Apocalypse minus one

November 30, 2010

Darkness had claimed the forests of Colorado. We risked a fire, since at this point I welcomed any attack that could come our way. The woods would help protect us and we needed to axe as many of the Xemmoni as we could before their big apocalypse party tomorrow.

I was just tossing another log on the roaring blaze, when that damn prisoner of ours began to laugh again. “Can’t we just kill him?” Ethan asked.

“For once, I agreed with octopus hands,” Hannah grumbled, while driving a magazine back into the assault rifle she had picked up somewhere.

“Fools. You’re surrounded. My brothers have come. There will be no escape for you this time!”

Getting up, I let my monster sized axe fill my hands. “Well, thanks for the warning, you dumb ass. You are about as smart as a pile of loose gravel aren’t you, Bucky?”

“I, ah… Damn it!”

“Hold your fire,” a strangely familiar voice called to us from down the dark road. A moment later two Darcarre came into the ring of illumination created from our fire.

“Oh man, these guys again,” Ethan groaned.

Walking forward, I threw my axe over my shoulder and tried not to let them see how wounded I still was. “Klich, thanks for letting Hannah go, although now I expect you may have done it so you could track us. Babe, check yourself for a tracker. And Ink, I guess you made it out of that mess.”

“With them all chasing you, it wasn’t too hard. Ebb, however, wasn’t as lucky.”

My allies all had my back, save for Kimberly who was keeping a rather large steak knife pressed against Bucky’s throat.

“I found it, Jack,” Hannah cried out. “It was in my hair.”

“That figures. So what are you guys here for this time?”

Klich stopped a few yards before me and drew back his black hood, which was nearly as dark as his long mane of hair. “We’re here to help you this time.”

Ellis spoke up. “I might not be an expert on these things, but if you guys worship darkness, why would you be against plunging the world into, um… darkness?”

“Because the main power from the transformation will be in the hands of Vile’s Alliance, our enemies. If their power is increased twenty fold, we are as good as dust.”

Shaking his hand, I said, “okay you’re in, but one two conditions. I’m boss and we do this my way.”

“I assume this means you have a way.”

“Not yet, but we are working on it. And aren’t you the only Xemmoni race that can heal? Because I have this little twinge I’d like you to take care of for me.”

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Pain Before Darkness

November 23, 2010

I woke up. Hey, I woke up! Being able to wake up is always a good sign.

I was on a blood stained mattress. It was night. I could smell a campfire. But I hurt so bad, I couldn’t move. Well I probably could move, I just didn’t want to. I did manage to open my eyes and at least Ethan wasn’t laying next to be this time.

Hannah must have seen me twitching, for she rushed over at once. “Jack, Jack. You’re awake!”

“At least I can do something.”

“Right now you don’t have to do anything, but rest.” Her gentle hand rested on my shoulder as she warmed me with her smile.

“Are you sure?” I groaned. “When is the ritual? How long was I out?”

“Relax, handsome. We still have one night.”

“That might not be a good thing.” After healing myself, I tried to sit up but fell back as a lancing pain tore through me. “Man, they messed me up.”

“A sword did pass through your body, dude.” Ethan said. He was standing between us and the fire which caused his body to be bathed in shadow.

Looking around, I said, “where’s Kimberly and Ellis?”

“Ellis is collecting wood and Kim is keeping an eye on our prisoner.” Ethan offered.

Struggling to move, sent another pain lancing through me. “Are you sure that’s safe? Help me get over to that loser.” Agony roared through me as the two of them helped me to my feet. Each step brought another lancing pain in my lower back, but with their assistance, I was able to make it over to our prisoner.

“So you got a name, Bucky?”

“Not that I’ll tell you,” he hissed. His hood had been drawn back reveling a vampire pale face and dark sunken eyes.

“Okay, then Bucky it is. So what can you tell me about this ritual you scumbags are doing?”

“Are you serious. I’m not telling you a thing. I’m a Xemmoni, we thrive on pain, so do your worst.”

Rubbing my chin for a moment made me realize I needed a good shave. “Before we go there, tell me which side of the Darcarre fence you are on.”

He spit a bloody glob in my direction, but it failed to make contact. “There’s only one side. Those that have aliened with the Dark Alliance. All other Darcarre are traitors who will be exterminated shortly.”

“And it is this Alliance that is heading to Chimney Rock them?”

“Oh course. All the others are doing is hiding in their caves dreading the day we come for them.”

I nodded. “You seem pretty sure of yourself.” He started to say something, but I cut him off. “Since you are so sure, why not tell us what will happen if this ritual is completed?”

He laughed. “Gladly, since the few of you have no way of stopping it. Tomorrow, shortly before midnight, a darkness that occurs only once every twenty years will rise between the Chimney Rock pillars and when it does, and after we perform our ritual, a darkness will sweep the land. From this force there will be no escape. Not only will all your pathetic humans be reduced to cattle, but all the other races of Xemmoni will be forced to bow before us. Hope will be gone and Darkness will claim the Earth.”

“Well if that’s all, why are we even bothering,” Ethan joked.

I was less amused. “Indeed. Thanks Bucky, that was all I needed to know. Come on people. I have a few assignments for each of you.”

“Wait,” the Darcarre cried out. “You aren’t still attempting to go up against us. Set me free and I’ll help make things easier on you.”

“Oh don’t worry you already have.” I said with a smile, which only grew as a look of fear spread of the Darcarre’s face.

 

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One Man Mosh Pit

November 15, 2010

“Keep going,” I shouted. “Take them as deep into the forest as you can.”

Even as I said this, I realized that we weren’t in much of a forest yet. The van was still in PJ country where I would have preferred to be surrounded by pine. Still one must play with the cards you have been dealt, unless you are bluffing, which is something I’ve been known to do. 

As I moved to the back of the van, our prisoner sat up and breathed a jet of darkness into my chest. I cried out in agony as the inky smoke burned at me staining both my clothes and flesh black. 

Grabbing up my axe, even while I was letting loose a string of curses that would have made The Creeper blush; I brought down the flat side of my massive weapon on the top of this head. He crumbled like wet paper in a hail storm. 

“Stupid idiot,” Ethan mumbled. “You want me to smoke him?” 

“No, I might still need him. But how about those tires? You think you could melt them for me?”

“Sorry boss. I’m not Elcore. And before you ask, I’m not talented enough to ignite those gas tanks either.”

“Fine, we’ll just do this the old fashion way then.” We were getting into the pines now, so I yelled, “Take that left over there,” and then almost regretted it when a bump had my head banging on the roof of the van and Ethan moaning beside me.

“Screw this,” I said, to myself and moved over to the side door. Throwing it open was easy. Grabbing onto a branch as we passed nearly broke off my arm. Despite my pain, I was able to climb up the tree before the first van came around a bend in the forest. 

Quickly positioning on a branch stretching over the road, I readied myself. The van approached. At the last moment, I swung down, letting my boots lead the way. The front window exploded into a jagged rain and then I was in through thrashing in a whirlwind of boots, elbows, and fists.

Then it was the van’s turn to become a whirlwind, as the driver lost control, and it began to roll. The havoc only increased when the second van plowed into us. The Darcarre where yelling and cursing, but despite my pain and being covered in blood, I continued to lash out.

My hands filled with random pieces of flesh and I tore and twisted my way past the screams. I think a knife took me in the back and its owner was rewarded with an elbow to the nose. I grabbed another Darcarre and used his body to try to batter my way out the back doors. They were jammed and his body gave out before I could open them. The other Xemmoni had seen enough and attempted to flee, which brought them straight into the Magickal attacks lunched by Hannah and Ethan. Soon I added my own powers to the mix and Yig’s servants, the trees, grabbed and tore at the injured Darcarre. 

I was blooded, but unbowed, as I raced out after them, but I need not have bothered. My allies had put the others to task and the remaining Darcarre lay in black smoking piles. 

“Jack, are you okay?” Hannah said, rushing forward.

“Yeah sure,” I said, but then fell to my knees.

I wasn’t sure what was wrong until I saw that I had about a foot of blade protruding through my ribs. I’d been lanced by a sword!

“Damn back stabbers,” I managed to get out before the darkness claimed me.

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    Some things were good, most things where bad. Which makes sense considering we were facing an Apocalypse? Hannah was back and I’d gotten Ellis and Kimberly as reinforcements. These were all Yig sends since Ethan was still too wounded to move much. He and our Darcarre prisoner rode in the back of the black van as we took a space in a grocery store parking lot, like we were normal people just getting back from a ball game.

           Personally, I was feeling eight thousand miles from normal and our impending doom hung over our heads and kept us quiet. “You’d think I’d be used to this by now,” I muttered under my breath, but it really wasn’t true. Sure I had fought more than my share of Xemmoni, but I was mostly just trying to stay alive and protect those around me. Never before had the fate of thousands, or who knew if millions, rested in my hands. I wasn’t really sure what the Darcarre were planning to do at Chimney Rock, but whenever folks start talking about darkness claiming the world and tossing around the A word, my nervousness kicks up eighty notches.

          “So why are we stopping here?” Ellis asked.

          “For one, I haven’t had a decent meal in about two days. I might also try to grab some basic gear. Since we are out to save the world, I … ah figured I should at least eat a sandwich.” 

          “Cool, I have my laptop with. I’ll start looking up Chimney Rock and see what I can find out.” Ellis was already dragging his sleek laptop from his back as he spoke, then turning, he asked, “You got enough bread?”

           “Remember that bank account I opened in Flagstaff?”

          “Oh yeah, how much you got in there?”

           “About eight million or so.”

          “Wow! That must be nice.”

           “It would be if I ever had a chance to spend it.” 

          While we were talking, Hannah was getting ready. I took her by the hand and we headed into the store. I bought all sorts of food, of course ale, flashlights, batteries, rope, duct tape, flares, jerry cans, lighter fluid, matches, and anything else we could think of. 

          Inside the store, Hannah and I chatted and tried to be like a couple should, but a blackness loomed over us that was hard to disperse. The world was counting on us, but we had no one we could count on. If anything, the authorities were searching for us. No help there. Despite everything, I held her close and gave her a long kiss before we rejoined the others. 

          Ellis was talking before I had set down the first bag. “It looks like where we need to go is about fifty miles east of here. Chimney Rock is in the middle of a national park. The twin spires are on the top of a mountain that rises nearly four thousand feet out of the desert floor, giving it an overall elevation of roughly eight thousand feet.” 

          “Did you learn anything that could help us?”

           He looked a little hurt. “I found out where it is, didn’t I?” He shifted in his seat. “Hey, there isn’t an Apocalypse button to click or anything. The place is a damn tourist attraction. People go there all the time. There are no signs saying please avoid bringing about the Apocalypse while you are here.” 

          I chuckled, but Kimberly wasn’t in a laughing mood. “So what is our plan now?”

           “I think we need to head out there and check on how entrenched the Darcarre might be. If we beat them out there, all the better.”

          “What about pretty boy, here?” Hannah said, jerking her thumb towards the captive Darcarre.

           “Let me take care of him.” Ethan groaned. “Right now, I feel like I could use releasing a few of my frustrations.”

           “I’ll gladly put you in charge. Okay Ellis, find us a place that is close, but not too close. We need to hole up for a few and prepare. We still have two days. We need to do this right.”

           Everyone nodded as the van pulled out onto route 160, but inside we were tense. The world might be counting on us. Five people alone against the upcoming Apocalypse. Being a Stalwart is such fun.

           We had traveled about twenty miles before our captive started laughing.

           “What’s so damn funny?”

          “My brothers have found us, you fools.” 

          “He’s right, Jack,” Ellis cried out. “There are two large vans like this one following us! What do we do?”

           “Take a left up here and get us into the trees. Let’s see how these boys in black do fighting a man of Yig on his home tuff.”

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And now for the real Danger

November 1, 2010

Ellis took over driving, while I climbed into the back with Ethan, who had lost consciousness, our Darcarre prisoner, who was probably playing at still being unconscious, and our recently returned Hannah.

Once I was able to give the woman a long tight hug, I went to arms distance and took her in. Besides a layer of dirt, she was as beautiful as ever. Her hair was still a testament to Apollo’s glory and her smile could melt glaciers.

I gave her another hug before asking, “What happened? We were setting off to rescue you!”

“Klich, and his few remaining, figured you weren’t the right man to keep as an enemy and actually kept their word.” She smiled. “You killed The Creeper. That was their bargain. They let me go.”

“I’ve never know anything to go so easy with the Xemmoni. What do they want?”

She laughed. “For one, they just want you to leave them alone. You scare the hell out of them. And that isn’t easy to do to a Darcarre. I learned a bit more about this war against your enemy and were the lines are drawn against the ranks of the Xemmoni, but I’m too tired to go into now. Right now, some more of those hugs would be nice. I’ve been through a good slice of Hell myself.”

Who was I to say no and for a while we just talked. Although chatting beside two bloody men, in a bouncing van, might not be the most romantic of spots.

Like most things, this quite moment wasn’t allowed to last long. “I assume we’re heading to Durango?” Ellis called over his shoulder.

“Yeah, any reason for that by the way?”

“Yes,” she said, flinging a stray strand of gold over her shoulder. “But I think you might be better off asking this one.” She kicked out with her boot, smacking the Darcarre in the ribs. “I know you’re awake, dumb-ass. Tell us what you know about Chimney Rock.”

“Screw you. It sounds like you are already so bloody intelligent, what in the Abyss do you- umgghhhhh!”

“Answer to question. Remember, The Creep. I was the guy that hit him with a tree. I’m also not well known for my patience.”

“What rock was it again? Ahhhgggggg”

“We don’t have time for this,” Hannah said. “I’ll give you the outline and you can fill in the blanks with this loser later. The Darcarre that support Vincent Drake, Darken, or whatever you want to call him are planning to perform a ceremony at Chimney Rock. The full moon raises between the twin pinnacles only once every eighteen years. But also and much less know fact is that every twenty years there is a night where the moon is swallowed by the twin spires. On this night, the Anasazi claimed that darkness would be allowed to run loose and could even swallow all of humanity when the stars are right.”

“The full moon is in only three days,” Kimberly said, looking at them and then back at her husband.

“Well then it sounds like we have some serious work to do.” I said and watched the town of Durango spread out below us.

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