by Michael Arram
The fateful council of war took place out in the sunshine on the patio of Lance’s home. Henry had received a call from the Defence Ministry that morning and had disappeared to the Sixteenth Battalion’s depot, in preparation for the mobilisation of his brigade, which was to be announced within twenty-four hours. Ed was practically living at the Ostberg Palace. The Mendamerite boys and girls were on their own.
‘Which is juss as well,’ Damien concluded, ‘as there’s gonna be some things goin’ down here I’d ravver not see interrupted. Mrs Willerby is fortunately out of town.’
He observed the grouping of kids narrowly. Yuri, grinning all over her pretty face, was clasped tight to Mattie’s chest. Marky, giving every sign of wanting to do the same with Mike, confined himself to a cow-like gaze that never strayed far from his boyfriend’s face. Rafe and Gabe were so close together that they might as well have been joined at the hip, whispering away to each other in their own private little world, giggling non-stop in a rather irritating way.
Reggie had just concluded his magisterial survey of the events they had experienced in the World Beyond. ‘So the thing is this, guys, we’ve struck a big blow against Tobias and his plans. We’ve saved the angelic leadership and thwarted his attempt to conduct biological warfare against humanity. Course, it’s also made Daimey into a power in his own right, though we’re not sure yet what that may mean. But the Dead seem keen on him.’
There was a laugh at the look on Damien’s face. Then he took the floor. ‘Iss all like Reggie said, but iss not yet possible to say what exactly is goin’ on here. As for now, number one on me agenda is the Mendamero gang.’
‘You what?’ asked Barry.
Damien stood, pulled off his top, dropped his shorts, briefly looked down and then transformed. There was a clatter as Luc fell backwards off his recliner. ‘Putain!’ he exclaimed in shock.
Damien flexed his colourful wings and stretched his muscled arms.
Barry stared mesmerised at Damien’s enhanced genitalia. ‘Wow!’ he breathed.
‘Major horns!’ contributed Marky.
‘Men, Lance did this to us, and it’s not going away. We’ll always be part avian from here on. What I’m gonna ask is if you – Marky, Bazza, Luc and Mattie – will join us in this form. Now, as Reggie just pointed out, there’s problems attached to this state. Whaddya say, Lance?’
‘My thoughts are that the Men have been picked for this very moment. Since we’re all going to be in danger until Toby is sorted once and for all, you would be safer if I were to transform you. You have to understand, though, that the process is not completely under my control, so I can’t know exactly what you’ll become. All I can say is, it’ll reflect your inner being and personality.’
Barry laughed suddenly. ‘Then my Lucky will turn into something that’s all mouth.’ A clip around the ear from his boyfriend answered that sally.
Marky was the first to agree to making the change, and the other three followed on. They obeyed Damien’s instructions to strip, then stood together, Barry and Luc hand-in-hand. Marky kissed Mike deeply before joining the line.
Damien winked at Lance, who frowned in concentration. Yuri hid her eyes when the transformation hit her boyfriend, as bodies arched and twisted.
The process over, Mattie Oscott looked down at himself with delight. ‘Fuck, I’ve lost my gut!’
‘And we all thought it was such an integral part of what you are,’ Reggie observed coolly.
Mattie was extraordinarily handsome. He was tawny, with glorious, golden eyes, his wings a warm brown and his hair much the same honeyed colour – alone among the avians in having a thick pelt running down his broad chest and covering his ridged belly. Yuri was staring with deep interest at the prominence of what emerged from the dense bush at his groin.
Luc was intricately striped in grey and white, his hair wild and black, his wings raven-like, and his brow enhanced by sharp, white horns. Marky had the same colouring as Damien, but his wings were a gorgeous blue and green.
Barry was striped almost identically to Luc, but in soft gold and brown. His wings were yellow and orange. However, the bodily changes had been more extensive in his case, leaving him hornless in more than one way. He was gazing with shock at his groin. The transition for Barry had removed some much-treasured furniture; instead, only a significant fold was visible at his hairless crotch.
Luc Charpentier flexed his new wings with confidence and style. Transformation into this new form had brought with it instant ease in the air. He had left Strelzen far below him in pursuit of Barry. While he could easily have caught up with his boyfriend, he was developing into a wise man. He knew the physical effort of flight might calm Barry down somewhat.
He glanced down to admire his new body. He hardly felt naked, though the passage of the wind over his skin left no doubt he was, especially as it moved around the heavy black member hanging between his legs. The zebra-like whorls and stripes adorning his hide made him appear clothed. His great raven wings beat again and he felt like roaring with the delight of it all as he soared and banked. Barry was losing height now, and Luc glided down behind when his lover alighted on a bare hilltop within the Wenzlerwald.
Barry unthinkingly but elegantly folded his wings behind him. There were tears in his eyes as Luc hugged him tightly. They clung together for a long time. ‘I’ve been fucking castrated, I’m not a man anymore,’ Barry sobbed.
‘Bazza, mon cher, you’re not even human anymore.’ Luc deliberately chose the masculine form of the endearment.
‘But my dick …’
‘… will be there when you change back to being my beloved Bazza, don’t worry. How does it feel?’
Barry separated from Luc and probed at his own groin. ‘Like … I dunno. My dick was such a big part of me.’
‘Wasn’t it just!’ chuckled Luc.
‘It’s not funny. I’m a girl!’
‘I’m not sure you are, mon copain. To begin with, you have no breasts, and you still have your lovely tight behind; it’s just more highly decorated. Look at us, Barry, we’re a pair. It’s the effect of our mating; our shapes reflect our relationship. All you want is to be under me, and your new body, while still keeping the male shape that profoundly excites me, has adapted to what you most deeply desire.’
‘Pour être ta salope?’
‘C’est même ça. C’est possible que tu portais notre enfant comme ça.’
‘Moi, une mère? Choquant!’
‘Mais pourquoi pas? C’est le résultat logique de notre amour.’
‘You French with your logic.’
Luc observed that Barry was calming. He embraced his lover once more, slipping a hand down between them to caress the unfamiliar folds of flesh he found at Barry’s crotch. He was not resisted. Soon Luc’s fingers were slick and the folds had swollen outwards. Luc kept soothing Barry, who trembled beside him, uttering little cries and moans at the astonishing new sensations surging up through his body, far more powerful than what Luc’s fingers had done to him as a human male. Barry’s wings unfolded. They flexed involuntarily and strongly, as did Luc’s in response.
‘Oh!’ he whispered into Barry’s pointed ear. ‘It seems that creatures like us fuck on the wing.’
Beyond caring by then, they beat together into the air, never separating, and were high over the ground as Luc’s massive black member eased its way deep into Barry’s new entry. Then there was an eternity of ecstasy as they surged and beat the air together, falling and rising, climaxing again and again, screaming and crying like mating eagles when they were not kissing furiously.
Mike Atwood looked uneasily at Marky von Lauern as they sat huddled together in Lance’s bedroom. Marky had switched back into human form, after Luc and Barry’s flight. He picked up his discarded clothes and led his Mikey upstairs.
Eventually, Mike said the only thing he could think of, which fortunately was the right thing. ‘I love you, Marky.’
His hand was clutched. ‘I know that, hunk. But what worries me is, what about you? Seems I have wings now, and you don’t.’
‘I desire you deeply, Marky, whatever shape you are. It’s you I love.’
‘Thanks, baby. That means a lot. But it would be so much better if you were like me. Can’t Lance do something?’
Mike shook his head. ‘I hope Lance can work out how we, his brothers, can also be changed, but at the moment it is not possible.’
‘Oh! You mean you’re locked into your human bodies?’
‘That was Tobias’s magic, and it’s too strong for Lance to undo. It would seem ironic that you can have wings, while I, an archangel, have had mine clipped.’
Downstairs, the flight of two of the Mendamerites – literally – had put the meeting into recess. Mattie was resisting hints that he should transform back, as Damien and Marky had; Yuri was taking his side. She was snuggled adoringly up to his furry chest, at ease in his powerful arms, happier than a lottery winner.
Damien in the meantime went over to the twins, still hand-in-hand. ‘How ya doin’, Rafe?’
The boy grinned blissfully up at him. ‘I am well, majesty.’
Damien glanced at Gabe. ‘Why does he call me that?’
‘My brother is … was … a prophet amongst us. As a human, his gift is obscured, but if he addresses you in that way, it is for a reason.’
Damien pondered the explanation for a while, then continued, ‘Now you’re back, Gabe, I needs yer advice.’
‘I am at your service, majesty.’
‘Now you’re doin’ it! Stop grinnin’, yer mischief-maker.’
Clearly having fully recovered from their bout of angel-flu, the twins were revealing a delight in inappropriate humour. They burst out into merry laughter at Damien’s reaction.
He shook his head and continued, ‘Gabe, you’re a political sorta dude. Way more so than Lance, I’d guess. The Dead gave me a lot to think about. Iss not as simple as I’d thought, all this business of angels versus seraphs, one side for humanity, the other against it. Turns out the Dead still think of the living as their family and they’ve been secretly working to help us. Iss they who’ve been behind Uncle Rudi and little Maxxie all this while. So tell me, what do the angels want?’
The boy pondered. ‘We’re the weakest of the faction. We’re not much more than messengers and observers. The Satan alone among us had real power and the confidence of the Creator. But even so, he was exiled to earth, and it was a great blow when we lost our prince. Now with the four archangels sent here, there are none of us left on the Council with any influence. Those still in the World Beyond are powerless and leaderless. That was always Tobias’s plan.’
‘Yuh, I unnerstand that, but according to yer bruvver Mike, Tobias’s little plans have blown up in his face. Lance mated with Reggie and wuz transformed into something more than an angel, and from what I can see, summat’s happening to you four too. Yuri and Mike have joined up wiv humans… and there’s somefink about you two which looks like more than just bruvverly love.’
‘My brother and I are mated … not yet physically, but soon we will be joined in body too, or so I hope.’ Gabe cast a smouldering look at Rafe, who returned it with interest.
‘This mating business changes you angels, that right?’
‘Yes. It’s the emotional effect. We all operate in what we call “love” but – as I now fully understand – it is not passionate, angry, scared or sacrificial like human love. Angel love is no more than general benignity. Once we experience true emotional love, we’re no longer angels, but something different.’
‘Neither angel nor human.’
‘Maybe angel and human, just as you and your friends are no longer entirely human … you even less so than they, majesty.’
‘What do yer mean?’
‘You are very like Lance now; you have the same aura. You have become as much his brother as I am. You have – as he does – great power. Lance is both spirit and man, and so are you. The Lord Satan was born to be a prince, and you were reborn as one in the Isles of the Blessed. I think that is what my brother Rafe sees in you. A new race has arisen, and we in this house are its first offspring. You and Lance are the fathers of our race, we your children.’ He turned suddenly solemn. ‘O Prince, grant us a request.’
‘Try your power. Liberate our spirits in these bodies, so we may fully become your children.’
‘I can do this?’
‘Lance cannot. But your power is greater than his. The Talisman is within you, and its might is far more even than Tobias’s. Healing is not all it can do. The Dead knew that when they joined you to it. Make us new beings, like Reggie, Marky, Mattie and the others. We wish fully to become their brothers and lovers.’
‘Umm … I’ll talk to Helen and Lance first. Okay, Gabe?’
‘As you wish, Daimey. But if it is not to happen here and now, my brother and I have something to do while still fully human.’
‘Go for it, Gabe. The lube is in the top drawer of Lance’s bedside table.’
Hand-in-hand the twins pounded up the stairs. The battering of the headboard on the wall of the guest bedroom indicated pretty soon afterwards that they were by then pounding other things than the stairs.
Lance came out on to the patio with a drink of cranberry juice. He scanned the sky and called over to Damien, who was deep in conversation with Helen, ‘Luc and Barry in final approach!’
From being distant black dots, the two swooped rapidly down out of the summer sky and alighted at the poolside. They kissed passionately, and as they stared in each other’s eyes, returned to their human forms. Luc went to recover his clothes, but Barry took a few moments to reacquaint himself with his male genitalia. His face was unfathomable. He sat down, and hauled on the underpants which Luc threw at him.
‘Er… okay, you two?’
Luc nodded. ‘We’ve got a lot to think about.’
‘I think we all have,’ agreed Damien. ‘Fookin’ change back, Mattie!’
It was as humans they all resumed their places, only the twins being absent, and no one was going to disturb their recreation.
Marky sat close to Helen, she taking his hand silently. She sensed his deep internal trouble.
‘Before he went off to attend to … er … other business, Gabe Atwood had somefink to tell me. He believes I has the power to do to the angels what Lance did to the humans. He believes I can alter them so they correspond to us, to transform them into our new avian species.’
Mike and Yuri broke out into exclamations. There was little doubt of their opinion. Damien continued, ‘I’ll give it a try, babes, if that’s what yer want. Gabe and Rafe begged me to do it. Are you willing?’
Mike spoke up firmly. ‘I’m ready!’ Yuri’s agreement was as determined.
Lance looked concerned, but did not disagree, simply warning them, ‘Just bear in mind what we’ve already seen. The results may not be what you expect or even want.’ He glanced at Barrry, who blushed hard.
‘Get naked then, all of yer. Mike, take Marky in your arms; Mattie, take Yuri. Somefink tells me yer two pairs will match. Who can say what the twins will turn into? All the other couples sit together. One last thing. If this works, we gotta disappear for a while. We’ll have to talk it out where no one can get to us.’
‘Eden,’ Lance suggested. ‘Time is different there. I can take us all.’
‘And the scenery’s nice.’ Helen laughed.
At the last moment the twins reappeared from the house, flushed and naked. Gabe’s penis was still partly inflated, hanging heavily between his thin legs. The twins were otherwise identical, even down to a birth mark next to their navels.
‘Then here goes!’ Damien gave a frown as he reached inside himself to trigger the power to liberate the angels’ forms. It worked. There were cries as all the teens on the patio transformed. Damien was watching the twins as it happened. Their bodies became ivory and slender, hairless apart from black manes which fell far down their backs. Their wings were green, shot with red. Neither had horns, but Gabe was decidedly male, while Rafe’s penis shrank into himself, his hips widened and small breasts swelled out from his chest. Rafe seemed delighted as she explored herself.
When Damien turned to see the other two couples, he found that Yuri and Mike had become the sexual counterparts of their mates, with the same colouring. Mike was however proudly crowned with thick green horns, which simply emphasised Marky’s dependency on him. He clung to the huge form of her lover staring up into his eyes. Yuri was the smallest of all of them, but the exact counterpart of Mattie, apart from lacking the fur he had down his front.
Damien issued his orders. ‘Guys, we stay in this form. We’re gonna fly. Lance, take us to Eden. It’ll give us the space and time to get to know what we are. Wings! We go! Now!’
The female avians clustered around Helen, who had become their mentor. It had to be, she said, not just because she was Damien’s mate, but as she was the only one of them born female: she had the training. Time had little meaning by the River of Life, where the hybrids had set up camp, so no one felt any pressure to return to reality until they had sorted themselves out – and it took some sorting.
Barry, whose form remained androgynous, moped around with the girls. He was beginning to nag Lance and Damien to see if they could alter his physical nature so he could do what the twins did. ‘Get yerself a fookin’ strap-on,’ Damien eventually retorted, a little impatiently.
Lance and Reggie could currently be seen at it high in the sky above camp. Lance was beating strongly with his wings as he held Reggie by the armpits beneath him. Reggie’s wings were straight out in glide position, and his legs splayed. Lance was deeply inside him, thrusting in time to his wing beats, an ecstatic Reggie all but hanging from his cock. It looked strangely and beautifully choreographed from below. It went on for some time as they circled, rose and fell, the act of flying itself becoming deeply sexual.
Barry was still gloomy. ‘Have you girls thought that returning to Strelzen is not going to be easy? How do me and you adapt to being boys again, Rafe? Being a girl seems natural to you. And there’s another question,’ Barry pursued. ‘If we stay avian, what sort of homes do we build?’
Helen responded briskly, ‘These are all good questions. The point is, we’re beginning a new civilisation here, which is why Daimey brought us. He’s thinking long-term. He expects us one day to stay in these shapes and leave our humanity behind us for good, though I have no idea where on Earth we can be ourselves. Our children won’t have the choice to be avian or human, remember. If we have them in this form, they’ll be winged. So we have to iron things out in advance.’
‘Here’s another question, then,’ continued Barry. ‘Why do some of our boys have horns and others not? We’ve got four horned avians, all male: that’s Daimey, Lance, Mikey and Luc. What’ve they got in common?’
‘Bossiness?’ Yuri giggled.
Helen hugged her again. ‘I thought it might be sort of like a warrior caste, but Mattie’s not got any horns and I think he’d be good in a fight, and for that matter, I’d want to fight alongside Daimey. I don’t think female avians have to be docile and protected.’
‘So what do you think it is?’ Yuri asked.
‘I think it’s a sign of princely status. I think our horned males are our aristocracy.’
‘Oh, no! Luc will be insufferable,’ moaned Barry.
There was a flurry of wings and the large figure of Mike Atwood loomed over the group. All the girls were eyeing his endowment; his was the largest of all of the males and Marky’s accounts of taking it widened eyes.
Mike asked what they were talking about, and they raised the horn question. ‘It may be so,’ he agreed with his mate. ‘I believe we avians are social creatures, and sometimes dominance within a group can be echoed in physical form. It is clear that Lance and Damien are to be our leaders, and they have the largest horns. But had you thought what it is you girls are doing here? It’s you that are forming our society, sitting here, exploring ideas and concepts, not a council of horned males. Damien may be our prince, but it’s you he’s counting on to devise our realm.’ He got up and bowed low to the girls. Then he turned to Barry. ‘I came for you. Damien wants you.’
Barry struggled up, flexed his yellow and orange pinions, and took off after Mike. He found Damien and Luc at the riverbank.
Damien got straight to the point. ‘Bazza, you’re the only unhappy avian in our little family. Luc’s been bending our ears, but let’s hear it from you.’
‘I don’t feel right, Daimey. Well, I do feel right when Lucky’s taking me up my new fixture, that’s sensational! Otherwise, though, I don’t fit in with the girls and I miss my favourite body part. Luc says he wants my penetration. Can there have been a mistake?’
Damien brooded. ‘You wuz changed by Lance and maybe Lance’s magic is more sympathetic to what our society wants than what’s right for you. But Reggie wasn’t feminised though he’s the bottom of the pair, and there must be a reason for that, so I’d guess it was that deep down Lance wanted Reggie male. It may be that if I re-do you I too can consciously influence your assignment. I’m willing to see if the Talisman will make a different decision on yer. So change yerself back to human.’
Barry complied, looking pale, small and sickly amongst the large, colourful and vibrant forms of the avians. ‘You’ll let me keep my stripes, will ya? I want to look like my Lucky still.’
‘Yer can’t make conditions, Bazza. This is the last roll of the dice, so take what yer gets or stick to being human. But hold Luc. It might help when the change hits.’
Barry convulsed as the change hit him once again, this time from a different direction. The change was definitely worse the second time around. When he sagged, transformed, in Luc’s arms, his skin colouring and markings had indeed remained. He wasn’t horned, but his wings were now the same raven black as Luc’s. It was as the two avian lovers separated that it became apparent that Barry had been rendered male once again, remarkably so.
‘Merde!’ gasped Luc.
Lance and Reggie banked above the tree tops of the eternal forest, and settled with some difficulty on an upper branch, which creaked and sagged at their combined weight. The tree was on the top of a gentle rise and from where they sat they could see a long way into the blue distance.
‘So that direction is the Land of the Dead,’ Reggie pointed east.
‘No, my babe. The Isles of the Blessed are downriver, but that’s not where the Dead are usually to be found, though ...’ Reggie looked a question, and Lance continued. ‘I heard a thing once from a seraph. He’d gone on a mission beyond the Isles where the river meanders onwards to flow into a sea so blue, it’s almost black. He said that beyond the horizon of that sea he’d seen something distant, like the peaks of pale mountains. They reared up in titanic ranges far beyond the edge of this world, and he thought that they might be the home of the dead. But only one seraph has been allowed to fly across that sea.’
‘No. Not even him. There is one of the erelim who is Heaven’s ambassador to the Dead. He has no name, and speaks to no one of what he sees there, but he’s the one who was sent to bring Mark Tolmie back from death to the Isles of the Blessed, and he met Mark again after his second death, before he became Maxxie. I think he escorted him to the Presence itself the second time.’
‘Awesome. You mean Mark actually met ... y’know, Him?’
Lance did not answer, but sat swinging his elegant brown legs as his dark, displayed wings kept him stable in the tree top. He pulled Reggie to him and they sat peaceably together, Reggie’s peacock wings tightly folded.
Eventually Reggie observed, ‘I had a dream when I dozed off ... some time ago.’
‘You dozed? But there’s no sleep here! Interesting. Go on, baby.’
‘I recalled it when we were swooping over the trees just now. It was an odd dream too, very vivid. We were flying out of a clear sky, you me and lots of other avians. I didn’t recognise them, but they were our people. We were gliding across a great plain, with a wooded hill ahead of us. There were things that looked like deer running scared below us, and out of the treetops burst flocks colourful birds, almost like living fireworks shooting up into the sky. It was all so beautiful and we were flying hand in hand. What do you think it was I saw?’
Lance pondered some moments, his perfect face brooding. ‘Reggie mine, mutating you into an avian has brought great gifts with it. You can sense the inner hearts of others, and it seems to me you have been granted second sight too. What you saw was a future vision.’
‘Really? What? Like Rafe?’
‘Dunno. Rafe’s gift is to see the movement of time and the patterns in which people are caught. You may be seeing into your own personal future. It’s reassuring, but it does tend to indicate that our future is as avians, not humans. I’m not entirely happy with that. I built a lot on my humanity and I’m not so weary with it that I want to abandon it. And what about my people? My angels? How do they come into this future? That’s the trouble with visions. They never give you all the information you need.’
‘All I need to know was that you were with me, my dark prince.’
Lance smiled. ‘Have you noticed how the horns have been distributed around our little tribe?’
‘I thought it was a bit sexist.’
‘So did Helen. I think she was miffed; she did the ear-bending thing on me. She said she wanted a rematch with the transformation. She accused me of not wanting equal opportunity for avian females. She blames me for the horn deficiency.’
Reggie giggled. ‘So what did you say?’
‘Pleaded ignorance. Then I said she should do what Barry did and ask Damien to reformat her. That gave her pause for thought.’
‘I’ll bet. They love each other to bits, but there’s this power thing going between them.’
‘I noticed. Asking Daimey for that sort of favour would cause her problems. She’d be beholden to him, and there would go her independence. Those two are like, I dunno ...’
Lance laughed. ‘I know what you mean. Like two proud nations in an alliance, but just let one admit it desperately needs the other’s help ... the help would be given, but the balance of power would be upset for good.’
‘Exactly. Not a problem we have is it, angel-boy?’
‘Nope. I want your ass, and you want my dick. Talking of which ...’
Without another word the two young avians launched into the sky, swooping and dancing high in the air till Lance caught Reggie and the grappling bcame a coupling that went on and on.