October 28, 2013
“No free shows, Brownhurst,” Lanna said while observing their reflections through her makeup mirror. “You need to pay a door fee like everyone else.”
Phillip held up his hands, as if in surrender, “What there isn’t a Stalwart discount?”
Turning, she graced them with a view of her trim, and just this side of perfect, body. Her waves of golden hair covered more of her than the tiny pink lace bra and thong she wore. “Discount,” she tiffed, which caused her tight breasts to bounce ever so slightly, “I should charge you double after all the trouble you and your kind get me into.”
Phillip moved in closer. “It’s not our kind you need to worry about now, gorgeous. The Xemmoni are gearing up to-”
“Who’s your friend?”
“Oh, this is Jack. A rogue man of Yig.”
She graced them with a smile that could have melted a foot of ice. “I tend to like rogues. Him, I might be willing to give a Stalwart discount to.”
Jack felt the heat rising on his cheeks, but walked forward and tried to keep his eyes on her face while he said, “We’re in a very serious situation, miss. You might want to stop and listen. You may not make it through the night if you don’t.”
“How exciting,” she said, still smiling. “You Yig types are always so full of action and adventure.” She stood up and moved her slim body close enough to his that she was able to reach out a run a hand down his arm. “Am I going to need a big hero to protect me?”
His arm tingled at her touch, like she was made of electricity. “Ah… quite possibly.”
“Well why don’t you stay and see my show. If you like it, you can fill me in on all the spooky dangers we all face later on when-”
“That’s just it, Lanna,” Phillip blurted out, “There might not be a later. The Dark Alliance seeks to claim Boston for its own and have demanded that all Stalwarts leave by sunset or be exterminated.”
Lanna almost looked serious for a moment. “I’ve dealt with Xemmoni trying to screw with me before.”
“This is different,” Jack said. “They want to claim this town and I’m sure it isn’t for a good thing. Some evidence we have received points to Boston being special to Vile Darken.”
“What that old boggy man. I doubt he even exists.”
“He does exist. I fought him. Currently he’s the only Xemmoni I have fought that is still alive.”
She eyed Jack again. “You fought him, huh? What are the others saying?”
“There aren’t many of us left,” Phillip said. “Felix seems to think that his healing will keep his safe, while you obvious tend to please in your own fashion. But this time, I’m not sure it’ll be enough.”
Throwing out a hip, she said, “What are you proposing that I pack up a suitcase and move into a van with you two. That might be fun for a day or two, but I get bored quick. Besides I have family to take care of here. People that need me.”
“We could fight back,” Jack said. “That’s what we should do. But we’ve fought a few of them and they’re powerful. We’d need everyone.”
“Honey, I’m not a charge em, kinda of girl. I like to fight behind the scenes or if needed, shot fish in a barrel. I’d rather not go toe to toe with a bunch of ugly creeps that would rather eat me than kiss me and I don’t mean in the good way.”
“I think you should come with us. No matter what happens we’ll be able to protect you,” Jack said.
She placed a gentle hand on his face. “Oh sweetie, you are still a young one aren’t you? I’m not trying to be mean, but I’d imagine I’d be in thirty times the danger tooling around with you two. But tell you what, do what you need to do and if you’re still breathing find me here after midnight. We’ll compare stories and if I’ve been forced to fight off any Xemmoni I might change my tune and if I’ve just had a normal night, I’ll buy you a drink.”
Jack sighed as they exited the strip club. “We aren’t doing to well, are we?”
“I guess not. As I told you the first day we met, Boston has been hard on its Stalwarts lately. The few that remain all think that keeping a low profile will save them where their brothers and sisters perished for fighting back against the night.”
“So where to next?” Jack said without much enthusiasm
“Blaze wanted us to meet him at a coffee shop not to far away from here.”
“Oh you won’t be meeting anyone ever again, little Stalwarts,” a dry voice hissed from over their shoulders. Turning, they saw six Glooms stood between them and the pickup. Their glowing eyes cut through the gathering fog with would soon conceal the whole scene from the street. “At them and no mercy. Ghost wants them all dead!”
“So much for giving us till sunset,” Phillip said as he drew his cutlass.
To be continued next Monday
October 21, 2013
After their run in with the armored Hyades Xemmoni and the powerful Darcarre, The Baron, Jack and Phillip knew they might be fighting for their lives at any minute and despite their lingering wounds, they needed to act. Also of chief priority was the ultimatum The Baron had given them. All Stalwarts were required to leave Boston by sundown or be exterminated.
As they drove to their first stop, in the old pickup, Phillip was the first to break the somber mood. “I figured we’d drop by Felix because he will be the easiest to find and it never hurts to have a healer on board.”
The silence dragged until Jack said, “I’m still not sure what the game plan is and shouldn’t we figure it out before we see this guy?”
“What do you mean?”
Jack sighed. “Are we going to tell them we should all be fleeing, pile everyone into the back of a big van, and split town and then just leave Boston for whatever foul purposes these servants of Vile have planned? Remember with this Dark Alliance growing, it could be something bad. These guys aren’t just draining bums anymore; they’re trying to overrun the whole Multi-verse.”
“So you’re saying you want to stay and stop them, I take it.” Then lower he added, “You’re more like a Yiggite that you might realize, buddy.”
“If that means I don’t want to let them use Boston as some sort of hub for an evil enterprise then I’ll take that as a complement.”
A minute later they were pulling up in front of Felix’s office. A giant eye stared at them from a dust covered windowpane. “He’s an optometrist?” Jack asked.
“Yeah, I guess. Everyone’s good at something.”
It took some time to get a message through the receptionist and Jack felt oddly normal sitting in the waiting room for ten minutes until the current client was finished with her appointment. Phillip leafed through magazines like they weren’t going to be hunted in a few hours and it annoyed Jack when he brought up the most recent celebrity pregnancies.
When at last Felix would see them, he looked more like a computer geek than a warrior. Thin wire frame glasses sat on a thinner face, perched over an even thinner body. Jack must have had a least a foot in height on the man and Felix didn’t even bother shaking their hands before he indicated two low chairs for them to sit upon.
After sitting himself, Felix said, “So what is it, Brownhurst? You coming here isn’t exactly helping my low profile.” The doctor sat quietly while Phillip filled him in on the threats that had been made against them. When the man of Dionysus had finished, the doctor leaned back in his chair and said, “This is all very interesting, but I’m sure it doesn’t affect me in my position. Although it pains me to do so, I have kept the Xemmoni at bay by healing them at times and this has kept me off their hit list. I see no reason to change things now.”
Jack spoke up. “You can’t be serious. They say they’re going to hunt us all down and you don’t care. Even if what you say is true and they spare you, what about the rest of us?”
“If you are worried for your safely you still have time to leave. I see no reason to either uproot myself or engage in some violent conflict where I imagine we’d find ourselves outnumbered ten to one at best. Unlike the followers of the war god Yig, we of Hermes are healers, we embrace neutrality and I see no reason to change my whole life because you two stirred up a hornet’s nest, now if you well excuse me, I have patients to see. Good day.”
Jack tried to argue, but Phillip placed a hand on his shoulder and whispered, “Best that we don’t alienate a healer. One way or another we might need him later and if they try to axe him, he might yet be forced to join with us.” They did manage to at least get the doctor to completely heal them before they left.
Steaming as he power-walked outside, Jack looked toward the sun as it began to dip to the west.
Phillip spoke again. “We maybe have four hours left, be had better get moving. Lanna will be just starting her shift, we should probably check in on her next.”
“Where does she work?”
“Lanna is a stripper.”
“Oh believe me, she is.”
Jack just groaned as he followed Phillip to the truck. Neither of them spotted the glowing red eyes that followed their movements. If they had, they would have seen the hooded figure withdraw a cell phone and speak a few quick phrases before getting into a primer colored van and following the pickup out into the busy streets of Boston.
To be continued next Monday
October 14, 2013
When Jack could finally recover enough to use a table to help him regain his feet, he looked over at Phillip.
The man in brown said, “That sucked. A friend of yours?”
“Never seen him before. We probably just should have tried to kill him.”
“Which is so much harder to do when your body in rolled up in a ball writhing in pain,” Phillip said while patting the dust off his battered hat.
Both Jack and Phillip used parts of their Ki to heal themselves, but since Jack had already used much of his soul’s strength in his earlier battle with the armored Hyades this left him both physically and mentally exhausted. “So what are we going to do anyway? He said he left us alive so we could warn the other Boston Stalwarts that we need to leave the city by sunset. Are we going to do that?”
“There really aren’t many of us here. Dionysus followers are usually low on the Xemmoni hit list because we run bars and make good connections to help fed the more hedonistic aspect of the dark ones lives. And like I told you, a group of Darcarre made it their mission to clean Boston out of all its Stalwarts a good nine months back.”
“Was this guy, The Baron, one of them?”
“No, I think I would have remembered that guy. Perhaps he might have been behind the attack though. I heard rumors about a powerful Darcarre working with a Gloom and a Caradon up north. Perhaps they were preparing to make Boston their own. This could make sense, for I think Boston has some association to Vile Darken and his plans.”
But then seeing the look on Jack’s face, he held up his hands. “Don’t ask me how I know. I just know that out of all the cities in America, some high rolling Xemmoni decided that Boston should be the first town that hunted down and eliminated all the Stalwarts. The only reason we’re still around is that like most things which happen in the Xemmoni world, they have a short attention span. They figured they killed us all and in this case I believe they moved on to killing those of their kind that weren’t involved with the Dark Alliance.”
“Okay, Mr. longwinded, you’re mostly saying we’re in way over our heads, there aren’t many Stalwarts we can warn, or for that matter get help from.”
“Yeah, like I said, sometimes for various reasons, they let some Stalwarts remain mostly unmolested.”
“So tally off the list for me,” Jack said and then groaned when he forced his body over to the cooler. Removing a cold Samuel Adams Ale, he said, “I think I’ll join you in that beer-thirty now.”
“Well…” Phillip started slowly. “There’s that Tez guy, Bruin that’s so damn evil the Xemmoni probably figured he was one of their own. There’s Lanna, who they probably spared just because she’s so smoking hot. Felix has been allowed to live, because he’ll heal anyone for the right price, but since the Darcarre can also heal themselves, he might be in the danger zone now. I heard that Mitch was recently axed as was the town’s last witch. After old Galla died, they rest of the Hecate witches fled to Salem.” Phillip paused again, “Which just leaves Blaze, who might be hard to get a hold of, outside of the internet, and ah…Cleo.”
“She’s my, er, she’s another Dionysus, and um…. I guess we dated for a while and-”
“Okay, I get it. But out of the whole city of Boston that’s it for Stalwarts?”
“Like I said, the Darcarre hunted most of us down. Killed everyone in the team I was part of except me and Cleo and after going through all that Hell, we, you know.”
Jack eyed his friend. “Why don’t you start making calls and try to email that Blaze guy. I’m going to start getting weapons ready.”
* * *
Rabid pinched a boil that had formed on the back of his hand until it burst, sending blue tinged puss several feet in all directions. Ghost stood near the table and flinched when the jet of thick liquid splashed his tattered grey clock.
The Gloom’s burning red eyes glared his way for a moment. “Watch yourself.”
“Screw you, Ghost,” Rabid said. “Your clothes would be ignored by a naked homeless man in the throes of freezing to death.”
Ghost drew a rusty sickle from within is bellowing robes. “I don’t have to take such from the likes of you.”
Rapid leapt to his feet so quickly that his chair flew out from under him and shattered against the grimy basement wall. Stretching to his full seven feet, he glared down as the rag covered man. “Care to test that theory?”
Things might have gone south, if the lights in the room hadn’t dimmed.
Ghost looked up at the bare bulb, them Rabid. “The Baron nears.”
They both watched, as with a sweep of his Victorian cape, the Darcarre entered the underground chamber. “They have been warned.” He said simply. “The Stalwarts will either flee or be killed by tonight.”
“I don’t see why a warning is needed,” Ghost said, his flaccid lips flopping. “Stalwart Ki is sweet. I say we have a little dinner before we finish the matter at hand.”
The Darcarre looked down as his manicured nails for a moment, perhaps taking pride that he was as handsome as the other two were hideous. “Our plan is too important to have any slip up. If any of the Stalwarts are too foolish to flee, you will have your chance. For now we need to focus on having Leadhead eliminate the real competition posed by the other Xemmoni races. Once we have the city in our hands the true conquest for our Overlord can begin.”
Rabid spoke again. “So are we sure none of the remaining Stalwarts are those on Vile’s list.”
The Baron waved his hand as if swatting at a fly. “Yes, yes, my minions all but cleaned out the city several months back. We killed the Devons family and several others on his list.”
“But not all of them.” Rabid said, while shaking some lingering puss off the tips of his fingers. He made sure it flew in Ghost’s direction. “Who were the Stalwarts you gave the warning to? What were their names?”
“As you know, rare are the people that can hide their thoughts from the Darcarre. The two men I all but killed today were named Jack Primus and Phillip Brownhurst.”
The Baron had barely gotten the last word out of his mouth before Rapid rushed forward, unsetting the table as he moved, and grabbed the Darcarre by the throat with one of his meaty hands. The Darcarre clawed at his hands and wrist, tearing open blisters and removing flesh as Rabid lifted him off the ground.
“You fool!” the Caradon roared into his face. “Are you so concerned with your minions and experiments that you remember nothing? Primus and Brownhurst are at the top of Vile’s shitlist! If he finds out we let them escape, we’ll be killed in their place.”
He threw the Darcarre into the corner. “Time to gear up, whelplings. We’re going hunting!”
To be continued next Monday
October 7, 2013
This serial began last Monday
Figuring that he probably wouldn’t be getting into another fight before noon, Jack used his most recently acquired spell and healed himself. Looking down, he took off his new leather in disgust. He had bought it for himself with the money he had taken from the Ripperkah in Pennsylvania. He still had plenty, but when one is unemployed you needed to make you cash flow last.
“Guess I won’t be picking up any chicks wearing this.” He said while tossing the slashed jacket onto the chestnut colored bar. A minute later, he was using the land line to call Phillip. He saw the silhouettes of police officer poking around in the alley behind the bar. He watched them move as he filled his friend in on the Xemmoni attack.
Nine minutes later Phillip walked through the front door of the pub he owned. “You look like hell,” the man said while motioning toward the huge blood stain surrounding the rent in Jack’s shirt.
“Look who’s talking,” Jack said, while pointing at Phillip’s wrinkled ensemble of loose fitting brownness. “It looks like you didn’t even take off your trench coat before you went to bed.”
Phillip laughed. “Well, how do you think I was able to get over here so quickly?”
Then they grew serious as Jack filled him in on the attack he received from the armored Xemmoni. Once he was done, Phillip said, “Yeah, sounds like a Hyades alright. But I never heard of the silent stalkers using armor. They are hard enough to kill normally.”
They both leaned back in the bar chairs and Jack winced when Phillip opened an ale. “Starting a little early I see…”
But Phillip held up his hand in a silencing motion. Someone stood outside of the bar’s front door. A second later a hard rapping sounded, like the door had been struck with a solid object.
Jack slipping back into his bloody leather while reaching behind the bar for the big wood cutters axe he hid there.
Phillip was strapping his Sword of Mecca back to his waist when both Stalwarts froze.
A darkness seemed to be eating the sun itself. It poured under the front door like a spreading puddle of filthy ink. Black webbing covered the windows thrusting the insides of the bar into darkness. Thorns of grasping ebony grew over the interior walls. Like grasping hands, they covered the ceiling.
Phillip drew his cutlass and motioned for Jack to open the front door, but as the neared the street side of the bar the front door flew open with a loud bang.
A man defined by pure darkness stood in the doorway and despite themselves, each of the Stalwarts retreated a pace when he stepped into the room. Stark black eyes burned at them and waves of malign evil poured off the man like steam. A stygian overcoat matched a large angled hat and both appeared to arc away from the figure in odd jagged angles. A mahogany cane stayed clutched in one pale hand.
“Darcarre,” Jack whispered.
“Certainly,” the figured whispered. “And I am aware of what you attempted to do not long ago. One of you fools tried to hurt my pet.” He waved a gloved finger at them while his red lined lips cracked into a grin under his pallid face. “Not that you could, but we don’t need to attain publicity just this yet. We have more important things to attend to. This is why I, The Baron, am offering you a single chance to leave Boston before nightfall. If you flee this city at once, you will be allowed to continue your misguided existence,” his smile grew wider, “for at least a bit longer.”
Jack had never faced such a creature, let alone had a conversation with one. Cold fingers of dread scratched at his scalp. He could feel the power flowing from this Xemmoni and it caused him to have to focus to keep from shaking from the onslaught.
Phillip found his voice first. “Why spare us at all?”
Waving a dismissive hand, The Baron continued. “Stalwarts are like rats, or perhaps roaches. You kill one and their father’s sister’s boyfriend’s dog will be chewing on you leg the next time you are entertaining. I have serious issues to attend you and for the price of your lives, I expect you to call every ‘would be’ hero you know and tell them to flee from this city as well. I have no time to deal with such minor issues.”
“Some of the Xemmoni we met in the past didn’t consider us minor issues,” Jack Spit out.
“Oh please,” The Baron said, and then with a motion from both hands he sent two of the hugest Black Veins Bestows he had ever seen straight into the chest of each man. With a gasp they were both thrown backwards over chairs as growing black curse that spread over them like veins of evil. Agony owned them as their flesh turned black and burst. Jack tried not to scream, but realized he already had.
The Baron turned and his overcoat whipped around him like a vampire’s cape. “Remember this will be your only warning. You and any other Stalwart seen in Boston will be exterminated after sundown.” He gaze the one final icy look of hatred, “in the most unpleasant of ways.” As he exited the bar, the door slammed shut on its own accord and the returning sunlight did nothing to lesson the torment as the Stalwarts were left curled in moaning balls of pain.
To be continued next Monday