Saturday, July 29, 2017

What Do You Do When You Discover Your Parrot Is A Witch?

What do you do when you discover your parrot, a big beautiful blue hyacinth macaw parrot, is a witch? A witch with a coffee addiction. And a fondness for pizza and beer. You discover she needs you and your friends to help her save your world from a cannibal warlock and his zombie army of the dead. And she's not alone. She leads a coven of witches which also happen to be parrots. And a black cat.

If you prefer the feel of paper in your hands, click Here for the paperback version.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Book Two of the Princess Tara Chronicles: The Princess Witch, Chapter Ten

Chapter Ten
Part One

Around the corner and out of sight of the Starbucks where we sat drinking coffee a convoy of armored SWAT vehicles pulled to a stop at the curb. Squads of black clad Deportation Police goons exited the vehicles and assembled on the sidewalk, large machine guns with short barrels slung over their shoulders. Several of the cops in command carried magic harpoons.

The crowd of people running up the street past the Starbucks gave me the first indication something was wrong. Several stragglers at the back of the crowd stumbled and fell to the pavement and lay motionless as goons with magic harpoons came into sight. Michael jumped to his feet. “What the fuck!” he exclaimed.

White Tara bolted off my shoulder and flew up to the top of the building.

“Something is not right,” Jean said. The sound of a machine gun firing gave me reason to believe something was not right. A string of bullets pockmarked a car passing through the intersection. The car veered into oncoming traffic, smashed into an oncoming car, and sent it spinning into a cluster of newspaper boxes on the opposite corner. Several pedestrians knocked down like bowling pins screamed in pain.

Red Tara launched herself off Jean’s shoulder and furiously flapping her wings climbed into the sky. Her feathers fluffed out, Princess Tara stood erect on the table.

The first squad of black clad Deportation Police goons appeared on the sidewalk, aiming directly for our table. Customers at the other tables scattered and ran, knocking over tables and chairs in the panic. This slowed the goons down long enough to give us a few extra critical seconds to react.

Jean jumped up and flung our table on its side, sending our coffee cups and Princess Tara flying. “Sorry sweetheart!” she yelled.

I jumped to my feet. Outright fear made my skin crawl like nothing had since the time I went to see the first Alien movie. By myself. A goon with a magic harpoon appeared on the opposite side of our sideways table. His pale skin and gaunt frame screamed laxsa, although his eyes hid behind black wraparound sunglasses. He pulled his magic harpoon up to aim it at us. Jean’s hand appeared next to my head holding a pistol. Jean pulled the trigger and the gunshot nearly burst my eardrum. The goon’s sunglasses split in two and the two pieces flew off his face. A hole appeared directly between his bloodshot sunken laxsa eyes. He flew backwards behind the tables as if someone with a stage hook yanked him off the stage. The magic harpoon flew forward directly into my hands.

I spun around to face Jean. “Where the hell did you get that gun?”

“Took it off that dead laxsa during all the confusion,” she repied.

“I love you,” I said. A feeling of calm settled over me

“Give me that thing, gawddammit!” Michael exclaimed. He grabbed the magic harpoon and yanked it out of my hands. “If you’re not going to use it. . .” He kneeled next to our overturned table and pointed the harpoon at a couple of Deportation Police goons. “Die you fuckers!” They crumpled to the sidewalk.

A burst of machine gun fire shredded our table, covering us in plastic shards. Michael pointed the magic harpoon at the goon just as he fired another burst of bullets. As he fell dead the recoil spun him around, his finger stuck on the trigger. The burst of bullets took out half a dozen Deportation Police goons running up behind him.

Another crowd of people running up the center of Market Street dodging horn blaring cars alerted us to the squad of Deportation Police goons trying to flank us. A goon with a magic harpoon stopped at the door to the Starbucks. He turned his magic harpoon toward me. Oh shit! I thought to myself. I heard a heavy thud. I realized an arrow pierced the center of his forehead. The force of the impact flung his body backwards through the glass door. I turned to see Red Tara, the four armed Amazonian witch, standing next to Jean and Michael. She smiled at me as she calmly nocked an arrow into her longbow.

The sound of machine gun fire reverberated along the brickwork facing the street. I ducked and slapped my hands over my ears as Jean raised her pistol at another target. Thankfully my hands muffled Princess Tara’s screech. I looked up to see two goons with machine guns standing over me. One raised the butt of his weapon over my head. I heard the swoosh of a battle axe whirling through the air and caught the glint of a steel blade in the sunlight. The goon’s weapon flew up into the air, along with his head. The body toppled backwards onto the sidewalk. As it fell the gusher of blood from the severed neck sprayed the second goon. He looked down at the blood sprayed across his uniform. He looked up. I heard another heavy thud. An arrow pierced his skull and threw him backwards. His machine gun fell onto the sidewalk at my feet and bounced into my hands.

Two more goons ran up to the two bodies sprawled across the sidewalk and dropped to their knees. They lifted their machine guns to their shoulders. A battle axe whirled past my ear and split the head of one of the goons neatly in half. The second goon hesitated. He tried to stand up. A black dervish jumped over my head, knocking me to my hands and knees. I caught the flash of steel claws as Black Tara separated the goon’s head from his shoulders.

Behind me I heard Jean scream “Damn it!” I heard the sound of a pistol clicking on an empty clip.

“Jean!” I yelled, spinning around. I flung the machine gun up to her. She dropped her empty pistol as she caught the gun. She racked the charging handle, aimed the machine gun, and pulled the trigger.

Blue Tara ran past me up the sidewalk. I saw her battle axe sticking out of the windshield of a parked car. Deportation Police goons blocked the sidewalk, machine guns in their hands. Blue Tara skipped into the air and knocked two goons down with her feet. She grabbed the handle of the battle axe and yanked it out of the windshield. Flinging it around her she planted it in the skull of a laxsa goon. Another goon swung his machine gun toward her. Before he could pull the trigger the black dervish that was Black Tara whirled between the two of them. I saw a flash of steel claws and the goon’s head flew off his shoulders. Blue Tara kicked the headless body backwards as she yanked her battle axe out of the laxsa skull she had buried it in.

I realized I was still on my hands and knees. I saw a magic harpoon laying on the sidewalk next to Starbucks’ busted door and scrambled over to pick it up. As I struggled to my feet a burst of machine gun bullets laced the sidewalk behind me. Jean screamed. I spun around, fearing the worst. Jean pointed up the sidewalk. “Tara!” she cried out. “Tara’s been shot.”

I turned to look for Blue Tara. She lay on her side on the sidewalk, her battle axe in her hand. Blood covered her legs. She struggled to push herself up with her elbow. A Deportation Police goon pointed his machine gun at her. I pointed the magic harpoon at him. He toppled over.

Two other goons ran up to Blue Tara and swung their machine guns toward her. The black dervish that was Black Tara jumped between them and lopped off one of their heads. The other scrambled backwards. He attempted to aim his machine gun at Black Tara. I pointed the magic harpoon at him. He crumpled to the ground.

Armored SWAT assault vehicles drove into view and pulled to the curb, smashing between parked cars. I ran to Blue Tara’s side. Blood spurted out of several bullet holes in her legs. “Hang in there,” I pleaded with her, putting my arm around her shoulders and pulling her upright.

“Take my blade, honey,” she said. She gave me a weak smile as she pushed her battle axe over to me.

Jean ran up to us. “We need to get out of here!” she cried out, telling me what already was painfully obvious to me. “Now!” she insisted. She stepped to my side and fired a burst from her machine gun at one of the SWAT vehicles.

“Tara,” I said. “We need to get out of here.”

“I would like a frappuccino right now,” she replied. A pained grin creased her face. I couldn’t tell if she winked at me, or winced from the pain.

“Please,” I pleaded. “Get us out of here.”

Blue Tara pressed her one big yellow eye closed and grabbed hold of my arm with one of her hands.

“Please Tara.” I pressed my eyes closed.

Blue Tara screeched.


I opened my eyes. I found myself kneeling on the floor of my Ballard apartment. I cradled Blue Tara in my arms. My head felt like it had been beat against a wall one too many times. I struggled to focus my eyes. Blood pooled across my hardwood floor from the bullet wounds in Blue Tara’s legs. Jean kneeled next to me, her hand on my shoulder. Michael stood behind her cradling Margarita in his arms.

“We’ve got to stop the bleeding,” Jean said.

“We need White Tara!” I yelled. I looked around me. The apartment seemed like a blur. Red Tara stood in the bay window looking up the street.

“You don’t need to yell,” Jean replied. “We’re right here.”

“Where’s White Tara?”

“She didn’t come back with us,” Michael replied.

“What do you mean she didn’t come back with us? What happened?”

“My sister White Tara must have flown away from where we stood,” Red Tara said. She stepped to my side and knelt next to Blue Tara. Blue Tara placed her hand on Red Tara’s arm.

“Hopefully she’s not hurt,” Jean said.

“Or worse,” Michael added.

Red Tara turned to look up at Michael. “Ekajati and I would sense if anything happened to White Tara.”

“We’ve got to stop the bleeding,” Jean said, visibly concerned. “Before she bleeds out. She’s lucky. It looks like the bullets passed cleanly through her legs. I don’t see any bone matter in her wounds.”

“We’ve got to find White Tara,” I insisted. I motioned to Michael. “Mike. Go down on the street and take a look. Prop the front door open.” Michael headed toward the door. “Take your magic harpoon with you. Just in case.”

“We need tourniquets to stop the bleeding,” Jean said. “You guys give me your belts.” I pulled my belt off and handed it to Jean. “Michael! I need yours too!” Jean yelled before Michael got out the door. He stopped, pulled his belt off, and tossed it to Jean. Jean quickly wrapped the belts around Blue Tara’s thighs.

“We need to do something until White Tara shows up,” I said.

“I’m doing something,” Jean replied, cinching the belts tight.

“What else do you need?” I asked. My voice cracked from panic. It seemed to me Blue Tara’s crystalline blue skin slowly turned black. “Sheets? Hot water?” I blurted out.

“What are you talking about?” Jean asked.

“That’s what they do in the movies,” I replied lamely. “They’re always sending people to get all the clean sheets and hot water they can.”

“Seriously?” Jean replied, staring at me. “They do that to get the people out of their hair. However, you might want to get some hot water and towels to start cleaning up this mess,” she added, nodding toward the blood pooling on the floor.

“I’m not worried about that,” I replied. “Red Tara,” I called out, pointing into the kitchen. “There’s some towels in the cabinet above the fridge.” Red Tara retrieved the towels and placed them on the floor next to us.

“We should maybe call for an ambulance,” Jean said. “Before Blue Tara goes into shock.”

“Blue Tara reached over and took Jean’s hand. “No ambulance. I can not fall into the hands of the regime.”

“Please hang in there Tara,” I said. “I can’t lose you.”

“You won’t lose me honey.” She smiled at me. “We have yet much to do before I am done.”

“The bleeding’s pretty much stopped,” Jean observed.

“Oh thank god,” I said to Jean. “Don’t know what I’d do without you. I couldn’t believe how you handled that machine gun.”

“A firearm is a firearm,” she replied. “You and Michael did pretty darn good with those magic harpoons.”

I glanced around the room. “Did I lose it?” Jean pointed toward the corner by the door. A magic harpoon, a machine gun, a battle axe, and a longbow leaned stacked against the wall. “We’re building a nice arsenal,” she said.

“Bet Charlie can get us more ammo.”

“I grabbed some clips from some dead laxsa,” Jean replied.

“Damn, you’re good.”

“I didn’t think they’d mind.”

“Wonder how long the magic harpoons last? Hate to have to find out the hard way when they run out of juice.”

“Let’s not worry about that now.” Jean put her hand on Blue Tara’s leg. “How do your legs feel?” she asked.

“I can not seem to move my legs,” Blue Tara replied.

“Hang in there sweetie,” I said. I squeezed her shoulder. “I love you.”

“Hey,” Jean responded. “How about me?”

“Do you need to ask?” I said. I leaned over and kissed Jean. “You know I love you.”

“Where’s my kiss?” Blue Tara asked. She took my arm and pulled me to her. I kissed her. Her lips felt cold.

“Gawddammit!” I cried out. “Where’s White Tara?”

I heard footsteps pounding up the stairs outside the apartment. Michael burst through the door. White Tara sat perched on his shoulder. “I found her!” he screamed.

“Calm down,” I said, my heart pounding. “You don’t need to tell us the obvious.”

White Tara leaped off Michael’s shoulder and alighted on Blue Tara’s thigh. “I apologize for my delay in returning, my sister Ekajatia. I had not realized you were so badly injured.”

“Where have you been?” I asked. “We’ve been frantic.”

“I knew you would arrive in due course,” Blue Tara replied.

“Please do something,” I pleaded. “Talk later.”

White Tara turned her head and pinned her eye on me. “Of course, sweetie. I have every intention of doing something.” She stepped down Blue Tara’s leg and rubbed her beak across the wounds. Blue Tara closed her eye and groaned.

“What’s happening?” I asked.

The wounds closed and disappeared before my very eyes.

Part Two

“Thank you. Thank you. Thank you,” I told White Tara.

White Tara hopped on my shoulder. “It was nothing sweetie. It is what I do.”

Blue Tara opened her eye and struggled to stand up. “Take it easy,” I said. “You lost a lot of blood. You should probably stay horizontal for a while and rest. I can get you some pillows and blankets.”

“I thank you for your concern, but I will be fine.” Blue Tara reached up to Red Tara. “Help me get up, sister.” Red Tara gingerly pulled Blue Tara up on her feet with her four hands. Blue Tara swayed, her eye closed. I put my arm around her shoulder to steady her.

“Jean. Grab a chair. Please,” I said. Jean pushed a chair up and we eased Blue Tara onto the seat. “Damn, you had me worried.”

Blue Tara looked up at me with her one big yellow eye. “It is not my desire to worry you.”

“Well, I couldn’t help it,” I replied. “This is the worst possible news.”

“What?” Jean responded. “What are you talking about? White Tara saved her.”

“Learning that our Blue Tara is mortal. The hard way. Which I’m guessing means all the Taras are mortal. I thought goddesses lived forever.”

“Come here,” Blue Tara said to me, patting her knee. I stepped over to her and she took my hand. “Only our visible form is mortal. Our spirit is eternal. The form can be killed. But not the spirit.”

“If one of the Tara forms is killed,” Red Tara added, “another will take its place. Eventually.”

“I am not a goddess,” Blue Tara continued. “Being a god or a goddess implies omnipotence. We Taras each possess our own powerful magic, but we are far from omnipotent. There are some like the Winalagalis who would have his followers believe he is a god. But in truth he simply only possesses a special magic. A special magic that gives creatures like him and Hamatsa the ability to act as if they were gods.”

“They don’t have snakes in their heads? Do they?” Michael asked.

“Never mind him,” I said. “I can’t believe there could be another Blue Tara like you. I don’t want to ever have to find out.”

“There are many others like me,” Blue Tara replied. “They just have not mastered the magic that I possess. I am not the first Blue Tara that ever was. I certainly will not be the last. But I possess the memories and knowledge of all the Taras that have come before me since the beginning of time.”

“Oh my god,” Jean said. “What a burden.”

“A burden and a duty,” Blue Tara replied. “But one that I have gladly accepted.”

“It’s hard to be a god,” I said.

“Not a god,” Blue Tara replied.

“I know. I’m joking. But still, I can’t deal with the thought that I might lose you.”

“I explained that to you. Would you like me to go over it again?”

“No need,” I replied.

Blue Tara grabbed the collar of my shirt and pulled me down to her. She kissed me. Her lips felt warm and moist.”

“You are the one I worry about,” Blue Tara said.


“There is only one of you. That is the weakness of your kind.”

“Until you are reincarnated,” Red Tara interjected. “But that might be some time.”

“Whatever did I do in my last life to be the one to suffer in this life?” I quipped.

“Me,” Michael interjected. “I want to be reincarnated as a bird so I can shit on all the people I don’t like.”

“Be careful what you wish for,” Blue Tara replied. “You might get your wish.”

“I don’t know about anybody else,” Jean said, “But all of a sudden I feel really really hungry. And thirsty.”

I walked into the kitchen and retrieved a six-pack of cold Rainier from the fridge. “A beer would taste really really good right now,” I agreed. I passed the beers out. We all stared as Blue Tara popped the tab open and chugged the entire can. I handed her another.

“You don’t suppose the pizza place is open?” Jean asked. “After all that’s happened today.”

I walked up to the bay window and looked across the street. “I see people entering the shop. So I think we’re good.” I retrieved my tablet from the kitchen table to look up the online order form. “Oh shit!” I cried out.

“What is it now?” Michael asked. He and Jean scrambled to my side to peer over my shoulders at the screen. I turned the volume up to maximum.

“Effective immediately,” a familiar voice stated, “a state of emergency exists within the city of Seattle. The mayor authorized me to state that a bloody insurrection in the Seattle neighborhood of Ballard this morning has been crushed by the authorities. But not without the cost of a great number of our brave Deportation Police. All citizens of Seattle are hereby required to wear black arm bands in mourning of their sacrifice.”

“It can’t be,” Michael said.

“It was hardly an insurrection,” I replied. “And we were the ones who were attacked.”

“Not that. Look at the speaker. It’s Kinqalatlala.”

A svelte dark-skinned woman clothed in black leather, with long black hair flowing over her shoulders, stood at a podium inside Seattle City Hall.

“My god!” I exclaimed. “I thought that voice sounded familiar.”

“That fucking bitch!” Jean exclaimed. “I’m going to kill that bitch the next time I run into her.”

“She set us up for a fall,” Michael said. “She led us right into a trap.”

“And conveniently stepped out right before all the trouble started,” Jean replied. “That fucking bitch.”

“Listen,” Michael interrupted. “She’s talking about us.”

“. . . per order of the mayor, all citizens of the city of Seattle are hereby required to be on the lookout for a small band of rebels led by a criminal coven of witches that possesses the magic to confuse people’s minds. A criminal coven of witches that possesses the magic to make people see things that are not as they really are.”

“We’re fucked,” I said.

“This band of rebels is armed and extremely dangerous,” Kinqalatlala continued. “If any citizen encounters these criminals, do not approach them under any circumstances. Alert the authorities immediately. Let our brave Deportation Police deal with them.”

“Well, thank you very much,” I replied to the screen.

“This concludes this emergency broadcast,” Kinqalatlala concluded. “The citizens of Seattle will be notified when there are additional updates. The mayor commands that you stay vigilant and that you stay alert. If you see something, say something. Report it to the authorities immediately. That is all.” The screen went blank.

“Oh shit,” I said. “Now what?”

Blue Tara emptied her can of beer. “Pizza,” she replied.


We ate our pizza in silence. Afterwards, I poured glasses of wine for everyone.

“This kind of changes things,” Michael finally said to break the quiet.

“What do you mean?” I replied.

“About trying to sneak into city hall tomorrow, is what I mean. Kinqalatlala would spot us.”

“Maybe. Maybe not. We talked about that after she left our little coffee klatch this morning. So she’s not privy to our plans. She wouldn’t necessarily be looking for us.”

“What exactly would be the purpose of our visit then?” Michael replied. “What’s your plan?”

“I’m making this up as I go. I don’t know. Take Hamatsa out.”

“Take Kinqalatlala out,” Jean interjected.

“Shock and awe,” I added. “Shock and awe. It would be a blow to the regime if we actually did something.”

“We seem to be losing sight of our original plan,” Jean said.

“What was our original plan again?” I asked.

“To find the tlogwe,” Blue Tara said.

“Precisely,” Jean responded. “To find the tlogwe.”

“And how well is that working out?” I smirked.

“Without the tlogwe we can do no more than harass Hamatsa,” Blue Tara added. “We need the magic of the tlogwe to stop Hamatsa and the Winalagalis. Right now, Hamatsa’s power is greater than ours.”

“So what are we going to do?” I asked. “Kinqalatlala was our only lead to the tlogwe. We can’t just sit here and drink wine.”

“I am still your best lead to the tlogwe,” a familiar voice interrupted us from across the room. We jumped out of our chairs, knocking over glasses and spilling wine across the table and over the floor.

“Jesus Fucking Christ!” I yelled. “How the fuck did you get in here?”

Kinqalatlala stood in the doorway to the apartment. “Your front door was wide open,” she replied. “I walked in. Your apartment door is unlocked. I thought maybe you were expecting me. I promised you I would be back when I had information to share.”

“You fucking bitch!” Jean screamed. She ran across the room and picked up the machine gun. She racked the charging handle and pointed it at Kinqalatlala. “And I promised I would kill you if you ever showed yourself again.”

“Jean. Wait!” I cried out. Jean pulled the trigger. The firing pin clicked on an empty clip.

“Shit!” Jean exclaimed.

“You would be doing me a favor if you could kill me,” Kinqalatlala said. “Can I come in? We have much to discuss.”

“Oh shit,” I replied. “Why not?” Jean put down the machine gun and reached for one of the magic harpoons. “Jean. Wait. Please,” I pleaded. “Let’s hear her out. Then you can kill her.”

Kinqalatlala walked across the room to join us at the dining table. Margarita growled and jumped out of Michael’s lap, trotting to the bay window. I toweled up the spilled wine as best as I could. “A glass of wine, please?” she asked. I poured her a glass and pulled a chair out for her. She looked resplendent clad in her skin-tight black leather.

“How dare you come back here,” Jean stated vehemently. “You lying piece of shit.”

“Don’t sugar coat it,” I said.

“We saw your performance on the news broadcast,” Michael said. “So you are still serving Hamatsa.”

“A performance is precisely what it was,” Kinqalatlala replied. “Nothing has changed. I am still working against Hamatsa. I needed him to believe I am still his slave. I yet want to help you find the tlogwe.”

“I no longer believe you are even the tlogwala,” I replied.

“I am sorry to hear that,” Kinqalatlala said. “But I know that I am the tlogwala.”

“Let’s cut to the chase,” I said. “Tell us what you have to tell us.”

Kinqalatlala drained her glass of wine and reached it up to me for a refill. “Hamatsa plans to assassinate the Winalagalis when Dear Leader comes to Seattle.”

“What?” I replied with some astonishment in my voice. “Why would he do that?”

“To take his place as ruler of the New American Order. I am to be his queen.”

“Lucky you,” Jean responded.

“Well, that’s good,” I replied. “One less bad guy to deal with.”

“Not so good,” Kinqalatlala responded. I looked at her quizzically. “Right now the regime has two centers of power. The Winalagalis. And Hamatsa. If one is eliminated all power falls to the survivor. That would be a disaster. Both for your world and for mine.”

“What does Hamatsa know about us?” I asked.

“He knows you plan to strike when Dear Leader arrives in this city.”

“And how would he know about that?”

“Because I told him.”

“The fuck!” I exclaimed. I could see Jean growing visibly angered. “Why would you do that?”

“To save you.”

“The fuck,” I said again.

“Without the tlogwe you do not have the power to strike the regime. It would result in disaster for you. And it would allow Hamatsa to consolidate his power beyond anyone’s capacity to resist.”

“I say we kill her now,” Jean whispered angrily.

“Does Hamatsa know you’re here?” I asked.

“Yes he does.”

“What the fuck!” I exclaimed, thinking to myself I needed a new word.

“He believes I am here to encourage you to attack Dear Leader. His plan is to eliminate both the Winalagalis and you at one fell swoop. What is the saying? To kill two birds with one stone?”

“And what do you plan to do?”

“I can best help you from inside city hall. Passing information to you about Hamatsa’s activities and his plans. By connecting you to the resistance.”

“What resistance?”

“Hamatsa depends upon the Deportation Police to protect his regime. The Seattle Police and City Hall are yet infested with resistance cells.”


“Hamatsa’s word. Not mine. I have also learned that the deposed mayor has organized a shadow city government to coordinate the resistance.”

“Good luck with that,” I replied. “We seem to be the only ones doing much resisting these days,” I added, waving my hand around the apartment.

“You are not the only ones. But you are the ones Hamatsa fears most. Your cause may be lonely. But you are not alone,” Kinqalatlala replied. “I must return to city hall to report to Hamatsa that you are still planning to strike Dear Leader.”

“We need weapons and ammunition,” I said. Kinqalatlala nodded. She drained her glass of wine, pushed her chair back from the table, and stood up. She turned and walked across the apartment and out the door.

“Maybe you shouldn’t have said anything about needing guns and ammunition,” Jean suggested. “Just shows her how weak we are.”

“On the other hand,” I replied, “it might just be one way to find out which side she’s really on.”

“It wouldn’t surprise me if she’s on her own side,” Jean said. “She may be playing Hamatsa against us. While she’s playing us against Hamatsa.”

“Wouldn’t be at all surprised. In fact, I’m counting on it.” I looked at the Taras. Blue Tara and Red Tara sat at the end of the table, glasses of wine in their hands. Margarita lay curled up in the bay window underneath Princess Tara’s play stand where White Tara sat perched on one leg, napping with her beak behind her wing. “What do the Taras make of all this?” I asked.

“The black witch underestimates our powers,” Blue Tara replied. “We are stronger than she knows. I do not doubt her word that she is the tlogwala. But she has not yet learned that being the tlogwala constrains her actions. We can use her to our benefit just as she may believe she is using us to hers.”

“So, what do we do?” I asked.

“We strike at Hamatsa before he consolidates his power,” Blue Tara replied. “We have the element of surprise on our side. If we delay, Hamatsa’s magic and his grip on power will only increase.”

“So you’re saying we raid city hall?”

“Hamatsa will not be expecting us. The black witch believes we will wait to strike when Dear Leader arrives.”

“I say we take out Hamatsa and Kinqalatlala,” Jean added.

“Some rise by sin and some by virtue fall,” I replied.

Part Three

The weekly farmers market on the plaza in front of Seattle City Hall looked like any of the other farmers markets around the city. Scores of vendors sold everything from cut flowers to veggie starts. Bins of apples, onions, cherries, and peas sat shaded by big white canvas canopies. Ice cream and sandwich vendors competed with homemade doo dads and printed tee shirts. Instead of the families with baby strollers, students pushing bicycles or carrying skateboards, and young urbanites walking countless yapping dogs that populated most other farmers markets around the city, office workers, lawyers, and other professionals crowded the city hall farmers market looking for a particular heritage tomato or chipotle pepper for their guacamole or garden salad.

I drove my truck directly into the city hall parking garage. No one talked on our drive across town. The cab was a tad crowded, what with three people, three parrots, and one black cat. Me. Jean. Michael. Princess Tara. Red Tara. White Tara. And Black Tara. Not to mention two magic harpoons and one machine gun stashed behind the seat. We would work out getting the arsenal into city hall when the time came to get the arsenal into city hall. Once parked, the parrots flew out of the parking garage. Jean, Michael, and I walked out. Margarita scampered along behind us.

I stopped at an expresso cart and ordered three lattes. As we stood and sipped our coffee I half expected Princess Tara to swoop down out of the sky and snatch the coffee out of my hand. I knew it must be killing her to watch me drink my coffee. I knew that somewhere she sat perched and watched me drink my coffee. I knew I would pay for it.

We sat on the retaining wall lining the plaza’s central fountain. Margarita hopped onto Michael’s lap. Several passersby stopped and admired the cat. She was a particularly attractive cat. Especially when her reddish black fur shimmered in the Seattle sunlight.

I looked around the plaza. The farmers market exuded an air of tranquility that belied the tension that roiled my gut. I watched people chat with coworkers. People laugh at private jokes. Coworkers smile at each other as they passed. Security seemed lax, even by normal standards. A couple of black clad Deportation Police officers stood at the ice cream booth eating cones. A couple of Seattle cops in blue stood on the other side of the plaza chatting with each other, holding coffee cups in their hands. However, they did all sport machine guns slung over their shoulders.

“How’s this going to go down?” Michael asked.

“Margarita is going to slip inside and find a safe spot for us to time and space bend into. Blue Tara can’t just time and space bend us in without knowing the layout. We don’t want to materialize between floors. Or in an elevator shaft.”

“Then what?”

“Margarita alerts Blue Tara to her location, like a homing beacon. Blue Tara does her magic. We end up inside safe and snug.”

“I still don’t get how Margarita communicates her location to Blue Tara from inside the building,” Michael said.

“I don’t understand it either. But somehow Blue Tara can hear Margarita, even from the depths of city hall.”

“Parrots have acute hearing,” Jean replied. “Macaws can hear each other from miles apart in the rainforest.”

I reached over and rubbed Margarita’s head. “Showtime,” I said. Margarita stretched out, arched her back, and sprang off Michael’s lap. She meowed and trotted off around the fountain toward the front door of city hall. We watched her stop at the door to wait for someone to pass through. Once the door opened she scampered through their feet and disappeared into the lobby. “Wait here,” I said to Jean and Michael. “I’ll be right back.”

“What the. . .” Michael said, startled. “Where are you going?”

“I’ll be right back,” I repeated. “Just going to check on Margarita.” I entered the lobby just in time to see Margarita run past the security checkpoint.

“Hey!” one of the black clad Deportation Police guards yelled. “Who let the cat loose?”

“What cat?” another guard replied.

“A cat just ran through here,” the first guard responded, pointing to the bank of elevators across the lobby. I caught a glimpse of Margarita slipping through a door just before it closed, leading to a stairway to the basement.

Without thinking about the consequences, I ran through the security checkpoint. “My cat escaped!” I yelled. “Did anybody see which way the cat went?”

“God damn it!” the first guard exclaimed. “Why in the hell did you bring a cat to city hall? It went into the basement.” He stepped to the door and swiped it open with his pass card. “Follow me.” He took a step down the stairway.

I heard a screech, like fingernails dragged across a chalkboard. “Somebody grab that parrot!” someone cried out from the lobby.

The guard stopped and turned back to the lobby. “What the fuck is going on?” he yelled. “Where are all these damn animals coming from?”

With the guard’s back to me, I slipped through the door. I caught a glimpse of White Tara flying through the lobby. I raced down the stairs.

I burst onto the basement level. Two black clad Deportation Police cops stood at another doorway at the other end of the hall looking down another flight of stairs. “Anybody see my cat?” I yelled as I ran down the hall. “I lost my cat.” The cops pointed down the stairs to the subbasement. I ran through the door and down the staircase. “Thanks!” I yelled as I passed the cops. I quietly thanked the laxsa for being so dimwitted.

I found the door at the bottom of the stairs propped open. I grabbed the handrail to stop myself from running out the door. I took a deep breath and peaked around the corner. Margarita stood midway down the hall in front of a set of doors. She growled when I appeared out of the stairwell. Upon recognizing me, she arched her back and purred.

I walked up to her and leaned down to rub her head. “Do we open Door Number One? Or Door Number Two?” I asked her. I counted six doors, three on each side of the hallway. “Or Doors Three, Four, Five, or Six?” Margarita stepped to the farthest door and meowed. “You picked Door Number Six.” I walked up to the door. It can’t be this easy, I thought to myself. I heard one of the other doors swing open. I grabbed the handle and pulled. The door quietly opened and Margarita and I slipped in. “This works for me,” I told her.

We found ourselves in a storeroom. Not an ordinary storeroom with tools and mops and lightbulbs, brooms and paper towels. A storeroom with machine guns and shotguns and magic harpoons. With stacks of cases filled with stun grenades and clips of ammunition. With rack upon rack of Deportation Police uniforms.

“Bingo,” I said to Margarita. “Time to muster the troops.”

Margarita sat on her hind legs and growled. Not her typical growl. A growl that grew in pitch and intensity until I thought my eardrums would burst. I slapped my hands against my ears, fell back against the wall, and slid down to the floor. A searing white light burned through my closed eyelids.

Several hands grabbed my arms and pulled me to my feet. I opened my eyes. Jean, Michael, and the Taras surrounded me.

“You freaked me out when you ran through the lobby,” Jean said. “Please don’t ever do that again.”

“It was a spur of the moment thing, I assure you,” I replied.

“How did you ever find this place?” Michael asked, running his hands over the magic harpoons.

“It was all Margarita’s doing. She found it.” I started taking my clothes off.

“What the fuck are you doing?” Michael asked.

“Watch,” I replied. I picked out a Deportation Police uniform I thought would fit me. I started putting it on. “The perfect cover,” I said.

“Pick out a couple of uniforms,” I told Jean and Michel. Michael started to take his clothes off. “No fucking way am I wearing one of these uniforms,” Jean insisted. “I haven’t seen any lady goons around. I might draw more attention to us than we want.”

“Suit yourself,” I said.

Michael tucked the black shirt into his black pants and pulled on a black bullet proof vest. He selected a magic harpoon from a rack stacked with magic harpoons. “Okay. We’re armed and dangerous,” he said. “Now what?’

“Now you come with me,” a familiar voice responded. We spun around. Kinqalatlala stood in the doorway. Michael reflexively aimed his magic harpoon at her. I grabbed the shaft and pointed it at the ceiling.

“How did you know we were here?” I blurted out.

“How do you think you got in so easily?” she replied. “I have been expecting you.”

“We’ve been set up,” Jean said, picking up a machine gun. She racked the charging handle. Empty.

“Clips are in the end cases,” Kinqalatlala said. “You have not been set up. I am here to assist you.”

“Does Hamatsa know we’re here?” I asked, fearing the worst.

“He does not. He is preparing a press conference to announce the details of Dear Leader’s coming visit to Seattle.”

“So he’s in the mayor’s office on the top floor?” I asked.

“Hamatsa is in his command post on this level. At the end of the hall. The darkness of the depths suits him better.”

“Nothing is ever this easy,” I said. “Something is wrong.”

“I say we kill this bitch,” Jean said. “Then worry about Hamatsa.”

“You would be doing me a favor if you could kill me,” Kinqalatlala replied. “I grow weary of the burdens of your world. But you would only be hurting yourself if you do so. I am the only friend you have in this situation.”

“How many attendants does Hamatsa have with him?” I asked.

“Just his usual command staff. Mostly computer jockeys and flunkies. Lightly armed. I have dispatched his security detail on an emergency call.”

“That’s convenient,” I replied.

“They believe they are going after you.”

“Well then. What are we waiting for?” I selected a machine gun and popped open a case of clips.

“Careful with that sucker,” Jean warned. “It has a wicked kick.”

“Thanks for the warning,” I replied. I copied Jean as she loaded a clip and racked the charging handle.

“Stick extra clips in your pockets,” Jean said. “Eject the clips as they empty and slam in new ones.”

“Let’s mount up” I said.

“We are not riding into battle,” Blue Tara replied, swinging her battle axe in her hand.


We followed Kinqalatlala to the end of the hall. She waved her hand and a door appeared that I had not previously noticed. She entered the room beyond. We followed.

Hamatsa stood in the center of an otherwise empty chamber, lit only by the florescent light flooding in from the hallway. I aimed my machine gun at him. “What the fuck is this?” I asked, glancing sideways at Kinqalatlala. She stepped to Hamatsa’s side.

“You did well, my queen,” Hamatsa said.

“Capturing them proved easier than even you expected, my master.”

A door opened at the back of the chamber and a squad of black clad Deportation Police decked out in black body armor filed in. “Kill them!” Hamatsa ordered. The goons lined up in front of Hamatsa and Kinqalatlala. They aimed their machine guns at us.

“Wait!” I cried out. “You can’t do that.”

Hamatsa repeated his order. “Kill them!” The goons pulled the triggers on their weapons. I closed my eyes. Nothing. I waited a few moments. Still nothing. I had been dead. This did not feel like being dead. I opened my eyes. “Shoot them down, you fools!” Hamatsa screamed.

The goons looked at their weapons, racked the charging handles, and pointed the barrels at us again. I could see their fingers pull the triggers. Nothing. Maybe this was my lucky day.

Hamatsa grabbed one of the goons and spun him around. “Give me your weapon, damn it!” Hamatsa snatched the machine gun out of the goon’s hands. He racked the charging handle and pointed the weapon directly at me. I saw him pull the trigger. Still nothing. He ejected the clip, examined it closely, and smashed it back in place. He pointed the barrel at my head. I watched him pull the trigger. Nothing.

“What the hell?” I finally said. I turned to look at Blue Tara standing behind me. “Are you doing this?”

“It is not me,” she replied. “I do not know what kind of magic is in play here.”

“It is you,” Kinqalatlala stated. I turned to stare at her. Hamatsa turned to stare at her.

“It is who?” I asked, as astonished as Hamatsa seemed to be.

“You have been given the gift of the tlogwe.”

“I have?”

“Your destiny lies in your hands now.”

I looked down at my hands.

“The tlogwe is a gift of magic and power that you must master,” Kinqalatlala said. “If you fail to do so it will destroy you. Hamatsa once was given the gift of the tlogwe, but failed to master its power. The power of the tlogwe corrupted and twisted him.”

“You fool!” Hamatsa cried out. “You really are the tlogwala.” He pointed his machine gun at Kinqalatlala and pulled the trigger. A burst of bullets shredded her chest and flung her backwards into the dark room.

I pulled the trigger of my machine gun. Hamatsa’s head exploded into a cloud of blood red pulp. One of the Deportation Police goons pulled a bayonet from his gun belt and charged at me. A battle axe whirled past my ear and struck his head squarely between his eyes, sending him flying backwards onto the floor. The other goons dropped their machine guns and drew their bayonets. An arrow pierced the skull of first one, and then another goon, knocking them over on their backs. Jean opened fire with her machine gun and cut down the remaining goons.

I ran to where I saw Kinqalatlala fall. Even in the darkness I could see blood on the floor where the body fell. But there was no body to be found. Jean ran up to me. “You okay hon?” she asked.

“Yeah. I guess so,” I replied. I took a deep breath. I felt thoroughly exhausted. And scared.

“Where did she go?” Jean asked. “Hamatsa shot her at point blank range. No way in hell could she have gotten up from that.”

“Yes he did,” I replied. “I assume she’s gone back to her world.”

“What do you mean gone back to her world?”

“Because I wished that for her. Call me crazy, but I visualized her flying free on Dluwulaxa the moment Hamatsa shot her.”

“It isn’t as easy to go crazy as you might think,” Jean replied.

I dropped the machine gun and put my arms around Jean. I pulled her to me. I pressed my lips to hers. My tongue found her tongue. “I see us spending the rest of our lives together,” I told her. “I love you.”

“I love you too, sweetie,” she replied. She wrapped her arms around me and squeezed me to her chest.

Get the paperback edition by clicking Here.

The Princess Witch; Or, It Isn't As Easy To Go Crazy As You Might Think

Book Two of the Princess Tara Chronicles, Part Two of the Blue Tara Trilogy, The Princess Witch; Or, It Isn't As Easy To Go Crazy As You Might Think, now available in both ebook and dead tree editions.

Five ✰✰✰✰✰ Reviews:

Anne wrote:

Read the first book in an hour. Now I'm taking my time with the second because I don't want it to end. Will be my Christmas present to read the 3rd. I hope it isn't the last. I am a forever fan of Princess Tara! Long may she reign!!

Francis wrote:

Loved Book One. Loved the way Michael Ostrogorsky has reinvented zombie lit. Wasn't sure if Book Two would live up to my expectations. All I can say is WOW! I was going to save this book for the weekend. Made the mistake of starting to read it. COULD NOT PUT IT DOWN! Wow! The bad part is, now I have to wait till Christmas for Book Three.

Jonesky wrote:

Princess Tara's 2nd book doesn't disappoint. Action, humor, and I like how the author sneaks in history lessons about Seattle and Pacific NW mythology.

Click Here to purchase the paperback edition.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Book Two of The Princess Tara Chronicles: The Princess Witch, Chapter Nine

Chapter Nine
Part One

“I am stunned,” I offered, sitting stunned. “We’ve literally been chasing around the known and unknown universes looking for you, and you never said a word.”

“It is not that simple,” Kinqalatlala replied.

“We could have been killed,” I stammered. “In fact, I was killed. By you!”

“It was necessary for you to prove your worthiness to receive the tlogwe.”

“Why didn’t you just tell me that?” I asked, somewhat flustered. “Think how much aggravation you could have saved.”

“I did just tell you.”

“Yeah,” Michael interjected. “But wasn’t flying a pterodactyl worth it?” he asked with a big grin on his face.

“Not to mention flying, period,” Jean added.

“So now you’re all taking her side?” I poured myself a glass of wine. And chugged it. “How about we just cut to the chase and you tell me what exactly I need to do to prove myself worthy of you giving me the tlogwe.”

“I wish it was that easy,” Kinqalatlala replied. “I really do.” I dropped my forehead onto the table. “The tlogwe is not a thing that I can simply pick off a shelf and hand to you.”

“Then what is it?” I asked.

“The tlogwe is magic. It is a power that is acquired. It is not a material object. Say like a golden fleece.”

“Oh, if only. . .” I muttered. “Jason had it so much easier.”

“Jason?” Jean asked.

“Jason and the Argonauts, I presume,” Michael replied.

“Can the Taras shed any light on this matter?” Jean asked, glancing at Blue Tara and Red Tara seated around the table. Margarita growled and Jean glanced under the table.

“This magic of the tlogwe is not in our realm,” Blue Tara replied. “We can not help you with something even we do not fully understand.”

“So what do we do?” I asked. “What do I do?”

“Keep searching,” Kinqalatlala replied cryptically.

“That’s not very useful,” I said. “You’re right here in front of me. I’ve found you. I don’t get what more is expected of me.”

“Unfortunately, I do not know what is expected of you either,” Kinqalatlala said. “I only know that if and when you prove yourself worthy of receiving the tlogwe it will be granted to you.”

“If and when?” I replied. I could feel my face flush. “We seem to be moving backwards.”

“No kidding,” Jean added.

“Even I do not fully understand this being a tlogwala,” Kinqalatlala quickly replied. “It is new to me. It was probably a mistake on my part to admit to you that I am the tlogwala. That I am something that I do not fully comprehend.”

“Are you even sure that you are the tlogwala?” Michael asked.

“That is probably why you were able to keep this matter a secret from Hamatsa,” Blue Tara said. “Once he learns this secret he will come after you with every means at his disposal.”

“Is the tlogwe something that Hamatsa could take from you?” I asked. “By force?”

“I do not know,” Kinqalatlala replied. “I do not fully understand the scope of my abilities as tlogwala. I do not fully understand the magic of the tlogwe.”

“Then how do you even know you are the tlogwala?” Jean asked.

“That was my question,” Michael said, waving his hand.

“How do we know you’re not just making this all up?” Jean added.

“I wish I could explain it to you,” KInqalatlala said, reaching across the table and taking Jean’s hand in hers. For once, Jean did not pull her hand back.

“Then how do you know you’re the tlogwala?” Jean repeated.

“I just do,” Kinqalatlala repied. “Ever since I fell to earth, I have sensed that my destiny was to search for someone special. For a long time I never understood who this person was. Or why I was searching for him. Or even what I was to do when I found this person. I even feared that Hamatsa might be that person. When Hamatsa discovered me and enslaved me I sensed that there was purpose in my enslavement. That I was using Hamatsa as much as Hamatsa was using me. I came to understand that serving Hamatsa would eventually lead me to the one I searched for. And so it proved to be.” Kinqalatlala took my hand in hers. “I found you.”

I pulled my hand away from hers. “I’m flattered,” I replied. “I really am. But how do you know I’m even the right guy? You sure it’s not Michael here? Or Jean?”

“Ask Ekajati,” Kinqalatlala replied, waving at Blue Tara. “Ask her why she searched for you.”

“Because I knew you were the one to search for the tlogwe,” Blue Tara interjected.

“That’s great,” I replied. “But you still haven’t explained how you came to be the tlogwala. You expect us to believe that it just happened?”

“In a matter of speaking,” Kinqalatlala replied, “that’s exactly what happened.” She took hold of my hand again. “At Red Square. At your school. At the monoliths. When Hamatsa ordered me to kill you. I knew then that you were the one I searched for. That is why I saved your life. That is why I disobeyed Hamatsa’s command to kill you.”

“Okay,” I replied. “You saved my life. I thank you for that. You still haven’t explained what I need to do to prove my worthiness to receive this gift of the tlogwe from you. This magic. Let alone explain what I can do with this magic? If and when I ever get it.”

“Because I do not know the answer.”

“Terrific!” I exclaimed. I slumped back in my chair and stuck my hands in my pockets.

“I only know that the tlogwe will belong to the one who proves himself worthy of receiving the magic.”

“Is there more than one tlogwe?” Michael asked. Everyone sitting at the table except Kinqalatlala turned to stare at him. “I only ask,” Michael continued, “because it’s worth knowing whether someone like Hamatsa can take the tlogwe? Say, force you to give it to him? Could Hamatsa force you to give him the tlogwe if he found out about it? Could more than one person possess the magic of the tlogwe?”

“These are all questions I have no answer for,” Kinqalatlala replied.

“What do you think?” I asked.

“I think anything is possible.”

“We can not allow Hamatsa to gain possession of such powerful magic,” Blue Tara said. “Both of our worlds would be doomed if that came to pass.”
“No shit,” I added. “Think how much easier it would be if someone could just tell me what I need to do to gain the tlogwe.”

“We have the advantage of knowing who the tlogwala is,” Blue Tara replied. “Hamatsa does not. We need to use every advantage we have against Hamatsa.”

“Kinqalatlala’s understanding of her power as tlogwala seems to be growing with time,” Red Tara interjected. “By keeping her close to us, we will benefit when she fully realizes her power and her ability to use that power.”

“We just can’t sit around drinking wine and eating pizza and ceding the initiative to Hamatsa,” Michael said, glancing at Blue Tara.

“Well, we could,” I replied. “But I’m not sure that would get us any closer to the tlogwe.”

“We need to call it a night,” Jean said, jumping to her feet. She grabbed my hands and pulled me out of my chair. “I need to get some sleep,” she added. “I think we all do.” She pulled me toward the bedroom. “Anyone who wants to stay up and keep drinking wine is free to do so, but I say let’s get a good night’s sleep and figure this out in the morning over coffee.”

“I would like coffee,” Blue Tara replied.

“In the morning,” I said as Jean and I slipped into the bedroom. “Hasta Mañana,” I added, pulling the door closed behind me.


When Jean and I stumbled out of the bedroom in the morning, we were pleased to find a tray of relatively hot lattes on the dining table. Lattes from Jean’s coffee shop. “They put it on your tab,” Michael cheerily informed me.

“I don’t have a tab,” I replied, grabbing a coffee.

“You do now.”

“Don’t worry about it,” Jean said, picking up two cups. “My treat.”

As I rolled the coffee under my nose to take in the delectable aroma of hot caffeine, I noticed that the Taras were all back to their parrot forms, Black Tara excepted, of course. Red Tara and White Tara sat perched on Princess Tara’s play stand. Princess Tara stood on the table, her long cobalt blue tail trailing over the side of the table. Her head bopped up and down into her coffee cup, making her look like one of those plastic perpetual motion drinking birds that bop and down until they’re stopped.

Finishing her coffee, Princess Tara fiercely shook her beak, spraying milk foam over the table top. She took a couple of steps toward me, flapped her wings, and jumped onto my shoulder.

“That’s one damn fine cup of coffee,” she said, wiping her beak on my shirt.

“When did you ever start talking like that?” I asked, surprised. I craned my head to look into her gleaming yellow eye.

“I heard it on your Internet,” she replied.

“’Bout time you sleepy heads got up,” Michael interrupted. “We’ve all been up for a couple of hours. This is our second tray of coffee.” Michael took a sip of his coffee. “I can’t believe how much coffee a parrot can drink,” Michael added, nodding at Princess Tara.

“Coffee’s not really good for parrots,” Jean offered, getting a bark from Princess Tara in response.

“Well, she’s not really a parrot,” I suggested. “Though she is,” I added, turning my head to look into her big eye again. “So, what have you been doing for the past couple of hours? You could have waken us, you know.”

“You guys needed the sleep,” Michael replied, winking at me. “We’ve been monitoring the news.”

“What’s the latest?” I asked, scratching Princess Tara’s head while I sipped my coffee, watching her eyelid droop closed over her eye.

Princess Tara jerked her head up. “What is a Frappuccino?” she asked me.

“Frappuccino? What?” I replied, confusion creased across my face.

“Never mind that,” Michael said. “There was a Starbucks commercial pop up on the tablet.”

“I would like to try a Frappuccino,” Blue Tara added.

“Okay,” I said. “Whatever.”

“You promise?”

“Once I get the tlogwe, you can have whatever you want.” I noticed a frown cross Kinqalatlala’s face. “Well, maybe not whatever you want. So, what’s the latest?” I repeated.

“Looks like the Deportation Police have locked down the city pretty tightly,” Michael said. “Roadblocks all around the city.”

“Good thing we’ve got Blue Tara to time and space bend us around any roadblocks,” I replied.

“No kidding,” Michael said. “And they’re not throwing up roadblocks just for the heck of it.”

“They’re not?”

“They’re looking for us.” I almost dropped my coffee cup. “Or to be more specific, they’re looking for a guy with a parrot. They’re looking for you.” Everyone turned to stare at me, including the birds and the cat.

“Well, I guess I won’t be taking Princess Tara out for a walk,” I replied.

“Looks like the mayor is still in hiding,” Michael added. “They’ve appointed an interim mayor, but haven’t revealed who that is yet. The feds are rounding up the Seattle police and detaining them for so-called reeducation.”

“Brainwashing, you mean,” I said. Michael shrugged.

“On top of all that, Dear Leader is coming to Seattle.”

“Oh yeah? What would be the purpose of that?”

“To take a victory lap. To demonstrate that resistance is futile.”

“To show how scared the regime is by the threat posed by the Taras,” Kinqalatlala interjected. She sat at the end of the table studying the latte art, a depiction of a bird in flight, covering her coffee. It seemed she feared to drink the coffee for disturbing the artwork.

“I don’t doubt that for a minute,” I replied.

“It is the only reason the Winalagalis would leave the safety of the capital,” she added.

“So Dear Leader is the Winalagalis,” I said, more a statement than a question.

“Winalagalis?” Michael asked. “The God of War of the North? That Winalagalis?”

“Yes,” Kinqalatlala replied. “Dear Leader is the Winalagalis. He would not bother coming to Seattle if he did not fear the power of the Taras.”

“This is some serious shit,” Michael added.

“This is probably a dumb question,” Jean said, “but why doesn’t the Deportation Police just knock on your door?”

“More like kick in the door,” Michael replied.

“Probably. . .,” I said, pausing to crane my head to look into Princess Tara’s eye, “. . . probably because we’ve kicked their butts. So far. That, and we have the protection of the Taras. Right?” Princess Tara sat unresponsive on my shoulder, her eye drooping almost closed. “Well, that’s my guess anyway. We should be really careful about going out alone.”

“You mean, we probably shouldn’t go out alone at all,” Michael replied. “However, having Blue Tara beam us into the coffee shop for coffee might draw more attention to us than we want.”

“Bend us into the coffee shop,” I clarified. “Not beam us in.”

Michael smirked at me. “Beam me up, Scottie,” he joked.

“We just need to be careful, is all I’m saying,” I said. “Not take any undue chances.”

“I need coffee,” Princess Tara suddenly said. She pressed her claws into my shoulder while she fluffed her feathers out.

“Ouch,” I said, reaching for her feet.

Kinqalatlala interrupted us. “There is a special bulletin on your tablet,” she said, turning the tablet so we could see the screen.

“What is it?” I asked.

Michael picked up the table and turned up the volume. “The Deportation Police are preparing to introduce Seattle’s interim mayor,” he said.

A pudgy spokesperson in an ill-fitting suit that reminded me of a visit to Soviet Russia decades ago stepped up to a podium at Seattle City Hall. “People of Seattle,” he said, reading from a sheet of paper he held in his hands. “There is a new order established here in your city. Obedience to its rules will be expected. Compliance will be celebrated. Resistance will be crushed. I am pleased to announce that our Dear Leader will be travelling to Seattle to install your new mayor and reveal his plans for your city. Until then, an interim mayor has been appointed to oversee the transition.” He gestured to someone off camera to come to the podium. A tall gaunt man appeared, clad in black leather from his boots to his gloves and fedora. Stepping to the podium, he removed his hat to reveal his pallid scalloped yellow skin.

“Hamatsa!” I exclaimed. I dropped my coffee cup on the floor.

Hamatsa motioned toward the camera and the floodlights snapped off, turning the podium dark. Standing in the darkness behind the podium, Hamatsa’s glowing sunken red eyes seemed to focus through the tablet’s screen directly at me.

Part Two

“Oh. My. God!” I exclaimed as I jumped to my feet. “We keep killing this bastard and he keeps popping up again. Like dandelions.”

“Don’t insult dandelions,” Michael replied.

“It will take more than your puny weapons to destroy Hamatsa,” Kinqalatlala replied. “His magic is great.”

“You don’t need to remind me. We need the tlogwe. I need the tlogwe.”

“I need a Frappuccino,” Blue Tara said, jumping off my shoulder back onto the dining table. She started to knock empty coffee cups over with her beak. “I am out of coffee.”

“Good God,” I replied. “How much coffee can you drink?”

“We could walk over to the Starbucks on Market Street,” Jean said. “It’d be good to get out and get some air. No point in staying holed up in your apartment.”

“The parrots are going to attract some attention,” I replied.

“And we’ll have to count on the Taras to deal with any unwelcome attention,” Michael said. “And Margarita as well,” he added, glancing under the dining table to see the cat arching her back and stretching her two front legs. “We should get out and get an idea of what’s going on. How people are reacting to this situation. Anyone up for a walk?”

“Or a flight?” I added.

Princess Tara flapped her wings and jumped back up on my shoulder. “I’m coming with you, hon. Red Tara can ride with your lovely friend if she wishes.” Margarita sauntered out from under the dining table, looked up, crouched, and sprung up into Michael’s lap.

“Guess we’re all set,” I said.

Red Tara stepped up onto Jean’s outstretched arm while White Tara hopped onto Jean’s shoulder. We filed down the stairs outside my apartment and out onto the sidewalk. Once outside, White Tara leaped into the air and flew out of sight over the building. Red Tara climbed up Jean’s arm and perched on her shoulder. Margarita leaped out of Michael’s arms onto the pavement and scampered over to a tree which she used for a scratching post.

Jean and Michael and Kinqalatlala and I looked up and down the street. In place of the usual morning hustle and bustle of myriads of people going out for coffee or shopping or work, we found the street deserted and quiet. I jumped when a siren somewhere in the distance broke the silence. Two or three cars passed through the intersections at the ends of the street without stopping at the stop signs.

“I feel naked without my shotgun,” Jean said.

“Charlie’s shotgun,” I clarified.

“Whatever. Feels strange to be out without it.”

“I wouldn’t mind having one of those magic harpoons with me right about now,” Michael added. “Funny how you get used to having certain things with you, so it gets to be second nature.”

“Now that would definitely draw attention to you,” I replied.

“More than a shotgun?” Michael responded.

“Anyway, we’ve got Blue Tara’s battle axe and Red Tara’s longbow.” I craned my head to look up at Princess Tara perched on my shoulder. “We do? Don’t we?” I asked her.

Michael looked intently at the two parrots perched on Jean’s and my shoulders. “How do they do that exactly?” he asked.

“Do what exactly?” I asked in reply.

“Keep their weapons with them when they’re parrots.”

“Why, magic, of course. What else would it be?”

“That’s magic we need to learn,” Michael replied.

We trooped up the street toward downtown Ballard single file without uttering another word. The quiet seemed ominous and foreboding. I noticed that I didn’t hear the usual cawing of crows from the trees above us. Storefront after storefront along Ballard Avenue stood empty and deserted. A veritable ghost town. I felt goosebumps under my clothing. The old buried city in underground Seattle seemed livelier than the scene along this street.

The few people we saw on the sidewalks scurried away or hurried across the street to avoid us. I breathed a sigh of relief when we got to the end of the street. Both foot and car traffic picked up as we approached Market Street, the main drag through downtown Ballard. Here more of the shops looked to be open. Across the street I could see people walking into and out of the Starbucks on the corner. The usual cluster of chairs and tables sat on the sidewalk outside the shop. As we crossed the intersection, one passerby even slowed and smiled at us, then said, “I like your parrots.”

I parked Princess Tara on an empty table and glanced inside the store. “This looks better,” I said. “Grab some chairs and I’ll get the coffees.”

“Frappuccino,” Blue Tara replied, turning her head to the side to stare up at me with her big yellow eye.

“Okay, Frappuccino. How many frappuccinos?” I asked. Jean raised her hand. Michael looked at Jean and raised his hand. “Kingalatlala?”

“Nothing for me,” she replied.

“I’ll get you a Frappuccino too,” I said. “You’ll like it.”

“Or else,” Michael smirked, sitting down.

I walked into the store.


I walked back outside about fifteen minutes later with a tray of frappuccinos and an iced Americano for myself. Not surprisingly, the coffee shop seemed a bit understaffed. Princess Tara jumped on my arm as I pried the cover off her drink. Frappuccino foam quickly dotted the front of my shirt as her beak bopped in and out of the cup. And my iced Americano as she alternated between sticking her beak in her cup and in my cup. Curious passersby paused near our table and gawked at the parrots. Although it became apparent to me that more than one guy paused to gawk at Kinqalatlala.

I noticed a Seattle Police cruiser pass through the intersection outside the coffee shop. It made a quick U-turn and slowly drove back. Instead of the usual cops in blue I recognized two black Deportation Police uniforms. I kicked Michael in the shin under the table and nodded toward the intersection. “Look up slowly,” I whispered. “Don’t be obvious.” Michael jerked his head up out of his drink and stared at the cop car passing by. “What part of ‘Don’t be obvious’ don’t you understand?” I grumbled. The police cruiser passed out of sight.

“Do you think they recognized us?” Jean asked.

“I doubt there are too many people with parrots out and about the city right now,” I replied.

The police car appeared on the cross street and pulled to a stop kitty corner from the Starbucks.

“Just act cool,” I said. “Tara?” I tapped Princess Tara on her head.

“I need another Frappuccino,” Princess Tara replied.

“Oh, geez,” I said. “You drank the whole thing? How is that even possible?” She knocked over the empty cup with her beak and tilted her head to stare up at me with a somewhat defiant look on her face, if parrots could be said to present defiant looks.

“Okay. I’ll get you another one,” I replied, getting up from my chair. “Don’t do anything rash until I get back.”


About fifteen minutes later I walked out with another frappuccino for Princess Tara. I froze at the door when I realized the two Deportation Police goons stood at our table with their hands resting on their pistols. I took a deep breath and hurried over to the table. I leaned over to step Princess Tara up on my arm and then set the drink in front of Jean. “Here you go hon,” I said. “Everything okay?” I asked, glancing up at the cops. I eased into my chair and put my hand on Princess Tara’s feet to try to keep her on my arm.

“Apparently parrots are a problem,” Jean replied.

“Oh?” I grunted. Princess Tara struggled to break out of my grasp and clamped her beak on my hand. “Ouch!” I exclaimed, releasing her feet. She jumped onto the table and sunk her beak into the new cup of frappuccino.

“Sorry citizen,” one of the cops said, a short middle-aged man sporting a noticeable paunch and a Tom Selleck mustache. He wore sergeant stripes on his shirt. He didn’t appear to be a laxsa. “You are in violation of Seattle’s new order banning dangerous exotic animals.” I noticed him looking at the bleeding bite mark on my hand. I took a napkin and surreptitiously tried to wipe away the blood. “Animal Control has been called to confiscate the birds before they injure anyone else.”

“I know perfectly well Seattle doesn’t have any such ordinance, officer,” I replied, pressing the napkin against the bite. “I researched Seattle ordinances before I got the parrot.”

“You’re also in violation of orders against unrestrained pets,” the cop added. “Is that your bird?” he asked, pointing to the top of the building. We all looked up to see White Tara perched on top of the building.

“She’s not harming anything,” I replied. Yet, I thought to myself. “She likes to fly around.”

“It’s good exercise for the birds,” Jean interjected.

“You need to get the bird down,” the second cop said. Younger. Tall and gaunt, his skin seemed quite pale, even for Seattle. The black hair falling out from under his black wool cap seemed unusually long, stringy, and unkempt. I couldn’t see his eyes underneath his black wraparound sunglasses, but I suspected he was a laxsa.

“She’s a free spirit,” I replied. “She only comes down when she wants to.”

“I’m giving you an order,” the second cop added. “If the bird doesn’t come down it will be destroyed.”

“Let’s back up,” Michael said, jumping into the discussion. “Let’s back up to the part about exotic birds being banned. When did that happen?”

“A new directive from the mayor’s office,” the first cop replied.

“This isn’t a dictatorship,” I said. “The mayor doesn’t rule by decree. The city council needs to pass an ordinance.”

“Maybe you haven’t heard, citizen,” the second cop said, with a note of sarcasm in his voice. “The city council has been abolished by order of the mayor. Decrees come directly from the mayor now. And the mayor has ordered the police to confiscate all exotic animals.” He stepped toward the table and reached his hand out toward Princess Tara.

I squeezed my eyes shut and reflexively pressed my hands to my ears when Princess Tara screeched. I heard a scream. I opened my eyes to see a severed hand laying on the table top. The second cop held his handless arm with his other hand and screamed in pain as blood spurted across the sidewalk. I jumped to my feet. The cop dropped the arm and fumbled with his holster. Blue Tara stood next to me in her crystalline blue-skinned naked Amazon glory, swinging her battle axe in her hand.

The cop attempted to pull his pistol out of his holster. He toppled over onto his back with an arrow sticking out of his head squarely between his eyes. The arrow split his sunglasses into two pieces revealing lifeless sunken bloodshot laxsa eyes. The sound of people screaming assaulted my ears. Passersby and customers knocked over chairs and tables and coffee cups as they scrambled to get away.

Then I noticed the first cop, the older one. He stood next to our table with his hands in the air. “Please don’t kill me,” he pleaded. “I’m not one of them. I was on desk duty for chrissakes. I’m a Seattle cop. They forced me to join up. Or else.”

Kinqalatlala stood up. “Get in your vehicle and leave us!” she commanded. “And do not show yourself again.” Margarita walked out from under the table on her two hind legs and growled at the cop. Looking down at Black Tara, he stumbled backwards and tripped over the curb. He turned and ran to his car, jumped in, and gunned the engine. Tires squealing, he sped away and disappeared.

I slowly looked around me when I noticed people had stopped screaming. Blue Tara stood next to me, blood dripping off the blade of her battle axe. Red Tara stood behind me, an arrow nocked in her longbow. A bloody severed hand lay on the table next to my coffee cup. A Deportation Police goon lay dead, sprawled across the sidewalk with an arrow sticking out of his skull between his sunken laxsa eyes. A growing crowd of people gathered around us, staring at Blue Tara and Red Tara. Like they’d never seen a naked crystalline blue-skinned Amazon warrior with a battle axe and one breast and one eye. Or a scantily clad red-skinned four armed goddess sporting a longbow.

“This is not good,” I said to no one in particular. I couldn’t keep from staring at the severed hand next to my coffee cup. I badly wanted a drink of my iced Americano to sooth my sandpaper dry throat. “Tara. Do something,” I muttered under my breath. I covered my ears with my hands. “People are staring.” I forced my eyes closed as Blue Tara screeched.

“Are you going to sit down and drink your coffee?” I heard Jean ask. I slowly opened my eyes. Jean and Michael and Kinqalatlala sat around the table sipping their frappuccinos. White Tara sat perched on Kinqalatlala’s shoulder. Red Tara sat perched on Jean’s shoulder. Princess Tara stood on the table bopping her beak up and down into her drink. I tentatively looked around me as I lowered my hands. No cop car. No goons. No severed hand next to my coffee cup. Customers walking into and out of the coffee shop with coffee cups in their hands. Passersby pausing to stare at the birds. Margarita lay curled up in Michael’s lap. I did notice Michael’s face seemed unusually blanched.

White Tara spread her wings and hopped onto my shoulder. “Miss me sweetie?” she asked as she rubbed her beak against my chin. “My sister Ekajati fixed things as you asked.”

“Blue Tara rewound the clock,” Michael added. “Now maybe we can enjoy our coffee without interruption.”

I sat down and drained my coffee cup. “How many of those are you going to drink?” I asked Princess Tara. A young woman walked out of the shop with an iced latte in her hand and stopped near our table to watch Princess Tara drinking her frappuccino. “Is your bird really drinking that?” she asked.

“Loves the stuff,” I replied.

“Isn’t caffeine, like, bad for parrots? That’s a parrot, right?”

“Right on both counts,” I said. “But I let her have a treat every once in a while when she’s a good girl,” I added, grinning. “A little coffee never hurt anything.”

“She seems to be drinking a lot of coffee,” the lady observed.

Princess Tara tilted her head and glared at the woman with her big yellow eye. “Mind your own business,” she said, loudly and clearly. The woman froze. A look of shock creased her face. She turned and stumbled away, trying not to drop her coffee cup.

Part Three

“Well, then. That went really well,” I said. “How about we not insult the citizens?” Princess Tara looked at me and went back to drinking her frappuccino.

“So Hamatsa abolished the city council and is ruling by decree,” Michael said.

“I’m sure the whole country will be next,” I replied.

“The question is, what are we going to do about it?” Michael added.

“What do you mean what are we going to do about it? Why is it our responsibility? Seems we have enough problems of our own, what with the Deportation Police hunting us.”

“The only way to stop the implementation of the New Order is to fight Hamatsa and the Winalagalis,” Kinqalatlala replied. “The whole purpose of finding the tlogwe is to gain the magic to take the fight to the seat of power.”

“It sounds like we’re going to have the perfect opportunity to strike, what with Dear Leader coming to Seattle to coronate the new mayor,” Jean said.

“And isn’t this why we signed on with the Taras?” Michael asked. “To help them overcome the Winalagalis? They can’t do it without the tlogwe.”

“Sitting here drinking coffee,” I replied, “it just seems less urgent. . .”

“What the fuck?” Michael interrupted. “We just killed a Deportation Police goon. You think they’re going to let up on us?”

“They’re going to keep coming after the parrots,” Jean added. “After the Tara’s.”

“Well sure,” I replied. “Don’t get me wrong. It’s one thing to go after Hamatsa and his goons. To keep the parrots safe. It’s another thing entirely to go after Dear Leader. He’s going to have the entire police power of the state at his disposal.”

“Well yeah,” Michael said. “What’s the problem?”

“The problem is, dear friend, we’re not going to get far with one battle axe and a quiver of arrows against the organized military might of the state. Are we Tara?” Princess Tara paused, fixed her big yellow eye on me, and went back to drinking her frappuccino. “No worries,” I added.

“I have to say,” Jean said. “I’m scared to death.” I reached across the table and took her hand in mine. “I don’t see what we’re going to be able to do even if I had Charlie’s shotgun.”

“We need information,” Kinqalatlala replied.

“What kind of information?” I asked.

“Information about Hamatsa’s plans.”

“How exactly are we going to get that? We can’t just waltz into city hall.”

“I can.”


I would not believe that Hamatsa would reveal to anyone that I broke with him. I can waltz into city hall and find out the information we need.”

“Is this an appropriate time to be dancing?” Princess Tara asked, taking a pause from her drink.

Kinqalatlala glanced at Princess Tara. “I can walk into city hall. They will never question me or impede me.”

“Are you sure? Could be dangerous. What if you run into Hamatsa?”

“I will need to make sure that does not happen.”

“How are you going to get the information to us?”

“Leave that to me. I will work something out.” Kinqalatlala stood up.

“Are you going now?” I asked.

“Yes. It is time.”

“How do you plan to get there?”

“Simple.” She whistled and waved her hand. A police cruiser appeared seemingly out of nowhere and pulled up to the curb beside her. She leaned into the open window and talked with the cop behind the steering wheel. The cop motioned her inside and she opened the door and got in. The cop activated the cruiser’s light bar. He darted through the intersection and disappeared up Market Street.

“Well, that was just too damn convenient,” I observed.

“I still don’t trust her,” Jean replied.

“We still have no evidence that she’s even the tlogwala,” Michael added. “Beyond just her word for it.”

“We need a plan,” I said. “A good plan that won’t get us killed. Simply sitting around drinking coffee and bullshiting doesn’t seem to be getting us anywhere.”

“Coffee makes me happy,” Princess Tara said. She climbed up my arm onto my shoulder and wiped her beak on my shirt.

“Well, I’m happy for you,” I said. “But what’s our plan? Hamatsa has his goons out looking for us. Apparently rounding up every parrot in Seattle. And now we’ve lost Kinqalatlala.”

“We have to take that black witch at her word,” Princess Tara replied. “She is the key to finding the tlogwe. But we should take the fight to Hamatsa. For once, we know where he is. He does not know where we are.”

“What do you propose?”

“We pay Hamatsa a visit. Catch him off his guard. He will not be expecting us to. . . how do you call it? Dance into his city hall.”

“Waltz into his city hall.”

“Dance. Waltz. Whatever you call it.”

“And once we drop in on Hamatsa. Then what? What do we do? Kill him? He’ll have a ton of security to protect him.”

“His laxsa. We can deal with them.”

“And Hamatsa?”

I am making this up as we go. Unless you have a better plan.”

“I have no plan right this moment.”

“If we kill Hamatsa and he comes back to life will not the citizens of Seattle realize that something is not right? Hamatsa and his goons hide in dark places out of the light of day. We need to shed light on his plans and schemes. Make your people know who and what Hamatsa really is. What the Winalagalis really is.”

“You know what?” Michael said, looking up from his smartphone. “There’s a farmers market outside city hall tomorrow morning. We could use that for cover, assuming we haven’t heard from Kinqalatlala by then.”

“What are we going to do until then?” Jean asked.

“Drink coffee,” Princess Tara replied. “Until it is time to eat pizza.”

“Do you ever worry about putting on weight?” Jean asked. “Me. I gain weight just by looking at food.”

“She probably just makes it all go away with her time and space magic,” I smirked.

Around the corner and out of sight of the Starbucks where we sat drinking coffee a convoy of armored SWAT vehicles pulled to a stop at the curb. Squads of black clad Deportation Police goons exited the vehicles and assembled on the sidewalk, large machine guns with short barrels slung over their shoulders. Several of the cops in command carried magic harpoons.


Kinqalatlala stepped up to the security checkpoint at Seattle City Hall. Black clad Deportation Police waving machine guns stood guard in place of the usual city police. “I am Kinqalatlala,” she said to the guards. “Take me to Hamatsa.” The guards pointed their machine guns at her. “Take me to Hamatsa,” she repeated, “or I will carve you up and feed you to the furies.” A cop wearing a standard blue Seattle Police uniform, with sergeant stripes on the sleeves, hurried out of an adjoining room.

“Stand down!” he ordered the guards. They lowered their weapons. Kinqalatlala recognized the cop from the Starbucks. “Follow me,” he told her.

Once out of earshot of the guards the cop asked Kinqalatlala, “What are you doing here? You’re taking a big risk. I know who you are.”

“Why are you here?” Kinqalatlala replied. “I told you to leave us and never come back.”

“Someone needs to fight back from the inside,” the cop replied. “Not everyone on the force supports the new regime.”

Instead of taking the elevator, the two walked to an unmarked doorway and descended a couple of flights of stairs to the SPD’s secure command center in the subbasement. Hamatsa found the dark depths of city hall much more amenable to his temperament than the airy mayor’s office on the top floor of the building. The cop swiped a pass card through a card reader and pushed the door open.

Just as at the Control compound in the other Washington, a bank of computer monitors along the back wall provided the only illumination across the room. The cop led Kinqalatlala to a solitary figure standing in the shadows to the side of the monitors. The darkness nearly swallowed his tall lithe frame clad in black leather. But the darkness accentuated his glowing red eyes.

Kinqalatlala stepped up to Hamatsa and bowed. “I am here to serve you, my master.”

“Where did she come from?” Hamatsa bellowed at the cop.

“She walked into the building, sir,” the cop replied.

“Where are the others?”

“She came in alone, sir. There was no one else with her.”

“You are either showing off for your new friends,” Hamatsa said, “or you are very stupid.”

“I am here to serve you, my master. This officer is not who he appears to be,” Kinqalatlala added, pointing at the cop. “He is part of the resistance.”

Hamatsa seized the cop by his throat with a gloved hand and lifted him off his feet. He bared his fangs and bent over to take a bite out of the man’s neck. Before he could do so, Kinqalatlala raised her hand to her face and watched her fingers turn into a narrow steel blade. She stabbed her hand through the cop’s chest. Hamatsa released the man’s neck and his body crumpled to the floor. Blood seemingly as black as the room pooled out around the body.

“I have been expecting you,” Hamatsa said. He motioned a couple of attendants to come over.

“Clean up this mess,” he commanded. “Where did you get this ridiculous outfit?” Hamatsa asked Kinqalatlala. Pulling her away from the body, he grabbed her flannel shirt and ripped it off of her, flinging it to one of the attendants. “Much better,” he said. He placed his gloved hands on Kinqalatlala’s breasts. “I missed these. Bring my slave some real clothes! he barked at one of the attendants. “You will find them in my quarters.”

“Yes sir. Right away,” the attendant replied as he turned to run out the door.

“How did you know the officer was part of the resistance? Hamatsa asked.

“He fell across the path of the witches at a coffee shop in the part of the city where the man with the parrot lives. The witches killed his partner. A laxsa.”

“How did this one escape?”

“I allowed him to escape. I would have killed him then if I had known he was part of the resistance. I killed him now to prove my loyalty to you.”

“It is a shame you did. I would have feasted on him to make him a warrior. To replace the laxsa I lost to the Taras.”

“There will be many more to take his place once you complete the subjugation of this city.”

“So tell me, slave. What do the witches, the Taras, plan to do next?”

“They know that Dear Leader is coming to Seattle to install you as mayor. Most likely they will plan an attack on you and him.”

“Precisely as we have planned,” Hamatsa said. Hamatsa’s attendant reentered the command center with a stack of Kinqalatlala’s clothing in his hands and presented them to her. “Put that on,” Hamatsa ordered.

KInqalatlala stepped out of her shorts and slipped on a pair of black leather pants, a black leather vest, and a black leather jacket. She pulled a pair of black leather boots onto her feet. “Are you done staring?” Hamatsa asked the attendant. “This slave belongs to me.” The attendant stumbled backwards and disappeared into the darkness.

“Much better,” Hamatsa said, looking up and down Kinqalatlala’s sveldt body. “When Dear Leader comes to this city to install me as mayor I will have the entire police power of the state at my disposal. I will be able to destroy that coven of witches and crush the resistance once and for all.”

“Why wait until then, master? Why not crush them now?”

“I am preparing a strike against them,” Hamatsa replied. He could not see the surprise on Kinqalatlala’s face in the darkened room. “Unfortunately, I do not yet have complete control over the Deportation Police. And the Seattle Police are yet too unreliable. They have not been completely cleansed of seditious officers as you have discovered yourself. The Taras are still too powerful to eliminate with the forces I have at my command.”

“What are your intentions?” Kinqalatlala asked.

“I will harass these witches with whatever forces I can muster. Keep them on the defensive. Prevent them from striking the regime.”

“You are striking them now?”

“Does that concern you? Where do your loyalties lie, my slave?”

“With you, my master.”

Hamatsa’s gloved hand darted out and grasped Kinqalatlala’s throat. “You know what your fate will be if you disappoint me.”

“Yes, my master,” Kinqalatlala managed to reply.

“You need to insure that the witches carry through with their plan to strike at our Dear Leader. It would be a shame if they succeeded and I was forced to take his place.”

“It would be your destiny, my master.”

“I would be forced to use the power of the state to crush those witches and those that serve them. To crush the resistance. To wipe it from the face of this world.”

“Absolutely, my master.”

“And you would take your place as my queen at my side. Together we would start a new race of warrior kings to rule this world for all time. A world of slaves to serve me.”

“It would be my duty, my master.”

“What of the tlogwala?” Hamatsa asked. “Do the witches believe your story that you are the tlogwala?”

“It would appear so, my master. The one with the parrot believes himself to be ordained to find the tlogwe. The blue witch has him sucking at her breast.”

“What a fool. When I am coronated I want to see his head mounted on the wall of the mayor’s office of my city hall.”

“It will be done, my master.”

“And the heads of the Taras will be displayed on pikes at the front door of my city hall.”

End of Chapter Nine