Atomic Age

The Peacekeepers p. 12
Northport

Northport.jpgAfter weeks of cross country travel, I arrived at the estate of Ken English, in Northport, Michigan. There I got to meet the man who my master fought alongside in the great war, and he did not disappoint. He is clearly well off, but his intentions appear to be good. Within a day of my arrival 3 other skilled warriors arrived at the mansion by invitation of Mr. English. At this time Mr. English made it clear that he was looking for skilled individuals to make a difference for good. He also spoke of great evil at work in the world, and according to the 3 warriors, they had encountered tendrils of this evil force. After the discussion ended Nova, Reaper and Warlock and I departed to investigate an boat fire using a boat Mr. English provided for us.

After a small effort, the fire was quenched, and the victims of the boats combustion were rescued. After tending to their injuries and some inquiry we learned that one of their party members was still missing. We searched the surrounding area but were unable to locate the missing person. On board the ship beneath the deck was a store of radioactive rocks. I still can’t fathom why anyone would carry these around on a fishing trip.

From there we departed the sinking wreckage of the civilian’s boat, in the motor boat loaned to us by Mr. English. On our way we learned of more fires taking place at the docks of the city. We decided to make haste to that location to lend our aid. Along the way we encountered policeman who travel by boat, and to them we entrusted the safety of the civilians we rescued.

Upon reaching the docks we beheld a monster of the like I have never seen. It stood a hulking figure, nearly twenty feet tall; it was bright like the sun and hot like wild fire. Working together, we were able to extinguish the fires it created and protect civilians as they escaped. We managed to contain the beast and eliminate it. Truly there is evil running wild in the world, I know now that I have come to serve in the right place.

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The Peacekeepers p. 11

Books_of_Night.jpgEbonhurst University
New York, NY

An Ivy league school with an academic reputation to match, Ebonhurst rests in a wooded green space amidst the concrete jungle of New York City. The prestige of the school made it accessible for only the brightest and most well connected of students. It made it much smaller than other nearby schools, but it’s resources were second to none. Stanford, Harvard and Yale were more well-known, but academics from around the world understood that Ebonhurst was every bit their equal.

The university had a more sinister reputation in one respect. Archaeology, and some say the occult, was a beacon at the school. Many of the world’s most renowned archaeologist learned their craft there, including Dr. Anthony DeWain. Those affiliated with Ebonhurst simply pointed to the Museum of Antiquities that was attached to the school, and the wealth of knowledge and culture found within its walls. Those outside the university wondered if the quest for knowledge perhaps dug too deep, or chased wild tales and legend instead of research.

Troy Chadwick had spent much of his time here. It was an ideal location. In the center of the financial world also rested the academic center of archaeology- and as Troy knew particularly well- the lost art of magic. When he found time away from work or his frequent investment trips, he studied amidst the tomes found in the Ebonhurst library’s basement collection.

A small lamp was illuminated, and on the desk was a collection of books. Today, Troy found himself once more revisiting the two volumes known together as The Books of Night. They were translated into English in the 1600’s from a far more ancient source. Before that, the only copies were a set of scrolls and clay tablets written in a dead language. The original clay tablets had been stored at Ebonhurst for decades, and remained safely secure. These tablets were priceless, and not available to the general public. A transcribed version of that ancient scroll was also believed to exist, but it had been stolen from Dr. Bernard Watson of Oxford some twenty years past. No one had seen it since. The only means of access now was through the translated versions, and out of the 200 some copies masterfully penned by a European Monk, only a handful survived. One of these lay on the desk before Troy Chadwick. He knew the staff at Ebonhurst well, and they trusted him. Even so, the librarians watched his every move.

Troy carefully opened the fragile pages of the four hundred year old book with his white gloves. He leaned close to study the faded words, and breathe in the smell of the aged pages. He loved that smell. His immersion was interrupted by a man sitting across from him and clearing his throat politely.

“Good day, Mr. Chadwick. I was hoping we might be able to talk. Are you hungry? It would be a privilege to discuss your studies over dinner.” The man whispered, and his eyes conveyed a sense of warmth. There was nothing outwardly suspicious about the man. Troy had learned long ago to look past outward appearances though.

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The Peacekeepers p. 10

Panel 1: Sunrise over New York’s eastside.

Panel 2: Zoom in to the front steps of an apartment building where a young negro woman is escorting a young white man with a blindfold.

Mr. Narrator: It’s about 8:30am on February 14th, 1967. The sun is climbing in the east but it’s already busy this morning in New York. Eddie Dowd’s building is just a short walk to the Promise Clinic. Evangeline and Vincent have decided to make the short walk and it is not long before they see the line snaking its way through the front door of the clinic.

Panel 3: Across town in the financial district a well dressed young man is waving goodbye to the building doorman as he heads out for the day.
Doorman: “Looks to be a fine morning Mr. Chadwick. Will you be needing a cab today?”
Troy Chadwick: “Not today Antony.” < laughs> “Think I’ll actually brave driving today.”

Panel 4: Inside a ‘66 VW Beetle convertible in the parking garage. Troy is looking through files in his briefcase. One in particular with the heading “Promise Clinic.” Troy looks thoughtful as he scans the file.
Troy Chadwick: "Now Dr. Beckett what are you up to? And where is all the money and equipment coming from, hmmm? Even military contracts don’t explain all this."

Panel 5: Evangeline and Vincent standing outside the Promise clinic. The sounds of buses and traffic are deafening, jackhammers permeate the background. They lean close to one another to talk.
Evangeline: “Are you sure you are up to this, cher?”
Vincent: “It’s just an initial visit and if I don’t keep this appointment I could lose my benefits.”

Panel 6: Inside the clinic Troy is standing to one side looking the clinic over. He also looks over the clients as if looking for someone in particular. The clinic is absolutely packed. From his expression, even though he attempts to conceal it, he is overwhelmed by the stench of unwashed men and women, the sick, etc. There are several women at the front, behind small windows, shouting at everyone to wait their turn, sign in, etc.

Panel 7: Evangeline and Vincent are now standing at the door. Evangeline looks around the lobby noting some men are coughing, others complaining. The waiting room looks like it was nicely furnished at one point. Posh couches in orange and yellow and a new coffee maker that sits empty. Styrofoam cups are littered and the trash is overflowing. It was nice but now it is simply used.

Panel 8: (close up, alarmed) Evangeline turns and cocks her head… the sound of gunfire… machinegun fire.

Panel 9: Vincent turns at the sound of screams and panic making its way down the city blocks like a tidal wave. Police sirens wailing in the distance begin to get louder and appear to be converging in their direction.

Panel 10: Troy, still inside the clinic, remains unaware of the approaching commotion due to the volume within.

Panel 11: Evangeline scans the area for a place to change… just in case.

Panel 12 : Reaper leans toward her.
Vincent: “Any idea what’s going on or just another New York day?”
Evangeline: “Gunshots, sounded like machine gun or something. It was fairly close, too.”
Vincent: “Can you get me closer?”
Evangeline: “It is several blocks away, cher. We need to keep your appointment. Let’s let the police handle it.”

Panel 12: A fireball seems to fill an intersection two blocks away and reaches a story in height. Glass shatters and the ground shakes. People are screaming and sprinting from the explosion.

Panel 13: Evangeline looks toward the explosion.
Evangeline: “…or not.”
Vincent: “Just so you know, I’m arching my eyebrows at you right now. Just can’t see it behind the bandages.”

Panel 14: Hearing the explosion Tony starts to make his way outside only to be swept along by the crowd.

Panel 15: Evangeline laughs as she leads Vincent to a nearby alley unnoticed in the confusion.
Evangeline: “Well good intentions and all that. Let’s go.”
Vincent: “Let’s.”

Panel 16: As the sound of machine gun fire increases scenes of the jungles of ‘Nam flash through Vincent’s mind.

Panel 17: Tony slips his mask on as the crowd carries him along and deposits him outside slightly battered.

Panel 18: Evangeline has her newest velcro outfit on so changing is a snap and she stashes her clothes, in a flash Nova is ready for action. Meanwhile Vincent falls back against a wall while clutching at his face, breathing heavily.
Nova: “You ok, cher?”
Vincent: Looking up as the blood starts seeping through the bandages, “Not for long…”

Panel 19: Nova crosses herself and silently prays for Vincent and this encounter.

Panel 20: One police cruiser pulls in front of Nova and Vincent. Two policemen get out and take cover on the driver’s side, same side Nova and Vincent are on and begin firing.

Panel 21: Finally clear of the crowd and properly masked Tony, now Warlock, assesses the situation noting the police cruise nearby. The officers firing at someone or something he can’t see as the crowd continues to stream away from the gunfire.

Panel 22: A sudden spike in the magic in the area draws Warlock’s attention to the pair in the alley. It is a familiar spike. One thought crosses Warlock’s mind, Reaper.

Panel 23: Machine gun fire erupts into the cruiser and one of the officers falls. The screams fade into the distance as most of the wiser folks have gotten away from this area.

Panel 24: Nova and Warlock catch sight of an individual, seemingly normal in appearance, wearing a fall coat, banging against the walls of the clinic. The unusual part is that the bricks seem to be cracking and flying off the wall under the power of his blows.

Panel 25, divided panel:
1: Nova creates her personal force field as she flies toward the downed officer.
2: Shadows emerge as Vincent continues to battle within himself.
3: A soft glow envelopes Warlocks hands as he moves them over the officer while chanting.

Panel 26: Nova noting the closing wounds lowers her energy blast, realizing this stranger is no threat to the officer. Warlock is oblivious to the defensive attack he almost triggered as he concentrates on saving the officer’s life.

Panel 27: The second officer’s head snaps back in a spray of blood erupting on either side of his head as the wall continues to be pounded on by the strange blonde man.

Panel 28: As more bricks are dislodged you can begin to see inside what appears to be an operating room. The voice of a man shouting for help is heard from inside.

Panel 29: Satisfied Warlock represents no threat and may, in fact, be friendly, Nova takes to the air again searching for the source of the gunfire.

Panel 30: Evangeline lifts into the sky and sees a woman wearing blue and black futuristic looking armor. She is firing a machine gun into the police cruiser.

Panel 31, divided panel:
1: The armored woman looks up at Nova. She seems genuinely taken aback.
2: Nova raises a hand in warning. Her warning clear without speaking, “Don’t make me blast you.”
3: A clearer view of the man is gotten. He also appears to be wearing some sort of futuristic armor underneath his coat but his is red. His face also appears to have some armor over it.

Panel 32: Vincent appears to be growing in height as he is consumed by an ink black cloud. He appears to be in some pain as well.

Panel 33: The woman in blue lifts her rifle and squeezes the trigger as she aims her rifle at Nova.

Panel 34: Nova fires her energy blast at the woman catching her on exposed flesh, causing the woman in blue to grunt in pain as her rifle hammers out a lethal stream of bullets.

Panel 35: Warlock’s spell finishes and the officer’s wounds close.

Panel 36: Nova’s force field flares and fades as it absorbs almost all of the damage. The remaining damage trivial.

Panel 37: The blonde man with the iron mask breaks succeeds in breaking through the brick wall.

Panel 38: Nova swoops down, her foot glowing as energy gathers, and throws a kick at her opponent but glances off the woman’s armor.

Panel 39: Only a growing inky darkness remains where Vincent stood as his transformation continues.

Panel 40: An old man’s voice is heard shouting as the blonde man enters through the hole in the wall.
Old man: “Wait, that was you? Not a grenade? What are you? Get back… get away from me…”

Panel 41: Warlock stands and makes a gesture at the blonde man’s back. A quick snap to distract him Warlock thinks as the pale purple bolt passes through the armor, jolting the blonde man.

Panel 42: The woman shouts at the blonde man as she reloads
Woman: “Steel! You alright?”

Panel 43: Steel sheds his coat, tossing it aside. A large cylinder emerges from his right shoulder, seemingly two feet in length. It sets and swivels to a horizontal position, glowing with red energy inside of what appears to be a barrel of some kind.
Steel: “Don’t worry about me, Iron! I’ll find Beckett!”

Panel 44, split panel: (close up for both) Nova and Warlock react with recognition to the name.

Panel 45: Iron arches back and attempts to land a well executed kick.
Iron: “Back off, girl! You might get hurt.”

Panel 46: Nova is taken back by the force of the kick and the sound of metal as Iron’s kick hits her hand. Nova takes a step back from the force of the blow but is unharmed.
Nova: “Nobody else needs to get hurt, why are you doing this, what are you after?”

Panel 47: Warlock sees an old man in the operating room, still in a surgical gown, sitting up with IVs still inside his arm.

Panel 48: He begins to stand up and the IVs fall away. His wrinkles begin to smooth, he grows taller, and his hair darkens from white to dark gray, thickening as he stands.

Panel 49: Only 15 seconds have passed in the alley but what remains doesn’t resemble Sgt. Vincent Porter at all. Reaper has arrived.
Reaper: “I AM UNLEASHED!!”

Panel 50, divided panel:
1: Reaper rushes from the alley.
2: Reaching the cruiser he doesn’t go over but melds into the shadows beneath it.
3: Then reappears behind Steel and lands a solid punch. “Peek-a-boo. I. BREAK. YOU!”
4: Steel grunts loudly in pain at Reaper’s unexpected blow.

Panel 51: Warlock makes arcane gestures.
Warlock: “What reason can you have for attacking a place of healing?”

Panel 52: (close up) Iron stares in shock that gives way quickly to anger.
Iron: “A place of healing? You can’t be serious. Open your eyes.”

Panel 53: Steel turns and launches a powerful blow at Reaper, catching him squarely in the chest.

Panel 54: A surprised look crosses Nova’s face as she realizes from the energy wash from the blocked kick that Iron’s leg isn’t just armored but completely artificial.

Panel 55: Iron shouts angrily, “I’m after the person who did this to me. If I can’t have my life back, I’ll have to settle for taking his!”

Panel 56: Iron begins a wind up for another kick.
Nova: “I’m so very sorry for what he did but this is not the way to handle it. We can find another way!”

Panel 57: The old man’s transformation is nearly complete. In his place stands a towering 6 and 1/2 foot muscular man, handsome, with his paper gown shredding before a strange uniform appears in a blink. An old military uniform with a stylized gas mask. In his hand materializes a strange gun, almost reminiscent of an old style gatling gun

Panel 58: Reaper draws his fist back and launches it at Steel with his whole body behind it.
Reaper: “So that’s how it’s gonna be, eh? Allow me to deliver my response…”

Panel 59: The limp form of Steel goes flying through the wall into a medical storage room. He collapses unconscious.
Reaper: “Mess with the best, get flat like the rest.”

Panel 60: Warlock stops gesturing and turns to Iron.
Warlock: “This is why the heroes of Sampa are not to be trifled with. Stand down and explain yourself.”

Panel 61: Iron drops her weapon, raises her hands.
Iron: “I’m no fool. You’ve got to hand it to Dr. Beckett. He sure has beefed up security. I hope you people can sleep at night.”

*Panel 62, split panel:

  • 1: Evangeline: “We are not with Dr. Beckett. We are with a group against such travesties”
    2:Reaper: “Like a baby… with colic.”
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Tales of Damocles p. 5
February 15, 1967

Lower_Manhattan.jpgThe agent had all of these ‘Peacekeepers’ dossiers read and largely memorized. It was his job to know them after all. Blackfoot had assured him these people would not cause any issues unless provoked. Agent Callahan was here to make contact with Blackfoot’s colleagues, and extend a hand of friendship. It was made clear that with this recent AGI event in New York, Damocles needed to go into damage control mode. It was getting more and more difficult to keep the events under wraps. This one, unforeseen as it was, managed to make the national news. The illusion of normalcy was fading, and fading quickly.

Agent Kiruk, Blackfoot’s true name, had recently been promoted to Special Agent. His new responsibility was to coordinate with identified Altered Genetic Individuals (AGI’s). He had already begun assembling a team of AGI’s to give the US Government a readily mobilized interdiction team. Befitting the Damcoles Agenda and it’s mission, this new team was to be called the Swordsmen of Damocles. Blackfoot was busily preparing what he needed to get the Swordsmen up and running in a top secret location in Washington. The last thing he wanted was another Nightly News Bulletin with his team’s faces splashed across color televisions around the country.

Of course, it was one thing knowing who these three AGI’s were. It was another establishing contact with them. Two of them had worked with Blackfoot previously. But of those two, one could fly into space. Honest to God, she could fly in outer space. While NASA prepared to launch it’s first manned mission to the moon three years ahead of President Kennedy’s timetable, an AGI was already able to travel the void without a shred of help from the space agency.

The second could transform into some sort of creature out of a horror movie. The scariest part of the creature was not his towering height- but rather, the Cheshire Cat type grin. This was not a rampaging beast, but rather, a terrifying Mad Hatter. His strength was immense, and short of Paragon or American Angel, it was speculated that there were none stronger than the horror turned hero.

Finally there was Chadwick. He was a true mystery. NYPD reported he did…something… to help them. Something extraordinary. Yet, Damocles failed to get a reading on the man. He exhibited no genetic alterations whatsoever. Blackfoot seemed to think once DamSat was repaired and operational, they might get a more accurate reading. The handheld devices were a pale comparison, and it was possible that Chadwick was too low powered to register. But his actions seemed to suggest he would be a friendly. The three spent some time talking to one another before they left the scene.

By the time Damocles Agents arrived to clear the mess, and assume control of the prisoners, the three “Peacekeepers” had disappeared. They weren’t fugitives. Blackfoot made that clear. He did not want the darlings of the press hunted or pressured. He simply wanted to make sure communication wasn’t lost, and they didn’t go rogue. The New York Times ran a headline the morning of February 15th. New York’s Own Peacekeepers caused a stir among the citizens. Anyone who might have missed the news was sure to hear of them anyway. Secrecy, one of the tenets of Damocles, was now lost.

Agent Callahan picked up a copy of the Times, and sat down on a nearby bench to read. The cold breeze did little to disturb him. Blackfoot would want to know the extent of the situation.

To be continued in the pages of The Peacekeepers

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The Peacekeepers p. 9

Harold_Grove.jpg

“Good evening. I’m Harold Grove, and this is a special news bulletin from WXKO, New York…

Dateline February 14th, 1967:

The calm of Valentine’s Day morning was disrupted today when two armed individuals fired machine guns down Keeler Blvd in the Bronx. Two individuals were killed, including an NYPD officer. The gunmen’s apparent target was the Promise Clinic; known for helping the homeless and wounded veterans of our city. The reasons why these madmen sought to destroy this clinic remain a mystery. What is know today, ladies and gentlemen, is that some well meaning heroes stepped in and averted the disaster before even more lives might have been lost. The property damage was kept to a minimum, and a spokesman for Lifeline Industries who operates the clinic says he believes the facility will be able to reopen thanks to the quick work of these new heroes.

Residents of the Bronx community are calling this another shootout at the OK Corral. Gunshots were fired beginning shortly after most businesses had opened for the day. These new Peacekeepers kept the city from turning into another ‘wild west’. Eyewitness reports claim three individuals in all took part in keeping the peace, including a negro woman who lit up like a light bulb and flew into the sky. A second hulking creature seemed to vanish into plain sight, only to reappear later. This fearsome shadow made quick work of one of the two gunmen, throwing him out onto Keeler Blvd like he was a child’s plaything. Another strange individual is credited for saving an officer’s life, and police are crediting the man for his quick thinking and quicker actions.

WXKO will break into our regular programming with any new updates regarding the dramatic Valentine’s Day incident or the mysterious gunmen, as well as New York’s very own ‘Peacekeepers’.

This is Harold Grove, WXKO New York. Safe Travels."

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The Peacekeepers p. 8

Charlie flexed his hand. The skin hung loose, and it was a pale color darkened by age spots. At 74, it was getting harder and harder to remember his youth. He was still tall- his slightly curving back hadn’t robbed him much of his younger height. He still stood over 6 foot tall, and for a man of his years, he remained in remarkable physical condition. He walked without a cane, and walked whenever he could. The traffic in the Bronx was always a problem anyway. But Charlie enjoyed the exercise. It was just a mile or so from his building to the Clinic where he patiently waited. He had signed in, waiting for Dr. Beckett to arrive and to start on his final procedure. Charlie_Wright.jpg

He had the appointment he had been waiting 6 months for at the Promise Clinic this morning. Valentine’s Day had much less significance since his Doris passed away four years ago. He usually spent the holiday going through their old albums, looking at pictures of their trips upstate with their three children. When he got the diagnosis six months ago, he thought it wouldn’t be so bad. He’d get to see his Doris once more, and someone else could take care of the apartment building. He still had some reasons to live- but taking care of the apartment building wasn’t one of them. The tenants, like the rest of the neighborhood, were struggling with poverty. He had overseen the building since the end of WWII, but he wasn’t able to manage things as well as he once could. And there were people like Dowd who were friendly, but caused lots of complaints from his neighbors. If his brain tumor took him away from the world, he would say good riddance to the building.

He started to reflect on his three children, and his eight grandchildren, when the nurse called for him to go back. Dr. Beckett was smiling, and patted Charlie on the shoulder.

“Good morning, Charlie. What do you say we get rid of this tumor once and for all?”

Dr. Beckett was motioning to the nurses to prepare some additional supplies as Charlie stepped behind a flimsy curtain to change into his surgical gown.

From behind the curtain, Charlie replied. “That sounds good to me, Doc. The headaches are getting worse.”

Dr. Beckett scrubbed his hands, and reassured his patient. “I’m afraid those might continue a while afterwards. But your tumor is still shrinking. This treatment is working. I’m sure you can manage a few more weeks of headaches.”

“I suppose that’s true.”

As Charlie emerged, Dr. Beckett patted the surgical table twice. “Let’s get you started.” As Charlie got situated, the nurse handed the doctor a syringe with a clear liquid. Dr. Beckett injected the syringe into the IV once the nurse had finished.

“That’s good. I want you to count backwards from ten for me Mr. Wright.”

Charlie nodded, already feeling drowsy. He pictured his Doris, and his children.

“10, 9, 8…”

The Doctor nodded at the nurses in the room. “Let’s begin.”

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The Peacekeepers p. 7
2/13/67

Nam_1.jpg

It was never hard to tell when he fell asleep because he always ended up back in ‘Nam. The days were different, the ’activities’ were different but it was always ’Nam. This time it was a little spot on the edge of the jungle just a few clicks outside of base camp. Same old, same old, another ambush big surprise. He and the three others with him found themselves trading shots from behind a small mound of ground (the closest thing to cover they could find) with enemies they, at best, saw glimpses of. Of course, none of these little trips back in time would be complete without Reaper.

Vincent wasn’t sure why, but the monster seemed to enjoy invading his dreams although it’s appearance was different. In the dreams Reaper was always smaller, no more than average height for a grown man but on the slim side. It’s edges would sometimes jerk and waver as if looking at a reflection in disturbed water, but always remained human in shape, except for the face. In his dreams Reaper always had that same cartoonishly unreal grin on it’s face, but no eyes. No facial feature aside from that same mocking grin, like all the pain and suffering that his dreams dredged up were nothing more than the punchline of it’s deranged humor. This time it was wearing a standard issue helmet and firing an M16 into the jungle, but not really aiming.

“Ohhhhh Vincent, buddy ol’ pal,” Reaper said amidst cackling laughter, “you always take me to the best places.”

Reaper set it’s rifle down and sprawled against the mound just as Private Jacobs took a bullet in his head, but of course Reaper didn’t care, it just used Jacob’s body to prop it’s feet up.

“See, I just can’t understand why you hate going to sleep,” it continued. “The sun is shining, somewhere past those trees there. Birds are chirping…I think. Pretty sure. Maybe. They’re definitely considering it though. Weather is less miserable than yesterday. Pretty sure this one died mostly instantly” it said while prodding Jacob’s body with it’s foot “day in paradise, amirite?”

Vincent just gritted his teeth and kept firing. Even if it was just a dream he couldn’t bring himself to not fight, as if the act of not fighting would somehow change the past and cost more lives, but just as he was lining his sights on one of the shadows in the jungle Reaper’s face was suddenly in his from over the top of his head.

“Ooh, ooh! I know! Let’s go to THAT ONE!”

Vincent would’ve sworn he felt his blood run cold, he knew which memory Reaper liked to pick on the most.

No more jungle. No more fighting. Just standing at the edge of base camp, watching the looks on the other soldier’s faces as they stood at the gate. He couldn’t hear anything, he never could, but he knew he was shouting at them. Telling them they couldn’t go. That if they tried to help her he’d shoot them in the leg and drag them back himself. Just 30 feet outside was a dead VC, his gun arm draped over a Vietnamese woman. Both bleeding out from the burst of bullets Vincent had put through her to get him. The woman had no known ties to the enemy and had even made several trips inside the camp before and yet he refused aid. The others argued, they called him paranoid and crazy, but Vincent just stared out at the pair on the ground. Watching, waiting, for the slow movement of their breathing to stop. Reaper was hanging from the walls, shaking and shrieking with laughter.

“Stop it…” Vincent barely managed to choke out the words. Reaper fell silent and within a moment suddenly appeared in front of Vincent, leaning in close enough for Vincent to smell it’s breath; like blood and rotting corpses.

“You can’t keep stopping it,” it said all too happily, “pretty soon, you’re gonna go out that gate.” That impossible grin only got wider, the ends literally going off Reaper’s face “I’ll make sure of that. No more high walls to keep you safe. No more barricades to keep the death out. I will—”

Vincent woke so violently he fell off the couch and immediately began emptying what little was in his stomach on the floor. Although this time he only spent a few seconds clawing at his face trying to get rid of whatever was blinding him, but the first feel of fresh blood under his fingers brought back reality all too quickly. The chill and lack of response told him it was night, he must have been out for quite a while. He told himself he really should at least attempt to do something about the mess he had just made all over Dowd’s floor but his arms wouldn’t listen. Instead he just rolled over, sweating and gasping for breath, and waited for the shaking to stop.

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The Peacekeepers p. 6
2/13/67

“Um, sure, thank you,” Evangeline stammered. Any thoughts of false politeness were trumped by her body’s new demands. She’d learned the hard way over the last few months that Khel’s new “perks” came with a price-namely her jacked up metabolism. She required food every couple of hours and it had taken her just under an hour to fly here from home.

Mr. Dowd motioned her inside and disappeared into the kitchen, talking non-stop the whole time. The apartment was miniscule and decorated in what she suspected was typical Eddie style-haphazard. The floor was covered in clothing, newspapers and empty Coca-Cola bottles, and the walls in posters (none of them tacked evenly) of scandalously-clad, large-breasted women. Vincent’s friend was loud, unrefined, a terrible cook if the smoke coming from the kitchen was any indicator, clearly a slob-and she liked him instantly, she thought, her eyes coming to rest on the picture by the door. Hanging away from all of the posters and next to a cheap plastic cross, the picture showed an older, female version of Eddie, her arms wrapped around him in his starched Army uniform, love and pride shining in her matronly face.

She checked on Vincent but he appeared to be sleeping soundly, if not peacefully. His bandages would need to be changed before his appointment in the morning but for now it was more important that he sleep. She hummed softly to him as she tried to cover him with the granny square afghan stuffed in the corner of the stained sofa. She had no idea if it helped soothe him or not but it made her feel better to try anyway.

“So like I was tellin’ Sarge,” Eddie continued, coming out of the kitchen with two plates of his “famous” fish and fries – both burnt – “I heard some crazy stuff about this doc down at the clinic. I told him to be careful. You’re gonna be with him, right? I gotta work or I’d go, too, make sure they do right by him, you know?” Between mouthfuls of food, chewed with typical Eddie gusto, he answered her questions about the clinic and this doctor to which Vincent had been referred in an effort to solve the mystery of his ever-bleeding eyes. She assured Eddie that she would watch over him to the best of her ability. What she didn’t tell him was that her “ability” was greater than he knew, or that it was the sole reason that Vincent had asked her to accompany him to this appointment. Ever-fearful of the Reaper making an unwanted appearance, she was his protection policy – not for himself but for the people Reaper might hurt.

She politely refused as Eddie kept trying to fill her plate with yet more fish, explaining that they had an early morning tomorrow and she needed to find somewhere to sleep. No way was she going to try to explain to her mother that she spent the night in an apartment with two men. True to form, Eddie eagerly assured her that she was more than welcome to crash here at his place, an offer she also politely, but firmly, refused, glancing again at the half-naked women adorning his walls. “Nah, don’t pay no attention to none o’ that stuff,” Eddie stammered, blushing. “It just, you know, it covers the holes in the walls, that’s all. Safe as houses, plus, you know, any friend of Sarge’s…right?” She laughed and thanked him again for his generous offer and he finally told her of a nearby hotel that accepted “coloreds.” She thought it very kind when he objected to her walking alone in this part of town at night but it was her turn to assure him that she would be just fine.

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Secrets of the Tome p. 5
Saving the world

He stood just inside the doorway of one of the smaller buildings, an office of some sort he guessed, and watched the new arrivals inside the city. As the signs had shown him they came, a woman who rose from the water, a man from the sky riding on flame, another woman descended from the heavens glowing brightly, a darkness climbed over the wall, and finally a man with knowing eyes. They came together, these disparate elements, and the dead arose to assault them.

The dead army was legion until the Sword of Damocles, the auguries had named them, began to act. Flashes of bright light, crashing waves, fire, darkness, and gunfire made short work of the army.

After a brief consultation the Sword moved through the city searching for what he could not say. He made sure they would take no notice of him, with the appearance of Sampa, the city, the power of magic had risen exponentially and spells he could only read about before now worked and invisibility was a simple spell. Eventually they turned their attentions to the column of blue light that engulfed the Temple.

He had seen the woman ridden by evil climb to the top of the Temple earlier, the blue light not a barrier to her even though the first arrivals, military jets and helicopters, had learned to give the column a wide berth after one of theirs had been destroyed by the light.

The Sword approached the barrier and after a brief hesitation the man who rode flame pushed into the barrier and was followed quickly by the rest of the Sword. Up the temple they went until the Scourge, an otherworldly creature from the same realm as the Darkness but twisted and evil where the Darkness sought to champion the light, attempted to stop them.

The Scourge and the Darkness struck at each other with such power and ferocity that the blows sounded like thunder and would surely have reduced a mortal to a red ruin. The two women also struck at the Scourge while the two men headed to the top of the Temple where the sacrificial altar stood.

He was too far to make out exactly what went on at the altar but he did see the man who rode flame step back from the altar holding the two spheres of power. As he backed away from the altar a change in the power could be sensed even this far away. The glowing woman left the fight to go to the alter, the spill of power from there now included a taste of healing. They were attempting to save the sacrifice and end the ritual.

The battle of the titans ended when the Darkness threw the Scourge from the Temple to the ground so far below. The Scourge broke into pieces on impact then the pieces dispersed into a black miasma.

The man who rode flame threw one of the spheres to the Darkness and both headed to separate corners of the base of the Temple. The glowing woman flew to the man who rode flame, took the sphere from him and ascended the heavens in a bright glow. She returned shortly to do the same with the Darkness. The spheres dealt with the Sword wasted no time in taking the sacrifice from the city, each leaving much the same way as they had arrived.

Again the city was silent but would not remain so for long. Others, like him, would come, drawn by the siren’s call of power.

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The Peacekeepers p. 5
2/14/1967

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It was the morning of Valentine’s Day. The doors opened at the Promise Clinic at 9am, and there was already a line forming. The Promise Clinic had quickly established a reputation for serving the underprivileged. They had an exclusive contract with the Department of Veterans Affairs, and wounded vets from Vietnam received priority attention. In addition though, many of New York’s homeless were waiting to receive care. Poverty was rampant in Brooklyn, and the surrounding buroughs of New York. In other words, a clinic serving the underprivileged was going to be busy at all times in New York City. Once a week, however, Dr. Gordon Beckett appeared personally to attend to the most grievously injured veterans. He was a brilliant surgeon, and while the business of running a clinic fell to others, his talents were used exclusively to help those like Sergeant Vincent Porter.

Dr. Gordon Beckett was a man of many talents. In addition to being a renowned surgeon, he was likewise a brilliant businessman. His business enterprise, Lifeline Industries, was at the forefront of an unknown science- biomedical technology. Finally, Dr. Beckett was also a lawyer- and he personally handled the legal affairs of his clinic despite advice from others. The fact that he took time to personally perform surgery each week at the Promise Clinic was astounding.

The rest of the lobby was humming with patients. A surgery was scheduled for 10am, but before that time Dr. Beckett was expecting a new veteran from Louisiana. He was giving orders to office and nursing staff, flirting with the most attractive women. All eyes were on him. Meanwhile, the patients clamored for attention. The overworked staff was diligent, but it was an uphill struggle.

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