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Father Holer and I have had some interesting talks about faith and the good fight against the powers of darkness--in this world, very clearly embodied in the personae of the vampires we've both met.
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I've often seen people in movies hold up a cross or crucifix, or use holy water or something against vampires. (Of course, there was that ridiculous movie where they had the Baptist pastor creating holy water--to imagine a Baptist pastor
involved in the rituals of a sacramental faith is ludicrous in the extreme.) Father Holer contends that it isn't so much the symbols or the blessed objects as it is the faith of the one using them. Thus holy water and communion wafers and crucifixes work for him, because they are symbols of his faith. They wouldn't work for me--I'm a rather eclectic Baptist charismatic protestant. Sacraments and symbols are rather foreign to my way of thinking. However, it occurred to me that the real symbol of my faith is the Bible--not the book itself, but the words, and especially the original words, the Greek text of the New Testament. Thus I could channel my faith not through physical objects but through the recitation of the text of scripture. I'm renewing my studies of the Greek New Testament I brought with me, looking for passages which I can use in my stand against the forces of darkness in this present evil age.
Tonight I killed Gavin. It was not the plan. The plan was to kill Jackson. Father Holer, Luke Sparks, George, Raiden, and several others gathered by Holer were on hand. I knew that Gavin always had Jackson follow me when I left the Succubus club; it bothered him that I could contact him telepathically at any time (creating the illusion that I knew where he was), but he did not know where I went. I always vanished from a blind alley, and Jackson had never been able to follow me--he didn't realize that I could levitate to the roof to get out. Anyway, I arranged to meet Gavin, so I could tell him I thought I might have a lead on that book he wanted. Then when I left, I would lead Jackson into the alley, where we had an ambush. We had guys with supersoakers full of holy water (my idea), as well as more traditional weapons. I positioned a safe to drop on him at the right spot. Luke would block the alley with a carload of armed men--wearing my plastic steel armor, I faced little danger from the slow soft bullets of the automatic machine guns they used. I had memorized several very potent passages of scripture, and was carrying the psionic disintegrator rod. Well, it all went down fairly well. I think the safe missed, but Jackson was caught in the crossfire. He seriously injured several of my allies, but they pummeled him, and I finished him with the disintegrator rod--taking out a piece of the wall of one of the buildings at the same time. Jackson was out of the picture.
But I hadn't realized that Gavin and Jackson were as close as they were. It seems they had some kind of blood link or something. Gavin knew what was happening to Jackson. As the dust settled, he blind-sided me, hitting the blockade hard, and tearing into me with a vengeance. I ordered the others out, and took him one-on-one. He knocked the disintegrator from my hands, and struck me solidly on the breastplate. Even with the armor, it was a solid hit. I was knocked back quite a distance, and winded. But I caught my breath, and struck back with my words: I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. And we know that the judgment of God rightly falls on those who practice such things. With each quote, he was visibly injured. At the same time, I struck with my kau sin ke. Of course, he struck back--between us, we drove the fight out into the street. But I kept up the barrage of truth, and he could not bear it. Soon enough I had him on the ground. I drew the psionic blaster. I was angry. With one shot, I destroyed his right arm. Then I shot his right leg. I had already broken his left leg--he had been unable to walk but had clung to me in his hatred. I destroyed what was left of that leg, and the other arm. Then I fired the shot in the middle of his chest, and he was dead. The remains of his body vanished into dust.
Someone had called the police. My best escape was up, and my psionic flight worked. I took to the air, and headed toward home. There would be debris in the alley, but no bodies, and the police would write it off to gang violence. As for me, I had other concerns. Telepathically contacting Father Holer, I asked how everyone was. He had a few injuries among his comrades, one whom he was not sure he would be able to save. Luke was trying to reach the hospital, but time was running out. I realized that what worked for me should work for him. He's a Catholic priest--retired, but that's not something you stop being. I reminded him of the healing service. They had some oil on hand, and in a few minutes he had anointed the injured man, and performed the ritual. Father Holer is a man of great faith--I don't agree with all of his theology, but his faith is strong, and his heart is in the same place as mine. That man was markedly better; and Father Holer also used the oil and the prayer of faith to heal the injuries of his other companions. They still received medical attention, but they were a lot healthier when they got there, and had a lot less explaining to do. And they had a new weapon in their arsenal: the healing power of their faith.
I had my own faith to look to. It was a dark night, and I wasn't sure where I was going. So I used another verse: And the light shines in the darkness; and the darkness did not comprehend it. The light flashed briefly--and to my surprise, I found I was not alone in the air! There was another man who was flying close at hand, who was as surprised to see me as I was to see him. He immediately said he knew who I was: I was Merlin. Well, I was too surprised to argue, but I told him that I was The Alchemist, which he seemed to accept almost as if it were a code name that I, Merlin, was using. He seemed very surprised to see me, and as we floated in the air he spoke in animated tones, and gave me a leather pouch. He was Henry, and he would find me again, he said. This was for me. I thanked him, and continued home.
"Home" now is one of Father Holer's blessed safe houses. The ground has been consecrated to keep out vampires. It seems someone left Father Holer the proceeds of a winning lottery ticket, provided that he would use those proceeds at his own discretion to continue his own work. His bishop was very understanding, and also was aware that Father Holer was fighting very real evil creatures whose existence was officially denied by the church. So it was arranged for the father to retire early on the proceeds, and he continued the fight against the vampires with the blessing of those who knew. He also worked at the State Street Mission, which helped smooth things over with the upper echelons, as it appeared that the money he was given would be lost if it were not in his control, and his involvement in the mission would not be possible without that support. Anyway, once I got home, I opened the bag and carefully poured the contents on my desk. I was not yet ready to handle them; I made sure they fell on a sheet of paper. There were four dolls' heads, and one gold coin. I needed more hints; but I thought it might be possible for me to detect psionically whether there were any supernatural or magical influences at work, so I tried it. Indeed, I found the whole batch reeked of magic. I didn't know what any of it was; but I did notice that the bag seemed to have a dampening effect. So I carefully replaced everything in the bag, and got some sleep.
My robe was destroyed. I decided to go back to that silly new age magic shop where I got it, and see if I could get a couple more. They did have them, so I bought them. George was with me. The proprietor seemed to have some knowledge of magic trinkets, so I showed him the gold coin. He examined it, and said that yes, he had some idea about it. It was a summoning device, an item enspelled to attract something to it; but all that he could tell me about what it attracted is that it was called a Malcavian, and he had no idea what that was. I thanked him, and said that I did know what a Malcavian was. Father Holer often spoke of the vam clans, and the differences and dangers of them. A Malcavian, I told him, was a type of insane vampire. He gave the coin back to me rather quickly, and I replaced it in the bag. Henry was testing me. I had passed the test.
Tonight was the eclipse, the forging of a new alliance, and the end of the Succubus Club. I had been planning this for some time, and had all of my allies involved in it. Father Holer had arranged a banquet across town to honor the fire department, and all of its top brass and quite a large chunk of its rank and file were there. But I was on the roof of a building across the street from the Succubus Club. I had often met Gavin in this den of iniquity, and had explored its three levels clairvoyantly in great detail--the upper balcony where Horta watched all that happened, the dance and dining level where I once saw a vampire executed by his fellows, and the maze below where the wicked plotted in seclusion, and some who entered never left. George was already hiding in a trash bin; Raiden was also waiting in the alley. And I knew the wolves were coming. As night fell, the building was filled with Vampires, ghouls, and their minions. At about ten o'clock, it was time to strike. I began the assault with my faith: The people who were sitting in darkness saw a great light, and to those who were sitting in the land and shadow of death, upon them a light dawned. This lit up the interior of the club, and the wolves moved in; the vampires were already disadvantaged by the light, and the wolves were growing more powerful as the eclipse developed. He Himself will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. I knew that this oft misunderstood verse means to distinguish the Spirit empowering the people of God from the fire of judgment falling on the wicked. The building caught fire, as did many of its occupants, spontaneously combusting as the judgment of God came upon them; but our forces were encouraged. Father Holer had arrived with Luke Sparks, and they joined Raiden and George in the street out front, dividing the fleeing innocents from the dying guilty, and meting out a different judgment. Then the righteous will shine forth as the sun--and as our forces began to glow brightly, the vams could no longer look at them. There was the true light which, coming into the world, enlightens every man. At this point, I realized that I was being opposed. My clairvoyance revealed that Horta was standing in the balcony, holding something like a wand, and creating darkness around him. I repeated several of my verses related to light, and he focused on darkness. But I had other things to do, so I turned my attention to those tasks. The wolves were among the vams, tearing them to bits. The building was burning, and there was more to do.
Somewhere in the midst of this, Henry showed up. Taking up a position next to me, he produced a one-foot tall teenager doll, and placed a large pin or needle in its hand. He then recited a spell, and it marched toward the building. I heard him say something in a confused voice about how it was supposed to grow to fifty feet high; but even as it was, it began attacking vampire feet with the pin, doing quite a bit of distraction and a fair amount of injury as well. As for me, I still had my coup de grace to deliver: I focused my pyrogenesis on the oil tank I had located behind the building earlier in the week. Raising the temperature as quickly as I could manage, in a few minutes I brought it to critical temperature, and the tank exploded. The back of the building blew away, the fire increased two-fold, and the wolves continued their advance through to exit in the rear. Luke gathered the human troops into the car, and drove away (although I think George fled on foot through the alley), and Henry and I prepared to exit across the rooftops. I saw a humanoid fireball burst through the roof and sail through the sky quite a distance at high speed; Horta had fled Chicago. We, too, were gone before the fire department arrived.
Whisp showed up today. Just breezed in from somewhere, full of stories about Dylan. He felt my presence, and found me. I've briefed him as to what's going on, and he's eager to be a part of it. He loves a good fight, and vampires sound like a real challenge to him. So he's sticking with me, to see what I do. I've told him some of my ideas, and he likes them.
There's something terrifying loose in the city. The wolves are afraid. One of them is dead. Annuda, pack mother, asked me to look into it. I found the body, beheaded and hung, drained of blood. I fear a war between the humans and the wolves; but I wasn't sure a vampire could have done it. So I tried something. I had done it last week--I picked up a dagger at an antiques shop, and focused my psionic energy on it. I was able to see several major events in its past, several owners, and a few times it was used in violence. So I tried to focus my mind into seeing what happened in that warehouse a few hours earlier. It was quite startling. The werewolf was there, fully aware, watchful, and ready. Then, in a flash, something vaguely humanoid but shrouded as if in a mist, struck and ripped his head from his shoulders and strung him up by the feet--and as quickly was gone with the head. I telepathically sent the vague image I had seen to Annuda, and she gave it a name--and the confirmation of her fears. She called it a "chiak".
I tracked the chiak to the top of the Sears Tower tonight. Telepathically contacting it was not easy--it seems an extremely alien and base mind--but I was able to comprehend a little about it. It views the hunt as a game. It is hunter and hunted; the prey is also the hunter. If you flee from it, you are in the game; if you attack it you are in the game. Thus everyone is in the game. I tried to introduce it to a new concept. I told it I was a referee. I also told it that the city was a safe zone, and that I would have to assess penalties if it didn't leave the city. I knew I couldn't beat it in a straight fight, but I hoped I could get it to retreat and leave the city, its people and its wolves, alone. But then I ran into a snag. I had used my psionics to fly to the roof, but since I had landed, I was going to have to get it started again. But as I stood on the edge of the Sears Tower, below the antenna array (the creature seemed attracted to the St. Elmo's Fire on the antennae), I couldn't get the focus I needed to take off--perhaps it was my nerves. Anyway, I knew that if I stood there too long, it would probably find an excuse to include me in the game, and strike. So I did the only thing which made sense. I jumped off the building.
Once I was in the air, I tried once more to levitate, and once more to fly; but it didn't work again. I had the telekinetic rod with me, and thought it possible that I might be able to catch myself with that, and swing to another building on an invisible psionic thread. But I had another idea. I recited, loudly and with every bit of confidence I had, the words of scripture: "He will give His angels charge concerning you; and on their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone"--that's the New American Standard Bible; I was speaking the Greek I'd memorized. I didn't see them, but I knew they were there: the angels caught me, and lowered me to the ground. As the scripture says, my faith had saved me.
I had been using that faith in a lot of strange ways. I had entered the Presemium (I mentioned that, the theater in the college district which the vams use to recruit from among the cultured crowd). The doors were held against me, but I focused my faith into the words, "Knock, and the door shall be opened to you", and as I knocked on the doors, they flew open with a crack. I walked in, and was able to assess a great deal, although I was opposed by a not insignificant spirit power, and could not see all I would have studied. I could not, for example, clearly see what was below the floor, although I did make out a few large boxes. I left in a manner which concealed the fact that I had doubts about my ability to stay there very long; but I gleaned enough information to begin to develop a plan. But before I assaulted that, I had to deal with Gavin's church and the Coffee Shoppee.
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