Angels of Judgement

Angels of Judgement

Angels of Judgement

(c)1995 by Vince Aldrete

Prologue 1: Cordillera Oriental de los Andes

47 km east of Florencia, Colombia: 20 February 1993

Anyone who was over three times as tall as her fellow humans would appreciate a home scaled for

herself, and La Patrona de los Mentirosos was no exception. Every hallway, door and room in the

luxurious mountain home known as Casa Arroyo was three point one times as tall and wide as their

ordinary counterparts; and all the important furniture was scaled to fit the giantess, as well. It was also

true that every door and room in the house also had features that people who weren't five and one-half

meters tall could use.

Every room, that is, except one.

The hexagonal chamber measured thirty-five meters on a side. Six large television monitors sat

lodged into each of the six rough, ten-meter-high walls, which, in turn, rose from the black marble floor to a

rounded crimson ceiling. The only lighting, other than that from the screens, came from the small red

tubes that emanated from the center of the ceiling to each of its six corners. Throughout the room, on the

walls and on the furniture scattered about in disorderly fashion, sat dozens of items, some of them

magical, some merely valuable beyond the dreams of mortals.

Dama Norte was no stranger to black magic -- her youthful appearance was one reward for over six

decades of experience -- but the sight of this great prayer hall filled her with trepidation every time she

entered it. If she looked up at the screens, she could see that not all of them were showing scenes from

this Earth, or even this dimension of existence. If she looked up to the ceiling, the demonic inscriptions

and icons between the dimmed red lights still frightened her, as though it were still the 1935 Germany of

her youth. And as her mistress never tired of telling her and the other three Damas, touching any of the

objects -- even when they could reach them on the furniture and walls so high -- had caused the death of

each of the six men who were their predecessors.

The most disconcerting feature of the room, however, was the sound that currently filled it. Normally,

the Damas -- Norte, Sur, Este and Oeste -- entered La Patrona's prayer hall when it was empty, or when

their mistress was scanning the television screens for an opportunity for yet another (usually criminal)

enterprise. On this rainy night, however, La Patrona was praying to the dark beings she called her gods.

The blonde titan, naked except for a robe that could have clothed nine or ten men, filled the room with a

hauntingly beautiful chant that might have reminded a Catholic of an Easter mass. She sang, oblivious to

her surroundings, as enraptured as anyone who had prayed would feel.

It was obviously not a good time to interrupt La Patrona, but Dama Norte felt trapped. If she did intrude

on her superior's invocation, there was the almost certain risk of punishment. Were to she have allowed

La Patrona to go on, however, Dama Norte would be in violation of a direct order. Calculating the

potential damage from each course, she chose to obey the directive. "Esparanza," she cried to the

Amazonian witch.

Suddenly, the song stopped. La Patrona snapped from her trance, and rapidly turned her gaze down

to Dama Norte. "This had better be important, Norte," she glowered menacingly (in glorious espanol, of

course).

"You wanted me to tell you right away!" Norte stammered, unnerved by La Patrona's reaction. "

Reconnaissance has found it! A Colombian variant!"

La Patrona softened her expression and relaxed. She pointed to a vial of dark liquid on a low table as

the soft red in the light tubes became a bright blue. "Have a drink, Heike," she smiled.

Dama Norte stepped to the table, took the vial, and shook it. The liquid was thick, like unrefined crude

oil; it stick to the sides of the tube. Convinced that she wasn't about to be poisoned, she opened it and

started to drink. Experience with the viscous fluid told her to put the vial down, and it reminded her to take

off her dress and shoes. But she never quite got used to the odd sensations the elixir caused: the

dizziness, followed by the disorientation as everything seemed to sink into the ground. It was well that La

Patrona had provided the Damas with the underwear made of stretch fabric for occasions like this,

because now Dama Norte felt the shiny black garment ride up her legs as it stretched over her body. As

usual, it was only after the hemline of the leggings had passed halfway up Dama Norte's powerful thighs

that she realized that she was growing. At that recognition, she sighed in relief and relaxed. Finally, the

changes stopped; looking like nothing so much as a competitive bicyclist, she smiled. She was still

looking up at La Patrona, but the distance was now more like four centimeters than four meters.

La Patrona regarded her ruefully. "You're never going to get used to being a bomber, are you?" she

asked with a mocking playfulness.

Dama Norte could only shake her head. "No, ma'am, I guess not."

La Patrona pointed to the screens on the western wall. "Well," she ordered, "why don't you show me

this wonderful new world?"

The titanic women walked, and Dama Norte selected four screens. "This parallel shows great

promise," she declared.

"Oh?"

"Look: there aren't any women in these scenes." Dama Norte was right; everyone in each of the

pictures was a man. "From what we can tell, the women have been wiped out in a plague of some kind,"

she continued, "but you'll have to make the call yourself."

La Patrona smiled wickedly. A delicious thought was crossing her mind. "Ah, si!" she almost drawled.

"I will have to check this out!"

She had plans for this parallel.

And as they formed quickly in her mind, malicious giggles escaped her mouth.

She looked straight into Dama Norte's eyes.

A second later, both women were laughing... .

Prologue 2

Dragon's Mount, Texas: 18 September 1995

"Now wait a minute, Janice," protested her husband. "Today's your birthday Forty-two, to be exact.

You're not supposed to give anything to me!"

As she plunked the CD into their computer, the blonde Amazon snuggled up to him. Even had he any

desire to, Ricky couldn't escape her powerful arms.

"Well, what is it?" he wondered.

"Remember that meteor that crashed on Padre Island back in February?"

"You mean that 'meteor' you're not supposed to discuss with me?"

"Uh-huh. We found a tiny computer in the 'meteor'. It took us seven months, but we were finally able

to read what was on its memory."

"And?" he asked.

"When you're through with this," she purred, "you'll be giving me something else tonight!" Janice gave

a low, wicked laugh, and slithered rather seductively out of the computer room.

Ricky grimaced, sure of what that could mean. He double- clicked on the CD icon, and started reading,

hoping this wasn't another one of those trashy Internet stories that appeared in his E-mail from time to

time.

He opened the read-me file. It was a note to Janice.

To: [email protected]

Janice

After a whole messa guessin', we still have no clue as to the origin of

these messages. At first we thought it was a bunch of bored students

over at UT, but there are too many weird things about the files (not least

the subject matter). Not only would the tricksters have to have complete

mastery of Spanish, they would have to have invented a completely new

operating system.

The linguists we flew up from Monterrey think that this is the way Spanish

might look in a hundred years. They have no idea as to who would go to

all this trouble, either.

Anyhow, it now appears that the only people who can use this are you

and your husband. It is hard to see what else these files are for. I trust

you two won't do anything illicit with it. :-)

Later,

Clay

Nervously, Ricky closed the note and opened the first of the files. He could see that the Spanish was,

indeed, strange. It was going to take him awhile to read it.

++++

The Diary of Javier Magana

(translated from the Spanish)

Arecibo, October 14, 2101 -- Officially, I am not under orders to record anything, but the Patriarchate sent

one of their civil officials here to tell me what a good idea it would be to start a diary. As we could be on

the verge of our first alien contact since the Serial Wars, I have come to agree with him.

I am Doctor Javier Magana, Professor of Astronomy at Gonzalo State University. For the sake of

historians who will be reading this, I note that radio astronomy is one of the few disciplines left untouched

when the alien Guerratecs attacked the Earth in 2060. As a result of that last Serial War, we have been

left at a level of technology roughly equal to what we had in 1975. Some areas of science, like mine, are

at much higher levels, but others, especially weaponry, are no better than before World War II.

The war against the 'Tecs forced us to use our entire stockpile of strategic weapons. That included

nuclear weapons, most of which were detonated north of Cd. Guatemala and in Europe and Asia. Being

on Puerto Rico, the radio telescope at Arecibo is far enough from the Wastes to be habitable, but not for

very long. No one can stay here for more than a few weeks at a time, so I share this post with four

colleagues.

Two days ago, we received a transmission from orbit. There has arrived mounting evidence that the

transmission is the real thing: an extraterrestrial contact. We are sure that it is an ETC because we could

see the signals coming from the artificial satellites that have orbited the earth since the Wars ended. (As

all the satellites from before that era were shot down, the ones up now must have an ET origin.) Until

now, no signals had come in from them.

We were about to send word to the Ministry of Science, or Mindecien, when the Council of Bishops itself

sent us a message. It seems that their mystics had picked up odd signals at the same time as we got

ours. If they are right, and the mystics rarely announce errors, this contact may be extradimensional as

well.

Whatever is trying to contact us may be our salvation. Or our doom.

Arecibo, October 28, 2101 -- Our men in Cd. Hullaga are still going through the data we got two weeks

ago. The mystics in Cali, meanwhile, are sure that they are getting signs of contact themselves.

We are still waiting for another signal.

Ciudad Hullaga, November 8, 2101 -- Three bits of news have sent me home.

The Math Department at Gonzalo State here in town sent us word yesterday that the first signals we got

on the 14th are the real thing. There is no doubt now that aliens are trying to talk to us.

In Cali, the Patriarchate mystics believe that they are hearing from women.

Actual, live women, not the marincones who dress up as such. There are millions of marincones. In a

world that hasn't seen a live woman in almost fifty years, the marincones are fulfilling a need that remains

desperate. Although we have gotten cloning technology to a high enough level to survive the loss of real

women, and though the Patriarchate condemns sex with the marincones, they flourish, especially in Brasil

and Kenya.

Even more importantly, a second transmission has come in. It was much clearer than the first. We

believe that the face and voice on the other end belong to a woman, but there was no way for us to be

sure. Thus, I have taken a recording of the transmission here for my friend Andres Montoya to see.

Andres is one of those radicals who believe that the Serial Wars were fought by design. As the crackpot

theory goes, men used the Wars as an excuse to chain women to their homes. When they lost all their

rights, it continues, women decided that death was preferable to life under the rule of God and man. Of

course, we men had given women all the rights they ever needed. The fact that they wanted more just

proved how corrupted they were by Satan. Andres says it's because we treated them so badly in the

centuries before the Serial Wars. But then, he also has the abominable belief that the abolition of Negro

slavery was a good thing. I can't figure out Andres, but he's still my friend.

And at this point, as we try to keep the contacts a secret, going to Andres is a good idea. If he says

anything, well, nobody believes any of the radicals from the Department of Racial Memory.

Ciudad Hullaga, November 10, 2101 -- Andres went nuclear.

He viewed the cinedisc over and over again, all day long, and he still couldn't quite believe what he was

seeing. "Do you know what this means?" he asked excitedly.

"It's a woman," I intoned. "We might get to make real babies again, instead of clones. If there's more

than one with her."

"Look," he snapped, "remember what I said about women? About how much smaller they were than we

are? It would be suicide for her to come here all by herself. Patriarchate propaganda aside, the fact is,

we'd rough her up pretty good before she got out. If she got out.

"So what's the big deal?"

"Look at her clothing," he instructed.

The woman was a rubia; she had light blonde hair, curled as though she had taken a hot iron to parts of

her hair. I had to admit that it made her prettier. I can't really describe her clothing; I tended to avoid the

skin discs that flourished despite the fact that there weren't any women around to pose for them. (Ah, the

wonders of holographics.)

Andres, however, had hundreds of discs, all of which had women doing one thing or another, and some of

them were skin discs. He had let me view them many years back, and I recall getting a sickening feeling

of arousal when I saw them. That feeling came back the first time I saw the cinedisc we were watching

now.

"So?" I asked.

"Oops," he responded, head down. "Sometimes I forget that not everyone is a women's history scholar.

Okay, the hair is real, but the style was done with a curling iron, and there is specialized paint all over her

face."

"Paint that makes women look good, like what marincones use today."

"Right! Women stopped using cosmetics about sixty years ago; there weren't enough power plants left to

make them. So this message can't have originated before the Chicago Olympics. But looking at the

clothing, that's all from the late 1900s. Those shoes with the spiked heels have to have been made in

1994, '95, '96, sometime around then."

"So you think this woman was alive before the Serial Wars began?"

"In all likelihood, yes. I've been hearing rumors from Cali that the mystics have been going as nuts as you

guys have at Arecibo. So I figure there are two possibilities. First, this woman is real, but she's probably

dead. It's hard to believe that anyone could look that beautiful after 80 to 100 years."

"And the second one?"

"We could be talking to a parallel Earth."

Arecibo, November 24, 2101 -- We are now in regular contact with the one we now call Esparanza. She is

beautiful beyond imagination. I have relayed some of our conversations to Andres. Judging from her

outfits, and from the old form of Spanish she speaks, he is now certain that Esparanza is from either our

past or a parallel world.

He has come closer to the truth than the Patriarchate likes, though, so I had to stop speaking with him last

week. I can, though, reveal some of the contents of my chats with Esparanza. She says that she is from

a parallel Earth, in the year 1995, but that since time is a position, she can only communicate with us. For

reasons unknown, she cannot get to the 1995 of our world. Her world has already deviated from the

history which would bring about the Patriarchate. She says that several of her comrades actually won at

Point Liberty, and it fell in 1989. The number of women and men are roughly the same in her world, and

she believes that there is a looming population crisis.

In turn, I have explained the evolution of the Serial Wars, and how the next to last one resulted in a plague

that killed off our women in 2054. Esparanza has taken an interest in our plight, and has promised to

arrange for the transfer of several dozen women to our world. If things go well, she promises that more

will come afterwards. That way, we can begin to reproduce again, and her world can see relief from its

pressures.

When I mentioned the last Serial War, the 'Tec invasion, she said that she is familiar with the 'Tecs. She

called them a dangerous foe that her world has already fought off. ("No," she told me when I asked about

it, "the United Nations hasn't collapsed yet." It's another major historical deviation.) She would also see if

she could bring construction equipment to repair some of our cities. "That way," she promised, "if the

'Tecs come again, your cities will be harder to destroy."

Arecibo, December 13, 2101 -- I am near the end of my term here. I won't be back until next September,

and I go home just before Holy Week. Esparanza and I have developed quite an affection for one

another, and the Patriarchate has approved construction of a satellite link in my apartment in Ciudad

Hullaga. So Esparanza and I will be able to continue our relationship. She thinks that she and the other

women, several of whom I have now met (and are almost as gorgeous), will be ready to come in the late

spring. We can hardly wait to meet.

Cali, December 20, 2101 -- As a vitally interested party, I was invited to attend today's emergency session

of the Council of Bishops. The Executive Council is bitterly split as to when to announce the existence of

new women to the world. One faction has no problem with Esparanza's sudden demand for a Christmas

Day notice. Although she has taken great pains to assure me that our relationship will survive, she has

been adamant about this. If there is no official word by then, Esparanza says the other women will have

to make alternate plans, and no one will come. The other side in the argument is afraid that a public

notice will rob the Patriarchate of the strategic advantage it now has over Brasil and Kenya.

It took thirty-one hours, but the Council agreed to Esparanza's request.

I just got off the line to tell Esparanza the good news. She smiled. "Javi," she asked, "do you know about

kisses?"

"I don't give very many of them," I answered with disdain.

"Listen, my dear little one: they're much sweeter coming from a woman. In a most sensual fashion, she

gave her fingertips an affectionate kiss, and touched her screen. It left a touch of lipstick on my screen. "I

love you, little man."

"I love you too, big lady," I smiled. I couldn't doubt it -- I was in live with this beautiful woman. I couldn't

say why I called her 'big,' though.

Ciudad Hullaga, December 24, 2101 -- Word of the announcement leaked almost the second the Council

approved it, and has been spreading like bad coca plants. Here in the state of Gonzalo, those in poor and

rural areas have been streaming into the city. A few men are staying home, willing to listen to the radio;

but most want to see Esparanza on the TVs. (I am one of the best paid scientists in the Patriarchate, and

I can barely afford a fully equipped color TV. Most men can't afford anything but a black-and-white TV,

and maybe a cinedisc player to go with it.) There have been scattered riots in town, as men fight to see

who can see Esparanza on the color TVs at the best bars. To make matters worse, all the gas-guzzling

cars coming in from the countryside have been crowding the streets and filling the air with noxious

exhaust. The freeways, which can usually get you across town in a few minutes, are every bit as jammed

as the regular roads.

When I told Esparanza about this, she sighed in fake regret. "I'll send some probes across the gateway,"

she replied. "That way, everyone will get to see us on video."

"It's too late now, hon," I informed her. "Don't worry too much about it; we'll live. You should start sending

probes, though. It may be that the gateway allows signals to get through but not people. And don't forget

to mention them tomorrow; you wouldn't want to scare anyone."

"Of course I wouldn't," she smiled.

Ciudad Hullaga, December 25, 2101 -- I have my own color TV set, so I invited Andres to come watch at

my house. He accepted, and brought over some beer and chips for us to consume. It is just as well we

are inside. Outside, the streets are as packed as I have ever seen them, and it is hard to see through the

suffocating smog.

At 1300, the big moment came. Esparanza, along with three other women standing behind her, appeared

on the world's broadcast receivers. For most men, it was the first time anyone had seen a woman.

The announcer from Mindecom was going on in the background, giving Andres time to rave over the

women. "My God," he gasped softly, "they're beautiful!" He took a breath, then resumed. "Look at the

dresses, Javier."

"Dresses? What dresses, Andres? They're wearing almost nothing at all!"

"Well, yes, but now I'm sure that these women are from our past. The leader, the blonde --"

"That's Esparanza."

"She has a dark red, one-piece outfit on. She has huge, almost spherical breasts, which were very

popular before the Wars. The top is cut low so that they are highlighted. The cut on the bottom is called a

Belgian cut, or a French cut; I don't remember which one it is. The idea is, again, to make her look like the

ideal for the late 20th century. She has some weird leggings, and the shoes have high, narrow heels.

She's also wearing gloves that go halfway up her arms. The fabric isn't very familiar, but that could be the

reception. But all in all, she and her friends look very much like they're from the 1990s. The other women

are dressed similarly, but their outfits are black, and they're wearing stockings on their legs, made of thin,

blackish nylon."

"Nylon? The stuff that costs a hundred pesos a gram?"

"Back then, it was dirt cheap. The most expensive stockings did cost a hundred pesos, but that was for all

the fabric. Most women could get a pair to cover everything below the waist for maybe a peso and a half."

"You mean women dressed like that in public? That's sick!" But there was that damned feeling in my

groin again. Why are you doing this to me, Esparanza? I asked to myself.

"No, not usually. There were a lot of outfits worn in private, though. The idea was to arouse their male

partners, usually their husbands. I'll have to look, but there was a lot of popular fiction of the time in which

women did wear this stuff in public."

"So this is expensive stuff they're wearing!"

"For us, yes. Only the high class marincones can afford it. But then, most women in even the middle

classes could buy one or two outfits.

"They're very sexy," he concluded. "They'll be very powerful once they come here."

At long last, Esparanza spoke.

"Men of the Three Nations," she started, smiling. "Merry Christmas! My name is Esparanza Arroyo. My

colleagues and I represent what you would call a parallel version of your world. History has evolved

differently here, and the Serial Wars will not occur here.

"I would like to send my love and thanks to Doctor Javier Magana, without whose assistance and support

our communication would not be possible. Dr. Magana has apprised me of the situation on your world; I

deeply regret the loss of your women in the Wars." Esparanza frowned ruefully, and paused respectfully.

The other women bowed their heads, too.

She continued, then. "I have recently spoken with the heads of all Three Nations. With their permission, I

have arranged for the eventual return of women to your world. With hard work and the grace of God, we

women and you men can rebuild Terra. Perhaps one day in the not too distant future, we may all even

reclaim the Wastes in the North, and all the technological marvels that were lost in your struggle with the

Guerratecs.

"I am addressing you through something called a Gateway, a point that could allow travel, and one day

trade, between our worlds. Your present technology does not permit you space travel, but ours does, and

we will first confirm that the Gateway is, in fact, safe for human travel. To that end, we are launching a

series of probes to map your world and establish a permanent route there. In the next several days, most

of you will see a number of large spheres fly through your skies. Do not be alarmed, and do not attempt to

interact with them. These are our probes, and will not harm you in any way.

"We are familiar with the 'Tecs, and the damage of which they are capable. Therefore, when we have

established a path to your world, we will be sending large robots to repair your major cities, and give you

the opportunity to improve your infrastructures. When these robots have completed their task, your major

cities will be well protected in the event of a second 'Tec attack.

"The repairs should be completed by the end of the spring of 2102. At that point, a party of thirty-six

women will arrive in your major cities to begin the process of rebuilding your genetic stock. As many of

you know, the years without women have done great damage to your gene pool. These women will be

selected on the basis of their ability to improve your pool.

"We ask only that your governments prepare you for our arrival. Thirty-six women cannot handle over a

billion and a half inhabitants of your world all at once, so we request that you select men, perhaps

seventy-two from each of the Three Nations, to be the first to interact with us. As we grow accustomed to

each other, more and more women will come, and more of you will be able to meet us, but at this point,

you should begin to select the men for first contact.

"We will be speaking to you again in the near future. For now, have a safe Holy Week, and our kindest

regards. May God bless you all."

The transmission ended, and Andres turned to me. "Something's not right, Javi. The way the women in

black moved: there was something they weren't telling us. And Esparanza had an odd look on her face."

"Like?" I asked.

"I don't know. For all I know, it could be a misreading. The historical records of women in the 1990s could

be wrong. But the looks on the women's faces say that they have something else in mind.

"But then, too, I could be another crackpot at the Department of Racial Memory."

Cd. Hullaga, January 22, 2102 -- Esparanza's probes came and went, leaving in their wake crowds of

awed men. All they did was fly from one point to the next, stopping as though to take pictures of the

ground below. In the Andean backcountry, some of the peasants swore that they shot laser beams late at

night, but our boys at Arecibo detected nothing of the sort. (Neither did the Brasilians or Kenyans.) Other

than the fact that their stops formed a hexagonal grid, there was nothing to suggest that the probes did

much of anything.

Esparanza herself seems rushed and tired. "Things go much faster than you think," she explained to me.

We have spent a lot of time discussing, of all things, sex. "It is so wonderful," she keeps telling me, and

then proceeds to tell me just how nice it is in explicit detail. I always found the idea disgusting, but as she

keeps pointing out to me, "How else are you supposed to make babies, little man?" as though she wants

mine. I have finally gotten used to exchanging kisses with her over the link, but I'm not sure I want to go

farther than that.

Even worse, that feeling has appeared again in my groin. Esparanza has been wearing less and less

since her speech, and I am sure that is what is causing it. I think she is doing this to me on purpose, and I

am afraid to explicitly mention it to her.

And she keeps calling me "little." When I ask why, she explains that she is an unusually tall woman.

Maybe she's just teasing me, but she hasn't told me just how big she is.

Fortaleza, January 29, 2102 -- I am on vacation in Brasil, or more precisely, off the coast. I brought my

link with me, so Esparanza and I can keep in touch even as I fish the Atlantic Ocean. The construction

robots she promised have arrived in the Patriarchate's big cities, so Cd. Hullaga, Cali, and everywhere

else there is a noisy place.

Esparanza has been detailing the repairs underway. Basically, the 70-meter-tall robots from across the

Gateway are reinforcing the major streets and buildings of the city. The numbers she has been quoting to

me regarding the strength of the new infrastructure are astounding. Personally, I think that it is overkill to

make buildings that can support masses of almost three thousand tons, but "that's how heavy some of the

'Tecs are," Esparanza assures me.

I made the mistake of standing up during one of our conversations. That funny feeling was more intense

than ever, maybe because today Esparanza was wearing one of those skimpy outfits Andres described

for me. (I do admit to rather liking the shoes she was wearing; she called them "stiletto-heeled pumps" or

something like that.) She noticed the bulge in my crotch through the pants, and giggled at me. "Better get

used to it, little man," she warned slyly. "Once we women are across the Gateway, you'll have to deal with

the big crotch all day!" At that point, she went on about how most of the women coming here will find me a

particularly attractive sexual partner. I am not sure whether to be flattered about this or frightened.

Cd. Hullaga, March 19, 2102 -- I am back home now. The huge robots are still working, and it is incredibly

noisy around here, but Andres assured me that it was much worse when I was gone. Most of the robots

have moved on to Brasil; I even passed a couple while coming back on the Amazon River Ferry.

Now that I've finally accepted the fact that Esparanza's very presence arouses me these days, and that I

am going to have to actually engage in sex when she and her friends come, she has toned down her

clothing, and our conversations have returned to more comfortable subjects, like the complications

involved in coming across the Gateway. She is not only sure that travel across it is safe for both us men

and her people, but also prepared to move up the date on which the women will come here. They may be

here before the beginning of May.

She has also selected a preferred site. Although Cali and Sao Paulo both thought that Esparanza would

land at the old Argentine rocket site in the Atacama Desert, she has instead chosen Arecibo. Brasil

doesn't like this, but as Esparanza said, "Tough bananas. I can't wait to meet you in person!"

Cali, April 30, 2102 -- The approval finally came for the women to land at Arecibo (after lots of horse

trading with Brasil), and Esparanza is close to choosing a date. The negotiations are secret, but that is

the way the Patriarchate works. The government spent two weeks having me introduce Esparanza to

some of the senior Cardinals, only to leave me out when Esparanza called to make the final

arrangements.

More disturbing is the way Esparanza has treated me lately. And her tone -- it has become more and

more patronizing as the days pass. I am beginning to wonder if she hasn't been stringing me along all

those months.

Cd. Hullaga, May 11, 2102 -- A great fear has suddenly developed in the Council of Bishops, even as the

arrival of the women approaches. I have been told that all of the mystics have been having nightmares

lately. One report says that three of them have killed themselves, but that is still rumor.

In the streets, though, there is no fear, only anticipation. The Arrival, as it is being called, is scheduled for

May 21, at 1500, and the level of rioting all over the world is mounting. This is making all the waiting that

took place before Christmas pale in comparison.

Cd. Hullaga, May 19, 2102 -- Esparanza has stopped talking with me altogether. I don't think she took my

reaction well. The 72 men slated to be the first to meet the women were picked, and I didn't make the list.

I was angry with the Tri-National Commission for not choosing me, after all the work I'd done in arranging

for the meeting. And I was doubly angry with Esparanza for not stepping in on my behalf. Anyway, the six

dozen men are on a three airplanes to Puerto Rico even as I enter this in the log.

The Council showed me a copy of the autopsies of seventeen mystics who have died in the last month.

The Church Coroner can find a proximate cause of death -- they all died of brain hemorrhages -- but

cannot figure out what caused those. Naturally, this news is a state secret; I have not even told Andres,

though he senses something wrong, too.

Cali, May 20, 2102 -- Something horrible has happened at Arecibo.

Mindecien called me in at about noon today. They sent two Internal Security officers to make sure I

boarded the 1400 train from Cd. Hullaga. Normally, I would have flown the 600 kilometers north; the fact

that we had to take the train ride over the Northern Andes suggested something disastrous had, in fact,

happened. When I arrived at Gran Central in Cali tonight, the station was packed. I asked around, and

found out that PSI had closed down all the airports in the Patriarchate.

I kept my mouth shut once I learned that. There wasn't a choice; I was one of the few men who knew that

those planes at Arecibo represented more than half the Patriarchate's commercial airline fleet.

When I arrived at Mindecien HQ, I saw the Ministry of Science's top brass, along with most of the Arecibo

crew and several military officers. Security was extremely heavy, as though the government was about to

go on an emergency alert. I was escorted to the main assembly room, where everyone spoke nervously,

in hushed tones. Nobody knew what was going on, but everyone was expecting a disaster. "Perhaps the

Gateway has collapsed," was the most common speculation I heard.

Finally, the Minister of Science himself waddled onto the podium, accompanied by the equally pompous

General Mondragon, Chief of Internal Security. He spoke into the microphone. "Gentlemen, the situation

involving the Arrival has deteriorated rapidly. The best thing for me to do is show you the last feed we

received from Arecibo. As you view and listen to it, be advised that the Department of Geology registered

no -- I repeat, no -- seismic activity anywhere in the Northern Sea Basin. Without further ado," the Minister

gave a signal. The lights in the assembly room dimmed, curtains opened behind the Minister, and a

videotape began.

The show began with a shot inside the Central Observatory Room. It was shaking violently, as though an

earthquake were in progress. In all my years in that room, I had been through quakes, but now I finally

had an idea what it must have been like in Saint Louis back in 2014. The signal was (excuse the pun)

shaky; static popped in and out of it. It was obvious that most of the communications equipment had

already been damaged.

It was Etchiberry at the console, yelling for help. Behind him, other men were scrambling for cover. The

audio was jumbled; we could only hear bits and pieces of his plea, as the room fell apart around him.

"Please help," he begged. "The men... gone... huge... attacked us... telescopes destroyed... took the

planes... still under attack. You must use the warheads... Please! --s on top of us now-"

Etchiberry's words were stopped as the room started to collapse. A large chunk of rock one meter wide

crashed through the ceiling and struck the man, killing him instantly. All that appeared on the snowy

screen now was the room. And then, it came crashing down through the ceiling: a long, smoothly

grooved golden cylinder, 25 to 30 centimeters in diameter, with a dark, rounded tip. As it moved though

the room, the cylinder seemed to last forever. When it had penetrated nearly two meters in, it suddenly

turned a solid red. As more of the cylinder moved through the ceiling, its diameter steadily increased, and

its cross-sectional shape became that of an oval with its side cut off. While the cylinder continued its rapid

descent to the floor, another section of the roof gave way. There, a gigantic hole was forming in the shape

of a gently rounded pentagon. Through that hole, another huge object, with a dark base that had plainly

created it, came smashing down. The base was three and a half meters wide at the base, over four

meters at its widest point. First the sides, then the top of this second object became visible; both were as

brightly red as the top of the still-falling cylinder, whose cross section continued to grow.

Finally, the base of the cylinder hit the ground, and the whole area shook violently. The camera fell to the

ground, but somehow managed to keep operating. We could see, after that, the cracks in the 20-

centimeter concrete that radiated outward from the point of impact. Still the cylinder kept going, coming to

rest only after it had so thoroughly pierced the floor that only half the golden section remained visible.

All the while, the ceiling continued to fall apart, and the second object proceeded downward. It fell to the

ground, as well, causing an even bigger shockwave than the first. The ceiling had now fallen from where

the cylinder had first pierced to all the way past the second object. On the camera, looking at the ruined

room, one could now see the truth -- it and the cylinder were at opposite ends of the same thing! The red

"top" was a cloth of some sort, and at the front, there was another color change -- this time, to a light flesh

color. The boundary between red and flesh curved upward past the ceiling, and the flesh part extended

far past that. The last thing on the tape was the colossal thing turning on the cylinder, tearing up

everything it touched. Its rotating motion finally trashed the camera -- but not before we heard an

unearthly laugh coming from far above the devastated room.

Something about the giant object looked familiar, but I couldn't quite tell what it was yet. It was only during

the subsequent briefing that I put it all together.

The General showed some pictures. "These," he intoned, "were taken two hours ago by crewmen of the

Naval carrier Bentacour. As you can see, there is little left of the observatory." He was right about that;

the buildings looked as though Guerratecs had simply stepped on them, or kicked them over. The

telescope array itself looked as though one of those 20th-Century movie monsters had pulled them out of

the ground and casually tossed them. Large sections of cloth, which looked liked clothing made for a

fantastically gigantic marincon, covered the ruins. On the supply building, I could see a pair of red, high-

heeled shoes, as big as the rest of the clothing. "The rescue crews count no survivors," the general

continued, "but nor is there any sign if the 72 men who were supposed to meet the women. Moreover,

aerial reconnaissance shows huge deposits of cloth stretched out over the ruins. Preliminary analysis

shows that the materials are some form of nylon, with silk also scattered throughout."

That was all I needed. The big red thing crashing though the Central Observatory Room -- was it a shoe?

One of those high-heeled things Andres loves so much? And the loud, booming laugh, and the nylon and

silk! All at once, it came together. All that, and all of Esparanza's references to me as a "little man."

Could it be? Could these women coming tomorrow be huge giants, ready to treat us as toys?

After the meeting, I talked to Mondragon and the Minister. It took less time than I thought to convince

them to let Andres in on this. They put me on the Papal Aircraft Itself, and I was home before 0300. I tried

to sleep for a few hours, but then Esparanza called over our link... .

++++

Interlude

Salvacion, Aguasfrescas: 5 December 1994

Too small for use as a naval port, and hundreds of kilometers from any metahuman who could

realistically interfere, the small Caribbean nation of Aguasfrescas was the perfect meeting place for two

major international terrorists. Near the center of the sea, the island lay north beyond the reach of La

Patrona, but also beyond the prying eyes of Uncle Sam. La Patrona, the Colombian sorceress, and

Patricide, the great Canadian metavillain, could meet here in the open. Even if anyone could identify them

through their disguises, Salvacion was too small a town, and its three thousand residents much too timid,

to tell the world about it.

When meeting a potential ally (usually someone from one of the great organized crime families in

Europe or Asia), La Patrona often dressed in something both elegant and provocative. Patricide,

however, would not impressed by such a display of feminine pulchitrude, and so La Patrona wore a black

dress trimmed in yellow. It was an elegant outfit, and very pretty, but nothing that would send many men

into a frenzy of lust. The yellow belt glowed, indicating to La Patrona that it was still working; and so it was

that she was no taller than a typical basketball player.

She sat at one end of a table in the town's most elegant restaurant, a cozy little place backed by one of

the few Sicilian mafiosi whom she had not yet either infuriated or terrified. Across from her, munching

nervously on a few pieces of shrimp, was a woman who bore a striking a resemblance to the dead wife of

a certain former American football star. Each woman had a laptop computer on the table.

"It would be nice," chimed La Patrona, if I knew what to call you tonight."

"It is neutral ground, Patrona," answered the other blonde, in Spanish that rivalled La Patrona's. "You

can call me 'Patricide.' But if you insist on a pseudonym, take a good look at me, and see if you can

guess whose form I've learned." Whereas La Patrona sounded like a villain from a telenovela, Patricide

sounded regal, like a woman who had been in charge all her life.

"Neat power, that. You find a female murder victim, and once you touch her body, you can take the

form of it. Let's see." After a few seconds of silence, La Patrona made her guess: "Nicole!"

"I see the trial is also seen in Colombia," cracked Patricide.

"Not really. I had it banned last month. I presume you're getting ready for your speech tomorrow."

"I thought it appropriate. Tomorrow is the fifth anniversary of the first Montreal massacre, and the

beginning of Black December. There is still a great backlash against women in my country, and I chose

this form to make just that point."

"Won't the Canadian public get all upset?"

"They already are. Remember, Canadians observe the anniversary of both massacres on the

seventeenth. It's part of why they've not been able to handle me or stop my Global Sisterhood. At this

rate, in a couple years, I'll have taken over the country, or at least split Quebec off."

"There's an interesting thought. This would be a meeting of heads of state."

Both women smiled at that thought.

Patricide's grin lasted only briefly. "So, Patrona: what is it you're so anxious to show me?"

"Two things, really," responded La Patrona. She started an application on her laptop, and the same

screen now appeared on both hers and Patricide's. While she waited for the program to actually start, she

reached into her purse for something that looked like a large battery charger. It was white, cold to the

touch with a frosted plastic door on top. She placed the box on the table between the laptops, and

pressed a button. Slowly, the frost on the door receded, revealing the doll-like bodies of eight men inside.

She opened the door and pointed at the men, her gesture inviting Patricide to touch them. "They're men,

Nicole, not dolls, and they are very delicate" she warned softly. "Be careful when you pick them up."

Patricide reached in and, using a long crimson fingernail as leverage, gingerly lifted one tiny man into

her hand. He stirred slowly into consciousness as he lay in her palm, removing any doubts she might

have had about La Patrona's claim. Astonished, she gasped, "How have you done this?"

"That, my dear Nicole, is why I have had you connect our computers. Why don't you listen in on our

conversation? It should answer some other questions you might have, as well. The little guy's answered

on the other end. I trust you understand Spanish?"

"Don't patronize me, dear," said Patricide, annoyed at La Patrona's attempt at humor. Patricide was a

mistress not only of computers but also of languages. She could threaten men in twenty-one languages;

for her, Spanish was child's play.

On the screen of either computer, a man appeared, dragging his way out of bed. He appeared to be

about fifty years old, with a relatively full head of gray hair. "Esparanza!" he cried. "What's happened?

You know I'm asleep at this time!" To Patricide, his Spanish was understandable, if a bit odd.

"Sorry, Javier," cooed La Patrona. "I heard about the disaster at Arecibo today."

The man's expression contorted in anger. "That was a woman who attacked that place today, wasn't

it?" he declared accusingly. "Why didn't you tell us how big you women were? Why did she attack

Arecibo? And what about the mates?"

Patricide, out of the man's vision, stifled a giggle, spitting though the back of her hand. She shook,

keeping her laughter as quiet as possible.

"Questions, questions, little man. So many of them you didn't bother to ask all these months. Didn't

you wonder how we knew so much about the 'Tecs?"

"No," Javier Magana said guiltily.

"Oh, it was such sweet revenge. I found your world fifty years ago. Your grandfathers thought they

were so smart, releasing that plague to target women. The women had seen that your precious Serial

Wars were a ruse to keep yourselves in power, so you killed them.

"No!" pleaded Javier. "It was an accident!"

"That's what your government told you! They lied to you to cover up their crimes! So, I decided to

pass judgment on your world. I know about the Guerratecs because I created them. I sent them over to

destroy you.

"But then, I found out that time in your parallel passes 37 times faster in your universe. And," La

Patrona paused to give a wicked grin, "space is 37 times as small. So I thought, 'Why kill you when

there's an even more deserving fate for you?'"

"Th-that was you who destroyed Arecibo today, wasn't it?" stammered the man.

"Oh, it was a pleasure. Did you like my shoes?" La Patrona grinned like the Cheshire Cat.

Patricide, unable to any longer restrain her amusement, burst out in laughter.

"And look, Javier!" I have something for you!" La Patrona cast a silence bubble, then turned to

Patricide on her right. "Patricide, be a good girl and give me a couple more little guys."

Patricide held back her laughter long enough to delicately hand three of the Lilliputian men to La

Patrona. In turn, the Colombian brought the hand close to the screen. Cupping it slightly, she shook it,

sending her male toys bouncing against its sides and waking them up. She lay her hand flat, and now

Javier could see three of his former co-workers sitting in her huge palm, dazed.

Javier gasped in horror.

"Oh, yes, dear little Javier," mocked La Patrona. "It's your precious little men. I rounded them up into a

couple of trucks and took them with me. And I brought a friend with me; she filmed me as I did a

striptease all over your little lab."

"That's mean, Patrona," deadpanned Patricide.

"What's a striptease?" asked Javier, confused.

The two women laughed again. Patricide, who had been handling her tiny charge so well, lost control.

Her reflex action left the man in her hand no time to even consider escape as it closed around him. There

was not even time for him to feel anything as she accidentally crushed him to death. Patricide felt pulp

where he had been; instinctively, without looking at what she had done, she dropped her tiny victim to the

ground. She looked down at the dead man at her feet, and could only manage a sickened "Ewwww,

gross!"

Javier recoiled in horror. "How could you? You're a--a monster! And how come that small woman

called you 'Patrona?'"

"Oh, that's what they call me on my world: 'La Patrona de los Mentirosos.' See how well I lied to you

all this time?"

Javier looked shocked. "What -- what now?" he asked, even though he really didn't want to know the

answer to that question.

"There's one thing I didn't lie to you about: the women are coming. On schedule. Tomorrow. And

they'll be as big as I was today. I imagine they'll trash a few of your cities before they're through gathering

the first batch of you. You see, here the men are a little bigger than we are, but they're more brutal.

There are thousands of women who would like nothing more than a tiny male slave they can control.

You'll be pets, and much, much more!" There was a definite leer in La Patrona's grin as she pronounced

the second 'much.' And we'll make lots and lots of money off you!

"I hope you enjoy your last night of freedom, little man." She conveyed the three toy soldiers to her lips

and pinned them between her hand and her moist lips. After what the men felt as three excruciating

seconds, she released them (though she did have to peel off the one glued to her lips by her lip gloss).

Finally, she blew the kiss across the screen to her erstwhile contact. "Good-bye, Javier Magana!" With

that, she cut the signal, and her grin grew ever wider.

Patricide had taken a second minuscule prisoner in her hand, and now looked at La Patrona. "I

imagine, Esparanza, you want a deal with the Sisterhood."

"Surely," responded La Patrona, taking a man of her own from the truck and placing him on a knee

covered with a her long dress, "you realize what is happening along the Sabine River. If Lynda von

Neumann moves to Louisiana, she'll be next door to Janice Brandt."

"My analysts in Toronto and Boston have been looking at that." Patricide began to stroke her man as

though he were a newborn pet, then held him to her (momentarily) ample chest. "Maybe the two of them

are making a bid for Mexico, maybe not. We didn't want to move too soon; we still have to take care of

Hillary Kozerski's crew in Chicago."

"I keep forgetting how much more territory you have to cover. I just have Colombia. Still, a deal now is

prudent. I plan on bringing thousands of these little guys here and putting them on the black market.

Take this group for yourself and your top commanders, and we can start setting up negotiations." Rather

roughly, and one at a time, she plucked the men between her immaculately manicured index finger and

thumb, and dumped them back into their refrigeration chamber.

Patricide looked down at the open box . The other men were too terrified to attempt escape; but just in

case they got brave, gently placed her own man back in and shut the door. Slowly, the men lay down,

and the chamber cooled, frosting the door, and putting them back to sleep. "What the hell," she explained.

"Tomorrow's just the fifth anniversary. Montreal can wait another hour.

"Lets talk, Esparanza."

++++

Lima, May 23, 2102 -- I am in Santa Fe hospital on the Pacific coast, recovering from the injuries I

sustained two days ago. Javier was released yesterday, and has kindly offered to stay with me until I am

well enough to go to Cali. Mostly, he has been speculating about the women who visited Ciudad Hullaga.

I am now able to tell, say, a teddy from a bodice. Given what happened two days ago, that is a small

consolation, but with faith now in such short supply, it is about all we survivors have.

After I heard Esparanza's threat two days ago, I immediately picked up Javier, and rushed to the Bolivar

Terminal. The planes were still out, so the only way to Cali was by train. We arrived at 0630; all we could

do was wait for departure two hours hence. I told Andres about the attack on Arecibo and the message,

but he was not quite convinced. "Javier," he asked, "if she lied to you about her intentions, how do you

know that the women are coming at all now? How do you know it was really her at Arecibo, and not

another 'Tec?"

"Maybe she was lying, Andres," I retorted testily, "but you didn't see either the feed from Arecibo or the

way Esparanza spoke to me this morning. 'Esparanza!'" I sneered. "What a hypocritical name!"

He spent time trying to reassure me that nothing would happen, that the women would still be smaller than

we were. I wasn't any better assured after over an hour of this, and I could see him losing faith, as well.

All the while, as the commuters gathered, the station steadily packed itself, and we had to keep moving to

more isolated places.

Then, at 0745, it started.

A powerful tremor shook the building, as though a nuclear weapon had gone off. The next thing we heard

was the air-raid sirens going off. Then, the television in the lobby flashed from the usual morning cartoons

into a live news report from the Hullaga International Airport. Our jaws, and those of everyone else in the

crowded lobby, dropped at the sight.

An enormous hemisphere of shimmering scarlet light, well over a hundred meters in radius, had formed

over the airport runway. We could see a shockwave radiating from its center, knocking down the few

service vehicles that remained on the tarmac. After a few moments, the shimmer faded, revealing five

humanoid figures.

Esparanza hadn't lied about the women -- the five of them were gargantuan! The smallest, a woman with

soft curls of pale blonde hair falling over bare shoulders well over seven meters wide, stood just over sixty

meters tall. The largest of the giantesses, seventy meters from head to toe, had light orange hair which

flowed luxuriously down her back, almost halfway to her waist. The other three women all had brown hair:

the darkest skinned one looked like an African, the lightest one had her hair cut so that her neck was bare,

and the other one's hair bounced freely down to the top of her shoulders. All of them were stunningly

beautiful, with full breasts, hourglass figures and powerfully gorgeous legs. Each of them was wearing the

cosmetics of which, as Andres kept reminding me, made them even more lovely.

"Jesus," muttered Andres, "these are more women from the 1900s. Actresses, models, or more likely,

prostitutes."

I stared at him. He was fascinated by the sight, and was obviously concentrating on their apparel. "All of

them are wearing high heels, just like at Christmas," he informed us all quite loudly. "The blondes are

wearing things called 'teddies;' the big one is in purple, the other one is in red. Both of them have

stockings on; the smaller one is wearing black ones, the big one's are also purple. The one with the short

hair is in a gold bodysuit that hugs her body. The last two are wearing short-shorts and halters. The dark

one is in red, with demi-boots on, and the light one is in pink. From the way they're surveying the area,

they expected to be as big as they are. Judging from the way they're dressed," he added ominously, "they

came to play." Each of them carried a case of some sort.

As though they expected a camera in the helicopter, the women turned to it, and struck a rather

provocative pose. Each of them spread her feet at least thirty meters wide, planting their hands on their

curvy hips. All but the one in pink wore short, open-fingered gloves that highlighted well manicured

fingernails.

"HELLO," said the big, purple-clad blonde, with a grin wider than I was tall. "MY NAME IS IMELDA."

"I'M TERESA," announced the dark skinned woman in the red two-piece outfit.

"I AM NAMED ANDREA," declared the brunette in pink, the one with the bouncy hair.

"CALL ME CRISTINA," smiled the small blonde in red.

"AND I'M ROSA" offered the short-haired titan. "AND WE CAME TO TAKE SOME OF YOU. I PROMISE

WE WON'T TRASH THIS PLACE COMPLETELY," she smirked, "BUT THIS IS OUR FIRST TIME OUT

HERE."

And at that all five of the giant women boomed in menacing laughter.

The only helicopter in town belonged to the television station, and someone in it was now giving us an

aerial view of the titanic females. They were now milling around the airport, looking for men. Three of

them peered inside the terminal, and saw no one. To the surprise of one of them, the building did nothing

when she sat on it; it had been reinforced by the robots in January. Bored and frustrated -- the airport was

closed, so there were no men there -- they stepped on several on the carts on the runway, flattening them

under their stiletto heels, and headed away, followed by the helicopter. Having reached the tollway that

led from the airport downtown, the titanic beauties started on separate paths.

At the terminal, there wasn't a single man among us who didn't have that sickening felling of sexual

arousal. Andres, the expert on women, was relatively calm, but many of us were grabbing at our crotches

in a vain attempt to relieve tingling that none of them had ever felt before. Several men wet their pants,

and I myself felt that odd, milky fluid coming out of my own stiff penis. Overall, it was a disgusting sight.

On the crowded tollway, Andrea put down her case and started a deadly game with the men travelling

along it. Rather than stepping directly on the cars, she stepped in between them with the front of her foot,

and waited for the car to helplessly crash into the sole of her shoe. Letting the back of her foot down, she

allowed her weight to settle on the roof of the car, stabbing it with her spiked heel. After a few rounds of

this, Andrea had three cars impaled on each heel. The men in those impaled cars had survived, but

surely perished once Andrea lifted each shoe up fifteen meters in the air, reached down, and slid the cars

off her heels, sending them crashing onto the ground. Men in other cars finally had a moment to stop and

scramble on foot from their deathtraps before Andrea started her second cycle.

"TRYING TO GET AWAY FROM ME, ARE YOU, LITTLE MEN?" Andrea boomed mockingly, as now she

started stepping on men as well as cars, but didn't crush them into the augmented pavement. Instead,

she applied just enough pressure to the ball of her foot to pin one or two men between it and the hard

surface. The first few men she toyed with in this way perished, but with practice, Andrea learned to step

on her (mostly) unwilling pets just hard enough to immobilize them. "I'LL BET YOU'LL FEEL GOOD

INSIDE ME," she propositioned lewdly, "BUT THIS IS ALL I CAN DO RIGHT NOW!" She was still playing

her two games -- impaling cars on her heels and stepping on men -- when the helicopter camera turned

elsewhere.

The roads taken by Cristina and Rosa as they approached the toll booth were not reinforced. These two

women, the helicopter showed, were careful not to step on anyone, but their spike heels dug well over a

meter into the earth, and simply destroyed the pavement as they walked. Their shapely calves tore

through the telephone and power wires suspended over the streets as if they were made of thin paper.

Sparks flew, and a few fires began where the wires hit the ground.

"WHAT A BACKWARDS WORLD," commented Rosa.

"YEAH," concurred Cristina. "THEY STILL USE SILLY STRING TO TRANSMIT POWER!"

They reached the toll booth, packed with commuters. They could see the men getting out of their cars, so

naturally, the women found other targets. "LOOK!" noted Cristina. "A CUTE LITTLE TOLL BOOTH!"

"WHY DON'T WE ROB IT?" Rosa suggested mockingly.

First, standing at opposite ends of the booth, they bent down and lifted the roof. The booth, not reinforced,

gave way too easily, falling apart like cheap crackers in the hands of the giantesses as they pulled it up.

For some men, that was the last of their lives, as pieces of the roof fell on them. But the toll collectors had

all survived, and Cristina and Rosa plucked them into the sky, inspected them, and placed them in their

now-open cases.

Done with the toll booth, the titanesses picked up the commuter buses, whose passengers were never

able to get out of them. On the first attempt, each of the women crushed a bus in her titanic hand.

Lacquered, blood-red fingernails the size of coffee tables punctured the sides of the buses as though they

were made

Angels of Judgement

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