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- Faolan: Exorcizing That Inner Demon
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Faolan: Exorcizing That Inner Demon
January 28, 2007
Dunwich Train Station
Dunwich, New Hampshire
As I lay in wait with my sponsor at a train-station in the middle of winter for my ride to the Whateley Academy, a private boarding school in the Presidential Range of the White Mountains, my mind began to drift to all that had happened to bring me here, halfway across the country, and the circumstances that lead to my death as Sean Bridges.
January 6, 2007
In a mist-filled landscape full of tall grass and old trees, a trio of inhuman figures fought. Granted, the fight was two on one, and the lone individual was unarmed; however you could by no means call the fight unfair for the lone individual was from all appearances a hulking and savage werewolf with oil black fur and burning red-eyes and fought with all the ferocity associated with the image.
Although the word werewolf could also apply to his opponents, you could hardly call them savage. One was from all appearances an athletic adult female who wore leather armor and a woolen cloak as she masterfully wielded both a very ornate spear and her own body in a desperate attempt to fend off her brutal opponent. She alternated between attacking and defending with her partner, who appeared to be an elderly werewolf wearing raw hide with the designs of some Native American tribe woven into them. He was armed with a gnarled staff with patches of moss and lichen, yet it miraculously never slipped from his grip.
The pair fought in silence, yet seemed to instinctively know when to alternate between attacking and defending their partner, and despite their monstrous opponent they never gave an inch. This deadly ballet of parries, thrusts, slashes, stabs and blocks went on for hours, and I just watched in apt fascination, never able to take my eyes away until, like every night, I was pulled away from the scence battle when I heard that sound...
January 6, 2007
Bridges Family Home
Just like every morning, the sound of my blaring alarm clock sent me rolling out of the bunk bed I shared with my older brother Chuck, and onto the floor. Quickly I got up and shut off my alarm. Thankfully, I have the bottom-bunk not that either my hitting the ground or the alarm going off woke him up. Since it was the middle of Winter Vacation, my brother was out till the wee hours of the morning ‘partying’ with his latest girlfriend, an ultra clingy and neurotic blonde named Vanessa (who’s only a slight improvement). Thankfully, he’s gotten so good at sneaking back in that he doesn’t wake me or my parents up.
Of course like any proper little brother I could squeal on him at any time for breaking his curfew. Of course, we avoid that hassle with an arrangement...namely if I give him the cash and his Members Card, he’ll pick-up M-Rated video games for me at one of the local game resale stores whenever I asked. Fortunately, my parents don’t have a problem with me playing that stuff since I passed my dad’s Gauntlet of Maturity®, proving to mom and him (but mainly to him) that I could deal with things at around the R-rated range when I turned fifteen two months ago. Of course, I could still buy 15+ anime when I could find them... but dirty movies and the like were still off-limits.
Okay, it sounds like I was a little frivolous with my money at an age where I should be saving it for a car and college. Well you're half right; my uncle had a used Volkswagen Beetle sitting in his auto garage that he told me I could have if I paid for the parts and fixed it myself. This isn’t all that surprising; he did the same thing for my brother two years ago, who is right now the proud owner of a 1984 Ford Cougar. After we looked at it, it became apparent that it needed about $300 in parts...which we now had sitting in sealed boxes in the garage after getting them at the wrecking yard for $60. As for College, I planned on saving money by going to Tarrant County College to get rid of my pre-requisites while deciding on my degree. This would be for when I switched to a Four Year University to finish and broke open a few CDs, which had been sitting in the bank since I was in diapers, to go with any financial aide I could find. Of course a car was about ten months down the road after Driver’s-Ed, and I was still in my freshman year of high school so college was over three years away. Thankfully my grades were always A’s and B’s...well except for math but everyone has their weak points...sorry sometimes I tend to ramble on.
Still it was time for my morning routine to begin I went in the kitchen, and pour myself a small bowl of store-brand raisin bran with skim milk (ugh diets what are you going to do) and went to the computer in the entertainment room to check my email and the updated web comics. There was nothing of real note in my inbox; however I got a few laughs out of some of the strips as I ate breakfast. After putting up my dishes and taking a quick shower, I got dressed in my uniform as I got ready for the commute to work. After a quick stop back at the computer to go over the headlines on the Associated Press feed, I shut down the computer, taking my medicine and finished getting ready.
My parent's you might ask where were they in this. Well I would hardly say that I was raised a latchkey kid, but both of my parents did work. My mom was in the middle of an install at a group of McMansions springing up in Mansfield, and my dad usually left early for his job at the main city library. I said my good-byes to anyone that was home and awake, in this case my dog Chester; a Golden Retriever-Labrador mix, and our two cats Statler and Waldorf.
I went down to the unofficial pick-up for my work, namely the side of the nearby Super Target. I already saw a few of my fellow employees, many of whom had cups to show that they had chosen to partake of the in-store Starbucks and their best selling burnt mud. Fortunately, we didn’t have long to wait before Curt, our ride, pulled up in his van. Make no mistake he wasn’t doing this for charity to his fellow employees. This was a side business; if you wanted a ride from him, you had to carve ten bucks a week out of your paycheck to pay for the privilege.
Okay for this to make sense you might need a little background to understand my situation, and we have a while since our destination is across town with the morning traffic being its usual state of insanity. Arlington, you see, is a fair size city that in all is somewhat atypical of what someone would think of when they hear someone say that you are from Texas, on the surface at least.
Our city grew up at sort of a murky gateway between the king cotton planters of East Texas and the longhorn ranchers of West Texas. Of course, those days have gone the way of the Homestead Act and the cattle drive; Arlington now prided itself as being a big city with a small town feel...or at least that’s what they pitch at the tourist board.
In reality, what we suffered from was that nightmare of poor city planning known as the suburban sprawl, as we gradually became the 49th largest city in the country. This was mainly because all of the geriatric fossils that run the city (because they are the only group that votes on a regular basis) are so opposed to change that they beat down everything that deviates from what their half-senile minds can remember when the city was reinvented as a bedroom community for the growing megacity of Dallas and the transforming cow-town of Fort Worth.
This is where I come in. My name is...or well was, Sean Bridges, and I’ve pretty much lived in this mentally backwards city my whole life. My father is a Librarian at the original city library, and your typical American mutt with a little Pawnee for spice, and my mother is a plumber of Scots-Irish heritage whose contract is held by Home Depot since they paid for her vocation training. Admittedly I was not much to look at, as for now that’s a different story but this was back before my little incident; then I was just your average 5’6” overweight nerd with coppery hair and green eyes.
I had few friends and was about as awkward around people as most guys my age were around girls; this was night and day when compared to my older brother Chuck, the social gadfly. I had trouble talking to women; he had no trouble but horrible taste. I preferred to spend time reading (not surprising, I did spend most of my day’s after school at my dad’s work), playing video games (sometimes from my dad’s collection), or watching old sitcoms and foreign shows (mostly British programs and Japanese anime). Chuck spends his spare time as a photographer for the yearbook and playing saxophone in the marching band or with friends, while I couldn't even find anyone to eat lunch with, then again I had my reasons.
I had not always had the easiest life; I was diagnosed with ADHD when I was eight and was thrown into Generation Rx as well as ‘Special Education.’ When I was twelve, I was mainstreamed as well as informally re-diagnosed. ADHD was replaced with Asperger’s Syndrome with symptoms of minor Bipolar Disorder. Note "informally" my parents asked the Neurologist who figured out the problem to create something vague to file me under since Asperger’s is in the health insurance company folder's under the tab marked "do not cover" and would cause me to be dumped from my parents’ plans.
Granted this in and of itself caused me more than my fair share of problems. I got into fights constantly as I was growing up because my temper seemed to possess a hair-trigger, everything just seemed to go red and I would just lash out. I also suffered from frequent night-terrors. That dream described earlier is a common occurrence, except what happens is rarely the same. The only similarity in these nightmares is the three werewolves fighting always with the same two-on-one action.
The one that the others fought was also the most bestial and feral of the three. Its fangs were always visible in its snarling maw, and its horrible, searing-red eyes were always glaring with hatred and hunger from within its ink-black face. What was real terrifying was sometimes I could swear it was looking right at me.
The other two were different; I was scared of them, but not terrified. One was old and covered with grey fur and deep-golden eyes that had a very knowing look to them. He also always fought with an old, gnarled, lichen-covered walking stick that never seemed to slip in his grasp.
The final one of the group I could remember in the most detail. She had a coat of mixed midnight-black and white colored fur with what looked like hair on her head, and her eyes were brown. She also seemed like an especially skilled fighter able to block and counter almost every blow the feral beast sent her way with an engraved oak spear.
Why am I talking so much about these three, well aside from having always had these dreams as far back as I can remember? You see, before the incident happened they were coming more frequently and far more vividly, and for a very good reason.
Now aside from my ‘issues’, my life was fairly unremarkable as any fifteen-year-old. I was a freshman in high school, and for the most part my grades were better than average. Well except for in Algebra. To be fair, the math teachers in the local school district weren’t exactly stellar unless they were teaching the honors classes, which was pretty unusual given that the local University specialized mainly in Engineering.
This brings us back around to the day that changed my life completely. You see like many other teenagers who were desperate for money that they didn’t have to report to their parents, I was also an employee of Six Flags. After all, money was important at this age as almost everyone was saving up for their first car (which I thankfully had covered), which is extra important in this city due to the total lack of public transportation. Well, what do you know we’re here, the first of the Six Flags Theme Parks, Six Flags Over Texas.
Six Flags Over Texas
Right now school was still out for Christmas break, and everyone was busy working before the amusement park shut down for annual maintenance and everyone was out of a job until March. As for me, I was in charge of dinning area maintenance at Johnny Rockets in Goodtimes Square which was just a fancy word meaning busboy. Yup; come in, clean the tables and chairs, sanitize, sweep and mop the floors, do whatever needs to be done until the next customer was finished, wash and repeat, while making sure the condiments were restocked and moping when it was possible. It was just the same thing day in day out. Oh well. Maybe I could find a better job when the park was closed for the winter, and maybe Longhorn could get enough fluff-brains together to follow him and reform the Dallas Defenders.
Who am I kidding? Just how many places in this city hire fifteen-year-old? And even if they did, they had to adhere to an hour cap of fifteen a week. Sadly, I had just gotten this job about three months ago, just after my birthday, and I was already about to lose it. If I was lucky, I could get in at one of the supermarkets as a bag boy.
All of a sudden, the usual clamor of the park restaurant turned to dead silence when booming blasts were heard in the distance, followed by a giant glowing green heap of meat and bones landing in the center of Goodtimes Square between us and the Chute Out. Did I mention the Dallas Defenders? Well, that’s a long story. Well, you see, up until 17 years ago they were the Metroplex’s resident super team. Then the incident happened; a member of their team, Transect, revealed to them that she was a transgendered mutant who still had ‘her’ old equipment. Now, this state being the place that it is, it upset the entire team.
Of course, things were bound to blow over eventually. After all, this ‘woman’ was someone who had fought side-by-side with them and even saved their lives on several occasions. Surely they would be able to put it aside and realize that this was still the same ‘woman’...right? Wrong. Unfortunately for everyone, they never got the chance. One of Transect’s teammates; Torinado is what it says in the official report, left her unprotected in the middle of an attack by Deathlist and his damn Sabertooths at the Fort Worth Military Weapons Depot. Meanwhile, Longhorn, the only member to publicly denounce her, stood by and watched as she was drug off and never said a word.
What happened to her was a complete mystery to the rest of her team. Until about five weeks later when Deathlist left her castrated corpse skewered like a corndog on the state flagpole in front of the Dallas County Courthouse, wearing a note written in her own blood saying, "Thanks Longhorn, I could not have done it without you." After that, the Dallas Defenders broke up, and Longhorn was tried as an accomplice in abduction and accessory before the fact on murder one. Unfortunately with Texas being as close as can be to Central Redneckistan and the victim being not only a mutant but a transgendered one, the jury ended up hung in what was the worst travesty to the legal system since the Klan trials of 60s. At least Armordillo broke the bastard’s jaw outside the Courthouse while the douche was smiling for the press. Man did that make for a pretty front page on the Star-Telegram!
In spite of Longhorn’s best efforts, the Dallas Defenders never reformed and ever since, North Texas has become the most populous area in the country without a super team. Of course the heroes are still here. It’s just that, other than Longhorn, none of them have the private connections necessary to fund and equip a proper team. Of course, that hasn’t stopped folks like Maverick and Pero del Fuego from trying to get someone involved, but to no avail.
Fortunately, a lot of bad guys had families too, and most of the ones with Connections tended to leave such big public places alone (probably because the major corporations paid them protection money or had mercenary level security). Still, not everyone followed the ‘rules’ as this was the third time since then that the park had seen a super villain attack, the first being when Scattershot and Re-Frax took the entire park hostage in summer of ‘94, and the next being an attack by The Hangman in ‘99 during Fright Fest, which left eleven people dead and twenty-seven seriously injured.
This leaves us with the situation outside. The walking boneyard was obviously one of Slaughterhaus’s constructs, a golem made of misshapen flesh and bone, shrouded in a corona of putrid green flame. People were running left and right as the monster stood and his master leapped from his back to stand on mid-air, looking to the entire world like younger anorexic version of Danny DeVito’s Penguin in a bloodstained lab coat and goggles that look like something that you’d expect to see at the optometrist.
Just as shock began to turn into panic, the Plainswalker appeared. Damn, wouldn’t you know, this was a damn spill-over fight. Following SOP from orientation, I ran to the doors of the café to prevent anyone from running out in a panic or going to get a closer look while the manager on duty came out to lock the doors. That was when I spotted one of the most thoughtless actions in my life; someone had left a toddler unattended on one of those child leashes after they had tied him to a tree.
Now, I know what you’re thinking, there’s no way a hero would risk a little kid getting hurt in a fight...right? Well, yes and no. Plainswalker is a good guy but everyone from around here knows that he’s more pragmatist than boy scout. He’d do everything that he could to avoid the worst possible outcome, but in a fight where hundreds of lives were at risk, there were bound to be regrettable but unavoidable losses...and with Slaghterhaus here everyone in the area could wind up dead or worse. Just had to hope that the kid stayed hidden and didn’t start...
“WAAAHHHHHH! I WAAANT MY MOMMMMY!”
“Shit,” the expletive crossed my lips, and I didn’t care that the manager was there to hear it; if Slaughterhaus or his golem got to the kid before I did, it would be too late.
Not bothering to think that this was the stupidest thing that I’ve ever done in my short life, I ran out towards the kid with pulling out my box-cutter as I ran. My plan was simple cut the kid’s leash off, run with him towards the bumper-cars, and hope the massive electric conductor in the ceiling would deter Slaughterhaus from sending that undead behemoth after us.
In all it wasn’t a bad play. Unfortunately, when an untrained civilian deals with a dangerous situation in the midst of an adrenaline rush, Murphy tends to take it as an open invitation...especially when super-villains were involved. I found this out the hard way after making my way to the kid and cutting the boy free, when something slammed into my back like a hardball.
As spikes from the object pierced my back, I realized that I was as good as dead, and I recoiled backward as my world was drowned in agony and green flame. Strange as it was though, I swore that I could hear dark laughter, and as I began to lose consciousness everything peeking out my closing eyes seemed to be tinted red...
Fort Worth, Texas
It had started off normal enough for Nate Haskins, known to the public as the Plainswalker. One of the local guardian spirits told him that some bad vibes were seeping across the area, making the restful spirits of the land and the dead alike nervous. Now as long as he had been in the masks and capes business he had come across plenty of things that could make the spirits of the land or the dead restless, but something that could aggravate both was a short list…and considering the part of the country he was in, it could only be one of two things.
A quick check back at an unmarked grave had confirmed The Hangman’s homicidal specter was still unable to get through the wards he put down last year, to keep the freak show from reanimating his cadaver. This only meant that Slaughterhaus was in the area and about to cause some mayhem.
This was a bit of a problem since, as a Necromancer and Deviser as well as a member of The Grand Hall, Slaughterhaus knew how to keep himself hidden from the usual prying eyes of the supernatural kind. Fortunately, no one can totally hide their footprints, and Plainswalker had picked up enough on various types of magic at The Academy to be able to know how to hunt for a lead the pseudo old-fashioned way. After all, finding this madman was crucial. Last year alone Slaughterhaus had sent his monstrosities on eleven rampages in six states with a body count reaching well into the triple digit range, and with over six million people in an area of over nine thousand square miles, the tragedy that he could cause would be unimaginable.
Of course while he learned many types of magic at The Academy, Nate didn’t like to use them all; however seeing as he had no choice, he decided that it was time to bite the bullet and lean on something that he always hated...ritual magic. “Let’s see since it’s dead meat that I’m looking for the best thing to use is part of a scavenger. Where did I put that vulture’s beak?” Plainswalker began to ramble while hunting through countless drawers and bottles in his somewhat arranged study before, “A-ha! Wouldn’t you know it I put it next to the dried Bole Weevils again. I have got to remember: vulture, not buzzard. Now, just to attach it to some cocoon silk to reawaken the faded life within the beak and lastly dust my make-shift pendulum with graveyard soil to help it pick up necrotic energies as well and...” Nate cast a little mystic energy into the relic to be under his hands.
Holding up his and noting the fact that the beak was always pointing in the same direction, he knew that his spell worked. Okay, the ritual magic worked, now for a little sympathetic magic. Sympathetic magic always worked through using one object to represent a person or thing. Most people commonly were aware of it through the use of voodoo dolls; however, it could also be used to create objects to receive the blunt of curses instead of the intended victim or in this case for representing the area where you wanted to track someone down in.
One by one, Plainswalker unfurled topographical maps of the cities and areas in the Metroplex and used his vulture’s beak pendulum until, finally, he received a hit. Pulling out a corresponding street map, he discovered his quarry was holed up in a warehouse on the western side of Grand Prairie. Now that he had the psycho’s general location and the means to narrow it down, it was time to prepare: of course his trusted bronze-rune engraved staff was, as always, a must, to counter any magic or devises the necro-deviser would bring into play, along with six small bags of iron filings to ground out any of the Carcassites, and a nice, solid two-foot-long cold-iron baton to break mystic devise’s that powered Slaughterhaus’s signature weapons of choice.
Once Ol’ Muriel, Nate’s cold-war army surplus jeep drove up into the lot about three blocks away. After parking, he went to retrieve a filthy, inconspicuous tote-bag from his trunk before setting-up a spell of mundanity around his vehicle and himself. It was a relatively quiet spell which made anyone who saw either him or his vehicle just not take notice because it made them seem just like another part of the scenery, despite the fact that the Plainswalker was masked and had his staff out in full view as for his jeep. Well, let’s just say it cut down on parking tickets and citations for parking where not allowed.
The walk to the warehouse was nerve-wracking no matter how much of a veteran you are in the business of being a hero; dealing with super-villains who actually worked out to achieve a body count was the worst. If you were too cautious, they might see you coming then have time to prep what they had ready to launch, and maybe kill you when they sanitized their lair before bugging out. On the other hand, if you rushed it, they would get sloppy, panic, and maybe head for a nice crowded area to set loose some murderous distraction of mayhem to leave whatever hero was around to deal with while they escaped in the confusion.
Carefully, Nate considered the entrances: the front-door as always was stupid (they were ridiculously easy to rig with alarms and booby-traps that could be easily disabled and reset by someone who knew how they setup), the doors by the loading dock were likely bolted, and the loading dock itself would make too much noise. The skylight, while great for heroes in Summer Blockbusters could also be easily rigged; that left the best alternative...windows.
Windows; however could be wired for security easily just like jewelry stores could wire their display cases. Of course, the problem with those alarms was that they tended to suck at multi-tasking; once they went off they couldn’t signal another break-in until they were reset. This is where the tote bag came in, handy or rather what was inside of it.
At first it looked just like, an old scuffed-up aluminum bat, something so worn and used that the manufacturers label was almost completely illegible. At least, that’s how it all appeared until Nate pushed a button on a small fist-sized remote, and turned it on; suddenly telescoping legs appeared as the end of the bat opened up, causing the whole device to vaguely resemble a mortar. Of course, a mortar was what this thing was. He took aim, targeting a nearby window and loaded a baseball. Nate sent two more commands with the remote before stuffing it in the tote-bag and hiding it in the bushes: one set a predetermined audio signal as the firing command, and the other would auto collapse the gadget making it look just like an old aluminum bat again after it fired.
The Plainswalker circled around to the opposite side of the building and sent the signal, by blowing on a dog-whistle, and reminded himself to thank Duck-it for her little gift. The air was soon filled with the sound of broken glass and the ringing of a cheap alarm-bell. With the clarion still ringing through the air, Nate burst through the window above him and into an old office-space. Dusting himself off, he made sure not to make a sound until long after the alarm had been deactivated. Here, stealth was the key. Slaughterhaus would likely be pissed but would hopefully only think it was a group of local kids playing ball where they shouldn’t. If he could catch him off guard, it could all be over, and the psycho would be in a special holding cell at the local branch of the MCO before dinner.
The vigilante crept silently through the building toward the main-loading dock counting that the necro-deviser would use the most spacious part of the warehouse for his work. As it turned out, he was right; whole butchered cattle hung from the ceiling, while not far away, live human beings hung with catheter bags connected to them as a green-glowing substance drained from their bodies.
“I call it Geist,” a nasal voice proclaimed as Slaughterhaus strode into view clutching a varnished calf spine with skull attached as a staff and two auto turrets took aim at Plainswalker. “I discovered it a while ago thanks to the notes of the late Dr. Herbert West, you might call it the distilled essence of life.”
Holding his skeletal staff at the ready to fend off any spells Plainswalker sent his way, Slaughterhaus continued. “However, West’s ghouls and zombies were far too crude to be of any use to anyone; then again Dr. West was a simple chemist playing in a world that he could not comprehend. Of course, where science alone failed, science and the occult combined succeed wonderfully.”
Without any hint of his intent, he threw drew a mug-sized devise from his lab-coat at one of the hanging sides of beef. Instantly, the steer’s body was engulfed in puce flame, as the corpse fashioned itself while drawing in mass from other discarded cadavers, both of livestock and from its maker’s victims. This continued until the behemoth of interwoven flesh, bone, and puce flame stood ten-feet-tall and resembled an obscene parody of an undead, semi-demonic bear as the auto turrets shut down.
“Of course, no one appreciates the hard work that goes into my Carcassites; I mean some might think that all that I need are a few sides of beef or a pig or two to start up,” Slaughterhaus continued, as the nightmare stomped towards the Plainswalker. “However, I need a good deal of Geist to fuel them as well, about ten people's worth for an entire day; thank goodness for illegal immigrants and the homeless. Tell them that you’ve got work for them or promise a free meal, and they’ll follow you past the gates of hell if you’re sly enough.”
“You demented freak!” Nate shouted in rage realizing that the half-dead people in the room told of a far greater amount of nameless victims to the madman’s diseased science. Still, that outburst cost him as he only had the time to throw up a weak shield, “Aer contego mihi,” before the Carcassite’s powerful and surprisingly swift blow sent Plainswalker flying into one of the thick walls of the building, knocking the wind out of him. He soon realized to his horror that the strap in his coat broke in the collision, dropping his bags of iron filings on the ground, and spilling them all over the floor.
“One problem, though,” the Grand Hall’s mystic-deviser of necromancy continued, as he walked up to his blasphemous creation, pulling a similar devise to the first out of his coat. “It still needs a totemic anchor to work properly and give it form. Fortunately, sympathetic magic combined with a little old-fashioned necromancy takes care of that, and now thanks to some more recent advances, I can create chimeras.”
Slaughterhaus slapped another engine to the beast’s leg, causing it to collect more bio-mass even taking in the still living people being drained who shook out of their likely drug-induced stupor to scream cries of agony that only Hades himself should have been able to solicit. As the Plainswalker struggled to get to his feet, a pair of membraned wings issued forth from the monstrosity’s back. With his master secured himself to beast with a trio of meat-hooks and a lattice of chains as his attire shielded him from the hungry green fire rolling over the beast.
“I do hate to cut my lecture short, my dear Plainswalker,” Slaughterhaus proclaimed as he opened the skylight via a handheld remote, “However, the pursuits of my research await. Also, my sponsor does expect a return on her investment.”
As he and his creation took to the skies Nate did his best to follow with a wind-walking spell, “Tondeo meus pedes obvius ventus ut EGO may tripudio inter nimbus.” Nate desperately tried to herd the madman and his abomination to an unoccupied or sparsely populated area where he could take him out. Of course, plans rarely work out, and despite his best efforts the beast touched down heavily in the middle of Six Flags as his master leapt out and cast his own sky-walk spell.
‘Thank goodness everyone in the area had the good sense to run for cover, or at least as far away as they could,’ Plainswalker thought to himself as he arrived, ‘Because the last thing anyone needs right now is a hostage…’
“WAAAHHHHHH! I WAAANT MY MOMMMMY!”
‘…situation. Damn, okay Nate, an isolation spell should do the job of keeping that kid safe.’ The Plainswalker did his best to take aim with his staff. Unfortunately, as if following some unheard command, the Carcassite moved to block his shot as his master threw yet another of those damned devises at the crying child.
“EGO dico super coegi ventus cogo meus inimicus absentis,” After forcing the monster out of the way with a concentrated burst of gale-force wind, the leather-duster clad mystic saw the devise latch on, not to the child, but to an employee who had obviously run out to take the kid out of harm’s way. He could only look on in horror as the now familiar puce fire engulfed the youth who was screaming in almost inhuman agony.
In a place shrouded in mists two anthropomorphic wolves were locked in combat desperate to do anything to prevent the escape of the feral third, at least until their mist-filled domain became enveloped in a sickly puce fire. The female and the old wolf fell to the ground in agony as their adversary shouted in triumph, “At last! After the many long years of struggle, none stand to bar my path.” After stepping past his fallen adversaries, the oily furred beast proclaimed, “Do not worry; after I have a little fun with my new body stirring up some nice chaos and terror, I will come back for you two. After all, your fallen Beta's spirit is rather lonely, drowning in the agony oblivion. So I think that he rather would enjoy the company that you two would give him.”
Howling with dark laughter the demonic wolf forded effortlessly through the puce flames. Somehow he gained strength as he left the deep recesses of Sean Bridges’s mind to seize the helm at last, as his jailers wept in agony and the shame of their failure.
Six Flags Over Texas
“Now tell me Plainswalker, just what will you do? Bring me to justice or deal with my faux demon and his brother-to-be?” the Necromantic-deviser gloated already sure of the answer, “Because you know that you just can’t do both.”
Slaughterhaus prepared to take off when he heard a bloodcurdling howl issue forth from his victim and gazed to see something far outside his plans. While the teenager was transforming into something canine, it was clearly not one of his Carcassite’s. The beast reshaped and grew instead of twisted as it absorbed the bio-mass. Rather than tearing through its skin into a bloody-boney mess, the boy’s skin stretched and actually sprouted sable fur.
Who was he kidding, if the devise had done its job, the teenager would have turned into an inside out mess, dropped down on all fours and enveloped the child he had run out to protect in order to increase its own mass. Instead the beast stood on the balls of its feet and turned toward Slaughterhaus and his Carcassite with a look of unbridled fury upon its fanged-maw, right before taking a murderous flying leap at the man who had thrown the devise at his back which was still pumping and trying to cover the beast with it’s puce necromatic flames.
Fortunately for Slaughterhaus, the Carcassite moved to intercept the feral beast and sent it flying with a surprisingly swift swipe of its backhand. Still, the damage was done. For the first time in a long time Slaughterhaus was frozen with fear, so much so that he failed to hear his original opponent’s chant of, “Pulvis orbis terrarum, rapio suus vox vocis quod redimio suus vultus.” before the spell hit him, sending the Grand Hall deviser crashing into a tree.
After taking a minute to collect himself Plainswalker turned to focus on the still present threat of the undead monstrosity, only to find it desperately trying to fight off the canid monster that was now tearing it apart as it absorbed the puce fire into its body. Seeing his chance Nate rushed the formerly concealed child to safety; however, part of him was growing more concerned with the transformed employee, or more accurately just what would happen after he finished tearing into his opponent like a six-year-old into a pile of Christmas presents.
Still Nate was not one to take chances, and it was easier to build up a big spell which you could dispel if you did not need it than to come up with one on the fly. So, as he was dropping off the child at the nearby food shack for safety, the Plainswalker began to chant his next spell. “Morpheus tondeo is penuriosus animus bacchatus mens per vestri vox quod tribuo is parvulus donum vestri ventus”.
This was fortunate indeed, as the beast soon howled in triumph holding the Carcassite’s ‘head’ aloft in triumph, right as its defeated opponent began to fall apart into the mound of bone and flesh, as the last of the necrotic puce fire holding it together was drained into its sable-furred conqueror. No sooner was this victory finalized then the beast and former employee began to search as if looking for new opponents or quite possibly victims.
Immediately the bipedal wolf spotted its two closest targets: Lying beneath some broken tree branches smelling faintly of sweat, blood, and urine it eyed Slaughterhaus then it took a look at the other closest target. Plainswalker upright, mobile, looked like he could still put up a fight. The feral wolfen creature’s mind quickly made up its mind, as it turned toward Plainswalker and tensed its legs for another flying tackle on its chosen opponent. After all, it was not a scavenger, and judging from its work on the carcasite apparently it liked to play with its prey.
Before the creature could attack him though Plainswalker let loose the spell he had been holding back which shot forth and enveloped the beast with a nebulous ruby light. Immediately, the monster lost its balance and fell forward, now fast asleep.
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I call upon the air around me to shield me from harm.
Tondeo meus pedes obvius ventus ut EGO may tripudio inter nimbus.
Sheathe my feet in the winds so that I may dance amongst the clouds.
EGO dico super coegi ventus cogo meus inimicus absentis.
I call upon the driving winds to force my foe away.
Pulvis orbis terrarum, rapio suus vox vocis quod redimio suus vultus.
Dust of the earth, steal his voice and bind his form.
Morpheus tondeo is penuriosus animus bacchatus mens per vestri vox quod tribuo is parvulus donum vestri ventus.
Morpheus sheathe this poor soul's enraged mind with your power and grant this child the gift of your favor.
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I woke up in the same bleak and mist filled landscape that I saw almost every time I closed my eyes; granted, this time was far different. The never-ending battle that I always saw like I was watching it from behind polished Plexiglas, was nowhere to be seen. However, I recognized all of the principle players in the conflict: the raven-haired she-wolf was trying desperately to stand up while close by the grey-furred elder was trying to use his staff to prop himself upright.
As for their adversary, I could see him far in the corner, lying down asleep beneath a dome of wispy ruby-red energy. Something about the energy drew me towards it. “Wait…stop!”
I turned around and recognized immediately that the voice came from the she-wolf who was just now regaining full function in her legs. “That spell is the only thing keeping that fiend contained. Touch it and ye might set it loose, and this time I am afraid that we would be completely unable to stop it.”
“Hold on a minute,” I said trying to get my bearings. “Who are you, who is your friend? Who’s this guy? What are you all doing here? Where am I? Why do I see you three in my dreams almost every night, and what’s this about you being unable to stop this guy?”
Almost smirking the she-wolf replied, ticking off on her paw-like fingers as she went, “I call myself Morrigan, he goes by Greyback, hostile dangerous and out to takeover your body, for the longest trying to keep him from taking over your body until ye can become a proper Avatar, inside your mind, because we are in your subconscious, and with how much dark energy this bruiser just sucked up once he wakes up he will be too strong for us to stop anymore. Now does that answer all your questions or do ye have more?”
“Of course the child has questions, Morrigan. He is a boy on the verge of becoming a man,” the one now known as Greyback spoke out. “However either they have yet to present themselves to him, or else they do not pertain to the problem at hand.”
“Wait a minute...you said Avatar. I thought Avatars were a type of mutant?” Sean inquired of the two self proclaimed spirits.
“If that is what those who are chosen to wield power in this age are called.” Greyback replied, “Then yes, you are a mutant.”
Sean grappled for a minute with this revelation when another question came to him. “Wait, then how come I’ve always seen you two in my mind? I thought that mutants only gain the source of their powers about halfway through puberty?”
“To tell ye the truth, we be watching over ye for a good while,” Morrigan answered him. “However, that monster came along before ye even spouted your first word and tried to take ye long before ye were ready to receive the gifts that we had to offer. Since then, we have be trying our best to hold him off every night and to keep him from seizing your body for his own use.”
“However today while we were fending the beast off, something unexpected happened. A pallid green fire that reeked of disease and decay engulfed our battlefield,” Greyback said taking over for his partner. “Morrigan and I were overcome with pain and fell while the fiend actually seemed to be feeding off the fire. Considering the state the monster is in now, he must have come across a skilled practitioner of the mystic arts.”
“Well, before I passed out, the Plainswalker had just arrived and was starting to fight Slaughterhaus and one of those monsters he’s known for making.” I spoke up, trying to help the three of us figure out just what had happened. “Wait a minute. Greyback, you mentioned that this whole place was covered in a sickly-green fire right?”
“Yes,” Greyback answered him back, “Do you have a possible answer to the source of this problem?”
“I think so,” I replied, “That monster that this man Slaughterhaus, sort of a mad-scientist/sorceror, brought into the park where I work sort of glowed with a viscous greenish fire, and before whatever it was caused me to pass out in pain, I felt something solid hit me in the back.”
“This beast-can ye describe it?” Morrigan asked Sean, desperate for answers to their problem. “Anything ye say may give us an idea of just what kind of boost sleeping ugly over there got.”
“Slaughterhaus,” I started not even wanting to think about man who had last year been responsible for over a thousand known deaths, “Just like his name his creations are supposedly nothing more than giant slabs of meat and bone, and based on what I’ve seen today and on the news, I’d guess that green fire is what animates and holds them together.”
“Necromancy,” Morrigan spat the word out of her muzzle-like mouth like a foul taste, “Truly this Slaghterhaus practices a dark art. Can men just learn that there be things that they never were meant to meddle in?”
“Now Morrigan, you know as well as I that as long as there is a source of power ambitious and irresponsible, individuals will try to exploit it,” Greyback preached to his fellow wolfen spirit. “Of course, if deities and the elder races cannot figure this out, why should we expect mankind to be the exception to the rule?”
“Okay now that we’ve established just what happened, and that I’m an Avatar,” I interjected to avoid the conversation venturing elsewhere, “Can we get started on how to gain control for when that spell gives way and tall, dark and gruesome wakes back up?”
“I am sorry lad, but even with ye to act as a focus, the beast has gained too much power,” Morrigan sighed in defeat. “Ye see, there used to be three of us until that monster came along, and then after that, he had a third of every day to seize your body for his own and devour us as well.”
“Whoa, you mean that I was going to be juggling three sets of abilities around when I manifested?” Okay now this was getting ridiculous and my head was starting to hurt. Still, I think that it was time to get the whole story. “Okay, then where did number three go?”
“Our comrade is no more,” Greyback sighed as he bowed his head at the memory. “We three had been separated for ages untold waiting for the birth of the one who would wield us against our people’s ancient foe. Before you ask as one who represents the mental one of my gifts, are prophetic visions, after all how else would I be able to find you?”
“So, you found me. Okay I get it,” I blurted out starting to get impatient at the elderly spirit. “So, can we get on with the story already?”
“I wish that we could child,” Greyback sighed in weary frustration. “However, it looks like that will have to wait; you apparently have matters to attend to in the waking world.”
“Wait!” I desperately shouted as everything around me began to blur, “I have so much more that I need to…”
MCO-North Texas Branch
“…Learn!” As I came to, I tried to rise; however, my newly bestial form was restrained on a heavy metal slab of a table, with an IV drip, presumably of some kind of sedative running into my arm.
“Greetings, mutant,” was the first thing that I heard as a man dressed in an immaculate uniform strode forward. “You’ll have to forgive my lack of manners. Someone saw fit to confiscate your wallet before they were compelled to turn you over to us, and your employer refuses to turn over your records. Now tell us who you are, and what you were planning to do with the child that you tried to kidnap.”
“You know this is the fifth time that I’ve been abducted. Where are the little grey guys,” I droned out trying to get a rise out of my captor. “I mean usually I’m face down by now with some sort of probe being shoved up my backside.”
“Listen carefully, my name is Agent Vogan. You will answer my questions, or you will find just how bad your situation is,” barked out the suit who was clearly losing his patience due to my antics.
“Oh no, not the Vogons anything but the Vogons,” I began to cry in false horror, “I don’t want to hear any poetry! You can’t make me listen to your verses!”
“Oh ho, so we have a funny one,” the suit chimed. “That’s okay, we know how to make clowns talk. Daniels bring out the Sears special.” Another suit now emerged from the shadows bringing with him a cart and jumper-cables attached to a car battery.
MCO-North Texas Branch - Main Lobby
“I’m telling you that you have to let me in to see the child,” Plainswalker set his demands before the desk clerk. “He has committed no crime.”
“Sorry sir,” the clerk proclaimed through a shark-toothed grin. “But we at the Mutant Commission Office are an independent organization who operates through the United Nations charter. We don’t have to cooperate with masked vigilantes.”
“However, I’m afraid that you do have to cooperate with Federal Authorities,” stated the woman who walked in accompanied by a rather massive individual whose badge was in plain sight. “My name Diane Calloway, and I am here from the Law Firm of Johnson, Mayherd & Pratt courtesy of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas and the United States Marshal Service with Deputy Maverick. I am afraid that you are required by law to allow us to have access to the mutant that was admitted into your care at two-fourteen PM earlier today courtesy of Texas Flags, Ltd.”
“We were called out to Six Flags Over Texas this afternoon to take custody of two mutant criminals,” the clerk all but growled at the attorney. “Which we have done so, and we don’t have to do anything until someone from a proper facility like, Arkham Research Consortium, comes along with a prison transport.”
“Actually you do,” Mrs. Calloway said with the barest hint of a smile appearing on her face. “If you check the release forms that Texas Flags, Ltd. provided you, then you would know that the John Doe you are holding was admitted under your care for emergency medical treatment and observation, and is therefore a patient until the state can determine otherwise. Also, since the incident took place on private property, all rights to prosecute are held by the property’s owner, and the Mutant Commission Office has no right to file any charges at this time. The only thing that you are allowed to do by the law is to hold the individual for a period of eighteen hours during which time no harm must come to them if you are proven to be detaining them, which if I must remind you are the stipulations of your organization's charter with the State of Texas.”
“That is something that you can only prove if you have a warrant to search this building for the alleged John Doe,” the clerk fired back, growing increasingly agitated with being in the presence of a lawyer from a known Pro-Mutant Rights firm, as well as Maverick, the first mutant to ever become a fully deputized federal marshal, and Plainswalker, one of the more respected members of the former Dallas Defenders.
His upper-hand ended when Maverick stepped forward with a written warrant. “You’ll see that this is signed personally by Judge Fortunado Benavides of the United States Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. Apparently, he has a very dim view of your organization’s policies since he was willing to sign and let me pick this up from his home on a Saturday afternoon when I told him that I was planning to hand deliver it in person.”
“Fine we’ll let you and Mrs. Calloway see the detainee; however, Plainswalker has no authority in this case.” The clerk sagged in defeat but still tried to pull off a minor victory in his favor...that ended when Maverick pulled out his cell-phone.
“Hello Mr. Ely sir this is Deputy Maverick. Can I have your permission to bring in two Special Deputies in on the Werewolf of Six Flags Incident? Yes, sir. Plainswalker and possibly Duck-it I have a feeling that we might be needing their services since this case involves a known member of the Grand Hall of Sinister Wisdom. Yes, sir. Understood. I’m going to have to put you on speaker-phone.”
Maverick held up the phone to the MCO desk clerk, “Hello to whom am I speaking?”
“I am Dan Crandle of the Mutant Commission Office. Now, who is this, and why do you have the authority to give mutant vigilantes federal sanction?” the clerk sniped at the faceless speaker.
“This is Federal Marshal Randy P. Ely of the District of Northern Texas, and I am hereby granting Special Deputy status to the citizens who are registered under the codenames Plainswalker and Duck-it, provided they accept it concerning both The Werewolf of Six Flags Incident and the Detainment of the Grand Hall of Sinister Wisdom member known as Slaughterhaus. Now, unless you want to see if your organizations status protects you from charges of obstructing a federal investigation, Mr. Dan Crandle, I suggest that you let these people do their job.”
Gritting his teeth in frustration the clerk replied, “Very well we’ll let you see the detainees.” He hit a buzzer on his desk and spoke into the intercom, “Larkins we have a few ‘visitors’ to see the two ‘guests’ who arrived this afternoon. Please show them around.”
Agent Crandle looked up at the two mutants, and the lawyer and did his best to avoid spitting, “Agent Larkins will be here momentarily to escort you around. Please enjoy the rest of your visit.”
Meanwhile, within the MCO’s detainment area in the third sub-basement of the building, Slaghterhaus lay in his cell stripped of all of his weapons, gear, and anything that could help him escape on his own. The prisoner was not fearful at the moment, despite the guard’s taunting.
“Well mutie, looks like your days are numbered. With how many people you’ve killed it’s nothing less than the death penalty. But, don’t worry. For maniacs like you, I hear that the waiting list is very short.”
Needless to say the guard's grim threats fell on deaf ears. Zeke Manfreid was waiting for a much less public visitor whose presence was already beginning to show as the red-lights went out on the cameras both inside and outside the cell. “Do you hear me you freakish piece of gene-trash? You’re going to be dead within a week.”
As the guard stomped his right foot to emphasize his threat, it suddenly began to sink into the concrete floor. “What the hell?” the guard screamed while trying in vain to pull himself out. “What are you doing you doing you wand waving monster?”
“Why nothing, my dear guard,” Zeke grinned at his jailer. “However, I do believe my ride is here.”
Soon, nothing was left of the guard except his face which was barely sticking out of the floor and shallowly gasping for air. Zeke smiled at the MCO jailer's panic and terror of total immobility knowing that if no one came along the man would risk drowning in his own perspiration as only his face was exposed to air. In less than a moment, a female figure made of concrete emerged from the floor. “Hello Reverant,” he bowed in respect. “I hope Ms. Scratch has sent you to liberate me rather than retire me.”
“That depends on what you have to say,” the woman known as Reverant purred as the concrete seemed to pour out of her through her feet revealing that the svelte-figure was clad entirely in a leather catsuit. “Mistress Scratch was rather disappointed to hear that such a promising individual as yourself was captured after a fight with only two individuals-even with one of your Carcassites as back-up, and less than two weeks after arriving in town. You told my Mistress that you would have at least a week before your attack and would have plenty of soul monads to show for it before you did. The few that you did harvest, along with all your equipment and what we provided you with, were recovered from the warehouse before we performed the thermal cleaning.”
“Someone must have tipped Plainswalker off to the fact that I was in town,” the mystic devisor growled. “I had to abandon my lab and launch an attack prematurely to get away.”
“Which you failed at miserably,” Reverant proclaimed as her voice turned steely, hinting that if he didn’t have a satisfactory explanation for her that rather than being freed from his incarceration, he would be freed from his mortal existence, and his soul would be hand delivered to her mistress Erzabet Scratch, the head of the local branch of the Grand Hall of Sinister Wisdom, to do with as she wished.
“The second individual who attacked me,” Slaughterhaus explained to the woman who at the moment held his life in the palm of her hand, “Had less than a minute prior had one of my Ruination Drives attached to him. Now if that happens to anyone, even an Exempler, the energies from the devise will tear them apart and reshape them into the base of a Carcassite; however, this time my victim transformed into something still quite alive and tried to attack me. Something like this has only happened once before. That incident in Kansas City last year when I fought Hoka, who I later found out, was an Avatar.”
That clinched it; Her Lady had to know more. “Very well Slaughterhaus. I will take you to see the Mistress, she also has much to discuss with you about the circumstances surrounding your...capture.” she proclaimed, removing a strange prismatic pendant from her utility belt.
“Wait before we leave, you need to grab my gear from the evidence room,” he explained. “I especially need to see the Ruination Drive that was attached to the Avatar. The mystic resonance should help me determine what kind of spirit he has and just how powerful it is. After all, I’m certain that Mistress Scratch would like us to present her with as much information as possible.”
“Very well,” Reverant said as the prism pulsed. When the light cleared, Slaughterhaus was gone; Reverant then disappeared sinking into the floor.
“I’ll need to see my client first,” Mrs. Diane Calloway was first to point out. “I need to make sure that you are treating him humanely.”
“Certainly ma’am,” the MCO officer replied. “I’ll call the men down below, and have the individual in question brought up from the detention level to one of our conference rooms.”
“I’m afraid not Agent Larkins,” Mrs. Calloway replied. “I need to see him as he is now to make certain his civil rights are not being violated, not after your fellow agents make him presentable.”
“Besides, I need to go down there anyway to make certain that you have Slaughterhaus properly secure,” Plainswalker spoke up to the MCO agent.
“Oh, I can assure you that he won’t be breaking out of a level 3 containment cell,” Agent Larkins did his best to reassure the mystic vigilante. “The bed and toilet are unmovable permanent fixtures, the mattress is fire-retardant foam, there is no sink or floor drain, and the walls and door are reinforced titanium with an outward opening quad-directional wheel lock that requires a motorized key to open. Plus the cell has pressure sensors on the door, a concrete floor, a motion-sensitive camera in the cell with an agent constantly monitoring it, and a guard on duty in the six-cell area that he’s being detained in.”
“And he can’t have brought anything in with him since we confiscate every thing any prisoner has on their person on the way in, followed by a full cavity search and stomach pump.”
“That’s two admissions of abuse against my client, Agent Larkins,” Mrs. Calloway chimed in.
“Its standard operating procedure, Ms. Calloway,” Agent Larkin’s fired back. “We can’t risk someone smuggling bomb making materials into an MCO building, can we?”
“Still, mundane defenses might not be enough,” Plainswalker interjected his way back into the conversation. “Slaughterhaus is a member of the Grand Hall of Sinister Wisdom, and the chapters in this part of the country are quite adept at silently extracting or terminating members who are taken into custody, as well as dealing with or making examples of potential witnesses.”
“Still, the innocent should come first,” Mrs. Calloway stated with added emphasis. “So, if you would please, take me to my client now!”
“O-of c-course, Ms. Calloway. His cell should be in level 2,” Agent Shane Larkins stammered as he began to look at the lawyer, with an eye usually reserved for prey animals when confronted with an apex predator, before marching off at a rapid pace down the hallway with the attorney right behind him heels.
Observing the exchange while following, Plainswalker turned to Maverick and said plainly, “Pete your wife is one scary lady. Just why did you marry her?”
“This is just how she is at work,” Pete ‘Maverick’ Calloway smiled. “You should talk to her when she’s off the clock; it’s like she’s a whole different person.”
“If you say so,” Nate replied with doubt peppering his words.
Meanwhile as Agent Larkins rounded the corner of the stairwell and exited the door ahead of them into MCO Detention Level 2, the three ‘guests' hung back out of sight as he flashed his ID to the woman on staff at the security desk. “Hey, Shane what brings you down here this fine afternoon?”
“Listen, Sherrie. This is urgent. I need to see the John Doe who was brought in earlier!” Shane blurted out nervously.
“Well, you’ll have to what your turn,” Agent Achenbach explained. “Vogan is grilling him in Interrogation Room...”
The Agent in charge of the security desk shut up as she caught sight of Mrs. Calloway, Maverick, and Plainswalker. Frowning, Diane Calloway stated firmly, “You were saying Agent...Sherrie Laford, if I’m not mistaken.”
“I’m sorry madam but that information is confidential as per MCO Charter,” Sherrie responded holding her ground.
“Except in matters of a federal investigation,” Maverick said laying down the law while flashing his badge (which used his codename for anonymity sake). “And since the John Doe in question is a witness, he falls under the Federal Witness Protection Act. If you withhold information, you will be charged with obstruction which carries a ten year sentence in a federal institution and a fine of $250,000. Moreover, if any agent on the premises is found to be torturing and coercing a federal witness, this branch of the MCO will be placed under federal review first thing in the morning, it’s license to operate as a federal contractor within this federal district shall be suspended, and this building to remain closed until it is deemed fit to reopen by a federal judicial tribunal, pending a thorough review of all records and employees.”
Deflating, Agent Sherrie Laford finished her prior sentence, “He’s in Interrogation Room 5 with Agent Vogan. Listen, we were just told to pick up two mutants at the crime scene, we weren’t told that one of them was a witness in need of medical treatment.”
“The information was in the paperwork you had received at the scene upon delivery. You can save any further comments and testimony for the Judges at the tribunal, Agent Laford,” Maverick stated firmly his gaze like steel. “This building is now under federal lockdown, no one is to leave the building from this point on, and all shredding equipment is to be brought out to the front lobby immediately.”
Turning to their original guide, Maverick issued an order in a very even tone of voice, “Agent Laskin, you are to escort Ms. Calloway to her client.”
“Y-yes sir,” Agent Laskin stammered leading the lawyer to her client, this time making sure that he didn’t try to outrun her.
Satisfied that the young mutant that he knew from the report filed by Texas Flags Ltd. to be one Sean Bridges was soon to be in good hands, Pete turned his attention to the other matter at hand. “Agent Laford are there any prisoners in Detention Level 2?”
“No, not if the John Doe in the Interrogation Room isn’t a prisoner,” Sherrie explained, “Why do you need to know?”
Maverick said with a smile, “Because, Agent Laford, I need you to immediately escort Plainswalker to Slaughterhaus’s detention cell to make certain that the security is adequate and that he will be secure for transport first thing in the morning. Members of the Grand Hall tend to pull a Houdini in this part of the country while they are being detained.”
Ms. Calloway and Agent Laskin arrived at Interrogation Room 3 just as Agent Vogan was beginning another round of shock treatment, “Admit it; we have you at the scene of the crime. Come on, a mutant werewolf on scene where there’s a member of a mutant organization that claims to use dark magic as their standard method of operation? Do you know what I think this means?”
I replied in between huffs of breath and still strapped to the table, “That it was Col. Mustard in the study with the candlestick?”
I was again introduced to the best juice the electric company had to offer and began to scream again as Agent Vogan pressed the button on the device. This kept up until Agent Laskin escorted Ms. Calloway into the room.
“Agent Laskin, this is a restricted area no civilians are allowed in here,” Vogan barked at the intruders. “You are to put that woman in custody this moment for debriefing and consider yourself written up for this infraction.”
“Agent Vogan, I am attorney Diane Calloway with the Law Firm of Johnson, Mayherd & Pratt, and I am here under the authority of the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals,” Mrs. Calloway spat back, not giving the grim MCO Agent an inch. “The individual you are torturing is a federal witness to Slaughterhaus’s attempted rampage at the Six Flags Amusement Park this afternoon and was remanded to your custody for medical treatment, not interrogation. We have a federal deputy on scene who has instituted a full lockdown; you are to escort my client here to where he can receive proper treatment for his injuries and then to an unmonitored room where he can provide testimony of today’s events for before said Federal Deputy.”
“So, you’re my lawyer?” I said catching my breath again. “Okay, where is it?”
Ms. Calloway replied clearly puzzled at the wolfish mutant’s question, “Where is what?”
“The light bulb,” I grinned. “I’ve been asking for one for ten minutes to see if I could do a decent Fester Addams impression and break the tension in here a little. I swear if these guys were any more uptight, they’d be excreting diamonds.”
“You think that now is a good time for joking?” Diane asked moderately surprised at the boy’s humor considering his situation, as Agent Laskin began to undo his restraints. “You just manifested as a mutant and were being tortured in an MCO Interrogation Room.”
“Believe me, I wish that was all that was wrong,” I said as I was certain that my fears were now written on my now muzzle of a face as I began to massage my now freed wrists. “But, it’s all that I could do to keep from having a nervous breakdown or going into shock.”
“You can tell me about this in a few minutes,” the attorney said now becoming curious as well as concerned. “I’m going to bring you to a room where we can talk and a federal marshal’s deputy and a special deputy will be there to guarantee your safety.”
“Mizz believe me when I say this,” I said desperately trying to convey the severity of the situation to her. “Right now, no one is safe, especially me.”
“W-well sir, this is Block 3 where we keep the death row detainees,” Agent Laford said, who was scared enough to be left alone with a mutant, let alone escorting one down to Block 3 where an even more dangerous one was now locked up.
“Agent Laford, what are you doing away from your post?” Tim Achenbach the MCO agent in charge of the security desk shouted at his subordinate. “And why are you doing escorting this freak around our headquarters without a security detail?”
“Hello, I’m Special Deputy Plainswalker with Federal Marshal Service,” Rev. Nate Haskins spoke up. “This facility has been placed under lockdown for violating the Federal Witness Protection Act; however, I am here to make certain that your prisoner remains in his cell.”
“Well Special Deputy Plainswalker, I can assure you that if anyone knows how to keep mutants under lock and key it’s the MCO,” Agent Achenbach shot back at the mutant vigilante who dared to try to tell him how to do his job. “We completely disarmed Slaughterhaus before bringing him into his cell, we performed a body-cavity search, a stomach pump, and even a CT scan to make certain that he didn’t sneak anything in. His cell is also devoid of sharp corners and he is confined to a full-body smart suit to prevent him from using blood magic- if it actually exists.”
“It does; however, it’s not an escape attempt that I’m worried about,” Plainswalker’s blood began to boil while trying to get through to the MCO Security Agent. “What I’m worried about is an extraction attempt by the Grand Hall and the resulting possible fatalities, or haven’t you heard about Inferna’s little disappearing act from your St. Louis Facility along with three agents? Well, two really. The dental records helped ID all that was found of one of them.”
“Point taken,” Tim said clearly spooked as he buzzed the door open and followed them after he grabbed the taser-shell shotgun from under his desk.
As soon as they entered the cell block, they noticed something was off. “Rick Hilger should be on duty in here,” Tim said his voice dripping with worry. “He never skips out on detention security; it’s his favorite assignment.”
“Down here,” a voice whispered from beneath them. Everyone was shocked to see Agent Rick Hilger’s face protruding from the concrete slab, dripping with sweat.
“What the hell?” Tim stood stunned. “How in the hell did this happen?”
“It looks like the Grand Hall has someone that can turn intangible.” Plainswalker sighed while bringing his staff to bear. “Get ready, you two; you’ll need to get him out fast. This spell takes some effort to maintain.”
The runes on his staff flared an eerie blue as the spell was cast, “Verto concrete pro mihi in arenae.” As the incantation, ended the blue runes glowed brighter and the floor around the imprisoned agent turned into fine-grained sand.
Taking their cue that now was the time, Tim and Sherrie plunged their arms into the metamorphosed concrete, pulling their co-worker to safety. Once Rick was pulled free and away from the sand, Plainswalker released his spell and the sand turned back into concrete albeit leaving a slight pothole due to the grit that Rick dragged out with him.
“Rick what the hell happened?” Tim shouted his voice a mixture of concern and anxiety. “Did you see who did this?”
“No,” Rick said gasping for his first lungful of air since he was sunk down in the floor. “One minute I was rattling that freak’s cage, and before I knew what was happening, I was sinking into the floor.”
“And now Slaughterhaus is gone,” Plainswalker said staring into the only detention cell that had any residual energy that could clue someone in to there being a recent occupant. Only in this case it showed a second that registered as feminine signature. “It looks like the Grand Hall sent some lady to spring him.”
“Just how do you know that?” Sherrie asked somewhat intrigued at the mutant’s analysis.
“Among other things, my mask allows me to playback the spectral echoes of events that occur in an area for up to an hour, as well as record it,” Nate told the MCO agent. “He was here six minutes ago; we need to get to your evidence room fast.”
“Listen here,” Agent Achenbach growled standing firm in the face of the special deputy. “We have procedures. I am not just going to let you waltz around like you own the place.”
Plainswalker spoke back on even keel highlighting the real problem. “Slaughterhaus is both a Devisor and a Sociopath. He won’t leave here without his equipment; he values it more then human lives and will kill whoever he thinks is trying to stop him in order to retrieve it.”
“Good God,” Agent Laford gasped in realization. “Markum usually takes an early dinner break, and he usually does it in the evidence room.”
That sealed the deal for the MCO agents present; regardless of any threat Plainswalker and his friends represented to their agency, one of their own was in danger. They arrived in the evidence room just in time to see the outline of what appeared to be a smiling woman made of concrete as she melted into the floor. All present were stunned as they saw what had become of Agent Greg Markum, pinned in place using the same abilities that nearly entombed Rick Hilger, thus leaving his shriveled, gaunt remains twisted in agony like some perverse trophy.
In a small conference room provided by the MCO, Diane Calloway and Plainswalker sat down to talk with me, after providing me with a what seemed like a triple extra large hospital gown. “So, what you are saying is that you are a park employee and ran to the child because you saw him tethered to a tree.”
“That’s pretty much the situation,” I told the attorney. “I planned to cut the kid free and make a mad dash to the bumper cars. I hoped the massive electric grid in the ceiling would keep us safe until the fighting was over.”
“Not too bad a plan actually,” Plainswalker chimed in honestly surprised at the boy’s amateur strategy. “It might have even worked if Slaughterhaus hadn’t tagged you with one of his generators. The fact is that you are lucky to still be alive and even luckier that this all happened on private property, otherwise the MCO could detain you indefinitely or worse.”
“Thank whoever decided to include mutants on the state’s hate crime law when we finally passed it,” Diane Calloway threw in her two cents. “If there is one group that has a larger presence in Texas than the Klan, its H1, and from what I’ve seen over the last several years, a lot of them get hired on to the MCO.”
“By the way, Plainswalker, um, sir,” I said trying to get the attention of the mystic super-hero. “Can you reinforce that spell that you used on me? Because I’m afraid that when it gives way, we’re all in serious trouble.”
“I’m afraid not. When I cast that spell on you this afternoon, I invoked the power of Morpheus, the Greek God of Sleep, to boost its effectiveness. This means that the spell’s limits are set; it will be lifted at sunrise tomorrow.”
“Then we have to work fast,” a softer voice came from Sean’s mouth, with a bit of an Irish brogh as his eyes shifted to green.
“Mr. Bridges, this is hardly the time for joking.” Plainswalker fired back, a bit baffled by the boy’s response.
“That wasn’t me,” I responded as my eyes shifted back to their usual brown and embarrassment tinted my voice. “I’m afraid to say that I’m not alone in here with the monster from earlier, that was well…she’s also a wolf and calls herself Morrigan.”
“Wait a minute. Her name’s Morrigan, and she’s got a Gaelic accent. She wouldn’t happen to be that Morrigan would you?”
“And which me would ye be referring to?”
“I was referring to Morrigan, as in the Celtic goddess of war- as in the Morrigan who is often spoken of rather infamously as the triple goddess or the Phantom Queen.”
“They did worship me but that be their prerogative. As for the triple goddess part that be a long story.” The pseudo-goddess within Sean’s body sighed, “However that be neither here nor there. If ye can not reinforce the spell then that be leaving us with two choices. Either the beast needs to be exorcised, or it needs to be sealed. Anything else can wait can wait. With the boost the beastie got from that green fire, we can not hope to contain him any more. If he be neither banished nor sealed, when the sun rises tomorrow morn’ consider this afternoon as an appetizer of far darker days ahead.”
“What do I need to do?” Plainswalker looked me in the eyes. Although I wasn’t exactly behind the wheel, I had turned the reins over to Morrigan, and with any luck she, Greyback, and I would be around to see another sunrise after the one to come. If we failed, I could count my remaining existence in hours, and the only legacy we would leave to the world would be a monster.
“Can I have a stencil and a...what be the word? A legal pad.” Diane produced the items in question from her briefcase, and Morrigan began to hammer out her plan. The first page was a simple grocery list, including two specific lists (one in case ingredients for the first couldn’t be found in time). Page two was a complex mystic design, “I need someone to forge this in metal. It need not have to be any specific kind; however, it must only be of the same metal.” Page three began a list of detailed instructions, Plainswalker knew it was time to call Duck-it in off the bench. It was going to be a long night.
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January 6, 2007
Grand Hall of Sinister Wisdom - Metroplex Chapter
“And that is everything,” Slughterhaus said to a woman who laid reclined across an old salon couch wearing who wearing a designer dress and smoking on a hookah, “I apologize Lady Scratch for failing to obtain more soul monads for you before being forced to escalate my operation; however I hope that the MCO’s little contribution will be a step in the right direction.”
“Hmph,” Lady Erzabet Scratch responded blowing out a plume of smoke as she removed the hookah’s pipe from her lips as she sat up, “Poor Slaughterhaus so many years of success only to be forced into a cell of the MCO and having to rely on my dear little pet for rescue, it must feel absolutely degrading. Although I have half a mind to have you torn limb from limb for your actions, I mean taking your fight to an amusement park during operating hours; if Phage wasn't so enamored with you I'd be tempted to recycle you into a new Reverant. Still you have brought us some very useful information on what appears to be a decently powerful novice Avatar.”
“I shall know how powerful his spirit is my lady,” Slaughterhaus pleaded knowing that he had narrowly escaped a face worth than death, “all I need do is examine the equipment we retrieved from the MCO’s evidence and you shall be the first to learn the results.”
“There is no need to do that Slaughterhaus,” resounded a voice from the darkened corridors of the Grand Hall of Sinister Wisdom’s Metroplex branches director’s office as footsteps gradually approached. Erzabet Scratch was stunned, it been decades since she had heard that voice, and had heard like so many others that the man who used it had perished over three decades ago.
“What you experienced in oh so many ways was but a seed that I had planted into the wide world a decade and a half ago,” Erzabet’s fears were justified as the figure stepped into the room just as he had been when she had last seen him, Lord Domino of the Obsidian Circle, one of the many secret cabals that had helped form the Grand Hall of Sinister Wisdom decades ago as well as their predecessor the Black Lodge, was standing right in the chapter house that she considered the crown jewel of her modest empire. “Tell me would you say that it is time to harvest the ripe fruit of my efforts?”
“Who are you and what do you think you are doing in my Lady’s personal office without being properly invited?” Reverant growled as she drew two large machetes from her hips.
“Reverant stop this instant!” Erzabet shouted at her servant who was about to charge the intruder with her orichalcum blades, “That is Mister Domino, he is a member Obsidian Circle and is amongst the eldest and most elite magisters of the Grand Hall of Sinister Wisdom; although…I had heard that he had died in battle against the Mystic Six almost half a century ago.”
The individual in the slate black suit, with stark white jacket buttons, began to laugh and the mouths double-sided full mask of comedy and tragedy made out of what appeared to be black porcelain yet moved organically when spoke, “Oh dear sweet Erzabet, do not confuse a lack of overt action with death, I can assure you that neither did I expire nor retire. We of the Obsidian Circle only operate in the public eye when we deem it necessary or find it amusing, so do not be surprised if you if few decades without seeing one of us.”
“You said that the monster responsible for my capture was of your work,” Slaughterhaus interjected, “Then why did it interfere with a fellow member of the Grand Hall?”
“Slaughterhaus was it...you might say that my creation was a little cranky when your toy woke him up,” the man who called himself Mister Domino replied in amusement. “He never did learn how to play well with others. As he should soon be done with the task to which I assigned him, he will need assistance to make his way to us, and I ever so do want him home safely.”
“Of course, that is why he brought me along.” Upon the sight of the next individual, both Erzabet Scratch and Slaughterhaus’s moods went from curiosity to outright hatred.
“Plagiat, I thought that I made it clear that your presence was no longer welcome in this, or any of the chapter houses under my purview.” Erzabet snarled as her voice filled with venom at the sight of the Heinrich Boll, better known to the Grand Hall and the world as the nefarious mage, Plagiat.
“Now, now. Fraulein Scratch, I am here at Mister Domino’s behest; he chose me for this task specifically,” the greasy haired man retorted. “And I have been informed that if I execute this task to his satisfaction, I will be placed as second in command of Madam Eventide’s current operation at Mount Etna.”
“Of course, I am well aware of your distaste of young Plagiat here, Lady Scratch, as are the rest of the Obsidian Circle,” Mister Domino interjected. “However, know that, regardless of his failure or success, you shall be rewarded for your tolerance; Mistress Nyx wishes to meet with you soon. She has informed me that she is rather impressed with your efforts over the years and wishes to sponsor you into admission as an adjunct to the Obsidian Circle itself.”
Erzabet was stunned- becoming an adjunct of the Obsidian Circle was one of the highest honors one could obtain within the Grand Hall of Sinister Wisdom without being an actual member of the Circle itself. She would be able to attend all of their meetings and ceremonies, have access to their private vaults and libraries, be party to their secrets and even possibly their identities, and in time she could since adjunct were in fact probationary members in time, earn her own seat within the Obsidian Circle itself. In the history of the Grand Hall of Sinister Wisdom, the only member to have ever gained this prestigious honor was Dame Höllenfeuer; even the feared Lady Jettatura had never been granted this privilege. “Mister Domino, I am honored. I honestly do not know what to say.”
“I am hoping that you will say that you agree to will help out with our operation,” Mister Domino almost hummed as he sat down and folded his hands. “After all, any added info to make sure that our efforts runs along smoothly would be most appreciated.”
“Understood. Reverant, tell them all that you learned about the MCO Building and pull up its personnel file; contact our mole if you have to learn the current situation.” Erzabet told her pet cleaner as she could almost picture the brass ring that was almost within her grasp, floating in front of her eyes. “Slaughterhaus, fill a memory stone so that we get with the details of the fight and then get to that analysis on the Unknown Avatar to see if he might have any extra surprises that we do not know about, I want as few extraneous factors in this mission as possible.”
It was now nearly an hour past the MCO Dallas Branch’s normal operating hours. Usually no one worked now except for security personnel; however, as the facility was under federal lockdown until morning no one was allowed to leave the building and all outside communication was monitored. So far, only the facility’s director actually tried to pull anything when he was caught trying to call a Goodkind legal firm on his cell phone only to be surprised that his call was blocked.
Thankfully deliveries of food, clothes and certain necessary amenities were allowed; many MCO employees secretly thanked whoever invented the sleeping bag or whoever decided to freeze dry coffee for their contributions to mankind. Maverick was busy taking inventory of the MCO’s hard drives and paper files to hand over to the Federal Marshall first thing in the morning. Plainswalker, after extracting the corpse of Greg Markum from the floors and shelves of the evidence room so his co-workers could place him in a body bag, began to setup wards throughout the building on all levels in case their wall walking assassin decided to return for a little more fun.
Everyone was so busy that they failed to notice a young girl wearing a burlap hood, partially and carefully emerging from the mirror in the darkened men’s room of the first basement level. She took a minute to carefully memorize the color of the glowing pendent within her hand before traveling back through the mirror to her starting point within the Grand Hall.
She exited the mirror in front of Reverant, and her master Plagiat. Quickly, she ran forward and kneeled with a bowed head before her master as she returned the pendent with a trembling hand. “Well Fetch, tell me what was the exact color of the pendent within the building?”
“I-it w-was blue master.” The girl said quivering in fear.
Without warning Plagiat lashed out with a vicious backhand slap that knocked the young girl on her side, “I asked what the exact color the pendent glowed you twit! Blue tells me nothing; blue can mean any number of things. If you cannot tell me the exact shade of blue it was, then maybe I should return you to your father’s tender mercies... hmm. Would you like that? Would you like me to take you home to daddy and tell him what a good little mutant his daughter is?”
“N-no p-please d-don’t master,” the child begged with tearful eyes, which was all that could be seen through her hood, trembling even more than she was earlier at the dark wizard’s threats, “It was azure master.” Fearing her master’s further wrath, she curled up in a ball, her quivering form now silhouetted by her ragged over-sized second hand clothes.
“Blast, that means that there are barrier charms warding against the intrusion by malign forces. Even using a changeling bauble and your abilities, I would be unable to enter the building.” He briefly regarded the tattered wastrel at his feet before shouting again, “What are you waiting for Fetch? Get back in the mirror or you’ll be stuck eating stale bread and not even have a tin of dog food to go with it.”
The girl, known only as Fetch pulled herself back upright and quietly, walked back over to the mirror, disappearing into it. His slave gone, Plagiat’s face was now screwed in thought before he turned to Lady Erzabet’s pet cleaner. “Reverant, can you please contact your mistress's mole and see if we can work out some way for me to gain entrance into the building? Mister Domino really wishes that to happen tonight.”
“Very well,” the cleaner stated before she stormed off no longer able to stomach the sight of the abusive man who had dared to cheat her lady two scant years before and then treat said prize like less than an animal.
MCO North Texas Branch - Director’s Office
“What am I going to do Daryl?” the Director of the Dallas MCO branch held with his head hung in futility. “I’ve been hanging onto material and memos marked burn after reading for years just in case my superiors slipped up, and now a federal agent has his hands on it. If this gets back to the main branch that I let this slip, I won’t live to see trial.”
“Shuush, calm down sir,” the secretary cooed as she rubbed his shoulders in long languid strokes. “It will be alright. After all, there is always a solution to every problem.”
“How can there possibly be a solution to this problem?” Ted Coverdale moaned in despair in spite of his lovely secretary’s attention. “The case writes itself, and even in this state, we don’t stand a chance because the case will be arraigned in a federal court- not in a jury trial. Even the federal judges that don’t like mutants, see us as more of a threat to national interests because we’re a privately owned foreign organization with policing powers.”
“Well, if Deputy Maverick doesn’t survive till tomorrow morning, it will be our word against his on the charges against us,” Daryl Lanter purred with as she continued to work her wiles on her puppet. “After all, mutants don’t like the MCO, and it will just be a case of premeditated bias when we appeal this decision to a higher court especially if the three principle witnesses don’t make it till tomorrow.”
“But how are we going to make it look like we weren’t responsible?” Ted looked at his secretary now with a creeping suspicion.
“Shhhhhh, my dear,” Ms. Lanter replied as an almost invisible glow radiated from her eyes and a near musical timbre to her voice. “Leave every thing to me.”
“I’ll leave everything to you,” Director Coverdale droned back.
“You don’t need worry about a thing,” she continued with the eerie echo in her voice.
“I don’t need to worry about a thing.”
“I’ll just go and get started,” Daryl continued as she moved towards the door, “And then maybe after this blows over we can get together for something special.”
“Then just go and get started, and then maybe after this blows, over we can get together for something special,” Ted continued to drone as Daryl sashayed out the door, leaving her slave with a wink and a blown kiss.
Calmly, she strolled down the hallways and into the ladies room on the third floor of the building confident that she was not going to be disturbed since the rest of the women who worked on the offices on the top floors preferred to have the weekends off. Still, since it was better to be safe than sorry, she placed a neutral charm on the door that caused anyone who touched it to imagine that they had somewhere else to be.
“Reverant, this is Agent Lanter,” she spoke into her cell that thanks to a hidden relay in the building could not be traced, tapped or blocked. “I’ve sedated the egomaniac so that he doesn’t get suspicious. This isn’t going to be easy; Plainswalker and Maverick are in the building guarding the target, and Duck-it is soon to join them. Just how are we going to go about doing this?”
“The spell that Plainswalker is weaving around the building is equal parts barrier and alarm system. Thankfully, your amulet masks you from such forms of detection; however, we cannot properly attune one for Plagiat in time for the operation. You will need to setup an estuary ward in the basement, so that he can enter the building. Plagiat’s servant will deliver the materials to you before the operation is scheduled to begin; however, the Mistress will need to tell you how to set it up properly. She will call you beforehand to tell you when to get into position, so do all that you can to avoid arousing any suspicion in the meantime.”
Near Five Mile Creek Bridge
Long after the sun had set an individual was seen creeping along the side of the Marvin D. Love Freeway. Most drivers thought nothing of him as he was likely nothing more than a hitchhiker or a vagrant. Still, given the nearby penitentiary, they knew better than to stop and offer the man a ride. As he came to the bridge the stranger walked carefully down the levy and back over to where the bridge over Five Mile Creek began. He produced a key from his pocket and inserted it into the side of the levy, as he turned it a descending stairway of stone appeared. Quickly, the figure entered before the entrance camouflaged itself once again.
Once inside, all manner of inhuman beings were seen peddling their wares in the same manner of a vast bazaar or an antique show. The man now pulled down his hood, as Plagiat knew that he was in just the place to find exactly what he needed- just like he did that day almost two years ago. This was the local Goblin Market. All around strode peddlers of mystic odds and ends being sold to practitioners of the craft as well as their fellow members of the Winter Court.
“Ah Plagiat, it’s been a few seasons. How are you?” a small goblin with a fang filled grin stepped up. “I’m sorry to say that you’re a few weeks early for the Wastrel Auction, but you can always come back. I hear we have a good crop this year, although Lady Scratch usually takes her pick from the young damsels of real potential. Come to think of it- she was rather upset at you for masking the powers of your last purchase before the auction; you might need to make it worth my while to keep your presence in her sea a secret.”
“There is no need, Smeihast, she already knows of my presence,” boasted the Grand Hall rogue. “I am here with Mister Domino to test my measure on a difficult mission, I am told when I succeed I will be placed in charge of Madame Eventide’s operation at Mount Etna. And in return for putting up with my presence, Lady Erzabet is going to be vetted for a seat amongst the Obsidian Circle.”
“Whoa! Domino’s here in person. And since you’re here, that must mean that you need something for your mission. Well, I’ll help you find it if you put in a good word for me with your boss.”
“Never one to pass up a chance to brown nose to anyone in power, are you Smeihast?” Plagiat chuckled at the goblin’s craven attitude. “I need anyone who deals in sound crystals, particularly those from Greece.”
“Ah. Ormoetia is probably the one you need,” the filthy being hummed as he began to guide Plagiat through the market towards the merchant in question, passing all kinds of vendors selling goods of all descriptions, from out of season spell ingredients to more exotic goods like pixie dust to deep-one body parts.
Finally after about half an hour of navigating the market, they came to a humble caravan that was closed. Smeihast waddled forward to hesitantly knock on the side door. “What! Can not ye read? I’m closed for the day,” snarled the one-eyed saw-toothed hag who emerged from the half-door. “Or, do ye wish to deny a tired old lady her beauty sleep?”
Holding his sarcasm in check and turning on the old charm, Plagiat decided to use a little of the old charm on the Greek hag. “I beg your pardon, madam, and apologize for disturbing you at this late hour; however, I find myself in urgent need of a particular item that I am told you might have in your inventory.”
“Well if it can not wait until, morning then you better expect to pay extra,” Ormoetia grinned at the Grand Hall mage. “Especially after disturbing me, as I was resting up before my midnight devotion to the lady of the cross-roads.”
“I understand and am indeed sorry for interrupting your snooze,” he said while still being polite. “However I am in need of a sound stone that I am told you might have: the morning crow of Alectryon.”
“Eh, not exactly a rare item given that the cock’s been doing it every morning for about the last three millennia.” Ormoetia mused, “But definitely one that is hard to come by in this part of the world. Name what ye have, and I’ll tell ye if it meets my price.”
“Very well,” Plagiat stated as he produced a large pouch containing a handful of short quartz obelisks. “The birth wail of the babe of ancestral enemies, an honest lawyer’s death rattle, and lastly the cries of a virgin couple’s wedding night.”
She took a minute to verify their authenticity and contents, the last eliciting a blush even on her ancient face and a puddles worth of drool from Smeihast. Satisfied, the hag turned her attention back to her customer. “Very well the price is more than enough even considering the inconvenience for bothering me. Would you like anything to even out the exchange?”
A sly smile spread across his face as Plagiat answered Ormoetia. “How about a Mandrake’s scream?”
This took even the hag by surprise. “Boy, that is a lethal weapon, even only as an echo. You can only pay for that with something just as lethal.”
Plagiat didn’t show it but he was losing his patience. He needed a quick and lethal way to clean up after himself in this operation in order for him to escape, and a mandrake’s scream was the surest way to overcome a practiced mage like Plainswalker or a PK-superman like Maverick. He decided the time for pleasantries was coming to an end he needed to play his trump card. “Listen here. Time is growing short, madam, and I need these items for an important operation sanctioned by the Obsidian Circle. However, if you feel that I am offering inadequate payment, then you can always take it up with them.”
The mention of the Obsidian Circle had Ormoetia, and many nearby merchants and patrons alike very apprehensive. While many of the Circle’s agents and the members themselves were known for their generosity and support to beings such as themselves over the centuries, horror stories of their wrath and how they treated those who got in their way were even more widely known. “The Obsidian Circle. Please tell me this is not a mission for Madam Eventide?”
“No,” the stoic mage grinned realizing that he again had the upper-hand. “It is for Mister Domino; however, my next assignment after this will be working directly under Madam Eventide.”
“Very well,” the hag responded, still recovering from her shock. “I agree to this exchange.”
The price now agreed upon, the hag reentered her wagon and returned with two similar crystals and a draw-string pouch. “Remember, the mandrake’s scream is the smoke quartz crystal and have a set of ear plugs in when you use it unless you want to share your target’s fate.”
Satisfied Plagiat strode off to exit the Goblin Market leaving his guide behind. Curious, Smeihast turned to Ormoetia with a question. “Man, I can’t believe that you let that jerk have a mandrake’s scream for that cheap. I mean, I know you folks hold Madam Eventide in such high regard, but that’s a little much.”
Ormoetia smiled as she clued the goblin in. “What I gave him was the scream of a mandrake seedling; the scream of a mandrake that immature can not kill. At most it will render a small room of people unconscious, if he’s lucky. If not it will just knock the wind out of them, teach that spring chicken to get snippy with this old hen.”
January 6, 2007
MCO-North Texas Branch - Main Lobby
It was about one in the morning when the final member of Maverick’s backup arrived. Duck-it, the lady in question, was a svelte four-foot beauty with feathery white hair, and wore an overcoat with more zippers than a Levi’s factory, over a sky-blue track-suit with a metallic visor-clad helmet, similar to a sparring head-guard. She entered the MCO building, straining, while lugging around two heavy tote-bags, a heavy man-purse, and a paper grocery bag. Thankfully Maverick was already there to greet her. “Here, Duck-it, let me help you with some of those,” as the Federal Deputy went to alleviate some of her burden.
“Thanks, big guy. Some times being a gadgeteer bites,” she said as her huff slipped into a sly grin. “Well, at least I grew out of the awkward, ugly teenager phase.”
“Duck-it honestly you weren’t half as bad as you thought you were,” Maverick grinned. “At least you knew to come out of the lab once in a while to get some sun.”
“What can I say?” the lady techie remarked. “Having the abilities of a speedster gave me a little spare-time. By the way, sorry for taking so long. Some of the items on Plainswalker’s list were out of season; that, and he needs to organize his supply cabinets better.”
“Well, maybe you’re just the person for that Duck-it,” the federal deputy hinted something that many of their small circle of friends knew.
“For the last time Mav. Plainswalker and I are friends- nothing more,” Gabby sighed. “Besides, he’s busy keeping this area safe from the supernatural and making sure The Hangman stays in his grave, and I have my work and my garage to look after. Neither of us really has the time for a relationship.”
“So, tell me where we need to set all this up,” Gabby Webster droned, wanting to get to work already and away from Maverick’s ribbing.
“They’re setting up in the basement,” Hank replied. “The second holding block, I think, just for a little added security.”
“Thanks, but I’ll find my way there,” Duck-it called out as she made her way through the MCO building. Using the building schematic that she wirelessly downloaded from the computer at the front desk as she walked by, the gadgeteer navigated her way down to the second holding block, and other than what looked like a secretary making her way to the nearby ladies room that gave her an odd look, everyone along the way pretty much ignored her.
The woman at the desk for the detention area all but fumed as she let Duck-it through; although from what Duck-it had heard, it was hardly surprising that the woman was pissed. After all, her job and any possible future that she might have had with the MCO was on the chopping block because of what she said without knowing that both a lawyer and a federal deputy were within earshot.
As she entered the detention area, she saw Plainswalker and what looked like a cast member of the next iteration of The Howling series on the empty floor drawing outlines with chalk and someone who Duck-it instantly recognized as Mrs. Diane Calloway, Maverick’s significant other, still dressed in her business suit and operating a nearby coffee pot.
“Hogsmeade Grocery, did anyone order the eye of newt salad?” Gabby chimed in with a bad British accent, “Okay, PW, I got everything on your list, which was not easy do. You have any idea how much quail eggs go for in the dead of winter?”
“I’ll pay you back later,” Nate groaned. “Besides, we only needed one and you could have substituted a small organic chicken’s egg.”
“Only if I substituted the walnut for a coconut,” Gabby barked back. “However, when I ran by someone’s lab I saw that they were running low on raw silk which was on both variations of the same list in different amounts, so I had to go with the list that required the least amount. Just what is this for anyway?”
“Plan B,” I said taking the grocery bag from Duck-it. “Apparently, this is the back-up in case the banishment spell doesn’t work.” Grocery bag in hand, I went for the nearest cell and entered it taking care not to lock myself in. “Morrigan, Greyback and I need a little time to prepare this. Please don’t come in while we’re preparing this spell; it requires great concentration.”
As young Sean Bridges shut, the door Plainswalker and Duck-it got to work assembling the gadgeteer’s portable magical circle and securing it to the floor. Five minutes went by when everyone began to hear an odd mixture of growling and grunting coming from the cell. “Something must be wrong. I’ll go check on him,” Gabby spoke, as she got up to walk over to the cell before Plainswalker, grabbed her wrist to stop her. “Believe me, Ducky, I recognize those noises, and let's just say that you do not want to break his concentration at this time.” A chuckle was barely audible under his words.
After about fifteen minutes, Sean emerged from the cell panting heavily and clutching a leather shave-kit that looked like it was packed full. He walked over and handed it to Mrs. Calloway. “Here, if what we’re about to do doesn’t work, please follow the instructions inside and also make sure that the letter gets to my folks explaining what happened.”
“Of course, I am an attorney after all,” Diane smirked.
“Speaking of which, it's odd that an attorney with a private law firm would go to all of this trouble over one mutant kid,” I fired back.
“Why, Mr. Bridges I am shocked that you would think that all attorneys are that heartless.” Diane did her best to keep from laughing. “Actually Johnson, Mayherd & Pratt is one of the legal firms attached to NEXT through right of permanent retainer. Plus, to tell you the truth, any attorney with ours or one of our sister law firms would love to take a case that would let us make a branch of the MCO twitch this much.”
“It also helps that the James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Act, that enumerated which groups were targets of hate crimes, was so late getting on to the books that we could have genetic profile added to the list right next to national origin. Goodkind International’s legal teams and lobbyists have been able to keep us from getting amendments to add that on in most other states.”
“So, how does it feel to be having your cake and eating it too?” I asked with sarcasm mixing with curiosity.
“It feels like biting into a nice, thick slice of Black Forest Cake,” she smiled back. “I know that if I’m not careful I’ll be paying for it later (since the Goodkinds have ‘friends’ on the Texas Bar), but it just tastes too good for me to be able to help myself.”
“Well, you know what they say,” I sighed. “No good deed goes unpunished.”
“Isn’t that the truth,” Mrs. Calloway replied.
As Plainswalker and Duck-it were laying the ground work for the exorcism, outside the cells and down the hall in a locked ladies room another individual was laying the ground work for another mystic ceremony. “Mistress, I am in position and await your every command,” Daryl replied in reverence into her secured cell phone. “I have the door secured and I have one sedated hostage if we need him.” Satisfied that her ‘boss,’ Mr. Coverdale, wasn’t going to wake up anytime soon and confident that the illusion she left of him passed out at his desk next to a glass and a half-empty bottle of Wild Turkey would keep anyone from asking questions until it was too late, Daryl Lanter was free to proceed with her mistress’s plan.
“Excellent, Plagiat’s servant will be bringing over the necessary materials now.” As if on cue a young, hooded girl in worn clothing stepped out of the mirror and on to the vanity shelve around the sink carefully holding onto a lady’s handbag that perfectly mirrored her own handbag right down to the wear and tear.
Carefully, the child held out the purse handing it over to Daryl. “M-miss Sc-scratch says that everything you need is in here, and that she’ll give you the instructions aloud.”
“I understand,” Ms. Lanter smiled taking the purse while patting the trembling child on the head. “Thank you for your hard work.”
Her cheeks red with embarrassment despite being hidden by her sack hood, Fetch dove through the mirror without saying a word. A minute later Erzabet began relaying her orders. “First off my child, we need to establish your alibi, take the gloves inside the bag and place them on your ‘boss’.” Waiting for a moment until she was satisfied that her mole had followed her orders properly she then continued, “Now turn the gloves inside out and put them on your hands. This will leave his fingerprints at the crime-scene in the one place where they would be completely out of place.”
“Now, you take the paintbrush, the jar, the compass, and the diagram from inside the purse. Now, the fluid in the jar is a mixture of the blood of a virgin and the blood of the damned. Use the paintbrush to reproduce the seal on the diagram onto the floor. You must start with the point at the tip of the northern most line then draw the seal clockwise. After you finish with the frame, you must move onto the runes. Draw these counterclockwise starting with the runes within the points of the frame, and then write the incantations going clockwise from the northern tip.”
For the next ten minutes, Daryl meticulously followed the instructions that her mistress Erzabet Scratch relayed to her from afar, until finally the diagram was perfectly copied onto the floor of the ladies, room with no signs of gaps in the drawing. “It is done, my lady, what is the next step?”
“The final step is to take the two jars of powder in the bag one of salt the other of brimstone, pour them into the empty jar together, shut the lid, shake the jar seven times, and then pour the mixture over the seal’s perimeter circle counterclockwise from where it meets the northern tip.”
Carefully Ms. Lanter did as she was told, and the moment her powdery trail had returned to its point of origin the whole ward flared with an unnatural grayish light. “It is done my mistress; the Estuary Ward is now complete.”
“Good now place your makeup compact in the center of the ward, and Plagiat shall handle the rest. Now you need to wait but be ready to escape my dear, you did you bring the pendents from your desk with you the ones that I gave to you and told you to keep there at all times right before you began your first day as my operative within the MCO.”
“Yes mistress, I have them!”
“Good, put them on for later, now the moment the operation begins you must be prepared to do this at any moment.”
“We are now ready to begin,” Plainswalker stated as he stepped away from the assembled magic circle which was now complete and adhered to the floor. “Sean if you would,” the enchanter motioned for the animalistic youth to step inside.
“I know, Greyback and Morrigan have been telling me for the last few hours just what I need to do?” I groaned as I stepped inside, “Although it should be easier since we have several hours before that monster wakes up.”
“Don’t be so certain if there’s one thing that I’ve learned over the years when it comes to magic and evil entities is that things are rarely either simple or routine,” Plainswalker explained as he brought his staff out, “Well cross your fingers and hope this works.”
Behind his mask Plainswalker closed his eyes as he began to chant concentrating only on the task at hand, [“Turpis phasmatis quisnam festinatio vis macies via in letalis viscus, Inquam iam per totus vox of of caelum quod antiquitas ut solvo vestri habitum super is parvulus. Super vos iam per sanctus mistletoe EGO iacio astrum super vos, iam solvo vestri habitum super is viscus quod vultus quod genitus.”
As the circle flared a bluish-green and Sean sank to his knees as a small aura of blue could be seen as it struggled to assist two larger auras of verdant-green and amber-gold to expel one of a inky-crimson from his body as a shining white-light was seen from above trying to pry the presence out. This went on for a good ten minutes before it appeared that Plainswalker and Sean were making any headway on their plan, of course as the saying goes plans involving the supernatural rarely go smoothly once they get off the ground.
Suddenly the door was thrown open as a figure was seen in the doorway, wearing all black and the same mask Lon Chaney Sr. made famous in Phantom of the Opera he as soon as all eyes, except of for myself and Nate since we were of course rather busy with the task at hand, turned to him he raised a short rod in his hands tipped with a jewel and expounded “Erstarrung.” Everyone in the room was now frozen in place and unable to move, fortunately for Plagiat as Duck-it had brought her patented AC-energy pistol Lil’ Niki to bear and had been about to fire.
“I’m afraid that your hairy friend will be coming with me Plainswalker, apparently a very old friend of the presence that you are trying to expel wants it back.” Plagiat snidely spoke with his usual tone of arrogance, “Of course delivering him with a body would naturally sweeten the deal and my reward.” He brought out a crystal from his the pocket of his costume and released its contents, as the crow of a rooster echoed in the room the crimson halo surrounding the black aura dissolved and the darkness itself began to violently struggle with all of the ferocity of the brutal and savage force that was its nature.
Still none of the parties involved were willing to give up all that they had worked for Sean’s spirit did all he could to aide Morrigan and Greyback in fighting the beast that had haunted his nightmares and his life for far back as he could remember, still it was not enough they were clearly losing the fight. Plainswalker watched and knew that there was only one thing that he could do, risk his life and astral project himself out of his own body to aide the boy and the two spirits in their pitched battle upon the Plain of Sean Bridge’s mind.
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Changeling bauble: A pendent with a oval cut gem about the size of a pinky fingernail, that allows one to either carry a person or a set of clothes, and exchange that which is within for something else or just store it. They easily mass produced and are sold in Faerie Bazaars and Goblin Markets for the price of a public act of stupidity or sharing the memory of one. The color of the gem can be adjusted providing it is holding something at the time and the person attempting to do so is the gem's owner, they are very easy to modify for use more specific purposes by even minor magic practitioners.
Turpis phasmatis quisnam festinatio vis macies via in letalis viscus, Inquam iam per totus vox of of caelum quod antiquitas ut solvo vestri habitum super is parvulus. Super vos iam per sanctus mistletoe EGO iacio astrum super vos, iam solvo vestri habitum super is viscus quod vultus quod genitus.
Foul spirit who has forced its way into mortal flesh, I say now by all the powers of the Heaven's and the Ancients to release your hold upon this child. Upon thee now through mistletoe I cast the star upon thee, now release your hold upon this flesh and form and begone.
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Sean Bridge’s Mind
Upon entering the mind Nate took note of the pitched battle taking place between the trio of what looked like werewolves, a young female and an elderly male were doing the best that they could to fend off what the same monster that he remembered fighting the previous afternoon; however this time the beast was clearly far stronger and more ferocious than he had remembered. No this was a being of pure malice surrounded by the same corona of necrotic energy as the Carcasite that it had fought the previous day; this was what could only be described by that old coot Englund back at the Academy as a true demon. Meanwhile what looked like a teenage boy was nearby clutching his wounded side and favoring one leg, obviously the owner of this fine piece of real-estate.
Still it was obvious that they needed all the help that they could get, Plainswalker took aim with his staff a gathered his will to hopefully give the two spirits the opening that they needed to take the beast down. However, it was not to be for before he could utter a single syllable of Latin a blow offside his head knocked him to the side and sent a bolt of unfocused mystic force screaming over the heads of the combatants.
“I will not have you interfering Plainswalker,” Plagiat said tapping a mystic rod against the palm of his hand. “My patron wants his servant returned intact, and I will not allow any to stand in my way.”
Morrigan took note of the two intruders while the monster was distracted. Plainswalker, while a useful ally in the fight against this dark spirit, was of course a welcome addition to the fight; however, the presence of this outside enemy brought about a new means to settle this- one, which, to her knowledge, had not been used in the entirety of the existence of modern man.
“Greyback,” Morrigan shouted out to her compatriot and pack mate who stood ready for when the fiend tried to renew his assault. “We now do have two additional participants tae the fight: one be allied to us the other be here to aid the Beast. This fight does now, fall under the ancient rules of a Fehde. I need ye tae call forth The Adjudicator, we may just live to see the smile of the sun again.”
“Gladly,” Greyback said with a smile as his eyes turned white. “By the rules laid at before the dawn of days and written across the stars themselves, I declare that this battle now before us is now a Fehde. I call forth upon The Adjudicator, the ancient and impartial judge of the cosmos, to render his judgment upon the contest to come so that all will be made to abide by the outcome of the events to unfold.”
All present were drawn to the spectacle that unfolded; the raging Tempest overhead caused by the dark energy of The Beast, was stilled as the skies overhead parted to reveal a magnificent night sky. As if this were not enough in and of itself it appeared that a drop of the magnificent heavens above poured down akin to finely whipped pancake batter from the sky overhead. Soon the flowing star-filled drop pinched off and the what had fell began to assume a vaguely humanesque shape; however as the being was made of night and stars no distinctive features could be distinguished.
“Who has invoked the ancient trial of Fehde and had called upon The Adjudicator to sit in judgment over the proceedings trial to come?” The mysterious being known only as the Adjudicator inquired to all present.
“I have, ancient one. I am known as Greyback the Omega of the three fragments of a Fae warrior and leader to the armies of Venraniel, daughter of the Silent Willow, Queen of the Court of the West, and have since become the wolf spirit totem of the Cree, the Lakota, the Hopi, the Iroquois, the Blackfoot, and the Caddo.”
“Who else shall stand by the one known as Greyback on this Fehde?” The entity further inquired.
“I be known as Morrigan the Alpha of the three fragments of that same Fae warrior who lead the armies of Venraniel, daughter of the Silent Willow Queen of the Court of the West, and have since served the Gaelic Pantheon as the Goddess of War, Life and Death.”
“I, who am known as the Plainswalker and serve as the mystic guardian of these lands to protect all those who call this land home and would wish to live in peace shall from those with dark intentions, also chose to fight by the side of Greyback and Morrigan.”
There was a moment of awkward silence until the cosmic referee spoke up again, “If there are any remaining who would still prefer to join the side of Greyback who was the one that called the Fehde and invoked myself, let them speak now, lest they bind themselves to the consequences that shall follow!”
That proclamation shook me out of my shock as I hesitantly spoke up. “Well, um, I know that I don’t have any other name to give except my real one, and I prefer to keep that hidden given that there are those who wish me harm present. However, given that the battlefield for this conflict is literally my body, mind and soul, I should have a say. I throw my fate with Morrigan and Greyback; after all, they’ve been helping to keep that monster from consuming me for most of my life.”
“Very well.” the Adjudicator stated, “Now let the other party in this conflict come forth and present themselves, for if they should not and then choose to participate in the conflict to come their fate shall be decided by the victor.”
Smugly the uninvited intruder to this decade old conflict stepped forward and proclaimed, “I am Plagiat, a rising sorcerer within The Grand Hall of Sinister Wisdom, and as I was sent here by the master of this daemon to return him to his master’s side.”
As if responding to some silent cue, the Beast now came forward, and for the first time that I had been aware of him as anything more than a nightmare in the normal sense of the word, spoke, “Like the whelp I would also like to keep any semblance of my true identity a secret as to also protect the true identity of my master; however, the last time that I was in his presence he gave me another name with which to call myself in this modern age, Carcharoth!”
“So be it, the lots for this Fehde have been cast, none my surrender or throw in their fate with the other side without there being consequences from this point forward,” proclaimed the Adjudicator. “Now, Carcharoth, as the one challenged in this Fehde, you shall receive the first choice of the method for combat; although you must keep in mind that should any of the other side refuse you shall revoke your right to refuse their counter offer.”
“Very well,” the demonic anthropomorphic beast agreed. “I chose force; let might make right.”
“We decline,” Greyback proclaimed, “When you first attacked us fourteen winters ago, your first action was to devour our pack’s beta spirit as he was healing from wounds that you inflicted upon him earlier. The name that he had chosen for himself since The Fall was even unknown to us as your earlier attack had striped him of the ability to speak; he represented raw power amongst our group.”
“Understood. So Morrigan what is the method of combat that you would chose?” The entity inquired of the leader of the pack of two.
“The Will,” the former Goddess of the Celts answered back. “Let the victor’s determination see them through to victory.”
The cosmic entity turned to Plagiat and inquired, “Will you accept this counter-proposal for a battle of drive?”
“We shall,” Plagiat grinned, “I refuse to let a child, a goody-two-shoes mage, and two-thirds of some ancient faerie stand in the way of my future. Let the battle begin; this shouldn’t take long.”
“Understood,” the Adjudicator proclaimed as he arose to his a greater height, and with a gesture sent both parties to the far-ends of the mindscape with any wounds or fatigue that they had suffered from now a thing of the past. “The battle has been called for and the method has been agreed upon, now by the laws of the ancients may the Fehde commence!”
Instantly both sides launched themselves into the fray, free of the fatigue of holding Carcharoth off non-stop for over a decade Morrigan and Greyback fought with a fury that neither had in them for ages, almost matching the necromantically supercharged monster that had plagued their existence for years whose killing intent was propelling itself against the determination of Morrigan and Greyback.
Plagiat meanwhile was realizing just how much he had counted on the element of surprise until now, as Plainswalker’s experience in fighting opponents in direct confrontations had far exceeded his own, never mind the moonlighting reverend had over a decade more of combat experience under his belt fighting everything from members of the Grand Hall to the abominations that served the Great Old Ones. Still, his ambition allowed himself to match Plainswalker’s determination to save Sean’s life.
Still as this battle raged, I stayed well out of the way and could only watch the action from a safe distance. It was especially astonishing with how well Morrigan and Greyback’s worked in tandem with the later blocking, parrying, or redirecting Carcharoth’s savage blows with his staff while Morrigan, whose own staff shifted to reveal a rather ornate spear blade worked at slashing and stabbing the beast which only served to further enrage him.
I had to do something, but when I tried to help earlier that monster just about tore me to pieces. I needed to sit down and think, and no sooner did the thought cross my mind than a chair made of moss and earth rose out of the ground beneath me. Whoa, did I make that happen! Wait a minute this is a battle of wills and this is my mind, shouldn’t that mean that any I wished to appear would.
Could I really do this or would I just screw-up? I took one look over at Greyback and Morrigan who were still holding Carcharoth in a stalemate; it might be the only time that I could test this out before I showed my hand. I looked to the ground and concentrated; suddenly a skinny arm made of dirt and rubble emerged giving me a thumbs-up.
“Okay, I can do this.” I concentrated again and a wall was thrown up between Morrigan and Greyback, and their foe. They were briefly confused, and in Carcharoth’s case pissed as he let out a roaring growl of frustration and tried to plow through the obstacle, only to be surprised when the obstacle, began plowing into him as a number fists began to emerge from the earth wall to strike at him.
Greyback and Morrigan, needless to say, had by now figured out what was going on and began to use the distraction to think up a new strategy. However, they did not have long to plan; after a few minutes of taking a beating from the wall, Carcharoth went at the earthen arms with renewed fury as he began to tear into them with the same ferocity a shark uses to tear into a seal. Still I knew this would likely happen…hell I was counting on it. Just as Carcharoth finally began to tear a hole in my wall, a giant fist larger than he was rammed into him with the force of an on coming train and sent him flying backwards into the distance.
Okay it should be a little while before he can land, and I doubt he had the abilities that would let him change direction in midair, so let’s see what else I could do. I turned to my left and concentrated and instantly Snoopy appeared doing his happy dance. I grinned as the cartoon beagle proceeded to dance away until I made him vanish, “Alright you son of a bitch, lets see how you like the pure and unadulterated power of nerd unleashed.”
As he hurled through the air and looked around, Carcharoth finally figured out the identity of the one attacked him, and one thing was clear: the boy had to die first. He had figured out that he could control this world they were in and that made him the most dangerous one here. The boy must die before he finds out what else he can do, And as soon as I hit ground, he’s toast!
Still the ground was a good ways away, and he was only now beginning to descend. Before he could connect with the ground, something in blue tights with a red cape was there to meet him with a right-hook that crossed the sound barrier. He hurled across the landscape via the Kryptonian knuckle sandwich only to fly right into the hammer-strike of an individual whose appearance truly pissed him off. The hammer’s blow knocked Carcharoth stupid as he again headed for the ground, where a monkey dressed in some elaborate attire and wearing a golden diadem used a large rod to bat him back into the air.
A monkey? That fat-assed little shit dares to attack me with a monkey? That’s it I’m going to tear off his arms and legs, maul him, and then while he’s writhing in agony, I’ll make him watch as I eat the other two in front of him, then his severed limbs. Then, I’ll devour him slowly keeping him awake as long as I can so that his fear and screams can wet my appetite for all the fun I’ll have once I gain control and return to the real world. I wonder just how much has it really changed in the past twenty-two centuries; I didn’t really take the time to look around while I was stalking down that fae wolf spirit. Oh, well, work now play later. Suffice it to say the beast was majorly pissed off.
Unfortunately for Carcharoth, right in his flight path was his next assailant; an oddly dressed woman with pale skin and hair, holding an ornate key-like bladed staff with four prongs at the base which was leveled right at him. ‘Oh so now he want to impale me. Let him try; I’ll just cut his little figment to shreds with her own weapon and then use it to cleave his limbs from his body.
Sadly, the monster was so caught up in crafting the slaughter to be that he failed to notice the glowing ball of light appearing at the butt of the weapon, and just as Carcharoth was close enough to see the frightening calm in his target’s eyes, the weapon fired and an azure bolt of energy sent him screaming to the ground leaving a small impact crater behind in his wake.
Still, all was not lost. When the monster looked up, he could see a small outline that could only be his target, staring down at him. After all there was no way that the boy would create anything that puny to be used as a weapon against him. He tackled the figure to the ground, using his right arm to hold the target down while he prepared to start tearing into it with his left. “Well, brat, this is the end. You gave me quite the beating, but you just couldn’t take me while I was down. You just had to make double sure.”
It was then that he noticed the slight squish below his handhold. “I always knew that you were a fat little nothing. After all insect, real men don’t have breasts no matter how tiny they are.” As the dust settled Carcharoth saw that this was neither his target nor a man; he had a young red-headed girl pinned to the ground, one whose amber eyes seethed with rage. Somehow, she knocked him off of her with a hard right just before she began to chant and glow red, “Darkness beyond twilight, Crimson beyond blood that flows, Buried in the stream of time is where your power grows...”
Elsewhere Plainswalker continued in his running stalemate with Plagiat, using every trick and spell that he had learned and using his willpower to put as much weight behind them as he could. Unfortunately what most wizards and mystics had to work hard to gain Plagiat using his powers could simply steal right from the minds of his targets as long as he had a physical grasp so that his aura could properly duplicate the patterns of the spells, if not what he often came up with was a cheap knock-off that was somewhat less effective than the original. However even a weakened copy of a spell could be effective if you used it right, and Plagiat had a ton of them.
As he was being relentlessly hammered by the Grand Hall mage’s attacks he received a message that sounded like it was from Greyback, "Plainswalker, throw up a shield and let the next attack knock you straight back hurry!" Not entirely understanding the message Nate still complied sensing the urgency, instantly he was blown backwards and vanished from sight.
Plagiat noticed that he could no longer sense his opponent anywhere and began to laugh in glee, “I won, all my hard work is going to pay off once I get Carcharoth back to Lord Domino I’ll have that nice position under Madam Eventide then in a few years I should be able to garner enough clout to gain control of one of the Houses and be under consideration for the Circle as well.”
Sadly Plagiat’s declarations of victory and patting himself on the back were cut short by a shout that echoed in the distance, “Dragon Slave!” And all the surrounding landscape became engulfed in a spreading crimson wall of pure agony. The red destruction rolled throughout the plain before expending itself and leaving a sizable crater behind in its wake.
After several minutes the dust began to settle and the ragged and bleeding figures of Carcharoth and Plagiat emerged from the jagged rubble, eyeing his meal ticket Plagiat teleported over to the beast, “Come on Carcharoth we need to regroup quick, let me assist you while we get ready for the next wave.”
Slowly the mage helped the monster to his feet, and then once he was certain that the beast was stable turned around to scan for their foes. “They can’t hide forever and once we find them, I’ll...” Heinrich’s words ended when Carcharoth’s right arm tore like a spear through his abdomen.
As the possessive spirit’s arm pulled back out and Plagiat fell to the ground in agony the daemon cried out, “Is this clear Adjudicator, I now cast my lot with the winning side and now name my prize, this man’s body to be used as my vessel to freedom and to return to my master’s side.”
“Very well you have changed your lot and won the battle for the side of the Trifold Knight of Venraniel; however as you abandoned your side amid the stream of battle you must follow the concessions of those that you now claim as allies make in order claim your chosen reward.” Spoke the cosmic judge again coming to the forefront.
Suddenly a strange humming began to come out of nowhere as a blue British Police Call Box slowly solidified from where there was nothing before, as soon as the box fully materialized I stepped out and immediately held the door for Morrigan, Greyback and Plainswalker who each exited in turn. Before leaving I made sure to give thanks to our pilot, “Thank you Doctor, and I hope K-9 gets to feeling better.” And as soon as the door was closed the blue box vanished gradually back to the nothingness from whence it came.
The party of four looked on as Carcharoth still stood and readied for his next attack when the Adjudicator proclaimed, “Halt, the being known as Carcharoth has come to the decision to change sides amidst the tides of battle and has dealt the finishing blow. He has already named his prize, to leave this child’s body in favor of Plagiat’s; however before he receives his reward for his actions he must concede to the wishes of his former adversaries that he now would claim as comrades. Each of you may name a single condition to which he must abide no matter the method needed to grant it.”
Morrigan was the first to step forward, “I demand that ye return the powers that ye stole from our fallen comrade, free of your foul taint for us tae decide what to do with.”
“So be it!” And with a sweeping gesture a glowing orb painfully tore free of Carcharoth’s body to land gently in the open hand of the she-wolf.
Greyback now stepped forward, “I demand that the beast return our comrade's spirit, or whatever there is left to salvage.”
At that Carcharoth just laughed, “Power is one thing but you asked for the return of something that no longer is, very well let’s see if you recognize something that I vomit forth.”
“Lord of Darkness and the Four Worlds give me all the power you possess,”
Everyone looked around for the source of the voice, but I smirked already knowing just what would happen, after all I was causing it.
“Lord of the dreams that terrify, Sword of the cold dark void free yourself from the Heaven’s bonds, Become one with my body, one with my power and together let us walk the path of destruction, Sword that can smash even the souls of gods, Ragna Blade!”
Carcharoth’s eyes narrowed to pin-holes as the same young girl that caused the massive destruction around him charged forth and slashed him across the stomach with a large blade made of out of crackling darkness.
As soon as the cut was made wisps of energy began to flow out of the wound and into Morrigan’s open hands, soon the energy had condensed into a nebulous, misty, semi-cohesive orb with a very faint glow.
“I did say that they could use any means,” the cosmic judge elaborated as Carcharoth snarled at him in rage.
Now Plainswalker stepped forward and simply asked, “After you leave this child you shall be bound by a geis, forbidding you from ever revealing his true identity or the identity of anyone connected to him upon the penalty of oblivion.”
The beast growled but conceded, “Who cares, I plan on leaving this cesspool anyway, it’s far too crowded for my tastes.”
Now it was my turn I centered myself and did my best to remember my request that the other’s helped me on in the TARDIS, “Under the same penalty as the previous demand, you will never either by yourself or by proxy attempt to bring harm upon myself or the loved ones of anyone that I choose to extend this protection to unless I chose to withdraw that gift.
The beast growled at the child who dared to in effect demand the ability to mark anyone that he chose to as off limits to him; however one look from the Adjudicator and he knew that his options were limited. “Fine; however know this child you have to extend this protection in person and the recipient must then accept it. After all, no matter how hard you try you cannot save everyone on the planet and since my reward is to be free of your pathetic body, every victim that I take from this point forward will be on your head!”
“The terms are now writ, all shall receive thy well earned rewards soon,” the cosmic entity proclaimed, “Now as for Plagiat, now it is time for thy group to join Carcharoth and to name thy chosen spoil to receive from him on this day.”
Once again the Alpha preceded the Omega to claim her spoils, “As reward for this battle I lay claim to every grimoire, spell and incantation that ye have committed to your memory.”
Suddenly Plagiat screamed as a stream of runes was torn from his mind and through what appeared to be his ears and nose and flowed into Morrigan’s eyes. As soon as it was done he collapsed in pain, still he knew that he would have the last laugh one of his first acts after claiming Fetch from the Goblin Market was to shove all except the faintest shadows of her memories aside and turn her into a living grimoire every spell that he knew he had stored inside of her mind and could steal back at any time.
Greyback now spoke, “I proclaim that you shall be placed under a geis forbidding anything that has happened here from being revealed by your being in any way.” This was fine by Heinrich he had all that he wanted anyway who cares if he was unable to fill in some report one word from Mister Domino would keep that detail from dogging him.
“I have a demand;” I spoke up a bit out of turn, “I demand that you surrender the true names of any that you have enslaved to me to do with as I wish.”
This demand hit Plagiat like a brick to the head, “What?! How does a little snot-nosed brat like you know about true names?” Plagiat shouted obviously pissed that I was about to take any servant he had from him which I intended to free.
“I’ve spent most of my life reading in a library, and plenty of authors do their research even fantasy writers,” I smiled at the Grand Hall sorcerer, “Since you didn’t seem too upset at Morrigan for taking all of your mystic knowledge and it would take you years to relearn all that you just lost the old fashioned way, I figured out that you must have a living archive and something tells me that you’re just the type of person to do that to do that to a person.”
Plagiat looked at me with murder in my eyes as a stream of energy exited his mouth to enter my ears, this was great I hadn’t even been formally trained as in my powers and I was already on the shit-list of a very dangerous sorcerer. Still Plainswalker turned his head to me and nodded in approval before speaking up, “I want to know the full details of your mission, including who you are working for, and all the parties that have participated in this and why?”
Plagiat turned towards his opponent in the fight tried to resist divulging his secrets but failed and began to bark out, “I was ordered by Mister Domino of the Obsidian Circle, he wanted me to retrieve Carcharoth for him and in return I would be appointed a position under Madam Eventide for a special operation that she has underway it’s my chance to advance my standing in the Grand Hall of Sinister Wisdom. I have received aide from an informant of Erzabet Scratch’s whose name is not known to me as well as one of my now former minions, in return for her aiding me Erzabet will be vetted for a place amongst the Obsidian Circle itself. Still since Carcharoth is leaving with me anyway even by losing this battle we still win!”
Once more the Adjudicator spoke making a grand gesture of it, “Now the Battle is Won and the Spoils have been distributed to the victors, now let the damage be undone and all who are not residents of this plain depart!”
In a flash the mindscape around us was now restored and I was alone with Greyback and Morrigan. Greyback approached Morrigan and together they let the powers and spirit of their fallen comrade rejoin, the orb energy now grew larger and glowed brighter; however their comrade had still yet to revive. Now Morrigan approached me with the orb, “Sean neither Greyback nor I can fully contain the full power of our fallen Beta, nor do we have the knowledge needed to reawaken him now. For the time being ye must take his power within yourself…”
I could tell that she was about to say more; however before she could the world was engulfed in a destructive inferno.
MCO North Texas Branch
Plainswalker came to just as Plagiat was staggering away from him, a reddish glow in his eyes hinting that he was helping Carcharoth make his escape; although his limbs were just now becoming unfrozen from Plagiat’s spell before the battle they were still numb and he could barely grip his staff let alone use it to channel a spell.
The Grand Hall enchanter grinned at his debilitated opponent and spoke with a slight growl to his voice, “Do not worry dear Plainswalker, there is no pride or recognition to be won by killing an opponent in your condition; however I can make you regret your actions for the rest of your life. You see this child has taken something very useful from me, and something that after it completes its final standing order will be free from me, and I do not let slights like that pass.”
Plagiat pulled out a prismatic crystal and moved it next to his rod, “That bitch Morrigan may have taken the knowledge of all of my spells from my memory but any practiced wizard knows how to prepare stored spells for an emergency,” he tapped the rod to the crystal and as they both began to glow leveled his rod at Sean Bridges still unconscious body and a chant echoed forth from the crystal, “Anzünden!”
Suddenly Sean began to scream as he felt that his body being roasting from the inside out while his assailant smugly remarked, “Enjoy Level-5 Burnout kid.”
As he walked casually out the door he called back, “Oh by the way, about not killing you and your friends, I lied.” With a laugh he chucked another crystal at the far wall and shut the doors tight behind him. As the crystal shattered it sent a piercing scream throughout the room that sent the now mobile Maverick and Mrs. Calloway to the ground, “Don’t worry,” Duck-it said now that she could move again, “I scanned their vitals they’re just unconscious.”
“Good,” Nate said with rage tainting his voice, “I can’t let that murderer get away with this.” He pointed his staff at the door and barked, “Aperire janua.” As the doors blew open he took off down the hallway with Duck-it riding his coat-tails. As he followed the heat signature he was joined by two MCO agents who oddly enough were eager to help when he said that he was chasing someone linked to the man who killed their friend and co-worker Greg Markum.
The trail lead right into the ladies room of course Gabby was the first through the door, what they saw shocked them more so the MCO agents, at the center of a large mystic symbol made of what looked like blood and salt was their branch’s director Ted Coverdale holding his secretary Daryl Lanter hostage at gun point with her mouth gagged, with a glowing double pendant dangling from the same hand that he was using to restrain her.
“You fucking gene-trash, you couldn’t just let one brat rot in a cell could you, I’m ruined thanks to you. The Grand Hall was paying a mint for the information that I was giving them, now I’ll just have to take Daryl here as a consolation prize, you never know when a sacrifice will come in handy.” The pendant appeared to suck in all light around the two and suddenly they were gone.
“Who was that?” Plainswalker asked one of the two MCO agents that had come with him.
“Director Coverdal, he’s in charge of the whole branch,” he stated in shock.
“Then this is one hell of a security breach,” Nate stated, “An MCO Branch director as a double agent, who knows just what documents he’s passed along, what secrets he’s been party to.”
As he let that information sink in he took a few stills and scans of the magic circle on the floor and returned with Duck-it to the room where he had left Maverick, Diane and the late Sean Bridges. As he returned to the room he saw Maverick and his wife Diane Calloway examining the folder that Sean had handed her earlier going over its contents. He cast a sorrowful look at the burnt and twisted remains of the boy. “Damn it, everything we went through to save him, and he ends up suffering from every mutant’s worst nightmare.”
“Yes and no,” Diane said out loud, “Apparently Morrigan was prepared in case the exorcism failed.” With that she revealed the instructions that the she-wolf spirit had left behind and the slowly growing cocoon inside of the shaving kit.
Plainswalker glanced over the sheet of paper and looked back at the cocoon, “Talk about being planning ahead, she came prepared to cheat the reaper himself.”
Grand Hall of Sinister Wisdom - Metroplex Chapter-Regent’s Office
Within her office Erzabet Scratch looked on with a smile as a flash illumined the room out of Director Coverdale appeared still holding Daryl Lanter hostage at gunpoint...at least that was how it appeared. When the glow on the second bauble on the pendent dimmed the truth was revealed as hostage and kidnapper swapped places, with Ted Coverdale bound and gagged.
“You have done well my child,” Erzabet looked on with pride at her longtime mole within the MCO, “You have done everything that I have asked of you and so much more, I give you the privilege of disposing of your cover and elevating your position within my family.”
“Thank you mother,” Daryl spoke in a voice filled with joyful reverence, “I am unworthy of your gift; however I will try to rise to accept the honor that you have granted me.”
“You are most welcome child,” Erzabet said as she cast a wary glance to Mister Domino who had just entered the room. “Well my dear Daryl it appears that you will have a very special audience for your assertion, this is Mister Domino he is among the most elite members of the Grand Hall of Sinister Wisdom and has informed me that thanks to the mission that you assisted with I may soon be joining his Circle. Now be a dear and slip out of that disguise while I undo Director Coverdale’s bindings, I’m afraid that it isn’t sporting if they remain helpless while you do this.”
As Ted’s bindings vanished he looked on in horror, Daryl’s normal smart business attire vanished to be replaced by short velvet-like fur cover her legs (sans the feet) to mid-calf, her fore-arms, and the front of her body like a scanty leotard. Her ears tapered to points as a short pair of ram horns erupted from her head looking almost like the olive wreath crowns worn by the early Olympic victors. However the most telling signs were a pair of transparent but underdeveloped wings that emerged from her back accompanied by a short spaded tail.
“I knew it,” Ted shouted, “You damn gene-filth are in league with the Devil and you whored yourself out to them for power. I hope that your soul was worth the price you bitch.”
“Silence worm,” Mister Domino stated in a harsh tone, “There are ladies present.”
“Their no ladies you freak of nature,” Ted screamed as he through himself to his feet, “And I’ll fight till my last breath to stop you abominations.”
With a scream of rage Director Coverdale charged strait at Mister Domino, “Slita bálkr” only to widen his eyes in terror and disbelief as his arm appeared to collapse in a jellatinious blob once it hit Mister Domino’s masked face, almost immediately Ted back-pedaled in shock before discovering that his legs now followed suit. Soon his entire body began to collapse into a flesh colored blob until that flesh dissolved as well into an orange liquid that pooled across the floor before evaporating leaving nothing behind except his now empty clothes.
“How could you,” Daryl cried out as she burst into tears, “Mother promised him to me, I was supposed to kill him and devour his soul.”
“Now my dear you still will,” with a flick of his wrist a crimson gem levitated out of the fallen pile of clothes and with a little pomp Mister Domino floated it over to her. “You see in a way he is still alive and his soul is intact; however I thought that such an uncouth individual did not deserve his last moments of existence to be even semi-pleasurable, so I decided to discard his greasy and bitter exterior and leave you with the candy coated treat you were after…bon appetit!”
The crimson gem flew into Daryl’s mouth; after she bit down on the gem and swallowed the effect happened immediately. She gasped as she began to moan orgasmicly, her nails extended to sexy but lethal manicured daggers, her wings expand to full and healthy membranes, her tail doubled in length as it violently lashed about, and as her horns came to a full Capricorn curl while her fur turned into a leather suit that clung to her in a manner that would drive any potential victim of hers wild.
“Well my child how does it feel to be a full succubus?” Erzabet asked with a tone of mixed amusement and pride at her daughter’s ascension or as some would call it damnation.
“Unbelievable mother,” Daryl gasped still somewhat overwhelmed at the amplified sensations bombarding her new self. “It’s more than I ever could have dreamed!” The neo-succubae exclaimed as she examined her fully completed demonic self in the bar mirror of Erzabet’s office. “Although I have to confess that my new beauty fails to hold a candle to your own true form; still it is more than I ever could have wished for, I thank you once again for your overly generous gift mother.”
“Why Erzabet who would have guessed you were a succubus?” Mister Domino mused while gazing at her just what was on his mind however as always was an enigma. As if responding to the question Erzabet’s form shimmered revealing the truth of her demonic form still dressed in her usual smart business attire albeit cut to accommodate her wings and tail.
“Yes- somewhat and what might I ask is the mighty Obsidian Circle going to do about.” Erzabet stated with a hint in her voice that she would fight to her last breath if she had to in order to protect herself, her status, and her children.
“Why nothing my dear, after you meet the rest of the Circle in less than a week’s time, I assure you that you both understand and be pleasantly surprised about the identities of our little group.” Mister Domino said with a light chuckle as he exited the room with what appeared to be a slight bounce in his step appearing not to notice the tiny form hiding in the corner of the cocktail bar’s mirror.
Somewhere Beyond The Reach of Mortal Beings
Within the nebulous void a being with an amorphous being with countless eyes that glowed a random psychedelic mixture of colors that was both beautiful and bewildering trained its senses at random upon the dreams of mortals, seemingly finding endless amusement at the fantasy's, nightmare's, and memory's it saw as it gazed into them through the astral plain. Soon the void around it distorted as the Adjudicator appealed before the strange being.
“I see that you decided to interfere in the contest that I was called to arbitrate upon mistress,” the cosmic referee stated in its usual echoing tone, “Why, may I ask, did you feel the need to interfere in this matter?”
“SIMPLE,” the nameless being echoed in a similar voice, “THE CONTEST ITSELF WAS ALREADY OVER, I WAS MERELY ASSISTING THE WINNING PARTY AT RETRIEVING WHAT WAS THEIRS BY RIGHT OF VICTORY .”
“One would think that aiding mortals in such an endeavor would be beneath one of your importance mistress,” her servant responded, “Most of your equals find mortals and immortals alike to be of little consequence.”
“I HAVE TOLD YOU MANY A TIME MY HUMBLE SERVANT,” the being replied, “BEINGS OF FREE-WILL ARE HARDLY INCONSEQUENTIAL, THEY ARE ONE OF THE GREATEST WONDERS IN EXISTENCE, THE DREAMS THEY CRAFT AND THE LIVES THEY LIVE ARE FAR FROM BENEATH ME, FROM AMONGST THE OUTER GODS TO WITHIN THE BICKERING GROUPS OF THE GREAT OLD ONES AND THE ELDER GODS ONLY A SCANT FEW SEE THOSE POSSESSING FREE-WILL AS ANYTHING EXCEPT TOOLS OR FODDER FOR THEIR MACHINATIONS...ADJUDICATOR!”
“Yes my mistress,” the great enforcer of the binding oaths of the Fehde.
“I DO BELIEVE THAT IT HAS BEEN TOO LONG SINCE I HAVE INTERACTED WITH MORTALS,” the nameless mistress amongst the Outer Gods stated, “IT IS WELL PAST TIME TO WORK WITH THEM DIRECTLY OUTSIDE OF NORMAL SUMMONS AND MISCHIEF. HOWEVER THIS TIME I THINK THAT A MORE MORTAL APPROACH IS IN ORDER; I THINK I SHALL CRAFT A ANOTHER VESSEL TO HOLD A PORTION OF MY ESSENCE AND SEE HOW THE MODERN WORLD OF MAN SHAPES MY NEW INCARNATION.”
“Mistress you know that the energy to begin such an endeavor must be supplied by one of the mortal realm within an area where you have a natural influence upon the world,” the Adjudicator spoke with conviction, “Who knows when such an event will occur?”
“SADLY SOONER THAN YOU CAN IMAGINE MY LOYAL SERVANT,” the great being spoke as it gazed into the minds of several individuals dreaming of the rewards that had been promised them for the dark deeds that they were about to perform, “SOONER THAN YOU CAN IMAGINE.”
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Fehde - A mystic battle that can be called for at anytime by any entity that is a part of the mystic world against another to settle a conflict between two groups as long as the physical plain is not the battlefield. The resulting contest is judged by a enigmatic (possibly Class-X entity) known as the Adjudicator, whose judgments are final and binding no matter the power of the entities involved.
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January 11, 2007
Fort Worth, Texas
Within a hidden room in an unknown location a giant cocoon leaning against the wall began to stir, alerted to the movement motion sensors within the room alerted the building's owner to the coming arrival. The individual currently on watch rotation figuratively flew down the stairs to just in time to witness the emergence of the cocoon's occupant, the silken cask burst open as a slight figure emerged with the fluid. The woman who greeted the individual looked on with confusion, "Sean?"
Weakly the feminine form raised its head before weakly replying, "Hi mom, boy do have something to tell you." Understandingly Rebecca Bridges fainted at the sight of the teenage girl that her son had become. I sighed a bit to myself as I easily lifted my mother up and moved her over to the sofa that I saw in the corner.
"Alright child now would be as good a time as any tae begin tae understand your new self," Morrigan stated, "That box in the corner looks like it has a good heft tae it, try to lift it if you can."
"Okay," I replied walking over to the old thing and despite my better instincts tried to lift it like I would a box being handed to me. I had to struggle a to maintain a grip and avoid straining myself, but to my surprise I found that I was able to pick the thing up. Although the act did take some effort which wasn't surprising as by the appliance's age it must have been at least over a decade old which would mean it was 250 pounds minimum.
"Now Sean put it back and we shall try shape shifting," Morrigan continued, "I am certain that ye know what a wolf looks like try to picture yourself as one."
I did as she said and found myself sliding into the form, "Good, now try and picture yourself as ye were when Carcharoth was with us."
Once again I complied however the end form I noted in the brushed steel surface of the fridge, "Hmm so this is what a female werewolf looks like," I remarked noticing the patterns colors of the fur.
"The difference be far from surprising Sean," Morrigan commented, "After all this form be yours and not that of the infernal beastie, I just wanted ye to notice the difference. Now turn back to what ye were when ye awoke and try tae turn your right arm into that of this form." I concentrated with all that I could; however I found myself unable to do it.
"Worry not child," the ancient fae continued, "It may come with time ye, just need more practice is all."
"Morrigan, did Greyback make it?" I asked concerned yet fearing the answer, "I having heard or felt his presence in a while!"
"Nae child," Morrigan deflated in sadness, "Whatever attack was used against us had enough wild magic tae it that it reignited the exorcism spell, Greyback shielded us while I used the energy Carcharoth stole tae ferry us over and begin the rebirth spell. His spirit be banished from the earthly plain when your old body died, I be afraid that we naer shall be reunited now."
As I soaked the information in the consequences to my future became apparent, and I felt more than a little apprehensive thankfully Morrigan brought me out of it before I sank back into a depressive funk like I'd lived most of my life in. "Sean we have more tae discuss with ye; however that need wait we have more important matters to attend tae. Now I need ye tae gather some crushed grains and a little meat in a small bowl."
Quickly I did just as the alpha of instructed, and broke up a bowl full of rolled oats that I got from the nearby cabinet, and threw in a hotdog from the fridge which she insisted was enough. "So Morrigan what kind of spell is this for?"
"This is not for any spell child," the she-wolf laughed, "It has just been a while and my familiar would likely wish for some food after I summon her." I felt the change as a pressure in the boundary between our spirits mingled and I let the seasoned spellcaster take the reigns in controlling our currently shared body, "Toghróidh mé Badb!"
In whirl of dust a full grown raven (or was it a crow) appeared on the ground in front of us, she shook her head briefly before looking at us and proclaiming with excitement "It's about time boss, it was getting to be a major hassle to police those three egomaniacs whenever they got bored, hey are you going to eat that?"
As soon as I shook my head the bird immediately began to go to town on the food in the bowl, as I could hear Morrigan's laughter at the sight echoing in my head.
Now that my entire family had arrived (as well as my new benefactors Plainswalker and Duck-it) and my mother Rebecca woke up after her fainting spell while Badb perched on top of the refrigerator. I began to explain to everyone just why I was now a girl, "You see because that monster Carcharoth shredded the Beta's spirit who was supposed to provide the template for my physical form, Morrigan had to help me construct a temporary one until I can create and support my own. We hope that this is only temporary, but well a short time on the other side of the fence is a lot better than being dead...at least I hope it's a short time, Morrigan kind of warned that if I don't step up to the plate and fully take over for the late Beta that I just might begin to start thinking of myself as a girl and then this would be permanent."
"For future reference 'Sean' we call such a template as you were talking about a Body Image Template or BIT for short." Plainswalker said as he spoke up, "Although that reincarnation spell that you used to save yourself was most fascinating; you have to teach me about that."
"Do not count on that fair sir," Morrigan said once again speaking for Sean only this time the change was obvious as her eyes changed from green to hazel, "This spell required a great deal of excess life force, which thanks to that alchemic machination that Slaughterhaus attacked us with before this mess started we had in abundance."
"Wait a minute," Duck-it spoke up curious about the matter, "I thought that Plainswalker said the devise that Slaughterhaus used was Necromatic. How could it provide excess life force, I thought that necro meant it had to do with death?"
"Um Duck-it," Plainswalker interjected, "Actually Necromancy half of the time involves the manipulation of stolen life force and spiritual energy to manipulate or corrupt the matter that constitutes living beings. All Slaughterhaus's devises did was harness the life essences that it had stored within it as fuel and used a predetermined template to manipulate any flesh the energized essence came into contact with to become a part of that template. Think of it like that machine that makes wax animals at the zoo except with a mold that continues to expand as more wax and air is added."
"Dude this is getting disgusting," my brother Chuck said somewhat echoing the rest of my family's feelings, especially my mom who was turning somewhat green and believe me it's not easy to gross out a plumber.
"Speak for yourself kid," Badb remarked from her temporary perch, "I'm glad that I already ate otherwise this would be making me hungry."
"So Sean," my dad Jack said speaking up desperate to steer the conversation away from what a raven would appetite inducing, "What you're telling us is that for the time being you're stuck looking like..."
"A centerfold picture from some furry artist's website," I crudely answered him, "Yeah at least until I can bone up and manage to handle the full scope of the Beta's abilities as my own, at least in the mean time there are some neat side-effects."
"What kind of side-effects?" Plainswalker asked in a worried tone.
"Well because they're helping to support the Beta's abilities until I'm ready to utilize them to their utmost potential, I sort of practiced a little while my mom was out."
"Well I always did wonder what it would be like to have a daughter," Rebecca Bridges's smirked while stepping forward towards her neo-daughter and giving her a big hug, "Now it looks like I get to see what it's like."
"Mom stop it!" I whined in embarrassment, "Not in front of the professional heroes."
"Oh don't worry," Duck-it said while laughing and rocking back and forth on her feet, "Plainswalker sees mushier stuff than this when I make him take me out to chick flicks."
You could almost see the unflappable one shudder at the memory; however nightmares of Traveling Pants past were not enough to deter him for long there was still work to be done, "Still we do have some important things to discuss, Mister and Misses Bridges because your son's death occurred while he was in MCO custody and awaiting transfer to federal protection, and it was ruled that an MCO official was a party to the act, Diane Calloway and the Law Firm of Johnson, Mayherd & Pratt have used the case of Jackson vs. The Mutant Commission Office to file suit on your behalf."
"As the case of Lone-Eagle vs. The State of Oregon rules that "All individuals under the influence of malign entities cannot be held accountable for their actions while they are possessed," the MCO cannot claim that you were a criminal, so your family should be looking at a nice settlement. That you happened to come back in another body is beside the point you still died and the Dallas County Coroner confirmed the time and place of death. Still for the time being it is best that you go with a new name, also since you need training to use you new powers I have some papers that your family need to look into, it's a nice boarding school that will teach you all you need."
"Yikes a lawyer!" Badb squawked, "Boss you didn't say that we were consorting with infernal forces."
"Plainswalker actually there is a couple of things I really need your help to do first." I said interrupting him while trying not to laugh at the heckling bird.
"Really?" the mystic guardian inquired, "And what might that be?"
"Well," I said speaking up, "I need to sort out all of the enslaved individuals whose true names I won off of Plagiat in the Fehde and decide what to do with them."
"Yes that is important," He said nodding, "And what of the other thing?"
"Powered Individuals have to choose a code name right?" I said trying to be firm on this, "Morrigan, Greyback and I talked about it while we were waiting on my body to be ready, and I decided on Faolan."
"Faolan?" My dad Thomas inquired about my decision.
"Yes Faolan," I explained, "It means 'Little Wolf' and quite frankly I've got a lot of growing up to do before fully takeover as the new Beta of this little pack. Morrigan also warned me that if I take too long in coming into my own, I might begin to see myself as a girl, and once that happens mom you'll have a daughter for real."
Grand Hall of Sinister Wisdom Metroplex Chapter
As per their instructions Erzabet Scratch and Plagiat met with Mister Domino in the chapter house's hall of antiquity directly in front of the statue of Atum Kharis high priest of The Temple of Atem in Heliopolis of the Old Kingdom and the author the first Book of the Dead marking him the earliest known writer of an occult text as the earlier The Nature of Daemons which had been written by the Cult of Ereshkigal in Ancient Babylon had no known main author and had since become infested with the essence of Yog Sothoth after the fall of that civilization and it's pantheon.
Suddenly the statue fragmented and the rubble rapidly adhered to the wall forming an elaborate doorway made of marble, the door now opened and out strode both Mister Domino and one of his fellow members of the Obsidian Circle Mistress Nyx. There she was an clad in Persian robes with the body of an elaborate marionette hand-molded from what appeared to be delicate porcelain; however Erzabet had seen from footage of her fights against Lady Astarte that it was infinitely more resilient, and in place of a head a crystal ball filled with the same swirling magenta vapor that occasionally leaked out of the joints of her false body and from underneath the folds of her robe.
"Dame Erzabet Scratch at last we meet in person so to speak," the elder sorceress spoke in a lilting almost musical tone, "It is wonderful to meet another woman who has succeeded so magnificently in the circles that we walk in. I have something to give to you before you can meet the rest of the Circle to be judged worthy," she presented Erzabet with a strange and elaborate key made of a greenish black metal, "This key is your passport to the Obsidian Circle's Hidden Sanctum; however for it to become attuned to you must first give it a drop of your blood."
Quickly Erzabet complied then suddenly could feel the key as if it were a part of her very self. Now Mister Domino handed a gleaming amulet to Plagiat, "Plagiat this amulet will allow temporary passage to the Hidden Sanctum; however it can never be removed from The Circle's presence for should anyone try they will be destroyed. Now let us go Erzabet has to prove herself to the Circle and Plagiat you must show Madam Eventide proof of your victory in order to earn your long overdue reward."
They followed the two founders of the Obsidian Circle through the doorway that closed behind them as it returned to being a statue. Space seemed to distort around the four as they walked until finally they exited the hall leading out to a staircase lined with hundreds of other such doors spiraling down the rotunda to a large round table with four empty seats.
The other members were clearly already present and the other founders: Madam Eventide, Lord Ataxia and Hanshou-reifujin gazed at Erzabet all were masked and their auras guarded making their emotions impossible to gage, and the other adjuncts full members of the Obsidian Circle as well looked at the new prospect for their growing group and were pleased. Bishop Brimstone seemed to look right through Erzabet as did the unnervingly beautiful lich sorceress Dame Höllenfeuer. Meanwhile Baron Impié and Conte Enigma looked on with interest at the beautiful vision that could be joining their ranks.
Quickly Mister Domino and Mistress Nyx took their seats amongst the others of the Obsidian Circle. Erzabet quickly vanished to reappear shrunken down in the center of the table, trapped inside of a crystal dome, she screamed in terror and even transformed into her true succubic form in order to increase her power in an effort to free herself. "Do calm down my dear," Dame Höllenfeuer chimed, "This is how it is for all adjuncts awaiting the judgment of the Obsidian Circle on their application to our ranks; however you must wait for a moment as we need to punish Plagiat for his failure."
"What!" the New Braunfels native shrieked as his accent broke in shock, "What do you mean my failure, I retrieved Carcharoth just like I was told to do, and here he is inside of me at this moment. I was told that I would get to be a part of Madam Eventide's current operation at Mount Etna if I succeeded."
"What we really wanted was the Avatar whose powers Carcharoth was subduing for us." Madam Eventide thundered as her mask of joy was replaced with one of rage, "After that we were to have Erzabet imprison the remaining Class-2 spirits as well as the soul of the boy that hosted them like she is want to do with Avatars, and you were to escort Carcharoth the only remaining spirit in a body with what that had to have a minimum Class-5 Avatar rating to Mount Etna. Once there he would vacate it for a prepared host and the body would be used to as a vessel for my uncle, the long imprisoned Baron Astio allowing him to rejoin our ranks."
"However given your incompetence and overconfidence," Lord Ataxia spoke up in a tone echoing ages long past and horrors beyond measure, "A plan over three decades in the making has gone up in smoke; still Carcharoth you did what you could in the face of Plagiat's failure and in is time that you claimed your reward and returned to active duty for the Circle."
"In other words" Mister Domino mused, "Carcharoth, its dinner time!"
"What do you mea-AAAGGGGGHHHHHHH." Plagiat screamed in agony while the dark spirit which had been remaining idle all this time began to feast on his soul.
Soon the screams of the late Heinrich Boll fell silent and for a moment still, before it got back up while twisting and morphing into the beast that tore apart Slaughterhaus's Carcassite in the middle of the USA section of Six Flags Over Texas. "Ugh that coward was pitiful, hardly any flavor at all aside from arrogance and fear." Carcharoth now fell to one-knee once and proclaimed, "Once again as in days of old I am at your service Lord Domino and by extension that of the Obsidian Circle as well."
"Certainly my son but now that you have disposed of that rif-raff there is no need to hide behind pseudonyms," Lord Domino spoke with amusement, "So Fenrir how does it feel to have a body all to yourself once again."
"I like it very much father Loki, I am also glad to see that my sister Hel is here to witness my advent." Carcharoth now identified as Fenrir replied with wicked glee, "I also look forward to creating a new pack of thralls from the Sons of Adam and the Daughters of Eve." At this statement Mistress Nyx clenched her fists but Fenris continued, "Still it is too bad that my brother Jörmungandr is not also here to make it a true family reunion."
"I know what you mean about family Fenrir," Madam Eventide spoke up, "And because of Plagiat's failure, we must find another vessel for my uncle Typhon to return in and walk amongst us which is more crucial now than ever since those accused Olympians now walk amongst us again, trying to pick up where their hedonistic empires left off."
"I know what you mean dear Hecate," Lord Ataxia growled, "My frequent foe Bast has an avatar at the same institution as the reborn Olympians. I will never forgive her for wounding me as I fought Apep. By the time I finally laid the serpent Apep low I found that in the eyes of Egypt I had taken his place as chaos incarnate. Still I have plans in motion to rectify both matters."
"Do please obliterate the Whateley Academy in the process Set," Hanshou-reifujin proclaimed behind her Noh mask, kabuki wig and funerary kimono, "Their rivalry with my Yama Dojo is making my students soft, also with that school gone we could easily spread to the American Empire with a second school."
"Ever the mercenary Izunami-dono," Baron Impié threw himself into the discussion of dark deities, "The Whateley Academy does have its uses; however we still have the matter of Lilith's inductee Erzabet Scratch to consider."
"I concur with Cain," Bishop Brimstone barked in his usual gruff tones, "We need to get back on topic, I've suffered enough frustrations recently with That Faux-Angel appearing in New York, I had several operations that I had to halt mid-stream because I knew that the child would draw Totem and Englund to the city like gulls to a garbage scow."
"We know well of your hardships Rasputin," Conte Enigma chimed in, "But you are right Lilith, what are your thoughts on Erzabet Scratch and why she is worthy to have a seat at this table?"
"Thank you Cagliostro," Lilith thanked the Italian sorcerer as she began her case, "My fellow members of the Obsidian Circle I admit that when I filed the petition for Erzabet Scratch to join us it was originally so that we could gain her cooperation before I destroyed her, that was until I learned the truth. You see I originally thought that Erzabeth stole the body of one of my children for immortality and to create a legion of loyal followers; however instead I find that she and one of my youngest succubae children merged down to the soul in a most interesting form symbiosis and as a result a mother's wrath has given way to a parents pride."
"As a result of this symbiosis Erzabet gained the innate power and immortality that comes part and parcel with being one of my daughters while my daughter in turn gained the limitless potential of a human soul and all of Erzabet's experience in the dark arts. Together the resulting amalgamation has gone on to supervise all the Grand Hall of Sinister Wisdom's operations within thirteen chapter houses, meaning that she is the supreme governess of all Grand Hall activities in six states, and has been such for the last sixty years."
"This alone might be interesting but hardly makes her worthy of a seat amongst the Obsidian Circle. However her efficiency in executing her private operations bare a 95 percent overall success rate; that rate of effectiveness combined with her creation and control of the undead monstrosity the Hangman using an unprecedented variation true-name technique makes her a dangerous enemy if not a full on nightmare. I could go on about her qualifications and what makes her worthy of a place amongst us however we must all vote unanimously on that, all in favor of granting Erzabet Scratch her seat within the Obsidian Circle make your voices heard.
One by one the infamous spell-casters and dark deities chimed off, finally all nine had cast their votes...in Erzabet's favor so with a wave if Lilith's hand the succubus vanished from the crystal dome to reappear seated in one of the two empty chairs. "Well my daughter," Lilith proclaimed, "Welcome to your place in the Obsidian Circle, I'm certain that you must have so much to say so go on do not be afraid."
"It is easy for you to say Mother Lilith; you have been at this since the dawn of mankind." Erzabet said in exasperation, "Here I am surrounded by gods and legends, Grigori is my only contemporary here and even in his current identity he is far beyond my own reputation. These days I rarely leave one of my offices for fear that a travesty like New York could happen in my own backyard, all of you know how it is young wizards and mystic these days just have more enthusiasm and showmanship than common sense and rarely seem to listen to a voice of experience."
"Lady Scratch hearing words like that coming from your mouth already only confirms that I made the right decision to allow you a seat here," Rasputin chuckled deeply in an odd break of character.
"Just give the child time for the shock to fade," Loki chuckled, "And speaking of children Fenrir you wanted to know about your brother Jörmungandr, well he is on an even longer term assignment than you were. For the last two millennia he has been crawling along the ocean floor gradually moving himself into position to take out a threat to our plans.
"You must understand Jörmungandr was born for a very special purpose, you see Fenrir while your stomach acts can devour any ordered matter and rend asunder even the soul of what it devours, Jörmungandr's effectively eliminates whatever hits it from existence regardless of it being ordered or chaotic. Moreover his venom is so toxic that nothing exists can fully withstand it not even the Great Old Ones and three summers from now he will be in position over Y'ha-nthlei and his targets Dagon and Hydra."
"That explains why you never offered the Necromancer membership into The Circle," Erzabet spoke up as her interest in where this conversation was headed shook her from her shock, "There is no way that inbreed son Innsmouth would ever let you kill his God. I cannot wait to see that arrogant ass's face when it happens."
"You will have to my dear," Lilith responded to her daughter, "The Esoteric Order of Dagon can never find out about this, remember they were also a group inherent in the founding of the Grand Hall of Sinister Wisdom and their spies are well hidden."
"This is where you come in Fenrir," Lord Ataxia spoke up, "One of the tasks for you will be to exterminate all of those with the blood of Dagon's brood within them."
"With one exception," Madam Eventide spoke up, "Kellith the Daughter of the Void and all who bare her mark cannot be touched. Cthulhu is far beyond even Jörmungandr's capability to deal with and I have foreseen that only the child of Gothmog can become the end of the high priest of Azathoth."
"Something troubles me Fenrir," Set spoke up as he got out of his seat and walked over to the Wolf of Ragnarok, "You appear to have a cut across your spirit it bears a very unique aura to it."
"Yes," Fenrir growled, "However a geis placed upon Plagiat forbids me from revealing the circumstances behind receiving it."
"The circumstances aside this aura signature is unique," Set continued as he peered into Fenrir's very soul before sending a spell into the wound, "Here this should aide in your recovery; however what concerns me is that it appears at some point in the course of your battle one of your foes asked for the aide of Chaos...and received it."
"That must hurt Set," Hecate remarked, "To unknowingly aide those whose actions postponed our granting Typhon his freedom, I guess that I must look around for another host that with a Class-5 Avatar rating."
"You may do that oh queen of all witches," Set shot back, "However I was referring to Chaos the being not chaos the energies. Remember I only gained a measure of power over chaos after I had slain Apep, and even he was not the master of such a force. It was only later that I learned that much like the infamous Tao spoken of by those near the lands of Izunami's domain Chaos itself is a living energy with a mind and will of its own, and now I am certain that that energy has designs for this world, it would not be the first time this entity has taken form before the last time was in Mesopotamia when it called itself Tiamat," As Set retook his seat a nervous silence hung in the air at those implication, all at the table pondered this information as the source-less reflection of a young girl vanished from the gold around Fenrir's amulet.
Fort Worth, Texas
I was busy negotiating the terms of freedom of one of the many slaves, this one wildfae named Deliolindë of the Evenstar. Now I know what you're thinking that should be easy right just tell them that they're free and send them on their way right...not really. You see mystic beings aren't allowed to take anything that's how many of the more inexperienced ones get to be enslaved in the first place, everything has to be an equal trade even their own freedom. Of course many were trying to use this situation to enslave me in the negotiating process, freeing the infernal beings that Plagiat had managed to enslave was a pain in the neck especially when the alufiend Curunír tried to jump my brother's bones. Morrigan thankfully ended the possibility of my brother's first kid being a tiefling with a sleep spell, and I accepted a Pendent of Bicurious Attraction (hey it's only supposed to attract the attention of girls who already were so inclined and looking, I also have no idea how long I'm going to be stuck as a girl) for the demi-demon's freedom to return home.
"Listen I don't really need the melody of twenty nightingales," I said graciously turning down her offer. I racked my brain for a moment for a counter offer before I saw my brother still out of it on the hide-a-bed against the far wall where we put him, "I'll tell you what, you see if you can do about my older brother taste in women, and we'll see what we need to do from there."
"That seems a fair bargain for my liberation," the faerie maiden said with a bow and a somewhat impish grin, "I shall endeavor to do my best Faolan Morrigans-host!"
"How much longer is this going to take," Duck-it said looking up from the game of five-card stud she and Plainswalker had been engaged in with my parents for about the last three hours, "I'm down to my last few chips here Faolan, your mom's brutal."
"I warned you not to get into a poker game with her Duck-it," I chided back at the gadgeteer, "Last Summer at the family reunion she skunked my uncle Ernie so bad she took him for three bottles of fine Tennessee whiskey and his banjo."
She looked truly nervous at that revelation, "Don't worry though I have just one more to go, and then maybe we can swap some funny stories, Morrigan has some real dirty ones that she likes to tell about her days with the rest of the Celtic Pantheon." Okay now the lady was nervous and blushing that was going to be fun. Still I had better get this over with.
"Oh, like the time she and Brigid had that threesome with Bres," Badb spoke up excitedly."
"How about we make a deal," my mom smirked like my dad trying ignore the implications of the bird's remark, "Since you're going to be exchanging stories later you can use them with me after you two run out of chips. I want to hear more about this Whateley Academy that you want my new daughter going to and not just the official spiel, I want her to go there prepared."
"Mom with all these magic artifacts I've collected from Plagiat's former slaves for their freedom if I get anymore prepared Homeland Security might start investigating me," I replied as I prepared to summon Plagiat's final slave.
"You're getting ready to go to a boarding school for mutants in New England dear," my father replied back, "If it's anything like the private schools here you need to go prepared for war, and if there's anything you should have learned from The Shrub's mistakes over the last six years it's never go into hostile territory without adequate intelligence from those who know the region. And what is a more hostile situation than high school."
Everyone fell silent as Plagiat's final slave entered the room through the reflection the handle of the refrigerator; it was a young, half-starved girl a little younger than I was. Just to be certain I wasn't being played I channeled Morrigan just like I had earlier when she practiced the classic 'fire out of ice' bit and left a flash mark on the linoleum floor. Morrigan activated her aura-sight and were shocked, not only was this girl what she appeared her aura spoke of years of fear, abuse, and loneliness.
"M-my title is F-fetch M-master," the waif stuttered in terror at the sight of a new master who would likely be as bad as her previous one, "A-ask what you will of me."
As I was recoiling in shock at the inner torment of Gretchen Franks, Morrigan took over and pulled the girl against our shoulder, "There child, I can see your pain let it all out, no one will hurt you in such a manner again."
"Mmmph," we all turned our heads to find that Chuck was now awake and was apparently introducing the surprised Deliolindë to the human art of French-kissing.
The Obsidian Circle's Hidden Sanctum
With the drama of earlier having finally settled down and the Circle having given Erzabet time to become equated in their day to day operations, the weeks business was now concluded. Cain and Set as they were apparently want to do set out for their own dominions through the doors that lined the spiral staircase and connected the Hidden Sanctum to every branch of the Grand Hall in the world. This meant that it was time for something that nearly every humanoid being in existence enjoyed- socializing, servitor golems emerged from the walls and began to pour a fine vintage Port to the remaining members.
"It must have been frustrating having to abandon your main base of operations for two months Grigori," Erzabet inquired, "After all considering how much work must have been sidetracked if not wasted entirely..."
"Bah, if anything it was a mild annoyance at best," Grigori waved the matter off, "At the very least it allowed me an excuse to take an extended vacation and visit my great-grandchildren in Paris; although they only know me as Uncle Boris from America."
"It has been so long since I've seen my grandchildren," Erzabet bemoaned, "At least those of my human-side before my ascension, I think the last I saw of them was when my youngest mortal daughter was buried. It is for the best some paths must be chosen for one's self, besides I think one of them married one of those foolish Humanity First types."
"Those who let themselves be ruled by their fears always think that by swarming like ants that they can burn away at the darkness with their torches." Cogliastro mused as he approached the youngest of the Circle. "However such myths are quickly dispelled the moment someone comes along with a magnifying glass; its also that narrow-minded focus of humanity's that has become one of the Great Old Ones greatest weapons against humanity."
"Tell me Erzabet, I have been curious for sometime about your minion in charge of the New Orleans Chapter," Hel said as she walked up, "He does seem to have a rather elaborate costume, does he not."
"I assume that you are talking about Papa Houma and not my daughter Dementia, am I correct Hel." noting the affirmative nod of the Goddess of the Dead she continued, "Papa Houma's look is no costume he's a lich that I raised from the bayou with Necromancy about two and a half decades ago, in life he was quite the Bokor and criminal kingpin, he basically ruled Louisiana from the shadows of New Orleans in the roaring twenties with a small army of zombies. At least until Marie Laveau 's specter told a little girl about how to turn them against him, they drug him out into the bayou and drowned him in the peat and mire, until I brought him back."
"Mind if you introduce him to me," Hel's pale lips smiled a wry grin, "Hod's poetry and philosophy have become trifle tiring as of late, mayhaps the green-eyed monster will spur his creativity."
"Of course I will," the newest member of the Obsidian Circle smiled, "If you tell me where you, Hecate, and Mother Lilith acquired such fascinating soul gems."
"These oh these trinkets," Hel laughed with all the warmth of a frigid cemetery, "Why we obtained them on Mount Olympus almost a century ago, after the Dodekatheon fell to the Nazareen the rest of the minor godlings and demi-gods were left to languish."
"Yes my daughter," Lilith chimed as she drifted over, "They were so emaciated and desperate, truly an easy crop to harvest. We challenged them to a series of modern games, which they lost and for every loss we claimed a soul. The stone in this necklace is Demeter goddess of the harvest, sacred law, and the cycle of life and death. My bracelet is Hestia goddess of the hearth, domesticity, and family. As for Hecate her ring is Hebe wife of Hercules and goddess of youth."
"Maybe I could go with you next time," Erzabet grinned darkly, "I wonder how beautifully Persephone would sparkle sitting on my finger?"
"Were I you I would wait until Hecate is in a better mood to inquire to her about it," Hel sighed, "She was so devastated to find out that the new body we had arranged for Typhon died."
A grin of wicked glee split across the Mistress of the Grand Hall's Mid-West Branch. Suddenly she strode over to Hecate against Hel's warnings, "Forgive me for intruding upon the Lady of the Crossroads melancholy." Erzabet apologized with sincere honesty, "However I wish to know if the legend is true about ambrosia being able to revive the body's of deceased mortals?"
"Of course it is!" Hecate roared as her literal mask of sadness was replaced unseen with one of primal rage, "However that matters little the mortal's body was immolated into ash; even ambrosia cannot revive that which has no mouth."
"Or was it," Erzabet sang as she produced a changling's bauble and with a flash the twisted and charred remains of a humanoid beast appeared on the floor. "The records that instigated the late Ted Coverdale as our mole were real; however they belonged to a member of the cleaning staff, who was able to pass the body onto Reverant. The ashes that were turned over to county came out of his fire place with the odd charred bone shard that we added for authenticity's sake. So tell me dear Hecate, can we revive this."
The mask of joy over Hecate's face spoke volumes to all observing their conversation, as did the prospect of Typhon's impending return.
Fort Worth, Texas
"So you mean to say that the reason Torinado left Transect unprotected that day was because before she came out he was in love with her!" I did my best to avoid shouting at that revelation Duck-it just dropped on me.
"Yep," Duck-it sighed across the table from me as she filled me in on the unheard back-story of the fall of the Dallas Defenders, "Plainswalker told me that he always had self-esteem problems around women, what with looking like a humanoid horse. He had been working up the nerve to ask her out when she let everyone in the team in on her secret; although her friend Abax was already in on it. During the attack he was just too confused to adequately back her up, so he was going to switch with Abax. When Deathlist killed her Abax vowed that she would pay Torinado back for letting her friend get taken right before she went after that bastard Longhorn."
"Did she ever find him?" I asked almost afraid of the answer.
"Yep, three years ago," Duck-it shot back, "He was drunk and living out of a dumpster in the West-End of Dallas. Apparently he never forgave himself for Transect's death and just fell apart after that, she sort of felt sorry for him and brought him to Armordillo's place in Fort Worth. He's cleaned up a lot since then started working for Armordillo and the funny thing is, he and Abax are dating now."
"No, really?" I asked curious to find out more about a bit of history hidden from the average local.
"Yep, in fact we all have a pool going to see just when he's going to finally pop the question!" Duck-it exclaimed.
While I was busy listing to story's of the cape side of life, my father was busy preparing a carefully chosen soup made of chicken, rice and ginger (with a pinch of a mega-vitamin powder to help 'Fetch' get her malnourished body back to normal, while my brother was nursing a black eye courtesy of the long gone Deliolindë (who knew that a Wildfae girl had such a vicious right hook). Badb's remark of, "He asked for that one!" was all that anyone needed to to say about that incident.
As for mom she was busy talking with the recently arrived Diane Calloway and Maverick. "According to police records the girls at her school saw Gretchen here disappear into the mirror in the fourth grade girl's room." Diane read off of the record that the Federal Deputy Marshall brought with him from Mansfield City Hall, "Apparently she decided to run away at about the same time, hardly surprising her father Paul was die-hard Humanity First. When the girl disappeared after manifesting her father was brought in on suspicion, and when her mother Debra was questioned they found that she showed signs of years of spousal abuse."
"Debra's parents were contacted and they filed charges right away, currently Paul is serving fifteen years in the Beto State Correctional Facility and Debra was remanded to her family's custody while she undergoes psychiatric counseling and condition breaking. Unfortunately for Gretchen her maternal grandfather is also a member of H1, so the state would likely put her in a foster home in order to avoid any problems on that front. "
"Unfortunately the girl fell in with the Grand Hall of Sinister Wisdom and that either makes her a witness or an accomplice." Maverick spoke up which would either mean she would be headed into the Federal Witness Protection Program, or a detention cell at the Arkham Research Consortium."
"Make that the Witness Protection Program," Plainswalker interjected, "There are three major reasons that runaways go missing, either they suffer from human predators who like to hide the evidence afterward, they get caught by supernatural predators who leave next to no evidence, or in Gretchen's case they get snatched-up and taken to the Wastrel Auctions in the Goblin Market. When Faolan summoned her she had to return Gretchen's name to her, in the magical community knowing one's true name is an easy way to compel them to act against their will. And if you can fully take someone's name away from them, they are fully enslaved to you and must follow your every order."
Plainswalker strode over to Gretchen and Jack Bridges in the kitchenette in the corner of the room and asked, "I know this must be painful to speak of Gretchen, but do you know the real identities of anyone in the Grand Hall of Sinister Wisdom."
"Yes Mister Plainswalker sir, several members," the girl replied still slightly nervous but far less afraid than before, "Master Plagiat always used me to spy on potential targets including other members of the Grand Hall. In fact I hid on the reflection in an amulet that he was wearing while he was brought before the Obsidian Circle itself just a few hours back, and learned the identity's of everyone that is a part of the Obsidian Circle except for Erzabet Scratch, no one alive knows her name but I do know her secrets."
"Really," Plainswalker stated calmly, "And tell me just who is Mistress Nyx?"
"I don't really recognize who she is," Gretchen replied eager to get back to her small bowl of soup before it got cold, "but her name is Mistress Nyx!" Her eyes went wide as she tried to repeat herself, "No I mean her name is Mistress Nyx, no I said Mistress Nyx! Why can't I say her name?"
"Calm down, see if you can tell me who the others are," Plaiswalker asked the girl.
"Well aside from Mistress Nyx there's Mister Domino...Madam Eventide...Lord Ataxia...Hanshou-reifujin...Bishop Brimstone...Dame Höllenfeuer...Baron Impie...Conte Enigma, gaaah why can't I say their names?" the girl began to weep in frustration.
"How about Plagiat's real name, or the name of the monster that he fled from the MCO Building with?" Plainswalker inquired further although he already suspected he had the answer to her dilemma.
"Okay, okay Plagiat is Plagiat, gaaah not again, the monster's real name is Carcharoth! Why is this happening?" Gretchen began to sob, "What's wrong with me?"
"Calm down child," Plainswalker said as he patted her on the head, "Plagiat must have placed you under a geis, a type of magic compulsion that prevents you from revealing the hidden identities of those who are members of the Grand Hall of Sinister Wisdom in case you ever managed to break free of him, they can remain intact until the castor lifts them. I'm sorry that you had to experience that child; however it is better that you know such a thing now but more importantly that a member of the Federal Judicial Branch knows. Since she cannot reveal any of the secrets of the Grand Hall she cannot be used as a witness in court."
"Mister Plainswalker I also know other things," Gretchen said speaking up, "Plagiat is dead now, Carcharoth ate his soul and took over his body, they plan to use him and a bunch of agents to hunt and kill some hidden enemy's of the Circle that have even gotten inside of the Grand Hall. They also mentioned something about a town and they really wanted Faolan's body to use to free someone named Baron Astio who's related to Madam Eventide and is also a member of the Obsidian Circle that's been imprisoned for a long time. They also mentioned a plan to use a living weapon that will kill two enemies in the future. Lord Ataxia mentioned that someone named Chaos helped wound Carcharoth with a slash across the stomach and everyone in the Obsidian Circle was shocked by that name."
"Okay make that you can't reveal the hidden identities of those who are a part of the Grand Hall, or significant aspects of their plans that are still in motion. Still you didn't use that same tone when you mentioned this Chaos being, that means either it is either another false identity or it is not protected by the geis. Faolan that girl that you created to cut Carcharoth, who was she and what was the spell she used?"
"Huh?" I said turning my attention away from Duck-it who was filling her in on some of the student level stuff at Whateley that she remembered from her day and keeping Morrigan and I away from the discussion about Gretchen.
"That person that you used to free the remains of the Beta's spirit from Carcharoth," Plainswalker repeated himself, "Just who was she, and what was that spell that she used?"
"Her?" I said somewhat confused, "That was Lina Inverse she's a character from a series of Japanese light-novels and anime called Slayers, um that's Japanese animation if you wanted to know. As for the spell, it was the Ragna Blade it's basically a sword created from the power of a fictional supreme deity named The Lord of Nightmares. It's supposed to be able to cut through anything even the veils between dimensions, of course the whole thing is only fiction it only worked because we in my mind and the battle was a contest of willpower. I also had him punched by Superman, receive a hammer-strike courtesy of Thor, hit into the sky by The Monkey King's staff, blasted by Ifurita from El Hazard, it's not like any of those folks are real."
"Faolan believe me when I tell you this sometimes writers are influenced by things that are very real sometimes without knowing it, "Some writers even hide some very horrifying truth as fiction to warn those who could fight such things, I will tell you more when I take you to the Whateley Academy after I help your parents get your affairs in order as well as those of Miss Franks here."
"If it's all the same to you I think Gretchen needs a stable family to help her recover from her ordeal from the last few years," My mother stated clearly to the federal deputy, "Tell me my dear aside from that horrible man who used to be your former master does anyone in the Grand Hall no what you look like?"
"No Plagiat liked to use me to spy on his targets before he went to use his powers steal their knowledge and spells from them."
"Well if he's dead then that means no one in the Grand Hall knows who she is then Maverick would it be alright if we gave her a new home?" My mom asked Maverick and Diane Calloway.
"I'll see what I can do," Maverick replied, "However you really need to ask her."
"I think it can wait," my mom looked over at Gretchen digging into my dad's soup and crying tears of joy before she said with a smile, "Let her relax a little, the girl's been through hell."
January 22, 2007
KXAS-TV, Channel 5 NBC
Fort Worth, TX
"Good evening, this is Meredith Land NBC News at Five. Today's top story at noon the city of Baghdad was once again rocked by explosions that erupted from two parked cars within the Bab Al-Shariqi Marketplace temporarily blinding everyone present and creating a panic, yet oddly enough no one was injured by this latest terrorist attack in Iraq's capital."
"After the confusion died down the Alliance security forces that arrived on the scene discovered the remains of the two vehicles contained the residue of 230 pounds of explosives each. Although no one was injured, one young woman was found unconscious at the scene dressed in scraps of discarded clothing. The US Military has placed the Jane Doe in protective custody fearing a crime of persecution as it waits for the young lady to regain consciousness and be identified; although given the lack of evidence it is unlikely that she was connected to the attack. There will be more on this story as news develops."
January 28, 2007
Dunwich Train Station
Dunwich, New Hampshire
So here I am two weeks later ready to enter a place that from what I've heard is a mixed marriage of Hogwarts and the Xaviar Academy. Gretchen was adopted; however my folks decided that even though she was a mutant they decided to hold off on sending her to Whateley until she turned fifteen giving the newly christened Heather Bridges (Witness Protection insisted) a chance to live the life of a normal girl for a few more years.
We ended up winning the wrongful death suit against the MCO especially when a Vatican occult expert determined that what Plainswalker and Duck-it found in the ladies room was spell specially designed to create gaps in protective barriers, and could have only been prepared from the inside by someone with at least passing knowledge in the occult if they had someone to talk them through it. So apparently Director Coverdale's cooperation with the Grand Hall was long term and not just a spur of the moment attempt to kill us all and save his career.
Given the circumstances we received close to the maximum settlement allowed, $2 million minus Ms. Calloway's attorney fees of course (I had died I was just in a new body), and the North Texas Branch of the Mutant Commission Office was shutdown pending a full audit and investigation by the US Department of Justice. My tuition at Whateley may have covered with that much money; however given the possibility of on campus employment I intended to see just how much I could avoid burning through it, we did plan on sending my new sister Heather eventually. That and most of the money was to remain tucked away for all three of us to go to college.
I also had all of the nifty mystic artifacts that I had received from Plagiat's former slaves, and after Heather had finished looting all of Plagiat's collection of relics and artifacts from her ex-master's former storehouses a week ago. Apparently he had been using her ability to move through mirrors to create vaults that she was the only way that they could enter. Carcharoth going to be pissed when he finally gets into those vaults and learns that all he got from eating the asshole's soul was his body, thankfully the condition that he's under keeps him from going after the loved one's of any that I offer protection to, and once I get to Whateley I plan on doing that a lot.
"Faolan, wake up our ride is here," Plainswalker said shaking my shoulder to get my attention, telling me to get my bags and Badb's carrier. Yeah I might have forgotten to mention it but mom and I decided that until I got back to normal I better use my codename as my real one at school; just as well names do have power after all...unless I met some people that I could trust with my new Legal name Randi Patricia Bridges for the time being, that I hope for my sake isn't long.
I got up and walked with him over to the bus that was waiting, 'Look out Whateley Academy,' I thought to myself, 'Here comes Faolan, too bad mom confiscated that amulet I got from the alufiend though. Hopefully I get back to normal soon, after all what are the chances of me meeting any lesbians at a co-ed school?'
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Spell of Rebirth - Requires placing an unfertilized bird's egg inside of a seed or nut shell that has been filled with three substances from the subject that represent former life, current life and future life, then bound in a triple layer of cocoon silk. In this case a quail's egg inside of a walnut shell.
Toghróidh mé Badb!
I summon you Badb!
Jackson vs. The Mutant Commission Office (1997)
The Mutant Commission Office is not allowed to hold any mutant for longer than 18 hours without criminal charges and if after this period they fail release the individual or surrender them into the custody of the proper authorities upon request they will lose their license to operate in that Federal District pending the full review and audit of all records and facilities related to said district by a Federal Judiciary Tribunal.
This ruling only pertains to mutants that the Mutant Commission Office is proven to be holding by existing documentation, an Mutant Commission Office facility (like that of any legal entity under contract with a state body) may not be searched without a federal or state search warrant.
In addition should a mutant not charged with any criminal activity be proven to have died while in the custody of the Mutant Commission Office , whether by negligence or malice of any officer of said organization, the Mutant Commission Office must then award compensation to the deceased's next of kin with an amount no less than $900,000 but not to exceed $3,000,000 as to be determined by the Federal Appellate Court.
Lone-Eagle vs. the State of Oregon (1976)
Any individual found to have committed crimes while under the possession of a malignant entity cannot be legally held accountable for their actions anymore than an individual suffering from an episode triggered by a foreign substance; provided of course that said possession is confirmed by a fully ordained priest of a federally recognized religion.
The James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Act (2001)
Served to increase the definition and penalty of hate crimes in the state of Texas. Groups protected legally from attacks based on race, religion, color, gender, disability, sexual preference, age, national origin, or genetic status.
The above is not to be confused with the federal Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act (2009)
The Mid-West Branch of the Grand Hall of Sinister Wisdom -
Dominated and run by Erzabet Scratch for the last 40 years, this Branch of the Grand Hall of Sinister Wisdom includes all chapter houses and Grand Hall operations in the states of Arkansas, Kansas, Louisiana, Missouri, Oklahoma, and Texas. Rather than those in the rest of the world this conglomeration of Chapter Houses is run more like a mix of The Syndicate and a mystic mafia than the Boston, New York and Chicago Branches and almost every chapter house is overseen by a director who is completely loyal to Scratch herself. However to avoid stepping on any toes Erzebet's organization only concerns themselves with criminal operations of a mystic nature; as such they rarely run cross purposes with the Syndicate or major Super-Villians and when they do prefer diplomacy first and confrontational methods second in most cases.
The Chapters in this Branch in terms of size and somewhat importance are: The North Texas Chapter (Dallas, Ft. Worth, Arlington, Plano, Denton, etc),
the Houston Chapter, the San Antonio Chapter, the El Paso Chapter, the Oklahoma City Chapter, the Kansas City Chapter (that governs all activities in the western half of Missouri), the St. Louis Chapter (that governs all activities in the eastern half of Missouri as well as part of Illinois),
the New Orleans Chapter (that governs all activities in the state of Louisiana and acts as a research center on voodoo magic), the Tulsa Chapter (which mainly acts as a backup site and warehouse for the Oklahoma City Chapter but is still rather well equipped), the Wichita Chapter (that governs all activities in the state of Kansas), the Corpus Christie Chapter, the Little Rock Chapter (that governs all activities in the state of Arkansas), and the Shreveport Chapter (a token house that mainly acts as a open market for backwoods Louisiana practitioners to sell their wares).
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