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[Fiction] Samhra - Devotion


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“It always has to be the damn desert, doesn’t it,” she whispered to herself. She could sense it, the place the book opened up to even before she became the Word, the Verse, the Rhyme and Prose of it … the passage, that elevation through thought and inspiration that transported her from place to place.

Back to Australia, back to the threads of her old life, and back to that hurtful place of memories not forgotten. Back once again to being misunderstood as well. Samhra, Saimhe, Codex … Regan … from woman and wife to sensual goddess, but not goddess for them, but goddess for herself. Somehow, that last bit had not been transmitted to the masses properly and now she found herself as focus for a cult in her homeland. Now, that cult was sworn and absolved to show their devotion to her, to her face, to sacrifice something so great it could not be ignored, or mistaken.

They had contacted her, again, over the Opnet. Once more, they had reached out to her, pleaded with her, begged and prayed to her, their guiding light and spiritual source, but this time, they had added a live feed. On that live feed, she noted the helpless sacrifice, the fierce devotion on their faces as they prepared themselves for that fatal step.

And, they opened a book for her, their Goddess, to come and accept their sacrifice.

He was a young man, dressed as a priest and he probably was one. She noted his relatively new rosary and that certain calm that came from devotion to some higher cause, despite his obvious peril. He was Christian and most certainly a believer at this late date. She noted the 9 women and three men who made up her cult … she would be the ‘invisible’ thirteen member, no doubt. She noted the sparse vegetation of the Western Desert, the line of the rock outcroppings in the distance as well as the shadows being cast. A few blinks of the eye and she knew close to where they were.

She knew that she could call her old team mates at Team Tomorrow: Asia/Pacific and have help there fast … within fifteen minutes and she was relatively certain her cult would wait … for her.

Yet that felt like betrayal to her. It was not only a betrayal of her unwanted fanatics, but a betrayal of herself and her friends. She had left them, Team Tomorrow, and recreated herself, discovered herself again, and grown beyond what she had been there. She could not longer do it ‘there way’. She wasn’t trying to make everyone happy anymore. That past felt so empty now. She wasn’t trying to stand up to Julie’s expectations of her, because she realized Julie had loved her, not some ideal of who Regan/Codex thought she should be. Too late, she had realized that special quality that Julie had.

Samhra sighed. Her life with Julie had been so simple and she had never appreciated that quality about it. When she said, “I love you,” that was it. No emotional manipulation, not attempt to elicit affections, just a simple declaration of how she felt at that moment about her.

There were twelve people out in the desert who were also declaring their love for her. It wasn’t really her they loved, but their own selfish ideals of who she was. Still, she felt a certain sense of guilt concerning them. She had ignored them, put them off, and generally treated them as some sort of embarrassing sideshow to her real life. In retrospect, she could see the missed signs of their growing desperation and fanaticism. She could map out their ebbing sense of hope as she vanished then reappeared in the world. Her life and theirs had come to this point and she felt a certain sense of responsibility for that, though she was not sure why.

“I didn’t ask for this,” she whispered. “I’m my own goddess, not theirs.”

The word goddess came to her in a thousand different connotations. She was that powerful spirit, now. She was that source of inspiration, too, as well as something wild and unmastered. She had grown, but there were still shadows of her past that clung to her.

The needy wanted attention and she was going to give it to them.

The sun beat across her parchment like skin. Her wings opened up to ease a breeze over her as Samhra gathered in the horizon as her worshippers gasped, cried out, and fell to their knees at he arrival. She couldn’t meet their eyes yet. This was tougher than she imagined it would be … their desperation and devotion where so much more disturbing in person.

Sylvania, the priestess and leader of this little cult remained standing, but tears were streaming down her cheeks. A rapturous look was captured on her face, but the knife in her hand drew Samhra’s gaze. From there, she allowed her eyes to wander over the priest tied spread-eagle to a large rock outcropping.

Sylvania, following her gaze, nodded in excitement.

“We are ready,” she breathed heavily and raised the knife. “I knew if we were pure in our devotion, you would come to us. I knew. I knew.”

‘There are so many ways I can handle this,’ she thought.

“No,” Samhra declared taking on the full mantle of the Passionate Goddess.

Sylvania stopped with a look of confusion written on her face.

“He is mine to do with as I please,” Samhra continued. “Your devotion has been proven already, my child. Life and death is mine to decide and today, and today I am content to see this one learn about the calling of true faith.”

“Yes, Goddess, yes … but …,”Sylvania stuttered.

Samhra reached out and touched he mind. All was laid out before her. Sylvania was actually a very intelligent woman, but terribly conflicted. She was a charismatic leader, but deeply unsure of herself. She held a deep reservoir of hatred for men, and one man in particular, but also a great capacity for love. Still, in her pain and fear, she had built up this cult and its devotion to this nova as an outlet for both her warring emotions. She loved her followers even as she found them inadequate in quenching her pain. Right now, she knew, rationally, that this man she had chosen as a surrogate for her anger represented a danger to her followers.

It touched Samhra that this woman’s primary concern was for the others, not for herself. First she brushed mentally over Sylvania’s mind then drew her into an embrace, covering her with both her arms and her wings. The followers gasped and whispered in awe at such an open show of affection.

“It will be okay. I know your fears and it is in my hands now. Worry not, Sylvania.”

Samhra felt Sylvania’s deep desire to kiss her, but knew that would send the wrong message to the baseline woman. Affection for a devotee was not the same as love between equals and Samhra would not play with her or deceive her.

“I love Singularity. He is where my heart lies and you must include that in your doctrine, my child … my devoted Sylvania.” She stroked the woman’s cheek as they parted.

She directed the three men to cut the man loose and bring him to her. Though the priest’s legs were weak from constriction, he hobbled to her as quickly as he could. She took the man up in her arms and led him away. Together, they hobbled down toward the road. Samhra heard the excited whispering of her followers behind her as they left. Sylvania was explaining the divine presence that had entered her mind, the Goddess’s assurance of their continued safety and prosperity, while translating this latest expression of love for her chosen disciples.

In her own way, Samhra marveled at Sylvania’s creativity. Still, Samhra could sense the woman chose to move away from her own pain and toward something else.

‘Growth is growth, I guess,’ she thought.

“Thank you, Miss,” said the priest, breaking Samhra from her mental link.

Samhra gazed down at the man struggling beside her. Through their contact, she healed the most debilitating hurts.

He looked over at her, confused but grateful.

“You are the ex-Utopian, Codex, right?”

“Yes, Priest, you can refer to me as that, though my name is Samhra.”

“Their Goddess? Okay.”

Samhra felt the man’s uncomfortable silence.

“You need not fear, Priest. I am a goddess, but not one in the way you think, or someone here to challenge your faith. I leave you in your contented spirituality. I hope you will be content to leave me with mine.”

The man thought about it for a few seconds.

“Okay. I can live with that, I guess.”

She looked sideways at the man. He seemed surprisingly easy-going for a follower of the Christian God. She questioned him on it.

“I have always felt that God is love, Co … Samhra. I feel we do our best through Good Works, not through fear and guilt. I don’t feel that God wants the unwilling. I do think your followers are terribly confused, but they have heard the Word yet chosen to look elsewhere. That happens.”

“You are a strange one, Priest. You will leave my followers be. I will deal with them.” The last two sentences were spoken authoritatively leaving no doubt in the man’s mind that this was not a request, but a command.

He nodded.

“My pain is lessened and I can accept you willingness to keep them from hurting anyone else, so there is no need to involve the constabulary in this.”

“I am glad we understand one another then.” She turned and looked at him.

“I don’t plan to walk across this damn desert all day, Priest. Were can I drop you off?”

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