Psamurai #14

With a Little Help From My Friends

The news was calling it a comet, but Engelbert knew better. He imagined most people knew better but didn’t want to think what happened last year might happen again. If it did, most people felt secure in the notion that there was a  line of defense between them and annihilation. Engelbert was determined to prove he knew better on that account as well.

“There will always be the weak minded, ready to rationalize anything away,” he once said in a lecture to his A.I. and Ethics students, “That’s how Holocausts happen.”

These days Engelbert wasn’t lecturing anyone about anything, save for his cat who received the occasional admonition to not shit outside the box. His former student, Cheryl Ellers, had him ousted from academia years prior for misappropriating his Ph.D. candidates’ work. Every day since then he’s burned with hot rage and planned his revenge on his old protege. After tricking her, last year, into upgrading the Tabula Rasa protocol, he had almost all the pieces he needed to carry out his plot. Getting her to save the life of her arch nemesis, Simon Vyx, was just an extra insult to the injury.
He just needed to tie up some loose ends. Cheryl had a posse. They would need to be neutralized. For that he found himself trudging through poison ivy and thorn bushes in the middle of nowhere at three in the morning.

The beam of his flashlight swung through the dark and misty air in the dense woods off of the interstate. He knew the ‘comet’ had landed here. He was expecting it. He had invited it. His short, round body waddled through the underbrush, grunting and swearing with every step until he came upon a faint glow a bit deeper in. As he approached the glow, he noticed a small spacecraft parked and covered in hasty camouflage. It was crude cover, but sufficient enough this deep into the forest. Kneeling before a small glowing orb on a carpet of fallen leaves was a lithe figure, clad in leather, holding its hand before her in a way that Engelbert read as ceremonial or meditative. The figure seemed transfixed by the moon, as it stared up, unblinking.

“Devana the Mage Hunter?” Englebert croaked.

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Crescent City Creeps #14

Born on the Bayou

Toli stood in front of his office building, glancing at his watch like it was about to perform a trick. His secretary Jenny poked her head out the door, looking at him like he was a hurt puppy.

“Mister Palazzo,” she said, “The phone won’t stop ringing. You have a lot of angry customers.”

“And no employees to do anything about it,” Toli replied. “Where is everybody?”

“Just a bunch of bums, I guess.”

“One or two maybe. But we’re talking about Stan, Jimmy, Walt- those guys have been solid employees for years. Never show up late, never miss a day.”

“Have you talked to your detective friend?”

“Funny you should ask. He’s been getting a rash of missing persons cases lately.”

“What a coincidence, huh?”

“Yes. What are the odds?” He looked back at her with a wry smile.

“You better take some of these calls or we’ll be up a creek.”

Toli sighed and followed Jenny into the building. Jenny handed him the receiver of her desk phone.

“Who’s up first?” Toli asked.

“Mr. Abrams, the fishmonger.”

“He’s a monger, alright.” Toli put the receiver to his ear. “Mr. Abrams? Yes… Yes… I understand… Listen, I’m in a bit of a bind… Yes, I hear you, Mr. Abrams. Not a single one of my employees showed up for work today… Yes, okay. Maybe you can send one of your people down to pick it up?… You’re short handed as well? So you see my predicament?… Yes… Yes, Mr. Abrams, I understand you’re trying to run a business… Are you sure about that?… Okay… Thank you for your business.” Toli handed the receiver back to Jenny.

“What did he say?”

“He said he’s taking his business to Ehrlich Shipping. Because Gunnar Ehrlich knows how to keep his employees in line.”

“I’m going to lose my job, aren’t I?”

“You could always go work for Ehrlich.”

“He’s creepy.”

“You can say that again, but he’s also the only game in town right now.”

The phone rang and they gave each other an anxious stare. Jenny lifted the receiver and inched it toward her ear.

“Palazzo Imports and Exports,” she said, and promptly relaxed back into her chair. “Hi, Detective Delareux.”

Toli made impatient gestures for the phone.

“Yes, he’s right here.” She handed him the phone.

“Delareux… Yes I do, I’ll be right there.” Toli hung up the phone. “Jenny…take a paid day off. I have to visit the Detective. It may take awhile.”

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Ray #14

For What It’s Worth

Ray, Cletus and Abby walked a marble path to the steps of what looked like an ornate cathedral, flanked by Seraphim guards. Two pink marble spires, encrusted in golden filigree pierced the clouds that hung low in the sky, framed on either side of a heavy oaken door, that stood three stories tall. The marble split in the middle and surrounded a fountain of frozen water, draped in the snow that had been falling since they arrived. The fountain was ringed by shrubbery bearing blossoms that glowed with deep colors that illuminated the snow that covered them. The path was lined with trees with low hanging fruit that lit the path with golden light. Cletus and Abby ogled in wonder at the sprawling Seraphim city the stretched out around him, rolling with the hills of the land. Ray scowled. He knew nothing good goes on in this building, especially when you’re led there by security. He was being taken before the Seraphim Council of Parthus. The council was populated by Seraphim Ray had fought alongside in some of the worst wars known to the galaxy. They fought side by side, slept on top of one another in flooding trenches, caught dysentery together, tended each other’s wounds and watched friends die together. That didn’t matter now. In times of relative peace, soldiers either fade away or become pencil pushing politicians and policy wonks. Ray chose neither option, much to the chagrin of his allies.

They were led into a cavernous chamber of white marble, dark wood and swirling, gold, rococo ornamentation. Ray was taken to the center and Cletus and Abby were seated off to the side. Behind an elevated stand, seated much like a judge at the bench, was a long, lanky Seraphim with features more drawn than an average Seraph’s.

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Demiurge Overkill- The Conclusion of Ray, Psamurai, The Joneses, and The Crescent City Creeps

“Simmer down, folks, I know you’re excited to see the show.” Yalda’s face grinned over the Jumbotron. “We’re just waiting for your guys to get here and, believe me, they’ll show.”

Yalda caught a glimpse overhead of a familiar, soaring, Parthus security jumpsuit wheeling overhead.

“As a matter of fact, here’s one now,” Yalda said. “Ladies and gentleman, boys and girls of all ages, please welcome to the ring, your champion, that blast from the past, that self righteous Seraph himself: The Archangel Raphael.”

Past Ray landed and tipped his head smirking at Yalda as he walked to meet him. Yalda aimed his pistol.

“Slow down, Ray Ray,” he said, “We’re still waiting for the others.”

“You have to make a big show out of it, don’t you?” Ray said.

“It was always a big show, Ray. Did it always go the way I wanted it? Hardly. But that’s the fun.”

Yalda looked behind Ray and saw Sophie enter through a hole in the security he had made. Alongside came Hunter. Ian and Carl followed.

“Here they are. You know them, you don’t particularly love them, but they’re the only thing standing between me and you. It’s Miss Ellers menagerie. First up, weighing in at more than she’ll admit, the Nuisance from the Northeast: The High Priestess. Next up, they spell it with a ‘p’ for some reason, but it’s pronounced just the same, your silly, Philly Psamurai. Next, he’ll play you a tune that will put you to sleep, you know him as the Piper. Then we have… whatever you call the big one.”

“Carl,” the crowd yelled in unison.

Yalda frowned and flipped them the finger.

“We’re here, Yalda,” Ray said, “Knock it off. Let’s get this over with.”

“Wait, I feel light on Rays and Rosenkreuzes.”

“The present Ray and the Joneses have been dealt with, Demiurge,” Vijeda said over Yalda’s communicator.

“They went to join Miss Ellers? At least this will be easier.”

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The Joneses #12

“That’s right, Ray,” Yalda said, mumbling to himself as he ran, “Let me lead you on a merry chase. That’s what we do right? I lead, you follow.”

He noticed a woman preparing to place her children into her car. He ran behind her  and grabbed her by the neck, jamming a pistol into her stomach. The children began to cry.

“Get in,” he said.

“Don’t hurt my kids,” she said.

“I’m not interested in your kids. The last thing I need is your spawn screaming in my ear. I want your vehicle.”

“Just take it. Please, let me go. My children…”

“Unfortunately, I don’t know how to operate this thing so that’s where you come in.”

“Please, my kids need…”

“God damn it, human mothers never shut up about their kids. Get the fuck in.”

She cried and shook her head.

“Believe me, I don’t want to be stuck in a small metal box full of human stink either.”

He pushed her in and she sat in the driver’s seat. She looked up at him weeping.

“In, in, all the way in. I’m sitting there.”

“You said you don’t know how…”

“You’re going to tell me how. Now, move over.”

She climbed over the center console and flopped into the passenger’s seat. Yalda sat behind the wheel.

“Now what?” he said.

“Put this in that slot,” she said holding the key.

He grabbed it and did as instructed.

“Now push that button.”

He pushed it and the car grumbled to a start.

“Internal combustion?” Yalda said, smirking. “You people are monkeys. Now what?”

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