Year of the Spectre - Episode III:
"Harvest Dusk"
Page 6
V.  "Interferance"

    It was darkening and just before sunset.  Eight shady figures in stolen clothing moved towards the airport. Even amidst the screen of cheap cologne, a faint smell of sulphur lingered in their passing. The group halted on the parking lot, and the leader walked forward.  He turned for a final word to his subordinates, growling out orders in some arcane and damned tongue.

    "Are you sure they used the right transport?" Growled the leader.

    "Yes...this device is without fault," clicked the reply.  The lesser creature was holding the device which looked more like an animal and pointed to a bleeping dot on what appeared to be a map.  He sighed, mostly out of impatience, and spoke exhaustedly in his native tongue, "We took care to cut the tires of the other vehicles in the Slayers' meeting place. They haven't got much of a choice of which automobile to use as it appears they're leaving in a hurry.  Our brothers confirm the large van is stranded here."  A crooked and cracked claw pointed to a map on the device.  "I estimate the delay will be about an hour...more than enough to miss their plane."

    The leader snorted with an air of approval.  "Good...now we must move forward with our instructions. These young evil-slayers will be getting an unexpected trip to the Shadowlands for a word with our master...” he licked his foul lips in anticipation. “We've been instructed to fly over Europe.  I don’t know why, but it's clear Lord Nighteye has us avoiding the east part of the Shadowlands... "  The creature turned to its lieutenant, pointing with a fist full of claws.  "Krag'na, you will take care of the Slayers' air transport with your squad, while I remain at the supply check-in with the rest of our brethren. Our lord has informed me that their new flight number will be HEX666. With such a distinguished number the fates will no doubt be on our side.  The sooner we have done this the sooner we can get back to the warm fires of our forsaken home.  This...surface environment.  It does not suit me."

    Saying this, the leader of the dark group pulled his coat tighter around his twisted body and motioned for the groups to proceed with their diabolical operations.  Taking care to hide their hands and faces from sight and pulling their hats down to cover their faces in shadow, they quickly maneuvered towards luggage check-in.

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"CONQUEST"

(On an airliner the gentle hum of twin jet engines lulls the passengers to sleep.  All is quiet except for a small group of people seated in the back corner of the plane who pass the time with Gameboys, magazines, and laptop computers.  One in particular keeps glancing around nervously.  He seems both a bit confused and a bit agitated.  The cause seems to be not the eerie atmosphere of the plane, but more so what he sees outside of his window.)

GAVAL: Has anyone noticed how far off course it seems we are?

Archangel: Yes.  We're way north.  I wonder why they'd send us this far out to get to Zurich?

Gato: There's no way we're on course...you think we ought to check with the attendants just in case?  They don't seem to come around often anyway.

GAVAL: Ah'll go.  We don' have any weapons up here, an' dere's not enough evil to for the Rush...at least until we're above de Shadowlands, but that's a risk we'd better not take.(The Cajun pauses for a moment as he gets up and glances at the two CWALers curiously.)  Didn't we leave you two back at CWAL HQ?  How'd you wind up back with us?  (The two CWALers just sit and read their magazines as if he had never asked them a question.   For some reason GAVAL is content with this response and moves on towards the forward end of the plane.)

Lothos: I'll go with you.  Just in case.   Out of peanuts anyway.

(GAVAL and Lothos walk towards the front of the plane looking for an attendant.   One notices them as they reach the cockpit and steps out, blocking their path.

Attendant:  (strange accent) I'm sorry, but this area is restricted.  The seat belt signs are illuminated so I'll have to ask you to return to your seats.

GAVAL: Can you explain to us, den, why dis Swiss-bound flight is four hours late and headed towards Occupied Siberia?  And what the hell is that accent?!

Attendant:  We're just taking a small detour, sir.  Air-traffic control mandated it, now if you'll take your seats.

GAVAL:  There hasn't been an inkling of turbulence in 2 hours!

(As if on cue, light turbulence is felt throughout the airliner.)

Lothos: Can we speak with the captain?  And where are the peanuts?  The service here is worse than at the Irvine Starbucks!

Stewardess: I'm afraid that won't be possible...

GAVAL: Ma'am, you don't understand! We are not letting this plane fly over the Shadowlands! Let us through!

Lothos:  Yeah, and what kind of airline runs out of peanuts!?

(Out of frustration, GAVAL tries to push past the flight attendant but something feels wrong.  Instead of soft flesh, GAVAL feels hard, leathery skin and  exposed bone.  As his eyes widen the attendant quickly retreats towards the cockpit.  She seems to move both with lightning speed and at slow motion all at once.)

GAVAL: Dat was...what's going on?  (He suddenly feels an overwhelming forboding as though something dire was about to happen.)

Lothos: What?

GAVAL: Ah'm gettin' de impression that dat wasn't your run-o-the-mill stewardess. Let's go.

Lothos:  Yeah, not once did she say the words "buh" or "bye" or offer me a blanky.

(Lothos trods after GAVAL to the cockpit with a ridiculous grin on his face. Before the door to the cockpit they find the stewardess talking softly in a strange language to another flight attendant. Noticing the visitors the two uniformed attendants look up)

Stewardess: I told you two already, this area is restricted to crew only!

GAVAL: You two are NOT flight attendants.  Who are you? What are you?

Stewardess: (sounding panicked) What am I?! I'm a human stewardess. What do I look like to you?

Lothos:  Since when do we earthlings describe ourselves as human to one another unless we have something inhuman to hide?  COME CLEAN!  YOU ATE ALL THE PEANUTS, DIDN'T YOU!?

GAVAL: Whatever you are, it's no secret you have something to hide.  Now, I'll ask you one last time...what are you?

(As GAVAL mouths the question, the attendants give him an odd grin. An unnatural darkness descends in the cabin as the womens' faces split open. The flesh on their hands bulges as claws rip through from within. Within a few bloody moments, GAVAL and Lothos find themselves facing by two man-sized demons, who, after disposing of their disguises, give a snarl and move to attack the CWALers. Without weapons, all that GAVAL and Lothos can do is retreat from the creatures' lethal claws.   Lothos jumps on one of the demons and wrestles it to the cabin floor while biting it in the knee as the creature  returns the favor to the Zealander's same leg.   The other demon moves to attack Lothos while he's down, but at that moment GAVAL loses control of his temper and explodes in a fury of violet light and unbridled dark power.

The pain is excruciating.  It is more agony than GAVAL has ever felt.  His mind explodes with images that he can't explain as fiery pain  courses through his veins.

He sees himself dying in a car accident.  His last dying breath gurgles as he chokes on his own blood, drowned in lungs collapsed and pierced with cracked rib bones.

Then he sees himself dying at the hand of a vampire.  His head is cut off so that the Rush cannot heal him.  Nosveratu dance on his corpse.

Then he sees himself shot in the foot; an accidental shot by friendly fire that leaves him vulnerable to the real enemy, hordes of Sephroth's undead who have overwhelmed a planet drawn into the Greatest of Wars.

Then the images come quicker; death the motif among the morbid flashes.
Plague-sever kills him.
Then Nighteye kills him.
Then another Slayer kills him.
Then he kills himself.

All this passes in a split second, threatening to drive him mad before he can process what's happening when he returns to what he's not sure is his own reality.  Instinct takes the Cajun.)

(With a swift kick GAVAL sends the demon who was moving to kill Lothos flying against the airplane's side.  Before it can react, the Slayer charges towards the creature with eyes ablaze in bright lavender hues.   Without hesitating he reaches into the creature's breast plate and rips the demon's heart out, crushing it in the palm of his hand with a strangely satisfied grin. The other demon, startled, throws Lothos off of himself into GAVAL as the door to the cockpit opens and two more demons come out into the crew area.  The sounds of murmering and alarmed first class passengers begins to echo behind he curtain.)

Krag'na: <Do not kill the Slayer. We have our orders.>

Gezka: <Orders be damned. That Taintblood killed our brother!>

Krag'na: <Gez'fi, you insubordinate swine, I have no tolerance for mutiny. Nighteye's word is to be followed to the rune, understand?>

Gezka: <I refuse to die here. Do what you will but I will have no more part in it!>

(As Gezka starts casting a portal spell to escape, Krag'na does a quick incantation and points at the demon. Gezka screams a howl of certain death as flames erupt from within his demonic body, and within moments nothing but a pile of ashes remains of him.  The carpet of the plane is ablaze and spreading.  As GAVAL and Lothos untangle and move to stand up, Krag'na kicks Lothos in the head.  Noticing Lothos was hardly stunned, he grabs an open bag of peanuts throws it into the Shaggy Necromancer's eyes.)

Lothos:  THE HONEY-ROASTED SUGARY-SWEET FLAVOURING!  Oh, how you BUUUUURN!

(Lothos falls to the floor writing in agony and trying to eat peanuts at the same time, his head marked with a distinguishable boot mark on his forehead. GAVAL grabs the foot of the other demon as it tries to kick him and pushes it up, forcing the demon into a backwards flip. Before the demon recovers GAVAL moves in and with a twist, breaks the demon's neck. Then he turns to face Krag'na, eyes burning with lavender power.)

Krag'na: (In broken English) I will see you soon Slayer.  This will never end until my Master WILLS it.

GAVAL: You are so DEAD!

(As GAVAL moves in to attack Krag'na casts a portal spell and jumps through.  GAVAL, in anger almost punches through the side of the fuselage but is able to regain control of his anger.  As the Rush subsides he moves towards the cockpit, finding it empty and soaked in bloodstains.  The control sticks have been ripped out and the plan is slowly losing altitude over the Shadowlands.

GAVAL's pupils go tiny as he is again barraged with images of his own death.  A heart attack takes him as an old man, his wife and children holding his hands; the paramedics were too late.  A sword pierces his heart; the last of many wounds sustained in a lengthy sword battle with some arcane magnus.  A slip on icy pavement at a ski resort lands him hundreds of feet below in an icy mountain creek.  A disabled jet plane loaded with hundreds of innocent passengers and many of his dear friends spirals out of control into a spot closest to hell on Earth by description; the Shadowlands.)
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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     With a gasp GAVAL jumped wildly in the co-pilot's seat of the van he and the Spectre-Hunters had taken to the airport.  Lothos, chewing on a salty mouthful of beef-jerky glanced over at his friend and grinned as juice dripped from the corner of his mouth.

     "Good to see you getting some rest, comrade!"

     "We're not dead?" asked GAVAL almost in a whisper, his throat tight.  The familiar site of CWAL HQ pulled into view.

     Lothos laughed and slammed the brakes, parking the van in front of a gigantic open door in back of the Starbucks used by CWAL as a home and office.  "I don’t get WHY nobody ever appreciates my driving.  I got us here quickah than anyone else could have in ground based transportation!"

     "Yeah, and you eluded more police cars trying to stop you on the way here than the Blues Brothers did on their way to the orphanage," frowned Marco as he got out and joined the rest of the young Slayers in kissing the ground.

     "Are the tires supposed to smoke like that?" asked Garland as he sniffed burnt transmission fluid.

     The radio was still on as Lothos had left the keys in the ignition when he got out.  A news bulletin was on the radio low enough so that only he could hear it:

     "In the second airline incident abroad in only two days it appears that after straying off course by over 500 miles, a commercial Jetliner out of California has disappeared off of all radar screens.  The Zurich bound flight identified as flight HEX666 is assumed to have gone down somewhere over the Atlantic Ocean but no wreckage has been spotted yet...."

     That was our flight.  GAVAL's hands shook and his head spun.  Nothing seemed to make sense and he found himself pinching his own arm to see if he was awake.  Things certainly seemed lucid enough around him as the group walked into the hangar.  One question hung in his head as he climbed out of the 15-seater van.  It felt real.  It felt too real.  But not in sense of memory or in a sense that he had just experienced what happened in the present tense.  It felt like something that was about to happen, or that was supposed to happen; could have happened if not for... The word echoed in his thoughts on and off for the rest of the day.  Premonition?  Another secret to keep.  He cursed Nighteye silently for the hundredth time that day.  Seven more months and he'd have to face that scum.  Seven more months.  Was this plane crash and the fact that they were back at CWAL HQ looking for a way to Europe a reminder?

GAVAL made a silent vow to himself to keep the group away from radio or television until they got to Europe.  Knowing their intended flight had crashed would send them into a panic.  He was having enough trouble trying to calm himself.

     The CWAL hangar bay, perched lovingly atop the headquarters building that had once nearly resembled a typical Starbucks café, smelled of grease monkeys and Twinkies that had been left on the dashboard of a car for one week too many.  Since the Canadian Dominion and CWAL HV had opened up shop the hangar had seen substantially less traffic than it used to.  Most of the significant repair jobs on CWAL vehicles were shuffled off to a bunch of Canadians with screwdrivers and large grins who claimed to be able to fix them and have them back within a week, tops.  Given that you can’t trust Canadians further than you can see them, there were far fewer CWAL cars, trucks, techno-vans, planes, bombers, and starships than there used to be.

     Even so, the hangar managed to maintain a look of being excessively cluttered as GAVAL and the Spectre-Hunting Slayers stepped inside, what was left of their precious equipment slung over their shoulders in duffel bags.  At the far end of the cavern-esque building there was a single industrial lamp turned on, dangling precariously from the ceiling with a length of chain and a stale sandwich draped over it.  There was some mild cursing from the same direction.

     “Anybody home?” Lothos shouted, his voice ricocheting around the almost-abandoned building like stray machine-gun fire.

     A clang, a thud, the distinct tinkle of glass shards, and a bout of very unladylike language that was nonetheless said in a very ladylike voice answered his question.

     GAVAL turned back to the recruits. “Um…why don’tcha all stay here.  Me and Lothos will go requisition our ride.”  It had come back to him on the walk upstairs to the hangar why they never got on the plane to Europe as scheduled.  They had lost almost all of their weapons in a Security fiasco and after too many close calls they decided to count their losses and get out of the airport before they were arrested for attempted terrorism.

     There weren’t any protests, so the Slayer-Cajun and the Death Knight moved forward with a hint of caution towards the source of the impressively sustained string of dirty language.  Just ahead of them, a figure covered from head to toe in motor oil pulled itself out from beneath a plane that looked like a cross between an F-14 and a tub of Vaseline, the hull looking as though it were half-melted.  The filthy figure, which they could now see had rather traitorously feminine features, grabbed an almost-equally-filthy rag from the ground before fixing the two new arrivals with an unwelcoming glare.

     “What do you want?” she said.  It was the tone of voice generally reserved for use by those who have just had amorous activities interrupted by tele-marketers.

     “We were just looking for a fellow named Fjorxc…” GAVAL squinted. “Aw, sweet Jesus.  Sorry Forks.  I didn’t know they’d gotten you too.”

     Fjorxc, alternatively known as Fjorxc the Maniac, the Maniac, and the Bane of the Insurance Industry, stood up and folded her arms across her chest.  She readjusted them a moment later upon the infuriating realisation that doing so wasn’t as physically convenient as it used to be given the new proportions of chest that accompanied being female.

     “There are already a lot of people who are going to die because of this,” she said bluntly, “and if you say a word, you’re going to be one of them.”

     “Right.  Um…dat’s…fine.  No questions.  We just wanted to know if you were doing anything toni…I mean, if you weren’t busy.”
 
 


Year of the Spectre Episode 3 - Page 7