(William’s Report & Account of Events)
This job with the agency has always been just that to me: a job, and a damn convenient one for me to pursue more important endeavors in my agenda. I use them, they use me, all toward a mutual goal. But I let this last mission cloud my thinking… no, I let M.H.I. do the thinking for me, made some fair but banal assumptions, and ultimately forgot to think for myself. That was almost a fatal mistake.
Once we collected the “package,” we headed to the address we were given for the M.H.I. safe house. It was a literal house, a nice rich place with at least a couple’a acres of property. Neighbors are nearly half a mile away. We get in and lock it down quickly. Place has a moderate web of wards around it, nothin’ to sneeze at. More than my three-room apartment.
Coldfairy was out cold. We put him on the floor naked and duct-taped in the middle of the room as we sit around with a few MREs, blowing smoke and preparing to interrogate our captive ourselves before we hand him over to the agency’s inquisitors. Figured we’d board the private jet a few hours later.
While we’re waiting for Coldfury to come to, the subject of leadership is broached, and our team’s complete lack of it. That was the only thing we all agreed on—we needed one. But as for who, each man’s vote was probably reserved for himself. During the drive over, I’d already told Shoe my solution. We have two leaders instead: a combat leader to make snap tactical decisions and coordinate our abilities under fire; and the loudest schmuck who cannot only delegate orders, but actually convince the rest of the group that whatever he says is somehow a good idea.
It seems that schmuck turned out to be me. Once we got settled, Shoe touted the same suggestion as his own idea, which earned him my resounding praise for sheer originality. Still, the idea was welcomed, and Joseph Cougar promptly entered with his first jewel of the night: “I think I should be the slow leader.” Cougar, you have earned the title.
All this talk of leadership, of course, was conveniently discussed while Igor was having a losing battle with the shits. I took the floor next and nominated Harriet for combat leader. Yeah, she’s a kid, but a damn powerful blast-slinger with some unnervingly clever cogs in her conk. She won’t freeze when the shit hits the fan, and the range on her spells means she can command from the rear. Harriet wasn’t exactly expecting to get volunteered, but Shoe seconded my motion once we pointed out he’d be too caught up in melee to grasp the big picture. That, and when Frenchy pointed out how leadership would hamper his ability to blow up werewolves, Bruce Lee relented.
With that quick and painless decision out of the way, the little sorceress nominates this old wheeler-dealer, and I had to laugh. What next, they gonna start calling me Father? I gave up setting example the day my family was taken. But before the others can do more than sputter protest… I feel it. Harriet too—something evil was coming this way, and fast, like a freak storm from the Old Testament.
I wasn’t about to become Gomorrah. We shot up and bolstered the windows, warning the others of the approaching dark force. I couldn’t tell what it was at first… it felt like a demon, but not. It was some kind of magical evil. Everyone else jumps from their chairs and we put our backs together as, in the next few seconds, wizard eyes see nothing but dark skies surrounding us. One peek out tells her the temperature’s dropped like a stone and the air’s dead like we’re in the eye of a goddamn tornado. A moment later and our surveillance cuts out. As magical energies are gathering, we prepare for the worst while Frenchy keeps in the center like a good combat medic should. Nothing to do but wait.
Next thing we know, it’s here. In the fucking house.
Can’t see it, but there’s a presence, and the hairs on the back of my neck tell me something’s going to die tonight. I’ve got the chalk in my cigarette hand like it belongs there, but just as I’m starting to draw a protective circle, Cougar makes a fast break to what he’d identified as a trapdoor in the floor to another room below. Together we pry it open while the others ready their weapons.
Meanwhile, whatever it was had already been prodding and picking at the ward snare, but once it appears in the house… the whole web frays like a net that’s caught fire. Two seconds later and the wards are broken. It’s materialized somewhere in the building, now. Harriet says it’s a gateway to Faerieland that just opened up. I had to pause half a moment at that—yeah, everyone knows about the Grimm fairytales, but even the Unseelie shouldn’t have any business with us. It had to just be an easy route, a loophole around our defenses somehow.
But I was too busy jumping down into the basement to think about any of that. We didn’t know what was coming, but the more obstacles between us and that gate, the better. It’s dark down there, but it’s safe, and the others come after me with Coldfury in tow while Cougar and Shoe hang onto the two ladders with their eyes and weapons trained down the dark hallway toward the bedrooms.
That’s when we hear a voice… can’t tell what it says, or even if it’s a man, but it’s uttering words of power. Cougar catches it, though: “Kill them all, take the warlock alive, then get the fuck out.” Gentlemen, I think a challenge has just been issued.
I feel a mad grin then, ‘cause I know it’s them or us, and no way around it now.
Harriet mutters something about smelling a graveyard and ghouls. Now those I know: ghouls are twisted creatures, split from humanity long ago, which now only resemble us like dark shadows. They come out at night and feed upon corpses like packs of starving jackals. They aren’t even undead, so there’s no way to turn ‘em. All I can do is make a safe point, but I don’t have more than 10 seconds to make the pentagram, if even that. This was going to work, or we were going to be in trouble.
I know the pentagram won’t do shit against the ghouls, but those things are obviously being controlled by whatever opened the portal. Harriet knows exactly what it is: “Vampires!” Kid’s got a plan now, and it’s a sensible one—draw in the ghouls, then fireball in the hole. It was perfectly coinciding with mine, which was to pentagram the shit out of the basement before whatever broke through the safe house wards tries to slip in around us. If they got too close, we’d use the trapdoor as a bottleneck and pick ’em off like ticks from a hobo.
If I’d stayed up above, I could’ve tried to dispel the gate, but no telling if I would succeed, given how whatever it was folded our preset defenses like a house ’a cards. But then, I can do much, much better than cards.
(To Be Continued…!)