No Greater Love Chapter 5

No Greater Love.jpg


“No Greater Love”


(John 15:13)

By Zapper


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Chapter 5

*Meka & John*

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Maxwell Jackson moved with an easy feminine stride as she made her way up from the tube at Waterloo station and headed to Surbiton. It was about an hour down to Oxshott where Gwendolyn lived. She was already late and Max blamed Ilse for it. After he’d cast the spell that had blasted the spirit of Meka into the afterlife, he’d been horny. For some reason Max, hadn’t been able to say no.

They’d ended up spending the next few hours in bed and Max learned that the new Eli might only be twenty-two or twenty-three, but the experienced mind of Ilse knew every trick when it came to bringing a woman pleasure. Max still wasn’t sure if Ilse hadn’t used magic, because he seemed to get hard only seconds after ejaculating. When Max had settled into her seat on the train she’d winced, ‘damn, I’m sore!’

The memory of what she’d done, what Ilse had got her to do, the way he’d played with her body until she was begging, desperate to be filled . . . left Max feeling humiliated . . . and eager to return to the flat tonight. Ilse, no, Eli had promised to show her even more of what her body was capable of.

Thinking of what they’d done, and how she’d felt left Max so distracted that the twenty minutes down to Oxshott flew by. Leaving the train station, she waived down a taxi and gave the driver Gwendolyn’s address and told him to hurry. By now Max realized that if she just relaxed and let her body move she had no trouble looking just like Meka. She turned slightly to sink into the back seat of the cab keeping her legs together within the tight black leather skirt. Then she caught a glimpse of her reflection in the window of the cab and felt a surge of pride. The white blouse exposed her arms and showed just a hint of cleavage and went perfectly with the skirt and high heeled boots. The bracelets and necklace were flawless accessories and added a feminine touch that Max was sure the original Meka had rarely bothered with. This should put Gwendolyn off guard. The only thing that Max didn’t like about her appearance was the eyepatch. But she’d already seen the advantages of having her crystal close, so she wasn’t about to get rid of it.

Max glanced at her phone to check the time and saw that it was going to be 11:30 by the time she arrived. Gwendolyn had called a meeting of the leadership of the London Great Coven for midnight. She’d asked Meka to meet with her privately before the leadership meeting. Gwendolyn had wanted to know from Meka’s perspective what had happened. Since Meka had been working the day that the NWRI had been attacked and destroyed by the Syndicate.

For Max this was too good an opportunity to pass-up. A chance to have Gwendolyn alone was the perfect opening to end her. Gwendolyn’s death would be a major blow to the Society. The taxi pulled to a stop before a gate and Meka paid him, wincing slightly at the scent of garlic, liver, and onions on his breath, and climbed out. For a moment Max looked at the gate and the kiosk next to it. She searched Meka’s memories and smirked. The kiosk was a test, only a mundane person would use it. Max drew manna through Meka’s focus item and for a second gloried in the feeling of power that filled her then she spoke the key Gwendolyn had given her.

Max felt the magic surge and then the wards parted and the gate swung open. At ease, knowing that her disguise was impenetrable, Max walked up the paved driveway to the front entrance to the mansion. When she moved up the steps, the sounds of her heeled boots echoed into the darkness, she smiled and lifted her hand to press the doorbell. Before her finger reached the bell, the left door, of the double doors, opened and an older gentleman, in a classic butler’s uniform looked down at her. For a second Max felt nervous, then his name came to her, “Hi, Philip, I believe Gwendolyn is expecting me.”

“Indeed.” For a moment, the man didn’t move. “Please follow me, Mistress Petrucci.” With that he stepped back and then did an about face expecting her to follow. Meka stepped over the threshold and felt a shiver. This was an old house. A house that had been in Gwendolyn’s family for generations. As such it had built up a presence. The crossing of a threshold in the old world carried significance, and still did in the magical community. The longer the family had stayed in one place the stronger the pressence. Still she’d been invited in and the house awcknowledged it. If she hadn’t been invited she’d have had to force her way in. This could be done, but it might have taken a while and it would alarm her hostesss.

Philip moved confidently through the house and Max hurried to keep up. The hard wood floors were polished until they reflected the lights from the lamps set at intervals high in the wall. Max got the feeling that Meka had been here several times but unless she focused on those memories they remained distant and hazy. Philip opened a door and bowed.

Max stepped through and saw that she was now on a back deck that over looked a garden. There were several gas lamps set on tall poles around the area and Max spotted her target. The light reflected off Gwendolyn’s blonde hair and the light blue dress seemed like something that would have been common two hundered years ago. Hearing Max’s approach the woman stood up and turned around and Max’s breath caught. She was the most beautiful woman Max had ever seen. For a moment she wondered what it would feel like to be transferred into Gwendolyn’s body. The idea almost made Max stagger and she missed Gwendolyn’s comment.

“I’m sorry, Ma’am, I was thinking about the attack when I walked up. What did you say?”

“I just said, how glad I am to see you, dear. I’m happy you weren’t hurt in that dispicable attack. We lost over a hundred people, over half of them were mundane. Its such a tragedy. I can’t understand the minds of the people who think this sort of thing is okay.”

“Yes, they must be monsters.” Max said, while her mind spun. The idea of taking over this beautiful creature consumed her. Mr. Drake would love the idea, Max felt, and at Gwendolyn’s suggestion Max settled into a chair across from the Grand Witch of the London Great Coven, giddy at the idea of taking her body, power, and influence and bringing them under the Syndicates control.


***

Once again John was driving and using his un-notice spell. Per Meka’s note the spell would work best if it was cast in a place that was significant to both of them. The house he’d lived in when they’d swapped bodies had been sold and Meka had left her apartment. The idea of asking someone, a total stranger, to leave their house or apartment for an hour or two seemed silly. That left the farm. The house north of St. Louis where they’d been held captive. The house where they’d met in person for the first time. The place where they’d become friends.

John had left St. Louis at 6:00 am for Louisville, now at 2 pm he was over half way back to St. Louis. There was a part of him that was frustrated. Victor had a gate, but he didn’t know how to use it and the healer, Jennifer, had put Victor into a healing sleep. He’d wake up in the morning and be fine, but John somehow knew he didn’t have that kind of time. Not if he planned to help Meka. John pulled off the highway and slowed down since he was now on a secondary road. It would take longer to get to the farm, even with his spell and car, due to the two-lane roads. Pushing down the sense of urgency John focused on driving.

It was almost 4:00 pm by the time John made it to the abandoned farm. Driving up the dirt driveway John got his first look at the farm. It had been years, yet it felt like only yesterday, that he and Meka had been trapped in the basement. They’d escaped but it had been close. As much as he remembered the similarities, he now saw there were more differences. At the time, he and Meka had been captured the grass had been well maintained, the white fence was in good repair, the barns were freshly painted and there was an overall feeling of the place being lived in and maintained. Now everything looked rundown, neglected, and ignored. For some reason this made John feel a little sad.

“At least I won’t have to worry about someone coming by and getting in my way.”

With that he climbed out of the Challenger and opened the trunk. The oversized duffel bag was one he’d prepared before leaving for Victor’s house. John hadn’t known what to pack, but wanted to be ready for anything. Slamming the trunk closed he started to walk to the house when he heard a car coming up the driveway. John turned and looked back in time to spot a Ford F150 pulling to a stop.

“Hey, John,” Ben said climbing down from the cab. “I brought my kit for ritual magic, just like you told me too. Where the hell are we?”

John couldn’t help grinning and feeling slightly irritated all at the same time. His partner’s youthful enthusiasm was part of his personality and after the other night John knew he could trust Ben in a crisis. Besides, Ben had been trained in ritual magic, an area of his training where John was weak.

“We’re here, partner, because I need to do a ritual to help a friend who’s in trouble. The reason for this location is because this is where I met her for the first time.”

Ben nodded and reached into the bed of the truck and pulled out a Coven issued duffel bag. “When will your friend get here?”

John turned and headed around the side of the old farm house. There was an external access point to the basement, or more accurately storm-cellar. “She won’t, she’s in London.”

Ben’s long strides brought him up next to John, “London? Did you hear about the Syndicate attack? They burned the London Great Coven’s research facility. There was something like a hundred deaths.”

For a moment John thought about how Meka must be feeling. If the Syndicate agent had used her body to carry out the attack she’d probably be feeling very guilty, and pissed. They reached the double doors that led down into the cellar and John saw they’d been secured with a chain through the handles and a lock.

“Reserare.” John gestured, using a minor effort of will and drawing a bit of magic through his crystal. There was a click and the lock popped open.

“Uhm, John, who owns this place?”

“Actually, I do. The State, foreclosed on it due to back taxes. I bought it last summer at an auction.” John pulled the chain out and tossed it to one side and then opened the doors. Extending his cane, he said, “Lux.” The crystal set into the handle instantly started glowing with its normal blue-white light.

A moment later a soft green-white from Ben’s crystal joined John’s as they headed down. The sounds of John’s boots on the wooden stairs felt muted in the musty darkness.

“Are there lights?”

“Yeah, but the power is turned off. I’ve been planning to get up here and start restoring this place. I just haven’t had the time.”

“Well, we’ve been sort of busy.”

They were standing in a narrow hall that ran the length of the farm. On either side were two sets of doors. The basement had been divided into four roughly equal sized rooms by the previous owner.

“John, don’t take this the wrong way, but this place is creepy. I’m feeling a lot of negative energy. Are you sure you want to be here?”

“I’m sure. I wanted to get Meka out here to help me do a ritual cleansing. Maybe we can do it during her next visit.”

“Meka, Meka Petrucci? The Witch who destroyed an army of Necromancer led zombies, single-handedly? The one whose been doing all the ground breaking research in London? You know her?”

At this John looked over at his partner, the surprise was clear on his face. “You could say that. And she had some help destroying the zombies. She’s the friend who needs me to cast this spell. For that I need you to help me with the ritual part.”

John opned the door to the room where he and Meka had once been held captive. “This is where we’ll do the rite.”

Been looked over the cell. “Okay, the first thing we need to do is remove the beds and clean the room.”

John looked over at his partner, “Why?”

“Dude, there is so much negative energy in this place. The act of cleaning is symbolic, it’ll sort of mini-cleanse the site. It’ll also set the tone for the spell. You’re not trying to hurt anyone are you?”

“No.”

“Then we need all the postitive energy we can generate. Do you have this ritual written down somewhere?”

John, leaned his cane into one corner of the room and pulled the grimoire out of his duffel bag. “This is Meka’s spell book, so don’t get any ideas. She’s very protective of it. The spell is the very last one in the book.”

Ben took the book, his crystal hung from a chain around his neck and the glow provided plenty of light for reading. “This looks like one of those family heirlooms. Does Ms. Petrucci come from a line of witches?”

“We never talked about it.” John said, not wanting to get too much into Meka’s business. Then he started pulling out the extra crystals he’d brought. “Come on, help me set up some light.” With a touch and a minor effort of will John caused the first crystal to start glowing. The spell lasted about an hour and John was sure they’d have to renew the light a couple of times before this was done, but this was the best option they had. “After that you can help me clean.”

Ben grimiced, obviously reluctant to put the book down. “Okay, but when we’re done, I want to hear about Meka. And I’d like to look at this book.”

“Ben, sorry. The book isn’t mine. It’s her’s. If she gives you permission then, sure, if not . . . well, its her call.”

It was almost 6 pm by the time the basement had been cleaned and scrubbed with fresh soapy water. The beds had been removed from John’s former cell and crystals set into each corner. John’s guess proved accurate. It had taken a couple of renewals of the light spell before they were ready. Now as he settled into the middle of the room and the center of the complex great circle Meka had sketched out he felt ready.

After they’d cleaned the room Ben had pulled out chalk and candles and then looked over at John. “You need to go get cleaned up and put on a set of ceremonial robes, if you have them. You did bring ceremonial robes for this, right?” The doubt in Ben’s voice was palpable.

“Yeah, I’m not totally ignorant.”

John had headed up to the main floor and to the bathroom with the old-fashioned claw footed tub. “It’s a good thing Victor had everything I needed,” and for a second John felt a little guilty about borrowing the robes, candles, and chalk without asking. Because there wasn’t any electric John had to use magic to draw water up from the well and then had to clean the tub and refill it before he got in. The steam curling into the air was the result of another spell and for a moment John enjoyed the feeling of hot water soaking into his muscles.

“There isn’t much more to this rite, at least you don’t need me to do a chant or channel energy to you.” Ben said looking up from Meka’s book as John returned to the basement. “Shouldn’t we wait until sunset? Sunset is symbolically powerful in magic you know.”

Feeling irritated John nodded, “Yeah, the death of the day and the beginning of the night. I know. I just have a feeling that we shouldn’t wait. Besides it’s after 11 pm in London, so its full night there.”

Abruptly John shivered. In that moment, he knew that he needed to start, lives hung in the balance. John placed his half of the Cavanaugh crystal, now detached from his battle-rod, on the floor in front of him.

“Why does she want you to rejoin what was separated? What is it that you’re rejoining?”

“When we met, we used a spell that caused this crystal to divide. It’s a Cavanaugh crystal and very special. Meka’s half of the crystal has fallen into the hands of a Syndicate witch, whose been using it against us. This spell should rejoin them and deprive the witch of most of her magic.”

Slowly, John drew power in through his crystal and then with a slight effort of will said, “Ignis.” The candles they’d placed at each of the cardinal points burst into flame and Ben stepped back, knowing John had begun the rite.

John felt the Great Circle respond, they’d placed the glyphs at each spot around the circle just as Meka had designed. Energy poured into John and then he felt it sort of flow out, again, like an ocean tide. The magic moved through the night and formed a connection to its other half.

“Redde quod dividitur.”

John felt more energy flow into him and the crystals in the room flared up. For a split second he was aware of everything in the room; the motes of dust still settling in the corners, the intake of a breath from Ben, as he watched wide eyed, and the feeling of the white cotton robes on his naked flesh.

“Fac omnia quae separavit.”

More energy flowed into and out of and John, he’d never felt so alive. Every nerve tingled with power. He could hear his own heart beat and taste every scent, on the once stale air of the basement.

“Erunt duo in unum.”

John’s eyes blazed with blue white power, and he lost sight of the room. Instead he saw a stunningly beautiful lady sitting across from him. He recognized Gwendolyn, but there was a pure white halo of power around her, and she seemed oblivious to his presence. Then she lifted a hand, blocking a force bolt. She seemed to stumble back from her chair as another bolt of colored light smashed into her shield.

“Masculum et feminam.”

The blue-white light blazed out of John’s body causing Ben to lift a hand to protect his eyes from the light. Then the light shifted alternating from blue-white to white-purple and it grew brighter with each strobing osculation. John sensed Meka. Her presence surrounded him. He felt her surprise and then . . . delight. It was like getting a hug, even though neither of them had a body.

“Haec . . . conjunctio . . . fit!”

The last phrase stuck in John’s throat. His whole body was on fire, the magic that burned along his veins made it hard to think. As he finished the spell the pain became too much and he threw his head back in a silent scream. At the same time his crystal burned with a new intensity and for a moment John sensed that there were two crystals occupying the same physical space. Then with a crack of thunder there was only one crystal.

John fell forward, catching himself with his hands just in time. Shoulder length reddish-brown hair fell in a curtain around his face and he gasped for several seconds trying to catch his breath. His dazed mind slowly started to sense the world around him. He could hear someone calling his name, but it was distant and unimportant.

His body felt odd, off, and yet . . . sort of . . . familiar. John reached up with one delicate hand and brushed his hair out of his eyes and froze. The hand at the end of his arm wasn’t his, but he recognized it. “Meka?” he whispered in a stunned alto.

‘John?’

John almost jumped when he heard her and glanced around. “Where are you?”

‘I’m right here, with you, in your head.’

“John, dude, I’m right here. A-Are . . . are you okay? You, you turned into a girl.” Ben’s stunned statement caused John to look up.

“W-What? Shit, okay, yeah . . .uhm, give me a minute.” ‘Meka, what happened?’ John thought.

‘I . . . er . . . my spirit was trapped in my crystal last night after I sent you that message. When you rejoined our crystals, I think the Law of Similarity caused our bodies to fuse.’ John could tell she was thinking. ‘Let’s try something. Can you give me control? Just think about stepping back or scooting over so someone else can drive.’

‘Uhm, okay.’ John thought and focused on passing control to Meka. There was a feeling of pressure in John’s mind and then like a bubble popping he felt like he was moving up and out of the way. He could feel everything though, and then a tingling raced through his body. It felt like he was made of clay and the clay was very quickly being re-shaped. The sensation wasn’t painful, just incredibly strange.

“Oh, shit.” John heard his voice say, but he hadn’t tried to speak. The he felt his own hands move to his chest confirming that his rock-hard pecs had returned. “John, I do believe we’ve got a problem.” Meka said, in his deep voice.

“I’ll say, you do. Now in addition to being a woman, for a few minutes, you’re talking to yourself.”

Meka looked up at Ben, ‘Who is this?’

‘My partner and a new Guardian trainee, Ben Lavin.’

“Ben, I think I’m going to need a few minutes to figure this out.” Then to John, ‘We’re at the farm?’

‘Yeah, it seemed like the best place.’

‘Okay, is there a bathroom?’

‘Sure up on the main floor. I can take us.’

‘No, not just yet. I think if I give you control our body will shift again.’ Meka thought. Then she scooped up the crystal and stood up. “I’m just going to use the bathroom. I’ll be back in a few minutes.


***

Max looked over at Gwendolyn and took a sip of tea. It was almost a quarter to midnight and before long the leaders of the London Great Coven would be arriving, Max knew he needed to be gone before then. Max sipped his tea, and re-crossed his legs. It was time, he needed to attack, but something held him back.

“Tell me, what is your true name?”

At first Gwendolyn’s question splashed, surreal, over his mind and he giggled and looked at Gwen. “Excuse me?”

Gwendolyn put her cup down and gave Max an apprising look. “I know you’re not Meka Petrucci. You have her DNA, her aura, her crystal, and even your magic feels like Meka’s, but you are not Meka.”

“Ma’am, I don’t know what you’re talking about.” Max replied, trying to sound offended.

“You see, I got a call from a friend in America. A warlock, and a Seer, and he told me something I thought was impossible. Then I did a little research. Would you care to explain these?” With that Gwendolyn dropped several pictures on the table. As Max looked at them she realized that they showed her entering the NWRI with a large duffel and then leaving 30 minutes later without the bag. “They were recovered from the security surveillance tapes.” Gwen leaned in, “What did you bring into the lab? Why did you leave it?

Max grinned, “I don’t know what you’re talking about.” Then as Gwen drew in a breath Max lashed out. The attack was quick and deadly. Even though Gwen was ready for it, expecting it even, it threw her out of her chair and sent her tumbling back away from Max. Max stood up and drew the pistol she’d strapped to her inner thigh above the hem of her skirt.

Max started shooting while moving forward with the cool efficiency of a trained killer. Gwen’s magical shield flared a light green as each bullet struck and to Max’s shock she climbed to her feet.

“My turn,” Then she gestured and said, “Tar chugam!”

Max noticed the crystal suspended from the chain around her neck, blazed a bright green and then the gun was ripped from her hand by a force Max couldn’t see. It flew through the air and smacked into Gwen’s hand.

“Pulso!” Max shouted trying to summon more magic from the crystal she’d inherited from Meka.

Gwen flipped up a hand and the energy seemed to go out of the spell. “Pathetic. If I hadn’t already known that you weren’t Meka I’d know now. Those are simple spells nothing close to what Meka could do.”

Max grinned as new ideas immediately floated to the front of her mind, “Well, let’s try . . . Aghhhhhhhhhh!” Pain lanced through Max, radiating from the crystal seated in her left eye socket. For an instant, she thought of nothing except the pain. Then she gasped it was gone! The pain had simply vanished but at the same time her eye socket felt empty and even worse her connection, the mystical bond that Meka had forged with the crystal, was gone.

“W-What did you do?” Max asked looking up and for the first time realized she’d fallen to her knees. Gwendolyn had been joined by a fierce looking man and a petite woman who held what looked like a staff with a crystal set in one end.

“Me? I did nothing. I expect that John just stripped you of Meka’s crystal. He did say something about a spell he planned to try.” Then Gwendolyn smiled, and it wasn’t pleasant or pretty. “You killed dozens of people yesterday, employees and friends of mine. So, let’s start again. Tell me your NAME!

The power of the spell hit Max like a tidal wave and to her horror she heard the words spill out, “I’m Maxwell Jackson, Syndicate Assassin, and now a Witch thanks to my master, Jason Drake.”



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