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Constantine's Portal – Part 1

Written by Dru1076 :: [Tuesday, 14 June 2005 08:42] Last updated by :: [Sunday, 25 May 2014 12:19]

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Constantine's Portal – Part 1

by Dru

They had been warned. Now, thousands of years later, their ancestors struggled to please an omnipotent goddess that been created to free them from another tyranny.

At first all had gone as planned. The girl was chosen from thousands of potential candidates, and no-one suspected the mistake until much later, when it was too late. The war against the Emperor’s legions had been brief, and when the girl flew through the capitol with the hated tyrant dangling from her hand, everyone cheered for her and the freedom she gave them. When the time came, and the scientists prepared to make her normal again, the girl warmed peoples hearts by declaring she would continue to bear the awesome power in order to protect and help the people of her troubled home-world. Everyone was actually grateful.

The years passed and the world grew beautiful under the wise leadership of the Elders. The years rolled into decades, and the decades became centuries. Everything in the world changed. Everything except the ever present protector of the innocent that frequently popped up whenever there was the slightest heroic thing for her to do. But soon enough even that changed.

When she forced people all over the planet to sing for her when she turned two-hundred-and-fifty, there were a few raised eyebrows. When she took control of a continent there were horrified outcries. Asked why she had destroyed a nation’s army and killed thousands of people, the new Queen giggled and replied: “Because I can.”

People became afraid. One by one the armies of the free world fell before the powerful girl. No weapon could harm her, yet she could clear a battlefield of any opposition without raising a sweat. Soon there was no leader on the planet who had not kneeled before her and kissed her deceptively dainty toes. The world resigned itself to her rule, but her ego demanded more than anyone was willing to offer. Within a thousand years the girl, whose real name was long forgotten, declared herself a god and demanded to be worshipped adored as such. The population of the globe was thinned as those who refused to accept her divinity were openly killed in a slaughter that spanned decades.

Hope for freedom dimmed with each passing year. The generations came and went, and each century the people searched their goddess’s flawless face for a sign of age, for the only way they could be free would be through her death, and the only thing that it was thought could kill her was old age. But the goddess remained as youthful as the day she had crushed the Imperial Armies. When her suffering subjects searched her face all they discovered, if anything, that she was becoming more beautiful. And with each day that passed her power seemed to grow.

There had been many who had tried to remove her from power. At first she would kill anyone who she thought treacherous, but over time she came to enjoy their attempts, finding them to be the most amusing thing in her life. She would sometimes set coups in motion herself just so she could show her dominion how powerful she was by easily crushing it. Her personal palace was populated

entirely by people who tried to end her long unopposed reign. She took great pleasure in keeping these people alive as long as possible so she could show them time and time again how incredibly superior she was, in every conceivable way.

It was, therefore, with some trepidation that a small group of like-minded men gathered secretly to discuss a bold plan that had the potential to release the world from its slavery. It had taken nearly a year just to organise the meeting in such a way as to avoid the attention of the self-proclaimed goddess and her loyal subjects.

“I would like to begin by thanking you all. Your presence here is evidence of the trust you have in me, and the absence of any Royal Guards shows me that my trust in all of you was not misplaced.”

“You made some big promises, my friend,” one of the better dressed men observed. “I think all of us agree that we can skip the pleasantries.”

“Of course. Time is short. I called you here because I’ve found a way to free ourselves of our ‘Divine Ruler’. You all know the institution I represent has been working for a long time on the theory of inter-dimensional travel. What none of you know is that we had the first successful run of our equipment two years ago.”

“That’s very nice, Constantine. But what has that got to do with our freedom? Are we all to run away to another dimension?”

Constantine ignored the heckler and continued. “I have witnessed the power she possesses. We have all seen her deal with rebellion before. Nothing on this world, or on any other world known to us, can harm her. There is no weapon that can help us. And we all know there is nothing we can do to save ourselves should we be unfortunate enough to gain her attention. If she knew we were here she could kill us without leaving her palace.”

“Thanks for reminding us.”

“Our ancestors created this monster. We know that whatever they did to make her so … so powerful, will never be known to us. That knowledge was lost, and not by accident. So we cannot hope to empower ourselves to defeat her. So, we cannot fight her.”

“What were you saying about dimensional travel before?”

“What I was saying is that I think it could be our salvation.”

“You want to run away?”

“No. I want to stay here and raise my children in a world where we are free. Free of the unreasonable requests of a girl who will never fully mature. Free to worship the true god, and not be forced to honour a false divinity. We all know she was mortal once, she reminds us all the time. No. I will not run. My big idea is simply this: We banish her. We send her through the portal.”

The realisation of Constantine’s plan dawned on the gathering.

“My god, man. That’s brilliant. Holy shit … I think that could work.”

“But, Constantine, how are we going to get her to go through your portal?”

“I’ve been thinking about that for two years. My first idea was to be honest and tell her what the portal was. Knowing her greed, she would probably go right through and spread her self-loving gospel throughout another dimension. It’s likely that she would, but we will have only one chance. I don’t want to take the risk that she may realise we’d shut the door behind her as soon as she went through.”

“So what have you got in mind then?”

“I have fashioned the portal into what looks like a mirror. My idea is to present it to her as a gift. All she has to do is touch the surface and she’ll be drawn through. Then we smash the portal, and she can’t return.”

“Are you sure? We know she can travel through space faster than anything else in the universe. What’s to stop her just coming back here?”

“I’m not talking about sending her across the universe. I’m talking about sending her to another plane of reality altogether. An alternative universe. The only way to travel between planes is through the portals I’ve developed. Even if she finds a way, there are billions of these planes beyond our own. The number of them is beyond comprehension. I have made many thousands of portals over the last two years, and never once has one led to the same place.”

“What’s on the other side of the one you plan to use?”

“Does it matter? It’s not here, and that’s all I care about. Let’s get to the point then. I need you to figure out a way to get the portal to her without raising her suspicions. One of you must think of a way. And we must decide now.”

The men were silent a moment.

“Next month is the Re-enactment. She’ll be in a good mood after the battle ceremony. We could have one of her favourites offer the mirror as a gift.”

There was a murmur of agreement. Every year their goddess would publicly remind her enslaved population how helpless they were against her. There was vast plain outside her palace that was filled to capacity each year with up-to-the-minute military hardware and elite personnel. The Queen of the World would spend several days allowing the sacrificial army the chance to kill her while she slowly worked her way through them. It was her favourite time of the year.

“Good idea. We will meet again before the Re-enactment. I want a suggestion from each of you who should be chosen to give her the portal. You will be contacted in the usual way gentlemen. I thank you once again.”

---------------------------------------------------

The official Re-enactment celebrations were in their third day. Of the three thousand tanks, planes helicopters and various other machines of war that had taken the field at the start of the ceremonial battle, only two hundred remained. The rest were scattered over the flat plain in chaotic ruin, none recognisable, they were now nothing more than twisted chunks of metal. Some wrecks spewed dark smoke, some flamed openly, while from others the cries of wounded men and women could be heard.

Surrounded by the two-hundred mobile artillery units and tanks that remained operational, the Goddess was resting. With the last of the sacrificial army still doing everything they could to kill her, the ruler of the known universe slept as peacefully as an innocent child. The bullets, tank shells and heavy artillery striking her and the hardened earth around her did nothing to disturb her sleep.

The soldiers who had taken the field did so knowing what would happen. They had been trained and prepared for this day since birth. But they, as countless warriors before them, had hoped to be the ones to kill her. As they watched the very latest machines of warfare fail them, that hope had quickly faded. Her decision to rest before the battle was over gave them renewed hope, hope that her over-confidence would prove her downfall. But each bullet that ricocheted aside, and each fireball that receded, proved to them that their situation was beyond their worst nightmare.

Nine hours after laying down, the Goddess stirred from her slumber. As she opened her eyes and stretched the whole length of her incredible body another tank shell impacted her stomach, and she was engulfed in a violent ball of white-hot flame. Bullets continued to rain on her as she floated up to her feet. Another explosion engulfed her, hot flame and radioactive shards licked at her flesh, serving to excite a little giggle from her mesmerising lips. Choosing a tank at random she started walking toward it. She could hear the men inside panic, and the hearts race faster as they realised she was headed straight for them. The main turret started firing rounds as fast as it could be loaded, and each time it was fired the heavy shell slammed into its target with precision. The Goddess was unconcerned by their efforts until they engaged the drive-train and started moving away.

Watching through the scope, the tank commander lined up for another shot. He looked on in horror as his disturbingly beautiful target kicked off from the ground and launched clear of his vision. The next instant the tank came to a bone-jarring halt. Looking up the men realised the roof was a little closer to their heads. Before anyone could comment there was sharp clang, and toes appeared though thick armour. There followed a deafening screech and deep groan of fatigued metal and the roof rose smoothly until a large tear appeared and sunlight flashed through. Crouching down the Goddess put her face in the small hole she had made and smiled at the crew.

Everything that had happened over the course of their lives was forgotten as they beheld the flawless beauty of their self-proclaimed goddess at close-quarters. Their minds melted and other parts of them solidified as they tried to comprehend the fact that a woman’s features could be so delicate and attractive. Before their sanity was completely washed away her luscious lips puckered up and she kissed the air. Her pretentious kiss whomped though the tight confines of the tank’s interior. She had released such a vast amount of air so suddenly that the tank could not contain it, and the resulting explosion sent pieces of thick armour plate in all directions, destroying four other tanks completely and damaging another fifty.

Hovering ten feet in the air the Goddess floated over the field making a clear target of herself. They were running low on ammunition, and she knew the game was nearly over. Choosing a regiment of tanks that was yet to suffer any casualties, she rolled some saliva on her tongue and launched a devastating spit-ball that vaporised a tank and destroyed the twelve tanks closest to the point of impact. The rest of the regiment escaped with minor only damage, and resumed fire with renewed vigour.

Enjoying a few of the high-explosive shells the Goddess looked around and considered what to do next. She hesitated long enough for a clutter of rocket-launchers to deliver a massive volley. Turning her head to regard the incoming missiles the goddess puckered her lips and focused a mighty gale from her lungs on the fast-moving weapons. The missiles struggled against her carefully controlled breath, slowing quickly in the forceful wind they lost the struggle and were blown back the way had they had come. If the multiple explosions hadn’t destroyed the launchers, the gust of wind that cleared away the debris an instant later would have been more than enough.

The Goddess vanished, and reappeared beside one of the larger tanks. It was three times her height, but she hefted it in her hand with no sign of effort. As the armour began to crumple around the single hand that held the vehicle in the air, the Goddess twisted her wrists and lifted the tank high above her head. Getting it onto the tip of her finger the superhuman girl started spinning the massive war-machine like a giant basketball. The men inside died long before the tank broke up from the ever-increasing speed. Just before it flew apart the Goddess flicked it into the air so the flying pieces of armour could inflict the maximum amount of damage.

She was not surprised to see two tanks making a run for it. Every year there were a few commanders who didn’t really want to sacrifice their lives for her. She understood their reluctance to die, and wondered why they would make such glaring targets of themselves. Smiling at their folly she floated up over the battle and gently made her way toward the closest coward. She could have flashed there in an instant, but the Goddess deliberately kept her pace down to allow as many munitions as possible to hit her. Floating down behind the first fleeing tank as it neared the edge of the field, she placed her palm on the cold armour plate and started rubbing the surface as though wiping it clean. The heat generated by her impossible speed was tremendous, and the tank crew was cooked by the instant increase in temperature as their armoured vehicle became hotter than a coal furnace. The hardened metal slumped, and a moment later pooled on the hardened ground.

In no time at all the Goddess landed in front of the second tank, and halted it’s progress with a single hand. Not wanting to waste time on a coward, she leaned her face up to the metal and touched her puckered lips to the surface. She sucked the metal into her stomach as though drinking from the surface of a lake. There was a tremendous clang and the tank imploded violently. The merciless Goddess consumed the entire tank before walking back into the battle.

The fighting continued for several hours before the last rocket launcher was demolished and the Goddess commanded that her field be cleared of the smoking debris. As soon as she had given that order she materialised inside her palace, arriving to the cheers of her gathered slaves. She stood and smiled at them, allowing them to go on longer than any of them really wanted to, before carefully stamping her foot and knocking them all violently from their feet.

“What kind of a cheer was that? I see that all of you need reminding of how deep and profound your love for me is.” Sitting down on her thrown the Goddess watched the gathering as everyone started to sweat at the thought of what she was going to do to them.

“My Queen, in honour of your victory in battle we have a gift to present to you.”

“My victory? What victory? What battle? That, you feeble-minded insect, was a massacre. Or had you forgotten?”

The man was silent under her questioning glare, his words lost in the depths of her eyes as she stared questioningly at him. Finally she shook her head.

“Bring me the gift,” she commanded, clearly unimpressed. “If it will make you happy I’ll let you give it me.”

The gift was brought forward on a large floating platform and set down before the thrown. It was covered with a sheer metallic fabric. The Goddess laughed at the thought that her slaves believed they could hide anything from her. Had the fabric been three miles thick and made of steel she could have seen the elaborate mirror beneath it.

“It’s a mirror.”

“All-powerful One, you have no mirror in your palace. I wanted you to see how glorious your beauty is.”

“I know how glorious and perfect I am. I’ve had twenty-three millennia to find out. My face has not changed in all that time, so what the fuck would I need a mirror for?”

The man pulled the cloth away to reveal the platinum-framed mirror. The gems encrusted into the precious metal were laid out intricately into floral designs set off by large diamonds.

“It looks very expensive. Where did a worthless worm like you come by this?”

“Many people donated for it.”

The Goddess hovered up off her thrown and floated gracefully down to stand before the mirror. She stood looking into the reflective surface for a long time.

“How very interesting. Where did this come from?”

“It was made by great master-craftsmen of the north.”

“Really?” The Goddess smile widened, her gaze continuing to drift over the surface of the mirror. “You don’t know do you?”

The slave suddenly looked flustered. “It was given to me by a trusted friend. He told me …”

“Who was he?”

As soon as she had name the Goddess vanished from her palace. It took a total of six minutes to interrogate the man her slave had named, locate the man she really wanted to find, and reappear with him dangling from her hand. Dropping him in front of the mirror she floated back to land on her thrown.

“Well? What’s all this about then?”

Constantine was shaking as he got to his knees. He had been taken completely by surprise.

“Don’t worry Constantine. I’m not angry with you.”

His dread only deepened when Constantine saw the happy grin on her face. As he looked longer at her features his heart started to beat fast and his breathing deepened. He had met her before, long ago in his youth. He had forgotten how intensely arousing her presence was.

“It’s the greatest thing that’s happened since I discovered the joys of masturbation. But why didn’t you come give it to me yourself?”

Constantine desperately wanted to lie. He had memorised a story for her just in case this worst-case scenario had eventuated, but as he looked into her hypnotic gaze he spilled the whole story out in gush of self-destructive honesty.

“Well I must say I am impressed by your invention. And you plan would have worked had you just brought it to me and told me what it was. I would have dived right through!” She laughed for a brief moment. “Do you know what you did wrong?” Constantine couldn’t find words, so she repeated her question. “Well? Would like your goddess to tell you where you went wrong?”

“No.”

“I’m sure it looks like a mirror to you. And at first glance I thought so to. But my eyes aren’t as easily fooled as yours are.”

Constantine slumped even more. “You saw through the portal.”

“And I like what I see. A whole new universe to explore.” She stopped smiling and thought for a moment, a serious expression washed over as she spoke again. “This is a very special day. Today you will all find out the truth about your Goddess.”

With the ever-present intergalactic media beaming her words to every planet in her universe, the goddess leaned back and got comfortable.

“I was created long ago to destroy an evil empire that once plagued this world. I was chosen because tests determined I was the most pure among the free people. That’s what they told me. The truth was they had thought a young naive girl would be easy to control, especially one raised to obey orders under a strict roof. They were right about me, and when they altered my cellular structure and turned me into their invincible warrior I did everything they hoped I would. I obeyed the commands they gave me, and carried out my duty. In the name of freedom I crushed all the armies of the Emperor and destroyed his vulgar palaces. I killed three-million, four-hundred-seventy-two-thousand, six- hundred-and-twelve men, and people thanked me for it with flowers. They loved me for it with all their hearts.

“Then the time came to lay down my strength and become plain old Mary-Jane Johansson again. For that was my name. Mary-Jane Johansson. I haven’t said that in nearly seventeen thousand years. I can never be Mary-Jane again. When they tried to reverse the process I was looking forward to returning to my old life. But the scientists failed. They could not undo what they had done to me because they had done their job too well. My cells could not be altered anymore because I am perfectly invulnerable, and nothing they did could affect me.

“For a long time things were great. I was always discovering new things about myself, about my mind. About my body, and about the worlds around me and how superior I was to everything in it. I was the worlds hero, and people loved me. But things started to turn sour after about forty years. All the scientists who had created me were old men. My parents had passed away and the people who thanked me for freeing them from the Empire resented me for my everlasting youth. It started with snide remarks in the media, and escalated to attempted assassinations. I understood how they felt. I mean look at me, not a flaw anywhere on my skin, and not a muscle out of place from the tips of my toes to the crown of my skull. I was nineteen when they changed me, and I’m nineteen today as I sit here.

“I continued to help people as I always had done. But where once they had thanked me and loved me, they resented and despised me. It wasn’t long before I began to hate myself. All the people I had loved in the world were gone, and the men who created me were dead. I was alone in a world full of people who were jealous of me to the point of blind hatred. It was on my two-hundred-and-ninety-third birthday when I first killed a mortal person for insulting me. I was in a bad mood and he called me puffed-up do-gooder so I crushed his car with him in it. I must say at first I felt a little guilty. But the more I thought about his spiteful words, the more satisfying it was that I had made him scream for mercy before he died. The more I considered how good it felt it kill him, the more guilty I felt about it. I became even more hateful my self. I wanted to die.

“I chose a powerful military nation and declared war on it. I stood before their armies and let them use all their weapons until they had no more ammunition. They couldn’t kill me, as I had hoped they would. So in anger and frustration I killed their soldiers and declared myself leader of that country. I worked my way through seven other countries before the world united against me. I told them if they could not kill me then I would dominate all life in the world. All I really wanted to do was encourage them in their fight against me by placing everything they knew in jeopardy. They still failed. And the world was mine.

“I focused all world resources on finding a way to kill me, and after a thousand years I was yet to feel any pain from their attempts. My hope for death dimmed. I had not aged, and I had not bled. Realising you pathetic weak creatures could not cause me discomfort let alone kill me, I tried to find something that could. There was a time when this world worshipped a different god. It was claimed this god created everything in the world, and that he was all powerful and unforgiving of those who mocked him. So I tested his power. I declared myself a god, and commanded all the world to knee; before me. I went out of my way to tempt divine retribution. I tortured and raped the priests. I destroyed the churches. I killed those who would not pray to me and rewarded those who did. But I was not struck down. The ancient god did not kill me as I hoped he would. And so my death wish proved in vain.

“It was at this time that I left this world to search for more advanced civilisations in the depths of space. There were many more intelligent forms of life than I had expected to find. And some of them had weapons powerful enough to destroy whole stars. I tested the might of these alien races, and found them lacking. For five-hundred years my search for death was relentless. I waged war in every galaxy in the universe, always hoping my foe would be the one to release me from this body and allow me to die. As you can see they failed as miserably as my own people did. I have enslaved this entire universe, and united all voices in pray to me and yet the gods do not destroy me.

“I’m telling you all this so you understand me better. I have worked hard to become a goddess that you all hate. Not because I enjoy your suffering, but because I hoped one day you would end mine. You are all envious of my immortal youth, and my infinite physical power. I am envious of your ability to die. Is it too much to ask to for? To be able to die? I am tired and bored with this existence. I long to know what is beyond this life.”

“Today I am leaving you. Your Goddess is going through the portal Constantine gave me. There was a time I would have gone looking for death, but now I go looking for a good time. The thing is this: I enjoyed breaking the universe to my will. I love the fact that I can tune my hearing in on a planet at the far side of this galaxy hear its people calling out in love for me, even though they loathe me. But I don’t enjoy your unwilling love as much as I enjoyed the five hundred year battle that forced it from you. Through that portal I have seen a world just like this one. A world were men are fighting each other, a world of armies and war. It looks a lot like this one. But there is one very important difference. The people there have never heard of the Goddess. I’m going to introduce myself.”

The Goddess smiled as she heard the world react with happiness at the thought she was going leave.

“However, I have no wish to leave you without a leader. And while I’m gone I don’t want you to stop searching for a way to kill me. So I’m going to do something I haven’t done for a long time. I’m going to share my power with one of you. Who wants to be the most powerful creature in the universe, then? Who would want to sit on my thrown, and control all intelligent life in the universe? Your Goddess is listening.”

The Goddess sat silent for a moment and let the cries of the mortal population reach her unique ears as people all over the planet called to her, begging to be chosen. Picking one of them at random, she disappeared from her palace, and reappeared with an old woman cradled in her arms. She put her down, and smiled.

“You’re going to be a perfect goddess to rule in my place,” she assured the old lady. “Just relax.”

The old woman looked afraid as her goddess placed an unimaginably strong hand on her forehead and closed her unearthly eyes. The Goddess’s hair floated around her as she focused her rarely used mental abilities on the old woman’s body. Wrinkles vanished, and the old grey hair softened. Her bent back straightened and the frail limbs slowly swelled with vitality. In moments the old woman was gone and in her place stood a well young woman. The Goddess did not stop there. The woman continued to grow stronger until her body was covered in rippling muscles. Muscles that filled out with strength far greater than was actually required for her to rule the world unopposed, muscles that quickly tore free from cloth that covered them, muscles harder than diamonds.

Lowering her hand the youthful goddess smiled at the naked woman before her.

“How do you feel?”

The woman looked down at powerful new physique with surprise, comparing herself with the much smaller goddess before her. Her surprise faded, and her face twisted in anger as she lashed out at the girl had kept the whole universe enslaved for over twenty thousand years.

The goddess laughed as woman she had enhanced proceeded to attack her with a series of punches that would have levelled mountains. The shockwaves from the immense impacts knocked over every person in the palace, but the slim goddess only smiled and stood perfectly still while the woman tested her new strength.

“Give it up, young ‘un.” The Goddess sent the powerfully built woman sprawling with a limp-wristed slap. “You’re stronger than you look, but you’re still pathetically weak when I’m in the room.”

The musclebound woman got to her feet and turned her attention to the exploration of her new body.

“I never dreamed …”

“Of course not.

“Why did you choose me?”

“Because you’re unworthy. You’re shallow and malicious, and a lot of people don’t like you. I don’t like you. So you’re perfect. I wouldn’t want to leave someone who might actually make a better goddess than me, would I?” The goddess lifted both feet and floated lazily into the air. “See this? The excessive forces in my body create fields of energy far more powerful than gravity. But don’t worry if you can’t do it at first. It took me years to master the art of flying, and I had a team of trainers helping me.” The Goddess hovered in close and hoisted the woman into the air with the tip of her finger. “There is one thing you should know. We are connected now. If I go through the mirror, and the mirror is destroyed, then our connection will be broken and you’ll become an old cranky hag again. So I suggest you try to keep it intact.”

“What if I fail?”

“You’ll be surprised how capable you are now. I have every confidence in the powers I have given you.”

Dropping the woman, the Goddess floated back to the mirror and stood beside a bewildered, and still kneeling, Constantine.

“And as for you, my friend. Do you know what your reward shall be? Do you want to know what your Goddess has decided you fate shall be?”

“Please don’t kill me …”

“Kill you! My dear Constantine, you have given your Goddess a great gift! And I know there must be other portals like this one. You are my favourite little pet right now. And for the first time in twelve millennia that’s not such a bad thing. You have given to me a whole new lease on eternity, a whole new universe full of other people who can love me. Or maybe, if I’m really lucky, creatures who can kill me. Oh no, Constantine. I have no intention of letting you die.”

She placed a hand on his arm, and Constantine felt a warmth flood his body. He knew she was changing him, but not the same way she had changed the old woman. Constantine didn’t grow younger, or develop any sign of super-strength. When she drew her hand back to her hip and smiled at him he felt no different.

“What have you done?”

“I’ve made you invulnerable, in a way. Let me show you.” Reaching back down she grasped his shoulder and pressed her fingers into his bone. He let out a shrill scream as she wriggled her fingers deep into his flesh. When she released him and he dropped to the floor, his shoulder healed instantly. Only his torn shirt and drying blood revealed the extent of the injury that quickly dissolved away.

“You see? Nothing can hurt you now! At least, not permanently.”

Without warning she brought her knee up demolished his face. He slumped on floor, and it was clear to all observers that he was dead. But Constantine’s face repaired itself, and a moment later he sat up with a startled jerk.

“Even if your wounds are fatal they will heal completely.”

“Why have you done this to me?”

“Because you’re coming with me.”

Saying this, the Goddess clamped a hand cruelly into Constantine’s upper arm and dragged him callously as she walked over to the mirror. He struggled and cried out, banging his fists on her thigh so hard he quickly made himself bleed, but it was as pointless as had been the struggles of the soldiers an hour earlier.

Without hesitating a moment longer, the Goddess touched her fingers to the glass …

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