“I know that we will never be friends, there is too much spilt blood between us, but I appeal to you to do what is right, I have killed people to hide this secret, but I have made sure to kill only those necessary. If you bring Fallen Eagle into the light then it’s anger will be terrible and many people will die over a patch of land, Helen will be among them, how many more have to die over an old grudge?”
It was the 1860s, the frontier times and a small expeditionary force sent by Brigadier General and (former Governor) Issac Stevens made it’s way through Alaska to a remote location rumoured to have been supplied from his dealings with Red Skins. The Force, led by Captain Ronald Rayner was supported by Issac’s own Negro Freeman, Henry Christmas and a small academic and Prospectors corp (the United States Army Corps of Engineers) Amidst the 60 odd men were two brothers, Willard McCabe, the elder and Academic geologist and prospector, the other, the younger, Douglas McCabe, enlisted man and Corporal; together, they had travelled for months up into the North western mountains and into Alaska.
Winter was drawing in as the party moved through the coniferous forests and into the rocky crags of a small valley lead by their Sergeant, a gruff New Yorker called Raynor, food was becoming scarce as the group reached the valley and game seemed unusually scarce in the area; eventually they set up camp near a stream and Douglas began to oversee the setting up off watches and posting guards around the area so that the scientists and geologists could do whatever it was that they did in relative safety. Henry Christmas with pride in his voice lead the group over a rise in the valley and smiled as the ground suddenly plunged away into a huge crater with a tiny stream winding through it, this was what they had come to find, he beamed and in a wood-smoked voice said “There’s a prominent vein of silver runs through their i’ll warrant and we’re gonna tap it.”
Later whilst patrolling the area (after all there were rumours of wolves and bears in the area), Douglas came across what appeared to be two strange obelisks jutting from the ground near a rock face, the obelisks were adorned with strange writing and the rockface itself had a crack or cavern penetrating deep inside it, the smell of rotten meat wafted out of the dark entryway. Running back to fetch Mr Christmas and his fellow soldiers Douglas pointed out that there were a number of wolf tracks in the area; as Christmas sketched the obelisk Willard moving into the cavern and began exploring it whilst the soldiers remained outside on guard. Inside he found the crumbling remnants of tribal wall paintings that seemed to show strange giants with lines beaming from them receiving worship from human tribes; when he reported this Christmas implied that it should remain a secret between them and that, in exchange for his cooperation, Willard would receive an extra share in his pay packet.
Whilst Christmas left to collect some more gear Willard carried on his explorations and was astounded to discover, after scraping aside some of the dust and grime coating the floor that the cavernous corridor burrowed into the rockface seemed to be made from a single piece of smooth silver alloy; his eyes lighting up with thoughts of profit and discovery he smudged the dirt and soil back over it and did not mention it to Christmas upon his return.
Outside, one of the soldier Rollins was complaining that the place gave him the creeps, Douglas agreed and then, as the curried bean rations began to take their toll, grabbed a shovel and made his way to the makeshift toilet area; it was only after he had sat down that he noticed the strange absence of normal animal and forest noises. Crossing himself, Douglas finished his business quickly and returned to camp.
Two days passed in the blink of an eye.
Willard managed to clear a caved-in portion of the cavern and revealed more of the tribal painting, he also discovered a huge door that appeared to have been crafted from metal and be worked by some form of cog and gear mechanism; Christmas had directed the soldiers to begin erecting more permanent structures in the area, but again reminded Willard that they should keep the contents of the cave secret, implying that what lay beyond the door was not for mortal minds to comprehend.
The following day there was a wolf attack on a hunting party by no casualties were sustained.
Unable to contain his curiosity any longer Willard called for his brother and showed the bewildered soldier into the silver floored cavern, advising him that the two of them could make a fortune if they handled the matter right; a little shell-shocked and bewildered Douglas agreed and returned to his patrol duties. Dying to see what lay behind the door, Willard discovered a series of five glyphs that seemed to act as a sort of control panel, theorising that they may represent the four elements plus some unknown fifth substance he pressed them and was rewarded with the clanking of the cogs and the door grinding open.
Outside one of the other prospectors working in the crater shouted in delight, he’d discovered a small ball of a strange opalescent black metal, but the excitement was dampened when a wolf howl sounded nearby putting all the soldiers on alert, however, there was no sign of the animal (presumably the guns and shouts from the soldiers had scared it away).
Back in the cavern Willard moved through the door, something lay in the dust on the ground, it appeared to be a suit of old cloth armour, crumbling and falling apart with age.
Later that evening Douglas was on patrol when he came across the body of Rollins lying dead on the outskirts of the camp, he shouted to raise the alarm and the body was taken away as the camp went on high alert, although Rollins bore no visible injuries.
Christmas meanwhile had discovered that Willard had opened the door and, having seen what was inside, said that they may require some additional help, Willard recommended his brother, saying that they could rely on his discretion, Christmas called one of his men to fetch Douglas. When the two brothers were both in the cavern Christmas began to speak:
“Gentleman we have a situation, this place was revealed to General Stevens and it contains a power that could re-write the history books.”
He went on to talk about how a race of beings from the heavens had built this place, educating early man and bringing him technology beyond that of simple savages; Christmas explained that he was building a permanent outpost here and that he wanted the two brothers to help guard and protect this place. Continuing he described a secret organisation of men who helped protect humanity against the things that lurked in the darkness, apologising that he must leave the camp soon and report to his superiors he handed a ring bearing a strange triangular sigil to Willard and said that he should show it should he every really be in trouble. Somewhat dumbfounded the two brothers agreed and wished Christmas a speedy and pleasant trip.
Christmas had been gone a few hours and two brothers still stood in the cavern, Willard showed Douglas the crumbling cloth armour and, as the soldier poked around in it he found a small pendant, without thinking he reached out a hand.
Instantly the two of the them collapsed in agony and experience a vision of a different place, the past of the creek when it had been little more than a field with the two obelisks standing in it, a huge silvered citadel rose above the field, storm rains lashed down and the skys were full of huge birds… no wait… they were people, people with wings. Balls of fire arched down from the sky setting fire to the grass and causing the tower to crumble, it began to sink into the ground as screams rent the air, twin jagged peaks of rock blossomed from the ground, dwarfing the now sunken citadel and forming the valley that the explorers would one day visit.
A ball of flame landed in the creek and then the years rolled passed like calendar pages and, sometime in the future, a man wearing hide armour walked along the creek, huge black wings grew from his back and he glanced down at a piece of black rock in a small crater; suddenly the sky was filled with a roaring sound and a huge fireball from the heavens struck the figure creating a giant crater and throwing the figure into the nearby rockface, dust and rubble rained down on the winged man, burying him.
Waking from their shared vision the brothers agreed not to discuss it lest they were thought insane, but it quickly became obvious they were thinking the same thing; if they could find the rockface from their vision then perhaps the body of the winged man was still inside. They were easily able to locate it and, over the course of the next few days, they tried several times to excavate the rockface, but each time they were scolded and told to stick to their patch by Sergeant Raynor; eventually when Willard was making a solo attempt at further excavation he grew tired of Raynor’s constant interference and, thinking there was nothing left to lose, pulled out the ring given to him by Mr Christmas.
Nodding Raynor lead him to the cave and asked whether anyone else knew about what they had discovered, shaking his head Willard said that only him and his brother knew about it.
“Do you know that once the Fallen gave up everything they had to look after man?”
Willard barely had time to register what Raynor had said when he found a small pistol pointed at him, the gun barked twice and Willard felt his blood and breath fleeing from him as he collapsed to the floor.
“It’s nothing personal but he wants to remain hidden, you’re going to be a loyal servant for the angel of death, I envy you… don’t worry, your brother will join you shortly.”
Over the next few days Douglas was sent out several times to hunt, each time bringing back precious supplies, although as the days went on they lost more and more hunters in the woods; there was not sign of Willard, but it was not unusual for him to lose himself in his studies and so Douglas thought little of it.
That was until he was dropping off a brace of connies in the cookhouse when he happened to glance in the offal and refuse bucket and saw, amongst some stomach churningly human looking pieces of bone, the shining ring with it’s triangular sigil; pocketing it, Douglas crept behind the cook, placing his pistol against the cook’s skull he spoke in an emotionless voice:
“Where has all this meat begin coming from?”
Cook began to babble that he’d just been following orders, but didn’t get halfway through his sentence before Douglas squeezed the trigger and blasting his head across the inside wall of the tent.
Drawn by the sound of the gunfire a crowd gather outside whilst inside Douglas hunkered down behind a wooden bench, lining his rifle up aimed at the door; outside Raynor shouted for the men to stay back and that he would deal with the matter personally. As he entered Douglas repeated the same question that he’d asked the cook, this time allowing his subject to make an excuse about Willard having died of natural causes and supplied being short before the gun barked out an answer.
Collapsing with blood pouring from his chest, Raynor laughed and began to babble that he could not be killed, he had been blessed; not really understanding anything other than this son of a bitch had killed his brother, Douglas placed his rifle against Raynor’s head and fired at point blank range.
Incredibly Raynor continued to laugh in a burbling voice saying “This vessel is already dead, but I have tasted the flesh, you cannot kill me.”
Douglas continued firing until he had emptied both his rifle and pistol of ammunition, but somehow Raynor still moved with unholy life, grabbing a cleaver and a lantern Douglas emptied the scant amount of oil onto Raynor’s body intending to burn the godless fiend but, realising their wasn’t enough oil, began pouring through the cook’s supplies. As he located a barrel of oil, he turned to see Raynor rise to his feet, wounds closing and bullets falling from his mending flesh.
“I whispered such sweet things to your brother as he died, such pretty words; you cannot burn me” began Raynor, but his sentence was choked off when Douglas hurled the cleaver through the air, it embedded itself in the creatures face; before Raynor could recover the soldier kicked the lid off the barrel, sending it rolling into Raynor, splattering a wide trail of oil across the tent.
As the Raynor-thing began to curse and scream, Douglas lit a handful of matches before shouting “All the pretty words in the world won’t save you from me!”
The burning matches tumbled through the air, striking the oil and the entire building burst into flames.
“We’d just wrapped up another show, people wouldn’t believe the amount of work and preparation that goes into producing and recording a two hour morning show, normally I wrapped up a show and was straight onto researching and reading up on the next subject for discussion; it was a lonely life with not much room for anything else, family or friends, i’d found this out the hard way when my wife of five years rang me to tell me that she couldn’t put up with this life anymore and that she was taking our daughter, I tried to reason with her but she told me that i’d left them both years ago, every since i’d starting working for the station. I’d been out drinking with a friend at the time, one of my rare breaks from the show, trying to comfort him and tell him that he didn’t have to worry about the big presentation he was giving (I was lying, anyone could see he was nervous as hell) when my wife rang me; an hour later I was convulsing in one of the lavatory cubicles as a noxious mixture of recreational drugs and alcohol killing my body as surely as the news of my wife’s departure had killed my heart.
Five minutes after that, I was Sitri, the once Demon Prince of hell, he who makes men love women and women love men; my friend was shaking me and asking me if I was alright.
Ten minutes later we were both leaving the club, my friend had seen a little of my new self (although it was a vague and flickering candle flame compared to the celestial being I had once been) and had the confidence that he needed to pull of his presentation and have his business partners hanging on his every word, and I had what I needed, his faith and belief.
The voice of Eric, a promising young gruaduate from Seattle-U who was getting some work experience on the station as a researcher, caused me to start out of my reverie, “Mr Price, Sue says that we’re running with the Duwarmish story tomorrow, i’ve taken the liberty of putting all the material I could pull from the net onto this CD and have catalogued it for you so that you can do some background research, but you’ll need some music for the segment as well.”
“One of the elders of the tribe, a Mr Noah has been booked to speak on the show, apparently he had some new evidence or information that’s gonna force the government to recognise the Duwarmish claim to their lands” continued Eric.
I smiled at Eric, the kid was a great researcher, young and full of enthusiasm for his job, “Eric, you’re an angel, i’ll get this read this evenign and will swing by Seattle-U to see if their library has anything on it; as for the music, tell you what, since you’ve been such a big help around here recently why don’t you put together a playlist i’ll have a look at it and make some selections, maybe even slip you a credit in the show, how’s that?”
Eric beamed at the thought of getting mentioned in the show, his role had been strictly backstage so far, but hell (yes I know that I use the word ‘hell’ a lot but once you’ve been to the Abyss, it’s like a part of you never leaves) he’d done such a good job it was about time he saw some sort of reward, and it cost me nothing to give him a hand. This was one of the things I like about being Max, he genuinely believed that mankind could be better than it was, they only needed to be told the whole truth and shown the way, and I was Max now, even since i’d climbed into this body and his hopes and dreams had baptised me, washing my soul clean of the hatred and anger that had engulfed me during my time in the Abyss.
An hour later I was sat in my small office reviewing the information that Eric had given me on the Duwarmish tribe, turns out that were a native-american indian tribe who historically had settled land now occupied by a huge chunk of downtown Seattle; despite the Duwarmish signing the Treaty of Point Elliot with the US Government in 1855 they were not recognised as an official tribe and it seemed as though they’d been pretty much conned out of their land, ever since then the leaders of the Duwarmish tribe had been looking to ratify their claim to their historical land. I flicked through a couple of pages on the document, seemed to me that the Duwarmish had been playing entirely by the rules, going through all the appropriate legal channels and such-like, but everytime their claim got to court it was thrown out because of some bullshit legalise or loophole; I could see a picture forming in my mind, it looked like someone with knowledge and influence within the political system of Seattle would find it very inconvenient if the Duwarmish were to reclaim their land and was doing their damndest to make sure that it didn’t happen.
I frowned and felt a vague flicker of the old anger and darkness, but it was quickly drowned in sadness, the world was so big, this country was so big and all humans were originally of one tribe (I should know), there should be room for all the tribes of man; I couldn’t remember what had happened to divide them, was it something they had done, or was it our defiance that caused them to still be punished to this day. Still, being Max had it’s advantages, using my renewed confidence and the social talents of Sitri I had been able to pull my show out of the tailspin that it was locked into and had made it popular enough that I had become something of a local celebratory, and more importantly I was able to tell people the truth; for a couple of hours while they were listening at home or in their car on the way to work, the human population of the city listened to me, it was just what Max (and Sitri) has always wanted.
Folding my laptop up and tucking it under my arm I waved goodbye to Eric and the show’s scheduler Sue before jumping in my car, i’d read on the CD that the original Treaty of Point Elliot was on display at Seattle-U, they also had a great library when it came to native mythology and history, seemed like a good opportunity to get some more research so I sped over there and quickly found myself looking at the historical document (behind glass of course). Whenever I go anywhere or look at anything, as well as taking notes, I like to snap a couple of photos with my smartphone, most of the time they don’t come out particularly well (hell, i’m no photographer) but they work as little memory aides; well I was taking some photos when a young girl (probably no more than 16 or 17) who was sat reading nearby snorted, telling me that I wouldn’t get any decent pictures because of the glass. I’d been going over my plan for the radio broadcast in my head and hadn’t noticed the young girl, she looked to be of native-american indian descent but her clothing was distinctly modern, goth I think they call it, all brooding blacks and velvet, that sort of thing; thanking her for the advice I explained that I was going to be doing a radio show with one of the tribal elder of the Duwarmish, at which point she began to reveal her thoughts that a conspiracy of freemasonic nature lurked behind the continuous denial of the Duwarmish claim to their lands. Now a couple of years ago Max probably would have scoffed at that notion, but I have to admit that it did seem odd how these legal loopholes always appeared to block their claims in court and, having been given a chance to walk amongst manking again, I had swore to myself that I would always take them seriously (no matter how ridiculous the claims sounded).
I was starting to sense a vague feeling of otherworldly energies at work in the library, seemingly centred around a waste paper bin but I didn’t want to alarm the young woman, so I attempted to make conversation about her theories and asked whether she had a personal interest in the Duwarmish; she revealed that she was searching for the grave of Isaac Stevens, the person originally responsible for compelling the american-indians to sign the Treaty of Point Elliot (along with some others), I had always wanted to help humanity I think, even at the start, so I offered to have some of my contacts look into it, the young woman seemed initially suspicious but relented and gave me a mobile phone number before leaving. Let alone I scooped up a couple of books on local mythology and history before wandering over to the waste paper bin, inside was a book, crumbling to dust as though the weight of hundreds of years bore down on it, but the binding looked new – perhaps the energy I had sensed had acted on this book, unfortunately the smallest disturbance caused it to collapse into illegible dust; I raised an eyebrow, was the girl like me? It seemed unlikely but possible, I resolved to try and keep her close.
Whilst standing at the checkout desk waiting for the librarian to scan my books out a tall dark skinned man came in asked for a book on Duwarmish mythology, it just so happened that it was the only copy in the library and I had just booked it out, I apologised to the man (who introduced himself as Mr Christmas) but said that I would have the book back tomorrow; he seemed to accept this and expressed a knowledge of the Duwarmish, thinking that he might be useful should we get any more shows out of this subject I gave the man a business card and bid him farewell.
Back in the office I was surprised to hear from Sue that apparently the news had just come in that our guest for tomorrow’s show Noah had been murdered at his home (a small village outside of Seattle proper); I didn’t want to cancel the show, after all the injustice done to the Duwarmish wasn’t any less due to this unfortunate event, and I felt sure that the tribal elder would want his people’s voice to be heard. Thinking that perhaps this show could be done as a memorial to the memory of Noah I decided that a bit of firsthand research was in order and, taking one of the vehicle from the car pool drove out to where my research notes indicated that Noah had lived; there seemed to be no-one about besides a couple of neighbours twitching their curtains and a very large man who was welding some sort of metal sculpture in his garage. I called out to the heavy-set man who told me that his name was Frank Chapelacre and that he’d been a neighbour and friend of Noah’s for years, I took the opportunity to get a bit of a feel for the deceased man’s character and was about to ask Frank whether or not he’d consider recording a few respectful sound-bites for us, giving us a bit of local interest in the matter, when we were interrupted by a young woman shouting at us. The woman was wearing baggy clothes and, it was soon revealed, was Frank’s wife, her breath smelled of cheap lager and her glazed expression screamed “alcoholic” at me in this same way her manner towards Frank shouted “abusive relationship”; it always struck home when I saw the gift that humanity had been given squandered in this way but I turned on the charm and (along with the promise of money to re-imburse Frank for his time) soon had her eating out of the palm of my hand.
Following Frank’s mention of a TV repairman from Connor’s Rentals and Repairs visited the house earlier and the police bafflement at Noah being found dead in his locked house with no sign of forced entry we decided to explore the house, with the profit-minded wife of Frank’s waiting on look-out outside; it was easy to force the door (after all the police had already broke it down once to get into the house), nothing seemed unusual at first besides for a pile of magazines that were extremely damp. A chalk outline of a body was drawn on the floor near to a crack telephone that appeared to have been pulled from the wall, we had a look at the new TV aerial and Frank seemed quite interested in it; as we continued to explore I started getting the feeling that some sort of celestial energy had been used and decided to explore the roof, I was surprised to find that the old aerial cable had been cut deliberately. Back inside I following the new cable and found a piece of silken fabric bearing celestial symbols tucked behind it, Frank touched parchment and I felt a flare of demonic energy from him, that explained the sensation that I had been feeling whilst exploring, after a few tense moments I decides to take the risk and asked Frank who he had been before he had been Frank, his real-name Gadriel was not familiar to me, but he seemed to have heard of Sitri.
Two (possibly more of us) getting drawn into this affair could not be coincidence but I had precious little time to ponder it before I got ready for my show; re-iterating my promise of monetary compensation to Frank’s wife and pressing some money into her hand (it was easier and quicker than a long conversation) myself and Frank sped back to Seattle-proper, given our ‘mutual interests’ I offered Frank my couch for the evening.”
My friend was still talking, I opened my eyes and shakely rose to my feet, still unused to the heaviness of my own body; he was asking questions about my health. From my memories I had taken the news of my wife’s departure badly (although now it seemed just like one more sacrifice in the pursuit of a greater goal, what was one or two people’s lives against the salvation of an entire race?) and had overdone a number of recreational drugs; reaching back into my mind I could feel Max’s panic as the drugs mixed with the booze in his system, turning quickly to poison and snapping the thread that held his soul to his mortal body. But thanks to me, Max’s dream didn’t have to die, and I would start with my pride and joy, the radio show, I would make it into everything that i’d ever dreamed it would be – a vessel for the truth.
As we walked out of the bathroom I glanced at my reflection in the mirror and noticed that my once baby blue eyes were now a burnished red colour, there was a lot of work to do.”