The blinding ball of light appeared out of mid air on the dusty desert plain. Bolts of lightning arced out of the ball, searing into the earth, the rich smell of nitrogen filling the air. And just as that, the ball flashed into nothingness, replaced by five shadowy figures. As the dust slowly cleared, the figures became clearer. The one in front, the one in a white gown which had a foot-long tear starting at the hem of his gown and heading upwards slowly, stumbled out, waving his arms and his pristine white wings to clear the air. He looked around, taking in the morbid surroundings and that unshakeable feeling, as if darkness itself had become solid to form this place. In between coughs, the Angel of Torn Skirts turned to the others and said, “This is not Silicon Valley.”
“Well, at least we haven’t been electrocuted to death.” The Angel looked at Sedusa, the mermaid who had replied. Behind her, Crexnettle was shaking his leathery wings and his beak, looking mostly unperturbed. The Angel knew that undead birds probably did not have to worry about dying again, so that would explain Crexnettle’s nonchalance. The centaur, on the other hand, didn’t look so good. Count Vladislau Rokkhans’ robes and the hair on his equine half were smoking as if someone had tried to make electric rump-roast out of him, and the markings on his stone left arm, were pulsing yellow, a sure sign that danger was afoot.
“Where are we? I am ashamed to say my superior faculties do not recognize these environs.” A lecturing voice had piped up somewhere near the ground. The Angel looked down to find Mike Craw’s lower half, talking through his posterior as usual. It never ceased to amaze the Angel that as a piecemeal raptor, Mike Craw’s lizard-like body, albeit about four feet in size, could split up into two halves, with his lower half being the smarter and unfortunately also the vocal section, while his upper half, armed with talons and teeth could do all the blood-work. At the moment, though the upper half was rolling on the ground trying to put out a small fire that had caught on its eyebrows. The Angel looked around once again before saying with great effort, “I …don’t know. I’ve never been here.”
The centaur decided to contribute, “You think this is the next leg of our quest? Maybe we have to find something here.”
“Yeah, well, I really doubt that. The Void didn’t bring us here.”
Sedusa lost her cool, “Well, then where on Thrae are we?!”
Mike Craw’s lower half grunted before saying, “Hmmm, that might explain it.”
“What?” Sedusa snapped at the raptor.
“We’re not on Thrae, my dear, we’re somewhere entirely different. Very very different.” Mike said as he finally regained control of his upper half and began to survey the surroundings.
“Well, then O Wise Lizard,” Sedusa sneered, “How did we get here?”
Mike replied, unfazed, “The electric energy at Silicon Valley…it must have caused a flux in the time-space continuum…a portal in the universe maybe… It’s possible.” Sedusa seemed highly displeased, both because Mike had answered her question and because she hadn’t understood a word. Mike continued, turning towards the Angel, “Hey, umm, do you think you can get …er...some help?” He pointed vaguely upwards.
The Angel sighed, then said, “That’s the thing, Mike. Ever since we got here…well…I don’t think He can hear me here.”
Count Rokkhans said grimly, “Maybe He doesn’t have anything to do with this place.”
Crexnettle merely looked to the sky and screeched an unearthly squawk. All eyes turned to look at what seemed like a fireball with wings. It streaked through the cerise dawn sky, trailing smoke and plumage behind it. And it seemed to be headed straight for them. But at the last minute it dove down, plunging and eventually hitting a small pond a little farther from where they were standing. A few moments later, some sort of half-human half eagle clambered out of the smoke and dust, one of its wings sizzling. Another kid seemed to be still lying in the shallow water. Mike whispered in a conspiratorial tone, “Relative of yours, Angel?” The Angel frowned, the half-human did look like he could have been one of the Seraphim. But then, the creature picked up the kid and threw him straight into a large tree. The Angel strained to go forward, but the Count held him back, saying, “We don’t know what’s going on. Better not to interfere.” So the Angel watched helplessly as the half-human then rummaged through its bag, did something to its wings and started to walk away. Even at this distance, the Angel and the others could hear hot words being exchanged. Then the half-human turned, said something they couldn’t quite hear, and continued walking, while the other one struggled with the branches of the tree.
The Angel broke free of Rokkhans’ stone fist and spread his wings out, flying towards the tree. When he finally reached it, the kid was still trying to scramble down. The Angel merely hovered in the air, and in his best angelic voice, said, “Hey, that tree too high for you?”