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A lot has happened in the past few days; it's hard to know just where to begin.
My idea to build a psionically-enhanced kau sin ke back on NagaWorld seems to have backfired. One of the links became highly unstable, and, although I dove for the blast shield, when the whole thing exploded I was still right in the middle of it. So I've moved on, just as Paul always said I would.
Moved on--this is like Chicago. I say like Chicago, because it's also very different. It's 1998 (I kept careful track of days in NagaWorld, and was only there for less than a full year; but time apparently is meaningless when you cross the scriff). The President of the Unitied States has a familiar name--familiar from reports of an FBI sting operation a few years back which busted some D.C. officials on drug charges. O.K., maybe in this world he wasn't one of them; but there are a lot of other odd people in power. As soon as I got settled, I got a copy of the Tribune, and tried to digest the situation. Everything was a little bit off; also there were a lot of occult practices--the little stuff, like psychic readings and numerology--seeming to have a lot more credibility than they did when I was alive.
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That first night, I met an odd character.. I had landed in a blind alley, and gathered my things. Coming out the open end, I was noticed by two men. One introduced himself as Gavin, and his companion as Jackson. I gave my name as Andrew Bryant--no point in confusing things if there's another me here. They seemed rather confused, so I tried to listen to their thoughts--easier than I expected. They were very concerned as to who I was and where I came from (but of course, I might have guessed that from the nervous way they questioned me). They particularly asked if I knew a Father Holer, whom I could honestly say was
unknown to me. Then the conversation took a quirky turn. Asking about my things, they happened upon my Nagaworld chemistry set, my collection of plastic steel and pottery containers, and asked if I were a chemist. More of an alchemist, I replied--and the word had a great deal of impact on them. They asked where I was staying, and, as I did not know, they recommended a fine place, and loaned me about a hundred dollars to cover the expense. This was where I spent my first night--reading the paper, since I had grown accustomed to the twenty-hour days of NagaWorld, and would not need to sleep for some time yet.
The next day I tracked down Father Peter Matthew Holer, late of the State Street Mission. He agreed to meet with me at his house for lunch. I joined him there, and asked about the two I had met, who they were, and why they seemed so concerned about him. You can learn a great deal about a man from his enemies. You can also learn something about a man's enemies by his habits. I noticed that the good father did several things which I would have questioned were I Catholic. There were communion wafers in my sandwich; he insisted that I drink water (I suspect it was holy water) with the meal. During lunch, he found an excuse to have me handle a crucifix. Once he was sure of me, he began to explain his rather mysterious behavior.
It seems that Father Holer is a vampire hunter. Gavin is a vampire (I wish I could say this surprised me) who has given him a great deal of trouble over the past few years--in fact, Father Holer and his friend Luke Sparks moved from New York to put some distance between them and him. Jackson, also a vampire, is by far the tougher of the pair, and Gavin's protector; but Gavin is the brains of the duo.
Father Holer did not expect me to believe his incredible tale. I did him one better: I told him mine. He listened politely as I explained what I understood of the multiverse--and of my home world, very like this one, but very different. Told him a little about Umak Tek, that it might be a password for him to use to identify those who came from that other world. Writing it in Dar Koni script as it appears over the gate of that place, I told him how to read it. I would write it on the walls of the alley in which I arrived (I noticed that many people coming to NagaWorld landed at Michael's Foxhole; it might be that particular places are likely entry points), along with his name and the name of the mission, so he could explain things to them, as well.
Needless to say, I moved out of the hotel into another. Luke Sparks was going to arrange work for me at a construction site--night work, so I could sleep in the daylight when it was safer. I can stretch myself to sleep about thirteen or fourteen hours every other day; that will work nicely.
After I'd been working a few days, and pulled a paycheck, I did a couple of things. I bought myself a dark blue velvet robe with scarlet trim to wear over my plastic steel armor; to some, I'm sure I look like a nut in this cowled robe, carrying one of the telekinetic staves from NagaWorld--but there are plenty of nutty-looking people wandering around this Chicago, so I blend in pretty well. Meanwhile, I'm creating a persona which is unnerving to the vams. They are convinced that I'm a powerful wizard, and are trying to believe that I'm on their side, without allowing themselves to be too vulnerable.
Gavin has asked me to help him find something, an ancient book which apparently is of great significance to the vampires. I told him I'd look around for it; I'll have to think of a way to turn this to my advantage.
I found a martial arts instructor today; but that wasn't the real adventure. I think I've encountered my first werewolf. I was in the oriental section of town, looking for a school where I could get some training in the kau sin ke (thus far I am entirely self-taught, but am not as good as my teacher). There was a commotion in the alley--a confrontation between several men and a man-like beast. The men who were fighting with the beast seemed to be the attackers against another group of men. But the beast seemed to be the most dangerous of the group. It had taken several bullets without slowing down. My whipping chain was not going to be the weapon of choice here; I pulled out the psionic drill I had been wearing on my belt, and fired it at the creature.
It let out a howl, and leapt at me; but I dove out of the way, and shot it again. Then it went up the fire escape of the building to my left, and was about to escape. Knowing that in this neighborhood with my skills and garb I would likely be taken for a martial arts master, I leapt as high as I could--and immediately levitated to the level of the roof, touching it with my hands to make it appear that my psionic trick was a tremendous leap as of a legendary master. I began to pursue the beast, but it was far more agile on the rooftops than I, and it was clear that it had enough of a lead and enough speed that I would not catch it.
Father Holer smoothed things over with the police, telling them that there was a huge dog which had attacked the men, and that I had driven it off to save them. It appears that in this world one does not suggest to the authorities that there are vampires and werewolves around if one values liberty; your sanity will be doubted if you admit to believing these things. I found the school, and got the name and location of a teacher who calls himself "Raiden", like the thunder god. I spoke with him, and he agreed to allow me a tryout tomorrow.
Raiden is reasonably impressed with my abilities. The work I did in NagaWorld--especially the acrobatics training--has paid off. He teaches form and balance first of all. To this end, he took me out on a lake in a rowboat, and had me stand on the gunnels and practice swinging the weapon without falling. From time to time, he grabbed the tip of the weapon, and pulled me into the water; yet he managed to keep the boat stable. Three times I fell into the lake, and the fourth time I managed to hold my footing. Then I fell in again, but on his sixth grab, I snapped him off his seat and into the water. This, I think, impressed him greatly. We've begun an extended training program.
Raiden is already familiar with the work of the vampires. He had been in California, working in a library, when he discovered a page of the Book of Nod--the book Gavin is seeking. The vampires became aware that he had this, and took his wife, turning her into a vampire, and sending her to retrieve the page. He did not recognize her as his wife, but as a demon, and shut the doors against her. As she attempted to get inside, a storm arose, and the lightning and thunder apparently disoriented her, causing her to flee. He took the page and fled to Chicago. He also took the name "Raiden" in honor of the god whom he believe sent the storm which saved him. The page is kept in a shrine to that god in his apartment.
I added another to my team today. He calls himself George; I knew him as Phillip Michael White, or just as Michael di Vars, one of the best fighters in the verse. But this isn't him; it's another him, from another world--actually, from this world. Like the other Phil Whites I've known, he got married right out of high school and went into the army immediately; but he took his wife with him to overseas duty in Germany. In Europe, a vampire killed her. George has developed a mild insanity from this. He is intent on tracking down and killing that one vampire. He'll kill any others which he meets along the way, but it's that one vampire he wants, and that one vampire he intends to kill. Anyway, he's agreed to help me in my efforts against the vampires generally, in the hope that along the way he'll find the one he's after.
Gavin apparently has a scheme going. He's founded his own godless feel-good religion. I think it's his hope that if he can get humanity to give up faith in God in exchange for nonsense, vampires will be able to come out of hiding and rule the world. I've got some ideas about this. I've also identified three places in town which are vampire strongholds. The Succubus Club takes the appearance of a night club, and becomes a late night meeting place for vampires and their minions. I've met Gavin there a number of times, and he's introduced me to a few others, notably Horta, ostensibly the owner of the club, but I suspect much more. The Coffee Shoppe is one of those beatnick intellectual hangouts, where free-verse poetry is recited aloud over jazz music, and vampires attempt to recruit the young intelligentsia to their interests. The Presemium is a theatre in the University area, where they give themselves an air of class. It will be necessary for me to undermine Gavin's church, and destroy these three strongholds; it would help if I can come up with a way to disrupt the unity of the vampires at the same time.
Someone tried to kill me today. I'm not quite sure who it was. I had developed a psionic pyrogenesis--strengthening it by doing various tricks. I fried a steak by heating it directly, and another by heating the pan; I warmed up the apartment, and popped some corn, and boiled some water. But I had an idea I wanted to try, and so I went to the edge of town early today, and found a junkyard in the middle of nowhere. Using my clairvoyance, I found a car on the lot with a fair amount of gasoline still in the tank. With a bit of focus, I managed to get the gasoline to overheat, spontaneously combust, and explode. Satisfied that it worked, I began to walk home. But there was someone following me--a large dark late-model sedan. The figure inside was talking on a car phone, so I focused in with my clairaudience. He was just saying that he had determined that it was me, and then agreed to take care of it now. I understood from what he said that he was about to kill me. Well, there's no sense learning a good trick if you're not going to use it. I blew up his car. Although I surprised him, he then surprised me: thrown through the windshield, he rolled over a few times while on fire, and drew a large gun. I took to the air--thank goodness my psionic flight worked this time. The gun went off, and the bullet impacted on my plastic steel armor. The armor held, in part because the impact of the bullet drove me forward and spun me around. In the same motion, I drew the psionic weapon from my belt and fired it back at him. I hit him twice, and it was clearly hurting him. He pulled some kind of smoke bomb from his pack and set it off, disappearing into the smoke. I thought of pursuing, but was unsure of the smoke. My asthma has been quiet since I've been in this world, but smoke can't be good for it; and anyway, this could be more than a smokescreen. Luke Sparks had told me that the vampires had ghouls working for them, capable of being out in the daylight. I didn't know enough to know whether they had to breathe to survive, and I didn't need to fly into a cloud of poison smoke. I flew away, and considered myself fortunate that I survived.
I've got new allies. They found me. Raal is the name of the one who contacted me directly. He's a taxi driver; he's also a werewolf. His pack is made up of wolves from many packs destroyed by the vampires--he himself came from Australia. They have come together here in Chicago under the leadership of a pack mother named Annuda, and are standing against the vampires. I'm not sure how he heard of me, but apparently it has something to do with my encounter the other day. He had heard that someone called Bob the Ghoul had tried to kill me, and had reported that I couldn't be killed, and had thrown some kind of magic beam from my fingers. The wolves figured that any wizard who was an enemy of the vampires was worth meeting. We quickly agreed to work together.
I've learned a lot about the wolves. One thing which I find fascinating is that on the night of the lunar eclipse, they are nearly invulnerable during the eclipse. This gives me an idea; I'm a couple months from an eclipse, and I think I can use that to my advantage at the Succubus Club. But first I've got to find a way to get rid of Gavin's bodyguard, Jackson; and I'll want to do something about that church of his. But I'm beginning to get an idea here.
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