Hellspawn's Legacy
CHAPTER 2: Ubergeek, Count Super Jet Jaguar and Melkor
At the Ogasawara Daikaiju Preserve, Miyako Aso was manning the station control room when the Anomaly Indicator beeped, having detected a disturbance in the fabric of reality near the town of Roostville. 
"I wonder what the local loony tunes are up to now..." she snorted in irritation. Ever since they made that ROBBERY IN ROOSTVILLE movie, the place seemed to attract some mighty strange characters (as if its citizens weren't weird enough to begin with!) 
The firing of THE IGNORE CANNON by Gamingboy had caused a MAJOR blip on the Indicator and since then, its print out looked like a seismograph of the New Madrid Fault. Hellspawn had also escaped from prison and nearly brought on The-End-of-the-World-As-We-Know-It but had been sent to the Alternate Dimension (also known as the Evil Realm). The world had once again been saved from the Apocalypse but something just wasn't right. Even if the parts of the city that had been destroyed were now repaired (other than the Godzilla Tower being replaced) and everything LOOKED 'normal', *something* was just below the surface of everyone's consciousness, it seemed. 
Even Ubergeek hadn't been his usual cheerful, carefree self the last time she had come to Roostville for a three day weekend with her fellow were-Goji. Mayor Gamingboy had summoned Raptor and the Geekspawn to his headquarters (see REWRITING HISTORY: From the Text Books) for a secret meeting because of the unease in the town. Raptor was spending more time at the Mod Station and taking her deputy sheriff post seriously, not so much keeping Roosters who had a little too much fire water at the town's many taverns out of trouble but patrolling in random patterns and at odd hours. When ROOSTVILLE: THE SOAP OPERA (Season 3) suddenly went off the air at the start of the season premiere, there wasn't the expected riot and destruction of the Roostville Cable & Telephone facilities. Everyone simply switched to another channel or turned off their TVs completely. 
Count Super Jet Jaguar, one of the most eccentric citizens (to put it mildly) was keeping a lower profile since no one would listen to his wild claims that 'something' was up and the end of the world was at hand. Sheriff Varan and Melkor were often seen together, as if waiting for something to happen and watching the various townsfolk every chance they got. Saruman, in his capacity as Judge, had sequestered himself to review the ROOSTVILLE VS. GAMZILLA first degree felony murder case. 
Snapping back to the present, Miyako thought about the Geek's email from that morning: 'Going to Rodanville. Later, Toots.' Rodanville was nothing more than an old, abandoned mining town at the base of Mt. Rodan that had at one time promised various ores but each new vein that was assayed petered out. It just wasn't profitable to mine anything on a large scale. The many test holes had been boarded up, one after the other and all but a few hard scrabble prospectors remained. A group of cave explorers had gone down into one of the shafts and discovered a deep lake. There was also an ancient tablet nearby that they turned over to Dr. Phish but true to form, he never got around to analyzing it, preferring to work on his own projects. Maybe she would check the place out herself on her next day off but for now, she had better call Roostville and find out what was going on over there. 

"OFFICER DOWN! OFFICER DOWN! OH, GOD, HELP US!" the deputy screamed over the radio. Raptor had been running code to a "shots fired" call at one of Roostville's many playgrounds where a woman and child had been killed. Witnesses reported it was Sheriff Varan who had fired the fatal round and fled the scene. A BOLO went out and all deputies were called to duty with "10-33" (emergency) added to the order. As she tried to get through the traffic jam of vehicles and people now surrounding the scene, shots echoed down from the direction of Hedorah Hills, soon followed by reports of a disturbance at the Sheriff's house. Raptor quickly backed up, shoving a tailgater onto the sidewalk. Clear of the traffic (which was mostly heading in the opposite direction), she headed toward the northern residential area as radio traffic got more and more chaotic with everyone requesting updates and locations to the point where half of the transmissions were getting walked on. 
"CLEAR CHANNEL!" Raptor yelled over the racket of her siren after upping the volume on her dash mount a couple notches. She hoped Jet Jaguar's "upgrade" would have the desired effect and blast the chatterboxes into silence. "Ernie, what's your situation?" she calmly asked the panicked deputy. He managed to settle down and between sobs, advise that Cam Eleon had been hit. "How bad?" 
"I don't know! There's blood everywhere!" She quickly realized he was losing it again and called for an ambulance. 
Arriving on the scene, the guests from Lord Jimi's party were silently standing in a circle in the middle of the street. Parting to make way, she saw the sheriff laying in a pool of blood, his guns by his side. The A-9 and its triple burst had made a mess of his head. 
"Anyone see what happened here?" see asked the assembly. 
"I think he blew his brains out," a very tipsy middle echelon Rooster offered. Raptor made a note of who all was present and noticed Lord Jimi was missing. 
"Anyone seen Jimi?" No one had, other than at his house before all the shooting started. She opened the channel and put out an all points bulletin for the missing host and requested the coroner be notified. This was going to be a real mess, she figured. When the shift commander finally had everything pretty much under control, she got in her truck to personally give the Mayor and Dark Lords the bad news. 
Before Raptor got to the first Dark Lord's house to deliver the news of Sheriff Varan's death, Deputy Friar came on the radio with "Go secure", requesting everyone get on the channel which the 40% of Roostville who had scanners wouldn't be able to understand. When they had switched over to the scrambled frequency, he reported there was another body at the Sheriff's house. Due to the nature of the situation, the officer had carefully, yet methodically approached the big dark Tudor, looking for anything that might possibly be related to its owner's death. When Freddy found the front door standing open, he immediately knew something was wrong and his heart rate kicked up a notch in anticipation of the unknown. He flicked on his flashlight, adding an even more eerie cast to the place when he entered the foyer and proceeded to check the various rooms. 
Raptor had stayed outside to check the perimeter and noticed the bullet holes in the window to the den Varan favored. The huge bay window overlooked the town below. Raising her flashlight, Raptor saw a form laying on the floor. She continued working outwards from the house and saw what looked like footprints in the flower bed and disturbed shrubbery bordering the narrow stand of trees that screened the property from the curve of the road. It had gotten too dark for a proper search without floodlights but it was evident someone had passed through the area. When she returned to the house, the lights were on in the den, revealing the body of Sheriff Manda on the floor with two large caliber bullet wounds in her chest. A chair beside her was overturned and the two holes in the window indicated she had been shot from outside the house. 
The lawmen stood quietly and looked at each other as little as possible, each with his or her own private thoughts racing through their minds. In just over an hour's time, some of their fellow officers had experienced more death up close than they would expect in their entire careers. Despite the fact they so often are racing toward danger, they very seldom fear for their mortality as much as when an officer lies dead before them. First it was Sheriff Varan and now Manda. 
"I guess I better call the coroner over here and notify Megalon Town," Raptor figured. With the crime scene secured and forensics underway, she knew what would keep and what wouldn't. Gamingboy, Melkor, Morgoth and Sauron hadn't answered their pages when Tosha called them, as was the protocol when something REALLY BIG happened in town. Bato-Goji, Goji Son, Gorgozilla,  Saruman, Sauron, Cam Eleon,  Enshohma, Sandworm Phish and the Sheriff hadn't been at Mrs. Desu's party the night before and Melkor got a call and left early. Ubergeek, usually the biggest party animal at any soiree, was unusually reserved and said he "had a big day" ahead of him. Of the 14 city officials that protocol pretty much called for to be in attendance for the hostess' sake, only four were present. Cam, Baragon, Enshohma and Phish had probably forgotten, being wrapped up in their work the way they were. Varan never had been much for parties but he and the Princess were such good friends. Things just weren't adding up, Raptor figured, especially with Lord Jimi still missing. Not finding Sauron, Morgoth or Saruman home and nobody having any idea where they might be, she was in no mood for rounding up Kobayashi to fly out to Melkor's estate. 
Gamingboy was rudely awakened from the depths of his Sominex induced sleep by Raptor's pounding on his fortress' intercom. 
"Get your clothes on and open this gate if you want a town to be mayor of!" 
"oh oh..." the Gamer squeaked, now wide awake and almost functional. The mansion's defenses parted one after the other and reclosed as Raptor made her way to the main house. Gamingboy was pulling a raggedy sweatshirt over his pajama top and running down the stairs in his bare feet as she came in the door. Hooking an index finger, she directed him to follow her into the kitchen, knowing he would need a Dew to get fully up to speed for what she had to tell him. When he had consumed half the can of sugary caffeine and set himself down in the chair opposite, the first thing she did was ascertain his whereabouts after leaving Mrs. Desu's party on Friday night. A blank look came over his face. "No plot holes here," she glared at him. "Do you realize what has happened today?" 
"No. I just had an early dinner, played a few video games and went to bed early." 
"OK, you better brace yourself," she took a deep breath before relating Sheriff Varan's attack at the playground. "A mother and her child were killed by the single shot he fired. Our next call was multiple shots fired up in Hedorah Hills. When our guys got there, Varan was standing in the road with his guns drawn. Cam was shot when he tried to talk him out of doing anything crazy. Luckily, it was just a single round but he got it right in the side of the neck over his vest and lost a lot of blood. He'll be OK, thank goodness. Then Varan raised his other gun, on AUTO and fired a three round burst into his own head." She watched the Mayor as she spoke to make sure he was comprehending what she was saying. Judging by the stunned look on his face, he was so she continued. 
"When Officer Friar went to Varan's house, he discovered the body of Sheriff Manda from Megalon Town, which is on the other side of the mountains. She and Varan had been close friends from way back but after Desu's murder, they didn't see each other near as frequently as before. She was found in Varan's den and there were two rounds fired through the window which appear to be the cause of her death. We have reason to believe they did not come from Varan's weapons. The house is still a crime scene and come daylight, further investigation will continue. You do realize there will be TWO coroner's inquests since law enforcement officers were the victims?" 
"Ah, no, I didn't," he admitted. 
"Oh, well..." Raptor figured. Now she would make a proposal normally not appropriate but they were pretty much sitting on a powder keg anyway. "We need a few days for the town to get over the trauma of Varan's suicide and the death of two innocent people. There is nothing we can do to make that any less horrible as so many witnessed it. I am hoping you can at least keep Sheriff Manda's murder out of the media as long as possible. The autopsy itself will take at least a few days and the deputies that responded spoke with the hospital staff to keep things quiet. Luckily, most of the town was up in Hedorah Hills when she was brought in and there's no need for lights and sirens on runs like these..." Raptor didn't know how many people were aware of it but an ambulance on its way to the morgue was more like a hearse heading for the cemetery; no emergency measures known to man would bring the deceased back to life. She herself hated funerals, which were too often intended for the living more than the dead. Now, there would be four in a very short time. 
"I guess that will be no problem here," Gamingboy replied. "But what about Megalon Town?" 
"They have been notified and asked to keep it quiet also. I realize we don't have much contact with areas on the other side but their Mayor mentioned that his town just 'isn't itself' either lately. When the body is released, I'm afraid all the officers will want to attend her services." Raptor eyed the Mayor as it wasn't a request so much as a statement: they would separately leave town and form a column out on the highway. Black bands would also be appearing on badges as soon as an officer had a chance to find some ribbon or electrical tape. Around town, everyone would think it was in memory of Sheriff Varan. 
"Might as well make sure the city flags are at half staff in the morning also." 
"Yeah." The Mayor of Roostville was looking down at his hands clasped in front of him and Raptor wondered what he was thinking so she asked. 
"I guess I'm just now realizing how many different responsibilities this office I wanted so badly for all the wrong reasons has. And even worse, there are some I can't delegate." Raptor had a pretty good idea how he was feeling as she also felt rather confused and even helpless lately, despite trying to think things out in some kind of logical order. She just didn't know whether to focus on the "big picture" or see if she might be missing something so obvious they would all end up getting snake bit before they knew what hit them. 
"Speaking of delegating, you have any idea where Bato, Goji Son, Gorgozilla, Saruman, Sauron, Enshohma, Phish, Melkor, Jet Jaguar, the Count, Lord Jimi and Ubergeek might be? And why didn't you answer your page?" she inquired as if merely asking what time it was. She made a point not to mention that a BOLO was out for Lord Jimi. 
"My pager?" GB seemed genuinely confused for a second. "Oh, yeah. I took out the battery to check out an old handheld game I hadn't used in ages." 
"Uh huh." Raptor grinned at the sheepish look on his face. "Remember that little meeting we had, just you, me, the Geekspawn and that other guy?" 
"Well, something IS going on in Roostville and it ain't good," she assured him. "As far as I'm concerned, WHATEVER it is has gone on way too long and the sooner it stops and things get back to 'normal' (whatever that is around here), the better. In a matter of hours, this town has had more negative vibes than a rant thread contest at Maser City!" Gamingboy didn't like where this was going because it was the same thing that got him in office: Mayor Werner being blamed for everything. 
"So what should I do about it?" It wasn't a challenge so much as a plea. 
"That's what I want to know also. The worst part is not being able to get in touch with so many people all of a sudden. What has made Roostville 'work' in the past, despite differences of opinion or agendas or whatever, this town has stuck together. Now, it's like every Rooster is on their own little trips to the Twilight Zone or something." 
"Weird..." was all the Mayor could think of to say but it said a lot. Raptor did wish he had mentioned the name of that other person who was in attendance because she could not place it no matter how hard she tried. 
Melkor decided to stop by Desu Mansion. He knocked on the door and Mrs. Khandejifer answered, surprised at his visit. 
"Hello," she greeted him with a wane smile. Melkor had been one of the few people besides Sheriff Varan who had been nice and kind enough to help her through the hard times after the Blood Mass. 
"Hi. I was in the neighborhood and I thought I'd stop by and uh... Would you like to have dinner with me?" he asked. 
"Yes," she replied. "That would be nice." 
And so the two went to the most expensive restaurant in town. It was the same one Desutoroia had always taken her to. As the waitress took their orders, Melkor overheard someone at another table discussing and joking about Sheriff Varan. And some killing. He walked over and asked why they were talking so rudely about the Sheriff. He then learned of Varan's suicide. Melkor was overcome with a sick sensation and sat back down at his table with Princess. 
"What's wrong?" she asked. 
"My... friend... he... I just found out that... he shot himself..." 
"Oh, I'm so sorry for you..." she tried to comfort Melkor. 

Sunday, Oct. 5  

Newspapers were selling like crazy with the death of Sheriff Varan on the front page. He had committed suicide on Saturday, October 4, 2014 at around 5:30 - 6:00 PM. According to the Mod Squad, he had been under severe stress. One of his co-workers claimed that the murder of Desutoroia and the following world threatening plague of Hellspawn was the cause. The Sheriff finally snapped and murdered a child and its mother, then killing himself in the street. 
At least Sunday brought Raptor better prospects than the day before had left her with. Casts had been made of footprints found around Varan's house, as well as a trail of cartridges from his guns had been discovered in the surrounding woods. 
"Who or what was he shooting at?" she wondered. There had been no sightings of Lord Jimi so she had no choice but to call in Jet Jaguar. Usually up on all the doings about town, he had been in Tokyo for the past couple of days and just returned to Roostville a few hours prior to her signal. She advised she would like to get with him later and that was agreeable. Checking with the dispatcher, Bato, Goji Son, Saruman, Sauron, Enshohma and Phish still hadn't checked in but Morgoth had, much to the surprise of everyone. When Raptor inquired about his demeanor, Tosha advised that he seemed to be his usual self; even downright calm when she told him what Roostville had been through the day before. As for the Count and Ubergeek (especially the latter), at least his consort at Ogasawara was able to tell them he had sent her a message about going to Rodanville but now SHE was concerned about him. 
"I say give him another 24 hours," Gamingboy suggested when Raptor called him. "You know how he likes to go off chasing Conspiracies™ and such." Raptor agreed and figured the were-Goji could pretty well take care of himself in about any situation. As for Gorgozilla, he sheepishly admitted losing his beeper several weeks ago but had got the bad news in the Sunday paper. 
As Raptor got off the phone, Melkor paged out a Mod meeting, requesting everyone be at the Mod Station in half an hour. 
It was a strange assembly indeed that filed into the Muster Room. Why they didn't just use the council chambers in City Hall, she had no idea. The station just didn't seem "right" after what had happened and Melkor himself was particularly ill at ease. Since he called the meeting, Melkor opened it by simply saying everyone would miss Sheriff Varan and turned the floor over to Gamingboy. Apparently, the current Mayor had brushed up on his protocol and announced a memorial service for Varan would be held in Toho Park at noon the next day. In addition, Roostville flags would fly at half staff for the rest of the month. 
"I'd also like to remind all of you to help the regular deputies out by doing patrols whenever you can. The investigation appears to be a little bit more 'involved' than it first appeared and they would appreciate some extra eyes about town." 
Morgoth immediately voiced his agreement. "Varan was a good citizen and did Roostville proud," the Dark Lord intoned. "Let's remember him as the upstanding fellow he was." Everyone agreed and there being nothing else to discuss, they would get together at Toho Park the next day. Everyone except Morgoth nearly bolted for the door and didn't even bother to see if there were any donuts or other goodies left about. Raptor headed for Dispatch and realized Melkor had also turned the corner, running to catch up with her. 
"Can I talk to you a moment?" he asked expectantly. It was then she noticed just how distraught he was. 
"Sure. What's up?" 
"There are some things I think you should know about. Let's use the Sheriff's office." Raptor was taken aback by the strange request but Melkor seemed nervous as a cat just standing in the hallway. When they were inside the rustic wood paneled office, he let out a great sigh and eased into one of the big leather captain's chairs in front of the desk. 
"Maybe you better sit down also." 
Ubergeek's rampage had actually just been a bad mood. Count Super Jet Jaguar returned to the mountain and brought him to Rodanville but the zombie people were nowhere to be seen. The place looked like a ghost town as everyone was down at the tavern. An old man was walking along the road, most likely on his way there also when SJJ and the Geek stopped to ask a few questions. 
"Do you know anything about Green Ooze?" Ubergeek asked. 
"Green Ooze, eh sonny? The green stuff up on Mt. Rodan?" 
"Yes. That's the stuff!" SJJ said. The expression on the old man's face was that of fear. 
"Oh, no... No one goes there... it's hunted by ghosts. And guarded by a monster..." 
"What monster?" asked Ubergeek with full confidence that this was just a local superstition. 
"Legends say that up on that mountain, somewhere within one of its many labyrinths lays the Black Fire Rodan..." 
The old man quickly ran off, yelling, "Leave me alone!" 
"I suppose we should go back up there," Uber figured. "If there really is a Black Fire Rodan, I'd like to know more about it." Without hesitation, they headed back to Mt. Rodan to further investigate the Green Ooze and the possible existence of the Black Fire Rodan. 
At Desu Mansion, a man stands in the hallway, soon to become another victim. 
"So. You're sure we're not going to be interrupted?" 
"Oh, quite sure," Mrs. Khandejifer replies. "I like to be careful..." The man is taken upstairs. As they enter the room, he is knocked unconscious and thrown back against the wall. Desutoroia is upon him and places his hands on the victim's head, draining the body of its energies. 
Princess had left the room, not wishing to witness what was going on. A short while later, she returned to see Desutoroia standing in the shadows with the victim's body lying in the middle of the floor. She had brought him some clothes to wear and a pack of cigarettes. He now sat in a chair, dressed and smoking with evident satisfaction. 
"I can taste that! It's been a long time since I tasted anything." Mrs. Khandejifer watched him with fascination and disgust in equal measure. 
"You promised me an explanation." Desutoroia lifts a puzzle box which he has in his hand. It had been sitting on the floor, unnoticed by Princess. 
"This is what started it all." She reaches for it. "Don't touch it. It's dangerous. It opens doors." His wife  stares at him, confused. 
"What kind of doors?" 
"To experience pain and pleasure beyond the limits. Pleasure from Heaven or Hell." Desutoroia explained that one night when she was on a business trip to Maser City, an unexpected visitor came knocking at the door. He was surprised to see GAMZILLA pointing a gun at him as he was expecting his friend, Hellspawn. GAMZILLA took him to the room upstairs. Desutoroia wasn't an idiot and knew what the box was: the Lament Configuration, a pathway to Hell. GAMZILLA forced him to solve it by threatening the life of his wife if he didn't. Desutoroia unleashed the demons, the Cenobites, from within the box, opening a doorway across the schisms. 
"The Cenobites gave me an experience beyond limits. Pain and pleasure, indivisible." He explained how they literally tore his soul apart. "They took my soul but my body stayed behind. A tiny part of my spirit did as well. In the boards... and in the walls here, allowing me to watch the world from Hell but unable to touch it. Later, they acquired my body from the morgue." 
"The blood brought you back?" 
"It gave me a chance to have my life back so I took it..." The two came close and Princess kissed the bloody, skinless monstrous creature that was once the kind man she loved. "Nothing shall ever keep us apart again," Desu began. "Never again..." 

On Mt. Rodan, the fog was starting to get really thick and it was becoming hard to see. Ubergeek looked up and could barely make out a light. 
"So what do you think that is?" he asked. 
"Something evil." SJJ explained. As they went further up the mountain, the light was getting closer and strange noises could be heard, coming from all around them. 
"Keep going," SJJ urged him on. "If anything pops up, I'll kill it." The noises were getting clearer; sounds of tortured and dying people. Ubergeek had unknowingly passed in front of a small cave entrance. As the noises were getting closer, he got pulled into the cave. 
"Hold on!" SJJ yelled as he jumped in after him. They were in sight of a small shrine and saw a little midget elf creature. The elf closed up the entrance. 
"It is dangerous to travel on this mountain at night," he said. 
"What was that out there? And who are you?" SJJ asked. 
"What was out there? I have no clue as to what it was or is exactly. They only come out in fog like this so you really can't make out any shapes. As for who I am, my name is Garland... and I am an Elf." 
"Why did you drag us in here?" 
"Why else? To keep you travelers safe from whatever is out there. By morning, they'll all be gone. Now may I ask, why are you up here on Mt. Rodan?" 
The Count gave his answer. "I sensed an evil presence on this mountain. We came and found it... a green ooze form of evil energy." 
"So why haven't you left?" 
"Because," Ubergeek began, "we heard about the Legend of the Black Fire Rodan. We wanted to know if it was true.." 
"The Black Fire Rodan, eh?" Garland paused for a moment. 
"Do you know anything of it?" Uber asked. 
"Very little. Only of its great power... which if it were ever to fall in the wrong hands could devastate the world." 
"Hahaha. Glad that Hellspawn's dead, eh, Count?" Ubergeek grinned. Garland looked at them funny. 
"Hellspawn? What's a Hellspawn?" 
"No one," Ubergeek explained. 
"Someone who was very evil and threatened the existence of all living creatures here on Earth," SJJ explained. 

At the Mod Station, Raptor was preparing to go home when she saw a shadowy figure in Varan's office. She  approached cautiously but found no one there. For some reason, she decided to go over to Varan's desk and opened a drawer. There was a folded letter. Raptor grabbed it and noted it had been written by the late Sheriff. She was horrified by what she read. The impact of Hellspawn's Blood Mass and Desu's murder had effected him far worse than anyone would have believed possible. 
"Oh my God!" she whispered. Raptor then left the office, taking the letter with her. A man who had been hiding in the closet walked out of the office, smiling and unseen by anyone. 

Melkor had hit the road after discussing some important issues with Raptor involving GAMZILLA's trial. He was driving up Desu Hill when suddenly, he went blind as the form of Hellspawn appeared before him. But he was different. His appearance was more sadistic and twisted and he was covered in blood. Hellspawn reached out and grabbed him. 
"I shall not be denied my destiny," he said. "Not even the likes of you can stand in the way of my... DESTINY!" Melkor awoke. He was alive and his car was stuck in a ditch. He had little time to stop Hellspawn from whatever devious plot he was concocting. He entered into a dreary state and fell asleep, transcending the mortal planes and connecting with the heathen, godless void. There he encountered beings as old as time, the same nameless things which coursed through the Book and through him and to every other of his kind. Finally, he came to a long, winding tunnel, stretching endlessly to eternity. It wound about in circles, going on forever with neither beginning nor end. 
Somewhere in the midst, Melkor stopped and observed a crowd of ten thousand faceless men, all bowing and praying to an unseen thing. It seemed to drive him crazy by the minute and would have done so were it not for the timely intervention of a loud noise which jolted him back to reality. 
Melkor awoke. The trip was undoubtedly real. His forehead had been resting on the steering wheel for the last hour or so. He got the car out of the ditch and made for the black mountain itself. There, he could hopefully replenish his strength and awaken the black god of vengeance, the only creature that could thwart Hellspawn now. To beat the devil, be a devil yourself. He stole away in the night and made for Bald Mountain where the horned demon, Chernobog, awaits. 

Bald Mountain, 3:49 AM:  

After a nail-shredding, strength-sapping climb to the rim of Bald Mountain, Melkor stared into its fell depths, silent and black at the moment. Breath steaming before his eyes in harsh rasps, the young warrior mage was winded and quite shell shocked by a blast of white-hot light four feet to his left. Melkor nearly jumped out of his skin (and into the gaping crater), accompanied by a hearty string of oaths fit to shame the most debauched of incubi. 
The light's reaction: “Sorry, Mel! Didn't think anyone else would be up here!” 
Recognizing the voice, he blinked. “Kedz?!” Indeed, the Transportation Portal Thingy®’s light vanished, revealing the form of Christine Graham. 
“None other, o scion of Caesar. So, mind telling me why (1) you felt the need to visit this photogenic little landmark and (2) you didn't bother with, say, some form of useful transportation? I recall you making a big deal about some Heli-whatsit a week ago…” Now on familiar ground, Melkor assumed a lofty, slightly bored air, not all that effective in pitch-blackness, but what the hey. 
"First off, it's a Helicarrier. Second, I felt the need for a little stealth. Not to be condescending but you might want to look the concept up-" 
Ms. Graham scowled. "Well, excuse me for giving away our location to whoever or whatever’s crazy enough to stalk someone like you. Speaking of which-" 
“I was just getting to that, thanks,” growled Melkor. "I'm out for a late cruise when all of a sudden, I just ‘doze off.’ Not the heavily lubricated kind, mind you. This little nap involved a visit from our old pal, Hellspawn. You might've heard of him - former Mayor candidate? Director of that Terrorist Army© which sorta leveled Monsterzeroville? Became some sort of revoltingly powerful Omega Demon Thing, forcing yours truly to trap him in an alternate dimension? Anyway, he just mentioned something about how he’d be back to fulfill his Destiny, which surely isn't anything to worry about-" 
“I get the point, Mel,” gritted Kedzuel. “So you traipsed up here seeking some means of stopping Spawny, should he return?” 
“Obviously. Enough about me. Why in blazes are you out here?” 
“Actually, it's fairly interesting. You remember that incident with the Museum artifact releasing Ancalagon?” 
“Sure. Truth be told, I had my own plans for the big guy. That Smith punk just beat me to the punch.” 
“Well, as Mistress of the Dragon Dimensions®, I'm supposed to be maintaining a gateway between their reality and ours, which is why every other amateur Rooster can just call one up when the sitch demands. This arrangement also allows me to switch places with a given dragon if necessary, like when Malystryx knocked some sense into Anc. Once things calmed down, I did have to wait for Mal to return, which is a teensy downside…” 
”Skipping to the point, I've been on probation with my Lady since that… ehem… unpleasantness at the Coliseum.” A horrendous booming hiss announced the arrival of Ancalagon who'd somehow managed to cruise up unheard whilst Kedzuel elaborated. Fairly impressive, considering his 500-foot stature. Pumping thousand-foot wings with a horrendous blast of air, the black dragon touched down fifty feet below Bald Mountain's rim, then leaned in to finish his piece. 
”I was hoping to cross over and talk a bit of sense into her and Kedzuel here was generous enough to save me the energy expenditure for a dimension hop.” 
“Well, that pretty much explains things, and good luck to ya, Anc,” responded an exasperated Melkor. "But if you two don't mind, I've got a Higher Demon™ to wake up-" 
The Junior Dark Lord© took in the nigh-identical stupefied stares of web mistress and demon dragon alike. Already preparing to turn around and start the Summoning Ritual©, he completed said turn and was faced with a pair of malefic white eyes, roughly the width of a department store apiece, illuminating a fearsome visage as great curved horns swept inward above a furrowed brow and immense fanged frown. 

Two Exposition-Packed Hours Later:  

"And that's basically the story, milord. Might I enlist your help to ensure this fiend never again threatens the balance of good and evil or interferes with your own amusements, whichever comes first?" Melkor, having reached this finish, sank to his knees, humbled before the dread fiend's terrible glory. For a half minute that stretched into eternity, Chernobog considered this request. 
Crestfallen, Melkor rose to his feet. “I understand, milord. My apologies for wasting your time. What must I sacrifice as recompense?” 
"Excuse my interruption, Lord Chernobog,” interjected Ms. Graham. “But if you seek to educate your hordes in synchronized dance, there's a certain arcane instrument I can offer…" 

Fast Forward Another Half Hour:  

 A visit to the recently rebuilt Best Buy™ bore fruit. Actually beaming down at the sight of several thousand low-level daemons gyrating atop their new Dance Revolution© arcade consoles, Chernobog turned to address Kedzuel, Melkor and a nonplused Ancalagon. 
”Why do I sense a ‘but?’” murmured Ancalagon. 
The sun inexorably rose, spreading a grayish pallor across the fading night sky. Somewhere in the distance, an Ookundoru male crowed, Roostville's answer to the rooster call. Throwing up a great arm against daylight's glare, Chernobog sank into darkness. Melkor, lost in brooding thought and with a severe narcoleptic pressure upon his eyelids, failed to register Kedzuel's commentary. 
“Well, that was perplexing as all get out. For one thing, what dragon? Too many to sort through around here, and I should know!” Ancalagon, nursing a premonition of his own, opened mighty jaws to speak, then thought better of it. 
"Perhaps such matters will make sense after a night’s…err, day's rest. At any rate, this sounds like fun! My Lady shall keep for another week or so." 
Shaking himself awake, Melkor agreed, gratefully clambering aboard the great mane that ringed the demon-dragon’s skull. Recalling Kedzuel's assistance, he called down. 
"Say, Christine. I'm heading back to the Leviathan. If you want a spot to crash, you're more than welcome." The web mistress mulled this over for a moment, then cracked a resigned grin. 
“What the hey. In for a penny, in for a pound, or some such gobbledygook.” Accepting a mail-clad hand up, Kedzuel settled in beside Melkor as their fearsome mount climbed skyward. 

Monday, Oct. 6  

SJJ and Ubergeek were awakened by Garland. "Time to resume your trip. Let me be your guide," he offered. 
"Alright. We could use someone who knows these mountains," Ubergeek quickly agreed. 
"First time in the Sahara?" 
They left the cave and discovered the fog was gone. There was nothing except rocks and dirt to be seen as they set out up the mountain, overcoming many hardships and challenges. 
They soon came to a bridge. "Is it safe?" SJJ asked. 
"Let us find out." Garland slowly started to cross and stopped in the middle. "All right," he called back. "It's stable." Ubergeek and SJJ followed. They skirted a waterfall and slowly made the trip down the the other side of the mountain. By nightfall, the little party had neared the bottom and could hear the same strange noises from the night before coming from far above them. 
"Where to now?" Ubergeek asked. 
"There's a village not too far from here. Quickly, let's go!" Garland shouted. 


CHAPTER 3: Sheriff Jet Jaguar, Rev. Matthew Laurence and Goji Son