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Alexb83

The Crawling Chaos

Posts: 1,954

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Oct 5 12 5:31 PM

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Hyde set his briefcase down at the end of a row of uncomfortable lounge chairs, unbuttoned his jacket and took a seat in silence. He pushed in a pair of unassuming wireless earbuds and pressed the contextual button on his peek to make them go. He wasn't listening to the music, though he made a show of tapping his feet, and nodding his head to the beat. Instead, he was concentrating on one of the more extraordinary additional senses that his 'condition' afforded him: the certain, infallable ability to detect his own kind.

As he tuned out the noise around him, he began to feel the unmistakable presence of the others as they arrived.

The Frankfurt am Main transit terminus arrivals lounge was a huge, cavernous affair, the noise of foot traffic reverberated up into high, single-span ceilings of brushed composite metals and polycarbonate that tipped nods back through time to the designs of Barlow and Paxton, but simultaneously surpassed their wildest flights of fancy in scale and execution. The place had the air of a Cathedral about it; one dedicated to all the Gods of travel stretching back through the ages. People came and went in their thousands, swelling occasionally to tens of thousands. Some travelled by air - as comparatively uncommon a mode of transport it had become in these later days of the 21st century, it was still by far the fastest - sleek A-pod propelled transports of the Aeon still brought people from the further reaches of the globe; but the vast majority came and went by the mass transit system that from this central point radiated out across Eurasia to the east as far as the Chinese frontier, and under the water to the west towards fortress Britain.

It was from Britain that Hyde had travelled to be here; outwardly at least, for an interview with a prospective new employer. In reality, he was here for a rare meeting with his peers. There would soon be seven of them in the terminus, spread out amongst the unsuspecting travellers. Like Hyde, the others would hide in plain sight whilst they conducted their business. Then they would separate and go their separate ways.

To all intents and purposes they each looked entirely human. Even the genescans and backscatter x-rays that modern travellers were subjected to at every wayport wouldn't have revealed the truth about them.

There would be Svaha, the firestarter. She smelled like burning tyres and incense in his mind. Hyde had not seen her face to face in almost three years. She was Indian, painfully beautiful, but a first class bitch from what he remembered. Flawless olive skin and dark, smoldering eyes. Her hair had always been dyed red. Back then she'd been little more than an initiate into the Society. That was before the Efreet had chosen her, since then she had been a rising star. Besides himself, she was the newest member of the cabal.

Then there was the eldest of their number, Janus. At least that's what everyone called him. His presence was like a lodestone. It had a tangible weight. The Roman god of beginnings - the name fit for a number of reasons - Janus had brought nearly all of them into the fold over the years. He'd probably outlive them all, too. When he'd first met him, Janus had probably been as old as Hyde was now - which was a little more than thirty. Now though, he was past forty and what hair hadn't fallen out was steadily going grey. He was Italian by extraction, short and with a Mediterranean tan. Anyone would be forgiven for making the mistake of thinking that the stocky little man wasn't much of a threat. But as Hyde saw him walk in past the armed guards at the security cordon for the adjacent gate, he didn't need to remind himself that this was probably the deadliest man in the city.
They didn't so much as acknowledge each others existence. There was a practiced art to watching people without letting on that you were doing so.

Next to arrive was Dutch, who despite the name was a bombastic American born Nazaddi. Hyde couldn't see him from where he was sat, but there was the telltale taste of blood at the back of his mouth. It was not unlike the sensation of having a nosebleed running back into your throat from your sinuses. Hyde had always thought of Dutch as insufferable. He was one of those Americans who probably would've given rise to the phrase 'overpaid, oversexed, and over here'.

The fourth was Vespid. A French woman, she'd always looked half-starved, with mousy hair and stick-like limbs. Like the portrait of Cosette Fauchelevant that had decorated every billboard at the entrance to the musical of Victor Hugo's Les Miserables for a little over a hundred years.
She was probably the only one of their group, besides Janus, that all of the others could bear. Janus they might respect, but Vespid they all liked. Her patience and attention to detail appealed to Hyde's sensibilities, and she had an infectious laugh.

Fifth was the leader of the local pack, Hermann. In Hydes mind, he smelled unpleasantly like fish. Despite the name, he was actually Swiss. Hyde had only ever met him once before, on a cargo ship out of Rotterdam. They'd boarded the bulker hunting the same prey, and after the damn thing exploded twenty miles offshore Hyde had to admit it was only thanks to Hermann that he'd made it through the Dagonites and back to dry land.

Sixth was the enigma of the group. Through his conversations with each of the others, he'd come to realise that they all knew him (or her) by different names, and different faces. Svaha and Hermann knew him as Mara, the Hindu demon and the Germanic ghost, though they differed over whether he was Human, Nazzadi, male or female respectively.
Of course Janus knew who he really was, but he wasn't telling - anonymity was a valuable thing. Nothing got past Vespid, but she'd keep the secret just to let her string the others along with a game of 'guess who'. He was a Phantasm, and that meant he could look like who he wanted to. Hyde knew him as Thorn, and hadn't ever seen him in a human shape, so that was that.

Last to arrive was the Turk. He announced his presence with what felt like the precursors to a migraine. He was the most vicious sonofabitch that Hyde had ever met. Every last one of them was a killer, but whereas Hyde did his work with a professional detachment, everyone knew that the Turk did what he did because he and the creature under his skin really enjoyed it.
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Alexb83

The Crawling Chaos

Posts: 1,954

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Oct 6 12 11:27 AM

It was customary to wait a few minutes after all were present before beginning. It was time well spent - watching for tails, establishing sight lines and avenues of escape. These public gatherings were a rare thing, and each of them was naturally cautious. They could scarcely afford not to be - if Internal Security knew who and what any one of them was, they'd be here in force, and do whatever it took to eliminate them. If they couldn't get clear, it'd either mean a slow dissection at the New Earth Government's convenience, or a bloody mess and a public spectacle.

The seven others had set themselves up in little fiefdoms; that Hyde knew anything about them, and them about him was a matter of rare privelege and spoke to their seniority in the organisation - Janus and his cell were established in Manchester, Hermann in Berne and Frankfurt, Vespid in Paris. Thorn had Seattle, but didn't spend much time there - the Society had use for his skills all over the globe. Dutch, the matinee idol, was predictably from Los Angeles.
Svaha had left her original pack in Mumbai and swiftly risen to take control in Volgograd. The Turk had Tehran. Each of them was the focal point of a cell. In each cell, one or more packs of creatures like them. Radiating out from each pack a network of operators, lorekeepers, arcanoscorcerers and para-psychics forming a delicate web-like structure that was interconnected only by cold drops, encrypted communications, and blind conversations in dark alleys. The foundation for each structure was the arcane black market, and the criminal underground.

Depending on which arm of the government you asked, their Society was either a dangerous cult, a terrorist organisation, or a hive of organised crime. Whichever way you cut it, what they did was illegal, their very existence was illegal, and whilst the world government had crossed off a lot of things as legal over the past fifty years, they uniformly took a harder stance against the items left on the list.
Top of the list of illegality was extra-dimensional contamination. Hyde preferred 'Transhumanism', but he could see where the government were coming from on this one. Most people who dabbled with what was beyond did so with an incomplete understanding. They knocked on the doors between dimensions like trick-or-treaters at Halloween, and they never got candy. They ended up insane, dead, or worse, like the disciples of the King in Yellow, they had their insides - body and soul - devoured by the things they tried to contact. And the empty shell that was left behind got filled in by the devourer.

What Hyde and the rest had done was something far better informed, but no less dangerous. All eight of them had been willingly subjected to a unique sort of infection. They'd gone fishing in the spaces between dimensions, using themselves as the bait - only what'd swum up out of the depths had latched on like a Remora, rather than taking a bite. Unlike a Remora and its host though, these things weren't just along for a free ride. What they had with their friends from beyond was a sort of mutualism.
So far they'd caught about ten distinct species of fish, and most were represented in the cavernous hall with Hyde today. All different in what they offered their hosts, but the same in where they came from, and what they wanted. They'd taken up residence somewhere inside each of them, slowly sucking away at the life energy of their host, no more than anyone would miss. In return they would keep it alive - make it stronger, faster, harder to kill. And at mutually agreed times, they would manifest themselves. Their body became your body. It slid along the conduit between two dimensions and enveloped its host with something horrific, and yet so much more than human.

Inside Svaha burned a creature of fire and if she so desired, it would wreathe her in itself. Within Hermann there was a predator out of some other-worldy ocean. Dutch hid a winged thing out of nightmares that could boil blood, and twist flesh with a touch. Janus was an unmovable juggernaut of destruction, not a swarthy, diminutive man. The Turk was a mass of muscle, talons, and lidless eyes. Vespid was a many-limbed thing with gossamer wings, that could see over miles, through flesh and bone. Thorn was a venemous monstrosity around which light bent and twisted at his whim. Inside Hyde was a cold, stinking thing over which death held no dominion.
In this age of dead Gods reborn, and invaders from the cold depths of space the Society had no illusions over the benevolence of these creatures, so much as the necessity of falling in with them. What mattered was that they did not seem to want to subjugate humanity, devour it or destroy it outright. They were forgotten Gods, of dead civilizations. The Society did not serve them, any more than their minions served the Society - they simply seemed to serve each others interests, at least for the time being. Of all of them here, the only one that showed any open reverence for these Gods was Vespid, the Somnambulist - who followed the creature of dreams they called Morfean.

She was the first to speak - if you could call it speech. In the same way they could feel each others presence here, they had the the ability to share their thoughts without externalising them. "So," she began, "A Tager, a Dhohanoid and a Disciple of the Earth Mother walk into a bar, and the bartender says: 'Wait, is this some kind of a joke?'"

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Alexb83

The Crawling Chaos

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Feb 25 13 9:19 PM

Jokes. Hyde wasn't in the mood for jokes. It had not been a good week.

London was a bust." he interrupted. It was a wrench to have to admit the failure. Not that there weren't excuses, reasons that it had gone south - good reasons too, but the operation had been his baby. There were those of the seven who'd use this as ammunition against him in the future, he knew. They did not like him all that much, certainly not his ideas when it came to making in-roads with the government agencies. They liked the war in the shadows. As far as they were concerned that was where the war belonged. It had cost him nearly all the currency he'd built up in the last few years just to get them to approve the OIS venture.

He gave his announcement a moment to sink in. Better to pre-empt recriminations, refocus attention. "My identity is burnt. My asset is adrift," he almost hesitated to add. It would only provoke them if he was to suggest re-attempting the plan, at least for now: "adrift, but I think still salvageable." They would want answers, of course, but there wasn't time for that. He went out on a limb: "It was one of them. Shakary, Walker. I'm sure of it." He was sure of it. It would've had to have been one of them. He hoped as much as dreaded. If they were getting involved directly to try and stop him, he must be doing something right - at least that was the way he read it.

It was Janus who threw him a line. "Shakary was tracked entering the UK two weeks ago."

That was something to grasp at. The chance for revenge. "I can't go back to London for a while - I'll leave my murder to my second, but..." this would be the crux of it. "Give me leave to work in Manchester - give me a few Tagers, the best, the worst. We'll bring you the bitches head."

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