The Post-Modern Masks of Nyarlathotep

Episode XVII: A Bunch Of Lonesome Heroes (Part 15)

When he gets back downstairs, Katakatak is waving his hands in the air and adjusting machinery. Okomu and Dr. Armitage are digging trenches around the machinery, and scribing strange symbols in the floor.

“All right,” says Katakatak. “I’ve created a hypnotic psychic pattern here…anyone you bring in and begin to drain their blood, their minds will be drawn into the pattern, helping to feed the spell.”

“Will it drain them all the way?” says Jimmy.

“Not…most of the time.”

Francis drags the Amazons down into the chamber and uses a scalpel to open up their veins. The trenches begin to feed with blood. The Amazons begin to murmur soft, sibilant syllables in no human language.

Jimmy, Okomu, and Dr. Armitage open their notes and begin to chant.

Freddie goes looking for Eloise. Unfortunately, he finds her.

A huge wolflike beast leaps on him as he strolls through the courtyard. She snarls, then groans.

Freddie rolls her unconscious body off of him. A hypodermic needle protrudes from her chest. The sound of wolfen snoring fill the air.

“Gents, a hand please,” says Freddie with aplomb.

[Massive Preparedness spend to have a tranq.]

Francis and Dr. Seward pull back people from the trenches as soon as they fear they are close to death, and push others forward to take their place. Three trenches are filled with blood, which is livid in the eerie light.

Jack Brady grabs Jimmy’s arm as he is being maneuvered into position. “I’m not planning to wake up,” he says. “Seen too much, stuff I can’t live with. Take my medallion, though. Hope it brings you better luck. Don’t forget about taking Vanessa home. And thanks. For letting me go out when it can matter.”

Francis looks at the blood that has flowed out, and at the people they have left. He looks at Armitage, who shakes his head.

Francis starts unrolling his shirt sleeve.

Back on the Emden, the tentacles of the Shoggoth slither off the boat.

A Deep One comes running up. Charleston notices he is wearing a golden circlet on his head.

Charleston’s eyes flash red. The Deep One stops. “Yes master.”

“Send your creature away. Then leave me.”

He turns around. There is a splashing noise behind him.

A man in a tuxedo is standing on the deck of the Emden, looking up in the sky, his skin glowing a horrid shade of green in the light from the sky.

“I really hate this moment. This is when it happens, that little rocket going up…and through,” says the man.

Charleston looks up. The green light has formed a ring around the sun. As the moon slides forward into totality, there is a green flash…and the shadow of the moon vanishes, replaced by black space and stars in constellations never seen by humans before.

With his fifth-dimensional sight, Charleston sees more. Sees the swirling Chaos beyond the gate, the source, the place where all the answers lie.

“Have you figured out what I am yet?” says the man softly. “I’m the Shortcut. The Exploit. The Source Code…well, you wouldn’t know what a source code hack is. I’m the Wiring Diagram. Whenever a species figures out that there’s more to the universe than what their sensoria report, sooner or later they’re going to invoke me. Hop onboard, and start using evolutionary seven-league boots. Just make sure your firewall is patched. I’ve been around forever, or probably since somebody did something stupid like shoot a rocket through a gate.”

Charleston looks up. “I want to go there…” he says softly.

The Rev looks down. “I refuse.”

[And here we began the Contest For Charleston’s Soul! I play the Rev throughout this exchange.]

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