Saturday, May 28, 2011


I started Friday morning by stopping the drain on one of Kay's sinks, and filling it about half-way with water. I shoved my head in it and closed my eyes.

I was feeling that little something in the back of my chest. I felt it back in the day whenever I had to pull something really crazy with my "troops." I felt it whenever I had to show up wherever the Presence was, and do something batshit crazy to save the day.

We still hadn't found Kay. We didn't know how much longer she could last in there. I pulled my face out of the sink and stared at my face through the mirror. How would this face be remembered? What would be my Epitaph? "Always the wrong place, Always the wrong time, Always doing what he could until he could do no more."

How about, "Winning the War, One Broken Dream at a time."

Or my personal favorite, "Winning When it Doesn't Matter, Choking When The People He Cares About Are On The Line?"

The truth is gents, that I'm doing awfully well these days. When I get a chance to talk more about HER, The Presence, and the past, you'll understand what I'm saying here. Was Kay going to be another person on the list of people I've failed over the years?

After my brief moment of introspection, I emptied the sink and went to my laptop. I blinked a few times. Kay had posted. She was alive. We had a brief exchange of messages on her blog.. We also determined that Kay wanted Bacon and Extra Cheese on her pizza, which I assented to readily. I love Bacon on my pizza. I had previously determined the nearest and highest quality pizza place that did delivery, and placed it on my speed-dial.. We were ready for this. I'd spent all of Thursday forcing this other dimension to accept the fact that I could drop an astral projection on it's ass. I was READY for this, damn it. When I broke through to that other dimension THIS time, I had something else to help me out: Kay online. Having a direct connection to someone, via a phone line, or an instant messenger is exponentially helpful for this sort of thing. Using an astral projection to Locate someone is easier when you have more points of "contact" between yourself and another person. Kay and I have met multiple times, we had messenger contact with each other, and she was the only living human in the entire dimension. That was enough for me to track her down.

That's when I grinned, and decided what my Epitaph would be: "Welcome to the Impossible. It's time to save the world."

Normally, people cannot perceive Astral Projections, and projections can only barely  perceive the physical world from the astral plane. In this case though, when I blinked into range of her, there was this glorious moment where she jumped. She just plain jumped. She tilted her head slightly to the side, and my projection shrugged. Was she taller? No, I was just shorter. I waved to here, and motioned for her to follow me. She did, but she looked pretty confused.

I took a moment to adjust my robes and the sword at my belt as we walked. It was around then that I noticed just how REAL this dimension felt. If I didn't know any better, I'd have thought I was walking around on earth. But you know the difference between here and earth? Here I had a sword. We ran into a few leeches, and with a few sword-cuts and a handful of salt from Kay here and there they were dispatched.

I actually said to her as a joke, "You know, I wouldn't mind having a summer home out here."

Kay didn't say much in response. I've never really had much luck talking to people using an astral form, so I didn't expect anything. I don't even know if what she heard was in English.

Leeches scare the shit out of me in real life. In other dimensions with my astral form, lets face it, I've fought bigger and meaner things.

While all this was happening, Ryuu was setting up a circle around Kay's living room on Earth. Candles, incense, the works. Her job was the most important one for this next one. She was the fulcrum on which we would move the world. After a few hours of walking, Kay and my projection were back at this strange world's version of her house. This was the part where things got complicated.

You see, what our plan essentially came down to was that we intended to crack the veil and cosmic dynamite a way to the other dimension, and then close it when we brought Kay back. That's right sports fans, we were about to do the one thing that I've said you should never, ever do since I started this damn blog. But then again, my number one rule about rules has always been: If you're going to break the rules, BREAK THEM HARD, AND BREAK THEM WITH STYLE.

So here's how our circle worked. I was going to start pouring power into it, for the sole purpose of fucking shit up, while also pushing on Ryuu with it to hold her in place. That was very important. As the veil and the barriers between dimensions broke down, Ryuu was going to pull on Kay from our dimension with her force of will. Meanwhile, Kay needed to pull herself toward Ryuu with her will, but mostly she just had to hang on and stay alive as we brought her through. This combination was important, because any alternatives ran the risk of accidentally flinging someone off onto another dimension, and that would just be a terrible way for this to end. The key point: Ryuu had to pull on Kay, as Kay pulled on her, and I greased the way...all while we were cracking a hole big enough for her to slip through. The key point was Ryuu: Could she hold on and keep anchored to this world hard enough to get Kay through? Only one way to find out.

The trouble was, I could sense more Leeches around Kay's area. And some other things. Something dark, big, and nasty. If I left her in order to get to work on the circle, she could be in serious trouble on her own. Therefore I could say only one thing:

I handed her my astral form's sword and said, "It's dangerous to go alone. Take this!"

She took it, still looking at me funny as she did. Then i was back in the physical world. I immediately started going through the ritual we needed to pull Kay back into our world. This was the nail-biting, mind numbing part. Could Kay take care of business out there while we opened the door? Was the sword I gave her going to be enough?

As the dimensions shifted and the astral plane became a very real, physical thing around us, we saw a bunch of dead leeches around Kay. Then we saw it. This big, dark, spider-like thing whose body looked like it was made by a thousand shadowy-black knives. Kay sliced the damn thing in half, sending pieces all around the room. And then she walked into the circle with us.

And then, together in that circle, that's when we stood united. That's when we all started focusing. It was time to bring the world back to reality. We imposed our wills, and I gently drew the veil back around the room as best I could. It was messy. There were all kinds of weird noises. And the flow of energy in the whole place looks as though it had been torn asunder by a bunch of idiots. But the place was intact. After a few minutes, the world was what it should be.

I said to Kay, "Hand me my sword?"

She gave me this very confused look

I said, "Really. It's still there. Just hand it back to me."

She offered it to me as though she were offering someone a handshake. I could still sense where it was, so I was smart enough to duck under it.

"Watch it!" I said, gently taking it from her hand.

Kay cringed a little. She said, "Sorry"

I felt like a complete asshole, she really didn't need to be cringing after all of this. I sheathed the sword back at my side with a flourish that must have looked really stupid. Then I gave her a hug. Then we ordered pizza and relaxed. We were alive. We'll probably be here for a few days to make sure Kay's house is nice and secure. I still feel like a dick about the sword thing...but fuck, give me a break, these weapons are dangerous. I'm going to check the fridge to see if we've got any leftover pizza, now that I think about it.

Edit: NEVERMIND! Kay with the Delicious, Delicious Pot Roast! ^_^ HOORAY!

Friday, May 27, 2011

Engaging Murderfists

So I tried connecting into this other dimension. It didn't want me to. I didn't care. I'd never felt anything like this. The dimension was actively keeping my ass from entering it. It was the only explanation. I felt the brush of those damn leeches as I tried to get through, and with a bit of force on my part, they exploded into flame. The house smelled a bit like a barbecue for a while, but I wasn't complaining.

I saw our Slender Suit Wearing Tentacle Douche outside the window during one of our breaks. I didn't tell Ryuu. I just flipped it off and went back to work. When I ignored it, I found myself privy to an illusion of being stabbed by a thousand tentacles as the living room turned into a classic medieval dungeon. I shrugged it off, forced myself not to puke, and told Ryuu it was nothing. He was gone when I looked back out the window.

I'm not having a good day. I would hazard a guess that you haven't had a good day in nine years.

I finally broke through, and found myself in this place that Kay's stranded in. I couldn't move. The very dimension itself didn't want me in it. I could feel anger and something all too alien all around me. Trying to stay in it for more than a moment was like trying to breathe water. I coughed a bit, returned to my body, downed a bottle of coca-cola, and tried again. This fucking third degree broken down pissant Pain Dimension wasn't getting the best of me.

It's nearing midnight, and I'm a twitchy, neurotic mess. I can maintain a projection over there now, but moving around feels like I'm walking in a lead suit. It's slow, cumbersome, exhausting, and sweaty.

But I'm getting it down. I'm building myself up to a point where I can do this. I'm going to find Kay, and we're going to bring her back, and I'm going to murder the living shit out of anything that gets in my way with my fucking murderfists.

God I need more time.

Your plan with Weaver, Spinner, and Cutter really is quite good. You really do need to relax. Wouldn't you all agree?

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Fizzle and Failure, Leeches and Lighting

It has not been a good day.

After the failures of yesterday, with rising concern about Kay's well-being, I decided it was time to get a sounding on this other dimension. In theory, you can get anywhere from the astral plane. So, I got relaxed in Kay's living room, and started meditating.

Meditating. It helps. My spirit left my body, stepping onto the astral plane. I looked around the house. The vandalized parts were healing nicely thanks to Ryuu's work. We were close to the Pine Barrens, but this place was much healthier than Philadelphia. Verdant green trees filled the area, and I could feel the tiny wisps moving from tree to tree.

I couldn't help myself. I reached out and touched one of the pale white wisps that had been bouncing from tree to try, and looked up at the pale blue sky. Wonderful. The wisp bounced around my form curiously, before continuing on its way. Wisps are strange little creatures, fairies of the kinder, more neutral persuasion. They don't really care, they're just joyful little things that bounce along their way. Some days, if you look right up at the sky, you can see thousands of them bouncing along.

Then I focused on the task at hand. Think of the Earth that you know as the hub, the central point of a nexus. Then, beyond that there is the astral plane that flows all around it in a giant bubble. From that bubble, you can connect to dimensions that are everywhere and nowhere, which occupy their own little bubbles. It's complicated, crazy, and I barely do it justice.

But from here, I tried to push my way into the broken, smashed dimension that Kay told us of. It wasn't hard, after all, the place had pulled Kay from her house into it's strange little fold. It made it's location VERY clear when it did that, leaving behind a perfect trail. When I found it, I tried to step through. Some dimensions offer more resistance than others when you try to enter them. This one was like trying to go through a steel security door. It pissed me off, so I started pushing harder. Then I felt something, as though someone had brushed past me when I wasn't paying attention. 

I opened my eyes in Kay's living room, and leeches were coming out of the walls. They just sort of plopped onto the ground from the ceiling. These bastards were maybe a foot long, with big sucking mouths and I could feel their hunger. I could feel their predatory intent. I could feel it pulsing through my veins. I don't do well with insects and arachnids, which is to say I leapt over the chair I was sitting in and ran into the kitchen. So I hopped onto the kitchen counter, freaking out. I grabbed a nearby salt shaker and started pitching the stuff at leeches. I ran out very, very quickly. A few of the leeches fizzled away, but they had started moving around the salt. All throughout, I heard this clunking noise in the other room. Suddenly, I realized: Ryuu! She was still in there! 

I grabbed a frying pan, and faced my phobia dead on. I leaped off the counter and squished two of the leeches with my feet, then started attacking them with the frying pan. Four went down quickly, but dear god there were a lot of the little bastards. I was safe in the big pile of salt though.

That's about when Ryuu came into the room with a fire poker, and demolished the fucking leeches. Seriously. She went to town on that shit like there was no tomorrow. And I'm standing there with my frying pan looking like an idiot.

It was about then that I said, "So yeah. Spiders and Leeches..."

She just gave me a look.

That said, I think I'll be able to get into the dimension tomorrow with a projection. Now I'm pissed. I will NOT be fucked with by any of this evil leech dimension bullshit.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Got a call from Sheriff Wiseass

Almost into Jersey. Going to see Ryuu soon. Got a call from Sheriff Wiseass on the way.

Wiseass: "Hey Shaman-boy, got an update on the case I thought you might want."

Sage: "...What's up?"

Wiseass: "We found the car that (Victim) was taken in. She's been talking, and she keeps mentioning a woman in a silly looking multi-colored suit."

I had this little twitch forming.

Sage: "...In what context?"

Wiseass: "Apparently, she was driving the car. Took the girl to a little clearing full of alien dog-things, killed them all when they caused a ruckus."

Sage: "...and then?"

Wiseass: "Then she left (Victim) by a random door."

Now I was confused. So it was Slendy with Victim in the diner. Then Victim got in a car driven by "maiden" or whoever she is, and then Victim was back with...?

I thanked Wiseass, and stopped thinking about it. It made no sense, but I didn't have time to figure it out.

It's time to go pull Kay out of the abyss.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Driving Home -/|\- The Past: Ticking Time Bomb

Goddamn I'm feeling good. NO MAN CAN STOP MY CAR'S MIGHTY ROLLING. I hope. I've seen him off and on at gas stations and rest stops. You know who I'm talking about. I'm not worried yet though. The problem with making a distance run from North Texas to Philadelphia, is that it's a distance run from North Texas to Philadelphia. I would like to be home now. There's too much that I need to be responsible for, but I'm not making this a speed run. I need to be alert and on top of things every step of the way. Then again, who exactly is going to try and kill me that ISN'T an ancient and powerful mind warping entity in a perfectly tailored suit?

Tao's finally got his team together. I'm nervous. As I've mentioned in the past, bringing them into a situation is my own personal equivalent of the Godzilla Threshold.By calling them in, I've admitted that this shit has officially gone rancid. Then again, I haven't been back in my own apartment since my run to Buffalo, and we all remember how that turned out. Working with him and his gang will be just like being back at college.

In speaking of which, I've been in contact with Weaver, Spinner, and Cutter. They're alright, alive, and their current safe spot remains safe. No word from Time Lord.

So I've been named a Sage. The "Crazy Beastmaster." It doesn't change anything. If nothing else, it does mean that I've got about as much work as I've already signed up for. What it tells me is this: I've still got what it takes to cut the mustard. I've proven that I can still play at a professional level. That's all I needed to know. We've got work to do.


The Past: Ticking Time Bomb

I hate talking about where I started. I got to where I am today by failing.. Hard, often, and with gusto. I can't change the past. All I can do is talk about it. These are things you'll need to know. Considering I've already made it clear that I will be finding and hurting Mastermind with extreme prejudice before all this is over, I think anyone paying attention deserves to know why. I hate writing about the past. Reliving the worst moments of your life never gets any easier.

So when we last left our hero, I'd given Rogue Nemesis one hell of a beating and sent him on the way. I had a group of extremely traitorous entities working for me, suspicion from my bosses upstairs, and an increasingly small chance of getting out of things intact.

The Rogues needed me to remember who I was for whatever they were doing, and they needed me to remember FAST. Fortunately, they had a secret weapon. Me. Somewhere locked away in the recesses of my soul was the rat-bastard son of a bitch they were looking for.

In the next day or so, I get to write about Usurper. Won't that be fun?

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Showdown At The Goat Circle -/|\- Reactions

So I know what you're thinking. He's projecting into another world. Why does he need a topographical map of this one?

For better or for worse, the astral plane corresponds with our physical world. The reverse is also true. Any time there's a difference in one, it has an affect on the other. That house that just keeps falling apart no matter how hard you work on it might have that problem through shoddy construction. Or there's a vast crater on the astral plane, and the physical world is tearing trying to match up with the astral plane. God only knows how many mighty castles on the Astral Plane want to break apart because there's no corresponding structure in the physical world to support it. You know all those images of elves in their tree houses and giant tree villages? It's not just because they like trees, it's really easy to create that kind of astral structure out of a vast swath of existing tree spirits.

People like my buddy Green Man will tell you that the Astral Plane doesn't mean a thing, that the world of spirits doesn't have any affect on our world if we don't want it to. He's a fucking selfish moron who only knows reality when it hits him in the face. That statement of course, assumes I'm not completely insane and this actually works.

Armed with a topographical map of the area, I just needed to compare it to what I sensed on the Astral plane. Wherever there was a difference in height or depth between the two, there would be a difference in the energy, as it needed to flow and expend itself to maintain the difference. It also helped that I could also cross-reference that bastard with the energy of whatever was keeping the Kid and the Kidnapper on the astral plane. Keep in mind, there are STORIES of travelers being kept in the realms of the fey against their will, and other fun legends, but I'd never actually seen this sort of thing in action. I was running entirely on guesswork. Guesswork had failed me for the last twelve hours.

I needed a totem for this Shitstorm. Amalgamation Sage didn't have the kind of expertise to actively hunt something on the Astral Plane. He'd spent his entire career setting up lures and traps and making things come after him. He was very good at that, and counterattacking right when something thought it had him. But now he needed to go on the offensive. Someone new and deadly needed to come onto the playing field. Someone who could track the devil to the ends of the earth. And I needed to find what made him everything he was, right here, right now.

Fortunately, I had a cowboy hat. It was an old, brown, faded thing that had seen better days, but it was a cowboy hat. From somewhere in the hodge-podge that is my spirit, Wizard popped up and started looking over my shoulder as I worked it over in my mind. It wasn't hard. I just needed to imagine The Man With No Name. Praise be to Clint Eastwood.

Wizard was grinning as I worked.

He said to me, "That's the ticket. Now you've got something. Twelve hours to save the world, nothing we haven't done before."

I grunted, "Do you have any actual advice for me?"

He said, "Gods no. I think you've got this one nice and figured out."

I was riding it close. But I had a cowboy hat. I was in the desert. I was backed by a local sheriff while hunting down a kidnapped kid. Right here and now, I was something bigger. I was something that spoke to every living, breathing person in the American West. I was the mysterious stranger from out of town with no past and a big gun. The Man In Blue had arrived. It was fun. Trading one title for something just about the same, but completely different. I felt the mind of the Man In Blue, mysterious gunslinger, cloak itself around mine.

I wanted a cigar. And whiskey. So far so good.

Sheriff Wiseass grunted, "Got anything yet."

I grunted back. It was exceptionally manly.

I said in a soft, gravelly voice, "Might want to get those deputies on scene. This is gonna get messy."

The path ahead was easy to see for the Man In Blue. He could feel the trail the two had left, and there was something else. The place right over the ridge in front of me where they were laying around was a right easy place to ambush some dumb son of a bitch. But as I projected my mind into that lovely pulsing energy that had to be where the Kid and the Kidnapper were laying low, I felt predatory. I pulled my gun from my side, and checked how many bullets were loaded. In the real world, I didn't have a gun, I realized I was looking at an empty hand. The gun was where I needed it to be, and that wasn't in our world. I put the gun back in my invisible holster. Real men shot on the draw.

The astral plane around this deserted desert stretch of highway didn't look all that different. A giant rattlesnake the size of a whale rumbled past, getting the hell out of wherever I was heading. My eyes narrowed as I squinted toward that flickering, pulsing darkness that was the energy I was looking for. Not many things pulsed black and scared Mega-snakes. A glowing white tumbleweed rolled past as I started toward it. I looked down at myself, and found that the Man in Blue wore a big blue serape (cloth poncho) and matching cowboy hat, and it was good.

Then I had another world crushing, soul smashing migraine. The world started spinning, and I groaned in frustration.

"Oh fuck. Fuck. Oh goddamn. Sheriff, where's my backpack? I need my pills..."

I blinked. Sheriff Wiseass was gone. I was in my normal clothes, without a cowboy hat, with none of my equipment. A vast, bright moon looked down on me. It was like I was looking at everything in grayscale, there was no color anywhere. I started walking forward. My legs felt sluggish. I dazedly looked at my feet sinking into the sand. I had a brief moment of shock as I suddenly fell through the desert, falling in a vast, dark nothing.

This wasn't astral projection anymore. I didn't know what this was. I was walking around blind. Having good astral senses is like have a combination of Radar, Sonar, and Infrared vision for everything that's on the Astral Plane. Off the astral plane, it can give you clues about the physical world. Whatever this was, my senses didn't work in it. The entire world felt like I was being rubbed in steel wool as I hit the ground. I coughed hard, my whole body shivering like I'd been dumped in ice water. Then it all stopped, and my entire body felt like it was being run over by a freight train.

That was about when I decided I was through with this. I tensed my entire body like a spring and felt what had kept me alive for the last nine years of my life surging through me: the hope that maybe some day it would all make sense. The hope that if I just pushed a little harder, I'd come out the other side of hell and find my own peace. It's sad that the one person I wanted to see again has been dead for months and spent a lot of the last nine years trying to kill me. I exploded to my feet, gasping for air.

It wasn't hard. I shook my head rapidly as I tried to orient myself. Now I was pissed.

Then I looked around and saw the fifteen dead Chupacabras, and a single closed wooden door not attached to anything.  I started feeling very small, unarmed, and lonely.

Then I saw the woman. Her clothes were haphazard, yet colorful. Every inch was wrapped in cloth or some kind of bandage. Yellows, reds, greens...She was a rainbow in the dark. The only color in a world of black and white.

And then I saw the look in her eyes as she darted toward me. I had no idea who this was, but she was angry. They were the eyes of a killer. I did the only thing that seemed smart. I opened the bizarre random door, stepped in, and slammed it shut behind me. Her palm shattered through the wood, the rest of her body stuck behind the door. I ignored it, running my ass off.

I was stumbling my sorry ass up a wooden stairway. There was a door at the top that I barreled through. The woman exploded through the doorway at the bottom of the stairs, and I slammed the top door shut, twisting three different latches. I heard her hit the door hard, and I heard a telltale clank. Metal. Yeah, I remember now, the door was made of steel. Why was there a steel door? I saw the metal dent inward. I wasn't paying much attention to my surroundings at this point. I started running again. What I can tell you is that the whole place was an ostentatious grayscale mess. In color, it must have looked wonderful, but the splendor of gold, silver, and diamond chandeliers, doesn't mean much when everything is in black and white.

My head just kept on pounding. I started up a flight of stairs, and heard that metal door keep on clanging. The door at the top of the stairs, it was a big set of fancy looking double-doors. I threw them open.

And there was the girl in this vast, empty, concrete room sitting next to a piano. I haven't mentioned her name before, have I? We'll cut to the chase and call her Victim. I took two steps into the room before my migraine kicked all the way up to eleven, dropping me onto the floor. I heard the double-doors behind me slam shut.

Victim said, "Please go. He'll kill you."

I forced myself upright, and stumbled backwards toward the doors. The doors were gone, and I nearly fell out a window. I took another look around, and we were at the top of a vast tower of some kind. Trees stretched on as far as the eye could see. Big, dark things with black leaves. This was impossible. I needed some whiskey.

Then I saw him. And it all made sense. Tall, pale, faceless, with arms that were just a little too long and legs that were just a little too out of proportion. I remembered what I'd read on TV tropes so long ago, about how in the original stories, he'd appear different to everyone who saw him. I started sweating. I saw the vines spreading from his body, and I knew: I needed some whiskey.

I said to Victim, my voice barely cracking with fear, "You know, when I was kid, I wanted a tree house. What kind of parents get their kid a tower?"

She looked confused. I let loose with another one:

"So how many Slendies does it take to screw in a light bulb? Just one, but he needs to break someone's mind into doing it for him."

Then he was walking toward me. The trick to staring down a cosmic horror, is to not directly look at the thing. If you look directly at it, you create a connection between your mind at its. The correct way to look at one is to stare a little to the left or a little to the right of the thing. You need to be aware of it without giving it an easy opening into your mind.

 I said, "Hey (Victim). ready to go home?"

Victim said, "He came for me. I had to go with him. There was no reason not to."

Her pupils were like dinner plates. I could see the vines starting to take root in her. Feeding on her. I could feel her body breaking apart under the strain. She would be dead by morning. It's happened before, and it would happen again.Whoever this kid was, a certain tall and faceless gentleman was intent on devouring her. To hell with that. I wasn't letting anything take a damn kid who was right in front of me.  I felt my back against the open window. There were no stairs out of here, no obvious entrances or exits to the tower. I needed...

I needed.
I needed.

I don't drink whiskey. I drink scotch whiskey, I drink bourbon whiskey, but I don't call it "whiskey." I look at specific varieties of lovely alcoholic drink. The gunslinger of legend walks up to the bar and sits down and says "Whiskey" in the gritty tone of the dusty trail.

Tentacles were spreading out from it's form. Maybe this wasn't the astral plane. Maybe I was going to die here. But I wasn't going down without a fight, and my senses were picking back up around me. My gun was where I needed it to be, and that wasn't in this world. Real men shot on the draw.

I felt the serape and cowboy hat around me. I drew my gun and fired.


I woke up right when my 24 hours expired. I was in some kind of hospital gown, in a hospital bed. Sheriff Wiseass was staring down at me blankly.

"Son. You were giving us a heart attack. You sorta keeled over, and you weren't getting back up."

Victim was in a bed next to mine, alseep.

Sheriff Wiseass said, "She showed up just over the next dune a minute after you collapsed. Doesn't seem to remember a damn thing about the last week or so."

I forced myself upright. We were in a sterile hospital room. I'm surprised they even had one in this tiny craphole of a town. I hoarsely tried to say something and nothing come out. It's a good thing too, because no more then twenty feet away behind Sheriff Wiseass, outside the window, I saw our Tall, Pale, Faceless friend. I could feel the rage radiating off of it. I had taken it's dinner. I don't know how I had. But I had. And it was angry. Sheriff Wiseass noted my hoarse little gasp, and handed me a glass of water. I downed it in one gulp.

Sheriff Wiseass said, "Funny thing is, we somehow missed her mother's divorced husband and his car just over the ridge during all our previous sweeps. Found his body dead at the steering wheel. Victim's got a whole bunch of bruises that I suppose might be from her seat belt protecting her from the crash. We must be awfully incompetent, seeing as (Victim) had to have come from that car. Looks like were too busy looking at you to see the answer right in front of us."

I was looking just a little to the right of SlenderShit McDoucheSuit. You never, ever look directly at one of these things. Sheriff Wiseass looked toward where I was staring, but he didn't see anything of importance.

I said, "And you believe that, Sheriff?"

Sheriff Wiseass said, "Your car's out of impound, and all your stuff is in it. You can keep the cowboy hat. And...I don't know. Was it always dark blue?"

He looked very confused. It had been brown.

I said to him, "Yes. Yes it was. And sheriff?"

Sheriff Wiseass looked at me blankly.

I said, "Don't read my blog. Don't go looking for answers. This case made no sense, but it's solved. It's good and solved. You don't want to know anything else. Go home, give (Deputy Smartass) a hug, and make sure my laptop is in my car. Keep an eye on (Victim). If anything else've got my number by this point, right?"

Sheriff Wiseass nodded.

I said, "Call me. But only if something else happens. Otherwise: you don't ever, ever want to know more."

Sheriff Wiseass laughed a little. Then he said, "Yeah. Yeah, if I believed that there was anything other than gross incompetence involved. Supernatural powers my ass. Sorry for the trouble, Shaman-boy."

His eyes said he was lying. He could see the outline of something very, very weird. I hope he can stay out of this, I really do.

I said, "Not a problem. Just get me discharged as soon as you can."

And I kept one eye just to the right of The Slender Douche until I was discharged.



I have no idea what actually happened in that Tower. If I was ever actually in that tower. Maybe I survived that because I was still in a projection? Or was it a hallucination? Either way, I can definitely tell you that I've seen Slender Douche around periodically since I left. Always at a distance, but I don't know how long that will last. I think I'd best be ready for hell rather soon.

This whole scenario was far, far too cute. I sense the machinations of some extremely smart son of a bitch. Timelord maybe? I don't know.

I saw Maduin's post an hour ago. Am I supposed to be a sorceress? I guess by process of elimination, I'm a Crazy Beastmaster. I guess it doesn't change who I am or what I do. Still weird to think about. Many strange things are happening. I guess it's official now: We need to find a way to save the day. Kay! Ryuu! We've got work to do.

Glass Man: I'd probably respect you more if you wrote with a proper respect for the rules of the English Language. As it is, you're just as bad as Zero. He and I will have our reckoning, but I have a rule about working with anyone crazier than me.

Zero: Saw your post. You have something to give me? Fine. Lets meet and hash this out like men shall we?

Everyone Else: Thanks for the encouragement. And stay tuned.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Chupacabra Prepwork: 12 Hours Remaining

After I got offline last night, I got myself acquainted with the details of the case so far. This morning, we went to the mysterious goat patch where the car the girl was in had disappeared.The Goat Patch was more of a goat circle. It was about thirty yards from the Highway where I was pulled over yesterday, and this time around it wasn't dark out and I could actually see straight. The whole area was police taped off. Dead goats who've had their blood sucked dry are a weird thing indeed.

A desert highway with nothing to see for miles except creosote bushes and sun baked sand. I can think of better places to run an investigation. The first thing I did was walk around the taped off area and get whatever vibes I could off of it. The area was thin, as in the veil or barrier between worlds was good and ready to crack. It fit all the signs of a Chupacabra entry and exit point.

People have theorized that Chupacabra are just Coyotes with skin conditions. I'd like to ask you when the last time you met a Coyote that would drink the blood of a goat dry, and leave the goat-meat alone. The thing about Chupacabra, is that they're very unique among otherworldly creatures. They don't actually need to come to earth for anything, but one of them slipped through a hole around 1995, and discovered that goat blood was absolutely delicious. Word spread fast, and now they'll slip into anywhere there's a goat population to get a shot at that delicacy whenever they can. Afterwards, they slip back onto the astral plane and leave none the wiser.

And now I was debating how the hell at least two humans had slipped onto their turf, and how we were going to get them back. Everything that I could try was THEORIZED to work, but no one could say if it did or didn't.

So as I'm squatting down on the ground, thinking about how to deal with this, I found Sheriff Wiseass was next to me. Deputy Smartass (his son), and Deputy Slick (this guy had way too much hair gel) Were looking around for better clues.

And so I found myself asking, "Hey Sheriff. You strike me as the kind of guy who goes to church every Sunday and votes Republican. Why do you think I can help?"

Sheriff Wiseass said, "Well son, when I find a soup-pernatural blogger who has all the gear associated with his blog, following the most recent actions he writes about in that there blog, and ends up about thirty yards from my crime scene in a car just like the one that took a young girl... I think he's either connected to the case, or seven kinds of unlucky. Either way, either you're a crackpot, or you know something. And I'm a moderate. You're right about church though."

My mouth just started moving, "Which is to say you don't believe any of this, but you're willing to jump into the crazy pool if you think it might save your career and the kid."

"Well yeah. Not a bad guess. So what happened here?"

I shook my head and sighed. It was time to get technical.

"Okay Sheriff, lets get to the thick of it, shall we? This should normally be impossible. Humans are anchored to the planet earth. You stick one on another plane of existence, and usually they'll just sink back to earth after a few panicky, insanity inducing hours. Not kidding, a lot of people can't manage seeing in more than four dimensions at a time, and even then the fourth dimension is just half there, observing the passage of time as opposed to time as a whole. It's just not healthy on the mind. Now, if they DID go through our little tear made by Chupacabras here, they're probably half nuts. But why haven't they come back yet? They should have popped up looking like a pair of peyote abusers by now. Now, you're saying that the kid was spotted in the nearby diner, and that she was then pulled into a car like mine? ...but she was missing for four days before that?"

Sheriff Wiseass said, "Yeah, that's the story. Up and vanished for four days, suddenly she's in the local diner."

Deputy Slick was on the other side of the circle at this point, and he was giving us that particular look. You know the one. The one that says "You're all on crack."

I'd seen photos of the girl, and I'd heard about how the guy at the register had called the police when he realized who the girl was. But the part that had worried me was this: every time the guy at the register was asked about it, he would say that he could swear there was somewhere else. When the other people at the diner were questioned, each of them agreed that there was someone else there. Now, here's the part that had both me and Sheriff Wiseass all kinds of worried.

The person that was described changed every time someone described him. Some saw him as six feet tall, another saw him as five foot two people gave him the same height. No two people gave him the same skin tone or hair color. No one could remember him speaking. Everyone remembered him paying for the meal. None of it made any sense.

I was getting that twitchy feeling like maybe it was all about to hit the fan.

Sheriff Wiseass said, "So okay crazy man, what have you got for me?"

I said, "...Well Sheriff, I'm going to try and astral project my sorry ass into another world now. My objective is to grab a kid from the depths of wherever the Chupacabra in this area are coming from, and get her and whoever took her back into your jurisdiction. It will not look flashy. It will take a long time. I will look like an absolute ninny. But I need 24 hours, a topographical map of this part of the city, and a cowboy hat."

I love Dr. Who. I had to rewrite that line for my purposes.

Sheriff Wiseass looked down at me.

"Son. You've got exactly 24 hours to find this kid with your mumbo jumbo. I'll keep watch on you, and my deputies will do some real police work in the mean time. After that, I'm going to have to put you back in the cells. You know that, right?"

I said, "Yeah, you've got a job to do, I get it. Just make sure you and your boys have shotguns ready. If this goes the way I think it will, you'll need them.

That was 12 hours ago. I'm taking a short break, sipping some coffee. I've taken a few Laptop Breaks throughout, but there's something really weird about the Astral Plane on the other side of this damn thin point in the Veil/Barrier. I'm not projecting worth a damn. I've got 12 hours to get this particular ball rolling. Don't worry gents, I'm going to pull this son of a bitch off. I've still got to deal with Mastermind. And I owe you guys some serious history. Oh, and I've got some crazy bitch who only speaks in Haiku and Italics causing trouble.

Some son of a bitch whose face no one can remember has kidnapped a small child and put me in a Neo-classical Shitstorm that I only get out of alive if I can get the culprit and the kid back on Sheriff Wiseass's turf. Can I pull it off with 12 hours and no sleep?

I've got a Topographical Map and a Cowboy Hat. What do you think?

Monday, May 16, 2011

Sleeping off the Pain

Spent the last two nights in a Jail Cell. I'm somewhere in Texas. I know good people in Texas. These aren't any of them. Highway Patrol pulled me over. The next thing I knew, he's slamming me against the hood of the car and I'm being carted off to jail. I was happy about this, actually. I'd been driving for at least two days straight. So as soon as I was tossed into lockup for reasons I didn't know, I conked out and went to sleep. I spent about a day asleep in the cells before Patrol Guy carted me out into a windowless room with a single one-way mirror on one end. He cuffed me to the chair, and I felt my insides churn a bit as I wondered: What the hell did I do? I looked around the room. Small, sterile, stupid looking. You know the drill, I was being interrogated.

Lets observe me for a moment. Your hero hadn't showered or shaved in two days. He was bleary eyed from having just been awoken from a glorious, glorious sleep. He was wearing a Penny Arcade T-shirt that said, "Some people play tennis. I erode the human soul." He was also wearing some blue cargo jeans, and an expression of dumb incomprehension.

Patrol Guy was a big guy, only slightly overweight. He was a white guy, with a thick white mustache and a shaved head. I'm about 5 foot 11, this guy was at least 6 foot 5. It was about then, with comprehension improved by 24 hours of sleep, that I realized he was NOT a highway patrolman. This guy was a local sheriff. I could tell by the fact that it said "Sheriff" on his badge. We'll call him Sheriff Wiseass.

The first thing he said to me was, "Alright kiddo. I've looked over your identification. Your criminal record consists of parking tickets. You're completely unremarkable. So I'm only going to ask this once: Where's the girl?"

I blinked, and said the first thing that came to mind, "Look, I was dead tired when you brought me in. I just woke up after two days of driving and-"

"Let me spell it out for you. Everyone saw a car matching yours leave the diner like a bat out of hell. When I went the way it went, I found your car. They saw little (Victim) get into that car. Now she's been missing for the past four days. Do you have any information leading to her whereabouts?"

Now I was just plain peeved. I had been running from the Jersey Devil, throwing the spiritual equivalent of Shiny Objects out my window now and then to distract him. This asshole sheriff was... wait.

I said, "If you looked through my ID, you found a big stack of receipts from gas stations and diners I visited on my way here. You'd have also checked to make sure they're legitimate. You'd have a timeline that would show I wasn't anywhere near any diner in this area, and you'd know that I couldn't be a suspect. Or am I still dreaming?"

Sheriff Wiseass gave me this little smile, and said, "Yeah. All that is true."

We eyeballed each other for a while.

The sheriff said, "The trouble is, that the prosecutor wants someone to hang. As it is, I needed someone to hold onto for a day or so to keep everyone thinking I had all this under control. After all, having arrested a suspect is better than having nothing. I thought I could find the real bad guy with that extra time, but you know I guess I ain't all that lucky right now. You were just in the wrong place at the wrong time. I let you sleep yesterday after I figured it couldn't be you, because it was convenient, and I'm allowed to hold someone for a good 24 hours or so. And you were sleeping oh so peacefully. But nobody's going to believe what I've got at this point. I mean, dead goats and disappearing acts don't lend well to legal proceedings and all that..."

He trailed off. He had this folksy, slow way of talking. I knew it quite well, having plenty of relatives in Louisiana. I wouldn't have wanted to play this guy in poker. The alarm bells were going off in my head though. When you've been in my business as long as I have, you learn: there are no coincidences.

"Dead Goats?"

The sheriff said, "Dead Goats. No blood. All in a nice patch where the suspect's car should have been."

Chupacabra. Depending on the size of the patch, maybe two or three. The word "Chupacabra" actually means Goat-sucker, for their habit of nabbing goats and sucking them dry.

I said, "I didn't see anything when I was driving in. As it was, I was about to roll into town and pass out in the nearest parking lot."

The sheriff sighed, sitting back in his chair. Then he stood up and opened the door out of the room and walked out. I waited for another five minutes or so before he came back with a cup of coffee and the keys to my handcuffs. He uncuffed me, and I rubbed my wrist a bit. I didn't even notice it had been drawn so tight. I was too damn out of it. He handed me the cup of coffee.

Sheriff Wiseass said to me, "We're having a bit of paperwork trouble with your car. It'll be stuck in impound for a few days, or until we find the girl, whichever comes first. I don't need to tell you not to leave town, right?"

I sipped the cup of coffee. By the power of sweet, murderous caffeine with two sugars and creamer, I was restored.

"Look, whoever you're looking for, it's not me-"

He cut me off, "Now son, I don't think it's you, and the paper trail says it ain't you, but I pulled you over about thirty yards from my goat circle. That seems like an awfully co-in-see-dental, if you catch my drift. It's a small town. Everybody knows about you at this point. Now, I've made it clear that you're innocent until proven guilty, but I wouldn't be surprised to find dead yankee on the trail if you step wrong. Are you sure that you've got nothing to say?"

I said, "So how much do they want my ass on a platter?"

Sheriff Wiseass said, "Well, District Attorney's looking to run for state senate, and this is the sort of feather in my cap that kind of guy wants. The Mayor is feeling pinched, he wants all this resolved right quick. If something doesn't come up soon, you're definitely going on trial, hard evidence or no."

I sipped more wonderful, life-bringing coffee.

I said, "And if that happens, I'll be armed to the teeth with documents and lawyers. Thanks for the coffee, Sheriff..." I read his name tag aloud. I'm still going to call him Wiseass, but so you know I DO have a name for this guy.

I stood up.

Sheriff Wiseass looked me in the eye. I met his glare with a blank stare.

He said, "Records of an Impossibility. That's a strange story you're telling. I was never one for science fiction, myself."

My mind raced, but my mouth was always faster:

"Fantasy. Urban Modern Fantasy to be precise. It's a hobby."

He said, "Kind of like the clothes in your car that match that 'Gonzo Journalist' totem?"

Well shit on a fuck sandwich. This was going to get twitchy.

He said, "Heading west to outrun the devil?"

I twitched. Yeah. He had me. But what did it actually mean? Could he find a way to get me prosecuted for any of this?

Sheriff Wiseass said, "Don't look so surprised, son. My boy (Smartass) is one of the deputies, and he knows a damn sight more about computers than most. A few warrants in a kidnapping case will get you a lot of things, and I'm a fast reader. So, what does all this look like to you, Mr. Shaman, in your professional opinion.

If I've lost the Jersey Devil, then I need to get to Philadelphia and initiate The Plan. I need to get Spinner, Weaver, and Cutter ready. I don't have time for this.

I leaned in close and whispered, "Chupacabra. Two or three. And someone took a car into one of their holes. And now it gets tricky Sheriff. What happens now?"

Sheriff Wiseass had an awfully big smirk.

"Now son, now you tell me everything I need to know about hunting Chupacabra. There's a little girl that needs to be with her parents, and you look to be the only hope I've got."

I hate my life. At least he gave me back my laptop. Ladies and Gentlemen, Amalgamation Sage has to go Chupacabra hunting. I'll keep you posted. Bah. I hope I didn't make any grammatical errors on this one, but I"m short on time. Say something if I did. I take pride in my editing.

Fuck me sideways. I have to go Chupacabra hunting.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

]| Breakdown |[

All had proceeded as planned. Then, with the blink of an eye, all was different. He had disappeared from the maiden's view. That was impossible. There was no way for him to hide, no hope for him to evade. How? How was it possible?!

Her anger grew as she sought the one place that he would always return to: a depository of sorts for his thoughts and dreams. Connected to this place was a strange realm where he and others revealed all their innermost secrets.

Her anger had become force. It had nearly destroyed this realm of secrets. That could not be allowed. Especially not when it made him so easy to track.

Patience was mandatory. She had waited this long, she could wait a bit longer. His "Records" must remain intact.

Soon. So very soon. Still, it was through her error that these events came to pass. A story was still owed, so a story would be told.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Room to Manuever

Turned in my resignation at my job a few days ago. They were nice about it, I gave them a cock-and-bull story about how I'd gotten into my grad school of choice. Incidentally, I've been doing a lot of jogging as of late. Not because I particularly enjoy jogging, but because the Jersey Devil caught my scent. I slingshotted him into Slendy, and he's feeling particularly sore about being used as a decoy. I'm just amazed it took him this long to track me down. It's a really good thing I'm split off from my new pals right now. They're not nearly so well versed at this sort of thing. Keep in mind gents, the last time the Jersey Devil went on a proper rampage was in 1909. He was shot with all KINDS of ordinance, went around killing and terrorizing all across New Jersey and Pennsylvania, and generally caused seven degrees of trouble. If I don't play cat and mouse with him, he'll just take it out on everyone in my area. So I'm preparing to One-Man-Army my way through a goddamn monstrosity that single-handedly keeps the NRA afloat in New Jersey and willing to fight for the right to keep their M-60 squad-support machine guns.

Beasts are no threat.

Fortunately, I have a cunning plan. Seeing as Tao appears to have disappeared off the face of the earth, (Again), maybe it will get his attention that I'm going back to the Desert for this one. If the Devil wants to take this to the max, then I'm going to give him one hell of a show. The thing about the Jersey Devil, is that while he's a powerful son of a bitch, he's not exactly known for his staying power. He'll haunt you for a little while and make your life hell, but then he'll get bored and go back to the Pine Barrens. When it comes to Supernatural threats, he's more like a brawling, mass murdering fourteen year old with ADD. He'll focus in on you for a few days, but then he'll see something shiny and go kill something over there.

So. While I'm doing this, I owe you guys some hardcore explaining regarding:
1: Who is Mastermind?
2: Did you find out what happened during the remaining 20 hours missing from your memory?
3: What the hell is your grand plan to deal with 1 and 2?
4: So you've got those six things inside you. How'd they get there, and what do they do?
5: So are Mastermind and his people looking for you? What did they want with Time Lord and his people?! What exactly is going on?!

If I've missed anything, feel free to append it in the comments section. I've suddenly got all kinds of new readers, and I don't mind you guys saying things. That said, I've gotten into something of a devil-dodging rhythm, so when I can in the next week, I'm going to start putting up excerpts from my past, which will explain a lot of things.

Remembering hurts. Forgetting hurts more. Here goes nothing, eh?

I'm also going to update "Current Status" and "Recap of the Present" in the next few days. Lord knows anyone just walking in on this mess will need it.

Soon. Soon.

Keep your arms and legs inside the vehicle at all times, ladies and gents. It's going to be a bumpy ride.

 Almost time. I will tell you a story while we wait.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

War Council -/|\- The Hospital -/|\- What Weaver Saw


 War Council

Since the events at the hospital, I've been asking myself how I want to die. Preferably, it'd be surrounded by my loved ones when I'm eighty or so after living a full and happy life. I don't think I'm going to have that kind of luck.

I could write about the people dying. Others have done a better job of that. I could write about what's happening to the living. They can do that plenty well, and I've given advice whenever I can. I'll keep giving what I can. I feel the worst about the poor damn kid. Would you all believe that Time Lord's life in our business started when he was 12? I met him when he was 14. Kids can do amazing things if put in the right position. Does that mean I like that I just gave a self-hypnosis exercise to a kid in the hopes that she'll pull it off and have better odds of surviving? Part of why I do what I do is so that no one else ever has to go through the insanity that me and Time Lord went through. I don't think I'm succeeding.

In any case, yesterday I did something I haven't done in a long, long time. I'm a shaman, calling down the spirits of the dead is kind of what I do. Yesterday, I was calling on my guides.

I sat down in the middle of the Location we were staying at. Sorry to be vague, but considering how high the stakes are right now, I don't exactly have a choice in the matter.

This is the part where you find out exactly how insane I might be.

As I meditated in our hiding place, I felt my consciousness enter the Astral Plane. My vision was much clearer after some focus. Usually, I just throw myself out there and do what I need to do as fast as possible. This wasn't about just getting something done though, this was the kind of thing I had to take my time with. THIS required craftsmanship. The astral plane here was unformed and craggy. This was one of the parts of New York that got hit badly during the 2002-2004 conflict. It's like heaven compared to Philadelphia these days. There was plenty of living energy, and there were all kinds of smaller little entities running around. Imagine a thousand little glowing white tadpoles drifting lazily across a gray, shattered landscape. As they floated about, you could feel energy pulsing underneath this landscape. The world was alive. It was beautiful and vital. Everything grows again eventually, and something like what we would call grass was sprouting up everywhere. The tall spirits of trees, green, chaotic, pulsing as the tadpoles floated by, were starting to come into being. At moments like these, I'm glad to be alive. I see what Philadelphia might once again look like in a few years. The world can heal itself. 

Sometimes though, you need a cosmic gardener to help plant the seeds. That wasn't what I was doing here today though. I wasn't sure what to expect as I started pushing with my will. Calling on your guides can sometimes be a simple process, and other times it can be a complex shitstorm of yelling, screaming, and dancing around.

I envisioned my body in the physical world, and I paced around it with my astral body. I breathed in, I breathed out. I must have done this for twenty odd minutes. It had been a long time since I'd gotten into this kind of trance.

Why did I always call myself Amalgamation Sage? This was why. My astral form was a short little thing, around five-feet, five inches in height. I took off its robe with a wave of my hand. What it actually looks like, I couldn't tell you. No two people who can see things happening on the astral plane ever see the exact same thing, and while the impressions and ideas they get can be the same, that doesn't mean that they will be the same...anyways, I see myself mechanically. It's like having interwoven scales of steel worked on one side of my left leg, working its way up to my hip in toward my groin (But not touching), back up along my left side up to the side of my face. There were six small, pale blue spheres along this vast portion of my astral form, placed evenly from my foot up until the side of my face. Normally, they remain hidden under my astral form's skin, but now I was bringing them out.

Trying to explain this part of the meditation makes me feel naked and childish. It's like being a 13 year old trying to explain  "Anime" to his parents. Look, my line of work is weird, if I'm not insane, alright?

The six little spheres started turning into people around me. They are the reason I'm still alive. Joining them in the circle were the two most awkward people who could join any such circle. One was my deceased Grandmother, who'd taken to showing up when I was meditating deeply following her death. Communicating with deceased family members is the weirdest shit on the planet, especially since you can't prove that it's actually them. This is especially such when Uncle Awesome arrives. Uncle Awesome was not actually my uncle, but he'd been a close friend of the family...and damn it, he WAS my uncle, if not by blood then by right of awesome. He'd passed in his sleep a few years ago, and then he started showing up.

It's weird facing the dead. It's weirder facing the dead when you know them. Especially when you're not willing to decide whether or not it could really be them that you're talking to, because when you do decide you can't sit on the fence anymore about what you are. They were a big reason why I hadn't done this in a long time. I wasn't ready to face them in a way that I could not run from.

The six spirits who lend me their strength and take up a vast portion of space in my soul were no longer little orbs. They were themselves as I had known them. They did not look happy.

Destroyer, Corruption, Legacy, Legend, Wizard,  Wolf, Hydra. The six entities that had guided me. Some were me, some would someday be me, some would never be me, and some were what I wish I could be.

Finally, I said, "It's been a long time. Hi Grandma, Hi Uncle Awesome. Welcome to the Impossible."

And suddenly, Uncle Awesome blurted out, "It's time to save the world! Come on, it's been a while. You've got a lot of work to do."

The six sized up the two spirits, and allowed them to pass. I couldn't believe I was doing this.

I sighed, "Okay everyone. We need a plan."

And then we made one


The Hospital

So. You're all probably wondering where I've been since my freak out a few weeks ago. Right. Time to talk about the Hospital.

The ambulances had rolled everyone to (Hospital) in Buffalo. I'm not going to name which one, for the same reasons as usual. As I wrote last time, I followed them to the hospital in my car. Now it was just a matter of going into the emergency room and picking up Weaver, Spinner, and Cutter. I had to start with Weaver, because she was the only one who I knew for sure had met me. Missing about 20 hours from my memory about the last few weeks was a serious problem. 

So I parked, got out of my car, and immediately got back into my car. A pair of black sedans had pulled up a few yards away, and there was Mastermind getting out with four rather imposing men in suits. I pulled out my phone and pretended I was checking my text messages. As they walked toward the hospital entrance, I realized I'd have to come up with a new plan. This was a hospital, I wasn't going to be able to bring in any of my crazy weapons. If these goons had any kind of credentials, they might be able to steal the three damn newbies right out from under me.

Amalgamation Sage didn't have the means to stop these sons of bitches. Fortunately, I knew someone who did. I haven't discussed totems in a while. Even then, I only discussed them briefly. Basically, imagine the essence of something. The essence of say, a Sage, would be an incredible intellect matched with the wisdom to make use of it. The essence of a soldier would be discipline, proficiency with a variety of weapons, and knowing when and how to use them. In theory, when using a totem you are creating a means of accessing the essence of something you need. If you have the totem of a bear, you might be trying to call on that bear's mighty strength and endurance. That kind of thing. That said, my totems tend to be more specialized.

So I popped open my trunk. I pulled out my Tilley T4 hat, which was as close an approximation I could come up with to the one Hunter S. Thompson wore. Then I matched it with a Hawaiian shirt and a pair of ridiculous looking sunglasses. This was the totem of the Gonzo Journalist. Amalgamation Sage was gone, replaced by the only person crazy enough to pull off a stunt like this.

I walked into the hospital entrance. The goons had a head start on me, but I had something on my side that they could never hope to match: Complete Insanity. Not the diluted, self-conscious madness that I live by. This was a completely unfettered, unmatched disregard for all the rules of society matched with a willingness to improvise to infinity and beyond. It also had other aspects that I can't quite explain. For one reason or another, the Gonzo Journalist becomes anonymous through being completely unique. You put on a show so big damn inexplicable, that someone doesn't actually see you. They only remember the Journalist. It's like perfect stealth through excessive showmanship. And somehow, there's always a narcotic substance available to the Journalist...I can't explain it.

I caught sight of one of the goons rounding the corner as I entered, and flapped my wallet toward the duty nurse as though I was some kind of officer of the law.

I said, "Agent Raoul Duke. On business, lady."

Tailing the goons, I had to ask myself: how was I going to take on a squad of goons and Mastermind? And then it hit me. I pulled my digital camera from my side pocket, and closed the distance between us.

I shouted, "Howdy sir! Raoul Duke for the New York Post! I'd like to ask about what happened at Club (Suspect) tonight!"

Mastermind didn't even turn to look at me. He snapped his fingers and two of the goons split off to deal with me. I put my camera back in my pocket, waved at them, and they grabbed me by either arm and started dragging me away. I let them. They opened a Janitor's closet, and we all know what they wanted to do next. They were going to toss me in and beat the shit out of me. Except that, you know, that year of martial arts training and continued study was coming in really handy. You see, the great thing about basic Karate blocks? They also let you twist out of just about anybody's grip. Even Mr. Universe has trouble holding on if you do it right.

Of course, it didn't end there, so when one of their fists comes up and I twist my arm the other way in another Karate block, his buddy got this expression that said, "What did we just get involved in?"

Now, there are a lot of people who tell you that Karate sucks. They are people who've been watching Sport Karate and Shotokan Karate. Both of those styles take out all of the really great things about Karate, focusing on its punches and kicks and blocks and nothing else. Now, Okinawan Karate, which is what I've picked up, has fantastic grabs and throws built into its blocks that give it some really mean close-quarters fighting capability. So when my block turned into a grab that pulled the first goon into my other fist in a perfect knockout punch? He sure as hell didn't see that one coming. Because you rarely see Okinawan Karate these days.

His buddy charged forward, and I could see in his eyes that he was starting to recalculate his odds. Then again, about two seconds had passed since I had twisted out of their grips, and the "maybe I should do something else" thought hadn't had time to occur to him. His fist was moving forward, and I blocked, pulling him in with the block in the Okinawan style and giving him an identical punch to the jaw to end it.

I dumped them both in the janitor's closet they were going to dump me in. I checked the bodies. They both had pretty nasty looking handguns. No big deal. I closed the door behind them, and hurried to try and catch up to Mastermind.

If you've ever been in a hospital before, you know what it looks like. Sterile corridors, health advisories on the walls regarding washing your hands and flu season, and nurses and patients walking around doing whatever it was they were doing. Of course, there was also me running through in the loudest clothes possible, muttering "Can't stop here, this is bat country!"

This was the point. Everything about what I was wearing was designed to make me nice and visible. The Gonzo Journalist doesn't just observe the insanity, he IS the insanity. I found myself pulling out a cigarette right in front of a nurse as I rapidly approached where Mastermind and his goons were. (Where the hell did I get cigarettes?) As she stared at me confusedly, I flashed my wallet again and said:

"It's okay. I have a permit. Fine work you're doing here ma'am."

I caught sight of Mastermind walking into a room with his two bodyguards. Oh this was going to be magnificent. It lit up the cigarette. (Where the hell did I get a lighter?) I took a long drag of it as I pressed my back against the wall right by the door that Mastermind had gone through. The nurse was staring at me like I was a train wreck: terrible, awful, but she couldn't look away.

Whether totems are just a psychological construct that releases your inhibitions and merely let you have the confidence to do something crazy, or the actual manifestations of powerful spiritual archetypes, there's no doubting that they're a flying fuckton of fun.

I heard Mastermind say, "It was all very clever, Ms. (Weaver), but it all ends here. You had one man attack my people on the dance floor as the other set fire to the back room. Two different people informed the fire department of a mess, and my people just didn't have time to retrieve you. Needless to say, I know this is a trap. The only reason an organization capable of performing such a convoluted and insane scheme would leave you in the open like this would be if it were a trap. I have teams stationed all around the hospital. I'll know who is behind all of this, and I'll know it now."

At the time, that monologue made no sense. After all, there was only one of me, and I was making this shit up as I went along. With what I know now, it makes a whole lot of sense.

I peeked around the corner, and Weaver saw me in the doorway. She couldn't hide her cheeky little smile, and suddenly I've got Mastermind and both bodyguards staring at me. But I didn't care about such things. I was the Gonzo journalist. I proudly walked into the room, blew cigarette smoke into Mastermind's face, and walked past him and his bodyguards over to the window. As I passed the two other beds, I saw Spinner and Cutter staring at me like I was insane.

I stared out the window, and said, "Fine night for a Massacre, wouldn't you say?"

Everyone stared. The bodyguards drew their guns. I crumpled my cigarette and put it in my Hawaiian Shirt Pocket.

I pantomimed a gun with my hand and pointed at them in response. They flinched. I knew I had them, it was time for a show. Especially since at that exact moment, hospital security, alerted that someone was smoking in a patient's room by a horrified nurse, spotted two armed men pointing guns at some asshole in a Hawaiian shirt: AKA: Me. The hospital staff started running the minute they heard the word "Gun!" Shouted by security, and noises of surprise and shock could be heard all around the ward.

There is only one reason that we did not end up on the 10 o'clock news in a story about a vicious gun battle, and that would be complete insanity. I wasn't paying attention to the standoff, I had pulled back the curtain and started pulling Spinner, Weaver, and Cutter from their beds. They'd been properly treated for tear gas exposure. They were weak, but more than able to move around. I tried the windows. I found out later that all windows in hospitals are sealed.

Weaver hissed, "(Amalgamation Sage)'re completely insane!"

I grunted, "Damn it woman, I'll refer you to my attorney. We'll hit the graveyard later. Right now, we've got work to do."

Cutter was a young bastard, and he whispered, "Wait, THIS is (Amalgamation Sage)? This is the badass who can match (Time Lord)? He's this guy?"

Spinner was smart. Spinner was just watching.

I grunted, "Damn kids. Let me show you how you deal with The Man."

The Gonzo Journalist does not fear guns. Only bullets. I herded the three to the doorway where the confrontation was occurring, and shoved my people INTO Mastermind and his Bodyguards, who were busy arguing loudly with hospital security. I made a judgment call: Mastermind's crew was trying not to draw attention, so they weren't going to start shooting up a hospital if they could help it. In the ensuing dog pile, hospital security members dived on the bodyguards, trying to take the guns out of equation. No shots were fired. With that, I pulled the three out of the mess as best I could and we started running. Mastermind was shouting about how he was an undercover FBI agent the whole time, but we didn't care. I hit a fire alarm on our way out, just to really make things more confusing. I'll tell you this much: from what I could tell, we left one hell of a brawl behind us.

We made it out, Cutter screaming about how I could have gotten us all killed the entire time.

As we shot out of the parking lot like a bat out of hell, I think I saw a certain blank-faced gentleman who was entirely too tall. I couldn't tell you either way. It was all a blur. I puked after I discarded my outfit for the totem. Suddenly realizing exactly how insane everything was had a rather immediate effect on my digestion.


Weaver told me afterward that at the club, she had watched me walk back into the offices, AND onto the dance floor. She was very confused about it. I'm not. I've been dimensionally clusterfucked, and I blame Time Lord. No evidence that what happened at the hospital can be found in any news reports I know of. I am not with Weaver, Cutter, and Spinner at the moment. It's all part of the plan.

I intend to kill Mastermind in the next few weeks. Considering how against killing people I am, you all deserve an explanation as to why. You also deserve to know who these people are. I'm working on that.

This shit has gotten insane. I'm doing my best to stay out of sight. I'm well and truly on the run. Oh, and Mastermind? If you read this, I want you to know that I intend to make this hurt.