Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Book 3 Chapter 27-6

“Okay, I can accept Marilyn is some experiment you created. I can accept Cyrus got in your way. But why chain him to the wall? Why bring me here? You could have just taken her and left the rest of us alone. Now you invite the rest of my new friends to come after you.”

“They have no chance. I was easily able to hide us from their view once. Besides, I suspect they have far more trouble ahead of them than little old me. GENESIS still wants you all. And I gave them all the information they needed to trap the rest of your little friends.”

Ian said nothing. It was already clear to him Saul would give him all the information he needed. The man clearly saw himself as far too perfect for subtleties.

“The Composite will rise, but it will be a new life. It will be weak. It needs power. It could take weeks for it to take final form and have the strength to sustain it. But I can easily circumvent that. If The Composite latches onto you, it can steal your ability. The godling is a source of pure energy. One touch with your powers would guarantee our success. The Composite would rise and we would take our leave. The next you would hear of us would be our rise to power.”


“I have bided my time for centuries, Ian. I have watched the world grow too large for its own good. Nations rise and nations fall, but they consume resources needlessly when such things could be better used for greater purposes. The world needs a firm hand. It needs someone to take control. With guidance, this world could become a paradise. I have worked for over a century to guarantee that the man that would bring this about would be me.”

“Other men tried, all with far larger forces than anything I see from you. Hitler, Stalin, Ragnarok. None of them could do it. No amount of power could bring them a victory over every nation in the world. What makes you think you can take control? How do you expect every nation to fall in line so you can rule the world?”

“Because, I will wipe out six and a half billion people to do so.”

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Book 3 Chapter 27-5

Saul smirked at Ian. His bemusement and the reason for it were clear to Ian. His memory loss entertained Saul. Ian couldn’t help but think he should know exactly why Saul wanted all of this, but the memory was too elusive. No answers were coming to him. Whatever knowledge might be locked in the recesses of his mind, it would be of no help to him now.

Saul turned and looked down at the floor at Cyrus’s feet. Ian could see his friend was hurt and exhausted. But this was the first time he noticed the strange puddle on the floor. At first glance, it might have looked like some kind of strange oil. The liquid was awash with colors, slowly shifting as it seemed to shift across the floor. But the movements were clearly not just a flow down an imperceptible dip in the floor. The amorphous blob shifted on its own. Ian couldn’t hide his horror as he realized this object before him was alive.

“See someone you recognize, Ian? Your foolish friend and his female companion walked right into my trap. It took only a few seconds for my associates and I to secure them. They didn’t even put up a fight. Now you can finally watch that foolish harlot you’ve had in your midst as she takes her true form.”

Ian turned back to Saul. “You act like you’ve worked everything out, but I’m still lost. Are you saying that thing on the floor is Marilyn?”

“I’m saying it is an amorphous being. I worked hard to create it over sixty years ago, but somewhere along the way the host body failed to receive its gift. Another mind took control over what would have been my most perfect creature. Now I’ve unlocked the true power within the creature, unleashed the minds that were meant to rule over the body. Your dear friend Marilyn was just a figment, a dream. Now there’s only The Composite.”

Ian turned to Sandra. “Seriously, I wish I could remember meeting this guy before. He’s monologuing like a comic book villain. Does he always do this?”

The controller simply smiled and shrugged.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Book 3 Chapter 27-4

Everything around them shook at the impact. Ian could see bits of dirt and dust crumble off the wall. Whatever shook the room had been incredibly powerful and very loud. Ian suspected he knew the source, but it made no sense for him to be here now.

Saul threw open the door to the room. His stoic expression was gone, replaced by abject fury. A figure hung on the far side of the open chamber. It was dim, but Ian saw it was indeed Cyrus. He didn’t know how the young god came to be here. He only knew his friend had put a kink in Saul’s plan.

Saul moved across the room at blinding speed. He wasn’t as fast as Rosa, but he clearly was far faster than any normal human. A moment later, he was next to Cyrus. Saul drove a fist hard into the side of Cyrus’s head. The blow landed with a resounding thud. Cyrus already looked terrible. He slumped forward as the blow was landed.

Ian slowly entered the room after Saul. He had a chance now. With the right move, he could end Saul. He might lose Phoebe if the other man died. He would have to be careful. He creeped up behind Saul as he thought about the power that made him El Sanguijielo in Rosa’s eyes. One touch could drain Saul’s power, but he would have to be careful not to kill the other man. He wasn’t sure he had that control, but it was his only hope.

“I don’t suggest you do anything foolish.”

Just a few steps separated him and Saul, but none of it mattered as both men turned towards the new voice. Sandra stood in the doorway. Ian wasn’t sure how she got here without making a sound or him seeing something. But she wasn’t alone.

Phoebe stood beside her. She still wore the hat she picked up earlier. In fact, she would look perfectly normal if not for her vacant eyes. Sandra’s control was complete, but that didn’t stop Ian.

“Phoebe, are you alright?”

She said nothing. Ian knew he shouldn’t be surprised, but he could already see how this complicated everything. Sandra’s power kept her silent and compliant.

He turned back to the other man. “What is this, Saul? What do you want from me? What do you want from Phoebe and Cyrus?”

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Book 3 Chapter 27-3

The tunnel wasn’t like anything Ian expected. He thought the simple design and furnishings of the previous room would continue even in the new passage. But the walls here looked far older. They seemed to be carved from the very earth itself. Rock walls were moist with groundwater, rough surfaces unevenly formed from some natural or supernatural force. His host seemed used to them, but something about them unsettled Ian. Some ancient power permeated this place.

I have nowhere to run, even if I wanted to. I have to be strong.

He repeated the mantra in his head again and again, once with each step forward. But Ian wanted to panic. He wanted to run. He could feel the impending danger before him. Saul knew him. Saul wanted him for something. The life of him and his friends were in danger until he could uncover the answer. He couldn’t help but think Saul only wanted him here to kill him. Yet if Saul wanted him dead, Sandra could have used her powers to keep him from defending himself.

The tunnel winded around and downward. If they were on the ground level before, they quickly made their way into some kind of catacombs beneath River City. As they passed an offshoot in another direction, Ian wondered how expansive the tunnels were. And how many people had died trying to escape. It was the perfect trap to keep him and Phoebe from escape.

After several long minutes, several more turns and a half dozen forks in the tunnel, Saul turned and lead Ian into a long haul. Here one side of the walls were made of solid cinder blocks, cold and flat outside the four metal doors that broke them into separate cells. Because that is all they could be, some kind of confinement for Saul’s enemies.  

Is this my future?

But Saul offered him no answers. Instead, he pulled a set of keys from his pocket. The ring held over a dozen keys, all ancient skeleton keys unlike anything in regular modern use. He flipped through a few and found the one he wanted. Saul walked to the nearest door, inserted the key and opened the lock. Saul grabbed a heavy iron ring just below the lock and slowly pulled the door open.

Ian felt a surge of power blast from the opening, even as darkness rushed over him.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Book 3 Chapter 27-2

Ian said nothing. He had to listen to the other man, had to play along, but he wouldn’t let his anger fuel his actions. Nor his fear. He wouldn’t let this man goad him into either.

“You don’t have to answer, Ian. I know you don’t recognize me. I also knew you as a name other than Ian, but I suspect someone like you has used many names.”

Someone like me. What does he mean? El Sanguijuelo?

“My name is Saul. Like you I’ve had other names, but it’s been Saul as long as we knew each other. The name only became frustrating in recent years, with that idiot from the drug show.”

Ian didn’t know what he was talking about. But Saul didn’t need to know that. He kept his face impassive. Saul would tell him what he wanted soon enough, but Ian hoped he would slip more and reveal more about Ian’s lost memories.

“You’re quiet, Ian. It’s not like you. I remember you talking a mile a minute. Anytime you were under stress it was yammer, yammer, yammer. Now I can’t even get you to open your mouth. Have you become a mute?”

Ian said nothing.

“If you don’t cooperate, your friend will be tortured. Answer my question.”

“I can talk. I just don’t have much to say to you.”

Saul chuckled. “Of course not, you’ve lost your memory. You don’t even remember me. You don’t remember what I swore I would do. You don’t remember your own threats towards me. I find a delicious irony in that. But perhaps that’s my knowledge and wit showing. Come now. I’ve got something to show you.”

Saul turned and walked towards the hidden door. It opened without his touch. He beckoned Ian to follow. Reluctantly, Ian did so.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Book 3 Chapter 27. Ian

When Sandra was done with him, Ian hated himself just a little bit more. He still didn’t know how he knew the woman, but it was clear her powers were too much for him to resist. No matter how hard he tried, he did everything she asked of him. He couldn’t help himself but to comply.

She was gone now and for that he was grateful. She forced him into a blindfold before dumping him at his current location. As he pulled the cloth from his eyes, he couldn’t help but think he was in an everyday ordinary living room.

Though he saw no doors in the enclosed space, it was decked out with a pair of loveseats, a big screen television, an end table and even a few choice pieces of art. He stared at the large ficus tree on the edge of the room and wondered who wanted to see him so badly as to lure him into this place.

Sandra hinted at another, someone Ian felt he should know. He couldn’t stand his broken mind. It could be the only thing that saved either Phoebe or him. But the information refused to unlock from whatever recess it hid in. Maybe it wasn’t there at all anymore.

A portion of the wall to the left of the television suddenly shifted. It folded back, revealing a hidden door into the room. A man stepped through it.

Ian knew he should recognize the new arrival. The lanky man looked to be in his mid-forties. His head was shaved bald and a goatee framed his face. He wore round glasses over his eyes, the kind Steve Jobs used to wear. Dressed in a black sweater and slacks, he could have passed as a close relation to the late Apple founder. But Ian knew this figure was much older than he appeared. Much older than his lookalike. Something told him, his history with this man was long and quite often deadly.

The stranger smiled as he met Ian’s eyes. It wasn’t a friendly grin, but the knowing look of someone that knew he had his foes where he wanted them. It just served to make him look even more devilish.

“I would ask if you remember me, but I guess we both know that isn’t the case, don’t we?”

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

River City History: The Mirror Man

River City History is just that: peaks into the past of the setting of Walking Shadows. Bits and pieces from this feature may very well come to play in future installments of the tale, as the long dark history of River City slowly comes into light.

But Nita Dell wasn’t finished with her attempts to remove Captain Flash as a potential adversary. But she wasn’t yet willing to expose herself or Hannigan to the public yet. She knew River City wasn’t ready to accept a female crime boss, nor that Hannigan could serve as a strong enough figurehead to secure the city.

She turned to dark magic to unleash a threat strong enough to stop Captain Flash. She connected with an interdimensional monster with a name unpronounceable by any human tongue. The monster was dubbed Mirror Man and started a rampage across both River City and Atom City.

Captain Flash had no choice but to confront the weird being, which only vaguely resembled a human in appearance. The monster’s shifting frame and ability to travel from one mirror to the next made him a formidable challenge.

Ultimately the Mirror Man’s own powers backfired against him though. Captain Flash lured the creature into a house of mirrors. The thousand frames overwhelmed Mirror Man’s shifting abilities, fragmenting him into a million pieces.

Captain Flash had saved the city and in the process foiled Nita Dell’s plans again. The city’s secret crime boss now knew she would have to deal with Flash in a more direct manner.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Book 3 Chapter 26-7

She reached out and grabbed him by the arm. He was thick and muscular, which made getting a grip harder with her smaller hands. Pain responded to the touch, though his mind was still in a haze from the nightmare. He blinked repeatedly as he tried to recapture an understanding of his surrounding.

“What is this? What did you do to me, you little bitch!”

“I just made you live your worse nightmare. But I can free you from it. I can help you escape.”

“There’s no escape. You aren’t going to talk your pretty little body out of this one. On a normal day, I’d like to play with you a little. Take a little lovin’. But I don’t got no time for that. I only got time to break you. Then because of your buddy downstairs, I’m going to have to deal with about a hundred cops before I get away. You’ve fouled things up bad for yourself. This could have been quick and easy.”

“It will be quick,” Melinoe said. “But nothing is ever easy, not when mortals are involved. Even those cursed with long life.”

“I don’t understand a word you’re saying, bitch.”

Pain reached out for her throat, but Melinoe turned and ducked under him. He was big, but he wasn’t particularly fast, a saving grace against her abilities. She summoned the magical power into the hand still on his bicep. She felt it surge, even as she put him between her and the support wall.

Then she pushed. Not just with her arms, though she used them too, but with the force she summoned from the nether realms. The energy surged forth.

Pain’s eyes widened in surprise as he was pushed off his feet. He fell back, his body snapping the supports with the force. A moment later, his body seemed suspended over the city. He seemed to hover there, the magical force still pushing him out.

Then he fell. As the wind whipped across her face, Melinoe watched her would be killer—her would be rapist—tumble towards the pavement a thousand feet below. He would survive the fall—in great pain—but not for long. The geas would pass soon enough. Pain would find his death, and only one assassin would be left to eliminate.