February 24, 2014
Despite his reluctance, Jack decided to go with Bruin’s plan of letting Jack and the Dionysus worshippers try to rescue the healer Felix, while Bruin and Lanna attempted to destroy a Darcarre nest. They made it deep into Boston unopposed, but this also made sense for the Xemmoni no doubt wanted them as far into the city as possible before they set their trap. For the team would be kidding themselves if they didn’t admit there was a trap being set for them. The only questions would be if Felix still lived or if they would be able to live through it themselves.
The tension, in the new van Jack had purchased, lay thick and no one had spoken for so long that Phillip’s voice caused him to jerk the wheel. “It’ll be great to have a healer with us, if nothing else. All we need to do is be able to fight our way toward him and he’ll get us ready to fight our way out.”
“I just hope he still lives,” Cleo said, with less optimism in her voice.
Jack glanced at her in the rear view for a moment before saying, “Phillip’s right though. We have just one goal. Grab Felix and go.”
“What if he still refuses to leave with us?” Phillip asked.
“We just have to assume, by this point, he’s knows better. Even if he’s too scared to hit our enemies with us, we can still hide him in some hotel and use him as a healer after our conflicts.” They rode in silence for a while, but then Jack added, “And one more thing. I could care less about coordinating some attack with Bruin. If the Darcarre come at us and lighten his burden, so be it. But I’m not risking our safety to do anything other than rescue Felix.”
Soon they arrived at Felix’s home. It was lit up like the man expected company, and Phillip mumbled, “I hope all those lights are a good sign.”
“Or maybe he’s just trying to keep the Darcarre at bay,” Cleo said.
“Brace yourselves,” Jack said, through clenched teeth, seconds before he hopped the van over the curb, drove across the lawn, and pulled up next to the front steps.
Phillip jumped out of the van first. “So far so good. No sign of anything.”
As one, the trio raced up the steps. Cleo gazed in every direction. “Is it possible that there isn’t a trap set for us here?”
Before he answered, Jack reached for the doorknob. It proved to be unlocked. Looking back over his shoulder, “This is getting strange.”
Phillip’s voice dropped to a whisper as they shut the front door behind them. “His room is upstairs. He’s either there or in the library on this level.”
They checked the library, but found no signs on him. Phillip and Jack lead the way up the stairs while Cleo watched their backs. Approaching Felix’s bedroom, the Stalwarts drew weapons. Again the door was unlocked, Jack opened it, and the men rushed inside.
The sight before them caused even those veteran Stalwarts to draw back and gasp in horror. Felix floated in mid air like he had been crucified on an invisible cross. He moaned slightly, but gave no indication that he was aware of their presence. His naked body showed signs of horrible abuse. Bruises and angry red lacerations covered more parts of his body than not. Only the whites of his eyes were visible, but they only had just enough time to take this in before the healer exploded.
His very body became weapons and Phillip and Jack cried out as sharpened bones impaled them and viscera blinded their eyes. The men stumbled back into the hallway and struggled to wipe what was once Felix from their faces. Before this could happen, an insane laughter filled Jack’s veins with ice.
He’d heard that laugh before.
Jack looked on in horror as Vile Darken himself, both the Earth’s and Jack’s ultimate enemy, stood before him opposite of the stairs. His nemesis’ black sorcerer’s hat did little to contain Darken’s wild mane of unkempt hair. His goatee had become a raged beard since the last time Jack had confronted him, but insanity still burned behind his evil eyes. Tall ebony jack boots met a midnight blue uniform that made the foul villain look like some sort of space pirate. One hand clamped onto a smoking, black cutlass, while the other had Cleo’s body suspended by the neck so that her feet dangled a full foot of the floor.
“Ho, Jack Primus we meet once more, but then again, I’ve meet you so many times over across the Everywhere War, that such encounters tend to lose their uniqueness.”
“Let her go, you horrid freak,” Jack hissed. “Your battle is with me. Let’s finish this!”
“Jack,” Phillip said in a low voice. “Behind us.”
Jack took a second to discover that dozens of Xemmoni rushed into the house behind them. In seconds they would be heading up the stairs at their backs.
Vile’s voice drew Jack back to the dark villain. “I’m been enjoying causing people to explode latterly. You could say it’s my newest trick or perhaps hobby.”
Then, before Jack could do anything, Cleo exploded into a thousand gruesome pieces.
To be continued next Monday
February 17, 2014
Lanna rolled onto her back. Her lean body glistened with a layer of perspiration. “I think that was our eighth bout since we checked into this place,” she purred.
Jack’s back was toward her as he slipped on his jeans. “Sounds about right and it works for me.” He smiled over his shoulder, “Eight is Yig’s lucky number.”
“I hope you’re all happy. You showing up at The Joint pretty much insures that I’ll never work in Boston again. Hell, never go back to Boston again.”
Jack stood and watched the waves crash against the shore below them. Rain hammered the coast and showed no signs of slowing. “How long do you think it would have been before they dragged you out of that place whether or not we were around?”
“I’m not sure,” she purred. “I can usually find some what to convince most people that I can be a very useful girl.”
He smiled, despite himself. “I’m sure you can. Still allowing some Caradon’s mutated hands to touch you… I’m not sure much is worth such a price.”
“Don’t underestimate mutates, hun. Sometimes they have things that—hey where you going?”
“I need to find Bruin and see where he stands.”
“Wait, you don’t even know where I stand.”
He flashed her another smile. “Nah, I think I do.”
* * *
Jack found Bruin and Phillip drinking in the hotel’s small dark bar. Shadows played over both men’s faces and Jack wondered if they had asked the bartender to dim the lights. As he drew in closer, Jack felt pleased that the Stalwart of the dark one had at least removed his hockey mask.
“What can I get you?” Phillip asked while hurrying behind the bar.
Jack had learned better than to ask where the bartender might have been and just requested an ale before joining Bruin at the center table.
The man’s black locks covered his face almost as well as the hockey mask had. The rest of his wardrobe would have made a Darcarre jealous. Black jeans, met a black shirt and high boots. Even his drink looked like ink.
“So what have you two been discussing?” He asked.
“Mostly how amazing it is that you all still draw breath,” Bruin said.
Jack leaned in. “So you’re saying we shouldn’t be trying to keep the Xemmoni from claiming the whole city and perhaps initiating a ritual what could damage the war on multiple worlds?”
“I’m not saying that at all,” Bruin whispered. “I’m just saying that I’m surprised your luck hadn’t run out and it probably would have if Lanna and I hadn’t come to your rescue.”
“We’ve been through worse.”
“Again, I’m not surprised. Your blundering methods must lead you into all sorts of trouble.”
“Hey,” Phillip said, before Jack could reply. “We were luring them back into the woods. That worked well for a while.”
“Yes,” the Tezcatlipoca follower said, “but when we’re dealing with a mixture of Magick backed up by technology, secrets don’t keep long.”
Trying to keep his voice even, Jack asked, “So what big innovate plan would you suggest?”
Bruin steepled his fingers. “There are many things I might suggest, but first we have to determine if Felix and Blaze are ready, willing, or able to join in this battle.”
Jack tiffed and took a sip of ale. “That’s your big idea? We would have been doing that anyway.”
“Perhaps, but I have another idea. I know where a Darcarre nest is located. I’d like to hit them where it hurts.”
“You want us all to attack it?”
“Noooooooo, just me and maybe Lanna for back up. I’m immune to their darkness Bestows. I go in, assassinate as many as possible. If any try to flee, Lanna can be waiting for them outside.”
“What if there are too many?” Phillip asked.
“That’s where your team comes in. You will go for Felix. This will perhaps empty out more of the nest when the Darcarre call for back up. Then, hopefully before they reach your battle, the Darcarre will be summoned back their own nest to keep me from slaying them all.” He favored them with a dark grin. “This way, we have a chance to free Felix, keep a huge group of Darcarre out of both our battles, and wipe out a nest all at once.”
Phillip looked over at Jack. “The plan has some merits.”
“True, if it looks like we’re heading toward Felix, they might allow us to continue into the city so we can spring the trap they have undoubtedly set for us there. The downside… they have set a trap for us there.”
“But your predictability will work in our favor instead of against us.”
“Easy for you to say,” Jack grumbled. “You’re not in the trap springing group.”
“Yes, I’m in the wipe out a whole nest from the inside by myself group.”
Phillip shrugged. “I’m not sure what else we can try, Jack. We keep thinning their ranks, but more pour into my city every day. At least this way, maybe Bruin can take down a few leaders.”
“Perhaps,” Jack leaned back in his chair. “It’s time for Felix to either join us or leave town. At least with this plan, he’ll have that chance. I do agree with Bruin on one thing. We’ve been mostly spinning our wheels killing the rabble while their leaders probably grow closer to their real agenda.”
“Yes,” Bruin said through clenched teeth. “If we don’t get our act together your end game will be fighting pudwacks and then wondering what’s happening while you and Phillip fade into nothingness.”
Jack stood up. “Alright, we’ll review this with the ladies, but Bruin, I want you to do me a favor.”
“If you do run into some high ranking Darcarre. Try to take one of them alive.”
To be continued next Monday
February 3, 2014
“Apparently we aren’t the only people that can set traps,” Phillip yelled over at him as he sprayed a group of advancing Caradon with jets of what might have been Merlot.
“Yeah, how many damn Xemmoni are here?” Cleo barked. “I feel like if this keeps up we’ll be killing them all tonight.”
But despite their bravo, Jack knew they were in serious trouble. They had attempted to find Lanna, the Stalwart of Inanna, and figured if Xemmoni guarded her they would have the villains chase their group out into the forest again. However, this time the Xemmoni had prepared themselves and dozens of the dark hearted fiends waited for them. The ebony Darcarre mixed with the wispy rag covered Glooms. The foul twisted bodies of the Caradon had shown up in droves and Jack thought he spied some brown robed Nexus in their midst.
The first thing the Xemmoni had done was destroy the van the Stalwarts had been using. The second was to surround them outside of the strip joint and do everything in their power to cut the team to pieces. Like usual, the only thing that had kept them breathing was the protection from damage that luckily both Yig and Dionysus afforded their followers.
Lancing Magickal attacks mixed with hurled weapons, for none of the horde wanted to be the first to meet Jack’s axe or Phillip’s enchanted saber. Again the only thing keeping their bodies from dissipating into the wind or becoming a chemical soup was the fact that most of the Xemmoni’s Bestows proved too weak to pierce the Stalwart’s protection. Still even the small wounds began to take their toll and as the Xemmoni sensed weakness, they started to close in.
The group retreated until their backs were against the rear wall of the strip club. “Okay, just because they still outnumber us ten to one, doesn’t mean this is over,” Jack began. “Let’s show these scumbags who really owns Boston.”
The Xemmoni answered with a roar that left their ears ringing. They were about to rush the Stalwarts when those in the rear of their horde began to cry out.
Jack assumed, correctly, that Lanna might had come to their aid, and this proved true for he could just detect a whirlwind of powder blue tearing into the rear of their enemy, but something else was there a s well. A dark shadow. It moved with a speed the like of which he had rarely witnessed.
The Xemmoni forces wavered and not to be undone, Jack shouted, “Charge!” and he had his Dionysus allies stormed into the front of the Xemmoni ranks.
Confused and uncertain, their leadership tried to rally their minions until Jack took the Gloom captain’s head off. The rest scattered and Jack and his allies quickly found themselves panting for breath in an alley emptied of all the Xemmoni save for their death and whimpering wounded.
Lanna walked toward them wearing a grin and little else. She appeared to have not bothered to put on as much as a long sleeve shirt before joining in the fray. Yet, despite her exposed female perfection, it proved to be the other figure that drew his attention.
This second figure garbed himself completely in black save a goalie mask that Jason wouldn’t have minded barrowing. For a weapon he held a long hockey stick, which had both side of its end covered in a thick assortment of gleaming blades. He looked a bit like a Grim Reaper that had taken up the sport of hockey.
To his side he felt Cleo tense and Phillip leaned in close enough to say, “You’ve met us all now.” Then louder, “allow me to introduce the last surviving Stalwart of Boston that you have yet to speak to. The man of Tezcatlipoca, Bruin.”
“This should prove interesting.”
To be continued next Monday