Guess who, dear readers?
That’s right, it’s your pal Cal again, it’s been a few more days, and I’ve got good news.
The silver ray works, at least, in theory. It’s made, it shoots silver rays, but we haven’t tested it on anyone yet.
It wasn’t that hard to make it, Val said. It was just a matter of taking an anti-magic ray, and replacing a specific material inside it.
While we do have plenty of team members that it could be tested on, we don’t want any friendly fire, and friends don’t shoot lasers at friends, so we won’t know if it works until we can do a field test.
Too bad Deedee isn’t a literal demon anymore. Then we could just test it on HIM.
Well, we have an idea like that: have Sander summon a demon, and test it on them.
You remember what used to happen when demons die Up Here, right, dear readers? They just go poof and return to Hell.
If they’re summoned with Infernio, that still happens. Which serves as another deterrent to breaking out: if they die Up Here, and they weren’t summoned here by magic, they die for keeps.
But it didn’t happen when Fate summoned his demonic forces. He didn’t use magic to summon them, but he did, technically, summon them, so it didn’t violate the Rules.
Assuming they weren’t demons when he summoned them, that is. The Rules don’t apply to ordinary damned souls.
And Umbra was claimed by the Devourer when he died as a demon…
To get to the point, we do have a way to test our new weapon out, and as soon as I talk to Sander about this, we’ll know if Plan 1 works.
I’m feeling confident about this.
We’ve got team members searching the city for the Spirits, and there’s been a development there too.
See, we talked to the staff at the Tele-Port in Rome, and reviewed their security footage from the last few weeks.
What, you didn’t think they have security cameras? It’s not just space criminals who try to flee from Johnny Law via portal.
Did you really not think that the Federation knows how portal technology could be abused, dear readers?
Anyway, about a week or two ago, seven fluffies entered the building, making a beeline for the Earth section. They went to Paris, then to Sydney, and finally to our city, and they didn’t return to Rome.
And a few days ago, one of our drones invisibly spotted the same seven fluffies, walking past one of our regularly monitored areas here.
We monitor any area in the city with feral fluffies living there, especially areas where we’ve busted abusers.
In case the abusers come back, and we leave our logo there as a warning.
Yeah, there’s one of those tags behind Mario’s restaurant too. He’s Tony and Lou’s uncle, making him and his sons ChaotiX allies, and none of our loved ones are getting bridged or fridged on my watch.
So now we have confirmation that the Spirits of Sin are here, and we know what their hosts look like, so their description has been passed on to the entire ChaotiX.
And those dopes don’t know that we know.
Bitch to be THEM right now.
Of course, pinpointing the location of seven fluffies will still be a challenge in a city with so many fluffies.
Madam Valerie has already sent in the drones. If the Spirits are spotted, she’ll send you an alert immediately, Cal.
But we’ve still gotta be careful. If they realize that they’ve been rumbled, they’ll abandon hosts, and then we’re back at Square One.
Playing dumb is my signature move, and you know that.
Outside the whole Spirits of Sin situation, it’s business as usual at the moment.
I spoke to Mervin, who is now working on a few more pairs of Bands of Merging, including a few fluffy-sized pairs.
Considering the fact that fluffy legs are smaller than human arms, a pair of Bands for fluffies will require less chivalrium, but if Merv needs more, we’ve got more.
So now the question is, which ChaotiX members could make the most of them?
We’ve already got a few good ideas we haven’t used yet.
How about Henry and Reggae? They could become a vambie!
Maybe Pierre and Deston?
Pierre’s retired, MIKA. Well, SEMI-retired. Can robots use the Bands of Merging?
Beats the shit outta me. I don’t think we’ve ever tried.
Cyborgs can, Pierre has merged with Jack.
I’ll have to ask Al and Om to help us figure this out.
And if robots can’t use the Bands, Val could probably invent some other way for our robotic members to combine together.
Or Al could just sit on Om’s shoulders. It doubles their reach for headbutts!
If robots can’t use the Bands, we suggest Glenn and Cyrus. Nephilim can use the Bands, we know THAT.
What about Andre and Roland?
Wouldn’t merging make them a double ni–
Nivlac Notniuq Aekrok! You know how I feel about saying that word!
I’m a less inhibited you. I don’t have your hangups about saying it, ya silly cracker. And Andre would laugh. Or cackle. He said it was cool if we say it around HIM.
Fair enough, but Roland wouldn’t laugh. He doesn’t think anyone should say it.
Alright, alright, I won’t say it, DAD.
Also, NOTNIUQ? …I like it, and I’m keeping it. I’ll have to update my ID card again, though. So that would make Vincal’s middle name… uh… Tonquin?
It’s gonna be in the character bios five minutes after this story goes up, isn’t it?
Probably. Moving on!
Merv’s also thinking about my invitation to officially join the ChaotiX. He’s gone above and beyond for us, we might all be dead if he didn’t let us use his Bands, he deserves making it official.
And Shaun’s doing well, barring the whole “still owing his soul to the Devourer” thing. Ebony and Ivory were happy to see him again. They were actually missing him around the tower.
Shaun has been offered the opportunity to resume his apprenticeship under Mervin, but he doesn’t want to go near the magical equipment again. Poor guy doesn’t trust himself anymore. We have multiple ChaotiX members who can relate, and Al’s planning to have a talk with him.
Alpha told me that he’s thinking of starting a support group for reformed villains. We do have several ex-villains on the team, it could really help them, and it could help Shaun too.
If he actually does that, he should call it Bad-Anon.
Al’s more of a Fix-It Felix Jr. than a Wreck-It Ralph these days, Niv.
I know how low the odds of Umbra being reformed are, but if it does happen, Al’s idea would help him too.
And I know what they’ll serve at Umbra’s first meeting: bacon, from all of those FLYING PIGS.
Yeah, it’s a long shot, but a lot of the things we’ve pulled off were long shots, so I’m taking the risk, and I’m taking responsibility for Umbra.
That doesn’t mean I’m his owner, though. I want to redeem him, not adopt him. Let’s not get too crazy.
I take responsibility for every Omega Class in the modern day, and Umbra is… Omega-adjacent.
He’s had the power of an Omega a few times, at least.
And Shaun’s had that power at least once.
Just to be safe, the Black Band has been relocated to the Sanctum’s vaults, where all kinds of evil and dangerous magical relics are securely contained. All of our arcane loot from magical enemies like Umbra and Ianos is stored there.
Shaun said that moving the Black Band was the right call. He’s seriously considering quitting magic altogether.
Shaun’s not an idiot, and he’s not irredeemably evil either. He’s a scared young man who got suckered into joining a cult, and wound up in way over his head.
And now the Devourer has a claim to his soul.
Yeah, that’s far worse than any gang initiation. And when you join most cults, it usually ENDS after you drink the Kool-Aid. With the Devourer, not even death is an escape. Shit’s fucked, y’all.
Christ, the Devourer. And the fucking Light is out there too.
If either of them gets in, we’re screwed, and if they both get in, we’re double screwed.
Compared to that, this whole thing with the Spirits isn’t so complicated.
We find them, we seal them away, we make sure they don’t break free again.
I’ve already thought of a way to do that third one, dear readers.
And I’m not telling you yet, but see if you can figure it out.
Here’s a hint: it involves a ChaotiX member, and they’ve been mentioned at least once in this Saga.
Right now, me and Marley have just gotten back to our apartment building, after another day of running around, all kinds of things on our plate.
Well, there was a lot of flying around on my new hoverboard, too. I insisted that Val design it to resemble the one Marty had in Back to the Future.
I don’t have a problem with pink.
And soon, we can be driving around.
It hasn’t been as hectic as when Drakonia was under Dehak’s rule, but we usually have a pretty busy schedule, crisis or no crisis.
Don’t you miss the days when you had all the time in the world to smoke weed and play video games, Cal? Back when you only did the occasional odd job for your friends?
I still do those things, I just do other things too now.
And dude, I have superpowers, I wouldn’t give them up for all the weed in the world. The commute is a breeze.
Good point. You ever think about copying Jack’s powers, so you’d have more time in the day?
You know how me and Jack feel about that, Niv. An Omega with time powers can be dangerous. Remember Adam? Remember Anti-Calvin?
Exactly, Cal. Jack can clockblock Gaspar, but I don’t think he could clockblock THOSE assholes. He couldn’t stop Vulcanus from clockblocking HIM, either. Would be pretty handy if SOMEONE could, eh?
Okay, yeah, but if I had time powers, I’d be too broken. I mean, I already have more powers than a French waiter has ways to say “your taste in wine sucks”…
And there’s always merging. It’s been a long while since we had to bring Cajack out, and Jack and I could always merge again if we really have to.
True, but you would have to waste time finding Jack and putting the Bands on, and if you’re up against an enemy with time powers, they can just not let you HAVE that time.
I’ve got a temporal stabiliser, Niv.
And the Nerd Squad’s made upgrades there, too. With Jack’s help, naturally. My first one burned out after a fourteen thousand year trip, it was an obvious flaw that needed fixing.
As we enter the apartment and walk into the living room, we see Judy, watching TV with Young Quin and Roxie, all of them sitting on the couch.
“Hey Jude. Where are the others?”
Judy turns, smiling at us.
“Pic’s still working with Andre, and Scott’s taking the rest for a walk with Future Quin. They should all be back in time for dinner.”
Future Quin and Marley usually come upstairs for dinner a couple of times a week.
Judy grins as she eyes MIKA, in business suit form again.
“Thanks. Here, watch this.”
I step forward, out of MIKA, revealing my fluffy print boxers, MIKA shifting to nano armor mode.
I’ve stil got my bag of holding and the Sword of Kings on me.
Then I strike my best JoJo pose, and MIKA moves in sync, posing too.
I’ve done that with Cal a lot, so I don’t mind letting MIKA have a turn.
I didn’t think it would be much fun, but it is.
Yes, I don’t have to be wearing MIKA for him to chime in. Like Fi and the Sword of Kings, MIKA just has to be near me.
“I want one of those suits. It looks like so much fun.”
As MIKA flows back onto my body, shifting to street clothes, I sit down on the couch with Marley, and share a kiss with Judy.
“You know what Val said, Jude. It’ll be a while before the next one’s ready.”
“An Mawwey cawwed dibs awn dat wun, su mummah am gunna haf tu wait fow da fiwd wun.”
Next, I affectionately ruffle Young Quin’s hair.
“Maybe we should get you a nano suit, Quin. You’re growing up so fast, and it’ll save us a fortune on clothes.”
He giggles, his eyes glued to the TV. Another news broadcast.
“Tonight’s hot news: just this afternoon, twenty-two feral fluffies were saved from a burning building by the ChaotiX. While there were, thankfully, no casualties, several of the fluffies had to be treated for smoke inhalation…”
Yeah, that was one of the things we did today.
There’s footage, I can see me and Marley leaping in and out of the burning building, carrying fluffies out, and Drake doing the same. Artie and Splash can be seen too, helping the firefighters… well, fight the fire.
I had MIKA form a firefighter’s helmet, just for the hell of it, and Marley was in human form.
Young Quin points at the screen.
“That’s Daddy! That’s you, Daddy! Were you scared?”
I can’t help but laugh.
“Quin, I’m fireproof, and if you and Roxie take those dampeners off, so are you.”
“An su am Mawwey. Mawwey am weaw gwate-fuw fow dat, cuz most fwuffies nu du su weww awound buwnies…”
“So no, we weren’t really scared. Well, not of the fire. Honestly, I was scared that we’d miss a foal, but we can sense life force too.”
I hold my hand up, palm flat, and a fireball appears in my hand, gently flickering.
“In a few years, buddy, when you’re finally ready to start training… we’re gonna have tons of fun. Most dads just teach their kids how to ride a bike, but I’m going to teach you how to fly.”
“Or breathe underwater. Just don’t do it at the swimming pool, chlorine stings and tastes like sh-- cr-- poo.”
After extinguishing the fireball with a wave of my hand, I ruffle Roxie’s hair next.
“And I’ll probably be training you too, Roxie. Even if you don’t turn out to be an Omega, you’ve still got pyrokinesis.”
Quin pipes up, looking eager.
“I wanna do the gold fire.”
“It takes a lot to do that, Quin. You’ve gotta get really strong. Future Quin’s getting closer to it.”
It helps if you have strong emotions to push you over the brink. The golden flames are fueled by love, after all.
Call it corny all you want, dear readers. It still gets results, damnit.
You’d think, with Future Quin’s traumatic past, that he’d already be there.
To be fair, he was younger than Young Quin is now when it all went down. He barely remembered what it was like before his timeline went to shit.
It’s not like he was there when his me died, or like he found his Victor’s corpse face down in a puddle.
What about Future Mar? HE remembered what it was like.
Yeah, but you know that he prefers his nephilim powers. He hasn’t copied as many powers as the Mar sitting in my lap.
Neither did Anti-Calvin’s old Mar. Remember that little bastard freaking out when OUR Mar turned into a steel ball?
Funny as fuck.
You think Anti-Calvin is gonna get a NEW Mar? He thinks Marleys are replaceable, after all.
He thinks everyone is replaceable, Niv.
And so far, according to CQK-1, Public Enemy Number 9891 has only been recruiting alternates of humanoid ChaotiX members.
I think he might just be done with fluffies.
Or at least, he’s done with recruiting them.
I’ve reviewed my files on Anti-Calvin. You’re better than him, Cal.
Indeed. You wouldn’t abuse fluffies like that lunatic does.
Except Umbra, but he kiiiiiiiiiinda had it coming.
We can’t argue with Niv on this one.
And we’re treating Umbra moderately well while he’s staying in our custody. We haven’t been torturing him. As I pointed out to him, his biggest problem is boredom, and he should be grateful for that.
Shit, he should be grateful that he’s not dead again. He stays alive as long as there’s reasons to spare him.
Frankly, there’s plenty of reasons to kill him.
The main reason he’s still alive is because we don’t have a way to make sure he stays dead this time. It’s not as easy as deleting Hans’ neural backups, we’ve got a virus for that specific purpose.
And we’ve found a few more backups that weren’t connected to the Stahlnet. All in places with ties to Hans. In fact, one of them was in a USB drive hidden in Kirk’s old armor. There was a secret compartment, where the big swastika used to be. We think Hans hid it there during their stay on Devil Island, which we are workshopping new names for.
Scott suggested Nephilim Island.
All but one of the backups we’ve found have been destroyed, and we’re only keeping the sole surviving backup until it’s been fully probed for information. After that, it’s being wiped like the others.
It’s not connected to any networks, because we’re going out of our way to prevent another round with Hans.
As for Umbra, death only sends him back to Hell or the Devourer, and he’s already escaped from both before.
Christ, it’s like Hans and Umbra are racing to see who can be the biggest pain in my ass.
Hopefully, my ongoing attempts to redeem Umby will bear fruit. I have noticed that he’s adopted a few of my mannerisms. I think it’s because of the time he spent in CQK-1999’s body. Remember what I said about that, on Faucheuse Tower? The Borrowing Effect?
Hell, one time, I smoked a joint in his cell just to make it clear that I’m in charge, and when I offered him a puff, he almost said yes.
He caught himself at the last second. It sounded like “Yeeeeeeuuuuuuuhhhhno.”
It was hilarious.
As the news moves on, I start flicking through the channels, waving my hand.
Courtesy of Ben and Surge, you see. There’s all kinds of little tricks you can do with electrokinesis. You can use it to recharge batteries, or as a makeshift defibrillator, or as a makeshift taser.
“Hey, that new Twilight Zone parody with fluffies is on.”
“Better not watch it with the kids around, Cal. I don’t think it’s meant for kids.”
“I gotta ask Des if there actually is a Footlong Frank down there.”
Meanwhile, across town, Invidia waddles into an alleyway, behind a building with boarded up windows.
It closed down a few years ago, and the words “MATHEWS’ HUMANE FLUFFY EXTERMINATION” can just barely be made out on the peeling, faded sign.
Invidia finds the other six Spirits of Sin waiting for him, and as soon as he sits down with them, Superbia speaks up.
“Were you followed?”
“I don’t think so.”
“Not good enough, Invidia. Korkea obviously has means of finding people more sophisticated than simply tailing them. If he’s watching us right now, we need to know.”
Invidia gives his leader the most indignant look he can muster.
“You’re the one who insisted on staying here, you know. If Korkea catches us, it’s your fault.”
“Oh, don’t start pointing fingers. You don’t even have any. Fortunately, I planned ahead. I think it’s time we say goodbye to these useless bodies.”
“But what if these things tell Korkea about us? They’re aware of what we’ve done in their bodies, they know all of our plans.”
“And I’ve taken that into account too, my lethargic friend. Why do you think I chose this alleyway?”
Superbia nudges a filthy paper bag, scavenged from the trash, and it falls over, several moldy skettie treats spilling out.
“I’ve ascertained that this business was something like the rat-catchers we’re more familiar with. These garish, fuzzy creatures used to be treated as vermin, and I don’t know what changed everyone’s minds.”
Gula hasn’t taken his eyes off the treats since the bag spilled.
“Is that a hint of spaghetti I detect? I’ll take three of those, please. Or five. Or… aw, just gimme the bag!”
“Gula, I know you don’t like to share, but you only need one of these, and we each need one too. However, I’m willing to make a concession, and let you have the first one. We need to see if they still work, anyway.”
The fat fluffy has already started gobbling the first treat.
“What was om nom that last part? I didn’t nom nom catch tha-- ghk”
And then Gula’s host promptly drops dead.
Orange smoke spews out of the fat fluffy’s mouth, forming itself into a corpulent, humanoid spirit, with a smoky tail instead of legs.
“Oh, very funny. Very funny indeed, Superbia.”
Superbia grins up at Gula.
“Looks like those poisoned treats haven’t lost their potency. Quickly, everyone, eat a treat and abandon host.”
One by one, the six remaining Spirits gobble a treat, and one by one, their hosts succumb to the poison, freeing the Spirits and revealing their true forms.
Acedia goes second, his true form light blue, looking young, most likely adolescent, smoky hair covering one of his eyes.
“That was exhausting.”
Ira goes third, his true form red, muscular, and horned, still grinding his teeth.
“I hate dying.”
Avaritia goes fourth, his true form yellow, thin and lanky, with beady eyes, a vulture-like quality about him.
“I deserve some kind of compensation for putting up with that body for so long.”
Luxuria goes fifth, his true form a darker blue, radiating sleaze and perversion. He’s fat, but not as fat as Gula, and he’s even wearing a smoky wife beater, the uniform of perverts everywhere.
“Aw, I like those things.”
Invidia goes sixth, his true form green. He’s skinny too, and looks like a crotchety old man.
“Yes, you’ve told us as much, and we don’t need to hear it again. I for one feel entitled to a better body.”
And last but not least, Superbia is the final Spirit to shed his host, his true form purple, and unnaturally handsome.
“Remember, I have dibs on Korkea. You can have his pig-horse, Invidia.”
“I don’t WANT the pig-horse, damnit! I don’t care that it can turn human, I deserve better than these ugly, squeaky things!”
“Let’s just get out of this alleyway, we can continue this argument later.”
The Spirits nod, flying up into the air, out of the alleyway, into the night.
A few minutes after they leave, the Death of Fluffies waddles into the alleyway, seeing the souls of the seven former hosts emerge from their vessels, all thinking very confused.
The ghost of Gula’s host is trying to eat the remaining poison treats, but isn’t tangible enough to do so anymore, so he’s thinking very depressed.
HOO BOI. DIS AM GUNNA BE A PWOB-WEM.
The Death of Fluffies knows what has just transpired here. He knows who is to blame.
However, it’s not a matter of cosmic importance. (Yet.)
So the Rules forbid him from informing those among the living who could do something about this.
Much to his frustration.
Last time the Spirits were free, there were no fluffies, and no Death of Fluffies either.
But the past, present and future are one and the same to the Deaths, and they have an unusual memory.
And the last time the Spirits were free, every Death working on Earth at the time had a lot of jobs on their bony hands, or paws, or claws, or et cetera.
So the Death of Fluffies also knows exactly how much trouble the Spirits of Sin are.