I’m floating, legs crossed, surrounded by floating skulls cloaked in surging yellow arcs of energy. My eyes – glazed-white – stare into some wild meditative daydream.
Books on the occulttech, lessons taught through psychic e-mail.
Hooked the Bone Machine to cyberspace an hour ago, see what texts they could dredge up. Hard-bound leather volumes’re hard to find in this day and age. Any that John had in the Mantic Gallery are long gone, burnt up.
Spells from the ancient texts.
Stories of rituals gone wrong. Technodeviants.
“How to’s” for the “never-dids”.
I watch and learn.
Wake up to the Priestess and the Coach arguing in my ear about one of his more sordid moments.
I yawn, get dressed.
I think up a gauntlet to run today in the War Room. A city block’s worth of holographic enemies and plenty of places to hide.
Equations, symbols, colors with ideas pool around my fingers, and techno-occult energy fills my eyes.
Turn one corner, then another. Blur in my peripheral vision, and I’m nothing but motion. Duck and cover behind a parked car and turn to fire violent streams of magic at my attacker.
Reflexes’re getting better.
Wednesday. Early Shocking Morning.
Alarm-dreams shock me awake, pounding in my ears.
They’re being broadcast by the early-warning system in the Nerve Centre of my mansion directly into my head. Alerts me when someone’s mis-using the occulttech.
Apparently, they’re not polite enough to wait till morning.
Get out of bed, get some clothes on, zero the source of the disturbance. It’s some gothic nightclub, crazy imagery of black lights surging across a mob of panicked club-hoppers and lots of bodies lying on the ground.
Images of another figure, silhouette, with a hump on his back radiating energy.
Creepy little rotter.
Turned out the murdering silhouette with a hump on his back was just some scared teenager, who’d merged an energy-collecting demon into his spine. Idiot was reading from a leather-bound book he found at the pawn shop and didn’t know what he was saying.
I somehow got the blasted thing out of his spine, and almost got the electricity sucked out of my nervous system for my trouble. The demon’s back in Hell where it belongs.
Nothing I could do about the ones the demon sucked dry. Or the people trampled by fleeing crowd.
Life really sucks, sometimes.
I’m at the Greysfield Diner – nice little restaurant in Halo City – sucking back a beefy burger.
The black card I use to pay for the meal is obviously not mine. It belonged to a shmuck corporate middleman who tried using a voodoo doll to murder his boss. Nasty spell buried in his brain made him forget he even has a black card account.
Before the ratbiter’s card, I’d had to get my meals from a mission.
Thing about the shaping dimension I live in…anything I create within it, disappears after I teleport to the real world.
I’m reading something about ‘astral forms’ in my cyberspace trance. Disconnecting the spirit from the body and piloting it remotely as a ‘covert reconnaissance tactic.’
Could be useful…
With the Bone Machine’s help, I speak the Latin words. It’s incredible: feeling, seeing and hearing everything as a wraith. Distracted, I stumble over a word…
…and before the Machine can stop me, some twisted little red gnome pops up – all bones and skeleton and clouded black eyes.
The Bone Machine helps me banish him from the Dream Zone. He was a Gatherer of Souls for some evil demon-god.
Against its better judgment, the Bone Machine teaches me how to disconnect itself from my body. It’s been bonded to my nervous system over a month now. Been helping to hold me together since my insides got torn up by debris when the Mantic Gallery was destroyed. The bus explosion in Paradise City didn’t help matters.
Just want to feel the damage for myself.
Convalescence spells have helped, but I’m still sore throughout my entire abdomen without the Machine to connect me together.
Another month, maybe…
Getting tired of having glowing skulls orbiting around my body twenty-four seven, y’know?
Been at the apt pupil thing all week now. Meditation. Lessons in the Voodoo religion. Streaming online texts via the Bone Machine. Running training gauntlets. Staying off the sauce.
The Bone Machine’s idea. To get me in better shape to do the Metalscream thing.
Today’s my reward.
Sonic Gunmetal concert in all their loud, frenzied glory.
I rock out in the front row as they sing all my favorite songs, fans dressed in matching black make-up and body alterations swell crazily in the crowd beside me.
The skulls of dead sorcerers circle me crankily.
I fit in fine.
Meditation, meditation, meditation.
The Zen Master drills the finer points of centering oneself, and excreting all thoughts from the mind.
For some reason I’m having trouble doing that.
It could be the concert I was just at. Throat’s still raw from singing along with the band, but I loved up every second.
Throughout the concert, I checked out the lead singer from time to time. Toned bod, no shirt, and when he spun around to play the guitar on his shoulder blades, I noticed how his tight leather pants formed around that tight little...
What was I saying?
Sometime Sunday Night.
I’m taking a walk around Halo City, the only place I’m safe outside the Dream Zone.
I know they’re out there…the SHIELD agents that killed John.
Only they don’t call themselves SHIELD agents anymore. They’re the Public Eyeballs, and every day more and more, I feel the need to rip them from the sockets of the world.
But I can’t reveal myself to them. Not yet. Not unless I want my brains blown out too.
I’m safe for now – the Public Eye aren’t welcome in Halo.
How long will that last?
How long does anything good last?