October 29, 2012
The first part of this serial adventure was posted 9/17/12
“Go Blake! Go!” The tallest one, riding shotgun, shouted.
The curly headed man next to him, who had been forced to ride bitch after Jack had hurled his bullet ridden form into the back of the station wagon, yelled, “Yeah, hurry man, before any of those pigs have a chance to catch your license plate number.”
Despite the pain of his three bullet wounds, Jack struggled to take in his potential rescuers. He quickly realized that these four weren’t men at all. These guys were most likely still high school students that probably couldn’t buy a pack of smokes legally yet.
“Turn up here, take a left.” The teen sitting on the other side of mop head said—his voice calmer than his fellows.
Somehow these kids appeared to have eluded the police, mostly because the majority of them had raced after him on foot. Sirens roared behind them, but the sounds grew fainter as the driver took manic lefts and rights through the alleys and small streets.
Jack held his breath for another minute, but when it appeared that they had made it clear of their pursuers, he said, rather loudly, “Alright, who the hell are you guys and why did you rescue me?”
The taller one, who rode shotgun, turned around to face him. “I’m Alex.” Alex appeared to be attempting to grow in a goatee, but Jack figured the guy should try to wait a few more years, because the random stumble under his chin didn’t really cut it. “The driver here is Blake.” Jack couldn’t see much more than a blonde bush of feathered back hair that might have looked more appropriate on the head of some seventies rocker.
The guy next to him spoke up, bobbing his head while he talked. “I’m Rich and this is John.” Rich had a slightly rounded face under his uncontrolled curls, while John appeared to be the cleanest cut of the lot, which wasn’t really saying much. They all wore winter jackets that had seen better days and also tended to stare at Jack in a manner he found unnerving.
“Great,” he winced, trying to move his body into a more comfortable position and quickly finding out that his wounds made such an act impossible. “Now I know who you are, but why did you rescue me. Do you guys just hate cops or something?”
Alex spoke again. “Well, we aren’t big fans of the boys in blue, but we rescued you because…”
“Ah…you probably won’t believe this.”
“There isn’t a lot I don’t believe in these days.” Jack mumbled, while trying to bind his shoulder wound.
“I had a vision you would be here and that you’d need our help.”
Jack stared. His well of KI remained dry so he would have to wait until morning to see if he could mystically determine more about these guys. “So how are you going to help me? I can’t go to the hospital. Can I lay low at one of your places?”
The teens exchanged nervous glances, but it was Alex who spoke again. “I think that might be problematic, with our parents, but we do have a place where we party in the woods.”
“In the woods. What kind of place? It must be twenty below out there.”
“Don’t worry we have an awesome wood stove,” Rick was saying. “We’ll help you get it going and we have plenty of firewood.”
Jack groaned and muttered “Alright, take me there. We can hammer out these other things in the morning if I last that long.”
To be continued next Monday…
October 22, 2012
The beams of flashlights seemed to be shining in on him from every window and exit. Jack grabbed a heavy wrench off a work table. Damn it, I’m never going to make it to my mom’s. He paused for a moment. Better go for non-lethal if I have to fight cops. Hell, I hate fighting cops. They’re just trying to do their jobs, but then again, so am I.
Jack was looking to see if there might be an overlooked means of escaping the gas station garage when the captured Templar screamed out, “Help, help! He’s trying to rape me.”
“You little piece of…” Jack began. It took him three large steps and one swing of the wrench to silence the Xemmoni. I’d like to kill this evil puke, but in case things go south, not having a murder on my hands is probably a wise move.
Jack hurried to the back door as the front flew open. The darkness aided him as he hurried through the old cars and piles of discarded machinery. “There he is!” one of them shouted, but Jack kept moving. He flung open the back door and ran straight into four police officers wearing riot gear.
He had time to wonder briefly why so many cops would be called in for someone breaking into an abandoned building, but then it was on. His foot kicked a shotgun toward the sky seconds before its loud boom shattered the silence of the late night. His left hand grasped the barrel of a rifle and pointed it away from him. Another SWAT member charged him, but this one got the wrench smacked down on the top of his helmet so hard that Jack worried that he might have killed him when the man’s body went limp.
It was the fourth one that took shots at him with his pistol. Three shots barked and Jack cried out as on bullet took him in the right shoulder and a second hit his left arm. The third wizzed past his ear.
The blows of the bullets jerked his body back, but he still had his protection from Yig aiding him. His God’s blessings might have kept them from being mortal wounds, but that would only be beneficial if he could still escape.
The wrench went spiraling at the man with the pistol. He might have been a supervisor, for this man was the only one not wearing a helmet. Jack figured he might rethink that choice after that night, because the wrench took him between the eyes and he stumbled back into a set of leaking oil drums, before he lost his footing, and fell over.
The pain started to hit him and his body clenched up as the sounds of more cops rushing toward him from behind hit his ears. With a growl, Jack grabbed the rifle barrel with both hands and spun the rifleman in an arc until he crashed into the man with a shotgun. They both toppled over with a shout, but Jack wasn’t there to see it. He was already running.
Blood covered him and he could fell the bullet moving in his chest with every step. He grit his teeth against the pain and raced for the fence.
He passed between more oil drums as the first officers emerged through the back door. “The next time I decide to come to a city,” he hissed at himself. He was passing through two stacks of tires, when the first rounds peppered the air around his racing form. “I’ll just save the trouble and just shot myself in the leg, pour out all my beers, and find some asshole to torture me.”
A rusty fence nearly eight-feet high surrounded the back of the old garage. Jack didn’t slow. Instead, he leapt up and grabbed the lip of the fence. Bullets pierced through the old corrugated iron, but he had enough strength left to fling himself over to the other side.
But there was a cost. As he flung himself over, a third bullet hit him, this one in the lower right rib cage. It knocked the wind out of him and worse yet, caused him to loose his balance and fall to the ground. The impact jarred him and he wasn’t sure which was harder to do, remain conscious, or catch his breath.
He managed to get to his feet. Wet leaves stuck to his bloody chest like leeches. He stumbled into the small section of trees behind the garage even as more officers joined in the case. Using the trees for support, he fought to get air into is lungs while continuing to struggle forward
“I’m screwed. It’ll be pretty damn pathetic if I’m taken down by people on my own side that are protecting a filthy torturing murder.”
On the other side of the trees, Jack saw a car come skidding to a stop. At first he figured it was a patrol car and he was done, but then he saw that it looked like an old station wagon.
“Get in!” he heard a young male voice yell.
Looking back, he saw that he had little choice if he wanted any chance of escaping. Fighting through the blinding pain, he made one last effort and jumped into the waiting vehicle.
To be continued next Monday…
October 15, 2012
The Templar with the Goatee called himself Slick, which made Jack want to puke. Probably considers himself a ladies man while he’s slicing them open, he thought to himself as he punched the man across the jaw again.
“Do your worst, Stalwart,” the Xemmoni spit his words past bleeding lips. “I’m a Templar, we feast on pain.”
“Even your own?” he asked, through grit teeth, while he laid another blow into the man’s stomach. Jack had dragged the man into the back of an ‘out of business’ gas station. He had stayed safe so far, but he knew he shouldn’t push his luck.
“Yes,” the blood soaking his goatee left the man looking like a talking zombie. “Pain is our spiral dance and we cling to it with—ooooffffggghhhh”
“Shut the hell up. The last thing I need to hear is Xemmoni poetry. Just listen to what I have to say and if you can help me I might consider letting you skip this particular dance.”
Slick’s eyes were a light red, almost pink as they met his. “Fire away. This should be good for a laugh.”
“I heard there might be some trouble brewing on the north side of town. Any idea what it might be?” Even as Jack said the words, part of him wondered if he was being crazy. My mom had only said there was something wrong. There could be a hundred other explanations that have nothing to do with the supernatural. Am I just wasting my time, dealing with this crap when all she might need is some extra money to repair her car?
But when he saw the Xemmoni shiver when he mentioned ‘north side’ he knew he was onto something. “What is it?”
“I don’t have a problem telling you what I know. If you think you can take care of this, more power to you.” The Templar drew a deep breath. “About two months ago, a darkness slipped into town. Something no one had ever seen. At first we thought that the other clans were invading our turf, but they weren’t,” the man’s light red eyes bore into his, “They were fleeing.”
“The north had mostly been controlled by the Caradon and Darcarre. We caught a Darcarre,” a wicked blood soaked smile interrupted his speech, “And made him spill his guts, you might say. Even he didn’t really know what was going on up there. He blathered on about some new race of Xemmoni that no one had seen. Powerful. Unstoppable.”
“Beyond this I don’t know much more. I’ve heard that the darkness is growing. And we don’t go to the northside any more. We were actually thinking about relocating if this keeps up.”
“A coward as always.”
Jack’s thoughts were interrupted by a pair of flashlights illuminating the garage. These were quickly followed by a loud voice. “Stay where you are. This is the police. Drop any weapons you have, put your hands on your head, and come out one at a time.”
Normally Jack became a snake in situations like this, but his Ki was spent and his battle with the Temple of Pain had weakened him. With a curse, he looked toward other exits only to see them being covered by more police officers.
To be continued next Monday…
October 8, 2012
A greyness clung to his mind. For a moment, he didn’t remember what had happened to him. The dry cruel voices brought it back. He paused to listen while his faculties slowly returned.
“Let’s get to cutting,” Dark Hair was saying.
“I told you I need to make a drink,” The man with the goatee argued. “Everything is better with booze.”
“Maybe I’ll just start without you. I got some real interesting ideas on how I can stretch things out and make a guy like this last for weeks. He’ll be begging to let us Darken him before dawn.” Then both men broke out laughing.
Jack figured he was in some type of basement, for the men went up a splintered set of stairs and he heard to sounds of ice clanking in a glass cup. They had bound him, of course, but this binding had extra dangers. Broken razors had been wired to his forearms and calves. These were placed away from the shackles, but any type of serious struggling would cause the razors to cut into his skin.
Looking around, he saw roughly hewn walls, like the men might have been making resent additions to the place themselves. Being forced to work as a slave in the mines of the Darcarre had taught Jack a few things. Most importantly, a whole section of exposed earth lined one wall.
“They do not know who they’re missing with.”
He used his blessing of Yig to become one of his God’s children. Limbs retreated and scales erupted from his flesh as Jack transformed himself into an Indigo snake. The razors cling for a moment, but the smaller snake body fell through the shackles and wired traps. He slithered to the floor, but the Templars were already returning. He hurried to the earthen wall as the pair descended the stairs.
“No, seriously we need to watch out for this guy,” Dark Hair, was saying. “I have a cousin in New Orleans that said some guy named Jack took out a whole Temple of Pain down there.”
Ice clinked as the other man swirled his drink. “Don’t matter now, this guy is screwed, chewed, and… gone!”
That was when Jack hit them with his most powerful spell, Earth Control. Like a wave, jets of moving earth plowed into both men. Tables filled with the tools of torture flew toward the two Templars as the rolling earth capsized all that stood before it. The earth assailed the Xemmoni like a giant fist and soon each was more than half buried and just struggled to keep their heads above the grasping turrets of sand.
“Bringing a servant of Yig down into an earthen room. Real smart.” He walked forward as the earth began to harden. “And yeah, that was me that took out that rotten hive of evil in New Orleans. It was one of my happier moments.”
Jack snatched up a decent sized knife and said, “Now let’s see if you sick pukes can take it as well as you can-aaaaggggggghhhhhhh, Damn it!”
The pair had opened their mouths, which omitted a ruby glow like when kids turn flashlights on in their mouths. Their torture Bestows crashed into him again. But this time he was prepared. He fought the paralyzing pain and with a jerk of his left arm he sent a three foot arc of earth crashing into them.
The sand hit Goatee in the face and broke his concentration. Jack fought his way through Dark Hair’s soul ripping pain. Step by step his pushed through the agony toward the struggling man. The Templar’s eyes glowed red as the venom of his hatred for life was converted into an onslaught of pain.
With a yell, Jack stabbed forward with his blade. With the Earth spell still restricting his movements, all the Xemmoni could do was scream as Jack’s newest dagger took him in the eye. Jack didn’t stop to the blade was buried to the hilt.
He was giving it a turn, just to be sure, when Goatee’s Bestow once again crashed into him. Jack grew weaker. Flesh split and blood seeped out of him in thick threads. Using the last of his Ki to heal himself, Jack spun around and kicked the second Templar in the chest. The man fell back into the clinging sands. Seconds later, Jack leapt upon him. Through the red haze of the monstrous pain spell that tore at him, Jack was able to punch the Templar in the face. He struck him again and again. Soon it was a rhythm of punch after punch until the Bestow broke and the man’s limp body sunk into the moving earth.
It tempted Jack to let the man die, but with his mother in trouble, Jack also knew he needed to learn more about who controlled this city and having a captured Xemmoni might be just the thing to provide him with that information. So with a curse, Jack grabbed the Templar with the Goatee and dragged his limp body upstairs.
“Good there’s still ice.”
October 1, 2012
He wasn’t able to beat the storm and it crashed into him like a vengeful girlfriend. Snow swept over the highway in mad arcs and more than once Jack wondered if he’d make it to Saint Paul. The old Ford proved hardy enough however, and he snailed forward, while often passing small vehicles that had buried themselves off the side of the interstate. He would have liked to help them, but his mother was in trouble and with the message already a week old, who knew what might be going on.
Things got no easier when he entered Saint Paul. Jack remained a thousand miles away from having something like a GPS and he had yet to visit his mother since she moved in with his Aunt Faye. Growing frustrated, with little more than a scribbled address to go by, Jack settled on what he often did in such situations and headed into a pub. He tried to justify the detour, by thinking that he might be able to get directions, but in his heart, he knew he needed a drink before seeing his mother.
The storm, appeared to have kept most patrons home, and only a dozen people, lingered around the pool tables and the stained wooden tables. The lights were kept low and the neon lit the area with a milky red glow, giving Jack the feeling that he was entering the internal organs of some giant beast.
Only two old timers sat on the patron side of the bar, so he headed that way. The bartender, was an older man, as skinny as his patrons were overweight. His well groomed mustache made him look more like a barber than a bartender. Jack gave him a nod and collapsed on the barstool with a sigh.
“The best ale you got,” Jack said quickly.
A coaster when under the bottle of Full Sail before it hit the counter. “You want to start a tab? I’m going to need-”
“Let me tell you what I need,” Jack said and then placed a twenty on the table. “I’m not from around here, but I need to find this apartment. If you can help me get directions, the rest of this can be your tip.”
The bartender looked at the scrap of paper that held his mother’s address. “Street doesn’t ring a bell. It must be way up on the north side though, I can tell you that.”
“Can your ogle map something for me or whatever those kids do these days?”
He chuckled, “I usually don’t do shit like that.”
Jack slammed his empty beer on the bar. “How about I get another beer and give you another twenty?”
The bartender grumbled. “I guess I can try to get that old piece-O-shit printer of mine to work.” Then without taking his eyes off the address, he excused himself into the back room.
“Is our little Stalwart lost?”
Jack whipped his head around to see that two men had left their pool game to confront him. They each wore dark red leather jackets, which had to be a bad sign. Both were tall, if unkempt men, who appeared to have prepared for the winter by putting on as much weight as possible.
“Yeah,” the second one said. “You’d think that a little Yiggling like this would know better that to head north where he could freeze his tail off.”
Jack sent out his Detect Darken ability, while the first man rambled on something about inviting Jack to a private party. Damn, they’re from the Temple of Pain. I need to watch myself, he thought, but the men had already begun their attack.
Unfathomable pain washed over him. The pair grinned as his legs threatened to buckle. Jack knew if he fell to the floor, he might never get up. Every vein and muscles seemed to be getting torn apart, Bones turned to fire. Jack gasped out and stumbled a step backwards. He tried to pull some air into his lungs while he used the bar for support.
“Our friend’s a little wasted.” The one with the goatee was saying. “We’d better get him home.”
The second one with the darker hair, rushed in. “Yeah real wasted!” he yelled, right before he brought the cue stick down over Jack’s head like an executioner’s axe.
Jack tried to fight the black stars that obscured his vision, but between the blow and the overload of their pain Bestow, unconsciousness claimed him.