It did not take long for Ryan to find a reporter wanting to do an interview. In fact, the hardest part was sifting through the voicemails looking for the one, in particular, he was hoping to get – and after a bit, he found it, listening to the voicemail with a wide grin.
“Found it. Give me just one moment.”
Crystal nodded. Ryan still hadn’t mastered – or even practiced – or even thought of in days – the skill that both Nabu and Enki had used to be invisible and intangible to normal people, so she was keeping a lookout while using that trick.
Ryan dialed the number.
“Mr. Smith?” The voice on the other end sounded excited.
“Speaking. Did I reach Gail Pittman?”
“Yes. Mr. Smith, millions have heard Enki’s side of things, but I’m sure you have your own story.”
Ryan nodded, then realized she couldn’t see him, but kept nodding anyway for a moment because he’d already started so might as well keep at it. “That’s why I’m calling. But we – that is to say, Crystal and I – we don’t want to do it at your studio. Too exposed.”
The gears in Gail’s head turned so frantically they were practically audible through the phone. “You’re worried Enki will attack the studio?”
“Exactly. Not the most heroic choice on his part, but he has a pretty bad hate-on for us. Honestly, I think I’d be flattered if it wasn’t so murderous.”
Gail did let out a huff of air that might have been amused at that. “I’d still like to be able to have my cameraman present.”
Ryan glanced at Crystal, who was still scanning the street. “That would be fine with us. There’s an abandoned warehouse I’m going to give you the address to.”
This actually was a laugh. “Mr. Smith, you want to…slightly cliche, don’t you think?”
“Well…how do you usually interview people being hunted by a cabal of gods and with a chunk of the planet thinking they’re evil?”
Without a moment’s hesitation. “Conference room in a hotel. I have one I use for interviewees in town who don’t want to come into the station. I’ll give you the location.”
“Give me a moment?” Without waiting for a response, Ryan put his phone on mute, turning to Crystal, “She wants us to go to a hotel, instead of a warehouse.”
Crystal cocked her head, then nodded. “Warehouse was just the first idea I had, yeah? As long as Enki doesn’t know where we are – and the studio is too bloody obvious, he’ll have watchers – we should be safe.”
The phone was unmuted. “Sure, we can do that. Tell us where.”
Gail provided the location and told them she’d be there in two hours. Plenty of time to get there and scout for possible threats before they went on TV.
Crystal frowned at the news. “Okay, I guess that’s alright then.”
“Everything okay? You don’t seem particularly thrilled at this.”
She shrugged, then shook her head. “I’m not. I’ve stayed out of the public eye since the days of Sumeria, love. The idea of appearing on camera? Bloody terrifying, I won’t lie. On top of that, I don’t like that we’re still reacting to Enki, yeah?”
“I hear you, really. But look at the bright side – we’re gonna end the world after we deal with Enki, so it’s not like being on camera will matter for long, right?”
That got a laugh out of Crystal, one of those short shocked ones you make a jokes you weren’t supposed to laugh at because they weren’t PC, but still found funny, the laugh you made at your uncle’s jokes that didn’t really have any malice behind them but still reflected a time when no one cared about how offensive a joke was. Ryan was glad it went over well with her – joking about the end of the world made his stomach churn, but she’d needed it.
“Thanks for that. C’mon, then. I’m ready for my bloody prime time debut.”
And as they walked, Ryan told Crystal the rest of his plan.
It didn’t take them long to get set up. Gail was a professional, at least, although she did seem somewhat flustered by their presence.
“Okay, we’re live in three, two,” the cameraman held up a single index finger for the last number.
“Good Evening, and this is Gail Pittman with ANC. As a follow up to our interview with Enki earlier today, I’m here right now with Ryan Smith and Crystal – the two individuals that Enki alleges are his adversaries, for an exclusive interview. Ryan, Crystal, thank you for meeting with me.”
Ryan put on his best smile. It felt like it was being forced lengthways through a sieve. Crystal’s looked more natural, but Ryan was beginning to suspect Crystal wouldn’t be phased by a hungry T-Rex wearing a sombrero.
“We’re happy to be here, Gail. Want a chance to clear the air.” Crystal nodded in agreement.
“So, let’s start with the big one – Enki claims that you two are gods, like him. Is that true?”
Crystal spoke up here, her smile not wavering, “I wouldn’t exactly say like him, not in the details, but in the broad strokes, we’re gods too.”
“Details? What details are those?” Gail leaned forward slightly.
“Well, Ryan here, he’s only been a god for…two weeks, that sound right love?”
Ryan nodded. “Yeah, two weeks.”
“Enki’s been a god for about ten thousand years, so that’s a difference right there.”
Gail nodded thoughtfully. “And you, Crystal? How long have you been a goddess?”
“A little over a million years.”
That got Gail to lean back, giving her time to process that. “That would make you…about as old as the earliest humans?”
Crystal nodded. “I remember when you lot started figuring out tools. But, Gail, most of that isn’t relevant to the current situation, yeah? I can talk about millions of years old news later on…if that’s alright.”
Gail nodded. “And in that case, Ryan. Enki also alleged you were the Christian Antichrist. Is that true?”
Ryan shook his head. “Of course not. But don’t ask me to prove that, Gail.”
“Why not? Surely people back home would be relieved if they knew you weren’t.”
“Oh, believe me, Gail, I’d love to.” He could feel himself sweating under the lights, and hoped it didn’t show on camera. “But…well, it’s a HUAC thing, from the 50’s? ‘Prove you’re not a communist.’”
Gail gave a polite smile. “So you’re saying it’s impossible to prove?”
Ryan nodded again. “I mean, I can assure you I’m not having anyone put a mark on their hand or forehead – or anywhere else, for that matter – so I should get some points for that.” He scratched his chin, “Plus, last Crystal heard, Hell is a bit too much of a mess right now to organize a proper Apocalypse, isn’t it?”
“It is,” Crystal said, “and I know you’re going to want more information about that Gail, but only have so long, yeah? So I’m gonna ask that you just roll with it, so we can focus on what Enki is claiming.”
Gail blinked at that, and for a moment Ryan could see her. Really see her, with his divine senses or whatever they were. Gail was a good reporter and always opened to new ideas, but back home she had a collection of clear plastic boxes neatly labeled that stored her clothes by color. She prepackaged her food and it was in the fridge, in individual baggies labeled Monday-Friday. She was the sort of perfectly practical mind that was doing its best to cope with the perfectly impractical reality of gods walking the Earth and doing interviews, and was perfectly happy to move past that little tidbit thank you very much. Which was fine – it wasn’t for her, anyway. “I see. Then…why were you fighting Enki in that video?”
“Two things there, love.” Crystal took back control of the conversation – they had both agreed that she was the more charismatic of the two. “First of all, it’s because Enki is an absolute tosser. What you’d call a tool. But the two of us went off to help Ryan acclimate to his changes, yeah?” Gail nodded along, her forehead wrinkled with intense concentration. Ryan suddenly felt a perverse urge to lean forward and shout “Boo,” as loud as he could. Even though Gail was maintaining a professional demeanor, her eyes screamed that she was terrified of the two of them. “When we got back, he ambushed us. Probably because he sees us as a threat.”
Gail played along, not realizing there was a script Ryan and Crystal had come up with in the two hours they had to wait, and so far she was playing her role with all the skill of a master thespian. “You two did do a number on him in that fight. But what is he afraid you’ll do?”
“Stop him.” Ryan took back over, leaning forward for the camera’s benefit.
“From doing what?”
“He’s going to blow up the sun.” Ryan delivered the half-truth with the absolute certainty of a preacher that’s been dipping into the donation plate to line his own pockets. “That’s what he wants to do.”
Gail blinked slowly, giving herself just a quarter second to process that. “He wants to…blow up the sun?”
Crystal took back over. “I noticed he left that out of the interview he did with you, which seemed like exactly the kind of underhanded move that git would pull. He’s also the type dumb enough to think that would work, that we wouldn’t tell you the truth.”
“Wait,” Gail was starting to realize that she was losing control of the conversation. “You’re saying he’s dumb based on-”
“-on knowing him for dozens of thousands of years, love. He’s a nasty brute who can put on a good show, sure, but at the end of the day, he’s a common bloody thug. The god of being a common bloody thug, really.”
Gail opened her mouth, but another voice spoke up, coming through the door that should have been locked. The door to the outside world, and the door Ryan had very carefully suggested Crystal didn’t block with her ship’s door.
“You’ve got quite a fucking mouth on you, you little bitch.” Enki wasn’t bothering to control his voice, although the weirdly handsome face he’d worn for the news was still the visage he was presenting. “But you made a mistake, going on live TV.” His grin didn’t fit that handsome face – it was like halfway through a cartoon about musical princesses, the handsome prince started to beat the villain to death with a barbed-wire covered dildo. Ugly and lecherous and just wrong.
Behind Enki, two other figures walked out of the doorway. Both women, one with a wicked smile on her face with hair that was curled up in a pair of buns that looked like the points of an anime cat girl’s ears, the other with strong, Mediterranean features and eyes that were as warm and welcoming as garrote wire. A fourth figure was coming through the doorway, though Ryan couldn’t make it out yet.
“Yessiree Bob, you made a big fucking mistake. Because this time…the two on one odds favor me.”
And for a moment, the only sound was Gail scooting her chair out of the line of fire.