Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The Sigil

”Now the last age by Cumae's Sibyl sung
Has come and gone, and the majestic roll
Of circling centuries begins anew:
Justice returns, returns old Saturn's reign,
With a new breed of men sent down from heaven.
Only do thou, at the child's birth in whom
The iron shall cease, the golden race arise. (Virgil, Eclogue IV circa 37 BC)”

Author’s Note
The Book of Raziel the Angel is a real book originally called Sefer Raziel HaMalakh, (Hebrew ספר רזיאל המלאך "Book of Raziel the Angel”), and is a medieval Kabbalistic grimoire, primarily written in Hebrew and Aramaic, but surviving also in Latin translation, as Liber Razielis Archangeli, in a 13th century manuscript produced under Alfonso X.
The Angel Script or Alphabet of the Ark as it is sometimes known is an authentic script discovered in the 16th century.
The location of the Ark of the Covenant is based on research by leading archaeologists.
All hieroglyphics, the ancient Greek Book of the Sibyl, references to the location of the entrances to the UnderWorld, sightings at Fatima, monuments and references to ancient Egyptian rituals are real.
The hierarchy of angels and demons used is based on the contemporary Roman Catholic Church, which unequivocally teaches that angels and demons are real personal beings, not just symbolic devices.

Book 1 - Archangels and Demons
Inspired by John Milton’s Paradise Lost this is the tale of two lovers, one half angel, the other half demon, drawn together by fate to test the boundaries of love and the soul. Set in the near future, where music is the new energy, Maia and her boyfriend Altair are thrown into an adventure of unspeakable danger in the Underworld when they discover an ancient parchment containing the language of the angels. It was left to the orphaned Maia as her only inheritance from her grandfather, Arthur who disappeared mysteriously when Maia was only a baby. The parchment foretells an unimaginable destiny for the human race if they can decipher its code. Technology and the Earth are ruled by a group known as The Faith. Altair, Maia, Ben and Alice are a group of misfits in a rock band who have no future and even less talent. The fate of the Earth all comes down to a simple choice, love or sacrifice, and the amazing courage of a young girl who is guided by the ghost of her murdered grandfather.

Book 2 - The Sigil 
Maia Fielding, avenging the death of her boyfriend Altair, her father and grandfather, has decided to expose the secret group responsible for the murders. On the eve of her triumph, a young boy, Kepler, and his family are found dead in the safe house where she hid them for protection. The evidence at the Radio City Music Hall crime scene points to a mysterious young girl, Alcyone, who like Kepler is not of this world. Maia, convinced of Alcyone’s guilt, plunges her friends into a desperate adventure in a world like Earth, where things are not quite what they seem. Alcyone herself is drawn into a murderous game of cat and mouse with her demons, which forces both Maia and herself to face their dark pasts together.

Maia stood tied by straps to a rough, splintered stake in the middle of a burning pyre. Her back was arched. The straps pulled her arms back until she thought her shoulders would break. Her hands were numb, all the blood draining out of them, the circulation cut off by her bonds.
She had stopped struggling. She had given up crying.
No more tears would come. Her eyes were puffy and difficult to open. She could try but if she opened them she knew all she would see was pain. Her only hope, her friends, lay dying all around her. Her only light was the flames that any second now would burn at her bare flesh, causing the skin to peel away. That would signal the beginning of unending agony. She longed to take a breath, a real breath, but the acrid smoke stung her nostrils and made her swollen eyes weep. Her mouth was blistered and bulging. The taste in her mouth was bitter, the taste of defeat.
She listened for her mother’s voice, which would mean the end was very near, but all she heard was the raucous, chilling laughter of the demons. They were baying for blood. Her blood. “Maia, Maia!” they chanted as they danced on the bodies of her friends. Alice, Ben and her dear beloved Altair lay broken and twisted, crushed by the cruel talons which tore their limbs to pieces like meat hooks.
A sudden movement in the crowd made her raise her head. It was as if an angel appeared in the throng of madness. Did she imagine it? But no, there it was again. The flash of hazel green eyes, a lock of golden curl, hidden beneath a cowl, that soft olive skin. The beautiful curve of her neck, the full luscious mouth, a cute button nose. Maia turned her head so that she could see more clearly. The flames were almost upon her. She was sweating. Beads of perspiration dropped from her forehead onto her lips. It tasted salty, like the ocean. Her jeans were patchy and soiled, her thin blouse no protection against the lecherous eyes surrounding her, greedily feeding on her young body.
Her blouse had been ripped by the violence of the demons so that one breast was almost laid bare. If she moved her hips she could just swivel enough to make the blouse fall to hide her nakedness and then she was facing her mother.
Gabrielle took a step out from the crowd. The demons parted as if they recognized one of their own but this could not be true. Maia must be delirious, overcome by the smoke and fumes.
A splinter in the rough wood of the stake jabbed into the small of her back, forcing her to arch involuntarily for a moment.
She realized her mistake. The blouse fell away, baring her breast as her mother stepped forward onto the smouldering wood.
The straps tightened. Her hands went numb again.
Her body was contorted, her left breast exposed, her heart vulnerable and beating fresh blood in front of the demons.
Her mother whispered to her in angel tongue.
Maia was not afraid. She met her mother’s eyes with a wall of rage but said nothing.
From underneath her robe, her mother drew the dagger.
Not since Altair’s body gave up its last breath had Maia ever felt so helpless.
Then she felt the fear as the rage subsided and her body trembled.
She tried to remember the words of protection in the ancient tongue but all she could think about was Altair.
Her one true love.
Maia couldn’t breathe.
The dagger sliced through her skin, then through layers of muscle and tissue, passing through her rib cage before piercing her beating heart.
A paralyzing pain shot through her body.
She could no longer hold herself up. Her knees buckled.
Her last sensation was a shock of red as if her heart had bled directly into her brain and burst both her eyeballs.
Then a glowing flash of white light.
Then darkness.

Chapter 1
Maia pulled her Yankees baseball cap down tight over her close cropped punk blonde hair and glared at Alice.
“I want to eat with chopsticks!”
Out of the corner of her eye she saw the boy from the hotel opposite Café Aprecio walk to one of the black and white elevated crossings and hesitate. His gaze was lowered and his footsteps seemed unsteady.
“There are no chopsticks, here, no chopsticks anywhere!” said Alice through gritted teeth. Maia knew her best friend was frustrated. Alice had warned her. No chopsticks in Tokyo.
Maia had only seen the boy once before. He frightened her. He looked about the same age as her, 17, but his eyes were unforgettable, deep set with pupils that reflected no light. He had jet black hair, pale skin, a long face, and a tall, slim body like a Kenyan long distance runner. He wore standard citizens garb so he wouldn’t stand out, khaki pants, light grey shirt, thick black belt, and a plain hooded thigh length black jacket with soft leather boots. She hadn't heard him speak. She only knew his name.
The boy looked left then right before ascending, his body lifted with the crowds over the flow of traffic, then briefly over his shoulder when he reached the opposite side as if he were scared of being followed. He had good reason to be.
Maia put her fork down on the bed of rice, sipped her coffee and slid the knife into her pants pocket.
“Now?” she raised her eyebrows at Alice.
Without turning her head to look Alice nodded.
Maia could see Tokyo Bay just past the APA Resort Hotel. The aqualiners ferrying people to Hawaii were heading towards the entrance to the Bay and had almost reached the marker buoys. She could see a dark cloud brewing just beyond the buoys, a bubbling festering mass on the sparkling morning ocean. She shuddered to think that Alice had been held prisoner there.
Maia strode to the door and let spring breeze creep into the café as she turned the handle, brushing the fringes of the two women sitting nearest the door.
She froze, a stab of fear paralyzing her heart.
A man moved out of the shadows guarding the entrance to the hotel, his eyes fixed on the boy, his long dark cloak making him appear to glide across the sidewalk.
Kepler had already turned right down the Makuhari Kaihin Park Boulevard.
Maia followed as quickly as she dared, hoping to stay inconspicuous in the mandatory khaki shorts and black top of the Makuhari sector.
Music flowed down the street from huge speakers mounted above the park power poles. Like Earth, this world was powered by ‘Resonance’ music-generated electrical hubs housed in the core of each major city. Tokyo had more than its fair share of bands, like Maia’s own ‘The Archangels.’
Bryan Ferry and ‘How To Destroy Angels’ pumped out a hypnotic trance like vibration. It seemed barely real that this was the new culture, that this entire world had bought into the likes of The Faith, the world’s leading corporation and government in everything but name. Still, Bryan Ferry’s old song filled her with hope. “Is Your Love Strong Enough?” Anger filled Maia again as she shadowed the Agent. He could hardly be anything else. The man was fifty meters behind Kepler, his right hand submerged deep in his cloak pocket.
Maia’s own hand gripped the knife harder. She had encountered one other of his kind near the swimming pool at the top of Kepler’s hotel when she had arrived with Alice from the UnderWorld at dawn this morning. He had been swimming so it was a simple matter to use an Angel Sigil to eliminate him. To any onlooker the surface of the pool would have shimmered brightly as the Sigil took shape and drowned the agent, sucking him slowly under. Simple but effective. No need for a knife.
Each hour that had gone past meant the clock was ticking. The Prince of Darkness had given her just 24 hours before The End. Each hour began with another setback. Kepler just complicated matters. Maia would have preferred to sit and study the mysteries of the Angel Script her grandfather had given her. Instead this game of cat and mouse consumed her. As far as Maia could tell, Kepler was the key to stopping the demons full on assault of Earth. Alice had led her here, to the parallel world and now Maia could not rein in her curiosity, even at the expense of finding her mother.
Kepler had reached the end of the park and stopped briefly before crossing and heading straight into an apartment building on the opposite side of the street, one with an ornate balcony adorning each floor. He punched several numbers into a panel to the right of the lobby door which swung open and Kepler disappeared. The cloaked man waited, checked the street and then followed Kepler in just before the door closed. Maia walked past casually glancing in to the foyer. The man paced back and forth inside like a panther, ready for the kill. Maia had to act and act fast. She couldn’t risk losing Kepler. Again, she thought back to her knowledge of Agents. Half man, half machine, they could never be taken lightly. She argued with herself; Alice had said how much of a risk she took exposing herself to the enemy, even in this Earth-like world. It was no use, her hand was shaking, she was half mumbling Altair’s name as if memory of his death would give her courage.
You’re right, you are afraid.  
Maia opened her mouth and screamed. Her body tensed and she focused the sound. The Halo took form and shattered the door. The man had stopped pacing, he pulled his hand out of the cloak pocket, he had a weapon. She had a split second. He swore at her as she ducked the shards of flying glass and slid through the doorway, hand on the knife drawing the Sigil of Death in mid air with the point. The space in front of her tore in two. For an instant she saw the shock in the man’s eyes as his body was ripped in half, then the limbs flailed wildly and vanished.
Maia watched in astonishment as real flesh and blood muscles, sinews and tissue, separated and burst in a mass of bloody pulp before it was swallowed by the slit. There was a sudden clap like thunder and she was alone in the lobby. No mechanics, no inorganic metal. Just real human skin and bones. She was about to go into the apartment corridor leading to the stairs when an eerie silence descended over the lobby.
Now, as she surveyed the scene, emptied of the man in the cloak, she could see that the man hadn’t been holding a weapon at all. It was a long cylinder, throughout which there was constant movement, like looking into a child’s kaleidoscope. The object was a 3D map, of the Pleiadean star system.

Maia cursed.
You’ve blown it. He was Kepler’s bodyguard.
Just before arriving in the ‘LightWorld’ as Alice had nicknamed it, Alice had briefed her. Maia had been reading up on an obscure article Alice had given her by Dr Masaru Emoto on the principles of kotodama, the soul in words and the power of music. He claimed to have tested the power of consciousness and its effect on molecular structure, particularly water molecules. Together with Tareth, a well known healer in Glastonbury, England, who could bring poisoned plants back to life, Dr Emoto was using prayer and healing to convert some of the demon spawn back into their original human selves. It was a slim hope. Maia had immersed herself in the mysteries of music, ever since her guardian at the orphanage in Paris, Mrs Gripe, had given her access to the sealed closet, with her mother’s sigil hidden in the last page of her grandfather’s diary. In her travels through the UnderWorld with her friends she had earned her own wings, the final hope.
Maia hadn’t known what she was looking for, had no guidance, and travelled blind with her friends until she had met Raziel and the four Archangels, who told her the race of angels was leaving Earth, forever.
In a battle against hopeless odds, Maia and her friends were left at the mercy of the Prince of Demons, who killed Altair, her one true love and his own son.
That was when she began world hopping with Alice, desperate to find a solution to save Earth from the demons and restore the origins of the three great races, Angels, Humans and Magicks.
She had been been aided and abetted by Chenial and her legion of fledgling fallen angels and elemental dragons and it was they who had retreated first to the LightWorld, to heal their wounds and fortify their amoury. What that consisted of now Maia had no real idea.
She had come to Tokyo first, in seach of the mysterious Kepler, and it all now seemed a hideous, disastrous, waste of two precious hours.

Maia rang the doorbell of the first floor apartment. She did not expect Kepler to open the door and after the commotion in the lobby it would be a wonder if he wasn’t several blocks away by now. Looking up, she peered into the camera that she knew would be focused on her, but it was too late. There wasn’t the slightest sound from inside. Alice had given her the right number. 102. She stood outside for one more moment before turning in frustration. That was when she heard the door click quietly behind her.
“Hello, Maia,” said Kepler. He was carrying a hollow tube, just slightly larger than the cylinder Maia held in her left hand. Her right had gripped the knife tightly in her pants pocket when she heard her name. She turned.
Kepler looked at her without expression, welcome or warmth. Just the mere hint of challenge in his gaze. He did not seem perturbed to see her.
Maia walked past him into the apartment lounge, which was bare except for a low wooden kotatsu covered by a futon. She threw the cylinder down hard with a clunk.
“Aren’t you even going to offer me a cup of green tea?”
“After what you did to my man, you’re lucky I’m not offering you a quick death,” said Kepler evenly, in calm measured tones.
Maia turned and stared at him. “If you want me to leave just say so. I’ll get out of here and you’ll never see me again.”
Kepler’s eyes softened. Maia could sense the difference. He had immediately accepted her as his equal.
“We need to talk.” He reached for her hand in an offer of friendship.
“Don’t touch me,” said Maia, anger still blazing in the back of her eyes. “People I love die.”
“Just how dangerous are you?” said Kepler.
Maia frowned. “I thought you’d know that already.” She shook her shoulders and shrugged her black top in the way Alice had told her. The vibrant angel wings with their edges like steel knives enfolded Maia and Kepler in a way that allowed him to barely move a muscle.
Smart girl that Alice.
“Very dangerous,” said Maia. “Now what’s all this about. Alice was insistent I speak to you.”
“Magicks have more to them than meets the eye,” said Kepler.
“Runs in her family,” said Maia. “Gypsy blood.”
“Well she was right, but you’ve got nothing to fear from me,” said Kepler. “I’m an astronomer of the First Order on Pleiades, not an assassin.”
He reached to push Maia’s wing tips away but only succeeded in drawing blood. He sucked the blue drops before they could spread and stain the white carpeted floor of the apartment.
Maia flexed the wings as if they were an extension of her biceps so that they brushed Kepler’s black hair slicing a single lock, which spiralled slowly to the floor.
Then she drew them back so that they hovered behind her.
“Two problems,” said Kepler. “Samuel, your Dark Lord, already has his demon hordes poised to invade Earth through the Cave at Cumae, as you already know. He is mutating humans into demon spawn at twice the critical rate. Many will die.”
“And…” said Maia, tapping her foot impatiently.
“Monkey 42 is about to visit us.”
“A typhoon, and no ordinary one. Samuel knows you have gone into hiding, so formed this one at the entrance to the parallel worlds to prevent you returning to Earth. This world, the LightWorld, is smack in its path. It might get a bit rough.”
“So we should get you to the safehouse soon.”
“Maia, you can’t play around. There are too many balls to juggle.”
“Mother, you can come out now. It’s safe.”
A striking woman, slim and tall, with sapphire eyes, long straight fair hair and a lapis lazuli dress opened the door to the bedroom and glided out carrying a tiny baby wrapped in a white silk cloth.
“Hmm,” said Maia.
“You don’t need to worry. My mother and baby sister will stay close to you and have come prepared.”
Maia noticed Kepler’s mother shouldered a rather large black bag with an emerald clasp.
“We’ll stay out of the way.”
“Right,” said Maia.
“Would you like that green tea?”
“No thanks,” said Maia. “We need to leave, now.”
As if in answer the windows of the apartment began to rattle. The dark winds were rising.
“Alice’s boyfriend Ben has found us all passage on the 0900 aqualiner to New York. It’s a six hour trip. We thought you’d be safer there.”

Kepler smiled and sighed, resigned. He’d get used to this girl’s peculiar ways. She shared the same bloodline, after all.

Alice put down her coffee on the table. She had long since given up trying to protect Maia. She could look after herself. Whisper, Maia’s long sword was concealed in a circular sheath that made it look rather like a cheap, clunky umbrella. Even without this Maia still had formidable defences. Alice ordered another café latee and gazed across at the hotel. Like Maia, she had cut her hair short, the ends tapering in towards her long neck. As always no haircut could ever hide her fine Italian Asian cheekbones or exquisite eyebrows so she too wore a hat, not a baseball cap like Maia but a Turin Borsalino hat which made her look more masculine and was more her style. She opened Maia’s grandfather’s diary to the back, with the photo of Maia as a baby, her beautiful mother Gabrielle and her adventurous father John, whose body Alice had seen lying on the Ark of the Covenant, slumped between the two angel figurines. Alice had promised to guard the diary and sword with her life while Maia went after Kepler. She pushed the photo aside and studied the Angel Sigil with Gabrielle’s idiosyncratic flowing script. Alice had used this same Sigil to bring them here, albeit rather awkwardly. She had watched Altair die slowly in Maia’s arms. Alice would have given anything to take his place. She was ready to give up her life at any moment for her best friend. Secretly, she absolutely adored Maia to the point where she wondered if she might have hidden a lover’s desire. She shook her head. She had Ben. Cool, calm, collected Ben. Expert in Cryptozooology and loyal to a fault. The total opposite of unpredictable, twitching nosed Alice. She hadn’t had the least interest in long term relationships until she’d met Ben. He had helped them get out of the UnderWorld when Maia had lost her head after Altair’s death.
“Everything OK?”
The girl standing in front of Alice took her breath away. She was the spitting image of Maia. Alice hadn’t seen her come in so she could be a waitress. She had a simple black top and black skirt, slightly unusual for this sector, so she stuck out immediately. Where Maia’s hair was curling and honey blonde, this girl’s was long straight and blue black. The girl’s skin was as pale white as virgin snow whereas Maia’s own skin was olive and tanned. But her eyes were the same deep startling hazel green and her face that perfect oval, slightly long face. She can’t have been more than fifteen, two years younger than Maia.
Alice nodded and tapped her coffee cup.
“Monkey’s coming our way,” said the girl. “Could be real bad.”
It was like she was speaking in some kind of code.
“Monkey?” said Alice.
“Better get out,” said the girl.
“Actually, I’m waiting for a friend…” said Alice.
“Alcyone,” said Alcyone without being asked for her name.
“I said…,” her voice slowed deliberately as if she was speaking to a preschooler… “Better…get…out…NOW!”
Alcyone reached into her skirt and as if by sleight of hand produced a small glowing blue orb. Alice had seen one such as this only once before. The demon orb belonging to Samuel L. Tanner, the Prince of Demons. She shuddered at the thought. Surely this could not be.
Then they heard a laugh that was not of this world, an eerie spine chilling cackle that was a little too close for comfort. In the split second before Alcyone vanished with the orb Alice saw two fiendish horned creatures with devilish eyes turn to her from the Underworld, their red pupils focused on her soul.
She didn't have time to ask the girl why she had come.
"Alissss..." The air hissed with venom.
She reached for Maia's sword, Whisper, the sword of Moses, the one gifted to her by the angel Raziel. Alice knew it was only her unpredictability that could save her life now. She had always had a skill with blades, ever since she had persuaded Maia to take Kendo lessons with her at the Bridgeford Music Institute in Oxford. Being born a Magick made her very different than her classmates who looked down on her talents as being rather underdeveloped. She couldn't control her power and her elemental tendencies led to a lot of random fires in the girls toilets anytime her nose twitched. So when she drew the sword from its scabbard to defend herself she knew anything might happen.
The demons smashed straight through Cafe Aprecio's twin plate glass windows. Alice held in her mind's eye Maia swirling with Whisper as she severed the demon's heads.
She could not have explained what happened next.
The sword of Moses burst into flame, an incendiary light saber, which shot out twin jets of flame like a flamethrower. The demon brothers screamed and became a duo on death row, seconds away from the lethal injection that would snuff out their life. Alice stood astride them as they writhed in agony and thrust the needle that was Whisper into the demon hearts. Dark blood spurted out like a geyser and then all was still. The cafe was empty. Alice stayed still for nearly a whole minute, recovering. She had seen one other figure in the vision in the orb, in the split second before Alcyone vanished, behind the demons, a fgure she recognized from the photo in Maia's beloved diary. Gabrielle, Maia's mother.

Maia closed her grandfather’s diary and went back to her room on the aqualiner. Alice had argued with her all the way to the port, insistent that she’d seen Maia’s mother with the demons. Kepler was staring out at the stars as they crossed the International Date Line heading for JFK Airport in New York. Chenial and her team had prepared both the safehouse at Radio City Music Hall and the Keep under Times Square where they were training new recruits and their dragons. Kepler’s mother and baby sister were fast asleep, curled up on the bottom bunk in the corner. Alice and Ben were bright eyed, discussing the battle unicorn stud farm they planned to visit north of New York at Belmont Park. She sat down next to Kepler and opened the diary to the two sets of blank pages at the end. She lazily scrawled the sigil for the angelic gateway Kepler had been showing her, to see if it would work.
Kepler glanced over periodically as the stardust that customarily trailed Maia’s fingertip wafted dancelike in midair before disappearing. Then to Maia’s astonishment, a rough scroll, written in halting penmanship, materialized on the blank page in front of her.
‘Whoever is erasing my work, stop doing it!
The Lightworld is my creation.
Maia closed the diary with a slam, fastened the clasp and looked at Kepler. He was engrossed in the Pleiades. Only sixteen, one year younger than she was and already a famous astronomer in his world. His body was skinny, similar to Altair’s, Kepler’s silent broody moods and his aloofness reminded her of him.
Altair. He would know what to do. Maia had met him in Paris on one of the orphanage outings with her guardian Mrs Gripe, outside Altair’s grandmother’s house. She had been fifteen, he was sixteen years old. She had been sitting in the shade on the banks of the River Seine watching some old painters doing watercolors of the Notre Dame. She was hypnotized by the rhythm of their brushes when she felt a touch as light as air catch her blonde curls and move them as if they were wings in flight. She watched the thin dark haired boy walk on by in silence. He wore black boots, black jeans and a torn T-shirt with an odd looking symbol on it. He too was looking at the painters and appeared not to notice her. Then he began to mimic something she was doing quite unconsciously. Drawing circular shapes in the air, like scribbling on an invisible jotter pad. Her heart beat a little faster. Then he slowly turned, casually, as if to give the river a once over. When their eyes met she jumped. It was like a jolt of electricity had leapt through her body. Maia averted her eyes, trying vainly to find something on the ground that would be of more importance. But it was no use. Then she gasped and couldn’t breathe. She’d forgotten how to take a breath. He was walking over to her. He was asking her something, it was all so vague and dreamy, whether she liked art and that he was a local musician.
Music. Maia found her voice. At first it croaked like a disused dried up foghorn. She turned bright red. He was asking her about her favorite music. He hummed a tune she knew well, ‘Aux Champs Elysee’ by a French singer Joe Dassin. To her extreme embarrassment she found herself singing along. Altair was looking at her with curiosity. He asked whether she was interested in bands. Resonance, the global energy supplier, ran a worldwide competition for teenagers, to measure the band with the greatest output and would she be interested in entering with him, as a duo. Maia just nodded, awestruck. Why would a boy like him be interested in her? After an hour or more of chatting, he told her that his father worked in Resonance and so he had a few connections. He also mentioned that he would probably be going to the prestigious music institute in Oxford, Bridgeford next year. That they offered scholarships. Why didn’t she apply? Maia’s ears pricked up. A music institute? She’d never even thought about such a thing. She’d presumed she would be stuck at Mrs Gripe’s orphanage until a benefactor took pity on her. Maia was surprised at herself. She hardly ever went out of her way to talk to strangers and she avoided any opportunity to bring up her odd family background. A grandfather and father who had disappeared in ‘mysterious circumstances’. A mother who had abandoned her.
Altair was polite and intelligent. He had moved closer without making her feel uncomfortable. He hadn’t poked his nose into any taboo areas of her life. Like Maia he seemed to crave company but didn’t know how to go about getting it. He asked her to sing again. She remembered an old song of her mother’s, a lullaby that she was sure her mother must have sung to her when she was just a baby. A song about peace. The painters around them stopped when Maia sang. Altair’s eyes glowed. It was like an angel of music had descended out of the clouds onto the banks of the Seine. Would she go with him to visit his grandmother’s? He asked her quietly, shyly, without looking her straight in the eyes. She liked the feeling growing in her body, a warmth and security she hadn’t felt for a long time. Mrs Gripe and the orphanage tour group had long gone and Maia knew she wouldn’t be missed for an hour or two more. She was prone to wandering off alone. Luckily, Altair’s grandmother’s house was just a few blocks away from the orphanage.
The old French house was beautifully decorated with eighteenth century Parisian tables and chairs and Maia’s favorite Monet paintings, the Nympheas Serie. It was lit with crystal chandeliers and Altair served her tea in Louis XVI porcelain tea cups. His grandmother was obviously a woman of considerable means. Altair even showed her the latest Resonance technology, a headset which when lightly placed on her temples made Maia feel like she was floating on a cloud.
Maia could see Altair was attracted to her. She in turn wanted him to touch her body, embrace her, take her in his arms and kiss her. She had no idea how to stop herself. They soon found their way to his bedroom where they lay side by side stroking each other.
He was tender and gentle with her that first time. She had never been with another boy. Part of her was in a panic while the other part just gave in to his suggestions. He spoke to her softly, telling her fantasies that relaxed every cell in her body.
Altair was the perfect lover, switching off the lights so she wouldn’t feel embarrassed, respecting her shyness by undressing her in the dark. Every touch urged her to go further, every kiss took her beyond this world to a far away place where true love was not just a fairytale.
She hadn’t planned to fall in love so deeply or so fast but there was something so different about Altair, like destiny calling, French lovers who meet in Paris under ideal circumstances.
They met every day after that, until, along with Alice, Altair became her very best friend. She would spend every waking hour with him after that, attend Bridgeford together on a vocal scholarship and form a band ‘The Archangels’.
She still wished now she’d never shown him her grandfather’s diary, never revealed her grandfather’s secret, the Angel Script, never taken him to the UnderWorld and certain death.
Now that same diary was writing back to her. Someone called Shaft had taken control of it and created ‘LightWorld’.
She looked out the window with Kepler at the Pleiades and her own star, Maia, that she was named after. This world was not all it seemed. All her senses were on high alert. 

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