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The First Christmas.
#1
'Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse; that's how
Clement Clark Moore's poem begins. But have any of you ever pondered on what really happened on that unique evening
before the advent of the Christ?

Throughout the ages, theologians and scholars have attempted to piece together the logistics of how the scene we call
'The Nativity' came about and what forces were available to create such a singular circumstance.

Here on Rogue Nation, we not only have the answers, we actually have the characters who witnessed the delivery and those
attended a small incident that changed the world forever.

But I think you'll need a little background information to explain how these people ended-up spectating the birth and may I add,
creatures did stir and it was a dilapidated barn, not a house.

Boy In A Dress told me most of it and any gaps were kindly filled-in by Ninurta. This was convenient considering both are the main
characters in this story. Someone called 'Tibbs' is also referenced and from what I could understand, he was the brains-of-the-outfit.
Not such a lofty position in view of the company considering Ninurta's fondness for violence and Boy In A Dress' weakness to wander
from 'on-the-ground' reality.

Tibbs is a small humanoid who -dressed in a hooded robe and sporting thick-lens spectacles, travelled the many universes with an
agenda based on jurisdiction and an agreed historical timeline. Apparently, certain civilisations were supposed to do this and other
worlds were supposed to do that, I'd suppose one would wager all this would be written down somewhere.

Multiple variables are taken into consideration and I was given the impression that particular futures were mapped out by...
well someone, to make sure a plan for a cosmos arrived at a specific point in time that was universally beneficial to all involved.
Whatever that means!

Tibbs' tasks were to keep order and drive development for the betterment of these complex and ever-changing macrocosms.
Which may explain why -when Ninurta and the Man-Girl first met the almost-three-foot tall, always-serious control-freak, the
little male had just finished constructing a weapon to shoot God!

But I'm getting off track and I've just remembered something else that may be important. Tibbs is also known as a 'Vithian' and
after many hours on the internet, I'm still at a loss to relate more on what that means.
Maybe he comes from the planet Vith...? I dunno.

But what I do know -after some research, is that the three of them were in a craft traversing space and this was where Tibbs' scrutiny
of some device caused the trio to slip back in time. Oh... there was a ship cat too, but that green-furred animal remained on the vessel
called 'The Spint'.

I think that's it for now... so let's get on with the tale. This story means no offence to anyone with a religious bent and should be taken
in a entertaining aspect with its only goal to lighten one's day.
Thank you to Ninurta who helped in creating the account and I suppose, thank you to the lunatic we call 'BIAD'.
...........................................

The First Christmas.

"Oops" said Tibbs and attempted to quickly crank the amulet's outer edging clock-wise. But it was too late. Ninurta had time to turn
his head and BIAD looked up from picking at his dress hem as the device sounded it's singular click. The ship's cat managed to get
under the pilot's seat just as the white-blue flash occurred.
They were gone.

The Sprint continued it's programmed course, but now without any human occupants. Sasquatch's green fur rippled from under the
seat with a confused fear at the sudden disappearance and as the craft's mechanisms ticked and flashed their coloured bulbs,
the eyes of the feline named after a legendary Earth-ape, gave nothing away of what it was thinking.
...........................................


"It's snowing" chirped Boy In A Dress and looked around in the cold darkness, Ninurta panned the barrel of his pistol around and
during the scanning of the surrounding gloom, his hand grabbed Tibbs's shoulder and jerked him close.

"Okay little man, what did you do?" the grizzled Gunslinger hissed and lifted the Vithian up onto his tip-toes, the gunman's eyes
flitting from right to left. The bare-legged hermaphrodite who announced the state of the weather moved to cover his compadre's
rear and the unusual group stood in a survey postition of a North-South-East posture, they were ready for whatever was going
to happen.

Tibbs struggled with the robe's collar digging into his throat, so it was only a choking rasp that answered Ninurta.
"Amulet... damaged tracer... time-slip" Tibbs coughed out and theorising that the little man's cheeks above the snow-flecked beard
were turning bright scarlet due to his stanglehold, Ninurta unceremoniously dumped Tibbs into the foot-deep whiteness.
The Gunman's attention went back to the blackness of the situation and what crazy shit they were involved with this time.

BIAD shook his head dog-like to cause a sprinkle of snow to add to the half-hearted flurry that loomed from the night sky.
Accepting his fate in his usual manner, the Man-Girl also stuck his tongue out to catch an icy flake. If he was wondering
what to do next -just like the verdant cat back on The Sprint, there was no indication.

The prone Tibbs swept snow from his robes and tried to do it with some dignity, Ninurta's appetite for rough discourse was
something he'd been warned about long ago and something he'd learned to endure. The irony of having the power to assist
civilisation and fail miserably when it came to the six-foot-tall man of the woods wasn't lost on him as he wiped his spectacles
clean.

Peerng up towards the subject of his musings, the Vithian realised something had caught Ninurta's attention and so, followed
the pistol-pointing Gunman's gaze to a faint glow that winked from far off.

"It was an anomaly with the Tracer Ring..." Tibbs snipped and moaned softly as he got to his feet. "... the bauble must have
taken some damage during one of your destructive treks". Tibbs fished about in his pocket and brought the shiny object out
into the frosty air.

Ignoring the small man's sarcastic comments and the revealed-instrument of their current dilemma, the creature with the flimsy
red attire and matching footwear leaned slightly forward as he also noticed the faint light. As Tibbs explained how the band of
three odd people had probably had passed through something he named a 'time-mesh', BIAD whispered to Ninurta
"You think it's a torch?"

The hunter-eyes of the tall man slitted against the wind-driven flurry of snow and his lips became thin lines as he responded
with "a lantern... maybe".

The small bearded man -realising his elucidation was being wasted to the blizzard and his less-academic partners, sighed and
squinted down at the amulet. Producing a small object from his other pocket, Tibbs shone a tight beam of light onto the face
of the broach and pondered where he and his friends were in time.
It took only a minute.

"You can put the gun away -Mr. Ninurta... you have nothing to fear tonight" Tibbs offered with confidence.
Putting the jewellery away, he suddenly turned to shuffle off towards the blinking light. BIAD looked up at his taller friend and
tilted his head to show his confusion.
Ninurta offered a toothy grin and shrugged his shoulders. "Come on Boy, let's see what craziness lies ahead" he whispered with
the nearest the Gunslinger could muster as enthusiasm.

Three sets of tracks showed their passage, a small shoe with a dragging coat, a large footprint with a long stride and odd-looking
high-heel mark that occasionally indicated that the owner was hopping and possibly being silly in the snow.
...........................................
(To Be Continued)
[Image: attachment.php?aid=953]
"They watch from behind complacent smiles whilst polishing their cutlery. Yet, with egg between the prongs"
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#2
So,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,Far,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,, minusculeclap
Once A Rogue, Always A Rogue!
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#3
Joseph looked up at Mary riding the tired donkey and struggled to maintain his pretence of sureness.
The snowstorm had taken it's toll on all three of them and the surrounding night proposed little in the way of support.
He'd estimated the eight miles to Bethlehem would be fairly easy and yet the journey so far, had taken them most of the day.

The snow had started in the afternoon and as the evening settled in, the anxious looks from his wife became more and more
of a concern to her husband and leader of the struggling animal.

"We can't stay out much longer" Mary said, the wind snatching the words away. Joseph nodded and pulled the donkey on through
a large drift. The lantern in his other hand spluttered and struggled in the blasts as his cajoling copied the gale-struck illumination.

The white downpour showed no indication of slowing up and Joseph whispered between his coaxings to the donkey, a prayer that
they were still on the road to Bethlehem. They had passed a half-hidden sign earlier, so Joseph guessed he wasn't too far off track.

It was just as Joseph contemplated any hope that a building could be found close by to wait out the snowstorm, when he saw the
three figures emerging from the darkness. At first, Joseph thought it was a man and his family, the little figure would be a son and
the long haired person struggling to keep up -would be the taller one's wife.

But if there is such a things as fate, Joseph and the son-of-God's mother were about to meet Ninurta, Boy In A Dress and Tibbs the
Vithian. We can only hope the yet-unborn baby will have mercy on their souls!

With a relieved wave, Joseph felt the chances of surviving this night improve greatly and he could see on Mary's face that she was
thinking the same. The donkey gave out a small bray to greet the newcomers as they stepped up to meet in the maelstrom.

"Greetings strangers, we seek shelter from this snow storm..." called Joseph as the wind increased, "...my wife is about to give issue
and we seem to be lost". He attempted a smile, but all the weary soon-to-be-father could only manage a grimace.
Mary's face also changed from a meek grin into a look of horror as she saw The Boy In A Dress in the the lantern light.
But before the shawl-wrapped woman could give voice to her terror, Tibbs took command of the situation.

"Fear not sweet lady, the person you see is a harmless creature, an accident at birth left him with this cursed disfigurement" Tibbs
announced and bowed slightly. During this act, the little man winked at BIAD and glanced at Ninurta who had neared the donkey.
Joseph watched the taller man with the strange clothes and the odd apparatus strapped about his waist as he stroked the beast's
nose and the carpenter pondered if this was a possible robbery.

"You're in luck Missus, I spied a building about a few hundred feet of here" Ninurta said easily and patted Mary's ass.
Joseph looked out into the blackness and wondered how the stranger could see anything out there, this dangerous-looking man
would certainly need watching.

Joseph guessed that the dwarf to be a sage or wise man, possibly the leader of the trio and so, Joseph turned to him, leaning close
to the bearded figure. "We are here to give birth to the Son of God and we are in fear of our lives from Herod's men" Joseph's voice
was low and yet firm.

Tibbs nodded and said "We are here to assist good Sir" and with that, the group moved off into the night.
Ninurta took point with the reins in one hand and the other resting on the jutting butt of the pistol in his belt.
...........................................


As Ninurta led the donkey along, the entire unlikely crew in tow, he pondered the situation. Sure, he was aware of the legends,
but never had much thought about a basis in reality.
If this WAS, in fact, a reality.

These little magic trinkets had dropped him into some unusual situations of late. On top of being some sort of cross-dimensional,
or cross-time, or cross something-geegaws, they seemed as well to somehow translate languages with a certain flair.

Not wanting to get too deeply into an over-analysis of things (Margo always said he had a tendency to over-analyse) Ninurta decided
it was sufficient to agree with whichever 20th century writer had said that any technology sufficiently advanced would be indistinguishable
from magic.
That settled it - it was all magic, and magic was real. No need for further explanations in the Gunman's mind.
He could move on to other things.

This Joseph fellow had insinuated that there might be trouble brewing with some petty tyrant's military muscle.
Ninurta strained, but couldn't quite recall the specifics of the legends. Something about a whole lot of kids being killed, and here he was
in party with a woman about to give birth. To a kid.

Eyeing the raging snowstorm, he figured that an imminent attack was the least of their worries.
Soldiers were soldiers, and they'd be loathe to get out into a mess like this when they could just as easily slay young-'uns when the storm
slacked up. That left shelter to be found. 

Ninurta had noticed, from the top of a hillock as they had trekked through the snow to meet this couple, a farmstead in the distance,
a bit further along the road. It was towards that goal that he led the tiny one-assed caravan. Most primitive societies had pretty stringent
rules as to hospitality, and he was hoping this one was no different.

Nearing the farmstead, he was surprised to note that the looks of it up close suggested that it was probably more of a way-station, which
brought him a bit of relief. No need to worry about hospitality when it could be had for a price. Upon arrival, the Gunman found a place in
the lee of a building that would keep the worst of the wind and snow off of the travellers while accommodations were being negotiated.

"Come on, Joe, let's go get some rooms. Once we get everyone settled, we can come back and look after your donkey".
The bearded man wearing a dishtowel on his head just blinked and said "Who?" evidently unaccustomed to being referred to as "Joe".
"Whaddaya think you are, an owl? YOU! Come on, let's get it done. Yer missus has been out in the cold long enough."
With that he set off for the hostelry, not even looking back to see if Joseph was following. Joseph scrambled to catch up, and the
two reached the door simultaneously.

Inside it was a seething mass of humanity, packed wall to wall with travellers. Forcing a way through the crowd, Ninurta found the
proprietor, with Joseph right on his heels to take advantage of the holes in the crowd the tall man made.
"Sir! Sir! We need a couple of rooms. Got two separate parties traveling together, but two rooms ought to do it - one apiece".
He hefted the coin bag that he had "liberated" from a bounty hunter from another yarn, for emphasis.

The Inn Keeper eyed the bag. He was loathe to turn away hard coin, but he just didn't have any rooms left.
This tall lunatic ought to have been able to figure that out just by looking around. "I'm sorry, sir, but I've got nothing left. As you can
see by looking around, I'm packed full. It this damnable census."
"Every man and his brother -and wife, and kids, and stock -well, everyone -is converging on Jerusalem. I've been slammed by it." 
The man looked haggard, and sincerely apologetic, but it appeared there was nothing he could do.

"Well, I might not have made myself clear. There's a pregnant woman in the party, and she's nigh on to bustin'. Looks like she's about
to deliver at any moment. We really NEED at least one room."

The Inn Keeper looked even more morose, but simply shifted from foot to foot, and shrugged. "Sorry, sir, but I REALLY have nothing
to spare." He gave his best helpless look along with the shrug.

Ninurta shifted gears. Maybe if this fellow saw a sale leaving, opinions may change.
"Alright, boss. How far to the next Inn? We might be able to make it in this... storm..." he left the thought trailing. The Inn Keeper looked
even more helpless, if that were possible.
"You're not likely to find much of anything. The whole area is slammed with outlanders in for the Census, as I said before.
The storm, well, it's got ALL of them looking for lodging. I daresay that everywhere is booked solid.
This is not even Jerusalem - this is Bethlehem, and you've still got a few miles to go to Jerusalem. It'll only get worse closer in."

He shrugged, again. That was getting annoying to the Gunman. He bit down on a response, considering the number of bodies between
himself and the exit and simply turned toward the door. "Let's go, Joseph. This cat ain't no help at all." and started toward the exit.

"Cat?" Joseph echoed, and started off with Ninurta. He really couldn't see any feline qualities to the Inn Keeper at all.
Seeing a sale about to walk out into the storm, the Inn Keeper had a sudden epiphany. "Wait!" he shouted, gaining the attention of the
pair. Ninurta abruptly turned at the hail, and Joseph, preoccupied with the imminent birth, nearly ran into him, then turned back to the
Inn Keeper himself.

"Speak..." the agitated Ninurta commanded the inn-keep. "...I've not got all night to find lodgings."
"Well..." stated the inn-keep, "...that's why I stopped you. Now, it's not much, but it could be at least shelter from the storm.
I've got a stable out back, a place where we shelter the livestock when the weather is inclement. You might be able to work out a place
in there, to at least stay out of the snow."
The Gunslinger's gaze darkened, and the Inn Keeper hurriedly added "Of course I'd not charge you the full price for an actual room."

Ninurta cut him off right there by leaning toward him and stating, just above a whisper, "If you shrug again, I'm gonna break both of
your shoulders." Somewhat more loudly, in a conversational tone, he continued "We've got one donkey. I'll pay you shelter and board
for two donkeys to let us stay there, not a damned dime more."

The inn-keep, not sure what a 'dime' was, started haggling immediately. "Well, now, I'm not sure I could go that low..." and tall man
in the strange garb cut him off again by leaning towards him and adopting the whisper again. "I'll bet you by God you CAN go that low!"
and he grinned that disturbing grin of his.

The Inn Keeper blanched. "Well, yes, of course. I see just what you mean. After all, it's not exactly world class accommodation...
I can probably accept that deal..."
Ninurta leaned back, and put on his lopsided grin, which was only slightly less disturbing.
"Alright, it's agreed then. We'll pay full price for meals, and what we've agreed to for 'lodgings'."

He dropped a couple of the strange, off-world coins into the innkeepers hand. The innkeeper looked at them, didn't recognize them,
but was well aware of the many unusual and foreign sorts of coin that came his way in this business, in this place.

He started to shrug, looked at his new guest, and thought better of it, merely pocketing the coins. "They'll do" he said, with an
obsequious smile. "Stables are out back. I'll send someone round later to see that you've settled in, and find out if there's anything
else you'll be needing."
Ninurta turned on his heel, and made for the door, with Joseph again in tow.
...........................................

(To Be Continued)
[Image: attachment.php?aid=953]
"They watch from behind complacent smiles whilst polishing their cutlery. Yet, with egg between the prongs"
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#4
Just before they rounded the corner to where the others waited, a group of four soldiers marched somewhat wearily from the
opposite direction to that from which they had come, making for the inn. Joseph eyed them, and nervously gulped "Herod's men.
They're certain trouble."

Ninurta looked at the soldiers and snorted. "Not so much. there's only four of 'em. Leave 'em to me if they get problematic."
Joseph just stared at the stranger like he was a crazy man, but said nothing. Obviously, this fellow had no idea when it came to
trained soldiers. Mary's husband figured that maybe the cold had gotten to the tall, skinny man's brain, but said nothing.

In the stable, Joseph started unpacking the donkey and setting up accommodations for Mary as far to the back as practicable,
after they had lit a couple of lamps for light. The rest set out clearing straw from the floor to build a fire.
"This'll have to be watched close..." the GunMan muttered "...All this straw makes this place a tinder box, but we gotta have
it fer the lady over there."

After the straw and detritus had been sufficiently cleared away, Ninurta scooped out a pit in the floor to help contain the fire and
lit it, using a bit of straw to kindle it and some broken sticks laying around to build it which BIAD and Tibbs had gathered up.
Not long after everything was set up, Mary went into labour in earnest. Joseph was lost, and somewhat frantic.
He'd never attended to a birthing, and the realization suddenly hit home.

In common with first-time fathers throughout the ages, he had not a clue what to do. Ninurta didn't, either. He wasn't any sort
of a doctor, beyond patching up battlefield wounds long enough to get the victim to a real medic. Boy In A Dress came to the rescue,
sidling up to Ninurta and whispering "all those folks in the inn - there's bound to be someone there who can help. A midwife or doctor
or something. You might want to check into that.... soon?"

It was as if a light bulb had lit up above his head - 2000 years before there even was such a thing.
"Grand idea, BIAD! Maybe you ought to comfort Mary -you'd be better at it, I think, than anyone here." Raising his voice a bit more,
he spoke to the dwarf. "Tibbs,.keep a eye on that fire - don't let it get out of hand."

Then to Joseph "JOSEPH! Yer makin' the critters restless with your bad nerves. Come with me. We got to find a doctor or something.
Let's go" and started for the inn.
The flustered father-to-be, not knowing just what to do, automatically fell in with the command.
At least here was SOMETHING he could do.

After making a few inquiries inside the bustling inn, Joseph finally found a real live midwife. Not a resident there, but a guest, just
passing through for the census. She said she's be out directly, after she'd gathered a few things up that would be necessary.
Joseph and Ninurta headed back to the stables.
As they cleared the door of the inn, the soldiers -all four of them -followed and stopped them outside.

"You there! Did I hear you right, saying a birth was about to happen?" Ninurta and Joseph stopped dead in their tracks, but it was the tall
man that turned around. "Why sure! what of it?" he grinned - the toothsome grin, not the happy one. It looked as if his estimate of what
these soldiers would do had been a bit off.
"Show us where. We've a job to do." the soldier replied with a girded-tone of authority.

"And what sort of 'job' have you got involving an infant?" Ninurta responded as the soldiers approached closer.
"That's not your concern, you idiot! Who are you to question the kings men? Lead us to it -NOW -or life is about to get hard for you, serf."

Joseph was near frantic, but the Gunman's grin got even wider, showing more tooth. "Idiot, am I? Well cap, with a winning personality
like you've got, how can I refuse? And I SURE don't want MY life getting rough!" He looked back to Joseph, who gave all appearances of
being prepared to strangle the taller-man with his bare hands.

"Joe, you go on and check on yer ass, whilst I show these gents to the birthing room" and he threw Joseph a wink. "It's right THIS way,
gentlemen" Ninurta said to the waiting quartet and with an almost servile stance to the soldiers, he indicated a direction that went between
two nearby buildings, rather than the path to the stables.
"We've got 'em all snugged up in a storage shed over here.... follow me" and he set off for the alleyway.

The soldiers followed, and Joseph skittered back to the stable with a warning - they'd have to pack up and get out of there, before the
soldiers finished flaying the oddly-acting Gunman. He had to wonder at the tall man's apparent willingness to sacrifice himself for strangers.

A few minutes later, Joseph was standing in the mouth of the stable with a pole in his hand, watching, as the rest were pretending to pack
up at his warning. Pretending, because the Man-Girl had realized that, no matter what, Mary was in no condition to travel now.
That was when Joseph glanced over his shoulder and saw a tall, lean figure approaching, appearing to coalesce out of the snow storm itself.
Just one.

He breathed a sigh of relief when he recognized Ninurta, but he kept peering into the storm behind Ninurta, his knuckles whitening with
his death-grip on the pole, looking for the soldiers. "Where'd they go?" he asked easy-strolling Ninurta when the other had approached
close enough for hearing. "Oh... they recalled another engagement" the Gunslinger responded simply.

Joseph's eyes narrowed. "Another engagement? In this?" he peered at their new -and seemingly enigmatic escort, more closely.
"Where are they REALLY? We've got to get out of here before they come." he said in a worried tone. "You can only misdirect them
so far... but they'll be back"
Ninurta pulled Joseph aside and whispered "they're not gonna be a problem - unless we're still here when this snow melts."

Tibbs looked up from his task and decided to remain quiet. Good or bad, Ninurta did what he did best and no amount of
rebuking would make any difference. He kept on with sweeping the floor.
Joseph stared without comprehension at the man in the buckskin attire, so the man with the dangerous eyes added
"They're in a snowbank out there. I don't want to still be here when it melts off of them, get it?." he stated simply.

Joseph wasn't believing that, not for an instant. "Four armed and trained soldiers of the king, against only you, and you're
telling me that they've been vanquished? By just YOU?"

Ninurta gave him a lopsided grin, and said "Yeah, I know. They were outnumbered from the start. Didn't have a chance."
Joseph studied this character in an already situation of chaos for a moment, looking for any sign of guile.

Finally, he said "So you're a soldier, too?" "Used to be" Ninurta responded. "Don't know if I am now or not. I don't really
know WHAT I am now. Traveling guardsman, I reckon, but whatever I am, those soldiers ain't gonna bother any one any more."
Then, the GunMan abruptly switched the subject, to cut off any further questioning. "So what is it YOU do fer a living, Joseph?"

Joseph, still not sure of whether they were really safe or not, simply said "I'm a carpenter" in a distracted sort of way.
"Izzat so? My name used to be Carpenter." Ninurta commented, staring into the swirling snows, and noting the approach
of the midwife, finally.

Joseph, having a sudden thought, said with widened eyes "Tell me the truth, mister. Are you folk angels? Did God send you?"
That question took Ninurta by surprise.
"Angels? Why hell no, I sure ain't no 'angel'! I reckon it's like Tibbs told you - we're just here to help."

As the midwife entered the ranshackle stable and set about her business, Ninurta stared at the swirling, nearly hypnotic snow,
and suddenly realized he was back on Earth - a home that no longer existed in his time. A place he thought he'd never see again.
After a moment, he cleared his throat and wiped an eye, and answered in a subdued voice.
"As far as who sent me, I can't be rightly sure of that. All I can say for certain is that it's good to be back home for Christmas."

Joseph looked perplexed. "For what?" This tall scrawny fellow sure had an odd way of expressing himself with strange foreign
phrases.
...........................................
(To Be Continued)
[Image: attachment.php?aid=953]
"They watch from behind complacent smiles whilst polishing their cutlery. Yet, with egg between the prongs"
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#5
The snow eased slightly with just the occasional flurry passing the stable doorway. Ninurta contemplated Joseph's comment on
Angels and a half-smile played on his lips as he watched the stars began to poke through the storm. The strange creature known
as BIAD busied himself heating water in a ancient bucket over the fire and Tibbs made Mary comfortable near the rickety manger
at the rear of the building.

Angels... guardians that held sway at the gates of Heaven? Winged beings that carried a message of good or noble soldiers of God
that were sometimes wrestled to the ground...? Ninurta, leaning on the doorframe, sighed to himself and scanned the darkness for
any more trouble.

Joseph had finished rubbing the donkey down and now the animal dozed in the glow of the home-made fire. The Carpenter folded
the rough blanket that had doubled as a saddle and ambled over to the tall man. "May I ask if taking the lives of those soldiers
makes you melancholy?" Joseph asked softly.
He was still wary of the figure at the doorway, but he counted himself lucky to have such a fierce warrior on his side.

Ninurta shook his head as if ridding himself of useless thoughts and turned to the man in the dull-green robes.
"I have no worries on that part, fella" he muttered and glanced over at Mary who was smiling at the midwife's advice.
"I go along-to get along unless someone doesn't like it..." he said at the weary-looking man "... then I make that problem
go away" The stoic Gunman treated Joseph to a smile that told the worker of wood that the damned truly did exist.

The Boy In A Dress carried the bucket over to the large bowl that had been 'borrowed' from the Innkeeper and the two men
at the door smiled to each other as the ever-grinning Man-Girl manoeuvred around some stone-hard dung with a serious look
on his eyeless face in his high heels. "Oh my" he muttered to nobody.

The midwife bathed Mary's forehead as the contractions started and asked Tibbs to bring the lantern nearer to the situation,
Tibbs wasn't used to having to take orders, but did as asked without response.

Then the light in the stable improved as if a spotlight had been lit from the sky, Ninurta's hand slid to the knife in his belt and
Joseph sucked in air as the tall man in the home-made garb changed his stance to move low and fast towards the small window
in the stable's left wall.

BIAD put the bucket down and suddenly leapt in the air, grabbing the gnarled beam above the hermaphrodite.
In one movement, the bare-legged creature swung away into the light-pricked darkness of the eaves.
Joseph, Mary, Tibbs and the Midwife looked on in awe at the parry of a possible attack.

Then a chuckle rose from where Ninurta leaned at the window looking up into the night sky.
"It's the star... I don't believe it... it's the star" the chuckling GunMan exclaimed and glanced back into the stable. Joseph nodded
and kneeled down to speak to Mary, "the message is coming to pass my love... you truly are the mother of God".
Mary's husband's tone was serious and the midwife at her side looked on with a dawning realisation.

The woman who had delivered many babies in her time ran then... this was all too much and as she fled, the coins Ninurta had
given her, clinked and spun on the hay-strewn table floor. Boy In A Dress moved across the room using the roof-supports as
stepping stones.

Moments passed before the watching Gunslinger requested his weird clambering friend to come down quickly and stop showing
unnecessary 'physical attributes' -shall we say?; and this brought a levity to the situation (including some slight shock from Mary)
but the electricity in the air dissipated.

Tibbs got to his feet and leaving the couple talking quietly to each other, the small man ambled over to the Gunman and the now
-descended Man-Girl.
"As you may know, Sages and Men of Note have debated on your planet for centuries on whether this event actually happened
and here we are in a reality... a 'time-pocket' that may or may not be an actual reality" Tibbs placed his lined hand on the doorframe
and looked out into the star-lit snow that glittered around the stable.

Hoping his narrative was getting though, he continued.
"So if the tale is true, we will be having visitors... Mary is about to give birth and it may be a good idea if Joseph is out of the way
for that time" Tibbs nodded to himself and then looked into Ninurta's eyes. "You're an Angel... whether you like it or not..." he warned
his taller friend. "...Take Joseph and and find these visitors... there'll be Kings, Wise-men and the sheep-herders" he also advised.

The rangy man with the big gun on his hip again smiled out into the darkness as Tibbs laid it all out and Boy In A Dress wondered
if his friend would accept the instructions or possibly toss the little Vithian into the dark night without another thought. Tibbs waited
as he looked at the Gunman's pose at the door or 'Gates of Heaven' as Ninurta had pondered on earlier.

The man who had been dragged unwillingly across the universe and had killed without remorse nodded his agreement and BIAD
heard the hiss of relief from Tibbs' tensed lips. "You..." Tibbs snapped with more authority towards BIAD "... you will assist in getting
the kid into this world"  Boy In A Dress gulped and the familiar grin faltered for a couple of seconds.

As BIAD's half-hidden features struggle to adjust, Ninurta guffawed at the Man-Girl's concerns.
"You got the easy part BIAD" the Gunslinger quipped with a smile that didn't reach his yes, he stood to his full height and called out
to the fretting husband of the God-child's mother.  "Heh... Joseph..." he called "... we've got VIPS's to see to, come on... vamoose!"
With that announcement, Ninurta stepped out into the bright star-lit night.
...........................................

Ninurta and Joseph passed by the noisy Inn without anyone noticing them and made their way along the snow-covered road to the East.
The once-Security Chief of a space travelling Federation, now trudged the highways and byways of Bethlehem on a cold Christmas Eve
and to most folk, the acceptance of such a world-changing event would humble them to tears.
Ninurta simply accepted it as part of his life.

Sometime back -in a firefight with a group of mercenaries, the tall man with the lop-sided grin had pondered his existence and had
wondered why the many responsibilities heaped on those broad scarred shoulders had only ever brought misery to others around
him and left himself with a feeling of accepted emptiness.

That feeling had become an old friend and folk like Joseph would only ever fear him and never know that once he had a family...
a home where he could rest. Ninurta sighed to himself and checked the bullets in his pistol.

There were no Roman soldiers roaming the road and Ninurta wagered that the weather may be making them stay indoors tonight.
"Up ahead... about half-a-mile... incoming" the Gunman rasped and glanced back at the shivering Joseph. The shapes in the night
were tall, probably people on horseback and Ninurta corrected his thoughts with 'camel-back'

The dark-haired Carpenter nodded and straightened his head-dress, he couldn't see what his companion had seen but accepted
that this 'guardian Angel' had seen something.

The stable glowed behind them from the down-coming light and Ninurta had to squint to see the burning star high above.
He realised that the building could be seen from miles around and that may not be a good idea.
That's when the star stopped shining it's beam.

Ninurta chuckled to himself and guessed that the powers-that-be may well of been a good soldier in the past... the lop-sided grin
prompted Joseph to ask what was so humorous. The Gunslinger showed a row of even teeth and said "Our chances of surviving
this night may have just improved" He raised his eyebrows to show that even he could be surprised.

...........................................

(To Be Continued)
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"They watch from behind complacent smiles whilst polishing their cutlery. Yet, with egg between the prongs"
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#6
The Kings came into view ten minutes later and the group following on foot carried enough baggage to fill the stable to the gills.
Ninurta made a mental note to check the bundles later for any goods they'll need to keep himself, Boy In A Dress and the annoying
Tibbs going. There was no indication that they would be getting back to the Sprint any time soon and it was prudent to look after
the 'now' and not dwell too much on the future.

"Good evening Sir... does the boy-King reside yonder?" the white-bearded man riding the steam-blowing camel asked and the tone
implied an answer was common.
Ninurta steeled himself from drawing the gun and taking the old guy's crown off with a bullet and called "yep... the stable is waiting
your mightiness". He didn't like the taste of those last words.

The thin-faced Royal in the fur coat on the left of 'white-beard' bowed slightly from his mount and said "we thank you Angel and
now we go to give tributes" Ninurta nodded and scanned the slipping and sliding servants with their bulky burdens.
The other King said nothing, but as he passed the two men standing in the cold, he leaned over and offered a handful of gold coins,
Ninurta ignored the money, but Joseph took them and thanked the crowned man with the jewelled sceptre.

As the final part of the entourage passed by, Ninurta spotted the long swords hanging from the well-muscled guards' belts.
With one deft movement, the Gunman slid one from the guard's scabbard in one fluid motion. The guard whirled to attempt to
reclaim his weapon, but Ninurta slipped the blade under the chin of the guard and any ideas of retrieval left the guard's mind.

"Let him be soldier!..." the bearded King called from the front of the group, "...he is the Emissary Of The Lord and will smite thee
without thought" The guard's eyes widened and wickedly-smiling Ninurta said softly "You'd better listen to yer' boss there fella...
or bad things could happen unto you"

The frightened guard hurried to catch up with group and left Joseph and his Angel alone at the roadside. The cold was enough
to make Joseph shiver, but Ninurta wondered if the Carpenter was shivering out of fear. "Come on Joe, we've others to meet..."
he said amiably and clapped the shaking man on the shoulder. "... I've got wings to earn before this night's through!"
The two trudged on.
...........................................

The terrified Boy In A Dress delivered the child without incident and with Tibbs assisting until the little man passed out at the end.
Mary now laid on the blankets that the Man-Girl had acquired from the Inn and due to the baby's future exploits, he forgave the
men who wolf-whistled as he'd left the establishment.

The baby now slept in his mother's arms and as Boy In A Dress stood up to bring some more kindling for the fire, Mary reached up
and took the eyeless creature's long finger nailed-hand. "You've been kind beyond kindness good Sir, for whatever reasons the Lord
as made you this way, I am sure you will be rewarded in Heaven"
Mary's voice was soft and easy on BIAD's assumed-ears and the being that would one day be cursed as the Devil himself, nodded and
ignored the sudden lump in his throat.

Tibbs came out of his faint a few minutes later and apologised for his weakness, the ever-forgiving hermaphrodite merely patted the
little man on the head, smiled and went about his chores. Mary sat up and watched the two men tidying the stable ready for the visitors
and a serene feeling fell over her... it seemed things were going to be okay.

BIAD heard the crunching of snow first and went to the stable door to greet the strangers. The sight of camels and glinting crowns told
the hermaphrodite that the Kings were the first of the trio of visitors. "Is it my husband?" Mary asked and it was Tibbs who answered.
"My Lady, your husband is helping our friend to find the people that were told of in the Scriptures..." Tibbs announced "... there are
certain things that must come to pass"

Mary looked down at the swaddled boy in her arms and whispered "I fear for my husband's safety, there are many who seek to thwart
my child's growth".
Boy In A Dress looked over from the doorway and offered "He's with Ninurta, I doubt any harm will befall him in his company"
Tibbs patted the donkey's nose as he passed the holding pen and muttered to himself "yes, but I'll wager Ninurta will find ways of
harming others... it's his gift".
The last words were almost spat out.

The Magi stepped up to the stable door and in unison dropped to their knees in prayer, Boy In A Dress absently eyed the silk in their
coats and wondered if one of them would barter... he'd ask later.

"I am Melichior and I seek audience with the holy child" said the white-bearded man in the golden robes, his face showed authority and
demanded respect. Even with light not being the best, the residents of the stable could all see that he display of humbleness sat foreign
on him.

"I am Jaspar, King of all south of this land, I offer all to the Son Of God" -this from the thin-faced gent with the kind eyes, in his arms
he held the white-fur coat and showed it was offered to the sitting Mary. The third man held an ornate wooden chest and though the
lid partly was down Tibbs and BIAD both, could see the pile of jewels heaped inside.
"I am Balthassar and give homage to the Light Of The World" he stuttered and the crowned man seemed to be weeping as he spoke.

Tibbs stepped forward and asked the three Kings to stand up, waving away assistance from their servants, the aged men got to their
feet and followed the little man inside. Boy In A Dress stood meekly to one side and all three Royals gawped with mouths open at the
sight of the voluptuous being in the tight red dress and high heels, yet it was Melichior who winked at -what he believed was someone
who would make a fine handmaiden.

"My... you're a fine woman, are you the midwife?" he asked and the blushing raven-haired vassal with the long fringe stood to attention
and nodded. The hermaphrodite had never been in the company of royalty before and he had always wanted to try on one of those tiaras.

Tibbs showed his eyeless associate a look of warning as he hurried the three Kings on towards where Mary and the baby were laid.
Without another word and without any indication that their Regality was being slighted, the old men sat down on the straw-scattered
floor near the nativity scene.

As everything settled down and the Kings sat in awe of the snoozing baby, Boy In A Dress went back to the stable doorway and hummed
'Running On Empty' by Jackson Browne as he peered out into the cold night. Ignoring the group of tent-pitching servants and guards,
BIAD looked beyond and wondered how his friend was faring.
Tibbs accompanied the Man-Girl at the entrance and guessed at the thoughts trapped inside that strange head of creature who shunned
underwear.

The Vithian knew of BIAD's destiny and had been unsuccessful in convincing him that a day would come when the affable hermaphrodite's
current demeanour would alter like metal-filings swiped with a magnet. An entire civilisation would turn to Boy In A Dress for leadership
and the power would sully his present disposition.
Boy In A Dress had denied such a possibility, but the look Ninurta had given the confused Man-Girl told him that such shadows lay waiting
in the tall grass of his future.

"Don't worry yourself Mr. Devil, our gun-happy friend will find the wise men... our only concern is whether it'll be down the sights of a
gun barrel" BIAD pursed his lips in disapproval.
...........................................


The couple comprised of a weary newly-titled father and man who had lost everything and cared little for anything, trudged along,
searching for the next group of travellers who would need to be guided in. The two men each lost in his own thoughts.

For his part, Ninurta was preoccupied with the odd realization that he wasn't as cold as he thought he ought to be, given the circumstances.
A soldiers life was often harsh, having to deal with whatever conditions that the weather saw fit to throw at him, learning how to sleep,
eat, and act in mud, rain, cold, or oppressive heat.

Whatever was there, that was a soldier's lot to deal with, and one learned to adjust. Still, the GunMan had never been overly fond of the
cold, and had always been susceptible to it's constant gnawing. Strangely, the cold that ought to be gnawing at him and soaking in, seemed
to be held at bay.

He'd learned long ago that one could imagine a spark of heat, internal to oneself, radiating outward to mitigate some of the cold,
just a bit of mind over matter, but this was somehow different. It seemed more external, as if the cold weren't really there at all
-which Ninurta could plainly see just by looking around WAS there.

Joseph broke the silence, and Ninurta's thoughts. "The Little Man -Tibbs, he said that you ARE an angel, yet you've denied that."
it was more of a question than a statement. "Can't take too much of what Tibbs says as Gospel, Joe." was his companion's reply.

"As what?" Joseph asked, checking his numbed-feet were still there. "Never mind. All I'm saying is that just because some little guy 
that looks like one of Santa's elves tries to give me a promotion doesn't necessarily make it so."

"One of who's-whats?" Joseph asked, a confused look on his face. Ninurta sighed. "Never mind again. Just a local legend from my
home country..." he responded. "...I just am who I am."

Joseph's eyes widened, fear causing the whites to show.
"You are 'I Am'?" and he started to drop to his knees, right there in the snow, as Ninurta realized his mistake.

"NO! Get up Joe, you'll freeze to death wallering around in that snow! That's not what I meant at all..." the Gunman snapped. 
As he picked the scared man back up and dusted the snow from him, Ninurta continued. "I'm just me. A man, just like you or any
one of those fellas that just left us, bound for the stable. Just me." he finished.

Joseph eyed him, not entirely convinced. "The foreign king - he told his man that you were 'a Emissary of the Lord'. That spells 'angel'
around here. Pretty much just as Tibbs had said -yet he couldn't have misheard Tibbs. And the way you made FOUR of Herod's men
just vanish... No mere man could do that against four trained soldiers... and the cold."

It seemed the recent panic of a supernatural Guardian of God had loosened the Carpenter's tongue and so he continued with his hurried
monologue. "You're not at all dressed for it, yet I've not seen so much as a single shiver from you. No, sir, there's something about your
claim that just don't add up against what I see" he finished.

Ninurta's jaw clenched. "Let's reach an understanding, Joe. I'm not a 'sir' to anyone. I work fer a living. Moreover, I'm a nobody.
Nobody at all - just a pretty highly-trained and somewhat experienced nobody. That's all I a... all I claim to be. Nothing more."

The pair trudged on a bit further in silence, Joseph still not convinced by Ninurta's words in the face of evidence to the contrary.
At length, Joseph spoke up again. "All you claim to be. I understand how your kind tends to try moving around unnoticed.
Your secret is safe with me, then."

The rarely-amused Gunman released a long, exasperated sigh, stopped, hung his head, and shook it vigorously. When he raised his
head again, Ninurta noticed in the distance, yet another group of travellers which gained his immediate attention.
Folks won't be out and about on a night like this without cause. That must be the next bunch, he mused.

"Over there, Joseph. Looks like we've got more visitors. Let's go round 'em up - but this time YOU get to roll out the welcome mat.
I'm just along for the ride." Joseph stared at him, puzzled. "Roll out the what? You sure seem to have trouble with plain Hebrew,
for a celestial emissary."

Ninurta resisted the urge to slap some sense into Joseph, and merely remarked "I ain't from around here."
He was going to have to have a little word with Tibbs over this.
"I thought not." was all Joseph said. The odd couple headed towards the next group of visitors, Ninurta shaking his head in frustration.
...........................................

(To Be Continued)
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"They watch from behind complacent smiles whilst polishing their cutlery. Yet, with egg between the prongs"
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#7
The Wise-men were just over a slight rise of the road and they were arguing. Ninurta and Joseph heard them before seeing them 
the theme for this evening was God's plants being used as medicine without calling it 'Devil's work' The nearest wise man to the
Gunslinger held a nobbled staff and a dirty-grey sack and he seemed to be the loudest.

The other two walked backwards and forwards across the snow-speckled track and threw different points of view at the man with
the stick. Calisto, the ancient men would introduce themselves later -was debating the moral aspect of saving lives against breaking
certain dogma.

Ninurta's newly-acquired sword swung in the night and the top of the Wiseman's staff flew off into the darkness.
"Enough!" the Gunslinger shouted and the trio of supposed knowledge-holders became silent. Joseph stepped past his colleague
with the broad-blade sword and spoke to Calisto with a weakened pose.

"My name is Joseph and my wife is to be the mother of the Son Of God... you are here to pay tribute?" Joseph leaned low and took
the grey bag from the claw-like hands of the Wise man.

"Thank you kind Sir, it is true that I Calisto and my two Rogues of the Nation are here to seek the Light of World" the toothless man
with the staff whispered with a smile and Joseph thought he could smell cheap wine on his breath. Ninurta counted backwards from
fifty and let his breath plume out slowly in the evening air.

"I apologise for our behaviour -young fellow..." Calisto called over Joseph's shoulder to the tall swordsman "... our discussions can
become quite heated" An icy smile shone across Ninurta's face and he held the weapon close to his face. "Yer' can talk until the cows
come home -later, but if you and your pals don't get along soon, we're gonna debate whether I twist this in your guts or just take your
damned head off!"
There were intakes of breaths all round and even Joseph gasped at this sudden appearance of assumed-annoyance.

The three old men nodded in unison and continued their journey along the road. Joseph gathered himself and approached Ninurta
with an earnest look on his face. "My wife will be needing me and these aged folk may need help to get to the stable. I suppose
what I'm saying is... can you find the others tonight?"

Ninurta knew he could travel faster alone and nodded at the simple Carpenter. Joseph placed a hand on the tall man's forearm and
said softly "thank you... you're a good man." The narrow-eyed Gunslinger wondered if the woodworker knew what the expression
'silver-tongued' meant.

As the group wandered off towards the glow of the town, Ninurta called to the back of Calisto's balding pate.
"By the way fella, what did you mean Rogue Of Nations?" The old man with the yellowing beard turned and smiled sagely.
"Don't kid a kidder -son, we know which website you're from" he fired back and his smile broadened at the surprised look
on the face of the angry young man with the sword.

Ninurta -featureless, glanced at the reader of this story, turned and slipped away into the dark.
...........................................


The now-impatient Ninurta held the squirming shepherd by the heavily-repaired smock a few inches from the trodden snow
and hissed that if the simple man didn't lower his screaming, this 'Angel of The Lord' would toss him indignantly into the campfire.
The shepherd -not well educated, but aware of self-preservation, fell silent immediately.
The other two sheep herders sat cowering at the cliff face and held each other's hands in dread.

The camp was quiet except for the crackling of burning sticks and smouldering dried sheep dung. Ninurta  gritted his teeth and
pushed the mewling man over to where his friends shivered in fear. The herd of sheep in their pen of broken brush and rocks
watched with black doll's eyes as the tall man in the buckskin-like clothes stood over the three shepherds and collected his thoughts.

Ninurta didn't like this play-acting, his nature demanded straight facts and un-flowered prose, he was going against his 'grain'.
The worlds that he'd visited held no mysteries, no magic... just a different perspective on reality and the man once called Carpenter
knew that his existence had continued because of his steel disciplines.
'Oh, to hell with it!' he decided and felt that regular cohort of tension subside.

"I am an Angel, You have been sought out to visit the town to the West of here and there you will find a stable".
Ninurta kept his voice even and strong, a statement laced with a warning always guaranteed he would only be saying it once.
Subconsciously gritting his teeth, he continued. "In this stable is the Son Of God and you WILL pay homage"

The wavering backdrop of flames from the campfire made the figure before the shepherds look like a creature from the opposite
of heaven. The glinting sword that slowly moved from side-to-side added to the stranger's menacing voice.

Ninurta had come across the far-too-large campfire about thirty minutes after leaving the Wise men, and the flitting thought of how
wise one can be to be out on a night like this -passed and his usually cold-displaying eyes gleamed with humour. It was this current
group he needed to focus on now.

The Shepherd that the GunMan had snatched first, gulped and nodded his head so vigorously that the tall man wondered if the
shaggy-bearded skull would just fly off and bounce into the sheep pen. The other two just clutched each other closer and with
wide eyes, continued to watch the slowly-swinging blade.

So that was it, a few minutes later, the shepherds had gathered their baggage and released the skidding and sliding sheep onto
the unpaved road. Ninurta watched from the camp and secretly enjoyed the warmth from the raging fire.

He was alone again and with a slight bite of reluctance, moved away from the flames. The light would make him an easy target,
although he doubted the soldiers would be out this far. One of the shepherds -under non-negotiable instructions from Ninurta,
had left a canvas satchel and the man who had survived alone most of his life -fashioned a back-scabbard for the sword.

After a couple of shrugs and an adjustment of sword-sheaf on his back, a more-content-than-usual Ninurta set off after the
simple-minded shepherds. "Let's get this over with" he spoke to the stars and felt nothing when they didn't agree with his
statement.
...........................................

Having gathered up everyone that the legends said had gathered for the birth, Ninurta started the trek back to the stable.
As he walked along through the snow, he pondered how very different the reality of a situation was from the legends that grew
around that folklore.

Ninurta had a strong suspicion that nothing ever happened precisely as it was recorded, but contained just enough of the facts
to keep the legends on track. Furthermore, he had a sneaking suspicion that very few of the people present at world-changing
events ever realized the import of what was going on right before their eyes -at least not until years later.

That led him to still-further thoughts of what events he had been present at in his own time that would be seen as history-making
events in the future of his own time. Of course, the future of his own time was the future of this time as well, once removed.
Thinking too deeply on THAT cycle could a distraction, so he backed-off of such thoughts for the time being.

As he came within sight of the stable, he realized that the glow coming from therein was far too bright to be accounted for by
the feeble, primitive oil lamps that had been lit before he and Joseph set out on this night's labours.
Of course! The fire! It must have gotten out! The stable was on fire!
"Holy Mother of God!" escaped from his lips as he stood horrified at the thought of having bungled the job that badly.

A voice whispered into his ear from mere millimetres away, a stage-whisper that gave him a start.
"You got THAT right! So you've finally seen the Light, eh?" 
Ninurta jumped at the shock of having someone sneak that closely up on him undetected. The jump flowed smoothly into a spin,
as he turned and grabbed for the voice-box attached to the whisper with a claw-like hand.

His hand closed around nothingness. Looking frantically around, he saw that there was no one there. He was completely alone on
the hillock in the cold night. Not even any footprints other than his own. His apparent solitude notwithstanding, there was no doubt
his mind that he HAD heard a voice.

Standing momentarily stunned and perplexed, he heard a chuckle drift off into the night air that made his other hand reach for his
pistol. Ninurta was shaken to the core by that experience, more so than he had been in the past SEVERAL years. Still, he had a job
to do.
He had to help put that fire out!

Taking off at a dead run towards the stables, he covered as much ground as quickly as he could, long, fast, loping strides carrying him
onward. Nearing the stable, the Gunslinger was even more perplexed to see that none of those gathered outside the door was making
any effort at all to help with the fire.

They all seemed to be frozen, transfixed by the sight of the scene in the stable. It was beyond Ninurta how anyone could just stand
paralyzed and watch an occupied building burn.

Huffing and puffing from the exertion of the run, Ninurta slowed his velocity with an unsteady slide on the packed-down snow outside
the doorway of the stable and without a word, began to shove his way through the smiling crowd and saw... that there was no fire
other than the normal fire they had lit earlier.

Instead, what he had thought was a blaze was a bright glow, emanating from a manger in the back of the stable, a strangely familiar
tableaux situated around it. As the realisation that his constant torment called danger had not visited the broken-down abode and
the only people in the whole universe that he'd ever gave a crap about weren't at the mercy of that mocking peril, the heavy-breathing
Gunman's usual mental state felt out of its normal setting.

Taking a single faltering step towards the scene as if hypnotically drawn to it, Ninurta thought better of it. "I ain't got no business in
there, nossir, no business at all" and he turned and wedged his way back out into the night air.

Back outside, the GunMan recalled the trouble with Herod's men that Joseph had spoken of, and his own miscalculation of what
Herod's soldiers would be up to on a night such as this. "Still need a guard" he mumbled to himself and knew he was building walls
in his mind in order to keep his mental blade sharp.

Killing and the burden of killing was something he alone should wrestle with and for others to know of his natural stance on life
-that is: 'get them before they get you', had no place in a room of genuine joy and infantile innocence.

Best to embrace the pariahship he'd enforced on himself so long ago, best to put to use the the skills he'd honed as an outcast
and put a halt to this wasteful self-analysis. The gloom came to him like a lover and once again, Ninurta owned the night.

He had always had excellent night vision, and the snow reflecting the starlight assisted that greatly. To the man who'd grown-up
in a forest where darkness was an ally, it was nearly as bright as day. Still, there was only so much a man could see from ground level.

Looking around for a higher vantage point to observe from, he realized that the only one available was on the roof of the stable itself.
Sighing, Ninurta checked his equipment to make sure it was secure for a climb, jumped and grabbed the eave and hoisted himself up
to the roof.

Skirting areas that looked like weakened thatch, he walked up the roof to the ridge, then along the crest of it, and situated himself
at the front, right on the gable-peak. He was on sentry duty now, a commission he felt better with than those beneath the snow-laden
gambrel where he was now standing.

Alone up there with just the stars and the blackness of the land for company, he concentrated on his task of observing the surrounding
countryside and looking for any movement. This was who he was... this -he reckoned, was probably why he was and promptly slammed
the lid on the sneaking inception that threatened to distract him again.

Ninurta wiped sweat from his brow -yes, he was actually sweating in this cold -and mumbled to no one in particular:
"God, 'Ah don't need this!"

Immediately, he heard the same disembodied stage whisper, this time from directly in front of him, say "I suppose you must have
read the program at some point, because you seem to have all the characters listed now - but remember, fear can be a GOOD thing."
then it chuckled and drifted off into the air again.
Ninurta was certain it turned into a guffaw just before it trailed out altogether.

At that precise instant, the bright star, which had up until now been co-operating with him, blinked back on, adding it's brilliance to the
roaring glow emanating from the stable. "Oh, great, I'm skylighted again!" Ninurta exclaimed, raising his hands in exasperation.

He didn't even consider the appearance he projected to the crowd below, which included the shepherds he had motivated into coming
here by telling them that he was "an Angel". BIAD hopped on his high-heels and clapped with glee as Ninurta stood red-faced on the
stable roof and 'glowed' with the supernatural aura.
Tibbs held his head in his hands and muttered under his breath, he was certain this wouldn't be omitted from future records.

The embarrassed Gunslinger waved weakly at the grinning Man-Girl and the Vithian, the Holy star's rays sparkled with a fine dust
that alighted in the tall man's unruly hair. Two of the Kings had also come outside to see what the commotion was and even Joseph
popped his head outsideof the stable door to see what they were certain was the 'Angel's ascension'!

Ninurta attempted to focus on his task of watching for any intruders, but after twenty seconds he knew he was a sitting-duck with
the 'Bethlehem Beam' proclaiming his whereabouts to everyone in a mile radius. Climbing back down and keeping his dignity with
a well-footed landing, the ruddy-faced Gunman seemed to spend too-much time on adjusting his satchel and checking his
sword-sheath.

"We are delighted you decided to stay with us..." Joseph offered and dared to touch the tall man's forearm, "...for my wife and I
are about to name our child" Ninurta grunted and tossed a weather-eye out into the gloom, his mind ran with questions about all
this and for the first time in a long time, he felt vulnerable.

"Sure Joe, let's get the kid tagged, huh?" the Gunman offered a lop-sided grin. Joseph beamed back and with a sweep of his arm,
invited Ninurta, Tibbs and their eternally-grinning dress-wearing friend to re-enter the stable.
...........................................


(To Be Continued)
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"They watch from behind complacent smiles whilst polishing their cutlery. Yet, with egg between the prongs"
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#8
Inside, the kings, Wise Men and Shepherds were all milling around talking to each other and the smell of the stable had altered,
the sheep were all crammed  into the pens and Tibbs remarked that at the very best, the warmth had improved.
Joseph pushed his way through the crowd and placed an arm around Mary's shoulder, his wife was now standing and rocking
the baby in her arms.

Boy In A Dress seemed distracted with something close to the ground and Ninurta spotted a lamb rubbing it's head against the
Man-Girl's shin.

Joseph asked for quiet and waved his arms to request the group to sit down. Murmurs and groans followed as the old men bent
creaking joints and sore muscles. BIAD knelt down and lifted the small animal up during the settling of the audience and ignoring
the lamb's fearful bleating the soft stroking of the hermaphrodite's long-nailed hand calmed it's concerns.
Ninurta watched both scenes from near the door with only the occasional glance at the outside surroundings.

"My..." Joseph began and looked at the leaning Gunslinger for confirmation, "...Missus?..." Ninurta nodded with a confident look
in his eyes - "... my Missus and I would like to thank you all for making the journey here and we give thanks to the Lord for sending
his... " again the glance at the tall man, "...young 'un to save us"

Even though Tibbs stood only two-and-a-half feet tall, the feeling of fury came off him as if he were a giant.
Over the again-misted up spectacles, the dwarf stared at Ninurta and as he waded through the sitting crowd, Ninurta pondered if
punting him into one of the animal stalls would be classed as a congruous angelic objective.

The little man's voice remained low as Joseph went on with his speech and yet every word dripped with anger.
"You taught him this...?" he growled, "...don't you understand that your history will now be corrupted with your boorish and
unschooled slang words?"
Tibbs stood like many of men who had thought themselves superior to Ninurta and it looked as if this Vithian was going to end up
making the same mistake.

Ninurta's steely gaze drifted from the softly ranting Tibbs, up to the joyous Joseph and then panned his gaze over to lost-to-the
-world Boy In A Dress -who had climbed ungainly -and unashamedly, into the sheep pen and was now attempting to reunite
the lamb with its mother.

With a smile that showed content happiness, Ninurta whispered "Yeah, yer' right... I stand corrected" and Tibbs stepped back
in shock at the tall man's response. The Gunman's smile widened as he watched the bare-legged Boy In A Dress place the
pretentious lamb down beside a wary-looking parent.

Tibbs gulped and whether he thought Ninurta was bluffing and in actuality was about to swing him around by his beard, he
remained silent. In a rare occasion, the Vithian was genuinely speechless standing there in the shadow of the GunMan and
if any further reproach had come to Tibbs' mind, we'll never know because what happened next stole the show.
...........................................


Joseph had spoken of the scriptures and of Herod's fear of the arrival of a Messiah, he had thanked the people for their gifts and
assured them that one day, the Lord will reward them for their kindness. Then with a slight pause and a dramatic intake of breath,
Joseph came to the child's naming.

"As you know, the Lord was good enough to send us his Angels and as you can see we have the most formidable of them"
Joseph pointed at Ninurta stood tall and mysterious at the doorway to the outside. The Carpenter went on, "He sent us wisdom..."
the crowd looked at the bewildered Tibbs "... and he sent us someone to deliver the child into this world" added Joseph and peered
over into the shadow of the pens. The carpenter presented a weak smile as he reluctantly pointed towards Boy In Dress with his back
to the Nativity.

Joseph's voice lowered as if confiding in the surrounding group and Ninurta and Tibbs had to lean forward to hear the words.
"The Lord has sent his only son to us and my wife Mary has agreed with me that we shall name him after one of his holy guards"

Tibbs dropped to his knees and moaned in despair, Ninurta turned to hide the sudden surge of laughter that began to wrack his
frame in shudders. BIAD -totally unaware of the proceedings, carefully made his way back to the pen gate.

"...And so it my honour -and with the a whole-hearted agreement from my wife, that we name the child after the Angel that
delivered him unto the world!"
The crowd stood and roared with approval, the baby cried out with the sudden uproar and with several of the sheep panicking at the
loud brouhaha, the usually-bewildered Man-Girl was ungainly shoved towards the stall's gate.

Ninurta -like the sobbing Vithian, was now also on his knees, the braying of laughter was lost in the cacophony of sound and for the
first time in a very long time, tears rolled down the gunman's face. Tibbs moaned louder and shook his head and stared-up at the
dark space in the eaves of the barn. In another country and another time, he'd have rubbed gravel into his hair in penance.

As the congregation cheered their rapture, Boy In A Dress clapped and shouted two 'hurray's' although he really had no idea what the
applause was for.

When the crowd eventually  became quieter and as Mary had moved closer to stand beside Joseph, the proud father called for
BIAD's first name. Of course, the hermaphrodite had lost interest by then and focused on making sure the enclosure's gate was
secure.

The whole stable awaited the name of the next Messiah and the air was electric with excitement. Ninurta still struggled to breathe
through his unusual bout of mirth and the bearded-dwarf was still lost in his woeful vocation of history-changing.

In those few seconds, The unaware Boy In A Dress looked down at his shoes and realised what he had stood in.
There was quite a lot of it and he guessed he'd need a good stick to get most of it off.
...........................................


"Jesus!" the Man-Girl muttered and again, the crowd went wild. The shepherds hooted and clapped, the Wise Men nodded with approval
and the three beaming Kings threw their jewelled crowns in the air in unison and cheered. Joseph kissed Mary's cheek, whilst the swaddled
boy-child squirmed due to the loud noise.

Ninurta was laid on the floor and was gurgling strangely, the diminutive Vithian was wailing and banging his fists onto the straw-strewn
cobbles and the now-fabled Boy In A Dress was trying to scrape his shoe against one of the barn's uprights.
History was underway and scribes of the future would have a lot work to do.

Meanwhile, back in the barn, finally ridding his stiletto of the ordure, BIAD became aware of Tibbs' amulet on the barn's floor.
The usually slow-thinking Man-Girl straightened his dress and headed towards the shiny trinket.

Ignoring the pats on the the back and the attempts to shake his hands, it suddenly dawned on the pummeled hermaphrodite what
he needed to do. Tibbs must have dropped it during the organising of the crowd -BIAD guessed and he snatched it from the dirt
with his red claws.

The Kings hugged BIAD as he passed on his way to the manger and later he was sure it was Melichior who had patted him on the
rear in his passage. The act of the Wise men -all putting there thumbs up in the air to confirm their agreement with the name-decision,
should've really put Tibbs and Ninurta over the edge of sanity -that if they'd torn themselves from their own personal dealings with
the situation of how Jesus really acquired his name.
But they didn't

"I... er, I need the baby to help us" BIAD said to Joseph, the long fringe and the large grin showing nothing but assumed mental disorder.
Joseph's eyes showed his fear and distain in being so close to such a strange-looking creature, but produced a smile to accompany his
nod of approval.

Ninurta's breathing still hitched, but the pain in his chest had subsided, he rose onto his elbows and watched between the nobbly knees
of the Wise Man called Calisto. Tibbs lifted his small glasses, rubbed his tear-filled eyes and mouthed his first-ever prayer for forgiveness.

Boy In A Dress held the dangling amulet over the swaddled baby and the leaned his face close to the child he'd unwittingly christened.
Only Mary heard the words from the odd-looking Angel and kept them to herself for the rest of her life.

"Can you 'un-oops' us lickle Jesus?" BIAD whispered and noticed the movement from under the small blanket.
Creeping out from the baby-smelling warmth of the cover, a small pudgy hand reached for the dangling bauble and as the child's soft
fingers touched the small sphere in its cracked-centre, BIAD managed to utter a "thank you" as the familiar white-blue flash happened
once more.

They were gone... again.

The End and don't forget, have a very Merry Christmas!
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"They watch from behind complacent smiles whilst polishing their cutlery. Yet, with egg between the prongs"
Reply
#9
minusculehail @BIAD  Go ahead a take a Bow .
Once A Rogue, Always A Rogue!
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Reply
#10
minusculebeercheers minusculebeercheers minusculebeercheers minusculebeercheers minusculebeercheers minusculebeercheers
WAR IS PEACE, FREEDOM IS SLAVERY, IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH, THE EU IS FATHER AND MOTHER / FEAR NOT DEATH, BUT FEAR THE WAY YOU WILL DIE
Reply
#11
(12-21-2020, 11:55 PM)BIAD Wrote: Inside, the kings, Wise Men and Shepherds were all milling around talking to each other and the smell of the stable had altered,
the sheep were all crammed  into the pens and Tibbs remarked that at the very best, the warmth had improved.
Joseph pushed his way through the crowd and placed an arm around Mary's shoulder, his wife was now standing and rocking
the baby in her arms.

Boy In A Dress seemed distracted with something close to the ground and Ninurta spotted a lamb rubbing it's head against the
Man-Girl's shin.

Joseph asked for quiet and waved his arms to request the group to sit down. Murmurs and groans followed as the old men bent
creaking joints and sore muscles. BIAD knelt down and lifted the small animal up during the settling of the audience and ignoring
the lamb's fearful bleating the soft stroking of the hermaphrodite's long-nailed hand calmed it's concerns.
Ninurta watched both scenes from near the door with only the occasional glance at the outside surroundings.

"My..." Joseph began and looked at the leaning Gunslinger for confirmation, "...Missus?..." Ninurta nodded with a confident look
in his eyes - "... my Missus and I would like to thank you all for making the journey here and we give thanks to the Lord for sending
his... " again the glance at the tall man, "...young 'un to save us"

Even though Tibbs stood only two-and-a-half feet tall, the feeling of fury came off him as if he were a giant.
Over the again-misted up spectacles, the dwarf stared at Ninurta and as he waded through the sitting crowd, Ninurta pondered if
punting him into one of the animal stalls would be classed as a congruous angelic objective.

The little man's voice remained low as Joseph went on with his speech and yet every word dripped with anger.
"You taught him this...?" he growled, "...don't you understand that your history will now be corrupted with your boorish and
unschooled slang words?"
Tibbs stood like many of men who had thought themselves superior to Ninurta and it looked as if this Vithian was going to end up
making the same mistake.

Ninurta's steely gaze drifted from the softly ranting Tibbs, up to the joyous Joseph and then panned his gaze over to lost-to-the
-world Boy In A Dress -who had climbed ungainly -and unashamedly, into the sheep pen and was now attempting to reunite
the lamb with its mother.

With a smile that showed content happiness, Ninurta whispered "Yeah, yer' right... I stand corrected" and Tibbs stepped back
in shock at the tall man's response. The Gunman's smile widened as he watched the bare-legged Boy In A Dress place the
pretentious lamb down beside a wary-looking parent.

Tibbs gulped and whether he thought Ninurta was bluffing and in actuality was about to swing him around by his beard, he
remained silent. In a rare occasion, the Vithian was genuinely speechless standing there in the shadow of the GunMan and
if any further reproach had come to Tibbs' mind, we'll never know because what happened next stole the show.
...........................................


Joseph had spoken of the scriptures and of Herod's fear of the arrival of a Messiah, he had thanked the people for their gifts and
assured them that one day, the Lord will reward them for their kindness. Then with a slight pause and a dramatic intake of breath,
Joseph came to the child's naming.

"As you know, the Lord was good enough to send us his Angels and as you can see we have the most formidable of them"
Joseph pointed at Ninurta stood tall and mysterious at the doorway to the outside. The Carpenter went on, "He sent us wisdom..."
the crowd looked at the bewildered Tibbs "... and he sent us someone to deliver the child into this world" added Joseph and peered
over into the shadow of the pens. The carpenter presented a weak smile as he reluctantly pointed towards Boy In Dress with his back
to the Nativity.

Joseph's voice lowered as if confiding in the surrounding group and Ninurta and Tibbs had to lean forward to hear the words.
"The Lord has sent his only son to us and my wife Mary has agreed with me that we shall name him after one of his holy guards"

Tibbs dropped to his knees and moaned in despair, Ninurta turned to hide the sudden surge of laughter that began to wrack his
frame in shudders. BIAD -totally unaware of the proceedings, carefully made his way back to the pen gate.

"...And so it my honour -and with the a whole-hearted agreement from my wife, that we name the child after the Angel that
delivered him unto the world!"
The crowd stood and roared with approval, the baby cried out with the sudden uproar and with several of the sheep panicking at the
loud brouhaha, the usually-bewildered Man-Girl was ungainly shoved towards the stall's gate.

Ninurta -like the sobbing Vithian, was now also on his knees, the braying of laughter was lost in the cacophony of sound and for the
first time in a very long time, tears rolled down the gunman's face. Tibbs moaned louder and shook his head and stared-up at the
dark space in the eaves of the barn. In another country and another time, he'd have rubbed gravel into his hair in penance.

As the congregation cheered their rapture, Boy In A Dress clapped and shouted two 'hurray's' although he really had no idea what the
applause was for.

When the crowd eventually  became quieter and as Mary had moved closer to stand beside Joseph, the proud father called for
BIAD's first name. Of course, the hermaphrodite had lost interest by then and focused on making sure the enclosure's gate was
secure.

The whole stable awaited the name of the next Messiah and the air was electric with excitement. Ninurta still struggled to breathe
through his unusual bout of mirth and the bearded-dwarf was still lost in his woeful vocation of history-changing.

In those few seconds, The unaware Boy In A Dress looked down at his shoes and realised what he had stood in.
There was quite a lot of it and he guessed he'd need a good stick to get most of it off.
...........................................


"Jesus!" the Man-Girl muttered and again, the crowd went wild. The shepherds hooted and clapped, the Wise Men nodded with approval
and the three beaming Kings threw their jewelled crowns in the air in unison and cheered. Joseph kissed Mary's cheek, whilst the swaddled
boy-child squirmed due to the loud noise.

Ninurta was laid on the floor and was gurgling strangely, the diminutive Vithian was wailing and banging his fists onto the straw-strewn
cobbles and the now-fabled Boy In A Dress was trying to scrape his shoe against one of the barn's uprights.
History was underway and scribes of the future would have a lot work to do.

Meanwhile, back in the barn, finally ridding his stiletto of the ordure, BIAD became aware of Tibbs' amulet on the barn's floor.
The usually slow-thinking Man-Girl straightened his dress and headed towards the shiny trinket.

Ignoring the pats on the the back and the attempts to shake his hands, it suddenly dawned on the pummeled hermaphrodite what
he needed to do. Tibbs must have dropped it during the organising of the crowd -BIAD guessed and he snatched it from the dirt
with his red claws.

The Kings hugged BIAD as he passed on his way to the manger and later he was sure it was Melichior who had patted him on the
rear in his passage. The act of the Wise men -all putting there thumbs up in the air to confirm their agreement with the name-decision,
should've really put Tibbs and Ninurta over the edge of sanity -that if they'd torn themselves from their own personal dealings with
the situation of how Jesus really acquired his name.
But they didn't

"I... er, I need the baby to help us" BIAD said to Joseph, the long fringe and the large grin showing nothing but assumed mental disorder.
Joseph's eyes showed his fear and distain in being so close to such a strange-looking creature, but produced a smile to accompany his
nod of approval.

Ninurta's breathing still hitched, but the pain in his chest had subsided, he rose onto his elbows and watched between the nobbly knees
of the Wise Man called Calisto. Tibbs lifted his small glasses, rubbed his tear-filled eyes and mouthed his first-ever prayer for forgiveness.

Boy In A Dress held the dangling amulet over the swaddled baby and the leaned his face close to the child he'd unwittingly christened.
Only Mary heard the words from the odd-looking Angel and kept them to herself for the rest of her life.

"Can you 'un-oops' us lickle Jesus?" BIAD whispered and noticed the movement from under the small blanket.
Creeping out from the baby-smelling warmth of the cover, a small pudgy hand reached for the dangling bauble and as the child's soft
fingers touched the small sphere in its cracked-centre, BIAD managed to utter a "thank you" as the familiar white-blue flash happened
once more.

They were gone... again.

The End and don't forget, have a very Merry Christmas!

I have no words.  tinyfunny

tinylaughing
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Reply
#12
I love the remake! It far outstrips the one we wrote lo, those many Christmases ago! You may not believe this, but it actually DID bring a tear to my eye!  minusculebeercheers
I'm willing to die to defend my freedom. The question you need to be asking yourself is: are you willing to die to take it?


"It's the hillbilly way. We kill people and burn their shit down." -- Jim Powell, in "Blood and Banjos" by Franklin Horton


Reply
#13
Love it! I didn’t want it to end.
Reply
#14
(12-22-2020, 06:32 PM)Ninurta Wrote: I love the remake! It far outstrips the one we wrote lo, those many Christmases ago! You may not believe this, but it actually DID bring a tear to my eye!  minusculebeercheers

For me... only every time I read it! Thank you again.
minusculebeercheers
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"They watch from behind complacent smiles whilst polishing their cutlery. Yet, with egg between the prongs"
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#15
(12-22-2020, 06:53 PM)VioletDove Wrote: Love it! I didn’t want it to end.

I'll have to whisper to BIAD to see what he can do!
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