Virgilia, Fatima, and SJ-1 were passengers in Marvin’s jet, which Marvin was flying. Since the FAA has a puritanical attitude about airplane pilots engaging in sex play, this meant that for Virgilia, spending the next—
Virgilia pulled out her smartphone and checked the time-display.
—the next twenty-eight minutes sexually playing with Marvin was not an option.
Virgilia was bored.
She looked at SJ-1 and said, “Has Fatima ever told you how she became a bound djinni?”
SJ-1 replied calmly, “I would not presume to ask Mistress such a question.”
Virgilia smiled. “Fine, then I’ll ask. Fatima, will you please tell me how you wound up in a lamp?”
Fatima said, “I’ve already told you that story. On May 21, 2010, to be exact.”
Virgilia said, “True. But let me remind you that you owe SJ-1 here. Sheila Johansson making a deal to become SJ-1 in return for her silence, this is the reason that Marvin is in the cockpit whistling, instead of being held in some super-secret FBI jail and being interrogated where Paula Sarin went to.”
Fatima glanced at SJ-1 and then Virgilia. Fatima said, “Fine, I’ll tell her the story.”
Fatima said, “Way back when, in 632 B.C., Aleser of my Green Tribe said that Sumera of the Blue Tribe learned her djinni magic from demons. And yes, that’s as much of an insult as it sounds like—”
Virgilia said, “Was that true? About Sumera?”
Fatima shrugged. “Knowing Sumera, it wouldn’t surprise me. Anyway, the Blue Tribe demanded that Aleser be turned over to them for ‘correction.’ We said no. The outcome of this was that the Blue Tribe declared war on us. I’m sure they thought they would win, if it was only Blue versus Green. But then the Pink Tribe allied with us. The Brown Tribe, wisely, stayed out of the whole shebang.”
“The Brown Tribe?” Virgilia said. “You didn’t mention them before.”
“Brown Tribe djinn have brown hair, brown skin, and brown eyes. They could pass for human, without shape-shifting. Which is good, I suppose. Because Brown Tribe djinn can’t shape-shift. Their only magic is to foom themselves, plus whatever they’re touching, from Point A to Point B. Most djinn in the Green Tribe don’t consider beings in the Brown Tribe to be true djinn.”
Virgilia said, “Okay, the Green Tribe and the Pink Tribe allied against the Blue Tribe in this war.”
“A place and time were set to start the war. So everyone in the Green Tribe started practicing their repulsion spells—”
Virgilia said, “A repulsion spell, that’s what you used against Marvin, right? That seems like a pretty wimpy spell to use against the Blue Tribe.”
“What I hit Marvin with was the mildest possible repulsion spell, and then I had to use it on him only because he was hurting Master—”
“By Master, Fatima means Paula Sarin,” Virgilia explained to SJ-1. “Marvin was squeezing Paula’s wrist hard enough to hurt, then Fatima pushed him over to the bed.”
Fatima nodded. “If I’d hit Marvin with the repulsion spell that I’d practiced to use against Blue Tribe, Marvin would have smashed into the bedroom’s far wall and he would have died on impact.”
Virgilia stared. “No shit?”
“Well, if you disregard that it wasn’t his Date Of Fated Death.”
Virgilia persisted: “Okay, so you planned to hit Blue Tribe with a magical wrecking ball instead of a magical beach ball. Why bother? You know how to kill them, by freezing or immersion—why simply knock them down?”
Fatima said, “Funny you should ask. I asked Ashnadim that same question.”
June 17, 632 B.C.
Amid sand dunes, somewhere in Arabia
Fatima spoke the words, and made the gestures, that Ashnadim had just taught her.
FOOM. Fatima grinned as a five-cubit-tall, three-cubit-diameter, cylinder of sand and shimmering air was replaced by a like-sized cylinder of dark water. Which immediately collapsed into the cylindrical tub that now existed in the sand dune.
Ashnadim smiled at her. “I knew you would be quick to master this spell. Very good.”
Fatima’s grin turned wolf-like. “I can’t wait to give Kharmesh a bath.”
Ashnadim’s smile disappeared. “Do not use this spell. Even if we are losing a repulsion-spell battle, do not use it.”
“Why not? We could rid the Earth of that pack of loudmouths, so why even wait?”
“Listen to me, Fatima. Don’t even think it. If you water-swap one djinni in the Blue Tribe, they might not know who did it—”
“Which leaves me free—”
“But they will respond by water-swapping two from the Green Tribe. At least two. Then we will respond by disappearing more than two of theirs. More Blue and Green djinn will disappear every second. In less than a minute, the Green Tribe will all be gone. Or worse—”
“—the remnant of Green Tribe will have to surrender to Blue Tribe, and we Greens will be so few in number that the humans will no longer fear us.”
“But if I may never use this spell, why learn it?”
“So that if water-swapping starts happening, I want you to kill all the Blue Tribe djinn you can before you yourself are ‘given a bath.’ ”
“So you’re telling me, plan on repulsing them hard. Even though that won’t kill them.”
“Yes. The beings of the Blue Tribe aren’t really djinn, they are wailing human infants. Make them hurt often enough, and Hakeezib [chief of the Blue Tribe] will say Please stop, please stop, we give up.”
Virgilia said, “So you learned the spell to put someone underwater, but you never used it.”
Fatima said, “Not until [recently]. That’s because an hour and 27 minutes before the Djinn War was scheduled to begin, the human king Solomon showed up.”
June 18, 632 B.C.
Solomon, King of Israel, had just been awakened by a palace servant when they both heard a voice: “SOLOMON, OBEY THE MESSAGES OF GOD.”
Solomon’s sleepy eyes snapped open. Standing in a corner of his bedchamber was a being that could only be an angel: It had silver wings, and silver eyes in an inexpressive face.
Solomon replied, “I am here, O Angel. What does God command?”