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SCB – Mickey

You know we nearly ended the human race….

Until we figured out that wasn’t a good idea. Unfortunately for us by the time we figured that out we outnumbered the food 30 to 1. So we were desperate, and lacking in options. The infighting between the clans and the species started to kill us faster than the humans could. And the starvation? Forget about it. We fucked up that bad. So we decided, well not “we” but a handful of us more forward thinking creatures of the night decided, that we will broker a deal between our world and the food. We were again a small minority, so it took a while and much desperate pleading to come up with a deal we both could live with. And not just something that’ll last a generation or two, but a status-quo that’ll last for now and the futures, future. Because unlike the food, we live a long time have a greater interest in keeping our promises (since violent death is the usual way out of them). So we sat down with the humans and decided that a small percentage of the your population will be our allowance, to feed on or to replenish our numbers.

And what was in it for you? Human civilization. The right to choose your own Renaissance and the benefits of having to only worry about serial killers and rapist at the wee hours of the night. Without the Treaty and this organization enforcing the rules…well need I remind you of the dark ages? Of the early attempts to settle the America’s? The rise and fall of Rome? I would like to blame religion but its a matter of ecology. To us, you are food and the incubators of our children. But to you? Well, their less kind nouns in your dictionary to describe us. Low words like virus and parasite. Pathogens that invade your blood streams and warp your DNA to suit our needs.  Is it a surprise you find theological reasons to cover up the base fear you have of us. Of our invisible power. Not really.

So what we have here is the old americana debate. The price of freedom, but not in the traditional sense of guns, glory and duty to country. No in the real world, its backroom deals with devils and men you’d call monsters. It’s selling your soul.

So in the meantime, it’s my job to keep sup world’s side of the bargain. The status-quo most be defended, that’s where the S.C.B comes in. Supernatural Census Bureau. To keep track, to take account, to smooth over and to eventually cull when necessary. I hate my job. Vamp clans, werewolves, keeping the zombies in the Nevada desert. Not my idea of a good time. My own people hate me. And for what? Keeping their mouths fed, keeping the heat off them, keeping the secrets of our existence in the dark where its suppose to be. And don’t get me started on the immigrants. Your division does too good of a job and you get them coming over in droves; wide-eyed, drooling mouths, not very concerned with how you runs things. That’s the one thing that bothers me, no matter how good you get at maintaining the status-quo there’s always a need to crack heads. Always. And in my opinion, I mean I hate to talk bad about my own people, but vampire covens are the worst. The worst….

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Tension

Tension. When you stand at the precipice of safety and danger, debating, begging for the ropes that pull you either way to slack in one direction. Only I felt and heard this conflict, only I knew how easy it would be to choose one or the other, the ease of betrayal or the comfort of obedience; each making their arguments like lawyers before a judge.

In the universe the only constant is fear, the feeling of being unsafe. Power is paranoia; my clenched fist knows that’s truth.

****

Tabatha stood motionless before the holo-screen, which served as doorways to the vastness of space. Her destination was still some hours away but some tick in her brain, her training, told her she should make her decision now. And she did; her face was drained of emotion, the green of her eyes lost their luster, and her features grew taut and starved as if from exposure and starvation. She was still beautiful, but the beauty repelled more than drew. To anyone observing her now, she looked like a silent statue that read “to be left alone” in bold print, and knowing this Tabatha spirit drew dimer.

Withdrawn from her person was a data sheet of the mission ahead. Tabatha often reviewed these things over and over once they have been assigned, her current check and the last one before deployment was a running list of her current situation; recon delivered by the tireless efforts of the Mimics deployed months and sometimes years in advance. She scrolled down for the black list and found a disturbing amount of names: government mostly, ranging from low to mid-level players of interest that the Mimic’s have taken care of themselves. It was unsettling, she decided with a shiver. The nature of so many assassinations were clear, the thought of her arrival preceding the warping in of Earth Prime warships and the Primers that came with them, made the old fears she buried moments before rise up like bile. Acrid taste went hand in hand with the panic rising inside of her. She forced the feelings down, both in body and mind and let her mind hope for other conclusions despite the bad taste that lingered.

And then another thought came to her…was she the only FIST being deployed? The thought made her anxious despite her resolve to push away the fear, the last thing she wanted was some tense standoff between another FIST agent. In those encounters only a split second is allowed to identify yourself before the paranoia of the job moves the trigger faster than either could take back.

Swiftly she closed the data sheet and her concerns shut with the end of holo-light. Mechanically, more possessed than with genuine purpose, she walked down the merchant ship corridors noting the holo-screens that substituted for genuine glass windows found in less practical ships designed for mere tourism than the rigors of interstellar travel and commerce. Though the boundary between luxury and purpose ended there for the PAN-PAC EXPRESS, built for a business oriented clientele, it was a luxury ship of massive bulk facilitating spacious rooms and exotic cargo. It was the meeting place of industry captains both of the legal and illegal type with genuine goods to delivery or luxury to export. And with the amount of wealth inside this merchant ship, hopefully enough clot to bypass border security. It was also under the express jurisdiction of the Earth Prime Unifying Government, and at any given time its civilian passengers could find themselves bumping elbows with various off duty military personal, some of whom were more dangerous than others.

Tabatha was off duty, for as long as she was outside of Ellen Minor solar system.  Now that she wasn’t…well she couldn’t think about that too much. In fact not thinking was her best strategy, as she felt her mental powers flare up as the subconscious triggers in her mind started to click in pace. This sensation was always a moment of terror for Tabatha, knowing the nature of her powers and what the constant buzzing must mean. She could in fact, for a moment of unguarded silence, hear herself think and in those precious moments before her mind drowned out the noise for more pressing concerns, she wondered post-humorously what it would be like to reach into her own head and silence the constant chimes of neurons receiving and firing…if she could, on purpose, commit suicide with her own power. She shuddered at the thought, the possibility, at the mere fact that her own mind produced such a morbid idea. Self-preservation kicked in and her enhanced hearing faded, taking the morbid curiosity with it and set her on a path of continual motion. Toward her room, she understood as she moved with mechanical purpose toward her destination. Toward the last island of safety before—

“Hey babes!”

It was Henry. Though the old Tabatha of five minutes ago would have long detected and responded to his presence, a “Henry!”  Exclaimed with all the mirth of a burgeoning couple who spent months together… the new Tabatha merely acknowledged his presence with a glass eyed stare that looked not at him but through him, a vision that didn’t stop until she saw the locked container inside her private suit. With practice and affection Henry wrapped his arms around her slender waist, bringing her body close to his in one practiced swoop that was effortless and nibble. With excitement in his eyes he spoke rapidly and with a certain jolly expected of a less serious man. However true to training his noise and warmth but of footnotes of irrelevant white noise, even without the full application of her power she barely knew he was there, only seeing his mouth moving and feeling his hands pressing and swirling about her back going higher or lower as he spoke in rapid succession. Even her own facial features were beyond her consideration as Henry occasional concerns looks, periods that punctuated his excitement, were assuaged by her by her reflective control of her facial muscles, allowing her to appear listening when not really there. By her estimation Henry would have chatted her up for days, discussing plans and past pleasures and present intention with undiluted gusto. Only with a sudden snap back to the reality, by Tabatha herself, would this conversation close and that’s what she did as her eyes snapped back from her imagined x-ray vision to the reality of Henry’s brown eyes.

“I have to go.” She spoke with flatness Henry never knew in the 3 months of space travel together.

“I know you do, that’s why I’m saying-“

“The package will be delivered in the next 16 hours.”

And with that she walked out of his grasp like sand through an open palm, his eyes and expression fixated on where she just stood, his mind uncomprehending, conflicting and ultimately restricting to the inner silence that will glue him to that same spot for the next 30 minutes. Reflecting she could have simple let her old self, the safety induced dream of a woman who wanted Henry for warmth and simple pleasures like a meaningless conversations and drinks not consumed alone, break it off with Henry. To explain to him that their time together was nice but unfairly short and the real reason she is here was due. Henry would have understood, Tabatha reasoned, he would have protested and declared his love, but understanding and the heart-break that followed would have donned on him naturally.

“If only he saw me five minutes earlier…” Tabatha reasoned but she knew there was no case in that. She wasn’t safe and thus she wasn’t the woman Henry fell in love with. Even her features have changed, all so subtly, to reflect the loss of careless youth and imagination. She could have never given him the closure he’d wanted, or needed, but worsen her own temptation?

Nights with Henry were blissful. He was both a gentle soul and a ravaging wolf, capable of losing himself and her into passions only long periods of enclosed spaces could produce. To Tabatha he was the complete pie of normalcy that she devoured eagerly and without pause. Only the data sheet reminded her of her looming mission in the days since Henry gamed for her attention, and even that ominous report of some distant hell on the other side of the Milky Way wouldn’t sour her enjoyment of this man. But to Henry… it is not right to blame him for his feelings. To love a telepathy of latent ability is to court vibrations so subtly your mind barely knows it’s been moved. A gentle push in the right direction, pleasure increased to a level only replicated by practice and knowledge of your partner’s body. But in Tabatha, those vibrations are large currents of visible emotions, pushing and pulling in a constant ebb and flow of pleasure and senses never understood but felt all the same. For Tabatha it was merely an assumption that to climax was to experience an ecstasy found in few legal drugs. But to Henry such bliss was the start of a connection that couldn’t be replicated by any other woman in the galaxy. His love for Tabatha and the feelings, the new dimension, conjured by her touch and intimacy, will undoubtfully ruin any chance of him being satisfied by anyone else.

“He knew what I was. It’s not my fault I have to go.” And with those thought, Tabatha’s last regard for Henry was felt.

***

Why she felt her room was safer than the entirety of the PAN PAC EXPRESS, she had no rational idea. Her luxury airliner was usually fitted with a Class 2 Steel Frame, and a civilian crew of gunners that manned the smallest pair of pee-shooters a space ferrying vessel can have before being classified as a potential warship and being restricted from getting inside Ellen Minors solar system. Out here the only thing that could bother the EXPRESS was the pirates that often circled the solar system of systems like these. Whether they’ll see that type of action didn’t get Tabatha sweating, for one the PAN was had a class 2 hull, sturdy enough for any pirate raid short of using real military hardware, which was unlikely but if it did happen the Express would have a fighting chance. Second the government of Earth Prime tends to cover its basis. Pirates are often warned beforehand that some ships have cargo they don’t want or threaten outright, which works just as well for the less organized broods.

Though how Earth Prime negotiated today’s smooth traveling she’ll never know or care; to her safety was inside that special container, four feet wide, seven feet tall, and all bad intentions. Henry knowing who she was never bothered to ask what was inside the locked container made of metals that could survive this ship exploding in the dead of space or survive re-entry. The same type of metalwork used for Prime drop pods. Not entirely indestructible but close enough. For a moment she touched the cool metal that seemed to absorb and reflect heat at the same time. Sliding one finger down the crevice between sliding doors, and noting her quickening heartbeat as she came closer and closer to the numerical lock. In a second, something mechanical inside of her took over and with blank expression she keyed in her combination in rapid succession. Which a click and a slink, the doors slid open and clicked outward, allowing cool refrigerated air to sleep into the room lazily, coiling around Tabatha’s feet and chilling her breath. She smiled. A weary wiry smile but a smile nevertheless. Inside the container were the tools of her trade; four black disks, a utility belt, and a rifle that was taller than she was. With a nod of approval she made three steps away from the container and to her bed. There she stripped, her clothes neatly piled on her bed as she ignored the rooms chill on her bare skin. Totally naked she went before the container again, picking at the four disks and placing them on her body; one for each shoulder, one on her chest just below collarbone, and finally one for the small of her back. With a thought the black disks unraveled in a typhoon of black thread, in mere moments Tabatha’s body was covered in the nano-fibers of her cat suit. She steadied her breath and prepared herself for the body horror that’ll come next. And on the third shallow repetition she forced her eyes not to blink as her contact lenses bubbled into place over her iris. The process burned and confused her eyes; a white blindness overtook her senses as the nerves in her eyes relayed the wrongness of liquid boiling at the surface. For Tabatha it was two seconds of mild discomfort, practice had driven away any real sense of fear, where the temporary loss of a single sense would have given rise to hysteria is less seasoned minds.

Luckily that was only the least of her changes. The psy-engines inside of a frontal lobe churned widely as the incisions made behind her ear widened without drawing blood. Machinery pressed outward against exposed gap, unfolding and stretching along the back of her ear, settling and piercing her skin to establish a foothold that no amount of jostling could disgorge. Short of removing her skull, the dual-core pys-processors will remain steadfast against her skin jutting out slightly into the back of her head like flatten antenna associate with vintage 20th century radios. To Tabatha this too was merely a disquieting sensation whose effects were long numbed with practice. That changed with a click.

Somewhere along the ships many corridors, efficiency-lights will burst spilling their milky contents into the stainless steel below. Somewhere along the ships many back up engines, a third and force generator will come to life and whine a death rattle as the sudden surge of electricity meets the pull back of the grid. Somewhere along the ship, someone who is psy-sensitive will scream as an aneurysm comes suddenly against their unguarded and defenseless mind. Hallucinations will haunt those directly touching any electronics; some will claim to see visions of angels others will see less nice things… The ship itself will shudder like as if given a cold shower, and many will race to the gunner decks in anticipation of an attack that will never come.

And at the epicenter will stand Tabatha, cloaked in power! Surging from her being like a volcano. Only the special shielding encasing her reserved room prevented the totality of her strength from bearing down on the PAN PAC EXPRESS, the very fact of her existence threatening to do what only dreadnought class warships can do with passing easy.  It was the months of pent of power and the enormity of her talent that caused the storm.

“I’m ready,” Tabatha grimaced, her mind slowly drawing in control over her higher processes. With strength, talent, and focus will she survive the coming storm. This she knew. Tabatha walked toward her chair, pulling it to the center of the room. She turned to give her special cabinet, holding her gun and other supplies in hidden recesses lamp shaded by shadows, another look. She reached for her knife, a long blunt instrument of clear purpose, full of weight and size lacking in delicate features or ominous jags along the edge. Only the handle and grip was given a finesse, as a side arm only one hand or her mouth if necessarily needed extra accommodations. Tabatha placed it on the chair, grabbing a utility belt to strap to her hips before snapping the knife into place along her side. Satisfied with the familiar weight to her right side, she reached for her signature weapon, the P105-2nd Generation HellDROP Rifle. Two generations behind and still unwilling to trade up, this weapon has been her friend, lover, and protective mother for the better part of 11 years.

“I need sleep.” And Tabatha did, the FIST way; sitting slightly crouched over the bulk of her weapon, cradling her HD rifle against her lap with the trigger being fingered idly, her mind splitting into two halves, one alert to stimuli and danger constantly searching probing for hostility, while the other force the physical sleep the body needed. She was wide-eyed and rocking slightly in a rhythm really slow drawn out breathing. Anything to enter her room would have been shot unceremoniously and the crew sensed the sudden shift in the atmosphere like fog only the mind can perceive. No one will bother her, or wish to bother her; the required security clearance just to sweep the floor ensured that. Being this close to Ellen Prime, the importance of delivering the cargo pressed heavy on their minds. Tabatha will sleep undisturbed, even peacefully… as far as a FIST could, for about 16 hours.

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A King

God bless the League of Prehistoric Ninja Assassins.

When the world lost its first civilization and occult superpower over night my predecessor (more like patriarch), the original king of the seven seas, saw it fit to do a few things before he died a heroes death. The first of which was to sire an heir, forever tethering the blood of the first sorcerer supreme to the world of landlubbers. This was very important for a variety of reasons, most of which spiral into discussions about destiny, fate, and the general ease one can acquire a tavern wench with the proper sized jewelry.  The second was the establishment of the League of Shadows, the original department of homeland security, except not as pointless or as friendly.

And right now they’re out here in force cleaning up my mess, disposing of my bodies, patting me on my back telling me I did a good job while trying not to stare at the purple and grey mess called my face. I applaud their professionalism but it feels too much like kissing my ass to appreciate it.

And I’ll never get over being king. It helps that few people know who I am and even fewer wish to say the words, mostly because it sounds ridiculous but often it’s some peoples way of conveying disrespect.  I get that a lot in Atlantis, a lot of Arthur, not my last name or sir, but Arthur.  But I get it, I’m not wanted, and neither were my predecessors. But that’s the thing, the fucked up part that never really unnerves me but leaves a bad taste in my mouth. What was I before? When my father’s people, my people, the people who told me what I really am plucked me out of a life of underage debauchery and early morning cram sessions and gives me a title, the trident, and a whole new understanding of physics, only turn around and reject me because I AM everything they told me, gave me, and more…

You’ll own up to being King, you have to, the world depends on it and I have, since day one accepted that. But to be treated as such, without me forcing you to, feels too much like being surrounded by cronies.

“My liege.”

“It’s Arthur.”

“Your face.”

About time someone notices.

“It’ll heal.” Courtesy of the late Mr. H’Lee.

She nods after taking a good hard stare. Second sight and standing directly in-front of me. Upper management. I sigh because she is new and a manager, hopefully not district, but it does get that bad sometimes.

To elaborate, the League of Shadows since its conception has been dealing with say, occult related matters, since the first pyramid was no more than a sketch drawing on flat stone. Their job was simple enough conceptually. Identify, evaluate, and exterminate any body or bodies of individuals, organizations, and whole governments if need be depending on how far along their research, curiosity, or blind luck has taken them into the dark arts. With big emphasis on preventing potential actors from ever becoming real players, or in average speak, killing Merlin before he becomes the thunder tossing, time melding, dragon sealing wizard we learn about in elementary school. On a good day, the average dangerous mission involves slitting the throat of someone planning to make his first goat sacrifice when the moon is full (that rarely makes a difference). The most you have to worry about are the neighbors spotting your catsuit gliding over their rooftop with a cellphone camera. On a bad day, you’re facing Sabrina the Teenage Witch, half in the middle of a love spell, half wondering if lasers shooting out of her eyes will melt your face faster than say, setting your skin on fire. Than there is those really bad days, where you crash a party just to come face to face with a daemon fresh from the veil….

Sometimes you really aren’t paid enough for your line of work. Even more so if your being expected to be a garbageman minus the gloves. Because in this line of work, all but me is expected to follow the cardinal rule, don’t do magic.

Not to say magic is evil, or inherently evil. Because it is. But to point out the reasons for doing a little necromancy on the side isn’t always evil…just job security. Which is why blatant disregard for one of the primary rules (if not the only rule) hasn’t been punished zealously by me or most of my predecessors. Pragmatism, at least as far as the League of Shadows is concerned, as been the primary way of dealing with the very people who make my (self imposed) exile on the surface a lot easier than I tend to appreciate. But this same approach makes my job harder, because given enough time and all the temptation in the world, a little voodoo tends to slowly creep up to a lot of voodoo and lets just say more than a few decades worth of crisis has been because of or in light of a one man or entire sections of the League of Shadows going rogue.

Needless to say “don’t trust these fuckers” were penned in big bold letters in the memoirs and journals of my predecessors. People I don’t recognize fishing for the sit rep, is usually a bad sign. Especially people so new they don’t know to call me Arthur. But I shrug, ensuring the League of Shadows isn’t ending the world behind my back can wait till next week.

“What’s your name.” I give her a once over, maple brown hair, golden eyes, wide enough curves to convince me she’s a bruiser  I almost lick my lips at the prospect.

“Samantha First, my liege.”

“Its Arthur.”

“Right.”

Awkward pause.

“My-Arthur, the supernatural activity, necro or demon?”

“Demon like you suspected.”

“Taken care of?”

“No.”

Both our shoulders get smaller.

” Regional Supervisor Dawyne says he needs you in France sir.”

I nearly hop at the chance to go to France. No not really.

“No,” I shake my head, “that’ll have to wait.”

“You think its still here.”

“You tell me.” I make sure to say that with a smile.

“We can kill it.” she says with a tremble, whether of excitement or fear I don’t pray into her thoughts to tell.

“That won’t be necessary.” I start my walk to the nearest helicopter.

“I hear its only a small fry… I mean we can do this, your needed elsewhere.  If not Paris than somewhere else with a potential category four or five incursion.”

I stop, “Unless it’s category nine.” (and we’d be royally fucked if it was), “I’ll be asking for a ride to my car now.”

“It’s 2010, we know how to banish a level 3 ling.”

“That maybe true,” I wave, “But you guys take fun out of it.”

And Yes this will be edited

Just a Ling

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November 24, 2108

Happy Thanksgiving, I believe you have much to be thankful for. I read the second email you sent after the 15th of September. Yes I will be attending the wedding in December. Now on to less loftier matters, the speech pretty much confirmed a lot of conspiracy theories you picked up on the web, some I believe myself. The African European State Union, AESU for short, is real and is happening. The paper work will take a while, but when they get that conglomerate up and running we are going to have a big shape up of regional powers. At worse this may cause panic, which will show up as tension, and may escalate to something more. This is pretty much unprecedented, no one really knows what to make of it. If you want to know my theory (which you probably do), the old OWG is rearing its head on this one. Many of the OWG are praising this move and I can’t seem to blame them, the world just got smaller.

P.S, if you’re going to send pictures of your supermodel wife to my email, the email of a soon to be married man, at least make sure you’re in more than one of those pictures.

-November 24, 2108- Erik Riddler Burton to Becker Bradley Jr. On November 27th, 2108 the French Prime Minister also severing as the president of the EU speech was leaked to the public. In this speech the Prime Minister called nationalism the root of all evil, and called for all nations to make way for a new age, where the people will live on one earth and under one sovereign government.

Check out War Story, because your up here ->>>, when this story started down there <<<—-

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Just a Ling

“Who is he?”

“I don’t know.”

“How did he get here?” one voice rises shrill above the others.

“Maybe a cop?”

“What type of cop you know doesn’t have a badge?” retorts Percy, the grogginess slowly wearing off.

“No ID either.” another feminine voice, softer than the last one, replies.

“Look he must have followed me, I don’t know how or why.” Alex waves his hand up in his defense.

“Nothing human should be able to get through the spell. Even if they did the fence should have…”

“He, I mean she could help us right? I mean its safe for him, I mean her, to stretch her legs isn’t it?”

They all look at the man probably named Joey. Alex nods and John agrees. One of the girls takes an unconscious step back and in the direction of my stuff. All my stuff, even my phone still hooked to the double whammy. It’s a shack used for “fuck all if I knew” and only the sections obviously needed was somewhat cleaned to “don’t dirty my pumps” conditions. The occult books I was looking for? All here, laid out in piles spread around the various dust and hay free zones of the barn. Arcane symbols are written haphazardly on 8’11 pieces of paper, but most look too old and faded to be “hot” and none are spread out in any particular order or pattern, just the scribbling of children playing at Harry Potter. And in the middle of it all stood the cage. While the shack was well lite by modern light fixtures (very wise of them), the cage itself was a black tinted window masking the figure(s) moving inside. To understand how strange that was you’d have to imagine a typical zoo cage made to generously hold back a lion and then fathom why a grey sheet would be billowing inside, conveniently muting all attempts to illuminate the contents.

Joey was the one who opened the door, showing all the practice of a zookeeper working open the exit to a tigers cage. The tiger was not his friend, but he showed no fear of the tiger. Though his grasp of the door remained firm ready to close and lock it at a moments notice. The cage wasn’t just a few jail bars and a padlock, it had inscriptions running square to each corner, only stopping at the door itself, where a rune of vague, probably made up origin was sketched in most likely goat or cows blood. It glowed hot as the door was open gingerly. Joey backed up to give whatever it was plenty of space, though no one gasped everyone’s hair stood on end, even mine, though granted I was tied up like a dried pig.

It sniffed the air a few times before turning in my direction. Whatever It was, it did a good enough job of repairing its host body;  the only sign of a struggle was the orange-colored hair, the color of dried blood on blond. Otherwise you wouldn’t think said young girl was being posses by an alien entity beyond our concept of space-time. Though possessed is an odd word; it implies that there is someone home when the daemon gets bored and leaves, a cute Hollywood trope with no basis in reality. Fact is currently IT is wearing that poor girls meat suit with about as much practice as a dog walking on two legs (and doing a worse job than an actual dog because it’s probably accustomed to having more legs than four). For all intent and purposes, the poor girls last moments were spent locked in the back of a car, stripped naked, wrapped in chains and thrown into a bear cage for the amusement of the bear. Now the bear is wearing human skin like an expensive fur coat, and is sniffing me up and down looking for fear in my eyes.

“So who is he?”

“Out of your league” It hisses, he gives a moment to give the woman who asked the question a longing glare before turning his attention back to me.

“Yessss” it chimes, running a finger down my chest before his finger sizzles against the iron chains. The iron isn’t the problem, but the paper talisman wrapped around the locks and hanging from the chain links are. He notices me staring at it and nods the answer to my question, I groan.

“A precaution for me, but I can only imagine what it does to you.”

“Not much.” I chuckle, “mild headache really.” Also no low-level telepathy or access to magical items like wards or cursed items.

“You know him!?” resounds Alex

“Simple creatures, you don’t even know your champion?” It laughs, while keeping an unnatural level of alertness on me. As far it was concerned I was a shark in a fish bowl.

“King of Atlantis” It begins, “I wonder, have you sired an heir yet?”

The prospect of me dying today finally hits home and the only thing I could do was fake a steely eyed resolve. Damn this.

“Aww, I guess not.” It turns and walks toward the cage. Stops and address the confused rabble of white picket fence necromancers, “I’d suggest you kill him before he causes any more problems for us.”

And with that It climbs in and Joey locks the cage. I can see IT’s eyes staring at me now, mucus green circles spinning rapidly around her dead iris and beyond, the slither of worms moving in dead waters. He wanted to kill me himself but was afraid of the repercussions, the geass they have him under is strong. And it saved my life. Something I wish to take full advantage of.

“Hey, hey don’t tell me your believing…that thing do you?”

“How do you know she’s not human.” John points out.

I smile. “Well it wouldn’t pass the typical college frat girl test with that deep gurgled voice box she’s working with. I mean come on, I grew up in the 80’s, I’ve watched my share of scary movies! But let’s be serious do I look like the “King of Atlantis”? Do I sound like I drink vodka with SpongeBobSquarePants? I got a knife and a smart phone, and some jewelry I was hoping to pawn. I came by to rip you guys off and suddenly I’m out cold. Now I wake up in a strange shack and tied up, weird talismans hanging everywhere, and naked chick you got locked in a cage. I didn’t mean to interrupt your bachelor party, but I’d gladly get back on my way.”

“No.” says the woman who must be Katherine. She is calm and to the point, unlike Jill who is a bit more than nervous and hugging herself since her earlier outburst. Without any of my usual talents for building up persuasive arguments they’ll get me for being either suspicious or being at the wrong place at the wrong time. There is another way to get me out of here…

I”Look, I’m going to be frank with you.” not the best idea, but you know what they say about the truth, “She-IT’s right.  But I’m going to tell you something; this situation, this nightmare you’ve invited into your lives for 18 years can not be controlled. And don’t tell me you have it under control because I can see it laughing at all of you. How many people have you sacrificed to it? How many young women will never see their mothers again because of your actions. Boys that will never be fathers. For what?”

The room grows silent.

“Answer me!” no one speaks up. “Tell me that you have this under control! You don’t. And you know whats sick? Its waiting. Buying time until it knows it can stay in this world without you. Until it knows its safe to kill you all.”

“You don’t know what you’re talking about.” John marches forward, anger in his eyes.

I match his glare and smile, “I see it now. Six years after that incident, your lives all suck, some with no girl, others with no job. There is only the guilt that maybe your responsible for all those unexplained deaths, maybe those douche-bags never really deserved to have what you thought was coming to ’em. And you feel like a scumbags, all of you do, and nothing you do can change that because realization of the truth only you know and only you can believe is eating you alive.” Than an epiphany hits like a brick, “So you come back to the barn where the magic happens…. my god, there is a piece of IT in you?” the group’s faces doesn’t deny it, ” A little bit of charisma, less guilt? The perfect family? The perfect job? A nice apartment with all the panties traffic your dick can manage? Is that’s what your soul is worth?”

Actually for most people the answer is yes, it is. But I doubt that they were stupid enough to make that exchange, no, they chose a different route, young boys and girls picked off from the street and late nights at the local bars. It’s not a coincidence that John has an alibi between the hours of 12-4,  and worst comes to worst his unwitting family can vouch for him being home despite sometimes not being home till 9 am in the morning. All this in exchange for a bit of knowledge here and a bit of juice there. But..

“But your deal wasn’t worth it for IT wasn’t it? It broke free six years ago, despite all the assurances that the sporadic flow of fresh bodies is of no fault of your own. You scramble to put it back to in the closest when  its true form can black out the state of Missouri. And yet you feed it prime stake as if it’ll be satisfied! Ha!”

I turn my full attention to the thing in the cage. “You’re nothing but a mid level Ling with dreams of grandeur  If you was a real daemon you would devoured them from  the inside the moment they took your offer, but you’re not even capable of holding a human body for longer than two hours, so you wait and bide your time until you learn to be a proper greater horror.” Even now with my eyes adjusting to the weird lighting of the cage I see IT’s form mutating; stretching the lips, elongating the fingers,breaking her skin out into hideous boils that ooze with blood and mucus like slime, while shifting her facial features to match the realignment of bones to a fit a newer more alien model…

“And you chuckle heads are just yucking it up as you put the lives of countless thousands in danger! If you had any idea where that thing came from you would have tried and failed to destroy it years ago instead of trying to appease it believing your two-bit parlor tricks will hold it back forever.”

Come to think of it, there is a reason why cops and soldiers above the level of rent-a-cop or merc-for-hire, train intensively in hostage situations. The simple basis being that sometimes you are the hostage and you’ll have to talk your way out of being gang-banged by the local psychopaths. Sometimes you must do this while speaking broken-unamerican, sometimes its better that you don’t call your current caretakers on their bullshit. Joey proves how much not being a snide douche keeps you alive longer,

“You talk too much.”

My knife is fresh from the table and in his right hand in pre-stabbing form when Alex and Jill rush to head him off.

“We don’t kill!” demands Alex

No, you just sic your pet daemon on people, big difference stupid git!

“Get off me he needs to GO!”

Alex lands hard on his hip while Jill, who is basically 5’1 and maybe a buck’one if you count the slippers, is sent flying before the rather fit Joey who could have been a 5’9 college quarterback in the heyday of his frat years (doubting he saw the inside of one). Neither John or Katherine moves to stop him when suddenly–

“JILL!!!” Kathrine was screaming for her friend’s name while the rest looked slacked jaw and petrified in fear and piss, Joey dropped my knife, Alex couldn’t peel his eyes away, and John…John had no expression at all.

You see Jill, a wisp of a thing, was neither tall or needing a gym membership, even her long hair was purposely cut business short to improve her streamline dry dolphin look, if the dolphin was a vegan; so when she went flying, she quite literally flew, and where she landed and thunk’d her little head, was no less convenient than the very cage, containing the very daemon they put so much effort into home trained.

Not funny how time stops when you have no way of changing the outcome. Fuck all the way of the warrior bullshit; a real fight is a blur  of indiscriminate motion only parsed though the magic filter of muscle memory and self-preservation. It’s only when death is looking at you straight in the face and there isn’t a god damn thing you can do about it, that you see the world at whatever frames per second is considered slow. When IT forced her hands through the bars– the sizzle and pop of the talismans all desperately trying to burn away the human meat coat but never beyond the level of third degree burns– you can see the momentary gasp of fear in Jill’s eyes as the window of escape closed before she understood it was open to begin with, the hands claps around her head and squeezed for dear life, nearly ripping her head from her shoulders as she thrashed against the otherworldly grip. But it wasn’t the physical touch that was loathsome, but the sudden invasion of one being of the immaterium into another being of immaterium (the human soul) that caused the panic that was almost primal to behold.

It was in this painful seconds of absolute horror that ages the soul and forces young men’s hearts to turn white before the twilight of their age, that the spectacle completed itself before a dumbfounded audience; powerless in body, mind and soul against the thing that eats goats and children. It was in completion that the cage in which the daemon lied for two decades, finally showed a natural hue, revealing the liters of dried blood and bits of unprocessed flesh of vague origins. Where the former host of ITs black intentions lay silent like a dried husk, the new host of horror laid slack like an adolescent child sleeping in a school bus.

And John just stood there, like a bloody stole pigeon.

“John!!”

My words barely moved him out of his stupor.

“John get me down!”

His eyes trail upward, sees me and hesitates to even stutter a no.

“Get me down or die with the rest of them.”

And like clockwork It moves. Why IT jumped on Alex McCoy as the first order of business, could be rationalized as the pure expression of a deep-seated grudge or the sheer coincidence of being the closest warm body to a soul eating monster, historians can decide, but as far I was concerned “it was better him than me” when it found Alex first.  Alex whispered “Jill” as he cried, tears flowing for a friend he just lost, the realization not quite hitting him but the gravity weighing all the same. It was the same for all of them, seeing Jill tightening her fingers around Alex’s shoulders, her green eyes reflecting a slight sickish hue. Only Alex could see what I knew was there; the hollowness beyond her facade, the IT that was barely contained, withering in places that shouldn’t move.  And when doom visited him, I mean finally dawned on him the nature of the creature he helped summon 18 years ago, he screamed. Not for help. Or for pain. But a torture keen to only the most basic senses in the human brain that still remains after years of surviving the hell of post-Jurassic. The sound of every cell wishing to do one thing, one basic thing and being denied the chance long before the understanding of the need. So he defecated himself, and twisted and thrashed and tried to escape the tiny grip of the hungry alien for all of one second-

“Crrrrrck”

Most children have tried, unsuccessful, to pull the head off a pez dispenser by yanking at it from the chin. But that method, with proper amount of superhuman  strength, is indeed sound. First the head is yanked back hard, the neck elongates before flesh and muscle cords snap at the seams. The sickening crack of bone is heard, as the spine is being snapped at the base, followed by a slosh of blood gushing forth like a shaken soda bottle.  When the child is done she merely toss the head against the nearest wall like a wet wash cloth before letting out a howl of ecstasy. Pure hunger  takes over as she unhinges a human jaw much like a snakes, and dives into the blood stump.

Crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, and it rips an arm off from its socket to get a better grip of the mid section. Working its teeth and snapping jaws against and through tough muscles and cracking bones. Where it comes from there is no elegance is feeding on souls, no high pitch sucking noises or firm laying on hands. No Shang Tsung declaring your soul is mine. Just keep chewing and ripping at flesh until the belly is satisfied. This can be considered primordial, ritualistic, or just plain evil, pick your adjective, either way no person looking at this thing rip and spit out gobs of flesh and organs, face nose deep in blood, the clicks of its teeth mashing up fat and gristle…returns sane. And there was no escape. Even though John was the first to try.

“JOHN!” damn these chains,” You can’t run from it, it knows where you live, that you have kids, and even how your going to defend them. You have a piece of it inside you John! How do you think this will end!? I’m the only one here that can stop it, the only one here that its afraid of!”

Coincidence would have it he had the keys on his person (and that was a good measure of luck right there) and freed me promptly, being the only hope and all. I put a hand on his shoulder to show thanks.

“Took you long enough.” before sliding my palm under his chin and snapping his neck in savage disgust.

I only heard the shack doors slap close as Joey and Katherine ran out screaming. If I was in a generic action flick I’d menacingly call out “it’s just you and me” while pointlessly circling the room. I bite down the cliché’ and focus on the task at hand; my dagger, my three wards, and two curse items are call to me by me via the soft magic of displacement theory. Taking an item and re-materializing it to a very specific location is only intrinsically hard if you not particularly careful about details of the item or where exactly in space-time its going. You have to call by value not reference, and it takes much practice to do the former because the human brain likes to do some things by the latter . Otherwise I would be summoning a new copy of all my essentials from an alternate reality…and I’m too much of a fan of the original article thank you.

The daemon formerly known as Jill looked up at me the way a cat does when you interrupt it enjoying a fish stick, backed away slowly as I approached, looked around the shack as I advanced before giving the ceiling a quick eye.

“Rumor has it that your only half-Atlantian.”

“Whats your point?”

It chuckles, “Maybe we can end this game, I go my way you go yours. The real monsters are the human’s your letting escape.

Their engines barely make a sound but the slamming of their car doors grabs my attention for a second, a second enough for It to escape. Not on foot mind you but through Jill’s mouth, as the daemon drags its being into the shadows, leaving his meat suit to drop carelessly on the floor.

“Fuck.”

I scramble for the fleeing necromancers, their tail lights blaring as they speed into the open road.

“NOT FUCKING TEXAS!”

In my rage I channel a more serious form of magic, the art of probability, with the help of two cursed items, both red rubies that aren’t set to expire and anytime soon, one of which is holding the soul of a former meth dealer. Probability is relatively difficult because you’re never quite sure how far you need to manipulate the matrices to achieve the desired effect, and considering the effect only when casting can be rather lethal…to you, so its best to be prudent before letting the magic run wild (because there is no call backs once you hit the negative). Probability can be pushed up or down per set margins or given a sum to work out the difference, for me I just wanted their cars to break down, a sum based cast basically, which was the easier of the two options. The latter of which would be the untimely death of two healthy 30 somethings, speeding away in opposite directions in the middle of nowhere.

Quick thinking on my party determines which is most likely to end badly.

Joey’s car breaks first, a sports car running at triple digits, barely a speck in the horizon, the hood bursts into blue flames and acrid smoke, he hard swerves as the engine dies and his breaks fail. His crash is a series of hard skids, followed by a hard stop somewhere in horizon.

Katherine’s Chevy on the other hand caused a sharp pain in my chest before its front wheels snapped cleaned from its axle, slamming the front bumper hard against the open road. One of my dear rubies burned out and I traded the difference with one less month of old age, not a fair trade really and its going to take a minute for my breathing to regulate itself. But I’m calm enough for whats going to happen next as I step out into the middle of the road, Katherine’s car well in my sites. As expected she stumbles out from her unexpected crash, haven’t not bothered to wear a seat belt she is far more dazed and confused than she otherwise would be. Which means the following would be relatively painless, as my knife breaks past her spine and finds her heart before reappearing in my hand in a blur.

“One down.”

Displacement was only used in the return trip; actually placing a foreign object into a human body or any solid construct violates Pauli exclusion principle, which basically states that no two objects can occupy the same space at the same time. Granted it is a rather simple and effective way to murder someone, its best not used when you actually want the object back. For all intent and purposes all natural laws can be violated, however not all natural laws should be violated, which is the fundamental difference between a good necromancer, a bad necromancer, and a dead necromancer.

And I clearly intend to be a good one as I find Joey’s car hugging a welcome to sign. I see smoke, I see blood, I open car door, but no Joestar. I kneel to touch the blackening ichor, rubbing its warmth against my index and middle finger and following the trail into the tall grass. I smile and turn around, catching the brunt of a tire iron with my forearm. The pain is numbing but bearable. Joey however is breathing heavy and ragged, half weak, half exhausted from the crash. He’s nursing a few chest injuries and a dire need for aspirin. When I grab and pull down his only weapon, he nearly yanks it from my grip with a surprise amount of upper body strength.

End this fast.

So I stab him quarter to center but not deep; he checks my elbow and shoves his forehead into my face. I go down flat as he climbs on top, bringing the iron down as he holds my knife hand by the wrist. Two good shots is all he needs for me to nearly lose consciousness, only a gasp of air separates me from a shatter skull, as everything goes into a mumbled blur of sky, gray and red. Even in a situation like this nothing slows down, everything moves at the same time with no concept of before or after, especially decisions; I reach for a nearby rock, grasping it in my left hand, before hearing the thunk of it disappearing from my clutches and reappearing somewhere inside Joey’s skull. With a gasp his eyes fell back and his mouth hanged open, blood drooling out his eyes and nose from the aneurysm, before he started convulsing in seizures. Pushing him aside, I watched him thrash and gargle non-words before finally deciding what to do with his entrails.

And Yes this will be edited

                                                                 

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Filed under The Boy King

Chapter 5

“Primed and ready!”

The first bug dies in a burst of napalm.

“Not enough”

Is there hope? No room for gambling, since the odds are already less than zero. No, as long as I’m not downwind I can keep the odds at zero … of course I’m covered in swarmling blood, feces, and other material … so it probably makes no difference. But who cares.

So a bug approaches low from the corner of my eye. I lunge at him; first smashing it under the forward momentum of my goliath armor before rolling to my feet in an instant to burst down, one bug, three bugs, twelve bugs in time to turn around and roast two dozen more. Not enough; the explosions attract more bugs, the corpses attract more bugs, I attract more bugs. How long ‘til I’m swarmed?

Am I in hell? The demons don’t care. Brother, sister, living, dead? Eat, attack, lung, gorge, buffet their stomachs until their wings are forced to unfold. It makes no difference: one blind sides the other, and buries its face into the loser’s underbelly, chewing and ripping its way inside. The loser fights back, smashing his assailant’s head three times with its claw and cracking its armored back, but it makes no difference. Natural selection in full display and we evolved from this? The ones I cut with the sword become food to his brother; the ones I burn with the torch are feasted on by his sister. I’m chest high in death and goo, as the wanderers and the curious come at me by the hundreds and soon thousands.

No escape. I duck under the leap of a swarmling, cutting it in half as I twist away from his raining organs. I recognize one heart in the mix – funny what you notice in crisis situations – before I bash the nozzle of my II into the gaping mouth of a fast-approaching swarmling. My timing’s unreal! As it tugs at the metal, I shove the barrel deeper into its mouth and swing the creature into his brothers, who take no notice of him as he is quickly trampled under the weight of the armored sea. The swarmling I just cut in half gets beset on by his brothers as it struggles to regain some sort of balance. And the battle moves as I move, forward and away, but never far enough.

The fight goes until the ground is soppy with the lickerish they call blood. It sizzles and pops with each release of napalm. Swarmling blood at boiling point releases gasses that rapidly expand the swarmling’s body until the pressure becomes unbearable for the rigid insect body. This process is aided by the four hearts that pump blood into the swarmling’s seven foot body at extraordinary speeds, a necessity to keep all of the organs and extra organs filled with nutrients and the keep the muscles oxygenated.

One bug rears up on four legs, allowing his other four to act as claws capable of punching dents into the pride and joy of human war engineering. I could already see the complaint form I would file as I dodge the first swing with a step back, twist around to let the swarmling behind me lunge at my attacker, and then watch them tackle and fight each other as they suddenly found better things to eat. I lit the dueling pair on fire as one finally got the advantage over the other after a 0.512 second life-and-death duel that saw the loss of 3 limbs, the snapping of one mandible, and multiple puncture wounds that must have caused the failure of four to five important organs.

“Endless.” I cut down three swarmlings in a frenzy of haphazard swordsmanship.

“Axe-Hand,” the name of a Samson I’ve gotten to know since my 10 years of being assigned to the 122nd mixed infantry, “Why do you insist on taking melee weapons when range combat is safer and more effective?”

He looks at me and shrugs, “Well, when your tech boys invent a gun that doesn’t run out of ammo, I’ll leave my axe at home.”

I rip a female swarmling from her head to egg-sack; some eggs are large enough to hatch, pop, and spill out into the ground, some crack on impact, while others bounce. I take a moment to step on one, taking note of how hard they become when exposed to fresh air. The Sword of David, or SoW, sizzles with the blood of the slain. I drip sweat despite the suit’s best efforts to keep me cool. My vision takes a lapse as my conscious slips for a precious moment. I feel the sudden weight of a swarmling, I shrug it off, another swarmling, I knock it aside, I stumble forward feeling dehydrated for the first time in my life.

Too much! The smell alone; of the living, the dead, and the burning, is too much! Oh mercy, if anything was to kill me right now it would have to be whatever manages to seep through the air filter. The smells are poignant even to my soul. Of all the creatures on God’s green earth, the cockroach, despite its order in the food chain, is the one insect that elicit the most hatred. And now I see why as I smash one with a back hand swipe of my sword hand. It stumbles without a head, but turns toward me despite having no eyes to see, and claws with every limb. I shove the sword inside its mid-section and let the blade rip out its side, effectively folding the creature’s carcass upon itself. I take another backhanded swipe as something approaches from behind, it’s cleaved in two with no effort, I choke on bile as its inwards spill mere inches from face.

But carnage doesn’t stop and neither will I. With a turn I let a cartridge of napalm go before doing an odd one-handed reload procedure that required me to hook the II between my shoulder-blade and elbow, swipe a fresh cartridge, and jam it in when I let the Industrial Incinerator fall. How I manage to do that while on the run I have no idea, but I burst down a group of swarmlings before they approach within 50 yards of me and twist sideways to torch a flanking party without missing a beat.

I dive and roll to send a few bugs sailing over me, experience with humanoids must have taught them to aim for the chest. Or to be more exact, “experience” is more like the genetic memory of the ones that survived long enough to breed. I wonder what this experience will teach them. It’s probably not the fear of fire. I press and swing the flamethrower into mob, blood and liquefied guts shortly follow. I take a step and meet a swarmling, I cut it down, avoiding its claws as it twitches, and nearly step into the fury of another bug before I incinerate it out of frustration. “Too many!” and I’m exhausting my supply of napalm. I could have insisted on getting some smokers or mountain poppers, but I only managed a SoW because they forgot to remove it from the scabbard.

“Think!” I look around, forcing my eyes to see past the smoke and my own tears to see the chaos unfolding before me. I see a vision of hell; of chaos and death eating death, raping death, and spilling forth more death. I won’t sleep after this; if I survive, I simply won’t sleep. Who thinks of rest in this vision of hell? When life is obscenity that causes the eyes to bleed? But here stands the reaper man armed with lance and fire, surrounded by smoke and abominations, baked in the blood of the profane things. The smell dries and drips down the naval cavity, allowing me to taste hell.

“Enough!” As my adrenaline levels spike, letting the heart explode while everything becomes a blur of red and orange, black and yellow, screeches and roars, both human and demonic. Hell burns and I step through the carnage into the bosom of more beast. Why don’t the demons flee before the reaper man? The question taunts a response from hell’s denizens; they collapse on me from all sides, mandible click and chip at steel, both arms are trapped before the tide that sweeps away forty tons of war machine.

But who am I if not the reaper man? They meet fire, if only for a second, before the cartridge ejects; but I’m not defenseless. One meets my elbow as I pull out the fresh catch of napalm while another meets the back of my right hand. They attack from all sides and there is no end to this sea of black in site. The swarm is focusing on me now; the dozens is now hundreds and soon thousands.

“Come try to eat me demons!” because it’s reassuring to shout at things that don’t speak English. They come at me in one push, but I’m ready this time and lunge into them like 40 tons of inedible space hull approved steel. Their bodies of flesh and fat shatter under my weight; the armor that evolved to handle the hardest blows any living creature is capable of producing splinters like dried wood.

I drive my SoW into a swarmling before it can rear itself up to my height, disarming myself for a second to reach for another cartridge. I twist with my hips to avoid one lunge before shattering the exoskeleton of another attacking swarmling with my right knee, snapping three mandibles off the face and driving the fourth into what’s left of its compound eye.

I catch a shallow breath before driving my elbow into the mid-section of another bug, knocking it off-balance, as I pull the cartridge out of my ammo pouch, only to hammer the same fist into the face of a diving swarmling, sending it sprawling.

I even bash my head into swarmling just as it rears up to claw at me, forcing its body to cave inward due to the pressure, while I complete my reload. I dive to ground, rolling past and under swarmlings as they dive for me, before resting at the spot where I left my sword. I clenching it with my left hand; I spray the fire of man into the crowd, scorching the blood soaked ground along the way.

“Primed and ready!” The SoW rips through three swarmlings in one swift horizontal slash that parts mid-sections, heads, and legs from body. I twist and high-step to avoid being weighed down by the bugs. I wade through them with fire, and check my six with blade in hand. The barely living that I leave behind crawl desperately to their next meal before being eaten by healthy and hungry; the cannibalism won’t stop! Even I’m just another swarmling to them. Baking in their stench for god knows how long now … some have probably tried to mate with me …

Then that thought goes away with one thrust of my SoW. The bug is skewered from the side, I lift and toss him as he screeches, his brood devours him before he meets the ground. I have to keep moving, but hell seems to have no exit. The nest is stupidly large, the mounds seem to go on and on for miles. God help me, I’m going to die here.

I let out a jet stream of napalm, making sure to cover a wide area, as the bugs come dangerously close to surrounding me before letting go of the trigger at the worst possible second. Before I can raise a hand, a swarmling comes and nearly tears my overworked helmet from head with a quick swipe of his front claws. I only manage to twist my head in time to avoid his blade embedding itself into my visor. The crack impairs my vision for a second as I stumble in wake of the hit. I flail the II frantically to ward off the approaching swarm while my sword hand zims and zips through empty air. I get my bearings in a breath before a swarmling latches itself onto my back. I twist and turn violently in the hopes of shaking it off, but its legs are wrapped tightly around me in full embrace.

In rage I break three legs to no effect. It pecks and rams its head against my helmet in a vain attempt to find an opening. But that’s not entirely true there is a self release button around the back of the neck…

And that’s when I took a running leap into the air twisting myself mid-air in order to land squarely on my back. Smashed beneath my goliath armor lays the one swarmling that made me piss my pants. I roll and push myself up to my feet, thanking whatever divine providence saw fit to allow me to get up unmolested, before coming face-to-face with a swarmling’s moving mouth parts. Two pairs of mandibles click to my helmet as it attempts to pull me down.

“Oh look, we’re kissing!” I land an uppercut with my sword hand that ruptured it so fast into the air that it forgets to take its lips with it. With callouse efficieny swing through four and burn down several dozen in a long screeching ark of fierier death in my rage.

“Not any closer …” then I notice a ridge not so far away from where I’m currently standing and compel myself forward two meters in an outburst of joy.

“How did I miss that little detail when I looked over the Swarms’ nest? Was I heading for it the entire time? Does it matter?”

“Say goodbye to the reaper.” Then I notice a mound’s worth of swarmlings moving in unison; ignoring their imperative to eat each other in the face of a meal that smells like mother of all meals – me.

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Filed under Story of a David

In the Apartment of Evil

Back up takes the fun out of daemon hunting, but the League of Shadows takes the tedium out of hunting necromancers. I could call them right now if it wasn’t for the 4th level abomination sleeping in some assholes basement waiting to be sicked on hapless teenagers. They’re better at the more boring assignments, the ones that don’t involve undead pirates and possessed grandmothers, but lean towards the subtitle difference between H.P Lovecraft and someone sacrificing goats and virgins in the backwoods by a lake shore. Granted, there are 6 billion people on this planet and despite all advances in social media and travel, it’s impossible to thoroughly investigate every Wicca club in the state of Missouri let alone the country. Sometimes they arrive too late and counter-demonology 101 has to be dusted from the shelves, friends need to be sacrificed….

Which is partially why I am rummaging through the mail Mr.McCoy leaves haphazardly in his bachelor-pad/apartment/condo. Who knows what their called these days. It’s a box on top of another box with two kitchens and a thick wall dividing the two renting units. One bed room, one bath, one living room and room enough for two barely adult sizes tables that denote the dining room from the living room. He as an impressive library of science fiction, pulp fiction, and old school fantasy before Dresden Files and Song of Ice of Fire with the occasional college textbooks un-open since the day it was bought. His TV looks expensive but only that, there is no sign he actually sits down and uses it; his cable is basic, his game systems include the original Xbox and an N64, and his fridge is mostly lined with beer and flavored tequila.

His closest is light on the wife beaters and jeans and more on the button ups and other business casual “comfortably working in an office” drape. No D&D, no He-man, or even a fetish for Star Wars. A guy with more condoms than video games probably stopped wearing his geek on his sleeve years ago. And most disturbing is no occult. None. And I’ve been to necromancers apartments, most don’t think to hide that type of shit from plain sight, some are more than proud to let you know they firmly believe gibbering horrors from beyond space-time did or should rule this workd, usually by way of undisclosed human organs laying about with crude “insert your favorite ancient civilization” runes and inscriptions mapped over floors and jars. I personally tend to start worrying when I start seeing Scandinavian/Germanic runes inscribed in various bodily fluids, no offense to anyone but when people start asking the “frost giants” and “dark elves” to cross the rainbow bridge from their cozy dark corner in the multi-verse into the “middle-realm”…well lets say the Viking’s disappeared for a good reason…

Was I wrong? I’ve been here for two hours without noticing, god I’m still bad at this. Stopped Iran from doing the “other” type of nuclear research (the kind that involves less boom or more num) but can’t find a single vile of “cocktail monster bait”. Well, if I think about this logically, he may have a lot of people come in and out his apartment for one reason or another. It would be a buzz kill for a one night stand to run into your collection of satanic rituals 101. Few necromancers know guys like me exist, not for the lack of paranoia on their part, but for the simple reason that while stories of witches are rather prevalent, the guys that hunt them are far less popular. This is partially on purpose (secret government agencies and the league of shadows wouldn’t be quite secret or shadowy otherwise) and mostly because the potential witch to hunter ratio is very skewed on the witch end. And besides the few bastards that slip through the cracks look less like Magikarps and more like Gyarados when they finally make the radar again, meaning there are few to none who are truly qualified to put them down.

Though I’m sure he isn’t that dangerous. I mean come on, what kind of social outcast doesn’t have an Xbox 360? I need his cellphone and or his laptop (no **** desktop to hack? fucking serious?), but I’d rather borrow his cellphone for now. So I do what any sensible king of the ocean floor has done for generations…hide under his bed just when he comes waddling in at 10pm in the evening, talking loudly and boisterously on his cell-phone.

“Look I’ll have next week column to you by Friday, I just spent all day at Starbucks getting the ideas down… Look I know, I know was late last week but Vicky came through didn’t she?… I know I know your paying me not Vicky but… Ok, ok I got you, rough draft before the clock hits 12, you have my word!”

Click

He settles on his bed by flopping on it, pulling out various cords from his briefcase/carrying bag before finally slapping the charger against the wall and letting his apple shinny rest after a long day in McCoy’s back pocket; which going by how readily this bed is touching the floor, it must have been rough. Real men have Androids, but I resist the urge to point that out, he needs to go to sleep or sit on his work desk, which ever is easier on my poor legs. He of course does neither, instead he dials another number, the phone whizzes back into action and another voice, defiantly male comes into speaker.

“Alex whats up.”

“You know whats up, they just found the girl.”

“Oh…”

“Where is Katherine?”

“Checking the cage.”

“BY HERSELF!??!”

“God no, she toke O’Hera and Joey with her.”

There was a long audible pause as both men breath sighs of relief.

The man on the other end breaks the silence,”So who stopped HIM.”

“Wasn’t me.” says Alex sharply.

“Next meeting we need to talk.” the distance sound of family obligations can be heard from the strangers phone.

“Yeah, yeah sure.” hangs up McCoy.

“I could slit your throat right now.” It wasn’t a threat but a promise. But my rage will have to wait. Bumping him off now will trigger a flight or fight response that always ends me up in Texas (whoever made this universe did two things wrong and one of them was Texas).

Besides they’ll be all together soon enough. In the mean time I’ll take my Mandriod and  connect to his I-crap, using my double whammy. Now don’t get me wrong, I do appreciate the good ol’ days when all you needed was a ward soaked in the entrails of a local thief and a few cursed items (basically objects with soul(s) tethered to them). And yes I could have easily made a few sandwiches with Alex’s brain for the information I need. But there is a time, a place, and a measure of caution you must have and I’m sure my predecessors would appreciate how much easier technology makes the busy work associated with daemon hunting. And besides stomping around in the mind of a normal person is traumatic (for them) but fine, doing the same to a person who just came face to face with a gibbering horror is varying degrees of dangerous and extremely traumatic but its doable, but…. the mind of someone paranoid and actively engage in magic… no way to not leave a mess (that’ll usually result it your choice in serious mental disease(s) or a mind wipe of the last 10 years of their life as a bonus), or hit a trap (see making messes), or leave a dead body(the other way of dealing with traps). And the worst case scenario IS leaving a cold unresponsive body behind…  Maybe I am being too cautious but I’d rather not try to stop another easy assignment from crossing the Mexican border if it can be helped.

But as far as my double whammy, oh man what an awesome little device(and my only device). Connects to any phone. Check. USB enabled device. Check. Even has an extension for using fake credit cards to access ATM’s using bluetooth. Check. And best of all, none of those apple tards can use it. Go Mandriod. Without even having to crack his password, my Android app loads his shitty Apple OS and gives me complete access to his phone from the comfort of real smart phone position five feet. away Silently I go through his call history looking for the names of his mentioned friends.

“John Percy of course, Katherine H’Lee,”

Contacts.

“Joey H’lee, Jill O’Hera? Bingo. Wait…”

I nearly laugh. An alarm set for 4 am in the morning. Basically dawn. Looking at my target again, if I had met him 12 years ago he would be an overweight chili-dog stuffer but now he is reasonable buff, except for tell-tale signs of alcoholism starting to set in around his gut. He doesn’t fit the profile of a skinny, nebbish little man with wet black hair and beady little eyes. Instead he is has graying sandy blonde hair that stands at attention even while being rolled over a pillow. Light blue eyes and the type of “adorable” baby face one would find in a Seth Rogen comedy. No one would believe this asshole killed over 20 people, or that his actions are chewing at the fabric of space-time and inviting more of his pet Cthulhu’s to our little corner of the multiverse. Nay.

….

Oh the ease of hiding in the back of a car, a hot ward fading me into the shadows of an Mitsubishi Lancer, as Alex tumbles on in and fumbles for the keys. The only trick is staying silent, even as he throws his briefcase into my abdomen without looking. I could have shadowed him from the comfort of my car but its hard to notice someone following you in a small town at 4am in the morning. Especially when you go out into country side and all there is for miles is highway and corn-stalk.

“John.”

“Morning Alex.”

“The sacrifice, you found one?”

“Of course.”

“Boy or girl.”

“Girl.”

“Katherine will bitch.”

“Let her! Look, I’m stressed enough as it is and besides our mutual friend specifically asked for one.” John points out.

“Still one more missing girl, especially after… that…that Jessica girl the cops will think a kidnapper/rapist is one the loose.” Alex sighs.

“No, I heard from my cop friends that their blaming it on drug-sex traffickers or something like that.”

“Seriously?” Alex’s relief passing over like waves.

“Yeah they found a meth dealer eviscerated in a bath tub. They keeping a lid on that part.”

“Oh…but still…”

“Yeah I don’t like this more than you do, but lets’ get this over with before my kids wake up.”

Some 45 minutes later, not counting the 30 minutes it took to not even be half way there, Mr. McCoy parks the car. I look outside and all I see is two sports cars that looked that they starred in the fast and the furious, a Ford minivan that looks like the envy of suburbia and a grey Chevy Altima. All of which are surrounded by tall grass and wheat and an old shack looming in the foreground ominously. However Alex doesn’t seem to notice, he slams the door as he heads straight for the barn. I stare at him waiting for something horrible to happen but nothing does. Weird.

I step out the car and immediately my ears start to ring. Getting back into the car seems like a great idea, in fact driving away seems like a really great idea…

“So this is what it feels like to be repelled.”

Ok good trick. I ignore the ringing, the anxiety, the cursing myself for not simply taking my own car and for the most part it helps. Except the ringing, it seems to only get louder and its coming from my ward. I touch it and its blazing hot.

“Only a really good mesmer.”

And I push forward, hit something solid, realize what it is too late, reach for my ward too late, feel each hair on my body catch fire as my tongue dries, my eyes sizzles, my throat gurgles yesterday’s stomach acid as my entire body is being plugged into an outlet and all I can do on time is scream,

“SooON OOOOoooOOF AAAAa BIIiiiiiiIIITccccccCCH”

And yes this will be edited

                                                                 

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Chapter 4

The thing about falling from 40,000 feet is that you die. Not from the fall, I’m confident this won’t even break my legs, but from what’s waiting for you when you reach the ground. Naturally I’m implying that there are things in this life worse than going splat from a 40,000-foot fall. Well… maybe I have to survive one to know for sure….

0.51 seconds till I go splat

Two tons of metal should never be allowed to free fall to the Earth without a solid plan. Fact is dropping from “bomber” height is routine for Samsons; though their ability to survive the fall is not entirely due to their ridiculous muscles and bone structure. No, a special shock-absorbing jell, that accounts for multiple layers of both the Goliath and Samson’s armor, allows this impossible feat. The relationship is simple, if not farfetched: as the jell absorbs the energy of the fall, the energy moves rapidly through the armor, generating heat as it travels up. The heat rapidly changes the jell’s state from solid to gas, as large quantities of kinetic energy travel up the armor. Gas is vented out immediately, as the jelly filled layers rapidly expand to accommodates the increasing volume of gas. This same gas is then expelled, once the jell filled layers hits pressure based external facing vents.

Or that’s how it’s supposed to work.

0.33 seconds till I go splat …

After the venting process is complete, the remaining shock travels though the numerous layers of fibers muscle; several layers inside layers of wire, that mimic actual muscles, allow the David inside to move the Goliath with ninety percent of his own strength and without the assistance of the various power systems. Through the muscle fibers, energy is fed into the shock motors; their spinning burns the excessive energy while generating reserve energy. Even then, what does manage to penetrate past the muscle fibers and landing jelly naturally triggers the David’s adrenaline glands, which brings another one of the Goliath’s system into full focus. As the human body pumps adrenaline and endorphin to cope with the pain, the Goliath Armor prepares its first injection of the superman serum. Derived from a Samson’s own adrenaline glands, Noah scientists found the chemicals and hormones inside a Samson several times more potent than anything similar in a lab. Potentially addictive in large quantities, its main side effects are increased strength and improved reflexes, along with pain resistance and improved fight-or-flight responses. Landing would simply jar the brain too much without this simple drug.

0.0001 seconds till I go splat …

When I was five years old, I took the Academy test. The line was long and my parents looked nervous. I was a commoner then so at the time, Patriarch, Noah, Wise Men meant nothing to me. I was five and I wanted to spend my day playing video games. So when my turn came up, I refused to take the test. So my dad yelled and my mom yelled and the Patriarch instructors prodded me, but I just “didn’t wanna.” I wanted to go home; it was hot and smelly with all the people and the kids still in diapers. And besides, I had better things to do like beating level 9286 of Tetris. Faced with the prospect of never knowing my full potential, my dad for the first time took me by the ear and put a world of pain on my bottom that left me unable to sit without fidgeting for the better part of two days.

0.00001seconds till I go-

Ka-boom …

The ground splits, my legs turn to liquid, and the world becomes a brown and yellow haze. The headache follows next as the teeth rattle out of my gums, the armor is pelted with newly displaced rocks and the air smells of sulfur and methane. I heave in one breath, thanking God that the air is filtered as the super-heated landed gel releases itself in a burst of vented steam. Not disoriented, not hurt, I lift my leg gingerly; I can still walk and that’s when I finally look down. Buried under the dirt is a black carapace; the cracks in it seep a mixture of brown, yellow and white goo. The color of its blood and the remnants of his organs are liquefied.

Scattered all around are the remains of the creature that once occupied the same space as where I stand. It being a swarmling, obscenity given proper form: long by at least 8 feet, plenty legs on either side, and a sideways mouth rowed like a chainsaw with teeth and possessing two sets mandibles, one cracked from my landing. And it wasn’t alone; I feel more than see or hear the movement all around me.

“KREEEEEEEEEEEEEACCCCCCCCCCTCH”

I turn to face it.

“KREEEEEEEEEEEEEEAAAAAAAAAAACHTCH”

My II lets out a jet stream of napalm at the seven o’clock position as I turn. I’m alone in the crater, more screeches, more scuttling, the dust hasn’t cleared, and then-

“CRRRRRRRRRREAAAAAAAATTCCCCCCCCCCCCCKTCK”

And the smoke parts before the bullet of armored flesh, otherworldly fast for a hundred pound of insect. It doesn’t bother to dart out of the way as I swing the II to check its advance. It doesn’t know fear, nor does it have any concept of prey and predator. No, in its mind there is only “full” and “starving,” which makes it the purest binary machine in nature. Oh, and it explodes when set on fire. Ignoring the fire or any thought of self preservation, it pushes past it before exploding.

Taking a step back, I admire my second kill before I’m hit hard from behind. Stumbling, I regain my balance before being hit again from the opposite side. Unable to down me, they shake off the daze before resuming the attack. I take note of how few of them come to attack me. A relief, but not reassuring; the stench of a fresh corpse will attract more of them, but only the curious, the wanders, are paying me any attention. For now anyway; eventually the mounds will displace themselves as millions start to inquire about the funny smelling tin can, and when that happens, the Goliath armor won’t hold against a million set of claws and teeth.

I avoid the attack of one as it rears up on its four legs.

“Cockroaches don’t do that.”  A swarmling is for all intent and purposes a seven-foot-tall cockroach (females are nine to ten feet tall with egg sack included) with eight to ten legs and four mandibles. The first set of legs are its claws: short, hard, and sharp. They can dent steel, and are ideal for rending flesh as quickly as possible with as many strokes that are necessary. Its other legs aren’t specialized, except its back legs that are capable of holding its weight, and are generally sturdier than the other pairs, which alternate between fast travel and tearing into flesh with its jagged edges.

Unlike other insects worthy of extermination, the swarmlings are thankfully not self aware; unfortunately, their weaknesses end there. The Swarm numbers in the billions, possibly trillions, worldwide. Those black hills I mentioned earlier are their homes.  The “mounds” are not constructs, but thousands of swarmlings eating and mating in one spot. Each mound contains over one million swarmlings. I was dropped in a nest containing dozens of mounds.

Three more explode, five more explode, and then a dozen screech and roast before my II. The curiosity phase is rapidly ending; the shadow of one mound disappears, and the smoke gives away to a black tide that approaches from all sides.

“Say hello to the reaper man.”

And I charge forward, guns literally blazing as the Industrial Incinerator becomes a dragon consuming swarmlings by the dozen. But it’s not enough; they come crashing in, biting at shoulder pads, helmet, ripping away the cape and trying to rip apart my arms and legs. One swarmling tugs me by my left ankle with such ferocity that I smashed my head against the carapace of the adult swarmling, cracking it in the process. My II was on full automatic as I blindly shot in any direction with one hand, while my left hand smashing heads, claws, and anything in-between. I was drenched in brown blood as each explosion drenched me more and more in swarmling body fluids.

Then the napalm cartridge ejects without warning and at the worst possible time. I jam the trigger in desperate plea to save my soul before finally realizing the dragon has gone silent. I reach for another cartridge, but the lack of an attacking hand gets taken advantage of in an instant, knocking me flat.

Within seconds, I’m twisting and turning within the mass of bugs. Claws and teeth attempting to dig their way through my armor to get to the sweet flesh inside and rapidly my world stops making sense as the air becomes too shallow to breath. The world has become black, brown, white, and yellow, and it makes no sense. Below me is the swarm, above me is the swarm, and when I look ahead I see the ever moving machinery of a swarmlings underside moving tirelessly in the darkness.  Nauseating! The stomach churns away a response that I barely bite back.

So on all sides is moving wall of armor and carapace and I can’t move. The slip and drip of blood, feces, the insides of their stomachs, and god knows what else surrounds me, and I can’t move. “Can’t move, can’t breathe, can’t think,” and something punches into my armor. I force my fist through the armored flesh and undersides until I reach the handle of my side arm, and with one swift stroke I hear the ’Creeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaakkkccccccccccccck’ of a dozen bugs bucking the blade in agony.

A space opens for a second, so with empty flamethrower in my right hand and blade in my left hand, I pushed and slash to proper footing but not escape. The swarm has made a mound on top of me, an orgy of blood and mating is all around me, but the lack of air will get me killed first as my filter is taxed beyond usability. Out? I slash widely and haphazardly at the world around me, dispersing my anger into this cruel dark world devoid of light and air. I find space to move my right hand properly and hook my II before the chance is lost. The space closes, within moments, but with my newly free right hand I strike out blindly, and grab onto what I assume is something’s mouth because I feel thousands of rows of teeth grinding at my gauntlet. And pull. And push. And pull. And Push. Forward, I move my sword with purpose, as the blade cracks through armor and carapace like chewing through tender meat. Forward; with the barely-conscious swarmling as my shield, his brain bashed into a dozen times and his second or third brain only capable of making his claws and legs fight me out of muscle memory.  The head finally comes off as I crunch the flailing body as I press forward. No I charge, using a cross guard, I bull-rush into mound; using my two-ton body to make the wall armor flesh yield to my will.

But is it good enough? The smell, the air, the weight of thousands, more like millions of swarmlings pressing my feet into the ground, slowing my step, slowing my breath, my consciousness …

“NO!” And I take another step, but the momentum is gone and my armor is being assaulted on all sides. Not even a swing of my sword will clear this, it ends here.

“Too many … Was never a soldier … Can’t breathe …”And then I lunge forward, god help me, and I break into fresh air at least. Coughing up blood and bile, I automatically switch my sword out for a napalm cartridge, plug it into my II, and unleash on the new mound, killing thousands of swarmlings as the mound collapses in on itself and into the fire. The smell of that many dead swarmlings nearly takes me off my feet. It was that bad. I couldn’t breathe for a moment because the smell drafted right into me. Tears ran uncontrolled for the first time and my god why was I laughing even as my eyes burn despite the filter. Then the sound of too many legs scuttling in too close to my ear cleared my mind of all other thoughts, but the one thing to remember about the swarm.

“They are always attracted to the smell of their dead, Andrew.”

“And why would that matter, don’t we kill them all anyway.”

“In war yes, in battle no.”

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A Day in October Part 2

“Jessica”

My face is an inch away from hers, but her attention, and her panic, is drawn to the combat knife I hold  in front of her saucer like eyes.

“Understand me, I do not intend on using this on you.”

She doesn’t believe me of course, but I don’t need her to, the knife comes down and brushes lightly against her throat, drawing blood as it slowly misses her major arteries, leaving no more than a paper cut behind.

“I know I did this before, but I need a fresh sample you see.”

And I slide the blade over my tongue.

“Mandrake… wolf-bane…garlic….. basil? Basil? Seriously?”

I read the confusion in her eyes as she mumbles complaints through her gag.

“You were roofied by amateurs, all the pros know to use paprika.”

No one knows what that’s suppose to taste like I wanted to add, but I notice her following the swaying movement of my dagger and sigh.

“Really?”

I hold the blade in front of her, her panic fully taking in the jagged, almost predatorial, nature of the seven inch knife that stole her breath. Granted it’s a damn terrifying instrument; few weapons I’ve come across give the impression that a great white contributed to its design.

I put the knife away.

“See” I hold up my hands, “no knife.”

For her credit she hasn’t peed herself once. She  blinks and exhales several minutes worth of carbon dioxide, nods her little head back and forth, sobbing a little but relatively calm. Taking my actions as slow and deliberate as possible, I cup her cheek in my hand and cradle her head as gentle as newborn.

“I need you to be calm.” I whisper.

I take her head in both hands and squeeze until her skull rigid in my grip. She doesn’t cry out in panic, by sheer force of will she stops herself from thrashing about vainly in her bindings. Not so much as a whimper escapes her gag. I try not to smile.

“I’m going to do something horrible to you. You will not enjoy this and I can not reiterate how unpleasant it will be. If you panic, if cry, if you fight me in any way, I will gut you like a fish.”

She doesn’t bother to nod but she knows I understand, though she is way off about my intentions, her relaxed body and emptying mind (“think of England” she mutters over and over again) will do. And besides I rather she not call my bluff; leaving a brain dead med student in the care of local authorities and worried sick parents leaves too much evidence behind for my taste. I may be a king, but I haven’t been to a country where hiding a body isn’t simpler, easier, and far less strenuousness on the diplomatic immunity. So with a shallow breath I open up the sardine can most people call a mind and start making sandwiches.

….

“Hey”

I wear my business casual smile with a hint of “aw-shucks, look how embarrassed I am” and awkwardly bring out my object of interest.

“Does this guy frequent your shop?”

The cashier/owner looks at my sketch of a slightly overweight Caucasian male, with heavy horned rimmed glasses, chubby perpetually rosy cheeks, a good old boy smile, and hair that hangs in wet mope like fashion over a comically flat forehead.  Recognition comes easy.

“Percy?”

“That’s right.”

“Is he in any kind of trouble.” The comic book stores owner’s face re-actively recoils at the thought.

“No, no nothing like that.” Disarming smile and awkward nebbishness turned on to max, “He wanted to sell comics on…craiglist, yes craiglist, but he is kinda hard to find and I came all this way, and well….”

“John Percy buys comics?”

“He’s a big collector.”

“Well he doesn’t buy any here.”

Looking at around at the mid sized collection, I can imagine my Percy boy reading but never buying the latest issues, huddled with 2-3 other disenfranchised man-child’s bemoaning the canonical nightmare which as become the Walking Dead. Or maybe he comes here alone, his friends teenage years of idle time spent behind Starbucks and bookstores long buried under the demands of sleep and menial jobs.

I shrug “Buys online?”

He shakes his head, “Probably.”

“Hey it was nice to meet you,”  I hold out my hand for him to shake which he does  vigorously despite the searing sensation, “And don’t tell him I was here looking for him.” A command not a request, but he doesn’t notice the difference, so he’ll nod and smile and forgot I was here all the same. He also doesn’t notice he has been marked, the price for the inscription a last courtesy from Jessica before the cops found her in a sleazy motel in the more rugged side of town due to an anonymous tip. The cops will eventually find a small time street dealer (whats left of him) in the bathtub… I don’t make any pretenses about killing an innocent, it could have been a mother of three, or a grampa coming back from vacation, marrow is marrow and after making a sandwich I get hungry. And besides I leave the vigilantism to the Bruce Waynes and Frank Castles of our universe, I tend to keep a good relationship with the criminal element– a few aspiring pimps and mobsters helped saved the world a few times.

….

“I don’t know who you’re talking about.”

“John Percy went to school here, you was his main literary teacher.”

“I’m sure he was but as you said before that was 18 years ago. I’ve had thousands of students since than, and quite frankly most of them aren’t worth remembering…. Why are you interested in him?”

Scratching the back of my neck and pretending to struggle to keep eye contact with Professor Milesaw, “I’m a reporter from the Missouri Bugle and it turns out your former student has made quite a name for himself. I wanted to get the first interview with the man who he admits inspired him so much.”

Milesaw puffs his chest in pride and leans forward, “Oh that John….” he really wants to talk out of his ass but some invisible force seems to be holding his tongue,  I smile as he literally chokes on his bullshit, “…. no….”

Memories are like terminates, they’re not hidden and they don’t go away, there only waiting for a good reason to come up.

“John Percy he was nothing special, but his friend, Alex McCoy, he was a true talented. You should read the story he published through the school paper, he was like a Steven King.”

“So your saying Alex also inspired John? Funny I’ve interviewed Mr. Percy and he never mentioned Mr. McCoy.”

Milesaw yawns, “Well I don’t know what happened with those two after they graduated. In my opinion the class of 1992 as a whole wasn’t the same after that incident that happened 18 years ago.”

“What do you mean?”

“Well many dropped out, I think John was one of them. Every school in this county and a few of the neighboring ones across Missouri closed for two months. Even some of the colleges and of course this one.”

“Really?”

“How do you expect people to react when there is a crazy axe murder on the loose killing people’s children?”

I hold back a smile; you’d be surprised how quickly people get back to business as usually when their crazed axe murderer leaves evidence that looks less like that creepy guy next door and more like a giant honey badger.

“Is there anything else you can tell me about Alex.”

“He lives on the other side of town at 1421 Malbarry Rd.”

“How did you know that?”

“He uses me as a reference for his free-lance jobs and sends me thank you letters.”

And with that I tap his forward head and guide him as he feints.

“Thank you for your help but I need you unconscious.” I angle him into his seat, “But,” I lean in close to whisper in his ear, “your password per favore.”

“1122345”

…..Honestly better than the Japanese Defense Minister’s home office password being “123”.

John Percy being a college drop out explains the bartending gig, he doesn’t look the type to appreciate free drinks and boobs. But Alex, yeah he defiantly sounds like a player. A quick query for his name in the archives of old school papers using the good Professor’s desktop gives me a hit… well call me cthulu. May not be mountain of madness, but he didn’t get his master of horror degree from “i think too much about candles and pentagrams with my other weird friends who dress in all black.”. He was that kid and a cool one at that if Milesaw could appreciate him. Wearing your satanic worshiping tendencies on your sleeve was rather frown upon until some depressed teenagers made it cool sometime mid 90’s. His short story “the Witch behind the Wardrobe” reads less like a pious manifesto and more like a genuine leaning towards what man shouldn’t know.

“I’m jumping to conclusions.”

So was assuming the 6’3 bartender that marked Jessica and Kevin would be a big comic book nerd.

“Rule 1 of the multi-verse: If you seek it, you will find it or it will find you.”

I have two names, one address, and all I had to do was a make a little girl relive the night her boyfriend got eaten… several hundred times.

And yes this will be edited

                                                                 

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Chapter 3

How do you project the will of man, what is holy and just, upon the unholy and the abominable? With a big gun? Easy answer, but you wouldn’t pass the first class of tactics 101 thinking like that. Big guns require either big men or big enough platforms; in which case, guess which one is cheaper than the other? Simple answer: if genetic engineering matched the expansion of weapon research, – both arts running in perfect parallel of the other – then warfare, now infused with man’s ego, would look much different. We may have never invented firearms. But thank the ignorance of man that we invented the hydrogen bomb long before we invented computers capable of mapping the genetic code of millions of species.

This isn’t a course on, “Why we have Samsons,” but an explanation for the Goliath in the age of large guns capable of piercing, roasting, and flailing a man alive. It must be considered, with great gravity, that the best of mankind is being sent to do battle and expected to return home all the same. We engineer the defense of these assets with the utmost resources made feasible; assuring ourselves that the life of one David is worth many times the combined martial prowess of a full battalion of Samsons.

In this think tank comes the Goliath; not just a two-ton life preservation suit, or merely plates of armor slapped on top of already near-indestructible skin and hardened muscle as the mighty Samson, but a full-combat suit that brings the wearer to superhuman levels; combining high-grade armor, machinery, and regular injections of stimulants and hormones to keep the David as battle-ready and fatigue-resistant as possible.

“I’d thought you’d drop me on top of the closest swarm mound,” having confirmed a thousand times that the big red dot we were approaching was not a swarm mound by heat, historic, and live data. In fact, passing one gave my curiosity the extra push I needed to overcome my intense hatred for conversations with Patriarch Gecko.

“Oh you are. That red dot is only your next assignment.”

“Are you serious?”

“Very. Assuming you survive of course, your first supply drop will be a week from now at that location.”

So I’m still a military asset to these people.

“Surprised?”

“No.”

It hadn’t occurred to me that Noah wouldn’t agree to treat me like common garbage to be disposed of casually. Well no, they would agree to that: sending me down with one of the highlights of human engineering to be torn apart for the Wise Men’s leisure. Not so much.

“Getting their money’s worth huh?”

“What was that?!”

“Nothing.”

Black dots in the horizon tell me the time to drop is near. The correlation between the rows of black hills and the absence of any sign of life since I started staring at the display map of South-West North America, does not go unnoticed. The amount of kilometers between the Swarm and the next indigenous population are measured in the hundreds.

“You make light of your sins Patriarch Matchworth.” He pitches the ship sharply to the right, and then rolls to the left. My poor balance and loose grip nearly sends me plunging to the earth below.

“Son of a —-“

Another sharp pitch followed by a barrel roll in the opposite direction.

“My, my, are we getting angry?”

The Michael takes a sudden nose dive; I let go of the handle bar, cursing my idiocy for not strapping myself in to one of the six available seats, when I go crashing into the back of the Michael before sliding into the door of the captains compartment. I reach for the door slide, when I go sliding in the opposite direction when the plane banks. I scramble to my feat as the plane levels, reaching for the II holstered on my back.

“Are you angry yet?” Silence, “Still mocking us I see. I always knew something was wrong with you boy. Two hundred years of cryo wasted and for what? FOR WHAT!!? You’re nothing more than a cow with horns.”

I lower the II.

“Prepare to drop in fifteen seconds.”

I look out the open door and see the lush green, the gentle tops of hills, and the mountains that line the distance further west. But not the black, as if the brain refuses to acknowledge something of that scale and horror could exist in a world so peaceful and serine. The black hills almost look natural, unless you refuse to consider what they represent.

“Remember this Matchworth, you have no brothers in Noah.”

I nearly bite my own tongue to hold back the desire to argue. Gecko makes sense, I am not a Noah.

“You have 5 seconds to decide to jump yourself. Five.”

I back up a little.

“Four.”

And bolt for empty space.

“Three.”

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