halialkers: Wu Zetian, Empress in yellow robes frontal view (Wu Zhao)
The region burned by the Ozymandias Weapon, as some had taken to calling it due to the DOD labeling it thus, had remained barren now for ten years. Endless efforts had been made to reconstruct life, but the only signs of it were the people and ships that traveled down the mighty Mississippi. The United States had suffered the worst losses in its entire history, worse even than the American Civil War, now finally displaced as the most gruesome event in US history by the strange silver-blue flash. The death toll had risen further from the strange fallout that had struck like acid-rain for the last ten years in a region that some wags had taken to calling "The Forbidden Zone."

Unknown to them, however, in a small town where the fallout had last fallen, a strange set of individuals had appeared. Driven mad by contact with the strange silver-blue rain, they had taken to themselves a new name: The Ruinous Power. They preached strange things in an incomprehensible, guttural croak, a Black Throne and a creature which sat upon it, and its name was Ahriman, Lord of the Outer Dark. They were dismissed as madmen, but none could shake the feeling, when these people were taken to one of the Refugee Camps in the region of St. Louis, that their sores had a strange quality: they seemed literally to *pulse* with the dark power of an ancient, timeless, unfathomable malice. A pulse like and yet unlike that created by a heartbeat..........

___________

And with that, I conclude The Bloodworm. Questions/comments/criticisms? 
halialkers: Wu Zetian, Empress in yellow robes frontal view (Wu Zhao)
The Abrams continued to roll forward as it approached the Shadow-woman, its great speed and mass creating not the least sign of concern in the young woman, who suddenly phased through the ground and then became tangible again by raising herself under an Abrams. As the AC-130, the first of a group of gunships dispatched to the chaos and fires of New Orleans arrived, the Shadow-woman had become fully tangible again and held the tank with one arm in a fashion parodying that of an Olympic javelin thrower. Moving the arm holding the tank back with contemptuous ease, she threw the tank into the air as though it had been made of cardboard and cotton, after which point her eyes flashed with energy and she released a single strike of silver-blue magical energy that caused the tank to explode, then the gunship exploded also. The explosions continued in a sequence where ammunition continued to explode for a short while after the initial explosion, leaving an ugly mixture of fire and smoke scarring the sky black and red-orange.

It was then that further tanks threw depleted-uranium rounds directly into the Shadow-woman's back. The rounds, surprising her more by the quantity than what they contained, threw her forward but neither dented her body nor even her armor, merely causing her to cough after having briefly inhaled some of the dust stirred up by the chaos she was releasing. As she got up, unharmed, rising to her knees and then standing upright, her pupilless eyes then flashed for the first time with a deliberate anger. The Shadow-woman growled and then a strange roar came, like that of a lion but longer, deeper, stretched out for a duration in time all who heard it would never forget. Her eyes glowed and then so did her body also, before a gigantic column of silver-blue flame began to start flashing higher and higher, to the altitude of the gunships, now primarily helicopters, and to that of the one AWACS co-ordinating the attempt to put a stop to whatever strange demonic thing had begun to release its power in the United States. The energy rose, and as it rose Deborah, who had finally deciphered what the Shadow-woman's strange willingness to throw down in the midst of an urban area for sheer amusement had meant, as she had expected that her arrival would have deterred a conflict, created a shield to prevent herself or her lover from being struck by any of the ill-effects of what was beginning to be unleashed.

The column of light grew, and then began to release a vast sphere that extended as far north as the region of Jackson, Mississippi, as far east as Mobile, and as far west as Houston, a vast sphere that began to crackle and to smash into everything in its path. The sphere began its ravages even as the Shadow-woman's power displayed itself in buildings becoming rubble, flesh disintegrating, metal corroding into a strange mist, rocks disintegrated into a strange sand, a power that surged and drew itself into its source, like a gigantic trawler's net that rushed along the seafloor, before concentrating after a quarter-hour in the person of its wielder, who then re-released the energy in a gigantic flash, the two-stage process detected by the empty and pitiless, uncomprehending eye of satellites passing over the region. The flash blinded the eyes of the one group of surviving pilots who'd managed to escape the first stage, and their planes, commercial ones, were disintegrated in this second flash as thoroughly as all that was exposed to the first flash had itself been.

When the Shadow-woman's weapon, what Pandaemonium referred to as the Great Cleanser, dissipated, Deborah and Vincent dispelled the iron-hard concentration of good energy that had been charred and blackened by exposure to this strange and terrible energy, leaving behind it a long, dark, black stripe that represented the one area in the blast zone where life might renew itself. The Shadow-woman smiled and then turned in shock to see Deborah and Vincent unharmed, Deborah having teleported right where she herself was.

Deborah said "The weapons of Hell are not useful against our kind, you should know this." 

The Shadow-woman then sought to throw dust into Deborah's eyes, only to find her hand stepped on by Vincent. It was then that the Shadow-woman made the quick decision to phase through the ground and rose behind the two of them. Turning to the vast, barren area that had once been inhabited by human beings, she said:

The Lone and Level Sands Stretch Far Away.

Then it was that she, having summoned a portal in the wake of her phasing through the ground stepped through it. As Deborah and Vincent stared at the vast, endless wasteland, Deborah said "Some vacation, eh?" 

Vincent nodded.

He then said "Next time I get to pick the spot, eh?" 

Deborah then nodded in turn, and the two stepped through their own portals.

_______________________

The Situation Room, 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue: 

"What the Hell do you mean there's nothing left in that part of the South?" 

"Exactly that, Mr. President. At present our losses include a full mechanized brigade, one of the AC-130s, a full wing of fighters, an AWACS, and the entire population of a region that is semi-circular in nature. A strange bluish fallout-like substance continues to rain further north, and we have as yet had some unconfirmed reports that this fallout is producing massive casualties wherever it strikes."

"Do you have the least damn idea what could have done all this?" 

"None at all, Mr. President."

"That video you showed earlier, the one with the comic-book shit happening to those police officers, do you think that might be connected?" 

"We have no idea, Mr. President."

"So this could happen to us again and we'd be powerless to stop it?" 

"Yes."

With that the President of the United States held his head in his hands. The weight of the world in a very literal sense was on his shoulders, and he had no idea what, if anything, he would ever be able to do with all this again.........
 

halialkers: Wu Zetian, Empress in yellow robes frontal view (Wu Zhao)
As Shadow-woman and Deborah approached, footsteps of thunder with each tread marking their dimly-seen forms amidst the fire and ruins of what had been Bourbon Street, Deborah blocked Shadow-woman's knife with the back of her own armored hand, then fired her gun point-blank into the Shadow-woman's armor, smashing the Shadow-woman into the rubble of a bar, as Vincent arrived, his metal-encased body having run to the scene of the two's current battle. Amidst the fire and rubble, he tapped Deborah on the shoulder, and she acknowledged him. Amidst the rubble of the bar, blasts of silver-blue energy suddenly exploded outward, disintegrating the rubble into a fine dust that in contact with a second wave exploded with another massive, wide-ranging explosion. Amidst the rubble now stood the Shadow-woman, face marred by raw hatred, the Shadow-woman's mouth briefly displaying a hint of non-human fangs and multiple eyes before the moment passed. Now wielding her own firearm, the Shadow-woman aimed it straight at Deborah, firing it with picture-perfect accuracy, smashing straight into Deborah's breastplate and smacking her into another piece of rubble, before moving with her normal speed right in front of Vincent.

Vincent, face protected by his guard, opened fire with his own weapons at point-blank range, their crackling roar smacking into the Shadow-woman, whose armor shielded her from the weaponry, but not the surrounding environment, which as Deborah raised herself to her feet was further enshrouded in smoke and flame. Deborah then moved with her own speed as the sonic booms of Vincent and the Shadow-woman caused much rubble to bounce and glass shards to fly. The Shadow-woman roared and prepared to send a blade on a chain straight for Vincent Smith's face, only for Deborah's magic to snap the chain, the blade falling harmlessly.

The Shadow-woman growled as Deborah suddenly slammed a fist right into her stomach-plate, sending her flying into the World War II Museum with a single strike, her roar of anger echoing like the trump of Doom into a surprised New Orleans, now roused by the fires, explosions, and the thunder, the air-raid sirens now wailing their plaintive cries of danger and horror. Deborah teleported right into the World War II museum, where she raised her gun at the Shadow-woman's growling frame, which was hurling itself toward her, firing off an entire clip that smashed the Shadow-woman northward, and as the Shadow-woman flew higher her abilities finally negated her own momentum, by which point Vincent had arrived here and Deborah had resupplied her ammunition, firing another set of rounds that struck the Shadow-woman and blew her higher into the atmosphere.

Then it was that the Shadow-woman managed to finally dodge a bullet, diving westward, however a strike from Vincent slammed into her with sufficient force that she careened into the Louis Armstrong International Airport, her impact jarring the airfields, and rupturing fuel tanks on several airplanes, triggering a further set of explosions when she sought to create a smokescreen to hide herself. Deborah and Vincent teleported to the airport, where Deborah's footsteps again echoed with thunder, as did those of the Shadow-woman, who attempted to jump Deborah from behind, only for Deborah to teleport behind the Shadow-woman, who sought to teleport behind Deborah, this going on for twenty minutes as each sought to gain advantage over the other and Vincent sought to get a proper target. This he achieved when the Shadow-woman teleported within range of him, firing straight into her side, causing her to snarl at him, when Deborah again appeared, clotheslining her and causing her to fall down with a thunderous impact.

The Shadow-woman then phased down through the ground, raising herself up and launched herself at Deborah, swinging a maul right at her wards, which easily parried them, while Deborah summoned against the Maul her hand-cannon and a new clip of ammunition for it, firing and destroying the Maul after repeated swings by an increasingly enraged and foul-mouthed Shadow-woman continued to smash against her wards without impact. It was when Deborah and Vincent both fired at the Shadow-woman, however, that she sought a new tactic, splitting off two of her. If one of her was not enough to handle these two, perhaps Bi-locations would be.

As the two continued their engagements, one of the Bi-locations heard the rumbling of armor. She perceived through the smoke the approaching rumbles of a group of Bradleys and Abrams. The Shadow-woman-in-the-west smiled. Now began the real entertainment. With this, the Shadow-woman stood in front of the leading Abrams, holding out a single hand as nonchalantly as a crossing guard in front of an automobile..........
halialkers: Wu Zetian, Empress in yellow robes frontal view (Wu Zhao)
The Revenant shrieked as it hurled itself at Deborah and Vincent, and then Deborah calmly took aim with her gun and fired three quick rounds. The Revenant fell a foot before them, its re-animated soul releasing a moan that could if listened closely sound like a sigh of relief, a soul returning to its appointed place at its appointed time. Deborah, looking at the charred bones that fell, glistening white in the light of the streetlights of a New Orleans night turned to Vincent.. He said "Thank God for an easy one." 

"With that thing, yes. Now we probably will be facing the next challenge." 

cut for potential triggers and content )
halialkers: (Default)
The Shadow-woman's pupilless eyes which glowed with a wonderful and beautiful light gazed directly at Tom, as continuing to hold his wife's head in her hand she said:

Ordinarily I don't do these monologues, they're too silly, really. They in a sense are the kind of stupidity one expects from those villains you see in certain media that cackle about all these things, but they equally are not something that on occasion can be averted. You see, Tom, I owe you many things in a sense you can never fathom. Thanks to you that Masquerade that keeps all things spiritual from arriving on your world, be it beings like myself embodying the power and majesty of Pandaemonium, the Wild Hunt of Odin Allfather leading his Aesir across the Bifrost Bridge, or the malevolent and ravenous embrace of the angelic beings that represent an incarnate wrath, doom, the might of Outer Light, has begun to fray. Such things as myself can now enter it in flesh-form.

Ah, Tom, don't take this so very personally. It really doesn't have anything to do with you. If it were that, I would have appeared over you in the night, slit your carotid and left a message for your family in your own blood, your wife none the wiser and, to boot, left with a knife by her bedside that would be stained in a mystic illusion of blood and given the false memory that she was possessed to do all this.


With this the Shadow-woman felt his wife trying to pull her face out of the hand that cupped it, and then she snarled with a thunder-peal and Tom's wife sat still thereafter, still loathing the sucking and little air-puffs of the armor sliding along her cheek.

Tom, it's not you. You see, I made a deal of a sort that inaugurates a new world, brave, dark, and terrible. I would have called upon you the first minute over that limit you reached, when you sought to cheat me, but I had to do things in worlds higher and more terrible than any concept of man's devising for my......employer. That took 365 Earth days, and so I am here now. You see, Tom, there are matters of prestige. Your police sought to hinder me, so I simply reacted as I must and did things not to harm them unless I felt like it at the moment. You see they're not really what I'm interested. Nor are you, but instead there must be an object lesson that Pandaemonium and its majestic otherworldly expanse cannot be defied. For you see, whosoever creates light creates the darkness, for darkness is but the shadow-product of the light, light casting  a majestic glow to illuminate all things. Who controls light defines darkness.

And it is in light that your family learns that you betrayed them and this world with a deal with me to overcome your failure as a businessman. All that time drinking, all that time surfing porn, all that time lying. You know the worst thing, Tom? If you had told your family the truth, they would not have liked it, but they love you. They would have done all they could to get you help. You chose cowardice, Tom. Cowardice. It's why you're suspended here, illusions shattered. This is my triumph, this is my victory: Pandaemonium's reputation. Some inferior Willy Loman knockoff who thinks he could cheat his way to power by rewriting reality? Chump change. In a few days you will begin learning of strange footage and horrible murders, if you survive. Your family certainly shall see them. In this, you shall see that I am being merciful to you.

Now........tell me, boy........what, if anything, have you to say on all this? 


____________________________

The Revenant, sent by its master's will, stood guard, a sentinel in a rotten cloak wielding a vast bone-blade, balefire eyes gazing with a blank dispassion, permitted the satisfaction of hearing its master call out its murderer, knowing its revenge lurked. So entranced by this prospect was the Revenant that it failed to detect the flash of Deborah and Vincent behind it.

Deborah said "Remember, the bloodworm first. Never give my sister a chance to inflict a cheap injury for momentary gain in a battle." 

Her thunder-clap voice caught the Bloodworm's attention and it growled. That eight-eyed being that glowed, incarnate light and power that felt a great menace to it, stood in her full plate armor, a strange loincloth-like garment hanging between the leg-armor, the armor over her chest and shoulders in particular thicker and denser than elsewhere. Deborah held, what's more, a vast hand-cannon of a gun in one hand and was giving visual signals to VIncent, who had likewise dropped his own glamour. His arms and legs were now pure metal, his face having metallic bands interspersed with his mahognany skin and goatee, before being encased in a full protective face-guard, his chest likewise covering where his natural flesh survived in protective plate armor. Vincent's hands transformed, now into two of the bigger Anti-Spirit cannons, and the Bloodworm hissed: 

Maggots....

After which it flew at Deborah and Vincent, the bone-blade flashing with an evil intent, shrieking in malice and wrath, the incarnate power of the Crypt.......

____________________

The shriek was heard by the Shadow-woman whose eyes suddenly flashed shock. Then her eyes turned to Thomas and narrowed for the first time with evident malice........

halialkers: Wu Zetian, Empress in yellow robes frontal view (Wu Zhao)
Author's Note: With this chapter, we begin to reach the climax of the Tale......
___________________

The detectives and beat cops of the precint where the murder of the two police officers occurred had been sitting in their stakeout for some time, joined by what had been a furtively requested set of weaponry that seemed absurd until the video had been shown. Among the weapons were some recoilless guns and well-placed heavier firepower, all intended to kill. It was now midnight, the witching hour, and the moon shone full and bright. The men were still awake, adrenalin overriding biological urges with a mighty power that they understood all too well. Fear cast its shadow where shadows there were none, and then they saw her.

cut for potential triggers and content )
halialkers: Wu Zetian, Empress in yellow robes frontal view (Wu Zhao)
Melissa Cooper walked, spellbound, behind the strange, bad-smelling man. Despite the smell, she moved with an increasingly irresistible compulsion, pulled along without so much as a gesture or a snarl on the part of the Revenant, its animated bones moving with a languid, simple grace. She did not notice the strange creaking sounds, nor did she see that the Revenant had pulled her to her house, moving calmly and without the least hesitation. Nor did her body register so much as a flicker of protest when the creature's hand pointed at the door and her voice said calmly "Enter, the door is open to you. None may bar you within." 

The creature then picked her up, bridal-style, and carried her over the threshold, at which point things moved in a blur and they were in her room, the creature calmly closing the door by will. Her eyes gazed in starry wonder.......

__________________

Tom Cooper, sensing the arrival of the Revenant, had suddenly returned to his home. His hands glowed with the raw power of the Otherworld that he could and did claim, yet as he arrived in his home, he realized where the Revenant was. A mixture of seeing red and his heart echoing with peals of thunder in his throat then took hold as he arrived at the door, only to see the Revenant open it. Lying on top of his daughter, only half-clothed (Tom swiftly averted his eyes), he was horrified when he heard the Revenant say "I see you......" with a sudden brutal impact following as the Revenant grasped his throat and sped him right out of the house. As he was held up by the creature, its hand suddenly flashed a huge, bone-like blade. It howled "Revenge is m-" when a sudden bolt of greenish-yellow energy smashed into the blade, splintering it in half and leading to his being dropped and scrambling toward his house, his breath coming in gasps of air.

With his vision still blurry and his throat sore, he watched as a strange sight appeared. A black man in a suit, holding his right arm at the creature, that right arm seemingly mechanical and glowing with a strange energy that struck the Bloodworm twice more, leading to it fleeing wailing in the night, each impact producing a mixture of eerie eldritch energies. He then stood up, gasping still, and finally caught his breath, only to see the black man joined by a woman with raven-colored hair, grey eyes, and a Star of David pendant.

Deborah bat Omri said to Vincent with a sudden dawning, comprehending horror "We were after the wrong man. And he knew not what he did." 

Vincent said "You know, now that you mention it......." and he turned his mechanical arm right to Tom Cooper, who suddenly got very, very afraid, only for the greenish-yellow energy to hurl out and strike one of the Shadow-woman's prepared contingency plans, a blade of mystical energy that struck directly into what would have been Cooper's back had he not fallen directly to the ground and instead was disintegrated on contact with Vincent's otherworldly energy. Then as Cooper gasped further the mechanical gun-like arm restored itself into a flesh-like hand in a process that staggered his imagination.

Vincent and Deborah then disappeared in a flash. Tom then staggered into his house, pulled out high-quality vodka, and said "Dammit to Hell, I need a fucking drink."
halialkers: Macaw parrot, red head and upper body, with yellow in midwings, blue at the bottom of the wings and top of tail, red tai (Kameshi)
A single effortless push of the will of the Shadow-woman followed and the two cars were, to Officer Flanagan's horrified sight, and to the watching eyes of a security camera for a nearby warehouse, one that belonged to of all thins a toy company, flung in the air end over end without any true sense of strain or even active motion from the Shadow-woman, the cars landing both in two buildings on opposite ends of the street. She turned to Officer Flangan:

Well, that takes care of that.

With a serenity that seemed no greater than when her will had struck at that moment, she with a single movement picked up Officer Flanagan and then waved a finger, as Officer Flanagan struggled greatly and then was flung, dead and still warm to the ground with a crunching sound. Stepping over his body, the Shadow-woman left a message on the radio "Try again." 

A few hours later the arrival of not only cops, but Orleans Parish Sheriffs and Louisiana State Police beheld the strange scene. Officer Flanagan was going to require an open-casket funeral, while two cop cars had been flung into buildings with lethal force for the officers in them, as though a powerful set of hands had thrown them. It was then that Detective Mitchells noticed the security camera, and all the various agencies which had dispatched agents sat to watch the footage, and to explain the bizarre and incomprehensible scene left as a memorial to something they could not comprehend or understand.

What they saw, however, they could not explain. A car came swooping around a bend out of nowhere aimed straight a girl who looked vaguely familiar to Detective Mitchell. The girl then appeared to move and literally threw the car in the air, firing what looked like a laser from her finger. Not long thereafter Officer Flanagan appeared, and they watched as he fired bullets at the girl, and were even more frightened as they bounced off harmlessly.

Detective Winters said "This is Superman-type bullshit. My God, how can we explain this shit?" Only for the girl to pick up Officer Flanagan one-handedly with contemptuous ease, speaking with a voice they understood audibly as sounding vaguely like a Brooklyn accent, only for the two other cars to arrive and then be contemptuously lifted up in the air and thrown into the buildings without the girl so much as flinching. She then picked up Officer Flanagan and threw him straight onto the street with a supernatural power, and they flinched and two of the most hardened men audibly gulped and muttered curses in shock, all turning paler. 

With this, they all sat silently. Each of them wondered how they could possibly tell others this without this wrecking the collective careers of quite a few people in high places.

______________________

Melissa Cooper blinked in surprise when she saw a tall figure she had not seen before appear to her as she was walking home from school that afternoon. The figure was pale, and had a vaguely bad smell about him, but she found herself compelled by something she did not understand to instinctively follow him........

halialkers: Macaw parrot, red head and upper body, with yellow in midwings, blue at the bottom of the wings and top of tail, red tai (Kameshi)
The car barreled into the Shadow-woman as she moved impossibly fast, her hand, open-palmed, smashing into the car from the front end and flipping it into the sky, after which point the Shadow-woman aimed two fingers of her left hand at the vehicle which was struck by a single narrow, silver lance. The battle magic struck the vehicle with a force sufficient to cause a colossal explosion, red, black, heat, and a strange and ethereal silver glow that lingered for a time, the glow vaporizing all remnants of the vehicle and preventing any scattering.

It was then that a lone, solitary cop car, seeing this sudden explosion was to begin driving up to the site, the cop too filled with an unexplained dread to think to call for backup. Instead, he witnessed with bulging eyes and skeptical curses from his unkempt bearded face a solitary teenage girl walking along the street, without a care in the world. This girl, to the slightly obese redheaded cop, seemed to look like one-a those damned Pakis that always created problems, probably testing some weapon that would be used for terrorism. He, who had seen many and many a movie, decided that he'd finally call for backup, and did so watching the figure that strode nonchalantly. She wore a slightly form-fitting tank top, which exposed some cleavage and some of her midriff, and wore a pair of sharp jeans. He found it hard to understand this, but had sent the call anyway. He knew that three more cars were en route.

Stepping out of his car, he drew his gun and shouted "Hey You, I'm Officer Flanagan! You surrender dere or I shoot!" 

The girl's eyebrow raised itself slightly, but otherwise there was no impression on this strange girl he swore was a freak, noticing now clearly the white hair and seemingly drugged-up eyes.

"I repeat, I am a police officer. Stop or I shoot."

No response, and the girl''s footsteps followed in a sequence, in a very straight line. Snarling, Officer Flanagan fired his .22 Glock only to see to his surprise that while he did score a direct hit, the bullet bounced off like in a Superman movie, ricocheting into the street not far from Officer Flanagan's car. He fired his entire clip in the panic that followed, the bullets ricocheting around the place, one puncturing his mirror and grazing his side, earning a sulfurous "Motherfucker", the other smacking into his windshield.

Then the girl spoke:

I am not very impressed with this, Officer Flanagan. You shoot perfectly, to a point nobody that would hear of this would be one that believes it, and then you see every single bullet strike ineffectively. What fools these mortals be.

Blinking to be sure he heard that right and that the strange and otherworldly sonorous aspects of the girl's voice that resounded like thunder and echoed into his very mind, he could have sworn, not merely his ears, Officer Flanagan was completely unprepared for what came next. The girl's body shimmered and seemed to become fuzzy, and as Officer Flanagan swore he'd never drink or smoke again in his life, she suddenly appeared right in front of him. Long, inhuman fingers closed around his throat and he was lifted into the air as though his slight pudginess was light as a featherweight. He was soon gasping for breath, and able to see that what he'd mistaken for drugs was a sign of something different.

That voice again:

And unfortunately I have no patience for fools. Even as entertainment.


As he fell, gasping, his lungs clawing for air, just in the nick of time the other two cars arrived, sirens blazing, as the teenager turned to them with a smirk on her face...........

halialkers: Red Rosa Luxemburg. Woman with round face and big hair (Hadassa)
The city of New Orleans was now in a full-scale uproar. Yet another in a sequence of grim, horrific mutilations had occurred, this time of a missionary working for one of the various fundamentalist organizations. The same flashes and burns as seen on all the other bodies, the same horrific bisection of the victims. Now, however, the corpse had been rapidly and easily found. Tom Cooper in turn had been terrified at the news. Using his new mystic powers, this "master of the mystic arts" silliness, he sought to use a Hand of Glory taken from a gorilla from the Bushmeat Trade to write out the nature of the attacks, in order to begin deciphering them. As he did so, his eyes caught a strange and terrifying sight. The figure seen would have been ordinary enough but for two factors: one, he could see that both she and her lover, a tall and strapping black man wore glamours concealing something odd and inhuman about them. Two, he knew the woman had a kinship with his strange benefactor. Yet what was most frightening was that the Hand, which wrote with a clear and brilliant script did not at all reference them, and instead referenced only his benefactor.

******
Walking through New Orleans, the Shadow-woman was to speak with her thrall, the Revenant, in a calm and nonchalant fashion. The two met at a streetside cafe, the Shadow-woman speaking in a low and confident tone that echoed slightly with her mystically enhanced tones speaking in their clipped, brusque cadence. The Revenant was to nod as it understood its mission, and then as it set out, it was to be followed by Detectives Mitchell and Winters. They were puzzled at how a man in the kind of dark, all-encompassing garb the Revenant wore which seemed to make him distinct at the same time blended in thoroughly with a crowd.

The two, attempting to ambush the Revenant by meeting it in two directions were to be continually frustrated by a crowd that was more obstructive than usual. They wound up losing their suspect amidst the better part of a crowd, and Detective Winters could not shake the illusion that in a dark corner he saw a swarthy face with white hair serene and confidently looking at him.......

********

Deborah and Vincent, now enjoying an evening dinner at a steakhouse were discussing between themselves the strange mystic power felt outside the house of a man their investigations had shown was named Thomas Cooper. Renowned for both extreme success and extreme crudeness and brutality, Cooper had risen out of nowhere in a fashion entirely impossible to explain ordinarily. There were elements of this New Orleans that were extremely odd, too. The crowds were outraged, but rather unwilling to leave as ordinary crowds were. Instead they only seemed to grow denser. Cooper acted like not an ordinary businessman but a hackneyed parody of one. His comprehensions of seeming day-to-day aspects of running a corporation did not exist, and even after notable high-level business scandals had been busted, not one criticism of multiple improbable overlapping degrees of success.

This business posted the mass growth of revenue it could not explain logically, simply, or rationally with the means at its disposal, and its CEO behaved less like a successful businessman and more like a feudal lord. Too, there was an unexplained reference in multiple older stories to a prior CEO whose disappearance was unnatural and where this strange disjunction met no comments from any source, even more paranoid conspiracy sites which sought to find examples of such unnatural mechanisms.

Deborah and Vincent then went to study the timing and sequence of the murders, noting that one of the dead men was evidently himself named Thomas Cooper. The two then began to decide how all this fit together, studying and re-studying the sequence of events, beginning in the small hours of the morning and continuing on through the difficult hours required both to see each event and to study possible patterns.......

********
The Shadow-woman hummed merrily to herself, that same evening, when she was to see in a relatively isolated part of New Orleans a massive car coming out of nowhere aimed directly at her, and a silver flash of light in the driver's seat. Calmly yawning with one hand, she simply stretched out another one directly at the barreling massive vehicle which roared ever closer.......
halialkers: J. Edgar Hoover, right profile view. Receding hair line, short nose, beady eyes (Agati)
As Detective Mitchell drove home, she was to find herself as per usual with her route driving by a nearby high school. Leaving the school were two young women, both of whom were laughing and joking. The day was a clear, cloudless, hot, muggy, and sticky day. Detective Mitchell had her car's A/C on full blast when she noticed something following the two girls. She was astonished enough that she turned to look and was then startled by a horn blast.. The thing following them was a curious kind of dog, one which looked rangy and mean. The dog was all black, its eyes an odd greenish color. Its face was twisted into a strange snarl, and she could almost swear she could see its ribs. Then a horn honked and she continued her drive to her house thereafter.

The two young women, Thomas Cooper's daughters had turned behind them, and then seen the strange dog following them. As the dog reacted to one of their attempts to pet it with a sharp growl and snarl, they turned to walk away. Then the dog followed them. As they turned again they shouted at the dog which again snarled and made menacing growls, before preparing to jump at them. Then the dog jerked and hissed at something, a sound far more like a cross between a tea-kettle and a giant snake than any kind of dog. The crack of the gunshot followed and they saw their father, holding a rifle. He shouted at the dog, and they were astonished to see that it not only did not have any kind of actual reaction to the gunshot, but it leapt at their father with a blur-like motion they barely registered before another sound echoed, The gun fired again, this time at semi-automatic fire, and the dog suddenly and improbably landed on all fours short of their father.

They stared in shock as he shouted at the dog, and unbeknownst to them a strange face, olive-skinned and white-haired stood on the other side of the street. The revenant was to react to the unspoken will of its summoner, and turned to run. She had fleshed out her quarry. Now it was to be time for the next move in the process of reminding overmighty would-be con-men why nobody tried this with the leader of one of Hell's armies. It would be time to have the Revenant, if possible, visit one of his daughters......

_____________________

As Deborah and Vincent set out the next morning, they sought this time to avoid, at least right away, spoiling their vacation by seeking after the Revenant.  There was a possibility that whatever being summoned it, upon awareness that there was at least one other high-quality mage in the region, would not seek to bother them. At least not right away, and not while they were unprepared to meet it. As they set out to Brennan's, where Deborah and Vincent intended to enjoy a nice breakfast, the day was hot, muggy, humid, and altogether enjoyable.

They indeed were to enjoy a wonderful and a splendid breakfast, while the Revenant stood before its Summoner, who began a sequence of subtle alterations to the Darkness-Cloak that enshrouded it. With this complete, as Deborah and Vincent enjoyed the food and each other's company, the Revenant moved into the light of day in human form, only to be stopped when someone said "Hey, buddy, can I interest you in Jesus?". With a rapid and unnatural movement the Revenant's face changed 180 degrees and the man saw a skull with twin massive serrated fangs, the skull-eyes glowing with a greenish-yellow balefire light.

"No." 

Then a sudden motion of a blade-like object swung before the missionary could even dodge or scream or, for that matter, realize just what he had seen...........
halialkers: (Default)
Thomas Cooper, a wealthy and powerful banker began to create the sign that he had learned from the creature who he had made The Bargain with. It had been such a dreamlike circumstance that had created the happiest of all endings for him. A creature had appeared from the shadows when he, who had continued to lie to his family about success at work had been privately worrying that he would not be able to thus lie forever. It had been so dreamlike, the odd voice of the creature only emphasizing to him further the nature of this supposed dream:

I offer you a potential deliverance from the cares and the worries and the sorrows of harsh fate. This I grant you, and all that it requires is but a simple token. This, all that I require, is something which you shall not even miss, and which in seven years shall returned to you be if you agree that the power given you shall be well-used. You shall have all that you wish, and your worries shall no more be.

Cooper was to reach into his pocket and take out his old good-luck charm which he had occasionally and drunkenly reflected on with full maudlin. The charm, a horseshoe nail, had been handed to the strange teenager in the dream and he caught for the first time the face of this teenager. The girl's eyes had no pupils, her hair entirely white. So white that it hurt his eyes, the olive-skinned face gazing at him with a grin and nodding.

Cooper, his reverie broken, used the sign to gain Second-Sight. There were his daughters on their way to school, and then he started in shock. On this, the Carnival season of the Eighth Year since his bargain, he saw a strange creature shrouded in darkness asking his daughters who he was and where he worked. The body was so familiar, yet he couldn't quite place it........

__________________________

Deborah and Vincent that evening were planning to start hitting the New Orleans night-life. As they finished getting dressed and ensuring their glamours applied, Deborah sensed something ominous moving beneath her. The Bloodworm was, unknown to her at just this moment, pursuing Thomas Cooper's secretary. The secretary, a young man who'd taken the job to help pay for his tuition, was to begin running. Deborah indicated to Vincent that she felt something was very, very wrong.

Vincent nodded and then said "Think it has something to do with that murder?" 

Deborah said "I do not know. I do think this is something we need at least to ensure doesn't screw up our plans to relax."

Vincent nodded and then he held her hand and she the back of his neck, putting her head on his shoulder, as the two teleported downward......

_________________

The Bloodworm, beginning to move at speeds impossible for the secretary to counter, growling his name "John" in that deep sepulchral voice, sensed behind it the appearance of Deborah and Vincent. Turning to see them, its magical nature was torn. The remaining human aspects of the Revenant surged into desire to be freed from the Undead. The Undead-spell, however, led the Revenant to transform again into a great black dog-like creature and then it ran at a speed far beyond that of any natural dog. The secretary ran further, and then put his hand on the wall. Panting in exhaustion he saw the Bloodworm was no longer pursuing him. He was just glad that strange creature, the living-darkness with the glowing balefire-eyes was no longer pursuing him. Beginning a quick "Hail Mary" he never noticed Deborah and Vincent teleporting back to their room.

_________________

Deborah blinked, all nine of her eyes blinking at the same time.

"Vincent, that was a Revenant. The darkness-cloak that conceals it gave it away. How on Earth did a Revenant come here?" 

Vincent, thinking said "I thought you said in this world your kind of magic's not supposed to be here." 

Deborah said "It's not. That's the problem." 

---------------------------------
As the secretary prepared to enter his apartment building, he was astonished when Tom Cooper appeared out of nowhere and smacked him up against the wall with a piledriver clothesline.

"What did you see?"

John Witherspoon said "What?" 

"What. Did. You. See?!"

"I have no idea what you're talking about, Mr. Cooper, I swear to God!" 

Cooper's hand then began to show the faintest hints of a glow, and then John said "No, actually. I do know what you're talking about. I was on my way here, walking past a streetcar trolley and I see this horrible Thing. It's all black except for two great glowing eyes. I don't mean black like a black dude, either. I mean this thing was pure-true black, like a black hole." The glow disappeared from Cooper's hand, then a glowing pointed edge of a different-colored glow appeared right at Witherspoon's neck, digging into the flesh slightly.

"Why did it let you go?" 

"I don't have any idea. Jesus Christ, man, I'm not bullshitting you. That damn thing nearly scared the shit out of me for real." The glowing energy then tapped his head, and Cooper's will overpowered his own. His memories relived by Cooper, Cooper sighed and nodded. "Yes, you're right. Consider yourself worthy of a raise. Don't ask why or I'll demote you back to the mailroom." 

As John Witherspoon gaped he found himself seeing Cooper disappear in a silver flash of light, and then he entered his apartment building. Taking the two bottles of booze in his room as well as the hidden bong and marijuana in it, he decided to empty the booze bottles and then stuffed the Marijuana in them, deciding to dump them in the trash bin of his scary-looking new neighbor. This done, Witherspoon began to wonder if he'd just had a trip or if what had just happened had been real.......

______________________

What? The Shadow-woman growled. Why would my sister be here? What in all that is could make her want to be here? You have done well my servant. Tomorrow you send him the first great message. For tonight, you shall be granted a few hours' rest, as with that bitch here I shall need to think things over more......carefully.

halialkers: Massive glowing rock being running at audience (Other!Rachel)
The vampire strode into the city confidently, as though it owned the place. It was summoned to gain revenge, and revenge indeed it would gain. As it strode through, its Second Sight told it to speak to one man: "What is your name?"

The voice, sepuchral and deep, far too deep to be that of an ordinary human's, startled Thomas Cooper, a homeless man trying to gain shelter in a side alley. Cooper looked at the figure which spoke at him goggle-eyed, as he'd managed to finish yet another bottle of booze and wasn't sure just what was speaking to him. He said "Tom, why?"

The vampire's eyes suddenly blazed with irritation. This was indeed *a* Thomas Cooper but a magical signature had been put on the man by his quarry to distract him. The creature then moved, the darkness-cloak creating a weird sloshing-rustling sound. The drunk homeless man's eyes widened as he saw suddenly rushing darkness and two glowing greenish-blue eyes, a long blade-like knife moving toward him like some watery freight train. Before he could scream the blade struck flesh........

____________

Deborah bat Omri and Vincent Smith smiled. They'd managed to gain a room in one of their favorite places, a loft that they rented as absentee users and would use periodically. New Orleans during Mardi Gras had been one of Vincent's desires to visit for some time, and as his massive body's metallic glint became concealed by the glamour, he turned to Deborah and said "I wonder what the newspapers say this morning?" 

Deborah shrugged. Finishing putting on her own glamour, wearing a T-shirt that said "Dangerously Over-Educated" and wearing jeans, she made a perfect fit with Vincent, whose glamour wore a T-shirt that said "No I don't care" and jeans also. Vincent smiled and took her arm in arm and they descended the stairs, walking as Deborah sought to avoid using her abilities unless, and neither expected it would prove likely, it meant that they would need to do so.

The two arrived downstairs in the kitchen below their loft as Vincent began to prepare breakfast and Deborah turned on their computer, preparing to read the Times-Picayune online. As she sighed, trying to wake up she noticed an odd news article "Homeless man murdered". Shrugging and assuming it was nothing necessary to worry about, she turned past that article to find something else to do and found something that said "Aquarium: Hours". Visiting Bourbon Street was best done after nightfall anyhow.....

__________

Detective Michael Winters stared in shock at the body that had been brought to the morgue.

"What the Hell did *this?*" he asked the ME.

The ME, a tall Chinese man simply said "The Hell if I know. The cause of death was a sharp object but the object is not metal and left no fragments. There are no fingerprints. There are, however, strange burns on his forehead" and he pointed to two third-degree burns. The five pieces of his body made Winters bite back nausea as he continued starting to piece together what had actually happened in this bizarre little case.

His partner came in. She, Detective Cynthia Mitchell, took one look at the body and immediately dashed to one of the sinks, where a loud retching sound followed. After a few minutes she came back.

"What the fuck did *that*?" 

The ME said "As I told Detective Winters here I have no idea. The cause of death was a sharp object of indeterminate origin, and there are burns on certain parts of his body. Aside from this I can't tell you anything. The object left no fragments, there are no fingerprints anywhere on the body. There are no, in fact, witnesses of the actual crime. There is no DNA from the perp, and there is no indication as to motivation. The man's belongings were all intact, and there's no indication of anything beyond what you see here."

Looking at X-rays Detective Mitchell said "Those cuts look very clean."

The ME, Dr. Higgins, said "Yes, they are. They are in fact surgically precise insofar as what they intend to do."

The ME continued to talk about the cause of death and as the two detectives left, they both put their hands on the wall outside the office.

"My God, what are we up against?"

"I don't have any idea. The FBI'll probably be coming along if this happens again."

____________________

The Shadow-woman walked calmly to what she expected would be her current place of residence while seeking her revenge. As she did, she strode through a bad part of town, ignoring calmly three men with switchblades who followed her. These three men were people who wanted to imitate more hardened gangsters but were anything but gangsters themselves. She strode past the men and near an alley two blocks from where the murder happened. Then one of the men called to her and she turned, again calmly. Two of the others grabbed her and pulled her near a wall, while the third man attempted to rifle through her pocket holding his knife to her throat. No fear in her eyes, and one of them said "Not very scared is she?" 

The first man attempted to lick the blade  held at her neck to intimidate her and cursed slightly as he nicked his tongue. But then spoke their intended victim:

No, naughty little boys, I am not scared.

Growling one of the men prepared to move his knife when the other two suddenly felt something strange. The woman was moving slightly and as they laughed, expecting to trip her her foot suddenly smashed into one of the men's knees, leading to a loud cracking sound. Howling in pain that man released her, as did the other two.

Instead of saying something or cackling in that strange voice, the one that had sounded like a peal of thunder even as it had spoken a single sentence in a calm, very polite tone, the woman simply stared at them. The men looked on in fear as she then with a single will stopped their hearts, watching them all fall down.

Hnf. And this is what passes for gangs these days, I see.......

Whistling calmly the Shadow-woman arrived at her intended place, a Quality Inn on one of the streets in the hotel district. When the manager had attempted to say there were no vacancies her will had prevailed, and so she smiled at the room she had. Sure, it smelled like cigarette smoke, but who would suspect a general of the Armies of Hell to use a hotel room in a low-quality franchise as her hiding place? Eyes of blue became eyes of white and the room changed, now warded against those with Sight that Sees seeing in.

Sitting back and lounging on the bed, the Shadow-woman turned on the news "In the news today there has been what the police term a homicide. A homeless man, not identified, has been murdered. The nature of this man's murder has not been officially released by the police. If you or anyone you know know something about this murder, please contact the NOPD." 

_____________________

The vampire moved now calmly to a building it identified as a school of some sort. Two young girls were walking out of it, the daughters of the man it was to seek. Fanged jaws formed the simulacrum of a  smile as a darkness-cloak enshrouded it. The first stage of its call from the Grave was to begin......

halialkers: Smilodon (saber-toothed cat) right side profile view. Mouth open, ears back (Meremi)
Prologue:
 

New Orleans was traditionally the city of fun and revelry, of making merry. The Storm had changed all this, and certainly had done so for the Lower Ninth War, where on a cloudy night which saw the Moon obscured by a dense cloud-cover, casting an eerie gleam through the skies. The night, however, was windless. The derelict, abandoned building that had once been part of the lower Ninth Ward was slated to have been demolished but the process between noting its being marked for demolition and the actual demolition remained a slow one. On both sides of this derelict structure there grew tall weeds, which were tangled and snarled with the legacy of neglect . This was also a muggy night, one where the heat seemed to grab and cling to those who moved in it with the strong embrace of a sumo wrestler, reducing even the self-identified strongest and heartiest to being drenched with sweat and preferring to stay indoors.

The total silence in this abandoned lot, with the strange and eerie light of the Moon the only illumination, was broken by a strange and wonderful sight. The darkness in front of the house seemed to become formless and void, flowing with the power and the unbroken strength of a flood. Darkness, moving with the inexorable and irresistible power of the untamed Old Night of myth and of legend. The formless and void darkness became form, taking upon itself a shape that was human, female. The figure was seemingly only fourteen years of age, but something confident in each of the steps that echoed as the Void became the clinking and jostling of a living, organic armor. The armor pulsed and seemed to visibly palpitate The armor was a reddish color, with a symbol emblazed on it. The symbol was a four-legged creature akin to the dragons of medieval art, but with two heads which were spouting forth flames that combined to form the image of a mushroom cloud. The body that appeared last out of the darkness was olive-skinned, eyes without pupils, hair white and pure as the driven snow.

The voice that came from that body belied the seeming youth and spoke with an odd effect of being conversational and yet like a clap of thunder in each syllable and in each word:

And now let there be light.

Light there was, a light whose nature was un-natural. A light that was red and forming itself into a strange symbol, a hexagram in which was enshrined a four-point cluster of lights, within a skull whose open mouth held the four dots forming pillars of light. A set of words in an odd and non-human tongue came from the young lips, words whose nature was a strange guttural set of sounds, clicks, and the occasional barks and growls. The ground began to rumble as though a young earthquake had begun, and the light began to glow all the brighter and all the fiercer. with the ground rumbling and beginning to bubble and crumble. A hand began to reach upward, with a massive clawed fingernail cracking the ground and producing shards of dust that disintegrated upon contact with the light. Then another hand, both alike skeletal with the barest hints of flesh, each alike containing one fingernail that was massive and bladelike. Then a skull with two balefire eyes and a thin covering of thinner flesh, atop shoulders propelling themselves out of the ground by the strength of the undead. The skull had two massive serrated fangs that hung down on either side from a fleshless nose, and the body would rise in what was a total of a quarter of an hour from the ground.

Then with further non-human words darkness again flowed and enshrouded the clothesless corpse which had risen, its balefire eyes gazing uncomprehendingly on its summoner. Then the voice spoke:

Thomas Cooper has attempted to cheat me, to spurn my aid and my request defy. I bid you to kill him, and to destroy his family, but not to kill them. Rather, when you find him, bring him before me after having already shown his family what fate one reaps when one attempts to handle the Outer Light without understanding. Go now, go into the city, go now, and bring revenge and death my revenant, that all who hear his name will know that the Outer Light exists, that which they call Outer Dark, and not to court shadows in the nighttime without understand that who controls the light controls the darkness, such that the attempts to hide in shadow dealings with darkness make instead the controller of Light see, even into the impenetrable depths of malice that unites a human heart. Go.

The vampire then transformed into a Siberian Husky, beginning to lope, and then was to find itself howling in a fashion that began to concentrate the sound, a sound concentrating until it became tangible, the backlash of this causing the vampire's transformed face, unused to its new form to aim toward the house which was sliced in two by a sudden blast of a white beam of light that reduced the house in a matter of seconds to the remaining framework and an imploded roof and upper story. The uncomprehending balefire-eyed dog then turned again and began now to lope into New Orleans, using its dog-like form to bypass the one police car that was on patrol in the region and which, by virtue of its animal-like shape combined with the darkness-cloak made the police officer fume about "damn strays and people not keeping an eye on those dogs. Now I gotta call animal control."

The moment passed and as the car drove off, the city of New Orleans proper was to be greeted by a strange visitor from another world, the living dead come to the land of the living, and the fantastic in a city of masks and drunkeness. It was a cloudy night, one without wind. But for those outside and sober and who paid attention there was a strange sound, the sound of a raspy woman's laughter, loud, clear, and endless.......

_________________

I might note that the Omniverse Tales version of vampires are based on the original mythological vampires. Meaning they're living corpses that are ugly, smelly, and transform into wolves, not bats. There will be reflections of the modern Hollywood vampire, but playing up some of the inherent fridge horror in the "Oh, it's a bloodsucking living corpse, me want snugglebunnies" element that *doesn't* actually bring this part up. An Omniverse Vampire is a Revenant, a spirit summoned for revenge, and instead of transforming people into vampires they're more of the Sorcery version of Terminators.

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