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Mercy chapter 1 2 3

Chapter Two:
The Mother of the Grendel
by Hypatia
©2001, by Hypatia -- all rights reserved

Grendel's mother was a monster of a woman; she mourned her fate.
 -- Beowulf

Man is the one animal that can't be tamed. He goes along for years as peaceful as a cow, when it suits him. Then when it suits him not to be, he makes a leopard look like a tabby cat. Which goes double for the female of the species.
 -- Robert A. Heinlein, Tunnel In The Sky, 1955

The news this morning wasn't good, there was another dirty bomb. This time it was Manchester. It didn't kill anyone but that wasn't its purpose. A large area of a city covered in radioactive waste is not the easy cleanup that the authorities say. Not that they are actually going to do it properly. September is a month that has too much going on to bother with a decent clean up. What's a little radioactivity going to cause? Birth defects? Cancer? It might even kill a few people. No one gives a shit anyway. But today we make a difference.

Life is what you make it, my mother told me. This was soon after the Damocles virus ruined me, twenty two years ago now. I was only eight when the virus that the Muslims stole from the United States and loosed on the world caught up with me, my father escaped this fate by virtue of being dead -- lucky bastard.

My mother gave up her drinking when I was thirteen, replaced it with a bottle of tranquilizers to help her sleep. The nightmares at that time were bad, always the plane crashing. It didn't help the fact that they had the last tapes of Dad's conversations and often played them. Some of it was classified because of the operational details he knew, but they liked playing them because he was a hero. His actions saved over half the people on the plane and untold numbers on the ground. But when a cockpit hits water at two hundred miles an hour it doesn't leave much of the occupants. Mum kept dreaming his last minutes and those words. "Anyone who supports sick bastards who would do this shit doesn't deserve a place on this planet." The last words of a hero, words that were taken up in parliament. When I was fourteen she never woke up one morning, accidental overdose, or so it was claimed. I saw the two medals on the bedside cabinet and I understood the message. No matter how high an honor, two bits of metal, one from our government and one from the United States could replace his loss and she had gone to join him.

I also understood the other message she was giving me. You're on your own son. I lived there for a while, as the son of a hero I would have been honored. As a product of Damocles, I was something to be ignored and avoided. At that time there were still quite a few full males around, but that soon changed. A hierarchy formed. That most elusive of creatures, a fertile functioning male, was at the top; then women, then sterilized post-pubescent males and finally us prepubescent Damocles Victims, PPDV's. This was soon corrupted to "Deevers" and we became a new underclass. It could have been changed, testosterone was the key but it had to be prioritized. Politicians and important people got the first cut, then the military -- and if any was left it wnet to those married males who had earned the treatments. If you never had testosterone production of your own then you stood no chance. The theory was, "What you never knew you would never miss." What a load of crap . Production of female hormones wasn't needed for birth control anymore so they were used.

The children of the streets were growing in number now, though the artificial insemination program was successful and producing plenty of males, the Damocles virus was a sneaky little bastard -- it kept mutating. They said it was beacuse it was an engineered virus, unstable to start with, lacking millions of years of evolution to develop it. I think it was due to the shit in the atmosphere. Some of the varieties killed, many others didn't.

I didn't care anymore. I knew my place and I knew it wasn't with the decent people. I might be carrying something to infect someone. This was my place. Here my word was law and I kept some sort of order in the hell that was Liverpool. When the uninfected had started sealing themselves away from the rest of us, "protecting the future of our nation" as the politicians called it, they left us out. We weren't worth the effort of checking for infection, because we were subhuman. We were in the minority at first and back then they didn't care if we killed each other off. It was bad at first, the food supplies they left were barely enough and the strongest got them. The weak died.

I hadn't been weak. Yes, I was only five feet tall and no muscle, but I hadn't been weak where it was important. I was smart.

Then a City Coordinator was dumped on us after the first eighteen months of segregation. Some of the occupants of the city had been trying to get across to the enclave of the Wirral. Alan Jones and a number of his thugs had been supplied with all they needed and came through the tunnel to impose order on the "animals." The authorities didn't care how he did it, just as long as the problem we created was removed. He did it by controlling the limited food supplies into the city, with muscle and weapons, neither of which we had. He wasn't strong where it counted though. He wasn't smart.

Even before he came, I had been making friends and making sure that plenty of people owed me favors. That was my currency. I would do anything to help anyone on the promise of a favor, but unlike do-gooders I collected; not always as was expected though, I wasn't after a person killed or protection. The explanation of how an engine worked, some medical knowledge, a book or some judo lessons was more likely to be my payment. I made my life more comfortable. I had limited electricity and a radio. Food I was as short of as everyone else, but I had plenty of hormones.

A lot of the people didn't bother, they believed that the hormones were there to subdue the population. I did a little reading before I made my decision on what to do. I realized that if my bones started to crumble it wouldn't make any difference if I had breasts or not. I had taken them up to the point when I was evicted from my home by a large group of men and pushed into the Birkenhead end of the tunnel, but as soon as I could get settled again, after a few months, I started again. As I had things that others didn't, I started to get unwanted attention. My home became a place of fear and I filled it with traps for the unwary. I also started calling in favors.

I was selective at first. My initial problem was protection. I could protect myself against individuals and small groups, but if a large number came again I was going to suffer. Size is nothing in the martial arts I had learned well and practiced religiously, but skill is nothing when the weight of numbers is too great. That was when I found Alex.

Alex was different from the usual adult Damocles victims. I understand his wife had died before he caught the virus and as such he was not a candidate for testosterone. Alex had raided a hospital and ran for Liverpool. He wasn't willing to live his life as a eunuch. He had a price on his head if he was caught and under the emergency powers law he would face the death penalty. Men who had been affected by Damocles were a less visible reminder of what was going on than we were, so we were exiled and most of them survived on the fringes of society. Except those who left of their own volition, with their own agendas like Alan Jones.

Alex was a nice man; not particularly bright, but that isn't a crime. He came into my home and into my bed as a lover; not that it interested me, that side of things, but in these times I use whatever means I can to get by and get what I need. I think to be honest he loves me. I'm sure of it and I am fond of him and I enjoy the sense of security he gives me snuggled in close behind me, holding me tight, a hand caressing my breast. Alex was an imposing man, well over six foot tall and amongst a population virtually all under six foot, few were willing to challenge him. Not that I think he would honestly hurt anyone, I was the aggressive one and if he had ever turned on me I would have removed him from my life permanently. It's amazing what those cunning Asians figured out you could do to a human body with your own. Very rarely does it involve lots of shouting, screaming and high kicking, but used correctly with just a few movements you can bring down the largest man before he knows what's hit him. Then the choice is yours -- unconscious, crippled or dead. The advantage of dead is, they don't come round and get you with their mates when you aren't looking.

I built up the number of people associated with me, medically trained people, teachers, engineers and people with any skills before they were exiled. We gave our skills in exchange for goods and favors. We did not work for our food or the food of others. That was my first decision. Alan Jones was keeping control by his hold over the food supplies and medical supplies through the tunnel. This meant he was hated.

I would let people work for what they needed and take in return what they felt was fair. Books were a staple trade item though. With a book you can learn to do what you can't do yet. With practice you can splint an arm, wire a house or strip and rebuild a weapon. Once you have learned these skills, you can teach others. Amongst the people who had contact with our group we had an almost one hundred percent literacy rate and only the youngest that were dumped through the tunnel didn't read yet.

The other thing different about my group was the fact that violence or intimidation was forbidden. I kept this law personally and if words didn't convince them, then I would resort to violence. The young came to us first, those who even in our society were the outcasts. They survived in groups fighting for the few scraps from what we received. No one cared if they lived or died, as we were all too busy trying to survive. I changed that view and they thanked me with their love and their loyalty.

I was "Mother Sam" to the young and if they came into my world they lived by my rules. They were simple rules that all could understand; no violence toward anyone in our group, no theft and everyone works. That included me, I was leading by example. If someone wanted to take a swing at me then I fought and took them down.

Surprisingly, some of those who I tangled with became the people I relied on most and trusted with my life. I taught unarmed combat classes with two others. I wasn't in the same class as either of them in their own discipline. Escrima, I hadn't heard of before I met Mr. Kay, as we called him. He was an old man from the Philippines and despite the fact there is very little chance of mistaking anyone from there with someone from the Middle East he had been moved over the water.

The Judo taught by Simon was a bit more conventional. I used both as necessary and I could stand my own against any one person in my group. This didn't include Mr. Kay or Simon, but I was starting to get lucky, occasionally.

This set up worked for a couple of years as the city split into three factions. My group, Alan Jone's mob, which was attracting a lot of families who wouldn't abandon children to us "savages" over the water and the independents. Everyone had to work through Alan for food and medical supplies. The independents preferred to deal with us for anything they didn't have to get from Alan. Then things took a turn for the worse.

We had gotten quite organized and by this time we were supplementing the food rations by fishing and what vegetables we could grow. This was a direct threat to Alan and his crew. Food and his control over it was how he kept order. He sent in armed men to destroy our efforts and the first few times they did, but we improvised our defense with what we had at hand. The first counter strike was a home made bomb in a vegetable patch that six men had come to destroy. Four died and we dumped the wounded and the dead where they would be found.

We kept their weapons and waited for his next move. It came in the form of twenty five men demanding my surrender to the recognized authorities, on charges of murder, hoarding goods, incitement to riot and a slew of other charges -- all with the death penalty.

We demanded their surrender and they laughed at the thought of surrendering to such as us. Six died, three were wounded and the rest we took prisoner. The dead and wounded we dumped back where they could be found again. We didn't have the supplies to treat the wounded and preferred not to kill unnecessarily. The prisoners joined the club. No male hormones here and we couldn't let them risk osteoporosis could we?

These acts couldn't be ignored. They had attacked my people for nothing more than being successful in the situation we had been dumped into. I had three thousand people with me in my immediate family and many thousand of the solo operators who were looking for trouble, but we only had weapons for thirty. They had possibly a thousand they could call on and weapons for only seventy now.

We picked our ground -- I didn't want to involve innocents in this fight -- and we marched from Allerton to the center of Liverpool. People joined us on the way and our numbers swelled. In front of the Liver Buildings we made our stand.

Alan Jones was not slow to arrive and he came with all of his thugs and followers, but the numbers were against him. From the moment he saw the situation his usual arrogant swagger ceased.

"Get back to your holes vermin," he screamed at the people gathered, "or you won't eat for a week."

No one moved. Not one sound issued from my people as I walked out between the two forces and stood there waiting. The silence added to the tension and I could see a lot of the opposition trying to make sure they weren't in the front row.

"You think you're man enough to come out here and talk to me face to face before we turn to bloodshed?" I shouted. I could see the uncertainty on Alan's face and the expectation of his force that their "Big Man" would meet me.

"I'll come out there with two men," he shouted across and I nodded.

I watched him pick the two biggest men he had and was about to come out to me when I decided I couldn't let him have too much of an advantage. "Unarmed as I am. You have your two bodyguards, so you can leave the weapons or we fight now," I shouted to him.

"What the hell do you want then Deever?" he demanded when he finally got to me.

"You will stand down as City Coordinator. You will leave all your weapons and we will find a place for you to live in peace," I told him.

"I'm not worried about your little friends," he replied with scorn in his voice. "What do you Deevers think you can do against real men?"

"If that is your decision then there is no point continuing this dialogue," I told him turning to leave. "I should have known better than to talk you. Anyway you're only half a man."

This pushed him too far and, while my back was towards him, he grabbed my arm.

"You're coming with me," he screamed, starting to drag me by the arm he held.

Escrima is an art that improvises with what weapons are at hand and also uses low kicks to disable an opponent. Pananjakman aren't the flashy high kicks you see in a lot of martial arts, they are low vicious and nasty. Alan found this out with a kick to his calf and a quick follow-up to his knee, which caused a gratifying tearing noise. The knee to his face was just a formality, he wasn't going anywhere. The other two were no more trouble and the three of them lay on the floor, unconscious, in a matter of seconds.

An army without a leader is a rabble. The rabble that faced us was grossly outnumbered and capitulated without a fight. I kept tight control and didn't let anyone avenge the wrongs they felt had been inflicted on them, but I had a problem with Alan and his thugs. I was not willing to kill them myself, not that I didn't think they deserved it, but I hadn't got here by fear. We sent them back, all who had come with him to inflict themselves on us, through the tunnel. The shots could be clearly heard as they were welcomed at the barrier halfway through.

We found a lot out that week. We found the tons of food stored in buildings around the city center. We also found out that those on the other side didn't give a toss who was in charge as long as they weren't bothered. This attitude made the anger inside me grow. We hadn't done this. We hadn't asked for this. But we were treated as if we were the Muslims who had unleashed the horror that made us like this.

I could understand the problems the country faced abroad. Our troops were getting massacred by Muslims who no longer cared if they lived or died. China had taken a side all of its own and was engaged in strategic battles to take over and control the oilfields of the Gulf. Any non-Chinese ships or troops near this area, it considered fair game. Afghanistan was a place of devastation, that made men into corpses by the thousands and the death toll kept rising, while Russia was losing ground hand-over-fist as the Muslim States encroached further and further into what had been the Russian Federation. Africa had erupted into a thousand fragmented tribal wars, the origins of which were long forgotten. The Baltic States were trying to exterminate each other again and the Indo-Pakistani conflict was killing millions. The world had turned to shit, but that was no reason to treat us like shit.

Damocles was indiscriminate in its victims, not caring about race, creed or color. As it swept through an area, the population demanded revenge for what had been done to them, at least those that were still alive depending on the variant.

The thing that did confuse me though was everyone was blaming everyone else for Damocles. We blamed the Muslims. They blamed us. The Serbs blamed the rest of the Baltic and India and Pakistan blamed each other. All the time, funds, resources and people, which no country could afford to lose, were being sent to war. Fifty years of intermittent conflict had destroyed economies and devastated populations. Much more of this and humanity would be facing extinction.

I decided that we had to make a stand. I had eighteen months if I wanted to make a big statement on a day that would be significant to everyone.

We put the city in order, clean and tidy first. We had law and order, but above all we had equality. Yes I must admit I tended to dress a bit fancier than most of the people that we had, but as I was told it was expected. Also, Alex liked the way I looked and dressed. Despite everything that had happened he was still the person I turned to for support in all I did. I made myself seen. I cleaned the streets with the others and planted food. I fished and I taught the children. All the time my popularity was growing, being reinforced by my actions. They didn't like it over the water on The Wirral, but as I explained to them at the barrier, if they sent anyone over to try wrest control from me, I would personally send them back.

On the radio the stories about me started, first just local news about the mad creature who had taken control of the City. Later on I began to be described as a Muslim sympathizer, a fascist dictator, a communist infiltrator and a "mad freak of a Deever." It was obvious to all who listened to the broadcasts that these were just labels put on me to try and instigate hate and rebellion within my people and I don't think anyone in Liverpool believed any of it.

We took no hostile action, though certain acts were blamed on us. I cannot believe they thought we really did it because food and people kept being pushed through the tunnel. We started our own newspaper putting, out our version of the news to our people and the radio attacks became more violent. They decided I was a "Monster" and, with my nickname still being used by many, I became "The Mother of the Grendel" and "The Queen of the Deevers." a bigger threat to the people of Britain than the monsters that started the war.

Through out 2050 I stockpiled food and equipment and at the end of the year I explained my plan to the City Council.

"We have been pushed here, into a useless ruin of city that no one wanted, to die," I told the council. "We didn't die, so they sent Alan Jones to make sure we knew our place, but we removed him and made this city fit to be lived in again.

"What did they do then? They decided, because we weren't willing to live in shit and die, we were a threat to them. We have done nothing to the people of this country except be born and be the victims of a war that has ruined much of the world. Now the time has come to show the people of England that we are not animals. We are not going to be shoved in cages and shot if we try to escape. August of next year we will march out of this city; not in fear, not in anger. We march out of this city proud of what we have done and we will give them a message they will not be able to forget. We will march on London and make them treat us like people, to talk to us like people and to recognize us for what we are. We are the victims of this war not the aggressors."

"What if they decide to attack us?" one man asked.

"We go with everyone, the children, the old and the sick. They will see we are not an aggressive force and above all these people are British like us. We didn't start this war. We didn't loose Damocles on the world and, above all, we do not kill innocent people. We are not Muslims like the sick bastards who started all this. We are decent British people and we demand our place on this earth," I told them and a cheer arose from the hall and I had them.

We continued our preparations with the full support from the council. Yes, I was in charge and what I said was done, but I tried to work with them. In June, as the hot summer cheered everyone up, I told the people what I was doing. I told them that I was going and if we all went together, then they wouldn't be able to ignore us any more. The people I had brought out of fear and starvation into the city as it was now, a place where people could walk around at night without fear, agreed with me and told me where I led they would follow.

Last night though, as I lay next to Alex, the doubts assailed me. What was I doing? Why didn't I just stay here and live off the scraps that were offered? I worried about the government's reaction. Janet Kipling, our illustrious Prime Minister wasn't exactly a tolerant personality, but none of my people had been offered the chance to vote for her. I would be leaving the city tomorrow with children with me and no woman, a mother herself, could attack children and kill children. Now, as my people cleared a path through the minefields and barbed wire of Garston, I knew we didn't have an option. We were doing it.

The people of Widnes, and then Runcorn, hid as we marched through their towns and across the bridge over the Mersey. No one challenged us and some joined us. Just outside Runcorn, we camped for the first night of our freedom. That night, as the campfires burned, I was in my makeshift tent working things out. We had done less than twenty miles today, but that included the minefields. We had two weeks to the 11th of September and less than 200 miles to the center of London. We would make it, but I hadn't left us that much spare time.

On the second day we started to get interest in our march; first helicopters, military and civilian, later cars and people with cameras in the distance. Also others came to join our march. Banners began to be made by my people, "We are not animals," "We demand the same rights as anyone else" and many similar slogans began to appear and proliferate. The next day there were dozens as I took the lead with my closest friends, proud of all of them.

The fifth day we had a visit rather than the leaflet drops they had been using to try to make us go back. A man in a full biological protection suit, with an armed escort similarly dressed, was waiting for us in the middle of the M6 motorway east of Coventry.

I walked up to him and offered my hand. I could see the conflict in his face, but held out my hand until he took it and shook it.

"You don't need your boys with the guns. This is a nonviolent demonstration," I told him.

"I will decide that," he said sharply. Then, with more than a little disgust in his voice, he added, "Who are you?"

"I am the son of a hero of two countries, Kevin Harris' son Sam. I am Mother Sam to the children abandoned by the country they have been born to and Mother of the Grendel to the press for trying to make their life a little better. I am the person who led more than thirty thousand people out of Liverpool and I am the person who leads fifty seven thousand people now. So who the fuck do you think you are talking to me like that when you are too chicken shit to meet me without a suit?" I shouted at him.

"You are Mother Sam?" he asked shocked.

"Yes. Now give me your name or fuck off as we are coming through," I replied.

"Major Jason Kennedy. I have been sent here to tell you to turn around now and head back or action will be taken," he said regaining his composure. "We dropped leaflets telling you that, but I expect that reading skills are limited in Liverpool."

"Who the hell do you think you are prejudging us? We have a hundred percent literacy rate and a crime rate near enough to zero as to make a police force unnecessary. Now we are on a peaceful march to London to demand our basic human rights. We are victims of this conflict that has been raging for too long, not criminals. You can go and tell them that on the eleventh we will be in Westminster," I said angrily.

"If that is your decision, I will go and report it, but don't start taking yourself too seriously. We are fighting a war here and you are just a minor inconvenience," he replied in a patronizing voice.

"I am a minor inconvenience. With ten people we are an irritation. With ten thousand we are a problem. Now, with over fifty thousand people, we are a voice that must be and will be heard," I told him and walked back to the head of the column of people. In silence we started walking again.

That night, as we camped he returned, again with his escort. I invited him to sit down and he did so, clumsily in his all encompassing bubble.

"Sam you seem like an intelligent and reasonable young woman... er... man," he stumbled on his opening speech.

"Try 'person'. Or, if that's too much to concede, maybe Deever," I told him spitting the word out like a weapon at him.

"No one likes that term," he said quickly.

"Oh so I am not 'The Mother of the Grendel' and 'Queen of the Deevers' as the BBC has been announcing for months? Other broadcasting agencies' comments aren't as pleasant," I reminded him.

"Sam I am here with an offer from the PM. She says, if you head back now then considerations will be made for you and your people in Liverpool. There will be special considerations for you personally for your cooperation now and only now," he said quietly trying to calm me down.

"Who the hell do you think you are?" I shouted standing up. "We are not here to be bribed and told to go back like good little boys, girls or whatever else we are. We are not here just for what we can get, as we want nothing material from you. We sorted out the shit that was imposed on us in the form of Alan Jones and his band of murdering bastards. We are here to claim the rights that are due to all and we shall get them. Go now. The sight of you sickens me and the thought that you think we, or I, would sell out everything that we believe in for mere considerations makes me want to rip you apart myself."

"Look," he said struggling to his feet. He rushed after me and placed a hand on my shoulder to stop me. "As I said, don't take yourself too serio... Aeiee!"

He screamed as I dislocated his right arm with a twist of my body while holding his arm.

"Lets get something straight you testosterone soaked animal. If I wanted to kill you, your men with guns couldn't stop me. I could do it with one movement. But I will not. I won't even rip open that suit," I told him watching the fear in his face with satisfaction. "We will not be bribed and we will not be turned. Now go. You disgust me."

He left and a cheer rose from my people. I felt no satisfaction for what I had done. I sat in silence, with Alex's arm around me. I was not happy about the fact they felt they could bribe us. What sort of people did they think we were -- Muslims or something?

That night, after I let Alex make love to me, I lay awake, enjoying the warmth from his body and thinking. What had I missed thanks to Damocles? Yes, I gained some enjoyment from our lovemaking and I had delicious tingles when he paid attention to my nipples, but this was not what I was born to be. I was not intended to be here in a man's arms in a nightdress. I shouldn't have to put on a bra and panties. Makeup, hair, stockings and such like should be something worn by a woman to gain my interest, not by me for Alex. So much was screwed in this world and I didn't intend to let my people down, but what was I? Why did I care? What would become of these people if I failed them? Certainly no one else cared? My final thought was how would it make my life better? I didn't know and I fell asleep wondering.

The next morning was wet and cold. The people were starting to get hungry, the ones from Liverpool had plenty for their trip, but, when shared with the others who had joined us, it meant rations were short. We started moving by eight in the morning and had been walking for around four hours when the first military aircraft were seen. Then, far ahead we could see the roadblock across the motorway.

"We go around across the fields, then back down onto the motorway," I told the people and we climbed the embankment. As I helped people across the fence, I could see the troops redeploying across the fields. There were a hell of a lot of them.

"This is to be done peacefully," I shouted to the masses. "No violence under any circumstances. These aren't Muslims we are facing here."

The shout was repeated from one end of the crowd to the other and we started walking towards the soldiers. The first shots were a shock. We had children with us and none of us were armed.

"Down everyone," I screamed as bullets whizzed past. People were screaming and one of the people who fell wounded was Alex. He must have been the largest target on the field and he had been hit twice in the chest.

"Get down stay down," I shouted. "Help the wounded. When they realize we aren't fighting back they will stop shooting."

I crawled over to Alex and found that he was already dead. I kissed him and moved on, helping others as the shots rang out above us. We were at an advantage with the rolling landscape as we were protected by a slight ridge in the field only a couple of feet high, but it meant that they couldn't shoot us as we lay on the ground.

Eventually the shots ceased and I could hear a voice I recognized, Major Kennedy.

"This demonstration is illegal. You will all disperse now leaving the person responsible for this crime, Samuel Harris, and no further action will be taken against you. Otherwise you will be forcibly returned," he shouted through a megaphone.

I stood up and walked towards the troops alone. I could hear the mutters and comments behind me. No shots came and I walked the long walk to within a couple of hundred yards of the troops.

"We are unarmed, we have children with us and all we ask are those rights to which all are supposedly entitled. Not one shot has been fired at you as you are not the enemy. Neither are we though you kill us. We are those that have been forgotten. This country suffers to pursue a war to ensure those same rights that we seek. We are like this because of that war and now we come to remind those in power that we are real people and not just something that can be forgotten. Remember, all of you, it could be you or your children here next," I shouted to them and turned around. I walked slowly back to my people fearing the shot that would end my life. It did not come and lay on the ground.

"Create dissent and weakness within their ranks and let them stew on it for a while," Mr. Kay said as he came crawling over to me.

"Yes. It is the only weapon we have. I cannot believe they would slaughter us in cold blood. We are not the enemy."

"You are right and you are wrong Sam," he replied and he saw my confusion. "What you have done is right, all of it, and needed to be done. You have done this because you are good person. Even this march and the fact that you insisted on no weapons was the right decision, but you are an idealist and you believe those in power are intelligent and honorable people with at least the same concept of good and evil as you have."

"What are you saying, that they would kill their own people -- us?" I asked.

"Probably," he admitted, "though what you have done is of monumental importance."

"But what of these?" I asked as I looked at the fields full of cowering people.

"Some will survive and tell others what happened here. The word will spread and eventually things will change, but it will take time," he said sadly. "You do not need to stay here. Get somewhere safe."

"I'll stay. I started this and I'll stay to the end, but we must get the children and anyone else who wants to leave out of here," I told him and the orders were passed back into the crowd.

Over the next three hours people started moving back, heading north, but a large number stayed. I looked around the fields there must have been fifteen thousand people here still.

"Why don't you go?" Mr. Kay asked me again as I surveyed those who had stayed.

"This is my place and this is my time. I brought them here and I'll stay with them. It is the least that they deserve," I explained. "Good luck my friend."

"And you, Mother Sam of Liverpool, are an idealist, a fool and a noble and brave person. Good luck also my friend," he said with a smile on his ancient face.

I could hear the sound of aircraft approaching, fast jets. I thought of my father and stood up.

"Hands in the air walk forwards," I shouted. "Do not hurt anyone."

I started walking slowly forward, others joining me. Two aircraft flew overhead and there were a number of explosions behind me. I was thrown to the ground, but stood again. Looking back I saw the devastation of what had been the far end of the field we had been in. Bodies and wounded were everywhere, smoke drifted across and obscured some of the scene thankfully.

I helped Mr. Kay to his feet and the two of us continued walking forward. Others joined us and from behind me I heard mumbling as someone prayed. I tried to think of any prayer that I knew and the only one that came to mind was the twenty third Psalm.

"The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures.
He leadeth me beside the still waters.
He restoreth my soul.
He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake."

"Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I shall fear no evil," the words echoed from about me as I prayed. Mr. Kay grabbed my hand, still held in the air, and held it tight. I glanced across to him and saw determination on his face. I grabbed the hand of the person on my right and looked at a face I didn't know -- he/she as it was a Deever like me -- that smiled back at me. They were repeating the Psalm also. I squeezed the hand reassuringly and it was returned. The guns opened up in front of us, but for some reason most of the shots seemed to be going over our heads.

"I will fear no evil: for thou art with me;
"Thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
"Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies."

"Do no violence," I shouted as the Psalm continued. "These are not the enemy."

At my side Mr. Kay stumbled and fell. I glanced down to see him clutching his stomach, not all the shots were going high. Someone from behind moved forward and took his place next to me and took my hand. We were within five hundred yards of the troops now and some of them appeared to be arguing. Others were firing high, but some were hitting.

Three hundred yards and we could sense victory within our grasp.

"Thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over."

Two hundred and fifty yards and a lot of the troops were running, retreating. Weapons were abandoned. I saw one soldier raise a weapon and fire at an officer.

"Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life,"

Two hundred yards. It had cost too many lives, but Mr. Kay was right. This had to be done and we had done it. No one was firing now. The soldiers were routed without a shot being fired by us, without us descending to their level. We had kept our principles we had proved that we were right.

"and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever."

I heard a noise and looked up. Two aircraft shot overhead and something caught my eye. An object fell towards us... and a second one...

Mercy chapter 1 2 3
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