Black, White & Red All Over by Rob Sharp

EXTRACT FOR
Black, White & Red All Over

(Rob Sharp)


Epitaph

September 10th 2003

In a sea of well-mown grass, the pearl-white gravestones fanned out in irregular waves. At the very centre of this display was a carved monument to the jazz musician, as a tribute to friends and loved ones who had passed over. The cemetery was called, Elysian Fields; privately owned by one of the top ten corporate entities in Amerika, situated at the southern end of Lincoln Park in Chicago.
On such a sunny day, its anaesthetized atmosphere only appeared marred by the private armed police who wandered aimlessly between its four entrances.
Guarding the dead.
Shi-Kane walked with dignity from the west gate, her head held low so that her straight dark hair hung like a curtain hiding her tears. In her tiny hands was a bouquet of white lilies. John had always liked those, as much as he expressed any opinion concerning flowers.
The four grave markers were set to one side of the statue of Louis Armstrong, still playing his horn from beyond the grave – one of Chicago’s favourite sons. Each stone simply bore a name and those two bookend dates of birth and death; followed by the eulogy; ‘They fell in the line of duty’.
Removing the dead flowers from the urn in front of John’s grave, she spent a few moments arranging the live ones. There were several other withered offerings of remembrance there too, so she tidied them up out of habit. Tokens from other women in John’s life, she presumed. The Korean Seer did not fool herself into believing she was the deceased soldier’s only lover.
Standing up, she mouthed the four names to herself once again.
Delta Chaney.
John Savage.
Lloyd Eastman.
Aaron Fate.
So they’d given Fate a Christian name too, for normality’s sake. She smiled and dragged the hair out of her eyes with cold fingers. Better than what happened to the fifth member of the team, forgotten and unmarked. Then you couldn’t bury a robot, really, could you?
All dead and gone these past three years.
“Oh, John...” she sighed into the gentle breeze; crisp and sharp off the lake. “You bloody fool. Why couldn’t you have listened to me?”
The Gatecrashers, corporate knee-breakers in a secret world, were now nothing but memories.
But Shi-Kane had had a dream.
From beyond the grave, the band was getting back together.

Chapter 1 - Red Skies

January 5th 1498

Lost between reality and make-believe, the stunted little man with the ginger hair had built a nest. His Fey ancestors used to dig such burrows underground, amongst the roots of the mighty Oak and the graceful Elm to store food and treasures in, but this nest was simply full to the brim with greed. It was the place where he kept his stolen spoils.
When the moon was new, like the bright silver blade of a scythe nailed to the sky over the city of Florence, he crept into his nest and pulled the precious things tight around him, singing softly to himself. It was done for comfort; it was done for love, for on this Looking-Glass Earth, he was an only child. There had never been one like him, nor would there be again.
He was a mistake of super-nature.
In the beginning, when he was thrown out of Heaven and had to claw a living on this bitter world by picking pockets and eating the corpses of dogs and rats, he used to cry every night, all alone amongst the things thrown away. One day, he vowed his bed sheets would be of the finest linen and his food served from plates of beaten gold. Then he would stop crying for his parents, wherever they were.
“Maybe they would come back for me the ‘morrow…” he would say, his eyes fixed on the moon. “My fair mother and my dark father… grow tired of their black and white games in Otherplace and retrieve me, their only son.”
But they never came.
Then to that new moon every month, he would curse their half-remembered names and shake his bony fist at the stars, demanding his revenge.
Somehow the child-thief survived and became a boy and the boy grew to be a wicked trickster of a young man. Until one day he stole something very special. So special that he had to hide it underground lest it shout out for its original owner and he would be caught and punished.
When he had stolen one item of such value, a unique oddity much like himself, one whose special purpose he barely understood, it led the young man to a second artifact of power, and that begat a third… So his black collection grew, trinket by trinket with each passing year, until his villain’s nest was full of such stuff.
It was a treasure hoard to be envied by the gods.
The foundations of his obsession had begun the day an old man had shown him pity, and had taken him off the streets to set him to work in his studio with his other apprentices. Now he was an odd cove.
Night calls to the local hospitals, whence upon he did proceed to cut dead bodies open so he might better understand how the human frame worked. Then there were his stupid toys of paper birds and all manner of machines, by which he hoped man would one day be able to fly.
But it was his paintings that touched the nameless youth’s soul. How pigments of colour could be so arranged to represent people and places and things. The ginger lad would sit for days holding his master’s pallet, watching each deliberate brushstroke add more depth and detail to the finished scene.
Yes, Leonardo da Vinci was a strange soul that much was sure. Scribble, scribble, scribbling all day and night with his backwards writing, which the youth found no difficulty reading, for some strange reason. A new idea here, a drawing of great skill there, Leonardo’s head fair near exploded there was so much inside it that he needed to get out… as if he were possessed by daemons.
Then there were his most secretive of drawings. His communications with other like-minded savants, as they met in secret and divided up the universe.
Within this secret society was developed da Vinci’s ultimate Code, in which he believed that the world would naturally produce a great number of special people, such as him, in a time of great crisis. An epoch in the future when the skies would turn red and the ancient forces of old return. In that future time, when their number reached seventeen, these pilgrims would band together and save the world from a chain of superlative events – last but not least, the return of that most seductive of energies, Magik.
This prophecy exited the boy more than he realized.
Then one day the youth found his master’s drawings and a working model of a machine of war that did sling Greek Fire down upon the heads of ones enemies from a great many leagues, and the temptation to possess this thing became too much for the urchin to resist. Something tugged at his arms and legs and mind, forcing him to steal the device and hide it away.
So his future was set.
Having been called Flambé after the shade of his hair by Leonardo when he was found half-dead in the gutters of Florence, the youth gave himself a new name. All the machines and mystical devices he compiled were connected to the waging of war. In his short life, it was war that fired men’s souls and pushed them into doing great acts of heroism and terrible deeds of cruelty. War that advanced mankind in creating better ways to kill and maim each other. What the youth had stolen was war pushed to its maximum level, so that some of the treasures he now possessed were capable of tumbling the world into ruin… if he had been a more evil man.
By stealing these devices, he tricked himself into believing he had saved the world, just as the seventeen pilgrims would after him. He saw himself as the son of Warr, with that extra growl to its end, now known to his new circle of friends as Maximilian, because he did nothing by half.
The years were kind to him. His mixed ancestry of Angel and Daemon made it so he aged far slower than any mortal man. So with the passing of the decades, he grew more cunning and greedier. If he could find certain people to join him in his quest, he could save the world all over again.
At least that was how the crooked path of Maximilian Warr began, when life was a little simpler than it is today.
But time moved on. His ideas, in fact the man himself, began to fade into the very fabric of the universe, so that only those he allowed could now see him. Almost by accident, he became one of the people behind the curtains of Life’s stage, quietly puling the strings. One of its invisibles.
The trouble being, even lifted to these lofty heights that gods once occupied, he found he wasn’t alone.

Chapter 2 – White Day

October 12th 2002

“In the greater scheme of things, there are seventeen people in the secret world that I need to touch base with. Yes, that damn prime number again; it will haunt me to my grave! They may be mortal humans or they may be paranormal or supernatural beings. Whatever – whoever they are, the keystone to this mystery is that flea on the planet’s back, Maximilian Warr,” explained Leibowitz as he and his guest sat sipping coffee on the Navy Pier to keep out the winter chills. “It all points back to Warr.”
Lake Michigan was grey and overcast, stretching out to a false horizon, as behind them Chicago rose up like a steel forest and the drone of midday traffic was like an old comfort blanket to the Windy City girl.
“This is all to do with the Super-War, of course,” he babbled on excitedly, gathering a full head of steam due to having a captive audience.
She had known the curator of the strange almost twenty years, and in that time he was never fully relaxed with her. Maybe it was because of what she did, or what she could do. Then maybe it was just Anthony’s thing of being ill at ease with the opposite sex.
“Everything is to do with the possibility of a Super-War at the moment,” he continued his rant. “I’m seeing signs and portends where none exist. But of all the cases I inherited from my papa, anything to do with Warr is the strangest. Which brings me neatly back to the seventeen pilgrims.”
“Why are you telling me this, Anthony?” asked Shi-Kane, sipping at her latte and brushing the strands of dark hair out of her eyes.
“Because I believe you are one of the seventeen,” he quietly dropped the bombshell.
The Korean Seer simply blinked at him, amazed. “But I would know! It’s what I do – divine weird information. I’m plugged into the soul of the world, God damn it! If that world had a special purpose waiting for me, I would know!”
“You’d think so, already?” Leibowitz grinned at her, raising his mug. Well, she took that better than I thought she would, he mused, all smiles. “This is why I need you to arrange an interview for me with Isabella da Vinci.”
“No one talks to the Da Vinci’s. They have withdrawn from Reality. To the Waking World they do not exist, as if Leonardo never had any children. That was all the propaganda about him being gay was all about… horny old goat that he was!”
“You meet with Isabella every third Thursday of the month to try and channel her grandfather.”
“How do you…?”
“I just do. Get me twenty minutes in a room with Isabella, and we’ll find out more about the seventeen. That’s all I ask.”


Black, White & Red All Over by Rob Sharp

EXTRACT FOR
Black, White & Red All Over

(Rob Sharp)


Epitaph

September 10th 2003

In a sea of well-mown grass, the pearl-white gravestones fanned out in irregular waves. At the very centre of this display was a carved monument to the jazz musician, as a tribute to friends and loved ones who had passed over. The cemetery was called, Elysian Fields; privately owned by one of the top ten corporate entities in Amerika, situated at the southern end of Lincoln Park in Chicago.
On such a sunny day, its anaesthetized atmosphere only appeared marred by the private armed police who wandered aimlessly between its four entrances.
Guarding the dead.
Shi-Kane walked with dignity from the west gate, her head held low so that her straight dark hair hung like a curtain hiding her tears. In her tiny hands was a bouquet of white lilies. John had always liked those, as much as he expressed any opinion concerning flowers.
The four grave markers were set to one side of the statue of Louis Armstrong, still playing his horn from beyond the grave – one of Chicago’s favourite sons. Each stone simply bore a name and those two bookend dates of birth and death; followed by the eulogy; ‘They fell in the line of duty’.
Removing the dead flowers from the urn in front of John’s grave, she spent a few moments arranging the live ones. There were several other withered offerings of remembrance there too, so she tidied them up out of habit. Tokens from other women in John’s life, she presumed. The Korean Seer did not fool herself into believing she was the deceased soldier’s only lover.
Standing up, she mouthed the four names to herself once again.
Delta Chaney.
John Savage.
Lloyd Eastman.
Aaron Fate.
So they’d given Fate a Christian name too, for normality’s sake. She smiled and dragged the hair out of her eyes with cold fingers. Better than what happened to the fifth member of the team, forgotten and unmarked. Then you couldn’t bury a robot, really, could you?
All dead and gone these past three years.
“Oh, John...” she sighed into the gentle breeze; crisp and sharp off the lake. “You bloody fool. Why couldn’t you have listened to me?”
The Gatecrashers, corporate knee-breakers in a secret world, were now nothing but memories.
But Shi-Kane had had a dream.
From beyond the grave, the band was getting back together.

Chapter 1 - Red Skies

January 5th 1498

Lost between reality and make-believe, the stunted little man with the ginger hair had built a nest. His Fey ancestors used to dig such burrows underground, amongst the roots of the mighty Oak and the graceful Elm to store food and treasures in, but this nest was simply full to the brim with greed. It was the place where he kept his stolen spoils.
When the moon was new, like the bright silver blade of a scythe nailed to the sky over the city of Florence, he crept into his nest and pulled the precious things tight around him, singing softly to himself. It was done for comfort; it was done for love, for on this Looking-Glass Earth, he was an only child. There had never been one like him, nor would there be again.
He was a mistake of super-nature.
In the beginning, when he was thrown out of Heaven and had to claw a living on this bitter world by picking pockets and eating the corpses of dogs and rats, he used to cry every night, all alone amongst the things thrown away. One day, he vowed his bed sheets would be of the finest linen and his food served from plates of beaten gold. Then he would stop crying for his parents, wherever they were.
“Maybe they would come back for me the ‘morrow…” he would say, his eyes fixed on the moon. “My fair mother and my dark father… grow tired of their black and white games in Otherplace and retrieve me, their only son.”
But they never came.
Then to that new moon every month, he would curse their half-remembered names and shake his bony fist at the stars, demanding his revenge.
Somehow the child-thief survived and became a boy and the boy grew to be a wicked trickster of a young man. Until one day he stole something very special. So special that he had to hide it underground lest it shout out for its original owner and he would be caught and punished.
When he had stolen one item of such value, a unique oddity much like himself, one whose special purpose he barely understood, it led the young man to a second artifact of power, and that begat a third… So his black collection grew, trinket by trinket with each passing year, until his villain’s nest was full of such stuff.
It was a treasure hoard to be envied by the gods.
The foundations of his obsession had begun the day an old man had shown him pity, and had taken him off the streets to set him to work in his studio with his other apprentices. Now he was an odd cove.
Night calls to the local hospitals, whence upon he did proceed to cut dead bodies open so he might better understand how the human frame worked. Then there were his stupid toys of paper birds and all manner of machines, by which he hoped man would one day be able to fly.
But it was his paintings that touched the nameless youth’s soul. How pigments of colour could be so arranged to represent people and places and things. The ginger lad would sit for days holding his master’s pallet, watching each deliberate brushstroke add more depth and detail to the finished scene.
Yes, Leonardo da Vinci was a strange soul that much was sure. Scribble, scribble, scribbling all day and night with his backwards writing, which the youth found no difficulty reading, for some strange reason. A new idea here, a drawing of great skill there, Leonardo’s head fair near exploded there was so much inside it that he needed to get out… as if he were possessed by daemons.
Then there were his most secretive of drawings. His communications with other like-minded savants, as they met in secret and divided up the universe.
Within this secret society was developed da Vinci’s ultimate Code, in which he believed that the world would naturally produce a great number of special people, such as him, in a time of great crisis. An epoch in the future when the skies would turn red and the ancient forces of old return. In that future time, when their number reached seventeen, these pilgrims would band together and save the world from a chain of superlative events – last but not least, the return of that most seductive of energies, Magik.
This prophecy exited the boy more than he realized.
Then one day the youth found his master’s drawings and a working model of a machine of war that did sling Greek Fire down upon the heads of ones enemies from a great many leagues, and the temptation to possess this thing became too much for the urchin to resist. Something tugged at his arms and legs and mind, forcing him to steal the device and hide it away.
So his future was set.
Having been called Flambé after the shade of his hair by Leonardo when he was found half-dead in the gutters of Florence, the youth gave himself a new name. All the machines and mystical devices he compiled were connected to the waging of war. In his short life, it was war that fired men’s souls and pushed them into doing great acts of heroism and terrible deeds of cruelty. War that advanced mankind in creating better ways to kill and maim each other. What the youth had stolen was war pushed to its maximum level, so that some of the treasures he now possessed were capable of tumbling the world into ruin… if he had been a more evil man.
By stealing these devices, he tricked himself into believing he had saved the world, just as the seventeen pilgrims would after him. He saw himself as the son of Warr, with that extra growl to its end, now known to his new circle of friends as Maximilian, because he did nothing by half.
The years were kind to him. His mixed ancestry of Angel and Daemon made it so he aged far slower than any mortal man. So with the passing of the decades, he grew more cunning and greedier. If he could find certain people to join him in his quest, he could save the world all over again.
At least that was how the crooked path of Maximilian Warr began, when life was a little simpler than it is today.
But time moved on. His ideas, in fact the man himself, began to fade into the very fabric of the universe, so that only those he allowed could now see him. Almost by accident, he became one of the people behind the curtains of Life’s stage, quietly puling the strings. One of its invisibles.
The trouble being, even lifted to these lofty heights that gods once occupied, he found he wasn’t alone.

Chapter 2 – White Day

October 12th 2002

“In the greater scheme of things, there are seventeen people in the secret world that I need to touch base with. Yes, that damn prime number again; it will haunt me to my grave! They may be mortal humans or they may be paranormal or supernatural beings. Whatever – whoever they are, the keystone to this mystery is that flea on the planet’s back, Maximilian Warr,” explained Leibowitz as he and his guest sat sipping coffee on the Navy Pier to keep out the winter chills. “It all points back to Warr.”
Lake Michigan was grey and overcast, stretching out to a false horizon, as behind them Chicago rose up like a steel forest and the drone of midday traffic was like an old comfort blanket to the Windy City girl.
“This is all to do with the Super-War, of course,” he babbled on excitedly, gathering a full head of steam due to having a captive audience.
She had known the curator of the strange almost twenty years, and in that time he was never fully relaxed with her. Maybe it was because of what she did, or what she could do. Then maybe it was just Anthony’s thing of being ill at ease with the opposite sex.
“Everything is to do with the possibility of a Super-War at the moment,” he continued his rant. “I’m seeing signs and portends where none exist. But of all the cases I inherited from my papa, anything to do with Warr is the strangest. Which brings me neatly back to the seventeen pilgrims.”
“Why are you telling me this, Anthony?” asked Shi-Kane, sipping at her latte and brushing the strands of dark hair out of her eyes.
“Because I believe you are one of the seventeen,” he quietly dropped the bombshell.
The Korean Seer simply blinked at him, amazed. “But I would know! It’s what I do – divine weird information. I’m plugged into the soul of the world, God damn it! If that world had a special purpose waiting for me, I would know!”
“You’d think so, already?” Leibowitz grinned at her, raising his mug. Well, she took that better than I thought she would, he mused, all smiles. “This is why I need you to arrange an interview for me with Isabella da Vinci.”
“No one talks to the Da Vinci’s. They have withdrawn from Reality. To the Waking World they do not exist, as if Leonardo never had any children. That was all the propaganda about him being gay was all about… horny old goat that he was!”
“You meet with Isabella every third Thursday of the month to try and channel her grandfather.”
“How do you…?”
“I just do. Get me twenty minutes in a room with Isabella, and we’ll find out more about the seventeen. That’s all I ask.”


EXTRACT FOR
Black, White & Red All Over

(Rob Sharp)


Epitaph

September 10th 2003

In a sea of well-mown grass, the pearl-white gravestones fanned out in irregular waves. At the very centre of this display was a carved monument to the jazz musician, as a tribute to friends and loved ones who had passed over. The cemetery was called, Elysian Fields; privately owned by one of the top ten corporate entities in Amerika, situated at the southern end of Lincoln Park in Chicago.
On such a sunny day, its anaesthetized atmosphere only appeared marred by the private armed police who wandered aimlessly between its four entrances.
Guarding the dead.
Shi-Kane walked with dignity from the west gate, her head held low so that her straight dark hair hung like a curtain hiding her tears. In her tiny hands was a bouquet of white lilies. John had always liked those, as much as he expressed any opinion concerning flowers.
The four grave markers were set to one side of the statue of Louis Armstrong, still playing his horn from beyond the grave – one of Chicago’s favourite sons. Each stone simply bore a name and those two bookend dates of birth and death; followed by the eulogy; ‘They fell in the line of duty’.
Removing the dead flowers from the urn in front of John’s grave, she spent a few moments arranging the live ones. There were several other withered offerings of remembrance there too, so she tidied them up out of habit. Tokens from other women in John’s life, she presumed. The Korean Seer did not fool herself into believing she was the deceased soldier’s only lover.
Standing up, she mouthed the four names to herself once again.
Delta Chaney.
John Savage.
Lloyd Eastman.
Aaron Fate.
So they’d given Fate a Christian name too, for normality’s sake. She smiled and dragged the hair out of her eyes with cold fingers. Better than what happened to the fifth member of the team, forgotten and unmarked. Then you couldn’t bury a robot, really, could you?
All dead and gone these past three years.
“Oh, John...” she sighed into the gentle breeze; crisp and sharp off the lake. “You bloody fool. Why couldn’t you have listened to me?”
The Gatecrashers, corporate knee-breakers in a secret world, were now nothing but memories.
But Shi-Kane had had a dream.
From beyond the grave, the band was getting back together.

Chapter 1 - Red Skies

January 5th 1498

Lost between reality and make-believe, the stunted little man with the ginger hair had built a nest. His Fey ancestors used to dig such burrows underground, amongst the roots of the mighty Oak and the graceful Elm to store food and treasures in, but this nest was simply full to the brim with greed. It was the place where he kept his stolen spoils.
When the moon was new, like the bright silver blade of a scythe nailed to the sky over the city of Florence, he crept into his nest and pulled the precious things tight around him, singing softly to himself. It was done for comfort; it was done for love, for on this Looking-Glass Earth, he was an only child. There had never been one like him, nor would there be again.
He was a mistake of super-nature.
In the beginning, when he was thrown out of Heaven and had to claw a living on this bitter world by picking pockets and eating the corpses of dogs and rats, he used to cry every night, all alone amongst the things thrown away. One day, he vowed his bed sheets would be of the finest linen and his food served from plates of beaten gold. Then he would stop crying for his parents, wherever they were.
“Maybe they would come back for me the ‘morrow…” he would say, his eyes fixed on the moon. “My fair mother and my dark father… grow tired of their black and white games in Otherplace and retrieve me, their only son.”
But they never came.
Then to that new moon every month, he would curse their half-remembered names and shake his bony fist at the stars, demanding his revenge.
Somehow the child-thief survived and became a boy and the boy grew to be a wicked trickster of a young man. Until one day he stole something very special. So special that he had to hide it underground lest it shout out for its original owner and he would be caught and punished.
When he had stolen one item of such value, a unique oddity much like himself, one whose special purpose he barely understood, it led the young man to a second artifact of power, and that begat a third… So his black collection grew, trinket by trinket with each passing year, until his villain’s nest was full of such stuff.
It was a treasure hoard to be envied by the gods.
The foundations of his obsession had begun the day an old man had shown him pity, and had taken him off the streets to set him to work in his studio with his other apprentices. Now he was an odd cove.
Night calls to the local hospitals, whence upon he did proceed to cut dead bodies open so he might better understand how the human frame worked. Then there were his stupid toys of paper birds and all manner of machines, by which he hoped man would one day be able to fly.
But it was his paintings that touched the nameless youth’s soul. How pigments of colour could be so arranged to represent people and places and things. The ginger lad would sit for days holding his master’s pallet, watching each deliberate brushstroke add more depth and detail to the finished scene.
Yes, Leonardo da Vinci was a strange soul that much was sure. Scribble, scribble, scribbling all day and night with his backwards writing, which the youth found no difficulty reading, for some strange reason. A new idea here, a drawing of great skill there, Leonardo’s head fair near exploded there was so much inside it that he needed to get out… as if he were possessed by daemons.
Then there were his most secretive of drawings. His communications with other like-minded savants, as they met in secret and divided up the universe.
Within this secret society was developed da Vinci’s ultimate Code, in which he believed that the world would naturally produce a great number of special people, such as him, in a time of great crisis. An epoch in the future when the skies would turn red and the ancient forces of old return. In that future time, when their number reached seventeen, these pilgrims would band together and save the world from a chain of superlative events – last but not least, the return of that most seductive of energies, Magik.
This prophecy exited the boy more than he realized.
Then one day the youth found his master’s drawings and a working model of a machine of war that did sling Greek Fire down upon the heads of ones enemies from a great many leagues, and the temptation to possess this thing became too much for the urchin to resist. Something tugged at his arms and legs and mind, forcing him to steal the device and hide it away.
So his future was set.
Having been called Flambé after the shade of his hair by Leonardo when he was found half-dead in the gutters of Florence, the youth gave himself a new name. All the machines and mystical devices he compiled were connected to the waging of war. In his short life, it was war that fired men’s souls and pushed them into doing great acts of heroism and terrible deeds of cruelty. War that advanced mankind in creating better ways to kill and maim each other. What the youth had stolen was war pushed to its maximum level, so that some of the treasures he now possessed were capable of tumbling the world into ruin… if he had been a more evil man.
By stealing these devices, he tricked himself into believing he had saved the world, just as the seventeen pilgrims would after him. He saw himself as the son of Warr, with that extra growl to its end, now known to his new circle of friends as Maximilian, because he did nothing by half.
The years were kind to him. His mixed ancestry of Angel and Daemon made it so he aged far slower than any mortal man. So with the passing of the decades, he grew more cunning and greedier. If he could find certain people to join him in his quest, he could save the world all over again.
At least that was how the crooked path of Maximilian Warr began, when life was a little simpler than it is today.
But time moved on. His ideas, in fact the man himself, began to fade into the very fabric of the universe, so that only those he allowed could now see him. Almost by accident, he became one of the people behind the curtains of Life’s stage, quietly puling the strings. One of its invisibles.
The trouble being, even lifted to these lofty heights that gods once occupied, he found he wasn’t alone.

Chapter 2 – White Day

October 12th 2002

“In the greater scheme of things, there are seventeen people in the secret world that I need to touch base with. Yes, that damn prime number again; it will haunt me to my grave! They may be mortal humans or they may be paranormal or supernatural beings. Whatever – whoever they are, the keystone to this mystery is that flea on the planet’s back, Maximilian Warr,” explained Leibowitz as he and his guest sat sipping coffee on the Navy Pier to keep out the winter chills. “It all points back to Warr.”
Lake Michigan was grey and overcast, stretching out to a false horizon, as behind them Chicago rose up like a steel forest and the drone of midday traffic was like an old comfort blanket to the Windy City girl.
“This is all to do with the Super-War, of course,” he babbled on excitedly, gathering a full head of steam due to having a captive audience.
She had known the curator of the strange almost twenty years, and in that time he was never fully relaxed with her. Maybe it was because of what she did, or what she could do. Then maybe it was just Anthony’s thing of being ill at ease with the opposite sex.
“Everything is to do with the possibility of a Super-War at the moment,” he continued his rant. “I’m seeing signs and portends where none exist. But of all the cases I inherited from my papa, anything to do with Warr is the strangest. Which brings me neatly back to the seventeen pilgrims.”
“Why are you telling me this, Anthony?” asked Shi-Kane, sipping at her latte and brushing the strands of dark hair out of her eyes.
“Because I believe you are one of the seventeen,” he quietly dropped the bombshell.
The Korean Seer simply blinked at him, amazed. “But I would know! It’s what I do – divine weird information. I’m plugged into the soul of the world, God damn it! If that world had a special purpose waiting for me, I would know!”
“You’d think so, already?” Leibowitz grinned at her, raising his mug. Well, she took that better than I thought she would, he mused, all smiles. “This is why I need you to arrange an interview for me with Isabella da Vinci.”
“No one talks to the Da Vinci’s. They have withdrawn from Reality. To the Waking World they do not exist, as if Leonardo never had any children. That was all the propaganda about him being gay was all about… horny old goat that he was!”
“You meet with Isabella every third Thursday of the month to try and channel her grandfather.”
“How do you…?”
“I just do. Get me twenty minutes in a room with Isabella, and we’ll find out more about the seventeen. That’s all I ask.”