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Indietro

 

Stefano Carloni

CODENAME: FAIRY

The Fairy Trilogy – Volume II

This story is a work of fiction. Any reference to real facts, characters or events is purely coincidental

 

Chapter I: Awakening with a surprise

The woman opened her eyes, blinked twice and stretched, then turned a gaze full of sweetness to the young man who continued to sleep beside her and stroked his thick black hair. What time was it? Who cares, it's Sunday! she thought, relaxing. She got up and, just as she was, left the bedroom and started walking around the apartment. She walked down the corridor, entered the kitchen-living room and thought of making coffee for both of them when she heard an unmistakably feminine quavering voice behind her: "Yu-uhhh, Dannyyyy! I'm back! Wake up, you sleepy ... Aaaaahhhh!" At that cry, Karen spun around and saw a small creature, three inches tall, dressed in a floral picnic dress, with large brown butterfly wings, amber skin, short green hair and black eyes, staring at her with indignation. "Wh-Who are you?" she blurted fearfully.

"Who are you, rather, and what are you doing in our home?" the mysterious creature retorted, pointing her finger at her and indignantly adding: "What's more, you're naked!"

At those words, the woman felt a pang of embarrassment and covered her breasts and pubis with her hands. "What do you mean, your home?" she replied, blushing. "I thought this was Danny Josephson's house ..."

That was when the master of the house appeared at the door, also naked, yawning and murmuring: "Love, where are you?" The two females exclaimed in unison: "Danny, who is she?" He gasped for a moment, then tried to regain control of the situation. "Calm down, calm down", he said in a conciliatory tone, raising his hands. “Let me introduce you: Karen, this is the Oak Fairy, my colleague, Oaky to her friends; Oaky, this is Karen McGillis, my fiancée."

"Th-this is a fairy? A real ... fairy?" exclaimed the amazed human.

"Fian-whaaaat?" exclaimed Oaky for her part. "And when did you get engaged? I've only been away a month, and now you're … doing this! And I bet you also told her you are an MI6 agent, right?" she asked the guy furiously.

"An MI6 agent? You mean a spy?" asked the girl, surprised. "Yeah, you haven't told me yet what you do for a living ...", she reflected.

"Actually, I had decided to tell her this evening, during a romantic dinner I was going to prepare ... but you saw fit to get ahead of me, smart girl", Danny Josephson replied to the fairy, amused. "Good night!" she huffed, giving herself a great slap on the face and letting herself fall limp onto a doll's bed placed on a shelf.

The telephone in the bedroom began to ring insistently. "Sorry, I have to answer ... and get dressed too", Danny said, walking away. Karen slumped into a chair, exhausted, and closed her eyes. She reopened them and asked the fairy, "Say, what's going on between you and Danny, besides the fact that you are … colleagues?"

The Oak Fairy remained silent for a very long moment, then burst out with a thunderous laugh. "Ha ha ha ha! What are you thinking?!?" she exclaimed, waving her little hands. "Between a fairy and a human, there can't be anything like what you imagine! Look here, haven't you seen how I am? I'm one-twentieth his height, and I don't even have ... well, you know what I mean ... Besides, Danny is so serious, so buttoned-up … just think that the first time we met, he was outraged and asked me why I didn't wear clothes! Really, we are merely two counter-spies working together in the secret service of Mankind, that's all!"

"So Danny truly doesn't have feelings for you?" Karen retorted, still wary. "And you? What happened just now seemed like a jealousy scene … "

"No, I tell you ... I was just surprised to find him with a woman, he of all people ... when did you meet?" Oaky resumed, trying to change the subject.

"Two weeks ago", the girl said dreamily. "I had started working at Harrod's as a sales assistant that very morning, and he arrives, beautiful as the sun, looking for a birthday present for a colleague ... You know? – classic love at first sight it was. No, silly me, what could you know ... I mean, we liked each other right away, and we started going out together, first to a pub, then to the cinema, to the restaurant, and finally ..."

"And finally ... did you ... mate?" the fairy asked mischievously, flying up and sitting next to her. "Did you do it last night? And how many times?"

"O Lord!" Karen sighed, running a hand through her thick raven hair. "Excuse me, but you look like the curate of my home village back in the Highlands: a good man, surely, but so behind the times! And also my mates back home, always gossiping, even for a kiss given to the milkman ... that's why I decided to leave for the great London ... And yes, we did it last night, three times, and it was beautiful,” she concluded with an expression of perfect bliss on her face.

"So now you know his religion too ... You don't have a problem with that?" Oaky reflected, pointing to the small cross tattooed on the woman's wrist; then she explained: "You know, in the last twelve months I have learned many things about you humans ... including that you take pleasure in tearing each other apart in the name of your respective gods".

"And you, don't you believe in God?" Karen asked in turn.

"I believe only in myself", the Oak Fairy replied fiercely, "and in the fact that the sun will rise punctually tomorrow, whether God, fairy or human wills it or not".

"Don't worry", she continued. "I'm not a fervent churchgoer; otherwise, I would've listened to my pastor ... and Danny too, as I understand it, isn't a bigot ..."

"I see you two have made friends ... Sorry, but I have to interrupt your conversation”, Danny said, now fully dressed. "Oaky, we must go to HQ, now!" he said to the fairy; then he walked over to Karen, hugged her and kissed her passionately. "See you tonight, and I'll explain everything … and more", he said softly, then started for the door.

"Wait!" the human one exclaimed. "What's happened?" "Turn on the TV and you'll know", he replied dryly as the Oak Fairy hid under his trench coat; a second later they were already out. Karen took the remote control, turned on the TV on the first channel that came up and heard the speaker say: "The number of victims is still uncertain, but more than ten people have been killed ... there are also many injured ..." while the superimposed scrolling banner read: Westminster, truck bomb hits Parliament. “Oh my God!” she exclaimed, putting her hand to her mouth.


 

Chapter II: Forbidden loves

Captain Will Shepherd typed a few keys on his personal computer keyboard and turned the screen to his two best agents. "Omar al-Mansur, the so-called 'lion of Damascus': memorise his face", he told them, pointing to the identikit of a man in his fifties, with a thick beard and eyes like burning embers. "An Iraqi army officer until 2003, after the fall of Saddam Hussein he joined al-Qaeda and continued the guerrilla war against the Coalition troops; captured, locked up for five months in Camp Bucca and released because he was considered a 'low level' element … one of the many mistakes made by our cousins across the pond. He is now the leader of the Brothers of the Crescent, a radical Sunni Islamic group active in Syria, here”, pointing to a spot on the map.

"And we have to catch him and make him talk, or just take him out?" Danny Josephson asked, stroking his favourite ceramic-edged knife.

"The former", replied the Director of the Counter-terrorism Section. “If we want to cut off the organisation's head, we must intercept its funding channels. You will leave tomorrow on a special flight to our base in Cyprus, and there you will join a 'Desert Rats' team: if you fail, they'll have to finish the job. All clear?"

"Very clear, boss!" the young man exclaimed, jumping to attention and saluting; then he turned to his partner: “Did you hear all that, Oaky? We have the whole evening to ourselves to prepare a magnificent dinner … and you and Karen will be able to get to know each other better …"

"No, thank you", the Oak Fairy declined politely. "Romantic dinners are for two ... I'll spend the evening here chatting with Alna and Pina; you have fun, be sure!"

 

***

 

"Oaky, dearest! We haven't seen each for ages!" the Pine Fairy exclaimed joyfully, embracing her; she and the Alder Fairy – Alna to her very few friends – were the sisters with whom a year earlier, defying the Lily Fairy's prohibition, she had left her native Dean Forest to follow Glitter (or the Rose Fairy, if you prefer) in a fantastic and dangerous adventure in the vast world of the humans, at the end of which all three were recruited by Her Majesty's secret service as 'special resources'.

"Actually, the last time we saw each other was just two days ago", remarked the Oak Fairy.

"Are you serious? But who cares, it's always fantastic to get together and have a chat ... by the way, how is your dear Danny? How did you find him, after a month away?" She was referring to the period of leave she had spent with the Fairy People to celebrate the new births.

"Pina, Pina, how many times do I have to tell you? A mindful adult fairy should have a life full of interesting things besides humans", Oaky rebuked her, crossing her arms.

"Be that as it may", Alna said sarcastically, "but, whatever happens, we always end up talking about them".

Her companions grudgingly agreed: ever since she had attacked her human partner Andrew Carter for demanding fellatio from her, so violently that he had needed hospital treatment, the Alder Fairy had been assigned to solitary tasks – such as translating conversations, or reading and transcribing reports – which left her a lot of free time to study. That is how she got her reputation for being the wisest and most disagreeable of the trio; she did not speak much, but when she did, words blasted out of her like bullets, and she never missed a shot. Her mind and tongue were so sharp that everyone in the Service called her 'Razor Alna'; but never in her presence because, like all fairies, she had very fine hearing.

"Well, speaking of Danny," Oaky said with a sigh, "I found him very relaxed, in sweet company and with no clothes on".

"Noooo! Did the iceman melt in love's sweet sunshine?" asked Pina in amazement. "Come on, tell us, tell us: did you find them in bed together? In what position?"

"No, but it was all blatantly obvious" the green-haired fairy replied, shaking her head in annoyance. "Danny introduced her to me as his 'girlfriend' ... he certainly didn't waste time!"

"What a pity! You could have caught them in the act if you hadn't stayed in the forest longer than we did" said the Pine Fairy, shaking her index finger.

"I wanted ... to exchange a few words with Glitter ... You know, she wants to personally look after the new Lily Fairy … " Oaky lied, immediately feeling guilty for that lie; but she could not, she had better not, reveal to them the real subject of that conversation with their new queen. "And Seira? How is she?" she asked in turn.

"Don't talk to me about her!" Pina replied, amused. "Seira continues to invite beautiful girls to drink and spend the night in her house ... last night there were four of them, and by dint of squirming and twisting they all fell on the floor! After all, everyone knows she's 'a happy self-declared lesbian' … "

"She may be very happy to live this way" Alna interjected, "but certainly, if she doesn't hurry to find a human male available while she is fertile, she risks dying without offspring".

"What? What do you mean, Alna?" asked the Pine and Oak Fairies in unison.

"You know what I mean", said the Alder Fairy with a professorial air. She pulled a tiny pair of doll's glasses with round lenses and black frames from her hip belt and put them on her fairy nose ("What happened to her? Is she shortsighted?" Oaky asked Pina in surprise; "Not at all", she replied, "she just wears them for show"), then continued: "In living species whose individuals are distinguished by sex, the male must mate with a female for the two to produce children. A very wise human had already guessed this two thousand five hundred years ago when, referring to Mother Nature, he wrote: It is she who presides over childbirth and labour, pushing the female towards the male and, conversely, the male towards the female."

"And does it also apply to us fairies?" Pina asked, perplexed.

"Of course not, stupid!" Alna said, tapping her on the back of the head. “In the first place, we fairies are all females, which is why evolution has wisely deprived us of useless genital organs; secondly, as you could saw with your own eyes less than a month ago, fairies reproduce only after death, when the spores, which have matured for five hundred years in their body, are released into the environment and enter their respective symbiont plant, and that generates a new creature … "

"It's not fair!" Oaky snapped. “It is not at all fair that we have to die to have offspring! Five hundred years of life seem too short to me… I wish I could live forever, to see the world change around me and do whatever I like!"

"Don't talk nonsense, Oaky. What use is a fairy, if not to give life to another fairy?" Replied the Alder Fairy, looking at her sternly. "But don't worry", she continued with a smile, "you've just turned your first hundred years, so you still have four centuries left to enjoy yourself as you like ... with and without your Danny".

Oaky cut the conversation, feigning a yawn. “Sorry, but I'm tired, and we have to leave early tomorrow. Good night”, she said to her friends, and took off.

***

"We should leave in about half an hour", Danny murmured uneasily; but while she waited with her partner in a Heathrow reserved room, the mind of the Oak Fairy – who for the occasion had chosen an informal t-shirt and hot pants outfit – was busy with quite different thoughts.  

She liked him; she did like Danny Josephson. She had liked him from the first moment, when he had bragged like a child about his lethal "toys"; she had liked him even more when, embarrassed, he had explained to her that humans wear clothes "out of modesty, so as not to feel like worms"; she had definitely liked him when he had saved her from the hands of a jihadist, fighting to the death in that den in Finsbury Park.

For him, she had learned the tailoring craft, adapting clothes taken from dolls to her small body; to please him he made suspects talk, drugging them with the super-opiates she distilled with her own hands. She, a little fairy, liked that human, one metre and seventy-seven centimetres of beauty, strength, intelligence and sense of humour; she liked him to death! But how could she ever convince him to return those feelings, so absurd, so obscene?

She had talked about this with Glitter, she had opened her heart to her; and she, her precious and unique friend, had told her of the bond that had united her with Charlie – the famous Charles Dickens – from the time he was a child until his death at the age of 68.

"Although he took a wife to father children, and although he frequented prostitutes and lovers to give vent to his carnal impulses, when he needed to satisfy his desires of the spirit, he sought me because I was the love of his soul" she explained with tears in her eyes, while the Oak Fairy rested her head on Glitter's breast. "That's why I remained close to him all his life ... But not all human beings put the pleasures of the spirit before those of the flesh; so if one day you find that Danny desires more than anything else to be united with a woman of his kind, you'd better let him go his own way if you don't want to suffer greatly." Now, that moment had come: Danny, her Danny had fallen in love with a human woman; so what was she supposed to do now? What could she do?

"Danny, Oaky, wait!" Karen McGillis exclaimed as she entered the sliding door and doubled over short of breath; Oaky shook herself from her melancholy musings. "What's she doing here?" she asked her colleague. "She insisted on coming: she wants to tell you something", he shrugged.

"Oaky", the hesitant human began, "Danny hasn't told me anything about your mission, but I understand that it will be very dangerous ... and that you fairies, even if you are small, you have great powers ... so please promise me that you will protect him with all your strength and that you will make him return safe and sound!"

Return … to you? Oaky thought sourly. "I don't need to promise you anything", she replied to the woman. “Agent Danny Josephson is my partner; I have saved his life many times, as he saved mine, and we will protect each other this time too."

She started to walk away, but Karen knelt in front of her: "Please protect him as ... as if he were the most important person in your life ... Promise!"

The fairy sighed … Then I have no other choice, she thought to herself. "I promise", she said solemnly, placing her small hand over Karen's.


 

Chapter III: Mice and Lions

Major John Kendall looked the newcomer from head to toe before shaking his hand; behind him, twenty men in camouflage paused in their training to scrutinise him with curiosity and distrust. "Welcome to Camp Elizabeth, Mister ...?"

"Josephson ... Daniel Josephson, MI6 Counterterrorism Section", he replied, returning the strong handshake, "and this is my 'classified' partner". He opened the box he had been holding under his arm, and a small, winged creature came out wearing a safari suit. "Oh, finally," she exclaimed, stretching, "I was tired of being locked up in that little coffin!" Then she noticed all the people in the room and asked Danny, "What's this, the welcome committee?"

The soldiers were stunned for a few moments, then they laughed coarsely. "Hey, Major", said one of them, "they must have the wrong address in London: they sent us a ventriloquist and his puppet instead of sending them to a Red Cross refugee camp!"

Major Kendall went red with rage. "What's the meaning of this nonsense?" he addressed the agent Josephson.

"It's a matter of the utmost secrecy", he replied quietly. “I can tell you only two things: first, she's not a puppet or an android, but a living being like you and me; second, she is fully capable of fighting. Put her to the test if you don't believe me."

“Test her, you say? Very well ... Sergeant Rock!" he called the officer. A six-foot-tall human, all eighty-six kilos of muscle, stepped forward and jumped to attention. "He's the strongest in my team; let's see how your little doll will fare against him… and you, Rock, don't rough her up too much!" "Aye aye sir", the other chuckled, cracking his knuckles. "I'll just give her a few caresses."

"Don't hurt him too much, Oaky", Danny whispered, leaning into the fairy's ear. "He's not the enemy ... this is just a ... how can I put it? ... an 'initiation test'."

Everyone stood back from them. "Are you ready, little gnat?" roared the sergeant. "I was born ready", said the Oak Fairy, hovering in midair, hands on her hips.

Rock rushed forward like a bull; he tried to hit the fairy with a fist, but she easily dodged him once, twice, three times; then she grabbed the human by the arm and threw him on a mattress about ten metres away. He got up faster than expected; Oaky created a wall of flame, but the human let out a ferocious scream and charged through it. The Oak Fairy flashed him with an electric discharge, then, with a flick of the hand, she conjured up a whirlwind and flung it at him, lifting him into the air like a twig and making him fall heavily to the ground, unconscious, under the astonished gaze of the entire team. "That's her", sighed Agent Josephson with a shrug, "always overdoing it". Then Oaky approached her opponent, touched him on the carotid artery, reviving him, and smiled as she asked: "So, Sergeant, can I consider myself 'initiated'?"

"Sure ... you're in", the big man murmured as he rose, then he turned to his fellow soldiers: "Did you hear? I said the girl is in … and if any one of you disagrees, I'll break his neck. Is that clear?" "Sir, yes, sir!" they exclaimed with one voice.

The major struggled to recover from his surprise. "Interesting, very interesting", he said to Danny. "So – you're one of the team now. We leave tomorrow."

 

***

 

"Do you want to take a look, Oaky?" Danny asked, handing her the binoculars.

"I can see very well without that contraption, thank you", replied the fairy. “A two-story house, three hundred metres from here; four men with Kalashnikovs at the door; inside, on the ground floor there are more than forty people eating, drinking and dancing, while our target is going upstairs with a little girl." One of the soldiers whispered: "How did she do that? Has she X-ray vision?"

"Well, Oaky, let's recap the situation then", Agent Josephson said. “We know from our informants on the spot that tonight al-Mansur is celebrating a wedding with the daughter of a local chieftain, to strengthen his dominion over the region. The orders received from Major Kendall and his men are: to break in by firing indiscriminately and capture the target, possibly alive … "

"You can skip that part", Oaky muttered annoyed. "I know it by heart, and I don't like it: shooting 'indiscriminately' at innocent people, as if throwing darts at a cardboard target? No way!" she exclaimed decisively.

"That's why you're coming on board now", said the guy, placing a hand on her little shoulder. “You'll fly in through that open window, which opens precisely into the room where Mansur has retired with his fresh bride; you knock him out with your 'magic touch', if necessary you put the woman to sleep too so that she doesn't sound the alarm, then you take him out like a sack of potatoes and hand him over to us. Think you can do it?"

"I can't allow a fifty-year-old man to lay his hands on a little girl ... It will be child's play", assured the little creature.

"You have exactly fifteen minutes", the major warned her. “After this time, or even sooner if a commotion breaks out, we will intervene. All clear?"

"Very clear ... I'll go, get him and come back", muttered the Oak Fairy before taking flight. In seconds, she was already at the window; she crept in and saw Omar al-Mansur kneeling on a fine carpet in the centre of the room, while behind him, on a bed surrounded by veils, a female figure was undressing. "Allah, Clement and Merciful, forgive this your servant who is about to contaminate himself with a woman in order to continue to follow the path of your jihad, and do not blame him for it ...", the man prayed, when suddenly he felt a small hand touch him on the nape of the neck; two seconds later he was out cold.

Oaky was preparing to lift him when a hand grabbed her tightly. "Damn you!" exclaimed the child bride. "What have you done to my husband?"

"Hey, is this your gratitude?" Oaky replied, struggling in vain to free herself. "That huge man was about to do some very nasty things to a cute little girl like you, and I saved you ... so let me go!"

"I am the same age as the noble Aisha was when she lay with our Prophet, may Allah bless him!" the girl screamed furiously. "You've ruined the best day of my life, you evil jinn ... you'll die for this!" and she squeezed her even tighter, harder and harder ... The fairy summoned all her energies and, with a cry, she freed herself by tearing off three fingers from the girl's hand; with a high-pitched scream, the girl fell to the floor writhing in pain – blood pumping from the stump. Downstairs, the music and dancing gave way to alarmed voices.

“Damn it!” Oaky cursed; she put the little one to sleep with a touch of her hand, then took off her scout gear and slipped it into a man's pocket; grabbing the girl with her right hand and al-Mansur with her left, she hurried down the stairs. She changed the refractive index of the air, magnifying her image in the eyes of humans, and she bellowed at them in a thunderous voice, “Woe to you, oh mortals! I, Lilith, Adam's first wife, curse this wedding, and I take the newlyweds with me to Hell! If you try to stop me, I will make you sterile, and I will make your children die in their mothers' wombs!"

Those words had the effect she expected: everyone, men and women, even the four mujahideen armed to the teeth who had rushed inside on hearing the shouts, curled up on the ground covering their faces with their hands, shouting "Go, go away from us, lewd and bloodthirsty demon, away!" and begging: "Adam, Eve, send Lilith away!" Then, soaring high above them, Oaky left the house carrying the two human loads with her; once outside she wrapped herself in a whirlwind and quickly returned to the 'Desert Rat' team, where she deposited the prisoner and the child on the ground, begging them to help her as soon as possible, and recovered her wrinkled dress.

“You were great, Oaky! Have you ever thought about being a rabbi? You would have great success with your sermons!" exclaimed Danny Josephson after hearing the account of what had happened. "Hey, why are you crying?" he then asked the fairy in amazement.

"I mutilated her ... I ripped three fingers off a nine-year-old girl ... I'm a monster ...", the fairy sobbed with tears in her eyes.

"Listen to me, baby", he said, wiping her cheeks. "You're not to blame for what happened ... She was about to kill you, and you reacted to save yourself ... All living beings struggle to stay alive, there is nothing wrong with that ... Stop tormenting yourself."

"I wanted to help her", Oaky groaned. "I wanted to save her from being raped …"

"I know, Oaky, I know", Danny consoled her. “I should have explained to you that Muslim girls are not like English ones; they don't think about playing with dolls, but about giving birth to fighters … forgive me."


 

Chapter IV: The dome and the Great Dome

 

Danny Josephson slowly approached the Western Wall, adjusting his pace to those of the thousands of men and women moving in the same direction. When he reached the two-thousand-year-old stones, he took a kippah out of his pocket and put it on his head, placed his right hand on the rock and said a prayer in Hebrew; then he slipped a note into a crack and whispered into the nanophone he kept attached to a molar: "Can you see me, Oaky?"

“I see and hear you, Danny,” the Oak Fairy confirmed from five hundred metres above him, “but I still don't understand what we came to Jerusalem for … shouldn't we have gone to Rome immediately? Are there some terrorist to be captured here too?" she asked, sounding bored. "And it's hot too …"

"That's what you get for dressing like a Franciscan nun under this sun", he rebuked her, amused. "How did you come up with the idea of wearing a robe?"

"I wanted to adapt to the sanctity of the place", grunted the fairy.

"Just observe and report, then I'll explain", he said tersely.

"Very good, I'm out", she said, and resumed observing what was happening around the Dome of the Rock.

Suddenly a man dressed in black, with a wide-brimmed hat and thick curls at the temples, who had entered the Esplanade of Mosques a few minutes before, raised his palms to the sky and began to say: "Elohim, you are my God: from dawn, I seek you ... My soul thirsts for you; my flesh yearns for you ..."; a stone hit him in the forehead making him bleed, while a group of Muslims, armed with stones and sticks, attacked him shouting: "He has desecrated our sacred place! Die, Jewish pig!"

"Danny! Danny!" Oaky called into the micro-radio device. "They are going to kill a man, I'm going in ..."

"Negative!" Agent Josephson whispered near the Kotel. "Don't intervene, I repeat, don't intervene, for any reason! Stay up there and be warned: this is what they call the status quo."

"They can call it Pinocchio for all I care, it's still a murder!" the little creature exclaimed as Israeli security guards clashed with Muslims below her. "I have to do something ..."

“Please Oaky, don't intervene! Do it ... do it for me!" Danny called.

"Alright", the Oak Fairy replied, weeping. On the Esplanade, the Israeli policemen had managed to free the ḥaredi; the highest-ranking officer took his identification documents from his pockets and said: "You are under arrest", then some officers led him away, while the others used plastic shields to defend themselves, their colleagues and the 'offender' from the stones that the Muslims continued to throw.

"I'm sorry I had to ask you that way", Danny apologised later in the hotel. "I know you would give your life for me."

I'd kill for you, Oaky thought. “Would you explain to me what the hell happened? That man wasn't doing anything wrong!"

"I know", he replied sadly. "In 1967, when the State of Israel liberated the eastern part of Jerusalem from Jordan's rule, the then prime minister, perhaps out of a poor religious sense, decided to let Muslims retain exclusive control over what they call the Esplanade of Mosques, but which three thousand years ago was the seat of the Temple erected by Solomon, a great king of the Jews ... Since then, almost every day a few tourists or pilgrims, Jews or Christians, challenge the prohibition imposed by the Muslims and try to recite a prayer in that place; the Muslims discover it and try to kill him, the Israeli sentries intervene to save the victim and take him away, under arrest, for a few hours, the minimum necessary to silence the sons of Allah and Muhammad ... This is Jerusalem's status quo: I brought you here to see and learn.”

"Ah, don't worry, I've learned well enough", said the Oak Fairy. "By the way: what's written on the note you stuck in the crack between the stones?"

"It is written: Lord, help me every day to fulfil my part of the Tikkun ‘Olam", replied the young man.

"Tikkun ‘Olam? "Repair of the world"? What does that mean?"

"We Jews believe that God created the world as a perfect mechanism, but then the sin of the first man and the first woman spoiled that magnificent construction", Danny explained. “For this reason, every person of goodwill must commit himself with all his strength to repair the world, each for the small or large part that is assigned to him; that's why I decided to become a secret agent."

 "Thank you", Oaky said, taking his hand. "Thank you for opening your heart to me."

"It was right for me to do so", he smiled. "You are my bosom friend".

Friend ... ah, Danny, how I would like to hear you say 'lover', the fairy sighed to herself, but said nothing.

 

***

 

The tall, shambling compere appeared before the dense forest backdrop. "Good evening, friends, and welcome to Pioneer!" he began. "Fairies, elves, the so-called 'Little People': do they really exist? Some claim to have seen them ... A hundred years ago, in England, in the village of Cottingley, two cousins aged 16 and 10 told their parents that not only had they seen fairies, but they'd even photographed them ... Truth? Legend? We will find out this evening: so come with us, the journey begins!".

"This Roberto Jacoboni chap is a real force. He'll be talking about me tonight, you know?" exclaimed the Oak Fairy perched on a soft pillow in baby-doll and matching briefs; the window framed a magnificent view of the dome of San Peter's in all its majesty. "About you?" the young man replied, surprised.

"Sure," the little creature replied proudly. “I was in Cottingley too. It was soon after I was born, a few sisters invited me to go on a "sneak outing" with them: after a long journey north we stopped on the bank of a river, and there we met two little humans who played with us and made us pose in front of a magic box they called a 'camera' ... we had so much fun! Of course, the Lily Fairy, our Queen at the time, eventually discovered us, brought us back, and gave us a proper maternal chiding..."

"I'll record the show so you can watch it when we get back", he said pressing a few buttons on the remote. "Now we've got work to do."

"Is this about one of al-Mansur's contacts?" Oaky asked as  changed his clothes. The prisoner had turned out to be a veritable mine of information: during the three weeks they had questioned him at Camp Elizabeth, he had provided a long list of names, facts and circumstances that resulted in a series of arrests made around the world.

"Perhaps the most important one", Danny confirmed as he pulled on his trousers. "Monsignor Gheorghios Hilariou is the president of Save Abel, an NGO that officially raises millions of dollars every year for the Third World; moreover, the Pope has just appointed him Grand Almoner of His Holiness, practically handing over to him all funds managed globally by the Catholic Church …"

"… And you think all this money can be used for shady ends", she deduced. "Where are we going to question him, in the Vatican?"

"No, at the Ritz Hotel", he explained, tying his shoes on the edge of the bed. "That's where the high prelate likes to meet teenage boys ... and I 'persuaded' tonight's one to give me the electronic passcode to the suite."

"Yuck! Now I am beginning to understand the link between religions and perversions", exclaimed the disgusted fairy. "Muslims like having sex with girls, Christians like boys ... and you Jews, on the other hand, do you prefer dolls?" she added mischievously. She pushed him onto the mattress with a gesture and crawled on him: "It's OK for me ..."

"Oaky, this is no time for fooling around!" Danny exclaimed, jumping up.

"I'm very serious!" replied the Oak Fairy. "Maybe now you don't need me ... but in thirty or forty years, when you and Karen are a wrinkled old couple, I'll still be fresh and attractive ... What do you say, shall we make a date hereby?" she added with a bewitching gaze; but the young man remained silent, and a sullen look came over him.

“Hey, don't make that face! I was joking! Let's move now: we have a rat about to squeal!" Oaky exclaimed as she hid behind a screen.

 

***

 

The Papal Almoner closed the door behind him, turned on the light and murmured smugly: "So, son, what is your name?", but he was stunned – instead of the half-naked Middle Eastern teenager he was expecting, in an armchair sat an adult in a green trench coat, a pistol in his right hand, and a small creature with an amber complexion, dressed in a white organza evening gown, perched on his shoulder. "Sit down, Monsignor", the man said, pointing to a chair. "We have lots to talk about", he said.

"There must be a misunderstanding", Gheorghios Hilariou exclaimed, shielding himself by raising his arms. "If you want my money, I can give you right n...". Suddenly the mysterious creature spread two brown butterfly wings, pounced on him and touched him on the neck and cheeks; the prelate's face took on a stupefied expression. "Now you will answer all our questions, telling the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth", the Oak Fairy said grimly.

Agent Josephson put the gun away and pulled a small tape recorder out of his pocket. "Do me a favour, Oaky: during the interrogation, don't say a single word, leave it to me", he asked the fairy.

The barrage of questions and answers went on for three and a half hours, during which the monsignor rattled off the identities of intermediaries and figureheads of al-Mansur and another dozen Islamic terrorist leaders, and the numbers of secret checking accounts used to finance groups such as the Brothers of the Crescent ... and more. “So your organisation has backed the supply of three thousand isotope centrifuges to Iran? Aren't you helping the Sunni fundamentalists?" Danny asked at one point: he was really amazed.

"Sunnis, Shiites… who cares? The important thing is to exterminate the Zionist and American swine …" Hilariou replied. «…And then, this way my business partners assure me a greater choice of youths to satisfy my shaft: Maghrebi, Syrians, Kurds, Yazidis ..." he went on, getting increasingly agitated; the Oak Fairy had to stick her nails into her palms to suppress the urge to strangle him.

Around four in the morning Danny turned off the tape recorder and said, "Well, we're done". "This man is a real monster", Oaky exclaimed. "I hope they put him in jail for the rest of his days!"

"There will be no prison for him", the agent retorted.

"Why! With everything he's confessed, any judge will ..."

"We are not cops," said the guy, "and I myself will be his judge." He took the micro-cassette out of the recorder and inserted another one, then he turned it on again. "Now say something, the first thing that comes to mind, meaningful or not."

The fairy didn't understand what he wanted to do, but she obeyed. "Hummm … Caesar is a prime number. Is that ok?"

"Very well", he confirmed, pulling out a folding headset and putting it over his ears. "Is this the time to listen to music?" Oaky asked in amazement.

"I can't hear you," Danny said, then he pressed the "play" button; Gheorghios Hilariou took his head in his hands and uttered an inhuman scream, then slumped into his chair, his eyes wide open and a trickle of saliva dripping from his mouth. "Let's go, before the hotel security finds out", he said, shaking the horrified little creature.

When they reached a dark alley, Danny Josephson threw the evil-content cassette to the ground and incinerated it with his MI6 New Flame lighter-flamethrower. "Why did my voice do that to him? To you, to everyone who has heard it so far, it has never done any harm ..." Oaky exclaimed incredulously.

"When a living being, man or animal, hears the voice of a fairy, he understands it in his own language", explained the sullen young man. "But a tape recorder is not a living being, it doesn't have a native language ... We discovered it just a year ago, on September 29th, when the reel with Glitter's voice recorded by the Nazis in 1943 was heard for the first time by one of our audio/video technicians."

"And what ... what happened to that man?" asked the fairy, her eyes swollen with tears.

"Come here", he whispered, opening his coat and letting her cling to his chest. "Don't be afraid: I'll protect you from the filth of this job ... I will kill the criminals and terrorists so that you do not have to do it ... and I will make my soul black as coal, so that yours can shine like the sun ... Now sleep and don't think about it, Oaky, sleep and have sweet dreams."

"Yes", Oaky murmured, lulled by the rhythm of his warm, strong heart. Yes, for that night, she could put aside jealousies and bad thoughts, and enjoy those moments of pure spiritual intimacy. Not far away, unsuspecting youngsters enjoyed the 'Ponentino' gentle western breeze.

And that night, the Oak Fairy dreamed that she was no longer a fairy; she dreamed of being only Mrs Josephson and of growing old peacefully next to her Danny.


 

Chapter V: The black bride

"A connection between Sunni terrorists and the Iranian regime ... this is the biggest blow ever achieved by Western intelligence!" Captain Will Shepherd exclaimed from the videophone, as Baghdad came into view on the horizon in the aeroplane window. "And the dragon's head is in Arak, right?"

"Quite right", Agent Josephson confirmed. "That's where the nerve centre of the ayatollahs' nuclear programme is located ... we have to go inside and collect as much evidence as possible if we want to show that the 5 + 1 agreement is just a diversion."

"For this, you'll need the help of our American friends", said the Head of Section. “I've already made arrangements with my counterpart Smith, so we'll be in touch on your return. Ah, be careful, Danny ... you know that you are dear to me as a son."

"Wouldn't it be better to say 'like a grandson', eh, grandpa?" the young man joked.

"Grandpa my ass!" snapped Sheperd, but with a grin. "Over and out."

"Have you finished studying the latest ISIS proclamation?" Danny said to the Oak Fairy.

"Yes, and I found it rather … creepy", the little creature replied, turning off the tablet. "'Killing the infidels with bombs, guns, knives, hitting them with cars or even with stone shots ' ... If one and a half billion Muslims took this order seriously, what good would it be to prevent a country like Iran on its own from making the atomic bomb? How could we stop all of them?"

"I don't know", the young agent replied, shaking his head. "I don't believe that a lethal virus can be developed capable of distinguishing human beings on the basis of their religion, even with the most advanced genetic engineering ... Perhaps it would take a fire to descend from heaven and consume them like what happened to Sodom, a universal conflagration ... But however things go, "he concluded, looking at his partner, "on this great stage that is the world, we can only play our part, however small it may seem to us, and we have to play it as best we can. Will you help me?"

"As always", she assured him.

 

***

 

Baghdad CIA Section Chief Spencer Smith couldn't stop wiping his sweat-beaded forehead, despite the air conditioning running at full blast. "So she's your 'special asset' ?" he asked Agent Josephson.

"I know that at first glance she looks just like a little doll," Danny replied holding the fairy upright in the palm of his hand, "but I assure you she has the strength of a giant ... She can also launch electric flash discharges, call up water, wind, fire and, as if that weren't enough, she can hear ultrasounds and see infrared and ultraviolet wavelengths ... Oaky, show him what you can do!" he urged her.

The Oak Fairy scanned the room and everyone present. "Well, let's see ... The agent on your left is carrying a large-calibre pistol under his armpit, with an effigy of a yellow duck carved on its handle ... and the one on your right is doing the same, Section Chief Smith."

"A yellow duck?!?" the young man asked in amazement.

"It's the symbol of the Yellow Duck Rifles Incorporation, our newest military supplier", Smith explained, growing sweaty. "Bingo!!!" the fairy exulted.

"So all we have to do is define precisely how we breach the reactor ... and also how we get out of there", Agent Josephson said with an air of satisfaction.

"Arak is about 680 kilometres away, or nine hours of travel", replied the American Head of Section, opening a map. "We'll escort you in convoy to the Iran border, where you will be handed over to Tarek, our local contact: two days from now he'll have to drive a truck of food for the staff of the complex. You will hide in the back, covered by the load; he will guide you inside, you will collect your evidence and leave the same way as you arrived ... James, Kurt, take them to their room”, he ordered the two agents who appeared at the door.

"I don't like these American agents", Oaky snorted when they were alone. "They look as if they've all been cast from the same mould: all built the same way – black suit, white shirt, sunglasses … and they don't even sweat, in this heat …"

"All thanks to hard training ... and air conditioning", Danny explained with a smile, taking off his jacket and shirt. "Oaky, there's something very important I must tell you", he added thoughtfully.

"What?" the fairy replied curiously.

"This will be our last mission", the young man said calmly. "I talked to Shepherd about it last night, while you were asleep ... when we get back to London, I'll leave the Service, transfer to a civilian job, and marry Karen."

"Whaaat?" Oaky exclaimed, feeling the world collapse around her. "B-but what am I going to do alone, in MI6? We're partners, you can't dump me!"

“I know,” he replied, “that's why I said it will be the last mission for both of us: I asked and they conceded for you to be put on leave too, so you can go back to Dean Forest and live a quiet fairy life. No more shooting, chasing, double and triple agent work; you'll no longer have to worry about the effect of your powers on human beings ... Are not you happy?"

 

***

 

Danny and Karen were in the shower together, obviously naked (who showers in his clothes?); all of a sudden, she said, "Darling, would you scrub my back?"

"With pleasure, love", he replied, with the face of a boiled fish, starting to spread the soap on her skin. Oaky stepped forward and asked in a mellow voice, "Danny, love, wash my back too, please".

The woman turned to stare at her down coldly. "Go away", she hissed. "He's mine."

"No, he's not yours!" the fairy cried. “I've known him long before you! I've saved his life many times, as many times he has saved mine; so the bond that unites me to him is much stronger than what can unite him to you!"

"Poor fool, watch this then", the human replied; she took the young man's left hand and began to caress her breasts, hips and thighs with it. "My bond with Danny is so strong that he can touch me however, wherever and whenever he wants."

The Oak Fairy turned red as a pepper, then grabbed Danny's other hand and placed on her amber skin. "H-he can caress and touch me too, what do you think?" she exclaimed.

"Yes, but you don't have this", Karen resumed, shamelessly showing off her pubis. "I can mate with him, I can give him children, you can't!".

"The union of souls is better than that of bodies! My friend Glitter always says so ... You had the milkman, the postman, everyone you wanted in your sheepherder village; can't you leave him to me?" Oaky shrieked with all her might.

"I told you, he's mine!" cried the woman trying to catch her. "You ugly bitch!" cried the Oak Fairy in turn, charging her, and the two females ended up on the floor fighting and scratching at each other.

"Karen, Oaky", Agent Josephson called out. "Here I am!" they bleated in unison.

"I'm sorry, but I can't choose either of you", said the guy in tight, on his arm a bride dressed in black with her back to them. "I have to go with her ... goodbye" and they left together.

"No, Danny! Don't leave me!" cried the fairy running after them; she reached them, placed a hand on the shoulder of the mysterious woman in black, and when she turned around, she saw that she had a skull instead of a face, and was clutching her Danny's arm with a skeletal hand ...

"Aaaah! No! No!" Oaky awoke short of breath and sweating in the back of the truck that was taking them to Arak. What a horrible dream, she thought to herself. "What's wrong with you, Oaky?" asked Danny anxiously, dressed in Bedouin robes like his partner. "Are you ok? Bad dream?"

"I'm fine, Danny, don't worry", she replied sharply. “Rather, did you have nice dreams while you were snoring a few hours ago? You had the face of a blissful fool ... Were you dreaming of your Karen?"

"Well, yes ...," he said embarrassed, "but what does it have to do with ...?"

"I knew it! You can't stay away from her even while you sleep! Isn't it enough for you to know that in a few days you'll be back and you can copulate to your heart's content?" exclaimed the fairy, now unrestrained.

"Oaky ... I don't understand ...", the young man murmured. "If you were a human woman, I'd say this is an outburst of jealousy ... but you are ...", then he bit his tongue.

"What? What you were about to say? Were you going to say 'you-are-a-fairy'?" Oaky screamed red-faced. “So a fairy has no feelings? She doesn't love, she doesn't hate, doesn't cry, doesn't laugh? I do have feelings, Mr Josephson; I do laugh, I do cry, I do hate ... and, as ridiculous and unnatural as it may seem to you, I love you ..."

"Stop it! Please, stop", he pleaded as he approached her. "Now listen to me…"

"I don't want to listen to you … I want to do this", she murmured and kissed him on the lips.

"Listen to me, Oak Fairy", he repeated, placing both hands on her little shoulders and looking at her sternly. This is the first time he's ever called me by my fairy name, Oaky thought in awe. I've really pissed him off this time.

"We have a very dangerous mission to complete, the life or death of millions of human beings will depend on its success or failure ... so I need you to be lucid and focused on the goal: we enter the complex, collect the evidence and leave, safe and sound, to send it back to base. You got that?" he said, shaking her.

"Yes ... yes, I understand", she replied reluctantly. "We're professionals, and we'll behave as such".

“And when we're done, we'll talk about other topics, at length and in depth … but not now. I promise you."

Someone on the other side of the truck knocked twice and opened a peephole: it was Tarek. "Hide under the covers", he whispered. "We are about to enter."


 

***

 

"The reactor is over there", said the guide under his breath as they walked down a long corridor, at the end of which they found themselves in a huge room occupied almost entirely by a square pool thirty metres deep, surrounded by a steel railing and a balcony. "Let's get closer", Agent Josephson said.

"How nice! What's this?" the fairy asked, referring to the bluish light that rose from the depths of the reservoir.

"It's called the Čerenkov effect", Danny explained as he went on. "It's caused by radioactivity ... Come now."

"I want to watch it a little longer", she replied, grudgingly.

He and Tarek were now about twenty metres further on. "Come on!" he ordered.

"BLAHHHH!" Oaky replied, sticking out her tongue.

The sound of a shot ripped through the air. The little creature felt a sharp pain as the bullet from an assault rifle ripped through her from side to side; she looked down and saw the huge hole in her torso, then she collapsed limply to the floor under Danny's frightened eyes. "Oaky!" he cried.

At that moment, Tarek pulled out a gun and pointed it at the agent. "Don't move", he said with a sinister smile, but the young man jumped on him, and the two rolled to the ground. A hoarse voice screamed "Get him!" and four Pasdaran guards pounced on the MI6 agent, hitting him with kicks and punches until he was rendered powerless. The Oak Fairy saw everything without being able to lift a finger. Amid the havoc, a detail absurdly imprinted itself in her brain: all the Iranians' guns had the effigy of a yellow duck marked on the handle.

The commander of the Revolutionary Guards walked over to Oaky and kicked her into the pool, then pulled the memory card from Danny's camera. "Iceman was right, as usual", he grinned; then he pulled out a knife and plunged it into the guy's abdomen shouting "Die, filthy Jew!"

"No ... no, Danny ..." gasped the fairy, sinking slowly. It's my fault, she told herself as she went down, sinking fast. If only I were stronger ... if I were more ...

Suddenly, the light emanating from the plutonium rods enveloped her; the wound closed, and the Oak Fairy felt filled with new vigour, a strength she had never experienced before. She was as powerful as ever – and furious ... She tore off her clothes and came out of the water with the speed of a missile, while the Iranians stared at her in amazement. "Be gone, damn you!" she cried, and in an instant, their heads exploded like grenades, spilling blood and charred tissue everywhere.

 Oaky didn't stop to analyse what had happened: she reached Agent Josephson and picked him up in her small arms. He was still alive, but his eyes were closed, and his breath was short; blood was gushing from his abdomen. "Danny! Danny, please open your eyes!" she called out.

The agent struggled to open his eyes. "Oaky… please… repair the world …" he said in a faint voice.

"Yes, yes, we will repair it together ... together", the fairy encouraged him.

"17… 76 … " he said with his last breath, then closed his eyes and didn't move anymore.

"Danny!" Oaky cried desperately. “Please, Danny, open your eyes! Open your eyes, please! Daaannyyyy!!!" Her uncontrollable tears wet the young man's cheeks, as everything around them collapsed in a sea of flames ... then suddenly they both disappeared.


 

Chapter VI: Fury

 

The Service staff on duty were quietly eating their meals in the cafeteria when they saw Oaky appear out of nowhere, clutching Agent Josephson's corpse spasmodically, and after half a second the electronic voice was heard: “Red alert: radiation contamination. Leave the room and follow the prescribed procedure. Red alert: radiation contamination … "

As the humans evacuated the area, a series of sprayers from the ceiling flooded the two figures with a foam composed of sodium borate and silica; but the Oak Fairy did not notice any of this. There was only one thing on her mind: Danny, her Danny was dead, he was dead because of her. She had let herself be blinded by jealousy just when he needed her help most, and so she couldn't save him.

Two men wrapped in silver overalls approached her saying: "Leave him and come with us"; she shouted "No! Go away, away!" and instantly, a force field formed around her repelling the intruders. Half an hour later, the Pine Fairy and the Alder Fairy were on the other side of the barrier together with Captain Will Sheperd and numerous doctors and nurses. "Can't you pierce it?" Pina asked anxiously.

"Not with diamond-tipped drills or the most powerful lasers," replied the Head of Section sadly. “This barrier is impenetrable to any solid object, but it allows light and sound to pass … and from here you can clearly see that she is crying and sobbing non-stop. She won't listen to us; maybe you two will be able to convince her."

"Oaky, can you hear me? Remove this wall – now! Did you hear me, Oaky?" shrieked the fairy, beating her fists against the invisible barrier; she kicked at it, but was injured and limped backwards.

"I'll try", Alna said as she approached the field. "Oaky", she began in a low, sweet voice, "I understand what immense pain you are suffering now ... but please lower this barrier, and let the humans look after poor Danny's body according to their customs ..."

"Go away!" Oaky yelled as she continued to shed an ocean of tears. "I want to be with him! I want to die with him! Go away!"

"Oaky, dearest sister," Alder Fairy insisted even more softly, "please let him ... let him go ..."

It was like flipping a switch: suddenly the force field disappeared, the Oak Fairy slumped over the young agent's body and fell asleep. When she regained consciousness, she found herself on an operating table and recognised Erich Paltrow, the Director of the Service's health unit, standing in front of her in a white coat. "Where's Danny?" she asked in alarm. "Did you ... cut him to pieces?"

"No" the doctor reassured her, sitting next to her. "The cause of death was all too obvious, so we spared him the autopsy ... But what about you, how do you feel?"

"Well … very well, given the circumstances", the fairy replied; she actually felt full of energy like never before. She looked at her abdomen: it was intact. She remembered the light that had enveloped her in the reactor pool, the bullet hole resealing itself ... "What happened to me?" she asked the human. "Why am I not dead?"

"That's what I asked too", replied the doctor, scratching his skull. "A direct hit like that, with such a large wound, should have been fatal to a fairy ... I subjected you to all sorts of tests for seven hours, without understanding anything, until I remembered an article I read a few months ago, on the inverse correlation between reproduction and longevity in Caenorhabditis elegans.

"Ceno … what?" Oaky repeated without understanding.

"A very small worm, used in biology studies because of its simple structure and short DNA", he explained. "Many experiments have shown that by selectively killing the germ cells of this animal, its health, its resistance to aggressive substances and its average life increase considerably. The experiments were repeated on the fruit fly and gave identical results ... In practice, an antagonism exists in living organisms between the impulse to self-preservation and that to give rise to a progeny; the more energy is dedicated to the former, the less remains for the latter, and vice versa".

"What you're saying is that ..." the little creature exclaimed incredulously.

"The bullet that passed through you destroyed not only the spores that were maturing inside you, but also the cell line responsible for their production" continued the doctor placing a hand on her small shoulder, "and at the same time the ionising radiation emitted by the reactor modified your DNA, neutralising the genes that govern the germline and strengthening your already innate regenerative abilities ... In short, on the one hand, you've become a very powerful and most likely immortal fairy; on the other hand, you will most likely be the last of your kind, because you will never be able to reproduce."

"Immortal and barren ... what a terrible irony for a fairy", Oaky murmured bitterly. "Please don't tell Alna and Pina anything", she pleaded.

"Don't worry: the only one I have reported to is Captain Shepherd, your superior, and now that you have asked me, my lips are sealed with everyone else", Paltrow assured her.

"What are you going to do with Danny's body?" asked the fairy.

"We'll bury him, of course", the man replied. "The funeral will be held tomorrow morning, that is in a few hours since it is now late in the night ... Do you want to be alone for a while?"

"Yes, thank you", she said faintly.

 

***

 

Daniel Elias Josephson was buried in the Golders Green Jewish Cemetery, in the presence of Captain Shepherd and several colleagues from MI6; Oaky, Pina and Alna attended the funeral on the branches of a nearby tree. "Aren't you crying, Oaky?" the Pine Fairy asked surprised, drying her eyes; the Alder Fairy glared at her. "She has already shed rivers of tears in the last eighteen hours", she explained. "There's only so much pain a living being can handle, then its body desensitises; it is a natural self-preservation reaction."

"I won't shed any more tears until I avenge Danny," the Oak Fairy swore, "even if it takes all eternity".

"In the meantime, why don't you tell us what happened, let's say, in the last week? Maybe we could come up with an idea", Alna suggested, putting on her unfailing goggles.

For more than an hour, the green-haired fairy recounted in detail the last days of Agent Josephson's life; the Alder Fairy listened to her with the utmost attention, interrupting her many times to ask her to explain some fact or circumstance in greater detail, and when Oaky had finished she remained absorbed for a few minutes, her eyes half-closed, in meditation.

“Since the Iranians knocked you out first,” she began, “I presume they were aware of your fairy powers, and that substantially narrows the list of suspects; furthermore, the Yellow Duck Rifles Inc. symbol on their weapons unequivocally shows that they were in collusion with the CIA headquarters in Baghdad; finally, the numbers 17 and 76 pronounced by poor Danny before dying together form 1776, the year the United States of America was founded. Given these precise and consistent clues, the only logically possible conclusion, my dear Oaky, is… hey, Oaky, where are you?" she exclaimed, opening her eyes and looking around.

"She teleported as soon as you said 'Bag' ", sighed the Pine Fairy.

 

***

 

Head of Section Spencer Smith fell from his chair on seeing that little creature appear in front of him, staring at him with vengeful eyes; he tried to open his desk drawer to get his gun, but the Oak Fairy was much faster: she fell on him and with the touch of her hand dealt him a fierce stab of pain. "Aaaahhh! Stop!" cried the human in pain.

"Talk, or I'll hurt you much, much more than that", replied the fairy, without the slightest remorse. “Did you supply Iran with material for the production of atomic bombs, as well as weapons? Answer me!" and she gave him another painful stab.

"Yes! Yes, centrifuges for uranium enrichment, components for ballistic missiles, and much more… please leave me!" Smith gasped.

Oaky slightly eased her grip. “Who gave the order to assassinate Agent Josephson? Was it you?" staring him down with two eyes as black as the abyss.

"No! It wasn’t me! It was the President, President Obanga himself! He has been in league with the ayatollahs since his election ... ", the human hastened to reply.

“You lie!”, the Oak Fairy replied, injecting more proalgic molecules into him. “The people in Arak said they had been warned by a certain Iceman; who is he?"

"Iceman is the President's codename when he directs operations in support of Iran", he gasped.

At that moment the office door opened and two agents in black jackets and mirrored glasses appeared in the doorway.  "Kill her!" barked the head of the CIA section.

"Die!" cried the fairy putting a hand on his chest and inducing a lightning heart attack, then she turned against the men in black, who in the meantime had drawn their weapons. They fired four shots in quick succession, but the bullets paused in midair for a few moments, then fell loudly to the floor. “Be gone!" the little creature hissed, and immediately an invisible force tore their bodies apart and reduced them to dust.

Three other officers entered the room at that moment. "She killed Smith!" one of them shouted. Oaky rose into the air, waved her arms, and a hurricane of fire hit the humans, incinerating them along with much of the furniture. Then she shut her eyes and concentrated; she perceived the Earth in all its sphericity, identified a very precise set of coordinates, and a moment later she crossed a dimension gap and materialised in Captain Shepherd's office.


 

Chapter VII: “Inimicus inimici mei”

 

"Are you accusing the President of the United States, the head of the largest democracy on the planet, of knowingly helping a hostile country to acquire nuclear weapons? Do you realise the enormity of what you just said?" Captain Will Shepherd asked.

"I know it sounds incredible, but it's all true", the Oak Fairy replied, with rising fervour. “The weapons used by the Pasdaran Guards are American-made, like those used by the CIA in Baghdad; and Smith, before I killed him, confessed to supplying special components for the reactor, and Obanga's direct responsibility throughout the operation ... You must believe me, captain!"

"Believing you or not is not in question here", ruled the captain, smoothing his thin pen moustache. "In the first place, you just admitted to murdering the top CIA chief in the Middle East and five of his agents ..."

"They wanted to kill me, I defended myself!" exclaimed the little creature.

"I know, but put yourself in my shoes," the human replied. "Their death has already caused an uproar in transatlantic relations, also taking into account the fact that officially you fairies don't exist ... As if that were not enough, the President of the United States is the commander of the armed forces, intelligence, all public bodies; to whom could we present such an accusation? Which politician, which magistrate would support you?"

"Are you saying you won't do anything?" Oaky asked indignantly.

"One thing I will do for sure: carry out the last wishes of Agent Daniel Josephson", Shepherd replied. "Oak Fairy, from now on you are no longer part of MI6. You are dismissed, in perpetuity and without the possibility of readmission."

“It’s not fair! That's not fair!" shrieked the fairy, banging her fists on the heavy mahogany desk and shattering it. “You want Danny's killer to go unpunished? You should be ashamed!"

William Sheperd did not lose his proverbial British composure even on that occasion. "Don't talk nonsense. Danny's parents died in a car accident when he was twelve, and he was like a son to me", he frowned. “Now that you are not accountable to anyone for your actions, you can investigate how and where you please … and do justice as you any way you want. And now, for your sake, get out of this building and never come back: this is the first place they'll come looking for you, you can be sure."

 

***

 

The rain had been falling incessantly for hours on the marble tombstone and on the Oak Fairy's bare skin. "I have sinned, Lord," she said to Heaven and Earth. "I sinned with pride, proclaiming to believe only in myself and in my powers, and You made me weak and unable to protect the person I loved most in the world ... I sinned with lust, saying that five centuries of life seemed few to me and that I would have liked to live forever to have fun and do what I like, and You have condemned me to not having offspring ... I have sinned with envy, wanting a human whose love was destined for others, and You punished me by taking him back before his time ... I acknowledge my sins, and accept Your punishment; but please help me avenge Danny's death! Help me do justice and save the world from the Apocalypse! I ask nothing for myself, but only for my fairy sisters and for humans, for everyone I love: give me a sign! Just a sign… " she moaned as she touched the stone, bowing her head.

"Oaky ... is it really you?" The fairy stirred: it was the voice of Karen McGillis. She turned and saw her. "Forgive me ... it's only my fault that Danny is ..." she began to say with tears in her eyes.

"Forgive you? For what?" she exclaimed, bending down and taking her hand. “I knew right away that you were in love with Danny; after all, he was special, you couldn't help but love him ... I know that you did everything in your power to protect him, and I have nothing to reproach you with … come here, let me hug you … "

At that moment Oaky sensed a flux of radio communications sweeping through the aether around them, and she raised a force field just before a frag grenade exploded, scattering deadly fragments. "Stay here and don't move!" she said to the terrified woman. She stepped out of the barrier and rushed at full speed against the squad of armed men coming out from behind the trees and bushes. "Did you think I had become weak forever? Did you think I was no longer able to protect the people I love? Well, if that's what you believed, you deserve this!" She unleashed a lightning fireball that instantly killed all but one of the soldiers; she grabbed him by the neck and asked him, "Iceman sent you, didn't he? Are you in contact with him?"

"Y-yes, with this audio/video communicator", the man whispered, short of breath, handing her a device with a microphone and a small monitor. The Oak Fairy grabbed it, turned it on, and saw Richard Obanga's well-known image on the screen. "You're the fairy", he said in a cold voice.

"And you are Agent Josephson's killer", the little creature replied, continuing to hold the surviving soldier and turning the communicator in the direction of the charred remains of his comrades. "Look what is left of the men you sent to eliminate me ... and see what I will do to this one!" she concluded as she snapped the man's neck, but the President didn't seem at all upset. "I saw it", was all he replied.

"I will come to you soon," said the Oak Fairy, her anger boiling. "I will come to you, in your white little house, and I will kill you!" "I'll be waiting for you", he concluded in the same flat, colourless voice, and cut off.

"Damn you!" Oaky cried, tearing the device apart. They don't call him 'Iceman' for nothing, she reflected. He really is a block of ice. "Are you OK, Karen?" she asked, shutting down the barrier.

"Yes ... yes, I'm fine," she said, shaking as she approached, then she said: "Oh, by the way: I have a letter for you ... a letter from Danny", she said, handing her an envelope.

"A letter ... for me? Where did you find this?" the fairy exclaimed in surprise.

"Danny had a complete edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica", she explained. "The night before he left, he told me that if something bad happened to him, I should look in volume 17, page 76, and give you what was inside."

"17 and 76 ... That's the sign! Thank you, Lord!" the little creature murmured gratefully. She opened the envelope; inside, she found a letter and a separate piece of paper. The letter read: "My dear Oaky, if you are reading these lines, it means that I am dead. Go to the 'The goose and the spit' inn at 9 pm, and give the piece of paper to the caretaker: it is a fragment of a dollar bill. Now it's your turn to repair the world. Farewell. Danny”. Oaky looked at the circular fragment: it depicted a truncated pyramid formed by thirteen steps – the first of which was stamped "MDCCLXXVI" – surmounted by a triangle that enclosed a resplendent eye; at the top and bottom, the words “Annuit Coeptis” and “Novus Ordo Seclorum”.

"What does the letter say?" Karen asked curiously. "It's better you don't know", replied the fairy, tearing the message to shreds; then she shut her eyes and telepathically connected to the Service's telephone network. "Oak Fairy calling Captain Shepherd: Captain, answer, it's urgent!" she said in her mind.

"I'm sorry, Oaky, but the captain isn't here," replied Jacqueline, the secretary. "Every now and then he disappears for a day or two, even turns off the mobile phone, becomes a ghost ... Anyway, he warned me that you would almost certainly call, and he recommended that I grant your every wish", she assured her.

"I request that Karen McGillis be placed under maximum protection, effective immediately and indefinitely", Oaky said.

"Protection for Miss McGillis was decided by Shepherd before we lost track of him", Jacqueline explained.

"Then send an escort to Golders Green for her now", the Oak Fairy asked, and erected another invisible barrier to defend the woman. Ten minutes later, a squad of MI6 agents approached; only then did she shut down the force field and teleported to a safe place to wait for the evening.

 

***

 

The 'The goose and the spit' inn stood near the churchyard of the Saint Paul's cathedral; next to the entrance, a bronze plaque read: 'In this place, on June 24th 1717, the first Masonic Grand Lodge of England was founded'. At 9 pm the fairy made her entrance inside, passing through the 'cat's door', and found the caretaker intent on smoking a pipe; when he saw her, he didn't bat an eyelid. "I have something for you", Oaky said, handing him the piece of the banknote.

"Follow me", the human said after examining him carefully. He opened a double wooden door, which turned out to be the entrance to a very modern elevator, and entered it followed by the little creature; he pressed a button, the door closed, and the elevator began to move down.

"How far do we have to go down?" asked the Oak Fairy.

"One hundred and fifty feet", the caretaker answered dryly, leaving the fairy amazed.

After fifty seconds, the cabin stopped; the two went out, walked down a short corridor illuminated by neon headlights, and found themselves in a vast hall occupied by a large circular table, at which sat twelve hooded humans wrapped in white cloaks imprinted with a red cross; on their arrival, they stood up and bowed to her. The one who appeared to be the leader of the group – the only one wearing a scarlet rather than white hood – stepped forward raising his right hand and greeted her: "Peace to you, Oak Fairy, and welcome to the headquarters of the Reborn Temple Order".

"I come on behalf of a friend, a dear friend who is no longer among the living", the fairy began to say, as the wound in her heart opened again. I mustn't cry now, she told herself, repressing her tears. I'll cry when I've avenged him, not before. "His name is ..."

«…Daniel Elias Josephson, we know. We know everything”, Red Hood replied. "You have come to the right place, fairy ... but now let me explain who we are, where we come from and what we want, so that you can decide whether to trust us or not."

"I'm listening to you", Oaky replied, crossing her arms as the human began to speak.

"Our story begins on the morning of Easter day in the year of the Lord 1118 when nine crusader knights swore in the hands of the patriarch of Jerusalem to fight to the death against the infidels to defend the pilgrims of the Holy Land, and the king of the city, enthusiastic about the initiative, assigned them as their headquarters some rooms of the royal palace near the Dome of the Rock, built by the Muslims on the ruins of the ancient Temple of Solomon. They fought with honour but failed to prevent the overseas Christian kingdoms from being progressively eroded and eventually defeated; on the other hand, they expanded into Europe, where their followers numbered in the tens of thousands, and their castles grew by the hundreds, from Spain to the Black Forest, from Scandinavia to Italy. They allied with the Vikings, who a century before had already reached the coasts now called Newfoundland and Labrador, and taking advantage of the climate that was warmer than that of today, they created a series of supply bases along the entire east coast of North America. They went south to Florida and beyond, as far as Mexico; there they formed good relations with the natives, who believed them to be gods and, exploiting their labour, they efficiently extracted silver from numerous mines in the Yucatan. In this way, they accumulated such wealth that they became the bankers of the kings of the Earth… and this was the cause of their ruin".

"Why? What happened to them?" the fairy asked curiously.

"The king of France Philip IV, known as Philip the Fair – perhaps handsome in body, but filthy and foul in spirit – desperately needed to replenish the state coffers he had bled dry in the reckless war with the English. Having tried in vain to be admitted to the Order with the intention of taking it over, he infiltrated spies in their ranks to glean useful information and set a trap for them. On Friday 13 October of the year 1307, with the complicity of the inquisitors, he had their leaders throughout the kingdom arrested, extracted false confessions under torture and had them tried for heresy. Then they were sentenced to death and burned at the stake."

"Heresy? I thought Christians were much more tolerant than Muslims", Oaky said in horror.

"At that time, Christianity was almost as intolerant as Islam", the human explained. “That day, our ancestors understood that the Papacy's subjugation to the temporal rulers placed a formidable power in their hands: the power of the faith. The charge of heresy, brandished against them like a sword, had suddenly deprived them of the favour of the people; likewise, any opponent of this or that king or feudal lord could have been put to death with the approval of an applauding crowd, as long as they found false witnesses willing to accuse them. They thus understood that there would never be peace for mankind until Church and State were deeply reformed from within, removing religious questions from secular jurisdiction and guaranteeing every human being the right to turn to God according to the dictates of a free conscience, without restriction save for the right to defend others and their property. Since then, this has become our mission."

"Your mission? Didn't you say that the Templars were exterminated?" asked the Oak Fairy.

"The persecution marked the 'official' end of the Order, not its actual extinction", said the mysterious figure. "On the same day the Grand Master and the other Templar leaders were arrested, their fleet anchored in La Rochelle, loaded with treasure, set sail for Scotland, where most of the knights found refuge, while others fled to Spain and Portugal. Over the centuries their spiritual descendants took advantage of the colonial expansion of these countries in the New World to consolidate the North American settlements, and in 1776 they created the United States of America to be the defender of freedom of conscience around the world; as happened in the last century, when they successfully opposed first Nazi-fascism and then Soviet Communism."

“So the United States is your creation? Then you are accomplices of that Obanga killer!" Oaky exclaimed indignantly, preparing to unleash her powers.

"No, we're not", the hooded man replied decisively. "We have now achieved many of our initial goals: the Catholic Church and the democratic states have accepted the principles of freedom and equality for all their citizens, fighting discrimination based on sex, race and religion. Now we have one last endeavour: to create a world state that will overthrow the tyrannical and dictatorial regimes in Russia, China, Iran, Venezuela and all the countries of the Third World, asserting the equality of all human beings, breaking down nationalistic barriers … and this is the reason why Richard Ali Obanga is our enemy. He is a creature of the ayatollahs: they raised him from an early age on bread and the Koran, they financed his studies, supported his political rise, and now they're reaping the reward from their investment. We don't have enough strength to eliminate him, but with our help, you can do it."

" 'The enemy of my enemy is my friend', right?" considered the fairy. "And what help could you ever give me?"

"The White House is the most protected place on the planet", replied the Templar leader. "On your own, you could never even get close to it, especially now that Obanga is aware of your powers ... but we know a secret passage that leads to it, and we will reveal it to you if you promise to do justice, for Agent Josephson and for the entire human race."

The Oak Fairy remained silent for a while, then she raised her right hand. "I promise to do justice, and gladly accept your help ... Captain Will Shepherd", she exclaimed. The man jumped out of his chair and pulled off his hood. "How did you find out it was me?" he asked, amazed.

"Your voice is unmistakable, even if you used frequency distortion," replied the triumphant fairy, pointing to the medallion worn by the Head of Section around his neck, "and you are the only human I know capable of keeping calm before my fits of anger ... Besides, Danny would never have asked me to turn to someone he didn't trust 'like a father'."

"So, we have a deal?" smiled Sheperd, holding out his hand.

"Done", Oaky said, as the other cross-bearers burst into thunderous applause.


 

Chapter VIII: Fairy Justice

 

“Is it here?” Oaky asked. They were in woodland near Hyattsville, a ninety-minute drive from the White House.

Captain Will Sheperd nodded: “Pierre Charles L'Enfant, the Templar architect who built Washington, conceived it as an escape route for the presidential entourage in the event of an attack on the city. There it is!" he exclaimed, pointing to an old well locked by two solid wood doors that opened by themselves at a gesture from the fairy.

"There's a ladder built into the wall here, but you don't need it ... like you don't need a torch, do you?" the man said, handing her an electric torch which she politely declined.

"What you humans call darkness, in our eyes glows strongly with lights and colours", she explained. "Right then I'll go in, kill him and come back", she said before slipping inside. She descended about forty metres, then flew through a horizontal tunnel, climbed up another shaft and cautiously opened a trap door: it was in the West Wing, as expected. She heard an excited voice approaching and hid among the heavy curtains.

"I really don't understand you, Richard", a short, stocky, reddish-haired human said to a tall, thin African American. “You spent three, I mean three million dollars to surround the White House with ultrasonic cannons! What's up with you? In less than a couple of months you'll leave this shack to that Turnbull and now you waging war on bats?"

"If it is God's will that I leave the presidency, I will do God's will", President Obanga replied in his customary cool, calm voice. "For now I'm still the tenant of this residence."

"Actually, it's the 22nd Amendment that establishes it ..." the Vice President sighed.

At that moment, the First Lady entered the Oval Office in the company of a housekeeper, holding two girls of six and nine by the hand. "Sorry, dear, but they want a goodnight kiss", she said.

"All right, I said what I had to say ... goodnight, Marianne", Frank Rogers replied, walking away.

I can't kill him in front of his family, the Oak Fairy thought. I'll wait until he's alone, then ... Obanga bent down and kissed each of his daughters on the forehead. "Are you mad at us, dad?" asked the older one sadly.

"I'm not mad at you", the man replied.

"Then why don't you ever smile?" she continued. "Yes, yes, that's right, you never smile at us", the younger one yelled.

"I kissed you goodnight," he concluded in a humourless voice, "now go to sleep".

"Did you hear me? Come on, Sita, Malika, off to bed! Will you take them, Dora?" Marianne Obanga said to the governess.

"Yes, Ma'am. Come girls", she replied, escorting them out of the room.

"They are right", the woman said sternly when they were alone. "Even for me you never have a smile, a caress, a show of affection ... To conceive our daughters we had to secretly resort to artificial insemination! You make me angry ... sometimes I wonder why I married you!"

"Because you love my above-average intelligence", Obanga said in a voice that betrayed no complacency or irony. Flat as a metronome, Oaky said sourly.

"Now I'm busy", the man concluded, looking at the grandfather clock. "Goodnight", his wife took her leave as he sat at his desk and turned on the PC.

Now !, the fairy said to herself, preparing to strike, when the image of Sayaf Ali Hoseyni Kharamani, Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran, appeared on the screen. "Allah be with you, my dear disciple", he greeted.

"And with you, Mouallem", the President replied. “The situation in Syria is excellent: the Brothers of the Crescent are spreading terror along the border with Iraq, expelling all the infidels and apostates from the region. When they have completed the cleansing, you can order your crack units to intervene in Syria, in collaboration with the Iraqi army, then you'll have access to the sea, the first step in creating a Neo-Persia".

"I will never be able to repay my debt of gratitude to you", the ayatollah replied, betraying some emotion. "Only you could have had the idea of putting the Sunni takfirs to work for our cause!" he added, as Oaky listened in amazement and finally put all the pieces of the puzzle in place.

"You trusted my abilities, and now you are rewarded for it",  Obanga continued in the same toneless voice. "How is the development of the nuclear program proceeding? My analysts believe that the destruction of Arak has seriously slowed it down."

"Indeed", the old man snapped. "All because of that damn jinn ... impure and maleficent like all females! Have you taken any precautions if she comes looking for you?"

"I've had ultrasonic guns deployed all around the White House, and I have this portable model with me", the President assured him, pulling a gun with a needle-thin barrel out of the drawer. "What about your plan to eliminate my successor, is it finalised?"

"Of course." The Supreme Leader smoothed his thick beard and adjusted his glasses on his nose. "Unfortunately, the American dogs preferred a Texan billionaire to 'our' candidate, but we always have a plan B ... It's a team of four, and we have already infiltrated them with false documents; on the day of the oath they will take up posts in front of Capitol Hill and open fire, so you can remain in power indefinitely invoking the 'state of emergency' ", he added with a satanic laugh.

"I will introduce faithful people into every ganglion of the Administration, and I will gradually reform the legislative system orienting it according to the dictates of the sharia", Obanga continued. "Of course I will get rid of Rogers: he's always been in the dark about everything, he is too stupid to be of any use to me, and his fidelity to the Constitution could be a hindrance ... In four years, according to my predictions, we'll achieve full Islamisation of the United States, and at the same time Iran will be ready to launch a nuclear attack on Tel Aviv, Haifa and the other cities on the coast, forever wiping the Zionist stain from the map; then Tehran's power will spread throughout the entire Middle East, from Lebanon to Pakistan.”

"Excellent, excellent!" Kharamani exclaimed. “Now excuse me, but I have to go and choose a virgin to sleep with tomorrow night; you know, I change to a new one every day, so my enemies have no way to train them to try and assassinate me... Allah be with you, my dear Ali; or as the infidels say, break a leg!"

"It doesn't seem a good thing to wish your favourite disciple to break a leg", replied the President.

"But it's just a figure of speech ..." the Iranian justified himself.

"It may be a figure of speech, but it is not a good thing to wish your disciple ..." the other resumed mechanically, leaving the Oak Fairy speechless in amazement.

"All right, all right, you're always the same ... Good night!" snorted the Great Ayatollah as he cut off. Obanga turned off the computer and left the room.

Oaky walked over to the chair, her head bubbling with thoughts like an erupting volcano; she inspected the backrest, found what she was looking for and encased it in a small force field so it wouldn't become contaminated, then she went back into the hatch and made her way back down the tunnel.

"It took you long enough! Did you kill him?" Shepherd asked hopefully when he saw her emerge from the well.

"No", replied the fairy. "I promised to do justice, and justice it will be … but the way we fairies do it. Can you have these analysed as soon as possible?" she said, handing him the energy shell enclosing three hairs inside.

 

***

 

On the evening of 23 December, Richard Ali Obanga entered the Oval Office at the usual time and saw Oaky standing on the desk, in her full fairy nakedness, like an army set in battle array. "You managed to get in, but you won't get out of here alive", he told her, sitting on the armchair.

The threat did not seem to intimidate the little creature in the slightest. "Do you know what Rohrsacher's syndrome is?" she asked seraphically.

"I know", the human replied in his customary low, calm voice. “It is a pervasive developmental disorder; people affected by it have a marked theoretical intelligence, reduced interpersonal skills, inability to understand linguistic nuances and puns, impaired empathy and affectivity" he rattled off.

"You are a Rohrsacher", the Oak Fairy replied, staring into his eyes.

"Yes, I am a Rohrsacher individual", resumed the untroubled President. "What you're getting at?" he asked, looking at his watch.

"Are you eager to start your daily video interview? Sorry, but I'm afraid the Virgin-raping Supreme Leader will have to do without you tonight", the fairy laughed mockingly.

"You spied on me", Obanga exclaimed; he reached for the drawer and grabbed the ultrasound gun, but when he aimed it, the little creature was gone; then he felt the touch of a hand on his carotid artery – he was paralysed. "Stop and shut up", she hissed, sitting cross-legged on the edge of the desk.

"After reading all the reports drawn up by some of my friends about you, I had already suspected that your coldness was a hereditary trait", she explained to the human who was unable to move and call for help. "Your father married a cousin, and many of your Kenyan ancestors were born from half-sibling parents ... but when I heard you take the expression ‘break a leg’ so badly, I was sure you were suffering from some kind of genetic anomaly; so I collected some of your hair, had their DNA analysed, and my allies performed some test on laboratory animals. It took more than a month, but in the end, we discovered the faulty genes that cause your lack of empathy, and I learned how to make the correct copies in my body and inject them so that they take the fastest effect ... Now we'll know if I was right!"

She leapt on him, touched his face and waited patiently. Richard Ali Obanga, the man nicknamed Iceman, cradled his head in his hands, overcome by strong nausea and dizziness. After five minutes his mind began to crowd with thoughts and memories of all the people killed, wounded, raped or exiled because of his plans for domination … and for the first time since he had come out of his mother's womb, he wept. He wept non-stop for over half an hour, sobbing like a baby; then the fairy spoke to him. "Now you know what you did", she said in a tone that was harsh, yet sad at the same time.

"Yes ... now I feel inside me all the pain I have caused, and the remorse of not being able to remedy it", the human muttered in a broken voice. "What can I do? Please tell me!" he exclaimed, kneeling before her.

"Okay, but you'll have to do exactly as I say", Oaky replied. "First, you will call a press conference for tomorrow night ..."

 

***

 

"... and since on this most holy day the Lord touched me and made me understand the enormity of my sins, I decided to confess my sins to all of you, citizens of the United States of America, and to tender my resignation with immediate effect, handing myself over to justice. May God have mercy on my soul", Obanga concluded, rising from his chair and stepping out of the camera's field of view. "You have two minutes to say goodbye", the Attorney General said.

"Sita, Malika, mind now – be good, and obey your mother. I love you”, the ex-president said with tears in his eyes; then he turned to his wife. "Goodbye, Marianne", he sighed, kissing her on the mouth.

"This is your first time you kissed me", she burst into tears as her husband was taken away by two men in uniform.

The Vice President stepped up to speak. "Having shared eight years of administration with Richard Obanga, I feel morally co-responsible for his crimes", he said contritely into the microphone. "Therefore, after having obtained the assent of the majority of the members of the Supreme Court, I have decided to renounce the interim presidency and to anticipate the transfer of full powers to the candidate elected by the American people." He retired, giving way to the President of the Court and the 2016 Election Day winner, who placed his right hand on George Washington's Bible and proclaimed in a stentorian voice: "I, Ronald Malcolm Turnbull, do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States. So help me God." Then he turned to the viewers and began his inaugural address: “God bless America! Truly the Most High has blessed our country with the greatest gifts: freedom, democracy and tolerance for all faiths and opinions; but the price of these gifts is eternal vigilance, inside and outside our borders. You have just learned of the plot hatched by the rogue regime of Iran to kill the 45th President of the United States; a conspiracy that, thank God, has been thwarted, but which must open our eyes to the danger represented by that regime for all mankind ... Thus, my first executive order will cancel all economic and other support to the ayatollahs, and will decree the revocation of the 5 + 1 agreement … "

Sitting in a car parked near the White House, Captain Will Shepherd turned off the radio. "You did it, Oaky: you saved the world", he exclaimed, satisfied. "God only knows if you have averted the Apocalypse forever, or if you have only postponed it for twenty years or two hundred … but no one is omnipotent in this world; everyone can and should only do their part, and you have done it in the best way. And as if that were not enough, you have opened a hope for a cure for thousands of people with behavioural disorders ... By the way, it was an excellent choice to have Obanga confess on Christmas Eve; Danny was right when he said you get along better with sermons than with practices."

"Yeah ... glory to God and peace to humans, and to fairies, of goodwill", the Oak Fairy murmured. "Now I can weep for him", and she began to shed a torrent of tears.

Shepherd let her give vent to her pain; then, when she had calmed down a little, he asked her: "Now where will you go? What will you do now?"

Oaky wiped her face. "I'll look for a place to live in solitude," she said, opening the door and spreading her wings, "a place to remember the happy days I had with Danny, and where I can wait for a merciful death, if ever it comes, to set me free from my remorse. Farewell."

"Wait!" invoked the human. "What if that day never comes? What if you find that you have become truly immortal, or at least you get tired of waiting to die? What will you do then?"

"Then I'll look for a purpose to live for", the fairy replied, and flew off into the darkness.


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