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It's Important that you Understand (working title)

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Cult of Gloom
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It's Important that you Understand (working title)

 

                                                                                                   Chapter 1

When Baron Blade attacks the city of Metropolis, he arrives in his Mobile Defense Platform. A flying fortress that casts entire city blocks into ominous shadow, propelled though the air on massive turbine engines, the anthem of Modrengrad blaring from speakers in a show of audacity and mad confidence.

Citizen Dawn arrives to do battle with the heroes in a flash of cold light, descending from the heavens with the wrath of the Sun blazing in her eyes, hair whipping dramatically in the wind as Citizens Shock and Awe hold aloft her battle flag, screaming defiance at those who would stand against their rightful dominance of the world.  

Even that blue Rock-a-Billy bounty hunter from space that was on the 5 o clock news fighting the Prime Wardens that one time had a spaceship with custom decals on it that could zip around the sky in ways that made Newton and Einstein feel the need to go have a cool drink and a bit of a lie down.

I one the other hand arrived to the scene of my first ever criminal act in a 1998 Saturn station wagon with wood paneling and a broken AC.

Don’t look at me like that, the thing was fully paid off and only had 18,000 miles on it. I wasn’t about to cash it in for some kind of a black van with monster truck wheels and a skull painted on it. Besides, the gas mileage on something like that would be horrible and just think about what it would do to the environment. I didn’t want that.

It’s very important to me that you understand that. Back when this all started, I didn’t want to hurt anyone. I just wanted for things to be right, I just wanted for things to be fair. I had the absolute best of intentions and nobody was going to get hurt.

At least, nobody who didn’t really, really deserve it.

The scene of my first crime was a bank. I know that is very cliché, the new villain making his debut by robbing a bank. But cliché become clichés for a reason, because there is some spark of truth in them. And the fact of the matter is if you need a large sum of money for capital for your schemes very quickly the best place to get your hands on it was at a bank. I mean you could also sell your soul to dark otherworldly powers for a winning lottery ticket, but then you run the risk of a monkey’s paw situation. Where the ticket was stolen from some Organization heavy with anger management issues and an unhealthy obsession in comparing the sounds that various sporting goods equipment made when they connected with the human body. Just to pick a random example.

That’s something else that’s its very important for you to know. I didn’t dabble in dark magic expecting it to be a cure all for my problem, as if I imagined that some being with too many apostrophes and consonants in its name would really be so interested in what I have to offer to give me my wildest dreams. I didn’t want that. I just wanted a little help. I just wanted a chance.

Anyway, the bank. It was a fairly typical Megalopolis bank. Spacious, well lit, and with a vine tendril growing though the roof to help supplement its energy and make the entire building more efficient and lessen its carbon foot print. There were men in suits, there were uncomfortable chairs around a too low table filled with outdated magazines, and there was really bad complimentary coffee. I made myself a cup and sat down to go over the plan one last time before my appointment.

It was a fairly simple scheme as far as things went, and had as an advantage over your average villainous robbery that nobody should even notice that a robbery was taking place. I was simply going to meet with a banker to talk about restructuring my debt and to see if I qualified for any state or federal assistance curtesy of the OblivAeon Reconstruction and Recovery Act. I would at that point remove something from my pocket that would make the nice man’s mind go foggy for a while and he would sign some loan papers Later, when it was discovered that he signed such a large amount of money away to someone who was in no way a reasonable risk for the bank, he would be fired and his wife would leave him two weeks before his daughter was born.

Bankers all count as people who really, really deserve it, right? I mean, it’s not like he was actually going to help anyone who needed it. I’ve heard stories of people who got O.R.R.A money but as of yet I had actually yet to meet one.

I sat in the bank looking down into the black cup of coffee, getting ready to do my first act of villainy and my second act of magic when I noticed ripples forming in the cup. Faint at first, but getting more and more pronounced. So when you get right down to it, everything that happened later was really that cup of coffees fault. Because without the ripples that gave me a heads up to get out of my chair and get moving, I would have been crushed to death when the Hippo burst though the wall of the bank.


Remember, don't turn that frown upside down! Turn it into Eldritch Power to summon our Dark Master to Spite a world that has wronged you.

Cult of Gloom
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Chapter 2

At this juncture it is really important that you understand something about the Hippo. And that is that he is freaken scary.

I know that might seem unbelievable to you. He is, after all, a grown man in a giant cartoon hippo suit. When he speaks he sounds like a member of the Three Stooges pretending to be a mobster. Everything about him seems like a joke. In this way, he is very much like his namesake. Which is chubby and cuddly looking and best known to most of the western world as the center piece of a children’s game about how gluttony might fill the void of emptiness that stands poised to consume us all.

Also like his namesake, he is much faster and much stronger than just about anything else on the planet. I know that every time you see him on the nightly news, Haka beats him with one elbow blow to the solar plexus, but let’s be clear about something. Being vastly weaker then Haka still leaves a whole lot of people that you can be stronger then and to the average person the difference between an all-out punch from Haka and an all-out punch from the Hippo is how far your body flies before you hit something and your spine snaps.

One would think that, logically, knocking down the reinforced concrete wall to the bank would be enough to convey strength to the general public and get the customers in the bank to take the crazy man dressed up as a Hippo at least as seriously as they would a normal person in a ski mask with a gun. And had the Hippo pulled this job at a bank in the middle of an Eastern European country with poor access to the internet, things would likely have gone a lot smoother for him.

But instead, he pulled this job in the middle of Megalopolis. Super hero central. And the people living here knew it. So instead of fleeing in terror the people instead whip out cell phones and start taking videos and snapping pictures, they were sure that any moment now a hero was going to come rushing in and easily dispatched the villain. That’s how it transpired every night on the nightly news. Oh sure, sometimes villains did bad or dangerous things that you had to worry about. When Baron Blade attacks everyone takes that very serious, but come on, this was the Hippo.

Seemingly oblivious to the fact that his dramatic entrance has provoked less a sense of fear and cowed obedience then excitement, the costumed bank robber lumbers his way towards the teller counter, holding about 20 giant sacks with dollar signs stitched into them in one massive hand. Actually dollar signs, like he was a bank robber in a cartoon.

That was an important lesson that I learned from the Hippo that day. At a certain point, you have gone so far that subtly becomes pointless. At that point you might as well go for broke.

The giant slammed his sacks on the table and asks for all the money in the place to be stuffed into them. Which was of course impossible. Even for a relatively minor branch of a national bank the amount of currency in the vault could not possible have fitted into the containers he had brought with him. But the way that things were going, I would get to be right about how stupid the Hippo is in his demand and he would get 20 sacks full of 100 dollar bills.

Because what was now slowly starting to dawn on the people in the bank is that a hero is not coming, or at least not coming as quickly as they might once have. The near total destruction of the world had the heroes stretched thin, and more and more things were falling through the cracks as they scrambled to rebuild. This was, in fact, a reason that I decided to start doing things now when I never would have dared before.

That……and for one other reason. I think, at one point, it might be important for you to understand that reason. If all else fails to convince you perhaps that will. But for now it’s nothing you need to worry about.

The point is people were getting scared. The original thought of “oh, it’s just the Hippo and he’s about to get his butt kicked” were faded and being replaced by a creeping uncertainty. It was palpable in the air, anyone could feel it if they took the time. That is something very important that you understand, it’s what makes what I do different from the others. Not everyone can do what Zhu Long does, in fact most people who get closed to it tend to be found with poisoned shuriken in their backs.  It took centuries of work for Biomancer to even make the crudest of his creations. The Blood Countess was bequeathed her power from ancient ritual, a lucky book she just so happened to find. But everyone and anyone can do what I do. They just have to be willing to do it.

I had not intended to do much of any about the robbery. The fact of the matter was my own planed crime had been more or less foiled, even if someone had come and beat up the Hippo thirty seconds after he had entered the bank still would have had to close down for the day, at least, for repairs. It would, to put it bluntly, rather suck that I would need to reschedule my appointment and waits weeks or even months to get another shot at the strings free loan curtsey of mind control voodoo, but the charm wouldn’t work on just anybody. It was set up to affect a specific target and trying to force its enchantment to work on someone else would have been wildly dangerous and stupid.

Not quite as wildly dangerous and stupid as the guard who pulled a hand gun on the Hippo and emptied his clip into him, but still wild and dangerous.

I got only the smallest bit of forewarning that the guard was going to act. And really, that I was able to figure it out at all was rather impressive. Everyone in this bank was feeling extreme emotions, and feeling his shift from surprise to excitement to creeping unease to conviction and then the adrenaline rush of action amidst everyone else in the bank could be compared to noticing that a single instrument in a 900 piece orchestra was slightly out of tune.

The bullets didn’t really hurt the Hippo. Well, no, that’s not quite right. My newly granted mystic powers were working on overdrive with all the fear and despair around the room after the blast of gun fire and I was rather focused on the giant in the costume so I can tell you that they did in fact caused a moderate amount of pain. It would be more accurate to say that the bullets didn’t really –damage- the Hippo. They mostly just made him mad and shifted his attention.

The Hippo turned with a thunderous roar and the unease in the room bloomed into full-fledged panic. Screaming, running, and clawing for the exits as the monstrous Hippo charges his attacker and prepares to smoosh the security guard into an ugly red stain on the wall.

If this had been a Haka story, at this moment the Maori warrior would have appeared. Perhaps crashing through the ceiling or else bursting up from the ground with a Magman in a headlock, late to the proceedings because of some whacky misadventure that he would explain over fresh baked pies to all the scared people as he makes sure that they are ok. He would lay low the Hippo with a single blow and everyone would be happy.

But Haka is dead. Or at the very least he is gone, my contacts are somewhat confused on this point. And the only one there was me.

I can’t remember now why I did what the papers would call my first act of heroism. Logically speaking now would have been a really good time to go running for the exits. It could be that it was a flight or fight response triggered by the panic of the crowd. It could be that the magic in the charm wished to be released and was unhappy that it had been confined longer then it expected. Certainly not wanting someone to needlessly die might have been a factor, but then again the guard did shoot the Hippo six times and so it could be argued that he had it coming.

What it certainly wasn’t was being moved by the bravery of the guard, drawing the ire of the Hippo with his attack and letting others escape. He didn’t pull his weapon because he was brave and wanted to save people, he pulled his weapon because he was scared and doing anything was better than sitting there feeling scared. I could feel that in him. As our eyes locked for a brief moment as I stood in front of the charging Hippo I used a tiny bit of eldritch energy to make him feel that in him too. To strip away the comforting lie he would have told himself when his heart calmed down and he was replaying the scene in his head. I do remember why I did that, to spite an idiot who put people’s lives in danger because he would rather be dead then weak.

As the Hippo got closer I reached into my pocket and pulled out the charm. I crushed it with my hand and threw it at the Hippo.

As I mentioned just a moment ago, other people would call the act that I had done here an act of heroism, but I know better. Mind control ranks pretty high up on the list of bad things you can do to people. It is also a lot easier than most people think. The brain is taking in far more information at any one time then it knows how to process and making the best decision it can out of it before jettisoning the rest. If you add one more signal too all of that white noise the victim’s brain will do all the heavy lifting of convincing. Wave your hand and tell someone that the stolen tablets in your trunk are not that Androids they were looking for and you can just move along? Nine times out of ten the victim will come up with a perfectly good reason all on their own why what they did makes sense.

On the other hand, trying to make someone do something they are dead set against is much harder. And doing it leads to much more lasting damage. The mind still tries rationalize why it came to the decision that it came from, but the sense of unease can linger for weeks, months, and even entire lifetimes.

It’s important that you understand that this was my first time doing something like this, and that the charm was just meant for a slight nudge in one direction. I didn’t know the kind of damage this would do to the Hippo. Back then, I think I would have cared.

I supercharged the charm, drawing in all the fear and panic of the people in the lobby and hurled it directly at the charging super villain. I wrapped all those emotions around a single thought, one of the most basic thoughts of any human being and one pulsating though the minds of most the people in the room. Run. Hide. Run and hide so the monster can’t get you. And I shoved it directly into the mind of the Hippo.

He let out a bellowing scream of pure terror and slammed on the breaks in his charge and go running the other way. Unfortunately for anyone standing in front of him, that much mass does not come to a stop easily and he continued moving forward for quite some distance before he could do his about face. I still have the scar on my right arm from when I was scent flying into the plate glass door.

The Hippo, crying for his mother, fled from the lobby of the bank and went directly thought a couple of walls before arriving at the vault door and rushing though it before slamming it shut, actually crying for his mother and wishing he was at the zoo.

There was dead silence following the echoing slam of that vault door and all eyes in the place feel on me. The room was literally drained, both from the natural result of coming down from an adrenaline high and also as a side effect of the magic that had just taken place and those eyes did not quite yet know how to feel what they were looking at. But in another minute or two normal emotions would return and with it normal behavior. So it seemed like in another minute or two it would be a good idea to not be here.

And so I dragged myself up and prepared to hobble out the door when I found myself starring Legacy directly in her incredibly blue and incidentally laser firing eyes.

Better late than never, I suppose.

 


Remember, don't turn that frown upside down! Turn it into Eldritch Power to summon our Dark Master to Spite a world that has wronged you.

Powerhound_2000
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Interesting.  I feel like I should have more background on how this person knows so much about various Ongoings.   Even being part of a mystical cult I’m not sure they’d this breadth of knowledge and yet seemingly being a novice. 


Crush your enemies, drive them before you, and laminate their women! - Guise, Prime Wardens #31

 
Cult of Gloom
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Chapter 3

 

 There is maybe something you should know about me and Legacy. Actually, on second thought, it’s really not that important in the grand scheme of things. It’s not like it had any major impacts on the events of the story, and it might be best if we just moved on.

Stop looking at me like that, it’s really not that important. You can trust me to give you all the pertinent details and this one isn’t…..alright, fine. I had a crush on her growing up, are you happy now?

It’s not like I was the only one. She was the daughter of the most recognizable person on the planet, and she went from being gapped toothed and adorable in pigtails to fit and gorgeous with flowing locks. Every detail about her seemed like two comic book artist sat down in an IHOP one night and designed someone to be the spitting image of America’s sweetheart. A sweetheart in a skirt who flew around saving people.

And it’s not like I was stalking her or anything, for one thing we were from completely different parts of the country. For another her father, the most powerful man in the world, and her mother, and influence senator, had done there level best to discourage that kind of thing from both obsessive fanboys and unscrupulous paparazzi looking to make a quick buck. And there level best turned out to be pretty good.

And finally, in retrospect maybe I should have opened with this, I’m not the kind of person who would stalk a girl that I liked. Give me at least a little bit of credit.

This was my first time meeting her face to face, and the situation was almost overwhelming.

Not because of any lingering romantic day dreams, her vanishing from public life during her collage years and the….unpleasantness that occurred for me personally during that time had more or less put that childhood crush thing to rest, but because she was –Legacy-.

The power, the confidence, the desire to see people saved and the willingness to do good emanated from her like a wellspring. I told you before that anyone can do the kind of magic that I do, and she did it without even a thought. Her inspiring presence filled up the shaken people left empty by magic with calm and safety. Without even noticing it, her merely being here saved those people from a few weeks of nightmares as their minds tried to cope with why they went from fearing for their lives as a giant went on a rampage to feeling nothing as their emotions were siphoned off.

And as my empathic senses were still going on full blast from the rough and dirty curse I had flung at the Hippo, I felt that feelings not just in me but magnified in the hearts and minds of every person in that room.

And that is something about Legacy that I think it is important you understand. What makes her powerful isn’t that she is super strong. Or that she can fly. Or that she can shoot laser beams from her eyes. It’s that she is dedicated to helping other people and has the willingness to put herself at risk to do so, and that in taking these actions she encourages others to try harder.

Even if she had just been a comic book character, just someone stories were made up about and shared with others, she would have been powerful.

Not powerful enough, really. Not enough to save most people. I think by the end of this you will see that. But still, powerful.

I can’t quite remember who lead me to an office in the back and gave me a cup of water while Legacy and the Megalopolis P.D. arriving soon behind her took charge, but I was able to watch though the tinted glass of the door as police and paramedics made sure that everyone was ok, loaded the guard whose inadequacies had been made clear to him mumbling into the back of an ambulance for evaluation and loaded the Hippo into a heavy duty prisoner transport after he had calmed down enough to surrender and come out of the vault.

I also missed out on the swarm or reporters who came snap pictures and live blog about what was going on shortly after. A cop standing at the door to keep me separate from the chaos outside muttered something about how he wished a piano would fall on one of those bottom feeders, which I would later learn is something that actually happened one time. Though that is another story.

Once things had settled down and she had made some statements for the press, Legacy was able to slink in to speak with me. She had been impressed by my bravery in saving that guard from the Hippo, and wanted to know if I had produced the effects by technological, mystical, or other means.

There was a part of me then that wanted to break down and tell her everything. Her eyes were so warm and kind, and the way that they looked at me and the way that she talked to me like….not quite an equal, but someone who had just done something impressive and that she would like to know more about filled me with pride.

But then I remember that those eyes could shoot laser beams, and had in fact done so with great vigor to everyone else she had ever meet who had enhanced there powers in the same way that I had, and the thought of seeing those eyes go from supportive and caring to angry and laser filled wasn’t something I felt I could bare at that point.

Besides which, even back then when I was knew to the mystic arts I knew that the first rule of magic was the same regardless of if you were an arch-wizard of a simple stage magician: never reveal all of your secrets.

But I also knew from long practice at that point that the best lies contained kernels of truth, or in fact were entirely true and simply left some information out.

So I gave her a brief overview of how my powers worked. That for as long as I could remember I had always been able to feel flashes of emotions from people and that if I tried really, really hard but that ever since the coming of OblivAeon that something had changed and my powers had been more active. Which was true. The cosmic terror from beyond the stars himself and the radiant energy he bathed the plant in and the empowering shards of his body scattered around the planet that lead to an uptick in new super powered individuals had nothing what so ever to do with why my powers and my mystic knowledge suddenly got a big boost. But it did match up timewise.

She gave me a speech at that point, which I am sure she has given in one form or another to many other people about how powers were gifts that were meant to be shared, and about how just because I got lucky with the Hippo and no one got seriously hurt that without training someone would eventually get hurt.

A few people had already been hurt, but she couldn’t have known that at the time.

Thus, she gave me an invitation to come and study at Freedom Plaza, and I accepted.

 

 

 

 


Remember, don't turn that frown upside down! Turn it into Eldritch Power to summon our Dark Master to Spite a world that has wronged you.

Trappit
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Did you have more to this? Seems really interesting.


Trapp

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Thanks! I don't, sadly. It was a project i started at a whim from an idea I had in my head but it  just kind of lost steam. I'm never been much of a prose writer


Remember, don't turn that frown upside down! Turn it into Eldritch Power to summon our Dark Master to Spite a world that has wronged you.