In The Shadow Of His Nemesis
Chapter Forty Two
BY AL BRUNO III
His face was handsome and aristocratic, with hair that was slowly going gray and a razor-thin smile. He stood in a room with five bodies on the floor and blood on the walls; he smoked a cigarette and waited. The room was deep underground, a sub basement in a long abandoned building that had become a makeshift temple to the faithful few.
Five. Just five of them. Victor Kovach was almost disappointed by it. This was all that was left of the cult of Damiea, just five old women scrabbling before a filthy statue. That statue, just like its cult, was shattered now. Another of the so-called Dark Gods reduced to memory and garbled superstition.
Bodge Loyar… Anzon… Delphonos… Eldrad… Noggar-Dallieon… Damiea… and Kressor... They had all fallen.
Flicking away one spent cigarette and indulging himself with another Victor wondered to himself why these cultists always chose empty ruins to gather in. There was a time when the followers of the Dark Gods had hidden in plain sight and wanted for nothing..
But that was before men could journey from one end of the United States to another in less than eight hours, before voices and images could travel through the either and before toothless sovereigns ridiculously abandoned their crowns in the name of love. How could any religion survive in such a world?
Victor mused at the risk he had taken in coming here alone. In every other raid of this nature he sent in his Pharos Agents to secure and subdue, but this time, this time he felt it was best to go alone, even going so far as to leave his faithful bodyguard Sig behind. Victor knew his patrons would be watching closely and he knew how fickle they could be. This small show of force was best, just a little something to remind them he was not to be trifled with.
He glanced back to the bodies again; it was a simple enough act to observe their ghosts. The dull, lazy shapes hovered in place and tried to cling to the cooling flesh that had released them. They were nothing but husks of memory and thought but they would have their uses later, once Victor had completed his business.
The voco spurcamen twisted in his hand and shivered; it was a fist sized clump of life that was not quite insect and not quite crustacean. It was one of the Monarchs creations. Victor’s smile twitched with disgust, they were so eager for the flesh that they became drunk on it, pulling into new and impossible shapes. Each one had a purpose; like this for instance, it could call the Monarchs from anywhere in the world.
Even here, to a place sanctified and hidden by the Dark Gods.
There was a tiny gurgling sigh, voco spurcamen curled in his hand and died, its purpose fulfilled. Footsteps approached, Victor kept his attention elsewhere.
“So.” Mr. Kriely said, “It’s over.”
“I would have thought this was merely the prelude..” Victor looked up at the new arrival. Mr. Kriely was thin and pale, he tried to disguise his sickly appearance with the liberal application of cosmetics but there was no concealing the dull shine of his eyes or his uneasy expressions.
“Of course. You’re right.” His smile was cadaverous, “The Monarchs are pleased and close, so very close.”
“I have fulfilled my part of the arrangement.”
“And you will be rewarded when the time comes.”
Victor said, “It has come to my attention that your forces have suspended their preparations.”
“There’s a war coming.” Mr. Kriely crouched before one of the bodies, trying to contort his face to match the cultist’s expression, “Resources will have to be diverted.”
“I would have thought the Monarchs would be comfortable with the ways of despotism.”
Mr. Kriely stood, “In the chaos of war there is a greater chance that our adversaries could move against us. This must be an orderly transition of power.”
“To my perception this seems like an unwarranted cessation but naturally I will defer to their acumen.” Victor stubbed you his second cigarette, “Although I have heard disquieting rumors that the Vlodek, both high born and common born, are opposing your efforts at homogenization and sterilization.”
A frown pulled at the corners of Mr. Kriely’s mouth, his eyes stayed passive, “There has been some resistance, but it expected. This isn’t our first breach and it certainly won’t be the last.”
“In your prior incursions was there the equivalent degree or diversity of resistance that you find yourselves encountering now?”
“Each time is different.”
“Ah.” His nostrils free of smoke Victor inhaled the odors of the sub basement - the damp, the blood, the filth. It was time to leave, he climbed the stairs knowing he would be followed, “Then this isn’t some difficulty with your chosen manner of interface? Such vast passions whittled down to so little. I liken it to attempting to observe a parade through a pinhole.”
“Do not obscure our intentions with ignorant words.”
Victor chortled, “You’ve been reading.”
In his anger Mr. Kriely allowed his face to become blank, “We are familiar with the dogmas of each of our conquests.”
“Of course,” Victor held open the door at the top of the stairs, his voice patronizing, “I had become concerned that in this very transitory and vulnerable state that perhaps the nature of cause and effect might have become problematic.”
“What you see as a flaw is nothing of the kind.” Mr. Kriely paused in the doorway, “Meta-temporal consciousness allows us to know that our victory is inevitable.”
Both men headed outside. “Intriguing.” Victor said.