Chapter 02 Flying Monkeys?

It was nearing midnight, and we were watching for signs that the necromancers – well, they sounded like wannabee necromancers, but they had already killed at least one person – were trying it again.

The trouble with having a Secret Agency to conduct quasi-Law Enforcement, is well, we still have to follow US Law.

So, under the Fourth Amendment, we still had to have "probable cause"…and so, far, we had not gotten any.

Jesse's testimony was just not something we could afford to use in Open Court – and "anonymous tips" only get you so far.

The problem with the Necro-meter, is that it tells you a death has occurred, but, while there is a residual, the initial burst of energy is from a death.

So, you have to wait until the death occurs – and we can always paper over the "probable cause" factor when we produce the dead body…thing is, the person is not revivable at that point, no matter what type of life support you have handy.

We did have a surveillance order, and, if we saw an obviously struggling possible abductee, that would be "probable cause". Hell, I was willing to go after, say a laundry cart or box, something big enough to smuggle a body in.

But, so far, we had bupkis.

But, at midnight, the necrometer pegged.

"Death Energy!" stated Cooper.

"Scheisse!" I exclaimed. Either they had another victim already in the house, or maybe, a True Believer had willingly sacrificed themselves.

Either way, we could execute the "no-knock" warrant, and reasonably expect to find a dead body inside to justify our actions – if we moved fast.

/\

We were already geared up to look like a DEA Raid Team – even though we could stand up to the sort of weapons that would have turned a normal Raid Team to dust. We were carrying the MP5A3, the familiar MP5 Sub-machine gun – but firing .45 ACP. In our case, those were .45 caliber silver jacketed hollow-points, with Holy Water sealed into the hollow section, and our weapons and Bullets blessed by both a Catholic Priest and a Greek Orthodox Priest.

In addition, we had Meredith – who had powers far beyond those of mortal men, the powers to cloud Men's Minds.

Merdith Edit; Hey!

Joe Edit; Well, Babe, you do.

Even so, it turned in a classic goat-rope, a genuine rat's-butt-cluster-grope.

/\

The first part went along just fine.

Hit the door with the battering ram, and loudly yelling "DEA! Everyone on the floor!" and similar commands.

The Door went down, I threw in a modified M-84 Stun grenade. The standard M-84 produces a flash of over one million candlepower, and a bang that is 170 to 180 decibels at 5 feet. That is generally good enough for momentarily disabling human opponents. We also add in powdered silver, consecrated by several Holy authorities, which becomes an aerosol dispersion in the immediate area of the blast. I realize that it DOES make the weapon lethal to Vampires and Werewolves, but we had no Friendly Ones in the area, as far as I knew…and I was expecting hostile vampires.

I've seen a Master Vampire take several silver bullets, and get staked, and still remain dangerous for minutes – but inhaling aerosol Holy Silver? – down for the Permanent Death.

I had my mask on – aerosol particulates of any sort are not good for you…and entered the door with my Saiga 12 gauge at the ready. I'm a big guy, so I normally carry the Saiga for the initial entry and leave the guys with the MP5s to follow.

My Saiga-12 is based on the recommendations of a buddy of mine, Larry. I was carrying silver buck and ball loads, one up the spout and nine in the mag. You never put ten rounds in a ten round mag, unless you're an idiot looking for a "failure to feed." – and I don't like the 50 round magazine. Looks all big and bad and tough – Schwatzenegger looked very photogenic, using one in "Expendables II" – but it jams like nobody's business – and having a jam or failure-to-feed in a high-stress, Close Quarters Combat situation? – That is a fatal case of the terminal stupidity syndrome.

We quickly cleared the first and second floors – which left the basement.

I had been dreading that.

/\

Clearing the above-ground floors had been a matter of two minutes – nobody was up here.

We had seen people come and go through the nearly twenty hours we had been observing the place. Based on face-and-body recognition software, we were fairly sure there was approximately seven people in here.

Now, that might not count whoever had stayed put in the house for the last day or so – somebody that had been here before we started watching, and had not shown themselves at a window, nor exited the building, well, we wouldn't know about that.

I was afraid that, whomever's death had triggered the necrometer, might be an abductee that had been held here for more than those twenty hours.

But, there was no help for it.

I ha elected to clear the top floors first – we had decided the major threat was the basement, but there was no sense in getting embroiled in a fight in the basement, and then being attacked from behind.

We wired the hinges and the door lock of the basement door with Lewes Compound – a mixture of plastic explosive and thermite, designed to blow or burn away obstacles with both extreme heat as well as detonation blast effect.

The door blew out of the way, I tossed down another of our modified stun grenades, and we headed down the narrow stairway in a stick of four, amidst a lot of screaming, shouting and shooting.

That's when things got decidedly weird.

/\

In retrospect, the Stun Grenade was probably a bad idea…it was, we decided later, the immediate precipitating cause of what came later.

On the other hand, the technique had worked admirably in previous room-clearing activities, and for that matter, was fairly standard CQB/MOUT (Close Quarters Battle/Military Operations Urban Terrain) Doctrine.

There was no way I could have known what was going to happen.

We have since, modified our procedures, and we use our new micro-mini UAVs to recon the area of a suspected Pentagram, especially if it might be an Active Pentagram.

Thing was, as far as we know, nobody had ever disturbed the Act of Summoning with an Active Necromancy Bridge Before.

But…that's what I had done.

I really don't remember what happened, but luckily, our helmet cams and recording devices DID continue to function.

The videos – in slow motion – are spectacular.

So are the damage assessment photographs.

But, the Bridge had just formed when we entered, and the acolytes were standing at the Warding Circle – a fairly standard one – one acolyte at each point of the five pointed star, with four more in between each of them…and all were chanting the summoning spell.

I had expected the summoning to be complete by them – it was already four minutes since the necrometer had registered the death. I had EXPECTED us to be dealing with the acolytes, and perhaps, whatever they had summoned.

Trouble was – well – they were using a VERY non-standard spell book.

I had expected A modern grimoire such as the Simon Necronomicon or Crowley's Book of Shadows.

I had, of course, forgotton Tagon's Fourth Maxim – "Dealing with professionals is good, because you know what they will do, and can counter it. Dealing with amateurs is bad, as you never know WHAT kind of stupidity they will come up with."

Yeah, ain't THAT the sad and sorry truth?

Anyway, we were at the bottom of the stairs, yelling "DEA! Kneel on the floor, hands on your heads!" and shooting into the ceiling of the basement to get their attention.

Shock and awe, you know?

Thing was, the summoning spell was still active, the bridge was open, and one of the idiots scuffed their feet as they jumped away from the Warding Circle, breaking it and releasing the beings inside, into our world to run free and unrestricted.

As the kids say, FML...

/\

The Bridge was immediately released, but instead slowly dumping the energy into Elastic Recoil, damping the energies in the hyper-spatial dimensions of the bridge, they were all released as thermal energy, into our dimensional plane.

Luckily, most of the energy was directional, and they had set the circle into the crudely drawn star in the warding circle – so, it went up, instantly incinerating the floors above, and the roof into ash.

The house was an old wooden "balloon frame" house, built in the early twentieth Century to house the factory workers of the steel mills and automotive plants of the time.

So, the walls fell down around the basement, like a cardboard box with the corners slit. Actually, it was kind of cool-looking, on the overhead photographs.

But – they had, once again, screwed up their incantation and preparations.

/\

I blinked, and then screamed, in the open pit that had, less than a second before, been the basement of this house.

My armor, and helmet, had become scalding hot.

It didn't matter – Danny and Jimmy, as well as Meredith, were also screaming.

We, however, were not in as bad a shape as the acolytes. Our Kevlar/Nomex enchanted armor had defended us against the thermal bloom.

I mean, the VELA Nuclear Detection satellites had registered the blast as a possible NUCDET.

The Acolytes had been wearing black robes decorated with various sigils – they had absorbed the thermal blast, and the acolytes were in various stages of screaming, running, and burning to death.

We slung our weapons, and went to tend to the survivors.

Bad idea.

At that point, the creatures that had been released from the circle, well, they came spiraling back.

Remember those creepy flying monkeys from "The Wizard of OZ?"

Yeah?

Well, imagine those creepy flying monkeys that the Wicked Witch of the West had – and make them Vampire Monkeys.

Some days, I REALLY hate this job.

/\

At that point, I swung out the 12 inch silver inlaid spike bayonet on my Saiga.

Most people who saw it laughed at it, and said I was getting too paranoid. It was a standard, swivel mounted spike bayonet from an SKS, but I had attached it to the Saiga, and further, inlaid the blood grooves with silver and wood.

Sometimes, at close quarters, in this business, things can get hectic. You need a weapon that you don't need to reload – an "Athame on a pole", as I put it.

Meredith's mind control powers were ineffective against the Monkeys, but she had gotten pretty good with the MP5. Short, controlled bursts, and we were now back to back. Danny and Jimmy were also firing short, controlled bursts, calling "reloading" and naming the inbounds.

These little buggers must have been insanely hungry or maddened with fear – we started stacking them up around us.

Trouble was, there was a LOT of them.

Luckily, I'm pretty decent at skeet – I've been a bird hunter since I was old enough to shoot a scattergun. These critters were about the size of a Canada Goose, and they were a lot closer than any Canadas I had ever shot.

Of course, the Canada Goose does not attack the hunter, nor does it have claws and teeth.

On the other hand, in close, several times, they simply impaled themselves on the bayonet.

"I'm going to get one of those shotguns for the next time!" yelled Danny.

"Me Too!" yelled Jimmy.

Their SMGs were shorter, and easier to handle inside a building, but they had no bayonets. Several times, the monkeys got in close, and they had to battle directly with their knives.

It was a vicious fight – teeth, talons, and a whole lot of shooting and screaming on our part. I had entered the fight with sixty rounds – I was on my last magazine when, suddenly, there was nothing left nearby to shoot at. I saw a monkey retreating into the sky, and I fired two rounds at him, which staggered him – and he kept on flying. The next time I pulled the trigger, it merely went "click"

"You guys OK?" I asked, whooping as I inhaled great draughts of air.

"Yeah" said Danny, sounded equally winded. Jimmy just waved his hand, obviously too short of breath to say anything.

"What in the name of three hells WERE those things?" said Meredith.

I slowly stepped forward to a body, and flipped it over with the bayonet.

"I've never seen one before, except in movies, but it looks like a flying monkey." I said…I prodded the mouth open. Now, Monkeys usually have far bigger canines than humans, but this fellow had longer canines than I had ever seen before.

"And, I'd suspect, Vampire Flying Monkeys."

"Ugh." Said Jimmy. "What kind of demented minds comes up with stuff like this?" he demanded.

"I cannot imagine the evolutionary pressures of a world that generates Flying Monkeys, let alone Vampire Flying Monkeys." I replied.

"What I think Danny means, Professor," said Danny soothingly, "Is what kind of demented mind ASKS for Vampire Flying monkeys?" he said, waving at the burnt bodies of the dead acolytes. "Asking for a Vampire?" he grimaced, "given our pop-culture mindset in the world today, and all the romanticism and such BS, what with the "Twilight" series, "True Blood" and such, well, I can sort of understand why they tried to pull Jesse across – even if he wasn't exactly what they were hoping for."

He shook his head. "But Vampire fracking Flying Monkeys?" he said. "Whiskey-Tango-Foxtrot?"

"Hey you guys?" said a voice outside the pit. "Anybody alive in there?"

"Yeah." I yelled back. "We're the Raid Team. I guess we set off something. We're OK, but we have a lot of bodies in here."

"ZOMG" answered the voice. "Sam Murchison, they called me and my boys in from Rochester, to back you up." He walked up to the pit and stared down. "What the - ?" he asked in amazement.

"Don't ask." I replied. "Get us out of here, and get a cordon going. We have at least a level III containment here."

"Well, said Sam, "we can start with a "gas explosion in a suspected meth lab" explanation…" he shook his head, "but, I gotta admit, Flying Monkeys?"

"Worse than that." I said. "At least one got away."

/\

We left Sam and his Agents in charge of the site, and went home for some sleep.

I mean, we had been next to something that had released power similar to that of a small tactical nuclear weapon – only the fact that we had been so close to the Pentagram, as well as armored – had allowed us to survive. The thermal bloom of the broken gate had formed an inverted cone, and most of the energy had headed upward.

Meredith and I got back to the site at 0800. The area was covered in DEA, BATFE and EPA teams – part of the cover story about the "gas leak and explosion at a suspected Meth lab" story. The site itself had been covered over with a huge Geodesic dome, and thus hidden from the prying eyes of the News Crews.

I found Sam interviewing a young man, heavily tattoed and pierced, with blackened eyes, paste white make up, and dressed all in Black.

"This young fella here is one Patrick Farrell, a member of this Coven" said Sam.

"I don't know nothing." Muttered the young man.

"Right now, kid," said Sam, "we got nothing on you, except that two of the neighbors say you were involved with this bunch." He shook his head and took a sip of his coffee,

"So far," Sam said, "you are here as a "person of interest." He put his hands on the table. "But!" he waggled his fingers in the kid's face. "I got ten dead bodies – or, rather, the crispy remains of ten bodies – and one hell of an explosion." He banged the table. "I'm really interested in getting some answers." He said in exasperation.

"I want a lawyer." Said the kid sullenly.

I chuckled dirtily. The kid stared at me.

I stared at him like a Scientist looking at an interesting specimen. "Son, you need to talk to us, and you need to talk to us now." I shook my head. "What happened here, is looking more and more like a terrorist plot than a drug lab."

The kid stared at me, like a bird hypnotized by a snake. "Terrorist Plot?" he said. "We aren't terrorists." He said.

"Heh." I said. "That was no Meth Lab," I assured him, "the energy release was more on the scale of a small nuke."

"It was a gas main explosion." He said.

"Yeah, kid, tell that to the Marines, because the Old Sailors won't believe you." I laughed. "Nope, looks like a terrorist plot," I said, "and if we decide you're a terrorist, and a threat to National Security, we're not talking Local Charges, Kid."

I put my hands on the table, and leaned forward. "All that stuff about "Miranda Rights" and "Due Process" goes right out the window, in a "Threat to National Security", kid."

I walked away, counted to three, and looked over my shoulder. "That means we can get out the Sodium Pentothal Truth Serum, and the Water board equipment, and nobody says diddley-squat."

The kid gulped, and I bet he was going pasty white, under his pasty white makeup.

He probably had a juvenile record, and was familiar with local Law Enforcement Procedures, and he had probably expected a round of "Good Cop, Bad Cop." With Sam as the Bad Cop.

Trouble was, the routine was "Bad Cop, Psychopath Cop" here….

Yeah, I was lying through my teeth, but he struck me as the kind of person that was playing WAY out of his depth.

Besides, we had a Secret Weapon.

Meredith walked over to the kid and stroked her hand along his jaw.

"Oh, I don't think young Mister Farrell will give us any trouble, Joe." She purred. "I'm sure he will cooperate." She looked at me with an innocent expression. "He seems like such a NICE boy."

She looked at him, licked her lips, and, since she can modify her appearance, her extra-large canines.

With her flaming red hair, milk white skin and fangs, the kid added one and one and got four.

And peed himself.

Meredith looked at the ground – the dome had no floor, so we were set up on what had used to be the lawn.

"It wasn't my idea," he babbled, "I just thought it was sorta fun, and sounded interesting, and HELL, I didn't really think the damn thing would work."

"Really?" I said, raising an eyebrow.

"Yeah," he said desperately, " and then when they killed that girl, I got scared."

"That's why you weren't at the Ceremony last night?" said Sam.

"Yeah." Said the kid, "I didn't want any more of it, but my step brother, Danny was here last night." He said, "When I heard about the explosion, I had to come down here. Our mom doesn't know Danny was here."

We all frowned.

"Is Danny OK?" he said desperately.

"We'll need you to make an ID – some of the bodies are somewhat identifiable." I said. "But none of the Acolytes in that basement made it out alive."

"You killed him?" said the boy.

I shook my head. "We didn't need to do anything, kid." I said, "Like I said, ten bodies, and mostly burned to a crisp by – whatever that thing was."

"The neighbors said there was a lot of shooting." Said the kid.

"We didn't shoot any – humans." I said sternly. "Just the things that came out of that – thing."

'Christ" swore the boy.

"Christ had nothing to do with anything in that basement last night." I said. "And I think you know that."

"It was Ben's idea." Said the kid, "Him and Brittany – they wanted to summon a Master Vampire, like in the movies."

"Really?" I said.

"Yeah," said the kid, "I know it sounds crazy, but Ben had these spells and stuff, that he'd found in a notebook somewhere."

I looked at Sam and Meredith. "We find any signs of a grimoire?" I asked Sam.

"Not that I know." Said Sam, "Ash pentagram and warding circle, fairly standard."

"Hold it." Said the Kid, "Fairly standard? You guys have seen stuff like this before?"

I looked at the kid appraisingly. "You're not nearly as dumb as you look, kid." I laughed. "Not that it would be hard."

This time he looked at me straight on. "We always put our stuff in a locker under the stairs – and Ben recited the spells from memory."

"Hmm," I said. "Let us take a look."

A couple of Sam's boys were coming out of the Pit as we walked over, and handed him a spiral bound notebook.

He looked at Sam and then at me. "I dunno whether to laugh or cry." He said simply.

"What were they using?" I asked. "The Simon Necronomicon, the Ars Geotia? The Book of Shadows?"

"Oh, hell no." exclaimed Sam, as he thumbed through the notebook. "Not anything that good." He said, looking at Farrell. "Kid." He demanded, "WHAT in the HELL did you think you losers were going to get, using the spells from a Dungeons and Dragons Monster Manual Volume Two?"

"Ben said it was a book of Power." Said Farrell.

I was confused. "They should not have gotten anything." I said.

"Vernal Equinox" said Meredith. "That, and the fact that we are in a Convergence Zone."

"Truth" I said, slapping my forehead, "and if they used a blood sacrifice…."

"What I don't get, is why they got what they got?" said Sam.

I looked at Farrell. "What did you use for the ashes you made the Pentagram and warding circle?"

"Ben wanted black velvet ash." Said Farrell.

"And what did you burn to get those ashes?" I asked. I was afraid I already knew the answer.

"My grandmother had some Black Velvet Paintings in the attic." Said Patrick. "Danny and I figured she wouldn't miss them."

"Yeah," I said. "Sympathetic Magic" I looked at the kid. "Lemme guess," I said, putting my hand to my forehead, "The painting you burned on the first night – it was one of those portraits of Elvis, right?"

The kid looked surprised. "Yeah."

Now it was Meredith's turn to look at me in surprise. "Who is this – Elvis?" she said.

"Famous singer in our world, babe," I said, "and his dead brother's name was Jesse Garon Presley."

"Ah," she said. "And last night's painting?"

I looked at Farrell. "lemme guess, it was from "The Wizard of Oz?"

"Yeah," said Farrell, "My grampa was fascinated with that movie – but that picture was real creepy – it was those flying monkeys carrying away Dorothy and her little dog."

/\

I wanted to pound my head on the wall. "Morons." I said. "If we'd been lucky, if you hadn't planted your altar on a point where the fabric of reality is about as weak as anyplace on Earth, you would have got nothing." I told him.

I wagged my finger under his nose. "But you stupid son-of-brain-dead-jackasses" I said, "You want to play with powers you knew nothing about."

The kid was nearly as pasty white as Jesse. "I didn't think-."

"Darn straight." raged Sam, "you little idiots didn't THINK!"

The kid tried to shrink back in the chair. "I was just trying to -"

Meredith snarled and her face had morphed into the visage of a demon. "We don't care what you were trying, we are only interested in what you DID," she snarled, "and how we clean up your mess."

Farrell passed out.

/\