The Battle for New Millennium
Chapter 1: The Coming of Tsu-Kata
Harold Beck sat in his car eating a donut. His bald head reflected in the mirror on the windshield He took an extra large bite and cursed with a mouthful of glazed cake as he spilt his coffee into his cup holder. He was only waiting for his wife to come out of the bank near the corner of 42nd and East in New Millennium city. He searched his glovebox for napkins. When he couldn’t find any, he used the end of his sleeve. He looked up at the sky and noticed it was getting dark out. “That’s impossible,” Harold said to his empty car. “It’s still midday.”
Harold exited his car and stepped onto the streets of New Millennium. He always hated this city, but tolerated it for work. The stench of filth and garbage was in the air as he walked towards the form that was slowly descending from the sky. He reflected on the weirdness this city had produced just six months ago. An energy conglomerate had projected orders directly into a quarter of the city’s heads, there were rumors of a man fighting some beast in the streets, and the police were reporting that some mad scientist had held the city hostage with a bomb and almost set it off. When Harold heard someone next to him say the figure descending from the sky was a savior, Harold didn’t argue.
The form descending from the skies of New Millennium City was a woman wearing a robe of white with blue trim. She wore a bright blue ribbon around her waist. Her sleeves were long enough to hide her hands. Harold was close enough to see that the woman’s hair covered all of her face except for a small, red slit of a mouth. Soon, Harold wasn’t the only one walking towards the figure. The cars in the street halted. People were making a circle around the area where the woman would touch down. Harold wasn’t surprised to find his wife next to him grasping his hand. “Who is that?” she asked, staring up into the sky.
“I don’t know,” Harold replied.
The woman’s bare feet finally touched the ground. The filthy city street was transformed into bright green grass atop fresh soil. The scents of the rotting city were gone, and the scents of fresh grass and water filled Harold’s nose. He watched as the woman walked, observing the people and the city. She waved her hand and turned the street lights into trees covered in vines of ivy and white flowers. She moved her hand along the cars and turned them into moss covered stones and logs. More vines and ivy began to crawl up the buildings.
“Who are you?” Harold asked, stuttering nervously. He couldn’t stop his heart from pounding.
“Tsu-Kata,” the robed woman asked. She covered her mouth with her sleeved hand as she giggled after she spoke her name.
Harold smiled as he looked around what used to be 42nd street. He held his wife’s hand as they spun in a circle, smiling widely. There was now a small stream bubbling as it flowed down the edge of what used to be the street. His wife had kicked her shoes off to feel the grass and soil between her toes, and Harold did the same.
“It’s so pretty!” Harold’s wife exclaimed as Tsu-Kata giggled once again.
“Thank you,” Harold said, beaming.
Tsu-Kata whispered something to Harold with her hand over her mouth, but Harold couldn’t make out the words. He looked at her questioningly as she whispered again. Harold leaned closer, feeling nervous in her presence. He was becoming vaguely aware that this feeling bubbling from his stomach was love.
“What?” Harold asked. “What is it?”
“I hunger,” Tsu-Kata answered, giggling under her hand once more.
Harold noticed that her hand was exposed from the long sleeves of her robe for the first time. Long, blood-red nails were at the end of the yellow and cracked hand. Harold felt betrayed by the woman he loved and took two steps backwards from her. Tsu-Kata giggled again, this time showing her sharp, pointed teeth. “I hunger,” she repeated. This time her giggle became shriller. The people who circled the woman robed in white were now stepping back from her.
Tsu-Kata lunged at Harold and the rest of the crowd and fed.
Rock Judge arrived at 42nd street a half hour after reports of a mysterious woman robed in white came from the sky and turned the streets into grass and the light poles into trees.
“I’m glad you can come,” detective Malcolm said. “The mayor wants to get this settled.”
“I don’t see why you need me,” Rock said. “You should have called in the NMDPA. They handle this kind of stuff.”
“Let’s just say that the mayor doesn’t approve of their methods,” detective Malcolm said. “He still believes they had something to do with what Deskue did six months ago.”
“The Wolves are an assault team designed to deal with terrorist threats,” Rock said. “Domestic and otherwise. The Department of Paranormal Activity is who you need on this.” Rock walked on the grass looking at the rocks and logs that used to be cars and mailboxes. He extended his hand and rubbed a mossy rock. He looked up at the bodies hanging from the trees that were housed in some kind of light-gray cocoon. Various police and paramedics were trying to pull the bodies down from the trees.
“The mayor seems to think that your cousin’s involvement with the DPA and his sudden acquisition of the deceased Deskue’s easements of the power grids highly suspect,” Malcolm said, ignoring Rock’s concern about the dead civilians hanging from trees that used to be metal lighting poles.
“Did you call me all the way out here to have me walk through the grass, look at the bodies, and insult the only family I have?” Rock asked. “I’m calling Bowman in on this one. They’re better equipped to handle this than the Wolves.”
“Suit yourself,” detective Malcolm said, shrugging. “The DPA will call on you to bail them out again, I’m sure. Killer cyborgs, psychics, and demons? Remember who pays your salary. The mayor isn’t too happy with your involvement either, Judge.”
“Fuck you,” Rock said, walking back to his car. “The mayor doesn’t fund The Wolves.” Rock got into his car and slammed the door shut. He knew what Malcolm’s next comment was going to be. He was baiting Rock for it all along. Rock was right; the mayor didn’t fund The NMW. Jonah did.
Gabriel Cogs looked up at his familiar view of the ceiling in Dr. Isaac Sands’ lab. He’d spent more time than naught in this lab having his various ‘injuries’ repaired after his fight with Rev. His metallic cyborg armor had kept him alive following his accident, but was badly damaged along with some of the human parts he retained inside the armor. Dr. Sands’ spent as much time as possible repairing Gabriel inside and out, but he had other responsibilites as the Chief Sceintific officer of the New Millennium Department of Paranormal Activity.
“I’m sorry,” Dr. Isaac Sands said, entering his lab. “We just got all of the chemical agents out of Rev’s bomb. It’s been worrying the brass for months that we’ve kept it here.
“So it’s finally disarmed?” Gabriel asked. He nearly gave up his life to stop Rev from setting off that bomb.
“It’s not disarmed,” Sands said. “Rev set a two-part reaction. The first part was a flux wave designed to destroy any electrical devices. The second part was the release of Rev’s nerve gas. We were able to get the canisters of nerve gas out of the bomb without setting them off, but the flux bomb is still very much intact.”
“Can’t you disarm that too?” Gabriel asked.
“We’ve been trying,” Sands replied. “But Rev used a lot of old technologies. I still don’t know where he found all of it. Back before the dark time, people used to carry electronic devices that shot signals to towers that were spread out all over. Rev used the technology from the towers to power his device, and he safeguarded it well. It took us six months to get out the nerve gas. I have no idea how long it’s going to take to figure out the rest of the device.”
“I wish I understood all of this,” Gabriel said as Dr. Sands began probing his chest with some electronic device. “I’m part machine, after all. How am I looking today, Doc?”
“Much better,” Dr. Sands said. “You’ve got some old technology in you now as well. I used some of the machines Willow found in the chamber where they found Archer Post sleeping.”
Gabriel didn’t say anything. Half a year passed since Post was slain in a dank alley after Jonah defeated the demon Nilas Nil, and those who knew him well still didn’t talk about him much. It occurred to Gabriel (who knew a lot about the loss of life) that nobody really knew him well in the short time he trained Jonah.
“Anyway,” Dr. Sands said, breaking the silence of the lab. “I have some new parts in development for you. You should be back into fighting shape before you know it.”
“Fighting shape,” Gabriel mused. “I never wanted to be a fighter. Not in my life.”
“But you stepped up,” Dr. Sands said, looking up from his instruments. “The city needed somebody to stop Rev, and you played the part so perfectly.”
Gabriel sighed and looked away from Dr. Sands’ face. He knew Jonah and the others considered him part of The Post now, but it still seemed so far out of his reach. He never wanted what had come to him. Fighting demons and saving the city from the forces of evil. It was like something out of a book or movie. Not real life.
Gabriel stirred and grunted as Sands’ probed some electrode or another on his chest. Gabriel had lost count of how many devices were currently attached to him. “What was that?”
“Your heart,” Sands said. “I was afraid of this. It’s getting weaker.”
Gabriel let out an unsurprised sigh. It almost sounded like relief. “I’ve been on borrowed time since the accident,” he said. “Maybe it’s finally time to check out. I’m not cut out for this hero stuff anyway.”
“Don’t talk like that!” Sands said defensively. “You’ve ben given something most of us dream of. You’ve done more since your accident that most men can’t even imagine. If they allowed me to do it, I would be in that suit!”
Cogs sat up on the examination table and looked at Sands when he made his last remark.
“It’s true,” Sands said nervously but defiantly. “It should have been me putting my life on the line to stop Rev. Not pacing around this lab trying to figure out ways to shut him down from afar. I helped create the monster, and I should have been the one in that armor to take him down!”
“Are you jealous of me?” Gabriel said getting of the table and stepping the floor. He was painfully aware of the sound the metal boots made when they hit the floor. “You want my life? You can have it. The only thing keeping me alive is this tin can, and now you’re telling me it’s failing me.”
“It’s not -”
“Oh, I’m sorry,” Gabriel said, sarcastically as Dr. Sands stepped back. “It’s me that’s failing the armor, right? It’s my weak heart that’s going to make your man-machine combination a billion dollar paperweight once it gives out.”
“That’s not what I meant!” Dr. Sands said. “My only concern is your health!”
“Your concerns and the concerns of The Post are completely different,” Gabriel said. “Or are you going to tell me Jonah and the others don’t need me alive to fight these monsters?”
Dr. Sands said nothing.
“That’s what I figured,” Gabriel said, leaving the examination room.
“Is this for real?” Willow Bowman asked, holding her office telephone to her ear.
“This is your area of expertise,” Rock said on the other end of the phone. “I’ve been there. It’s very real.”
“Shit,” Willow muttered, shuffling through the photos that Rock’s runner had dropped off just moments before. “What the hell happened?”
“A woman dropped from the sky and turned a chunk of 42nd street into nature,” Rock said, somehow remaining calm. “Whoever it was sucked the life from over thirty people. They were hanging from the trees when I left. They tested the soil. It’s pure. No sign of contaminants of any kind. No sign of the pieces of the city that were there hours ago.”
“And why were you called in and not us?” Willow asked.
“I asked that myself,” Rock said. He took a deep breath and sighed. “Willow, things for us are going to get bad. I have a feeling that me being called in and not you is just the beginning.”
“Beginning of what?” Willow asked, still flipping through the pictures.
“The detective that was there said some pretty nasty stuff,” Rock said. “Some of the stuff that was probably supposed to be kept behind closed doors. Our illustrious mayor may be after both of our asses.”
“What for?” Willow asked. “We’ve got nothing to hide. The mayor’s office knows what happened six months ago, and they know about The Post’s role in it.”
“The Post,” Rock mused. Willow bit her tongue. She knew how Rock felt about The Post. The New Millennium Wolves were created by his father to assist The Post (along with the DPA), but Rock took it in a different direction. He used it more of a SWAT team than what The Post had intended. The Wolves did come to their aid during the fight with Rev, but Willow knew that Rock’s passion was police work.
“You should come in,” Willow said. “We should talk to Jonah about this.”
“Jonah,” Rock mused again in that same tone. “We need to have a talk about Jonah’s involvement.”
Jonah sat with his legs crossed ten feet from the demon called Killian. He had come to trust Killian shortly after he appeared injured in his home. The two fought Leon Deskue and Nilas Nil in a single night before losing Archer Post to an unknown foe in a dank alley. Before he died, Post had given all his training knowledge to Killian via Killian’s psychic connection so that Jonah could be properly trained for the upcoming battles.
The nights had been peaceful since Archer Post died, but both Jonah and Killian knew that this wouldn’t last.
“Breath,” Killian said in a tone that was all too much like Post’s. “I want you to see Barachiel’s aura with your mind’s eye.”
Jonah breathed deep and focused his senses. His sword, Barachiel, was lying on his lap. Barachiel was a sword forged when the Archangel of the same name gave his life so that his soul would be forged into the blade, but other than that Jonah knew nothing of Barachiel’s story. He had only been shown that brief glimpse.
“Can you feel it?” Killian asked. “Can you feel its hunger?”
Jonah nodded, knowing that Killian would know without seeing. Killian had been expelling his aura into the room so that Jonah could feel Barachiel’s hunger and sync his soul with the sword’s. When he fought Nil, he worked in near perfect harmony with Barachiel, but it still wasn’t enough to take the demon down. In the end, Killian’s assistance is what made the difference and help Jonah turn the demon to ash in the street.
“Be my shield,” Jonah said, feeling the familiar surge of power in his left wrist where the silver shield would materialize if he needed it.
“Be my armor,” Johan said. He felt the power surround his body. If he willed it, he’d have the angelic armor of the Archangel, Barachiel.
“Be my light in the darkness to ward off evil,” Jonah said, feeling Barachiel grow brighter even though he could not feel it.
“Be my beacon of death,” Jonah said as he felt his entire body become one with the hunger to destroy evil in the soul of his sword.
“Enough!” Killian said suddenly, standing up and moving away from Jonah. Jonah opened his eyes and let Barachiel’s power flow back into the sheathed blade.
“I’m sorry,” Jonah said. “I didn’t mean -”
“It is alright,” Killian said. “This training takes a lot out of me. I have to feed your blade my life force in order to help you unlock its full potential. Normally, you’d have to cut down hoards of demons to build up its power, but Hell is not sending hoards at us. I think they are keeping themselves at bay for that purpose. They do not want you at full power when they finally spring their attack.”
“But we have no idea on knowing when that would be,” Jonah said, exasperated.
“But I think we do,” Killian said. “Willow is at the door.”
Jonah walked to the dojo door and opened it to find Willow outside about to knock. She looked slightly embarrassed and looked at Killian who was taking a long drink of water. “I hate when he does that,” she said.
Jonah laughed. “It’s one of the perks of being a psychic demon,” he said. “Be happy he’s on our side.”
“Trust me,” Willow said, looking suspiciously at Killian. “I am. Your cousin called me and sent over some photos. We have a problem.”
“What kind?” Jonah asked.
“The kind we deal with,” Willow said handing Jonah a folder of pictures. He flipped through the pictures of the grass, water, and trees that had sprung up around 42nd street. He looked at the pictures of the bodies hanging from the trees in cocoon like coffins.
“What did this?” Jonah asked.
“Who,” Killian corrected, stepping closer to Jonah and Willow. “That is the work of Tsu-Kata.”
“Tsu-Kata?” Willow asked. “Who is Tsu-Kata?”
“An ancient demon who had been sleeping somewhere in the earth,” Killian explained. “I have never seen the phenomena of her power myself, but I heard great tales as a young spawn in Hell. She was able to transform the vast cities of man back to nature. It would have been a beautiful power if she was not so evil inside.”
“She killed those people hanging?” Jonah asked, showing Killian the picture of the cocoons.
“Yes,” Killian said. “She had slept for so long. She must have been hungry to consume that many. She feeds like a spider. She wraps up her victims, and squeezes their various juices. Each one of those bodies is a lifeless husk devoid of even the soul that once inhabited it.”
“Their souls?!” Willow said, shocked. “She sucked out their souls?”
“Yes,” Killian said, lowering his head. “She is an ancient demon. Very ancient magick permeates her being. She predates any demon and human war. My powers would not work on her mind. I do not even know if Jonah and Barachiel would be able to turn her to ash as he did to Nilas Nil.”
“So you’re saying the demons brought back a force so deadly that we can’t even fight it?” Jonah asked.
“There is always a fight when there is a chance,” Killian said.
“I’m going there with Collier and Carr,” Willow said. “We need to investigate quickly. The locals are trying to squeeze us out.”
“I’m coming too,” Jonah said strapping his sword to his back.
“No,” Willow said, putting her hand to Jonah’s chest to stop him. “Rock was very clear. He does not want you at this site.”
“What?!” Jonah said. “That’s ridiculous!”
“He said he’d explain later,” Willow said. “Get some rest. We’ll have a long road ahead of us. The day The Post trained for us here, and we’ll be ready. Preparation and vigilance.”
“Preparation and vigilance,” Jonah repeated. “Let’s pray that it will be enough.”