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Stranger than fiction
The apocalypse. Had Jon heard Jensen -- or anyone, for that matter -- suggest the imminence of the end of the world just a year ago, Jon would likely have given the man a polite nod while inwardly rolling his eyes at the notion. The end of the world was always coming! The sun would eventually die and roast the earth, long before cosmic drift tore all matter apart and entropy won out against order. And chances were high that something would destroy humanity long before, be it an asteroid or cataclysmic tectonic activity, or through war or disease. Belief in the end of the world was like saying there would be a volcanic eruption on Mars. What difference would it make one way or another?

Now, though, Jon knew better. There were supernatural forces at work beyond his understanding. One could not discount old myths or legends as they obviously spoke of a time before history when people had greater understanding of these things. Something had happened to them and the knowledge had been lost, aside from hints and glimpses, like motion caught just at the very edge of his eyesight.

As Jensen pulled up the news story, Jon leaned forward with mild interest. He hadn't heard of his discovery. Inside, his the pit of his stomach went cold and he balled his fists to stop their tremors. A find of a prophecy from an antediluvian civilization not known to exist? That a preacher was willing to admit in its possibility of predating Eden convinced Jon of two things. Jensen was convinced of its authenticity, and more importantly, Jon was convinced it was a thing from a time when the Great Spirit and other things were indeed understood -- the same period from where Jon had gleaned his own secrets -- and as such had to be taken seriously.

And then Jensen brought up Jon and Nick Trano into the discussion, and Jon found it was quite another thing entirely to find out the volcano wasn't on Mars but instead in your own backyard.

Jon noticed Jessika's frown at Jensen's last question. Did she have any indication of what her husband was capable of? If she'd witnessed the use of the power as Jensen drove away the old woman, then the smoke had already slipped away from the signal fire. Why did the man seem so insistent on betraying secrets that weren't his to give away? The infuriating thing was that he didn't even seem to be aware he was doing it. Hopefully Jessika was smart enough to keep her tongue to herself about this power when around others. It seems three can indeed keep a secret if two of them are dead. He pushed that thought out of his mind. If Jon was correct about the suspicion he told Trano regarding the sheer number of people able to touch the power of the Great Spirit, it wouldn't stay secret for long anyway.

He chose his words carefully when responding to Jensen's question. What Nick Trano was capable of was still not Jon's secret to give. "I have spent some time in the company of Nick Trano,"
he said to Jensen. "And I can find it easy to believe he will have a role to play in forming the world to come."

He relaxed a bit -- just a bit, his back was still taut like a compressed spring about to be released -- and took a sip of water. His mouth was quite dry. "If it's confirmation you want, I can tell you that Nikolai Brandon does indeed possess abilities beyond the comprehension of most mortals. This is likely the reason behind his meteoric rise to power. I have been told this by those I trust in these matters."

Jon stretched out his hand and turned it so his palm faced the ceiling, seizing the force of the Great Spirit as he did so. Very well, if the fire had already been spotted there was no sense in covering it up. "There are separate but linked forces that comprise the power my peoples term the Great Spirit that flows through all living things. Earth, fire, wind, water, and a fifth somewhat hard to describe but may be called life or spirit in itself because it seems to be connected with a substance of living things. Jessika, this may be a bit of a shock to you."
He sent out weaves of fire, and a ball of flame appeared in his palm. It flickered and pulsated as he fed the weave. He let it vanish and without paying attention to Jessika's reaction continued on. "The ability to control this power is a thing from very, very long ago. A time before history, likely from the same time as that find you described. Yet this ability is manifesting itself in the world again. Why, I don't know. But it make it easy to believe in an old prophecy that foretells the end times. Something like this must have happened before or else this knowledge would never had been lost."

He put his hand back down and released the power. "An answer to one question spawns a thousand more. I can't claim to have the level of under standing of Revelation as you must have,"
he said to Jensen. " Revelation was written long after this other prophecy was mentioned. So tell me, what of it can be trusted of its accuracy? Is victory assured? And what should be done about it now? What are the signs to look for? There is so much I frankly don't understand."

While Jon leaned in, interested in the story, Jessika crossed her arms, and barely looked at it. Jensen couldn't fault her much. The kinds of things he was suggesting were heretical. Surely after all they'd been through tonight, she still wasn't convinced he was in need of help. Also not hard to blame her. He'd gone - what? - four years assuming he was cursed by dark forces. An abomination brought on my adultery. He'd invited Satan into his heart the moment he wished for the power to take revenge in his own hands. Not to mention the shady ways a kid from Wichita Falls had enough cash in the bank to write a ten million dollar blackmail check while barely drawing notice. He had plenty of reason to doubt himself as Jessika had reason to disbelieve. He still didn't know how much she'd seen in the alley, but either way, she saw a boy whose clothes were covered in blood sprint away with his life. For crying out loud, Jensen barely believed it himself.

Jon's affirmation of their suspicions ran Jensen's spine cold. It was not a comfortable feeling, finding out the way everything once was would now change for eternity. Nor was it a comfortable feeling to be in the presence of another who worked these wonders. It was power, sheer and humbling, of the sort that wanted to drive Jensen to his knees. He watched, though, intrinisically fascinated to not avert his eyes elsewhere. Not even to Jessika who had uncrossed her legs to more closely watch.

Jensen had done similar exercises in the past. When the chasms of the past nearly swallowed him whole. As it ended, Jensen shifted to Jessika. A light spawned in her eyes, as though the fire still echoed bright inside those cornflower blues. Her breath came rapid, and she suddenly sat forward to the edge of the couch, reached out and grasped Jensen's hands. After a moment, she likewise reached for Jon's. For a moment, Jensen thought she was going to ask for prayer, but instead, she licked her lips as though excitement were about to burst from them.

She squeezed their hands, "Praise the Lord!"
She said. "The works that can be done by you both will reach the ends of the world. Jensen,"
she turned to him eagerly, "You spoke of an Angel in your dreams. I did not believe, I am sorry for that."
She started shaking her head, then nodded and released his hand.

Jensen withdrew, practically shaking, but did not interrupt as she turned to Jon next. "Jon, he has been chosen."
She tipped her head toward Jensen, who did not like where this was going. "Revelation is as accurate as the Holy Word itself, and I implore you, do not doubt. Not now. Victory is assured! There are things that must happen before the Apocalypse comes, and so help me God, Texas will be there to stand against whatever hell is unleashed on Earth."
A final squeeze and she released Jon's hand. "If you would try and help him?"

Holding hands before apparently wasn't enough, however. She rose to her feet, composed and determined, and crossed closer. Jensen likewise rose to meet her. Where was she going with this? With her heels she still only came chest high, but he didn't put his arms around her. She, however, did embrace him. She cupped his cheeks with the palms of her hands and drew him close. For a moment, Jensen feared she wanted to kiss, but thankfully, she stopped just close enough to send her message loud and clear. "We have been through so much together. Though I will stand by your side in spirit and faith, I cannot do so as your wife. At least not publically."

Jensen was speechless. "What are you saying? You want a divorce?"
The idea of divorce turned his stomach, but there were worse things.

She withdrew slightly. "No. I'm saying I filed for a death certificate six months ago. As far as the public is concerned, you are deceased. I'm running for office. If you resurfaced, the media would eat us alive, and I'd spend all my campaign funds dealing with it."
She crossed her arms, and Jensen swallowed his relief.

He gripped her arms, "Please go back to Texas. Stay away from Moscow. In fact, stay away from everywhere in the CCD. Better yet go to your parents cabin in Colorado. What's coming.."
but she only shook her head no. A pained look flashed his face with sadness. She wouldn't do it. At least she wasn't running for President or something insanely dangerous. "Then promise me you'll leave as soon as possible. Everywhere is dangerous, but Moscow is the epicenter of what's to come."

Finally she agreed. "I promise."
And Jensen's anxiety soared away. He smiled and pulled her into a hug, both arms wrapped around her shoulders like what had just happened had been absolutely necessary for both of them.

About then he remembered Jon. Who was probably all kinds of uncomfortable.

Jensen cleared his throat and released Jessika, who made off to the corner to request a taxi.

Jensen sank back in the seat and scrubbed his hair. When he looked up, he checked to make sure Jessika was out of earshot, and lowered his voice before answering Jon. "What she said was right,"
he told him about Revelation. "The Lord will triumph over Satan,"
if you believe the Bible anyway, "therefore victory is guaranteed, but the world will be destroyed before the end comes. We should be anywhere but here,"
he took a long breath but made no indication of thinking about escape. Like staring into the trainlights but not getting off the tracks.
Jon had anticipated any of a number of reactions from Jessika upon revealing to her the existence of a strange power and at the same time providing evidence to support Jensen's contention that the Apocalypse was nigh and perhaps the so-called antichrist already walked the earth. It had never occured to him that she would express excitement. Had her sanity been misrouted on a different transatlantic flight? Who was happy to hear the world was spinning toward its cataclysmic death?

As Jon witnessed the exchange between Jensen and his wife -- no, his widow, at least in the legal sense, strange enough as it were -- he began to understand the source of her enthusiasm. It came from zealous devotion to a belief in a literal interperetation of the Bible coupled with a futurist view of Revelation. She'd been preparing for this eventuality all her life. To her, it meant her savior was coming, and the end of the world meant her personal, eternal salvation because she kept the faith. Jon wasn't quite sure what to make of that. He certainly wished her well, but doubted it would be so easy as believing a two thousand year old text transcribed countless times by illiterate monks could be taken word for word.

There was one thing that Jon couldn't help but raise an eyebrow upon hearing. What was that about an angel in Jensen's dream? Suspiscion flickered through his mind and caressed his consciousness like the icy breath of a mountain breeze in the moments before the first snowflakes turned to a blizzard. Clearly Jessika -- and Jensen too, as he must have told her of it -- must have believed this thing he'd seen in his dream was of divine origin. And truthfully, with all Jon had learned in the last few years, last few minutes even, he would be a fool to claim it wasn't possible.

Only, Jon knew all too well that other things were indeed possible in the dream.

He made polite obesience to Jessika as she took her leave, allowing that he would help Jensen. There really wasn't much to say to the contrary. Truthfully, when the battle lines were drawn they would likely come down on the same side without any further action required, especially if the two of them were to believe that Nikolai Brandon and the evergrowing CCD were indeed the great destroyer and his army of darkness. Jon didn't know if he really believed all of that; he just didn't like them much and that was enough motivation for him.

Once they were alone, he chuckled at Jensen's suggestion they find somewhere else to go. "I fear I know little of apocalyptic protocol, but if we're going to see the end of the world, we could not have asked for better seating. At least knowing we will win makes things easier."
So many things he left unsaid, so many spoken assumptions potentially untrue. What side was Jon really on -- if he was indeed on any side? How much faith should one put in ancient prophecy or a religious fortelling? What, indeed, was even the purpose of prophecy -- to guide, to state what might come to pass, or was it indeed a declaration of a predestined future? Oddly enough, that last thought scared him the most even though it guaranteed a better world to come. It stifled him like an iron lung gripping his chest, the thought he was just some puppet on strings pulled by cosmic hands to dance to a script already written.

Jon opened his mouth again to warn Jensen against putting too much faith in his dreams, but hesitated. The man's consciousness seemed such a fragile thing to Jon at the moment, with all that he had gone through. His faith in his God was seemingly all he had left. He was awash in a storm, floating among the wreckage of the ship that was his old life, and clinging to debris from the hull. Never mind that it was soaked in leaked gasoline and there were flames among the other wreckage. It was what Jensen had at the moment, and were Jon to cast doubt into Jensen's mind and stomp on this man's belief an angel had sent him a message, it might send him into despair.

But to not tell him might lead him into great danger. Especially if his dreams were being manipulated by someone with nefarious plans.

Noah. He was the only one Jon was aware of who could have faked an angel in Jensen's dream. And he would have done it as well, if he was convinced for his own reasons it was necessary. And if he wasn't, he might know how to find out who did. He drew a deep sigh. Noah Crow's Eye was perhaps the last man he wanted to seek out. "Actually, there is some place I can go that might be even more useful than remaining here,"
he finally said. "There is someone I can ask about what may come to pass, if he will tell me. But I cannot do so from here. It is a thing of my peoples, and I require sleep to speak with him."

There. Let Jensen think Jon was searching for spirit visions in his sleep. It was better than nothing, however unpleasant the experience would be for Jon, who, rather than shatter the illuions of a spiritual man, was about to seek out the one man he swore he would avoid at all costs -- the one man who undoubtedly possessed the ability to outfox Jon with ease anytime he wished. You can't make this stuff up.

Edited by Jon Little Bird, Jan 9 2014, 12:14 PM.
Talk of Jon's travels did not release Jensen of his grim cast. He did rise to shake the man's hand, and likewise delivered his own contact information. "In that case, God Bless, Jon."
He bowed his head thoughtfully.

Before Jon left, conviction rose in his gut like a worm slowly eating its way north. He walked Jon to the door, thanking him again for his assistance. He wasn't necessarily more comfortable here than he had been in lockup, but for Jessika's sake, the night wasn't a total waste.

At least knowing we will win makes things easier, Jon had admitted. This was always the hardest part of every sermon. Telling the sons and daughters of the Lord most High that without the Grace of salvation, they were damned to hell. To an audience of thousands, Jensen liked to focus his talks on other teachings, but the soul of one individual now loomed larger than those of the masses had back then.

"Jon, the Armies of Light, the servants of God will be saved no matter what happens, but only for those with a relationship with God, bought by the blood of Christ. For we have all sinned,"
he said reverently, "and fall short of the Glory of God."

Some more than others, he thought.

"Please call on me if there is anything I can do for you."
His smile was weak, but sincere. Jensen would move heaven and earth to go to someone's aid.

Edited by Jensen James, Jan 9 2014, 04:56 PM.
For days, Jensen agonized over pretty much everything that's happened the past few weeks. Not that tormenting himself was anything new.

Jessika returned to Dallas as she promised. Also as she promised, she had her parents take the boys to Colorado. Malachi and Gabriel were apparently thrilled with the arrangements. Both kids loved snowboarding, even if Gabe was the better skier.

True to his word, Jon Little Bird took care of Jensen's legal matters. Everything pretty much disappeared in that regard. It was almost bothersome how easily it was swept aside. Three boys had been brutally slaughtered in the street, and beyond his own involvement, police didn't seem to care. Another supposed incident of gang violence forgotten.

Jensen had intended to go back to Katya and warn her about whatever was out there. He also intended to go back to the building and more thoroughly investigate the basements. Despite good intentions, he never made it back.

Being fired didn't really bother him. It wasn't the first time over the past few years. Honestly, if they didn't fire a man that simply didn't show up for a shift, they would be the ones in the wrong.

He'd been in contact with John Smith. Kind of. The man was busy, to be expected.

Otherwise, he didn't much know what to do with his days. John kept assuring him he had no need for income, but Jensen grew a little more ashamed with every dollar passed to his account. At least give him something to do. The news of what was going on in the middle east, Mecca and Dominance Five made him sick with grief, but he didn't see what he could possibly do to help. What could be done? Go there and try to convince men that God did not want his children to slaughter each other? They'd read the Old Testament just like Jensen had, and it was filled with God's people conquering other nations.

Which was how he was eventually drawn to the Cambridge Bible that John gave him.

He opened it one morning but didn't realize he'd done nothing but read and study until three days later. Perhaps he was more accepting of what he was but acceptance only made him grow more anxious.

Finally, he showered and slicked his hair back. He even shortened the beard, around the edges anyway - he was growing fond of the look. Uncertainty loomed like a chasm, but he didn't have to quite look so homeless all the time. Maybe he'll finally get something other than a displeased grunt out of the doorman.

Now that he was less of a travesty, or at least looked less of one, he had to figure out what to do with himself.

So he decided to give Tony a call.

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