The burlap bag came off the disheveled man's face. His eyes took in the surroundings as they adjusted to the starkly lit room. A few seconds of listening and feeling told him it was the hold of a ship. Around him were nine people in opera masks, all tuxedo dressed men, standing around him in a circular pattern.
"Who are you?" he croaked out. The masked man in front of him stepped forward and spoke kindly.
"Well, well, well. Commodore Parker. I see you've accepted my invitation. Welcome to our humble vessel. I know it's no ocean liner but I feel it's comfortable enough."
The man felt a surge of anger and shouted, "Let me go! Do you know who I am? I can destroy your careers!"
"You were a Captain thirty years ago?" The leader asked, ignoring the exclamation.
"Yes, Yes I was." A distant memory entered his mind and panic began to set in.
"Oh! I see a little recognition. Do you remember the night of June 2nd, 1852?"
Parker felt terror as he heard those words and as the men advanced, "It's you. What will you do with me?"
The masked man laughed and said, "I assure you, none of us will harm you in any way." He took a large brass watch out of his breast pocket.
"Like it?" He asked Parker who was terrified as he looked around.
The watch clicked open unaided as if it smelled prey.
Parker felt mesmerized as he looked at the watch, warnings in his head told him to turn away but he couldn't.
The watch seemed to emanate with power as all of its hands spun around, suddenly cold, wet spray flew from the watch causing the man to close his eyes.
A chorus of screams then emanated from the watch along with the sounds of wood and metal being smashed.
The leader of the masked men roared, "Do you remember Parker? The ones who called for you all those years ago?"
Before Parker could do or say anything, strands made out of a strange whitish cord-like material flew out of the watch and inserted themselves into his body.
The watch hands began to spin counter-clockwise and Parker screamed as pains wracked his frame
. The white cords began their work and began to suck on him like a pump. After a few seconds passed, a reddish material was extracted from him causing the unfortunate man to scream aloud, minutes passed and the reddish material turned to purple, then a dark blue, and finally black.
Despite Parker feeling like this process had taken an eternity, it only took a few moments and the results were remarkable.
What was once a 75 year old heavyset man had turned into a brittle, yellowed skeleton with loose hanging clothes around its frame.
As one of the men approached the skeleton, it collapsed under its own weight. The leader of the group motioned to one of his cohorts, "Clean that mess up.".
The eight men did so while the leader looked at the watch, on the inside of the cover was over two hundred makings of varying sizes.
As he watched, three markings vanished and the leader grinned, his efforts had been rewarded.
The watch glowed as its owner put it back into his pocket, the light turned from white to blue and then faded into darkness.
Dimension: Zp83IhA-/93x w/
Date: 200,123 AD
Frank Hamilton gripped his stomach and nearly keeled over, there was a bizarre feeling in his stomach. However it vanished as quickly as it had arrived and he got up feeling hurt.
The lawyer looked up from the tablet, "Are you okay?" he asked worriedly.
The young man got up and waved, "I think I had something that disagreed with me. Just stomach issues."
The lawyer looked skeptical but returned to reading the will of the late Benedict Cassius Hamilton, Frank Hamilton's father and possible originator of a well known curse that had affected him for the last seven years.
Despite the suddenness of the attack, Frank was pretty sure that it was just stomach pain.
"In the event of his disappearance, Benedict Cassius Hamilton has written that you will take over his antiques store, the Lucky Find, and all possessions related to it to use or dispose of as you see fit." The lawyer
The lawyer handed him a tablet, "This is all the paperwork for the store, now Mr. Hamilton I am aware of your past with your father and can confirm that disposal of items is permitted legally and there'll be no issues if you do so."
Frank gave a slight smile, "Thank you Mr. Dorschent, can I invite you for a drink and dinner? It would be my treat."
The lawyer shook his head, "I must return to my office Mr. Hamilton, perhaps another day."
Mr. Dorschent began to open the door when a woman yelled "Ouch!" as she crashed into it.
Frank looked up from the tablet and then smiled as he felt a very peeved mental presence in his mind.
He walked to the door where the lawyer was helping a short woman in a white long sleeved button down covered by a sleeveless vest, a short brown miniskirt, and brown riding boots.
She looked ready to give the unfortunate lawyer a mouthful.
Next to her was an older grey haired gentleman dressed in a very old fashion who was also helping her up.
Frank ignored the two men and spoke to the woman, "For a telepath, you have a worrying habit of walking into doors. Perhaps you should focus on the sidewalk?"
Laura Waterton blinked and her building rage vanished, Frank felt the presence in his mind feeling around to see if her eyes were deceiving her.
He patted her face with a wide grin on his face, "Aye its me. Remember I'm your partner? Or is your memory failing you?"
The red haired woman frowned, "Why are you here? You told me you'd never come back to Nova Tero when I asked you about returning."
The lawyer said "Frank Hamilton has taken possession of Benedict Cassius Hamilton's store after his sudden disappearance. The will states he had to be here physically to take possession."
Laura turned in surprise to Frank as Mr. Dorschent slipped away from them.
Frank felt a little admiration at the man's ability to vanish before she spoke, "Well, this must be Christmas come early for you.."
Frank frowned and chose his words carefully, "If he didn't vanish and I knew what happened, perhaps. However, his disappearance is worrying since it could mean some very unpleasant alternatives."
She nodded and didn't press, the consequences of those alternatives were well known to her.
Frank handed her a napkin to wipe off her face. She smiled and was about to speak when the old gentleman interrupted, "So this is Franklin Hamilton? A pleasure."
He extended his hand and Frank shook it, surprised at the strong grip of the older gentleman while Laura introduced him, "Frank, this is my grandfather Perseus."
Frank's eyes widened as he heard this, "So you're her grandfather, Laura wasn't kidding when she said you were a marvel."
The old man raised an inquisitive eyebrow and Laura grew somewhat crimson, "In what ways did she say I was a marvel?" Perseus asked.
Frank replied, "You look like you should be considering retirement and instead you're travelling and doing very active work. I hope I can do that when I reach your age."
Perseus Hartford let out a chuckle, "Well, I should think there's a possibility of that. However, I was blessed with extraordinary genetics and an active lifestyle that has allowed me to prosper at all stages of life. Please tell me about yourself."
Frank began to think about what to say when a familiar pain began to materialize in his stomach.
The leader looked at the man in front of him with a look of disdain on his face, while Parker was an arrogant man who had abandoned those in the water.
This thing in front of him was the one who ensured that those who died were even in the position of being in the water that dreadful night.
He motioned to a cohort behind the victim who took off the bag over his head.
Former Third Officer Lewis Vernon of the SS Zenith of Lane gasped as he looked around.
Unlike Parker, he had fallen on hard times due to the stigma of his actions. However Vernon had been found not guilty and that was all that mattered to him.
The leader said "Vernon. Out of everyone in my crusade, your crime is the greatest."
The man looked perplexed as he heard this, "What do you mean?"
"Remember the night of June 2nd, 1852? It was a dark, rainy but beautiful night." The leader reminisced.
Unlike Parker, Vernon realized what was being referenced immediately and let out a despairing moan.
The leader cracked a smile as he heard this, "We got Parker last night. Now let us see if you are guilty or not."
He pulled out the watch and opened it, Vernon was confused as he saw the inside.
The watch numbers had been replaced with doves and gavels, the leader clicked the top of the watch causing the hands to spin.
For a few moments, the watch hands just spun then stopped on gavels without warning.
Then the tendrils extended and began to insert themselves into the man, energies were sucked from the man's body and he began to shrivel up.
Fat and muscle were devoured giving the man a corpse like appearance, the skin and eyes were devoured, and finally the nerves with the brain being the last.
The tendrils then sucked the marrow out weakening the bones until they were incapable of supporting themselves and collapsed into dust.
Dimension: Zp83IhA-/93x w/
Date: 200,123 AD
Frank collapsed, in his ears a chorus of screams rang out, tearing metal and wood deafened him while he lost his vision as the inside of his head shook.
However, the true agony from the attack was in his body as it felt like every part of him was being ripped apart.
The agony lasted 20 seconds and ended just as suddenly, Frank breathed heavily on the ground blind and deaf for a few seconds.
Slowly both hearing and vision returned, both Laura and Perseus were standing over him with looks of horror and worry mixed.
"Mr. Hamilton, are you alright?" Perseus asked. Frank nodded slowly, after a few moments he replied, "Barely."
Laura helped him up and asked the inevitable question, "Was it your curse?"
Frank let out a wet cough and thought it over for a few moments, "I think so, oh god I haven't had that type of pain in years."
The old man looked over Hamilton questioningly, "What is this curse, what you had looked like a spasm of some kind? And where did those splinters and water come from?"
Frank felt his face over and discovered that there was a lot of water on his face while splinters greeted his finger.
He tasted the liquid and was surprised to taste salt water. "What in blazes?" Astonishment present in his voice, "Salt water?"
Laura looked confused before a memory came into her mind, "I remember meeting you before getting the enchantments, strange stuff like that was noticed all over you every time this happened. Remember when we found that ancient Roman knife in your back?"
Frank grimaced, "I promise I've been keeping up with my enchantments."
Perseus now had a serious face on, "Let me look you over."
He took a strange tool out of his pocket and stabbed it into Franks chest, the young man blinked for a moment unsure of what to do, however the old man removed his tool before looking at it.
His eyes widened considerably and Frank watched the horrified old man look him over.
"Do you have suspicions on who may have cursed you?" Perseus asked.
Frank thought for a moment and said "My father, we had fought the night before. I had woken up to find him sticking something in me, it looked like a vial. Couldn't prove it though."
Laura looked at the tool and her eyes widened, "I can guess why, he was working with the demons."
Frank's eyes widened as he heard this and he said, "You have proof?"
He rushed over and tried to read the tools readings, however the bizarre language on the display confused him.
However, the mathematical symbol for the demon dimension was unmistakable, "That wretch, I knew something like that was going on." he growled.
Laura looked at the readings again and then at the store, "It's odd, I've never seen these readings before."
Perseus looked down at the tool and then at her, "I have seen something like it, Mr. Hamilton, in essence your father seemed to be benefiting from something in the demon realm, however the origin comes from a different dimension while you receive the aftershocks."
Frank growled, "I can guess what he got out of it, immortality or something like it."
Perseus frowned as he heard this, "Without seeing his body I can only speculate, these demons seem to be quite young in their dimensional manipulation but it's fiendishly clever."
Laura sighed, "Frank? Do you mind if I look through the store with you?"
The young man nodded, "Of course Laura, I have to do inven-" Then something clicked in his mind, he turned to Perseus and raised an eyebrow. "I always speculated about Laura's origin."
The old man blinked and Laura realized what Frank had figured out, "I'm sorry Frank for not telling you but-"
Frank waved her off, "I'm not angry, family is family and I'd do the same if my father hadn't driven every relative off and poisoned any future attempts at reconciliation. However, I'm curious about you sir. Laura has stood with me through perils and joys alike, you I wonder about."
Perseus rose to his full 6'3, "Is that so? Why?"
"You stab with me an unsterilized needle and basically tell me what I always wanted to hear." Frank replied.
The old man blinked and was about to snap when Laura put her hand over his mouth, "Frank, we've known each other for how long?"
"Five years give or take a few months." The young man replied.
"Let me assure you, demons haven't managed to infiltrate his mind. This is just how he usually acts, believe me." She rubbed her hand over her bottom as a long forgotten memory came up,
Frank felt the effects of the memory and winced, "Well, there's only one way to know." He said.
Frank took out a small pen and jabbed it into his face, nothing happened.
"You're demon free. If you had been infected, then your skin would have been burnt." He said.
Perseus raised an inquisitive eyebrow while Laura simply grinned, "You still carry that?"
Frank smiled at her, "It only takes me a millisecond to react to changes."
Laura rolled her eyes, "Oh yes, I also imagine that this was in no way motivated by him jabbing you?"
The young man gave a mock expression of horror, "Perish the thought Laura! I am not that petty", then winked as he finished.
Perseus frowned, "I see, I'm also certain that thing does not actually work."
Laura looked at Frank's hand as it reached inside his coat, "You're getting the hand aren't you?"
Frank grinned and pulled a mottled disfigured hand from the inside of his jacket, the old man's face dropped as the younger man thrust the pen into it, immediately it began to spark and a strong ozone smell emanated from it, the pen was removed and the reaction stopped.
"Oh my." Perseus exclaimed.
"Belief in certain objects mixed with the metal known as brass, both are acidic to demon and demon infested skin while the latter also keeps germs from being long term guests." Laura explained to her grandfather.
The older man grimaced, "What an ingenious device, probably expensive due to the nature of its usage and the number of humans."
"There's a reason brass isn't used in civilian usage, along with copper." Frank replied.
Perseus let out a soft chuckle and then turned to him, "Now, back to your curse. I have a theory on what has been going on. I'll look around the store and his house. Well, if he has a house, in a few days. I need to collect my thoughts and some tools. Furthermore where would the blueprints for the store and home be?"
Frank replied, "He lived in an apartment above the store, city hall would be where you're looking for the blueprints. What are you going to do?"
However the older man had already departed, "Cor, he's fast." Frank said.
"You have no idea." She replied.
"Given your discussion of dimensional stuff, I'm going to assume you're not from around here either?" Frank asked.
Laura nodded, "He and I hail from an advanced dimensional travelling society. Unlike the Hadron Collider experiments of this dimension which led to the demon infiltration, we managed to avoid those unwelcome guests and learn how to travel in dimensions, time and space. Although the second isn't often used, turns out time has its own guardians there."
She shuddered as she remembered her sole meeting with them.
Frank chuckled and said "Oh lovely. Well, I'm going to be doing inventory for now."
Laura replied, "I think I'll help, knowing my grandfather, when he returns he'll be looking at the walls and doors and growling if it isn't done."
Frank grimaced, "Let's go then."
Laura smiled, "You seem to be taking this well."
Frank replied, "Well, you've been a good partner. Where I would be without you is something I shudder to contemplate. If your grandfather played a role in that, then he's good in my book."
Laura smiled at the compliment.
The two entered the store and began to look through the inventory and pack it up while looking for anything that told of demonic dealings.
However, it seemed that Benedict Cassius Hamilton had lived by the age old motto, "You don't defecate where you eat."
The only thing off was three books next to the sales ledgers, which were normal looking and had no traces of demon energy.
The volumes though were written in strange languages neither could recognize and bizarre looking numerals made them unreadable.
For five and a half days, they continued searching and packing before Perseus returned with a briefcase, a tablet and a workmans bag.
He looked around the inside as he entered, Frank and Laura looked up from their meal. Perseus grinned and said "Fantastic work you two, I am going to assume you've found nothing?"
"Just several ledgers containing unknown languages and bizarre numbers." Laura reported.
Frank then said "They're probably forgotten languages of man the demons taught him. That would be a kicker wouldn't it?"
Perseus harrumphed, "Good job, now I'll be busy going around the store and apartment setting up these machines. Don't ask what they do, until yesterday I had nothing like them."
The two watched him go around the room setting up strange reddish brown rectangular devices.
Then he quickly went to the other rooms on the ground floor and set up similar devices and then ran up the stairs.
Frank blinked and looked at Laura, "He seems to be in a hurry."
She chuckled at this, "Don't worry, he'll slow down in a few minutes. Do we have enough food for him?"
Frank nodded and a few minutes later the old man came down the stairs satisfied, "Good afternoon you two." Perseus said to them.
They handed him a soup bowl and Perseus took it, after sipping the soup he said "Quite a pleasant week I admit. The records were quite descriptive of how he built the house. For instance did you know he applied for a basement but never purchased a thing for it?"
"I remember, I was still living here at the time. Heck, we built it together. That is peculiar though. I remember him going into the basement all the time after we built it." Frank replied.
Perseus raised his eyebrow and asked, "Where was the entrance?"
Frank got up and said "Let me show you." They walked up to the bedroom where the young man saw the familiar door, it was flush with the wall with its knob missing.
He fiddled with the door and was rewarded with a click. He opened it and grinned as he saw the winding staircase, turning Frank called, "Come on!"
Laura and Perseus looked at each other in surprise, "Frank? There's only a wall."
Laura replied. The young man looked inquisitively at them both and said "I just opened the door, come on down."
The two looked at each other and followed him, they were surprised as they walked through the doorway and found themselves in the stairway.
They slowly followed him deeper into the stairwell.
A few minutes later they reached the bottom of the stairs which led to a very large room, in it was a strange set of objects that caused them to stop.
"How did they get there?" Frank and Laura exclaimed at once as they saw the treasure trove before them.
The masked leader felt warm despite the chilly wind that went underneath his clothing. He moved his hand underneath his coat and grabbed the watch, once again he heard its song.
A small part of him tried to deny the song any entry to his heart but he rejected this effort, the desire for vengeance had long superseded everything else in his soul.
The schooner was very quiet as it made its way up the shore, it would take time but soon they would reach their next stop.
Then, the last of the guilty would pay the price to save three more onboard the ship. With that done, he could rest and end his days back under the guise of the lord.
The song entered his heart and he wondered if that was the best idea, the lord would probably not approve of his actions.
Plus, there were other criminals who needed to pay for their sins.
A wave came over the deck and soaked his skin.
His eyes closed as the events of June 2nd, 1852 flew into his mind.
The terror as the ships collided, the slanting deck knocking people off their feet, the cries of women and children as the water approached them, the struggle to reach anything that floated, the screams and then the silence.
He shook in anger as he remembered this, then he remembered being rescued and shook, what nonsense the crew offered him,
He would dispose of their leader properly, that wretch would pay.
Dimension: Zp83IhA-/93x w/
Date: 200,123 AD
Frank and Laura walked into the room, priceless artifacts from all corners and eras of pre-demon Earth were littered around.
Perseus was equally as stunned, some of the items he saw included lost pieces of art, cultural artifacts, armors and literature including the Le Pigeon aux Petits Pois and the Cardenio.
He walked up to the latter and picked it up, a strange feeling of pleasure came into him as he opened the pages.
A suspicion came into his mind and he closed the book, then took out a small neural device, setting it to forget all he had read. He put it on his head, the device destroyed the memories and the feeling of unnatural pleasure vanished.
He looked longingly at the book, it was one of his favorite plays when he saw it on one of his travels and a written version had been impossible to find even for him.
Putting it down he turned to Laura and said "Cursed."
Frank looked at some of the works sadly and said "I'm not surprised, the demons seized most of these works and probably gained the rest over the duration of their reign on Earth. We'll have to dest-"
Laura noticed her grandfather's face and interrupted.
"Maybe we could try to transcribe the items. It won't be original but their contents won't be lost."
The old man looked at her slightly relieved, "Thank you my dear, however it should be done cautiously. My mind has been trained for millennia to fight off mental temptations and I felt influenced! If these demons manage to have that much influence with a single item, I shudder to think what power a single demon has."
Frank and Laura shuddered, they had fought demons for some time and knew precisely what they were capable of.
Then Frank saw something behind the piles of books, he walked around them and found a small desk and a register.
Suspicion came into his mind and he opened the register, surprise came into his mind as the drawer opened, opened again in the middle and again and again until an extremely large table had opened up from the register.
Inside each of the inserts was a different currency, the other two came up to him and looked at the currencies in the inserts.
A sight caught his eyes, a golden coin with a woman's head was glowing a dark red color, he slowly moved his hand towards it.
As his hand touched the coin, his vision was blinded by a flash of light. He was thrown back into a wall, as his mind darkened two words came into his mind.
A few minutes later he woke up to a strange and piercing scent. His eyes slowly cleared and he saw Perseus holding a strange bottle under his nose.
Laura looked relieved as she saw him awaken.
"Are you alright? Was it-?" He cut her off by groggily shaking his head and saying "I lost common sense and touched a glowing coin. Just a question, have either of our heard of Dame Lucia? Steamship of some kind."
Laura shook her head and said "No, you're the old machine buff around here. When did that name come into your head?"
Frank unsteadily got up and walked to the register, the coin was still glowing its malevolent color, "I touched that coin and it sent me flying."
"Oh my, Grandfather do you have a clue what that is and what these ashes are?" Laura asked.
The old man looked at it and said "I think this is what delivers the aftershocks. It's been activated recently, however they all seemed to have been wrapped in something."
Perseus put on a monocle and looked in at the currencies and frowned, "Mr. Hamilton, are there enchantments in this universe that could limit the power of a demonic object?"
"Yes. Laura knows a good chunk of them, I admit I focused more on demon destruction." Frank replied.
Perseus turned to Laura who was stroking her chin, "Grandfather, I think I get what you're suggesting. The ashes may be the remnants of enchantments placed over them, probably because of the noticeability of the early aftershocks."
Frank grimaced, "Would destroying them work or would I make it worse?"
"Worse. The origin of the shocks would still exist and ramp up in whatever dimension they're in. Plus, we couldn't figure out the origin points. However I could nullify most of the effects, even more effectively than the enchantments you wore." Laura replied.
Frank looked at the currencies distastefully, "Lovely, given the fact he has about one hundred or so different forms of payment and all of them have ashes around them, this can only mean that he's been making this a regular business."
"It is interesting, the man has only sold one hundred or so items. Yet, no ledger is here. Whatever his sins, he was quite tidy in his paperwork " Perseus said as Laura handed him over the ledgers with the unknown characters, "Oh! That will do quite nicely." He said as he opened the first one.
His face changed from eager to confusion as the strange letters and numbers in their odd orders greeted him. "I see secrecy was vital to him." Perseus said as he poured over the pages with their strange characters and pictures of various items.
"Do you have any clue what they are?" Laura asked, "From what I see, it seems to be a fusion of various languages that are lost or forgotten on Earth."
Perseus nodded and said "Indeed, I should be able to decipher the writings in a month or two but it'll be trial and error filled until the computer picks up on how he writes."
Frank laughed out loud as he heard this, the two looked at him as he recovered. "I apologize, my father's always been a poor speaker of any language he came across. Writing is no different so I suspect half the errors you'll encounter were by him trying to be clever."
Perseus looked at the ledger with a hint of anger in his face, "He's one of those people. Oh my, this is going to be a treat. Laura, could you hand me my work bag? Laura?"
The two men turned to see Laura looking at a small portion of the floor, they walked over to her and saw what interested the woman so much.
In a small pile on the floor in front of her was a bunch of ripped clothes, underneath them were two comically long shoes. Frank recognized them at once and said "He dealt with the devil."
"And lost." She added, "I think we won't be seeing him again. Look at the glass next to it, I'd wager that was part of the device he used to communicate with the demons."
Frank grimaced as he looked at the glass, "The fortune he must've spent on making glass like that! The way it shattered and the color makes me think of something like sapphire or ruby."
Perseus picked up a piece and shook his head, "I'd say it was rubidium mixed with other metals in a way to make it transparent."
"Rubidium?" Frank asked, "Yes, notice the softness of the metal and the device inside. It seems to be part of a hard light device." Perseus explained.
They turned around and saw a control panel, "My god, he's been busy." Perseus exclaimed and then Laura realized something.
"The hard light must be used to make the mechanism that generates the portal!" She exclaimed.
The two men looked at each other in surprise before Perseus realized what she was saying, "Of course, hard light mechanisms have non-industrial uses here don't they?"
Frank nodded, "I knew he used a set for birthdays and neighborhood events."
Laura grimaced as she heard this, "It's scary, he managed to repurpose hard light to make a device to contact demons."
Perseus nodded, "I imagine that in the years since you first met the demons, the security organizations of your world limit the sale of anything that could allow contact with the demon realm. Your father found a very interesting workaround I admit."
Laura nodded, "One of our duties is to undergo plastic surgery and then go into any black markets looking for illicit sellers."
Frank frowned, "I am curious as to where he got the power supplies. However, making the frame out of light is ironic."
Perseus let out a grim chuckle, "I can only speculate but I think during his time as a merchant vessel parts trader he accumulated stock and marked several pieces as lost. I think if we look around, there'll be 20 to 30 year old power generators about."
Frank winced, "Headquarters isn't going to like hearing that. Most people who try to deal with demons are too greedy and easy to spot. He is the type of ally that the demons most enjoy. When did he fall to them?"
A hint of sadness was in his voice as he said that, Laura wondered if pity was entering his mind.
Perseus sighed, "That will be for the authorities to figure out. Now, where do we go from here?"
Frank looked at the gold coin with interest, "I think we should find out what's causing my recent pains and destroy it."
Laura nodded as she heard Frank's statement, "No good can come from anything demonic."
Perseus looked at the coin with interest, "How will you get there?"
Frank froze and thought for a moment, "Well, I could apply for a SPEARPOINT jump."
Perseus raised an eyebrow, "SPEARPOINT?"
Laura answered, "Their interdimensional travel device, it's like firing a cannonball through dimensional barriers."
Perseus gaped as he heard this, "How barbaric! I can't allow that to be used. Come along with me."
Frank was surprised as he heard this, turning to Laura, he saw she looked a bit relieved. As Perseus went up the stairs, Frank asked, "Was this your plan?"
She shrugged, "As much as I despise SPEARPOINT, this was not my plan. Grandfather was always willing to use more modern and safer methods and will offer it suddenly though."
Frank grinned as an old memory came into his head, "Interesting. I'm sure this has nothing to do with the last SPEARPOINT jump landing you up the Centaur Demon's a-"
Laura put her hand over his mouth and growled, "Not a word Hamilton. You agreed to keep that secret. Any word gets out and I tell everyone about the witch transforming you int-"
Frank put his hand over her mouth quickly, "Point taken."
The two headed up the stairs and as they reached the bedroom. Perseus looked at them distastefully, "What took you so long?"
"Don't ask." Frank replied. Perseus frowned and Laura raised her eyebrow after a moment, "Get your mind out of the gutter." she snapped.
Perseus frowned, "What I just saw in your minds put it there. I wish it had been the gutter option."
The two blushed and Frank shuddered a bit fearfully, "I didn't even feel you." Perseus replied "Dear boy, I did mention I had trained for millennia. I promise to not look inside too often, you are quite restrained in your thoughts though."
Frank beamed as he heard this, "I won't deny there's some good from joining the Dimensional Knights." Laura then spoke, "Before I figure what you meant, let's head downstairs."
The three headed down the stairs and into the street, Frank looked around and said "So, let me ask. How do you travel?"
"Follow me." The old man replied. The three walked down the street and into an old warehouse.
"Why are we here? This hasn't really been used and people will get suspicious of three individuals going into here." Frank said.
Perseus pointed at the middle of the warehouse proudly, "This my boy is what we're going for." Frank looked and saw a medium sized plane with two propeller engines.
"This, my boy is my dimensional travelling vessel." Frank raised an eyebrow as Perseus finished and he replied, "It's a plane, a turboprop airplane."
"Yes, yes it is. A modified version of a favorite of mine. The Fokker Friendship." The old man replied with a gleeful spark in his eye.
Frank looked at Laura who shrugged slightly embarrassed. The old man excitedly led them to the cockpit door and opened it.
Inside the cockpit was a futuristic interior. Contrary to Frank's expectations, it was sized perfectly to the interior of the plane.
He whistled as he looked around, "What happens if someone you don't want to see gets in?"
The old man smiled, closed the door, turned the key to the left, and opened it again. Inside was a perfectly normal cockpit of the 21st century.
"Ah. How does that occur?" Frank asked.
Laura replied, "Same way we transform. Just less messy."
"Ah." Frank replied and Perseus raised an eyebrow, "Transform?"
"Can't kill demons permanently through conventional means, certain elements and weapon systems are needed. Need energy for them to have maximum effect, so humanity created Dimensional Knights. We transform, well, exchange our bodies with metallic bodies which are stored in a different dimension when not in use." Laura explained.
Perseus looked impressed and said "Oh my. That is impressive. How do you keep the mind connected to the body?"
"Krovært Tubes in the suits." Frank explained, "They keep the connection going but are ungodly expensive."
"They must be. Hopefully we shall not have to put them to the test." Perseus replied as he turned the key, "Now come on in."
They entered the Friendship and Perseus slowly began to start it up. Unlike a normal Friendship which was a turboprop plane, the version he had silently and pleasantly hummed into life as antigravity and dimensional generators started up.
The old man slowly moved the throttles forward causing the vessels engines to let out a muffled roar.
The vessel slowly lifted into the air and Perseus input some coordinates and speed, then pressed a button.
The vessel's engines screamed into life and the ship soared out of the dimension and into the multiverse.
As the vessel surged forward, Perseus looked at the two younger people and said "I'll be going into the cockpit, she has a bit of damage and I want to make sure the autopilot works."
Frank raised an eyebrow, "Seems a bit dangerous. Is it safe?"
"Indeed, as long as I avoid any dimensional mines." Perseus responded glaring at Frank.
Laura glared, "Don't hold him accountable for that." She turned to Frank, "We struck a mine, grandfather had to fix the ship for several years. Hence why I decided to join while he repaired the ship."
Frank shuddered, "Ah, sorry about that. The navy is a bit, eager, to show off against the demons."
Perseus gave a small smile, "Apology accepted, knowing most military types I suspect this is the best apology I can get. I'm almost tempted to see what these demons are like to understand why your race is so paranoid about them."
Laura then turned to her uncle with a worried expression, "Avoid it at all costs. Oh! Did you remember-?" She made a book opening motion with her hands.
Perseus then felt the inside of his coat and exclaimed, "Almost forgot!"
He took out the three ledgers with the strange languages in it and brought them to a door in the back
. After a minute, he came back out, "I put them in a translator. Hopefully I should at least have a decent idea what's in them."
He then entered the cockpit, "We should be there in about 12 hours, so just rest and enjoy. Snacks are underneath the seats. Period appropriate dress is in the overhead rack."
Then the door shut and Laura turned to Frank, "So, want to snoodle?"
The young man jumped and blushed, "What?"
"I finally got you to jump in surprise." She grinned while Frank frowned, "That isn't fair. It's not every day I walk into something out of a 1950s sci-fi serial."
She rolled her eyes at this, "Don't let grandfather hear that, he's quite certain the interior is up to date and not a throwback." Frank nearly broke out into laughter as he heard that.
They talked some more before deciding to catch a nap, the two were heading into unknown territory and didn't know what they would face or when a rest would be found. As they rested, the ship headed backwards in the time of Dimension Xv2I9IX-9Ru4 to the year 1882 in the state of New England.
December 8th, 1882
Onboard the small train, Pinkerton Detective Agency Employee Martin Feiner read his orders with interest.
Putting down the paper he laid back and thought over them as the locomotive charged onwards through the falling snow.
'Going to watch over a disgraced captain to trap a gang of murderers that may or may not be there in the middle of winter.' He thought, 'One day I will gain seniority and be able to avoid these duties.'
A clap sounded above the train, Feiner looked around in surprise as he heard it. Then a man fell through the ceiling, the detective drew his pistol and undid the safety before approaching the sprawled out body.
He wondered if the man was dead before hearing the groan and seeing him move. The detective came closer and was confused as he saw the man's dress.
He had on a denim coat and pants that were too light for the weather outside, grey and black shoes of a strange make and made out of strange materials, his body spoke of many hours of labor or working out in the sun as an uneven tan was visible on his wrists, some scars were noticeable on his body but strangest of all was his hair.
It was a poofy hair style that he had seen in Barnums circus worn by Circassian beauties and some African American women.
As the man got up, the detective was confused as to what to do. He decided to talk to the man, "Hands up, turn around and sit down. We're going to have a talk."
The stranger who fell through the roof raised his hands up and turned around, then walking backwards, sat down.
The detective was surprised further as he saw the man was wearing a thin whitish grey shirt with no buttons under the open denim jacket.
For a moment he wondered if he was going mad, especially as no wounds were present on the arrivals body.
"Now then, what's an underdressed fellow like yourself doing here?" Feiner asked.
The stranger spoke in a pained tone, "I wish I knew."
He looked out the window and seemed dismayed, the detective felt perplexed as he wondered about how and why he was there.
"Now, what is your name?" The detective asked. "Frank Villard Hamilton, I'm heading to Port Faerin."
The detective froze, his recent orders rang in his mind as the man he was going to protect was in Port Faerin.
"May I ask why?" Detective Feiner asked.
Frank opened one of his hands and seemed relieved as he saw a piece of paper in his hand, "I'm looking for the buyer of this watch. There was a problem with the purchase and heard he might be heading here."
The detective looked at the illustration and was perplexed, it was an oval brass watch that looked like it had a painted pearl on its cover.
"Interesting." The wording on the page was odd and seemed to be written by a madman with most words in English and the others in odd languages.
However a name caught his eye, he grabbed the paper and looked again.
Reverend William Jones Clement
He looked up and said "Is this accurate? Are you really looking for him?"
"Yes. Why?" Frank replied confused.
The detective was feeling excited, a real lead had literally just fallen out of the sky.
He didn't like the man's odd dress and he was curious as to his origins but he felt like kissing him in joy.
He restrained himself, there was a risk of this Hamilton being a madman or anarchist or some other unpleasant fellow trying to interfere and asked, "Now, why are you here?"
Inside his head, Frank Hamilton debated whether to tell the detective more or just knock him out but yet, if he was pursuing the buyer then he could find the man before any more damage could be done.
Deciding to risk it, Frank pulled down his coat sleeve revealing a silver plated holowatch.
Taking it off he handed it to the man who was confused as he looked it over, then as he finished Frank spoke, "I had an accident which led to me falling."
The detective was perplexed when he heard these words, "Yes, I can tell. What does this have to do with-"
"The method I traveled with had an issue as I was checking a sales ledger and I fell from it. I won't go further because it is difficult to explain." Frank said.
The detective looked at his watch, "Theoretically, we have an hour. Due to the snow I suspect it'll be an hour and a half."
Frank laid back in his seat, he wondered how in hell he was going to explain this to the detective.
Then his mind wandered to Laura and her grandfather hoping they were fine, he had seen the craft recovering as he fell.
38 miles away
North By Northwest
Laura walked out of the Friendship whose engines were still smoking in 19th century winter clothing, she turned to Perseus who was looking over the engines, one of which had thick black smoke coming from it.
"Is everything alright?" She asked.
Perseus nodded, "Yes. How bizarre this whole thing was. It was like a fist crashing into the shielding!"
"Do you think it was for Frank?" She asked worriedly.
Perseus frowned as he considered the possibility, "Perhaps. If so then dear god it was terrifying to behold! When you saw him last. Where was he falling?"
"It looked like he would land on a train heading to the town. Knowing his curse, he'll be okay. Course I feel sorry for the passengers in said coach." She added the last part with a worried chuckle.
Perseus returned to his work, "Let me repair the craft and then I'll try to catch up to you. I wouldn't hold out for me though."
Laura hugged her grandfather before going off to the town.
After a half hour, she checked her holowatch which doubled as a communications device.
Nothing, pulling up her skirt she drew a small hand cannon, which was on a holster secured to her calf, and checked it over.
Despite being slightly knocked up on the outside, the weapon was functioning perfectly.
Putting it back in its holster, Laura sighed and then kept going.
Despite trusting Frank to take care of himself, there was no good reason to not be prepared.
Then a thought came into her head, checking her watch communicator again, she pressed a button on the left side.
The screen changed and showed several bright green lines.
She was simultaneously relieved and horrified, while not being helpless in this dimension was a relief, the fact that she had instant access at all meant that the situation was a straw away from breaking the camel's back.
The young woman trudged through the snow as quickly as she could. She was now curious as to what Frank was doing.
38 miles back
The detective shook as the light dimmed, Frank looked down and said "Have I convinced you?"
"Yes. Yes you have. My god, is all of this true?" The detective asked.
"Unfortunately, yes. This watch seems to be connected to some demon, I can't recognize the symbol of said demon." Frank replied the detective nodded slowly wondering if it was too late to get committed to an asylum.
Perhaps he had drunk too much and this was an alcohol induced dream?
Then the compartment door opened and the conductor came in, he saw the rubble and the damage to the floor.
He looked at the stranger who looked unhurt and came to his own conclusion. T
he conductor turned to Feiner, "Hullo! What is the meaning of this? The roof is smashed and there's a stowaway onboard!" He rapped.
The detective put his head in his hands, it wasn't a drunken dream.
Frank got up, "I apologize, I was on a tree and fell in. Thankfully it didn't hurt too much."
He felt around in his pocket and then pulled out a gold nugget, "This should cover it."
The conductor took the nugget. "Let me check if it's real, however its size should pay for the damage done."
He put it into his breast pocket and then walked away muttering about the situation.
The detective looked at Frank and asked "How?"
"We're provided about 16,000 of your dollars in gold just in the eventuality we have to pay for anything," Frank explained.
"Ah, this happened before." The detective said, trying to regain some measure of sanity here.
Frank looked at the man who looked pale and fearful, then decided to bring up the event that caused the gold, if anything it would make the detective see him as more human.
"Well, there was a time we didn't because we thought traveling to the demon's world meant that there wouldn't be a reason to have it. Then some poor knight named Clarence fell into another world through the demon world and had a very hard time. After that it became mandatory." Frank replied.
He laid back in his seat and remembered one-armed Clarence.
The knight still seemed slightly shaken when telling him and the other trainees about it didn't stop him from beating them all in wrestling, at once.
The detective grimaced, "Oh dear, I hope he wasn't in too much trouble." He was certain it was probably just him being out of time.
"Considering he was a dark-skinned man in the South in 1850s Louisiana of all places, it was a miracle for the people who tried to capture him that he didn't come after them. As it was a small town was traumatized and had to have the events of those days purged." Frank replied.
The detective blanched as he heard this. "My god."
"You have no idea. Now, you seemed interested in the buyer. What do you know of him?" Frank asked.
The detective smiled slightly as he saw a chance to regain control, "The Reverend? He's our most likely suspect for having murdered up to twelve men. One of them was Commodore Edmund Parker of the Silver Dawn Line and the other a man called Lewis Vernon who was previously of the same company. Now, you are probably not aware of what connects them."
Frank nodded and then remembered the ship name, "I only know of a name that might connect them, Dame Lucia."
The detective grimaced as he heard the name, "That's the one, she was an excursion vessel. To celebrate a good year and the children in his church having been little angels, the Reverend managed to secure tickets for them and their families to celebrate Independence Week."
Frank felt a pit in his stomach as he heard the mention of children. "Oh no."
The detective knew he was aware of what Hamilton had picked up on but continued, "They left on July 2nd, 1852. The people aboard celebrated late into the night despite a lot of rain. At about midnight, she was plodding along fully lit and with an occasional rocket going up when out of the darkness came the Silver Dawn Line sailing vessel Zenith of Lane. She had no lights on and 3rd Lieutenant Vernon thought the ship would yield for them. He didn't know the steamship couldn't see the Zenith. Both ships collided and Parker, at the time a captain got onto deck and ordered the ship to flee to shore once it was free. He claimed his ship was in danger of sinking although the evidence is contradictory there. The sinking of the steamer itself took about 35 minutes and some of the boats were smashed in the collision.
Only 96 of the 500 aboard survived the sinking, this includes six of the thirty-eight children who had been schooled by the Reverend."
Frank winced as a sudden Newspaper headline came into his mind, 'NO CHILDREN SURVIVE SINKING OF EXCURSION STEAMER LUCIA, COMMUNITY IN MOURNING'.
Frank shook his head, "I'm going to assume the Reverend didn't take this well?"
The detective let out a snort, "He was apparently nearly a raving lunatic when the court ruled that no one was guilty. He was institutionalized for some years at a hospital for the mentally disturbed and was released last January.
Several months ago, the lead board member who oversaw the inquiry vanished.
Then nine other people who were involved vanished.
Parker caught wind of these disappearances and hired our services at this point to locate Clemont as he suspected the man was behind all of this.
Then a week and a half ago, Vernon and Parker vanished. Parker's widow was looking through his notes and found a likely next target for them.
Captain Stephen Monarch."
Frank raised an eyebrow, "Oh?"
"Well Captain Monarch's ship happened to be in the vicinity. However he didn't approach the sinking ship, claiming that he shut his engines down to let the chief engineer look over them due to risk of explosion."The detective responded.
Frank raised an eyebrow and said "Excuse me?"
"Monarch and the engine crew claimed that they were poorly built and maintained. Considering the ship blew up on the voyage after Stephen left, it seems there was more than a kernel of truth." The detective explained.
Frank coughed and said "Oh my. If that's the case, let me ask. How far away was the ship since it seems like sails were still an option."
"10 to 13 nautical miles was the approximate distance found by the inquest.
Apparently Captain Monarch saw the lights go out but just though the ship had doused its lights for the night.
Also, he claimed the rockets fired at the end were the same ones fired throughout the night during the celebrations." The detective added.
Frank winced, "When did they discover the wreckage?"
"The next morning, apparently no one can decipher if he's innocent or not. Monarch retired after the Civil War to Port Faerin and that's where I'm going.
Parker's widow suspects that Clemont is going after Monarch for his failure to save more of the people aboard." The detective explained.
Frank frowned and looked out the window, the train was slowing down as it reached the station. Turning to the detective Frank asked, "So detective, will we be working together?"
The man nodded and said "I don't know why you'll need me. However, I'm willing to help."
Frank grinned, "Well, you go meet with Stephen while I locate my compatriot. Then we'll hide him away and lure Clemont to us."
The detective nodded, he saw what Hamilton was going for, "You figure Monarch would trust me more?"
"Compared to me? Yes. Well, at least he might be willing to listen to you more. If I recall your organization is considered to be quite respectable." Frank replied the detective smiled as he felt a measure of importance come into him. "That is workable. Who is your compatriot?"
Frank froze, did he dare explain about Laura yet and screw up the man's mind anymore or let him go in ignorance? He decided to go for it and began to explain.
53 nautical miles away
The leader quietly watched the shoreline as his twelve compatriots strode about the deck preparing the ship for docking.
The leader was pleased with the progress as soon they would be in the harbor, once there hunting the failure of a human would be simple.
He took out the watch which was glowing again, he felt no fear or anxiety as he did when opening the watch the first time.
The song it sang to him warmed his heart and he felt like he was drowning in its promises of a better day that he had heard ever since he stumbled into the Lucky Find and it's bizarre, portly, and short owner.
He remembered the original events of the disaster but seeing some of his charges, who survived the sinking due to the watch, in person told him he could trust the song.
A voice sang in his mind and told him how to do it, he knew what he should do but going over a plan with the one that had brought him happiness was the only choice.
He felt a bit of confusion as he thought that last portion, a warning began to materialize itself in his mind but the watch swatted it aside.
As the small vessel approached the port, the man known as William Jones Clement quietly died as the true owner of the watch slowly devoured his eternal soul.
Despite it only being midday, the area around the schooner felt as if it was night.
The Runaway Dame Inn
Stephen Monarch watched the snow falling outside his window in the twilight hours with a look of disgust, he enjoyed the way the weather hid the dirt and gave the town a clean appearance.
However, he had to go out today and get some money from the bank.
That meant he would be stuck in the stinging wind and snow while heading to the bank.
He decided to pick up an extra few dollars and get some alcohol for himself for tonight.
With the draft in his room, he would need the warmth to make the room habitable while he reviewed charts for the Port Authority.
The man, nearly 65, slowly got dressed in heavy clothes and went down the stairs.
He walked out the door and was greeted by a stinging wind that went under his clothes and onto his skin.
Monarch shivered and walked down to the bank a block away, cursing the snow all the way to the bank.
Around him, the street had emptied as people finished their duties and went into their house for the night.
He was making good progress when he heard the crunch. A layer of snow had fallen on the ground and as such, it made any walkers audible.
Turning, he saw two male figures in tuxedos and full-faced opera masks stop as he noticed them.
He walked forward one step, the two behind walked forward one step.
Worriedly he started walking faster, around him the sounds of footsteps on snow told him there were more than these two.
His way back to the inn was blocked and all he could do was run to the bank, he knew the owner had a rifle plus the doors and windows were barred.
Then in front of him appeared a single gentleman, "Amazing how much you can hear despite being in your golden years. Sadly you couldn't manage that thirty years ago."
Monarch froze and then looked him over, the voice may have aged but he remembered the man on his ship.
"Clemont? What are you doing here? What is the meaning of this?" Monarch shouted.
"Fantastic memory you have. Now then, I am here to forgive your sins!" Clemont exclaimed gleefully.
The former captain didn't feel assured as he heard this, "What sins?"
"You know the one." The Reverend snarled, "When you left us to perish."
"I knew nothing about any of that. Even if I did, the boilers on my ship were shut down for repairs. I would've never been able to reach you in time." Monarch retorted.
He despised his failure to rescue anyone but the survivors.
However, the risks to his own ship by not doing those repairs always took precedence.
Clemonts face turned a dark crimson, "How dare you lie to me?"
Monarch felt terror as the man lost his composure and started rushing towards him.
Around him were twelve figures who watched dispassionately as if they were puppets.
Then the gun fired, Clemont collapsed as his chest was blown apart by a single bullet.
Behind him Detective Feiner breathed a sigh of relief, his aim was still good despite all the revelations of the day.
He yelled, "Monarch, come with me!"
The old man shuffled past Clemonts prone form which was laying on the ground shaking.
As he approached the gunman, both men heard the crunching of snow.
They felt fear as they saw Clemont get up with the bullet hole missing, the eyes were now glowing a strange reddish hue.
"So, who are you and how will I dispose of you for intervening in my mission?" Clemont snarled.
The detective thought quickly and turned to Monarch, "Is there any empty coal or grain sheds about?" He silently asked.
Monarch realized what he was going for and replied, "Yes, Don't try it though. If you're too close-."
He finished as the detective shook his head, "Don't worry. I know what I am doing."
Monarch and Feiner then ran as fast as they could.
The Reverend watched them run down the street with a strange smile.
He gave a simple command to the twelve, "Go."
His companions began to pursue the two men.
They didn't run but instead, they strode.
Their legs extending far beyond normal limits making them seem like they were running despite the fact they weren't.
He took out the watch and felt its warm song in his heard, then he felt nothing more.
As Clemonts head looked up, the opera mask on his face had vanished.
Instead, a strange bunraku style mask that looked as if it was made of porcelain had replaced it, on the top of the forehead was a strange sapphire like gem.
There was also a strange hat on top of his head, it looked like a Papal Crown but one that had been disfigured in bizarre ways.
Inside the body of what had been once the Reverend James Clemont, his mind and soul screamed helpless as his body disconnected from his brain.
The price of the watch had been only a few dollars, cheap for one of its fine quality and the rewards it gave to the wielder. However the true price, undisclosed by the snake known as Benedict Cassius Hamilton, that ultimately had to be paid was terrible.
Like his victims before him, Clemont was now only a puppet whose body allowed a demon to walk the Earth.
Meanwhile, his soul was punished by the one he once thought as a benefactor.
The snowfall increased as if trying to bury this perversion to man and nature, however, the figure simply hovered above the snow while not a drop landed on the body.
A robe came down from the neck and covered the body. In the right hand, a staff formed, on the top of it emerged a human skull. The demon who now controlled the body, a strange being who had once conquered the Vatican looked around its new domain.
Despite the face being motionless, it seemed pleased with all that happened and looked at the watch which glowed a deep purple.
The demon closed the watch and put it on his head, it burrowed itself into his forehead under the sapphire like gem.
The demon let out a satisfied whistle and slowly flew forward, while it didn't have to pursue the men.
There was no reason not to finish the vengeance, especially if Hamilton had left a booby trap for them in there for whatever reason.
Given Benedicts actions towards them despite giving him immortality and overlooking his effort in trying to avoid these consequences by using his son to absorb the aftershocks and then trying to turn on them, it was sensible to take precautions with anything managed by a snake like that.
Outside of Town
Frank shivered as he finally repaired his watch, he was cross despite managing to repair it easily.
Of course the watch managed to be broken just enough not to show anything.
He breathed a sigh of relief as he saw Laura's signal approaching him.
Silently he prepared his cheek for the justified slap that was surely oncoming, despite the fact they seemed to like each other mutually in that way, she acted more like a concerned mother hen somedays.
Especially if he made an error like this, the young man felt a bit of shame for worrying her.
True to form, Laura emerged out of the snow and charged towards him.
She hugged him tightly for a moment, Frank felt a bit of relief until she got off him and glared at him.
"Hamilton. You owe me an explanation, I spent three hours trudging through the snow looking for you. Tell me you didn't just realize your communicator had issues." Laura snapped.
Frank sighed, "I did, now let's talk about this after we recover or destroy the watch."
The red headed woman considered whether to berate him now but finally sighed, "Don't you dare forget about this."
Frank hugged her, "I won't and lets be honest, you won't let me forget."
She let out a small chuckle, "At least your clothes aren't ruined. I assume you have an idea where the watch may be?"
"Yes, turns out the buyer is well known to the Pinkerton Detective Agency. I also know who the buyer might go after, it seems the watch kills or takes over victims related to the steamship I mentioned." Frank explained.
Laura whistled and said "Good job, I didn't think we'd get this lucky though. Wait, did you say Pinkerton?"
"Yes, they sent an agent here to keep an eye on the target." Frank replied, "He's quite heavily armed, Webley style revolver and is a good shot."
Laura nodded and said "You don't feel comfortable working with him do you?"
"Given the fact he was probably a strikebreaker who probably oversaw a few deaths, not really." Frank replied.
Then he added, "However, once he got over the shock of me telling him about my mission. He seems determined to stop them."
Laura frowned, "You landed in his train carriage didn't you?"
"Yes." Frank admitted, "I think he'll find a new vocation if it helps."
"Alright, let's go meet the target." Laura replied, a bit relieved and somewhat amused.
Then from the distant docks in town, an explosion sounded.
Both turned and saw the fireball, Frank realized what it meant,"Oh god no!"
Laura winced and said "Too far to make it on foot and I can guess what happened. Now!"
Both yelled out the words, "DIM-EX-OW!"
Above them, a modified F4 Phantom appeared and its radome opened. Two beams of light struck them, their bodies lit up and after a millisecond the light dimmed.
They were no longer human in form, instead armored bodies were in place covered in various ceramics and metals giving them an imposing form in the poorly lit streets.
For a second, both bodies were dark and seemed lifeless. However, as their minds acquainted themselves to the new bodies, their systems lit up and all over both of them lights lit up announcing various systems had activated.
Two yellow eyes on each of their faceplates lit up announcing both had activated.
Though their bodies were elsewhere, their minds and souls now inhabited the bodies present.
For a moment nothing happened, then both leaped into the air and as they reached 200 feet in the air, their bodies vanished and turned into balls of light.
The balls of light then surged towards the burning wharf.
Detective Feiner coughed as he recovered, the explosion from the coal shed had been larger than he thought it would.
He tried to move but his right arm screamed in agony, his face twisted the realization arrived that he had broken his arm.
Monarch crawled to him, "Do you need help?"
Feiner nodded painfully as he tried to move his legs and was surprised to feel them.
His arm would have to be fixed but thankfully it wasn't his favored arm.
As Monarch got him up, they looked at the area where the twelve chasers were only a moment ago.
Fire ruled the area now as margarine in a shed next to the coal shed had leaked and had been lit by the explosion.
The fat based substance created a mighty inferno that only the most foolish would attempt to brave.
The chasers looked at them through the flames, even they seemed to have limits as not one approached the flames.
The detective breathed a sigh of relief as he witnessed this, Monarch though saw something that froze his blood.
The area behind the chasers was turning blood red, screams seemed to emit from the streets and warehouses affected even though no one was in the buildings.
A few seconds later it emerged, the figure was hovering, it was Clemont's height but the arms were hidden now as if they had been lopped off.
A staff with a skeleton head on its top hovered in the area where the right arm would have been.
It turned towards them and the men felt mortal fear.
Despite being far away, the two realized that it was the most dangerous thing around, even drowning would be preferable then letting it near them.
Feiner picked up his revolver with his good hand and waited, as it came nearer the detective fired.
Round after round flew towards the demon who approached nonchalantly, all the while hovering towards the wharf turning the area around it into a dark red hellscape.
Monarch felt numbing terror as he saw there were reddish lights in the areas where the eyeballs would've been on the skull and face of the creature and they were focused on him.
Primal instincts inside his mind told him it was time to end it, no punishment in hell would match the horrors this thing would inflict if it got him.
He ran to the pier, the ocean awaited him and every wave screamed for him to get in it's icy embrace.
As he reached the edge of the pier, relief entered his mind as he leaped to certain death.
Behind him, the demon known as Iscariot watched the human try to flee his embrace.
As the man leaped, it opened its mouth. Like a puppet the lower part of the mouth dropped causing the face to change.
Teeth emerged out of its mouth, the eyes filled in revealing golden eyeballs with a reddish light emanated from the pupils while horns emerged out of its head.
A white, snake-like tongue flew out of its mouth with the speed of a rocket and wrapped itself around Monarch and dragged the unfortunate victim towards him.
Monarch screamed in terror while Feiner watched in horror, helpless to assist as the old captain was dragged towards it.
Monarchs screams froze as he came face to face with the demon which eyed him like an interesting bug under a microscope.
His eyes were drawn to a watch on its forehead as if his eyes were metal being drawn to a magnet.
Then it opened, doves and gavels greeted his eyes and the watch hands spun. He felt fear as they spun, he couldn't fathom what this was about.
A few seconds later, the second, minute and hour hand hand all stopped on a dove. Iscariot's eyes narrowed, frustrated that the man was innocent of his accused crime.
It then decided to dispose of the old captain.
As the skull on the staff opened its mouth, two balls of bluish light struck the demon in the back.
One of them absorbed Monarch into it and vanished while the other landed on top of the staff.
The light vanished revealing a familiar figure to Feiner.
The armor was cream and red colored, black metal covered various parts of the body while lights all over the body shone.
The demon recoiled, the sapphire like gem on its head lit up and let out a horrifying screech.
The armored knight's yellow eyes narrowed and out of the vocoder came a voice, "Evening Iscariot."
Looking around it, the eyes saw people who had run to assist in combating the flames frozen in terror.
Thrusting his left hand into the air, then he put his right hand onto the demon's head when the sapphire lit up and launched a stream of blue energy.
Before it struck, the ball of energy formed again and flew to the top of a warehouse and reformed.
The knight then made a crane yoga pose except with his arms to the side and fists closed.
He cried out, "Dimensional Knight, PSYCHONIZER!"
The demon snarled and then turned to capture humans as shields.
However the posing had broken the trance it had held over the humans who had fled away.
Before it could turn to Feiner, Psychonizer drew a hand cannon from its a holster on his waist and fired a stream of super heated Brass and Crystine-15 rounds.
The demon screamed as it felt the rounds bury into its skin and burn its soul and body.
The robes on the demon lifted up until they were level with the neck and began to spin, then it rushed Psychonizer.
The knight leaped off the top of the warehouse and onto the ground narrowly avoiding the spinning top.
Then a surge of energy struck him in the chest throwing him through the wall of the warehouse.
Psychonizer looked up and saw Clemonts body with the mask of Iscariot on it and the left hand extended.
The robe returned around him and the staff returned to its original position, Psychonizers eyes narrowed as Iscariot began to hover again.
He got up when a warning told him something was approaching, the knight leapt into the air as one of the chasers rushed at him.
Its hands now having been deformed into claws, Psychonizer landed on one of the rafters and drew the hand cannon, alarms rang in his helmet as all the chasers leaped onto the rafters around him.
He pressed one of the buttons on the cannon causing a blade to come out of the top of the barrel and then he drew another hand cannon and did the same.
Both blades began to hum, the chasers stayed where they were and did not react. Looking down, Psychonizer saw why.
The demon had entered the building and was looking at him, then the staff moved until the skull was facing him and opened its mouth unleashing a stream of blue fire at him.
Instead of dodging, the knight held his swords up absorbing the beam, the chasers then charged him, keeping their balance on the narrow rafters.
Psychonizer clicked a button converting the demon fire stream captured by the blades into energy, only 5 percent of the energy, which entered the blades causing them to glow a brilliant white.
Then the torso section, from just below the next to right above the waist began to spin around.
The chasers stopped too late and two of them were struck by the energy filled blades leaving white scars in their bodies. A second later the opera masks shattered revealing whitish spirits with reddish spikes stuck in them that occasionally let out a painful surge of energy into the soul.
A second passed and the red spikes vanished allowing the trapped spirits of Hiriam Mandell, the main investigator into the sinking of the Dame Lucia, and Elliot Urquhart, the chairman of the inquiry board into the investigating to escape their prisons.
The clothes that had acted as their prison dissolved into nothing.
Psychonizer continued spinning and as his revolutions per minute reached 6000, he let go of the blades.
The blades spun away striking two more of the figures freeing their souls and causing the rest to leap off the rafters.
As the blades continued swinging around towards the walls, small rockets in the handle came into action slowing down the blades, then as they reached a mere 45 rpm wires flew out of his arms and grabbed the swords bringing them back in seconds.
Then Psychonizer leapt off the rafters onto the ground in front of the demon pope.
Iscariot opened its mouth again and its tongue launched out of its mouth, Psychonizer leapt above the tongue and sliced a part of it off.
An unholy shriek emerged from its mouth but then the gem gleamed and flew out of the mask striking the knight and sending him out of the building.
The demon chased after the knight while the remaining chasers got up and prepared to run. Then a blue-white ball of light came in and a figure emerged from it.
A female voice emanated from it, "Evening Gentlemen."
Outside the Warehouse
The demon emerged and suddenly screamed as bullets from the knights hand cannon struck its robes.
The knight then reformed the blades and leaped towards the demon whose robe flew off, the staff head flew into the robe and emerged through the top.
Iscariot growled as from the palm of its hands emerged two swords made of flame.
The demon swung its blades around carefully while eyeing its opponent.
The skull head on top of the robes flew behind him, it was clear they were going to attack from different directions now.
Psychonizer struck first through, his left arm suddenly launched at the staff head stabbing it.
Then he charged the demon who was recoiling from the feedback of its staff being stabbed and swung.
Iscariot swung and parried the blow, then it took a risk.
The gem and its eyes lit up, the reddish hellscape vanished and instead a ripping sound emanated from the area around them.
Psychonizer and his still separated limb and weapon suddenly turned transparent and after a few seconds vanished.
Iscariot seemed exhausted as it recalled the staff, it would need to recover.
Thankfully it had most of the captured servants to collect sacrifices for it and then he could deal with the damaged Dimensional Knight when he returned.
Then multiple rounds strucks its back, turning the demon popes eyes widened as it saw the source.
Out of time and space
Psychonizer felt himself tumble, turning his head he saw himself flying towards a reddish hellscape.
A realization struck him, he called out "PSYCHOPHANTOM!" A signal emanated from his body and around the dimension.
A few seconds later he landed in the lands of Demon Pope Iscariot.
What were once the holy cities of Rome, Jerusalem, Mecca, Tibet, Varanasi and other religious landmarks from other cities that had been brought piece by piece to the demon realm.
Their once beautiful looks had been twisted by the 200 millennia spent inside the hellscape.
As of now, he was on top of the Hagia Sophia whose gorgeous dome had slowly been deformed into a hybrid of a pillar and a spiral.
Whatever Pscyhonizer felt about seeing the sites were quickly dashed by the realization of being in the demon realm.
His suspicions were confirmed a second later as around the mosque, shapes began to move.
He leapt off the building towards the top of Chartres Cathedral about three kilometers away. From below emerged streams of fire, metal, beams and a gas like substance.
Holding both swords out, Psychonizer absorbed the beams while shuddering from impacts of the other attacks.
He swung the swords releasing the absorbed energy and striking the shooters below.
A chorus of grating howls greeted him.
Landing on top of one of the cathedrals spires, he looked down and adjusted his sensors.
To his horror, they were human once.
They were the defenders and inhabitants of all the cities and holy sites whose bodies had been fused with vehicles and animals to make horrifying hybrids.
Their faces were streaked with tears and blood begging for release from their hell.
He instinctively raised his weapons but stopped, in this zone it would be futile.
They would be forcibly reformed and knowing the demons would make the punishment even worse.
He shook in anger, despite the purging of hell undertaken years ago it was clear that the billion or so people along with untold numbers of animals still trapped in hell estimated by Command was probably too low.
Then a sonic boom told him Psychophantom had arrived, then an idea came into his head.
It was risky but he could help a few thousand.
He leaped into the air causing a swarm of flying hybrids to pursue him.
As a mosquito, F-15, and two human hybrid was about to grab his leg, several white hot beams tore through the arm.
With a roar, PsychoPhantom arrived and Pscyhonizer leaped into the cockpit.
The vessel's engines screamed as the cockpit closed. Psychonizer input instructions and the vessel slowed from Mach 9 to Mach 5.
Then the multi barrel underslung cannon popped out from its housing and rotated backwards.
It opened fire striking multiple hybrids limbs and weapons wounding them.
Then the vessel accelerated to over Mach 11 avoiding attacks from the oncoming horde.
The swarm slowly began to catch up, again the cannons fired, blasting some.
Inside the cockpit, Psychonizer wondered how his partner was handling Iscariot.
Iscariot fired another stream of energy from its mouth, its opponent's shields managed to resist.
Then a massive blast from said opponent sent the demon through several warehouses.
Said opponent was Lady Laura, Laura's knight form, like the knight cream and silver were the main colors. However a dark magenta color colored the rest of the body instead of the black of Psychonizer.
Also unlike Psychonizer, she wielded a large cannon that required two arms to wield but also had a small shield generator in it.
Lady Laura listened for the demons crash, she looked up at the roofs and made some calculations, she rushed up to a warehouse and as she was about 27 feet away jumped.
Small rockets in her feet joints activated as she did so allowing her to land on the top.
The demon had already rushed into a building and missed this, a plan came into her mind and she pressed several buttons on her right arm.
The cannon dissolved and she felt her power reserves drop to about 45 percent from 99, however two figures like her formed.
Both looked like her but neither had the cream color on the armor. One had a light blue and the other had a red finish on where the cream armor would have been.
Both had functioning AI's and the blue activated first, it looked up and opened communications with her.
Instructions were passed along to the drone who leaped away to do its work.
The other AI activated and she gave it orders, the drone leapt away and as the sounds of combat reached her audio sensors she leaped down.
Iscariot finished its energy-filled charge confident it would knock down the upstart knight or destabilize her, as it stopped, energy expanded from its body spherically and everything in a 20-meter radius was obliterated.
Satisfied the demon looked around when several energy bolts struck its back.
Turning it saw its opponent 21 meters away with blue instead of cream armor.
Growling, the creature fired another stream of energy and was stunned to watch its opponent leap out of the way with a minimum of effort and speed that defied expectation.
The demon snarled as energy blades flew into it, then it froze and listened.
It figured out where its opponent would be in a second and fired a wide-ranging blast of energy.
Several explosions surrounded the warrior, no more blades flew into it and satisfaction came into its mind until the smoke cleared.
Then a warrior with red instead of cream or blue stood before it.
Iscariot snarled as it saw this and slowly hovered back, in its experience red meant power and even its thick skin might not survive.
The red warrior drew a giant multi-barrel cannon and the demon's red pupils widened, its dimensional warping powers were still recovering from sending the other knight into its home realm.
The demon fled, speeding as it avoided massive arm-sized rounds.
It planned carefully and realized it was outpacing the rounds, barely but it was.
Satisfied, it kept dodging while slowly getting closer to the warrior.
Aiming its staff as it was about 5 feet away, it let out a screech of victory when it collided with a cannon.
Landing on its back, the demon looked up and saw the cream and magenta shape of the Dimensional Knight, she gave a cheeky wave.
The red and magenta warrior vanished and the particles returned to her.
The staff's eyes lit up and the mouth began to open when she kicked the chin shut.
Then she pulled out the giant cannon she had fired earlier and rammed the barrel in its mouth, grabbing the demons head and thrust the skull against the mask.
Iscariot and its staff screeched as she cried "LADYBURST!" For a moment, anyone in the area was blinded as white replaced their vision.
Vision slowly returned and only Lady Laura was standing.
However, the electronic eyes showed no happiness.
Instead, they were cross as it watched the distant shape of the demon land in the water.
However in front of her, the shattered remains of the skull on the staff remained.
Out of the remnants came the soul of Pope Laurence the First, the last of the Roman Catholic Popes and martyr who did not succumb to Iscariot's temptations.
Lady Laura felt some satisfaction as she saw the Pope's soul released from its prison and checked her reserves, 54 percent.
Not fantastic and maybe not enough to kill him but enough to give Iscariot hell.
Then a portal opened in the water, out of it came a battered PsychoPhantom with a battered Psychonizer standing on the shattered cockpit.
Her eyes turned red, "God damn it, Frank."
Was all she could manage when a warning from her sensors told her that he was being followed by thousands of demons hybrids.
A message came in from Psychonizer, "Laura, prepare for Impulse Shot."
She was about to retort when she realized his plan, her eyes turned yellow and she put away her cannon.
Then she pressed a silver button on her wrist and her body vanished into a cloud of particles.
Psychonizer did the same and Psychophantom flew towards the shore, the demon swarm was 12 seconds away.
At 7 seconds, the jet stopped and transformed into a bazooka like shape.
At 0 seconds, two-lined figures formed behind it and seemed to press the 'trigger', a burning blue-white stream of fire flew from the barrel and devoured the swarm that came from the demon realm.
Thousands of animal and human souls were freed in an instant and those behind kept rushing forward allowing themselves to be freed from their pain.
The demon realm quickly closed but by the time it had closed, all but a hundred or so had been devoured by the stream of fire with their souls flying away to either eternal punishment or eternal glory.
Psychophantom returned to its fighter jet form and flew away while Psychonizer and Lady Laura reformed on the wharf next to a paralyzed Detective Feiner.
Psychonizer turned to the detective and said "Are you alright?"
"I'm thinking of joining a church, far from anything." The man shakily said.
"Good man." The armored knight said, "Thankfully we'll be removing the events of the past two days from your mind."
The detective looked relieved as he heard that and then Lady Laura said "We have bigger fish to deal with."
Psyconizer turned and said, "Iscariot is alive?"
"I am afraid so." Lady Laura replied.
The big knight's shoulders sagged and he said "Tell me his staff and gem are broken at least."
Lady Laura made a thumbs-up gesture and said "I gave it a full blast of energy, just a warning the watch is on the forehead and he did not use it."
Psychonizer sighed and turned to her, "Let's get ready. Of course, we have to go hunting in the Atlantic Ocean."
The detective said "At least he can't make a body out of ships." in an effort to be helpful.
Both knights froze, realization as to the watch's possible effect was realized.
The suspicions were confirmed a second later as the distant waters turned red and light flashed from it.
Then an explosion announced the arrival of something big.
2 minutes before
10 miles away
Iscariot wailed as he landed into the water, sinking into the cool ocean it looked around and took stock of its situation.
The dimensional warping gem on its forehead was shattered while the mask that contained its life force had multiple cracks.
The body was also fading away as the wounds took hold and dissolved it.
Detaching itself from the body, the mask then sent a command to the watch, the rage and vengeance filled watch opened and opened a slight portal through time.
A few seconds passed and then the sinking Dame Lucia formed in front of it, using the last of its warping powers took possession of the vessel and thousands of animals in the area.
The paddle steamer formed the body itself while unfortunate humans still in the vessel were fused into the 'chest' of the creature, their faces locked into screams.
Turtle shells formed the back of the creature while the twin funnels of the steamer emerged through the back and began to release a bizarre smoke from them.
Meanwhile whales and dolphins formed 'Arms' for the monster.
Shrimp were turned into legs for it while crabs were turned into giant claws. Meanwhile the paddle wheels were put onto the sides of the torso.
Pleased with its work, the mask watched as a neck was formed out of fishes, it attached itself to the neck. Energy emanated from its body and expanded outwards creating a massive flash of light.
Pschyonizer and Laura's eyes widened as they saw the unholy fusion of demon, fish, machine and man. The former turned to the latter and said "How are your batteries?"
Lady Laura turned to him and said "41 percent. You?"
"64 percent, if I lend you 59 percent would it help?" Psychonizer asked.
She shook her head, "Cannon needs a full recharge. You don't have enough to do that."
Lady Laura grabbed his hands, energy from her surged into Psychonizer whose body seemed to glow as the batteries refilled.
Inside his body, 10 percent of the energy in his batteries surged to dormant repair drones who began their work to undo the damage from Iscariot and the demon swarm.
A few seconds later he still looked battered but any major issues had been for the time rectified..
He turned to the demon which was quickly approaching the wharf by using its paddle wheels and arms to push it along.
Then the knight rushed off the wharf, again his body vanished and turned into an energy ball which soared towards the demon.
Lady Laura grabbed the detective and surged away from the wharf.
Psychonizer roared "REFORMATION MISSILE!" as he was about 50 feet away.
The energy ball narrowed and lengthened.
As it struck the demon, the energy projectile tore through the body until it exited the rear causing the demon to screech in pain.
The energy projectile dissolved and turned back to Psychonizer who drew both guns, however the demon had seen this coming.
Both smokestacks turned to him and fired a deadly stream of energy, steam and projectiles sending the knight flying.
As he recovered, mach capable jets in his back activated, sending him towards the town.
As he surged forwards the funnel's ammunition followed.
The knight flew towards the warehouses and flew through them in a rotation, using the acoustic signatures to give multiple false returns to the demon whose vision was not augmented with sensors or even supernatural.
This was rewarded as the demon jumped into a block of warehouses behind the knight.
Turning to an energy ball again, flew towards the highest part in the town, the Church of St. Nicholas.
Landing on top of its square bell tower, he observed the confused demon looking through the warehouse.
Looking below he saw the terrified townsfolk starting to panic, putting his voice to maximum volume he cried "All those souls you've taken captive cry out salvation! While we cannot save them in life, I will protect these townspeople and liberate those you hold hostage!"
Iscariot looked up angered as Pscyhonizer combined the two guns into one, then a sword formed.
The knight cried "BEACON BROADSWORD!"
The sword sucked energy from the body, both combatants became transparent as they were transported to a pocket dimension by energies emanating from the sword and armor.
Iscariot snarled as it felt itself trapped in this new dimension, its own dimensional crystal was shattered making its escape impossible for the time being.
Fed up with the Dimensional Knight, Iscariot roared and leaped towards his opponent.
Psychonizers jets activated and he flew towards the 300 foot monstrosity in a zigzag pattern to avoid any thrown objects.
This was unneeded as Iscariot had lost its willingness to go for half measures and thrust its claws towards him.
Psychonizer sliced one of the claws off and avoided the other, spotting the watch he aimed.
Energy flew into the blade causing it to extend.
He swung with a cry, "SPARK IMPULSE!"
Iscariot said nothing.
After a moment though, the reason for this became clear as first the watch fell to the ground in two.
Then a white line formed in the middle of the giant demon marking where the sword had gone through.
Iscariot let out a pitiful screech as both sides of the body separated and white energy equivalent to multiple nuclear bombs began to escape with a roar.
After a second the demon exploded in a massive explosion, as the body vanished Iscariot's soul emanated from the body as a black form for only a second before it was too consumed.
The souls of those he trapped escaped as willowy white wisps.
The dimension faded and Psychonizer landed in the town square heavily damaged with chunks of the armor blown off revealing there was no flesh or blood but only metal.
The townspeople were frightened.
He unsteadily walked away planning to clear their minds.
They didn't deserve to remember the hell they just witnessed.
Ideas for a cover story flew into his mind, probably a coal explosion in a shed with a firestorm caused by the margarine.
Given the attempts to limit margarine at this time period and the still burning margarine fire consuming the wharf, that was probably the best idea.
A small feeling of guilt entered his mind, Mental Redirection was a deeply unpleasant process and despite it, the people here would have nightmares of the Demon Pope until they perished.
Given the sheer terror some of these people had on their faces, it was probably for the best.
He headed to the wharf to dispose of the evidence that would contradict the cover story. Laura would join him 4 minutes later.
Four Hours Later
Both armored figures returned to the Friendship and undid their transformation as they came into walking distance.
Both figures walked up and found the old man still working on various parts of the Friendship with various tools.
"Is everything alright, Grandfather?" Laura asked.
The old man looked away from the engine, "Yes, finishing up now. Ah, Mr Hamilton, how are you feeling?"
"Terrible, failed to stop demon infiltration and had to fight a Demon Pope." Frank replied.
Laura smiled,d "Don't be too down, you at least stopped the town from falling to the Demon Pope and saved a bunch of souls."
Perseus raised an eyebrow. "I have no idea what you're talking about but I suspect that we have no more business in this world."
Frank held up the remnants of the watch along with the pages that described it and said, "Yes. Also we have a better idea of what it does so we can add that information to the translator."
The old man grinned and said "Spectacular. Now then, let us head inside and have something to eat, I imagine you're hungry and cold. Did you do something to Laura, Hamilton?"
Frank turned to Laura who glared at him, she hadn't forgotten about earlier. "Hamilton and I have to talk."
Laura said and grabbed his arm, Frank felt an ominous sense of dread for his eardrums as she pulled him toward her.
Despite the oncoming storm, he felt a little pride in stopping a demon invasion in its tracks. They would find and stop the other demons in their tracks, never again would a planet suffer Earth's fate all those millenia ago.
-The crash of the Dame Lucia is based on an infamous sinking on the Great Lakes, Lady Elgin, which on September 8th, 1860 was rammed by the Augusta of Oswego in similar circumstances except for the weather being a gale instead of a rain.
-Like the perpetrator in the story, Augusta of Oswego left the scene under the belief it had suffered worse than the Lady Elgin.
-Like Captain Parker in the story, the captain was found not guilty due to the law described at the time and captains having a massive amount of discretion at the time.
-The distant ship not aiding the other is indeed based on the Californian as some may have suspected. Both ships had their boilers off with hazardous conditions around them preventing immediate aid even if they had been alerted.