Chapter Two: The Jarhead

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Chapter Two: The Jarhead
            When Abby landed in Nowhere Iowa the only thing she could see was vast rows of corn and the bright shine of the waxing moon. Abby took a deep breath. She loved the fly over states of America, especially Iowa. The air was sweet and crisp, just like biting into a perfect apple. Now to find Dean.
            Dean took a long drink from his cold beer; he needed it. It had been a tough harvest and he barely made enough to keep the farm steady. He smiled at a couple of girls that tried to get his attention; he was the Former Marine War Hero that came home and took care of his momma and pa until they passed last year. He looked back to his beer; here in town he was a jack of all trades but a master of none. What his friends, family, neighbors, town folk, didn’t know was his interest in cultures, religions, myths and the like. He was a bit of a master in that area. But he gave up college to be the Marine and a good son. But then again it was better to be a jack of all than a master of one. He tipped back his beer and drained the glass. He stood to leave when a voice shouted his name; causing Dean to groan. “Brett.” Dean turned to face his former best friend. They had, had a falling out when Dean was still in the Marines when the Cooper Farm prospered because Dean took a leave to work his ass off to save it, and the Clark Farm failed.
            “Well, if it isn’t Mr. Perfect? Packing in an early night Deano?” Brett and his group jeered.
            “Hell Brett, I have had a helluva harvest and I have to be up with the sun to finish. What the hell do you care if I call an early night?” Dean prepared himself for a fight when he saw Brett was about three sheets to the wind.
            Brett sneered. “You know you think you are so much better than me because you saved your farm.”
            “I never said that Brett. I had to save the family farm. What was I supposed to do? Let it fail because yours did?”
            Brett yelled. “You hated that farm! You said you were trapped there! That it was killing your soul!”
            Yes, well, it is still my home. My father’s life’s work.” Dean pinched the bridge of his nose.
“Blood finally thicker than water?” That is your reason you focused all n your family farm and left me to fend for myself?”
“I would never use that reasoning! I chose your side! Remember? I choose you as my family Brett. I chose you over my own damn blood brother to support.  I chose you! I believed you when nobody else did! I believed you and fought for you! When we lost that battle we left! We joined the Marines and only came back when we had no choice! You are my best friend, this misunderstanding won’t ever change that! You are my brother. If I had known I would have worked myself to death to try to save both farms!” Dean yelled at Brett. “The blood of the covenant is thicker than the water of the womb. That is what we used to say when anybody questioned me when I chose your side over my brother’s. Each and every time. I chose you as my brother. That is a lot thicker than the water of the womb that I shared with my own brother.”
Brett blinked but before he could respond or continue the argument, one of Brett’s men punched Dean. Dean sneered. He didn’t start fights, but he sure as hell finished them.
Abby finally figured her way into the town. “Damn, it’s small.” She whispered. She looked down at her list; the only benefit of this list was it updated their location. Dean Cooper: Jo’s Pool Hall. Abby winkled her nose, she hated bars. She was a being of pure magic after all; well she was one of the original nine creations of the Father. Humans called him God and credited them for their creation. In a way she guessed they were right, she and her brothers did create Earth as a gift to please their Father. “No, Abby, No don’t think of them. Think of those who need you. Your mortals. Don’t think of your brothers and your father. You made your choice long before your mortals became homo-sapiens.” Abby scolded herself. Abby moved down the streets, she finally saw the hole in the wall dive bar. She looked inside and saw the fight. She rolled her eyes and walked in and whistled. The bar stopped mid-action; it was quite funny. “Holy Hell Hounds!” She yelled into the silence, mostly for shock value.
Dean helped Brett up and looked over to her. “Thanks, lady.”
Abby smirked. “Didn’t do it for your pretty face darling. I am here on business. I am looking for Dean Cooper.”
Dean raised an eyebrow. “What do you want with me, lady?”
“I need to talk to you.” Abby smiled and turned her head when her senses picked up a tainted presence. Fear filled her; Leslie’s right hand Alice Burnt just entered the town, that explained the tainted presence, Alice was once slated to be a Protector and failed when she allowed Leslie to talk her into following her family values over her own values. Selling yourself out, let alone others would taint one’s soul. But the question of the moment was, how did she know about the list of potentials?
Alice sighed; recruiting missions sucked. She didn’t know how Leslie got the list, but there was a list of potential sisters and she was always sent to recruit them. She looked down at the name: Samantha Clark. Who knew Iowa could hold any type of potential? She was sent here to kill about a quarter of the potential Keepers and Protectors that the world could produce. She shuddered at the things she did. She didn’t even believe half the stuff the Sisters did but she loved Leslie, and she was the one Alice would follow to hell and back. She went off to search for her new recruit. When she got to the address she walked through the gates and frowned. A cemetery? She followed the list and came upon a stone. Damn it! This list had to be older. This woman had been dead for a long time. Alice cursed and left. She had to tell Leslie. If the list was older that may mean the recruits were no longer viable or no longer available. She moved to the edge of the road and took a breath. She took out a piece of Amelia Earhart’s plane and activated it back to her base. She hated traveling like this. It took an hour and it felt as if you were being torn apart and put back together. She shuddered as the magic of the piece activated and she was thrust into a black hole.
Abby looked at the two men that started at her. She swallowed; “anybody object to me stealing Dean? No? Good!” Abby grabbed Dean’s hand and turned to leave.
Brett grabbed Dean away from her. “Hey, lady! That is my best friend. You can’t just come in and drag him off somewhere! You could be a psycho killer!”
Abby blinked. “Come on then, we gotta go.” Abby did see the name Clark under possible Protectors, but she knew she wouldn’t choose him; his jealousy and temp were not productive to a good Protector. That she had a feeling that Dean would need him to keep the farm. Subleasing or something the far to Brett so that Dean could come with her to protect the world.
Brett looked at Dean to ask what to do. Dean Shrugged. “Sure, let’s go lady.”
Abby sighed; “name’s Abby. Let’s go!” She walked out the door. She looked right and left; she grabbed them both then and dragged them into the alley off the bar. “Where can we go to talk that we won’t be overheard?” Abby asked the two men.
Dean nodded, mostly to himself, “we can go to my place. I live alone and on a lot of acreages, no neighbors for miles.”
Abby nodded. “Good. Let’s go.”
Dean then led them to his truck and they were on their way. Dean looked over to Brett. “Nothing like a bar fight to sober you up huh, Brett?” Dean asked as he drove to his place.
“Always Deano. Always.”
Abby let them chat. She had other things on her mind. Other things to focus on then the boys talking about fighting. She had an eye on the surroundings. How did Alice and Leslie know? She just created the list. Only she had the list. What else did Jesse tell that monster? If Abby didn’t know any better she would think Leslie was Lilith reincarnated. But Abby took care of Lilith herself. She regretted ever helping her brothers create that first woman; after all, Lilith became the first enemy of the first keepers, but more than that Lilith was the first demon. Abby shuddered at that. One of her brothers had given Lilith her powers right before he abandoned her. After all, they abandoned Earth right after the first sin of the ancestors of Homo-Sapiens. Something that four of her brothers caused. She sighed. She knew light needed dark, good needed evil; she knew this because she was created as a balance between the darker aspects of existence and the lighter aspects of existence. She sighed again as she brought her attention back to their surroundings. She had to protect not only her potential Keeper but his friend.
Dean may be chatting with Brett, but the both of them were watching this Abby lady. He didn’t know what she wanted with him and Brett was just really thinking this whole feud over in his mind. He had been in the wrong. And they both thought the sooner they both got answers the better it would be for all involved.
They finally parked in front of an old farm house. Abby looked at it; she could practically feel the love and determination that went into this land and house to keep it alive. Abby nodded to herself when she felt that Dean’s life force had one of the strongest imprints on the land. He would be a wonderful Keeper. His test had been passed. Abby smiled; each test was different, some like Dean’s, started at their birth and never ended. He was a man of honor, of soul, he was a man that was ethical, kind, hard-working, and loyal, he was one of the many that reminded her of why she fought for this mortal realm, when her brothers had given up on the mortals, which she and her brothers had made to gain favor with their father.
            “Come on lady!” We don’t have all night. I gotta be up in the sun tending the land.” Dean hollered from his front porch.
            Abby came out of her thoughts. It was so easy to get lost in them considering she was always thinking a billion things. Always making sure the Earth was doing what it needed to; from the core rotating to the ozone repairing itself. “Of course, Dean, time is of the essence.” The longer the catacombs and minds stayed closed upon themselves, the closer the magic, Abby had given the world, came to combusting the Earth. Destroying what Abby sacrificed everything for; including her place beside her father. She shuddered as she thought of what would happen if the Earth ended. She knew she would never join either set of brothers and her Father was always so distant after he created them; lost in his own mine most of the time. She moved to follow Dean and Brett into the house.
            “Coffee?” Brett grunted as he moved to the kitchen as if the last five years hadn’t happened.
            Dean nodded and took his chair. “What do you want with me, Abby…?” He trailed off waiting for the last name. After all, she hadn’t given one and she wasn’t from a town that he knew.
            Abby winced. When she created the name Abigail for herself on this mortal realm it was a play on the name her father gave her: Anabona. Her brothers sued to her AB. So when they left she dropped the name but took Abby, or Abigail, to still hold them close but to not only shed the name she had been given at her creation but to try to shed the hurt and betrayal she felt when her father all but ignored her and her brothers abandoned her. She had to think of the last name and quick. Elyondottir. “Abigail Elyondottir.” Abby gave a formal greeting.
            “Abigail the daughter of God Most High, that is your name?” Dean asked as he took the coffee from Brett.
            Abby took the coffee and gave a weak smile. “Yes, I guess that is what my name means.”
            Dean took a drink. “Explain.” It was a demand. Not a request.
            Abby took a deep breath. “Okay, as you can guess, something is up with my name. God did not create the Earth. He was the catalyst why it was created but he didn’t create it. At some point eight of the nine beings that created it…”
            Brett stopped her. “Lady, are you crazy?”
            “Do not interrupt or I will wipe your mind!” Abby hissed. “You are here because Dean has the right for the family to know.”
            Dean snapped. “Don’t yell at him. Just keep going, lady. So God didn’t make Earth but was the reason behind it. Nine beings created and eight left. Why didn’t the ninth?”
            “If she left the mortal realm would be destroyed,” Abby stated and then took a drink. She was waiting for Dean to get it. “She did all she could to prevent that. But there was a reason there were nine beings used to create the mortal realm.”
            Dean tilted his head. “And what happened to her?”
            “She had to bless the Earth with certain things. She then created a serious of Catacombs and Mines across the globe; accessible to only her and her chosen few; at varying points in the globe. The access points are types of worm holes, so to say, that will take them back to the main office and they can leave that same door and be back there or go out another and be at a different spot. It isn’t perfect and sometimes there is a lot of traveling that has to be done. But it works for the purpose of the catacombs and mines.”
            “Which is?” Brett asked.
            “Which is to protect these gifts that had been given to the Earth, and make sure the gifts don’t fall into the wrong hands, to gather knowledge and power of the Earth; to be a place that will be protected from the ravages of time and to make sure the world doesn’t stop spinning… literally.” Abby stated. Not a lie at all; she just forgot that they were there to train the Keepers, Protectors, and Guides to help stop the Sisters of Lilith and groups like them from giving mortals magic. Their bodies wouldn’t be able to stand it. There is magic in this world, and the mortals can weld magical objects, but their bodies couldn’t handle the magic and would change and eventually have to be destroyed. Merlin’s secret was a ring upon his hand; Morgana’s was her scepter.
            “And what do you want with Deano?” Brett asked.
            “You see this being; she had a list of people that would help her. The Keepers, that kept the gifts safe, the Protectors that kept the Keepers safe and the Guides that guided them both.”
            Dean looked at her. “You are the being. The one that stayed?” Things clicked; but why would she want him? These Keepers, Protectors, and Guides sounded like the elite of the world, after all, they were charged with keeping the Earth from dying.
            Abby tilted her head and raised her glass.  “Got it in one. Normally it takes my potential Keepers a bit longer.”
            “So you are here to make me a Keeper?” Dean asked.
            “Yes. I am here to off you one of five spots open for becoming a Keeper.”
            “What would I be doing?”
            “It is a full-time job. You live it, and you breathe it, kind of like the military. It is an adventure you won’t ever stop living. It is an adventure that very few ever get to experience in their lifetime. Your name was on a very short list. You passed your test without ever noticing it. You would be a grand Keeper.”
            “Why do you need a new Keeper?”
            Abby winced and rubbed her chest. “There are at any one times, normally, thousands upon thousands of potential Keepers, I choose five. There are never more than five. Along with the five Keepers, there are three Protectors and two Guides.” She took a deep breath. “Recently one of the Keepers betrayed us. They gave the list I had created when I had chosen him to the enemy; The Sisters of Lilith, yes named after the first demon, anyways, they took the list and killed every single one of my potentials. Thousands upon thousands killed, and they hid it from me through a traitor. This traitor then led them into the Catacombs where they killed my whole team, including the traitor. I had to shut down the catacombs and mines.”
            “Shutting them down is bad why?” Dean and Brett both asked.
            “You see the main gift the Earth was given was the ley lines…”
            “Magic…” Dean whispered. “Magic is real?”
            “Very. Real though mortals can’t contain in their bodies they can use magical artifacts. Morgana used a feather from Lucifer’s wings. Merlin used a feather from Michael’s to create ‘wands’ to show they had magic and to shape the world they wanted.”
            “That doesn’t explain why the mines being closed is a bad thing,” Brett stated.
            “You see the magic is building in them. The catacombs and the mines are shut down from the outside world. The magic from the ley lines that flow through them have no way to escape; because of that it is building and building and if we don’t get them back open, and soon, the Earth will explode and the mortal realm will finally come to an end. That is why I am here to offer you a spot as a Keeper Dean. I need your help to protect this realm.”
            Dean was silent as he thought. Brett, however, wasn’t. He jumped up. “So let me get this straight, the world is about to go boom and you want Deano here to go with you to prevent it? You are wack lady!”
            Abby sighed. “I admit I am not the sanest person. I can’t be. I am older than the existence of this realm and the only companionship I have had since my brothers and father abandoned me are my chosen few. However, my questionable sanity is it does not change the fact the Earth needs Keepers, Protectors, and Guides.”
            Brett turned to Dean. “Brother, you can’t honestly be thinking about doing this! You heard her! The last group was murdered! And she even admitted she is insane!”
            Dean turned to Brett. “I can give you the farm. Make you a partner. We can make it the Clark/Cooper Farms. I can do this. You can do this part. An adventure sounds amazing. You always said that this land was killing me. That it was taking my life force, and you only wanted this, we can split responsibilities. After all, by saving the world I keep my brother safe. Unlike how I kept my sister safe from my blood.”
            “Samantha would have never blamed you, and I never blamed you. Hell, our parents never blamed you. That was all on him.” Brett sneered him like it was a curse word. They never mentioned the name of that bastard that killed his sister and got away with even though Dean testified against him.
            “What do you say Clark-Cooper Farms?” Dean asked.
            Brett looked at his brother. He knew his brother wanted this, he needed to get out of this town, Dean wasn’t built for this life and it was the only life Brett wanted. He took Dean’s hand. “Cooper-Clark Farms.”
            Dean smiled and stood and hugged Brett. “It is good to have you back Brother.”
            “Sorry for being an ass. So what now?”
            Abby stood. “Pack Dean. We leave to find the next Keeper. After that, we will get a Protector.” She took Dean’s hand. “Thank you. This realm is more my home and soul than the realm in which I was created.”
            Dean shook her hand. “Well, it is my home.” He smiled. “Let me pack.” He left the room.
            “You take care of my brother you hear?” Brett looked at her. “Or you answer to me.”
            “You would have made a decent Protector if I didn’t know you were needed here.” She gave a half truth. He would have been decent. Not great but decent, his anger and jealousy would have been why he was never picked. He failed his life test.
            “Would have said no even if you offered it to me; this country boy belongs here. My brother, though… he belongs out there in the world. Protecting it, learning from it, living all the experiences one can in this world. Take care of him.”
            “I will do my best.” She stated as she sat to wait. It didn’t take long before Dean was back and getting ready to leave his farm behind.
            Once Dean was packed, he worked with Brett and gave him all the keys he needed. “There is everything,” Dean stated.
            Abby looked at Dean. “When we get to our destination we will check into a hotel and get some rest.” She looked at their shocked expressions. “Even an immortal has to sleep. You can ask your questions on the way to our next stop.”
            Brett stopped her. “I have a question.” When she nodded for him to continue, he asked what he wanted to since Dean figured out who she was; a creator of their world. “Are you an angel?”
            Abby swallowed. “Yes, before you ask, the one you call God created nine beings. You call us archangels, angels, what have you, at first it was only the nine of us. Three to be in charge of darkness, temptation, evil, etcetera. And then there was three to be in charge of light, goodness, love, etcetera. And then me for balance, he did go on to create others after us; after we created the mortal realm to please him. It was a gift to him to thank you for our existence. We loved our father. I was an angel credited with assisting God in the creation. Maybe you can discover my name. Now we have a flight to catch.” Abby stated and turned to leave. “We are taking your truck, Dean.” She yelled back as she got into the passenger side. “We gotta a ride to Des Moines, let’s go.” She hollered at him.
            Dean said bye to Brett. “Keep the farm going. Talk to you soon.”
            Brett gave him a manly hug. “Stay safe, Brother.”
            Dean nodded and got into the truck and he hit the road towards a new life and a new adventure.
            The drive to Des Moines was silent. When they finally were seated on the plane Dean had to ask. “Where are we going?”
            Abby finally pulled out the list, though she had known she wanted Dean to see it. She looked down at the small list in her hands and answered. “Joseph McKinley, 33: New York City, NY.” 
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