Modern/Delta Green - The Beginning of the End (COMPLETED) - Page 82





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    Live Evil: Part 7 – The Thing in the Lake

    They reached the shores of Llangorse Lake. The water was inky black, and lapped gently upon the shore. Out in the middle of the lake, some half-a-mile offshore, loomed a heavily wooded island. On it were some motes of light, which appeared to be moving slowly through the trees.

    Cornwell pointed out several small boats, which lay abandoned on the shore in the village."That's our only ticket to the island."

    Hammer and Archive looked at Jim-Bean. "No," he responded to their unspoken question. "I can't float you all across the lake. It's too far."

    They embarked on two boats, Archive and Cornwell in one, Jim-Bean and Hammer in the other.

    The silence of the lake's unbroken surface was interrupted only by the soft swish of the oars in water.

    Jim-Bean peered down into the inky blackness. "There could be anything down there."

    As if in response, something long and thin passed beneath the boat, momentarily scraping the keel.

    "Jimmy…" Hammer muttered a warning.

    A vaguely humanoid head covered in stringy green hair emerged from the surface. The creature's mouth, a round sucker-like orifice ringed with rows of tiny teeth, worked a malefic chant.

    Jim-Bean clutched his eyes. "Uh guys? I'm blind."

    Hammer responded by spraying bullets into the water. The head disappeared under the surface, only to reappear behind them.

    Cornwell fired his grenade launcher, exploding the water in a great shower, but the head appeared a third time off to their left.

    "It keeps moving!" said Archive. "I can't get a bead on it!"

    "Oh for crying out loud," shouted Hammer. "Just do that thing you do with your symbol!"

    Archive shrugged and held the amulet up. "By the power of the Elder Sign I repel thee!"

    The head snapped backward as if slapped. The face's expression turned from cold malevolence to fear and it ducked down into the murk, followed shortly thereafter by a stubby green tail.

    Jim-Bean rubbed his eyes, blinking. "Finally!"

    He could see the island; approximately one hundred yards in diameter and heavily wooded. As they approached, the motes of light disappeared.

    They hopped out of their boats – there was no dock – and clambered up onto the island.

    Once on the island, the weak moonlight illuminated a path through the bare branches and trunks of the trees, mainly Alder and Willow. This path was some three-feet wide and the ground was carpeted in leaves. All around them was heavy undergrowth.

    Jim-Bean cocked his head. He could hear…something. A curious distorted voice, telling him random gibberish. He decided not to share it with the others.

    The path came to an end in a mound surrounded by a small clearing. At the center of the mound was a circular wooden door, which looked ancient. Embedded on the door was a strange glyph.

    "That symbol…" said Cornwell, shaking with rage.

    "It's the one we saw in that other labyrinth," said Archive.

    "The one that sick bastard Chubb carved into me brother." The door opened of its own accord and Cornwell charged down the steps leading into darkness.

    "Amateurs," muttered Hammer.
    Mike "Talien" Tresca

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    Live Evil: Part 8 – Sacrifices Must Be Made

    The steps descended for about fifty feet and then opened up into a small cavern, carved from rock. The walls were dank and slimy. There was no natural illumination. There was one exit leading from the small cavern, which led into a long and twisty tunnel some three-hundred yards long.

    Cornwell led the way to a light at the far end of one branching tunnel. It opened into a large round vaulted-ceiling cavern, dimly lit by flaming torches ensconced in the walls. At the center of the room, the floor was dominated by a carving similar to the one on the door, but only much, much larger. It glowed with a faint luminescent unearthly pale blue glow. Around the walls were smaller tunnels which lead off in all directions.

    Rising up from the carving were eleven wooden poles some six-inches in diameter and six-feet high. Mounted on each were two cross-bars. Three of the poles were occupied, human sacrifices tied to each. All three were blindfolded. Small moans and whimpers escaped from the lips of two of them – from the third torrents of dried blood hung down, the body shredded and torn.

    "Chris!" said Cornwell. "Jenny? Tony?"

    "You know what comes next," Jim-Bean said menacingly.

    Cornwell responded by putting bullets in the sacrifices' heads.

    There were footsteps in the tunnel. A commanding voice spoke quietly at first but then rose in its rage.

    “That’s far enough. The Lord of the Labyrinth demands that you submit to his rule immediately!”

    Daffyd Jones was stripped bare to his waist. A huge axe was in one hand, and a mask covered the entirety of his upper skull. He was covered with small white spider-grubs that crawled all over him. The grubs burrowed into his cheeks and squirmed out his mouth. If they hurt, he showed no indication.

    “I said submit!” he screamed. “The moment is at hand. Great Eihort cometh! He demands servants for his eternal reign of triumph!”

    Jim-Bean sprayed bullets into Daffyd, but he moved with frightening speed. He whirled the axe over his head and brought it down in the space where Jim-Bean was standing. Jim-Bean was above him, standing upside down on the ceiling, levitating in place.

    Archive held up his Elder Sign. "By the power of the Elder Sign I—"

    Daffyd sneered and slammed into Archive, bashing him into the far cavern wall. Hammer and Cornwell riddled him with bullets.

    Daffyd stretched his arms backwards and spider-grubs exploded out of his chest in a geyser, covering Cornwall, who fell backwards under the stream.

    Hammer fired more bullets into Daffyd, but he was unphased. He ducked a wicked swipe of the axe and rolled to the side, still firing. "Jimmy, slow him down!"

    "Cornwell, we need explosives!"

    Cornwell was losing the fight against the spiders. He hurled the satchel off of his shoulder in Jim-Bean's direction.

    Jim-Bean caught it telekinetically and sent the sticky C-4 within sailing onto Daffyd. The sticky C-4 clung to him, but he paid it no heed.

    With another roar Daffyd swung at Hammer. He missed him but took out a stalactite with an earth-shattering swipe.

    "Pull the trigger damn it!" shouted Hammer.

    "I don't have the detonator!" But Jim-Bean knew who did.

    Cornwell's form was overwhelmed by a surging swarm of pale grubs.

    Jim-Bean extended a tendril of thought into the seething mass, afraid what he might find. Cornwell's mind was swirling with pain, but it struggled to get a message out.

    "I can…Eihort is displeased. It wants revenge. For killing his children. So he's going to kill mine. You've got to save Jamie." He sent them two sets of GPS coordinates to them all. "I'm sorry."

    The tunnels on the other side of the cavern whispered an ominous sound. Like millions of chittering locusts, it came closer and closer.

    Hammer stumbled backwards and hit an outcropping hard. The impact jarred him and he fell to his knees. Daffyd reared back with both hands on his axe for a mighty swing…

    Cornwell's arm burst from the slithering swarm. It was stripped to the bone, but with his few remaining nerve endings he pressed the button on the hand detonator.

    The C-4 exploded in a rapid-fire series of bursts around Daffyd's body. Puffs of white grubs and red blood blasted in all directions. Then the ceiling caved in on him.

    Jim-Bean landed on his feet. "Well, that's that…"

    The half-broken mask of Daffyd broke through the fallen rock. A white grub extended outwards through the hole in the faceplate, shrieking in rage. The rubble began to move.

    Hammer blew its head off.
    Mike "Talien" Tresca

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    Live Evil: Conclusion

    Hammer and Jim-Bean finished digging at the first set of GPS coordinates Cornwell provided.

    "Nice of your girlfriend to provide us with magic bullets…" began Hammer.

    "She's not my girlfriend," Jim-Bean snapped at him.

    "Fine, but she gave us fire-bullets. Those bullets and whatever Cornwell stored here should be helpful."

    "What's down there?" asked Archive, peering down into the hole.

    Jim-Bean pried open the top of a barrel. "Guns."

    "More than that." Hammer pried open another barrel. "These are armor-piercing rockets."

    Archive gingerly opened a third barrel. "And lots of C-4. What's all this?"

    Hammer's jaw was set in grim lines. "Before he died Cornwell was communing with Eihort. It was a two-way communication. He shared things that Eihort knew that we can use, like the location where he was keeping Cornwell's son. Here's hoping all this firepower makes a difference."

    "You want to save his kid, don't you?" asked Jim-Bean.

    Hammer hoisted the rocket launcher out of the barrel. "Yep."

    Jim-Bean dumped the C-4 into a satchel. "I was hoping you would say that."
    Mike "Talien" Tresca

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    Chapter 62: Cross My Heart and Hope to Die - Introduction

    This story hour is from "Cross My Heart and Hope to Die" by J. Todd Kingred. You can read more about Delta Green at Delta Green. Please note: This story hour contains spoilers!

    Our cast of characters includes:

    • Game Master: Michael Tresca (http://michael.tresca.net)
    • Joseph “Archive” Fontaine (Dedicated Hero/Acolyte) played by Joe Lalumia
    • Jim “Jim-Bean” Baxter (Charismatic Hero/Telepath) played by Jeremy Ortiz (Jeremy Robert Ortiz)
    • Kurtis “Hammer” Grange (Fast/Dedicated Hero/Gunslinger) played by George Webster

    It's always interesting when scenarios have showdowns with Mythos beings. Goatswood is rife with these sorts of encounters, because Campbell's Mythos are considerably more personal. So you're much more likely to meet Eihort or Y'golonac face to face. This also makes the scenarios considerably more dangerous to typical investigators, who couldn't possibly survive going mano-a-monstro. But then, as has become clear by now, the agents are not ordinary investigators.

    The other three scenarios were really just a means of building up to a final showdown. The goal here was to get the agents back in contact with an equipment supplier, but Cornwell's arrangement didn't work out quite the way they had hoped. Instead, it turned into a war against a terrorist beast that uses child soldiers.

    Defining Moment: The decisions the agents make in facing down warrior children might surprise you.

    Relevant Media
    • Ramsey Campbell's Goatswood and Less Pleasant Places: [ame=http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1568821530/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&tag=michaeltresca&linkCode =as2&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=156882 1530]Ramsey Campbell's Goatswood and Less Pleasant Places: A Present Day Severn Valley Sourcebook and Campaign (Call of Cthulhu roleplaying): Scott David Aniolowski,Gary Sumpter,Lynn Willis,Matt Harpold,Paul Carrick: 9781568821535: Amazon.com: Books[/ame]
    • Ding Dong Bell nursery rhyme: Ding Dong Bell - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    Last edited by talien; Friday, 12th October, 2012 at 11:34 AM.
    Mike "Talien" Tresca

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    Cross My Heart & Hope to Die: Prologue

    Ding dong bell, Pussy's in the well,
    Who put her in? Little Johnny Green.
    Who pulled her out? Little Tommy Stout.
    What a naughty boy was that,
    to try and drown poor pussy cat.

    --Children's nursery rhyme
    BRICHESTER, ENGLAND—Jim-Bean tossed and turned in his dreams when the whispering sound of cloth rubbing together woke him.

    Floating at the foot of his bed was a ragged figure, dressed in a thick, hooded robe, exuding a terrible chill. The face was hidden completely in the shadows cast by the hood.

    Jim-Bean rolled and grabbed his pistol from the nightstand. “JEEEEEEENNNNNNKIIIIIIIINNNNNSSS!”

    The figure floated through the air toward Jim-Bean, robe rustling. The hood fell halfway back, revealing a head of flying cobwebs. The hood pressed towards his face—the clingy cobwebs were home to several scurrying grub-like creatures.

    Jim-Bean fired bullets into the robe with no effect. It billowed outward like a cobra spreading its hood, and Jim-Bean faced utter darkness.

    He leaped to the side as the robe landed on the bed. The door burst open.

    Jenkins, in his nightcap, striped pajamas, and slippers, held a thermite grenade in one hand, his other grasping the pin. “Fire in the hole, sir!”

    Jenkins drew the pin and threw the grenade. Jim-Bean jumped as the grenade whirled through the air. It flared to life and instantly ignited the entire bed. The white hot flames consumed the spiders, popping like popcorn in the heat. The entire bed and much of the floor was immolated.

    Mrs. Jenkins came in soon after with a fire extinguisher. She sprayed the fire a few times but it was largely unnecessary. There was nothing salvageable in the room.

    “Not to worry dear,” said Mrs. Jenkins. “Your friends are safe. Just had to use the flamethrower you picked up from that nice fellow.” She frowned. “Of course I suppose he’s dead now.”

    Jenkins patted her on the shoulder. “It’s okay mother.”

    Jim-Bean dusted himself off. “Thanks Jenkins.”

    Hammer and Archive were in the hall in their own bedclothes. “So they went after you too, huh?” asked Hammer.

    “Yeah,” said Jim-Bean. “Looks like Eihort’s not going to wait for us to come to him.”

    “The attacks will keep up.” Archive looked around, expecting another attack at any second. “Eihort will never stop.”

    “Then we’ll just have to take the fight to Eihort,” said Hammer.
    Mike "Talien" Tresca

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    Cross My Heart and Hope to Die: Part 1 – Sticks & Stones

    CAMSIDE, ENGLAND—The agents made their way to the second set of GPS coordinates. Camside was a small farming community, quiet and picturesque with its flocks of sheep, babbling streams, and quaint limestone cottages. Zeroing in on Cornwell's residence was made more difficult by the swirling fog that had engulfed the town.

    The Cornwell home was located on Queen Street in Camside. It was a modest two-story home flanked by tall hedgerows.

    Archive cocked his head. "You hear that?"

    "What?" asked Jim-Bean.

    "Laughing," said Archive. "Kids, I think."

    "Kids do live in towns," said Hammer.

    Archive started to speak but he was cut off by the large crack of rock on skull. He fell forward, clutching the back of his head.

    Hammer's pistols were out. "Are you okay?"

    Archive removed his hand from the back of his head. It was covered in blood.

    Jim-Bean spun, trying to identify the targets in the fog. "That'd be a no."

    "You've been marked!" a child's voice cried out.

    "You cannot escape retribution!" cried another.

    The rocks became a hailstorm of sticks, stones, and bottles.

    Archive put one hand out and chanted. "This should help."

    The children, twenty of them, were limed in glowing flames. It didn't stop the attack.

    Hammer took aim.

    "What the hell are you doing?" asked Jim-Bean. The memory of his own children, a world away, was still fresh in his mind. "Those are kids!"

    "They're not kids," Hammer squinted down the sight of his Glock. "They're possessed by Eihort."

    A single shot rang out. One of the sparkling forms fell.

    The children disappear into the fog, their cackling laughter hanging in the damp night air.

    Hammer turned his back. "Let's go. We need to find Jamie."

    Archive looked between Hammer and Jim-Bean, who was still staring at the small, fallen form dimming in the thinning fog. He followed Hammer through the open door into the Cornwell house.

    Jim-Bean stared for a long time before he slowly turned to follow.
    Mike "Talien" Tresca

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    Cross My Heart: Part 2 – Question for the Teacher

    The inside of the house was once neat, tidy, and tastefully furnished. Downstairs consisted of a central living room, a kitchen, a small dining room, a den, and a guest bedroom.

    But everything was chaos and destruction. The place was ransacked. Furniture, decorations, and belongings were broken and strewn about.

    "This must be the wife," said Archive.

    She was in the living room, her hand pinned to the wall with a knife and her body slashed by dozens of deep cuts and lacerations. Her body was slumped against the wall, the pinned hand raised above her head like a child asking permission to speak. Blood pooled on the carpet and had been used to draw a silly grin on her terror-stricken face.

    "No bodyguards?" asked Hammer, peering around corners with his pistols. "She should have had protection."

    Jim-Bean stared through the walls. "There's a bodyguard out back. Looks like they caught him with a tripwire before they beat him to death."

    They made their way upstairs to the bedrooms.

    The boy's room was typical. It was decorated with movie and athletic posters, as well as comic books, airplane models, and the numerous knickknacks little boys hoard.

    Hammer swore. "They took him."

    Archive fished a collection of magazines out of the boy's backpack. "Look at this."

    They were all astronomical in nature, and some bore the stamps of the Camside Public Library or the Camside School Library.

    "These articles are all current, about a recent meteor fall."

    "The meteors we saw at Llangorese," said Jim-Bean.

    Archive scanned the articles. "The most prominent meteor showers occur every year, on roughly the same dates. They seem to be connected with the orbits of comets, or are the offspring of a parental comet. Some meteor showers are unexpected, however, and some unexpectedly appear with special intensity. One of the journals predicts a meteor swarm in three nights from now, with an unusual radiant point near Polaris, in Ursa Minor."

    Jim-Bean frowned. "That's when Eihort will come out of his labyrinth. Permanently."

    "Can you find out what happened to the kid?" asked Hammer.

    Jim-Bean touched his hand to the backpack. "I can try." He focused…
    Mike "Talien" Tresca

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    Cross My Heart: Part 3 – Well…

    Jamie ran from a gang of children. They seemed intent on doing him harm, shouting and threatening him as they give chase. On and on the children chased Jamie, through yards and alleys, sometimes separating to prevent him from veering left or right, or escaping into the company of adults.

    They were herding him.

    The group of kids chased Jamie to Grigsby’s Field, where Kerwin, Davey Nooren, and Nick Selsby awaited.

    Kerwin Barclay was twelve years old, with grungy blond hair, watery blue eyes, and an extremely pale complexion. His lips turned up slightly on the corners, giving him a hateful expression most of the time. His skin had a curious, chalk-like coloration that looked clammy and greasy Davey Nooren was the vice-president of the Survivors and Kerwin’s right-hand man. He was a razor-thin lad, exceedingly tall for his age. He had long black hair and braces. Nick Selsby was the club enforcer. He was bulky, stout, and rude. He already showed a strong growth of facial hair amid his unsightly pimples.

    The three boys were engaged in a morbid game of tying up cats and tossing them into an old well. Jamie stood breathless in front of the three boys, the other children encircling him from behind.

    "You broken your vow of secrecy, Jamie, by telling adults about the Survivors," said Kerwin.

    "But—"

    "Shut up! Jamie has hurt the club by telling its secrets and must pay the penalty."

    "No! How did you know?" asked Jamie.

    Smiling like a skeleton, Kerwin Barclay said that “you are no longer part of us, no longer like us. I know.”

    When Kerwin and Davey turned to consult on the punishment, Jamie Cornwell made a break for it.

    Nick immediately caught him and punched him hard in the stomach. A baleful glare sprang into Kerwin’s eyes, and he yelled for Jamie to be thrown into the well. “If he wants to act like a pussy cat, we shall have to treat him like a pussy cat!” he sneered.

    Davey and Nick lifted Jamie bodily, dangling him by his ankles over the well.

    "Wait." Kerwin tilted his head, listening to some unheard voice. In his vision Jim-Bean thought for a brief second Kerwin was looking at him. "The Master has another purpose in mind. Come on, we're taking him to Grimsdyke Hill."
    Mike "Talien" Tresca

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    Cross My Heart...: Part 4 – Grimsdyke Hill

    It was just an hour before dawn when the agents descended on Grimsdyke Hill. The hill was located roughly a mile outside the town. It was a small, domed hill about a hundred yards high at its pinnacle. Rough ground, farmland, and open fields bounded by stone walls lay around it. At the center of the hill was a cave entrance.

    The children of Camside were gathered, chanting together. The echoing, haunting sounds were performed in a sing-song child’s voice.

    "We're not alone," said Archive.

    Several hard-looking men, tattooed and weapons at the ready, stood around the perimeter. Jim-Bean worked quickly to free Jamie, who was tied to a stone altar facing the cave entrance.

    One of them, a hook-nosed man with his head shaved, caught sight of Hammer. "You! You're Hammer, roit?"

    Archive blinked. "How did he…"

    "Not that many African-American yanks around here," said Hammer. "Why aren't you going in?"

    "That's my kid!" the hardened criminal choked back a sob.

    A faint glow emanated from the cave, growing brighter. Then, as they watched, something clambered up from the dark.

    Eihort was a bloated blanched oval supported on myriad fleshless legs. Eyes formed in the gelatinous oval and stared at in all directions.

    Every child in the Survivors club was present, prostrated and straining near the cave mouth as the oily, corpulent thing slowly shambled across them. Some were crying while others were in a state of shock; they were terrified but unable to resist Eihort’s entrance into the world.

    The Shambler Below rested obesely atop the children, its patchy, quivering bulk teeming with Brood. Leprous bits of pallid hide hung from the body. Multi-faceted eyes form and disappear. The thick, fleshless legs dragged the ground limply. Beneath and around the foul procession writhe millions of fleshy, grubby Brood.

    "You've got to do something!" sobbed the man. "Those are our children!"

    Archive nodded and stepped forward. "By the power of the Elder Sign, leave those children be!"

    The reaction was instantaneous. The children broke out of the spell, screaming and fleeing to either side of Eihort. They made it a few paces in all directions before fell, vomiting up bloated white spiders.

    Kerwin turned. "You!" His features twisted into an inhuman mask of rage. "YOU'VE BEEN VERY BAD!"

    That was all the men needed. They opened fire on Eihort.

    Kerwin charged straight at Archive, growing with each step. The tips of his limbs disintegrated into foaming piles of spiders until he wasn't running but sweeping along like a swarm of bees blowing in the wind. Two clumps caved off and wriggled in the grass, coalescing into something worse.

    Archive muttered another spell but it had no effect as the billowing mass that was once Kerwin was upon him. He disappeared in a pale maelstrom of spindly legs.

    The two wriggling forms disappeared into the ground, burrowing out of sight…but only for a moment. Seconds later there was a terrific tremor that rocked the hill. Two huge worms with spider-like maws dangling far too many legs reared to either side of Eihort, roaring their arrival.

    The men stopped firing and ran for their children, dragging them to safety.

    Hammer charged between the giant worm-things, diving and tumbling as first one and then the other spider-worm dove at him with its massive, convulsing maw. He came up pistols blazing right in Eihort's face – if it even had one.

    Jim-Bean put his arms out and floated up into the air, a heavy satchel dangling from one shoulder. He hoisted a RPG-7, with a rocket already loaded, over one shoulder.

    "This one's for Cornwell."

    The rocket FWHOOSHED through the air, trailing smoke as it impacted Eihort. The spider-thing squealed in rage, flailing in the explosion.

    For a moment all was silent. Then Eihort charged out of the dust and debris right towards Hammer.

    Inside the mass of spiders, Archive realized that they weren't reaching him because Jim-Bean had shielded him. It was the only thing preventing them from penetrating every orifice. He stumbled blindly out of the mass, away from the Kerwin-spider-pile.

    The worms, momentarily distracted by the explosion, turned their wrath on the remaining men. One by one they hoovered them up like giant vacuums, engulfing trees, bushes, and earth with giant gulps.

    Archive spun and chanted a quick incantation, immolating the mass that pursued him – swarming around trees and over rocks, heedless of any obstacle. The spiders burst into a million little flames, shrieking as one. Whatever was left of Kerwin exploded in cinders.

    Hammer was still firing when the stars blotted out above him. He had a moment to realize that Eihort had leaped, and then flattened himself as the bulk of the thing landed on him.

    Once again Jim-Bean's shield held, barely. The thousands of fat spiderlings scrabbled ineffectively over Hammer's prone form, buried in the dirt from the sheer mass of the Great Old One's bulk. He was going to suffocate long before the spiders got him.

    Jim-Bean levitated Archive out of the two giant spider-worms' reach just as a drooling maw snapped at his dangling legs. Frustrated that their prey had escaped, they turned on the remaining men, who fled into the bush.

    Keeping up the shields on his allies, levitating himself and Archive…it was becoming a strain. Jim-Bean could feel the Realizer crystal he wore around his neck heating up. It took every ounce of his psychic reserve, and he had to dig deep for just one more.

    He flung the satchel full of rockets, thermite grenades, and C-4 at the Eihort. It sailed in a perfect arc, guided by his telekinesis, to embed itself in the thing's massive bulk.

    And then he didn't see Eihort. In its place was Eihort's true form, an ethereal, almost angelic presence, composed of burning wheels, white angel's wings and wise, ancient eyes.

    When it spoke, a fatherly, wise-sounding chorus resonated in Jim-Bean's head. "I WALK AMONG YOU IN THE FLESH. ACCEPT MY BARGAIN AND I WILL MAKE YOU MY—"

    Jim-Bean triggered the detonator with a flick of his thumb.

    Explosions blossomed on Eihort, small at first, then larger as the rockets caught fire. The rockets spiraled off, one of them skewering one of the spider-worms. The forest caught on fire as the thermite grenades burst, some of them next to Eihort, others blasted further away. White hot flames engulfed the obscene spider-thing's flailing form.

    Grimsdyke Hill convulsed as if it were giving birth. The tunnel-womb opened wider and air, leaves and rocks were sucked back into the narrowing hole. First one worm, than another was torn from its moorings and it was clear that the things were as much spider-beneath as they were worm-above, spindly legs snapping under the wrath of a labyrinth calling them home.

    But Eihort held on. Hammer gasped to life as the bulk quivered over him, stumpy legs dug into the earth all around him. It had not gained purchase fast enough to sink all of its limbs in; only the front two. It scrambled to anchor its lower half, which shielded Hammer from being sucked in as well. Hammer had seconds before he was sucked into the labyrinth cave or Eihort regained his grip and stayed forever to infest man like a bloated leech.

    Hammer put his two Glocks to the massive legs, wide as tree trunks. He closed his eyes and pulled the trigger, praying that Thredra's fire-bullets would do the trick.

    The effect was instantaneous. Instead of tearing a small hole it was like two cannons tore through Eihort's limbs. The spider-thing squealed, tumbling as it bounced once, twice, and was called home beneath Grimsdyke Hill.

    The cavern winked shut and instantly the wind stopped. Jim-Bean and Archive floated to the ground.

    Hammer got to his feet. "Where's Jamie?"
    Mike "Talien" Tresca

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    Cross My Heart...: Conclusion

    In the firefight they had forgotten the reason they were there.

    The eight-year-old boy had red hair, freckles, and wore broken glasses. "I'm here," Jamie called out.

    Hammer walked over to him. Jamie took a step back. "Don't be afraid. We're here to help."

    He nodded, hesitant. "I know." He was covered in dust, dirt, and a multitude of scratches. The boy had aged years in one day. There were no more tears left. "You saved me," was all he said.

    Hammer kneeled down. "I have a knack for helping out kids," he said. "There's another little boy I know…" he thought of Alex, whom he was funding in Agent Blade's absence. It occurred to him only then that, with Hammer's own presumed death, payments had stopped helping Alex. Hammer choked. "He's a lot like you. He's a survivor. You'll be fine."

    "We won't abandon you, don't worry," said Jim-Bean quietly. It was tone he didn't use often. "I've got a friend. I think you and her might get along well."

    Archive frowned. "A necromancer isn't exactly a great role model..."

    Jim-Bean glared at Archive and he clamped his mouth shut. "She's nice, you'll like her. A little quirky. But she can help you with…"

    "The family business." Jamie nodded. "I know. My dad told me one day I would have to take it over. And with all of his lieutenants gone…" He looked around at the great furrows that had been dug in the earth from the things that had gobbled them up. "I guess that leaves me."

    "Come on," said Jim-Bean, patting the boy on the back. "Let's go home."
    Mike "Talien" Tresca

    Want more? Subscribe to my column; follow me on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and the web; buy my books: The Evolution of Fantasy Role-Playing Games, The Well of Stars, and Awfully Familiar. Become an Examiner and get paid to write today!

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