Thursday, January 16, 2014

12/28/12 - The Master and Mother!@#$er - pt 4

"People always ask me how much I knew about the frankly weird turn the world took around 1966. And while I always ask if they're talking about that one group of heroes that came of nowhere, The Olympians, it's because I'm hoping they are talking about them. I mean, that's easy to talk about, even with everything that's happened since Ronnie came into office.

"But I really (EXPLETIVE) hate it when people want to talk about the other thing that went weird, right around then. 

"I'm talking about SQUASH, of course. All those (EXPLETIVE) Soviet magicians and the (EXPLETIVE)  they called up to get us. We had monsters crawling all over NATO in those days. Vampires in Brussels, Zombies in Berlin. We had demons in the streets of North Africa and crazy (EXPLETIVE) things walking through the Rocky Mountains over here.

"Of course, we tried to keep it a secret. We said it was all drugs or hippies or Commie mind control. We said it was (EXPLETIVE), trying to get one over on Whitey. We said all kinds of (EXPLETIVE) to explain it away. 

"But the truth is that, for a couple years there, the Soviets had a direct line downstairs, and were able to call up half the (EXPLETIVE) Old Testament to throw at us. And believe me, the irony did not escape us.

"The good news was that it was over before they did any real damage. The bad news? Well, that's still (EXPLETIVE) classified under six piles of (EXPLETIVE) red tape. It's enough to say we lost a lot in those days, and more than you'll ever want to know.

"But if you actually want an explanation? You go find SPYGOD and ask him. Maybe he'll tell you. I know I sure as (EXPLETIVE) won't. 

"Not enough (EXPLETIVE) beer in the whole world to make me talk about that."

- Former President Richard M Nixon (1913-1994)

* * *

Parczew, Poland
October, 1966

It's Midnight in the city square, before the oldest church in town, and the dead will not stop coming.

They come in swarms and waves, these newly-made vampiri. Male and female, young and old, they scramble from the basements and attics and charge at those still living, eager to feast, and then add to the group.

The worst ones are the children -- especially the really young ones, still dressed in their nightclothes, all red-cheeked and smiling, as though waking up from the sweetest of dreams. 

But when they part their pale lips, their mouths are full of jagged, sharp teeth. And when they open their eyes they are red and black things, full of hate and hunger, just like that of their parents.

The dead will not stop coming, and it's all Doctor Krwi can do to keep them at bay.

He fires his twinned pistols, again and again. He shoots off fiery spells until his soul grows tired. He throws incendiary grenades laced with silver and blessed splinters until he has no more, and then makes do with molotov cocktails.

And when all those are gone, all he can do is brandish a blessed sword -- one that's been handed down from hunter to hunter for hundreds of years  -- and pray that tonight isn't the night it finally falls to the enemy.

He screams curses and swings the blade. He shouts the name of Christ and they falter. He coughs up one last spell that incinerates a whole gout of them where they stand.  

But still they come, in swarms and waves, and he realizes that this entire town is lost. Upwards of 8000 souls, all gone to the enemy. One of the last few places where Jew and Gentile still shook hands in postwar Europe, taken away by the darkness.

And there is nothing he can do, now, but call on the thing they insisted on partnering him with. 

"I know you're out there, you beast!" he shouts to be heard above the wave of undead that threatens to engulf him on the steps of the church: "You were right, !@#$ you! This town is lost! Do what you must!"

There's a second where he hears nothing, and wonders if perhaps the English revenant has picked this time to go back on its word, and watch Krwi die at the hands of his eternal foe. It would be something of a fitting end, to be betrayed by the darkness after being pressured to make an ally of it. 

But then he hears a horrific scream -- the ear-shattering sound of a tortured soul being harried through the fires of Hell -- and knows that tonight will not be the end of his journey after all.

The vampires turn from their would-be hunter, eyes wide and uncertain. At the edge of town, there is a grinding roar, as though some hideous engine was struggling to give birth, or eat itself while doing the impossible. A blazing light can be seen, coming up the cobbled streets at an amazing rate.

And Doctor Krwi wisely runs up the stairs and bolts into the church -- slamming and barring the door behind him -- for he does not dare to be out in the open when the Hell Blazer comes to town.

At first, the vampires aren't certain what they're seeing. Is it a black-clad man on a motorcycle? Is it a dark knight riding a fire-breathing monster? Is it one demon astride another? In the oncoming rush of light and sound, fire and screams, it's hard to be certain.

But then the vehicle is upon them, and the fire it brings along with it -- flying beside it, like the outstretched claws of some hell-spawned monster -- burns them so completely that not even their ashes remain. 

The monster riding the monster laughs as its unholy engines feast on the undead. He whips his vehicle this way and that, up and down the streets, and meets each group of beasts head-on without fear. 

It's only after the first few thousand of them are not even dust, anymore, that the others begin to show sense and try to retreat. Unfortunately for them, the Hell Blazer is not here to accept surrender, and he chases them down on his demon machine -- crashing through walls, riding across rooftops, and then throwing massive gouts of hellfire from his hands as he goes.

"Are you out there, you demon whore?" he shouts as he goes, incinerating all that stand against him: "I can smell your rotten !@#$ from here, you poxy !@#$! Come and show yourself! Or are you afraid of what you helped make?"

There's no answer, though. Just the screams of the undead as they receive the rest they deserve, and then the roaring of flame as the town follows its people down into death.

Clearly angry, the revenant pilots his vehicle back to the center of town, where it heard its human ally make the call. Sure enough, the vampire hunter is there, standing weakly before the church, his sword smoking with the blood of the undead.

"She was here, !@#$ it," the Hell Blazer curses, taking his black, cross-boned helmet off: "I can smell her, Krwi. She was here."

"I know, !@#$ you," the vampire hunter says, trying not to weep: "I can see that this is her work. An entire town, turned into a breeding camp for vampiri. Do you think I don't know?"

"I think we got here too late," the revenant says, leaping off his demon-machine and striding up to the weakened man: "I think if we'd left Lublin like I'd wanted to-"

"If we'd left that city when you wanted to then it would be just like this one!" 

"And we'd have caught her and sent her back to Hell!"

"Not at the cost of thousands dead, you beast!"

"Well, what in Satan's name do you call this, then?" the revenant raises its arms and gestures to the town as it burns down around them: "Can you sense them around you? The dead? I can see them, you fool. I can see them as they stumble around, uncertain of their destination. I can hear their cries and their sobbing-"

"Who are you to speak of the dead and the damned? You who willingly joined them-"

"Do you think I don't know that? I made a mistake, Krwi. And now I bear the weight of that mistake for an eternity. But at least I learn from my mistakes! How many more towns must die because you will not do the same?"

"Be quiet, demon!"

"No, you self-righteous fool! We lost here, today. And we lost because you were not willing to sacrifice thousands to end this war, here and now."

The revenant spits at Krwi's shoes. It comes out as black, rotten goo, smoldering as it twists on the ground. 

And suddenly, the vampire hunter's strength returns enough for him to twist his sword around and swing it at his "partner." In turn, the Hell Blazer produces a shield of fire, and expertly parries it. 

The blessed sword and the demonic shield crash off each other, and the two beings are thrown clear away from where they were -- Krwi back up the stairs, the revenant over to his demon machine. 

And as they groan and get back up again, they both hear mocking, feminine laughter coming from up the street.

They turn and leap to their feet -- Krwi raising his sword and readying a spell he didn't know he had in him until just now, and the Hell Blazer pulling out a large, ornately-carved black revolver with an inverted cross hanging from a chain on the butt.

"It's so good to see that you cannot resist hurting each other," Hella hisses as she strides down the street, shadows and flame hiding her nakedness: "It makes it all worthwhile, somehow."

"You !@#$!" the revenant shouts, firing bullet after bullet at her. She dodges each one with contemptuous ease, and then is suddenly right in front of him, and then directly behind.

And then she's reaching through his chest as though there were nothing in him but dust and ashes, and holding what might have been his heart out in her clenched fist.

The Hell Blazer gasps and falls, clutching the hole in his sternum. Hella laughs and then turns to deal with the vampire hunter, but Krwi is ready for her.

The spell he lets go is tiny and quiet, compared to what he's been tossing around this night. But when he holds up his hand, a bright light shines from it. And before long, every window and reflective surface on the street is shining along with it, making the air come alive with a white, pure aura. 

She screams as she burns, her skin breaking out in black pustules. It's all she can do to wreathe herself in wings of flame and take to the skies, dropping pieces of her as she goes. 

And then she's gone, and there's only the burning town, the light, and two people who don't belong side-by-side under any circumstances -- except maybe this one. 

Krwi looks down at his partner, who's writhing just below the haze of white, and then lets it go away. As he does, he falls to his knees, coughing and wheezing. 

And looking just a little older than he did a moment or two ago.

"What did you do?" the Hell Blazer asks, crawling around in search of the black and shriveled thing the Queen of the Dead dropped from her hand. 

"I called the light of God," Krwi whispers, wiping the blood from his mouth: "It is... not a comfortable thing. One may only do it with safety if one is pure. And I am far, far from pure."

"Well, listen to you," the revenant says, finding his heart and shoving it back inside his chest. The moment he does, his black leathers reseal themselves, and he gets back up as if nothing happened.

"What do you mean?"

"Oh, it's 'demon' this and 'beast' that, with you, Krwi. You call me a monster. You mock my pain. But then, at the end of the day, when you have to put your own soul on the line? You've got feet of clay, too. Just like everyone."

"I never claimed to be perfect," the vampire hunter hisses, getting to his feet as best he can: "I only claim to be fighting a war that must be fought. And I've done it without losing my soul. Can you say the same?"
"No," the Hell Blazer admits, snapping his fingers and summoning the metal beast-machine to his side: "I can't. I didn't even get into this to fight evil. I wanted to become it. And look what it's gotten me."

"Eternal damnation." 

"Well, that goes without saying. I was really going to say 'stuck here with you.'"

"If you want another fight-" 

"No, I sodding well don't," the revenant says, getting on his bike: "I want to go to sleep and pretend this never happened. I want to get drunk and forget what I've seen. I want to die and slip into nothing, like I was never ever here. 

"But we don't always get what we want, do we?"

"If it's death you want, I can give it to you," Krwi hisses: "Just hold still for a few moments."

"Maybe when we're all done with this secret war," he says, turning around to look at the man as he puts his helmet on: "Maybe I'll let you. Maybe. But in the meantime?"


"Learn from this, Krwi," the Hell Blazer says, gesturing to the town: "Remember that I don't take any joy in this. And the next time I say we leave one town to its fate so we can save another? Try to listen?

"Because this? This is on you, you stupid !@#$. All on you."

And then he's gone away on his screaming machine before the Polish vampire hunter can get another word in. 
* * *

Bakersfield, California
March, 1967

The smoke from the joint makes weird trails in the sky. At times they look like clouds, and at times they look like the contrails of a jet.

"!@#$," SPYGOD says, handing it back to Jim Morrison: "That is some powerful !@#$, there, Jim."

"It surely is," the singer says, taking a long puff and then handing it back. When he exhales the sky seems to turn different colors for both of them. 

And maybe it does.

They're lying down on the side of a hill outside of town. All around them is the smoke and acrid remains of the pitched battle they just fought against some nameless, robotic things, summoned up to do who-knows-what to the city beyond.

And they would have, too, if these two men hadn't stood together and fought them off: sword and gun, word and flame.

But that's past, now. Now there's only time for relaxation and recuperation, which is the birthright of anyone who stands against the darkness and lives to see another day, and another fight.

The reefer is, of course, very optional. But SPYGOD is really liking his option.

"Ever !@#$ing tried Martian cocaine, before?" SPYGOD asks after the joint goes back a few more times.

"I didn't know there was such a thing," Morrison says, sitting up a little: "You're saying the Martians actually have cocaine?"

"Well, we call it cocaine. I don't think it's the same !@#$ thing at all. But you snort it and... well, let's just say you have to !@#$ing experience it at least once."


"Yeah. You should see what it did to the !@#$ing President..."

Morrison looks at him, and then falls over giggling: "Man, you never cease to amaze me. I knew we'd be friends, but I had no idea you were so... bent."

"Yeah, well," SPYGOD shrugs, taking a last puff on the joint and then handing back the very last of it to his friend: "You work hard, you play hard. I usually prefer to drink my fun, but every once in a while I need something a little different."

"I know a few people like that," Morrison says, gratefully finishing off, and then putting the last bit down in the grass: "I keep telling them to be careful. Life's a beautiful thing, man. But you go too far to one side or the other and next thing you know, you're overboard."

"You worried about that?" SPYGOD asks.

The musician looks at him and then away, smiling: "I think I should be worried about that, (REDACTED). Every so often, when I look down the road, I think I see some trouble with that up ahead."

"Must be nice to have a warning."

"It's a real party killer, is what it is," the man says, getting up and stretching: "In life, we are in death, and all that. But I really don't need the !@#$ing reminder, you know? It's enough to be doing what we're doing. What I have to do. 

"And then, well, I figure the future'll just take care of itself."

"Sounds !@#$ing fatalistic."

Morrison looks down and smiles, maybe a little sadly: "You don't know what's through the door until you open it up and walk on through, man. 

"I'll drink to that," SPYGOD says, leaping up and clapping the man on the back: "Next time you're in the Big Apple, we'll raid my stash and get !@#$ing ripped. I bet you'll get a whole !@#$ album out of it."

"Hey, that reminds me," Morrison says, looking at the sun: "I was supposed to be playing, tonight."

"Well, better get you to the concert then?" SPYGOD says, laughing: "I'll call up and have someone deal with... that !@#$ back there."

"Must be nice to really have people."

"Don't you?"

"Oh, don't get me started..." the musician says, laughing: "Worst idea in the world, trying to pass us off as a band..."

And the soldier and the hippie walk off into the approaching sunset, ready to deal with whatever comes their way. 

* * *

Tangier, Morocco
July, 1967
"So do you think it was a good idea, still?" Doctor Power asks as he zaps something not unlike an octopus on legs with peacock wings from across the blood-soaked, body-strewn bar, and then ducking the smoking, inky attacks of the remaining four.

"Can't say for certain," John says, standing behind the bar and having a scotch: "The marriage of god!@#$ opposites is what this is all about, after all."

"But do we achieve negation of their forces if we're negating our own?" he asks, preparing another spell as the monsters close in,

"I wouldn't call this a !@#$ negation, would you?" the Operator chuckles, finishing the drink and putting the glass down on the bar with a sudden BANG. The moment he does, the remaining octopus-bird-demon-things vanish from the floor.

Doctor Power looks around, and then realizes that the man's hand is still on top of the glass. Below in, in the glass, the now-tiny octopus-demons whirl and struggle, trying to get out of the glass prison, their black, brain-eating ink attacks no longer any use to them.

"Your cut-up magic still surprises me," Doctor Power admits, looking at their pint-size prisoners.

"And that's why it works so !@#$ well," the man in the grey coat laughs, handing the Doctor the bottle of Scotch: "We Operators, we move reality around us. Time and space, forces and matter, it's all shifting and falling and standing the !@#$ back up again. And then back to big !@#$ nothing, again. Square None, you could say."

"I could," the Doctor says, taking a pull from the bottle, wiping his mouth, and then performing one last, explosive bolt of magic upon the glass (as soon as John removes his hand). The glass smokes and breaks under its force, and the demons inside are pulped and burned in one go.

"Demons from the sea, dark angels of the deep," John warbles, taking the bottle back, grabbing a pair of fresh glasses, and pouring them both a drink: 
"Down in the below, as far as you go. 
Eyes at the surface, watching. 
Suckers twitching like rectums, burning. 
We see them when we close our eyes
and then they find us in the watery dark of our dreams. 
These !@#$ wet nightmares sing us to our sleep."

"That's one way to put it," the Doctor says, accepting a glass: "Oneiropi. I never thought I'd see one outside of a dreamscape."

"The enemy is getting desperate," John intones, looking at the nasty carnage these things caused before they got here: "They realize they can't take and hold anything, so now they're resorting to terror tactics. This is gonna get worse before it gets better."

"How do we shield the world from this?" the hero asks, looking at the nearest body -- its head a smoking, inky ruin from where the demon ripped out.

"Well, for starters," the Operator says, pulling out a bottle of Russian Vodka: "We tell our friends to burn a few Russian hooch warehouses..."

Doctor Power looks at the bottle. It's new, and has clearly been drunk from. And on the label is a smiling, nasty face of a long-mustached fellow.

Voland, himself. 

"You have to be kidding me," the magician says, taking the bottle and giving it a whiff, and then -- fighting off gagging -- throwing it into the air so he can shoot thunderbolts at it. 

"Desperate, and !@#$ bolder," John intones, finishing his Scotch as the dream-slaying demon vodka burns in the air: "I have to admit I'm gonna enjoy kicking their !@#$ !@#$es back to Hell when we're done."

* * *

The Beehive, Moscow
November, 1967

"How can these... amateurs be stopping us?" Comrade Bulgakov -- no longer the real leader of SQUASH -- asks, pounding a withered apple of a fist onto the tactical map of the world: "How? How?"

"Well, Voland says-"

"I don't give a !@#$ what Voland says!" Bulgakov shouts, throwing a handful of tactical markers at Colonel Sharik, hoping he ruins his fancy new uniform as he does: "He doesn't even know."

"If he heard you talking like that..." the pale lackey stammers, rushing forward to try and silence his former owner: "He'd... he'd kill you, Colonel. Please just be calm-"

"Oh, so someone still realizes I'm Colonel around here," the man sighs, sinking back into his wheelchair and wheeling himself away from the table: "Here I thought you got all high and above yourself, since you're the one they deal with, now."

"Well, just in name only," Sharik says, leaning down a little: "You're still..."

"Say it," the crippled man insists: "I want to hear you say it, Colonel."

"I'm still... your servant."

"Yes, and let's not forget that, yes?"


"Good," Bulgakov says, wheeling himself away: "Now, you tell me something, Colonel. How are our guests doing? I don't see them all that often, now that they only come down to emphasize how important your orders are."

"Not... not very good," the pale man stammers, leaning close so he can whisper: "There's something wrong with them, somehow."

"What do you mean. Give me an example, you fool."

"Well, the grey man? He's hardly ever there, anymore."

"Abaddon never was to begin with. What else?"

"Voland's mustache is drooping. Hella doesn't care to make lascivious comments at me, anymore."

"I wouldn't either, you fool. What else?"

"Well... the cat? Behemot? He's not scary, anymore."

"And how is that important?"

"Well, you know what he was like when he first showed up? Mean and angry all the time. He decapitated people for not moving fast enough, and shot at people's feet. Cruel and evil, that cat."

"Yes, well, he was supposed to be like that."

"Well, that's just it," Sharik says, leaning in even closer: "He's not mean, anymore. He just lies around, sleeping. He drinks vodka and snores. When Voland wants him to hurt someone, well, he used to not even have to say anything? Now he has to yell at Behemot, just to get him to move, and even then he's not really motivated. He just kills people with his gun and then goes right back to sleep."

Bulgakov blinks, and then looks sideways: "You're certain?"

"I've seen it. And the other day... um, well, I know it was a bad idea. But he was just so snuggly and warm, lying there. And I..."

"What did you do?"

"I rubbed his tummy," Sharik admits: "And he didn't kill me. In fact he... he purred."

Bulgakov gasps, just then. He blinks and is quiet.

"What does this mean, Colonel?"

The former Colonel sits there for a few more minutes, and then smiles, very wide: "It means, my dear Comrade Sharik, that we just might regain control of our organization, once more."

And he laughs -- loud, black, and evil -- for what seems the first time in ages.

(SPYGOD is listening to Symphony #4 (Tchaikovsky) and having a Demon Brew)

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