Stalking Evil : Page 1-10.

The music piped through the speakers with all the glaring intensity of a thousand suns. The siren call spoke to the lonely, the desperate, the drug abusers and the alcoholics. They came to this hole to dance; moving to the beat and gyrating with the hypnotic lights was their only escape from the horrible variations of their lives. The music echoed, the words solemn and harsh.

“I walk a lonely road… The only one that I have ever known… Don't know where it goes… But it's home to me and I walk alone…”

But no dancing was happening tonight. Tonight, the dance hall had been visited by creatures no one had ever imagined possible. Creatures from the realm of horror brought death and terror to the dancers, bringing a silence broken only by the crunching of bones under toothy maws. The music continued, unabated by the carnage below.

“I walk this empty street… On the Boulevard of Broken Dreams… Where the city sleeps… and I'm the only one and I walk alone…”

A low growl broke the silence as a figure appeared in the doorway. The man surveyed the scene with a calm eye, his long brown hair swaying slightly in the air-conditioned breeze. His long trench coat covered the rest of his body, though he stood with the airs of man very comfortable with his surroundings.

“I walk alone… I walk alone… I walk alone… I walk a...”

His sharp eyes went to the creatures as they began to move to confront this new threat. A twinkle echoed in one as he smiled grimly. “Ghouls. How very quaint.” He threw back his trench coat, revealing a muscular body covered in black leather. Twin sets of swords were fastened at his belt, and he placed his hands almost lovingly over the hilts.

“My shadow's the only one that walks beside me… My shallow heart's the only thing that's beating… Sometimes I wish someone out there will find me… 'Til then I walk alone…”

Metal scraped on metal as the twin blades rushed to meet the air. The man grinned a feral smile, almost tasting the battle to come. “Time to return to your graves, you son of a bitches.” The music slowed its tempo as the creatures continued to approach.

“Ah-ah, Ah-ah, Ah-ah, Aaah-ah, Ah-ah, Ah-ah, Ah-ah…”

The creatures howled an unearthly howl, but the man was already moving. His blades sliced through the air unforgivingly, cleaving through the shoulders of the nearest creature with a meaty sound. The creature fell into its death throes, but the man did not hesitate as his swords immediately moved to track the next target.

“I'm walking down the line… That divides me somewhere in my mind… On the border line… Of the edge and where I walk alone…”

The creatures charged the man, and the battle had begun. Claws and teeth tried to close the distance between beast and man, but each attempt was met with the savage taste of his blades. No quarter was expected, and none was given… creatures began to die as readily as their victims had died, their blood fountaining to join the dead.

“Read between the lines… What's fucked up and everything's alright… Check my vital signs… To know I'm still alive and I walk alone…”

The fight was intense. Once, twice, three times the man faltered under attacks that managed to breach the walls of his defense, but still he continued to slaughter those that had slaughtered his fellow man. A grim look of determination echoed in his otherwise stone-etched face, no emotion wavering his sword toward mercy. The music was overbearing, pounding even above the shrieks of the dying.

“I walk alone… I walk alone… I walk alone… I walk a...”

Finally, a figure toward the back of the dancehall began to move as the man continued to slaughter his minions. The creature was massive, easily six times the size of a man and bowed at impossible angles. The demon laughed at the devastation before it, fire flashing behind its eyes as it prepared to attack he that dared kill his children.

“My shadow's the only one that walks beside me… My shallow heart's the only thing that's beating… Sometimes I wish someone out there will find me… 'Til then I walk alone…”

Ichor dripped from his swords as the man faced the demon. His voice was strained from the effort of staying alive, but his inner strength kept it steady. “Time to return to hell, Kar-quan.”

“Ah-ah, Ah-ah, Ah-ah, Aaah-ah, Ah-ah, Ah-ah… I walk alone… I walk a...”

The demon laughed, his deep baritone echoing even over the music. “Indeed, human. You have bested my creatures, but you know not what you face now. Make peace with whatever god you serve, because you’re about to shake their hand.”

“I walk this empty street… On the Boulevard of Broken Dreams… Where the city sleeps… And I'm the only one and I walk a...”

The man smirked. “And you don’t know who I am, do you? I’ve killed many of your kind, and will continue to do so after I’ve littered the ground with your corpse.” He stood at the ready, his swords out at the defensive before him.

“My shadow's the only one that walks beside me… My shallow heart's the only thing that's beating… Sometimes I wish someone out there will find me… 'Til then I walk alone...”

The demon laughed. “Indeed! And what, pray tell, is the name of the mortal I now face?”

The man opened his mouth to speak, and another voice echoed through the darkness of the dance hall…

“Corland! Damn you, wake the hell up!”

“Wha?” Blinking, Terry Cortland opened his eyes carefully, the brightness of the neon lights glaring in his eyes. “What?”

Chad Weiser ripped the earphones of the Ipod Corland was wearing off of Cortland’s head. “Damn it, man… I don’t care if you’re still technically a freelancer, when you’re working under this roof, I need you to at least pretend to be working!”

“Oh. Right.” Cortland yawned as Chad walked away. “Well, might as well get back to work. But first, a bathroom break." Whistling, Cortland put the headphones back on his head as he strolled toward the men's room. The initial recordings of Metallica started as he pushed open the door to the bathroom.

He moved past the mirror and stopped in shock. He went completely pale as his fingers moved up to the three deep gouges in the side of his head that were slowly oozing blood...

And the music continued...

Hush, little baby... don't say a word... and nevermind that noise you heard... it's just the beast under your bed... in your closet, in your head...

* * *

It was dark.  Komiyan didn’t mind darkness all that much most of the time; being a drow, he could see fine in the vast majority of dark places.

Magical darkness, however, had as much effect on him as it did on anyone else, and he didn’t like it one bit.  He kept both of his short swords ahead of him as he moved forward carefully, wary of sudden drops in ground level that would indicate a slope.

This didn’t bode well at all.  He’d lost Gort and the others somewhere behind him, and since there was a silence spell over the area as well as the darkness, he wouldn’t be able to double back and find them until he made his way out of this infernal blackness.  Swearing soundlessly, he paused as his hands touched on a hard brick wall.

With the wall found, he now could follow it where he needed to go.  He sheathed one of his swords and left his hand on the wall as he nearly sprinted along its length, heedless on whether he ran into anything or not.  Finally, after what seemed to be an hour of running, he gasped and collapsed into wondrous, normal, non-magical darkness. 

“Gods… where the hell am I now?”  Komiyan sheathed his other sword as he looked around.  The chamber he’d emerged in was massive, easily over a thousand feet long before it disappeared into the darkness behind him.  He started walking toward the far end of the chamber until a sound made him pause.  The hairs stood up on the back of his neck as he looked around.  Though the noise didn’t repeat itself, Komiyan knew the sound of claws on stone… something else was in here. 

His swords made a small noise of protest as they were pulled from their scabbards.  Wary, he put his back to the wall and looked around cautiously.  After a minute of inactivity, he growled, “Dammit, I know something’s in here.  You might as well… come… out?”

Komiyan gaped in surprise as over a dozen creatures slid into view, seemingly from the very air itself.  The creatures were grotesque, broken corpses brought to life by the most evil of magic and given only a shambles of life.  More ghouls continued to shift out of invisibility as they approached Komiyan, skin barely hanging on their rotting shells.

“Ghouls with invisibility?  That’s new.”  Frowning, Komiyan looked around for the mage that had to be responsible for this, but whoever he or she was, they hadn’t shifted out of their own invisible protection yet.  “But if you’re trying for an easy target, mage, you’ve got some serious rethinking to do.”

Grinning, Komiyan waited until the first ghoul was just out of reach before he moved.  His twin swords flashed through the air, cleaving the head of the corpse clean off of its shoulders even as the drow was moving on to the next.

The next few minutes were a flurry of activity.  Ghouls fell left and right as Komiyan took out his frustration on them.  Finally, they had cleared out enough to allow the drow some breathing room, and he smirked.  “Come on, hidden mage… is this all you’ve got?”

A low voice intoned, “Hardly, foolish drow.”  The voice was grating, a sound that rebounded off of Komiyan’s every nerve ending and settled somewhere solidly in the pit of his stomach. 

Komiyan turned and his eyes narrowed as another creature emerged from invisibility.  The creature was demonic, that much he was certain about… it stood well over twenty feet in height if it stood straight up, but the creature had so many odd twists and turns to its body it was hard to tell if it could EVER stand straight.  Blood oozed from the many horns along the length of the creature’s body, and the blood hissed and steamed as it came into contact with the stonework beneath the demon’s clawed feet.

Burning red eyes stared at Komiyan with hatred.  “My first target escaped me, drow.  You won’t have that kind of luck.  Make peace with your god, because you’re about to die!”  Roaring in fury, the creature sprang at Komiyan, who dived backward at the last second, just barely escaping the claws of the demon.

“Like hell, beast!”  Komiyan’s swords breached the distance between them, raking down the side of the demon’s arm with a screech of protest.  Blood erupted from the wound, spraying outward; but Komiyan, already warned by the smoke on the stonework, sprang backward again as the blood passed by him.

* * *
“What do you have, TLH?”

A small rustle of paperwork was followed almost immediately by, “Oh crap.  Sihodael’s already on the move.  Dammit… that’s too fast.  K-Dawg!  We need to move, and now!”

“On it!”  A low thrum of electronic power sounded once, followed by a small pop of imploding air.  And then nothing…

* * *

The air left Komiyan’s lungs in a rush as he slammed into the wall, hard enough to rattle his eyes in his skull.  His swords went in either direction, coming to a rest on the cold stonework with a clatter of finality.

His eyesight bleary, Komiyan looked upward as the massive demon bent down and stared at him with malicious intent.  “You’ve lost, drow… Time to die.”

Komiyan glared up at the creature.  A slim trickle of blood worked its way through his hair and down to his neck, but he ignored it and the throbbing in his head.  “You…  no…”  He struggled to pull the last weapon he had on his body, a slim dagger at his waist as he tried to pull back to his feet.

The demon laughed.  “Pitiful!”  He raised a clawed hand to strike Komiyan down, but hesitated when a flash of light erupted, bathing the chamber in a brilliant white glow.  The demon turned toward the light and hissed, the hatred easily evident in his voice.  “Stalkers!”

“That’s right, Sihodael.  Now step away from the elf and return to your dimension, or we’ll send you there by force.”  The voice was odd, with a slight lisp to it.  It almost reminded Komiyan of a serpent speaking somehow.

The demon roared in fury, but a loud clang of metal impacting the stone floor broke its cry.  This voice was heavier, firm and commanding.  “Try it, demon.  The elf’s already killed off your creatures, and you’re weak from the fight… and there’s three of us.”

A quiet voice said, “Yes, please.  Fight.  I’m sure you’ve killed many you need to repent for… give me a reason to find out.”

Komiyan tried to see around the demon to who was speaking, but his wounds and the creature’s massive bulk made it impossible to focus clearly on anything.  He slumped back down to the floor, his energy beginning to escape with his consciousness.

The demon roared again before it settled down.  When he spoke, his voice was dripping with venom.  “So be it, but you can’t protect them all.  If you don’t tend to the drow, he will die.  While you tend to this one’s wounds, I’ll be killing the next.  It makes no difference to me who dies first.”  The demon laughed cruelly and vanished.

Komiyan blinked as his consciousness continued to slip away.  Illuminated by the light of a small lantern, three forms approached him carefully, wary of further attack by the demon.  The creature carrying the light appeared to be some form of large turtle that walked upright and brandished a wicked looking knife.  A monkey easily as tall as a small man walked beside him, small armor plates dotted around his body for protection.  The monkey brandished a massive poleaxe easily over seven feet tall, with a gleaming metal blade that had seen a lot of use if the notches in its blade were any indication.

Behind them slithered a creature like none Komiyan had seen before.  It was a slight bit larger than the monkey in size, but it had no legs or lower body.  The creature resembled a large snake from the chest down and was a deep green in coloration.  Its hands clutched some form of book, and it adjusted the wire rimmed glasses it wore as it peered down at him.

It spoke again, but Komiyan could no longer make out the words as he slipped further into darkness.  The light from the lantern crept further and further away, until finally it went out…

* * *

It had been a long night. CJ sighed and rolled over, but the alarm continued to grate on her nerves. Finally, with a resigned sound, she left the warm comfort of the bed and turned the clock off.

"God, I hate mornings." CJ shook her head and contemplated returning to the soft sheets, but there was only so much time she had to herself before she would have to report in to work. She'd been late enough times as of late; another few dozen more, and she'd likely be fired.

She grudgingly slipped out of her sleep clothes and stepped into her exercise clothing. It took her a moment to squeeze her womanhood into the lycra over shirt, and she looked at herself in the mirror with a grimace.

"You know, girls, I wouldn't give you up for the world, but sometimes you just get in the way, y'know?" She had to admit that she was used to the feeling though; between martial arts and her love of running, she'd been forced to find ways to keep herself from flouncing all over the place.

She still remembered the first time she'd ran with only a sport bra for support. One errant root later, and she was sure some of those boy scouts' mothers were certain to sue her for public indecency. But this was Alaska... it wasn't like anything more exciting than the occasional accidental boob flash happened regularly anyway.

CJ slipped her shoes on and quickly tied them, ignoring the growl in her stomach. "I'll feed you after I'm done, you stupid beast." Ready for the run now, CJ stepped out into the brisk Anchorage air and began to stretch.

The guy in the house across the street was watching her again. She frowned as she caught the blinds moving. Bastard watched her every morning… well, this time, she was going to make sure he didn’t get to see anything. “Screw warm-up… I’ll just run slower for the first mile or two.” She immediately broke into a slow jog, heading at an angle across the street and away from the view of his house.

She hated the jackass across the street. It didn’t seem to matter to him how many women she brought into the house… it didn’t seem to matter how many times she told him out and out no… it didn’t even seem to matter how many times she slapped his arrogant face. Bastard still couldn’t get it through his head that she was interested in women.

“I need to move.” Grimacing, CJ upped the pace of her run savagely. Fueled by her dislike of him, it didn’t take her long until she was running along her favorite path… living near the edge of town did have the advantage of easy and close access to long, winding nature trails.

For a moment, she contemplated taking the easy trail; it was only about a total of two miles, and she’d be guaranteed of getting to work on time. But her neighbor had convinced her finally… it was time to move. She had enough money saved up to leave this stupid state and head south.

CJ grinned. “Yeah. It’s time to head to warmer climates, that’s for sure.” She turned up the longer path, one that would take her past a fairly heavily wooded area that she always found peace in. Today seemed like a great day to just find a log to sit on and watch the day go by. She’d call work when she got home…

Fueled by this pleasant thought, the ground disappeared underneath her feet quickly. Soon enough, the wooded glade came into view, and she slowed down to a brisk walk to let her body cool down a bit from the run. She frowned at some of the debris scattered near the trail… the local kids liked to come up here to pretend they were adults, and they weren’t the cleanest.

However, deeper into the glen, she found a suitable log and reclined against it, letting her eyelids droop slightly as she catnapped. CJ wasn’t sure how long she sat there until her eyes snapped open suddenly.

Something was wrong. She looked around, and for a moment nothing seemed out of the ordinary… until she realized that all the common forest noises had stopped entirely. No bird calls, no animal noises, nothing.

The hairs stood up on the back of her neck as she stood quickly, scanning around the area cautiously. A stick popped just off to her left, and her head snapped toward the sound…

All the color drained from CJ’s face as she looked upon the most frightening thing she’d ever seen. Sixteen large bears were approaching, which in and of itself was unheard of… but these were no normal bears. Each bear stood easily twice the size of a grizzly bear and bore two heads that stared at her with an inhuman malevolence that was unmistakable. Their eyes burned with a greenish glow that was even obvious in the bright sunlight, and their claws ripped at the ground without care. Now sighted, the bears growled in hatred and began to circle around her, their intent obvious.

CJ stood in shocked silence for a split second before her survival instincts kicked in. She’d never been much of a sprinter, preferring long distance running over the pounding of short distance sprints. However, she mused, she’d never had to run for her life before… which is a HECK of a motivator. Before the circle had closed she was already past the barrier, heading away at an extremely quick pace.

“God! What in the hell…” CJ glanced over her shoulder and shrieked. “SHIT! They’re still coming after me!” The two headed bears were lumbering after her with a pace that would easily catch her once they got up to full speed, and CJ tried frantically to think of the quickest way to any sort of safety…

* * *

The world slowly swam back into focus for Komiyan as he reluctantly returned to awareness.  His first thought was how much his head hurt, followed immediately by the realization that all of his clothing was gone.  His eyes snapped open and he looked around the stark white room he was sequestered in warily.  The bed he was on was downright comfortable, something he hadn’t experienced since he’d left the last town…

His eyes drifted to a mechanical contraption above his head, and he bolted from the bed in shock, remembering at the last second to take the covers with him for modesty’s sake.  The metal monstrosity was like nothing he’d ever seen before, with sharp points going in every direction and a round, clear section in the middle with a tubular device within.

 Komiyan whirled as a door opened behind him, and he stared in shock as a large monkey walked through the entryway calmly. 

The monkey looked up at Komiyan with a critical eye.  “Good, it looks like you’re back to full health.  Come on, Net’s trying to find out where the demon’s striking next.  We’ve already missed one attack, and he took out three of you guys with one swoop.”  He motioned behind him.  “Your stuff’s just outside, I imagine you’d feel more comfortable actually wearing something.”

“Uh… yes.”  Komiyan couldn’t take his eyes off of the talking monkey.  “Um, if you don’t mind me asking…”

A quick shake of the head was Komiyan’s answer.  “Yes, I do mind.  Now move your ass, we’re going to have to move here quickly or we’ll lose another one.” 

Komiyan closed his mouth and followed the creature out of the door where, as promised, all of his gear was piled neatly next to a large table.  He quickly dressed, feeling better almost immediately now that he had his armor and weaponry back. 

The monkey waited until the drow had finished getting dressed before he spoke again.  “By the way, the name’s K-Dawg, but you can call me Dawg.  Call me monkey, and you’ll learn how to live at the end of a poleaxe.”  K-Dawg motioned to the next door.  “We’re heading this way.”

“Alright.”  Komiyan glanced around.  “Where are we, anyway?”

“Between worlds.  Long story short, people are coming under demon attack in multiple dimensions at the same time.  We’re here to stop it in whatever way we can.”  K-Dawg held the door open for Komiyan before they proceeded down a long hallway.  As he walked, K-Dawg shifted forward until he was walking on all fours at a leisurely pace.

“Net can give you more of an explanation than that, but that’s the basic idea.”  K-Dawg shrugged.  “The people that are being attacked are, in some unknown way, interconnected between the dimensions.  You, myself, Net, TLH… we’re all part of some grand plan no one really knows anything about.”

“And I’m supposed to care?”  Komiyan shifted the scabbards on his waist absently.  “I could care less about anyone else, just send me home before Gort and the others decide that I’ve run off without them.”

“Don’t have that ability, though Net does.  Anyone can pinpoint your dimension and send you home, it’s him.  Until then, you’re stuck with us.”  K-Dawg looked up at the drow.  “And trust me, there’s strength is numbers.  You were attacked for a reason.  We send you home now, that demon’ll be back with greater numbers of things to kill you for good this time.  As it was, we just barely got there in time to save your sorry ass.

“So keep that in mind, will ya?”  K-Dawg stopped as they came to a large set of doors.  He threw them open and stepped inside, though Komiyan paused in shock at the entranceway as the interior of the room assaulted his senses.

Around him was a vast chamber filled with blinking lights and whirring machines the likes of which he’d never even imagined could exist.  Large glass surfaces had numbers and pictures flipping across them at unbelievable speeds, and everywhere he looked people of all shapes and sizes poked and pounded on strange metallic objects.

The room was filled with the hum of machinery, and the unnatural glow from the overhead lighting was disconcerting.  This was unlike any magical or natural light source he’d ever encountered, and for a split second he considered running back the way he’d come… until he remembered that there wasn’t anything familiar back that direction, either.  He sighed in resignation and followed after K-Dawg grimly, trying his best to not stare around in openmouthed astonishment.

In the center of the large chamber, the snake creature from before was sitting on a backless chair, poking at buttons with letters on them while words flashed across the glass before him.  He turned and glanced in their direction as they approached.  “Glad to see you’re awake.  K-Dawg, get suited up, we’re picking up signs of another attack.”

“On it.”  K-Dawg nodded once at Komiyan before he turned and headed over to what looked to be a changing area of sorts.

Komiyan kept one hand on his sword carefully as he looked around.  “So what…”

“No time for that, I’m afraid.”  The creature held up a hand as a red light started to flash on the glass.  “Damn… this one’s in a mostly human dimension… that’s going to drain the power significantly.”  He pushed a button, and a voice sounded from the air around him, startling Komiyan.

“What’s up, Net?”

“We’ve got another intrusion, and this one’s in a human section.  It’s going to be a few hours before we can charge up enough juice for an extraction, but we’ve got to get in there.  K-Dawg’s already getting…”  The snake creature looked up as K-Dawg emerged from the changing area in full armor.  “Change that, K-Dawg’s ready.  Meet us there in five.”

“Roger, out.”

The creature, Net, turned and gazed up at Komiyan expectantly.  “Well?  Coming?”

* * *

CJ’s lungs were burning from the effort as she willed her feet to continue to take the next step… and the next… because to stop running would mean she would die.  Even now, should could feel the creatures coming ever closer…

“This isn’t happening this isn’t happening this isn’t happening!”  Repeating the words over and over like a chant, CJ kept up the mantra in the waning hope that she was, indeed, still at home and dreaming away.  She screeched in surprise as her foot twisted underneath her and she tumbled to a stop.  She immediately sprang back to her feet, a lifetime of martial arts training and sheer adrenaline fueling her… but it was too late.

The strange bears were bearing down on her, and now that she’d lost her head of steam, she knew she’d never be able to attempt to outrun them.  Gasping for breath, she assumed a defensive stance just as the first bear neared her…


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