Archive for April, 2009

Demonic Symphony – Scene 001

Derek felt the boot connect with his jaw.

Ah, he thought, it was going to be one of those nights. Derek hated it when the demons gave him Nam flashbacks, especially since he had never been to Nam.

Derek focused and felt himself lifting out of the illusion; it felt like rising up after being underwater.

“He’s here” he gasped, “looks like some old soldier’s”

“Awesome” said Laurie, grinning like an idiot, “I’ll get the scanner set up”

Derek pulled himself up against the car. He knew he could leave the preparations to Laurie, the kid knew what she was doing.

He looked up at the old school. The Demon would be inside, he knew, you never got them in empty space, it was probably the soldiers post traumatic memories from when he had been a student; the school looked old enough.

Derek wrapped his hands around the Iron Gate and looked up.

The school towered above him; floodlights lit up the walls but the top of the building was dark. The whole thing looked like some sort of monster looking to jump on him.

Derek shuddered and tightened his grip on the bars. He hated hunting Demons in old places like this; there was always the risk that some old care taker would shoot him before he got a chance to show his badge.

Derek felt the familiar fizzing feeling in the back of his brain, and then a second later he heard the hissing noise of the static scanner. He turned around to see Laurie’s grinning face. She always started grinning like that whenever they were about to head into danger, he wished she would stop.

“You ready to go?” asked Laurie, “Got your armour on?”

“I’ve always got my armour on” muttered Derek. Let’s get this over with, he thought.

With practiced ease the two of them vaulted the security fence and walked into the looming school.

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The Wolf’s Will – Scene 001

Scene One

In which we meet the plot

Lord Redfox died peacefully of a heart attack, and everyone agreed that it was appropriate.

The traditional way for an Alpha to die is at the hands of another werewolf, younger and more aggressive. But Redfox had not been a traditional alpha. He had spent his life as a peace maker; he had stopped the trade in dryad skins, set up mining co-ops with the dwarfs and was considered singly handedly responsible for bringing several species of dragon back from the brink of extinction, and now he was sitting in the morgue, thought Yellowbird, doing nothing more interesting than cooling gently.

The fact that something is appropriate doesn’t stop it being a huge anticlimax.

Yellowbird had a glass of well aged scotch in his hand, after all it was practically a butlering tradition to dip into the liquor cabinet, and anyway he was mourning thank you very much, and he was looking out of the large glass windows, which looked out on the wrought iron gates.

“They’re here”, he muttered to himself, “body’s not even cold yet and already the first of them are here”

He took a closer look – plumes; – the pompous jackass actually went and put giant feather plumes on his horses. Oh that goes so well with the golden mermaids on the sides, and the ivory canopy. Yellowbird stepped away from the window shaking his head. Plumes. On the other hand, he thought, given how much that thing must weigh he made excellent time getting here.

Yellowbird let himself fall into the red plush recliner, it was very faded and the stuffing was poking through in a few places, but it was comfortable, and Lord Redfox had never cared what something looked like as long as it did its job.

He could hear a thumping sound, followed by the sound of yelling from outside. He sipped his scotch and didn’t bother to check. That young fool outside would never make it through the thirty days. You always saw people like him, who thought that it was first come first serve when it came to wills, and Lord Redfox had a huge family, so he certainly wouldn’t be the last. But werewolf wills, they were – competitive, – the man would only be here a day or two and then something would have forced him out, and good riddance to the fat pink slob.

Yellowbird swirled his scotch and thought. No, the real power players, they will wait. Oh they be very active in a dozen completely untraceable ways but they won’t make a move for the manor itself until the last possible moment.

He drained his glass and stood up, he was no longer the butler of Redhall, he knew that, but the work wouldn’t stop just because the master was dead.

“We will be very busy, over the next few days”, he announced to the house in general “I shall stay until the will has been read and everyone has gone home”. Then in a much quieter voice he added to himself, “Then there will be time to rest”.

He walked away, and life went on.

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Demonic Symphony – Scene 002

Laurie loved nights like this. The moon was full, and the skies were clear so the hallways were brightly lit as she walked through them.

She was glad it was going to be an old soldier’s Demon; the last one they had fought had gotten big enough that it had been able to throw things at them; it had been like playing dodge ball; there was something about combat vets that made their Demons really powerful, and that made it more interesting when you took them in.

They were walking into a darker part of the school when something happened. The Static scanner finally stopped fizzing and gave them a message.

“GET OUT!” The scanner gurgled. The two of them stopped in their tracks, Laurie could feel her heart beating faster and a grin spreading over her face.

“Now, Now,” said Derek, “we’re all friends here; there’s no need for all this violent talk.” He sounded like he was reading the words off a card, and he was loading his gun while he was talking.

Laurie hit him on the arm, and he gave her a look, but it was all ritual at this point; neither of them could remember a mission were it hadn’t come down to gunplay.

Laurie had spent several years training to be a psychologist before realizing that there was nothing in the world she wanted to be less, and she felt that she should really add something. “We’re not here to hurt you” she said, “We’re here to help you”. She stopped and listened expectantly; running her finger along the butt of her gun.

“Get OUT!!” insisted the scanner.

Laurie giggled and started loading her gun; it was always the same up to this point.

She felt Derek stiffen next to her and then a second later the scanner started to beep.

She followed the scanners lights.

The Demon was moving down the corridor at them.

Derek brought his gun level, and Laurie did the same.

The Demon started circling; they all started by circling.

Laurie kept her eyes on the scanner and kept her gun trained on target. It was hard doing both at once, but Laurie loved the challenge.

Everything was going normally, and that was a bit of a disappointment. If everything kept going by the routine then the Demon would keep circling, and looking for weaknesses until eventually it would lose track of itself and put itself too far forward, and then they would shoot it and lock it into the containment crystals, hand it over to Casper, and be done for the night. Case closed.

Laurie felt her smile fade a bit as she ran through her chain of thought. Same old, same old; she wished that something would happen this time to break the usual routine.

The scanner beeped and the Demon exploded.

Ah, thought Laurie as the darkness snuffed out the moon, that’ll do it.

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The Wolf’s Will – Scene 002

Scene Two

In which we meet our hero

Greg never wished chaos on his office; no sane boss would, but he was always glad when it descended; if only because it gave him a huge advantage over everyone around him. He didn’t understand why other people didn’t seem to be able to remain calm under stress, but he had accepted it as his personal edge a long time ago.

He was pacing a wide lap around his entire building; he found that this made him easier to get to at times like this. The telephones were playing a piece of Mozart whenever they rang, and Greg had hoped that this would have a calming effect on his workers, but looking around he could see them flinch on every beat; he made a mental note to try heavy metal next time.

He noticed Sandra from the front desk sprinting towards him; she had forgotten to take her headset off first and its cord was flying behind her, whipping passersby. “Problem Boss! The Troll Bridge Workers Strike! The Company Settled.”

“To the full demands?”

“Yes Boss!”

“Get Mikey to call his contact in the company, this smells of corruption. And get Clare to do some interviews with the dryad community, those extra apples will have to come from them.”

“Yes Boss!” and she was gone, she ran flat into Frankie who waded on without noticing. “Sah!” bellowed the huge man “The report’s out and we were right, Dess Kanke was embezzling”

Greg yelled back over the background roar of telephones, “Casey has an ‘I told you so’ story prepared, run it page 5”

“Yes Sah” and he waded away. Tony Tony, his chief reporter vaulted cleanly over him, stack of papers in hand and laughing like a schoolboy. He loves this, Greg realized, everything in need of fixing and everyone relying on him.

Greg felt a tug on his trousers and turned to see two giant brown eyes looking up at him, “Hello Lucy”

“Hey sir. The copiers jammed sir”

“Give it good hard kick Lucy, I’m no mechanic”

“Yes sir” and girl wandered off in the vague direction of the copier room. Greg shook his head and paced away, he wasn’t quite sure how Lucy had come to work at his newspaper, certainly he hadn’t hired her, and he would have remembered that, wouldn’t he?

The chaos sunk in on him again. There were people yelling, telephones ringing, paper being ripped from one pile and thrown into another, verbal sparring and at least one small fist fight, – it was like being back at school again, – there was Andrew, the new boy on the front desk, running toward him; ducking and weaving the whole way like a ballerina who has had something unpleasant and slimy dropped down the back of her leotard. He got within two meters of Greg and pulled back sharply; wearing the expression of a man who has run as fast as he could to deliver an important message and is only now considering the effect it might have on the recipient.

“Well Andrew, what is it?”

“Ahhhh.” Said Andrew, his eyes drifting to the gaps between cubicles

“What’s your message Andrew?”

Andrew swallowed, “We regret to inform you”, he said standing to attention for reasons best known to himself, “of the passing of your uncle Redfox, His will shall be read on the 30th of October at eight o’clock in his home of Redhall”. Then he stood there staring directly ahead; there didn’t seem to be anything else.

“Get Ants to do that thing he does with airline tickets and get me two first-class for Alice Springs tomorrow, and tell Tony Tony to come to my office after today’s paper goes out.”

Andrew nodded, but he was still at attention and staring straight ahead.

“Dismissed?” Greg guessed, and Andrew sprinted away looking about as relived as a theme park visitor who has just found the toilet block.

Then Greg got back to work. After all the world doesn’t stop turning just because someone’s uncle died.

There was a crunching sound, followed closely by a soft tinkling sound like a dozen little gears rolling on the floor. Exactly like that as a matter of fact. Greg shook his head and paced off to where they kept the spare copier, and life went on.

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Demonic Symphony – Scene 003

Derek tried to straighten out his panicking thoughts.

Damn it! He thought, and it had been going so well too.

There was something wrong; the Demon was winning; the fact that he was hallucinating was being pushed further and further away.

Hallucinating, who’s hallucinating? The darkness seemed to say. I’m not; I’m right here and I’m not going away.

There was fear now. Fear, and humiliation, and pain. Derek waved his gun, but there was nowhere to aim; just darkness beating like a heart. Stupid boy! The darkness called, idiot child! There’s no gun in your hand.

Derek looked at his hand, and it was empty, and there was no hand; and no arm to put it on, and his legs were gone too, and there was nothing but the fear, and the pain, and the darkness, and it was laughing at him.

Derek collapsed; a meaningless being in an uncaring universe.

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The Wolf’s Will – Scene 003

Scene Three

In which our heroes unite

The office was peaceful. The work was all done. The paper was out. There was nothing else left to do, but there was still half an hour on the clock so everyone just lay around drained and exhausted, but happy. Tony Tony loved these moments; tomorrow everyone would be running around all over again, but for now the whole world was calm.

Tony Tony remembered that Greg wanted to see him in his office, he wondered if he would still be there. Then he answered himself, of course Greg would still be in his office; the man had no idea how to relax.

He eased himself up from the pot plant he had been resting his weight against and set off down the hallway. The whole way down people called out to him, and reached out to pat him or shake his hand, Sandra even lifted herself from where she was half passed out over the emergency copier, to give him a hug. This was their victory and everyone felt that it was well earned.

Greg’s office was second from the end and it looked exactly like all of the others, on the door was written ‘Greg – Editor’.

Tony Tony had found that people were always disappointed the first time they walked into Greg’s office, there was always this expectation that an editors office should be some luxurious place, fit for a power mad emperor. Tony Tony had been around for awhile and he had come to the conclusion that an office isn’t nearly as important as what it contains.

Greg was sitting at his desk with three piles of papers and four variations on the theme of highlighter. Tony Tony wasn’t even slightly surprised. “Hey Greg,” he said,” What’s up?”

Greg glanced up, and even though his face was blank Tony Tony caught the strange sensation of warmth, “Hello Tony Tony, how’s that charity you set up?”

“Scrying crystals for the blind? It’s going great man, we got just over a thousand donated crystals last week and we’re still growing! My business partner showed me the plans she drew up yesterday”

“What plans?”

Tony Tony was feeling mischievous, and with a grin replied, “You remember how I said it would be nice to have my own building to use as a distribution hub? I mean we are distributing the donated crystals all over the city”

“Yes, I remember”

“And you remember that my business partner trained as an architect”

“Yes” Pause “I see, really?”

“Absolutely, I have the plans for the start of my own little empire sitting on my desk at home, and all I need is a little money to push it through.

This seemed to be what Greg had been waiting for. “Would a hundred thousand be enough?”

Tony Tony felt alert all of a sudden, he had known Greg longer than anyone else in this country and he knew his editor rarely thought hypothetically, “It would defiantly help a lot.”

“My uncle Redfox is dead”

“Well. Sorry to hear it”, Tony Tony leaned back in his chair and focused on the ceiling, “You told me about him once didn’t you? He was an alpha and about the only member of your family didn’t violently object when you decide to become a vampire”

“Yes, he was very progressive in that respect, and now he’s dead. Now, tell me what you remember about werewolf inheritance law”

“Well, not much, the big one is that a beneficiary must be present at the reading of the will or they forfeit their inheritance”

“And their share is distributed between those who are present”

“That right, it’s a bit of a strange law I always thought”

“So does everyone else, but it’s traditional at this point”

“Ok, so what you’re saying is that there’s a good chance you will be in this will.”

“Yes, and even if I’m not, as a close blood relative I still stand to inherit a share if a beneficiary doesn’t make it”

“Right, I guess that’s plan B. Was your uncle rich?”

“The fact that he lived in Transylvania made the country about 70% richer than it would be otherwise”

“I’m going to call that a yes. Ok, so you have rich uncle and stand to inherit, where do I come into this?”

“’Had’ a rich uncle, and you come into this because I’m going to need your people skills to get there”

“To the reading?”

“Yes”

Tony Tony snorted,” I think a private jet would help you out a bit more there.”

“No Tony Tony, not here, here it would work against me. Think about those laws, if a beneficiary could ensure that he was the only one present then he would inherit everything. Werewolf inheritances get, competitive. It’s a game, and some of the older werewolves are very good at it.

“So you can’t travel openly.”

“Or legally, and if you help me to receive my inheritance I will give you a hundred thousand dollars.”

Tony Tony settled deeper in the chair with a slightly dazed expression on his face, “Can we just walk away like that?”

“Your business partner can cover the charity, Mikey can cover you here and we can call Rowind in again to cover me”

Tony Tony said nothing, he was hunched in his chair and he had his fingertips resting on his forehead. Greg seemed to know what to do; he touched Tony Tony’s shoulder and waited until their eyes met “Please Tony Tony”, He said, “I need your help with this one.”

Tony Tony watched back. Then, very slowly an amused smile spread across his face, “Exploiting werewolf law in a life or death situation against opponents with everything to gain.” He chuckled and offered his hand, “I’m in”

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Demonic Symphony – Scene 004

Laurie felt the darkness cover her. She didn’t mind; she liked the darkness.

Then she felt pain, and fear and humiliation. This was wrong; darkness didn’t hurt like this.

The darkness squeezed in on her, it hurts you like this, it seemed to say, it hurts you and only you because you are the one who deserves it.

Laurie gave some thought on that matter. Why? She asked, her voice sounded weird inside her head.

The darkness seemed to falter for a moment, but then it pressed deeper. Because you deserve it came the answer, because you’re worthless.

Laurie thought about this, and then she thought about the pain; it didn’t feel like it belonged to her.

She pushed outwards with her mind. The pain became sharper, more defined, and then there were images as well.

Oh, she thought. She could see it now; a small boy tortured by his schoolmates, asking why, wondering if he deserved it, no one there to help. Teenagers, they were the other common source of the powerful emotions needed for the creation of demons.

Demons…

Laurie pulled back into her own body. I remember now, she announced, you’re a demon.

The darkness flinched. No I’m not.

Somewhere far off Laurie felt her lips form into a smile. Yes you are.

No I’m not!

Yes, said Laurie, raising her gun as the darkness pulled back, you are”

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