Thursday, May 23, 2013

Another Sort Of Ark

"Okay, I see the pattern - someone is stealing animals, rare and common alike, from farms and zoos all over the world." Alaric touched his forehead, where a pair of small, upturned horns betrayed his half-demonic heritage. His horns were pulsing - never a good sign - but he pushed on: "And we're investigating this why, exactly?"

Old Man Stevens shook his head. He was a tiny, wizened figure, completely dwarfed by his office chair and the massive mahogany desk in front of him. "We're not investigating. We already know what's going on. The man responsible is a preacher named Charles DuLange. Has a small but loyal congregation in West Virginia; preaches a lot fire and brimstone, insists that the end of the world is coming soon."

"...And only the worthy will be saved," finished Alaric, reflexively cynical. "So where do the animals come in?"

"Anna took a stroll through his dreams last night. She thinks he's expecting a massive flood, and plans to use the animals - and his followers - to repopulate the world once the waters recede. Normally, I'd want more confirmation--"

Alaric nodded. Dreams were a notoriously unreliable way to gather information, but the sorts of sensitives who could pry into someone's thoughts directly all had to operate at very close range.

"--but two hours ago, a group of DuLange's followers hijacked a cruise ship. They put most of the passengers overboard in the lifeboats, but kept about thirty as hostages... or eventual sacrifices. Meanwhile, Dulange and the rest of his congregation have packed up and formed a convoy; they're on their way to the coast to meet the ship. Our best guess is that they plan to move the animals onboard with them, seal the boat up, and hold their final worship service."

"Is that a problem?" asked Alaric. "Our kind of problem, I mean? It smells more like Jonestown than an actual incursion." His horns pulsed again, insistently.

"Anna says that DuLange has been in touch with... something. She says his dreams were tainted. She's not the only one who thinks so. Something is coming, and whatever it is, it's about as bad as it gets."

"So you're sending me."

Old Man Stephens nodded. "Get onto that boat, or intercept the caravan - whatever you have to do to stop DuLange. Whatever it is that's using him, it's powerful enough that if it ever does manage an incursion, it might very well be able to raise the waters and end the world. Don't let that happen."

Alaric nodded. "May I sink the boat?"

"Whatever it takes." Old Man Stephens' voice was flat. It was hard to read expressions on that mummy-like face, but Alaric realized suddenly that the little old man was scared.

"I'm on it," he said, and turned to go.

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