[Stories By Author] [Stories By Title] [Search Stories]
Great Holy War Finale: Unedited Original Version by GAVAL
PROLOGUE[Stories By Author] [Stories By Title] [Search Stories]
(In the murkiness of space it is very cold, and very quiet. There, in more places that to the contrary one can find that it is so lonely, starlight may turn out to be your best and only companion. Few people realize that on a clear night, if you're far enough away from city lights that starlight can be bright enough to cast a shadow, and that if one looks close enough he can even see the milky way: a vast cluster of billions of stars forming a seam of haze across the night sky, ever rising and falling like the moon or the sun as the Earth rotates. Even fewer still seem to be able grasp the fact that on even this grand scale of things...our system, our galaxy, even the Virgo Supercluster of Galaxies that makes up our portion of the universe, is so minute and so insignificant as part of the big picture. Indeed there are greater things going on out there, and if we look past our human arrogance, maybe...just for a second, we can begin to grasp that concept and grow a little more comfortable with our existance as it really is. )
"The Champion" by Carman
In the vast expanse of a timeless place,
Where silence ruled the outer space,
Ominously, towering it stood,
The symbol of a spirit war
Between the one name Lucifer,
And the Morning Star,
The ultimate of good.
Enveloped by a trillion planets,
Clean as lightning and hard as granite,
A cosmic coliseum would host the end
Of the war between the lord of sin and death,
And the Omnipotent Creator of man's first breath,
Who will decide who forever will be...the Champion.
The audience for the 'Fight of the Ages'
was assembled and in place.
The angels came in splendor from a star.
The saints that had gone before were there:
Jeremiah, Enoch, Job.
They were singing the "Song of Zion"
on David's harp.
The demons arrived, offensive and vile,
cursing and blaspheming God.
Followed by their 'trophies' dead and gone.
Hitler, Napoleon, Pharaoh, Capone,
Tormented and vexed and grieved.
Waiting for their judgment
From the Throne.
Then a chill swept through
the mammoth crowd........
and the demons squealed with glee,
as a sordid, vulgar, repulsive essence was felt.
Arrogantly prancing, hands held high,
draped in a sparkling shroud...........
Trolled by demons, Satan ascended from hell.
Then Satan cringed,
the sinners groaned,
The demons reeled in pain,
As a swell of POWER
like silent THUNDER
..R O L L E D.
With a surge of
illuminating the universe,
in resplendent GLORY appeared
The Son of God..
Then a Persona, yes, Extraordinaire
appeared in center ring.
GOD the Father will oversee the duel.
Opening the Book of Life,
each grandstand hushed in awe
as majestically he said,
"Now here's the rules.
He'll be wounded for their transgressions,
Bruised for iniquities.."
When he said,
"By His stripes they're healed,"
The devil shook!
He screamed, "Sickness is my specialty --
I HATE that healing junk!"
"YOU WILL BE SILENT --
I WROTE THE BOOK!"
Then the Father looked at His only Son and said,
"You know the rules.
Your blood will cleanse their sins
and calm their fears."
Then He pointed His finger at Satan and said,
"And I know you know the rules.
You've been twisting them to deceive My people for years."
"I'll kill you Christ!
You'll never win this fight!"
The demons wheezed,
"That's right, there ain't no way!"
Satan jeered, "You're a dead man, Jesus,
I'm gonna bust you up tonight!!"
"Go ahead. Make my day..."
The bell, the crowd,
the fight was on,
And the devil leaped in fury.
With all his EVIL tricks he came undone.
He threw his jabs of hate and lust.
A stab of pride and envy,
But the hands that knew no sin
blocked every one.
(PIC OF BATTLE)
Forty days and nights they fought,
And Satan couldn't touch Him.
Now the final blow
saved for the final round.
Prophetically Christ's hands came down,
And Satan struck in vengeance!
The blow of DEATH
felled JESUS to the ground.
The devils roared in victory!
The saints shocked and perplexed
as wounds appeared upon His hands and feet.
Then Satan kicked Him in His side,
And Blood and water flowed.
And they waited for the 10 count-of-defeat.
God the Father turned His head,
His tears announcing
Christ was DEAD!
The 10 count would proclaim the battle's end.
Then Satan trembled through his sweat
in unexpected horror, yet...
As GOD started the count by saying,
"Hey wait a minute, God..."
"Stop! You're counting wrong..."
"His eyes are moving..."
"His fingers are twitching..."
"Where's all this light coming from?"
"Oh - NOOOOO!......."
HE HAS WON!!!!
HE HAS WON!!!!
HE'S ALIVE FOREVERMORE!
HE IS RISEN, HE IS LORD,
HE HAS WON!
HE HAS WON!!
HE'S ALIVE FOREVERMORE,
HE IS RISEN!
HE IS LORD!!
Proclaim the news in every tongue,
Through endless ages and beyond!
Let it be voiced from mountains loud and strong!
Captivity has been set free, salvation bought for you and me!
'Cause Satan is - DEFEATED,
And JESUS is the CHAMPION........
in association with Operation C.W.A.L.
An Ambiguous Slayer Guild Production
THE GREAT HOLY WAR FINALE:
Return of the Champion
Emperor Fron I
Also Starring:(In order of appearance)
Our Lord God
Lucifer, the Lord of Sin and Death
Jesus, the Champion
Kazz, the Infamous Beaver
Gatral, Slayer Cajun
Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Juss D. Nuse
Natal, Slayer Cajun
Ragnir, the Abomination
Rev. Leonard Duane
Pope Jon Paul II, the Holy Father
Ravil and the Zerg Canadians
Other members of Operation CWAL
CABAL, Slayer Prime
Written and coordinated by
Also written by
Art provided by
Additional Web design
Webspace provided by
Shadow and Starcraft.org
Music provided by
Additional music provided by
Audio portion edited by
Great Holy War Archives by
All authors of the Great Holy War
Bastard who started it all
I. "Enter Cajun Man"
Darkness. The smell of car fumes, the sound of a bus pulling away, and then light. The Cajun found himself standing on city street near a familiar coffee shop called Starbucks. One of hundreds around the country, but this one was unique. This was home away from home. This was CWAL HQ. That's the headquarters of "Operation Can't Wait Any Longer" to most folks who lack acronymic proficiency. CWAL was an organization of covert/overt operatives bent on liberating any gaming software that was late in release to the general public, this satiating their lack of patience and giving them something else to clog their hard drives with.
As he walked across the paved parking lot that was CWAL's "lawn" he wondered why this place always made him feel so much at peace. Most other people would scramble away from CWAL HQ in a second, but here tortured souls seemed to find refuge from the problems of the world. Problems...what was it that he had been so worried about as of late?
GAVAL was a 25 year-old male of about 5`11". He wore all weather leather jacket and a warm wool fedora hat to keep the rain at bay. He had grown up in South Louisiana with a normal childhood like most others of his kind and spoke sometimes with a thick Cajun French accent. His "thing", and everybody in this tale has a "thing" mind you, was killing vampires...or anything else that was evil. GAVAL just didn't like evil a whole lot. Call it a pet-peeve, if you will...but if that was the case, there were about 79,940 other people around the world just like GAVAL who had the save pet-peeve regarding evil and the same talent for slaying it. They called themselves Slayers and they all had that one thing in common. They made evil dead really well.
Now what was it that I am supposed to be worried about?, he wondered.
As he walked across the lawn towards the building, Crystal could be seen playing with a bicycle outside. A little girl who was seemingly innocent and didn't really look like she belonged in CWAL, Crystal possessed abilities that would make most mages either envious or terrified.
"Hiya, Mr. GAVAL!"
"Hey dere, Crystal. Whatcha doin'?" GAVAL noticed his accent was present. Why'd that happen? He usually could hide the accent with little effort.
"Whatchu playin, cher?"
"I'm playing change the bicycle to a puppy cuz my last puppy grew big fangs and shot Mr. Jolt in the tummy with firebolts till he was good and cooked and Mr. Learyn made me get rid of him!"
GAVAL smiled. No harm done. Everything was happy. So why the feeling of butterflies? He continued on into the building where there were friends ready to greet him with drinks in hand and pie to eat.
"We're so glad to see you back, Gav!" said Lothos, the big lumbering, dangerous, and hairy TV addict with a New Zealandish accent. "Come watch some South Park with me!"
"Hiya Gav! How about a game of Starcraft?" It was Leach. His "thing" was electricity. GAVAL always wondered if Leach was using his abilities to "tweak" the software seeing as he was almost impossible to beat at Starcraft.
As the Slayer moved to sit down at a computer console, Dragoneyes approached him and offered him a platter full of pie of all types. "Cooked em just for you, Gav!" said the young woman. "Isn't life in CWAL great?"
"Yeah..." said GAVAL. "REALLY great..." Thinking there was something strange about Dragoneyes demeanor, and even her presence there, GAVAL glanced across the room. There was Kazz, the infamous beaver, chasing newbies with a chainsaw. Their fear brought him such glee. Crazy old Kazz. Craaaazy old TiB!
"Back away from him you scaly bitch! He's mine!" GAVAL noticed Rachel Hollis, a friend of his who was attending Irvine College, shoving Dragoneyes, then looking back at him and batting his eyebrows.
"Rachel? What are you talking about? You haven't even returned my calls!" asked GAVAL. The girls began pulling each other's hair and disappeared into the background of chaos as GAVAL scratched his head.
On the other side of the room was Iolaus, leader of CWAL, talking with MAGGOTT, self-proclaimed Emperor of CWAL and nigh-invulnerable Maggottonian Alien, about the finer pleasantries of coercive annihilation.
Archangel, Snapper, and V-man were all sipping coffee in a booth playing poker. Newbies and veteran CWALers seemed to be getting along better than ever!
Phasmus the mummy was wrapping Paradox, the talking mushroom, with duct-tape and swearing it was good for his complection if but for a modest fee.
At this point it occurred to GAVAL that life in CWAL was like a bad trip on some hallucinogenic drug. Fjorxc came to him and patted him on the back, commenting to him about how cool his last trip in the Orca, the pilot's airship, was and how he couldn't wait for another spin in it. Then Fjorxc pointed GAVAL across the room to a door that GAVAL had never seen before.
As Leach and the Starcraft game faded away into nothingness, they walked inside and there was a swimming pool filled with CWALers and bikini-glad women. They were all drinking beer and splashing around in the water.
"A beer commercial?" Asked GAVAL. CWAL has turned into a beer commercial?
"Slay me GAVAL!" shouted a raspy voice from behind. It was a vampire. Fuji the vampire! GAVAL almost went into a seizure at the sight. "I have fouled the earth with my presence! I am a soulless corpse and I deserve to be sent back to hell! And I brought my friends!"
"Wha?" was all GAVAL could say as he backed away. The sound of glee echoed in the poolhall as CWALers partying escalated in the background.
"Kill me too, GAVAL! I have sinned against man and against you!" Namrok the Archlich of OEEP, the Organization for Enslaving Earth's People and CWAL's greatest enemies approached GAVAL, decayed arms reaching out with maggots falling off of his rotted flesh. "I should be flogged. I should be purged. I don't deserve to walk the earth with the rest of you. Punish me!"
"BACK OFF GODDAMMIT!" Shouted GAVAL, drawing a stake from his black vest.
"Kill me first, GAVAL!" Zenogias was on his knees. The leader of the Dark Star Alliance was begging the Slayer to vanquish him?! He who started...what was it this man had started?! Something horrible...something unprecedented....
"Oh, God, if I could only remember." said GAVAL as Fuji the vampire approached him demanding to be beheaded. The slayer bumped into something soft. Something that smelled sweet. It was Aura, of CWAL.
"When you're done, GAVAL...maybe we can go out to a REAL coffee shop...let bygones be bygones..." The woman smiled as she squeezed his hand.
GAVAL pulled his hand away quickly with a look of absolute horror on his face. This was too weird. "Why?!" was all he could say. "You're DEAD!"
"Why not!" smiled Fjorxc. "Life kicks ass, man!"
"Kicks ass...." repeated the Slayer as he looked down puzzled, completely ignoring the beachball that Seraph threw into his head, and the Protoss Exile behind him chasing a topless redhead. "Kicks ass!"he said again.
"Now you're talking!" said Fjorxc as he handed GAVAL a beer and some pie. The Undead minions
and forces of evil began pleading even more to be destroyed.
"NO!" said GAVAL as he pushed Fjorxc away. "Dis ain't right! You're supposed to want to kick MY ass for crashing the Orca!"
GAVAL glanced over at V-man who was stretching his robotic arm out to give MorpherX2 a wedgie. "And him! He's trying ta kill me! A LOT of people are trying ta kill me!" He pointed an accusing finger at the creatures on their knees. "ALL of you are! WHERE ARE WE?!" The Slayer backed away and pointed his stake and gavel at the crowd as they slowly approached him. "What de hell is going on here?!"
The room began to spin. GAVAL fell to his knees. Pain erupted in his head and he clutched his scalp and saw it was bleeding. "WHAT'S HAPPENIIIIIIiiiinnng!?" he cried as everything spun into a blur. "SEEEEPHROOOOOTTTTHHH!"
(PIC OF GAVAL WAKING UP)
Rome, Italy, The Vatican
November 29th, 5:30pm Pacific Standard Time
II. "Rome" by GAVAL
"No. Not him at all." The voice was soothing and kind. It was a familiar voice...that of a friend.
"Gatral...." murmered GAVAL. He could hardly think straight enough to speak.
"You were given a gift."
"What kind of a gift is a warped version of reality, eh?" said GAVAL sitting up prematurely. Nausea immediately overwhelmed him and he fell back onto a pillow. Was he in a bed now? What was real? What was going on?
"You were given a moment of peace. A blessing from the Divinity himself. You really must be in high favor..."
"Gatral...where am I. What's all this aboot, eh?"
"You're at the Vatican, GAVAL. Your ship crashed landed outside of the city yesterday." A nun put a damp cloth on the Slayer's forehead. "Your fever only broke a few hours ago."
"Fever?" Asked the Slayer.
"Yes. Being in the Orca for prolonged periods of time infected you with Fjorxcitis." said the old Slayer Cajun. Gatral was GAVAL's uncle and Commander of the Slayer's American Headquarters in New Orleans.
"Fyorcitis? Is it serious?"
"No. You'll just have trouble talking outside of a Canadian accent for a while."
"What aboot Buffy and Jo Bob?" He said getting up again. This time he did so successfully, noticing he was in only his boxers and had a bandage on his head.
"They're fine, but you need to rest...stop worrying."
"How long have I been out?! NO! Oh god, I remember! We have to get to Cardinal Lazerus! Sephroth's in control of his mind! People could be killed!"
"Lazerus?!" asked Gatral, confused. "Slow down...you're freaking out..."
"But we have to stop him, eh!" GAVAL got out of bed and began getting dressed as a couple of nuns scattered out of the room jittering something in Italian.
"GAVAL, listen to me. It's too late. Sephroth has already left his mark here."
"What do you mean?" asked the young Slayer while sliding into a t-shirt.
"Lazerus wasn't under attack by Sephroth. We all were." Gatral sat down and gazed out of a window into a courtyard as a churchbell chimed once, as if on cue.
GAVAL approached his uncle and adjusted his fedora hat and leather jacket, waiting for an explanation.
The old Slayer sighed. "Sephroth took the pope, not Lazerus."
GAVAL's eyes narrowed as he eagerly awaited more information. He had to be caught up, and NOW.
Gatral continued, "We got your message prior to yours and the others' arrival. Immediatly we approached Lazerus with the test of purity."
GAVAL took another step forward and frowned, "and did he eat it?"
"Not only did he eat the slice of pie, but he ate the entire thing. Cardinal Lazerus always did have a mean appetite."
"Then that took him out of the equation. He ate pie, therefore he can't possibly be evil."
Gatral got up and headed for the door. "That's when the pope fell. There was no sign of Sephroth after that. We did a thorough search. Really, you should rest more."
GAVAL sighed, "Don't worry aboot me. I've got undead corn in my pocket. It'll partially Rush me and I should heal up quickly, eh." They left the room and walked down a hallway, footsteps echoing along the old stone walls.
"Really, I can't abide by your using that stuff."
"Evil's gotten really wily these days. We have to use every trick we can to fight back....so how is the pope?"
Gatral frowned and lit up a cigar. "If he were younger, he could have pulled through this, but I don't know..."
GAVAL glanced at the cigar and them behind them, nervous that a nun might take note and subsequently beat them both with a yardstick.
"Hey, you got undead corn, I got a cigar, deal with it!"
(Ten minutes later, GAVAL and Gatral are in a meeting room somewhere inside the hallowed halls of the Vatican. It is morning there.)
(Buffy the Vampire Slayer, GAVAL's cousin; Jo Bob, Slayer Redneck, and Gatral are all sitting around a table with GAVAL, Slayer Cajun sifting through papers and drawings)
Gatral: This is all the intelligence we have on the goings on around the U.S. regarding this sudden "anti-slayer" policy that evil has taken.
Buffy: First thing's first.
Jo Bob: I'll get the saucers and milk.
(They all proceed to eat an apple pie with whipped cream on top, and then chase it down with cold milk and a nap.)
GAVAL: Okay, second thing's second. The two biggest threats we're dealing with here are the Dark Star Alliance, which is basically OEEP with a mad-on for slayers, and Sephroth who did lord knows what with the Pope's authoritah....eh.
Jo Bob: Last we saw, the DSA with Zenogirs took off after gettin' their Blackvoid trashed to bits by that there Blizzard Entertainment Company.
GAVAL: What?! I wanted to trash the blackvoid! CURSE YOUR DARK HEART CEO! (Calms down) How'd he do it?
Jo Bob: Big Flenser. Plenty evil. Mighty strong.
GAVAL: The fiend!
Buffy: Dude, no one says "fiend" anymore.
GAVAL: Point taken. The lame jerkoff!
Buffy: Ew...uncalled for!
GAVAL: *thinks for a minute* EVAAAAL!
Gatral: So the last known position of the DSA's remnants and this Superflenser, eh?
Jo Bob: Headin' fer the moon.
GAVAL: Let's make sure the Dominion and CWAL know about this.
(The Canadian Dominion, Headed by Emperor Fron, a CWALer with a taste for cattleprods and hi-caliber pistols, was an ally to CWAL and the forces of good in general. Possessing a sizeable army, the Canadian Dominion played a pivotal role in chasing OEEP and the DSA out of their headquarters in an Irvine, CA Wendy's and to a retreat at the DarkVoid, the DSA and Zenogias' elusive base.)
GAVAL: Third thing's third. (They all eat more pie except for Buffy who had a figure to tend to)
GAVAL: Fourth thing's fourth. Buffy, what's the last word on Sephroth?
Buffy: He totally vacated the area. We have Slayers spread all over Vatican City looking to pick up on his presence, and there's nothing.
Gatral: Why would he bolt out of here so quickly? What could he have accomplished here that allowed him to leave?
Jo Bob: He downed the pope. Mebbe he was after our morale?
GAVAL: No...he had to take over the Pope's mind to hurt him so badly....what if he set something in motion during that time...can we get ahold of a record of the Pope's orders and itenerary for the last couple days?
Buffy: Let's see... (she reads)
"Perform Mass for homeless orphans."
"Visit Jewish leaders to discuss peace talks in the middle east."
"Sponge Bath with Nuns at 8:00."
"Inspect Popemobile for offroad performance."
"Taste-test new Pork-belly flavored eucharist."
"Dispatch a thousand slayers to a warehouse in Irvine."
"Have ice-cream with Cardinal Mussolinni."
GAVAL: Wait! Go back...what was that second to last one, eh?
Buffy: "Taste test..."
GAVAL: No, after that!
Buffy: "Dispatch a thousand slayers to a warehouse in Irvine."
(Jo Bob and Gatral stare wide-eyed at GAVAL)
GAVAL: Fire up the Orca. We're going back to Irvine.
(They run out of the room together)
Gatral: You look more worried than usual, Gav. What's up?
GAVAL: Rachel's over there. Sephroth knows she helped us split him and Malice up. If he finds her....I gotta get back NOW.
Gatral: (huffing as they rush along) She your girlfriend or something?
GAVAL: No! ... I mean...mebbe...What I mean is I intend to ask her....nevermind. It's wierd.
Gatral: Ah. One of those kinds of relationships. Can't we contact the Slayers sent to Irvine and warn them?
GAVAL: Don't be silly! Smoke signals can't be seen across the Atlantic! They'd never know in time. I just wish we had some other way of getting a message to them. Let's just hope we can get to them first! (GAVAL adjusts his fedora had and cellular phone as the three head to the Orca.)
Gatral: Here, you almost dropped this two way radio, these walkie talkies, a Star-Trek Communicator which all Slayers have, and these cans attached to each other with string.
GAVAL: Thanks. When will we see you again?
Gatral: I'm heading for New Orleans. There's going to be a meeting of the American ASG (Ambiguous Slayer's Guild) to discuss what to do about the DSA. It really looks serious. More serious than anything else we have every encountered. They really do want us dead, the bad guys.
GAVAL: I just wish we had some way to contact the Slayers en route to Irvine. (He drops a Carrier Pigeon which flaps its wings wildly and picks it up, heading into the Orca and waving to his uncle.)
III. "V-man" by GAVAL
The skies over Rome, Italy
November 29th, 7:40pm Pacific Standard Time
The V-Man was one of the newer members of CWAL having offered his services to the organization only within the last year. While looking pretty normal in appearance he did have that robotic arm people often ran out of restaurants screaming about. And then there was that big sword he carried around recklessly. He was an honest soul who believed in the good of the world and in the things that CWAL believed it. Be cool to all. Let all software be made public on time, and let that software harbor no components of mind control and world domination. Coffee was god's gift to the human or protoss "tongue"...oh, and evil totally sucked ass.
But the V-man wasn't himself today. He hadn't been himself at all recently. Considering that he was flying unaided by technology 10,000 feet above Italy and had recently snuck into a jumbo-jet mearly to set it ablaze and cause it to decompress and explode in mid flight, it looked like he wouldn't be himself for a long time.
He had a singular thought in his mind as he descended into Vatican City. "The Master commands that GAVAL be slain." The thought kept radiating in his head right up to when he landed on a balcony at the Vatican.
"The Master commands that I find GAVAL," he said to a young priest who questioned him and his flying ability. Upon recieving only more questions, an energy bolt shot out of the V-Man's good arm and knocked the priest into a chest-of drawers, rendering him unconscious.
Four Injured priests and three damaged nuns later, the V-man finally learned that GAVAL was not in Italy anymore. "The Master commands that I find GAVAL and kill him in Irvine" he reminded himself as he took flight with a small crowd of angry Italians chasing him. "I must do what the Master commands."
The V-Man headed west, back towards the United States.
IV. "Lich at Large." by GAVAL
CARV HQ, Abandoned Denny's restaurant, Irvine, California
November 29th, 8:03pm
Archliches...What can be said about archliches? Nothing good; of that most people are certain. Even other archliches hated archliches. That's how foul they were in the undead genre. Slayers hated them the most. Most Vampires, any Slayer could go toe to toe with...but an archlich was infinitely more powerful. Most of them consisted of dying mages who used their magic to gain immortality at the cost of their mortal soul or at least their mortal body.
Namrok was an archlich. There weren't many of them left on Earth and certainly none in Irvine. With a cocky strut and a lowered brow over deep-dark eye sockets, he grinned at his fellow CARVers and taunted them with a rotted smirk.
Dorg, the leader of CARV, a neutral group of mercenaries touting the name "Citizens Advocating Random Violence" narrowed his eye and glared at the grinning ghoul. "Just what the hell are you looking at me like that for? I've given people wedgies for lesser acts."
"Don't you see it? They're all mine!" croaked Namrok.
Skinny sat up angrily and shouted across the room, "No they're not! I said I get the first brownies or I wasn't making them!"
Dorg and Namrok glared at Skinny as though he were wearing a "98 Degrees ROCKS" shirt on and then back at each other.
"Don't you see it, Dorg? They played right into it. They watched my show and now they're all SINNERS! SINNERS! Can't you see?!"
Dorg cracked a smile. "All I see is your underwear up your nasty shriveled ass in a minute."
Namrok got up and scratched his claws across the cinderblock walls of CARV HQ while ignoring Dorg's threats. "With so many souls touting the sin of my television show I can now knock that benevolent Lucifer out of hell and take it's souls as my own. I can march them back here to earth, and I can raise them as my own undead army of billions!" Namrok pulled an old rotten skull out of his robes. "With this Skull, I can control unlimited armies of undead to run amok on this foul plane of the living and ALL who oppose Namrok will simply die and serve Namrok! I shall be a GOD!"
Dorg finished biting his fingernail and glanced up at Namrok, "I'm sorry, did you saying something?"
Namrok merely marched down into the cellar to polish his skull.
Skinny: Brownies everyone!
Kazz, the Infamous Beaver was the first to burn his tongue.
V. "Good Times" by GAVAL
CWAL HQ, Starbucks, Irvine, California
November 29th, 10:05pm
Celebration seemed to be the prevailing theme among the covert operatives of CWAL as the dwellers of a corner Starbucks Café known better as CWAL HQ were consuming mass quantities of pastry and sandwiches and washing them down with more caffeinated beverages than usual. The cause for celebration? The fall of the Wendy's restaurant down the street. No, CWAL wasn't in the business of destroying fast food establishments...at least not as a hobby, but this Wendy's, much like the Starbucks that CWAL resided in, was host to another group of operatives; this group bent on ruling the world and killing anyone whoever planed a CWAL stamp after their name on an internet forum. OEEP/KC lived in that Wendy's. Their goal, to enslave the Earth's population and to kill CWAL.
Things hadn't gone well for OEEP though...after a combined onslaught consisting of CWAL, the Zerg Canadians, The Canadian Dominion which was ruled by CWAL's own Fron, and the VILE Duct Tape Mummy Hoard also ruled by a CWALer (Phasmus). OEEP and the DSA who had dwelled together in that Wendy's and planned to bring an end to the reign of the Slayers, of CWAL, and of anything good that stood in their way took a major hit. They had lost many of their own. They had lost their base. And finally, thanks to CWAL, they had to endure the humiliation of retreating.
Lothos: (to the nearby Undertow) In celebration of today's victory, I'm going to be getting drunk and will probably do violent things. This is not a prediction. This is a fact.
Undertow: Help me. Anybody?
Pez: Considering Lothos' state of mind when sober, factoring in his metabolism, and the degree of potency of the alcohol he has decided to consume this evening, which is anything that has fermented, I'd say we have exactly five minutes of Lothos-inspired danger-free partying to enjoy.
MAGGOTT: MOSH PIIIIIT!
Spudster: Wait! Let me move the furniture fir—
Spudster: I'll be out shopping for new furniture.
Slayer Redneck #57: Let's go cow tipping!
Paradox: CWAL doesn't have any cows.
Slayer Redneck #57: Do you have anyone who may have been raised by cows or perhaps embraced the bovine lifestyle?
Paradox: (Glances towards the infirmary thinking deeply)
Mu: This might be a self-beneficial moment at which to call it an evening and bolt one's-self behind a thick metal door.
Orcfodder: (walks up to Leach) What are you doing?
Leach: (Typing onto a laptop) I'm archiving the war.
Orcfodder: But there's beer.
Leach: (sips a beer without looking up, showing that he has beer.)
Orcfodder: But there's food.
Leach: (Wipes chocolate off of his chin and tosses the napkin at Orcfodder.)
Orcfodder: But there's chicks. (Gestures towards Freerunner, Rachel Hollis, and a couple of female slayers, beating back wanton CWAL males with large blunt objects).
Leach: (Looks up) I have plenty wounds to last me for the evening, thanks. (Resumes typing)
Orcfodder: There's a naked lamp doing a table dance in the next room.
Leach: (bolts off the couch) PAARTTYYYY!
Orcfodder: They've all got their weaknesses. (Starts playing Starcraft on Leach's laptop.)
Female Slayer #2: (To Rachel) So what's the deal with you and Gaval?
Rachel: What do you mean what's the deal?
Female Slayer#2: (knocking a Slayer Redneck out with a glass mug) I've seen the way you two cling to each other's gaze with wanton lust!
Rachel: I can't believe you just said that! You are so full of it! (blushing) It's not like that at all! I'd just as easily gaze at that sasquatch over there!
Freerunner: Ew....Comeon Rachel, fess up! I've been told I look at Norf with those same eyes. Something's going on there and you can't keep it a secret forever.
Female Slayer#3: (teasing) Yeah. A lady needs her gossip, et cetera, et cetera!
Rachel: Look, he's not interested. He's got evil things to kill and I've got school to worry about. We just hang out. That's it. I need a guy I can depend on.
Female Slayer#2: Yeah, but he's got a nice truck!
Female Slayer#3: Gorgeous eyes.
Female Slayer#2: Cute accent.
Freerunner: Friends in high places.
Rachel: And a fedora hat that went out of style in the 50's!
(They all laugh and collectively stave off the rest of the pursuing CWALers and Slayers with bowls of some kind of edible substance that Supernook brought out of the kitchen)
Archangel: Look at me! I can dance! I can sing! I am an angel! I'm a ghost! I can fly and stuff! LOOK AT MEE! (Is pelted with cheese balls and popcorn) Acknowledgment rocks.
Arcturus: Maybe you should lay off the caffeinated stuff, Arch.
Maggott: HEATHEN! PUNISH HIM!
Exile: (Pours liquor down his ear and hiccups)
(Reporters Carver and Juss D. Nuse are sharing a pitcher of beer in a quieter corner of the HQ)
Carver: (Looking at Exile who is a Protoss extraterrestrial and had no mouth) I've always wondered where he put the liquor.
Nuse: It's even more disgusting when it comes back out.
(Dark Chrono, another Protoss walks out of the bathroom with a newspaper tucked under his arm)
Voice in Bathroom: The horror!
Hikaru: I'll get a mop.
(Thus went the evening as CWAL
and Slayer alike celebrated a victory that was all but permeant.)
Down below in the depths of CWAL HQ, sitting in a corner of a darkened cell with little light, fresh air, or even a cot to sit on, an angry creature convulses. With her hands wrapped around her legs as she sits in the corner, she tries desperately to contain her anger and to fight the madness that comes with both solitary confinement and from withdrawal of the hemoglobin that gives her such deadly abilities.
Malice needed blood and unless her savior made an effort to reach her soon, it might be too late to save her...and to be reunited with he who had once made her feel whole again during those short days when Sephroth and Malice were one perfectly pure being of unbridled wickedness.
As she shook and whimpered occasionally the she-devil thought about how she had almost managed to take out the slayer with Sephroth's guidance. GAVAL had been cornered in a gymnasium seemingly with little help aside from another couple of those ridiculous purebloods. Using Sephroth's demonic blade, she clashed repeatedly with the Slayer's Guild weapon the Dawn Damner until she had not only beaten back GAVAL, but also Buffy and Cabbot, the Vampire Slayers.
She clenched her teeth as the delirium of her blood deprival showed her the fall and separation of her and Sephroth's essence when several of the CWAL interlopers, the news reporter Juss D. Nuse, and a college female calling herself Rachel jumped out of the bleachers and used some kind of ecto-retrieval partial stream throwers to drive a wedge between herself and the demi-god Sephroth.
The events played themselves out as thought she were reliving the experience:
(As the three warriors worked their way under an old basketball goal, GAVAL realized the time had come to spring the trap. )
GAVAL: THREE POINTER!
(As GAVAL cries out the code word, he and Buffy jump back as far and as hard as they can as a beam of energy from an unknown helper hits the basketball goal's supporting cables and brings it down on Malice who's dual attentions are focused on the slayers and not on the sports equipment in the area.)
(Uncloaking his Dark Templar stealth device, Dark Chrono watches the woman struggle to free herself from the debris for a split second, then waves at the other individuals who's presence was psionically shielded from Malice and Sephroth's detection around the gym.)
(Jumping down from the rotted old stands of the gym and squishing some of the remaining termites that Malice had summoned, Juss D. Nuse points some kind of strange weapon at Malice, flips a switch on it, and as it makes a whirring sound at increasing pitch like a camera flash charging he says one simple phrase.)
Nuse: Toast em.
(Strange lightning shoots eerily out of the weapon which is attached to a backpack that Nuse wears. Thought rather quiet, the lightning flew wildly and erratically towards Malice and then seems to surround her, but not harm her.)
(An attractive brunette wearing a T-Shirt and Jeans and a large metal device on her back steps out of the shadows and makes a face at Nuse.)
Rachel Hollis: Did you REALLY have to say that?!
Nuse: I've ALWAYS wanted to say that! (Nuse winks at Rachel as she fires her weapon, adding to the energy that surrounds Malice.)
(PIC OF MALICE UNDER ATTACK BY THROWERS)
Anarion: DIIIIE EVIIIIL!
(A third volley of energy flies from the press box as the CWAL newbie lets loose his weapon at Malice as GAVAL and Buffy pull Cabbottaway from the chaotic trap that seems to bind Malice and hold her in one place.)
Malice: What is this?! What sort of game are you playing slayer?!
GAVAL: I told you, bitch. I'm not here to play games.
(GAVAL takes a small box out of his backpack and kicks it towards Malice while holding a small cord attached to it.)
Rachel: Told you this would work. We've been testing these things for years in the labs at school.
Nuse: Who'da thought that Ghostbusting bullcrap research of yours would pay off!? Let's bag her!
(GAVAL, with thoughts of the friends of his who Malice had killed pushes a button at the end of the cord and the shoebox-sized device near Malice opens up, ripping the Sephroth entity away from Malice. As soon as she is freed of Sephroth's presence, she immediately jumps out of the basketball goal debris and shakes her head, screaming madly.)
It was only a matter of time before Malice was captured, starving for blood, in a convenience store the following day and thrown into imprisonment under the watchful eyes of Operation CWAL. Snapping out of her delirium for a moment, Malice realized she was hallucinating and tried once more to pull her thoughts together before she lost her mind.
"I will hold on. I am... not beat," she told herself as the ribald sounds of celebration reached her ears even from three floors above in the main living area of CWAL Headquarters.
Then as quickly as Malice had snapped out of her delirium, her shuddering stopped as well. Something was putting her at peace. Something outside of the cell somehow was giving her strength. Dropping her forehead down onto her knees, the she-devil in a black dress stared at the cold concrete floor and smiled for the first time in days.
"He's coming," she whispered to herself.
VI. "Pass the popcorn" by GAVAL
COTS HQ, Somewhere in Irvine, California
November 29th, 10:28pm
(Watching a viewscreen of Hikaru don his biohazard suit and move into the CWAL male lavatory as they point and laugh at Dark Chrono, Magni and Deamon of COTS sat on a couch eating popcorn and doing their usual spy on CWAL thing. Whyte is pacing nervously.)
Magni: (Sipping on Cherry Coke) How long before you think the bad guys take advantage of their overconfidence and counter attack?
Deamon: Probably a few seconds after the last of `em passes out.
Magni: And our chances of saving their butts once again from the bad guys?
Magni: I need details.
Whyte: You told me never to give you the odds!
Magni: Well...compromise! Don't give me the exact odds rounded to the thousandth power, but clue me in here!
Whyte: If what's left of OEEP and the DSA attack CWAL tonight there's a 9 in 10 chance we not only get our scrotums handed to us but that we also meet our makers after a quick and painful death.
Thunder: At least Jade doesn't have a scrotum.
Jade: Oh, like you'd know!
Deamon: Pass the popcorn.
Thunder: So you're saying you do?
Jade: I can see to it that you have no scrotum for OEEP to hand to you.
Thunder: Pass the popcorn....please.
VII. "Vengeance by the Thousand" by DarkLight
***Song***"When I Come Around"
November 29th 5:01pm
Recent speculation had placed the smelliest spot on the planet as being either the sewer junction directly under central Beijing, the landfill nearest New York City, or anywhere within ten feet of the one known as Lothos. While these are all excellent possibilities - Lothos in particular - they happen to be wrong, which has dreadful effects on the chances of their ever being placed in a college library's almanac for perusal by inhumanly bored freshmen.
No, the foulest reek on the Earth was to be found in an over-sized trailer park standing approximately twenty miles from Los Angeles, California. This little pseudo-city had the distinction of being filled to the bursting with a motley crew of rednecks that had recently blundered in on the backs of various tractors, broken down trucks, and ornery mules. The original residents, curiously, didn't mind. Local scholars, or as close to the word as was allowed when one had been inbred forty times over, attributed this to the fact that they, too, were the sludge of humanity.
Said sages also noted that the numbers of these drifters were far in excess of the usual migrations of fat, semi-retarded criminal deviants that often passed through trailer parks across the continent; there were somewhere near a thousand of them. Had they realized that these "people" actually had a purpose for once, they would have been quite shocked and might have suffered their fifth heart attack of the week.
Each of these foul, disgusting, belching monstrosities was a member of the Ambiguous Slayers' Guild, that happy-go-lucky band of malcontents who delight in trying to stake/stomp/slash/annihilate/ generally meddle with anything that they regard as being evil. I. e., that which is perpetrated by those who do not quench their ardor with their cousins. Why were they there? None of them had any idea. They'd gotten messages in their mailboxes telling them to come to this place and wait for some high-ups to arrive and give them their orders. Having been trained well, they'd blundered into their trucks and onto trains and shipped out.
The high-ups in question currently resided in a helicopter helplessly circling above the jumble of mobile homes and shacks, looking in vain for a place to land that had not filled with curious, buck-toothed onlookers. This could take a while; when a thousand people wanted to see something, there would be at least a few who were swift enough to follow your progress.
After about twenty minutes of attempting to land in a clearing, only to have it fill up with rednecks oblivious to the dangers of having heavy things fall on you, the exasperated pilot - who had been hired just for this job - pulled a military grade assault rifle from beneath his chair. He leaned out the open troop entrance, pointed it at the ground, and opened fire on empty space. The crowd scattered at the sound of gunfire, and the helicopter gracefully landed to the sounds of wooden stakes thudding into its newly painted, Vatican-approved fuselage.
Two men hopped out, thanking the pilot as he lifted off and swore to himself that he'd never again deal with religious zealots. One was a rather sooty fellow, dressed in black pants, hat, and vest and a grey (once white) undershirt. He carelessly swung a long chimneysweep's brush about as he surveyed the horde of Slayers gathering around him, resulting in his companion getting a mouthful of bristle and ash.
The second Slayer spat out the contraption, uttering an oath in a distinctly South Louisianian accent. Brushing the black grit from his leather clothes, he straightened his bandoleer of holy water vials and speared the chimneysweep with a long-suffering glare. "You hit me wit dat brush six times jus' since we got to Californya."
"And I was any happier when you forced us to land in New Orleans to pick up your bleedin' gumbo?" snorted the owner of the brush in a distinctive London accent. "Hopefully I learned you a few things, Nat."
"Nat-RAL," snapped the Cajun. "Say it right or ah'll throw you to the hounds, Reggie!"
"I actually prefer Reggie to Reginald. Less formal and stiff, and everyone knows a stiff brush makes cleaning a chimney with bent pipes a pain in the-"
"Shut up," Nat ordered curtly. "So where are dose lunkheads dat we supposed to meet here for dat mass-slaying, them?"
"I do believe they're right here," the Londoner said after a moment of nervously watching the rednecks creep closer.
"What do you mean- Rednecks?!" A purple-blue tinge quite unflatteringly pervaded the man's face. "Dey assigned us Slayers Redneck for something of this urgency? What are dose idiots back in Rome thinking, them?"
Reggie shrugged. "Doubtless they aren't thinking at all." Nat nodded after a moment's thought. "But if I had to give an answer I'd say that they picked rednecks because we ARE supposed to be ambiguous."
"…Dat's a good point," the Slayer Cajun agreed. "Guess dat's why you guys are in charge of intelligence, nod" His eyes strayed to the troops he would soon be leading into a little town called Irvine, to clean out some festering pit of evil. "Well, dis isn't so bad. A thousand Slayers should be a match for anything out dere. Wasn't dat about how many regular troops the reports said were used to smash de first evil fortress?"
"Yeah. We're just around for clean up duty. What do you want to bet we kill all the evil in an hour and get to sit around in the local coffee shops for a few hours before reporting in to the Cardinals? Twenty bucks?"
Nat smiled. He'd have smiled evilly if not for that damned 'holy warrior' bit. "Ah'd say two hours. You're on."
After consolidating their bet with a handshake, Nat, nominal leader of the conglomeration of semi-efficient evil killing machines, roared for the gathering Slayers to shut their holes or be dragged away for a bath. The heinous threat instantly brought a profound, horrified silence to everything in earshot. "Dat's better. Now, Slayers, you've all probably heard about de disgusting boil of darkness in Irvine and how it was recently splattered into several smaller disgusting boils of darkness by some Canucks and several of de natives."
Various grunts of agreement and bewilderment; Nat disregarded the latter to retain his tenuous hold on sanity. "Well, we been ordered by de Vatican itself to go in and remove dose, too, since de locals don't seem to be having any luck. Dat's why dey called on the professional evil smiters, which am us!" Dear God, am I starting to speak like a redneck? "So, people, find some transportation, 'cause tomorrow we off to Irvine to butcher the friggin' evil in one fell swoop, us!"
Every redneck commenced cheering wildly, then scampered off to find something to carry him to the town. Nat stood proudly in the middle of the chaos until Reggie leaned over and whispered, "Two problems with that. One, your speeches suck. Never give one again."
"And second, what do we ride in? Our helicopter's probably fifty miles away by now."
Nat pondered his newest quandary. His brain vomited out an answer after about two minutes of this. "Dammit, we screwed, yeah, us."
November 29th, 11:40pm.
Nat and Reggie, after a night of searching, managed to scrounge an old Volkswagen Bug out of the debris scattered about the perimeter of the redneck village. They led the disturbing procession out at around five in the afternoon, but since they were limited to the speed of a mule, the proud Slayers didn't get to Irvine until sometime around midnight. The delay, with its attendant requirement to stay in close proximity to the odoriferous Slayers Redneck, did not please either Cajun or Chimneysweep.
They decided to abandon their vehicles/farm animals on the outskirts of Irvine, on the faint possibility that they might manage to get through the town without anyone noticing them and sending their position to the various evils lurking about. This did not work, of course. As soon as the belching horde began its trek toward the center of town, people showed up to watch. Then they left after the sight and smell caused them to regret lunch.
Nat's first challenge was to decide where his quarry actually was. Its nature had been sketchy, or so his superiors had told him. They'd assumed it could be found somewhere in the town's interior, probably in sewers in the vicinity of the destroyed Wendy's that had once housed the command staff of the Dark Star Alliance. Consulting Reggie revealed that the Chimneysweep was similarly dumbfounded, so Nat decided to begin a search starting in the town's center. So he and his troops shambled down the semi-well-kept streets of Irvine until they unwittingly stumbled across that very same Wendy's.
Standing amid the wreckage strewn across the road, Nat couldn't suppress a whistle at the sight. There was no way the building, which was now better described as an empty, blasted shell, could have sustained that much damage without its inhabitants fleeing or surrendering. Only a few of the interior walls were intact, and the holes in the exterior were enough to admit a tank. Most of the ruin and the debris were slightly melted. In all probability, angered by their quarry's escape, some of the Canucks had opened up on the place with their weapons, intent on reducing it to slag.
Reggie shook his head. "Not a pretty sight, what evil can make people do to a poor restaurant…"
"De Canucks did dat trying to get rid of de evil."
"Then we'll have to smack the Canucks around, too," Reggie declared, the light of righteous vengeance flaming in his eyes. "They'll pay for what they've done here!" Nat carefully nodded in agreement as he backed away one slow step at a time.
Center of the chase established, it was now up to the Slayers to decide how they'd find evil to slay. The traditional method was to run around like a beheaded chicken until you felt something evil nearby. Unfortunately, in this town, that method of evil pinpointing would direct you toward anything that the Byeard Maggott had looked at, so it was deemed too inaccurate. Instead, Nat hit open an interesting idea: asking the townspeople where the evil was.
Of course, the citizens of Irvine were considerably and understandably alarmed to have hundreds of fat, beer-scented men rambling along their streets and asking partially comprehensible questions about evil. While this was no worse than anything Lothos had subjected them to over the years, it was distinctly more human and thus far easier for them to order to go away and never show its face in town again. So that method failed utterly, frustrating Nat enough that, to prevent an aneurysm, he had to spend an hour in an oddly designed coffee shop drinking mocha with a kobold and an alcoholic alien.
Recuperation was mercifully swift. He again took the reins of the Slayer troop, this time armed with a plan inspired by caffeine overdose: search only those places big enough to hold the numberless hordes of the Apocalypse. When Reggie posed the question of how one could contain something that was numberless in a finite space, he was clubbed with an empty coffee mug and told to shove his head into a stove.
A map was acquired from a local duct-tape-mummy propagandist wandering the streets and mumbling about the mayor being overly sensitive to remarks about his sanity. Nat decided that, apart from that really big Starbucks and the building across the street, a large warehouse helpfully entitled "that place where Franklin used to live and the Flenser got axed" was the single place in town that would be large enough for the Slayers' foes to gather in. Aside from the sewers, but Reggie heeded the advice of his throbbing skull and shut his mouth before he was reacquainted with pain.
REREAD UP TO HERE
The pseudo-holy warriors assembled outside the warehouse with a surprising lack of ruckus, for they realized that their moment of glory was at hand. They could all sense a faint aura of malice flickering from the building's walls, from the very ground around them. Nat was pleased; his choice had been dead on.
He strode proudly up to the huge main doors and turned to his assembled hosts. "Okay, people, let's keep dis by de book. We go in, we find de evil, we smash de evil with any stakes or holy objects at hand." The book, apparently, was very simple. But that needn't be said, considering who the book was addressed to. "Any questions?"
A grunt from one of the sub-humans nearby.
"Oh, yes, after-slaughter refreshment." Nat gazed around vaguely. "You, go back to that Starbucks and order a thousand mocha-lattes." The redneck in question nodded dumbly and sped off down the street. "Very good, very good. All right, Slayers, shall we commence the attack?" Every Slayer roared his pre-conditioned agreement and charged forward as Nat opened the doors via a lever nearby, revealing the darkness beyond.
***Song***"Symphony of Destruction"
A darkness which was literal and not moral, much to Nat's annoyance. It passed rapidly. He knew that the evil wouldn't be stupid enough to stand up in a straight fight. It'd have to be flushed out.
Though that in itself might pose quite the problem. Though there was a large enough space at the entrance of the gigantic - unusually so - warehouse to fit the thousand men, the rest of it was filled with walls of crates that seemed to turn the entire place into a maze. Climbing up on top of one of the tallest nearby piles, Nat was unable to see the rear of the building through the gloomy, inadequate lighting. He shrugged and scrambled down, figuring the lack of visibility to be a result of the warehouse's age.
"Okay, dere's two paths out of dis place," he told Reggie after taking some time to consider their options. "You grab half de troops and head off into de left passage. Ah'll lead de others down dis way. Kill anything dat resembles evil on the way to the other side, ya'll."
"Are… you sure we should split up?" Reggie asked after a moment. "I'm not afraid to say that this place is giving me the creeps."
"Aw, you jus' nervous," Nat chuckled. "Good luck, and God be wit you."
Reggie nodded and, shouting for his assigned men to join him, trudged off toward his objective. Yet, for a moment, he hesitated and looked back at the door, seized by an irrational desire to flee and never return. He dismissed it as nothing, just the normal niggles one got before every battle. After all, he had slain hundreds of the undead, and those were far fiercer than most mortals could ever hope to become. Cowardice was unbecoming of a Holy Slayer of Undead and Evil in General.
But the urge remained.
Nat watched his friends and comrades disappear into the wooden labyrinth. Warmth suffused his spirit as he imagined the glorious battle that was rushing headlong to meet them. Perceptions of the cowardly DSA remnants sliding from the Slayers' stakes like boneless wretches dominated his conscious thoughts as he smartly spun and forged ahead into the yawning darkness. Ah, by God, the life of a Slayer was a blessing indeed.
The path had barely twisted for fifty feet before it branched off, and a small party of scouts reported that the left fork also branched off and the right lead to a blank concrete wall. Nat considered his options. He sent ten men right to sweep for traps or secret exits and continued on with the rest. Then, at the second junction, the scouts reported that both paths would result in forks. Impatient, Nat ordered a hundred of his Slayers right. And so it went. At every split, at every turn and bend in the wood-walled maze, Nat sent a group of Slayers down one and continued on with his main host.
Until, after nearly an hour of wandering through the labyrinth, Nat realized he had no idea where he was.
"Should've been paying attention," he scolded himself. He shrugged and walked a few feet more to get around a corner and discovered he was facing a wall. "Good, near the edge.
Somebody give me a boost onto one o' dese stacks. Ah want to find out where we are, us." He started to mount the wall nearby, and only then did he notice his force had dwindled to around forty rednecks. Had there been that many divisions in this warehouse? And why in Hell would anybody set something like this, anyway-
A Slayer by the warehouse wall, his face scrunched by unaccustomed concentration, waved to get his attention. Nat let his thought trail away for the moment to see what was up. The Cajun jogged over and his man pointed at a spot on the wall. "Boss, kin you see sometin' on there? I got dis feelin' when I looked at it, like dere was sometin' I should see… Shivers mah skin like all Hell, it does…"
Nat tilted his head a bit, the same impression uncomfortably delving into his mind. There were lines on the wall… Or so it looked. Maybe it was just his imagination. Maybe there had once been something, a map or a sign, painted here. But faded signs wouldn't be raising the hairs on his neck or shooting ice crystals into his blood. He forced his other feelings out, absorbed the light and peace of his Lord as he scrutinized the wall and the almost-lines… Startlingly fast, they were there: red, a bloody and vivid shade, formed into a circle. Faint dribbles of the color drifted up, giving the impression of heat shimmers, or maybe of flames. And in the center…
A star. An inverted star.
He barely had to time to gasp before faint, horrible laughter chilled his bones. A face, red-eyed and with long, stark-white hair, appeared in his view for just a moment to shoot him a derisive smile. The pentagram shimmered. The lines began to glow, then trails of smoke curled upward. Every Slayer in view backed off as foot-long, oily flames seared to life at the lowest tip of the star and shoot along the lines of paint - blood? - tracing the pentagram in fire. The five-sided interior of the star, too, began to glow, but not with light. It seemed to radiate blackness. And then something jumped out.
It was surprisingly unassuming. Less than two feet tall and looking more like a small, red-eyed, scaly dog than anything else, it would have been hard-pressed to inspire fear in a child. Until it looked up at the Slayers, flashed them a hideous grin with its toothy maw, and leapt at the Slayer who'd first seen the design. The man speared it between the eyes with an oak sliver, contemptuously kicked it out of the way. Its corpse skittered into the wall just as the blackness vomited forth another, and another after that. More stakes impaled these, but Nat, looking into the heart of the hungry flames, saw more eyes.
Dozens, hundreds more.
***SONG***"Killing in the Name Of"
Nat became acutely conscious of noises in the background even as the scene before him lost focus: distant gasps from human throats, feet thudding on the floor, and the crackle of flames both near and far. There were more pentagrams here, he recognized far too late, probably at the end of every path. This maze had been set up for them. Somebody had known they were coming. Somebody had predicted what they'd do and when they'd do it, practically down to the second.
The little demon-things were pouring out of the portal now, scampering over their dead and dying comrades to get at the humans behind. Nat finally lifted a stake and whipped it at an encroaching monster. The thing's head imploded, but that didn't deter its companions from darting around its falling corpse and leaping onto a redneck. Letting out a gurgling yelp-roar, they ripped into his face with their teeth.
Nat swallowed and shouted, "Pull back, find some help!"
Nobody needed any incentive to do that; even as the words left Nat's mouth, another Slayer stumbled too close to the filling field and was pulled down and shredded by razor-teeth. The troupe backed around the corner and, looking over their shoulder for the inevitable swarm of pursuers, withdrew the way they'd approached. The dusty, stale air above was lit by a lurid red glow, and the light flickered and danced. Nat had a fanciful impression that the building might be on fire, but he doubted the DSA bastards would do something that obvious when they had demons at their beck and call.
Sporadic cries, human and otherwise, grew in regularity as the Slayers nervously made their way amid the enclosing boxes and crates. Nat was fairly sure they were getting closer to the front, though in this maze that was no guarantee. He was more concerned by the lack of pursuit, the lack of other humans trying to get out. That last concern evaporated when they rounded a bend and were nearly mowed down by a dozen Slayers fleeing twice that many gibbering, monkey-like beasts. Nat grinned wolfishly as the demons skidded to a halt at the sudden turning of the tables.
Two volleys of stakes, with intermittent vials of holy water, made short work of the little things. Cheered somewhat, the Slayers started to walk again. And all along their sides, the wooden crates were blown to splinters as a wave of the dog things clawed through.
Nat found himself screaming, running wildly as the men next to him were buried by numberless monstrosities. He tore free of the press, he knew not how, and shot off like lightning, legs churning up the yards. Explosions sounded all around him, and screams multiplied tenfold. Nat closed his eyes, fought back his tears, as he thought of Reggie. What had gone wrong? How could the holiest warriors of the Almighty be so thoroughly snared and torn apart? Wouldn't they have been warned, aided, something, by God?
He blindly turned the corner as questions of faith shot through his mind, and to his complete shock he found himself standing before the warehouse's entrance. "Thank you, God," he whispered, more fervently than he'd ever felt anything in his life. He ran to the door, blotting out the sounds of chaos approaching his position, and jerked the handle that would start the door opening.
It came off in his hand.
He stared dully at the useless length of metal in his hand for long moments before a scream barely fifty feet away caught his attention. He turned and saw Slayers, dozens of them, pouring from Reggie's side of the warehouse. Hordes of demons churned behind them, tearing into any Slayer they could reach. Nat felt a surge of inestimable relief as a man in black dashed up, wiping blood from his forehead. "Reggie!"
The man nodded in acknowledgement. "Good to see you alive, Nat. Be a good man and open the door so those of us still alive can remain that way." A scream punctuated his forcibly cheerful remark.
Nat turned to the door, suddenly enraged. "Ah'd love to, but the damned lever snapped off! Reg, dis entire place is a deathtrap. DSA knew we were comin'."
"I'd drawn that conclusion myself. But it isn't DSA. I keep seeing this man floating around behind the demons, yet it seems like he isn't there when I look right at him. Like he's ghost or something. Guy's got this huge sword, white hair, and these red eyes that creep the hell out of me."
"Ah saw his face in a pentagram before it spit a demon at me," Nat murmured. "Well, figure dat out later. You got a hammer or a stick of dynamite or something?"
"I'd love it if- Jesus!" Reggie yelled as a Slayer's head smashed against the wall between them. They whirled and saw that the remaining rednecks were only twenty feet away, and there were maybe thirty of them. Which became twenty-five as the yelping cries reached a crescendo. The things continued to pour forth, and the terrified men began to fall back toward the wall. From where they would have no place more to run.
Nat bit off a curse and began hammering on the door with his fists. "Where de hell is that guy ah sent to get coffee?! He could open the damned door! He could-"
Beside him, Reggie cried out in terror as the Slayers were buried in a wave of shrieking nightmares. The unholy things leapt at them, and Nat had one thought only before blackness consumed him.
The warehouse, in the redneck's opinion, was strangely quiet.
That meant the battle was over. He cursed. He'd wanted to get in on some of the fighting. But no matter. He'd get part of the reward for none of the work. Being a phenomenally lazy creature, the redneck was pleased with the situation. He cheerfully threw the lever mounted next to the wide door. And nearly passed out.
The crates were gone, and every light inside had been turned on at blazing intensity. The floor was littered with a carpet of bodies and parts of bodies, human and nonhuman, that traced the path of the maze exactly. Blood covered each and every inch of the floor, and worst of all, hundreds of little creatures were darting about, feasting on the dead - related or no. The redneck felt he was going to be sick. There were so many… Friends, comrades, allies, strewn about like shattered dolls…
The body closest to him, lying right at the edge, twitched, catching his attention. He leaned closer and realized that it was Natral, his leader. Elation filled the Slayer. Though something had ripped open his side, the man was still alive and had somehow been spared the ravages of the demons running rampant everywhere else. He quickly yanked the man outside and made ready to shut the door, when a smell caught his attention. He crinkled his nose. Gasoline, in an empty warehouse?
He saw the rainbow sheen covering the blood just as dozens of pentagrams flared to brilliant, fiery life along the walls. The flames licked the gas-coated blood, and with a resounding roar, the warehouse floor became a sheet of noxious flame.
The fire, impossibly hot, died out almost immediately, having consumed the Slayers' remains and the demons in a heartbeat. The redneck stared at the piles of ash that remained, and then, emotion heavy with dull horror, pulled the lever again. The door quietly slid down, mercifully blocking the terrible sight from his eyes.
Within the structure, a slender and transparent form took shape among the tendrils of smoke twisting in the air. He was tall, slender, his presence commanding respect even in his incorporeal state. Devilish red eyes stared from within a frame of bone-white hair. A katana, almost as long as he was tall, rested comfortably at his hip. He folded his arms and surveyed the destruction below.
A small smile touched his lips. I really must consider internally manipulating the Slayers more often. They're so predictable and slow-witted that setting up a trap is almost too easy. Doesn't mean it isn't deliciously entertaining, but still, one would expect a challenge from the chosen of a god. He chuckled derisively, then grew serious. I used up a lot of favors to get a hold of those hordlings. I'd better make sure that it wasn't effort wasted. Best to act quickly, before someone who might actually be a threat comes along to look into this. Before he fully faded from view, he could be heard to snicker again. I'm being silly. That will never have been favors wasted.
After all, I butchered a thousand Slayers in one fell swoop.
VIII. "For a modest fee..." by GAVAL
***SONG***"Hold me, Thrill Me"
The CWAL Catacombs
November 30th, 1:50am.
Deep Below CWAL HQ, in the catacombs, a select few CWALers are unable to share in the rejoicing taking place in the waning party upstairs. They know that something big is coming. They know that the war isn't over, and that the few skirmishes that have made up the war could soon turn into an all out massacre if something isn't done to stop them soon. These catacombs, hewn from the sewers that run underneath the greater Irvine metropolitan area serve as a home to the Duct-Tape Hoard, currently under the "administration" or "Diabolical and tragic mind control" (call it as you will) of a certain CWALer by the name of Phasmus, Duct Tape Mummy Premiere. While often being questioned for his methods, Phasmus was a valued member of Operation CWAL, even managing to get reclassified by the Ambiguous Slayer's Guild as a "Living-Impaired Duct-Tape Enshrouded Modified Human Being" as to prevent his and his minion's being staked through the course of the war.
Nevertheless, one could not deny the fact that his hoard of duct-tape mummies, referred to often as the VILE organization, had added to its numbers through the liquification process of taking a living or deceased body and wrapping it in the adhesive wonder known as duct-tape to make them something both more and less than human. Phasmus knew he'd have to answer for these actions and his questionable methods in politics which gained him a seat as head of the Irvine City Council sooner or later, but that now he was a needed asset to the war effort and that no one would dare question his motives now...especially after the Zerg Canadians had pulled out of the war.
Phasmus: Killer of chaotic evil things, have your heard from your administrator, the cajun GAVAL, as of late?
(Phasmus looked across at Cabbot, Slayer Cajun of the ASG who had led Slayer forces against OEEP in the recent siege of DSA/OEEP headquarters.)
Cabbott: (with a slight cajun-french accent) Yeah, mummy-chause. Ah talked ta the Vatican jus' a minute ago. He's gonna be gettin' back ta Irvine tamorrah mornin' early in the Orca. Haven't heard from him yet, though. Must have forgot ta charge the batteries in his cell phone.
Phasmus: He is not to blame. Organic memory is not as reliable and GAVAL has repeatedly refused my offers to enhance his cognitive functions through simple liquidation and the mere cost of his mortal soul....
(Darth Ninny and Z pace nervously around the table)
Cabbott: Gee, how silly of him to refuse. Anyway, he and Buffy'll be back tomorrah.
Phasmus: And your latest intelligence on anti-slayer activity?
Cabbott: The DSA's been quiet since dey retreated from Wendy's when it fell. Us, we did manage to figure out who's responsible for de plane crash in de Atlantic earlier taday. It seems our old CWAL frien' the V-man has taken upon himself to see GAVAL killed. Pieces of his robotic arm were found by Slayers Chimneysweep inside the debris field. It looks like CWAL has lost another frien'. No sign of where he might have wound up, him, after the incident, but considerin' dat he spray painted "Die, GAVAL, Die" all over the plane's fuselage, ah have a feelin' he'll be back in Irvine soon enough.
Z: (shakes his head) V-man out to kill one of our own....this war has gotten way out of hand.
Phasmus: (sighs)Then I suppose I'll have to share, for a modest fee, the latest bit of intelligence with you, subordinate organic slayer type person....
Cabbott: We have Slayers Chimneysweep in every possible area o' conflict. What could you possibly know dat we don't?
Phasmus: Only something that was done in such a careful manner that your intelligence couldn't possibly have noticed. There's been a great disturbance in the...undead force.
Z: The undead have their own force?
Darth Ninny: (punches himself in the gut) Tuff, you never told me about this!
Phasmus: Don't be silly. Medichlorians are for the living. We undead would never employ such a lame plot device. We just know when something really nasty has been done. For a modest fee, I've been able to confirm that the unthinkable has been accomplished by one of your own, Ninny.
Darth Ninny: NOOOO! MAMMA, I TOLD YOU TO BURN THOSE UNDEROOOOS!
Z: (gleefully) Oh, you wore those too?! We had them imported from Earth after seeing commercials....
Cabbott: Enough! What do you know Phasmus!?
Phasmus: Well...for a modest fee...One of your own, Ninny, the Sith you call Nighteye, has unleashed a force of never before seen evil somewhere in northern Asia. Quite impressive actually. He's managed to take one of your fallen warriors...a dead slayer...and reanimate him to do his bidding. The creature lives a tortured life of constant agony as his body rejects it's own nature. The evil necrocosmic powers and deceased enlightened blood are inconstant conflict within him creating a Rush never seen before in any living Slayer. His power is immense. Quite admirable, actually...Dibs on liquidating him....
Z: No way. You're full of it. GAVAL told us that Slayers can't be raised from the dead. They're immune to necromancy. So there.
Phasmus: Nighteye is calling his creation Ragnir, the Slayer Undead. If you don't believe me, here is video of the process taking place. (Duct Tape Big Screen(tm) lights up to show Nighteye creating Ragnir from a fallen slayer's body)
Z: You feigned the video! Simple parlor tricks!
Phasmus: Plus here are tissue samples from the undead slayer.... (Phasmus holds a petri dish with an undead slayer's finger squirming about in it)
(Cabbott falls to the ground in shock)
Z: That could be any undead person's finger!
Phasmus: Here is a signed confession from Nighteye stating how, when, and why he was able to resurrect a slayer and how he will use it as a force of evil to combat GAVAL and the slayers. (Unrolls scroll signed in Nighteye's handwriting)
Z: ..um...forged signature?
(Cabbott is in tears)
Phasmus: Here is an audio tape of Nighteye signing the document and explaining that he is of sound mind and knowingly has submitted proof of his evil deeds. (Presses "play" as Nighteye's voice cackles gleefully from the tape player)
Z: Well, ya got me there....
Darth Ninny: (Master Tuff, within his own psyche has taken over)He mocks us. He's doing this just to spite GAVAL and he knows this would enanger me. There's no room in Irvine for two Sith Lords and I'm going see Nighteye fall by my own saber for this! EVAAAL! (Darth Ninny Takes over) Yes?
Phasmus: You're harder to have a conversation with than Sofielisk, Ninny.
Cabbot: (Gets up slowly and staggers to the table) This changes everything. My brother in slaying's soul....Ragnir...must be put to rest before he can do any harm on GAVAL or anyone else. Z, see what you can do to bring V-man to his senses. Ninny, you're with me. We've got to stop Nighteye. Phasmus, keep me alert as to Nighteye's location.
Phasmus: (leaning over a computer monitor wrapped in duct tape) I will for a modest fee...He's left Siberia and is headed for a graveyard near the old Abraham Church of Prechristral Ministry.
Cabbot: How'd you know THAT?!
Phasmus: It's on his website, Nighteyesevilplan.com.
(Exasperated, Cabbot, Z, and Ninny exit back up to CWAL HQ)
(Phasmus turns to one of his minions)
Phasmus: UuUuuuuuhhhh....Uhhhh..... "Have you heard anything about the Book of the Dead?"
Minion: Uhhhh....Raaaaarrrrhhhh....Urrrrr.... "Nothing Yet Master, but if it were in Namrock's hands or even Nighteye's at this point we would surely have seen evidence of such."
Phasmus: Rrrrrr....uuhhh.... "Very well. Continue your surveillance and if you find anything report it directly to me and to ONLY me."
Minion:UUUhhhhh...Rhhhhhhhhuuuuu....GGGgaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhUhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh....MMMmmmmuhhh........ "Yes, Master." (Exits)
Maggott's muffled voice from CWAL HQ Upstairs: Hey, I like Pornos just as much as anyone else but if you don't keep it down so I can broadcast clearly here, I'm going to have to castrate someone with their own mummy wrappings!
Phasmus: (sigh)I've told you time over, Soul Devourer, that mum-ese is not to be mistaken for the sounds of gay porn!
IX. "The Dark Star" by GAVAL
***SONG***"Sad but True"
November 30th, 2:00am
The Clump, clump, clumping of metal feet echoed down the halls of the transport ship often referred to as the "Slayer's Bain" by it's captain. This telltale sound meant that Zenogias, the leader of the Dark Star Alliance which was bent on sending all Slayers to an early grave, was approaching. A eary, twisted shadow slowly made it's way up the metal walls of the corrider as the clunks grew louder and louder. Most of the OEEPers hiding within the protective wing of the little empire that Zeno had formed out of other slayer-haters were sitting around in the coach section of the transport waiting to get wherever it was that Zeno was taking them. Frog was the first to look up as the clumping reached an annoyingly loud level. Scratching an itch with one of the many paper clips that he carried around he smiled an amphibious smile knowing that this was his chance to corner Zenogias and demand some answers in this directionless conflict.
DBD, Fallout, and Krusader were there as well, using the "normal" members of the DSA on the transport as prodding targets for their weapons, or as servants to the OEEP cause when they so desired a drink, food, or someone to kill. This was the bastard alliance formed by Zeno's anti-slayer (or anti-anything good) cause and the rest of OEEP, the Organization for Enslaving Earth's Population and for what it was worth, they were not only the cause of this conflict, but they were the collective most dangerous group of anarchists and scoundrels the planet was facing to date.
After Zenogias had forsaken his human body and downloaded his essence into the Genesis Engine, an artificial intelligence living within a machine of unbelievable destruction that he recently aquired, most of OEEP had grown most uncomfortable with Zenogias. This was demonstrated by the fidgeting of the other OEEPers as Zeno's clumping form rounded the corner and entered the passenger section and leaned down under the door frame to clear it.
This hulking form of mechanized evil was Zeno's more polite host as he could never make it through a doorframe in the Superflenser he had recently aquired from Blizzard when they attacked and destroyed his DSA sanctuary, the Blackvoid. But as his friends were about to find out, the Blackvoid was just a hint at what was soon to come.
"I don't speak amphibian, Frog." hissed the mechanical monstor.
"Oh yeah. What I said was, where are we going?"
"You can say all that in one Frogese word?" asked Zenogias from the emotionless looking face of his temporary host machine.
"I can say anything with that word, and stop answering my question with a question. Where are you taking us?" The other OEEPers stood up, backing up their friend's bold move. Though Zenogias was very much more intimidating as a machine than he had been in his mad scientist days, this temporary host was not nearly as deadly-looking as his Ultima Engine, the Blizzard Superflenser body that was behind them in tow by a small space tug.
"Yes, you've been avoiding giving us any information for hours and if you want our support you will have to let us in on it. Do as Di-Bruke says or you can kill your own damn slayers. That is, if you don't mind. Bad~rel can be a bit brutish at times. Shut up Derksbane. No one gave you permission to speak." DBD was never an easy fellow to follow. His split personalities were always at odds, but what was clear this time is that they were all in agreeance that Zeno's secrecy would no longer be tolerated.
"Fair enough." hissed Zenogias.
"He sounds," Fallout thought to himself, "like the damn Borg in that thing."
"I wanted to make sure we were free and clear of any enemy listening devices before I revealed to you all that our problems have been solved since before they even started.," said the machine.
Krusader's eyes blinked with excitement. "I knew you'd have something up your sleeve. The Blackvoid went down entirely too quickly. The thing may have been hard to track, but you left it almost completely defenseless."
"You're right," came the reply, "I did leave the Blackvoid defenseless. Why waste precious resources on a bb-gun when you can spend them on a Howitzer?"
Frog stepped up, his ridiculous webbed feet pattering on the cold metal floor. "So where's the damned Howitzer?"
"Well, if any of you had bothered to look outside you'd know exactly where it is we're headed." With that Zenogias extended a large metallic digit and pressed a button that opened the portal on the side hull of the passenger bay of the small transport.
The sight was overwhelming at first. Even with the tint of darkened glass, the bright rays of sunlight caused everyone except Zenogias to squint...and if he still had eyelids, perhaps he would have squinted too. There, looming before them was a vast grey horizon, with the sun rising just beyong a large mountain of lunar crater formations. If the members of OEEP could see the opposite horizon they would see a small fleet of transports similar to theirs with the Earth itself setting behind them. Behind the fleet, a large robotic structure, shimmering in its own power. It was the DSA's greatest weapon, the combined might of the the Genesis Engine, a Blizzard Superflenser, and soon Zenogias' very life force: The Ultimaengine.
But these things were not what drew OEEP's attention. As they approached the lunar surface, the could see at first small flashes of light on the grey surface, then, as DBD was the first to notice, structures. Each of them painted to match the color of the drab lunar dust that surrounded the base. Each of them dark, and unpowered as to mask their presence. Each of them a component under construction that would soon form an untouchable base, far from their Earthen enemies and with an entire natural satellite worth of resources to develop into weapons of mass destruction.
"I present to you all, the Dark Star! Applause not necessary. Just laugh maniacly, that'd do just nicely." No one cackled. Zenogias sighed an artificial sigh. "Few people on Earth could even get to the moon to touch this place, if they even knew we were here. I mean, what would the governments of Earth do if they even KNEW we were here? Ram us with Lunar Rovers?!"
"You built a base on the moon?" asked Krusader. "How? The resources....the money required....and we ever knew..."
"You didn't know," hissed Zenogias, "because I didn't want you to know; Because I hid any and all evidence of such an undertaking behind the shrouding technologies of the Blackvoid. In essence, the Blackvoid was nothing more than a screen to mask where the bulk of my resources were going."
"Ribbit?" asked Frog. DSA officers and OEEPers alike raised their eyebrows at him. "I mean, HOW?"
"I knew Blizzard would be after us eventually...waiting the war out...hiding in the shadows until CWAL and the Slayers defeated us so that they could bring us down and take us out for good with a Superflenser attack on the Blackvoid. What they didn't know is that I anticipated the attack. I knew that the Genesis AI inside of the Superflenser would eventually rebel against that traitor Barringer who piloted it and then the Superflenser would be mine...and by that time, I wouldn't need the Blackvoid as a staging point. The Dark Star operation would be self sufficient of Earth support by then and as you can see...it's all worked out quite nicely. Now will you cackle maniacly with me?"
"Bwaa-h--," Frog covered DBD's mouth as his Derksbane persona tried to laugh.
"How did you pull this off...getting all this here?" he croaked as DBD tried to bite his hand off.
"The Blackvoid is extradimensional technology. It comes from a different place, like our missing friend Fronette. It's equipped with transporters. I transported the things I needed to the Blackvoid, then in its shadow, I ferried all supplies and personel to the moon via these transport shuttles and built the Dark Star up from a mere first habitat module. Now everything we need is here on the moon and soon enough, with the help of the Superflenser and my loyal followers, the Dark Star will encompass the entire surface of Luna, making it an untouchable and indestructible force to oppose any who oppose the Enslavement of Earth's Population and the death of all Slayer's of Evil! NOW! FOR THE LOVE OF GOD WOULD YOU PEOPLE PLEEEEASE CACKLE GLEEFULLY WITH ME?!"
"Huh. Huh..hehehehe...huh.....huh,huh....," came the response.
"Oh, forget you. BWAAHAHAHaaahAHAHAHAAAA! MWWWWAAAHAHAaaaaaa—" cried Zenogias as he left the bay with an endless set of clumps.
A voice broke the insipid chortling of the group of OEEPers. It came from the back of the passenger bay in a dark corner. Two eyes glowed in the shadows as Dark Angel, leader of OEEP spoke. "He's gone quite insane. More so than even the rest of us....and with company like you m
rons, that's saying a lot."
"How did YOU get here?" asked Fallout of his long-missing leader. "We could have used you when the Blackvoid went down."
Dark Angel glared at the DSA officers. "You. Go get me some porn. Make it pictures of blondes with wings and a fetish for peanut butter. GO! All of you! OUT!" The DSA's leading elite hurridly exited the room mumbling to themselves about whether or not they were supposed to follow the orders of Zeno's "boss." This left only OEEP in the cold metal room. Once alone, the OEEP commander spoke. "I had some unfinished business with an old friend" glared Dark Angel as he patted a sword at his side. The blade seemed to have a slight glow about it and was inscribed on the shiny metal with the words "Archangel Micheal." "Besides, you heard Zenogias. You don't need the Blackvoid as a refuge anymore. You have the silly Dark Star to protect you."
"The base is not nearly defendable yet," snapped the warrior persona of DBD. "And were our enemies to find our location, we'd wind up frozen corpses on a lifeless rock."
"Good. Then we are all in agreeance. Zenogias is to be watched. We and the rest of OEEP are to stick together and if the time comes that he tests our ability to reason or my authority over him as a member of OEEP then you will all be at my side."
"Ribbit," nodded Frog.
"Agreed" said the rest of OEEP.
"Where are we keeping the CWALer, Duraznos?" asked Dark Angel.
"Heavily sedated in the cargo hold of one of those transports with the last three of his Guardians," said Krusader. Duraznos was the last survivor of an ancient organization of magic users and one of the only CWALers who had taken the fight directly to the DSA early on in the war after summoning the powerful knight-like guardian creatures to his service.
"Fallout, when we get unloaded at the moonbase I want HomisLupis to have a little chat with Duraznos. Find out if CWAL really is clueless about this moonbase and if we're safe here. I'm going to see exactly how defenseless this place is and how long until we're anything of the weapon that Zenogias thinks this Dark Star of his is." Dark Angel got up and looked Fallout directly in the eyes. "Do whatever it takes. Play him the new Hanson album, eat fresh pizza in front of him, or even pluck off his arm hair, but make him talk." Fallout nodded and pushed aside his full plate of rations. He'd have to be hungry to become the HomisLupis creature.
"Now...we can't depend on the DSA. If they work out well, fine, but I want to be sure we've got the forces we need to bring the goodguys down on our own. How are Nighteye and Namrock's plans proceeding?" The OEEPers shuffled off to a table to discuss evil things.
X. "The Pact: Ragnir the Abomination" by GAVAL
***SONG***"Black Hole Sun"
And Old Graveyard near Irvine, California
November 30th, 4:50am.
Lavag Van Helsing approached the old graveyard cautiously. He had been invited to meet with the Dark Jedi known as Eye of the Night or Nighteye because of some common goal they shared and couldn't resist the urge to see what the heck the guy was talking about. However, smart evil knew not to trust any other evil, no matter how similar their goals were...and what was the old slayer proverb? "Keep your friends close and keep your enemies closer."
One of the ancient slayers had taught that lesson to Genghis Khan long ago. Lavag had no friends..and his long list of enemies kept him in close vigilance of those who would get in his way. Having realized he was a long-since abandoned twin of GAVAL, he had spent most of his time perversing his own slayer abilities for questionable causes; partially to mock the Ambiguous Slayer's Guild that never embraced him as one of their own, and also partially because he was just a bad seed...rotten to the core...an oddity among those of the normally very righteous slayer bloodline. Since learning of his unfortunate past, Lavag had both hated and been drawn to GAVAL who was part of the family Lav had never known.
Things, however, had recently gotten much worse for Lavag when in a fateful trip to an alternate dimension, Lavag learned that he had inadvertently been responsible not only for creating the Ambiguous Slayer's Guild here on his Earth, but also for bringing GAVAL, his biggest problem, into being as well as his own self!
As he slowly moved his way deeper into the graveyard, Lavag thought painfully of the past few months since his journey into an alternate reality, that of Kanduras, where he witnessed the birth of the Slayers and the inception of purified blood. Realizing the folly of his actions, Lavag had nearly lost his mind as he tried to cope with the paradox that was his existence. Fortunately, the effect of purified blood does strange things to the mind of a slayer. Insanity simply is not possible....nor is any type of mental manipulation of psychic attack. The mind of a slayer is impervious to such things and only magical or physical attacks could harm them. Such were the effects of having a blood chemistry created by the Deity himself....that and an insatiable craving for confectionate foods like pie. The end result was that Lavag's mind was able to repair itself one thought at a time, and now he could resume his reason for being.
Lavag's plan was simple and undaunted by the revelations of what his actions in Khanduras had caused: He would try to get GAVAL to see things his way, and if there was no reasoning, then see him killed. In times like these when it seemed like every evil person in the world wanted GAVAL and the other slayers dead, Lavag knew he would have to act quickly.
Commanding both the powers of the slayer Rush, and of basic dark necromantic magic, Lavag was not at all unlike his host for the evening, Nighteye, who was both Dark Jedi and a bit of a necromancer himself.
Crouching behind a raised grave, Lav scanned the old pastor's mausoleum where he was asked to report on this dark, foggy evening. The mist here was thick. Thick enough to feel like a drizzle when one moved through the darkness. The smell of rotting fall leaves in the chilled air reminded Lavag of those cold days in the orphanage playground when the teachers sent the kids outside despite the cold so they could drink their bourbon-spiked coffee and complain about their jobs.
There wasn't any light in the mausoleum. This didn't surprise the slayer gone bad. Nighteye and the dark were synonymous terms. He thrived where there was no light. In fact, he heard light could even hurt the Sith Lord not unlike a vampire. Lavag slowly approached the mausoleum ducking back and forth from one grave to the next like a game of chess, only stopping where there was ample cover and where he could mask his presence to anyone who might not want him there. Even in a place of death, the slayer he never felt quite at home. Despite his questionable character, he was built as a tool of justice. Evil was easy prey to any slayer. In that sense, one could say that Lavag was his own worst enemy. A sound came from the left. High up, though. Lavag crouched and listened both to his ears and to his soul which would warn him if the approacher was evil. Such was the advantages to having slayer blood, enlightened by god himself a hundred generations back.
Down came a figure, floating boldly to the front of the mausoleum. He was dressed in a plain white t-shirt and black pants...leather perhaps. He had sunglasses on despite the pea-soup foggy night, and had a sword strapped around his back. His right arm looked metal. Perhaps bionic. This was a dead giveaway for Lavag. He was looking at a CWALer, the V-man, doing something he shouldn't have been able to do. Not only levitate, but fly with relative ease. Indeed these were strange times.
"Remarkable, isn't it?" came a voice from behind.
Lav spun around, loudly cracking a whip which he pulled out from his black leather trenchcoat. "Nighteye, do you always sneak up on your guests like that? I could have taken your head off."
"Don't be silly. And I've been watching you sneak up on my little encampment here for the last ten minutes. Let's not talk of subterfuge, friend." It was then that Lavag noticed his whip had been cut into a handful of pieces. Though no light could be seen, a strange electronic shrill came from Lavag's hand that disappeared into a metallic handle he was holding. Some kind of lightsaber perhaps.
"Who is that? Who's there?" came an angry voice from the CWALer V-man as he approached with his hand to his sword. Now that he was closer Lavag noted a very unnerving look on the V-man's face. No more stupid happy go lucky smirk. No more wild eyed CWAL glare in his eye. Now he seemed cold. Calculated. Almost wicked.
"Lavag is my guest, V-man," said Nighteye as he walked through the fog towards the mausoleum, "...as are you. Come, both of you. We have matters to discuss."
As the three of them entered the mausoleum, Lavag noticed instantly the change in appearance of the old burial structure. Splattered on the walls in what looked and smelled like blood were diabolical symbols, much like the ones the demons assaulting Irvine even before the war had started. The room was small with only one door and only a single candle provided light for he and the V-man to see. V-man did not say a word. He just followed, staring at Lav with looks that could kill. The only sound besides footsteps were the occasional whine of servos in V-man's arm when he moved it. Lavag almost jumped when Nighteye's voice finally spoke up.
"We are here because we have a common interest. We all want someone removed. Out of the picture. But rather than side with those who would see him dead by conventional means like the DSA, we've all chosen to take matters into our own hands. GAVAL, the Slayer Cajun of the Ambiguous Slayer's Guild is our mutual target and I believe I owe you a favor." Lavag nodded, knowing instantly what Nighteye was referring to. "I believe it's time I repayed the favor. You've stated before that you wanted GAVAL alive to see if you could talk him out of working for the ASG and into the mercenary business; the two of you working together as brothers." Lavag only nodded again. "And as I predicted, he has not shown any signs of listening to reason, has he?" LAVAG nodded a third time, showing disgust in GAVAL's stubborn nature.
"He's denied my reasoning with him, and for that, I could wring his goddamned neck, but I want to confront him one more time. He's still unaware of our...history."
"Very well. In return for the knowledge you gave me, I offer you this. We three shall work together to capture GAVAL. I have the means to provide a physical assault he cannot withstand. V-man brings to the fray a psychological aspect that will reduce GAVAL to a devastated and wimpering fool. With these means along with your help we shall easily bring him to his knees. You may have your talk with him then...and when he refuses to join you in your wicked crusade," Nighteye looked Lavag directly in the eye and raised a brow, "and I promise you he will, V-man may kill him and have his body. Are we agreed?"
"I agree that if GAVAL denies his own brother, then I could care less how he dies as long as he no longer lives,"said Lavag, quickly turning towards the V-man, "but what is it YOU want with the slayer? A member of CWAL killing one of his own...I may not be the noblest of creatures, but to kill someone you called "friend" only days ago?"
V-man walked out of the shadows and closer to the candle, the eary light from below his chin striking his facial features in harsh shadows, giving him an almost demonic appearance. "My business with the slayer is none of yours, but since Nighteye is offering me an easy shot at taking out GAVAL, I'll tell you something that nobody knows. At this very moment my master is putting an end to ten hundred of your kind right here in Irvine!" V-man's eyes widened in the flickering candle light with a maddened look. He spoke with such hatred and force that spit flew from his lips with every inflection. "When I show GAVAL the charred hearts of a thousand dead slayers, he'll crumble from the shock. Easy prey, and the master will at last be appeased."
"And what of this `physical means' you mentioned Nighteye? How is it you plan to take down a rushed slayer in the height of his bloody frenzy? Such a thing is night unstoppable. I should know. No one's ever stopped me in the grips of the Rush."
"I'm sure you recall the blood sample you gave me...such a rare and unique gift."
"If you've done something as lame as tried to clone me, Nighteye, so help me..."
"Oh, please. This is a Great War Finale, Lavag. Do you honestly think the author would use such a lame plot device?"
V-man just shrugged, fully knowing the author's tendancies towards unpredictability.
"For centuries those who practice dark magic have tried various means to get an understanding of the enlightened blood that powers the slayers and makes them impervious to mental attacks and necromantic magic. Their very being seems to resist any such manipulation, but now I know why."
"What are you saying?" asked an angry Lavag who was beginning to realize his new vulnerability to the Sith.
"I'm saying I've cracked the slayer code that makes them so damned untouchable." Nighteye reached for a door and threw it open, inside the small closet like room was an sarcophagus containing the body of long-thought-dead evil slayer.
"What is THAT doing here?!" asked Lavag, backing away from the body.
"This," smirked the Sith Lord, "is Ragnir. Behold, Lavag, traitor to the ASG! The first and only undead slayer in existence!" A low rumbling of thunder rolled throughout the valley. The timing made Lavag's hair stand on end. He cursed himself for letting anything get to him, but this was unthinkable...a new low, ever for a Dark Jedi. "His very existence empowers him to an unstoppable level of grandeur! The slayer rush is brought on by the presence of undead, yet he himself IS undead, thus in a state of perpetual rush!"
Lavag looked on as Ragnir's eyes glowed a scarlet glow, his rotting body trembling in bastardized power. Power meant for disposing of the world's evil. Power now corrupted to something god himself had never intended for its use. "Why...?" he asked.
"Why are you not rushing yourself in the presence of undead?" smirked Nighteye. He knew he was getting to Lavag and revelled in the fact. "A peculiar side effect of the world's first undead slayer. His enlightened blood seems to override the undead presence permeated by the typical reanimated corpse which would normally trigger a rush. In effect, he only rushes himself...none other...making him the perfect agent for slayer subterfuge." Lavag watched in horror as a large flake of Ragnir's decaying skin fell off of his cheek.
"Enough! I've seen enough of this abomination." Satisfied, Nighteye closed the door to Ragnir's closet. Lavag composed himself and nonchalantly passed a hand through the flame of the candle, taunting Nighteye with his comfort around light. "What if GAVAL chooses to listen to me and join his brother's side," asked Lavag while reaching for a pistol at his side and turned to V-man, "What then? What would your master say about that, traitor of CWAL?"
Nighteye stepped between the two. "Then I and V shall honor our compact and let you and the other slayer go, but know this. From that moment forward, we will be coming for you soon, for we both want GAVAL dead, and it will be for you to protect him if he chooses to leave the Guild, which he won't."
It was quiet as Lavag thought for a moment, fully realizing that if he said "no" to the unholy pact that he would be committing himself to mortal combat with both V-man and Nighteye for having reveal their schemes to him. "I will agree to your offer on two conditions."
"Name them," said Nighteye as he backed away from the candle light, "and know that my debt to you is not infinite, betrayer of the slayers."
"I want to know what it is that V-man is offering you for your services...for victimizing GAVAL this way."
"V-man's master has provided me with information for producing my own army suitable for desposing of the VILE hoard that Phasmus commands and gaining access to the Book of the Dead which I believe Phasmus posesses.. I now have the means of producing nearly limitless minions, given enough time." Lavag glared at Nighteye showing his disapproval and desire to know the full details of his plans. "You see, Lav, silly as it may sound, there is only one substance more useful than duct tape as both an adhesive and as a liquidation medium for producing minions and subordinates for the cause of evil."
"Yes...I now have the means of producing Mummified Gaffer's Tape Minions and am doing so in a hidden location. Don't bother asking me where it is. My patience grows thin. Name your other condition and be off."
Lavag turned to V-man, as he passed a hand through his spiked yellow hair. "Who is your master?"
V-man recoiled from the light of the melting candle. The servos in his artificial arm whirred mechanically. "Why, the same as your former employer, Lavag. My master is the Price of Hatred. My master...is Sephroth."
XI."Cattle Prods and Starships" by GAVAL
An Irvine Kroger's Location
November 30th, 6:00am
Fron, suffering from hangover at the CWAL festivities the night before, along with his officers in the Canadian Dominion and a few fellow CWALers walked into the dimly lit Kroger's. He shook his head wondering why headquarters for any and all covert operations organizations always wound up in the remains of previously-occupied commercial establishments. Why couldn't anyone just rent their own damn headquarters? As leader of the Canadian Dominion, Emperor Fron I was a powerful force in the world's underground legions of warriors and causes. Basing his Dominion in London, Onterio in the Infamous Castle Cattleprod, Fron ruled over a large portion of Canada with tremendous mirth; his favorite cattle prod close by in case anyone got out of hand. He shared these responsibilities with his brother, Norf, his somewhat less-urbanized agrarian brother.
Fron was also one of CWAL's finest. Like GAVAL, he balanced his time between his personal allegiance and Operation Can't Wait Any Longer with relative grace. Unfortunately, things hadn't gone well for the Dominion with one conflict after another slowly eating away at the Dominion's resources and manpower. Recently he had lost his flagship, the CMS Canuck at the hand of Sephroth's treachery, and the last assault on OEEP Headquarters had lost many of the Dominion's loyal Canuck Warriors to death or injury. The only remaining Dominion Forces available for any type of offensive was reduced to a few squadrons of fighters, several hundred infantry, and the services offered by fellow CWALers, Akardam, who captained the Hawthorne, a Canadian Dominion Light Frigate, and Fjorxc, who captained his Terran Battlecruiser the CSS Phoenix, a suped-up vessel straight from the game Starcraft itself.
Akardam, the computer literate ex-newbie defined, Fjorxc the Maniacal pilot, and Norf, chewer of hay all accompanied Fron through the lobby of the Kroger's facility, now WUSS headquarters.
Fron had come to Kroger's to enlist the help of even more CWALers, the small faction known as WUSS, who had early in the war remained neutral, but were now ready to side with the forces of decency...and the rest of CWAL.
"Well, what took you so long?" Smiling smugly was one of WUSS's organizers, Anarion. He, Reverend Duane, and Spudster, all human CWAL newbies, sat around a table playing cards and seemingly gu
rding an old book at the center of the table.
"Fjorxc needed to be sedated when he found out that GAVAL crashed the Orca in Italy," replied Fron as he picked up Spudster's mug of coffee and smelled it, then grimaced. "What the hell kind of coffee IS this?"
"Idaho peel with extra butter," quipped Spudster. His affinity for the pomme de terre was well known throughout the CWAL Newbie Patrol, but Fron, a veteran, could only frown and shake his head.
"If I find oot GAVAL did ANYTHING else to the Orca I'm gonna kill him. NOBODY crashes the Orca but me," griped Fjorxc.
Fron pulled up a dusty stool as Norf, Akardam, and Fjorxc made themselves comfortable. "We've got a lot to talk about. First thing's first. I see the Book of the Dead is still safe."
Reverend Leonard Duane clutched the dusty tome and nodded. "You were wise to entrust it to my safe-keeping."
"Well, with GAVAL out of town you're the only other spiritual person outside of the Protoss Templar in CWAL who could look after the book, and I certainly couldn't leave it in the hands of the other slayers hanging around CWAL HQ these days," Fron acknowledged.
"Yeah, one of em was aboot ta use the Book of the Dead's pages as toilet paper when we finally caught up to the book," nodded Fjorxc.
"Hey, you use what you gotta use! Why, a few weeks ago in the middle of a peanut field had to use a John Deere owner's manual to...." quipped Norf who suddenly realized everyone was staring at him then bowed his head shamefully.
"Ahem," responded Fron, "...anyway, I think we should keep the location of the book secret, even from Phasmus, unless absolutely necessary. Even if he is the rightful owner of the Book of the Dead, I'd hate to see him suddenly decide it's more profitable for Phasmus and Co. to liquidate the Canadian Dominion in the name of free enterprise in the middle of some huge battle."
"Agreed!" said Akardam and Anarion simultaneously.
"Now, I understand one of your newbie buddies is still missing," said Fron.
"Yeah, V-man. And he's not a newbie anymore," sighed Anarion.
"Yeah, and he wasn't there to liberate Starcraft from Blizzard either," smiled Fron as he and Fjorxc winked at one another. They were obviously the old blood of the group gathered there at Kroger's even though Fjorxc missed the liberation of Starcraft by a few weeks..
"We've had the unit of troops you lent us search high and low for V-man all over the neighborhood and he's nowhere to be found," frowned Spudster.
"Then we'll have to assume for the time being that he's not in the neighborhood, and probably not in Irvine either. Worst case scenario is that he's dead or in OEEP's hands. Duraznos has gone missing as well. The list of missing isn't getting any shorter here. All we can do is wait for the DSA and OEEP to pop their heads up out of the sand long enough for us to finish them and rescue the missing," said Fron. "In the meantime, we'll keep looking. I'll send another unit to help you look for them and you should be able to get a few CWALers to help out as well, considering that V-man probably owes them all money."
"Speaking of the Dominion," asked Anarion, "what is the condition of your remaining big ships?"
Fron reached into his jacket and pulled out a data P.A.D.D. that looked like it came straight from Star Trek. It was common knowledge that the Canadian Dominion had managed to capture a great deal of Federation Technology from extradimentional sources and was centuries ahead of the rest of the world in equipment supplies. Unfortunately, duplicating any of that technology was proving to be a long and laborious task as the Canadian Dominion's scientists tried to figure out exactly how the stuff worked. On the P.A.D.D was a schematic and analysis of the first result of duplication of Federation technology: The Canadian Light Frigate Hawthorne.
Anarion scanned the P.A.D.D. quickly and noted first the Hawthorne's capabilities.
Weapons: 6 type VII phaser banks (of which only the 2 stern dorsal banks and one aft bank were functional.)
2 forward firing Photorp/Quantorp launchers (of which neither was functioning.)
4 forward firing MK II light phaser pulse cannons (of which one worked.)
Defense: Ablative armour (which was all recently either replaced with either wreckage from the wreckage of the CMS Canuck or the best modern equivalent.)
Level III shield systems (equivalent to the Canuck, for all intents and purposes but only operational at 40%)
Engines: 2 impulse engines (both fully functional and capable of light speed.)
1 Federation warp drive system (Incapable of warp travel, but function enough to power shields, inertial dampeners, and structural integrity)
1 Dominion warp bubble system (Functional but risky to use.)
Anarion put the P.A.D.D. down quickly and starred at the ceiling. "I need a drink."
"Yeah, but look at the Phoenix. It's it much better shape!" grinned Norf.
Anarion finished the rest of his coffee in one gulp and scrolled down on the P.A.D.D. to read about the Battlecruiser that was CWAL HV's finest acquisition. He read aloud so the others could hear.
"Using his Corsair fighter, Exile, an Alcoholic Protoss Dark Templar in CWAL managed to travel to the Korhal Prime station on the day that Emperor Mengsk would officially unveil the Phoenix, the battlecruiser having been completed a few days before. The Protoss infiltrated the station, and mere moments before the unveiling took place, Exile absconded with the Phoenix. Throwing off a pursuit of Wraith fighters, the Phoenix entered hyperspace and headed for Earth.
The Phoenix performed beautifully in all its (limited) engagements to date. However, while it is nearly unmatched in space, in atmosphere, it is extremely vulnerable, and as such does not carry the fight into the air very often. Its air wing, however, is formidable, composed of some 57 Mk IV CF-105 Arrow fighters, as well as a limited number of CF/A-18G Wraith stealth fighters.
CSS (CWAL Starship) Phoenix
Length: 637.46 meters
Crew Capacity: 10+155 (Currently manned by the survivors of the CMS Canuck)
Propulsion: Ion engines
Primary Defense: Yamato cannon
Secondary Defense: Heavy lasers
Outer Hull: Neosteel-fnordium armor
Field Defense: Point-defense shields
Okay, so I'm impressed, but I still need a drink." said Anarion.
"The Dominon will be using the Phoenix, CWAL's largest and most powerful vessel, as it's flagship. I've got all our remaining fighters on board, so it'll not only serve as our greatest weapon, but the Phoenix will also be a carrier for all of our fighters," announced Fron. "It's manned by the seasoned crew of the Canuck as well as a group of redshirts Fjorxc picked up at a Star Trek Convention. Gotta love free labor. They're all used to more advanced Federation technology even if it's from watching TV, and they've all adapted to the Terran Confederacy Tech. training impressively."
"I see you've been busy," said Rev. Duane as he glanced up at Fjorxc.
"Yeah, well, just because CWAL HV hasn't put oot any stories in the last few months doesn't mean we haven't had our hands full!" smiled the maniacal pilot.
"And where are you hiding such a monstrosity?" asked the Reverend.
"We're keeping it in orbital dry dock intended for the Canuck. It's in such high orbit and synchronized with the moon's orbit that no one on Earth can detect it," said Fron. "So basically it boils down to this: the Dominion Fleet consist of the Phoenix, donated as our flagship and captained Fjorxc with Norf on board to assist. It's got all of the Dominion's and CWAL HV's remaining Arrow Mk IV fighters on board. Then there's the Hawthorne, commanded by Akardam with SimMaster there to aid him. It's got the best technology but it's no Canuck, and it could really use a couple months being refit. In addition the Dominion has several transport vessels capable of extra-orbital travel and with enough cargo space to move the entire Canadian Dominion Infantry if necessary. That's all we can spare at this point in the war."
"Consider us updated," said Spudster.
"Now," sighed Fron. "There's one final matter I need to discuss. Can I speak to you in private, Anarion?" Reverend Leonard picked up the Book of the Dead and strolled out with Spudster following. Akardam, Fjorxc, and Norf followed. "Not you Norf. Stay here." Norf listened and waited as the others left the room mumbling something about using Akardam's keyboard to unclog the latrine aboard the Phoenix. When they were alone Fron looked up at Anarion, his voice more hushed than it had been in the meeting. "How is she?"
Anarion shifted uncomfortably in his booth seat and pushed the P.A.D.D. back towards Fron. "The same. Angry. Violent. She would try to escape the minute we turned away from her. I've got some of your men watching her constantly in split shifts. It was a good idea for you to keep her here. Nobody knows WUSS is using this place as a base of operations. CWAL's brig is busy enough trying to keep Malice in chains as it is anyway. Two of these crazy chicks would be too much for anyone."
"I should....we should speak with her," Fron said softly as he looked at his brother Norf.
"In the basement," said Anarion as he walked out of the room. "Oh, and Fron...it goes without saying that WUSS is no longer a faction of itself. It was silly of us to try to make our own faction when things between GAVAL and Zeno got heated. This war is getting too serious with all the killing, evil coming out of the woodwork, V-man and Duraznos going missing. Just consider us to be fellow CWALers doing what good guys do."
"Thanks, newbie. I'm sure you did the right thing in picking our side," replied Fron as he headed for the basement door.
The air was thick and stagnant in the basement of the Kroger's that Anarion and the other newbies were inhabiting. The ambient noise was humming with electricity as the technology loaned to WUSS to help contain it's dangerous prisoner.
She sat on a crude wooden bench surrounded by Federation-syle force fields as a strange red light pulsed around her from a light source behind her. It silhouetted her feminine form, hiding an undoubtedly angry face with rhythmic bright and dark pulses. When she noticed the new figures enter the room she instinctively stood up and backed away, attempting to defend herself. "Nnnnnnuhhh..." she said. "Nuh!" Frustratingly she swore at her circumstance. "Goddamuh. What the hell have you done to muh?!" Fron just looked at the woman for a moment, studying her face. "Answer muh Fron, you bastard! What the hell have you done to muuuuh!?"
Finally the Emperor of the Canadian Dominion spoke up. "It's a Consonance Inhibitor, Fronette."
"So, you've figured it out, then?" said Fronette as she walked up to the forcefield.
"It prevents you from saying certain vowels, specifically by subsonically resonating at a certain frequency and amplitude that inhibits the sound of the short `i' from vibrating through the air within the forcefield effectively stopping you from being able to say the word `Ni.' That's the source of your power, isn't it, Fronette? The word `Ni'?" Norf watched silently as the two conversed. The tension in the air was as thick as Iolaus' espresso.
"You didn't answer my question, Fron. You've figured out who I am, haven't you? ANSWER MUH!"
"YES. Yes, goddammit. I know what you are. You're just an abomination. A product of demented science. You're a Yimotian clone created from my own blood and trained in the art if `Ni' the levels of which no one on this world has ever been able to achieve aside from myself." Fronette looked almost impressed. "Don't tell me you thought our intelligence was so incompetent that we wouldn't notice an extradimentional clone of our own Emperor, ME, running around Irvine trashing our most powerful weapons single handedly."
Fronette's anger was evident in her charging the forcefield, only to be thrown back. "Turn off this accursed forcefuuhld and I'll show you just how single-handedly I can deal wuuuhth you. I don't need Nuhh to take you down, you twerpy little guuuhk!"
"What did you think, Fronette? Did you think you could just run around smashing up the Dominion without my stopping you? Did you think I'd go easy on you? Did you think I'd treat you like some sort of sister or something?! You're nothing but a chain of DNA gone to pot, woman, and your days are numbered," snarled Fron with a ferocity his friends had hardly ever seen from him.
"What...what are you doing?" cried Fronette as she watched Fron slide levers and push buttons on what looked like a transporter pad.
"I'm gonna do what I should have done a long time ago," he replied as he took Norf's pitchfork from his brother. Norf was getting very nervous, knowing full well that the forcefield would allow things to pass through it easily from outside of the source.
"Fron what are you doing?" asked Norf.
"She can't be allowed to go on here," answerd Fron. "I'm getting rid of this...THING...once and for all. This isn't some kind of family reunion Fronette. You don't belong here or anywhere." Fron reached back with the pitchfork as if it were a javelin and prepared to throw it.
"Fron, don't! You're not a killer!" cried Norf as he tried to restrain his brother, but the Dominion guards held him back.
"It's for her own good, Norf!" shouted Fron as the hum of the transporter device escalated rapidly from a whisper to a noise.
"Nooo! You wouldn't! You can't stop me Fron! I'm a part of you! I'll always be a part of you! Everything you are and more! Nuuuuh! NuuuuuUUUUH! NNNNNNIIIIIIII!!!!!!!!"
Just as Fron threw the pitchfork into the Consonance inhibitor, Fronette's powers of Ni were released and a wicked green glow engulfed the entire area inside the forcefield. In a brilliant blue flash sparks flew out of the Inhibitor and then the transporter activated. Suddenly all was silent save for the sound of dust and chips of sheet rock falling from the ceiling, caused by the sheer volume of Fronette's final screech.
"You....you killed her!" cried Norf as he broke loose from the two Dominion guards who were holding him, their Commander and second only to Fron.
"Don't be so naive, Norf!" smiled Fron as he pulled the pitchfork out of the Consonance Inhibitor and handed it back to his brother. "I mearly got rid of her. Used a combonation of sonic vibrations from the Inhibitor, a transporter, and her own Ni powers to open a brief rift in spacetime....like on all those mirror universe Star Trek's! And I'll be damned, but it worked!"
"So...if you didn't kill her, where did you send her?" asked a puzzled Norf.
"I sent her to an Infinite Possibility of Horizons! Who knows where she wound up, and who cares! As long as it isn't here! She couldn't be allowed to stay Norf." Fron put his arm around his brother and escorted him back upstairs. "She brought out the worst I could be. She was MADE of the worst of me, and if I had to sacrifice a transporter pad to get rid of her, then `small price to pay!'"
"What now, then? Fronette was the LEAST of our worries!" exclaimed Norf.
"Now we wait to hear from GAVAL and hope the DSA rears its ugly head. Get to the Phoenix and help Fjorxc make sure she's ready. I've got another little project to look into." The two brothers climbed the musty staircase as the Dominion guards remaining in the room began salvaging what they could from Fron's little "clone exorcism."
XII. "Unnamed Faction" by GAVAL
November 30th, 9:00am
(An Irvine McDonalds on one of the still standing sides of town. Because the war has been isolated to the CWAL neighborhood, the damage is very isolated in town and one can find civilization and order within a few minutes drive.)
(The weather is cloudy and dark as an autumn front, forecasted as a tempest, moves in off the Pacific Coast)
(Inside the eatery, two individuals a cybernetic gerbil, and a cat-like being are sitting in a corner booth and are living out some sort of scenario. People are scared and most of them, with the exception of a homeless person and a few employees have left.)
Adrien: Thank you all for joining me here on the HMS Windseeker. As you all know the battle is going well for us.
(The homeless person squints at them after overhearing the conversation)
Adrien: (twitch)Our bases in Vietnam and the San Francisco Bay area are secured and though Michigan was a hard hit, the establishment of a new Russian base up in Siberia more than makes up for it in base redundancy.
Karim: (Stares at Dei' Nach'r) Do furballs hurt? I mean...you're always licking yourself.
Robo-Gerbil: NUKE! NNNUUUUUUKE! He Nuked us! FRON MUST DIE! HOD MUST DIE!
(The manager of the McDonald's discusses what must be done about the motley crew with some of his employees)
Dei' Nach'r: AHH! They're firing, Captain! Raising shields! We do have shields, don't we?! Firing lasers! Or is it Phasers?! (Twitch) They've sunk one of our Hunter Battleships! They must have found a way to detect our cloak!
Adrien: The Windseeker cannot be destroyed! It survived nuclear holocost! We are invincible! (Twitch) The world is ours for the taking! No one can stand against....against....what are we calling ourselves again?
Robo-Gerbil: Are you looking at my bum?! STOP LOOKING AT MY ROBO-BUM! (twitch)
McDonald's Manager: Excuse me sirs...but I'm going to have to ask you to leave...we don't allow pets in here and...
Adrien: Nonesense, Cookie! The Captain of the Windseeker goes whereever he sees fit! Not be a good subordinate and replicate us all some Romulan Ale! (twitch) So speaks the ruler of Northern Vietnam, San Francisco, and Siberia!
Karim: Mee to the yow!
McDonald's Manager: I'm sorry, I don't understand...now unless you want me to call the Police...
Dei'Nach'r: The Police?! We've recruited them too?! Sting RULES! RoooOOOOXane! You don't have to put on a reeeeed lite! (twitch)
(Meanwhile outside the McDonald's, Kazz the Infamous Beaver of CWAL stares into a window and cackles gleefully)
Kazz: (Cackles Gleefully) Newbies suck! I can't believe they drank the stuff! Look at em, Fluffy!
(Kazz's chainsaw Fluffy does not answer)
(Fron approaches from behind)
Fron: There you are! I've been looking all over for you. The newbies are starting to formulate opinions at CWAL HQ and we need your...persuasive talents.
Kazz: Oh, sure...let's jet! (Tries to leave)
Fron: Hey, wait! Aren't those some of the Newbie Patrol right there in that McDonalds?
Kazz: Uhh...hadn't noticed! I was just humping this car tire here and....
Fron: Why are they all wearing Happy Meal hats and talking at the same time?
Kazz: You know newbies! I'll just chase em with Fluffy here and rev some sense into them.
Fron: Karim is eating the paper and throwing away the food. That's irrational behavior even for a CWALer. Even for a NEWBIE CWALer! What did you do, Kazz!?
Kazz: I gave em a little illegal narcotic-laced coffee as a "peace" offering and offered to treat them to McDonald's.
Fron: That's not your style...
Kazz: It's entertaining. (shrugs) The pointy-eared elf guy thinks he's in charge of some Unnamed Faction of the war....he's made a lot of references to you and rants about how you nuked Michican and then god came in and cleaned up the place after the carnage. Now why would god do something like that?!
Fron: *shrug* I don't do nukes. Poking enemies with cattle prods is so much more satisfying a way to gain their allegiance.
Kazz: The cat guy thinks he's in russia and can teleport across the globe.....he even thinks he has this huge fleet of ships and a bunch of robot snowmen called Frosty. These newbies sure can take a trip.
Fron: Sounds like a non-canon Great War. Of course all that crap could never happen in REAL life! Well, we're gonna need everyone available in the looming collision of good and evil which could result in the destruction of everything we hold dear. Can you render them all unconscious, drag them to CWAL HQ, and throw them in the infirmary?
Kazz: I'd pay you to let me!
Fron: Cool. See ya.
McDonald's Manager: Sir! I'll ask you kindly to stop throwing McNuggets at my employees!
Karim: (flinging chicken)The war goes well, sir! With this cache of grenades I found we have enough ammunition to last us for hours!
Adrien: Carry on, soldier! By noon Malaysia will be ours!
IX.v "Captive" by Frog
The Dark Star
November 30th, 9:00am
The room was dark. It was so dark Duranzos couldn't see his own hands right in front of his face. Technically this was because they were tied behind his back, but still, it was very dark in the room. He was sitting on a cold hard metal chair and was tied to it with rope and duct tape.
He sat their for a few minutes, breathing and blinking. He found out his left thumb could bend back farther then his right one. He was rather bored so he decided to try and stand.
"Oh yeah, I'm tied up."
Duranzos sat in the cold hard chair for a few more minutes, got bored and decided he'd had enough of the stupid room. He tried to move his feet.
"Oh yeah, I'm tied up."
Duranzos hummed a tune to himself and found out he could cross his left eye by itself. Suddenly his eyebrow began to itch so he decided to scratch it. He tried to move his hand up.
"It sucks being tied up!"
Outside in the hallway Fallout strolled up to Frog, who was standing there looking at a view screen.
"So Duranzos is inside?" Fallout asked.
"Uh huh," Frog said, looking confused. "I don't know why they even sent you, it looks like this guy is torturing himself." Inside the room, a night vision view showed Duranzos looking around and trying to get up. The chair fell over and cursing hissed over the intercom. Frog shook his head and pressed a button to open the door.
"Hello," Frog turned on a light and smiled in at Duranzos as the door slid open. Duranzos stepped in and began to undo his trench coat belt. "And in this corner is Fallout!" Frog bellowed and grabbed Fallout's trenchcoat as he threw it off. Fallout was wearing only a yellow spandex speedo. Duranzos took one look at this and his eyes went wide.
"This isn't going to be a normal interrogation session, is it?"
Frog smiled and shook his head as Fallout flexed. "And in that corner-" Frog motioned to Duranzos. "Is some CWALer!" Frog hit himself over the head with a big paper clip and a faint ring echoed off the walls of the room. "Let the fight begin!"
Fallout and Duranzos looked at Frog oddly.
"I don't have a real bell to ring," Frog explained simply. Fallout sighed.
"But...your head...dinged..." Duranzos mumbled.
"Ha, I guess I just put the ring back in torturing," Frog laughed and wandered out of the room aimlessly, closing the door behind him.
"Now down to business," Fallout grinned. "You will tell me everything you know."
"Pickles don't go well with beavers. Now will you let me go?!"
"That can't be all you know!" Fallout growled.
"You'd be surprised," Duranzos muttered blandly.
"No no, I am going to found out everything. Right now!" A beep came from the pocket of Fallout's trenchcoat. "My watch," He said. "It's lunchtime."
"To bad you're here with me instead of eating. I bet you're a grump when you don't get fed," Duranzos laughed and rolled his eyes."
Fallouts veins buldged and he flexed his fingers. "You'd be surprised."
Duranzos screamed when he thought Fallout was going to explode. Instead, Fallout sprouted hair all over and his face stretched out into something of a muzzle. He twisted and writhed as muscles thickened under his skin. It didn't help at all that some colorful tune was being played over the intercom while all of this was happening. Duranzos heard Frog laugh from outside.
As suddenly as it started, the transformation was over. From over the intercom Frog spoke. "Meet HomisLupis."
HomisLupis pounced on Duranzos and the CWALer cringed in anticipation of being torn apart. Instead, to his confused relief, HomisLupis cut off the bindings holding Duranzos to the chair.
"You're going to free me?" The CWALer gasped.
"No!" HomisLupis growled. "It's easier to throw you against the wall when you aren't tied to the chair." He took hold of Duranzos and lifted him high over his head.
Over the intercom Frog heard Duranzos yell. "I can't tell you what you want to know if you don't ask me any questions!" This was followed by a loud thump. Frog bounced off the walls in delight. DarkAngel walked up from down the hallway to check on the proceedings.
"Is everything going well?"
Frog nodded furiously and spun back to the monitor when there was another crash. "Hee hee hee!"
"Frog, sometimes you scare me." DarkAngel walked off in the opposite direction he came from.
Back inside the room HomisLupis was pounding Duranzos in the shoulder.
"Dead arm dead arm dead arm!" HomisLupis giggled.
"AAHHHHHHH! What do you want to know goddamit?!"
Frog spoke over the intercom. "What do the CWALers, Slayers and Dominion know about our operations here?"
Duranzos' brows furrowed as he thought. "Nothing, we don't have a blasted clue as to what is going on up here. The Dominion are probably the only people who could possibly have contacts that aren't stuck on Earth and even they don't know anything!"
The door slid back open and Frog entered. "Heel, HomisLupis!" HomisLupis backed off from Duranzos and licked his lips. His own, not Duranzos.' Frog walked up to the CWALer, who had uprighted the chair and sat back down on it.
"I tell you, we know nothing!" Duranzos snarled at Frog.
"I believe you, and that is why I will give you this offer." Frog held out two fists and opened them, palms upwards. "In my left hand is a blue pill. Take that pill and you will wake up in your bed, thinking this was all a bad dream. Take the red pill...and there is no going back."
Duranzos hesitated for a moment and then picked up the blue pill between two fingers. "Just a bad dream, huh?" Duranzos dropped the pill in his mouth and swallowed. Frog jumped back suddenly.
"Homis, he took your pill! Your very own pill I gave you for your birthday!"
"RAAAAHH! That wus my pill!"
"What do you mean, your pill?! He offered me that-" HomisLupis tackled Duranzos and started biting him. After a few agonizing minutes for Duranzos Frog snapped his fingers. HomisLupis ignored Frog. Frog scratched his chin and tried clapping his hands. The lights in the room went out.
"Damn," Frog cursed. He clapped the lights back on and then just dragged HomisLupis off the CWALer.
"I think," Duranzos muttered. "I'll try the other pill." He took that pill and swallowed it down. Suddenly, he spun around. "Why is that mirror melting? Hey, there wasn't a mirror in here before! What's going on?"
"Hmm....this is a new one." Frog turned to HomisLupis for assistance but the beast just shrugged. "You know, Duranzos, you could have just said no."
"Just say no? To drugs? Hey the mirror is heading this way! Noooo!"
DarkAngel walked back down the hallway and glanced at the monitor. He saw three shapes flailing around, covered in silver liquid. "Not those damn pills again. Where does Frog get these things?" DarkAngel shook his head and walked off. A while later he got a message from Frog. It read as followed.
-Interrogation completed. Our enemies know nothing. Stay away from mirrors.-
XIII. "Liberated malice" by DarkLight
Music and laughter floated in from above. The wretches were having a party.
Probably to celebrate their 'victory,' the dark woman might have realized normally. Not the most rigorous concept to grasp; a six-year-old child who'd been clubbed in the head with a tire iron would've scoffed at the merest notion that it was a challenge. But she who was known as Malice was in no condition for rational thought. She was rather far from lucid comprehension of her surroundings. She could be described, more accurately, as 'freakin' insane.'
Malice's captors, filling the mold of the righteous defenders of good and not remembering that little trait called 'relativity,' had summarily tossed her into a locked cell deep beneath CWAL Headquarters and left her there to rot as punishment. There was a small problem, of course, mainly that she hadn't had any nourishment in days. Likely none was to show up, either. Most CWALers didn't seem like the types to slit someone open and fill up a goblet with blood. Her mouth lolled; a stream of saliva trickled down her chin. Such thirst… She'd never felt so powerful a desire…
One of the guards, a soldier on loan from the Canadian Dominion, rapped at the sealed door of her cell. Shucking open an eye-height panel, he stared in at her, a mocking grin painted on his visage. His eyes skipped to his out-of-sight companion. "Hey, Jack, I know those guys upstairs are nuts, but why're they wasting a max-security cell like this on a skinny thing like her? Hell, she looks like she hasn't eaten in weeks." Her imagination scored his face with rivulets of tantalizing crimson.
"You think they tell me anything? Men with shoes shoved up their nostrils get better responses from them than we would." His voice dug deep into her soul. She'd killed a man who sounded like him. Ripped out his heart and eaten it, sucked the blood out through his aorta. Body was probably still rotting in that alley. She'd gone back once. Black, blood-soaked asphalt and a lump of foul smelling flesh decaying right in the center. Shouldn't have wasted all that blood back then.
"Think she might be that woman who ripped up that warehouse we saw comin' into town? Looked like somebody'd been throwing firebombs around." Which…? Oh, yes, that warehouse. The Slayers had found her there. Those horrid streamers… Hurt so much… So much… And then she'd been cut off from him. Left adrift, her link to her mentor and dark lover severed in that squalid hole. Now she was here, and he was not. Blood. Her mind was likely to snap totally. If her body didn't give out first.
"Maybe. Folks 'round here, half of 'em can either blow up the world or come damned close to it." That galled her. To die in the dungeon of a bumbling horde of fools. And not even by their hands; she'd be struck down by simple neglect. Falling amid a gruesome slaughter, spearing her wrath into the souls of her foes until finally overwhelmed, was a fate she actually might look forward to with typical dark lust. Here now, all her mind held was a dull pit of stark despair, cackling horribly at her awful misfortune.
"Probably why the Emperor hangs around here. He's looking to steal their technology or something." Fucking technology! The only reason she was HERE, in this abominable cell, was the Slayers' little ecto-beam things! If she ever got out, she'd tear off the Slayer's damned skulls and shove the bloody things up their asses so hard they'd burst from their necks!
"Eh. Our shift's over in a bit, isn't it? We can go get ourselves a drink at that bar down the street. I hear that freaky mouth-less guy's paying for every round tonight."
"…get ourselves a drink…" The words echoed through her shattered consciousness.
"…a drink…" Sheets of red, crimson as life's blood, dropped over her eyes.
Fluidly she exploded from her slump in the corner. Malice shot her hand through the viewport, latched onto the smirking guard's throat with strength burn of hatred's purifying flame. She twisted, fingers hacking into his arteries like snake fangs. Sweet scents assaulted her instantly: Mortal fear from the victim. Helpless rage from the other guard, fumbling for his gun. And nectar, delectable, life-giving blood, gushing out over her hands! She slipped her fingers from the holes, cupped them and caught as much as she could from the fountain before the man dropped away.
Her hands shot in to her mouth, and her basest instincts rejoiced as the salty warm fluid created a slick sensation in her throat.
Malice dropped to the ground, recharged exponentially by even that small dribble. And she was still angry; angry at herself. She'd lost it there. She was emotional - hell, any imbecile could see that - but she'd never in her life gone that berserk. Now the CWALers would be coming. They'd want revenge for that man's death. Likely they, or at least the Canadians among them, would go for the "eye for an eye" variety.
This was it, then. No power, no dignity, no chance at escape… Not even her dark savior, her deadly warrior of darkness…
Wonderfully melodramatic, my dear. However, I'm afraid we're a little short on time right now, so might I suggest you cease wasting energy on self-derision and move nearer the back wall?
Her head shot up wildly; her arms levered her up to get a better look around. "It's you?! But… You've survived the Slayers' assaults?!"
Naturally. His familiar image was reshaping itself in the corner. It was transparent, but it was him, exuding dark power as always. They're just humans. God or no god, it's not like they can hurt me permanently. Now, quickly, stand within me. The Canadian rodents are coming, and I'm fairly sure they intend to vivisect you and give your body to that… beaver of theirs. I'm sure you don't want that.
Malice nodded, horrid pictures swimming unbidden through her head. She crawled to him. A delightful chill squirmed over her flesh as the specter enveloped her. Then the door burst open, disgorging several Canadian troopers into the cell.
She watched, fascinated, as their flashlight beams swept right over her. They can't see me. That's what he's doing; shielding me from sight. It takes so very little energy that the local magic-attuned beings need to be actively looking to sense it… Yet it fools the humans completely. A smile blossomed on her face. Oh, how elegantly devious you are!
Smoothly he replied, Flattery will get you much, dark lady. Now, move forward quietly. I will stay with you and guide you out of the building. Do NOT brush anyone or else this entire exercise will be as useful as a zombie in a spell battle.
The woman nodded. Soon, after a confused conversation, the soldiers left. And Malice, sheathed in demonic magic, was right behind them.
An hour later, Malice smiled as she slipped out the front door of CWAL Headquarters, her lithe form easily slipping around the partygoers. For good measure she dashed down the street, around a bend, before allowing herself to cackle madly. The dark figure murmured, I take it you're pleased to be free.
Happy as a fiend in pool of virgin's blood. Now let's find me a damned drink before I pass out!
The apparition smiled and followed the woman into the night.
XIV. "When the Gavel Falls" by GAVAL
An isolated rocky valley outside of Irvine, California
November 30th, 10:00am
The Orca, wheezing it's way into Irvine from a trans-atlantic/trans-continental flight slowly decended in an opened field on the edge of a wooded cliff that once served as a gold rush mine shaft outside of town. It was here that GAVAL left for the Vatican in the first place, as the forces of CWAL, the Dominion, VILE and the Zerg Canadians were rallying their forces to take out OEEP in their own Headquarters at a neighborhood Wendy's Restaurant.
GAVAL glanced down at the landing site and smiled as he saw the BiB, his Black Z-71 Chevy Blazer, dust covered but still there waiting loyally for him. He anxiously stood by the door ready to bolt out and find the Batallion of Slayers who had been dispatched to Irvine 2 days prior and hadn't been heard from in at least 12 hours. Fjorxc, the owner of the Orca, often used this very field for landing when visiting from CWAL HV Headquarters as it attracted less attention from the local authorities who had already voiced their disapproval towards CWAL's residence. These arguments were quelled only by mayor Phasmus who had promised to raise the cop salary in Irvine by 13% annually for the next 13 years in return for a little "tolerance" in that neighborhood. These desirable salaries, of course, were the only reason anyone was even willing to work on a police force in such an unstable precinct of town.
As Eddie, the Orca's on board computer struggled against the strong Pacific Winds of a coming storm to land smoothly on all four landing struts, Buffy and Jo-Bob stabilized themselves by holding on to the low ceiling inside the vertical takeoff craft and sometimes one another. GAVAL watched the horizon disappear behind the hill's peak as he noticed the darkness of the coming front and then, more oddly, the oncoming group of people below.
As they shielded their eyes from the dust blown askew by the Orca's engines, GAVAL recognized at least two of the people waiting near the BiB. It was Irvine College Student and friend of CWAL, Rachel Hollis, as well as another slayer GAVAL had never met. What really caught GAVAL's attention, besides the outfit Rachel was wearing, was the guy she and the slayer was holding up. It was Natral, another Slayer Cajun like GAVAL. He was badly injured, with bandages over most of his exposed skin....probably burns.
Before Eddie could shut off the engines, GAVAL had jumped down from the Orca and run to his friends' help.
"Nat, god damned, what happened to you? Rachel, what are you doing here?!"
"He insisted on our bringing him here before we could get him in the hospital," Rachel said with a endearing look.
"Warn you...Gav..." Natral was obviously in a great deal of pain.
"Mu patched him up, then he held a gun to his head until we agreed to get him here," said Rachel.
GAVAL helped the others put Nat in a more comfortable position sitting on the tailgate of his Blazer as the Orca lifted off to meet an eagerly awaiting Fjorxc at the Phoenix dry dock. When it was quiet enough GAVAL finally spoke, looking deep into Nat's eyes to make sure he remained alert enough to get his message across.
"Tell me what happened, Nat. Is it the dispatch? The ones the pope sent?" Nat nodded and swallowed hard as Jo-Bob and the young slayer who found Nat watched carefully. Buffy and Rachel struggled to keep their hair out of their faces as the winds picked up even more from the coming storm.
"All gone...every last one of em," Nat said forlornly.
"I knew it....god dammit I knew it," said GAVAL as the true severity of the situation hit him. He slowly stood up and backed away from the group, eyes wide, dispite the dust blowing about in the wind. "Too late...always one step behind..." The Cajun slowly shook his head in disbelief as Nat continued.
"It was the demon...the shade that's been causing so much trouble....fire everywhere...in a maze...trapped and separated. Sephroth." Thunder rolled through the valley and shook Rachel and the five slayers.
"It's my fault," GAVAL whispered.
Buffy couldn't hear GAVAL but she knew right away what he was saying. "No, GAVAL..."
"It's my own FUCKING fault!" GAVAL cried as he pulled away from Rachel's reaching hand.
"Gav, you can't blame yerself," Jo-Bob said as he helped Natral up. It was time to get this guy to a hospital.
"DON'T!" GAVAL yelled above the wind. "Don't you dare try to soften the blow. I led Sephroth to the Vatican and I caused him to end those people's lives. A thousand of us, dead because of me. That hasn't happened in half a millennium and now they're all dead.....so many." Thunder rolled again.
Rachel wasn't sure if it was a tear on GAVAL's cheek or if it was the drizzle that had started to fall she saw. Looking down she could see the raindrops hitting the dust and causing small craters in the loamy soil. She wanted desperately to say something to help GAVAL feel better. Though her life had been turned upside down since the fateful day she met him in a Laundromat, she also owed him her life, but the words just wouldn't come. One thing for sure, she had never seen him like this.
"He never screwed with the ASG until I came along. If I'd just stayed down when he took me out none of this would have happened. Why couldn't I just be allowed to rest in peace? I should be dead."
Jo tried one last time to offer some type of consolation. "Gav, you know if you hadn't..."
"NO! Get out of here." The others just starred at him as the drizzle became rain. "Didn't you hear me?! Tell Cabbott he's in charge. GO! LEAVE ME ALONE! I want to be alone...."
Realizing there wasn't anything they could say to him, the others left slowly, Natral in tow, with Rachel being the last one. As she turned to leave, she stopped and turned back to GAVAL one last time. "Malice escaped imprisonment. We don't know where she went....and V-man is connected to the plane crash over the Atlantic. He's looking for you; wants you dead. The others didn't have the gall to tell you." She expected him to shout again, but this time no reaction came at all. It must have been too much for him to bear, she thought. "You know, "she uttered, "You're not the only one their deaths hurt."
GAVAL stood there in the rain breathing heavily with a multitude of emotions and tried to ignore her. For whatever reason it worked, and soon she too was gone with the others via a small rental car one of the slayers had aquired. He was alone now, standing in fresh mud, with the low, dull roar of the rainfall and an occasional thunderbolt as his only companions. The Acadian could feel his tears amidst the cold rain. His were the warm drops.
"So, that's what it comes to, then?" he asked the storm. "Back to square one? No progress? No headway gained? We just go back to having no idea what's going on with all the death and violence? Not even a prisoner to get some reasoning from?!" If anyone had been there to see Gaval Van Helsing Benoit shouting to himself they would have thought him insane.
"Now I'm expected to be the big fucking hero, right?! I'm supposed to suck it up and shrug off the fact that Sephroth and Malice will be gunning for me?! EVERYONE is gunning for me!! AM I GETTING IT RIGHT?! IS THIS WHAT'S ON YOUR "FUCK GAVAL DU JOUR" SCRIPT?! ...well I'm not cut out for this. I'm only fucking human and I can only take so much."
He took off his fedora hat and let the rain soak his head. The gentle trickle had now turned into a torrential downpour.
"You saw me dead once. I could have found my rest then, but you had to interfere. FOR WHAT?! So I could go on suffering like this?! So I could live a life of hell? What did I do to deserve this?! WHAT DO YOU WANT FROM ME?! Why not just send me to Lucifer's palace when you had the chance!? HUH?!"
He knew no answer would come, but it did nonetheless.
"That can be arranged."
GAVAL's eyes looked up, his wet hair trickling sweaty rain water into his eyes. Hovering about a foot off the ground, his arms crossed, was the V-man holding a sword.
"Oh, that's just perfect. Kick him when he's down....very fricking funny," GAVAL taunted to a silent god.
"Who are you talking to?" asked the V-man, shrugging off his trenchcoat as he prepared to bring in his master's quarry.
"What is this, V-man? A bad episode of `Highlander?' Ya know, you shoudn't hold long metal objects in a thunderstorm. Ya might get hurt."
"I don't expect you to fear me, GAVAL. I just expect you to lose."
"Sephroth sent you. I know that now. He's come back and he wants me dead."
"It's all about revenge with evil, isnt' it. I understand now why he's so pissed. I've beaten him thrice now... He's lost to me across time and space three times, and I was stupid enough to think that after three strikes he was out for good."
***SONG*** "Human's Being"
"You will fight me now."
"And now he sends a friend to do his bidding. Well I'll god damned if I'm going to let him do this to me again. You hear me, SEPHROTH!? I KNOW YOU'RE WATCHING! I'm not playing this game any more!" GAVAL removed the vial of undead corn he had in his leather coat pocket and threw it hard. Then he unsnapped his utility belt and all of his weapons fell into the mud next to his fedora hat. "There is no more GAVAL for Sephroth to push around. There's only me now: Ted V. Benoit. That's the name my mother gave me before all this slayer legacy crap caught up with me, and that's who you've chosen to screw with...here...in the GOD DAMNED RAIN!" GAVAL pulled of his jacket and threw it at V as he screamed in angst.
The jacket hit V in the chest and slowly dropped down, until it hung off of his sword. Sephroth's minion did not budge, slightly puzzled by what his prey had said to him.
The oddest things were going through GAVAL's head. He thought of the ASG and how it maintained its heritage by renaming all who joined their service once it was realized that they had the purified blood flowing through their veins. The words of an ancient Khadoran language used to create their new designations consisted of words like "Ga" meaning "prince." "Ca" meant "loyal one." "Bal" meant "righteous one." Na: protector. Val: evil slayer. Buf: light. Guh: strength. The list went on.
Staring at an unfortunate soul turned pawn of evil, GAVAL had reached a level of clarity that some people take a lifetime to achieve. He knew that Sephroth would never give up. He knew that he was a pawn of the good and evil conflict that would never end and he knew that the struggle to maintain balance was one that could never be avoided.
"You MUST fight me now," insisted V with the simplest of forced logic.
"Fine. Let's see if god really is on my side," came the reply as GAVAL stepped away from his weapons...among them the most sacred blade forged in Khandoras itself by one of the original 13 Slayers of the Luminant Genesis: the Dawn Damner. He had only been carrying this weapon because the ASG asked him to do so when they found out he had been marked by so much evil.
The V-man didn't seem phased by this abandonment of weapons. In fact he seemed to perk up when he saw GAVAL approaching him. Perhaps it was desperation because he was tired of the endless fighting, or maybe he had just lost his mind, but for whatever reason, GAVAL was quickly striding through the mid towards a trained killer completely unarmed and with a hostility unharbored by any means of self preservation.
Without saying a word V took a swipe with his sword bent on taking GAVAL's head. The move was cold, uncalculated, and single-minded. GAVAL stopped dead in his tracks. To any onlooker the blow would have seemed like a life-ending one. The blade passed just under GAVAL's chin, leaving a tiny cut in the skin just above his adam's apple. If he had stopped any measure of time later, it would have meant his life. GAVAL seemed to be testing the fates with such a foolhearty move, but it seemed to have payed off.
"Okay," he whispered as soon as he knew the blade had missed his mark. With that remark he leaned in with all the speed he could muster and grabbed V-man's sword-arm wrist. Using the momentum of the sword swinging, GAVAL pushed forward the elbow while holding the wrist steadfast. The result was simple. While his wrist stopped moving, the elbow continued forward, bending backwards.
"Hhhhhh..." came the reply as V dropped his sword and looked down at his ruined elbow. This was his only good arm. A setback to say the least as he raised his mechanical arm to defend himself. GAVAL simply stood on V's sword so that he couldn't grab it and waited for the next attack to come. He wasn't sure at that point if he wanted to die or to live with the fact that yet another friend had been hurt because of his actions. His or Sephroth's actions? Where did this all begin?
V-man extended his mechanical arm and the hand shot out of it's wrist, grabbing GAVAL by the throat, a thick cord connecting the hand to his arm. The cajun winced more at the aggravated throat cut's sting than at the crush of the mechanical digits around his jugular. Knowing he wasn't going to pry the powerful thing off, GAVAL did the only thing he could and began running towards V-man who had backed a few feet away when his elbow was cracked.
The effect was exactly as GAVAL had guessed. The grip, with no tension in the cord to hold it taught, loosened its grip. The Slayer dove into the mud between V's legs and slid right under him, then rolled to the right in the direction of V's bad arm and around his right leg. By this point, GAVAL had managed to remove the hand from his neck. Without thinking GAVAL attached the hand to V's left ankle and watched as he tripped himself while trying to reel the hand in. Under demonic influence, most people lost their ability to think quickly or with any measure of calculation unless under direct control. GAVAL knew this and exploited it.
Unfortunately, for every bit of cognitive ability lost, the subject usually gains in power threefold as GAVAL learned when an energy bolt of some kind shot out of V's eyes and mouth, blasting GAVAL in the shoulder before he could get back up.
The injury sizzled through GAVAL's body feeling something like a cross between electrical shock and red hot metal being pressed into his shoulder. If he had been in a better mood, GAVAL would have mentioned the mark that injury might leave, but at this point, he didn't even know why he kept fighting.
V then took to the air and landed behind GAVAL, splashing mud onto the slayer. The coolness of the muck actually felt good on his wounds, he thought, as V kicked the Slayer in the spine, and then bore down on him with his handless metal arm. GAVAL was able to spring to his feet despite the pain he was in and grabbed onto V-man in a bear hug, squeezing him at the elbow line.
This move might have served some purpose if GAVAL has the benefits of the Rush. With Enhanced strength he may have been able to squeeze the breath of out V and then get him some help, but here was no Rush, and GAVAL wasn't a particularly strong guy. V-man, more out of reaction to pain than anything else bolted into the air and into the storm rain. The droplets stung GAVAL's face as they flew up at an indeterminable amount of speed. GAVAL wondered if he was trying to flee, but learned quickly that this was not the case as V took a nosedive directly into a briar patch that had dried in the rainless weeks before the storm. As he flew just above the patch, GAVAL's legs and body were dragged through the thorny vines. He felt his pockets rip out and what was left of his t-shirt being torn to shreds, but the cuts he were getting were what really got his attention.
GAVAL squeezed V harder around the elbow line. The pain, if he could feel such a thing, didn't really phase the manipulated CWALer. In a last desperate act, GAVAL released V with his left arm and pulled down on his head, hoping to steer him back down to the ground like a horse with a bridle. For some reason, it worked and the two came crashing to the ground, with V breaking the Slayer's fall. Getting up first, GAVAL kneed V-man in the breadbasket so hard he landed in a puddle making a large splash and remained there face first.
Realizing what he had done to a friend GAVAL limped up to V and turned him over so that he could breath. He was out cold. It was probably the impact that knocked him out. Looking down at his elbow GAVAL saw that it was a compound fracture. His arm was bleeding...muddy water penetrating the wound. He needed medical help immediately...and a good exorcizing wouldn't hurt either. V's girlfriend, Shade, would be pissed.
The Acadian got up to survey his wounds. Nothing major...superficial wounds like cuts and a twisted ankle. As he began walking back to the BiB to get ahold of a cell phone, something twitched deep inside him. If there was such a thing as spider sense, Slayers had such an early warning system around any really serious form of evil. The feeling was like a hot flash that went cold suddenly, then was hot again repeatedly.
"What now?!" he cried.
"You fought well," said Lavag as he walked out from around a bolder at the edge of the gully. "Just like a Benoit to come out on top."
GAVAL knew this person. He was the mysterious man in black who had followed Gav back to Khanduras across time and space, only to side with Abadon and bring about chaos for everything good in that godforsaken realm. Slayer Chimneysweep intelligence had also reported that this guy used to work for Sephroth before Gaval took the demon down a few months prior.
"How do you know that name?" asked GAVAL defensively.
"I really like the part where you let your anger get the best of you and broke his arm," said Lavag as he ignored the question an walked down the hillside he had appeared from.
"HOW?" GAVAL yelled in a rageful fit. He was in no mood to be taunted by anyone, let alone another bad guy.
"Because it's the name our parents gave to us, that's why!" Lavag said, waiting anxiously for his brother to go off the deep end at hearing the news.
"So you know now. Fine. Now go away, deserter," GAVAL replied in a matter of fact fashion. As he turned and walked to his Blazer dragging V along, Lavag began to follow him.
"You knew? You knew all this time?!"
"The ASG has an intelligence network of over 2000 individuals keeping tabs on every characteristicly flawed individual on the planet. You think you'd get past our reach forever? Get the hell out of here."
"And you never came to me?! Confronted our past?!"
"In case you hadn't noticed, Spike, I'm having a bad day. Leave me the hell alone before I send you to a mud bath with this poor guy."
"I heard what you said, GAVAL. I know you are ready to leave the Guild and join me. We can rule the supernatural realm together as brothers!"
"Don't call me that. My name is Ted Benoit and I don't want to have a damn thing to do with you or any more of your kind, you hear me?! Now get the fuck AWAY!" The livid Cajun's anger was so great that his emotion literally shot out of him like a telekinetic wave that hit Lavag with the force of a linebacker and dropped him to the ground.
GAVAL, terrified, looked down at his hands, dripping in rain, blood, and muddy water and shook his head. "What's happening to me!?" He fell to his knees next to the still unconscious V-man and grabbed his temples as if fighting a migraine headache.
Lavag got up, obviously despondent after the unanticipated attack and charged his brother angrily. "If you won't join me, then you won't join anybody!" The estranged slayer-reject tackled GAVAL, slamming his head against the Blazer door and grabbed him by the throat murderously squeezing like a madman.
"Save some for us!" Nighteye, in a dark cloak stepped out from yet another hiding place with Ragnir the Abomination right behind him.
"What....what the hell?" asked GAVAL, still reeling from a head wound and gesturing towards Ragnir.
"Oh, just your run of the mill undead slayer, Slayer!" The dark jedi cackled at his own words, then kicked Ragnir in the rump towards GAVAL. "Ragnir. Sick Slayer!" More cackling ensued.
"You know...nothing surprises me anymore...." moaned GAVAL as Lavag lifted his bleeding body up off the ground and held him steady for Ragnir. "You must be pretty proud of yourself, Nighteye. Oof!" The creature Ragnir, in its eternal Rush of bastardized power, led off with a punch to the breadbasket. GAVAL was able to tighten his abdomen enough to keep some of his breath after the blow. "You've managed to do the impossible and bastardize something I cared about in the worst possible way. What was it?" WHACK! A blow went across GAVAL's skull that nearly broke his jaw. He knew Ragnir was pulling his punches to extend the torture. The first blow could easily have killed him given the force of the Rush behind Ragnir's fists. The Cajun gasped for breath and sputtered out a few more words. "A pact with...the devil? *gasp* The Book of...the Dead?" As GAVAL wheezed he noticed that he couldn't even feel the rain still pouring down on his face.
"Something like that," grinned the dark wizard as Lavag spit at his brother and cursed him under the falling rain. "I see no reason to share a secret so rare with the likes of you. When OEEP, the DSA, and all other terrorist groups learn that it was I who took down the cause of this little conflict, they'll know that Nighteye is a real player in the game of life. Now, who shall get the honor of finishing off this pathetic creature?"
"The master....commands...that GAVAL die."
"Well, look who decided to rejoin us!" growled Lavag as GAVAL tried vainly to struggle out of his hold. The V-man slowly rose to once again attempt bringing in his quarry, GAVAL, with the unbending deliberacy and single-mindedness of a ghoul like Ragnir.
"Well, first come, first serve, then! V, you may finish the slayer" taunted Nighteye as if he were somehow in command.
GAVAL braced himself. Questions floated through his pounding head. Is this the means to finally getting some peace of mind? Death by that which you hate most? He closed his eyes and waited. No more fighting. I'll just die here by my SUV and let someone else pick up the fight.
"Ah wouldn't do that if ah were you."
A cajun accent? The sound of a lightsaber igniting. The shuffling of feet. A curse from both Lavag and Nighteye. The whirring of servos in V-man's damaged arm. Then he was let go. GAVAL couldn't resist opening his swollen eyes to see what was happening.
There, facing off with his malicious captors was Cabbott, Slayer Cajun along with Z and Darth Ninny of CWAL.
"We been looking for you chauses," said Cabbot.
Ninny brought his lightsaber up and pointed it towards Nighteyes similar weapon with a hum. The others all poised themselves for a strike as GAVAL fell to his knees, exhausted, and lost consciousness.
XV. "Earth's Ransom" by GAVAL
Earth, Everywhere, November 30th 10:00am
"Citizens of planet Earth..."
The artificial but energetic voice of Zenogias was being broadcast across all frequencies across the electromagnetic spectrum and could be picked up on cell phones, television sets, and radio across the globe.
"...for the past 25 years you have stewed in decadence ingoring the stars and the human destiny to expand it's culture and technology to the infinite horizons of space. The Dark Star Alliance has chosen to take advantage of your decision to ignore the vastness of space by reaching for Earth's only natural satellite and claiming it as our own. It is here on Luna that we shall enforce our will without competition.
Our demands are simple and straightforward. Hiding in the crevasses of each civilization around the world is an organization of individuals calling themselves the Ambiguous Slayer's Guild. Their actions are funded by Catholicism. Their existence is centered around preventing the more ambitious people of the Earth from moving forward with their intentions.
The Dark Star Alliance wants these Slayers dead. The Dark Star Alliance has the means to see that its desires are met. From the lunar surface we have prepared several orbit capable devices of nuclear capability. Each is capable of causing both fusion and fission reactions which will in simple terms render the electronic devices in each major city around the world useless. With your weapons and monitoring technology eliminated; your people dying of radiation exposure from a bastardized atmosphere, it would be a simple task for the DSA to sweep down and seize control of what remains of civilization, but we are not without compassion.
Send the remaining 78,000 or so of these Slayers to the following coordinates and DSA organized orbital detonations will only occur over their location. Latitude 35 degrees-666', Longitude 116 degrees-66.' You need only speak to the Pope, the Catholic Holy Father, to reveal the location of these individuals. You have 2 days to answer the Dark Star Alliance. You haven't the means to reach the moon any time soon, nor to retaliate or prevent our initial strike. I expect to hear from the President of the United States by the end of that time. Any deviation from our instructions after the time is up will result in an end to human civilization. Any attempt of a pre-emtive nuclear strike on the moon will be met with harsh punishment. We will be monitoring all extra-terrestrial bound communications for your response. This message will repeat itself every hour until your deadline is reached. Do not attempt to defy the will of the Dark Star Alliance. We lack patience."
With the flip of a switch Zenogias turned to face Dark Angel with a concerned sound in his voice box.
"Do you think I was stern enough? I only got to rehearse that 3 or 4 times and my acting coach says I need to be a little less forboding....."
"You're completely nuts, you know that? You don't have any nuclear weapons! You've barely even got this place armed or defended! They're going to find out when they ignore your demands that you've got very little bark to your bite."
"They're going to be completely horrified, and will see to it that all the slayers are moved to the pre-determined coordinates. There, we'll be waiting in force to slaughter them. There's nothing in our army to bring about their silly powers and they'll make easy targets for my volunteers and mercenaries. Then, with the Slayers out of the way, There'll be little left but CWAL and the Dominion to stop us from finishing the Dark Star and bringing about true terror!" Zeno's metal legs clumped their way towards a window as he gazed out upon yet another Earth Rise far out towards the lunar horizon behind a particularly large crater. "I miss ice cream and potato chips."
Dark Angel brandished his new shimmering sword and shoved it deep into a metal column of the Dark Star Base to remind Zenogias of his formidability. "If they don't show up and you've got no means of carrying out your threats, your credibility is ruined and you're no closer to enacting the kind of control it takes to launch any kind of campaign. Your resources you've stolen from the Dominion and Blizzard are exhausted. Your army is small and loyal only to the money you can't afford to pay them. You've put too many eggs into one basket. If this ransom threat of yours doesn't work we're all out of the game and it won't just be the end of the DSA. You will have destroyed OEEP/KC as well. I didn't fight to bring back Joe's legacy just to have you and your mad schemes destroy it all....so I tell you what. First sign of any type of strike against this little colony you've built here, and we evacuate. Now if you don't agree with that, myself and the rest of OEEP would love to discuss it with you in the training gym." Again the leader of OEEP recklessly smashed a portion of solid metal with his sword and walked out to let Zenogias think about his options.
"Don't confuse my letting you walk out of here with fear, Dark Angel. It's more out of loyalty to the others than anything that I'm even considering your words," said Zenogias; not even sure if Dark Angel heard him as he exited. Reaching over to the communications terminal Zenogias accessed a video clip of his ransom message and set it to transmit every hour on the hour towards Earth. Then he hailed the engineering module of the moon base. "Dr. Bones. Get in here. My right spleen componants are acting up....and bring a couple of the new guys from the infantry with you. I need someone to smack around."
XVI. "To Arms" by GAVAL
(CWAL HQ, November 30th, 10:30am)
Lightning crashed outside as Fron walked across a large windowpane in the front of CWAL HQ. The sound of the storm outside was joined by the occasional snickering and laughter of a group of warriors still excited about their win over OEEP the previous day. The party had gone all night and for many was ongoing.
As he looked across the living area of CWAL HQ, it's largest room, he saw a sight more unique than most of that anywhere in the world. A collaboration of the supernatural, metahumans, arcane magic, some morally-questionable yet fun-loving individuals, and even a healthy cast of extraterrestrials stood before them. Nowhere in the world was this mixed a group of rapscallions gathered under one roof. "It's as though the weirdest of the weird on Earth decided to converge for one goal...one purpose," thought Fron.
Sitting on the couch was Phasmus, trying to convince Anarion of the joys of liquidation and demonstrating with a roll of toilet paper. Surviving slayers from Cabbott's regiment sat about picking at stale donuts from the local Krispy Kreme. Fron's Dominion officers were there as well including Combat veteran Lieutenant 11001001 who once served aboard the CMS Canuck, along with the veterans and newbies of CWAL like MAGGOTT, Dark Chrono, Supernook, Spudster, and Archangel who were eating the last of the party favors and getting increasingly listless. In a matter of minutes they would resort to networks games of Starcraft. This rare window of opportunity to get them to focus on one person without distraction had to be siezed.
Lothos was the first to speak, his usual mischievous grin replaced by one of annoyance. "The DSA has bastardized television as we know it. The only logical penalty for this is slow painful rectal death."
Fron spoke up, "Lothos is hardly known for his logic, but he's got the right idea. We thought we had OEEP by the throat after their Headquarters went down, but it appears the DSA had a lot more resources than we had anticipated."
"Our course is clear," said MAGGOTT while buttering a croissant with diesel fuel. "Carnage, destruction, and conflict shall ensue. Pass the Valvoline, please." Leach complied.
Pez rolled in an overhead projector and flicked it on. "We hacked in to the United States Intelligence network and found that Norad picked up a large explosion immediately halfway between Earth and the moon in a parallel orbit to that of the moon." As he sketched out his findings, Pez noticed everyone staring at his cheap projection device. "Expected a holographic projector?! THIS FINALE HAS A BUDGET, PEOPLE! Besides, I'm just keeping it real. Word up."
"What was the cause of the explosion," asked Lieutenant 11001001.
"After the dust settled we immediately began picking up signals originating from the moon behind it. Evidently the DSA was using the object in orbit to mask their true base of operations on the moon itself. When debris from the explosion finally made it to re-entry, Rask II hacked into the KGB network and found the Russian government was able to confirm that the object in orbit was not only of Dominion origin, but that Blizzard had something up there as well," said Pez, as he wiped the transparency clean with a damp cloth.
"Dominion?!" gulped Fron.
The Protoss, Dark Chrono, looked over a printout from Pez's computer. "Obviously the source of the DSA's resources has been the only establishment on Earth with enough resources to service a project of that magnitude. They've been stealing resources from your Dominion, Fron. Federation Technology by the looks of these debris samples."
One of the slayers shook his head and "Ye-Hawed" a bit before reminding Fron that he'd have to do some explaining with the Russian government over their misleading finds.
MAGGOTT was displeased. "You'd better find out who's leaking materials and funding from your government, Fron. The ship you're running is about as tight as a Kilrathian whore's seven vaginas."
"Lieutenant, get on finding the conspirators immediately," frowned Fron. The Lieutenant acknowledged his orders and walked out of the room tapping into a cell phone.
"What about the debris from Blizzard Headquarters," Phasmus chimed in as his eyes widened and he glared across the room at Reverend Duane.
Leonard Duane felt the mummy's eyes scan him over and began to sweat, thinking of the Book of the Dead he was supposed to be safeguarding.
"I would gather that either Blizzard is conspiring with the DSA or they they are the ones who destroyed the orbiting base," said Dark Chrono.
"That's the theory we're going with," answered Fron.
"So this thing in orbit was hiding the Blackvoid on the moon?" asked Maelstrom.
"No. That thing in orbit WAS the Blackvoid," said Pez.
MAGGOTT, having finished his snack was beginning to lose patience. He needed entertainment. "So we make them all very dead. Let's go already."
Fron put his hand on Fjorxc's shoulder. "Fjorxc here will let us use the Phoenix to get whatever men we need to the moon to find and disable this nuclear weapon of Zeno's. This won't be a pretty battle. Once on the moon's surface, we'll be fighting in a zero atmosphere environment. Most of our weapons will be useless except for missiles and energy guns."
"We up for it, Chause. Jus' give us time to clear it wit the Vatican and you'll have all de backup you need from the ASG," said one of the Slayers Cajun.
Fron began pacing as his mind went into overdrive. "If we can disrupt the airtight integrity of the moonbase, we can drive their troops out and even the odds atmospherically. It'll have to be a ground assault. We'll get as many space suits as possible ready for the attack. Launch in three hours. Any longer a wait and we risk theim finding us out. Everyone rendezvous on that deserted beach near Emerald Bay. We should be able to load everyone into the Phoenix there before the local authorities show up. Akardam will stay here in the Hawthorne to protect CWAL and Dominion HQ from any sudden attacks. A few CWALers should stay here to keep the base."
MAGGOTT and Lothos mumbled, "Newbies."
Carver, Gato, and Undertow frowned at each other. "Figures," they growled.
As everyone in the room began to either separate to begin preparations or pour themselves some java, Phasmus watched Duane leave the room hastily and slowly enacted pursuit. "Not exactly his style of reading material, I think," he mumbled to himself as thoughts of recapturing the Book of the Dead filled his duct tape enshrouded head and his eyes glowed a brighter green.
CWAL HQ was definitely abuzz.
XVII. "CARV Defined" by GAVAL
CARV HQ, An abandoned Denny's Restaurant in Irvine, CA
November 30th 10:30am
The home base of the Citizens Advocating Random Violence was quiet as usual for this time of morning. The only sounds resonating from the shabby halls of their headquarters were those of snoring and slumbered mumbles as one lone television set that stayed on all night repeated the terrorist message of Zenogias over and over again.
"Do not attempt to defy the will of the Dark Star Alliance. We lack patience."
Dorg turned over, smacked his lips, farted, and went back to sleep.
XVIII. "Submission: Fight evil with evil" by GAVAL
CARV HQ, The Basement
November 30th 10:30am
Meanwhile down below CARV headquarters, one of the world's most wretched beings was hard at work, in the light of a candle, weaving webs of arcane magic and unlocking the secrets to the object before him. Staring empty eye sockets of the The skull of Ethric, the first lich, Namrok smiled and talked to the old bone like it was a dear friend.
"Ethric, Ethric. How you and I shall trample the world before us. I know, I know...you're angry because you needed me to finish the work you started, but two dead heads are better than one, no?" The light the single candle flickered shadows in and out of the lich's repulsive visage as he held the skull towards himself and spoke to it like Hamlet in the Shakespearean graveyard scene.
"Alas, poor Yurik! I knew him well!" Namrok cackled with glee. Obviously the unbridled power of the skull he held was going to his head. With it he would be able to control every undead creature on the planet, and even worse, he could use its power to harness the sins of others and turn them into his minions. One needn't be a mathematician to figure out that this meant an unstoppable army would be at Namrok's beck and call if he wasn't stopped soon.
Namrok had recently manipulated local television so that anyone who even opted to watch certain programming would have exercised their free will in a sinful enough way for him to use the skull to steal their soul for manipulation. The results, if he were to gain subservience from all of the program's viewers, would be an army in the hundreds of millions.
It would only be a matter of minutes now before he could start summoning the powers of the skull and bringing his army to bear on the world.
The skull was dark in appearance, almost black, with a deep crimson hue. It was glossy like wax, but cold and metallic feeling to the touch. What was most horrifying about the thing was it's visage. Whatever soul this bone once housed could not possibly have been human at the time of its death, the skull twisted and bastardized to appear more monstrous than human in appearance. Only a couple of teeth still clung to its upper jowls; both sharp and pointed canines.
"Come to me, minions of Ethric," be began to chant. "Come to me, living dead of the world. Come vampires and ghouls. Come zombies and rumbling bones. Come ghosts and demons. Come poltergeists and infernal shades of death!"
"That will be quite enough, Namrok," came a voice from the shadows.
"Ethric, is that you?!" wheezed the archlich as teh held the skull before him.
"Ethric was a pathetic little wizard with no further knowledge of the arcane than a few parlor tricks. I am a much lower power," said the voice from behind Namrok. The male voice's tone was arrogant and almost in a whisper, yet somehow powerful in presence.
The lich turned around, clutching the skull to his breast and squinting what was left of his rotting eyelids into the darkness. With the faint light of the candle all he could make out was a vague for of someone staring at him from the shadows.
"How dare you blaspheme the name of The First?! Be gone from my presence, shade! You have no purpose here other than to be squashed under my foot! I am NAMROK!"
The figure moved slightly closer. Namrok could now make out a distinctively female shape lurking there in the darkness, but the voice was still low and dissettling.
"Though Ethric was a failure at best, his legacy can be of some use to me, corpse. You will use the skull to do my bidding."
Namrok laughed at the figure gazing at him from the shadows and began to chant up a spell to dispell of the nuisance before it could deter him from his destiny any longer, but before he could utter more than a few words, his jaw fell from his very face!
"I said you WILL use the skull to do my bidding. Don't even entertain the thought that you have a choice in the matter, lich!"
Namrok looked down at his arms to see his flesh rapidly rotting off of his already decayed form. In a matter of seconds he would turn to dust. He knew this was his fate if he didn't relent. Falling to his knees the lich grasped his own jawbone and looked up at the figure now staring down at him with a look that suggested disgust at his weakness.
As soon as he fell to his knees the advanced decay stopped and the lich was spared a fate worse than death for the time being.
"You will gather an army of as many minions the skull can muster, and bring them to these coordinates in the Mojave Desert. There you will find a hill surrounded by four onyx obelisks. I will be there waiting. A battle of epic proportions awaits, and your presence there is written in stone by god himself." The figure began dissolving into thin air without another word; a scrap of paper floating down to the ground.
As soon as Namrok began contemplating revenge two blood red glowing eyes appeared again from the darkness and a voice spoke, this time female.
"If you don't show up, your manhood isn't the only thing that will turn to dust." Then silence.
Namrok immediately checked himself low and high to see that everything was in tact, then realized his jaw was again resting in its proper place. As he placed the skull back onto the pedestal before him and slumped back into a chair all he could think about was, "who?"
XIX. "Last Resort: The CCC" by GAVAL
Vatican City, Rome, Italy
November 30th 10:30am PST
A hush fell over the assembly of Cardinals and Officers in the ASG as they stood up to greet the keynote speaker and chair of this gathering. Two gigantic wooden doors creaked open as the Holy Father hobbled in with a hooked staff similar to that used by shepherds.
Panic had gripped the entire church since word of the Irvine Massacre had reached the Vatican. Nearly one thousand slayers of evil and undead in general had been put to death by an unknown cause. The survival rate of the legion of slayers unwillingly dispatched to Irvine was almost negligible. Not since the crusades had this many of the church's warriors met defeat in such large numbers. The Ambiguous Slayer's Guild had a contingency for times of crisis this desperate. Only one thing could be done by the church in times of crisis back then. Only one thing could be done do deal with it now.
"Gentlemen of the Holy Catholic Church; Honorable leaders of the Ambiguous Slayer's Guild; patrons of the greater pie eating community; I present to you all The Holy Father, Pope Jon Paul II." Cardinal Pio Lagio bowed before the ancient priest, and the rest of the assembly followed suit.
"Please, please...be seated," said the crooked old man as he moved towards his chair. "We have much to discuss. I trust you all enjoyed the Apple Danish provided by Father Bruvishki on this sad occasion."
Cardinal O'Connor, the American, dabbed the corners of his mouth satisfyingly as he sat down with the rest of the assembly.
"For over a millennium now...since the time of Pope Urban II...the church and the pureblood...the evil slayers...have worked together to promote the will of god and to maintain the fragile balance between good and evil. Occasionally, this balance is threatened...distorted as it bulges towards sin and pestilence; towards chaos and impurity. When this has happened we have always been there to keep the scales balanced; To restore things to the way god intended...and when I say the way the lord intended, I mean with a healthy presence of all moralities and alignments. For without light, there can be no darkness...and without evil there can be no goodness."
Old holy men and slayers alike shifted in their chairs around the table as they thought of how bad things around the world had really gotten. The Pope paused to get a drink of water, and then continued on.
"The church exists to promote goodness. The Guild, to maintain balance. That balance is now at risk; more grave a risk than it's been in since the holocosts of the third reich....and even then we never had losses like this. Two days ago one of hell's representatives had the audacity to violate our very inner sanctum. To take my body...and to use my voice to send those innocent souls to their deaths!"
No one had ever seen the pope so angry. Where was the forgiveness? Where was the mercy they were used to hearing? The old man seemed almost in tears. He hobbled over to a map of the world and gestured towards it with his staff.
"Belfast: Statues of the blessed mother are stolen, broken, or drawn on with mustaches. Hong Kong: Young children are mouthing off to their parents with unusual aggression. Slovakia: Demons are jumping out of the snow and mooning passers by before eating them. Buenes Aeres: An asteroid with a pentagram lands on top of each church of every denomination in the city. Calgary, Canada: Hideous and foul smelling monstors appear randomly from underground and eat people mercilessly. Irvine, California: Reports of walking corpses converging around a local fast food eatery. Chicago: A 666% percent surge in poltergeist activity over the last week. Ouahu, Hawaii: Rosie O'Donnell releases a new kids album and performs live in a thong biniki. I ask you gentlemen, if these are not signs of the apocalypse, I know not what is!"
Cardinal Lazerus winced in his chair as he realized what an ugly picture the Pope could paint.
"Then this morning, not 20 minutes ago, an organization calling itself the Dark Star Alliance declares war on all of the purebloods, the Ambiguous Slayers, and threatens to destroy civilization as we know it if they do not turn themselves in somewhere in the Mojave desert. I don't know about you, but I have had enough. This may be the beginning of the end. God may be having to force his hand once again into battle with Satan to restore the balance, but we will not turn the other cheek this time."
"Nearly two millenia ago the Lord of Sin and Death challenged god's only son in order to firm his grasp of darkness on the world and permanently give evil the upper hand against balance. The champion would prevail to end the spirit war that had been fought for so long. In the end good triumphed. Jesus was the champion. Balanced reigned for a thousand years until the first crusades when we were blessed a second time not with one champion, but with several champions...the first slayers...who were transported to our world from another plane of existence."
"Now evil has once again gained the upper hand. Another thousand years have passed. A new champion must be found, but god has made what we can only interpret as an error in judgement. In a mortal battle with the demon known as Sephroth, months back, the Slayer known as GAVAL was raised up from the dead, just like Jesus and the first slayers, and returned to life. The day was saved, but this GAVAL was not meant to be the third champion, and the lord has promised never to intervene more than once every thousand years. This GAVAL is mearly a slayer and cannot possibly withstand assault from the underworld as did the son of man so long ago. With god's premature intervention in raising this slayer back to life to preserve the timeline months ago, there may be no champion this time when we really need one."
"As of 10:35am this 30th day of November in the year of our lord 1999, I am enacting the contingency that we haven't used in over 400 years to defend the balance that is so precious to all who stand for righteousness. I hereby activate the Cush-Cush Contengency. We are to mobilize every last slayer and converge upon the source of evil in the Mojave desert where god the father will oversee the duel of the fates once again. If our champion does not come to pass, we will fight to the last with the descendants of the last champions."
"That is all. There are tea and cakes in the foyer."
With those words the Pope abruptly left for his private chambers.
Gatral, who had been at the Vatican to represent the American Headquarters of the ASG in New Orleans stood up, lit a cigar, and headed out of the room to catch a plane back to the Big Easy. The worst was happening and he felt like nothing he would do could stop it.
XX. "Revelation" by GAVAL
Somewhere in the realm of Ted GAVAL Van Helsing Benoit's Consciousness where time has no meaning....
It was as though he were walking amongst the clouds. GAVAL looked about the horizon as sunlight poured through the puffy towers of moisture in beautiful yellow beams with sky bluer than he had ever seen before in the background. It made him wonder why people often said they dreamed in black and white, because he knew he wasn't dead or hallucinating.
"I must be lucid dreaming," he said aloud to himself as he tested the firmness of the cloud he seemed to be standing on. "Maybe I can control the dream and make it seem like a beer commercial!"
GAVAL closed his eyes and tried to concentrate on bikini clad women sitting around a swimming pool wearing swimsuits made of pizza he opened his eyes to see something else.
There, floating amongst the clouds was the face of Rachel Hollis, her brown hair blowing gently in the wind. He didn't think he had ever seen her look so beautiful or welcoming. Why hadn't he noticed her this way before? Her face had at first a look of love in it, but then slowly it turned to sorrow as she began to weep bitterly. GAVAL's heart felt like it was rent it two as he tried to make sense of the vision, then a figure began to walk in through the image as Rachel's beautiful face slowly faded away into the sunbeams.
It was a man clad in medieval armor, carrying a large maul wresting on his shoulder on one hand and a crucifix with a chain attached to it in the other. He was bearded and looked to be quite elderly, but there was a look in his eyes that was hauntingly familiar. GAVAL had looked into those eyes once before, back in Khanduras. This was no ordinary man or spirit he was exchanging glances with. This was CABAL, Slayer Prime. The first and foremost mortal ever to have been given the gift of Enlightened Blood during the Gathering of the 13 Souls of the Luminant Genesis some one thousand years earlier.
GAVAL, in his adventures in Khanduras with Rachel, Lothos, Sofielisk, and Fjorxc had gotten to witness this birth of the Ambiguous Slayer Guild and battled along with CABAL against the forces of Abadon in attempts to slow the demon's progress in that chaotic and primitive land.
Now the two were looking at each other once again, at first with wary and nervous eyes, but now with a look of welcome friendship as they realized all was well and embraced.
"YOU recognize me, then?" asked the old Slayer. "After all this time...."
"For me it's only been a matter months," said the cajun. "Where are we? Is this another gift from the Divinity? Another peaceful dream to console me during rough times?"
"It's that and much more," said CABAL. "This is not only a dream but a vision to guide you on your path..."
"What's going on, Prime? Why all the pain? Why am I being made such a victim in all this?"
"Have you heard the legends of the Champion?" asked the Slayer Prime.
"Yes...Christians know it as the fall of Christ into hell to defeat Satan and open the gates of heaven to his followers."
"Yes. But that wasn't the end of it, GAVAL." CABAL dropped his maul, the sound of it thudding onto the strange surface echoed throughout the realm of thought he and GAVAL were inhabiting.
"Don't call me that. I'm not GAVAL anymore."
"Jesus' fall was only the beginning of a series of trials the forces of good are to face, GAVAL." The cajun frowned at CABAL's disregard for his wishes. "In his infinite wisdom, the lord God has allowed for evil to exert its free will over and over, threatening the balance between light and darkness."
"And the Slayers are supposed to be his little police force? His little answer to allowing evil free reign? Did he take into account how bad we'd get our asses whipped here when they got really pissed off?!"
"The souls of lost slayers are guaranteed free reign in the kingdom of god, their suffering repayed by an eternity of joy. I needn't explain this to you. What you do need to know is that the time has come for another champion to take his place on the battlefield. A hero must stand in at the cosmic collisseum to defend the light."
GAVAL rolled his eyes "And I get to be your whipping boy, right? I have to stand in once again and play hero because god needs another champion. Great. Did it ever occur to you that maybe I don't WANT to be the hero every time?! That perhaps I need a little respit from all this carnage before I go Kazz and start enjoying all the killing?!"
"No, GAVAL, you've done your part over the years and the lord has taken that into account. You misinterpret his intentions." CABAL turned his back to GAVAL and stared down from the clouds as GAVAL frowned again at CABAL's using his given name. "You are not to be the champion. Not at all. You are merely the catalyst to set the new Fight of the Ages in motion. And you are to help build a new competitor to stand in the ring."
GAVAL raised his eyebrow and walked around to look the Slayer Prime in the eyes. He could see a look of fear in CABAL's eyes. Never in his life had he dreamed the Slayer Prime could be afraid of anything. "CABAL?"
"Another soul is to reach for the title of Champion."
"Oh god, CABAL, I'm sorry," suddenly it all made sense to the cajun. Legend had it that CABAL never got to see the Earth, having remained in Khanduras to fight the good fight against Abadon and rebuild a new legacy of slayers there while his followers went on to build a guild in 11th century Europe. CABAL had never really served his true purpose and now the time had come.
"Don't be sorry, boy. Just tell me you won't give up."
GAVAL bowed his head, filled with shame for the way he had been behaving since learning of the warehouse slaughter. "I AM sorry. I'm sorry for the way I've been behaving. Of course I'll help. I'll do anything god asks of me. I always have. I want to ask you something about when I fought my brother. He just flew back..."
"All descendants of my friend Guhval have potential for rare and wonderful powers to aid against the forces of evil. You have been blessed once again by the divinity. Use these abilities with wisdom, for they can do as much harm as they can good."
"But what are the abilities? How do they work?! Why haven't I had them before?!"
"We grow short on time. Take this crucifix." Prime handed the relic to the cajun. It was golden and very basic in appearance except for the blood red ruby in the center. "My soul resides in this vessel. You must find a mobile vessel on Earth for me to reside in so that I might face hell's champion on the fateful day that approaches...and it is very soon."
CABAL began to fade away, his face showing a very grave look.
"CABAL, wait! I have questions!....what was that image before you appeared? Why did I see Rachel's face?"
Though he had completely faded away, CABAL's voice trailed off saying, "That vision came not from the lord, but from your heart."
GAVAL stared off into the clouds as he felt he was alone, perhaps more alone than he had ever been in his life. "Rachel?" he thought to himself. "Why didn't I see it sooner?"
Though he knew he was alone, GAVAL wished CABAL good luck while gazing into the ruby of the crucifix. With a world of Armageddon awaiting him, GAVAL couldn't help but think of matters of the heart. As he began to feel himself fade back into consciousness the words to an old song he enjoyed echoed in his head...
Why don't you come to your senses?
You been out riding fences for so long now.
Oh, you're a hard one, but I know you got your reasons.
These things that are pleasing you can hurt you somehow.
Don't you draw the queen of diamonds boy,
she'll beat you if she's able.
You know the queen of hearts is always your best bet.
Now it seems to me some fine things have been laid upon your table,
but you only want the ones that you can't get.
Desperado, oh, you ain't gettin' any younger.
Your pain and your hunger, they're driving you home.
And freedom, oh freedom, that's just some people talkin'.
Your prison is walking through this world all alone.
Don't your feet get cold in the winter time,
The sky won't snow and the sun won't shine.
It's hard to tell the night time from the day.
You're losing all your highs and lows,
Ain't it funny how that feeling goes away?
Desperado, why don't you come to your senses?
Come down from your fences, oh, to the gate.
It may be raining, but there's a rainbow above you,
You'd better let somebody love you....before it's too late."
An isolated rocky valley outside of Irvine, California
November 30th, 10:31am
With a crack of a whip GAVAL's eyes burst open....or was it the crack of thunder? GAVAL found himself lying in the mud with his head leaning against the tire of his Blazer amidst the sounds of conflict.
To the left, standing upon a large rock was Darth Ninny and Nighteye locked in jedi combat with laser swords and waffles flying in a blinding dance of death.
Straight ahead, GAVAL saw his friend and associate Cabbott being beat down by Lavag and the undead slayer, Ragnir. It was obvious he wouldn't be able to hold out much longer.
Over to the right, Z and V-man were grappling with one another while trying not to slip on the mud. He had no idea how long he had been unconscious.
GAVAL's face instantly turned to a look of excitement and anticipation as he jumped to his feet and prepared to leap into battle. "EEE-AAAahhhhh!" That was a mistake. Pain shot through his body as his injuries reminded him of his own debilitated situation and he fell back to his knees in the mud.
"Ow..." GAVAL mumbled as brackish water splashed in his face. He took this moment to glance down at his hand and realized he was holding the crucifix from his vision in his hand. The crimson ruby glistened when the lightning flashed.
The cajun slowly got back up to his feet as he watched Cabbott do a somersault backwards and attempt to gain some kind of high ground against his two attackers. GAVAL walked slowly around the blazer and grabbed his drenched fedora out of a puddle. Then he slid his arms into his old leather flight jacket and finally picked up his belt with stakes, a swiss army knife, and his whip attached.
Then slowly he wrapped his fingers around the rawhide-wrapped handle of the Dawn Damner which was almost completed submerged in muck and raised it high in the air. GAVAL could feel the powers of the Rush begin to take him thanks to a broken vial of undead corn he had just stomped on. His eyes glowed a Cobalt Blue, his fists clenched, his muscles began to tighten as their density increased, and his wounds began to heal rapidly.
Taking a deep breath he screamed at the top of his lungs towards the angry clouds.
Everyone stopped what they were doing as his voice echoed through the valley. Soon the only sound was the pitter-patter of rain. Ragnir turned towards GAVAL and snarled, his red eyes glowing in fury as he saw his quarry had not been finished off.
"You! Dead thing! Let's go!"
Ragnir dropped Cabbott who he was holding by the neck, and Lavag just starred at GAVAL shaking his head. As GAVAL charged towards the Slayer-slayers and Cabbott, Lavag reached down for Cabbott only to have his wrist grabbed by inhuman strength. Just then Lavag himself buckled over in pain; his abdomen aching as though he had just been kicked in the nether regions. It was the Rush; brought on by GAVAL's undead corn. Cabbott's eyes glowed a deep royal purple; Lavag's a foreboding crimson like Ragnir's. Now all three slayers and even Ragnir the Abomination were sporting superhuman abilities. The outcome would be messy.
Nighteye, distracted by GAVAL's insipid screaming was brought back to reality by the force of a large Belgium waffle striking him bluntly in the forehead.
"Ouch! That really hurt!" he griped as he rubbed his forehead within his dark hood. "Who throws a waffle? Honestly!" Using his Sith abilities, Nighteye flew straight up into the air to dodge a volley of additional breakfast pastry as Darth Ninny flung the edible projectiles with the precision that only a Jedi Knight could muster. Nighteye landed right behind Ninny as his black lightsaber came down to finish the Jedi once an for all, but Ninny, with the guidance of his alter ego Master Tuff, saw the move coming early enough to spine around and ignite his blade directly in the path of Nighteye's dark blade.
The two glared at each other, teeth borne as their blades crackled and screamed due to constant contact; pushing each other back and forth in a contest of strength as their laser swords each tried to negate one another's magnetic field.
Z, being a complete and total extraterrestrial, was not a very average looking person/creature/thing. The effect of horror one experienced upon glancing at his visage was furthered along by the fact that he also happened to be a tampered with alien. Because he was the victim of biological testing, his two left appendages were basically slimy tendrils. Knowing he might not "fit in" with the All American look he had heard much about sinc ehis stay on Earth, Z had taken a liking to Earthly fashion; Particularly that of loud Hawaiian shirts. So imagine if you will a large leathery creature running towards you with a huge dorsal structure sticking out of its head, tendrils flailing about in every possible direction, sharp claws jutting out of its right hand, with a humming blue blade extending even further and sharper beyong that...in a yellow shirt with orange and green flowers. This was Zazzarius.
Had V-man still been in control of his faculties, he'd likely have experienced mental trauma or wet his pants at the sight of this extraterrestrial flailing monstosity running/slithering his way shouting things in an alien tongue that sounded like an angry Tasmanian Devil. However, V-man was driven by only one command. "GAVAL must suffer," and to him, Z did not even exist unless he got between V and GAVAL....which he did. Violence ensued.
When the two collided, onlookers would have seen a hazy spray of water and mud with the occasional spotting of tendrils flailing, or metal parts appearing, then disappearing. Sounds of Xel' Nagian cursing and servos whirring joined the sick sloshing sound of mud being spattered everywhere in a 30 foot radius. Finally, V-man got the upper hand as he flew into Z's gut and knocked the hyper alien into an dead old tree.
Backing away from Z, V-man extended his arm and fired a metal dart that looked more like a nail into Z's left leg tendril. Z stopped flailing and blubbering and just looked down at the rusty metal spike protruding from his leg.
"AAAAAAAAAAAHHHHH!" he screamed suddenly as he looked at his leg and gestured towards the nail in frustration, then up at V horrified.
V-man just pointed his mechanical arm at V's right true leg and fired another dart.
Z looked down at his right leg with the spike had imbedded itself and didn't know which leg to complain about more, so he just took turns. Right leg, gesture, scream: "AAAHHHH!" Left leg, gesture, scream: "AHHHHHHH!" Both legs, gesture, scream: "AAAAAHHHHHHH!" He had seen it in a movie once and could now relate.
"EVAAAAAL!" GAVAL screamed as he beat down on his brother with a wooden warhammer.
"I get the fricking point!" cried Lavag as he parried each blow and finally caught the gavel in his fist, crushing it into splinters.
"YOU SUCK! Those are WAY expensive!" cried the cajun as he lashed out with his whip and wrapped it around Lavag's neck. Lav just reared back with his back and neck muscles and yanked the whip around his head with GAVAL still attached to it.
"Bad idea." Lavag muttered in a gruff voice not unlike Snake Pliskin.
Cabbott, having taken a beating already by Ragnir and Lavag wasn't doing much better. He had already staked Ragnir in the heart, right eye socket, spleen, gall bladder, prostate, and other vital areas to no avail. As he plunged his bloody stake into Ragnir's rotting neck, the undead slayer backslapped Cabbott, which threw him into a boulder, cracking it into smaller stones. "Ow....my pancreas," moaned the slayer as he tried to get up; Ragnir already approaching with his bony bare hands reaching for the slayer already. "Hey, pancreas! There's one I haven't tried!"
Leaping up despite back pain, Cabbott vaulted onto the top of the largest piece of boulder remaining after his impact with it and flung a stake directly into Ragnir's abdomen. A split second later that stake returned in a very unfriendly manner along with several 30 pound stones as Cabbott ducked behind the boulder muttering,"Frag."
Nighteye pushed Darth Ninny back finally. Their sabers almost seemed to sigh with relief as they recovered from the power strain. "Your powers are weak, old man!"
Ninny turned his head with a puzzled look. "Idon't know how old I am, so how can YOU!? FORCE PUSH!" With an almost silent rumble, Ninny unleashed his powers, using them try to push Nighteye into a mud puddle. The result was a baseball sized rock hitting himself in the head.
"You moron! That was force pull!" grumbled Nighteye as he used Ninny's idea against him and pushed Ninny into a briar patch with a simple thought.
"Yeah, moron! If you'd let me do the driving!" screamed Master Tuff from within' Ninny's psych. All Nighteye could see was a guy in Dark Jedi robes punching himself within' a thorn bush.
"If I could get you to share yourself with me, I'd like to finish killing you now!" cried Nighteye in frustration. "I like my victims to see the calculated genius of the agony I inflict upon them!"
"Uhh...FORCE MAKE NIGHTYE LEAVE ME ALONE! FORCE MAKENIGHTEYELEAVEMEALONE!" screamed Ninny in terror as he crabwalked his way out of the thorn patch, reaching out to the force for some kind of help.
"There's no Forcemakenighteyeleavemealone power! Use saber throw!" cried Master Tuff in desperation.
"What is this, Pokemon?!" screamed Ninny as he dodged past a small tree that flew by his head. As his left arm shot up and nailed him in the jaw, Ninny reasoned that compliance might not be a bad idea before he made himself dead.
Leaping to his feet, Ninny hurled his saber towards Nighteye just as an intimidatingly large rock rose out of the mud and put itself between Nighteye's line of sight and Ninny. The saber cut right through the stone and continued towards Nighteye somewhat deflected. With little time to react, the Dark Jedi dodged to the right, seemingly missed by the saber which arced and returned to Ninny's hand.
Nighteye arrogantly grinned at Ninny through a rainsoaked hood and boasted, "You almost got me there Darth Ninny. Let me show you how that could have gone," he said as he raised his saber. Then he noticed the blood on his hands and realized the pain he was feeling and the blurred vision...no...the LACK of vision in his left eye! The saber had cut a gash vertically from Ninny's jaw bone to his forehead and singed his hood along with it. He would be scarred for life, but it was not vanity that drove his rage, but the fact that another Jedi had managed to touch him in combat.
"YOU ARE THROUGH!" he roard, as he dashed with lightning speed towards Ninny, darksaber humming.
The blades clashed once again, this time in a series of blows and stabs as Ninny let Master Tuff guide his hands along with the force, protecting him from many of the blows, but the pace was one he could not keep up for long. Nighteye liked to fight by pressing his endurance into his opponent, eventually tiring them out so that he could inflict a dabilitating blow, then tease his opponent before the slaying wound was inflicted.
It was only a matter of time, Ninny realized, as he ducked under Nighteye's blade for the twelfth time, realizing he had exhausted his arsenal of waffles minutes back.
Somehow in the course of being swung in circles around Lavag's head, GAVAL managed to with a flick of his wrist loosen his whip from around Lavag's neck which resulted in a flying cajun, then a muddy cajun. Again, bad idea.
Lavag decided to use the free moment to pick up a sharp object and fling it GAVAL's way at supersonic speeds. With the strength of fully active enlightened blood, he propelled a throwing knife towards his airborne brother before GAVAL could finish falling. Fortunatelly for the injured cajun, his heightened senses heard the whistle of the projectile and corrected his rate of stumble almost subconsciously so that the blade would miss...mostly.
"You tore my hat, you red-eyed Visene-endorsing freak!" GAVAL screamed as he pulled the throwing knife out of his hat which had been nailed to a rock with the blade. Rising to his feet GAVAL straightened his hat out on his head and pulled the brim down low. Only the cobalt blue glow of his eyes could be seen in the shadows of that brim. "Never fought me a slayer before. Ah guess it's time to find out who's the better Benoit." Unsheathing the Dawn Damner his eyes widened as he watched the blade of the ancient sword itself begin to glow the same color of blue in what almost looked like kerosene flames.
"No more leniency brother. It's time for you to die!" Lavag sneered as he sprinted towards GAVAL angrily. He moved so quickly he seemed to be striding across the puddles of collecting rain, his long black coat flapping as he hurled his body at GAVAL and pulled out a dark metal object that spat out a plum of flames and made loud and vulgar noises.
"Shit, gun!" GAVAL squaked as he leaped directly up into the air to get out of Lavag's warpath. "What kind of bastard pulls a gun on a guy with a sword?!" he cried as he landed and sprinted for cover.
"The kind that wants you dead, hick!" screamed Lavag above the gunfire as he tried to lead GAVAL enough to make the shots count.
GAVAL rolled to the side as Lavag missed again then remembered the Powers that CABAL had mentioned to him in his vision and focused on Lavag. Staring into his brothers glowing red eyes he concentrated on making Lavag fall on his back. Throwing his arms forward the Cajun screamed as he tried to release the power he bad been blessed with.
The effect was surprising.
"What the hell are you doing? You look like some damn stupid Power Ranger or something," scowled Lavag.
More bullets came flying. The cajun managed to leap behind a thick tree trunk just as the bullets tore splinters of bark off of it. He even felt one of the bullets ricochet off of his sword blade which wasn't far enough behind cover.
"Fine," GAVAL huffed to himself as he pulled of his backpack behind cover and dug for something to shoot back at Lavag with. "Powers not reliable. Vision probably a beating-induced hallucination anyway. How fricking embarrassing." After discarding a can of Raid Spider Eradicator (tm), a clove of old garlic, a smashed vial of holy water, and some old Spawn comics, he fumbled an old crossbow pistol and yanked the bolt back. He knew that Lavag hadn't bothered to take cover and that if he could time this right....
Knowing that his brother would run out of ammunition eventually, GAVAL used the temporary moment of silence to poke his head out and spot Lavag, then jump back behind the large tree. He had seen Lavag still in the open waiting for a chance to blow his brother's brain out, but carelessly aiming with his gun held low at forearm's level instead of taking aim.
The desired effect was achieved. Bullets backed up by loud and vicious gunfire ripped through the old tree. GAVAL could feel the 100 year old plant vibrating as shell after shell penetrated it's protective bark and bore into the core of the old wood. When the gunfire resumed, GAVAL peeked out from the other side of the tree to confuse Lavag and draw more ammunition out of the gun's clip. He was closer now, and walking towards the tree. Almost close enough to ensure hope for the Cajun.
GAVAL jumped back once again and heard the telltale explosions of gunpowder in one final volley before a hollow "chink-chink" sound could be heard. "Bingo," he whispered as he brought the crossbow up, swung around the tree again, and carefully took aim at Lavag who was attempting to load a new clip into his weapon. Lav looked up to check on GAVAL but it was too late.
A crossbow bolt was in flight and heading straight for him. He even noticed it was silver in that split second before he decided to turn his body ninety degrees so that he would be a narrower target. Even with the Rush making him superhumanly fast, that was all he had time to do with a surprise like this heading for him so unexpectedly. He felt his body jerk back a bit but there was no pain at first. Wow...just like in movies, he thought. Then looking down Lavag saw the bolt buried deep into his right bicep and perhaps embedded into the bone. That's when the pain struck and he dropped his unloaded weapon groaning in angst.
GAVAL peeked around the tree one more time to see his aim was true and that his brother had been sufficiently distracted; his weapon laying at his feet. Then, he patted the old Ironwood tree and apologized for what he would have to do. "Just one more favor friend," he said. "I swear I'll be back to make it right for you," came the promise. Then, eyes glowing fiercely he pushed his aching back into the tree, dug his steel-toe boots into the mud, and gave the tree one quick shove. With the ground sufficiently waterlogged, the roots gave easily to such a mighty shove, and in an instant, the mighty treetop had fallen on his brother. There was no scream.
No time to worry about him, he thought as he ran towards Cabbott who wasn't having as much luck. He felt bad for running from his injured brother, but the guy was beyond reason and all he could do was hope he hadn't killed him.
Somehow Cabbott had managed to mount an offensive on the abomination. The psychological effects of having to beat on the living corpse of someone you once called a friend was devastating him. Only the will to survive and the nearly berserker rage that the Rush had brought to him kept him fighting. He threw as many blows as his speed would allow. A kick to the shin, a punch to the face, a backhand with the same fist, a follow up with his left hand to the breadbasket. All that and he only managed to throw Ragnir off balance.
Cabbott took two steps back and charged with all his might, thrusting his boot heel into the chest of Ragnir. He heard a sick crack as the creature's ribcage shattered. His foot was actually stuck inside the undead slayer's torso! Ragnir only stumbled back a bit, then reached for the Slayer's leg and twisted it, Cabbott's entire body turning in a series of barrel rolls before he landed in the mud, disoriented and suddenly weakened. The Rush had left him! Gaval must have moved too far away from the undead corn to have it's effect and somehow this Ragnir was immune to the effects other undead caused on slayers! This occurred to him as the creature grabbed him by the ankle and began dragging him through the mud towards a gorge with inhuman strength.
As GAVAL darted around a prickly pear, his wounds somewhat healed by the Rush, suddenly he felt his speed drop out from under himself. Feeling inside his loose jacket pockets he noticed they were empty, the vile corn left in some puddle back where he had felled Lavag. To go back would be to risk Cabbott's life. He would have to proceed without the Rush.
It was a good thing he did proceed as he noticed Ragnir in his tattered rags bend down and pick up Cabbott, then hold him high above his head. Cabbott tried desperately to shove a stake into some vital area of Ragnir's body, but how do you kill something that's not alive, yet heals as soon as it's damaged?
"STOP!" GAVAL screamed, as thunder rolled quietly throughout the valley. Ragnir's eyes looked up and widened in their crimson hue as he noticed GAVAL and greedily decided that this was who he REALLY wanted to kill. Dropping Cabbott carelessly he leapt through the air and landed right in front of GAVAL, the sick smell of filth entering the Cajun's lungs as he took a step back and reached for a weapon.
No stakes left, he thought. No time to arm silverbolt crossbow. Holy Water drowned in rainwater. Backpack left at the tree carelessly. Neck being grabbed by undead slayer. Being moved towards gorge rapidly. Cabbott being stepped on. Hmmm.... OH! WAIT! "I almost forgot!" He cried as he reached into his jacket with a free arm.
"Ow...that was my face you stepped on, thing!" moaned Cabbott.
In highlander style, GAVAL pulled the Dawn Damner out of his jacket. He had hoped to have sprung the ages-old weapon on Lavag or Sephroth again, but somehow he felt it was needed now more than ever. Though the blade had lost it's Rush-enhanced glow, it gleamed with pure light as it reflected a lightning flash. By the time the crackle of thunder had arrived, the blade had been brought down to bear, digging deeply into Ragnir's side.
He threw the Slayer down weakly and grabbed at the sword which was stuck in his hipbone. GAVAL felt himself land at the edge of the gorge and slide over it in the slick mud. Grasping at anything he found an old root, that of a prickly pear plant, and clung for his life. It was at least 35 feet down. Nothing you'd want to jump, anyway.
Looking up he saw Ragnir struggle on the blade to remove it. Glowing red fluid the same color as his eyes dripped from the wound in his side, and then from his hands as the blade dug into them as well. It was like a fly on flypaper. The more he struggled with the weapon, the more harm it did.
Cabbott, jumping up from behind Ragnir with angry eyes landed a basketball sized rock onto the creatures cranium, then pushed him over the edge, grabbing the Dawn Damner as Ragnir went over.
"AAAH!" cried GAVAL as the undead slayer brushed against him while falling. The Cajun noticed that the wounds inflicted by the slayer's sword weren't healing on the creature. Ragnir writhed and twitched as he fell deep down into the gorge and bounced from one large rock to another, finally coming to a rest between them in the dark.
"Welcome back," groaned Cabbott with an outstretched hand towards his muddy Cajun friend.
Taking his hand GAVAL smiled for the first time in what seemed like weeks. "Tanks. I thought you had things under control here!" he teased.
"We did until you let yourself be quadruple-teamed by the bastard children of the ASG," Cabbott retorted.
"Tink it's dead?" GAVAL said as he gestured down into the dark crevasse.
Cabbott pulled a pineapple grenade from his bandoleer and dropped it into the dark hole that Ragnir had disappeared into. Tossing the grenade key to GAVAL he smirked and walked away from the edge. "I sure as hell hope so!"
A loud boom followed and bright red liquid spattered across the depths of the shallow gorge, then faded slowly away.
"Rest in peace, brother," said GAVAL as he crossed the gorge, blessing it, and saying a short prayer.
Then, unexpectedly the gorge itself came to life as a bright light shot out of the hole and into the sky with a loud shriek of agony, then relief. Just as quickly, all was quiet. Even the rain was stopping.
"Wow," said the two slayers as they looked at each other, then jogged back towards the rest of the fighting.
As Ninny fought with all his might to contain the assault Nighteye was pouring onto him, he knew that he was beat. Nighteye had obviously been dealing with dark magics that weren't Sith related, and was combining his new skills with his dark Jedi skills to keep his endurance at a seemingly infinite supply. Again, in rage, with his new bloody saber scar fueling that anger, Nighteye struck at Ninny in blinding fury. First a blow to the head, then bouncing off the parry he struck at Ninny's legs, then as Ninny was in mid air from avoiding that last blow, Nighteye kicked him in his stomach and sent him flying back. Unleashing Sith-borne lightning, Nighteye shocked Darth Ninny into writhing agony as he struggled on a wet patch of grass to regain a fighting posture.
Then swinging his dark saber around wildly, Nighteye struck at Ninny again. He went for the arm, then the head, then swung around in a 360 for the opposite arm, then the legs. Somehow Ninny managed to block every blow.
"Good!" cried Nighteye. "I always imagined a fight with you would take but a few seconds. If I had known this much sport would be involved, I'd have killed you much sooner!" Just then a boom around the corner of the valley went off in the direction where he had left Ragnir to deal with the slayers.
Surprised, Ninny glanced in the direction of the sound. Nighteye used the moment to will a stone into Ninny's hand and shock the saber from his grasp. "D'oh." cried Ninny as he watched his saber fly off into the background. Glancing back towards a smug looking Nighteye he said, "I don't suppose now that you've got me at your mercy that you'll explain your wicked plot to me in a boasting fashion?"
"Nah," said Nighteye as he raised his saber for the killing blow. "Besides, it's not that interesting anyway." Just as he began to swing the blade a silver bolt made its mark in the sole of his boot. "What?!" he cried as he glanced at the oncomers.
"Ohh...dat's nasty cut you got dere, Nighteye." grinned GAVAL. "Mebbe I should break out a band-aid or something before you bleed all over us." Behind him were Z and Cabbott holding an unconscious V-man between the two of them.
Nighteye was ready to kill them all when suddenly there was a break on the clouds and the sun shone through them into the valley...the wet plants glistening with drops of water seemed to worship the welcome sun. The dark Sith Lord knew the sun could be his undoing if he remained there and hastily withdrew to a darker part of the valley, pulling his hood further over his head. Cabbott tried to give chase, but Nighteye seemed to have vanished.
Shrugging the slayer walked back to the others as they looked each other over. "What now, Gav?" asked Cabbott as he watched the Cajun dig in a mud puddle near the BiB and produce something shiny.
GAVAL washed the object off for a bit then produced a shiny gold crucifix with a blood-red stone in the middle. "Now, Chause, we find MAGGOTT. After tying V-man to the luggage rack, they all jumped into the BiB as it shifted to 4-wheel drive and pulled out of the mud messily, then up the valley road. A half-rainbow had formed over the area as a drizzle continued despite the breaks in the clouds. It seemed to remind them all that this minor battle had been won, but the war wasn't nearly over.
XXI. "384,000 Miles" by GAVAL
Outer Space, 40,000 miles out of Earth's Orbit
November 30th 12:18pm
(The Bridge of the Phoenix)
(A hodge-podge mixed crew of people in Dominion and Red-shirt Starfleet uniforms are typing away at panels and monitoring the ships systems as the modified Battlecruiser glides across open space towards the moon.)
(On one of the monitors Zenogias' threat to Earth continues to play itself as the countdown to mankind's annihilation continues. Fron paces anxiously back and forth and occasionally dictates something to Lieutenant 11001101.)
(On the cargo bay hold, hundreds of Dominion Troopers are geared up in space suits and wield energy weapons, ready to storm the lunar base for a ground assault.)
(Back on the bridge, Fjorxc is sitting in the captain's seat looking bored. Suddenly his eyes light up and he hits a button on the chair's control panel.)
Control Panel: *Beep*
Fjorxc: (James T. Kirk voice) Captain's log, Stardate 2278.8 rounded to the nearest decimal point. We've….soared….across space for the last…grueling….five minutes or so. The crew…weary from our exhausting journey. The mood on the ship…anxious in anticipation of what awaits on that….great…big…bulbous sphere in the sky we call… Luna. Believe me this when I tell you, mister! OEEP is going down on this day. I've never trusted the Klingons. I'll…never forgive them for the death of my son.
Nurse Chapel! Coffee, and I mean NOW, Mister!
(One of the redshirts points at themselves, then at one of the other redshirts, then shrugs and goes back to playing Starcraft at her station.)
Fjorxc: Captain out.
Control Panel: *Beep*
Fjorxc: (turns to Fron) Well, that killed all of 30 seconds. Are we there yet?!
Fron: No, but if you stop asking me I promise not to strangle you to the point of unconsciousness.
Fjorxc: (Kirk Voice) Scotty, can't we get any more…speed out of her?! (Scotty Voice, as he gets in Fron's face) Ah juss doon't have the power,r,r,r! *WHACK!*
(Fron dusts his hands off and pages a medic)
Fron: ….oh, and bring lots of sedative for this guy too!
(On the far side of the moon)
Dark Angel: Do you see that, Zenogias?! DO YOU!?
Zeno: (His metal head whirs around 180 degrees to face Dark Angel) What, What, WHAAT?!
Dark Angel: Our sensor station on the Earth side of the moon is picking up a massive structure with its own power signature heading straight for the moon.
Zenogias: So soon? I hadn't imagined they'd make a move for the moon this soon with the Dominion's airforce so badly crippled.
(He studies the image display and nods.)
That would be the Phoenix. Only battlecruiser around these parts…unless Blizzard managed to make one like they've done with all the smaller terran units from Starcraft.
Dark Angel: This station is not prepared to defend itself against a terran battlecruiser. We're leaving. Let's go.
(Steam shoots from exhaust ports on Zeno's 8 foot mobile suit)
Zeno: You and OEEP aren't going anywhere. The Ultimaengine can fend off any silly attack the Dominion can throw at us, and we've got several defense systems online already. Tell Frog, Krusader, and the others to man those defences with my people and prepare to destroy the Phoenix.
(The sound of metal on metal echoes through the metal walled room as Zeno turns in time to see Dark Angel sheath the sword that he had recently stolen from the Archangel Micheal.)
Dark Angel: Bullshit! We're leaving before you put us any closer to our deaths.
(Zenogias begins to speak as right and left arms of his mobile suit fall off and bounce noisily on the floor.)
Zenogias: Let's see you try that after I download myself into the Ultimaengine!
(A voice whispers out from the shadows as the lights dim)
Female Voice: Allow me!
(A horrible crunching sound is heard as a femenine figure backs away from Dark Angel and the lights resume their still drab intensity.)
Dark Angel: Huh….huuuuuuuuh…..AAAAHHHHH! (He glances down at his left arm which has been broken at the elbow.
Voice: Shall I continue with your other arm, Dark Angel, or are you ready to stop this squabbling and listen to your new master?
Zeno: (turns his armless body towards the woman and gazes curiously) Who the hell are you?! I ordered the DSA wenches to their chambers hours ago! And why are you out of uniform?!
Voice: You're going to listen to me now and you're going to do as I say or I'll have you both blown out of that window into the coldness of space for Fron and his lackeys to find you already dead.
Dark Angel: (Regains his composure) You're obviously very powerful. What is it you want, woman?
Voice: The time has come for the forces of evil to mobilize their forces collectively so that the prophecy may be fulfilled.
Zeno: What prophecy?! Who are you?!
Voice: You need not concern yourself with the nature of the battle to come or the prophecy. Know only that you are my pawns and that you will fight for my cause when and where I say.
Zeno: (approaching the figure) Now look here, woman, this is MY war and I will damn well fight it MY way when and where I please.
Voice: *tsk* Don't insult me by underestimating me so gravely.
(Zenogias' "body" begins to vibrate until it shakes itself apart, sparks and fluid flying everywhere until his head is all that is left. Four metal legs sprout out of the head and back it away from the woman until it reaches what it feels is a safe distance.)
Zeno: Perhaps I've overlooked the usefulness of this woman to our cause....
Voice: When the Dominion arrives they will find this place to be a ghost base. None shall remain here. Take what weapons and men you can and head for Latitude 35 degrees 666 minutes North by Longitude 116 degrees 66 minutes west.
Zeno: But the Goldeneye device is nearly complete...our forces grow stronger here by the minute.
(It takes only a gaze of the woman for Zenogias to silence himself and back away even further. Dark Angel's face remains calm and focused dispite his pain.)
Voice: You will take that device of yours with you, now GO. The Dominion will come around the moon within the hour and you are NOT to be within scanner range. If you depart in 30 minutes, you can round the moon and say on the far side of it from their ship. I will meet you at the coordinates when you arrive. Look for the mountain surrounded by four onyx obelisks.
(As she begins to disappear Zenogias decides to test his luck)
Zeno: Wait! I demand to know who you are!
(The woman only grins from within the shadows and then disappears in darkness)
Zeno: She sounded strangely like that Malice woman that the Slayer has been chasing about Irvine these past few weeks.
Dark Angel: I've seen and heard Malice and that was definitely not Malice. It was more like she was more and less than Malice at the same time. (He turns to Zeno's head coldly) I'm taking one of your stolen Dominion transports and OEEP and I are leaving. If you've got an ounce of sanity left in you, you'll get your stupid mercenaries out of here too. This Dark Star is dead before it even got a chance to live. (Exits clutching his arm)
Zenogias: (to himself) I don't need him and I don't need OEEP. I have the Ultimaengine! With that woman's help the DSA will put an end to CWAL and the slayers...and then I'll just stomp her out of my way as well! Hoo-hoo! Ha-ha.....HAAAAAAAhahahaha! BWAAAhahahahaaaaaaa!
....that just isn't as satisfying when you can't do it till your lungs cramp. (Shrugs and walks off to find a new body)
(90 minutes later)
(Dark Star brig)
(Duraznos is sitting in a chair, badly injured. Three of the captured Guardians are there with him, all seemingly unconscious. The air in the room is growing increasingly thinner as the room depressurizes.)
Duraznos: ....and to Arcturus...the painball wiz....(wheeze)...I bequeath my fuzzy Pikachu slippers...the one's with the sound chip that says "Bulbasaur" because of some damn Japanese factory defect.....and to Gaval...I bequeath that bra that I managed to steal out of Aura's closet before she died....I know he can enjoy it as much as I did.....and to (wheeze) ...to....Fron?
(Fron in a space suit stares down at Arcturus and shakes his head. (Armed Dominion Soldiers march up and down in the hall behind him shaking their heads confusedly)
Fron: Fuzzy Pikachu slippers?
Duraznos: Uhh...it's the thin air. Makes you say stuff...
Fron: (untying him) Remember that fifty bucks you owe me?
Fron: Double it and the secret's ours.
Fron: Always. (Grins happily as he pats Duraznos on the back and escorts him out)
Duraznos: (from the hall, his voice trailing off) What about that bra thing?
Fron: (trailing off) That'll cost you extra.
Guardian #1: Did you people leave us anyone to hurt?! We've been here for weeks waiting for someone to HURT!
Dominion Guard 1: Didn't they tell you? This place is deserted. There's not a soul alive on the entire moon except for us.
Guardian #2: We're on the moon?! Is it made of cheese?! I've always wanted to see first hand!
Dominion Guard 1: You guys don't get oot much do you?
Guardian #3: Not when we're sitting around some dark room watching Duraznos get his feet tickled.
Dominion Guard #1: Do I really want to know the details?
Guardian #1: Probably not.
Dominion Guard #1: You guys do magic, right?
Guardian #2: Uhh....
Dominion Guard #1: Can you make hot chicks like me? When I tell em I'm Canadian they just laugh and tell me to go play hockey!
(The Guardians all leave pointing and laughing at the Canuck.)
Dominion Guard #1: WHAT?!
XXII. "Convergence realized" by GAVAL
November 30th 1:28pm
Three hours and two beatings after arriving back in America GAVAL finally returned to CWAL HQ for the first time since his trip to Rome only to find it oddly deserted. The place seemed eerily quiet and almost empty. As GAVAL turned to hang up his jacket he felt two arms grab him from behind and slam him against the wall.
"You crashed the Orca! You explicitly PROMISED you wouldn't damage the Orca and you CRASHED IT and NO amount of wedgies can make up for that!" It was Freerunner, the CWAL HV mechanic, and she was pissed.
"But no one told me that if I cut those wires the thing would go into a nose dive!" GAVAL cried. He intensely hated conflicts with women because if they bullied him around he always felt bad about fighting back.
"Promising not to damage the Orca INCLUDES cutting wires, you stupid hick!" She screamed beating GAVAL's head against the wall with each syllable. Her hands were dark and greasy and he could tell she had been busy trying to get Fjorxc's airship back into working order. Sufficiently satisfied to see GAVAL groveling for forgiveness, she released him and walked to the kitchen sink to wash her hands.
GAVAL reluctantly followed her in as Z, Cabbott, and Darth Ninny dragged V-man down to the infirmary for Mu to look at.
"Where is everyone? I've got a lot of news to tell them...and some other apologies to make."
Still tiffed, Freerunner viciously rubbed soap onto her hands and scrubbed them with vigor. "Most of them went to the moon to take out the DSA in Fjorxc's other ship. Some stuck around just for the hell of it like Mu who felt he wasn't needed on a ship with that advanced a medical bay, and Lothos who Fron wouldn't let aboard the ship. Maggott's around somewhere and a few newbies. Ya know, the wiring on the Orca was all wrong. It took Eddie and I hours just to figure out what the hell those grease monkeys at the Vatican did to her before I could even think about fixing it."
"What do you expect from a bunch of priests with socket wrenches?" GAVAL said as he pressed on his ribs and winced. "I'd better get a change of clothes and see Mu myself. You know, they won't find anything up there."
"Who?" She asked as she dried off her hands.
"Fron and the others. They won't find anyone on the moon."
"How do YOU know?"
"I just do. Freerunner....everything that's happened in this war has happened according to prophecy. That's just not where the big fight will take place," GAVAL said as he left the kitchen.
"Whatever," she said. "I wouldn't go that way if I were you."
"I'm not the only girl you've managed to piss off today. And the one in there is downright heartbroken." Freerunner grabbed an apple out of the refrigerator and glided out of the room with a "you deserve it" look on her face.
"Damn...Rachel." GAVAL knew he may have botched up any chance of a friendship with her after the way he acted when he found out about the Warehouse Massacre.
He had to do something. War objectives aside, the thing he wanted most in the world now was to make it right with her. It was unbearable to always be so alone, and with her, he knew he could always be happy. His eyes had finally been open to that fact, and he would never look at her the same. The fact that she was even here at the Starbuck's that CWAL used as a headquarters told him that she was at least worried enough to avoid going home. Maybe there was a chance he could talk to her.
Walking into the hallway he saw her sitting on a couch staring at a wall. Just seeing her made him feel good. It's crazy how one person could have such an effect on another, he thought. I thought that kind of thing only happened in stories. Uh oh.
She saw him. Too late to run away now. Her first look was emotionless, then a look of relief as she passed her right hand through her long, dark hair and stood up. Changing her mind, she took the scrunchy off of her wrist and pulled her hair back into a ponytail as her look turned into one of anger.
"You're still here." GAVAL said. Damn. My voice cracked.
"Well, I didn't want to be responsible for leaving you alone after all the bad news we gave you, so I decided to stay here till I knew you'd get back okay. And it looks like you didn't. You look like hell." She wanted to get a closer look at his wounds.
He was absolutely filthy, covered in mud, various people's blood, and still damp from the rain. His shirt was torn to shreds and khaki cargo pants were almost as bad.
"Look, ah said some things..."
"I don't want to hear it. I'm not ready to hear it." She looked down and saw her knapsack as if it were telling her to leave. She decided to take the cue. This was just too hard. "You might want to see Mu about those cuts. I know the way out."
"Ah'll be okay. The Rush fixed a lot of mah injuries." He realized his accent was slipping and it wasn't because he was tired, but because he felt comfortable being himself around her...even with all this tension. He had to do something.
She walked towards the exit, faster and faster. He followed trying to think of something to ease the tension.
She stopped and spoke without turning around. "Sorry?"
"Yes. I said some things. Ya'll only wanted to be there for me, and I pushed you all away. Ah shouldn't have done that. Especially not to you."
She didn't move, but kept listening with her back turned.
"The other guys, they know when to keep their distance and we're never really open about painful situations in CWAL, but with you it's different. You were reaching out and I bit off the hand that could have fed me. I want you to know I regret that. More than anything Ah've ever done, I regret that, and Ah'm sorry. Ah was going through a lot, but that's no excuse for what I said to you and ah understand if you never want to speak to me again."
Still no reaction. It was time to throw in the towel. You've screwed it up beyond repair. Let her go. At least she'll be happy away from this mess. Happy and safe.
As GAVAL's head dropped and he decided to leave her in peace he felt a hand touch his dirty arm. It almost felt electric. Looking up he saw tears were streaming down Rachel's face.
"Gav...we've been through a lot. Do you think I'd just walk away from the man who saved my life so many times because he lost his temper when the pressure became unbearable?"
GAVAL started to go to tears himself a bit. Not the kind that stream, but his vision was definitely blurring. "I can't go through this alone Rachel. It's too much. I feel like nobody has to deal with the kind of crap that's being piled on me. I need you."
She reached out and hugged him. "It's okay," she whispered. "I'm here."
"But you can't stay here and be safe," his voice came out with a tremble.
"I know, I know. Let's just take it one step at a time."
"You're a good friend."
"You need a bath."
Twenty minutes later a battered and bruised GAVAL walked down the stairs of CWAL HQ in a fresh University of Louisiana T-Shirt and Cargo Pants. JoystickJ and Lothos were seated with Rachel on the couch as Lothos rambled on about his favorite method of removing the power source out of hand held weapons and Rachel made faces that expressed both horror and fascination at the same time. Phasmus sits next to them and is toying with a roll of duct tape and one of Kazz's pet gerbils.
GAVAL leaned over a computer screen while drying his head with a towel and clicked a button on the toolbar. Fron's face appeared. He appeared to be strangling somebody off camera.
"Uh...Fron? Everything okay?"
Fron released his "victim" and turned to the viewscreen. "Where the heck have YOU been!? You look like crap!"
"So I've been told."
"We're fine (except for Fjorxc ordering all the women Dominion officers to wear his self styled Phoenix uniforms which consist of dental floss and transparent fabric). In fact, too fine. This DSA base is deserted. Zeno's threat message is still playing on all television frequencies, but we can't track the source. He must be bluffing." Paradox appeared behind Fron rubbing his neck, then noticed one of the Dominion females and chased after her.
"He's not bluffing, but I bet there's been a change of plans. What did you do after you secured the moonbase?"
"We salvaged what we could and scuttled the rest. Turns out the DSA's been getting a lot of it's equipment by embezzling it from the Canadian Dominion. We're looking into finding the traitor now. VICTOR! STOP TRYING TO ENHANCE MY CATTLE PROD!" Fron moves off camera and struggling is heard, followed by a loud "zap."
GAVAL grinned at the spectacle. "Listen, I know where the DSA is."
Fron immediately returned to the viewscreen and got close to the camera. "Where?! I'm tired of wild good chases!"
"They're at those coordinates that Zeno keeps mentioning on the ransom message, but we can't go in half cocked. They'll be heavily fortified and waiting for us. We all need to converge there at the same time."
Fron scratched his head and frowned at the thought of having to wait even longer to enact revenge on the organization that had been systematically weakening his empire for months. "So you'll make sure VILE and the Slayers are ready?"
"I'll do more than that," GAVAL smiled, "I'm gonna call in COTS and CARV on this one...and maybe even the Zerg Canadians. We'll need everything we can muster. When I got here I noticed Blizzard looked busy. I have a feeling they're going to be there waiting for us too."
"God...this war is getting WAY out of control when you need to call the Zerg Canadians in."
"Bigger than you or me or anything we've ever faced, Fron. I'll tell you more later. Meet us back here as soon as you can. I'm gonna meet with Maggott and Iolaus to plan things out a little better. Take care of those CWALers up there!"
Fron looked flustered. "If they don't take care of the Phoenix first. Fron out."
GAVAL turned from the computer screen to find Lothos standing on top of his television, Pookie, and holding a skull doing his favorite interpretation of Hamlet with a cow skull.
"Keeping you three entertained?" GAVAL said as he walked up to Rachel, Phasmus, and JoystickJ.
"No. Lacks explosions," said JJ.
"Oh, I can DO explosions!" grinned Lothos.
"I have a better idea," GAVAL replied as he looked at a gold crucifix in his hand and put the chain around his neck. "Let's go to Denny's. I'll call Maggott and Iolaus to join us."
"Wheee!" cried Lothos as he jumped out of a window.
"Whose gonna pay for that!" cried Rachel as she stared at the glass on the carpet.
"Who cares! It's faster!" shouted Lothos from outside.
"I don't do food." said Phasmus as he pointed a finger at the now duct-tape enshrouded gerbil and it stood at attention. "Didn't you promise me lots of people to liquidate? This lack of activity won't bode well on our quarterly financial statement."
GAVAL spoke as he put on his fedora hat and a clean leather jacket, "Yup. Get your tape fiends ready, Mr. Mayor. We march at dawn. Fron'll be here soon with the details. See ya in a bit."
"Very well," said the mummy. "I've got a few things to do anyway." With that he limped down the stairs to the Newbie Dungeon and cackled gleefully.
GAVAL could be heard yelling "EVAAAL!" as the two went their separate ways and CWAL HQ's living room was not empty.
XXIII. "Sith on the Go" by GAVAL
Sunset in the Desert
November 30th 5:05pm
As the sun set over the outskirts of eastern Irvine a dark being pokes his head out of the shadows and pulls back his black hood to reveal a eye patch over an ugly scar. It was bolted to his skull and covered the useless hole that was half his measure of sight. The loss wasn't really a bother to Nighteye. A true Dark Jedi saw with the force. His eyes only served to deceived him. What really bothered him was that a moron like Darth Ninny could touch him in combat. However, Nighteye was determined not to let recent failures deter his focus. He may have failed in seeing CWAL's resident slayer put to death, but with the knowledge Lavag had shared with him and his newfound skills that the Devil known as Diablo had bestowed on him, he could fail at killing a dozen GAVALs and still come out on top.
Embracing the coming night he turned his good eye towards his newest pride and joy and thought anxiously about putting them to the test as soon as possible. These new minions of his had potential....MUCH potential; not only in their power, but also in the potentially limitless number which he could produce given the new liquidation technique which he was able to design thanks to the newly aquired knowledge he had bargained away from the slayer traitor Lavag.
As he beckoned the unseen monstors in the cave forward they slowly limped out into the growing darkness of the coming night. The sight was horrifying. They were all fallen victims of Nighteye and the recently slain Ragnir, embalmed in various cursed shrouds and thick, strong cloth gaffer's tape. These minions moved with purpose. They questioned nothing their commander ordered. They felt no pain, and their only ambition was to do as they were ordered with expediency. Bullets could not stop them, and only served to fuel their perpetual bloodlust. Blades could only sever limbs that were easily replaced. Magic was useless on them too as they were each charmed with a protective curse in their wrappings.
The army of gaffer's tape mummies was numbering in the dozens and grew with every excursion of Nighteye's as he brought new corpses or even living specimens to be liquidated into his fold. This time, though, the creatures would be adding to their own numbers without their creator's help. They had been created to kill and to do so well, but even more importantly, they had been taught to hurt Nighteye's opposing forces, particularly their unsuspecting counterparts, the weaker Duct Tape Hoarde of Phasmus', or the Slayers who were the only creatures naturally built to stand up to these adhesive golems.
As the last of them lumbered out of the cave Nighteye folded his arms and watched them descend down the hill into a suburb. Soon the screams would start. Gunshots would ring out. Resistance would be attempted, but in the end, the fold would return larger in number and more eager to serve. No witnesses would remain. The Demonic Sith hoped they would have a particularly large quarry this evening, as turbulent days lied ahead. He had received a communiqué from Dark Angel mentioning a gathering of forces in the desert that very evening and that a possibility to take out some slayers, part of VILE, and possibly even a CWALer or two existed.
Nighteye had missed spending time with OEEP these past few weeks as he had been off pursuing more personal objectives lately. Tonight they would be reunited and he would have an opportunity to gloat to Zenogias and his silly Dark Star Alliance with REAL horrifying minions. Perhaps he could talk that mechanical fool into turning his mercenaries over for liquidation. Time would tell.
The first scream rang out from down below as Nighteye displayed a rare smile and thought of Ragnir for a moment. The undead slayer wouldn't be the only casualty of this war. Something big was on the horizon out there in the desert waiting for him...drawing him there to it. It was time to begin moving in that direction.
XXIV. "Skull" by Dark Chrono
CARV HQ Basement
November 30th 5:10pm
Deep below the surface of the earth, in a pit of evil, a room of darkness, a hellish domain which no sane man dared venture, mainly because it was the basement in CARV headquarters, there came a low moaning. The moaning came not from a single voice, but from the protests of a thousand souls as they felt immense power build up and threaten to bend them to its will. The souls of the dead howled in protest, angry that they were being disturbed from their eternal sleep, but the power, the immense power would not cease. The moaning continued.
"Oh quit your moaning!" Namrok said, growling slightly at the voices in the darkness. "I'm going to finish the incantations soon, so you'll all have no choice but to be my undead slaves in a minute. There's nothing you can do about it, but I'd appreciate it if you'd stop moaning, it's annoying." The souls of the dead contented themselves to just grumble disapprovingly.
Namrok ignored them once again, and continued his incantations. He was close now, his magic was almost complete, and soon all the world's undead would be his to command. The skull had begun floating of its own accord half an hour ago, which was mildly impressive, but mostly just convenient since now Namrok could more easily complete the elaborate gestures required in his arcane spells of necromancy.
"Auctorita universitas, imperium inferi, caput Ethric, tribuo potentia, tribuo imperium, tribuo universitas super mor mortis! Abicio vestrum crustulum tunc orior! Emergo! Abicio vestum crustulum tunc orior mei mortifera!!!" the archlich exclaimed, cackling wildly as the incantation was completed. In front of him, the ground erupted, and dirt flew in all directions as Namrok continued to cackle in his moment of triumph. When the dust cleared, he bent down and looked deep within the gateway to hell he had created in the earth.
Inside, he found a large pile of cookies.
"WHAT?!? Ethric, is this your idea of a joke?!?" Namrok screeched in fury, and went over the incantation again. After reaching the end, he whapped himself upside his forehead. "Of course! I crustulumed when I should have cruciatused! I don't see why they had to make the word for cookie and the word for torture so similar. Why does all good sorcery have to use latin incantations? Don't any magic users use English anymore?!? Just because I'm summoning the dead doesn't mean I have to use a dead language!!!" He yelled to no one in particular while holding up one of the accursed cookies angrily.
Frowning, he took a bite of the cookie, and had his eyebrows not already decayed off, he would have raised one of them. "Not bad. I'll have to remember this recipe. But in any case, I have more important things to do now! Abicio vestrum cruciatus tunc orior! Emergo! Abicio vestum cruciatus tunc orior mei mortifera!!!"
The skull of Ethric burst into flame, a bright red light erupting from its eye sockets. All other light in the room seemed to retreat in fear as the glowing remains of Ethric burnt in unholy fire. The flames almost cackled along with Namrok as the incantation completed once more, this time the correct one. Despite the flames, Namrok grasped the skull in both hands, and the flames faded, leaving only a charred, blackened skull with glowing red eyes in Namrok's bony hands.
"I can feel it, the power... the absolute control... I can feel each and every corpse, every undead creature submitting to my will, to my command! Come to me, my minons! Come and bow down to your new master! MWAHAHAHAHAHA!!!"
"Doctor, we've lost him," a nurse nearby said sadly, watching the monitor showing the heart rate of the patient flatline.
" Dammit!" the doctor exclaimed in frustration. "We were so close!"
"Actually, doctor, I believe it was hopeless to begin with. He drank some diluted Ghazporkian whiskey."
The doctor raised an eyebrow, then looked at the patient. "Ah, that would explain the four eyes and the fact that his left arm and leg have burned completely off."
"Yes. I'm afraid drinking that whiskey cost him an arm and a leg," the nurse joked, chuckling. A groan echoed through the room. The nurse sighed. "You're right, doctor, that was a bad joke."
Yet another, louder groan echoed through the room. The nurse turned to the doctor, looking concerned. "Doctor, is there something wrong? Are you in pain?"
The doctor blinked in confusion. "That... wasn't me groaning."
Another load groan echoed through the room, and the corpse on the hospital bed sat up, blinking. Both the doctor and the nurse stared at it in shock for a moment, before the doctor finally spoke up. "Well, time for my golf appointment, ta." The doctor ran out of the room screaming, quickly followed by the nurse. The corpse blinked once more, looking around, and muttered a name between its burnt lips.
Power was not to be trifled with. While power comes only through difficulty, it leaves with relative ease. None knew this better than Bill. Bill, or "Slick Willy" as some called him, was a simple man, with simple needs and desires. Unfortunately these desires seemed to conflict with his job. It seemed so unfair to him, being leader of the free world, and not being able to do whatever he wanted. Soon he would lose his powers in the next election, and he had to wonder, in losing his power, would he be regaining his freedom?
"Mr. President," interrupted a voice behind Clinton, disturbing his thoughts. The voice was monotone, lacking all emotion. "Are you listening?"
"I was… just thinking, about how to move forward, to accomplish our goals and find a way to improve our way of life…"
"You are wasting your time, Mr. President, with your emotional, yet empty, speeches."
"Sorry, Al, forgot who I was talking to, for a moment. What were you saying?"
Al Gore stood up, rigidly facing the president. "The desert in California."
"Oh yes, I still don't understand why we have to protect a desert. I mean… it's a desert! Who cares about a desert? They don't have spotted owls there or something, do they?"
Gore continued, emotionless. "No, sir, but there are other forms of wildlife… plus you know how much trouble we have with California these days, particularly with the city of Irvine…"
"Aw come on! What, you expect that radicals from Irvine are going to start a war in the middle of the California desert? That's absurd!"
"No doubt you have seen the repeating message on television, sir? The coordinates point to the Mojave Desert in California."
"Aw, crap, they point to US? Why didn't you tell me this SOONER, I'm not good with numbers!"
Gore sighed. "In any case, I already have the bills to be signed… 404 thousand acres to be protected."
"And where are we getting the money for this?"
"I should have the funds secured some time in May…"
"Then I'll sign the bill in May, dammit!"
"Mr. President, these lands have to be protected immediately…"
"Not until you have the money, Al! Those radicals can fight it out in the desert for as long as they want. As long as they don't make us go to war with another country… like Canada for example, we'll be fine."
"I'm sure they won't make us fight a war in Canada, sir, that's preposterous. But still, these lands must be protected…"
"No way, Al. You need the money."
Al's lips twitched, almost frowning. "You shall regret this, sir, once I get into office."
Clinton laughed. "What are you going to do, put me on trial? Been there, done that."
"I will tell you what I'm going to do. I will…" Gore started to say, then paused. His eyes widened, and he started swaying his head back and forth, as if his neck was made of rubber. He then turned and started heading out of the oval office.
"Hey, where the hell are you going, Al!?"
"Naaaaaaaaaamrooooooooook…" Gore replied, not turning around, and drooling slightly.
"All right, the jokes about you being a stiff were bad before, but a zombie?"
Gore ignored him, and continued out, drooling and moaning. Clinton frowned, and picked up the phone. "Miss Tymme?"
-v^- Yes, Mr. President? -v^-
"I don't care what Al says, try to sneak him some caffeinated coffee tomorrow."
-v^- Yes, Mr. President. -v^-
"Oh, and Annie? One more thing, get in here, I need… a five minute break."
-v^- Y-y-yes, Mr. President. -v^-
Bill chuckled, and hung up the phone. At least some aspects of his power still worked.
Z groaned, quite an unpleasant experience for those around him, as his alien groan was capable of splitting eardrums. He looked over at Mu pitifully. "When are you going to stop treating that traitor and get over here and heal ME?"
Mu continued working on V-man, who was unconscious at the moment, and quite injured after the recent battle. "Nurse, if you would be so kind as to administer the anesthetic to our extraterrestrial adjutant?"
Cabbottstood up. "Rahyte." The slayer walked over to Z, took out a stake, and slammed the blunt end against what he assumed was the alien's forehead. He managed to hit somewhere close, as Z promptly went unconscious.
"I am beholden," Mu said in thanks to the slayer. Continuing his work with V-Man, he scarcely noticed as the door in the back of the infirmary burst open and a drooling, shambling creature came through. Cabbottclenched his fists as he felt the Rush come upon him, a sensation which seemed to be happening an awful lot these days. "A zombie!!! EVAL!!!! A rather pitiful and easy to kill EVAL but EVAL nonetheless!"
Mu looked up finally and looked at the undead creature curiously. "Actually, my vociferating companion, the humanoid before us is Icegoat. It is my belief that he has acted in such a manner for quite some time."
Darthninny, sitting over in the corner, looked at Mu confusedly. "Icegoat? You mean the guy who spent a few months drooling on top of Blizzard headquarters?"
"Wasn't he shot and killed?"
Mu pondered for a moment. "Why yes, I believe you are correct."
Cabbottblinked, annoyed at the chatter. "Den ah can kill it, rahyte?"
Mu nodded. "Without question."
Four seconds, three stakes, and one bottle of holy water later, Icegoat was a melting puddle of goo on the floor. To Cabbot's surprise, he could still feel the rush inside him, as if a huge evil, undead presence was nearby. "More EVAL!!!"
Darthninny looked at Cabbot, then back at Mu. "Say, Mu, what's behind that door that Icegoat just came out of?"
Mu thought for a moment. "Why I do believe that is the morgue, and astride of that, the graveyard, for our deceased bretheren."
"Ah think dat dey've become undead, dem," Cabbottsaid, approaching the door, weapons ready.
Darthninny stood up, ready to help just in case. "So how many dead CWALers do we have back there?"
Mu pondered once more. "Alter, Haplo, Tempus, Veldon…"
Cabbottnow ran towards the door. "Dey must all be destroyed and given deyr final rest, den!" Cabbottran through the door, rush pulling him forward. After a few seconds pause, Darthninny and Mu heard him speak once again. "Aw, crap."
Mu lifted his finger in realization, remembering something. "Ah yes. And the numerous bodies of our cannon fodder, Jolt being in most abundance."
Namrok almost giggled with glee. He stood upon the roof of CARV headquarters, watching with anticipation as shambling abominations of decay slowly walked towards him from all directions. The streets were filled with the creatures, all of them moaning and chanting his name like a horde of obedient subjects coming to pay homage to their king. Namrok grasped the skull of Ethric tightly as he realized that at last, he was that king.
He would have made a speech, if he didn't already know that it was pointless speaking to mindless slaves. The only motivation they needed was the skull. Of course, the more intelligent undead were showing up all the time. He had long since found the building surrounded by a circle of vampires, who had done a nice job of keeping away any intruders who might try to foil Namrok's plans. Above the headquarters, a spiral of what appeared to be clouds swirled in chaos, appearing to the common passerby, if anyone would be brave enough to pass by the accursed spot, to be the beginnings of a tornado. However, the clouds had facial features appear in them every few seconds, revealing them to be ghosts, hundreds and thousands of spirits and poltergeists waiting to heed Namrok's commands.
And the liches… Namrok couldn't believe his luck as his appointed generals numbered 20 at the moment, with more on the way. They stood at the edge of the roof, looking down upon the ragged army, plotting how best to lead the hundreds and thousands of undead into battle.
Feeling rather proud of himself, Namrok relaxed and went downstairs. Since no one was around at the moment, he decided to check up on those undead further away from his position. He switched on the TV, holding the remote in one hand and the powerful skull in the other.
-^v- … in Irvine report that the situation is simply beyond their control. Meanwhile, the police department has issued the following statement about the invasion : "Maybe if we ignore them they'll just go away." In other news… -^v-
-^v- … and countless seemingly undead creatures
ave started heading across country, heading southwest. We have Juss D. Nuse out in the field. Juss? -^v-
Juss, a litter nervous, kept his cool in front of the camera. "Yes, there are literally hundreds here, all heading through California with a distinct purpose. Excuse me sir, where are you headed?" He turned to a nearby zombie, one of the few nearby that actually had a mouth that wasn't decayed from his body.
The undead abomination groaned and replied, "Naaaaaaaaaaaaaamrooooooooooook…"
Juss nodded hesitantly, turning back to the camera. "And that seems to be the general consensus here, all of them headed to Namrok, wherever or whoever that is. Perhaps we could talk to someone who isn't already half decayed. I believe we have a wight family over here, excuse me sir! Could I have a word with you?"
Juss approached a group of four undead, despite the fact that they had burning eyes and claws with the ability to rip his throat out without a second thought. One of them looked at him absentmindedly. "Yes?"
"Could you tell me where you're headed, sir? And who or where this Namrok is?"
"Well sure, you see, Namrok is…" the wight was interrupted by two smaller wights tugging at his tattered flesh.
"Daddy, are we there yet?" One of them asked.
"For the hundredth time NO! Now stop asking or I'm turning us all around and heading right back to the catacombs!"
A wight next to him tried to calm him down. "Now dear, don't yell at them in front of the TV camera…"
"I'll yell at them all I want! I'm sick of all of you nagging me to death! Or undeath! Or whatever you all decide to…" the four of them continued arguing as Juss decided it was wise not to follow.
"Well," Juss said, sighing a bit, "as you can see, not many people of help here, and… oh GOD, I think a ghast just showed up," Juss couldn't help but hold his hand over his nose. "I'm afraid I'm going to have to turn it back to you two for now, the stench is overwhelming. This is Juss D. Nuse, signing off."
The TV faded to black as another undead being besides Namrok turned it off. Back in CWAL headquarters, this creature was somehow not affected by Namrok's skull, probably because he was artificially made, brought to life with the magical substance of Xel'Nagan duct tape.
"So," Phasmus said, scowling, "you've finally managed to do it, Namrok. I bet you think you're all high and mighty just because you have that army behind you. We'll see about that."
Phasmus looked around the headquarters until he finally found Reverand Duane in the infirmary, fighting off undead and trying to keep them from coming in.
"I see you found the undead," Phasmus said, rather matter-of-factly.
"Really, what was your first clue?" the reverand replied, after he found no undead were bothering him at the moment, unless you counted Phasmus himself.
"Have you seen the garage?"
"Garage?" The reverend looked at Phasmus suspiciously.
"It's a total mess. Undead ran off with all the vehicles. Didn't see your Volvo there…"
The reverend's eyes widened, and he started shaking, as if in shock. "They took…"
"Yes… I could control them and get them back, but such a powerful location and control spell, at this point in time, why, I'd require something as powerful as the Book of the Dead to-"
"HERE! GET IT BACK!" the Reverend quickly took out the Book of the Dead and thrust it in Phasmus' hands, running to the garage. Throwing open the door, he jumped into the room, and unfortunately, ran directly into his Volvo, causing massive pain to his legs. After screaming in pain for a few seconds, he came to a realization.
"You're still here! I didn't hurt you too much, did I? I'm sorry, I… wait a second, if you're still here, then Phasmus…"
As soon as he turned around, he saw the door slam behind him, and heard the lock and deadbolt slide into place.
t believe I fell for that."
Namrok smiled and sipped his martini. Lounging in front of the television, he was enjoying watching all the news reports of the carnage his slaves were doing on their way to Irvine. Once they arrived, he had all sorts of plans for his minions, most of them involving killing his enemies and turning them into his slaves. Only problem he had was the nagging feeling that he was forgetting something.
Then it hit him. Not the thing he was forgetting, but something which knocked him out of his chair. A powerful spell knocked the wind out of him, and he shook his head, looking around for the source of the spell. No one was around, and he wondered who the hell was playing practical jokes on him. He looked back at the skull of Ethric to make sure it hadn't been harmed by the spell.
He immediately saw something was wrong. The glowing red eyes of the skull were fading. He could feel the power of the skull slipping away. Howling in fury, he concentrated all his necromantic abilities at keeping the skull at it's incredible level of power. He could feel the force trying to reduce the skull's power. It was coming from CWAL Headquarters, of all places. There was only one artifact powerful enough to do this to the skull.
"The Book of the Dead," Namrok growled. "And only one person in CWAL Headquarters would dare use it. Phasmus!" As his anger grew, so did his control over the skull, and he began holding the skull's power at its current level. Unfortunately for him, the Book of the Dead, along with Phasmus, kept him from increasing the skull's power to what it once was. It was weaker now. Still strong, but weaker.
"This can't be happening. I am supposed to have absolute power!!!"
-^v- This just in, it seems that the undead creatures around the world are collapsing and… dying again. Everyone is baffled, but relieved, as these unholy creatures are once again at peace. Unfortunately, it seems that the southern part of California, around Los Angles to be exact, is still suffering from this horde of undead. Therefore, please be warned that if you live in this area, Los Angles and the surrounding area have become a hellhole. Well, moreso, anyway. -^v-
"NO!" Namrok screamed. "IT'S NOT POSSIBLE!" The lich ran upstairs, to the roof, and found the liches there still waiting. All around the building, the army waited as well. It was formidable, but no longer growing. Namrok looked out in the direction of CWAL headquarters, scowling.
"I can't attack Phasmus when he has the Book of the Dead, he'll just turn my own minions against me!" He snarled, and headed back downstairs. "This was not part of my plan. I need a new one. Some way to get more minions so that not even Phasmus and his accursed book can stop me…"
As he arrived downstairs, the TV was still on, and right on schedule, Zenogeas' threatening message was on TV again.
-^v- Send the remaining 78,000 or so of these Slayers to the following coordinates and DSA organized orbital detonations will only occur over their location… -^v-
"So that's what I was forgetting. That blasted battle I was being dragged into by that woman. Well I can't very well go now, my army isn't big enough! Unless…" Namrok stopped, pondering. Slowly he began to cackle as his new plan took shape. "Yes… a battle… just what I need. With a battle comes casualties, and with casualties comes easily accessible minions! The range of the skull has decreased, but that just means I'll have to bring myself to the dead! Once I have fought in this battle, I can use all the corpses to create an enormous army that even Phasmus cannot take from me! Yes… it's all falling into place…"
Namrok cackled once more and headed back to the roof to give his generals their orders. It was lucky no one was around, as they would have come upon the disturbing site of a lich skipping towards his destination.
XXV. "Mobile Weapons of Mass Destruction" by GAVAL
November 30th, Dusk, Latitude 35 degrees-666', Longitude 116 degrees-66.'
Despite the desolate appearance of the blistering Mojave desert, many secrets remain hidden under every rock and in every nook and cranny. What many take as a place of death is actually the home to dozens of species of creatures who call this wasteland their home. Of all the resources these resilient creature rely on, the source of life that's most sought after by many is water. At the middle of a dry lakebed on the edge of a large plateau lies a small pond of stagnant, warm, brackish water that not only serves as a source of life for the residents of this disty desert, but also as a place of social gathering for wild desert hares, snakes, gophers, and the occasional antelope who wandered too far west.
As a small bunny hopped over to the pond to drink his fill, suddenly hit head perked up and his nose twitched. He looked one way, and then the other, then immediately began thumping his feet against the ground. Around the pond the other creatures who had made the trek from their burrows all looked up. The water on the pond suddenly shook with a ripple that was ever so tiny. Then it happened again slightly more prominent. Then again, and again with increased intensity. By the time all of the creatures except a serpent had scattered the ground was outright shaking about once every three seconds.
Suddenly a large metal structure fell from the sky and pressed out the pond as though it were a mere mud puddle, leaving a deep, dark, mucky crater where once there had been a life-giving spring. Then just as quickly it lifted back into the sky as the ground continued to shake.
"Drat!" cried Zenogias over the intercom. I think I just stepped in some dog shit!
The huge hulking form of the Ultimaengine stops dead in its tracks, already a quarter mile from the remnants of the pond and reaches down to grab its own foot, then brings it up as close to its head as it can and sniffs heavily. The intake of air from the head of the gigantic mecha is enough to topple cacti and tree husks down on the surface.
"Ew..." says Zeno. "It smells worse than dog shit."
Turning around the Ultimaengine waves forward with a signal and resumes his course towards the plateau just a mile or so east.
Responding to his signal a loud roaring just over the hill approaches with increased intensity. Then a dust cloud can be seen rising over the horizon until finally dozens and dozens of aircraft shoot out of the cloud and fly around chaotically. These are DSA fighters, designed with Veritech schematics in mind. Their ability to transform into either plane, ground mecha, or something in between made them both versatile and efficient. Their armor was forged in some third world country factory based on designs stolen from the Dominion and made them tough enough to withstand the type of firepower it would take to bring an entire legion of M1 Abrams tanks to a hault....each.
Following the chaos of the fighter compliment was a series of shuttle transports fresh from the moon, each carrying 50 mercenaries, hired rogues, medical personnel, and scientists. Together they numbered in the thousands. Thousands of men and women who quit their everyday lives for the pursuit of adventure and for the cause of ending goodness, ushering in anarchy, and the temptation that comes with knowing they were the first to trigger the coming age of darkness and would therefore own it.
Eagerly they followed the behemoth mechanization who towered ahead of them moving towards the plateau that stood before them like beacon in the night. The sight of Zenogias and his monstrosity the Ultimaengine was enough to fill them all with both fear and trepidation but the most important inspiration that it provided was a sense of power that was unavoidable. If this thing stood with the DSA, then who dared stand against them?
Pulling up flank in their own shuttle was the OEEP cast. They didn't like how things were going. Not at all. First they lost their headquarters, then they lose the Blackvoid to the very Mecha that they now follow because Zeno got lucky enough to commandeer the superflenser into DSA service. And after all that, their promised base of operation on the moon was deserted before it could even see its prime. It seemed nowhere was safe for OEEP and the same pattern kept repeating itself the more they followed the DSA. The big question on Frog's mind as he sat on the transport personel bench strapped into the hull was why is it that Dark Angel suddenly insisted they follow the DSA when he had earlier been opposed to such an idea.
Frog looked across the fuselage at Dark Angel who sat quietly and stared at the metal floor grating between his feet. His arm was in a sling and he refused to talk about it. In fact, even Zenogias was oddly distant even for an insane person who had committed his own soul to digital programming. Neither one of the two leaders had much to say since they had left the moon and though the DSA seemed to ignore these changes, OEEP challenged them and questioned them amongst themselves.
The only thing keeping the rest of OEEP even in this shuttle was the fact that they were promised a shot at CWAL in open combat. The waiting would soon be over, or so they were told.
As the shuttle pilot slowed the vehicle and it descended, they waited for the dust clouds to settle so they could see where they were.
Slowly, through the dusty haze, they saw a large natural structure of rock that was pointed at the top and surrounded by a flat surface near the base before it finally reached ground level in a rapid dropoff of about 20 feet. Its silhouette could barely be made out as the dusk turned to night The air cleared and they saw even more now as exterior lights were activated on each of the transports...The formation was looming over them hundreds of feet higher than even the Ultimaengine.
In a perfect square surrounding the plateau were 4 man-made looking rock structures in the shape of fat obelisks. They seemed to be smooth on the surface, and had arcane-looking designs carved all about the surface. The rock they were made of was dark...almost black. It appeared to be black marble or onyx if that much of the rare mineral were possible. Each obelisk seemed to be almost as high as the plateau itself and stood out as sorely as the Ultimaengine in this natural landscape.
A loudspeaker from Zenogias' mechanized body activated as he said overtly, "Make camp, but don't get too comfortable. We'll be entertaining guests soon. And no one goes near the plateau. That is all." More mystery. The mood wasn't going to be getting any better and no one dared ask Zenogias what he was up to. Dark Angel looked like he knew something, but he wasn't talking either.
XXVI. "History Repeating Itself" by GAVAL
New Orleans, Louisiana
November 30th, Sunset CST
"Eh, Al, you tink you can spot me a nickel? Ah'm a little short on change today." The gruff voice of old William Derouen sounded like he had smoked raw tobacco leaves all his life. An old black man who had lived in New Orleans all his life, he made it a habit to pick up his favorite newspaper, the "Times Picayune," at this corner news stand near the Superdome every morning.
"Bill, Ah've spotted you a nickel every damn morning for the last thirty years you old fart!" complained Al, the paper stand owner. "If ah had every one of em damn nickels back ah could retire from dis shit hole and buy a nice house on de river!"
"So is dat a yes or a no?"
As Al threw a paper at Derouen a low rumbling began to sound even amongst the traffic noise of the busy New Orleans streets around the Superdome and its surrounding skyscrapers.
"What in da hell?!" cried Al as he tried to stabilize himself and the stacks of newspapers at his stand.
"Must be one a dem Ert-quakes!" cried Derouen as he grabbed a lamp post. "Should be over in a second...don't feel too strong, dis one." Then Bill noticed that Al wasn't worrying about his newspapers anymore but staring up at the sky behind him. The rumbling continued, but the ground had stopped shaking. "What de hell you starin' at, brothah?" Bill shuffled around slowly as his old legs couldn't go much faster and saw something he'd never seen before.
Rising slowly up into the sky was the New Orleans sports arena, the Superdome; the same gargantuan structure he had seen the Saints play football in for the past several decades; the same structure that had been the host to countless events like the NFL Superbowl and the Sugarbowl college games; the same huge dome that made the New Orleans skyline so unique.
As it rose, one could easily see pipes bursting and leaking water and gas main slowly shoot flames out of themselves. Sewer lines from the structure leaked vile waste and rubble fell from the thing as it climbed higher and higher into the sky.
Still looking up at the mammoth construction William spoke in an unenthused voice, "I saw dat comin'. Only tree playoffs in tirdy years, dey were bound to get kicked outta here eventu-ly."
As the structure began moving westward it clipped the top of one of the tallest high-rises and thew debris down towards the evening streets.
(On board the control room of the Superdome)
Gatral: Whoops! Well, we almost made it out without incident. Everybody in one piece?
(Sitting in the bleachers of the Superdome, some 70,000 Slayers, almost the entire stock of them short of a few thousand overseeing business in other parts of the world, shook in their chairs and gave whoops and hollers at the ride they were getting.)
Gatral: I'll take that as a yes.
Jo Bob: Hey, Gat...take a look at this! Look like there was a news crew out there when we decided to borrow the ‘Dome.
(They look at one of the hundreds of monitors where the TV screen is set to WDSU, one of the local stations.)
Reporter: -^v- We're here live outside what up till now was the entrance ramp to the Superdome. It seems that the superstructure has actually lifted off into the sky...-^v- (she dodges a blob of sewerage that falls from the structure) -^v- ...and is flying out of the city on a westwardly track!-^v-
(The camera pans over to show a staticy picture of a massive structure ascending into the darkening sky. One of the larger buildings in the path of the flying monstrosity has had its corner chipped and one can easily discern spray-painted words in messy penmanship that reads "PIE RAWKS! EVAL SUKS ASS!" on the few windows that remain in tact.)
Jo Bob: Hey, how often do you get a chance to do graffiti on the sixtieth floor!?
Reporter: -^v- Rumors are already speculating as to what could have caused this event. Some are saying the local NFL team, the Saints, brought it on themselves by winning only a handful of games since creation. Others are spouting alien invasion and a sign from god. Whatever the cause, one thing is for certain. There's now a massive amount of downtown real estate up for grabs in greater New Orleans! I'm Jess D. Faks for WDSU, back to you, Chuck! -^v-
Anchor: -^v- Thanks, Jess. In national news, a large group of hooligans appears to have gathered in the Mojave desert in central California. Information is sketchy at this time, but a large concentration of them appears to be wearing gaffer's tape as apparel and some are even toting large arsenals of destructive weapons! Local authorities aren't sure how to react to the riot and have decided to remain uninvolved until dawn as the riot is taking place where nothing of interest ever happens aside from the occasional dust storm—* -^v-
(Gatral clicks off the monitor)
Gatral: Looks like our rendezvous is certain. We're to meet GAVAL at that very location where he's supposed to have additional forces ready to assist us if necessary.
Jo Bob: I hope he brought pie. We're already running low.
Gatral: (nods in agreement as they nearly crash into a helicopter) I keep getting a strange sense of Deja' Vu, J.B. It's weird...like we've been through this before though I have no memory of it.
Jo Bob: Ain't never rose the Dome. No one has. Yer just frazzled cuz the boss thought this was bad enough a sicheation to call the CCC. Let me get a couple Slayers Baker up here and they'll fix us up with something ta eat. Ah'm sure it ain't nothin' worth worryin' about.
Gatral: You tell that to the families of the thousand who died in Irvine. Dere's no amount of pie that's gonna make them feel better.
XXVII. "Host" by MAGGOTT
Irvine, California, Denny's Restaurant (Not CARV HQ)
November 30th, Sunset PST
A light rain gave the night air a cool tingle, a slightly off smell and an odd
accent to the forboding that filled the small crew of outcasts as they walked
into a local Denny's.
A waitress approached. "We're with them," JoystickJ said as he motioned to a
slightly crowded table. The woman gave a roll of her eyes and a cooperative 'Oh
god more of THEM' look before returning to her duties elsewhere.
They approached the table and it's racous medly of slayers, primary among them
"Ahh, JoystickJ, Lothos, you're here." The slayer motioned to an empty corner of
the table, inviting them to steal chairs and sit. "Now we just have to wait for
Iolaus and Maggott..."
"Are you sure it's wise to meet...Maggott..." a random slayer said, before
muttering "evil...evil" under his breath, "...In such a public place?"
"Well..." Gaval adjusted his leather jacket, "I figure, with Lothos here, we've
already passed the threshold for potential armaggeddon. We may as well make it
total if it's going to happen."
"Amen!" Lothos chimed as he started to chew on his water glass.
Suddenly, everyone at the table felt a chill.
Half of the slayers instinctively reached for their stakes, whereas JoystickJ
cocked an eyebrow and turned slowly towards the door.
"I smell..." the Jr. Maggottonian spoke softly, "barbecue sauce..."
Immediately the slayers dove under the table, whereas Lothos leapt atop it to get
a better view. JoystickJ merely remained where he was.
There was a noise like a bolt of lightning getting in an argument
with an earthquake, followed by a shower of splintered wood and pulverized glass.
Chunks of oak and masonry vaulted across the dining area as Fuzzy, the Honda
chariot of Maggott, crashed straight through the outer doors and into the lobby.
It screeched to a halt, eventually excreting the towering form of Maggott and the
oddly unperturbed form of Iolaus.
"Did I hear something about a secret meeting around here somewhere?" Maggott
He spotted a hand meekly waving from below a table, which Lothos appeared to be
standing on, clapping.
The two primary authorities of CWAL meandered over to the table and appropriated
Gaval, more used to the antics of his compatriots than the majority of his
slayers, had already regained his composure and began to speak. "Maggott, Io.
Good. As you know, the Great Holy War--"
"The Grog Humping What?" Maggott interrupted.
"GREAT HOLY WAR." JoystickJ corrected.
"Don't correct me. I like humping better." Maggott chastised. "What's a Great
Gaval simply huffed softly and stared into his glass for a moment. "THE Great
Holy War. A battle between Good and EVAAAL that has been going on for quite some
"Oh yeah. That. Ya want me to end it for ya?" Maggott grinned.
"Actually," Gaval was almost afraid to answer, "Yes."
"HOT DAMN!" Maggott bolted to his fleet and withdrew his communicator.
"Grubleharg, this is Maggott. Commence bombardment at coordinates--let go of my
"He doesn't mean like that." Iolaus pulled him back down.
"Yes he does. What the hell else could he mean?"
"Allow me to explain." Gaval shifted slightly in his seat. "Against an evil as
powerful as Sephroth, none of us can stand. Not even you, Maggott."
"I told you, that wasn't me. That was Vaglotta," he grumbled, referring to the Great War.
The slayers rolled their eyes. Maggott reached into his trenchcoat for his
cratermaster, screaming "DAMMIT, IT WAS!!"
"Calm down, Maggott! We believe you!" Io put a hand on his shoulder.
"It's a damn good thing. I was alarmed by how attractive Maggott seemed in that
cape of his..." Lothos twitched slightly, immensely glad it turned out to be his
"CONTINUING..." Gaval half-yelled, "We know of only one way to defeat
Sephroth and the DSA in order to restore balance to the world. We have good on our side, but good is not enough. We need
power." He looked straight at Maggott. "That is where you come in."
"Just paint a big red X on whatever you want blasted, Gav, and I'll make sure--"
"No..." the slayer continued, "we need more than just unfocused brute force."
Lothos seemed taken slightly aback. What else was there?
"I'll explain later." Gaval concluded. "First, Io, we need something from you."
"We need you to bring COTS and CARV in on our side."
"Whoa, whoa--" Io shook his head, "This is your war, Gav. I can't go dragging all
of CWAL into it, it'd be the origional Great War you keep telling us about all over again!"
Lothos grinned alarmingly at this last possibility. GAVAL and Mu's tales of this Great War that no one remembered seemed like sasquatch heaven to the New Zealander.
"Look, Io..." Gaval started, "This is about more than just ASG versus DSA. This
is restoring the balance between good and evil here. Evil has
the upper hand. The WAY upper hand. And if they win, we can lose any and all hope of there being any peace around here again. Every man who calls himself good must help us now, or all will be lost."
"So how does that include CARV?" Iolaus asked incredulously.
"We're including quasi-good in the equation..." Gaval conceded, "and...those who
aren't good, but can at least be pointed at evil."
"Kazz." Two of the slayers said simultaneously.
Gaval nodded in acknowledgement." All I can tell you is that if everyone doesn't participate in this war...and I mean EVERYBODY we know, then we don't stand a chance. "
"Then shouldn't Dorg be here?" JoystickJ asked. "He is the leader of CARV, not
"Well, Io has a lot of weight with subgroups, since if he hadn't formed CWAL,
none of them would have ever existed. They are all part of the CWAL family."
CWAL family, Maggott thought. Does that mean Frenzy and Seraph are inbreeding?
"The point is..." Gaval finished, "We need your help, Io. We need everyone who
has ever snubbed their nose at evil." He paused for emphasis. "Everyone."
One of the slayers grinned ironically. "Even Maggott."
A few of the others laughed nervously as they considered just staking the
Maggottonian and running.
"Well, Maggott has a personal stake in this." Gaval explained. "He wants Sephroth
defeated, once and for all."
"A common misconception." Maggott said as he took a swig of his water. "The fact
is, if I had cared about how the Great War turned out, I wouldn't have forsaken
it for a pinball game. Sephroth is flattering himself if he thinks I'm desperate
to avenge myself."
Gaval suddenly looked uncomfortable. "But you'll still help us, right?"
"Maybe. What's in it for me?"
"Deal. Pie fer killin'."
"So," Gav turned his attention back to Iolaus, "What about you?"
Io sighed heavily. "Fine. I'll call CARV and COTS."
Gaval was visibly relieved. This was going almost too well. Like his slayers, he
considered staking Maggott just to make sure.
"So what's the plan?" JoystickJ asked innocently.
Gaval paused for a moment. "Well...It's like this. Maggott has already been
defeated by Sephroth--"
"That was Vaglotta."
"SHUT UP. And with Sephroth and Malice certainly pooling their resources the ASG simply does not possess the raw strength to defeat such a
potent EVAL. Not with the DSA at large. So...We're going to take the power of Maggott and the righteousness
of the ASG...and combine them."
Maggott suddenly recoiled, alarmed at what Gaval could mean and swearing that one
of the slayers had just touched his leg.
"You should know, " the trenchcoated menace started defensively, "I charge
seventy-five bucks an hour for same-sex relations."
"NO, MAGGOTT..." Gaval stuttered and lowered his forehead into his hand, "We
mean--We intend to infuse you with a spirit of ultimate goodness."
"WHOAH, now this is just getting too kinky for me. It's been fun, boys and girls,
but I really must--"
"Maggott, think about it! You're not truly evil, are you!?"
"Well...no." Maggott grudgingly admitted. Surely a sign of the apocolypse.
"You started the Great War ultimately to benefit humanity, though in your own
tainted, demented ways..." Gaval continued, suddenly having a pang of doubt as to
the actions of the ASG in the first war. What if he hadn't sided against Maggott in the end?
Would they even be facing this problem now? And might there be a titanic discount
buffet on this street corner, instead of a lonely Dennys? And might there be a
Xenobrothel next door? Would he be blind by now?
He shook the thoughts away as he continued. "You can't allow Sephroth to gain
victory here. He would turn our world into a wasteland. No arcades, no buffets,
no nothing. Just slavery to darkness."
"Gee," Maggott retorted, "Funny. I recall trying to mulch Sephroth myself a
little while ago, and SOMEBODY decided to STOP me!" Apparently, what was a
nagging doubt for Gaval was an unblemished fact for Maggott.
"We need to put the past and our differences aside, Maggott--"
"I know. I was only razzin' ya." He pinched the slayer's cheek and shook it. "I
can't help it. I like you!"
Gaval suppressed a shudder from the very core of his being. "So you'll do it?"
"Hell no. But thanks for asking."
"It's not just me." Maggott interrupted. "You have to know how basic spiritual
physics work. There are two general kinds of possession--Physical possession,
where one merely controls the body of the target, and true spiritual possession,
which takes many forms. I'm assuming what you need is Spiritual possession."
Gaval realized he didn't know. "What's the difference?"
"Well, first of all, none of the spiritual strength of either creature can be
used if physical possession is used, unless it is capable of juxtaposing it's own
spiritual mass with the target's physical body, which all depends on the power of
the relevant spirits and how the spiritual physics of your particular dimension
work. Which I'm not sure."
"Then how do you know it won't work?"
"Because..." Maggott explained, "Nine times out of ten, the only way to maintain
spiritual abilities is to spiritually possess, which requires either spirits
which can mix or one that is strong enough to totally superimpose itself over the
other." He paused before adding, "And I think out-sizing any creature who's soul
is it's own dimension is rather out of the question."
Gaval was growing trepidatious. "So there's nothing we can do? This doesn't make sense...I was told...."
"I'm thinking." Maggott said, as he mulled over his knowledge of Earth vs
Shadow: That speech of Lothos' was from something, wasn't it…
Grorx: Of course it's FROM something… He's an Arts student with a double major in English and Film, and a near photographic memory for anything he finds entertaining. It will definitely be from something. What it's from is utter conjecture, but it'll be from something.
Shadow: Although it could be from something that he'd made up…
(Gaval sees Lothos shambling towards the meeting.)
Gaval: (Grin) I think we've become somewhat side-tracked. I've discussed with each of you individually the parts you need to play tomorrow, and first of all-
(Mu shoves a large hypodermic into Lothos' neck as he sits down)
Lothos: Whee… Night-night sauce… *slump *
Gaval: -first of all, Lothos can't hear this.
Shadow: Why not?
Gaval: Let's just say that he's a secret weapon, and as such doesn't need to be given any more ideas than necessary. This depends on him acting naturally, not having concocted two-hundred-and-thirty-seven maniacal half-arsed schemes based on movies he's seen recently.
(Gaval sees movement in the background)
Gaval: Frugle! Stop shoving Lothos into that cannon! He's not THAT kind of secret weapon! *sigh *
(They begin to discuss the morrow, and the camera of the mind's eye pulls away from the frame, because that's just the kind of spoilsport that I am.)
(SLAYER ENCAMPMENT) by GAVAL
Having had sufficient practice at piloting the Superdome some 1800 miles from New Orleans to the Mojave, Gatral's crew miraculously managed to land the superstructure right in the middle of the army of light's encampment without disturbing a soul.
On orders, Natral, sole survivor of the Warehouse Massacre, entered the structure, meandered his way through the inner hallways where hundreds of Slayers Cajun were enjoying a Fais-do-do around a large put of Gumbo to keep the cold at bay and an equally large keg of cheap beer, across the hashed astroturf of the main structure where thousands of Slayers Redneck were trying to coerce various livestock into grazing on the plastic fibers, under the goalpost where a dozen Slayers Chimneysweep were competing to see who could "step in toyme" or scream "charoo" the best, through the kitchen where Slayers Baker were scratching their heads wondering how it was possible that for every dozen pies they created two dozen were consumed, up into the balconies where a handful of Slayers Premiere were tearing out the entirely too small seats so they could find a place to lay down, and into the bridge where Captain Gatral himself was snooring loudly in his chair.
"Eh, Chause! Wake up, you!" cried Natral as he pushed Gatral back up straight.
"What?! Where?! KILL THEM ALL! EVAAAL! Oh.....it's you." He straightened up his captain's hat and coursed his beard while lighting up a cigar. "None the worse for wear I see."
"Ah was nearly burned alive and probably allowed to live because whatever demon was livin' in dat wearhouse wanted someone to talk about what happened to scare us." Natral was indeed badly scarred with bandages covering his forearms and neck by Mu at the CWAL infirmary the evening prior. "Ah'll be fine once ah get a good Rush on, but for now dey keepin' me on morphene and off of de sweets."
"Must be hell."
"In a crawfish shell, yeah."
Gatral motioned over to a fellow sitting at a panel in the back of the bridge to approach them. "Eh, t-boy! Come see here, you! Ah want to meet you a fella here, Nat. He was wit Murphy when tings went down in dat warehouse. Nat, dis is Nabob. He's gonna be flyin' on dis here big ship wit the Canadien." Gatral hit a switch on his chair and a monitor hanging from the ceiling above their heads lit up with one of the Superdome's black and white security cameras. It showed an image of the Dominion Encampment where 3 Large ships were parked at the edge of a canyon.
"Oh yeah," said Natral. "Ah met you at de Frog Festival in Rayne las' summer."
"Dreadfully hot it was down there, but a good time for all," said the Slayer Chimneysweep in a proper british accent as he shook Natral's hand.
"So you gonna be hanging aroun' wit Fron and company?"
Gatral Chimed in, "We need someone to keep Fron informed on our whereabouts when de hell breaks loose. A lot of firepower will be comin' down from dose airships of dere's and we don't wanna get caught in the middle of it, Rush or not."
Nabob nodded and turned to Natral, "Natral, have you met Emperor Fron?"
"Not yet, but if he's anything like dat Forks guy, you got a hotheaded maniac on your hands. And dey tell me Forks is still captaining de mothership."
"Great," said Nabob as he raised an eyebrow. "Why didn't we volunteer to lead the airstrike, if you don't mind my asking?"
Gatral blew a couple of smoke rings from his cigar and patted the console of his chair. "Ah'll let you in on a little secret, Chause. Dis baby ain't meant for offensive attacks. Mainly de Superdome is a means of transporting mass amounts of ASG agents in case de CCC ever had to be used again. We'll stay here and monitor de situation, but it's not like we can jump out into de air, guns ablazin'! What guns?!" He laughed a deep laugh and flicked the ashes off of his smoldering tobbacco wrap.
"The superdome is unarmed?" asked young Nabob in disbelief.
"Unarmed but well defended. When you put enough slayers in one place special things happen," reminded Natral.
"You mean the group Rush effect?"
Gatral stood up and looked closer at another monitor that was focused on the CWAL encampment. He thought about his nephew, GAVAL, for a little while and wondered where he might be at this late hour.
(GAVAL leans over a rock and pukes)
(Lothos laughs and slaps him on the back)
Lothos: Told ya you'd puke first! (Takes a deep swig from a bottle of orange liquid.)
Pointing at a schematic of the Superdome Gatral blew a little smoke and spoke up, his cajun accent almost gone,
" `When five thousand men of pureblood convene,
in the name of the Divinity pure and clean,
the Shield of Karvalle appears to bind,
and surround those warriors; protects them thine.
No magic...no evil...may penetrate this sphere,
no wickedness to this shield adhere.'
Ah remember bein' taught dat as a kid."
"And when's the last time enough slayers were gathered to test the shield?" asked Nabob, sounding almost disappointed. He was a man of science and reason, and though he considered himself very devout, he couldn't shake a shadow of doubt at some ancient nursery rhyme about a sorceress slayer and the spell she cast on her friends some one thousand years ago.
Natral patted Nabob on the back and smiled. "Ya gotta have faith, Frenchie."
"I'm from Great Britain actually..."
"Whatever! Pie?" said Gatral as his beard was smeared in pecan filling.
"Yes, thanks," said Nabob. No slayer ever turned down pie. It was an unwritten rule that if a slayer ever did turn down pie he was to be staked to a lawn mower and driven through an ant colony naked. Either that or it was code for something being terribly, TERRIBLY wrong.
"Nat, you're probably wondering why I wanted you here."
"De thought did cross mah mine, me."
"I need you to serve as Third in the Trinity."
"You heard me. We need someone with command experience."
"But Jo Bob can-"
"Jo Bob is a Redneck. He's officer material, but he's no Slayer Cajun. You've led large groups of Slayers into battle before. I need you for this."
"Dere's got to be someone else-"
"Look," Gatral frowned as he wiped his beard. "Ah know you have reservations after what happened in de warehouse, you. Ah know you lost a lot of men and you hold you-self responsible after witnessing all that death...but you know what we're up against better than anyone. You've been there and lived to tell about it. Dat's a powerful ally, dat. Fear is a powerful ally. It makes you tink. It makes you feel alive. More than any Rush could ever do. In case you havent' noticed, dis is the CCC we're running here. Most slayers have lived their whole lives waiting for something like dis to happen and here we are. It's time to act. Duty calls, Nat. A lot of men could die out there if you don't ready em."
Natral couldn't bear to speak agreement so he just nodded and felt like he was nodding away a thousand more lives.
"Good boy. Now...you'll be commanding the Trinity with GAVAL as First since he knows the enemy as well as you do, and Cabbott as Second who's the only other slayer assigned to Irvine to have survived. Think about what's at stake when you take dose men out to war, but don't tink about it too much. Let yourself go when it gets hairy and you'll find dat the Divinity can do the walking for you."
Natral nodded and when he thought Gatral was done briefing him on the three Divisions he left the bridge of the Superdome as quickly as he could and slumped up against a wall shivering uncontrollably. It wasn't the war or death he was afraid of. It was reliving a nightmare.
(CWAL EMCAMPMENT) by LOTHOS
(Supernook slumbered peacefully under the heavy weight of a sealskin blanket; he had been utterly warm in the frigid desert night, and was still out cold. Prysym watched him snore. He turned to Grorx and Fjorxc.)
Prysym: Gaval ‘ad better ‘ave ‘ad tha' wee conv'rsation wi' Maggott by now…
(Maggott Flashback [TM]: Punt is standing in front of a large blackboard with a pointing stick, pointing at each word in turn.)
Punt: (Reads down the line) Repeat after me: ‘The Biosphere is our FRIEND. Damaging the planetary surface to the extent of rendering it uninhabitable would be BAD. Mortals are PEOPLE TOO.' Come on, repeat after me… (He starts to make goading motions.)
(Maggott's already baleful expression darkens, and his eyes narrow further. A gunshot, and Punt's shattered body collapses backwards onto an ever growing and soggy pile. A second later, Punt comes back in, and picks up the bloodied pointing stick.)
Punt: (Reads down the line) Repeat after me: ‘The Biosphere is our FRIEND…'
(Maggott sighs wearily.)
(End Maggott Flashback [TM])
Prysym: (Looks up to see Maggott and Gaval having a ‘discussion.') Why not we go see wha' they're talkin' aboat?
(They walk towards them. Maggott is standing next to Paradox, who seems to be strapped to some form of high explosive.)
Maggott: (In a patronizing voice) See, I can control fungus. How do we use this in a combat scenario? Like THIS!
(He flexes his fingers and Paradox ceases struggling against the ropes and chains.)
Paradox: Yes master… The enemy will die… I *LIKE * being a kamikaze… the enemy will die…
Gaval: (Watching all this with wry amusement) What's the yield on that bomb, Maggott?
Maggott: (Starts to count on fingers, and then a suspicion dawns) Wait… that seminar by Punt was meant to be RELEVANT, wasn't it?!
(Points accusingly at Gaval)
Gaval: Bye Maggott… (He starts to walk away, with Maggott grumbling something about mortals and their damned lies. Paradox manages to free himself and run before Maggott notices he's gone.)
(Pez runs up excitedly)
Pez: Want to expect the new and improved Techno-Winnebago?
Gaval: Is this the same Techno-Winnebago that drove you and all the other vets here? The same Techno-Winnebago I told Rachel and Nuse to stay in so that they'd be safe?
Gaval: Then how is it new and improved?
Pez: Last minute modifications, of course!
Gaval: (Epitome of reluctance) Ho boy.
(Pez grabs him and drags him through the evening haze towards his new baby.)
Pez: I present, the only Winnebago in the entire country with modifications based on both Maggottonian and Protossian technology! It has guns, a repair bay, a point defense system, and even MORE importantly, a method of engine lock that is capable of figuring out whether it is Lothos who is trying to drive.
Gaval: I sanction that aspect.
Pez: I knew you would. In a similar vein, it is the only Winnebago in the world with a built in LDC. Lothos Detainment Centre. It has all the frills, Level One deals with trying to distract and entertain him, and thus prevent him from getting any creative ideas, Level Two deals with methods of restraint and sedation, and Level Three consists of a very large bank safe to throw him in.
Gaval: What are these? (He gestures at some poorly made metallic spikes welded to the front bumper.)
Pez: Those would be the ramming spikes.
Pez: Because Lothos came up with the idea, and I couldn't be bothered trying to stop him. A further clue as to who it was, is the graffiti under the bumper of ‘I rule, Hoddamnit,' and a poor bomb replica rigged to go off if we went under 50 miles per hour. I assume Lothos got confused as to what he was supposed to be doing under the Winnebago.
Gaval: How did you deal with that one?
Pez: Fortunately, he'd wired the bomb to three 500 gram blocks of cheese, so it wasn't terribly difficult to disarm.
(An unpleasant thought occurs to Prysym. He looks inside the Winnebago.)
Prysym: This would certainly explain why he's currently grilling slices of Semtex on toast.
Gaval: (Whimper) RACHEL! NUSE! OUT!
Pez: EVERYBODY DOWN!
(There is a pause. Prysym checks inside the Winnebago.)
Prysym: Emergency over; he's eaten it.
Gaval: I think I need a change of topic. How did the Friendly:) Containment Crew go?
Grorx: (Winces) We got him eventually. Projecting a hologram of naked men dropping soap distracted him long enough for us to close in. The mental trauma to the team was significant, as an unpleasant by-product.
Gaval: Just as long as we have him where we need him. This battle is worth a little mental trauma.
Grorx: You didn't have to see the holograms.
Gaval: Of course not; I was the one who did the planning. Delegation is a wonderful thing.
Grorx: You just made… THE LIST!
Gaval: Plot vengeance if we survive this.
(Grorx is busy adding something to a piece of paper.)
Grorx: Done and done.
Gaval: (To Prysym) He seemed to take me literally. Since when does he have a list too? *Adds "people to have Hit Lists" to Slayer Hit List*
Prysym: That he did.
Gaval: And where is Kazz?
Grorx: McGravin's got him contained safe and sound.
Grorx: Now the only question is, why is Lothos still out and roaming around?
Gaval: Simply because we have yet to find something that will reliably keep him contained for any length of time, and we can't afford to have him haring off into the distance once he escapes. So we go for the simple plan.
Grorx: Toss a sack over his head and Maggott hits him with a rock?
Gaval: That would be the one.
(Prysym spies someone waving at them from the top of the rock formations at the edge of the valley.)
Prysym: Someone's waving at you, Gav.
Gaval: Who the hell is that?
Prysym: Someone who doesn't seem to realise that they're visible for miles and that it's nearly dawn.
(They run for the rock formations and climb up as fast as they can.)
(At the top they find a bespectacled youth with a nearly completed portrait of the desert landscape done in water colours very professionally.)
El Cazador: Uh, Mr Gaval Sir, I was wondering if another school group had been scheduled to study this area?
Gaval: *Puff * *Wheeze * Why? And don't call me "Mr." I'm 25 dammit.
El Caz: (Points off to the other side of the valley) Because there seems to be a gathering over there.
(A huge army of Blizzard is gathered on the other edge of the canyon. There are flensers in the front lines, and instead of the usual security guard fodder, there are several platoons of soldiers in Terran combat armour, backed up by Siege Tanks and Terran ground units. Overhead hovers the ponderous bulk of a Science Vessel and a few air units. Gaval swears to himself.)
(A high pitched whine shoots past, and pieces of stone flick past. Gaval, Grorx and Prysym all find themselves flat on the rock instantly. El Cazador is still calmly painting the scene, the moonrise, and the army deploying on the opposite ridge.)
El Caz: Yeah, they've been doing that all morning. I tell ya, the mosquitoes here are WAY nastier than the ones in Panama.
Gaval: El Cazador, I'm going to give you an instruction, and it is vitally important that you follow them to the letter.
El Caz: Yes sir?
Gaval: GET THE HELL DOWN NOWWWWW!
El Caz: *Yipe! * (He clambers down the rock formation in record time.)
Iolaus: Remind me to unleash Kazz on the newbies more often. It looks as though we need to thin out the numbers a bit, starting with the ones with less survival instincts than Lothos.
(He looks out at the gathering Blizzard force)
Gaval: Looks like we're going to start this right off the bat. (Pulls out microphone) YOUR POSITIONS PEOPLE, THIS IS NOT A DRILL! SOUND THE CLAXON! WAR, WAR, WAR!
Paranoid CWALer: Oh! That's my cue! (Raises microphone attached to a Mack Truck sized loudspeaker. *ahem* WEEEE'RE ALLLL GONNAAA DIIIIIEEEE!!!!!!
(Off in the distance, Frugle distracts Lothos by starting a fire, and Maggott clubs him with a brick. They then throw a bag over his head and drag him towards the edge of the canyon.)
Frugle: Can I club him, Maggott? CANICANICANICANICANI?
Maggott: IF he survives the battle.
Frugle: What about if the body is identifiable?
Maggott: (considers) Can't see that he'd mind that…
(Back to Gaval)
(He looks down from the rocks and sees the army of CWAL and CARV deploying as rapidly as he'd hoped. Gaval checks the edge of the canyon and the special deployment forces were in place. On the other side of the rocks, Maggott, McGravin, and the other heavy weapons specialists were deploying from cover on the rocks.)
(Gaval looks across, and the Blizzard forces are beginning to move down into the valley.)
Gaval: Damn...I gotta get to my men. Io, it's all you now! I got tings to do!
Iolaus: (nods and assumes his normal chain of command over CWAL) DEPLOY OPERATION MAYHEM!
(Down from the rocks, Prysym is trying to hold down a rangy figure with a sack over his head. Supernook is keeping Lothos' jaw shut to keep him chewing through the bag.)
Supernook: Explain to me… *OOF! * The theory-NOBITINGMEHODDAMNIT!- behind this scheme, again?
Prysym: Somethin' aboat huntin' wi' birds o' prey in medieval times… Remove the -ARG- hood, and point the bird at the target.
Iolaus: (shouting from the rocks) DEPLOY OPERATION MAYHEM!
Prysym: HERE WE GO!
(He pulls off the hood, and points Lothos at the approaching Blizzard forces.)
Lothos: WHOOHOO! VEHICLES! *POING! *, *POING! *
(He dives down the side of the canyon, slams into the side of an approaching Vulture, kicks the driver out the side and begins tearing around the canyon itself.)
(Gaval, running for the ASG encampment in the dark watches the progress.)
McGravin: Are you going to tell me that you HAVEN'T played Tiberian Sun?
Gaval: So maybe this IS due to me seeing a medieval falconry show and hearing something about the Mutant Hijacker at about the same time. Sue me.
(A large explosion splits the canyon, spreading debris)
Gaval: They've got the Siege Tanks up! How's Lothos doing?
McGravin: (watching through binoculars as Lothos weaves and swerves around the enemy vehicles, tossing napalm canisters around the place with gleeful abandon) Aren't you supposed to have to STOP, to shoot the napalm canisters? How can he AIM?
McGravin: Scratch that question. He hasn't slowed down and stayed in one direction for more than twelve feet, and the siege tanks took out some of their own forces.
(Lothos and the vulture zoom up the walls on the other side of the canyon, drawing heavy fire from the Blizzard defences, most of which hits the other vultures following him. He heads into the army itself and zig-zags through Siege Tanks in siege mode, and massive earth shattering explosions plough through the ground behind him. He is also giggling like an idiot, and tossing napalm canisters around with insane freedom.)
Iolaus: Get as many of our forces down the valley as we can while they're distracted with Lothos. McGravin, use the SMB if the Science Vessel gives you a chance; we can't let it free reign.
Somebody order action? A little violence, perhaps? Allllrighty, then.
Great Holy War Finale: Part Five
XXX. "Apex" by GAVAL,
"Scorched Earth" by Lothos,
"Scorched Sky" by Ravil
(Author's Note: To preserve continuity and for best realistic effect these chapters have been mingled appropriately according to the way they might have happened during the course of the night)
***SONG*** "The Battle"
Their faces were not as carefree as before. Through all the stubble and grime one could see a look of despair in the dark eyes of the pureblood warriors who were gathered at the edge of the desert valley and looking down. In a rare moment of silence the thousands of slayers gazed down at the ridge where the two large armies of CWAL and Blizzard/OEEP were clashing amidst the wreckage of this battle's first skirmish.
"It's begun," said Cabbott, the leader of Trinary Two with a frown.
"Should we jump in there and assist them? CWAL looks outnumbered," observed Natral.
As the night dust blew up a cloud and he squinted into the night, Cabbott frowned and shook his head. "No. Our fate lies elsewhere. We got bigger problems." He pointed back beyond the converging forces of CWAL and OEEP. Back beyond the wreckage of terran vehicles that Lothos had gotten to. Back beyond the rising air forces of the Dominion which was slowly moving forward as they too had reluctantly decided to head into a battle they hoped wouldn't happen. There, moving forward from the foreboding background of an almost pyramid-shaped plateau surrounded by four dark obelisks was the dark armies of Namrok and Nighteye.
Through his binoculars Cabbott shrugged off a shudder as he watched the abominadable legions march slowly forward in an evil waltz of destruction. Their direction was clear. They were headed for the northern encampments of the forces of good. They wanted slayer blood.
Natral pulled his own binoculars out of the backpack he had been outfitted with and looked on himself. "God," was all he could say. He saw countless corpses walking....undead bodies of the night. He saw Vampires roaming in packs...better organized than any nest he had ever razed. Surrounding these packs of nosveratu were lichs and scores other dark humanoid forms. He couldn't even begin to tell what those were but they largely resembled Phasmus' horde as they slowly got closer and closer.
Jo Bob was there as well. He could only stare at the spectacle approaching until finally he spoke up above the silence. "Ah seen movies about armies of darkness like this. They almost seemed funny to me back then, and they always lost. Ah never ever thought we'd see something like this though. Look at em! All those souls robbed of their rest. All the damned rose up to slay peace and goodness. Ah'd better get back up to the bridge." With that he turned and sprinted back to the Superdome entrance.
Natral watched in his binoculars as one of the vampires pushed down a large, tree-sized cactus with little effort. Nearby a lich waved his arms, then hellfire shot out of his hands burning another cactus to ashes in seconds. "Shouldn't we get moving? They look eager to destroy."
Cabbott nodded. "We can't wait for GAVAL all day. Ah'll take his First Trinary with mah Second.. You take the Third Trinary and Phasmus. We'll break into two factions, us. Your group can take de mummies and lichs to the south. We'll take de vampires and zombies to the nort'. D'ere appear to be other restless souls out dere too. Ghosts...apparitions keep appearing and disappearing out dere. We'll have to deal with them as well, us."
Natral's heart was resisting what was happening, but he knew he had to pull it together. These warriors needed leadership. The unimaginable was unfolding before their eyes and though instinct said to run, that choice was simply nonexistent. He nodded approval to Cabbott's order. "We'll be ready, Chause."
"Remember. We not here to kill em, us. We just hold the line and keep `em off CWAL's back until de time is right."
Beating this many may not be an option, thought Natral as he nodded to Cabbott once and and then turned to the groups of slayers and began shouting orders to the oddly silent crowd of revellers. "Alright, Tri Two form up nort' of the 'Dome! Break up into your factions. Ah need Rednecks and Premiere to the front, Cajuns behind em! Priests, Bakers, and Chimneysweeps to de back! MOVE, MOVE! Phasmus, put that tape up and get your people mixed in with the Rednecks."
Phasmus tucked a roll of duct-tape into his "pocket" backed away from a slayer with his back turned. "Of course we'll be happy to oblige. We can discuss the details of this venture after the battle, modest fee and interest accrued of course." Lumbering mummies began moving towards the disarrayed line of Slayers-Redneck under Natral's command as the two groups mumbled and cursed about the insane alliance that they had formed for the duration of this war.
"Remember!" cried Natral. "We here to stop a war. Winning is optional!"
Cabbott could only smile as he watched the slayer move towards his regiment. The guy was a born leader. "Tri's One and Three! Follow me! Ah want a phalanx of Rednecks and Premiere squared off on that south hill! Priests and Chinmeysweep to de middle. Form up! You'd better be ready before GAVAL gets here! He thinks lagging is evil!"
"He thinks ever-thing's eval, sir!"
"No mouthing off 1Gomer Pyle!' Move it!"
Namrok was in bliss. The initial disappointment at Phasmus's disruption in his control field had worn off. He had thousands of chaotic and blood-bent creatures of necromantic evil at his beck and call. Their very existence defied life and freedom. To Namrok it was a sight of beauty. "Mine!" he cried as he willed a group of zombies to turn and bow to him, before resuming their course toward the Cush-Cush Contengency. "Once these Slayers, nay, once Phasmus and his stupid book go down nothing will stand in my way. Sephroth be damned, he can't possibly tell me what to do with a world of corpses poised to strike him down."
Nighteye frowned. "I suggest you focus on the task at hand, lich."
"Whatever. Look. The slayers are organized. They're forming some kind of barrier to protect that silly mobile building of theirs. We can't just run in and start slashing. We need a plan."
"I've got a plan, Sith. Just make sure your mummies keep Phasmus busy enough so that I can get my spells finished and the stupid human wall the slayers are forming will fall like a card castle. Stop here! We're not going to attack tens of thousands of mortals built to slay undead on a hill. Stay here in the open and let them come to us." With that he seemed to go into a trance, chanting some archaic psalm as he waved the Skull of Ethric around wildly.
"They stopped," mumbled Cabbott.
"-v^-If we charge them we'll be doing exactly what they want us too-v^-," warned Phasmus on a walkie-talkie.
"And if we wait they could charge south and blindside the others. I'm not waiting around for the army from hell to plot deeper against us. Be ready for anything. FORWARD!"
The gigantic phalanx of two full Slayer Trinaries, each numbering in the teens of thousands moved forward at a trot towards the menacing army before them.
On that signal, the three layers thick wall of Natral's Trinary and Phasmus forces also began charging forward, Duct-tape mummies keeping the pace as best they could. As Slayers went from a brisk walk to a trot they began unsheathing their weapons. Silver coated crowbars, stakes, swords, daggers, shotguns; all readied to bring death upon those who would challenge them.
Before they were even close enough to the pack of undead for the Rush to make its mark, they could smell the decaying corpses of the enemy. The smell was even more revolting than the Slayers were used to. Just as the Slayers began to scream and break into a sprint, eager to do some long-overdue vanquishing, the Army of Darkness spread into 3 distinct groups and then dropped to the ground in seconds.
Dirt in the two large gaps between the three groups of the undead army began to rise up into the air along with rocks and indigenous plant life. It was though hell itself were throwing itself at the Slayers. The rocks and thorny branches flew right into the Slayers' path, hitting the middle of the group with perfect accuracy.
This moment came at the last possible useful instant for Namrok. He had timed it this way on purpose. The projectiles of earth would strike the Slayers when they were closest to cause the most damage, but before the Rush could enhance their healing abilities or strength.
The effect was devastating. Slayers cried in agony as first the dust and sand struck them at hundreds of miles an hour, sandblasting them before rocks, then stones, then large boulders crushed and then buried them in its wake.
The pureblood howled in terror as their skin was burned by the stinging sands. The lucky had their skulls crushed before they could feel the fullness of this unique brand of pain Namrok had dealt them.
Somehow Cabbott had managed to avoid serious injury, mainly due to the help of an old medieval shield he liked to carry around. Its holy symbol was often useful for exorcisms or turning off the undead he often faced. He quickly figured out what Namrok was doing and shouted an order into the communicator he carried. "Full charge! FULL SPEED! GET IN RANGE OF THE RUSH, NOW!"
Most of the Slayers had already figured that part out. The quickest salvation lied not in retreating, but in charging, to get out of projectile range. There the Rush would take them. It would bring them strength, solace, and fury. It would chase away the fear. Pushing off the rocks and climbing out of the tons of dust and sand, the Slayers who had fallen rose up and continued forth as quick as they could.
The bulk of the group left behind them a fresh graveyard of dead slayers and a handful of mortal priests....perhaps a thousand of them, crushed under the rocks and splinters of cactus quills, ready to embrace heaven along with the ruined bodies of lost VILE mummies. The Slayers' bodies were untouchable by Namrok's necromantic powers. This was the blessing of having enlightened blood...but the same couldn't be said for Phasmus' mummies. Once destroyed, they were easy targets for Namrok and already he began raising the whole-enough mummies against the Slayers. They slowly rose and walked towards the back of the Slayer regiment, mummies and dead priests, ready to kill in the name of Namrok.
And then collision occurred, finally. As Slayers screamed in agony not from Namrok's earthen assault, but from the arrival of the rush, their eyes glowed, their muscles tightened. Suddenly god was with them and as they received the initial pain that came with the Rush, hope was restored. Chunks of desert continued to fly towards the Slayer army but something was different. As the debris got to within ten feet of hitting its targets, it veered off and landed harmlessly behind the wall of Slayers and good mummies.
"The prophecy...." Natral cried as his eyes glowed a white glow and he helped a Slayer- Chimneysweep up. "It's coming true! The shield of Kharvalle!" Indeed an invisible shield had surrounded the largest groups of slayers, showing itself only when the largest pieces of earth struck it. They were safe from at least this assault, but now a new problem had arisen.
The fastest group of slayers poured into the wall of undead and made a small bulge in the front lines as infantry met infantry in bloody battle. Stakes stabbed. Claws scratched. Teeth ripped. For the first time ever in earthan history, the world's undead had met the world's slayer legacy in face to face organized combat, and it was horrible.
No one even had time to notice the huge group of air forces that was about to converge above them or the explosions that rocked the valley to the south where CWAL had been. It was chaos. It was war, and the stakes were immeasurable.
"Scorched Sky" by Ravil
"All hands, battlestations! We've got hostiles on the scope!"
The overhead lights on the bridge of the C.S.S. Phoenix dimmed automatically, bathing the control consoles in emergency infrared lighting. The moment was finally upon them: the showdown had commenced, and the final battle for the fate of the world was about to begin.
"What's the status on the rest of the allied force?" shouted Fjorxc, seated in the captain's chair of the mighty Battlecruiser. A surge of pride was going through him at the thought of his vessel being the flagship of the fleet. Not that there was much of a choice these days, what with Fron's Canuck having been brought down a number of months before. All the same, this was the first battle in a long time that the Phoenix had been engaged in, and it felt good to be back at her helm, even if it meant he wasn't in command of the entire fleet.
"It looks like CWAL has engaged Blizzard…the Slayers and the duct tape horde are about to commence their attack on Namrok's undead...and if I'm not mistaken, those ships coming right at us are courtesy of the Darkstar Alliance." The reply came from Fron, seated not far away in the command nexus from where he was coordinating the rest of the fleet. "It looks like the Phoenix is in pretty good shape. All other ships and wings, call in."
"C.T.S. Vimy Ridge standing by to deploy."
"Norf here. Arrow-IV squadron Alpha reports good to go."
"Freerunner and Eddie standing by in the Orca. We're combat ready."
"This is Akardam...C.M.S. Hawthorne awaiting orders."
"Arrow-IV squadron Beta checking in."
"T-this is *hic* Exile...a-all sys…sys…systems go…"
Fjorxc shot a skeptical look over towards Fron. "Err...do we really want to have Exile up here with us in a combat situation when he's had enough alcohol to make a rhinoceros keel over?"
"Good thought." Fron keyed the transmission button again. "Exile, this is Fron. Why don't you, uh, break formation and see if you can't lend the CWALers on the ground a hand against Blizzard?"
"*hic* Y-You got it, pops..."
The Protoss Corsair immediately peeled off, wobbling down through the air towards the rocky ridge where the forces of CWAL and Blizzard had already engaged each other in deadly combat. The other big ships of the allied fleet held their position, while the two squadrons of Arrows circled nearby, their powerful vectored thrust engines ready to swoop in for the kill at a moment's notice.
"DSA forces are drawing within range, sir!" exclaimed Lieutenant 11001001 from his station. "T-minus one minute to weapons range."
"All ships, this is Fron," the Emperor said, speaking into the futuristic Jem'Hadar-esque headset which he wore to help with the coordination. "Enemy ships will be on us shortly. All vessels are to stand fast, you read me? Stand fast. Do not break formation!"
"What?" Fjorxc shouted back angrily. "Whaddya mean ‘hold formation'? I want to get out there and whoop their evil little asses back to the stone age! They cheated us out of action up there on the Moon, and I'll be a deep-fried seagull if I let ‘em cheat us out of this fight too!"
"Look, just do it! I'm too busy to be arguing with you about this right now!"
"But I want to kill something!"
"Forks, just get ready to meet those DSA fighters when they come down on us, okay? You'll have plenty of time to kill stuff once they do!"
"I WANT TO KILL THEM NOW!"
Fron glared at him intensely. "Do you want me to have you dragged off the bridge of your own ship?"
The crazed look in Fjorxc's eyes increased exponentially and his voice suddenly lowered to an approximation of William Shatner's. "Don't let them promote you...don't let them transfer you...don't let them do anything that takes you off the bridge of that ship...because while you're there...you can make a difference!"
"He's lost it..." Lieutenant 11001001 muttered from his station.
Fron was about to rise and strangle his demented friend when another figure moved in from the back of the bridge faster than he could have. A strong hand pushed Fjorxc down into his seat, while the other strong hand produced a piece of pie under his nose. It seemed to have a hypnotic effect on him, for he suddenly stopped his ramblings and grabbed the piece of pastry perfection greedily, shoving it into his face and chewing like a maniac. A few seconds passed before the bloodlust in Fjorxc's eyes faded and he straightened his back.
"Mmmmmm...sugary confection..." at once he sprung into action. "Lieutenant, re-adjust the field harmonics! Ensign, dust off that sensor board! You! More pie, pronto!"
The man nodded and gave a knowing smile, then moved back to his previous position near the back of the Phoenix's bridge. Fron threw him a curious look.
"Who are you who is so wise in the ways of sugar depravation?"
The man smiled. "You'll know me when you need me again."
Then the DSA forces were upon them, and they were out of time for introductions.
"Here they come!" Lieutenant 11001001 shouted a moment before the Phoenix rocked violently under the first salvo of the attack.
A dozen Dark Star Alliance mech-fighters swooped in for the kill, their weapons blazing as they tore over the rocky plateau, descending upon the Dominion fleet like ravenous birds of prey. The disciplined crews aboard the Canadian ships held their ground valiantly, not breaking formation or scattering like the DSA had obviously expected them to. Nonetheless, the mech-fighters, ingenious constructs with the dual use of serving as both aerospace ships and ground-based BattleMechs, locked on and fired without delay, filling the air with homing missiles before they themselves pulled up. The projectiles streaked towards their targets, detonating violently against the hulls of the Phoenix, Hawthorne, and Vimy Ridge, the three capital ships of the fleet.
"Damage report!" Fjorxc shouted as the Battlecruiser's main viewer was briefly obscured by flames and static.
The Lieutenant was quick to find out. "Minimal, sir! They're using standard high-explosive rockets as their munitions. Our neosteel-fnordium armor held up fine...Hawthorne and Vimy Ridge report that their shields took care of the blasts as well."
Fjorxc smirked. "Let's show those twerps how we fight up north. Fron?"
"You got it." The Emperor scowled. "Arrow squadron Alpha, move to intercept DSA mech-fighters. Beta, stick close to home to protect the capital ships."
"Copy that, brother," came Norf's energetic, overly eager voice. "You hear that boys? Let's stomp us some bad guys!"
Even as the mech-fighters broke formation and scattered to avoid the sprinkling return-fire, the squadron of heavily-armed Arrow-IV fighters shot through the gaps in the fleet formation like hummingbirds on Speed, only considerably noisier. Quickly acquiring their targets, Norf's elite pilots pressed their attack, pulling their swift aircraft into a deadly dogfight against the less-maneuverable DSA craft. With support fire being provided by the Phoenix and Hawthorne, the airspace above the Mojave Desert was soon criss-crossed with alternating firing patterns from the antagonized forces. Explosions rocked the air as those piloting less-fortunate aircraft were caught up in the hot exchange of firepower, never even knowing what killed them.
"Looks like these mech-fighter things have more advanced armor than they do weaponry," came Norf's voice over the comm-link again. "I hit one of those buggers with an anti-matter rocket and all it did was shake it up a little bit!"
Fron's scowl deepened. It didn't look like this was going to be quite as easy a victory as he had hoped a moment ago. But the DSA ships didn't seem to be armed with anything more powerful than explosive missiles and some light laser cannons, which, against the shielded Arrows and the armored capital ships, weren't going to amount to an awful lot of damage...whereas the Arrows carried firepower that far surpassed just about anything on the planet. If they were lucky, the Dominion wouldn't lose more than a few pilots against the Dark Star Alliance mech-fighters...and that would be a victory unto itself.
"Keep ‘em on their toes, Norf. That armor can't last forever!"
Admiral Norf, Canadian Dominion, watched with glee as the DSA mech-fighter he had been dousing with anti-matter rockets and plasma fire finally buckled, exploding violently and sending pieces of shrapnel cascading off in all directions. Mustering all of his considerable piloting abilities, he managed to pull his Arrow-IV out of the way just in time, barely even scorching his plane's underbelly in the inferno. Cackling with flight jockey delight, he pulled at the plane's control stick, bringing the aircraft into a tight barrel roll just in time to avoid being strafed by machine gun fire from one of the mech-fighters that he had picked up along the way.
"Alpha squad, this is Alpha Leader," he said into his headset, grinning tremendously. "We've nailed four of these DSA bastards and the others are still taking heavy damage. This is almost too easy. That'll show Zeno that he can't mess with the Canadian Dominion without his little moon base! Fron, are you sure that there aren't any DSA reinforcements on your screens?"
"Affirmative, bro. Once you've polished off those mech-fighters, it looks like the skies are clear aside from the Dominion and the New Orleans Superdome."
Norf made a face. "What the hell did Zenogias think he was going to gain by throwing a few planes at us? Once they're gone, we're going to have complete dominion over the air in this little fiasco, and once we've got that, it pretty much assures victory for..."
"Wait a minute, Norf...we are picking something up after all. It looks like the DSA came a little better-prepared than we thought. Sensors show Dark Star ground forces deploying near the ridge...looks like they're going to try and give Namrok and his undead some help, and...God in heaven, what is that thing?"
Pulling away from the dogfight, Norf tilted the plane on its side, peering out the canopy to the ground battle raging far below. Even from this altitude he could make out the rag-tag forces of CWAL staving off Blizzard's StarCraft armies, as well as the Slayers Ambiguous fighting for their lives against the archlich's powerful undead. He could also make out the DSA formations below...they had to have at least a thousand men down there, marching into the fray...but bringing up the rear of the troop was something much larger, and much more terrifying.
"Cripes, that must be the UltimaEngine," Norf breathed, staring down in awe at the monolithic ‘Mech that now plodded through the desert, covered with just about every armament known to mankind, and probably more than a few that weren't known. He keyed the intercom. "Fron, I have visual ID on that thing...it's definitely Zeno's little toy. Only it isn't quite as little as we may have thought."
"What the hell kind of fool names a BattleMech an ‘Engine', anyway?"
"I don't know, brother, but I think that we're the ones who are going to have to deal with it. That thing is way too much for any other part of the forces of righteousness to take out on their own."
"Agreed. That thing can pop Slayers into its mouth like gummy-bears. Hell, that thing can probably pop Canuckalisks into its mouth like gummy-bears. I'm going to have Fjorxc take the Phoenix in and knock it down with a Yamato blast, then go at it with the lasers. Akardam, you there?"
"Yes sir, Emperor. Hawthorne is in good shape."
"You'll come down with us start venting at the UltimaEngine. Our intelligence reports that thing to be nearly unstoppable, but if there's anything here on the good guys' side that will be able to slow it down, it'll be us. Alpha and Beta Arrow squadrons will remain behind to finish off the mech-fighters."
"Wait a minute, that's a fine and dandy plan, Fron, but what about those DSA ground troops? They're heading right for the rest of the battlefield, and when they get there, it may turn the tide against the forces of the light. We've got to do somethin' to stop them!"
Onto the channel came another voice. "Hey, hot stuff..." It was Freerunner, situated in the cockpit of Fjorxc's prided Orca, "...I think I've got an answer for you. Forksy loaded this thing up with bombs just before we took off. If we can get in over those DSA goons, we can carpet-bomb the hell out of ‘em, then maybe deploy our own ground troops to do the mopping up. Whaddya think?"
Norf grinned. "I think I'm dating a girl who has more brains than I do. Fron, you get the Vimy Ridge in position to start recalling Dominion troops down to the surface once all hell breaks lose. Freerunner, start your run, and make sure that all hell does break lose. I'll cover your tail."
"Hey!" protested Fron. "Remember who's in command here!"
"You got a better idea, cattle prod boy?"
A slight pause. "All right, you two lovebirds go drop your eggs. The Phoenix is breaking formation to make its pass on the UltimaEngine right now...try not to get in the way, okay?"
"Getting in the way is what I do best," Norf muttered under his breath as he pulled his aircraft into a dive, losing altitude fast. Finally, he spotted the Orca coming up to port, saw Freerunner wave a greeting at him, and then speed ahead. Norf reduced the throttle on his Arrow-IV, dropping back to come in behind the GDI vessel.
The desert whipped past below them at high speed as the two Dominion ships rocketed through the air, coming up fast on their target. The DSA soldiers were not even distinguishable as individual men, so tightly-packed in marching formation were they. The UltimaEngine, on the other hand, loomed several stories above the sands, lumbering behind the soldiers as a vanguard of doom. Cripes that thing is big, Norf thought in disbelief. It's got more armor than anything I've ever seen. Here's hoping for Fron and Fjorxc's sake that it's carrying shoddy weapons like the mech-fighters were...
"We're approaching the drop zone, Norf. Don't look at the light from the flashes if you value your eyes."
The air was suddenly pierced by hund
eds of laser blasts coming from the DSA regiment on the ground as they fired blindly into the air with their laser pulse rifles, hoping to bring down the two Dominion aircraft through sheer bulk of fire. It wasn't going to happen, though. A few stray shots connected, but the Arrow's shields easily took them in stride, and Norf was confident that the Orca's hull plating would be able to do the same. Watching, he could see a pair of bombs drop from the Orca's belly...then another pair...and another...and another...
Explosions rattled the ground and air, kicking up huge firestorms which engulfed many of the helpless fodder soldiers below. Norf grinned with triumph as the two speedy aircraft pulled up, leaving behind them the stunned and smoldering remains of the shattered DSA formation.
"YEEEEE-HAW! Great shot, babe! Those went right up their tailpipes!"
"All right, Vimy Ridge, your target is as buttered up as you're ever going to see them," Freerunner announced over the comm-link. "Standby to start deploying your ground forces."
"This is CTS Vimy Ridge, standing by."
Norf was about to turn to watch the massive transport ship open up its vaunted Recall portals and see the Canadian Light Infantry elements housed within the Vimy Ridge's interior pour out of them, when a sudden, much larger flash of light caught his attention. He looked up just in time to see a huge ball of nuclear fire tearing its way through the air nearby, and immediately realized what it meant.
The Phoenix had engaged the UltimaEngine.
"Scorched Earth" by Lothos continued...
(Lothos leaves two destroyed Siege Tanks in his wake, both taken out from friendly fire, and an army in disarray. He has also switched Vultures twice, with a brief hijacking of a Siege Tank between them. The CEO and the HP, monitoring the battle via a satellite uplink from a few miles behind change their tactics. Horde of Flensers swarm towards him.)
HP: Uh, sir? We seem to have a rogue Vulture attempting to joust with the leading flensers with a medieval double headed battle axe.
(The satellite uplink demonstrates Lothos' gleefully playing a variant of mail-box baseball with flensers and an axe, leaving shattered chunks of sparking machinery in his wake. It also demonstrates what happens when a severed Flenser head tries to bite his leg on the way past, and the resulting total loss of control of the vulture.
CEO: Have PatN irradiate the nuisance. That'll learn him. Then I can send in Sergeant Slinky with the Elite Legion.
HP: … Yes sir.
(The Science Vessel has PatN at the helm, surrounded by dials, switches and god knows what else. The spherical bulk of the ship follows his chaotic progress ponderously, as he tries to lock the targeting crosshairs to him.)
PatN: Hold STILL, you hippie bastard!
ScottM: (From the ground) I doubt that his heritage has much to do with his ability to drive.
PatN: Who's asking you! And DON'T EAVESDROP WHEN I'M TALKING TO MYSELF! We talked about this before…
(Cut to Iolaus)
Iolaus: (Shouts at McGravin) DEPLOY THE SHOULDER-MOUNTED BEAVER!
(McGravin nods tersely, and raises what seems to be a bazooka or an RPG to his shoulder. Struggling and muffled curses can be heard from within. When the Science Vessel is within range, he fires. There is a distinct THOMPF of sound, and a small screaming figure rides a pillar of flame, to plough directly into the under belly of the Science Vessel.)
(Intruder Alert alarms sound all over the vessel. PatN looks up in surprise.)
(He picks up the intercom)
(Screeching is heard)
PatN: Goddamnit, this is NOT THE TIME to have the lab monkeys get out again, DO I MAKE MYSELF CLEAR!
PatN: You've located the intruder? Excellent!
PatN: He's the one who released the lab monkeys?
PatN: WHAT, is he DOING, to the lab monkeys!?
(The Blizzard forces begin to charge down into the canyon as the Science Vessel's flight path becomes increasingly erratic. On a signal from Iolaus, Gluegun opens fire. His canisters burst fifty feet above the approaching soldiers, spattering them with a slippery goo.)
Gluegun: And may GOD have mercy on us all.
(We see the side of a canister he loads into his gun. It reads, 'SCRUFFY BOLOGNA'S DISCOUNT LUBRICANT.')
Iolaus: UNLEASH THE FRIENDLY:)!
(Someone extremely brave, quite possibly Punt tied to a twelve-foot pole, releases the cage door containing Friendly:). His hormonally crazed mind picks up on the scent of lubricant, and he charges, Tasmanian Devil style, towards the approaching Blizzard soldiers. An eldritch screech the likes of which mortals are not meant to know echoes and reverberates throughout the valley, picking up odd fluctuations and shifts because of the way the source is moving. The terrifying battle cry is "ROMAN STYYYYYYYYYLE!")
(The Blizzard soldiers break and run having seen the fate of their comrades and realising that Terran battle armour's warrantee is invalid in the case of it needing to be used as a chastity belt against a creature unleashed from the Dimension of Unconsensual Sex Between Males.)
Iolaus: (Winces above the screams) ALL THOSE OF WEAK CONSTITUTION, LOOK AWAY!
Io: (To Maggott) War is hell, man. Ah well. We've dealt with the human factor of the enemy, now we have their mechanical units to deal with, and Lothos, wherever the hell he is, had already softened them up.
Maggott: We have also deployed our three more unhinged members in such a way that ensures that they go berserk in a way that benefits us.
Iolaus: Damn I'm good…
(Lothos screams past in a commandeered Goliath, that he is clearly still figuring out how to drive. Seconds later he vanishes past in another stolen vulture, cackling like the Wicked Witch of the West. As he disappears down the canyon releasing spider mines at speeds that invalidate their warrantee, the abandoned Goliath shambles past, driverless, and walks into a similarly driverless, out of control vulture that Lothos had previously forgotten about. Both explode.)
Maggott: THIS plan is certainly flawless.
Iolaus: MOCKETH NOT THE SACRED SCHEME!
(More explosions ring out across the valley, and the drunken weaving of abandoned vehicles can be seen from some distance away, periodically exploding as they hit each other, manned vehicles or scenery.)
Iolaus: Okay, fine. The sacred scheme has flaws. However this is better than having him hijacking our vehicles, especially considering how much he loves the Maggott Mobile.
Maggott: So noted. Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to climb up something high and dispense some constructive plasmatic atrocities upon all and sundry.
Iolaus: Good idea. (He turns to the gleefully prepared forces gathering at the lip of the canyon.)
(He raises a shotgun over his head.)
(The combined armies of CWAL and CARV pour down into the canyon in a flood of screaming, armed carnage. Up on the rock formation, Maggott sighed with nostalgia and wiped a tear from his eye. Pez was driving the Techno-Winnebago, largely because he could, and several other vehicles were joining the fray. Anarion was in the Newbie Mobile, and enjoying the ability to drive AT things far too much. Frugle was in the Maggott Mobile, although it was very debatable that he was ALLOWED to be.)
(Similarly, the forces massed on the other side of the canyon started to pour down so as to prevent the CWALers gaining too much ground. Flensers lead the charge, followed by OEEP irregulars and a smattering of the remaining Blizzard units. A larger, spiny, impressive looking metallic construct resembling a Superflenser only much bigger roamed around at the top of the canyon, surveying the scene.)
ScottM: (In the Goliath, and to the CEO through an uplink) Sir, the CWAL forces are entering the canyon, and our army is moving to engage. However, our forces are in moderate disarray due to unconventional tactics. I suggest that we commit our reserves.
CEO: (Through the uplink) Very well, but take care of the units you have; getting you many more is difficult, and already I am bored. However, soon I will unleash Slinky and his special Elite Legion, and the battle will be over. Bwhahahahah!
ScottM: Yes…. Sir.
(ScottM's Goliath moved forward to the edge of the canyon as his forces charged down the slope. He switched the weapon controls to manual, something deliberately left out of StarCraft, and began to rain missiles down on the canyon from a suitably cowardly distance.)
(McGravin sighted along the length of his gun, of which a section was rotating faster and faster and a throbbing sound filled the air.)
McGravin: Kiss goodbye to your kneecaps, boyo…
(A pulsating orange beam speared across the canyon and sliced off the right leg of the Goliath in an explosion of molten metal shrapnel. The Goliath futilely attempted to right itself, but toppled down the canyon wall, pieces coming off as it did.)
(During the slide, the remaining leg tore off, flipping the central 'pod' of the Goliath over, where the missile racks ripped off with the sound of hardened metal screaming under stress. This left the pod. Which with little to cause friction, was beginning to pick up speed…)
(ScottM clutched the inside restraint straps of the cockpit as the vehicle slid, scraped and bounced down the rough canyon wall. He could see the red, rocky floor approaching at speed, made a sound similar to 'Squee?' and braced himself. Flensers grew from being as big as mice, to as big as bloody great dangerous robotish things, and then he hit the ground. The glass front of the pod shattered and caved in, and a massive plume of dust rose from the ground. Several flensers were crushed under the wreck. ScottM lay in the wreck, feeling his legs trapped under a smashed metallic console, and his chest uncomfortably restricted by the safety belts. With difficulty, he released them, and fell forward out of his chair. As he fell, something gave in his left leg, which was still partially trapped under the console. ScottM hit his head on the shattered plexisteel and metal front of the pod, and passed out.)
(Up above this personal conflagration, lost amid the greater conflict of the battle, the semi-spherical bulk of the science vessel bobbed and weaved as various forces struggled to control it.)
PatN: Lieutenant! Has the situation improved?
Random Lieutenant: Hardly, sir. The intruder has given the lab monkeys vast quantities of psychotropic drugs and other hallucinogens, and then set them loose! They've spread all over the ship, wielding whatever they can find, and since they were in the labs, they have LOTS of scalpels and randomly selected hypodermic needles. We've been forced to barricade ourselves in here. Only problem is that the intruder himself is cutting through any bulkhead that he decides aggravates him with a chainsaw.
PatN: Tactical conclusion?
RL: We're boned.
PatN: (Moderately crazed) That thing has to be stopped! We could bail out having set the ship to irradiate itself, before detonating an EMP to take out the engines, that should give us enough time for us to get clear before it impacted…
(They hear the sound of high-pitched, insane beaver giggling and a chainsaw engine approaching through the corridors.)
PatN: Do it! NOW!
(Above the battlefield, the science vessel suddenly throbbed with venomous green light as numerous escape pods soared away from the wreck. Moments later, there was a small white explosion and the ship went dead in the air, flying with all the success of a mallard stuffed with bricks. It impacted in an enormous explosion of metallic flyin