Sunday, 11th November, 2012, 12:07 AM #81
"I have eaten better men than you."
Mace smiled. "I'm not the one trapped like a rat." He checked his watch. "Sunrise is in two hours and fifty-eight minutes. First question: What do we call you?"
The creature stirred, cocking its head to one side the way a poodle might. Then its mouth split open in a bad smile.
"Call me Gary."
"You're a centuries old creature named Gary?"
"I am not so dumb as to give people my real name."
Mace shrugged. "Okay Gary, what are you doing with the kids?"
Gary was silent.
"Mike, what's he doing with the kids?" Mace spoke aloud. The new communicator [Digital Intrusion Cherry] had better work.
"The kids are window dressing. An experiment, to see if groups of people can be controlled through properties."
"Like real estate. People are tied to locations. They're exploiting that."
"Gary, third question - Why hasn't your team attacked us? Torn us to shreds? Fed us our organs?"
Gary paced his confinement.
"I believe this witchcraft cage you have me in has cut me off from communicating with them."
"Thank the lunatic. He found it in an old church text book."
Gary nodded slowly.
"And what does the mighty Mace Hunter intend to do? Burn me to ash in the morning sun?"
"Gary, last question - who do you answer to?"
"I'm answering your questions."
"No. Who's your superior? Who's the boss?"
"You cannot fathom the depths of your own ignorance Mace Hunter. The 'boss' is something so truly horrific I dare not speak its name."
Rossini chimed in, "I told you Voldemort is real."
"Okay," Mace continued, "then if you're a pawn on the chessboard, tell me about the rooks or knights."
The creature spit green and brown spittle on the ground.
"I've not been a pawn since before this country was founded. On the board I am a Knight."
"Queen or King?"
[BS Detection 1] "Forgive me Gary, I find it hard to believe you take orders from a woman."
"The Queen, in this metaphor, is beyond gender."
An hour passed, the two just watching each other.
"So Gary, the stone on the ground, you've not made eye contact with it. Why?"
"And you don't want to wake it?"
Gary said nothing.
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It didn't take long for everyone to see what the problem was. In the waning moments of the darkest hour of night, the stone almond began to smoke. It gave off no additional light, it just began to put off an inky, oily smoke. The kind you get when you burn old plastic. It swirled around Gary's feet like a coiling python. Gary did not look pleased.
Mace watched the smoke rise from the almond and cloud the edges of the cage. The smoke wasn't malicious, it didn't smite Gary, it didn't really seem to interact with Gary at all, it just poured out of the almond from a crack or opening no one saw.
When the smoke was thick enough to cover Gary's feet, Gary began to laugh his sickly bray again.
"Mace Hunter, we should speak."
"These very well could be my final moments, but I want you to know something. I want you to know that whatever happens in the next six hours - It. Is. Not. My. Fault."
They stared at each other until the sun rose and Gary died shrieking.
Six hours. Plenty of time for a patented Mace Hunter plan. Except...there wasn't one. Mace just leaned against his car for a moment and craved a drink.
The team poured holy water on what remained of Gary (it looked like coffee grinds and smelt like old chalk) and stood there waiting for orders.
But Mace had none to give. The great Mace Hunter, master tactician and architect of genius plans to rid the world of evils was bone dry in the idea well. So he gave the only order he could.
"Everyone go to holy ground, wait there for seven hours. Then we'll talk."
The team scattered.
Mace found himself at the Order of the Sacred Sisters, a Catholic cement bunker downtown near the sushi place Rossini raved about.
Nick found himself at a Buddhist temple on Cicada Lane, out in farm country.
MikeSmith found a quiet Lutheran church where he could read a book or two.
Rossini found a Baptist church where they were preparing for a wedding. He took a nap in the rearmost pew.
One minute into the seventh hour, an older man in vestments tapped Mace on the shoulder.
"Are you here for confession?"
"No, Father, I'm just here for the atmosphere. Soaking up the culture, as it were."
"Are you sure, a little confession might be good for you."
"I'm okay really. Just a visitor."
"Mace Hunter, now a visitor of churches?"
Mace did a double take.
"You know me?"
"It would be hard not to recognize the mastermind behind one of the greatest freelance teams in the world. Especially when he picks your church for a visit."
The old man pointed out the cameras [Electronic Surveillance]. Mace was so busy, so in his own head, he didn't bother checking. Foolish.
"So, Mace, I think it's time we make you an offer."
"I've had enough offers today, thanks."
"We can provide finances. Safehouses. We can help."
"Who's the we?"
"The Ordo Agnum. Come to my office, we can speak more privately there.".
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