Truer words my dad have never said.*
I spent a few day recuperating from my jump out of a building. Let me tell you, that hurt. We spent an evening debating what to do with the raven shroud thing. When the weekend rolled around, Laurel, Gunnar, and myself headed back to wear the gods were meeting. There we were met by a thuggish looking guy. He spent several minutes asking who the hell we were, and we did the same. At some point, another guy came up. An Irishman with a ponytail. Told us he was Interpol. Now unless Interpol is involved in godly affairs, I assumed that this guy was a Scion.
Thuggish was Jack Cook. Interpol was Brendon O’Shea. Brendon had a letter for Gunnar and myself. Gunnar’s letter said something about bad juju at the Stratosphere. Mine was about finding an object at the Stratosphere to place the kami in. We would’ve headed straight there, since Jack wasn’t letting us through, but my phone rang. The Captain was angry and he needed me at the station five minutes ago.
Back at the station, the Captain told me that the victim from the performance, Janine O’Neal, had been kidnapped, despite having two officer posted in front of her home. I needed to find her.
I placed a call to Gunnar, and he agreed to come with me to Ms. O’Neal’s home. Laurel almost didn’t go, because Gunnar told her that she would have to sit in the back seat. I pulled up to the front of the hotel and waited while they argued about seating arrangements. I’m not ashamed to say that I honked the horn a few times. As we got ourselves situated, by having Gunnar and Laurel drive in her car, Jack and Brendon ran up and wanted in on the action.
“Aren’t you supposed to be on guard duty?” Gunnar asked.
Jack’s replied made sense. “If something comes in and kills a room full of gods, what good would I have done?” Touché.
Cop cars lined the street in front of Ms. O’Neal’s home. I went to talk to the officer on the scene. The two on guard duty had been shot and killed in the early morning hours, yet no one reported a thing. It was a professional hit. Whomever did this had a silencer. I’m thinking there were two shooters, one for each officer.
Inside, the house was in shambles. Furniture was knocked over, lamps smashed. The clock in her bedroom had been unplugged, possibly during the struggle, but the battery inside kept it running. It looks like the break-in occurred around 2AM.
It seems one of the perks of being a scion was the ability to instantaneously investigate and area and find every single clue. I opened up my mind and went to work. There were five assailants and they tried their best not to hurt Ms. O’Neal. Not a drop of blood found in the home.
Not related to my ability, but we found that she was a bit…socially awkward and didn’t go out much. The abundance of cheesy romance novels pointed us to this fact.
Seeing how the victim was almost sacrificed by a one Mr. Donald Jackson, we decided to drop by. Nevermore (I need to find out the bird’s real name) did some recon for us, and with the coast clear, Gunnar went up to the door and gave it a good knock. Being law officials, Brendon and myself were parked around the corner, looking up at the sky and other miscellaneous things. A bit later, Gunnar emerged with a rough draft of the play Panagyris,. I can only assume he convinced someone in the home to sell it to him.
Brendon gave it a quick read as we drove to the Stratosphere. The play detailed a man’s journey into the Underworld to save a woman, but was too late and had to return alone. I wish I had paid more attention to Brendon has he detailed the play. The only other notable thing about the play was a symbol found in it’s pages. It was a shield with a drop of liquid on it, and two menacing eyes above it.
“Looks like there’s a storm coming,” Brendon said as we walked into the Stratosphere. Almost immediately we saw a sign for the Chapel in the Clouds. The symbol from the play was also on the sign. So we headed up.
At the Chapel, we were greeted by a large black woman, whose name I simply cannot recall. “So who’re you getting married to?” she asked Laurel. Comically, Gunnar and I both raised our hands. Laurel chose Gunnar. That's cool. The lady took everyone for a tour of the place. As the heartbroken one, I stayed behind and took a gander at the date book.
Sandon Jockold had reserved a chapel every evening from 2AM to 4AM four about two weeks. Either Mr. Jockold needed a refresher on the laws of marriage in the US or Donald Jackson needed a better alias.
About this time the group came back and I was shooed away from the date book. They mentioned something about blood soup, but I think that's a UK dish. Their wedding was booked for 2AM tonight.
I told them about Mr. Jackson, and also of me releasing the kami into this hotel. They thought it more prudent to wait until the hotel was foresee of the bad vibes.
So we waited until it was time for the faux wedding and we headed over. It was a theme wedding so we were all wearing bulletproof vests. I don't know what kind of theme that is.
Just before the wedding, Gunnar spilled some whiskey on himself and pretended to act a bit tipsy. He excused himself after Elvis started to wave us over.
Did I mention they paid for the Elvis wedding? Brendon was insistent that if they're going to have a fake wedding that they go all the way.
Gunnar returned and said something about chanting coming from the other room. I grabbed Jack and told him that we're going to kick a door down. That got his blood pumping.
With the door broken in, we got ourselves a glimpse of what was going on in the next room. Donald Jackson was standing behind an altar, with a chalice in his hand held high. There were several people in robes kneeling in front of it. I rushed in and fired a shot at Jackson and clipped him in the shoulder. Jack followed and started throwing punches at the cultists.
Jackson ran out a side door as I shot some cultists. Jackson had entered an elevator going up and somehow Gunnar was going after him. As the other came into the room I shouted for Laurel to check on the victim. There'd was an elevator on the other side of the room and I jabbed the UP arrow like a madman.
The ride up felt like an eternity. The Girl From Ipanema didn't help.
The elevator ride ended on the roof of the hotel. Through the rain I could see Donald Jackson at the edge of the roof, holding up the chalice and chanting. I ended the chanting rather quickly when I ran up and shot him in the throat.
And then a giant snake made out of a roller coaster appeared and ate him. Why would I make that up?
Eventually everyone came onto the roof and joined the fight against the snake thing. Gunnar slashed. Jack punched. Laurel shot. Nevermore pecked. Brendon speared. With an actual spear.
Nothing worked. Not even attacking at the same time had any effect. Several times I thought about grabbing the raven shroud.
A thought crossed my mind. "Jack, can you pick it up?" I yelled.
"WHAT." Jack had a look of disbelief in his face.
"CAN YOU PICK IT UP?" I yelled and then did a throwing motion.
Gunnar got the gist of the plan. "if you can pick it up, I can throw it over the edge!" Jack lifted it up and Gunnar, despite being poisoned by snake roller coaster venom, was able to heave the thing over the edge. I don't think anyone got hurt at ground level.
Everyone was watching the snake coaster plummet. I was running back down to our cars. I heard Baron Samedi say something about the raven shroud curing the ill and bringing the dead back to life. I had failed Janine once. I was hoping to change things.
With the shroud in hand, I raced back to the chapel. She was still on the altar. I didn't need a medical degree to tell that she was dead. I'm not what people would call a praying man, but I prayed. I prayed as hard as I could when I placed the shroud on her body.
Janine woke, frightened and confused. She had no idea why she was naked and in a room full of dead bodies. "Everything will be all right," I said as I took off my jacket and covered her up as I lead her out of the room.
Reality snapped me out of my hopeful stupor. Janine did wake up, but she didn't come back complete. The injuries she suffered were still evident on her body. No blood poured from her wounds. There was nothing behind her eyes. They just stared into the space in front of her without any recognition.
"I'm sorry, Ms. O'Neal." I took out my gun and mercifully ended it. "I should've been a better cop."
I called Gunnar and told him what had happened. Yes, he did tell me so. I had to be on scene when the police came, so I would meet them back at his hotel room. I hung up the phone. And my eyes drifted towards a cultist that had been handcuffed.
Thoughts of shooting him right then and there entered my mind. I could uncuff him and place a knife in his hand. No one would ever know. No, I was still an officer of the law. I wasn't going down that slippery slope. Only then did I realize that there were ten cultists when we burst in, but only seven remained.
The captain arrived and with him a squad of officers. He sent me home soon after I gave him all the info I had. He knew Ms. O'Neal's death would hit me hard. I didn't go home.
I needed to find whoever was backing Donald Jackson, because I was going to nail them to the wall. And I was driving over to get the help to do it.
*There are times when my dad is a font of wisdom. Whether or not I listen, well...
"Son, there are times where things don't end up like we want. Things happen. You can't save everyone, kiddo. But you have to learn to let it go. Get angry, but don't hold on to that anger. All that rage in you? Don't bottle it up. Despite all the smiles and the laughs, I can see it, Nate. Sometimes, I think you're the angriest young man I have ever met. But I know you're better than that."