Tal Temer: Cleansing

August 20, 2014: Vignette: In Tal Temer, there is a seed of plague, that cannot be allowed to take root.

Avenue C Clinic, New York

A rather ordinary-looking medical office.

Tal Temer, Syria

A city of seven thousand, now filled only with corpses.



  • Dr. Patil - partner at the Avenue C Clinic. Genius at deciphering what meta- and mutant-genes will do in a given genome.
  • Dr. Xomeridies - partner at the Avenue C Clinic. Genius at exogenetic systems in mutant and metas, at determining what a given mutation will do as it develops.

Mood Music:

"That's the situation," Angelo says, looking steadily at his two partners.

Dr. Patil, a tall, thin, somewhat gawky man without the usual accent to match his name, looks at the other two with tears in his eyes. Dr. Xomeridies, a shorter, curvy woman with blond hair and a prominent Greek nose, shakes her head back, fierce with anger.

"Are you going to punish them?" she demands. "Are you going to do that angel thing and make they pay for this?"

"Eventually. Maybe. I don't know. I'm supposed to be a healer, not a punisher. They'll get justice. First though, we have to sterilize that site, because with the viroid spread so widely, we have exactly the kind of disaster I was afraid of," Angelo says.

Patil blows his nose, and then says, "You think they're going to hit here next?"

"I think they might. It makes sense, as much as anything makes sense."

Xomeridies says, "Well, we'll have to step up the vaccination somehow. If they're going to be using it here, I think you're right about it being on Sunday, when the most people are here."

"I can't avoid the chance of it being elsewhere too, but for now, I can'd do anything …" Angelo says, before Xomeridies cuts him off.

"How much vaccine stock do you have?"

"About four hundred ampoules. It takes too long to extract and purify the bacterial carrier."

She smiles grimly. "Don't worry about that. We need to get it out … you used a lactobaccillus growth medium?"

"Sure, it's what I used to make the purified vaccine."

"And it's basically grown in yogurt."

"Yeah, but…"

"Then don't worry about it. Patil and I will make people want to take it. You have that Lemon Lasse recipe, Patil?"

"Yes, that would work."

They start talking logistics, and Angelo smiles, picking up his pack and a mailing tube, and turns, and a disc of opaque light drops through the area where he's standing, erasing him as if he weren't ever there.

Across the world in Tal Temer, a second disc drops, leaving the startled doctor in an empty marketplace. Nearby, a demon is watching him. Her name is Illyana. She and the Seraph don't really talk much, but it's not a personal thing, more a matter of professional courtesy.

There is a stench. Nobody is alive here. The small crew of army and humanitarian relief are camped thirty kilometers away, up-wind, waiting for protective gear before they will enter the walls of the town. Corpses have been here for a day in hot sun. It's now evening.

"Do what you need to do, Doc. I'm not going to wait here forever." Her voice is incongruously sweet, like her appearance, a young, blond girl with an almost fragile appearance. The fragility is a lie.

"You shouldn't be here when I do this," Angelo says. "I'm going to be powering this with Living Light, you could get hurt if it backfires."

The demon ponders that for a moment, and says, "OK. I'll watch from my place. Don't botch this."

Angelo ignores the helpful advice.

He opens the duffel and takes out a tunic, as the Demon disappears again, light-disc flashing up through her location.

He takes off the scrubs he's wearing, pulls on the tunic, and opens the mailing tube.

The dual cylinder of parchment paper inside it has a still-faintly-smouldering scorched aroma like cinnamon and sandalwood. Ange lays it out on the ground, in a cleanish flat space, and claps his hands together, and breaks out in light.

Wings written of tiny words a thousand times copied, stretch from his back, raptor's pinions made of pure light. The parchment responds, the words written in blood and light glowing in harmony.

The angel touches one razor-edged feather to each of his palms lightly, and light begins to bleed from his hands, and he touches both hands together and then places them squarely into the middle of the pattern drawn on the parchment.

Breath. Will. Light pooling like the sun's blood in the center of the pattern of magic written on the parchment.

Light explodes. The spell on the parchment says seek out the plague named mutant-killer, everywhere that it remains inside the walls of this city, on living or dead, and destroy the plague utterly. Then follow the traces of any that carried it hence from here, whether on or in the bodies of the dead or of the living, wherever it has gone, where it lives. And cleanse it there.

The pattern on the parchment spins, becoming a three-dimensional tracery, then four, then words written in light and shadow expand to cover the city walls. Three waves of brilliance, pouring through the Conduit that is the Seraph, burn away all traces of the viroid, inside and outside the corpses, in the water and the few animals. The plague was spread with atomizer bombs, a ring of them, spraying inward, and they contain the sloppy remnants of their very special poison… and it flashes away leaving behind salt water. A mushroom-shaped gleam of light, with a trail downwind, lights up for a second, the viroid in the air above and around the city illumined before it is burned away. The ground sparkles faintly below the trail.

The fire of the Conduit has been nearly emptied, but the source is inexhaustible and it quickly blazes again, and seven spheres of light burst forth from the swirling hypersphere of the spell, spinning once around the Angel-form as he pours the Light into the wreaking.

The first sphere follows the road to the encampment. It explodes there like a silent firework, cleansing the viroid from the bodies and belongings of the soldiers and the doctor who entered Tal Temer. None of them had been infected.

The next two strike a man and a dog, traveling in the hot dry highlands twenty kilometers south-west of Tal Temer. They are momentarily made of light, before the moment passes, and the weight of matter returns, and the plague that had started to adjust itself to a different way of spreading, dies before it can escape.

The sixth and fifth and fourth find corpses, fifty kilometers away, carefully zipped in body bags and stashed by agents of the Serpent Hydra. Those agents have quite carefully cleansed themselves and destroyed any trace of viroid on themselves or their belongings. The spheres pass through the bag and into the corpses, and all the useful information that the Hydra would have taken away from these deaths is lost to them.

The seventh reaches a man in Damascus, who has begun to sicken. He was the last human to leave Tal Temer, the one who triggered the bombs.

The man was careful. He didn't get any of the viroid on him from the aerosol … but he had touched a leaking tank, and inadvertently gotten the viroid into his mouth. He was an ordinary human, not blessed with the potential for power, but he had been recipient of a bone marrow transplant, from a mutant, to cure him of leukemia.

Within half a day the plague had killed the offending bone marrow, and all but a few of the white cells in his blood, and the man collapsed. He was let into a hospital, and was waiting to be seen, when a moth built from light melted into his body. The virus hidden in his bones and blood died instantly, cleansed before it could be spread by blood samples — but he didn't live much longer. Nobody matched his marrow, if they'd had time to discover the cause of his illness, but they had no time, no suitable treatment with war and terror already too present, and the man was not known to be wealthy. Death comes more slowly to the sickbeds of the wealthy, but promptly to the poor.

The angel in the marketplace of Tal Temer fell unconscious, the parchment burning away from beneath him, wings fading. The Conduit slowly trickled light and life back into him.

The demon didn't leave him there for long. Once he was clearly done, the spell-scroll gone, she dropped him through a hole that dropped him through another hole and he fell onto his bed from two feet up and across the world. She set his alarm clock for an hour later, and paused, and took one of the two unopened bottles of goldvasser from his dusty liquor cabinet, and vanished back to Limbo.

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