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PHANTACEA Phase One # 2
- Ian Bateson artwork, 1985 -
Devil Land versus Demon Land
-- from Warpoc-2
© copyright Jim McPherson, 2003
The War of the Apocalyptics
- Ian Bateson artwork, 1978 -
Thalassa D'Angleo (Sea Goddess) cleanses Damnation Isle
-- from Warpoc-3
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10. The War of the Apocalyptics: "Centurium"
Even though it's been referred to throughout all three serials currently appearing in PHANTACEA on the Web, this time up's the first opportunity we actually get to head seriously through Cathonia to Sedon's Head, Big Shelter, the Hidden World, the Inner Earth, Eden's Zoo, Ancient Lemuria, and whatever else the Headworld might have been called in previous installments. It's quite the place and there's no place in, over, on, or under it quite like Temporis, the Thousand Caverns of Tariqartha.
Before our heroes, anheroic variety, get there though our titular anti-heroes, equally of the anheroic variety, have to get to it first. One of them's Headless Ramazar. Not surprisingly, he proves to be vain, looks into a mirror all the time, and collects hats. Of course, to wear a hat one has to have a head first. The Apocalyptic of Sudden Disaster turns out to have them aplenty. Got more than heads too, as witness the following exchange with Dand Tariqartha, Overlord of this Underworld:
"So, a firestorm it is then."
So, if neither of their uncles are named Bob, are any of their offspring named Akbar? Or Lakshmi of Lemuria, for that matter? In terms of the Chronocollector, the answer's yes. In terms of the Apocalyptics, theirs are still to come!
Come they do too, -- in the inauspiciously named Calvary Cavern!
But there's lots of other stuff in this chapter before we even get to the Quadrangs. Who might this Akbar be? None other than Obadiah Melvin Power, OMP. As for Lakshmi, it's her eighteenth birthday. Their mutual devic father, that is to say the devil possessing their sperm fathers when they were conceived? Dand Tariqartha of course. And tomorrow, Saturday December 6, 1980, on the Outside, Devauray Tantalar 6, 5980, on the Inside, is his four thousandth birthday!
Oh, not the 4000th Anniversary of his birth per se, -- devazurs don't seem to get born, or even hatched. They seem, rather, to have entered straight into existence. As bodiless Spirit Beings.
No, tomorrow is the 4000th Anniversary of him gaining solidity. Unfortunately, expecially the way he's been treated these past few days by the Apocalyptics and their two allies, Antaeor Thanatos and the Vultyrie, it may well turn out to be his Deathday too.
What about the rest of the Damnation Brigade? (Minus Sea Goddess, recall.) Hey, where do think the Byronic Nucleus was taking them after they finished demolishing their Fraser River ranchhouse this same Friday night?
Way west then way south. Through the Cathonic Zone, -- I won't say where the linkway is; not here, not that it's a secret any more, at least not in 'War'. Then way up north to the Head's Cranium. But that's it. It's simply not safe to take them any further.
Temporis lay beneath Sisert, the Silent Sands of Cathune, Sedon's Bald Patch. Was Tariqartha's devic protectorate and there's no way Thrygragos Byron, Sedona Spellbinder, Chimaera Glimmenmare, and Vayu Maelstrom dare enter a Lazaremist's realm univited. Even a Great God like the Unmoving One would be at the mercy of this underworld's overlord.
So why aren't the Apocalyptics at risk? Well, they're decathonitized, see. And decathonitized Master Devas serve no one, not even the Moloch Sedon, any more. Which was also why they could now get away with killing folks!
John Sundown accepted Raven's long-forgotten saddle bag, rummaged through it, and pulled out a couple of odd-looking items. One was a stone tomahawk with a leather wrist-strap; the other was an atlatl, an arm-length spear-thrower complete with perforated bannerstone weights, balance disc, finger loops and a dozen short spears tipped with flint arrowheads.
Just by the by, about the Tsukyomi character. The one the Awesome Akbar, -- Kronokronos Supreme now that the Apocalyptics have moved in on Temporis and more senior Kronokroni have gone the way of the replicas crucified in Mother Murder's chosen cavern --, spotted starkers along with Lakshmi and the rest of the Lemurian's bathing beauties just before the hunted human-stag sequence. Watch out for her!
11. The War of the Apocalyptics: "The Apocalyptic of War"
First there were ten. Now, with the loss of Sea Goddess, -- the one who beat the Apocalyptics the first time they came up against the Damnation Brigade --, there are nine. By chapter end, there may well be seven!
There is something very wrong with Dand Tariqartha, the devic overlord of this underworld, this Temporis. It being his protectorate, the Time-Space Displacer should have been able to just kick Apocalyptic butt out of it. Instead he's let them set up house in five of his thousand caverns.
The Brigade splits into four groups in order to battle their way through the exterior buffer-caverns into the main one, that of Calvary. Where Mater Matare has more than just set up house. She's turned it into a Maternity Ward!
Blame the strategy on Cerebrus David Ryne. The egocentric mentat has decided it makes more sense for his fellow supras to tangle with the individual Apocalyptics than pick one and take him on full force. Give him a degree of credit though. The Chronocollector rated them from top to bottom and declared Mars Bellona the most dangerous of the lot. Stands to reason therefore that Cerebrus should take him on.
He's not alone of course. Has chosen Wildman Dervish Furie to be his tag-team partner. This makes somewhat less sense. Dervish is no weakling; certainly not compared to, say, Wilderwitch or Kronokronos Akbar (now that he's ruined his regalia, his Warask, Cloak of Many Colours, and mutable sword, and left what remained of them on the Outer Earth). Maybe Cerebrus isn't as confident as he makes out. Then again, maybe Furie wouldn't have taken no for an answer.
After all, back on Damnation Island, it was the Dervish who War possessed!
Didn't I warn you about Tsukyomi? Should have warned Furie and Cerebrus instead. Certainly Lakshmi should have warned the birdmen she sent out to assassinate the sixteen year old. Coming across their bodies is not an auspicious way for Jerry/Derry and Davey/Cerey to begin their journey to Calvary via the pre-Tokugawa Era Cavern.
Definitely puts Dervish on guard. Seemingly not so the Ryne Brat, as Air used to refer to him. Cerebrus exudes more than just overconfidence. Unless that's less of course. He's positively nonchalant. Can't detect War anywhere, he tells Furie. Maybe he heard they were on the way and beetled off in panic.
For his part, the Wildman thinks there's about as much likelihood of that as of them gettting back to Vancouver in time for Monday Night Football two days from now, -- it being Saturday morning by the time they come through the tunnel from one cavern to this one, their penultimate destination. Which is to say none at all.
Come through the tunnel not quite all the way, make that. Further progress is impeded by the cavern's Headman, Lord Tornado (pronounced with a soft 'a'), and his honour guard of armoured Samurai; ones armed with long swords sharp enough to cut through even Furie's next to impervious hide. No Bellona here either, not in any of them, Cerebrus mentally assures his companion.
To be sure Lord Tornado seems the ideal host. Treats them to plenty of seafood, tea, and other goodies, all of which he and his Samurai consume before Furie will let Ryne dig in. Tells a few tales too, mostly about his predecessor as Headman of this Living Cavern, one Kronokronos Mikoto.
We've come across that name before, albeit briefly, when the Time-Space Displacer blamed his approaching-terminal deterioration on this most unworthy of his sons. Will come across the man himself in 'The Trigregos Gambit', which has probably debuted by the time you read this, though not immediately.
We've come across his daughter as well, again in name only as yet, -- Corona Power, Old Man Power's still living ex-wife and whose talisman Wilderwitch has brought with her to the Head, despite the vociferous objections of Great Byron and his Nucleoids. The supra better known as Crimson Corona (also the term given to her talisman), her real given name turns out to be Takeda.
While nothing's for sure, there are distinct hints that she might be somehow related to Tsukyomi, therefore definitely to Mikoto and, just possibly, to Akbar himself. If so, she'd hardly be the only one. Without letting too many cats out of the bag at once, it's safe to say that under a variety of identities the Old Man's had a very long and very productive, as in procreative, life.
So, where's our titular antagonist? Where's War? And who does survive? Tell you one thing, a battle's no war but what's War without battle? And what's a battle without casualties?
Then again, sometimes battles are over before they've really begun.
Not this time though!
12. The War of the Apocalyptics: "The Apocalyptic of Disease"
On Saturday, December 5, 1980 -- Devauray, Tantalar 5, 5980 Y.D. -- the Untouchable Diver and Glory of the Angels, Radiant Rider, hoping against hope to pass through it uneventfully on the way to the adjacent Calvary Cavern and Mother Murder, visit Cavern 1492 of Temporis.
(NOTE: The number doesn't refer to which cavern's numerically which. Not for nothing is Temporis known as the Thousand Caverns of Tariqartha. No, the number refers to the year (A.D.) it replicates.)
One thing that wasn't happening in the Spain of 1492 is an outbreak of the Black Death (plague-variety, as opposed to Auguste Moirnoir, the pseudo-suicidal Male Trickster of, briefly, Moloch infamy). It's happening in Cavern 1492 though and there isn't much doubt who's responsible, -- our titular character, Carcinogen the Leper.
Gloriel has had dealings with Plague before, on Damnation Island. So did Yehudi Cohen, though, for his part, the Diver was more concerned with Demon Land and Mars Bellona back then, the Sunday Previous. Consequently, neither of them have any illusions regarding Disease. He is, not to put too fine a point to it, one sick puppy. As if to prove it, the Leper's masquerading as Cardinal Molino, 1492's Kronokronos and chief religious leader.
After he disposes of the Diver and captures Gloriel, after he tears off her 'modesty gown', slices off her rainbow hair, and lays her out on an altar atop the cathedral steps for a bit of applied attention, Inquisition-style, he ... then she ... then Elohistic Coryza ... and the hair ... she takes pity on a devil, does him a favour ... only he ... and then the chapter ends!
[NOTE: Today, almost a week after I mustered my best Lady Di tribute, I heard that Mother Theresa died. As I said, she was not one of my favourites, mostly because of her stand against contraceptives, -- this in a part of the world that already has trouble providing a decent standard of living for most of its, to my mind, far too many folks. However, many regarded her as a kind of Living Saint.
13. The War of the Apocalyptics: "The Faerie Garden"
While a lot of information about the Awesome Akbar, formerly OMP, Old Man Power, Obadiah Melvin Power, and Wilderwitch, formerly just about anyone she damn well pleases to be at any given moment, comes out in this sequence, sorry, no one dies. Need I say it?
How far back do these two go? Quite frankly, Kronokronos Akbar has no idea just how far back he goes even in terms of being alive. He also doesn't know he's the father of Wilderwitch's lone child, a daughter, the one she admits was stolen by faeries in the late Forties; thanks to a quarter century lost in Limbo, not even a decade ago as these two members of the ever-dwindling Damnation Brigade count time.
As for the Witch, she acknowledges that she was born on Big Shelter, -- in 1927 AD (5927 YD, Year of the Dome, under the Sedon Sphere). Says she was born on the same day, to the minute, as Countess Ramona Avar, who was last seen getting killed over in Island. (NOTE: For those who've already read 'Magnifico Munched', her memory of this former Strife seems somewhat at odds with Lady Guillotine's own. Who's right? Probably neither of them, as it happens.)
Another reference the Witch makes, that her blood sisters are Eden Nightingale and Fisherwoman, of Moloch fame, and that their father's History, is too obscure for Akbar to make head nor tail of, -- so he lets it pass without comment. She's probably quite right, however, at least about her and Fish. As for Eden, the story of the Trigon Triplets is told during 'Heliodyssey'.
There's more about Judge and Wiccan Warlock, Sedon St Synne and Jesus Mandam, the Conquering Christ. (It's only touched on here but the full story of the latter's suicide cum martydom will be recounted next time up, when we return to Blind Sundown, Raven's Head, and Airealist.) You'll also find connections to 'Gambit' and even 'Helios on the Moon' in this installment. In the latter case, Moon, it's been linked to 'Centauri Island' virtually since its opening chapter, 'Mind Tap'. In the former case, Gambit, that sequence of stories will be linking with Apocalyptics shortly, -- right here in the Faerie Garden, as a matter of fact.
As for Antaeor Thanatos, Demon Land, he's not too far away; is likely lurking quite literally underfoot, waiting for just the right moment to erupt. He's also listening, albeit not to the Witch and the Kronokronos Supreme. He listening to his mother. And what's her relation to Wilderwitch? Nothing, as it happens, but there is a rather solid link to the Witch's probable mother.
You see, devas need to possess humanoids in order to have non-azura offspring. (Azuras, by far the more numerous side of the devazur specie, are just Spirit Beings.) There's also one Entity, of the female persuasion, Her Story if you will, that possesses devas in order to become human. That Entity can have children, -- one of which, as you'll know from reading 'Thrygragon', was the famous Attis, the Universal Soldier. And what did I say earlier? Something about Akbar having no idea just how far back he goes in terms of being alive.
14. The War of the Apocalyptics: "The Apocalyptic of Disaster"
First of all, those of you following the Heliodyssey sequence of stories might want to skip this chapter, at least the sections in italics. Why? Because it goes into Blind Sundown's memories of his wife, Solace nee Sunrise, their children, all of whom were boys, and the fate of Manitoulin, the Cheyenne Wayfarer in the Weird who helped raise them all.
Otherwise, let's see. Last I looked we were down to five or six left and, this time up, it's more nasty news for the Damnation Brigade. Might we be down to two or three by the time this chapter's finished? Bet on it!
Headless Ramazar, a prototypical bogey man if there ever was one, and the Vultyrie (who says two heads are better than one, or even none in Disaster's case?) are waiting for their former shells, Sundown and Raven's Head. Waiting for Airealist too. Have some particularly deadly Acts of not exactly God lined up for them and the unfortunate replicas of Temporis' pre-Colombian Plainsland America Cavern.
So far only Dervish Furie has escaped the wrath of the Apocalyptics and made it into the link-cave leading to Mother Murder, her damnable children, and the Calvary Cavern. Will these three be any luckier, if luck's an appropriate word? What makes me think not? (Hey, I did write the stuff.). But don't take my word for it. Bang the blue bit up top and check it out for yourself.
15. The War of the Apocalyptics: "The Trigregos Gambit"
This is the chapter that links to, um, you guessed it -- 'The Trigregos Gambit', Book Three (unless it's Book Two) in the Launching series of stories.
What've I got in store for you, other than Wilderwitch and Kronokronos Akbar taking on Demon Land in the Faerie Garden? Lots. As for who, how about Freespririt Nihila, Vetala's Soldier, a certain Vampire Queen of the Dead, and Ringleader? (Aka Kid Ringo, Ringleader's the Outer Earth Supra who, as recounted in 'The Last of the Supranormals', abandoned the King Crimefighters to the tender mercies of the Magnificent Psycho on Damnation Isle twenty-five years earlier, when he was barely twelve years old.)
Oh yes, and were you wondering why it's called the Faerie Garden? Wonder no longer. At least wonder no longer than the end of the chapter. Then you can start wondering what Lakshmi of Lemuria's doing there.
Not that you'll get an answer. Not if Wilderwitch doesn't make it to the Calvary Cavern, join up with her fellow survivors from the Brigade (assuming, besides Furie, there are any), and stop Mater Matare. Which, you might as well know, she does.
And she doesn't. (Hint: neither do they!)
16. The War of the Apocalyptics: "The Apocalyptic Nucleus"
Finally it's here, -- the, without exaggeration, cataclysmic conclusion to the 'War of the Apocalyptics'. That's it then. End of Story. Boom! (Actually I think the exact word is Kaboom!)
No more Dand Tariqartha. No more Thousand Caverns of Temporis. No more Byronhead, Thrygragos Byron or Byronic Nucleus. No more Four Apocalyptics, -- not that Mother Murder goes meekly into the void of neverending non-existence. No more four, fourth generation Apocalyptics either.
Too bad too. The Quadrang Nucleoids were as unwholesome a foursome as I've ever fever-dream concocted. (Barring their parents of course.) And, perhaps most importantly for all you hero-lovers, no more Damnation Brigade.
So, what's left? More to the point, other than he never stops, why is Rhadamanthys-Daemonicus smiling? The embodiment of darkness, of evil, of Ahriman, of Aryanman, of Hades, couldn't have won, could he? Guess that's why there's three more books in the 'Launching of the Cosmic Express' sequences.
Not to mention all those other characters I mentioned last time up.
The War of the Apocalyptics Chapters 1-5
The War of the Apocalyptics Chapters 6-9
The War of the Apocalyptics Chapters 10-16
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