Chapter 1 - Myn the Merciless
"Can you kill an angel ?
I mean a real
angel, not one of those people who believe that they are angelic souls in human bodies. Those lot are like the Goths who think
that they are vampires and run around in black velvet dresses and capes. If they met a real vampire, they'd # themselves. Oh yes, vampires exist but
they're not soulful creatures like Louis or Lestat of Anne Rice's stories. No, these vampires - the real
ones - are more like the old Hammer
Horror monsters. Dracula, Baron Meinster, Carmilla - Demons in human form, creatures of the night, the devil's undead.
But I'm getting off track. I know
how to kill a vampire, after all I saw the pixy bump off De Mornay. What I want
to know is how to
kill an angel
. One in particular - Azrael - the angel of death himself.
That's why I'm here just outside Gloucester with a woman I don't know very well, en-route to Vatican City to find a book that shouldn't exist.
Just another day in the life of John Tobias, ex-squaddie, wielder of the sword Excalibur
and onetime leader of the Stokesay contingency. Azrael
took my love away before her time and I want her back. According to the pixy-woman Muryannan and my companion Ravenna the Vatican archaeologist, when
the angel of death himself dies the souls of all those he took will return to earth. The book we seek, Necronomicon
, supposedly explains how
this can be performed.
Can you kill an angel ?
Can you kill a creature created by a direct command of God himself ?
I don't know. But if I can, I will. I will do whatever needs to be done to get my love back to me."
Tobias clicked the button of his PDA and watched as his recent journal entry was stored within the electronic brain of the machine.
Beside him, curled up on the passenger side of the comandeered hummer, Ravenna stirred. Her eyes flickered open and she groaned, stretching her neck
and pushing herself into a sitting position. "Oh my god", she moaned, "Never again". She put her hand to her forehead and winced; "You haven't
got any aspirin have you ?"
Tobias reached into his pocket and pulled out a small bottle which he passed to his companion. Groaning like one of the damned she opened it, tapped
out two pills and swallowed them.
"I told you that cider was strong", Tobias said as Ravenna returned the bottle; "That stuff the pixy riders gave us was made with real Cornish
apples left to ferment for years. It's at least twice the strength of the cider Fingal and Pisky made".
Ravenna turned green and pushed the door open, stumbling out of the vehicle just in time. Tobias shook his head as Ravenna called to the ancient pagan
gods of overindulgence, Huey
Soon enough a pasty looking woman dragged herself back into the hummer and lay her head against the backrest.
"Better ?", Tobias asked.
"Just kill me now", came the reply. "It would be a mercy"
Tobias grinned then looked at his watch. "Time to go" he said, fitting a key into the console and switching on the engine, "I want to be in London
just after nightfall." Ravenna winced as the powerful five hundred horsepower engine burst into life, then settled back into her seat and closed her
Ravenna woke to see the lights of London flickering on in the distance as dusk approached. Her headache had subsided somewhat and her now empty
stomach growled for sustenance.
"So sleeping beauty returns from the arms of Morpheus", Tobias said with a smile. "Feel any better ?"
"Much, thanks", Ravenna replied turning towards the soldier, her face having lost the greenish tint of a few hours ago.
"There's food in the back", Tobias said turning the effortlessly into a side road as he headed towards the city. "Pixyland pasties"
Ravenna leaned over the back of her seat and fumbled in one of the backpacks. Taking out two pasties, he handed one to Tobias and settled down to fill
her complaining stomach with good Cornish fayre.
"Tell me about this woman we're supposed to be meeting again", Ravenna said in between dainty bites of pasty, "I was out of it yesterday". She
grimaced at the memory and shook her tender head, "I'm never drinking 'Best Pixyland' ever again"
Tobias smiled. "Her name's Mynaeris", he began, "I went to school with her back in the day. 'Myn the Merciless' we called her on account of the
fact that she never took any crap. You can trust her with your life, but get on the wrong side of her and you'll regret ever hearing her name."
"Charming", Ravenna said.
"Actually, she is. Very charismatic is Myn, which is just as well considering her 'trade'"
"Which is ?"
"She's a 'fixer"', Tobias explained, "If you want something, odds on she'll be able to get it. Within reason of course, I mean she probably
wouldn't be able to find the Ark of the Covenant or anything like that."
"I already know where that
is anyway", Ravenna replied with a knowing smile. Tobias shook his head in amusement.
Ravenna finished her pasty and dusted off her dress. "So she'll be able to get the stuff we need ?"
"Oh yes, that won't be a problem for Mynaeris. She's got contacts all over Britain and in most of the cities of Europe. What we need will be
child's play for Myn."
Ravenna nodded as Tobias continued. "Last I heard she was running a night club in London as cover - she makes more in a day with her black market
trading than the club makes in a month."
"A night club ?", Ravenna asked, "I haven't been in one of those for years"
"I have to admit to being somewhat shocked myself when I first found out", Tobias replied, "Myn can't stand today's music. Not as much as Pisky
despises the Beatles
of course, but close enough. She finds trance
particularly irksome. Then again, I suppose the benefits must
outweigh the annoyances. 'A good cover is worth its weight in gold' she told me once and I guess that if she has to put up with a little
inconvenience then so be it. It's the end result that counts after all."
"So what's the name of this club then ?" Ravenna asked as Tobias began to pull the hummer to the side of the road, "And where exactly is it?"
The soldier grinned as he slipped the vehicle effortlessly between two parked cars. "Just around the corner there", he pointed to the right. "Best
we go the rest of the way on foot".
"And the name of the place ?", Ravenna asked as she opened her door and dropped lithely to the ground.
"You'll recognise it as soon as you see it."
She shrugged her shoulders, tucked an errant strand of hair behind her ear and followed her companion along the darkening streets of London.
"She thinks highly of herself, I see", Ravenna said as the nightclub came into view. A converted Victorian warehouse, the club itself looked like
many others of its ilk. Its dark brick facade lit only by the nearby streetlamps and a glowing neon sign declaring the name of the establishment.
"The Goddess Mynaeris
", Ravenna read out aloud and shook her head.
"She never was one for false modesty.", Tobias replied with a grin as he watched a queue of hopeful revellers move slowly past the bouncers and into
a dark passage leading to the bowels of the building.
"You can say that again." Ravenna said, walking slowly towards the end of the queue where a group of young bloods were already eyeing up the
opposite sex. Wolf whistles and the occasional sordid remark could be heard, usually resulting in slapped faces and embarassed looks. Ravenna shook
"Hang on here", Tobias said, "And I'll see whats what." And with that, he strode along the line towards the entrance.
Ravenna stood glowering at Tobias as he accosted one of the bouncers. She was peering towards them, in a vain attempt to read their lips when she felt
a hand grasp her arm. She gasped, for a second or so certain that she had been discovered by either Corporate militia or worse, Azraelites, but it was
only a pimply youth with beery breath who had decided to chance his luck. "Hey darlin", he said earnestly "grab your coat, you've pulled"
Ravenna detached the grasping hand from her arm, being careful not to give her would-be Beau the excuse to 'accidentally' stagger against her.
Actually", she replied sweetly, "I'm here with someone"
"Him", Ravenna pointed towards Tobias who was walking back, a grin on his face.
"I can take him any day !", the youth said drunkenly, thrusting out his chest. Then with a groan he clutched his stomach, fell to his knees at the
kerb and threw up.
"I see you've been making friends" the soldier said laughingly as he took Ravenna by the hand and led her past the line and towards the door.
"Chat-up lines haven't changed much since I was last in London I see", she replied as she followed Tobias to the head of the queue where a tall
craggy-faced bouncer opened the door and gestured them inside.
"What did you do ?", Ravenna asked as she followed Tobias down a dimly lit carpeted staircase, "Tell them you're a friend of the owner ?"
"Stupid idea", Tobias replied, "Never works. No decent bouncer would fall for that
, even if it was true. I was going to give it a go though,
until I found something else out"
"See the guy who let us in ?"
"Ex Royal Engineer"
Ravenna turned towards a smiling Tobias; "And how exactly did you know that
"He was wearing a REME tiepin. I pulled the old 'Comrades in arms' bit. Turns out he left a couple of years before I did."
"But why didn't we just wait our turn ?"
"And risk getting turned away if the place got full before we got in ?"
"Oh" Ravenna sighed and followed her companion under an archway and into the club proper.
The sound and lights almost overwhelmed Ravenna who physically staggered at the onslaught. "Wow !", she shouted to Tobias, "I don't remember these
places being so loud. I can hardly hear myself think"
"Me too", the soldier shouted back laughingly, "We must be getting old"
"And this music", Ravenna continued, "Trance is the right name for it. You don't need illicit drugs to zap the mind, just listen to this
stuff for a few hours"
Tobias nodded, looking around the room. Surrounding the dancefloor where scores of gyrating revellers danced to the pulsing tunes was an open area
full of tables and chairs. People in various stages of inebriation lounged around, some speaking loudly others indulging in drinking games while at
least three red-eyed patrons could be seen smoking something other than tobacco. Every twenty feet or so a pillar stood, the whole holding up a first
floor balcony where customers could sit and watch the antics below. Tobias touched Ravenna's arm and pointed across the dance floor, directly below
Lounging against one of the pillars, a young woman with long reddish-brown hair scanned the room, her eyes missing nothing. She looked to be in her
late teens but carried herself with the confidence of someone far older. Noticing Tobias, she cocked her head to one side and smiled.
her ?", Ravenna asked, taking in the womans short multicoloured dress, long boots and elbow length gloves which gave her a marked
resemblance to a character in an anime production. The impression was completed by a golden medallion that reflected the flickering lights of the
"No", Tobias replied as they moved closer, "That's Reikuro. Myn's sidekick and bodyguard"
a bodyguard ?", Ravenna asked incredulously.
Tobias smiled grimly. "Appearances can be deceptive."
"They would have to be", Ravenna replied, "She looks as if she wouldn't say 'Boo' to a goose"
"Oh, she's done more than that", the soldier said under his breath as they approached the girl, "Much more"
"Nice place you have here", Tobias said as Reikuro stepped over to meet them.
"Tell me about it", Reikuro said, rolling her eyes. "Good cover, thats about it. I assume you're not here for the scintillating entertainment
"Need to see Myn, if she's here"
"She's here - at least for now."
"She's planning another flit ?", Tobias looked intrigued.
"I'll let her
tell you", Reikuro replied, "if she wants you to know", and with that she led them along the side of the dancefloor towards
a dark-looking alcove on the far left.
Sidestepping a couple gyrating to the music, Tobias took Ravenna's arm and led her away from a leering specimen of Homo Neanderthalensis
before following Reikuro towards an almost invisible black velvet curtain hidden in the depths of the alcove. Slipping through they found themselves
at one end of a short corridor which led to a large oak door that would not have been out of place in a mediaeval castle.
Reikuro tapped twice on the door then opened it and gestured the couple to enter. The room beyond reminded Ravenna of some of the offices she had
occupied while working at the Vatican. Dark wood panelled walls, wine coloured carpets and desks that smelt of beeswax. But instead of some aged
Cardinal scribbling on parchment, the figure occupying the desk directly across from the door was tall and lithe with long blonde hair and a piercing
"Minnie !!!", Tobias cried with a grin, striding across the carpeted floor and ignoring everything except the woman sitting before him.
"I am so
not Minnie !", came the reply, "I believe that
monicker belongs to someone else", and with that Mynaeris stood and walked
gracefully around the desk to face her guests.
"John Tobias" she said, her slight accent betraying her South African origins. "It's been a long time."
"Five years", Tobias replied as Mynaeris took his hands and looked into his eyes.
"It seems much longer", she said softly before turning to Ravenna; "And who is this charming young lady ?"
Tobias smiled and introduced his companion who blushed slightly at the compliment.
"Ravenna ... Ravenna ...
", Mynaeris mused, "Now where have I heard that name before ? ... Ah well, I'm sure it will come to me soon enough.
But I am forgetting my manners. Please sit", and she waved them to the far right corner of the office where four armchairs were arranged around a
large coffee table.
"We need your help, Myn", Tobias said once the preliminaries were over, "Passports, Visas, you know the kind of thing."
Mynaeris leaned her elbows on the arms of her chair and steepled her fingers. "Where to ?", she asked.
Tobias leaned forward; "Vatican City"
Myn ran her hand through her hair and sighed. "It's going to be difficult", she said, "Especially with what's happened"
Tobias looked from Myn to Ravenna and back. "We've been ... indisposed", he said. "What exactly what do you mean ?"
"Indisposed ? ... Where in Hell have you been
... everyone knows ..."
"What's happened ?
", Ravenna interrupted, an icy fear moving down her spine. She closed her eyes.
"Vatican City is under lockdown", Myn replied.
"It's the Pope", Mynaeris continued, "He's disappeared."