Spacer Undoing the Bindings 31
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    "That should keep him out for a while."
    "I never thought I'd say this, but I was about to call you," I told her. She ignored me and talked with Lucky, who didn't seem happy to see her. Guess their fling wasn't destined to last. Lucky was convinced that this battle would require her own sacrifice, but Yasmina thought otherwise, and I was inclined to trust her on this one. Her boss, Sutha, is an implacable enemy of Xyrgoth. And it's not as if we had too many options. I ferried my companions to base.
    There, Yasmina instructed Lucky to put one of her gloves on Talon, then generate the staff as a link between herself and him. Dawn would preside over the joining. It seems Phoenix was in need of Lucky's help to break him free of the god's grip. Once Xyrgoth realized what we were up to, he would try to break out physically. My job was to keep him from getting up—"Oh, is that all?"
    The mental battle went on for some time without any outward sign of what was happening; I later gathered that it had mainly to do with Phoenix's Oedipal problems, about which I'd really rather not know. Then Yasmina told me it was time. I would be able to see the place, she said, and she was right; a bright glow had arisen over the Common. It came from a small spot on the ground, and it was getting bigger. After a while, it showed itself as a head, rising up from the ground.
    My phone rang.
    "Needle, we've got a major problem down here, those guys in the lock-up are going crazy, growing claws, and we just got a call from the morgue that the dead ones are doing the same thing—"
    "Look, Reilly, I'm kind of busy right now," I said tensely, watching the growing head, wondering what the hell I was supposed to do to stop it. "Just keep them locked up, all right?"
    "Keep them locked up? We need you guys here, where's the rest of the team?"
    "We're kind of working on this problem already, Lucky and Phoenix are off dealing with it on another plane of reality, I'm the only one 'here' right now and I'm doing what I can, okay?"
    Pause. "Oh. We'll just, uh, try to keep them locked up, then."
    "Thank you."
    Head and shoulders were visible now. It saw me, and growled.
    "Get out of my way."
    "Afraid I can't do that."
    Arms were out. It threw a blast of power which peeled neatly around my shield and destroyed the Civil War monument. It had a bio-aura, which seemed to suggest that I might get a handle on it somehow; experimentally, I tried to hurt it. It roared and swatted at me with huge hands, flattening portions of the landscape. Sooner or later I was going to dodge the wrong way. Oh well, it wasn't much of a life anyway, I found myself thinking.
    Then Yasmina's voice reached me. The god's minions would try to reach it; it must not touch one of them, or it would move into that body and be free. The ones Talon had killed were already lurching through the trees toward their master.
    I put a shield over Xyrgoth. When it reached out to the nearest zombie, the dead man simply bounced away. It flailed more angrily and came close to knocking me out of the sky while I chipped away, never quite getting through but keeping its attention divided. Then it loosed a flash like Phoenix's; suddenly blind, I gained altitude fast, keeping my distance until my eyes had cleared.
    Finally it started to sink again, unable to continue the dual effort against the fight we were putting up. It must have been dreadfully weak already after its long imprisonment; this was its last gasp. At last even the corpses had stopped moving.
    I checked in with base; all alive and accounted for. Then I called Reilly. He said things had calmed down, although the ones from the morgue had gotten loose.
    "Yeah, they're down here at the park. Glad to hear it. Look, I'll stop by tomorrow. You and I have to talk." My grim tone seemed to startle him. I signed off and headed back to find base in a state of pandemonium. Dawn was giggling helplessly, having fooled the others into thinking she was taken over by Xyrgoth—nice to see that she has a sense of humor, I guess. Makes her seem a little less uncanny. Yasmina is gone, and has promised Lucky that she won't be bothering her again, now that Lucky has discharged her obligation to Sutha for fixing her when Gretchen turned her to stone. I'm a bit annoyed; I had a few questions to ask that woman, or whatever. But it's probably just as well.
    Phoenix is going to Japan. He's already called Ellis, who wants to talk him out of it, but for once I think a resolution might stick. He killed a lot of people tonight. They didn't deserve it. And even though Xyrgoth was occupying him, he would have done something pretty close to it even without the god, who just needed to give him a little push. He's going to look for the kind of training he needs to make him use what he can do responsibly, to find a master who can teach him mental discipline as well as physical.
    What a crew. Two semi-psychotic killers and a clone.
    It's been another really long day. Lucky felt a need to remind me that we're not free of troubles now, since I still have people after me. As if I was going to forget. If they want me, they can try in the morning.

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© 1999 Rebecca J. Stevenson