to wear uncomfortable garments for the last several millennia. You’ll survive. We are trying to blend in.”

Ion stopped walking to stare up at a thousand-year-old Catholic church.

“I wondered what mankind would be capable of, while I was in the Nevermeant.”

“You didn’t answer my question, back at the Cloister.”

The Grand Karcist closed their eyes. “I did not know exactly what I would face, nor how long the fight would take. But I had my suspicions.”

“You did not share those suspicions with me.”

“I did not.”

“Why?”

“I was afraid, Lovataar. What I went to face was beyond imagining. Even for such as me, who defied the empire you were raised in. And for once, I was to go alone. I needed to move forward, with confidence. With strength. I could never lie to you. I may have guided you, like I did the others, but you always saw to the heart of me.”

“So, you just let me trust and wait for millennia.”

“You had a part to play, just like all of us.”

“My part to play was completed easily and then I was left to wander.”

“Without your search into the occult, I would not stand here today. Nadox told me that you were the one to find the rituals to weaken the barrier. You cast a line for my spirit to pull myself back to the waking world.”

She sighed.

“And it was important that one of the Klavigars actually live in the world,” Ion said.

“What do you mean?”

“Orok would bury himself in plans for conquest, building power. Saarn is ever the spy, the strategist. Nadox is his cloister, a necessary step but one ill suited for understanding the world. You were all that was left to experience living amongst humankind.”

“Why was that important?”

“The plan is to take the fight directly to the forces that have taken over this world. We have struck a killing blow at our hated enemies, the machinekind, but they are not the only threat. If we are to bring the light to all corners of the Earth, it is important that one of us have an appreciation for the cultures and history in a personal manner.”

“Sounds like conquest.”

“It would not be the first time we did such things,” Ion said, a sad tone in their voice. “It is one thing to conquer, but another to rule. You have been preparing for that role all of your very long life, for a just monarch must know her people. You will bring that wisdom to our quint, and with it, we shall learn what this world has become so that we may rule it.”

“So, as the one who was in the world, living and getting to know the human cultures you now want to assimilate… I don’t know that striking the head off all the nations was the right move. We could have bided our time a little longer, taken a more nuanced approach.”

“So practical, my noble Daeva. Yes, we could have used your poison to thin the herds and destabilize, and we have. But we have been forced to live in the shadows for too long. Why else fight the Archons, if we could not shape human destiny the way that we shape our bodies? It was a statement, one that will be hard to ignore.”

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They crossed a bridge and stopped to look over the water to the Grand Cathedral and Prague Castle. She looked away from the gilded building and at the profile of Ion’s face as they stared across the water.

“The Archons… are they?”

“Dead. Consumed. Utterly. The idiot god is unchained but ultimately powerless. The four are dead, and we five stand victorious. No more gods, only the rigor of our bodies against entropy.”

“Three thousand years… what is such a battle?”

“I don’t have the words to describe it. If the confrontation had taken place in the material realm, planets would have been shattered. I was destroyed utterly several thousand times. But the more of them I consumed and flung back at their beings, the less they could fight. And it was necessary, if painful and exhausting.”

She tried to imagine and found she could not. Instead, she thought of the many years she had longed to have Ion back in her arms. The anger, the resistance was still there but more than anything she just wanted to say:

“I missed you,” she said softly.

“And I you.”

Ion clapped their hands and held them outstretched towards the water and the cathedral.

“Look at what marvels they have come to build!” Ion cried. “Cities that stretch for miles! Lights that burn without fire. Flying vehicles! Truly ridiculous machines they have developed. They have enslaved themselves to technology. They have forgotten the strength of the body. The steel that is flesh.”

Ion turned to Lovataar and took her hands in theirs.

“You are with me still? We will stand together unto the ending of the world, will we not?”

She stared into the Grand Karcist’s eyes. “Of course. I just want… no, I need a purpose. If we must raise this world to bring our light to it, then so be it. But let it happen now. I have waited long enough.”

“As the lady requests,” Ion said, squeezing her hand and leading her back across the bridge.


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Prague Castle

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Ion and Lovataar approached the castle’s main entrance, guarded by military police. The building had been the Presidential seat of power since the early 1990s, and the security presence was heightened with the recent strikes against so many Heads of State worldwide. As they approached, a soldier armed with an assault rifle beckoned them to approach.

“I’m sorry, the Castle is not open for visitors at this time,” the soldier said in Czech. “Due to a recent security situation, all tours have been cancelled. I will need you to move along.”

Ion gestured to the soldier from only a few meters away, and he collapsed, bleeding from his eyes, ears, and mouth. Lovataar was surprised, she expected Ion’s first move to be an offering of surrender. Her thought was interrupted by the other soldiers firing on them both, while a loud alarm stared blaring throughout the area.

Lovataar slipped around the three soldiers approaching who were firing on Ion. She plunged elongated nails into each, watching as the muscles in their throats and chest bulged, choking the oxygen from them.

Reinforcements were already approaching as they entered the gate. Ion called out in Ämärangnä and they fell to the cobblestones twitching and bleeding profusely. Several of Saarn’s assassins ran along rooftops, throwing quills of bone into every soldier as they poured out of the garrison housed on the property.

Security shutters slammed closed along all the entrances and windows. Ion stood in front of the palatial doorway marking the traditional entrance of the President of the Czech Republic.

“Surrender your arms, and you will be spared!” Ion said in Czech.

Lovataar waited a moment before adding her own message: “Those of you who continue to resist will be killed without hesitation!”

A voice called out over the intercom in Czech, “What do you want?”

“Surrender. Nothing more. Bare your throats and you will not be harmed. But this building, this city, will be mine before daybreak.”

A loud explosion lit up the night sky several kilometers behind them, amongst the heart of the city.

“What is happening?” the voice on the intercom wailed.

“That is your Parliament building, no doubt. We are in the process of securing all military assets and police stations as we speak, but Parliaments will serve no use in the new world,” Lovataar said.

No response was forthcoming, so Ion turned and walked away from the security shutter. Lovataar turned to the gates and called out in Adytite.

A large behemoth tore through the statues and wrought iron that made up the main gate. Lovataar pointed at the shutters and willed the behemoth forward. Her work with Lucien to develop new larger, more powerful forms for the Nälkä faithful based on her biological vector, had been an overwhelming success. Each Klavigar, Karcist and select of the faithful could direct the energy of these hulking beasts – over four thousand kilograms of muscle, bone, sinew, keratin armor and horns – ready to do their bidding.

The behemoth plunged two of its four hands into the stone forming the frame around the steel shutter and pulled. The steel bands of overlapping armor ripped from the doorway and were cast behind them. Lovataar cooed and caressed the face of the behemoth – who had bent down to bow before her and Ion. “Stand guard. Let no one but the faithful enter. You may consume the fallen here for sustenance.”

Ion had already entered the building, surrounded by a dozen warriors from Orok’s coterie. She hurried to follow. Inside, dozens of soldiers and security agents lay bleeding and dying, the warriors standing over the fallen and covered in gore.

“If any surrender their arms, you are not to harm them,” Ion said. The captain of the warriors nodded to the Grand Karcist, bowing in respect.

Ion held out their hand to Lovataar. She took the hand in hers and they continued into the Castle.

By the time they reached the President’s offices, dozens of dead security agents littered their path. She rubbed at a steadily closing bullet wound in her left temple, which ached despite the healing. Ion looked into her eyes, and she nodded, reassuring them that she was fit to continue.

Ion threw open the doors to the Presidential Office with hundreds of tendrils drawn from the Grand Karcist’s personal halkost, erupting from their torso and ripping through the clothes she had asked them to wear. Inside, five security agents with assault rifles stood in a rough semi-circle with the Czech President behind them.

The Grand Karcist and Klavigar must have made a strange sight, she mused. Both mostly naked and covered in blood.

“I bring you good news, Mr. President,” Ion said in Czech.

“What are you?” the older man screamed, cowering behind his desk and agents.

“My name is Ion, and I come to you with an invitation to a new age of humanity. Your agents will lower their weapons and you will surrender to our embrace, or they will die.”

“What about me?”

“We have other plans for you,” Lovataar said.

The five agents opened fire with the assault rifles. She felt her flesh part and burn with each poisonous bit of lead, despite the increased durability she had willed into her epidermis. The wounds were shallow, but they ached.

The vast majority of their fire was directed towards Ion, who did not appear to have noticed the dozens and dozens of bullet wounds. She screamed and leapt onto the nearest agent, tearing off his face with her nails. She pulled the next into her embrace, tendrils emerging from her arms and ripping him in two, pulling bloody chunks into her core and absorbing his flesh.

The remaining three agents dropped their rifles and cowered. Ion walked to each, the wounds on the Grand Karcist’s face making it almost unrecognizable even as they began to close. Ion touched each of the agents on the face and whispered to them; each knelt and was overtaken by her biological vector, sweeping through their systems – this time transforming, not killing.

Ion stepped over the twitching masses that the agents had become and approached the weeping Head of the Czech State. Lovataar felt a twinge of sympathy for the man. He had gone from a position of authority and power to that of a quivering child in moments.

Ion crouched in front of the President and placed a hand on the man’s shoulder. “Will you listen to my tale, Mr. President?” Ion said in Czech.

The man nodded frantically, still weeping. “Good choice,” Ion said.

The Grand Karcist looked up into her eyes, smiling, the blood running down their skin as the wounds finished closing. Lovataar looked back into the eyes of her once and future love, and saw the world, covered in blood but finally free. She saw the freedom of humanity unleashed, a new society built on the strength of the flesh. No more hunger, no more war, no more disease except those they designed to serve mankind. They just had this one last war to fight, and then, Paradise.

Lovataar was naked, covered in gore, and leaning on the Presidential desk as she bent down to kiss Ion.


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