[Artifice Comics] Post Modern #2

utsukushuu.dreamer utsukushuu.dreamer at gmail.com
Mon Oct 6 14:21:28 PDT 2008

>From Artifice Comics - http://www.artificecomics.com


Prague: July 2006

The spirits fanned out, the pack of dogs flowing like a fog down the
street, around corners, through walls, through doors, through the

Eldritch walked in the middle of the pack, a casual pace, taking in
the senses of a thousand spirits picking up a thousand scents.  Sounds
of fighting roared behind her, the rest of the team tangled with an
unexpected foe, but her goal remained unchanged.

"Eldritch!" she heard in her head, Johann Weisz calling out to her,
interrupting her focus, her thoughts.

"Tommy," she thought back in a tone that, were spoken, would have
sounded like a hiss, "silence."

And she was alone with her thoughts.

She stopped, standing in the middle of a cobblestone intersection,
closing her eyes and leaning her head back, the ghosts flowing around
her in every direction.  She thought.  She searched.

She found.

Her eyes snapped open and the ghosts all disappeared but one beside
her that turned and ran down the street.  Eldritch followed, running,
then crouching, then reaching all fours, keeping pace, her teeth
bared, her hair falling behind her as she went.  The ghost turned a
corner, she turned a corner, and she didn't need it anymore to pick up
on the scent.

He was close.

The ghost dog halted in front of a door and arched its back, growling
as a sign but out of fear.

This was as far as it would go.

Eldritch stood upright, brushed the hair from her face and took a deep

The building was a shop, a bookstore who's sign claimed in English
that it dealt in antique books.  She could smell not only him but the
aging pages inside, the musk of antiquity.

She tried the door and found it open and walked inside.

He sat at a table in the middle of the room, a book in his hands,
turning a page when she entered, not bothering to look up.  They
stayed like that for a moment, her standing in the doorway, tensing
slightly as the door closed with a chime of its bell behind her, him
sitting, reading.

"I had a feeling you would be the one to find me, Estella," he finally
said, startling her as he spoke.  He looked to her as he closed the
book and set it on the table.  "As much as Weisz likes to fancy
himself a grand player in the scheme of things, he really doesn't
measure up.  You on the other hand..."

She braced herself as he placed his hands on the table and pushed
himself up.  He seemed older beyond just the years since she had last
seen him.  Weaker.  But she knew looks to be deceiving.

"You should have killed me on Churchill," Eldritch said with a growl.

"Yes, I should have," Erlend Romanov said.  "But there's no time like
the present."


Post Modern #2
By Jason S. Kenney


Three Years Before...

A jostle, a jolt, a stab of pain through her body and the darkness
split to a familiar face.


"Where's Alfonse!" Jeffery Carter shouted, shaking her again, shaking
her world.  She gasped out of pain, tried to hold back the tears.

"Inside," she said and he let her go, dropping her back on the ground
as he ran toward the burning Burke Estate.  "Jeffery, please..."

And darkness overcame her again.


The team spread out on the front lawn of the Burke Estate, keeping a
watch in all areas but quickly giving the all clear.  Dr. William
Richmond waived off assistance out of the helicopter as he stepped
onto the well manicured lawn and stood for a moment, staring at the
burning house.  He sighed and started out across the lawn.

A medical team handled one of the two bodies, ignoring the other that
was clearly beyond their help.

Richmond felt a pang of disappointment and loss as he stared at the
body of Alfonse Saint Libatique.  It wasn't a matter of liking the
man.  He downright detested him.  But it was with a small amount of
respect and a large amount of missed opportunities that Richmond shook
his head.

"How is she?" Richmond asked, turning to the medics who were moving
Eldritch onto a stretcher.

"She's stable," said one, not looking to Richmond, trying to focus on
the task at hand.  "Looks like someone stitched her up."

Richmond nodded and looked up, across the lawn to another team that
huddled around another body.  He sighed again.

So much lost potential.

And in the distance there was a flash of light from the sky, a lance
that tore from the heavens and down into the cityscape just visible on
the horizon.

There was a silence on the lawn of the Burke Estate, one cut only by
the sound of helicopter blades slicing through the air, a stillness
that crept over all as they watched light blossom from the city
center, growing up and out, expanding, covering the city.

Richmond turned away from the sight just as the roar of an explosion
never before heard on Earth reached him.

He shook his head.

So much lost potential.


"You're not from here, are you?"

Eldritch didn't lift her head, her chin on her chest, her breathing

Dr. Richmond shifted in his seat and cleared his throat, tilted his
head to study her.

"Estella Calohan is an old woman living out her days in Foxton,
England.  You should visit it sometime, lovely place.  Yet here you
are, same DNA but much younger and with some sort of ability to
negotiate with animal spirits.  I do not care so much about the
ability, Estella.  I want to know where you're from and how you got

Richmond leaned forward.

"You do remember where you're from, don't you?"

Eldritch looked up with a snarl and a glare, a growl in her throat.

"That won't do."

Richmond picked up a bell from the table beside him and rang it.

Eldritch screamed as an electric jolt ran through her body, pulling on
the straps that held her to her chair.  And then it stopped and she
collapsed back into her seat.

Richmond leaned forward again.

"Where are you from, Estella?"

He jumped back into his chair as Eldritch jolted forward, pulling on
the restraints, giving him a guttural shout.

He reached for the bell again and her eyes went wide.  Richmond

"I take it you're familiar with Pavlov?"  She didn't answer, just
stared at his hand hovering over that bell.

He pulled his hand back and folded it with his other one in his lap.

"Shall we begin?"


Something was wrong.

As she lay in her room she felt closed in.  Not because of the size of
the room, as small as it was, or because she was here against her

No, something else was wrong.

The room had no noticeable scent.

She sniffed the air and found nothing.  She rolled over and smelled
the mattress.  It smelled of mattress.  And nothing more.

But there should have been more.  The iron of the springs, the cotton
stuffing, the liner, all processed, all distinct, they should have

And they didn't.

She licked it.


She leaped up and pressed herself to the wall.  Sniffing.  Nothing.
She licked it.  Nothing.

"No," she whispered, spinning around to take in the room, smelling the

"No," she said louder.

She threw herself through the room and at the door, pounded it and


She stopped, paused, listened for a footfall, recirculating air,
something, anything.


She stepped back from the door, stumbled back, collapsed to the floor,
balled up and cried.


"Do you know how long you've been here now, Estella?"

She didn't answer.  She had no idea how long she'd been in there, but
however long it was she had never uttered a word to Dr. William

"It's been just over a year.  Do you know how many times someone has
come looking for you?"

She clenched her jaw.  He was toying with her.  He was always toying
with her.

"Not once.  Not everyone died in Pacific City.  There are some out
there who knew you and are still alive.  They could be asking
questions and looking around.  But they are not.  You were seeing one
of them if I recall correctly, weren't you?"

She looked up to him, the smug look on his face, and looked back down.

She didn't move when there was a knock on the door.

A guard came in and bent next to Richmond's ear, whispering something
to the doctor, something Eldritch could not hear which made her nearly

"Get her back to her room," Richmond said, standing up and turning to

The guard stepped next to Eldritch and pressed a cylinder to her
neck.  With a hiss and cold rush to her spine darkness came in and she
was out.


She was first aware of the bouncing, of being carried.  She opened her
eyes and let them focus into the face of the man carrying her.

"Johann?" she croaked.

"Hey!" he shouted, not hearing her, looking down the hall he was
walking.  "Does someone want to help us here?"

Other hands were quickly on her, taking her from Johann Weisz and
setting her on a gurney.  She tried to move but was held down as a
stethoscope was on her chest, her eyes wrenched open and light shined
in them.

"Johann..." she said again but she was already being wheeled away and
darkness came back over her.


"How are you feeling?"

The doctor smiled at Eldritch blinking awake.

"I'm tired."

"I'm not surprised, with everything they pumped into you and all."

"Your accent," Eldritch said, "am I in America?"

"No," the doctor said, "you're still in Australia, but this is an
American facility.  You're under diplomatic protection."


"There will be plenty of time for answers later.  Right now I want you
to rest.  We're going to keep you under observation, see if we can
clean everything out of you, but we're going to have to talk about
what they did to you, what we need to do for you.  OK?"

"Why am I here?"

"I'm afraid I don't have that information.  But you're safe.  Just
rest for now."

Eldritch wanted to ask more questions but the doctor turned before she
could and left.

So she just turned and stared out the window instead.


Walter Shriver pushed a folder across the desk.

"A passport and birth certificate are in there.  Your name is the same
so you should do fine, but if anyone asks you're from Dundy, Nebraska
and the weather's beautiful this time of year."

Eldritch nodded but didn't reach for the folder.

She had said nothing since she entered the American Embassy in
Canberra.  Her escort led her to Shriver's office and left her there.
She was just going along with the motions, doing what she was told,
still trying to get her bearings, still trying to find her place.

"Your flight leaves tomorrow morning.  We have an apartment for you in
Seattle.  You'll work under the DHS field office there and push papers
while we figure out what exactly to do with you."

"I don't want to go."

"You don't have much of a choice, Ms. Calohan.  Australia does not
want you, we laid claim to you, so if you want to walk the streets as
a free woman this is your only chance.  Otherwise we turn you back
over the Australian authorities and they put you right back where we
found you."

"Why are you doing this?"

Shriver sighed and leaned back. "Have they told you anything?"
Eldritch shook her head.  "Damn it."

Shriver stood up and walked around his desk, stopped in front of
Eldritch and leaned on his desk.

"They were supposed to fill you in before they brought you here."
Shriver sighed again.  "Johann Weisz made a deal with us back before
Pacific City was destroyed.  He wanted diplomatic immunity for himself
and a few others, you included.  It wasn't supposed to happen like
this, but it has, and now here we are."

Eldritch didn't respond, just staring at and through the desk.

"What am I supposed to do?" she asked.

"You're supposed to take this," Shriver said, picking up the folder
and holding it out to her, getting her to look up to him, "and get on
that flight tomorrow morning and move to Seattle and make do."

She looked at the folder.

"We'll get you your powers back.  We'll find something for you do to.
We'll put you to use.  These are all things you won't get staying

He leaned down to catch her eyes and did, smiling to her.

"This isn't the end for you, Estella.  This is a new beginning."

She looked back to the folder.

A new beginning.

She didn't have much of a choice.

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